Warlords Alpha: First Impressions

Whelp, the Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes have been released, and I’ve somehow managed to read them and catch up on my tweets, meaning it’s time to write about them!  Last night I skimmed over them and noted the topics that I’d like to discuss in depth, then proceeded to post it mostly as a commitment device.  While I do plan on writing about those in greater detail, I’d like to make a post in which I address the whole picture – or at least all of the pieces that make up that picture.  Thankfully, I have a blog, so I will do just that.

Before I start, I should probably say a few things.  First, for better or for worse, what I write here are very early impressions.  While I will make my opinions about changes clear, the probability that my opinion is wrong will be higher than average.  Second, I’m going to be using Rfeann’s summary of the changes as a template for the organization of this post, because I like it and it is what I’m relying on for all of the notes anyway.  Alright, time’s up, let’s do this!

 

General Changes

  • Combo points will now stack on the rogue:  It’s hard to get past my initial reaction, which is “ugh.”  The fact is, having combo points on enemies never bothered me, and I’ve always considered managing them a skill check.  This change isn’t as much of a buff, but rather a fundamental change to rogue gameplay.  Elaborating on the ramifications of this change in this paragraph would not do justice, so I’ll leave it to a future post.
  • Assassination and Combat becoming (more or less) weapon agnostic:  There seems to be some conflicting reports, but it appears that Assassination will be able to wield swords and fist weapons for a moderate DPS loss, and Combat will be able to wield a dagger in the main-hand for a similar or smaller loss.  The stated intent is that it will allow folks to switch specs easier or play a preferred spec even if they haven’t yet gotten a good weapon for it.  Seems reasonable, as long as it is still distinctly better for Assassination to dual-wield daggers and Combat to use a slow weapon in its main hand.
  • No more Dismantle, Mind-Numbing Poison, or Paralytic Poison:  From what I can tell these are the only control abilities that rogues are losing.  Two (Dismantle, Mind-Numbing) are being removed along with all other mechanics of that type.  The last is a talent that applies a random stun, which in the context of all stuns sharing a DR, is terrible which basically means losing it doesn’t count.  If this is all we can expect to lose in the great CC disarmament, then I imagine rogues will be in a pretty good place relative to other classes.  Of course, this is how it should be:  Control has always been one of the biggest selling point of the rogue class.  Generally speaking, as a rogue if people don’t hate you, then you are probably doing it wrong.  This means we should either have borderline-OP burst, or borderline-OP control.  Since burst isn’t gonna happen in this day and age, then control it is.
  • No more Disarm Trap:  The fact that this change is in the ability/bar bloat section confuses me since Disarm Trap no longer requires you to push a button, and if the issue is too much clutter in the spellbook, then that is more a problem with the spellbook layout than its size.  Considering the prominence of traps in recent WoW memory, I can only assume that this change is made for PvP reasons (Confirmed!).  As much as I love an excuse to rant about the treachery of hunters and how the only way this would be acceptable is if they removed traps altogether, my objections to this change are almost entirely PvE oriented, because it shows that the developers are taking a step in what I believe to be exactly the wrong direction.  I’ll elaborate in a later post.
  • No more Expose Armor:  Great!  Now I can’t be pressured into using it for my raid!
  • No more Shadow Blades:  Ya know, I’ve kinda started to like this ability since I stopped thinking about its usage.  Of course, it’s more trouble than its worth and the fact that the trouble of thinking about when to use it outweighted the fun of using it is exactly why removing it is the right choice.
  • Tricks of the Trade now only for threat:  I’m pretty thrilled about this.  The only question I have about it is whether or not this iteration of it deserves its own button.  Of course, this means there is no risk of increasing a hunter’s DPS when you pull mobs on them, so perhaps this is the best of both worlds.
  • Being visible during Subterfuge:  Ok, that’s fair.
  • Automatically learning glyphs:  This change makes sense in the context of the super fast pace leveling of modern WoW where stopping in a major city for powerups seems to be discouraged.  While personally I like the idea of a slower leveling experience, given what it is this is a good idea.
  • Crimson Tempest bleed stacking and across-the-board AoE buff:  It seems that Blizzard decided that our AoE is too weak, so along with there being no damage lost due to clipping the duration of Crimson Tempest, each spec is getting a whole slew of AoE buffs (mostly via perks).  While we don’t yet know how potent this increase will be, it seems reasonable that our AoE will at the very least be competitive in any situation provided you chose the right spec, and that they will be close enough that even the “wrong” spec will still do solidly.  I’m pretty down with this, since the perk of being a pure should be the ability to have very few fights that you are actively bad on.  We’ll see how this pans out though.
  • [perk] Increased healing on Recuperate:  A bit strange, seeing as recuperate is mostly used as a leveling ability, but…sure?  Personally I think a better idea for a Recuperate perk would be to make it more suitable for max level by, say, compressing its healing or making it apply deadly poison to hunter pets when attacked by one.

Assassination Changes

  • Seal Fate can be procced by Fan of Knives:  Sure, I’ll take it.  I like that they are using an existing mechanic to buff AoE while making the combo point generation more in-line with what Assassination rogues have during their normal rotation.
  • [perk] Slice and Dice now passive:  This is good, I like that it is only for Assassination too.  Slice and Dice fits for Combat since the spec is more focused on APM and upkeep to increase APM (both passive and active) fits the theme.  For Sub, it fits the theme of upkeep and MORE FINISHERS!!1!, which also justifies its staying part of the Sub rotation.
  • [perk] Vendetta is now also Cold Blood (100% crit on next ability after using it):  That’s real sweet Bliz, now what are you going to do to make Vendetta more compelling than a tissue?  The reason Cold Blood was fun was because of the instant gratification you got out of knowing that you were about to see a massive crit, not its damage.  Effectively macroing a fun ability to a boring one doesn’t change the fact that Assassination’s biggest DPS cooldown is still really boring for the vast majority of its duration, plus almost entirely lacking in the strategic use department.
  • [perk] Venomous-er Wounds:  This should make Assassination a bit faster without substantially increasing its scaling, which will hopefully mean it won’t be as boring in the first tier as it has been in the past.  Probably not enough, but a step in the right direction nonetheless.
  • [perk] Extra poisonous Fan of Knives:  Another AoE buff that fits the theme of the spec.  Sounds good.
  • [perk] Crimson Tempest now gives the (MoP) Envenom debuff:  Same as above.
  • [perk] More active damage when the Envenom debuff is up:  Good call, this will make skill more of a factor.  Of course, it doesn’t actually change what the optimal play is so technically the skill cap won’t change, just the impact of being skilled.
  • [perk] Dispatch and Envenom debuff buffed:  Yeah, sure fine cool?

 

Combat Changes

  • Revealing Strike changed to Somewhat Less Sinister Strike A good change for all the reasons given in Fiery’s article that I just linked.  This is also pretty cool in light of the Bandit’s Guile perk that extends its duration at max insight.
  • Combat now longer has DoTs:  Interesting!  I like it!  I suppose this isn’t really much of a change since the only bleed Combat uses is Deadly Poison, which is passive anyway, but the fact that it will not even have access to them solidifies it as the most physical of rogue DPS specs.  This might hold it back a bit in PvP though, since DoTs are useful for getting past armor as well as breaking a rogue out of stealth.
  • Combat AoE changes (see perks for details):  Having FoK and CT as part of the Combat AoE rotation is…interesting.  We’ll see at what number of targets those will be used, but I’d imagine the multitarget rotation would be either use Blade Flurry and act as usual, or use FoK and CT.  Maybe there will be a point where we use CT but not FoK, but hopefully not.  It looks to me like this is to give Combat a viable AoE option when Blade Flurry starts to lose out.
  • [perk] Bandit’s Guile now lasts longer at max insight:  Cool, I like it, see first combat note.
  • [perk] Deadly Poison is now Instant Poison, and Crimson Tempest now only deals initial damage (same total though):  See second combat note.
  • [perk] You can now spam more during Adrenaline Rush:  Uh…thanks?  How about instead making it so that you don’t *need* to spam as much during AR.  I’d much rather the GCD stay at 1 second and for AR to give less energy regen either on a shorter cooldown or over a longer duration.  Or, just make it bump your energy up to 100 and make everything free!
  • [perk] Fan of Knives is now cheaper:  Good way to increase AoE while sticking to Combat’s theme of DO MOAR STUFF!!1!
  • [perk] Your offhand autoattacks always hit:  Sure.
  • [perk] Sinister Strike and Eviscerate deal more damage:  Ok cool.

 

Subtlety

  • Positional requirements are removed.  Ish:  Good.  Ish.  The fact that Backstab is now usable anywhere besides a 90-degree cone in front of the enemy is…well you know what I’m going to be writing a blog post on this anyway but let’s just say I’m not sure what they are doing with Subtlety generators and that somewhat bothers me.  Still, at least we can Ambush whenever!
  • [perk] Honor Among Thieves now can proc off of white crits:  This (along with Ambush no longer having a positional requirement) is a big buff for people who want to solo as Subtlety.  Yay.
  • [perk] Vanish cooldown reduced by 30 seconds, and Shadow Dance duration increased by 2:  Hrm, both of these will significantly increase Find Weakness uptime, which I’m pretty dubious about.  Find Weakness is a great mechanic, but I am of the opinion that there’s a certain sweet-spot where you can apply it relatively frequently, but the damage increase from it is very significant.  Starting out with nearly 50% uptime before readiness gives me serious doubts.
  • [perk] Eviscerate is now a bit cheaper:  Sure, cool, I like having a higher chance to get that extra Eviscerate into my Find Weakness window.
  • [perk] Fan of Knives now generates a combo point for each enemy it hits:  …Buh?  So considering how terrible Sub AoE is right now, this might actually even things out.  Alternatively, raids will stick a bunch of mobs near the boss so that their Subtlety rogue can use Fan of Knives as their main combo point generator, because holy cow is that a buff to single target DPS!
  • [perk] Backstab, Ambush, and Hemorrhage deal more damage:  Because Subtlety is what I do, I’d love to look into this.  That said, we have no reason to assume that the damage distribution pre-perk is similar to what it is now, so as with the other flat buffs I can only say “ok cool.”
  • [perk] Premeditation is now passively bound to Ambush and Garrote with no cooldown, but does not work during Dance:  While no math has been done on this, the loss of control over Premeditation plus the fact that we can only use it during normal stealth makes me feel like this is more a nerf then a perk.  Of course, Premeditation in its current form probably doesn’t deserve its own button, so I see where this change is coming from.  In my opinion if the devs want to make Premeditation some form of passive, they should just do it, perks be damned.  Of course, if this affect also works during Subterfuge, then that talent will be even more required.  Oh well, there’s bound to be a right answer for our t1 talents.

 

That’s all I got for now, please tell me if I forgot anything!

 

EDIT:  Added thoughts on Enhanced Premeditation.  Whoops!

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3 thoughts on “Warlords Alpha: First Impressions

  1. […] “First Impressions” Analysis (Haileaus of The Shadowy Dancer) […]

  2. Wheeljam says:

    A lot of interesting things indeed, also a little skeptic about combo points on yourself though. To early to comment anything on the single damage boost on existing spells.

    One thing in particular though concerning Premeditation.. guess I’ll have to say goodbye to premeditation+S’nD opener /qq

  3. Haileaus says:

    Celestalon tweeted that they are still iterating on Premeditation. It seems they are well aware that it becoming a passive in the way they described is no perk, and that it should feel distinctly like a buff.

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