Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rogue PTR 3.1 Changes: What They Mean

The first batch of patch notes for the 3.1 PTR appeared yesterday. You can see a list of them at mmo-champion, as usual. I'm going to talk about the rogue changes specifically, because that's my "thing".

Let's start with the biggest thing, which wasn't even explicitly outlined in the patch notes: Instant and Wound Poison go from a percentage proc to a proc per minute (PPM) model. Ignore that urge to let your eyes gloss over as soon as I mention a technical term! This is actually really important! I won't bore you with an explanation of the math behind it, but instead explain that this change equalizes the number of poison procs you get no matter how fast your weapon is.

The fallout: fast weapons are no longer flatly dominant for raiders. Webbed Death is no longer the Best Weapon In The Game. The numbers aren't solid yet, but you should end up being able to use a variety of viable dagger speeds for Mutilate, and Combat will solidly want a slow mainhand and won't be punished as harshly for a non-optimal offhand (1.6 speeders won't be as bad as they are now). HAT builds will probably switch to favoring slow mainhands as well.

Don't worry: your poison damage won't go down. Instant and Wound do essentially the same dps on the PTR as they would do on live if you had a Webbed Death. And Wound still procs at about 2.5x the rate of untalented Instant, keeping Wound the choice for Combat builds.

Before I go down the list of patch notes, I want to get my recommendations for preparing for the patch, based on these notes, out of the way nearer the top of the post:

My raiding recommendations:
  1. Don't shard or pass on slower daggers (that are dps or stat upgrades for you) if you want to play Mutilate. Save them in the bank for the patch
  2. If you prefer Combat or are a min/maxer who wants to be prepared to switch if Combat becomes the dominant dps spec: get yourself a pair of matching weapons so you don't have to combo spec. If you are at the top of the game, you either want a Silent Crusader/Hailstorm combo or a Calamity's Grasp/Webbed Death.
  3. Start grabbing the glyphs you expect to need for dual-spec now, before the prices skyrocket around patch day. Keep in mind that new glyphs likely won't be available immediately, as you may have to wait for someone on your server to randomly discover them.


And on to the patch notes. My evaluations are in italics after each note.

  • Hunger For Blood: No longer stacks. Damage bonus changed to 15% for a single application. Requires a bleed effect active on the Rogue’s target. No longer removes bleeds from the Rogue. - Makes the buff less of a headache to reapply if it drops (currently must stack to 3 for full effect on Live). Very nice. The bleed effect caveat is there to limit its use in pvp; it will be no problem to have some type of bleed up at all times in raids. The minor downside is that it will be harder to apply while in stealth, since you'll rely on someone else putting on a bleed, and it will make the ability harder to use on fast trash pulls or during prolonged target switches.

  • Adrenaline Rush cooldown reduced to 3 min. - Awesome buff #1.
  • Killing Spree: Now also increases all damage done by the Rogue while active by 20%. - Awesome buff #2.
  • Savage Combat improved to 2/4% increased damage against poisoned targets. - Awesome buff #3
  • Lightning Reflexes reduced to 3 ranks for 2/4/6% dodge and 4/7/10% melee haste. - As detailed in my previous post, this is an awesome buff with the unfortunate side effect of darn near killing Combat specs that use two different types of weapons. Try to pick up a matching set of weapons before the patch hits. This new talent effectively locks down the tree, since every Combat spec MUST take the exact same 50 points or suffer a dps loss. Hopefully Blizz will respond by making some changes to the tree to free up a few points for interesting choices of utility talents.

  • Shadow Dance now opens a new action bar when used. - Much-needed, and frankly should have been in with the talent originally. Makes Shadow Dance much more appealing, removing one of the main reasons many players avoided it.

Changes found on the 3.1 PTR that were not listed in the patch notes:


  • Envenom now gives an additional 15% chance to apply Deadly Poison and a 75% increased frequency of applying Instant Poison for 1 sec plus an additional 1 sec per combo point. (Previously gave a 15% chance to apply both deadly and instant poison). - Don't get confused: all this does is make the ability do the same thing it always did, only in light of the change of poisons to PPM. This is essentially a non-change.
  • Expose Armor now reduces armor by 20%, lasting longer per combo point. - This brings the ability in line with the new implementation of Sunder Armor, though it doesn't fix the problem that we pay an untenable opportunity cost to put up our debuff while warrior tanks essentially do it by accident. It also amounts to a pvp nerf of the ability, since it is no longer disproportionately (and devastatingly) effective against cloth-wearers (removing a flat value of armor, as the ability used to do, hurts low-armor targets the most).

  • Improved Poisons (Tier 4) changed to increases the chance to apply Deadly Poison to your target by 2/4/6/8/10% and the frequency of applying Instant Poison to your target by 10/20/30/40/50%. (Previously increased chance to apply Deadly and Instant poison by 2/4/6/8/10%) - This is exactly the same kind of non-change to adapt to poison being on a PPM now. The effect of the talent remains the same.

And finally, datamined glyphs. Some of them appear to be out-of-date. It is not yet known which of these are simply unused artifacts from previous testing iterations, and which will actually see the light of day on Live servers.

  • Glyph of Sap -- Increases the duration of Sap by 20 sec. (Old: 10 sec.) - Buff to a largely unused glyph. May be nice if CC ever returns to the game, but I still don't see it being good enough to take the spot of the more common glyphs.
  • Glyph of Deadly Throw -- Increases the slowing effect on Deadly Throw by 10%. (Old: Increases the range on Deadly Throw by 5 yards.) - I . . . don't care.
  • Glyph of Adrenaline Rush -- Increases the duration of Adrenaline Rush by 5 sec. (Old: Decreases the cooldown of Adrenaline Rush by 60 sec.) - I guess the new version is more valuable with AR on a much shorter cooldown. I expect it to vie with the new KS glyph for raiders who don't need the SnD glyph.
  • Glyph of Sprint -- Increases the movement speed of your Sprint ability by an additional 30%. (Old: also reduced the duration by 5%) - Nice buff, but I still don't see this taking a major glyph spot, even for PvP. Sprint is just on too long a cooldown and too vulnerable to snares.
  • Glyph of Crippling Poison -- Increases the chance to inflict your target with Crippling Poison by an additional 20%. (Old: 10%). - A buff that may bring this glyph into consideration for some PvPers.
  • Glyph of Pick Lock -- Reduces the cast time of your Pick Lock ability by 100%. (Old: 75) - Dont' know why it didn't start this way. Yay!
  • Glyph of Hunger For Blood *new* -- Increases the bonus damage from Hunger For Blood by 1% per application. - Looks like they are addressing the lack of useful glyphs for Mutilate raiding specs. It's still unclear whether this glyph will even exist though, given that it still refers to the outdated "per application". And if it is real, will it increase HfB by 1% or 3%?
  • Glyph of Killing Spree *new* -- Reduces the cooldown on Killing Spree by 45 sec. - Depending on how good the upgraded KS is, this may be good for raiders. I'll leave that math up to EJ. Either way, this will be a very popular glyph for Combat PvP.
  • Glyph of Shadow Dance *new* -- Increases the duration of Shadow Dance by 4 sec. - Yet another glyph for new Wrath abilities.
  • Glyph of Fan of Knives *new* -- Increases the damage done by Fan of Knives by 20%. - Nice for aoe, but won't be worth a Major Glyph slot unless you have a build specifically for heroics and Naxx trash (which I'm sure some hardcore raiders will).
  • Glyph of Tricks of the Trade *new* -- Your Tricks of the Trade grants an additional 10% bonus damage to your target. - Also not worth a major glyph slot for most people. If TotT is used in a tight rotation by an elite and well-organized raiding guild, this may result in a greater DPS increase for the raid overall than alternative glyphs. But in any other PvE situation it's pretty mediocre. I would say it will be used by arena teams to stack burst buffs on one member, except one of the other patch notes makes TotT mutually exclusive with a number of other
  • Glyph of Mutilate *new* -- Reduces the cost of Mutilate by 5 energy. - Pffft no brainer. This may be one of the keys that helps Mutilate keep up with Combat and other classes in light of the poison PPM changes.
  • Glyph of Cloak of Shadows *new* -- While Cloak of Shadows is active, you take 40% less physical damage. - Seems like an excellent PvP glyph to me.

So it turns out that overall, there's a lot of good stuff in here, and the patch is less of a disappointment than I originally thought. I can't wait to find out what they are planning that didn't make it into this edition of the patch. Hopefully they will succeed in bringing us back in line with other pure dps classes in raids while also restoring us in PvP (rogues dropped to the bottom of the arena barrel after recent nerfs to Mutilate and the prevalence of rogue-countering hunter teams).


Raitin said...

Great wrap up of the Rogue 3.1 changes to date. Looking forward to seeing how these changes go on Live and looking forward to seeing what EJ comes up with with the numbers for Combat builds. Hmm, I wonder if this PPM thing will take away Combat Shiv's top spot? Blizz should put a 5/8 second cooldown on that thing anyway...

Ixobelle said...

that CloS glyph is HUGE.

I really don't think it's getting the attention is deserves. 40% reduced physical damage means CloS isn't just the anti caster anymore. as if evasion wasn't enough, when it's up, you still have another 5 seconds or so of oh shit gogoogo to hope it's enough to toe to toe tank another melee class.