Following this week’s Fans of Knives it’s been hard to miss that we have a new expansion on our hands. There was a large focus on gameplay features and progress systems in Blizzard’s presentations this year. I’m certain that Blizzard managed to make many people happy with largely sought after features such as a revamped leveling experience with scaling zones, no less than six new playable races, scrapping of the current legendary system in exchange for the new Heart of Azeroth and last but not least the announcement that a vanilla legacy server is finally in the works! (For which Blizzard is currently searching for a software engineer if any reader feels up for the challenge.)
In the shadows of these huge announcements we rogues were in good company of all other classes. There were no groundbreaking class announcements as we’ve had previous years. This doesn’t mean that our classes will stay the same or that you should worry about being stuck with that thing you didn’t like. The class devs are of course hard at work improving and polishing our classes, there’s a lot of work to be done considering that we’re losing a lot of mechanics and abilities when the artifact weapons and legendary effects are phased out.
A sneak peek into this work can be gleaned from the playable Battle for Azeroth demo that was playable at Blizzcon. Two major features were that classes are once again getting an unique class buff and that there will be another major stat and item level squish. We had the opportunity to see some ability and talent changes already in the works. Below I’ve made a recap of the first public view on new talents.
- Expose armor seems to be our class buff. 5% increased physical damage, gets applied by our generators.
- Feint gets reduced from 50% to 40% AoE damage reduction.
- Crimson Tempest is back as a level 100 talent and replaces Death from Above on the level 100 talent row.
- Poison Bomb is now a level 100 talent with 4% chance per Combo Point and replaces Venom rush.
- Venom Rush is moved to level 90 and replaces Alacrity – now reduces mutilate cost by 5 energy on poisoned targets, and moved to tier 90.
- Master Assassin is now a level 30 talent and replaces Shadow Focus – 50% increased crit chance for 3 seconds after breaking stealth.
- Iron Wire is a new level 75 talent that replaces Thugee – increase the duration of Garrote’s silence effect to 8 sec. Enemies silenced by Garrote deal 15% reduced damage for 8 sec.
- Grappling Hook baseline becomes baseline with 1 minute CD.
- A new talent Retractable Hook takes Grappling Hooks place for a level 30 talent. – Reduces cooldown on Grappling Hook by 30 seconds
- Loaded Dice becomes a talent on the level 100 row and replaces DfA.
- Blinding Powder is a new level 100 talent that replaces Parley. – Reduces the cooldown of Blind by 30 sec and increases its range by 15 yards.
- Tangled Shadows changed to Shot in the Dark, your first Cheap Shot after stealthing is free.
- Shuriken Combo gets nerfed from 10% per stack to 5%.
Our class buff becomes Expose Armor, which works differently than it has before. The current iteration simply requires us to be on a target using our abilities to work. The effectiveness will go down if we have more than one target however, and how this works on our AoE generating abilities remain to be seen. All in all I doubt this is a change that will have any impact on us as rogues. It means that you would always want to make sure you have a rogue on your raiding roster but this is nothing new for our class.
There’s always been a lot of speculation about rogue survivability. Cloak of Shadows, Cheat Death, and Feint are extremely strong tools that, more as a rule than as an exception, have been vitally strategy defining on at least one boss per tier. I’m happy to see that these have so far not been butchered; survivability is currently the main raid utility we have. I hope to see us keep these tools into the future as well, even if at a reduced effectiveness.
Certain legendaries or artifact traits have been converted to talents. So far we can see Poison Bomb (trait), Master Assassin (Legendary shoulders) and Loaded Dice (trait) being refitted as talents. There’s also a lot of room to see our current traits and legendary effects coming back in the Heart of Azeroth system. The changes in the Assassination tree also point to the creation of an AoE row which lets you tune around massive AoE, controlled AoE, and perishable adds coming throughout the fight. Interesting!
Another thing that has people excited is that Grappling Hook is now a baseline ability for the Outlaw spec. Cooldown has been increased to 60 seconds, but in its place there’s a new talent to reduce it to 30 seconds again. This means you can both have the extra burst of mobility from Grappling Hook, as well as either the attack range increase from Acrobatic Strikes or the extra movement speed from Hit and Run.
Personally I’m looking forward to this expansion and to following the development of our awesome class from now to when we get to make everyone feel uneasy about being in the shadows when they have world PvP toggled on!