So we have the rogue preview out. Lets have a look at it and see what it could mean, both in pvp and pve.

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.

Rogues have been asking for something like this for a very long time. As regards pve, having the ability to build up combo points on a target that is about to die, (you know what it’s like now to have 5 points on a target that is about to go down – you use them on slice & dice), and then switch these to a new target and get off a 5 point combo immediately will be brilliant. The fact that they have added the requirement that self buff abilities such as slice & dice won’t require a target adds to the joy.

In pvp it means that the great enemy of the rogue – enemies getting out of range, will be somewhat negated. Now if you open on a mage for example, and build up 4 quick combo points and then he blinks out of range, you can immediately switch these to another target next to you. It means that rogues will have much greater ability to control the fight in their immediate area.

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.

A lot of rogues complain that we should not fight toe to toe, that we are a stealth hit and run class. But the problem with that is that we only have vanish to stealth in a fight and it can only be used once and we know the problems with it working properly. So too often as a rogue you are stuck in the middle of a fight with all your cool-downs and stuns blown. This gives you that extra toe to toe ability to survive. Notice that it also refers to ranged damage, so the situation of you being taken down by a hunter from range while you’re fighting another player won’t be so devastating to a rogue now.  With the timer rules it could theoretically last 30 seconds, but would probably last around 10. Still, that could make a big difference to the fight.

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.

Lets talk about this as regards to pvp first. This, together with the previous two abilities, complete the trio of new ways for rogues to control their immediate area. It lets you attack a player in close range as normal, and while you’re stun-locking them you hide the both of you in a cloud of smoke. Ranged attackers will have no way to directly target you, apart from AoE, so you are free to hit on your target, then vanish if you like and escape out the side without being seen. One of the problems with vanish is that oppoenents can light up the area around you, thus exposing you. Smoke bomb will go a long way to negating this.

There is already some talk on MMO champion in the comments about this being stupid for raids, and players giving examples of Festergut and other bosses. Well, I doubt that we will be fighting those bosses in Cataclysm to be honest, and without seeing the raids there I don’t know exactly how this tool will fit into that reality. Better to wait and see I would think.

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.

Passive survivability is great, but Cheap Shot on DR is painful. It was the main reason to vanish. Lets wait and see.

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.

This means that better players will shine more, if Blizzard get it right. By getting it right I mean by not filling our cast bars with an absurd number of abilities that all blend into one another, alla Age of Conan.

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).

The HoT is a low level ability, so this will have no effect on end game as it stands. This could mean that we see more rogues out there, which would be nice. It could also mean that we see more fail rogues, as what usually happens when a player gets used to a class dynamic is that they find it very hard to change afterwards. This more than anything else in these changes has the potential for great future drama and blog ranting.

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.

Read that again, go on. I’ll quote it for you: “… including combo points remaining on recently killed targets …” No more wasted combo points. No more struggling to keep Slice & Dice up. One of the drawbacks to the Mutilate rogue is the inability to effectively target switch. With these changes I can see this being a problem no longer. And the damage increase will be considerable. It will also make taking on more mobs much easier for rogues, as you can power through packs of mobs with all your combo points all the time, so easier levelling. Energy will never again be wasted. If adds come out during a boss fight you can take them down and transfer combo points striahgt back onto the boss. This is big.

  • 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.
  • My big problem recently has been finding weapons. I found a level 232 main hand axe last night and I have a level 219 offhand fist sitting in the bank. I can’t use these two weapons together effectively now. But with this new system I can, as they go on to say that Hack & Slash will be used for all weapons. To be honest, this is almost the change that I like the most. This will really free us up to use and experiment with all types of different weapon combination and it will mean that when a new weapon drops for you in a raid, (remember that there is no more wepon training), you can immediately use it.

    As far as being able to choose to open with a burst attack, stun or DoT, that is really amazing. Open with killing spree if you like and then stun lock them. Or open with rupture so a rogue can’t stealth away from you. The possibilities are there to make some really creative gameplay.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I can’t see many rogues using bows or guns anymore then, hahaha. (I is throwing mys arrows!). Poison on your throwing weapon will be great for pvp. Tricks to be nerfed. It was a great raid utility for us, hopefully it will still mean something.

    The rest of the class preview is here so go and check it out. I see a lot of positives for the rogue class here. Yes, we are not a toe to toe warrior class, but at least now when we are going toe to toe because we have no choice, we won’t go down faster than a sumo team in a broken elevator. Obviously this is just my first impression. I’m sure that I have missed points and probably some of my conclusions are incorrect. If that is the case then I will edit the post accordingly.