Archive for April, 2010



09
Apr
10

Further Clarification on Rogue Changes in Cataclysm

As Blizzard has released each class preview, they have gone on to issue some follow-up comments based on forum feedback.  Here’s what’s been said so far (with no comments from me).

  • To clarify on Combat Readiness: when activated being hit will build up the Combat Insight buff. If not struck within 6 seconds of the last hit it will fall off and the Combat Readiness state will end. If the rogue continues to be hit however Combat Insight will continue to reapply, and it can be applied up to a maximum of 30 seconds total..
  • Recuperate is long overdue, and will be interesting to see how much it actually heals for.

    Numbers aren’t quite hammered out yet but it restores based on max health and the more combo points used the longer it lasts. While it’s introduced as a low level ability it obviously scales with gear and base health upgrades (being based on max health and all) and be useful for more than just leveling.

  • Combat readiness says it refreshes the timer each time you’re attacked so does that mean it’ll stay up as long as you’re being attacked within the 6 seconds?

    Yes, and can be up for a total of 30 seconds.

  • Some of you are focused too much on the word “cooldown.” Consider for a moment what the abilities actually do. The current traditional PvP encounter with a rogue is to jump out at someone from stealth, then try to burn them down while applying a chain of stuns. One of two things happen (i.e. it’s a pretty binary outcome): you kill the target in time, or you run out ouf stuns and the target kills you. Now I know that situation is kind of stereotypical perhaps to the point of contrivance, but you should get the basic idea.

    We want to make that outcome less binary. With abilities like Combat Readiness you should be able to go toe to toe with a plate wearer for a short period of time. With Smoke Bomb, you should be able to escape spells for a short period of time, or at least get the caster to move closer to you. Does this mean you’re now a plate-wearer instead of a rogue? Of course not. But it means you aren’t so dependent on killing things while they’re locked down. It means you get to think on your feet a little rather than apply a pre-determined sequence of attacks that either succeeds or fails.

    In addition, with the boosts to leather armor and Stamina though, you will be a little tougher to kill even without any cooldowns.

  • We’ve said something similar in some of the other previews, but let me address real quick why we didn’t add new damage-dealing openers, cp generators or finishers. It’s because you have plenty of openers, cp generators and finishers.

    We don’t want to add new abilities for the sake of adding them, and in fact we’ve spent a lot of the last two expansions trying to make sure your full arsenal of attacks had a purpose. We don’t want to consider the hypothetical level 120 rogue and imagine that you have four versions of Ambush and a whole action bar of Sinister Strike with various subtle shades of distinction.

    We do like to add new abilities, because that’s an exciting part of a new expansion. But we like to find roles for them. Some are going to necessarily be more situational, but that’s why we offer them as core abilities rather than talents that have a heftier cost.

  • One more point: Fan of Knives was not nerfed. I’m not sure where that concept is coming from unless you are interpreting that from changing the weapon it’s based on to the ranged weapon. We didn’t talk much about numbers, so unless you see “We want this abilitiy to do less damage,” then you’re just jumping to conclusions. It’s safer to assume that every number in the game is changing, but the relative roles of abilities and talents are staying the same unless we specify otherwise (not that we’re listing every single talent tree change in these previews – far from it.)

    We just want the ranged weapon to be more than a stat stick for rogues. Adding poisons to FoK is actually a pretty hefty buff. Yes, this means that bows and guns aren’t of much interest to rogues (after leveling). But in this case we want Fan of KNIVES to be taken literally. :)

    Now, having said all that, we suspect you will AE less often in Cataclysm. You’ll CC more and you’ll burn targets down one at a time more often. But that just means all classes will do less damge with AEs. That’s not a rogue nerf.

09
Apr
10

Cataclysm Rogue Preview

Much like a rogue, the Cataclysm rogue changes snuck up in the darkness of night (at least for those living in the eastern US).  The preview details some new skills and proposed changes.  There are some good changes, and a couple of real exciting ones.  Overall, they seemed more incomplete than the other previews we have seen.  There were a lot of “we want to…” and “we’d like to see…” statements with no detail on how they will accomplish them.

Note that there are no real big damage abilities here.  Almost all of the changes are for utility and survivability and PvP.  Blizzard has said in the past that rogues are in a good place as far as PvE damage and playability, so they are clearly not trying to make any sweeping changes.

Here they are: (my comments in italics below each ability)

New Rogue Abilities

Redirect (available at level 81) : Rogues will be getting a new ability to help them deal with changing targets. Redirect will transfer any active combo points to the rogue’s current target, helping to ensure combo points aren’t wasted when swapping targets or when targets die. In addition, self-buff abilities like Slice and Dice will no longer require a target, so rogues can spend extra combo points on those types of abilities (more on this below). Redirect will have a 1-minute cooldown and no other costs.

This is very, very, very cool at first glance.We all know the pain of a target dying just before we get to use that 5-point finisher, and then losing those combo points when we switch targets.

This mostly helps with trash fights and heroics.  There are some boss fights where this would be handy (Faction Champions in ToC, for example) but most boss fights are single-target.

Its also going to be a big help in PvP.  Hit that mage a few times and build up combo points.  What?  He ice-blocked? OK, turn and use those combo points to slam a big finisher on that priest standing there.

My disappointment with this is that its a level 81 skill.  It seems to me that if they are going to make this change, then it should be built into rogues from level 1.  It will seem odd to lose your combo points when you switch targets from level 1-80, but then keep them from level 81-85.

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Combat Readiness (level 83): Combat Readiness is a new ability that we intend rogues to trigger defensively. While this ability is active, whenever the rogue is struck by a melee or ranged attack, he or she will gain a stacking buff called Combat Insight that results in a 10% reduction in damage taken. Combat Insight will stack up to 5 times and the timer will be refreshed whenever a new stack is applied. Our goal is to make rogues better equipped to go toe-to-toe with other melee classes when Evasion or stuns are not in play. This ability lasts 6 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown.

A survivability talent.  Like Cloak of Shadows but for physical damage.  This is pvp-oriented.  Note the way Blizzard says its for rogues to go “toe-to-toe with other melee classes” implying that this is purely for pvp.  Now we can pop Cloak of Shadows + Combat Readiness and we’ll have 90% magic immunity for 5 seconds and 50% physical damage immunity for 6 seconds.  In PvE this is another “oh crap!” button, but we already have a ton of those (Vanish, Cloak, Evasion, Sprint, Feint).

Since I don’t pvp much, this talent is not very meaningful to me, but I’m sure that other rogues will love it.

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Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.

I love this idea!  It so fits in with the sneaky ninja model of the rogue.  Its nice when Blizzard can get a good ability that is both useful in its mechanics AND fit in with the lore of the class.  We get to create our own line-of-sight for pulls.

Its another good talent for PvP.  If you can isolate a target in melee range, you pop a Smoke Cloud around you and his buddies at range can’t do anything to help him. I picture this being a particular annoyance to hunters.

That said, how often will we get to use this in PvE?  Line-of-sight pulls?  OK, how often do we do that?  When do we have boss fights where we are being targeted from range?  Can you get your whole raid inside the cloud?  Or will we pop the Smoke Cloud and the healer in the back is outside the cloud so he gets focus-fired down?  I doubt that Blizzard will design encounters around this, so it becomes just another utility in PvE.  I’m sure that someone will find creative uses for it, though.

_____________________________________

Overall the three new abilities that were previewed are… interesting. But lets but to the chase here.  We rogues are about damage.  What we got were utility abilities.  The Redirect ability will improve our damage on certain fights, but not on boss fights where we have only one target.  The other two abilities are niche skills and, while neat ideas, they have limited application in PvE.  They have great potential in PvP, though.

But wait, there’s more…

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue’s dependency on binary cooldowns and “stun-locks,” and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we’ll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well.

Creative wording… but this basically says “nerf stunlocks”.  For the rogues who have learned to stunlock effectively, this change in playstyle might be a big disappointment.  For those of us who pvp only rarely and have never mastered the art of the stunlock, an increase in passive survivability will be a big help.

  • In PvE, even accounting for active modifiers like Slice and Dice and Envenom, a very large portion of the rogue’s damage is attributable to passive sources of damage. Yes, they are using abilities for the entire duration of a fight, but we want to reduce the percentage of rogue damage that comes from auto-attacks and poisons. More of their damage will be coming from active abilities and special attacks.

No specifics here so I can’t really comment.  Yes, we get over 50% of our damage from autoattacks.  I’ll be interested to see how Blizzard does this without reducing our overall damage.  They can’t just reduce our white damage unless they increase our specials damage.  And if they do that, it has PvP implications.  We’ll just have to wait to see how this plays out.

  • We would like to improve the rogue leveling experience. Positional attacks and DoT-ramping mechanics will be de-emphasized at low levels and then re-introduced at higher levels for group gameplay. We are also providing rogues with a new low-level ability, Recuperate, to convert combo points into a small heal-over-time (HoT).

Recuperate is very, very cool.  It gives and extra option with those combo points.  Big finisher, or HoT yourself?  This will be great in solo play while leveling and should reduce downtime spent bandaging or eating between fights.

I don’t know that the other changes are needed so much.  Most rogues that I know level as Combat spec, so they have few positional requirements.  Yes, its harder to level as Subtlety (as I did back in vanilla WoW) but its not so bad that it needs huge changes to accommodate it.  I hope these changes are minor.  Again, wait and see…

  • To complement the change to combo points, non-damage abilities such as Recuperate and Slice and Dice will no longer have target requirements and can be used with any of the rogue’s existing combo points, including combo points remaining on recently killed targets. This will not affect damage abilities, which will still require combo points to be present on the specific target you want to damage. To coincide with this, the UI will be updated so that rogues know how many combo points they have active.

I like this a lot.  Imagine that you end a fight and you have combo points left.  As you move toward the next target you can pop SnD with those leftover points before you even enter combat.  That dramatically reduces the ramp-up time when starting a fight.  This is also a good change for solo play.

  • Ambush will now work with all weapons, but will have a reduced coefficient when not using a dagger. When opening from Stealth, all rogues will be able to choose from burst damage, DoT abilities, or a stun.

That’s also good for leveling rogues.  It stinks to spend the gold to train Ambush, then realize that you can’t use it because you have a sword.  It could also be good for raiding Combat rogues, depending on the coefficient.  Combat rogues these days open with garrote or just autoattack, or don’t even bother with stealth at all. Ambush might be a good other option.

  • As we’ve done recently with some of the Subtlety abilities, we want to make sure more rogue abilities aren’t overly penalized by weapon choice. With a few exceptions (like Backstab), you should be able to use a dagger, axe, mace, sword, or fist weapon without being penalized for most attacks.

A very sensible change, especially since they are getting rid of weapon skill so we will be able to use whatever weapon we have on hand.

  • Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives will now use the weapon in the ranged slot. In addition, we hope to allow rogues to apply poisons to their throwing weapons.

Uh oh.  They “hope” to allow rogues to poison their throwing weapons?

This sounds to me like rogues won’t be able to use bows or guns anymore.  You can’t do a Fan of Knives if your ranged weapon is a gun.  So I expect rogues to be restricted to throwing weapons.  I hope they put more thrown weapons in the game, then.

This sounds like trouble to me.  If we can poison our thrown weapons, it has pvp implications.  We could apply Crippling Poison to a target at range with a thrown weapon, then run him down while he’s slowed.  No more kiting rogues around.  On the other hand, if we can’t poison our thrown weapons, then this is a big nerf to Fan of Knives.

I’m not sure what Blizzard is thinking here.  Class previews are supposed to get us excited, and they don’t usually announce nerfs with that.  Maybe I’m reading this wrong.

  • We are very happy with Tricks of the Trade as a general mechanic and as a way to give rogues more group utility, but we don’t want it to account for as much threat transfer as it does now.

I’m glad you’re happy with TotT.  So are we.  Please don’t mess it up.  :)

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New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Assassination will be more about daggers, poisons, and burst damage.
  • Combat will be all about swords, maces, fist weapons, axes, and being engaged toe-to-toe with your enemies. A Combat rogue will be able to survive longer without needing to rely on Stealth and evasion mechanics.
  • The Subtlety tree will primarily be based around utilizing Stealth, openers, finishers, and survivability. It’ll be about daggers, too, but less so than Assassination.
  • Weapon-specialization talents (for all classes, not just rogues) are going away. We do not want you to have to respec when you get a different weapon. Interesting talents, such as Hack and Slash, will work with all weapons. Boring talents, such as Mace Specialization and Close Quarters Combat, will be going away.
  • In general, Subtlety rogues needs to do more damage than they do today, and the other trees need to have more tools.
  • The Assassination and Combat talent trees currently have a lot of passive bonuses. We plan to dial back the amount of Critical Strike Rating provided by these trees so that rogues still want it on their gear.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Assassination
Melee damage
Melee critical damage
Poison damage

Combat
Melee damage
Melee Haste
Harder-hitting combo-point generators

Subtlety
Melee damage
Armor Penetration
Harder-hitting finishers

The initial tier of rogue Mastery bonuses will be very similar between the trees. However, the deeper that a player goes into any tree, the more specialized and beneficial the Masteries will be to the play style for that spec. Assassination will have better poisons than the other two specs. Combat will have very steady and consistent overall damage. Subtlety will have strong finishers.

The Mastery stuff is much less fleshed-out than it was for the other classes.  Its very vague.  It seems like rogues are still a work in progress.

When leveling, since the enemies die pretty quickly, I think that we’d rather have bigger hits rather than better poisons.  Depending how significant the mastery bonuses are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more rogues spec Subtlety to level 80-85, then switch to combat or assassination for endgame.  Or maybe this time they will get Sub damage up to the point where it is raid-viable.

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I don’t think that there are any huge changes here, and I’m OK with that.  However, there also nothing really super-exciting.  The shaman changes announced yesterday were so cool it made me wish I had a shaman to play.  I don’t think any non-rogues are going to look at these changes and roll a rogue because of it.

One question, Blizzard?  Where’s my fix for Vanish?

08
Apr
10

Talking About Stuff I Know Nothing About

Yesterday Blizzard released previews of the changes to shaman, warlock, and priest.  I have only played one of those classes for any length (I have an 80 priest that I rarely play).  The other two I never got past level 5.

Still, despite the fact that I’m not an authority on any of those classes, here’s some of my impressions.

They released the shaman one first, which was a good idea because it was clearly the best, in my opinion.  Healing rain is a perfect addition to the game – it gives the class a new, powerful ability that expands their role, AND it fits beautifully in with the lore of the class as a nature-based healer.  Earthquake, without having any details yet, strikes me the same way.

The warlock and priest previews were much less exciting.  There were a lot of “more of the same” kinds of abilities.  There was nothing that grabbed you and made you say “wow!”  (well, the Life Grip for priests might, but mostly it made me lol).  I do think that the proposed changes make both classes better.  However, the changes to the shaman are intriguing and might actually make someone roll a shaman to try them.  The changes to priest and warlocks may only appeal to those that currently play those classes.

Something that kind of disappointed me was the Mastery system.  We were led to believe that the top-tier Mastery bonus would be something unique and interesting for each spec.

I have always been impressed by the creativity of the Blizzard developers.  They come up with so many unique ideas – especially considering that they have to create content for 10 classes with three specs each over 80 (now 85) levels on four continents.  So keep in mind that I’m only being mildly critical here.

Look at the shaman Masteries…

  • Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful ‘bonus” version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.
  • Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.
  • Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target’s health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.

Two of the three are unique and creative.  Elemental Overload and Deep Healing add real flavor to their respective  specs.

The priest Masteries…

  • Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.
  • Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.
  • Shadow Orbs: Casting spells grants a chance for Shadow Orbs to be created that fly around you and increase your shadow damage. This will help lower-level characters feel more like “Shadow priests” before they obtain Shadowform.

Again, two of the three are unique and creative and interesting.  They are different rather than being just more of the same.  (Well, really just one of the three (Radiance) is unique.  Shadow Orbs is just “buff shadow damage” with a nice animation, I’m guessing.)

Now look at the warlock Masteries…

  • Shadow DoTs: The damage caused by Shadow damage-over-time spells is increased.
  • Demon Damage: The damage caused by pets and Metamorphosis is increased.
  • Fire Direct Damage: The damage caused by Fire direct damage spells is increased.

/yawn

That’s a shame.  If I were a warlock I’d be bummed.  They couldn’t think of anything interesting other than passive damage buffs?

This makes me think that the rogue and mage Masteries will be similar.  Mage masteries will likely be passive buffs to arcane, fire, and frost damage.  Rogue buffs will probably be something similar.

I’m trying not to come off as complaining.  There is no doubt that Blizzard is improving the game and trying to make more engaging gameplay for everyone in every play style.  Maybe my expectations are too high, so when the changes are mundane there’s some let down.  Not everything can be flashy and shiny.  Maybe those warlock and priest changes are amazing, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t play those classes.

I’m looking forward to the other class previews, especially on the classes that I actually play.

08
Apr
10

Rogue Preview coming today

If you hadn’t seen already, Blizzard is publishing previews of changes to the classes in Cataclysm.  Yesterday they did shaman, warlock, and priest.

Today they are supposed to release the proposed changes to warriors, death knights, and rogues.  Keep your eyes open.

06
Apr
10

The Fun of Showing Off

Backgroud: I never raided in vanilla WoW, and I was behind the progression curve in BC.  My gear was never the best.

Back in the days when epics were rare, I used to like to inspect people in Stormwind (in vanilla) and Shattrath (in BC) and check out their epics.  In those days, the higher-tier gear really stood out from the normal quest/instance blues.  You’d be running through Shattrath City and say “Whoa!  Look at those cool shoulders!  They have eyes looking around in them!  That’s awesome!”  Then you’d /inspect and see what they were and get a bit envious.

I’m not advocating for the people who /afk on the bridge in Ironforge just to show off.  That kind of narcissism is a little sad.  But still, it was always neat to see something unique that jumps out at you.  Do you remember the first time you saw someone with Terestian’s Stranglestaff?  Or, if you go back far enough, seeing a rogue in full Bloodfang armor?

I had the fun of this experience this week.

With the current powerleveling that is going on, players have very few opportunities to pick up epics on their way from 1-80.  Going through instances with the LFD system you have almost no chance of seeing epics (unless you do some BC heroics at level 70), and there are very few quests that give epic rewards.

Last week my guild did a quick run through Blackwing Lair for some people  who had never seen it.  It was fun (except the Suppression Room, of course) and quick.  Since we had 10 level 80s doing it, they let me drag along my level 64 mage for some XP and loot.  In the course of the run, I managed to pick up the Ebony Flame Gloves from Ebonroc, Ringo’s Blizzard Boots from trash mobs, the Netherwind Belt (T2!  woot!) from Vael, and the Staff of the Shadow Flame from Nefarian.

The next day, as I went through my pug instances using LFD, I got repeated comments about my gear.  The staff in particular is cool-looking, with a nice purple glow and so it attracts attention.  I’ll admit, it was enjoyable to get oohs and aahs for my gear.

Maybe I should go /afk on the bridge in Ironforge now.

Seriously – it makes me hope that in Cataclysm the epics might be a little harder to get, and maybe a little more rare at first.  In Wrath, with people running Naxx within the first couple of weeks, epics flowed like water.  I no longer even notice people’s gear because its all epic and all blends together.  I like gear that stands out, even if I’m not the one who has it.

02
Apr
10

ICC Buff Lets us Bring in Newer Players

Last night we had no raid scheduled.  As such, there weren’t a whole lot of folks online.  There were a good group of core raiders, and then an assortment of newer 80’s looking to do heroics and gear up.

Normally this would mean a night with no raid.  However, Blizzard gave us a 10% buff in ICC this week.  We assembled a group together and gave it a go.  A few of the players had not raided at all in Wrath, while a couple others had raided but not in ICC.  Sprinkled in there were our main tank, one core dps (me) and two of our main healers.  With this group, we figured that we could get maybe the first two or three bosses down and have some fun.

To our pleasant surprise, we were able to get the first four bosses, including a one-shot of Saurfang.  We had a couple of wipes on Deathwhisper, but other than that the run was smooth.  Our newly-80 DK who wants to tank picked up a couple of nice pieces that might bring his budding tanking set to 540 defense.  I finally got my Shawl of Nerubian Silk after many, many Marrowgar kills without seeing it.

Has the 10% buff trivialized ICC?  Well, maybe the first four bosses.  We breezed through it with a group that was undergeared and ill-prepared.  However, the fights beyond the first four are tough for reasons other than gear.  I doubt that my ICC 10 group from last night could have done Rotface or Festergut or any other bosses past Saurfang.

I still think that these buffs have come maybe a little too soon.  But we got some newer players valuable experience and gear, and so I’ll look at this as a nice benefit.




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
April 2010
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