August 20, 2009

Patch 3.2.0a being deployed today

You've read that right, there is a new patch that is dropping today, and right now. Patch 3.2.0a. This patch is a small one, yet important one that is fixing a variety of client issues that have been present since Patch 3.2. This is the first time in quite a while that a patch has not dropped on a Tuesday, and that one has come without any prior notice.

Of particular note with this patch is fixing of the "dump macros" that were being used by numerous rogues. Ghostcrawler hinted earlier in the day that there would be a fix for this soon, but it's surprising to see it solved so quickly.

There are also some graphic fixes in the game that many people should be pleased about. In particular for Mac users.

The full announcement, including patch notes, after the break.

The full patch notes and statement reads:

We'll be releasing a minor bug fix patch to version 3.2.0a. This sort of patch is very small in size, and we use them to fix specific issues that can't be hot-fixed. Issues addressed with this patch:

Fixed an exploit players were using with / commands
Fixed a performance issue with players logging into the game
Fixed an issue with Mac clients freezing near water
Fixed a crash Mac clients were experiencing with shadows on Fixed Function cards
Fixed an art issue with Freya Hard Mode where the light beams were visually too hard to see
Fixed an issue with Loaner mounts requiring Cold Weather Flying We will be bringing all realms down very soon for this small, but urgent patch. Downtime is expected to be quite minimal, as only rolling restarts will be required. Updating your game client will take only a small download.

Would you play a neutral character?

The Spawn and I had The Spousal Unit run Itchee the Gnome Warlock through Deadmines and now Itchee looks like a pirate. Yar! Though we are still doing the same warlocky things, The Spawn is now claiming that her character actually is a pirate -- which, as a pirate family, we encourage. But this reminded me of a conversation I had with TSU a while back. What if WoW had a playable neutral faction?

One of the great things about Star Wars Galaxies, when it was actually fun to play, was that you didn't have to fight much if you didn't want to. There were master artisans and merchant malls that were available for getting the best armor or outfitting your home or whatever. I would love to see WoW incorporate some of these aspects as well as some from other MMOs to make a more persistent world. And I think they could do this by introducing a neutral faction.

What I'd like to see:

All Races: Just like the current Pirate NPCs, the neutral faction could be a ragtag representation of every playable race. Artisan Class: Players with this class would be able to learn 4 Primary Professions. Pirate Class: Much like the Mission Architect system of City of Heroes, Pirates could create quests for other players to complete.
New professions: Merchant, Architect, etc. would be available for the Artisan class. Player Housing: The main neutral faction area would contain player housing as well as a bazaar for shopping the best crafted items on your server. Of course, all of this is unlikely to happen in this particular property of Blizzard, but I can dream, can't I?

Would you want to play a neutral faction? What ways do you think it would be implemented? And would you enjoy leveling without fighting if that were an option?

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.