Rogue Transmogs: The Engineer

Ieatpaperbag1

Ieatpaperbag puts us in a setting with an engineering transmog that looks as battle effective as it is totally at home in the workshop. A choice of weapons makes this a truly practical and utilitarian outfit.

“I was going for an engineering look; the engineering goggle for Warlords of Draenor” looked so awesome, so I wanted to see if I could find a “look” to go with it. I also wanted to find something different that wasn’t simply all tier xx,” Ieatpaperbag explains and notes that he made heavy use of an old blog post by Anne Stickney, now of Blizzard Watch, which you can find here: Transmogrifying a tribute to engineering.

Helm: Night-Vision Mechshades – Soulbound from Engineering. There are some non-engineering (but less cool) options such as Mimiron’s Flight Goggles or Emerald Beholder Eye.
Shoulder: Shoulder of the Ogre-Nabber – This is a reward from a Feralas quest. If you’ve completed the quest check for similar models.
Chest: Mixologist’s Tunic – Plugger Spazzring in Blackrock Depths.
Hands: Safecracker’s Gloves – random drop from Cataclysm instances (check the AH).
Belt: Belt of Feigned Joy – quest reward from several level ~40 quests.
Legs: Light Leather Pants – Leatherworking.
Feet: Boots of the Neverending Path – purchased from Veteran Crusader Aliocha Segard (Argent Crusade) in Icecrown.

Weapons:
Peacekeeper Blade – Confessor’s Cache or Eadric’s Cache in Trial of the Champion.
Sorthalis, Hammer of the Watchers – XT-002 Deconstructor in 25 hard-mode Ulduar.
Aledar’s Battlestar – Eadric’s Cache in Trial of the Champion.
Flarethorn – Gorosh the Dervish or High Justice Grimstone in Blackrock Depths (awful to farm but pretty worth it)
Ravenclaw Harbinger – random world drop from Mists of Pandaria (check the AH)

 

Ieatpaperbag3   Ieatpaperbag2

 

 


  If you have a transmog that you just love and would like to share, please send the following to fans@ravenholdt.net for a chance to be featured:

  1. a list of the items that you used for your transmog. If you can, include where you acquired each piece.
  2. one or two nice high-res screenshots. These should be reasonably close up and not too dark. No stealth pics please!
  3. tell us a bit about what you were going for with your look. Do you have a name/title for your transmog?
  4. if you would like to be credited, please include a link to your armory and your Twitter handle if you have one.

Please note that we may not be able to feature every submission and those that are selected may not be posted immediately. We look forward to seeing more of what you wear!

Read More...

The Portrayal of “Rogue” in the World of the Warcraft Film

Garona and Garona

Please note that this blog contains spoilers for Christie Golden’s wonderful Warcraft movie prequel, Warcraft: Durotan, as well as minor spoilers for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Legion.


Garona. We know her as the consummate assassin. In the World of Warcraft that we live in, it is she who slew King Llane Wrynn, albeit against her will, with the blades Sorrow and Anguish. It is she, driven by revenge, who aids us in finding Cho’gall in Twilight Highlands. It is she, albeit an alternative universe version of her, who ambushes us in Frostfire Ridge, attempts to assassinate Khadgar, and ultimately befriends us in Warlords of Draenor. It is she who bequeaths us her ill-used blades in Legion if we select to have our Artifact Weapons be for Assassination. And it is now she who is front and center in the previews for the film, Warcraft. With the film still a few weeks away from release, we can’t know yet that we will recognize what we know as Assassination Rogue in her actions, but we do have the prequel novel, Warcraft: Durotan, and we can look within its pages to see how rogues fare in this telling of the story.

Garona and the first assassination are introduced early in the novel, however it is not Garona who wields the deadly blade. Gul’dan, her master, tricks Garad into effectively assassinating himself with a poisoned dagger, but the Assassination class icons are right there: the dagger and the poison. Although passive, she still exhibits cunning and her initial communication in Draenei was effectively stealthed as she communicates with Draka in a language that Gul’dan cannot understand. Her role in the novel is a small one, and despite the Assassination class icons making an appearance, we don’t have a great deal to reconcile with the in-game rogue or even the in-game Garona. We would probably be better served to wait for the film and its novelization to discuss her as a class representative.

The concept of Class with its rules, structures, and limitations is a conceit of the game and while seemingly not overtly represented in the world of the novel, can still be discerned in key characters. Class archetypes are obviously represented, for example, in Drek’Thar the shaman, Gul’dan the warlock, and Orgrim the warrior to name a few. Garona’s limited role may not allow us much of a glimpse of our class, but are there other places that we can look to to find rogues. While hunters and warriors, as well as shaman are well depicted among the Frostwolves, rogues don’t seem to be present. They can, however be seen in the novel’s Red Walkers. The Red Walkers exhibit several very roguelike traits: not only do they attack from concealment, for example ambushing Durotan and his comrades at the Seat of the Spirits, but the Red Walker that Durotan faces first in the final battle of the novel dual-wields small axes and seems more reliant on speed and agility than strength.

Perhaps the best representation of the rogue class can be found in the Red Walker chieftain who faces off with Orgrim. He is described as wearing “only the barest scraps of armor,” somewhat like in-game rogues who cannot be burdened with armor heavier than leather. In behavior also typical of the in-game rogue, he kicks an opponent to subdue her, and, much like his unfortunate aforementioned clansmember who was dispatched by Durotan, he wields two axes “so swiftly they were blurs.” This imagery is iconic of the Combat (now Outlaw) rogue: the double one-handed weapons and the swift, relentless attacks. One could even make an argument that he uses Vendetta (although it is an Assassination ability) or is talented into Marked for Death as he makes his way towards Orgrim across the melee, “his head swiveling back again and again to check Orgrim’s location.”

This version of the world may not be as structured and rule-bound as the game that we are used to, but Christie Golden’s masterful storytelling and complete understanding of the workings of the game gives us glimpses of what we know and who we are, and allows the world a familiarity beyond location and lore. Warcraft: Durotan is a different take on the story from what we know, but it is a compelling and well-told tale, and very much worth a read. Just as Warlords of Draenor offered us a look at an alternative version of the universe, the film world gives us another. In this universe, while events are familiar, details are very different. We can only hope that Garona the rogue will get as fine a treatment in the upcoming film as Durotan and the Frostwolves get in this novel. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds, how this paragon of the Assassination rogue is portrayed, and whether will will witness our future blades, Sorrow and Anguish, on the big screen before we officially get to wield them ourselves. Dare we hope for more rogues like the Red Walkers? Will we witness this new version of the world and recognize in it, ourselves?


Image: In-game Garona vs. On-screen Garona. Paula Patton as Garona in the film from Legendary Pictures.

 

Read More...

Rogue Transmogs: 99 Problems

Mickjabber1

Just because you are a rogue doesn’t mean you have to dress all sneaky all the time. Sometimes you just want to be, well, loud. Mickjabber brings us his take on the rogue look with goblin style.

“As you can tell I wasn’t really going for the subtle look here, basically I figured a Goblin Rogue would want to look good whilst he slays things, something with a certain amount of panache, something that a small person can make a big impact with!”

Well Mickjabber, you’ll certainly make an impact!

This set will take you through low level dungeons, Firelands, and require some good world drop or Auction House luck.

Head: Stylin Purple Hat – Leatherworking
Shoulders: Mantle of Autumn – Laj in The Botanica
Back: Netherfury Cape – Warp Splinter in The Botanica
Chest : Songbird Blouse – Hearthsinger Forresten in Stratholme
Hands: Gloves of the Fang – random drop from Wailing Caverns (check the AH)
Waist : Headhunters Belt – random world drop (check the AH)
Legs : Leggings of the Fang – Lord Cobrahn in Wailing Caverns
Feet: Headhunter Slippers – random world drop (check the AH)

Daggers : Alysra’s  Razor – Alysrazor in Heroic Firelands

 

Mickjabber1   Mickjabber2   Mickjabber3

 

 


  If you have a transmog that you just love and would like to share, please send the following to fans@ravenholdt.net for a chance to be featured:

  1. a list of the items that you used for your transmog. If you can, include where you acquired each piece.
  2. one or two nice high-res screenshots. These should be reasonably close up and not too dark. No stealth pics please!
  3. tell us a bit about what you were going for with your look. Do you have a name/title for your transmog?
  4. if you would like to be credited, please include a link to your armory and your Twitter handle if you have one.

Please note that we may not be able to feature every submission and those that are selected may not be posted immediately. We look forward to seeing more of what you wear!

Read More...

What Makes a Good Rogue Spec?

Watching the changes to the rogue class during Legion alpha I am becoming increasingly discouraged about the direction of rogue design. Before digging into exactly what is wrong with the current designs I think it makes sense to focus on when rogue design worked and learn from that.

Combat High-Rupture (T8-T10) Combat high-rupture is the least remembered rotation on this list because it only lasted about one tier. Starting with the T8 set bonus and Ulduar and falling out of favor in T9 when armor penetration levels got high enough for ruptureless rotations. Before combat high-rupture combat rotations were described by Xs/Yr/Ze rotations where X, Y, and Z represented the number of cps to use a slice and dice, rupture, and eviscerate at respectively. This rotation, would yield ~50% rupture uptime with 100% SnD uptime and a smattering of eviscerate damage. Combat high-rupture upended this rotation my emphasizing maximizing rupture uptime, however unlike other maintenance buffs it was not optimal to maintain 100% uptime. The rotation was a giant resource allocation and timing problem, how do you maximize the number of 5 cp finishers for energy efficiency, maximize rupture uptime, avoid wasting combo/points and energy, all with moment to moment variation in energy regeneration and combo point generation from combat potency and glyph of sinister strike respectively.

With our fancy tools of today, pandemic, anticipation, longer durations on SnD and rupture that rotation doesn’t sound particularly hard but at the time it was a challenging rotation that many rogues opted for Xs/Yr/Ze rotations for simplicity. Instead we used the tools we had at our disposal, that 25 energy you had to spend on Tricks of the Trade every 30 seconds was an easy way to bleed a couple seconds of energy for a better refresh timing. If you needed to kick (25 energy at the time) that was another tool to shape your energy distribution. This wasn’t a speed demon/carpel tunnel spec like we’ve come to expect from combat today, combat high-rupture moved at 35-40 APM, a pace we would call plodding today.

Cata Assassination (T11-T13) Unlike combat high-rupture most of you reading this probably know what Cata assassination played like. It played mostly like assassination does today but unlike today where the primary difficulty of assassination is keeping your eyes open until the emergence of “John F-ing Madden” Subtlety (see below) in late T11, early T12, assassination was widely considered the most engaging rogue spec. What was different about cata assassination? No blindside procs, above 35% cp gen was just mutilate, venomous wounds was 60% chance, 16 second rupture, no anticipation to minimize combo point waste, in short, lower resources across the board. For assassination this made all the difference, the spec barely broke 30 APM but maximizing envenom uptime required thought. The reduced envenom uptime made envenom more meaningful and storing 5 cps for a full envenom at full energy was a decent form of mini-burst. Like combat high-rupture above cata assassination low dps wasn’t a result of flubbing some massive burst window, cata assassination didn’t have massive burst if it wanted it, but was a slow loss of damage by making the wrong second to second decision.

“John F-ing Madden” Subtlety (T11-T13) The T13 subtlety spec is fondly remembered by many rogues but in retrospect it was something of a design disaster. The spec relied on numerous little tricks, snapshotting master of subtlety, and as many other buffs as possible into rupture and then rolling it with eviscerate for the entire fight. Combined with the shorter durations of rupture (20 seconds with glyph) and slice and dice (24 seconds) plus maintaining recuperate for energy regen and lack of tools for resource management created a rotation that was only borderline sustainable on uninterrupted patchwork style fights.

Unlike the previous specs mentioned there wasn’t a lot of nuance to “John F-ing Madden” you knew what you had to and and how to do it however the constant sweating over resource constraints are barely making one refresh or another (where missing one could tank your damage for the entire fight) was stressful and nerve-wracking in a way many people found very enjoyable. I don’t miss this spec, it was a barely sustainable mess that only worked because due to the design of dragon soul and its out sized damage when properly executed but it is an important spec in rogue history that lead directly to our last spec on this list.

Modern Subtlety (T16-Today) I’m lumping the MoP and WoD versions of subtlety together because they share a similar structure. Unlike the previous specs discussed the MoP and WoD subtlety spec have relatively high resource generation. However shadow dance burst windows impose major resource constraints over short time scales requiring pooling and GCD maximization. This subtlety has numerous little tricks for optimizing that dance window and is a perfect example of opt-in complexity. If you want to add more complexity to the spec you can, if you just want to play the base spec there is still enough complexity to keep the rotation dynamic from dance windows and in WoD blade twisting procs.

What Have We Learned The key point with all of these specs are resource constraints. The energy and combo point system of rogues (and feral druids) lends itself to slower rotations optimizing resource utilization rather than moment to moment rapid decision making. Rogue rotations tend are inherently constrained, abilities must either generate combo points or consume them and well designed rotations use those constraints. Multiple conflicting timers like “John F-ing Madden” subtlety require preplanning so we have sufficient resources at each refresh time which may shift around and overlap in ways that conflict with our underlying resource generation.

The key problem with rogue rotations during WoD and now into Legion is we have too many resources. The cata assassination spec had 10 additional energy on a 60% chance, now in WoD that is 100%. The addition of dispatch in MoP added nearly half a combo point to each mutilate of expected value. Subtlety has lost abilities to juggle and mechanical interactions that impose resource limits. Now with talents legion subtlety gains enough energy on entering shadow dance that pooling is entirely unnecessary. Legion combat is entirely resource unconstrained but without the nuanced interactions you need to support a high resource spec. New tools like anticipation and pandemic that allow more efficient resource utilization and allows us to escape some of the inherent timing constraints imposed by the combo point system. Finally set bonuses frequently increase resource generation as an easy way to give an interesting bonus. Taken together this undermines the potential complexity of rogue specs.

Some of this undoubtedly sounds like the ranting of an old grognard about the kids these days and their new tools. Maybe thats all this is, there is certainly community demand for high speed, GCD-locked specs but this doesn’t fit with historical rogue design or the current direction. If Blizzard is going to continue designing rogue specs without sufficient resource constraints rogue design must change. Rather than timing and pooling based specs design must shift toward complex mechanical interactions that find complexity in rapid decision making not careful ability timing. The current design seems trapped between the two, insufficient mechanical nuance for a quick decision spec but too many resources for a timing and planning spec.

Read More...

Rogue Transmogs: The Mishmash Assassin

Launja

This time around, Launja brings us her take on practical wear. She has certainly nailed that rogue instinct for finding a space where it’s easy to fade into the background! “I wanted this set to look practical and stealthy,” she tells us, “so I steered clear of bright colors, revealing cuts, and over-the-top shoulder size.

“It’s not supposed to look perfectly seamless, either: rather a full suit of standard issue battlegear you might get in a military stealth unit, it’s something the assassin has assembled herself from various parts, for her personal use.

“My personal favorite are the shoulderpads: they conceal spring-loaded spectral blades ready to rake the face of anyone foolish enough to get too close. No still picture can do justice to the animation. I literally jumped the first time I saw it go off.”

We agree, those shoulders are pretty awesome.

Head: Wicked Leather Headband – Leatherworking
Shoulders: Treacherous Shoulderpads – XT-002 Deconstructor in Ulduar
Back: Furious Gladiator’s Cloak of Victory – I got this from PvP back in Season 6, but several drops and craftables have the same look. (Such as Auchenai Death Shroud” – Avatar of the Martyred in Auchenai Crypts)
Chest: Fusion Slasher Chestguard – Lei Shen – Throne of Thunder Raid Finder. The Raid Finder tier 15 chest (Nine-Tailed Tunic) also has the same look
Hands: Netherblade Gloves – Tier 4 token from The Curator in Karazhan
Waist: Dusky Belt – Leatherworking
Legs: Syreian’s Leggings – Syreian the Bonecarver in Grizzly Hills
Feet: Bloodthirsty Leather Boots – Leatherworking

Sword: Scorpion Sting – A friendly stranger just handed me one of these while idling in town. It’s a BoE drop, so the Auction House might be your best bet.
Dagger: Blood Weeper – Devourer of Souls in The Forge of Souls Heroic. These also work well with Enchanter’s Illusion – Hidden for the ultimate assassin looks (blades coated with non-reflective black paint)!

 

Launja   Launja

 

 


  If you have a transmog that you just love and would like to share, please send the following to fans@ravenholdt.net for a chance to be featured:

  1. a list of the items that you used for your transmog. If you can, include where you acquired each piece.
  2. one or two nice high-res screenshots. These should be reasonably close up and not too dark. No stealth pics please!
  3. tell us a bit about what you were going for with your look. Do you have a name/title for your transmog?
  4. if you would like to be credited, please include a link to your armory and your Twitter handle if you have one.

Please note that we may not be able to feature every submission and those that are selected may not be posted immediately. We look forward to seeing more of what you wear!

Read More...

Encrypted Text: First glimpse of the (revised) Subtlety Rogue in Legion

In a new Encrypted Text from Blizzard Watch, Scott Helfand gives us a nice overview of the newly revised Subtlety spec. Covering rotation and basic abilities, he points out what we may be getting and how it differs from our current Subtlety spec. Check it out and leave him a comment:

Read More...

Rogue Transmogs: The Fel Rogue

Terrorskull In honor of Legion our very first transmog is by Terrorskull whose guild updated their Guild Tabard in anticipation the the upcoming expansion. Terrorskull designed a transmog to fit with the Legion theme and was generous enough to share the details. One of the neat things about this transmog is the variety of weapons that work with it; it truly becomes a mog that will work with every spec. Terrorskull went all over creation to obtain these items so expect to be running plenty of old content if you want to replicate his look. Obviously not everyone’s guild will have a conveniently Legiony tabard so we’ve included a few alternative options for both the tabard and cloak.

Head: Cursed Vision of Sargeras – Illidan Stormrage in Black Temple
Shoulders: Shoulderpads of the Monolith – Kologarn in Ulduar
Back: Cloak of Coordination – Sold by guild vendors
Chest: Tunic of Assassination – Pathaleon the Calculator in The Mechanar
Tabard: Guild Tabard – Sold by tabard vendors
Hands: Handgrips of Assassination – Aeonus & Temporus in The Black Morass
Waist: Belt of the Twilight Assassin – Sold by Valerie Langrom in Dalaran
Legs: Leggings of Assassination – Murmur in Shadow Labyrinth
Feet: Scouting Boots – Level 20 zone drop. Check out similar models for low level quest reward options.

Sword: Fang of Twilight – Valiona & Theralion in The Bastion of Twilight
Fist Weapon: The Bladefist (Normal) – Kargath Bladefist in Highmaul
Dagger: Shard of Azzinoth – Illidan Stormrage in Black Temple
Bonus Weapons: The Twin Blades of Azzinoth – Illidan Stormrage in Black Temple

Terrorskull1 Terrorskull2 Terrorskull3

 

Alternative Tabards:

 

Alternative Cloaks:

 

 


  If you have a transmog that you just love and would like to share, please send the following to fans@ravenholdt.net for a chance to be featured:

  1. a list of the items that you used for your transmog. If you can, include where you acquired each piece.
  2. one or two nice high-res screenshots. These should be reasonably close up and not too dark. No stealth pics please!
  3. tell us a bit about what you were going for with your look. Do you have a name/title for your transmog?
  4. if you would like to be credited, please include a link to your armory and your Twitter handle if you have one.

Please note that we may not be able to feature every submission and those that are selected may not be posted immediately. We look forward to seeing more of what you wear!

Read More...

Rogues Doing Good: Accomp

Rogues are often reviled as masters of deception and cheap tricks, that shadow that ganks you from stealth, that master of the shadowstep and the stun lock. Not all rogues are bad, however. In fact, though we say it ourselves, rogues are some of the nicest and most generous people we have ever met. Case in point, Accomp. Accomp is a member of the Convert to Raid mega guild on Aerie Peak. The requirement to acquire Reins of the Grove Warden (aka. the moose mount) is a Heroic or Mythic Archimonde kill, and Accomp rallied his mythic raid team, Convert to Mythic, and offered a carry to any member of Convert to Raid who wanted it. I was lucky enough to be able to accompany them on the night that they got that moose for their 100th guild member and I asked Accomp a little about what they are doing.

Please tell us a bit about yourself:

Well, I’m Accomp – Dwarf Rogue, guide writer and web developer here in North Carolina. I raid lead for the Convert to Mythic team in the Convert to Raid guild family on Aerie Peak [A]. I started out as a Holy Paladin back in December 2004, but swapped to my Rogue during Wrath launch and never looked back.

What exactly is #ConvertToMoose and how does it work?

#ConvertToMoose is the brainchild of Pat Krane and the Convert to Raid podcast crew. They wanted to get together a group of geared folks in the guild and help out the lesser geared or more casual players we have acquire their Moose mounts via Heroic Archimonde kills. We’ve got a pool of 36 geared players who have offered to help out every Sunday and we help 6-8 Convert to Raid guild members for each of the 4 Heroic Archimonde kills, with Personal Loot, we complete over the course of an hour and a half. We aren’t taking people’s gold and haven’t enforced any form of gear requirement other than being a level 100 toon in the Convert to Raid guild family. Honestly, we just wanted to do something positive for the community.

Why did you decide to do this?

With the inspiration of Pat and crew’s concept, I saw an opportunity to leverage my raid team’s current inactive status. We decided to take a break from Mythic raiding back at the beginning of October due to attendance/recruiting issues. We have approximately 5,200 unique accounts in the Convert to Raid guild family, so the potential to give back to the community was quite high. So while being able to give back and help the CTR community, we’re also able to stick together as a raid team until we can dive back into Legion testing when the time comes.

Was your team on board right away or did they take some convincing?

Surprisingly enough, nearly everyone on the team was immediately on board. I think we maybe had 2-3 out of the 21 on our roster that weren’t interested, which I was really proud to see. Once you start getting into Mythic progression, it’s easy to loose sight of the more casual players in the game and forget that you were there at one point in time. Our Convert to Mythic team continues to impress me, not only with their performance, but with their selflessness each week as they continue to give back to the community without ever asking anything in return. Cheers to each of them!

How many sign ups do you have?

So we’ve got 36 geared folks signed up (730+ ilvl) to help out each week and 432 CTR guild members signed up to be helped before we decided to disable the signup form for the time being to allow us to catch up. Currently, one month into doing the Moose runs, we’ve helped out a total of 102 CTR guild members and plan to continue to raise that number after the new year!

Can people still sign up?

Currently, we’ve got the signup form disabled for our #ConvertToMoose runs, mostly because of the extremely high demand and not wanting to get overwhelmed. We’ll consider re-enabling signups once we have a chance to catch up and make a larger dent in our existing signup list after the new year. With that said, there are definitely other teams, both in the CTR guild community and outside of it, that you could reach out to if you were looking to get some help with your Moose. The most notable is probably #FriendshipMoose. Please note, some of these groups may have a gear requirement, so just be sure to read their details first, so you know!

What kind of response have you had from the community?

The feedback so far has been absolutely amazing – even from folks outside of the CTR guild community. I don’t think any of us realized the impact this would have on the community and it’s definitely made everything worth it. Most of all, I appreciate everyone’s patience as we try to work our way through our rather lengthy list of signups and also a huge shout out to those outside of the CTR guild community who have helped out on nights our geared team was short on attendance.

Would you like to tell us a bit about CtR?

Sure! The Convert to Raid guild is an Alliance guild on Aerie Peak, founded in Jan 2013. We’ve got a handful of guilds linked together via the Greenwall addon. We’ve got over 5,200 unique accounts with players and raid teams of all varieties, with a focus on “Community, Teamwork and Respect.” Whether you’re a Mythic raider or a more casual LFR player, there’s a good chance you’ll find like-minded folks to play with. The guild was created as a community hub for the Convert to Raid podcast, which started back in June 2011. Give the show a listen and come join up with the community!

Thank you, Accomp and all of the mythic raiders who are helping so many people get this mount. This is an awesome act of kindness for those who wouldn’t have the resources to do this on their own – it truly is an example of our World of Warcraft community working right.

If you would be interested in joining the Convert to Mythic raid team, Accomp tells me that they are recruiting for Legion Mythic US progression on a two night schedule. This is a great opportunity to jump on board with a lovely, civic-minded progression team. Apply at: Convert to Mythic.

Merry Winter Veil everyone!

Follow Accomp on Twitter at @Accomp
Follow Convert to Raid on Twitter at @CtRGuild
Convert to Raid website: guild.converttoraid.com
Convert to Mythic website: www.ConvertToMythic.com

 

Read More...

Guessing Legion Talents

Based on the wonderful datamining from WoWHead we can make some initial guesses about our talent trees. Per Celestalon and Jay some of this stuff may have changed already and in a few places I’m guessing. All that said we can definitely start to get a picture of how our new talent trees may be structured. Spoiler warning: not all that different from our old talent trees.

Tier 15: Rotational
This tier looks like a good example of the stated design at Blizzcon. There is a passive talent with low rotational impact, a more complex passive talent and an active talent.
Assassination:
Master Poisoner: Increases the damage done by your poisons by 10% and their non-damaging effects by 20%.
Elaborate Planning: Your finishing moves grant 20% increased damage done for 4 sec.
??: Still seem to be missing one talent, probably the active talent here.

Outlaw:
Ghostly Strike: Strike an enemy with your cursed weapon, dealing 176% Physical damage, awarding 1 combo point, and causing the target to take 10% increased damage from your abilities for 15 sec.
Quick Draw: Free uses of Pistol Shot granted by Sabre Slash now generate 1 additional combo point, and deal 50% increased damage.
Swordmaster: Sabre Slash has an additional 15% chance to trigger a second instant free Sabre Slash.

Subtlety:
Weaponmaster: Your abilities have a 20% chance to hit the target twice each time they deal damage
Gloomblade: Infuse your weapon with Shadow energies and stab the target, causing 210% Shadow damage. Awards 1 combo point. Replaces Backstab.
??-Elaborate Planning: This was called out as an assassination talent in the preview but it does seem to fit on the sub row so putting it here provisionally

Tier 30: Movement and Stealth This tier looks very similar to live tier 15 with all three of nightstalkershadow focus, and subterfuge. Outlaw has two new movement based talents on this tier. Given what Blizzard said about outlaws and stealth this fits. It isn’t clear what the 3rd talent on this tier will be, it might be one of the stealth talents above or something else new.
Into the Fray: Increases your movement speed at all times by 15%.
Acrobatic Strikes: Increases the range on all your melee attacks by 3 yards.

Tier 45: Resources All three specs appear to share three resource generation/management talents on this tier, our old friend anticipation, now maxing out at 3 surplus combo points and two new talents.
Vigor: Increases your maximum Energy by 50 and your base Energy regeneration by 10%.
Deeper Stratagem: You may now have a maximum of 6 combo points, and your finishing moves now consume up to 6 combo points.

Tier 60: Survivability and Healing
This looks like a modification of live tier 45. The two interesting talents from tier 45 stick around to keep the great cheat death vs elusiveness debate raging. Each spec also has a healing talent as well, assassination keepsleeching poison while outlaw and subtlety get new talents.
Subtlety:
Soothing Darkness: You heal 3% of your maximum life every 1 sec while Stealth is active.
Outlaw:
Iron Stomach: Increases the healing you receive from Crimson Vial, healing potions, and healthstones by 30%.

Tier 75: CC
Broadly a merger of tiers 30 and 75 from live. It isn’t entirely clear how things fit together. Assassination gets [paralyic poison] from MoP back and paralytic poison’s WoD replacement internal bleeding befitting the assassination bleed emphasis. Current tier 75 talent dirty tricks goes to outlaw, a seemingly odd choice given the lack of dots for the spec but it does seem to fit everything we’ve been told about about outlaw aesthetically. It isn’t exactly labeled as such but current tier 30 talent nerve strike seems to round out the tier for outlaw and subtlety, this is a guess.

Assassination:
Thuggee: Each time you deal Bleed damage, you have a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on Garrote, but Garrote’s silence now lasts only 1 sec.

Outlaw:
Parley: Pacifies the target, who is forced to negotiate instead of fighting for 1 min. Only works on Humanoids, Demons, and Dragonkin. Any damage caused will break the peace. Limit 1 target.

Subtlety:
Strike From The Shadows: Shadowstrike also stuns your target for 2 sec.
Tangled Shadow: Nightblade now decreases the target’s movement speed by an additional 20%. Nightblade is subtlety’s rupture replacement.

Tier 90: Rotational
As announced at Blizzcon outlaw gets everyone’s favorite suicide button killing spree as a talent. Otherwise this tier is all new stuff. One new talent, alacrity, shared between all three specs.

Alacrity: Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to grant 1% Haste for 20 sec, stacking up to 25 times.

Assassination:
Numbing Poison: Coats your weapons with a Lethal Poison that lasts for 1 hour. Each strike has a 20% chance of poisoning the enemy, increasing all damage taken from your abilities by 10%, stacking up to 5 times and lasting 12 sec.
Blood Sweat: Each time you deal Bleed damage, the effect has a 30% chance to spread to an additional nearby target.

Outlaw:
Cannonball Barrage: Command a ghost ship crew to barrage the target area with cannonballs doing 8 Physical damage over 1.80 sec and slowing enemies by 50% for 1.50 sec.

Subtlety:
Premeditation: Cheap Shot and Shadowstrike generate 1 additional combo point.
Expanded Technique: Your combo point generators now also have a chance to trigger Shadow Techniques.

Tier 100: More Rotational?
All three specs share one well regarded talent from live in marked for death and one not so well regarded talent from live death from above. Assassination rounds out the tier with another live tier 100 talent, the disappointingly named Lemon Zestvenom rush.

Outlaw:
Roll the Bones: Finishing move that rolls the dice of fate, providing a random combat enhancement. Lasts longer per combo point.

Subtlety:
Relentless Strikes: You gain an additional 40 Energy when you enter Stealth.

What’s Missing?
There are two obvious omissions from the list above. The current level 45 mobility is gone. It may be that Blizzard is trying to move to spec specific movement kits. The devs confirmed on twitter earlier this week that shadowstrike (new ambush) will also serve as a gap closer. Outlaw appears to pick up a grappling hook leaving assassination with the old standby shadowstep. The other oddly hard to place ability is my most hated talentshadow reflection. We’ll have to wait and see but I’m hoping the clone is gone for good.

Overall we have picked up two tiers of potentially interesting rotational talents. There has been some shuffling between tiers but that isn’t obviously a bad thing. Part of the issue with the old rogue tiers was the somewhat disjointed collection of mechanics per tier. Several of the new mechanics look very interesting and I’m excited to play with them, others have major issues but that is exactly what beta is for.

Read More...

Legion Initial Worries

After yesterday’s info dump we don’t really have enough information for any kind of broad feedback. This post is a collection of potential worries to watch during early beta. When possible I’m working from the information we got yesterday but where things are unclear I’ve attempted to read between the lines a bit. Note these worries are roughly ordered by my worry about the issue.

Positional Requirements Positionals have always been one of those odd cases where Blizzard lets flavor overwhelm gameplay. A design only made weirder by last year’s Blizzcon comments by Kris Zierhut where he talked happily about the removal of feral positionals with no mention of backstab. WoD sidestab was a marked improvement and since the devs confirmed new backstab remains sidestab things aren’t as bad as they could be.

That said the decision to remove the positional requirements from backstab and replace it with a damage bonus is a poor solution as I said in my positional requirement blog post more than two years ago.

This solution despite being functionally identical to the current system is in fact worse because it provides no feedback mechanism. In the current design if backstab isn’t usable you know you aren’t behind the target, in this new design if you are just outside of the positional arc you will be doing less damage without an obvious indication.

The devs noted today that we would be seeing new UI elements to indicate target facing. This is a step in the right direction but it doesn’t really solve the problem. As several people noted on twitter a small indicator may be hard to see under raid ground clutter. Beyond that trying to rough out 45 degree arcs extending from a known point in space, while also paying attention to other mechanics is non-trivial. Yes technically it is a source of difficulty but estimating angles in space, especially given inconsistencies in boss hitbox sizes, doesn’t seem like a good source of difficulty.

If we are going to keep this backstab mechanic better UI support is essential. This could be done as an API function, IsBehind(unit) or a less ambiguous target circle marker as proposed by multiple people on twitter. Without better UI support I’m sure the rogue community will develop some big fancy weak aura to figure out if you are missing the 30% bonus but after recent comments about mechanics being too UI dependent this seems like something Blizzard wants to avoid.

Assassination Speed
Despite Blizzard’s assurances that pooling will remain important to assassination in Legion I remain skeptical. The key problem is pooling wasn’t really relevant in WoD either so if that is what Blizzard is trying to preserve, that isn’t going far enough. The key metric for pooling for me is, how high does a player have to pool to consistently generate 5 cps during the envenom buff. For simplicity let’s ignore anticipation and pandemic and just focus on that 6 second window. The key threshold is can you generate enough energy in a 6 second envenom window to use two mutilates. If you can do that, pooling broadly falls apart. With relentless strikes in WoD this meant 110-25=85 energy in 6 seconds, subtract off the 30 energy from 3 venomous wounds procs in a 6 second window and you end up with 55 energy in 6 seconds, which is to say even at 0 haste (10 energy per second) you could use two mutilates per 6 seconds. (Worth noting here that the apparent removal of dispatch even combined with the seal fate change will actually lower assassination combo point generation somewhat, something I am entirely fine with).

If relentless strikes is being removed, and since there is a subtlety talent called relentless strikes this seems quite likely, you now need to generate an additional 25 energy in 6 seconds. Of course with new sources of venomous wounds procs that value can be easily made up.

The question is how much gap should there be at 0 haste. If you start doing the math for even relatively low pooling thresholds, say 30 energy, you get 4 energy per venomous wounds tick, a dramatic step down from today, and at most the rotation requires pooling to 50 energy at 0% haste, ignoring venomous wounds ticks completely. This is a far cry from Cata and early MoP pooling up to 80+ energy. The key problem is there is no RNG. Regardless of the required pooling threshold the pooling target can always be computed exactly taking away the dynamism of pooling.

I know many players hated RNG resource generation but given the strictly deterministic energy regen of WoD and now potentially Legion assassination pooling thresholds create relatively small challenge. Since we now have 66% more venomous wounds procing events perhaps venomous wounds could return to a chance to proc with more events making zero procs within some window somewhat more unlikely.

I should note here that the example talent with a shorter pooling window does have the potential for interesting pooling based rotations if it is beneficial to squeeze another finisher into that damage window.

AoE rotations
The preview blog didn’t contain any information about AoE rotations however on twitter the devs made a pretty sweeping statement about AoE balance. This is a great goal but I am skeptical because blade flurry still exists. In fact at the start of WoD all three rogue specs were relatively balanced for AoE. Assassination fell off at higher target counts due to GCD capping but all three specs were competitive with each other on 2-4 target sustained and combat and subtlety were competitive with each other well past 5 targets. The problem, in addition to Blizzard’s odd tendency to buff blade flurry rather than combat single target in 6.0, is how the three AoE rotations scale mechanically (yes I’m about to make a scaling argument).

The outlaw AoE rotation with blade flurry scales very well because the outlaw AoE rotation is identical to its single target rotation. Anything that increases single target dps increases AoE dps. By contrast the subtlety and assassination AoE rotations are entirely distinct from the single target rotations using only a subset of the mechanics. Increasing envenom damage, envenom buff uptime, or cp builder damage had very little impact on assassination AoE damage and those mechanics tended to be where later buffs and set bonuses focused. Similarly for subtlety increasing FW uptime, dance uptime, or ambush damage, have a minor impact on AoE damage.

We have basically no information about AoE rotations but it is important to keep in mind during beta how each spec’s AoE rotation will scale mechanically. So long as outlaw keeps blade flurry in its current form I suspect it will out scale the other two specs without regular buffs.

Anticipation
One dev tweet yesterday mentioned anticipation and I believe entirely misses the issue with anticipation. I realize this is a single tweet and nuance may have been lost due to character constraints but I think it is important to be clear about the issues with anticipation balance for each spec since marked for death was added (the less said about the other talent on that tier the better).

Subtlety has the most interesting relationship with anticipation, while marked for death has been in theory competitive since the 6.0 actually achieving better dps results given the random and rapid combo point generation of HAT has eluded the rogue community. In practice trying to squeeze combo point builders into 1 GCD every 2-2.3 seconds approximately, is very difficult to do without accidentally losing a couple combo points. The relative competitiveness of anticipation for subtlety will likely not depend on the tuning of anticipation’s competitors but the tuning of the HAT replacement shadow techniques. The relative value of anticipation is also increased by higher combo point generation per ability so if shadow blades behaves as it did in MoP this may also push rogues toward anticipation.

Assassination has never favored marked for death due to its highly variable combo point generation. The change to seal fate increases the strength of anticipation. Using a 4+ rotation, as assassination rogues did pre-MoP, the potential combo point waste per finisher used at 3 cps is now crit_chance^2 higher than pre-MoP. This is a relatively minor effect, no more than 0.15 combo points additional waste in high gear levels but it will increase the value of anticipation. None of the changes to outlaw appear to make it more likely to take anticipation so it may continue to favor other talents. That said even for outlaw many players prefer anticipation due to increased quality of life which will likely continue to be true. The fundamental challenge with anticipation is the talent increases quality of life while providing a dps increase. Talents that are merely competitive are less likely to be chosen unless they offer comparable quality of life improvements.

The New Subtlety Rotation
Since the Blizzcon announcement about subtlety I’ve been somewhat miffed about the changes to subtlety. The WoD subtlety spec, especially in T17, was a wonderful piece of design with difficulty that scaled with player desire for challenge, with appropriate dps rewards, and broadly embodied the design principle of easy to learn, hard to master. The new rotation doesn’t seem to do that nearly as well. The new rotation, in it’s base version, doesn’t seem to have any of the timing window based hooks the spec has relied on since Cata. As Blizzard keeps reminding us talents will change up the rotation but I’m somewhat skeptical of the new rotation’s potential for interesting mechanics.

Vendetta is Boring
Blizzard confirmed yesterday that vendetta would be sticking around for another expansion to defend it’s title of most boring dps cooldown. I hope Blizzard has something new in store for envenom (beyond the silly WoD cold blood perk) because vendetta is entirely unexciting in its current form. At the very least making the ability on the rogue rather than target locked would be a nice quality of life change.

Outlaw Theme
For all the work Blizzard has done on spec identity one piece of information seems to be missing from the outlaw section, what mechanic is outlaw built around. With assassination we know that the spec mechanics are all about dots, poisons and bleeds, for subtlety it’s stealth and openers but for outlaw, no idea. The spec is supposed to be swashblucker/swordmaster but that doesn’t define a playstyle just an aesthetic theme. Strictly speaking there is no reason for a spec to need a mechanical theme, WoD subtlety for instance is all over the map but given all the discussion about defining the specs it seems like an odd oversight.

To that end the rotational sketch we get is very generic combo point system and basically the same as the live rotation. Sinister strike is now saber slash (at least we get to keep the same acronym), eviscerate is now run through. We’ve got a new proc mechanic with pistol shot and it looks like the spec has lost the cooldown centric cooldown reduction and bandit’s guile mechanics. Obviously talents will help flesh out the mechanics but unlike the other two specs there is little indication of what those talents will hook into or what kinds of mechanics the spec will emphasize.

Read More...