Ghostcrawler on Rogues
Since Tim fired up a brand new duo of rogues, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at what he’ll be walking into in the future. Ghostcrawler recent made a lengthy post about what goes on in the minds of the design team when it comes to everyone’s favorite stunlocker. Of course, you have to remember Cataclysm is far from final and what Blizzard “plans” and what they “do” sometimes can be quite different. Enjoy the look into the state of the rogues.
Ultimately, we’d like for more talent trees to look like Subtlety. Trading utility A for utility B is an interesting decision. Trading utility A for more dps is not an interesting decision; the latter is always going to win.
Somewhat related, for the pure dps classes it’s likely that there will always be a spec with the theoretically highest dps. It’s going to be nigh impossible to make multiple talent trees provide identical dps regardless of gear improvement, encounter specifics or group synergies. Our goal instead is just to get things close enough that players are willing to sacrifice a little bit of dps for a playstyle they really enjoy. (For some players, losing any dps is unacceptable, but I also know enough hardcore players that I can say with some confidence that you can’t just make a blanket statement that all competitive players feel this way.)
I don’t think we’re there with rogues yet. Assassination is now a serious contender in end-game raiding, but Subtlety isn’t and hasn’t been since HAT was in a silly place. I think we’re a lot closer with mages. Arcane may be the highest dps in a general sense, but there are fights on which Fire will win. Frost is a lot closer than it used to be, to the point where someone who just loves Frost won’t feel like they are horribly gimping their group’s progress. (It probably still needs to be slightly higher than where it is, but we’ll see what Icecrown is like.) We eventually want to get rogues, locks and hunters closer to where mages appear to be in 3.3 (and work on mages more too of course).
Honor Among Thieves was a good attempt to get more combo points, and therefore damage, into the tree. It ended up having the scaling problem that a lot of our abilites have — it’s easy for it to be too weak in a small, 5-player group and to be too powerful when it’s scaling off of 25 players. (Restricting it to a group doesn’t really help because you can just fill that group full of folks who crit a lot, and raids provide a lot more buffs to guarantee crits.)
I do agree with the general feel of Subtlety being high finisher damage and cps through alternative routes, and that’s a kit we want to keep going forward. I also agree that Ghostly Strike, Hemo and Backstab all could use more “juice” (by which I don’t just mean higher dps). I’ll also add that I think we went a little overboard in emphasizing damage over utility in Lich King PvE, especially in the earlier raid tiers. Who needs a good Sap when you’re AE’ing everything down?
PvP-wise, utility can be a lot more useful than in PvE. However, as I’ve said before we think we’ve kind of let rogues get into too much of that glass cannon state. They either keep someone controlled and blow them up, or they themselves get blown up. We would still like to tone down some of the rogue CC and increase some of their passive (not cooldown-based) survivability. It’s a little weird that leather classes are generally more fragile than cloth.
We try very hard not to give due dates on some of these changes. When you read through threads like this, I think you can see why. The risk of sharing some of our long-term plans is players then get frustrated when the changes don’t materialize in the next patch. We have a very long list of changes we’d like to make to WoW, and if we tried to get them all into whatever the next patch is going to be, those patches would just get continually delayed. When I say “long term” I’m trying to say not to look for a change any time soon (because we haven’t made the change yet) but that we recognize the problem and have some ideas we’d like to try out. This philosophy is the whole genesis of the infamous “Soon” and “When it’s ready.”
In other words, it isn’t that we don’t care — just that we have a lot to do. If you buy that, then all you can really argue with is our prioritization for what we do first and I totally acknowledge there are subjective elements to that as well as considerations that aren’t necessarily transparent to the community. I have no doubt that you might prioritize things differently were you in our shoes.
I know the Blizzard pace of development can be frustrating for some people, but when you look back at the history of the company, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t work for us.