Archive for February, 2011

28
Feb
11

Patch 4.1 Rogue Quality of Life Changes

As always, the big overhauls in patches go to other classes.  Rogue are close enough to perfect that we only get little tweaks.

A couple of little happiness-inducing changes in the notes for patch 4.1, currently on the PTR.

Tricks of the Trade range increased to 100 yards.  This makes me happy.  Some of these raid bosses have huge hit boxes.  They are so large that being behind the boss puts me out of range of the tank for Tricks.  Alternately, if I want to Tricks to a hunter then often I find range issues there.  This change will make it so that I can Tricks anyone in the raid without having to run around to find them.

Movement penalty removed from stealth and base cooldown of stealth reduced to 4 seconds (from 10) are two changes that are nice for PvE, but questionable for PvP.  As all assassination rogues know, we want to start the fight in stealth to get Overkill.  However, that means that we are often slow in moving to our position.  Sprint helps, but this change makes it more convenient.  Its not a big change – but just a little tweak for quality-of-life.

However, I think that non-rogues who hate us in PvP will complain.  Rogues in stealth are deadly in PvP, and improving their movement speed is bound to be unpopular for the rest of the WoW world.

The subtlety talent Nightstalker will be changed to give a stealth speed increase instead of its current effect.

Also, they are buffing the base effect of Recuperate for all rogues, and then reducing the amount that Improved Recuperate helps combat rogues.  Combat rogues should see no net change, while mut and sub rogues will find their recuperates healing for more.  No complaints here.

 

23
Feb
11

Time flies when you’re not posting

Wow – its been two weeks without a post.

There hasn’t been much to talk about.

Rogues

I think some rogues are disappointed to see the current state of dps.  For many of us, we are of the opinion that the so-called “pure dps” classes (rogue, mage, warlock, hunter) should out-damage the hybrid classes.  I know that there is much disagreement on that point, but its a fairly commonly-held opinion.

Right now, according to stateofdps.com, shadow priests are at the top of the pile.  Balance druids and unholy death knights are also ahead of rogues on that list.  Keep in mind that list is just from the top 200 World of Logs parses, so there is plenty of variation in individual guilds and raids.

In my guild’s raids, our shadow priest is definitely giving me a run.  If I’m not right on my game he’ll pass me in dps.  On some fights, like Conclave of Wind with a lot of movement and target switching, he has already passed me.

Notable on that list at the State of Dps web site, assassination is still ahead of combat in every fight except Halfus Wyrmbreaker.  Presumably that because of the combat BF cleave running up big numbers when downing the adds.  Also of note: subtlety is at the bottom of every list, and they couldn’t even find enough sub rogues to make a good statistical sample.

I’m still running combat for heroics and assassination for raids.  I can’t bring myself to even try the sub spec.

Guild

We’re at the point of decision making with our guild.  We want to do 25-man raiding.  Really we do.  We try almost every week.  But we have a lot more success in our 10-man raids.

If it was just about loot, loot, and more loot we’d switch to 10-man raids in a minute.  There’s more to the game than loot, though.  There’s camaraderie and the chance to play with friends.  There are more than 9 other people that I’d like to raid with, so we keep banging our heads against the wall trying to find 25 people who can work together.  Still, its getting close to the frustration point for many of our players.

My guild is still keeping up with the daily XP cap.  We’re at level 17 which got us the G-Mail perk.  We also got the recipe for the Seafood Magnifique Feast.  We have over 1100 guild achievement points, which puts us at #3 on our server.  Since we don’t push raid progression, that’s a nice measure of our dedication.  We have not lost too many people due to apathy.  I suspect that we might lose a couple to Rift, but we’ll have to wait and see.

My Playtime

I barely run heroics on my rogue now.  They have certainly become easier now that gear has caught up with dungeon difficulty and people have learned the fights.  I have not had many failpugs in the past couple of weeks.  I still cannot get a ranged weapon or wrist drop, though, and its starting to annoy me.

I’ve leveled a paladin tank.  I really hate tanking heroics.  Well, mostly I hate marking targets.  So, instead of getting heroic drops I geared him up the old-fashioned way – I bought him stuff.  I spent over 20k buying BoE and crafted items on the AH.  He’s geared enough that I was able to off-tank a Halfus Wyrmbreaker kill, so I guess that’s acceptable.  The only problem with this gearing method is that I don’t have any reputations high enough to buy him an arcanum or any other goodies.

I’m now working on a shadow priest.  I eventually plan to switch him to Disc and heal, but for leveling its shadow all the way.  Wow, he does a ton of damage.  Its easily faster than leveling on my rogue was.  I don’t even have to stop for mana.  I’m actually pulling 2-3 mobs at a time just to make things interesting.  That’s weird for a clothie toon.

Auction House

The glyph market has almost completely dried up.  I’m just making enough to break even with my weekly raiding costs, and with buying gear for my alts.  I may have to start looking for other gold-making markets now.

That’s all that is going on with me right now.

10
Feb
11

Rift Rogues

The RIFT beta events are getting more and more open.  Its at the point now where anyone who has interest can get in.

Last weekend I got a beta code, downloaded the client, and loaded it up to see what all the hubbub was about.  Naturally, when given the chance to choose a character type I went with a rogue.  (really, I don’t know why anyone would choose anything else!)

Background:  I am a one-game person.  WoW is the first and only MMO that I have ever played.  Therefore, I have no context about how WoW compares to other games that have come before, during, or after WoW.

I was really surprised at how similar the rogue experience was in RIFT to the way it is in WoW.  It had everything – right down to the combo-point-then-finisher fight structure.  Some of the various rogue builds even smacked of assassination and combat.  Even the talents had the same names.  I saw Ruthlessness, Serrated Blades, and others that were lifted directly from WoW.

I decided to try a bit of a variation on the rogue theme to see how much their system deviated from the WoW rogue model.  The soul system allows you to customize your character’s strengths within its archetype.  They had options for your rogue to have a pet (like a WoW hunter) or to specialize in ranged attacks.  You could even choose a soul that gave tanking abilities, or even healing/group support abilities.  I chose a soul that combined magic and physical combat (Nightblade).

Most of the play seemed very familiar.  Attack with combo point builders, then unleash a big 5-combo-point finisher.  Stealth was not a baseline ability, but was learned relatively early on in leveling.

My favorite RIFT-rogue feature that I would love to see in WoW… the ranged combo point builder.  My Nightblade soul had a baseline attack that allowed me to hurl a fiery dagger at an opponent from range.  This was great because (1) I could do it while running, and (2) it granted a combo point.  When I used that to pull from range, I usually had three combo points built up before the mob even reached me!  That’s a lot different than the stun openers we are used to in WoW.  It was quite fun and made combat fast-paced.

The group questing was a neat feature.  When I got to a place at the end of a questline with a large culminating event, there were three other players there and a window popped up giving me the option to group with them.  That was nice.  It felt very cooperative.

Unfortunately, my computer doesn’t really meet the minimum specs of the game.  I didn’t get far before I started lagging out (due to my system, not their servers).  I never got to participate in the RIFT battles that are supposedly so much fun.  Still, I thought it was a good experience and a nice change from WoW.  Even though the gameplay was very, very similar (down to the UI elements and commands) the graphics and general theme were different enough to give it a fresh feeling.  I’m not going to play RIFT after beta, but it was a good distraction for the weekend.

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An aside…

If RIFT fails, it won’t be because of the game.  It will be because of the people.

The game is not released yet, and already people are complaining about the endgame raids.  They are complaining that there is too much questing, or not enough instancing, 10 man vs 20 man, blah blah blah.

I read one review where the person gushed on about how good the game is, but then found one flaw and decided that he was canceling his preorder.  Really?

This is the WoW-ification of game expectations.  Every new game has to be polished and complete.  It must have options to appeal to crafters, questers, instancers, raiders, casuals, hardcores, grinders, socials, pvpers, roleplayers, leaders, followers, collectors, and every other possible variation or a gamer.  If not, then it is labeled as “FAIL” and cast aside.  Its all black-and-white.  A game can’t be “pretty good”. Its either amazing or terribad.

What irks me the most is that the game isn’t even out yet and people are already figuring out how they will avoid all of the content to get to the endgame as quickly as possible.  To each his own, of course, but I just cannot in any way relate to that outlook.  I think that those people are setting themselves up for disappointment.  A new game must devote most of its developer resources to the leveling process.  That’s where you are going to catch and hold (or lose) your subscriber base.  No game can put all of its resources into endgame before release.  Yet people are already judging the game based on endgame raiding.  Some people are just not happy unless they are complaining.

/end rant

08
Feb
11

Combat and Subtlety buffed in 4.0.6

Rogues are doing pretty well damage-wise in the grand scheme of things.  On the day that some classes (ahem… paladins) are getting a nerf I think some people will be annoyed to see rogues getting buffed.

There is no real change to Assassination rogues.  Here’s what’s up for Combat…

  • Blade Flurry is now a toggle that can be turned off by pressing the button again. In addition, this ability no longer has a fixed duration, but will go on cooldown for 10 seconds after being canceled (similar to Stealth). In addition, Blade Flurry now reduces energy generation by 30% while active, up from 20%.
  • Main Gauche (Mastery) now provides a chance to deal an attack for 100% of main-hand damage. This attack can trigger Combat Potency.
  • Restless Blades now also reduces the cooldown of Redirect.
  • Revealing Strike now increases finisher effectiveness by 35% (45% glyphed), up from 20% (30% glyphed).
  • Vitality now increases attack power by 25%, up from 20%.

The Vitality change is a straight damage increase.

The buff to Revealing Strike is Blizzard saying “we want you to use this.”  Many rogues were simply ignoring it in their rotations.  Now it is probably too useful to ignore.

The change to Main Gauche is a nice tweak.  The complaint about the Mastery for Combat is that it procced off-hand attacks.  Since our off-hand is a fast, light-hitting weapon that made the Mastery relatively ineffective.  By changing it to proc an extra main hand attack, the value of the Mastery stat will go up for combat rogues.  According to Elitist Jerks, Mastery will be more valuable than crit for combat rogues after the patch.

The Blade Flurry change is interesting.  A semi-permanent cleave effect is good for fights with multiple adds.  I expect that I will actually use my combat off-spec in a number of situations in raids.  The catch – once you are no longer attacking multiple targets, you have to remember to toggle it off, since your energy regeneration is reduced while it is on if it is not hitting anything.

 

Here’s what is coming for Subtlety:

Straight buffs across the board (except the couple of token cooldown tweaks to Preparation, Elusiveness, and Shadowstep).  Since subtlety is the single least-played spec of any class in the game, I think its time to take desperate measures.

However, the rotation is still too complicated, given the movement and target switching that current raiding requires.  The buffs are nice, but not as helpful if you can’t keep all your finishers going.  If anyone plays this spec, let me know how it does after the patch.

04
Feb
11

A Rogue in Cataclysm – Magmaw

This post describes rogue tactics for a boss fight in Blackwing Descent. The focus is on the 10-man version of the fights, since that’s what most people will be running. If you have suggestions for alternate strategies, or if I say something that you disagree with, please put it in the comments.

This is not meant to be a full raid strategy guide. It are written to describe the role of rogues (or other melee dps) during the encounters. For full strategy guides refer to Raid Boss Strategies or WoWWiki.

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Magmaw is one of the first bosses in Blackwing Descent.  This is a low-stress fight for melee.  The difficult parts of the fight are handled by the ranged dps, and there is a lot of raid healing to go around so the healers are busy.  Rogues get to spend most of their time focusing on the boss.

Even though the boss is a huge worm that is off of a ledge, it is possible to get to a position that is behind him.  If you go  around the edge of the ledge to the left as far as you can go, then you can Backstab and Garrote from there.

On the pull, move to that position and start up your attack rotation.  Note that your tank will probably be out of range of your Tricks of the Trade, so if you are using Tricks on the tank you will want to hit that before you get in position for the actual pull.

There will be a lot said by your add-ons or your raid leader about Pillar of Flame and Lava Parasites.  Assuming that your raid has enough ranged dps, you won’t have to worry about those.

If your raid is short of ranged dps, then your raid leader may ask you to help with the Lava Parasites.  In that case, make sure that Crippling Poison is on your thrown weapon.  After a Pillar of Flame, when Parasites spawn, you can run to the parasites and FoK to slow them and help dps them.  However, in this event you are likely to get hit by one.  If you see the debuff Parasitic Infection then you’ve been infected.  In 10 seconds you are going to explode, doing damage to everyone near you and creating additional Lava Parasites. You can Cloak out of this debuff.  Hopefully you won’t need to do this, since your Cloak won’t always be off cooldown and you’ll have to run away from the raid group and the boss. The Parasites are better handled by ranged.

Magmaw has to have a couple of people in melee range throughout the fight, so try to stay at home next to it.  If there is no one in melee range he’ll spew fireballs and blow up the raid.

You’ll notice that you are taking heavy fire damage every 25 seconds or so.  That is Lava Spew.  Its an AoE effect that hits the entire raid, and it is the biggest source of damage in the fight, putting stress on your healers.  There are ways that you can help your healers out with this.  You can Cloak to avoid the damage.  You can Feint to minimize the damage, and you can Recuperate to heal yourself up.  I can go the entire fight with minimal healing by avoiding part of the damage and Recuperating myself back up to full health.

After a bit of dps time, the next ability that happens is Mangle.  When this happens, Magmaw will pick up the tank.  Your threat meter may start yelling at you because the tank is no longer on the threat charts.  Typically another tank will taunt here, but it may not be necessary.  Make sure that you are not at the top of the threat table.  Vanish if you need to.

While he is chewing on the tank, Magmaw will face half the room and the ground on that side will start to smoke.  If that’s your side of the room, you need to quickly get to the other side.  I usually pop Sprint here.  If you don’t get out of the way in time, then the floor will ignite in flames, and then Magmaw is going to fall on you, doing damage and stunning you.

Once you are out of the way, and Magmaw falls over, two people have to jump on his back.  Melee typically gets this job.  You get a green arrow cursor just like if you are getting in a vehicle.  You right-click that and it catapults you up onto the big worm.

When you are on Magmaw, you get an ability on your button bar – Constricting Chains.  You click that and get a little targeting circle.  Aim the target circle at the big spike that’s right in front of Magmaw.  Coordinate with the other person who is on Magmaw.  You both need to click the chains at nearly the same time.  When both chains are engaged properly, you’ll be dismounted off of Magmaw.  If you mess it up, then it will say that Magmaw breaks free of the single chain.  Then you have to try again.

If you don’t get it right, then the tank dies while being Mangled by Magmaw.

When I jump up on him, I make sure that I see the 2nd melee on him before I hit the chains.  Then I say something in vent so that our timing is good.

Magmaw will get pulled down to the ground by the chains.  When this happens, damage against him is increased by 100%, so pop cooldowns, Vendetta, Killing Spree, Potion of the Tol’vir, Adrenaline Rush, whatever.  This process is going to repeat several times during the fight, so you’ll get to use your cooldowns a 2nd and 3rd time.  You’ll target his head, and if you stand inside his body you will be behind it for backstabbing.

When this phase ends, Magmaw has an annoying tendency to one-shot some one standing too close to him before raising back up to his upright position.  For this reason, I try to get away from his head about 2 seconds before the phase ends.

When he stands back up, go back to your melee position and repeat the entire process.  Each time he will Mangle the tank and you may or may not have to move from the smoking area of the floor.  Then jump on him, chain him, and blow cooldowns while he is chained down.

Don’t skimp on the Recuperate!  Healers have a lot to do in this fight so you’re self-healing can really help.  Also, if/when you wipe don’t point fingers.  Melee has the easy job on this boss, and its a pretty harsh learning curve for ranged.  Its better to do your job and stay quiet.

The drop you’re hoping for from him is the Parasitic Bands.  Wrist slot items are hard to come by these days, so good luck!

01
Feb
11

Yes, I Felt Like A Hero. Sometimes.

Last week, at MMO Melting Pot, the question was raised (indirectly taken from a post at Killed in a Smiling Accident), “Can you ever feel like a a hero in game, and is that as a player or character?”  I think that WoW provides opportunity for both.

At Killed in a Smiling Accident, Melmoth seems to equate being a hero with being more powerful that your opponents.  Then he goes on to say that being overpowered is dull.  I don’t think that being a hero means being powerful.  It means doing important deeds, often against more powerful foes.  It also means being singled out and recognized for your accomplishments.

As a player, still remember evasion-tanking Prince Malchezaar to his death while my nine raid-mates all lay dead around me.  That was a truly heroic-feeling moment as a player.

In game, the improved-in-Cataclysm method of storytelling through questlines has done a pretty good job of generating a heroic feel for my character.

Here’s one moment…

<mild quest spoilers below, so don’t read on if you haven’t done these zones yet>

In Twilight Highlands, toward the end of the questlines in the zone, you are sent to assist Alexstrasza in her efforts against Deathwing.  The quest givers and NPCs often refer to you by name, praising your efforts.  The word “hero” is thrown around or implied a number of  times.  When Alexstrasza is injured, they ask you to carry her to safety.

The fact that I got to interact with Alexstrasza, one of the most iconic figures in the lore, and that my efforts were more than just as an errand boy, and that I was personally recognized by name really hit home.  I definitely felt like Blizzard did a good job in that zone of getting me invested in the story line.  I actually worried about the fate of the Dragon Aspect, and was eager to take part in the event.

(Of course, those who never read quest text miss all of that)

————————————————————————–

On the other hand…

I thought Uldum failed in that.  I never felt like I was doing much of anything.  The quests implied that I was going to do something important.  More often than not, though, the key parts of the quests happened in cinematic cut scenes where I was just an observer.  It felt like Harrison Jones was the hero in that zone, and I was a glorified assistant.

The story was entertaining, I guess, but it definitely did not make me feel heroic.

To summarize:

  • doing something important to help your guild achieve = heroic actions
  • being recognized for your deeds by name by important lore figures = heroic feeling
  • following a lore figure along while he does everything = not so heroic

———————————————————————————

Also, I think the game really missed a lot of opportunities to have more heroic-feeling quests.  One of the new Cataclysm quest styles is to follow a whole quest chain, and then at the end pit you against a named “quest boss” who is a bit tougher than a typical mob.

It seems like every time that happened, and I got myself all psyched up for the challenge, the game would throw something in there to remove the difficulty.  For example, there is a quest in Twilight Highlands to go kill several Twilight Cult leaders.  As I started to fight the first one, I noticed that he was pretty tough.  I was prepared to dig into my rogue bag of tricks – evasion, vanish, stuns – in order to beat this challenging foe.  Then *pop* Mathias Shaw shows up and backstabs him and he dies very quickly.  /yawn

The “boss” quests do that repeatedly – give you a chance to fight a hard opponent, and then steal your glory with some NPC that helps, or a magic item that makes the opponent weak, or some quest item that does massive damage.  I think the only quest mob that really gave a challenge was Skullcrusher the Mountain.  You still had help with that from NPCs, but at least it took a while, and there was the interesting mechanics of having to revive your NPC friends.

I consider that a big miss by Blizzard.  If the “quest bosses” were a little tougher, we might feel more heroic from beating them.  Also, players might have to learn to play their classes a bit better in the process.  Still, that cannot be done.  Why?  In the current system, if you can’t complete a quest, then the entire rest of the zone’s quests are cut off for you.  So quests have to be idiot-proof, and that removes the possibility of hard quest bosses.




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)
February 2011
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