August 13, 2009

WoW Rogue Q&A in review Patch 3.2

Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, we talk about the Rogue Q & A recently released by Blizzard.

Last week, Blizzard released the long-awaited (at least by me) Rogue Q&A series. Ghostcrawler and the rest of the community team answered many of our long-standing questions, and gave us some insight into where Rogues are headed as a class. You can read the full details of the Q&A that Eliah posted for us.

After reading the questions and answers, I breathed a sigh of relief. No hints or indications of any nerfs coming our way, and Blizzard actually acknowledged several longstanding flaws with the class. Not only that, but they actually provided possible solutions; I'll be taking them with a grain of salt. New Rogues are excited about our class' complexity and diversity, while experienced Rogues are proud that we are now respected as damage dealers instead of being seen as second-class DPS.

"Vanish isn't working properly"

This sentence alone sealed the deal for me. A very straight answer from the development team, admitting that us shadow warriors haven't been making it up all along. And they're not giving us the same line about "it's server side so it will always be broken". GC actually gave a suggested fix that I would love to see put in place. It's something simple enough that even latency and spell resolution would be unable to interfere with Vanish keeping us in stealth for longer periods of time. The idea of "guaranteed" functionality from cooldowns is a topic I've harped on enough already, and I'm really excited to see the team at Blizzard look into providing Rogues with some reliability.

"Both abilities are largely where we want them"

While talking about Overkill and Mutilate, the two most-nerfed Rogue abilities in WotLK, GC confirms that the spells are relatively balanced and that our current PvP standard of Mutilate / Prep is here to stay. Our burst at the launch of WotLK was insane, and the toning down of our crazy out-of-stealth salvo came with the tradeoff of increased sustained damage via poison normalization. All in all, Mutilate has it pretty good in PvP right now, with Rogues seen in some of the most popular comps in all arena brackets. In addition, I find Mutilate to be refreshing to play in the new Isle of Conquest BG, where launching yourself over the wall via a Catapult allows you some sneaky assassination work.

"Rogue damage is sufficient now"

I agree completely. I was able to run a quick Trial of the Crusader (10 man) this week (and scored the sweet Acidmaw Treads!). My damage was at the top of the meters, and with clever use of Blade Flurry to clean off Snobolds from my allies and Cloak of Shadows to help me through some of the twin Jormungar debuffs, I was able to contribute nearly 100% of my time to slaying the Northrend Beasts.

Rogues have seen a lot of PvE buffs, especially in unforeseen ways, such as the new Feint and the oft-heralded Fan of Knives. I love the fact that my class is not immediately judged as inferior before I even get a chance to show my skill. The general WoW populace knows that a Rogue is capable of incredible damage and can minimize their incoming damage to ensure survival. That gets our foot in the door to impress even the most skeptical of critics.

"It's meant as a tool that's part of a toolkit, not an I-win button"

When talking about Cloak of Shadows, GC confirms what I had suspected: that CoS is 90% on purpose. It forces us to run out of things like Shock Blast (as mentioned) while still providing decent PvP utility (especially in the dispelling current debuffs portion). I will simply have to stop leaning on it as "preventing magic" and instead use it more as "possibly preventing magic", the same way that it's still dangerous to run up to a Bladestorming Warrior.

"A slightly more tanky rogue that can survive more damage"

This is something that I know many of my fellow Rogues have been asking to see for quite some time. I always felt that the idea of Feint is great: short duration damage reduction, incredibly potent, with a short cooldown. It encourages a very predictive playstyle, and forces the Rogue to take active steps to defending themselves. I believe that Ghostly Strike was a step in this direction, but 15% dodge is simply not enough to make it a real defensive CD. Perhaps if Cloak of Shadows simply reduced magical damage and debuff duration by 50%, but had a 30 second cooldown? I enjoy the idea of a very flexible Rogue who's cooldowns are more like presences or stances instead of short-lived OP ownage with long-term weakness once used.

"Ultimately, we settled on axes for rogues."

Raise your hand if you've already ground out the weapon skill to level 400 for Axes. I picked up a pair of the blue axes that you can buy from the Sons of Hodir at Revered reputation. They're not going to top any DPS charts, but they look so cool when I'm cutting up a group of mobs using Blade Flurry and Slice and Dice. Some of the BIS Combat weapons may even turn out to be axes, depending on what other items we find in the Trial of the Crusader's loot table.

"We could see making it a major feature"

GC is referring to "poison swapping" here, where a Rogue will switch weapons to apply a particular poison, and then swap back to their "real" poisons and weapons. While there is definitely no promise or even hint that this is being worked on, if it did make it to live, it would bring back memories of playing the Assassin class in Diablo II. The ability to switch weapons and poisons in a quick and simple way (and effectively 50% of your character) would really bring a lot of smoothness to what is now a very macro-driven class. I've got macros to swap to slow weapons for FoK and Killing Spree, weapons to swap so I can quickly apply Mind Numbing or Anesthetic Poison to a mob, and even more crazy macros. Having some of that built into the UI would be a godsend.


Rogues are in a great place. Blizzard agrees. This is probably one of the few times that a class can really see eye-to-eye with the developers and not have any real outstanding issues to complain about. I'm very happy with the insight we received in the Q&A, and I am tickled pink about the incoming fix to Vanish (whatever it may be). Let's just hope that nothing breaks until we're done with Arthas!

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