On The Cataclysm Changes

Posted by on Apr 13, 2010 in Commentary, Previews |

And now, for the nitpicking.

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 a nice, welcome change. We won’t be wasting time building up combo points on fights that have a lot of target-switching, which then mean that we can do finishers more often. Too bad there’s no mention of transferring Deadly Poison stacks though. It wouldn’t make sense but it would be convenient.

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.

I admit that I shook my head at this one when I first read it. All it took was to see the word “defensive”. This is clearly a PvP talent so I’m in no place to comment about it (but you know I will anyway). Any rogue will tell you that in a raid, being struck by something will usually result in death. I doubt that Combat Readiness will change that.

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.

This has raid utility written all over it. Preventing enemies from targeting allies inside the cloud is going to be useful overall. What I’m concerned about is what if the tank is in the cloud with you? You’re both melee, after all. If the mob can’t target the tank, who is it going to go after?

  • 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.

It’s PvP. Hurray, I guess.

  • 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.

My guildmate Larcis calls this “lazy DPS”, because of our reliance on poisons. I can’t blame him. Recount shows it too. If you’re Assassination, you should see your damage breakdown as follows: 1. Melee. 2. Instant Poison. This means that your white damage and poison attacks are your main source of damage. That screams passive abilities, hence lazy DPS. I have no problem with that, but Blizz does so expect a change. Hurray for yellow damage then.

More damage from specials mean more yellow. 10k Sinister Strikes then?

  • 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).

I think Blizz wants to increase the Rogue population so they’re introducing this one. Maybe it’ll work. Also, I want to outheal healers in Recount with Recuperate. Should I start gemming for Spirit?

  • 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.

Again, this is to streamline target-switching fights. I think Blizz is encouraging us to stick to a spec instead of making us change them on a per-fight basis. I’ll elaborate on that in a separate post.

  • 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.
  • 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.

We’re moving away from the dagger-only abilities a bit. It started with enabling us to use Axes, folks. It’s good to see that they’re adjusting our abilities accordingly.

  • 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.

Chase Christian explains it clearly: this is a nerf. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks. We’re supposed to be the best at single-target DPS (and currently, we are). FoK was supposed to solve our uselessness on AoE trash pulls, not give us the dominance that we have at the moment. Hey, at least they’re getting creative. They’re changing FoK’s mechanic altogether instead of simply nerfing it.

  • 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.

Half of the rogue’s threat for 6 seconds then? Anyway, this one sounds like a minor adjustment is being considered, but nothing too earth-shattering.

New Talents and Talent Changes
In Cataclysm, the overall feel of each of the rogue’s talent trees will change, as we would like each tree to have a clearly defined niche and purpose. The talent details below are meant to give you an idea of what we’re going for.

  • Assassination will be more about daggers, poisons, and burst damage.

This is what Assassination currently is, for you non-rogues out there.

  • 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.

I’m confused with this one. Currently, combat is about the above-mentioned weapons. Toe-to-toe and survivability sounds like attacking in front of the target, which then makes me think that they’re making Combat more PvP-viable. Either that or they want us to tank with it.

  • 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.
  • In general, Subtlety rogues needs to do more damage than they do today, and the other trees need to have more tools.

Let’s face it: no one uses Subtlety because of its damage output (or the lack thereof). Blizz wants to re-balance things by placing some of Sub’s tools to the other trees (looks like Combat’s the recipient) while getting some damage in return. We’ll just have to wait and see how that goes.

  • 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.

Noooooo. Not Mace Spec. I love that talent. Especially with my Axes.

  • 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.

Again, no more lazy DPS. They want us to mash those buttons like Heroic Strike. I say give us better energy regen and we’ll do it.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses
Melee damage
Melee critical damage
Poison damage
Melee damage
Melee Haste
Harder-hitting combo-point generators
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.

And there you have it. Assassination looks like it will receive the least number of changes because of its current reliance on poison damage. Combat will grant better Sinister Strikes (better than Mutilate?) since it’s the only decent combo point generator for that tree while Subtlety will give better output with finishers. I’ll believe it when I see my Slice and Dice crit.