Sunday, October 23, 2011

Post-Blizzcon Roguestravaganza

So Blizzcon happened. No, I was not one of the lucky people who attended the event. Seriously, it seems like everyone and their dog went to Blizzcon, something that seems incongruous with the fact that there are a limited number of tickets that literally sell out in seconds. More likely it's because the people that are going feel the need to howl about it while the people who aren't don't. Anyways, it's over and there was a ton of tasty changes that have me incredibly excited!

Mists of Pandaria

So the new expansion is, in fact, Mists of Pandaria. Which is great and all, but I wanted an outer space summer vacation, meaning I wanted to go to other worlds like Argus and Xoroth. I think that would have been a refreshing change after being earthbound for two expansions. However, after seeing screenshots and video of the new lands I can safely say that I actually like "WoW does China". As I've said before, I didn't really dig Uldum, heh, because it felt like "WoW does Egypt", but for whatever reason I just don't have the same problem with Pandaria. The architecture and the landscapes look pretty awesome.

Onto the Pandaren. Much like the Worgen before them we've only seen the male model so far, but it looks stellar, and the animations are some of the best I've seen. Honestly, I hope we get a lithe female model, or at least a shapely one. Of course the community is going to scream about "extreme sexual dimorphism", but you know what? I don't care! I want pandaren girls to be easy on the eyes. The Alliance already has worgen and dwarven we really deserve any more punishment?

Monk! I Need a Monk!

The new class is called the Monk. Unfortunately they wear agility leather, so they'll be rolling on our gear. The class is pretty interesting. It's a hybrid that can fill tank, healing, and dps roles, and apparently they have no auto attack. So if you're aren't hitting buttons I guess he's literally just sitting there. All I can say is thank God weapon skill is gone, that would've been a bitch.

I heard somewhere that the idea of no auto attack wasn't set in stone. It does seem a little weird to me. Many classes get a substantial chunk of their dps from auto attacking. A class that isn't doing so needs that damage rolled into its special abilities, meaning it's going to be a little more bursty than other classes. Seems like the monk will probably be pretty good in pvp if the damage of white hits is going to be baked into all its other abilities. We'll see if the devs see this through.

Another thing about the monk is the resource system. Apparently they're going to have an energy-like resource called "Chi". They can use their Chi on two abilities called Roll and Jab. Roll is exactly like it sounds; they roll out of the way presumably to dodge attacks, and Jab is just a basic attack. Jab works like a combo point builder except they're generating two "combo points" each Jab, one "light force" and one "dark force". These forces are used to preform the monk's other abilities which use some combination of light and/or dark. So it seems the monk playstyle is quite similar to rogue, which makes sense considering the overall similarity of the two classes.

All and all I'm just not really all that excited about the monk. There's a handful of abilities that were shown. I wasn't super excited about any of them. I'm not really down with it. The rogue is already a monk. Rogues are already a light and agile melee fighter, and as far as I'm concerned we're the only one this game needs. Not to say I don't want the monk in the game. I'm sure many people are going to have a lot of fun with the new class, but I probably won't play it. I've abstained from rolling a DK for this long, so you know I have the will to do so...or whatever the antithesis of "will" is.

Thrown is Gone

The Thrown slot is, wait for it, getting thrown away. No more thrown slot, no more thrown weapons, and good riddance! It was never very compelling item slot to begin with. They tried to make it more compelling in Cataclysm by tying our thrown weapon to our Fan of Knives ability, but that was kind of an awkward implementation. We're going back to the way it was in wrath where FoK damage is based off our main-hand and off-hand weapons...the way God intended.

Talent Revamp

What's gotten me more excited than any of the other expansion news is the talent revamp. Blizzard has deemed it necessary to re-evaluate talents yet again, and this time the solution is even more extreme than before. Talents as we know them are simply gone. We'll still select a spec and get those perks and spec-specific abilities, but after that we'll have tiers. A new tier will become available every 15 levels and we'll be presented with three talent choices of which we can only chose one. As Blizz puts it this will mean "every choice should be hard but fun!" Here are the six tiers.

First off. I don't believe many of these choices to be all that hard. There's usually a clear winner or else theorycrafting will dictate a clear winner. What's much more interesting is some of the new talents that have been included are downright awesome! Apparently Blizzard was just throwing things out there without thinking about how OP they'd be and some of these talents seem crazy OP in their current incarnations!

Tier 1

Nightstalker *buffed* - Increases your speed while steatlhed by 20%. (Old - 10%)
Subterfuge - Your Stealth breaks 3 seconds after dealing or receiving damage, rather than doing so immediately.
Shadow Focus - Abilities no longer cost energy while you are stealthed.

This first tier, based around stealth, is pretty sweet. Subterfuge jumps out the most. This is exactly what I've been waiting for...a way to do a double or even triple Ambush from stealth.With this talent a rogue opening from stealth might actually be scary again. Shadow Focus is nice as well and will be the PvE pick. Nightstalker, the weakest of the three, could still be used to stealth around quickly while leveling.

Tier 2

Deadly Throw - Finishing move that interrupts spellcasting and reduces the movement speed of the target by 50% for 6 seconds. (Old - no interrupt on spellcasting)
Nerve Strike - A successful Kidney Shot or Cheap Shot also reduces the damage dealt by the target by 50% for 6 secs after the effect fades.
Combat Readiness - Unchanged.

This next tier seems a little unfocused. You have offensive abilities and defensive abilities. I definitely like that Blizz revived the BC incarnation of Deadly Throw by bringing back interrupt. I can see that being the PvP pick with Nerve Strike in a close second. Also, I'm hoping they're take CR off shared cooldown with cloak if we have to pass up these other two options to get it.

Tier 3

Cheat Death - Unchanged.
Leeching Poison - Coats a weapon with poison that lasts for 1 hour. Subsequent weapon strikes against the poisoned target will heal you for 10% of the damage dealt.
Improved Recuperate - Same as now.

Leeching Poison?...Leeching Poison!? Pretty freaking awesome if you ask me. I know it's kind of after the fact, but this is an idea I've had before, but I've always believed it would be a bit too OP. I guess not! This is going to be an awesome. Rogues are going to have two self-healing abilities! Woot!

Tier 4

Preparation *buffed* - When activated this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on your Sprint, Vanish, Cloak of Shadows, Evasion, Dismantle, and Smoke Bomb abilities. (Old - Sprint, Vanish, and Shadowstep)
Shadowstep - Unchanged.
Burst of Speed - Increases movement speed by 70% for 4 sec. If you are afflicted by any movement-imparing effects this ability will instead remove any such effects and grant immunity to their re-application for 4 secs.

Shadowstep for everyone! I think it's the de facto winner in this tier. Although with the ridiculous amount of abilities now covered by Prep it might have some competition, but, for me, Shadowstep trumps all. We also have a new contender in the form of the very accurately named "Burst of Speed". It sounds nice, but at the cost of 60 energy I wonder how good it will actually be. In the hands of a good player who knows which effects to break and when, it could be devastating.

Tier 5

Deadly Brew - Unchanged.
Paralytic Poison - Coats a weapon with poison that lasts for 1 hour. Each strike has a chance of applying a charge of Paralytic Poison to the enemy. Upon a fifth application, the poison will stun the enemy for 4 secs.
Dirty Tricks - Your Gouge and Blind no longer break from damage dealt by your Poison and Bleed effects.

Whoa. Paralytic Poison is just awesome. I am wondering if it shares DR with our other stuns. Something tells me it does, but if it doesn't wow. It's going to be a very difficult to chose a talent on this tier because all the options are so strong. This is about as close to "Every choice should be hard but fun!" as we get.

Tier 6

Killing Spree - Step through the shadows to a random enemy within 10 yards, dealing a damaging strike and generating 5 combo points on that target. This ability may be activated multiple times within 5 sec of its first activation.
Shadow Dance - Unchanged.
Vendetta - Marks and enemy for death increasing all damage you deal to the target by 20% for 15 seconds. While vendetta is active the rogue may deal Vengeful Strikes to the marked target.  
Vengeful Strike - 30 energy - deals 100% weapon damage (145% with a dagger), has a 30 yard range, and generates a combo point.

I don't really understand the new Killing Spree. I guess they just want us to press a more buttons during KS? What end does that serve? Maybe it could help with energy capping, but that's only if they remove Relentless Strikes, but I'm hoping that gets baked into our class or at least one of the specs.

Vendetta got a little more interesting. I wonder if Vengeful Strike will work out like Murderous Intent where, even though the ability is technically weaker than Mutilate, it still ends up being better for overall dps. I'm not really a math wizard or even a math acolyte so I'm not even going to try to figure it out, but that would be kind of cool.

The fact that Vengeful Strike has a range of 30 yards is cool too. I don't see the value of that in PvE, but in PvP it could be used to finish off a fleeing target. Also, I'm all for the 15 second duration...seriously, my biggest beef with Vendetta the way it is now is that's it's just too long! Too long Clanky! And finally, I would actually be really happy if Vengeful Strike gets a similar animation to the Warden's Shadow Strike from Warcraft III. I want that little shadow dude to pop up and stab people for me.

Talent Revamp Conclusion

So there it is. There's some juicy new spells in there that I can't wait to try out. I do wonder how much is going to be lost. Like I said before, what will to happen to talents like Relentless Strikes or Ruthlessness? Things we've become accustomed to and now seem inseparable from the rogue experience. Are they going to be rolled into the class or one of the specs? Will they become glyphs? Or will they simply disappear? I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Mists of Pandaria seems to be shaping up quite nicely. There really wasn't a whole ton of rogue-specific news, but the news we did get was very good news indeed. The bad news, however, is there will be a new class that's going to try to muscle in on our our turf. Will they be the mage to our warlock? The paladin to our death knight? All I know is that I'll be ganking as many leveling monks as I can. Just kidding....or am I?

P.S. Sorry for the incredibly lengthy post. Tell you what...if you made it through the whole thing I'll grant you one wish...redeemable if/when I become a genie.

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