Finally, Blizzard released the Rogue Cataclysm preview at 2:00 am my time. No, I didn’t stay up for it. As I did with the Shaman changes, I’ll be posting the text from Blizzard as well as commenting briefly on each section.
New Rogue Abilities
Redirect (available at level 81): Rogues will be getting a new ability to help them deal with changing targets. Redirect will transfer any active combo points to the rogue’s current target, helping to ensure combo points aren’t wasted when swapping targets or when targets die. In addition, self-buff abilities like Slice and Dice will no longer require a target, so rogues can spend extra combo points on those types of abilities (more on this below). Redirect will have a 1-minute cooldown and no other costs.
I’m glad that they’re trying to resolve our weakness with switching targets. How I imagine Redirect will work is that we will see on on the UI the combo points available on our player frame, as well as on the target frame. The combo points on your player frame can be Redirected or used for Slice and Dice, while the ones on the target can only be used for damage abilities. They didn’t say anything but I assume if you have combo points on multiple other targets they will consider ‘active’ the number that is the highest, rather than adding them up. I also wonder what will happen in the scenario that you have active combo points and also combo points on your current target, and you hit Slice and Dice. Will it use your other active ones, or will it use the ones on the target? I’m glad I’m not a game designer as these mechanics seem like they’d be hard to implement in a usable way.
Combat Readiness (level 83): Combat Readiness is a new ability that we intend rogues to trigger defensively. While this ability is active, whenever the rogue is struck by a melee or ranged attack, he or she will gain a stacking buff called Combat Insight that results in a 10% reduction in damage taken. Combat Insight will stack up to 5 times and the timer will be refreshed whenever a new stack is applied. Our goal is to make rogues better equipped to go toe-to-toe with other melee classes when Evasion or stuns are not in play. This ability lasts 6 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown.
Nice, another damage reduction ability. My healers will be happy. Can’t really complain except that I’m going to have to throw it in a macro or something because I have no more room on my action bar.
Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.
Ah, so here’s our “gimmick” new ability. I can see using this to assist tanks when a pull goes bad and the casters are still loose. I hope that they keep the visual effect toned down so that its not too hard to see through. I also wonder how this will work on bosses – if the boss can’t target the tank, that might be… unfortunate.
Changes to Abilities and Mechanics
We’re also planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you’re already familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we want for each spec.
- In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue’s dependency on binary cooldowns and “stun-locks,” and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we’ll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well.
PVP… don’t care. I’m covering my ears because I can already hear the whining coming from the forums.
- In PvE, even accounting for active modifiers like Slice and Dice and Envenom, a very large portion of the rogue’s damage is attributable to passive sources of damage. Yes, they are using abilities for the entire duration of a fight, but we want to reduce the percentage of rogue damage that comes from auto-attacks and poisons. More of their damage will be coming from active abilities and special attacks.
I don’t see anything wrong with this. There will obviously need to be a lot of careful testing and balancing done here.
- We would like to improve the rogue leveling experience. Positional attacks and DoT-ramping mechanics will be de-emphasized at low levels and then re-introduced at higher levels for group gameplay. We are also providing rogues with a new low-level ability, Recuperate, to convert combo points into a small heal-over-time (HoT).
This cracked me up. Rogues get a mini-heal :). I already use the Herbalism Lifeblood ability as a mini-heal, but one more can’t hurt. This will be incredible while leveling.
- To complement the change to combo points, non-damage abilities such as Recuperate and Slice and Dice will no longer have target requirements and can be used with any of the rogue’s existing combo points, including combo points remaining on recently killed targets. This will not affect damage abilities, which will still require combo points to be present on the specific target you want to damage. To coincide with this, the UI will be updated so that rogues know how many combo points they have active.
See my thoughts on Redirect above. Will be interesting to see how they implement this in a way that is intuitive.
- Ambush will now work with all weapons, but will have a reduced coefficient when not using a dagger. When opening from Stealth, all rogues will be able to choose from burst damage, DoT abilities, or a stun.
- As we’ve done recently with some of the Subtlety abilities, we want to make sure more rogue abilities aren’t overly penalized by weapon choice. With a few exceptions (like Backstab), you should be able to use a dagger, axe, mace, sword, or fist weapon without being penalized for most attacks.
I have never played Subtlety but am contemplating giving it a shot. This seems like a good change.
- Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives will now use the weapon in the ranged slot. In addition, we hope to allow rogues to apply poisons to their throwing weapons.
Wonder what will happen if we use bows or guns? I’m guessing they’ll take our ability to use those away…? Damn, I won’t be able to make the hunters jealous when I have a better ranged weapon than them. I see this as a result of them not liking how rogues used weapon-swapping to choose weapons more fit for FoK.
EDIT: Ghostcrawler commented about this: “We just want the ranged weapon to be more than a stat stick for rogues. Adding poisons to FoK is actually a pretty hefty buff. Yes, this means that bows and guns aren’t of much interest to rogues (after leveling). But in this case we want Fan of KNIVES to be taken literally. :)”. So basically we can use bows and guns but we definitely won’t want to. I hope they add more throwing knives into the game as a result.
- We are very happy with Tricks of the Trade as a general mechanic and as a way to give rogues more group utility, but we don’t want it to account for as much threat transfer as it does now.
Boo. Leave my Tricks of the Trade alone. At this point though, we know very little about how threat will be balanced in Cataclysm, so this might not even matter.
New Talents and Talent Changes
In Cataclysm, the overall feel of each of the rogue’s talent trees will change, as we would like each tree to have a clearly defined niche and purpose. The talent details below are meant to give you an idea of what we’re going for.
- Assassination will be more about daggers, poisons, and burst damage.
- Combat will be all about swords, maces, fist weapons, axes, and being engaged toe-to-toe with your enemies. A Combat rogue will be able to survive longer without needing to rely on Stealth and evasion mechanics.
- The Subtlety tree will primarily be based around utilizing Stealth, openers, finishers, and survivability. It’ll be about daggers, too, but less so than Assassination.
The first three bullets aren’t really news… that is how I thought the trees have always been designed.
- In general, Subtlety rogues needs to do more damage than they do today, and the other trees need to have more tools.
Subtlety fans will be pleased. And yes, more tools please!
- Weapon-specialization talents (for all classes, not just rogues) are going away. We do not want you to have to respec when you get a different weapon. Interesting talents, such as Hack and Slash, will work with all weapons. Boring talents, such as Mace Specialization and Close Quarters Combat, will be going away.
Saw this one coming when they mentioned a similar change for Warriors. Having to respec because you get a new weapon is incredibly wasteful and poor game design.
- The Assassination and Combat talent trees currently have a lot of passive bonuses. We plan to dial back the amount of Critical Strike Rating provided by these trees so that rogues still want it on their gear.
There are a TON of passive bonuses in the Rogue talent trees. They’re going to have to add more new abilities than what they’ve mentioned so far in order to flesh the trees out. Also, dialing back crit is smart, as highly-geared ICC Mutilate rogues are worrying about the crit cap right now.
Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses
- Melee damage
- Melee critical damage
- Poison damage
Not surprising in the least.
- Melee damage
- Melee Haste
- Harder-hitting combo-point generators
- Melee damage
- Armor Penetration
- Harder-hitting finishers
Nothing too earth-shattering.
Unlike with the shaman changes, reading this has left me feeling… nothing. I’m not really excited or disappointed. They are going to fix a few things that are definitely an issue, like target switching, and our survivability. Smoke Cloud is very gimmicky, but fun.
In general it seems like Blizzard is either happy with rogues in our current state, or they have no idea what they’re going to do with us yet. I think we’ll hear a lot more as Cataclysm approaches. I’m hoping that they add a new ability or tweak existing ones to make our Mutilate and Combat rotations more interesting. I miss the days of Rupture and stacking Hunger For Blood (I’m weird, I know). *Crosses fingers*