August 19, 2009

WoW Patch 3.2.2 and the Great FoK Nerf

If you haven't read the WoW Patch 3.2.2 notes yet, go and check out! Rogues actually received a few changes this time (a deviation from the norm), and all 3 are nerfs across the board. One is a fairly innocuous change to Honor Among Thieves, which has actually be functioning incorrectly for the past few months. The other two are sweeping nerfs to Fan of Knives: directly by reducing the damage done by 30%, and indirectly by removing the Interruption effect from Throwing Specialization.

While I am sure we will be feeling the loss on trash pulls in late-night Ulduar runs, the fact is that there's no trash in Trial of the Crusader anyway. Rogues do bring some pretty potent AoE to the table, but I believe that as long as our single target DPS remains intact, we'll still find ourselves with dedicated raid slots. The loss of FoK interruptions will really only be a hit on fights like Yogg-Saron hard mode, and other niche cases. Ghostcrawler even acknowledged the nerf, admitting that if a fight became too hard without Throwing Specialization and Fan of Knives' intricate synergy, they'd nerf it to accommodate.

AoE DPS is a perk, not a feature. I have felt like our AoE DPS has been insanely good, especially when used properly (two instant-damage poisons, two slow weapons). I'm honestly not surprised to see it being curtailed a little bit. We're still going to be potent when using FoK, but we'll have to wait until it's a true AoE situation, with 3-4 mobs that need to be taken out. Right now, FoK is so strong that there's not much pushing it all the time. After the patch, we'll have to actually make the decision of whether the AoE is worth using FoK, or whether or not to just continue single-target DPS.

I've been talking about the dominance (and sillyness) of the 'FoK spec', in which a Rogue specs into Throwing Specialization and rules the 5v5 arena by spamming FoK at every available opportunity. Between the FoK interrupts and the illegal interruption macro floating around, Rogues had become pretty powerful at locking down casters completely. The removal of Throwing Spec's interruption was necessary, though I will be sad to see it go. It was really a great ability that gave us a really unique niche in the PvE world, but I can agree there's no way to balance it in PvP.

The HaT change, on the other hand, was simply an adjustment to force the spell to work as intended. Limiting it to a single Combo Point per second makes its DPS far more reliable and easier to model, and as our party members' crit rate skyrockets with better and better gear, HaT is now incapable of exploding into new DPS territory overnight. It's a nerf to Subtlety PvE, though Blizzard has already expressed that they have no immediate interest in making Subtlety viable. As long as Mutilate and Combat both remain viable, I don't think that Sub is going to see any sweeping changes.

Ghostcrawler recently talked about Mages having two viable PvE specs after wow patch 3.2.2: fire and arcane. He mentions that frost is not going to be revamped any time soon. I look at this as writing on the wall, Rogues have two viable PvE specs (and pretty different ones at that), and so asking for a third is really reaching for the stars. I will be attending BlizzCon (and I'll be at the reader meetup) and I'll be sure to ask GC and the crew what their plans for Rogues are in the future.

All-in-all, I am okay with the changes we're seeing in wow patch 3.2.2. If I really, really want my trash DPS to scream, I have the option of swapping in the Fan of Knives glyph real quick. And if I really, really wanted to play Subtlety PvE, I'd have to accept that I was making poor PvE talent choices. Our bread and butter role, single target DPS, was completely untouched. We can let the Mages and Warlocks take care of Arthas' waves and waves of undead drones. We've got a higher calling, to stab our daggers and smash our maces so far into the Lich King's face that he cries for his mommy.

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