Shadowlands Alpha is here and along with it Blizzard is sharing information on what we can expect to see in the next expansion. We have gathered a few rogues here to talk about their thoughts on what we are learning. Remember, this is Alpha, nothing is set in stone so don’t be surprised if some of these details change.
Part Two: Assassination Updates
Blizzard announced these in this post: Shadowlands Class Updates.
For reference, Wowhead’s datamining is here: New Class Abilities and Class Changes – Shadowlands Alpha Build 188.8.131.52978.
Assassination Rogues continue their mastery of poisons with the returning Shiv ability, providing a moment of increased Nature damage on the victim, mirroring the gameplay of Toxic Blade (previously a Talent). Their poisons will be stronger and apply to their blades faster than other Rogues, along with always infecting targets when attacking from Stealth. Assassination once again has access to Ambush as an option for their initial attack from Stealth.
Blindside (Talent) has changed to give the Assassin a chance to allow access to Ambush even while out of stealth, with a higher chance on lower-health targets. Shiv gets access to another an upgrade through Toxic Blade, reducing its cooldown to provide more frequent assaults of increased Nature damage.
Shiv take on Toxic Blade is a good idea, spec really needed the extra button baseline.
Slice and Dice moving baseline sounds interesting and may mitigate some of the excessive downtime Assassination currently has. Definitely going to be a lot of duration juggling for this spec though.
Unsure about the lack of a target cap on Fan of Knives and Crimson Tempest. Hard to tell if this is intentional. If it is intentional, concerned that Fan of Knives will continue to be very weak and generally not used other than to refresh poisons on multi-dot targets. Potentially makes Hidden Blades very odd given the AoE changes.
Exsanguinate likely needs to be significantly revisited. Already was a strange mechanic and seems to be further pushed into the background by emphasizing poisons more.
Blindside using Ambush is potentially interesting but Blindside was very undertuned for BfA and Ambush is currently only slightly stronger than the Blindside attack was. Without additional tuning it will still lack upside. Doesn’t seem to have any synergy with the Bleed/Poison gameplay that is being featured.
Venom Rush needs some serious love, especially if Blindside becomes an option.
These changes to me doesn’t feel very impactful on either gameplay or flavor. From the [Shiv] statement it seems that it will become just another fire on cooldown and forget. Perhaps they can make the tuning worthwhile of managing the ability. Regaining [Ambush] is nice, it felt weird to open with [Mutilate] from stealth. However, with how [Garrote] got changed in BFA, you rarely wanted to open with [Mutilate].
The [Blindside] talent of allowing Assassination to ambush out of stealth feels like it cheapens Subtlety’s fantasy without adding much to the table. I’d rather see the old WoD [Dispatch] mechanic or something new with [Shiv]/[Garrote] instead.
I haven’t really played much Sin in BFA honestly, due to how it wasn’t changed at all from legion to BFA and it seems they are doing that again going into shadowlands. I think what’s important to note though is that it shows how enjoyable the base foundation of sin rogue is that it doesn’t really need a lot of spectacular changes like sub, or outlaw need.
The changes that they did get are overall for the best though, turning shiv into toxic blade for sin is good, that talent has been core ever since the removal of agonizing poison. This is the best of both worlds getting your BIS, and fun talent baked into your spec baseline, and also opening up your talent tree for more interesting choices.
Blindside being added back just seems like it’s being added for flavor, which is great, but there’s not much more to comment on past that. Having a dedicated stealth opener is cool, hopefully blindside is tuned properly in shadowlands to add some more reactionary proc gameplay to sin.
Our beloved bleed spec seems to face the least changes going into Shadowlands Alpha. There is some modifier shifting using Improved Poisons to make them more potent for Assassination than for the other specs that get them back. Shiv returns not only with its dispel and poison application but also includes the effect of Toxic Blade on live servers. Making that one baseline is a very good decision, I believe. It has taken its place as a good short cooldown for burst windows, reminiscent of a poison equivalent to Sub’s Symbols of Death and to this day, kinda tries to fill the void left behind from Kingsbane in Legion.
Ambush returns as a stealth-only ability. I guess this is mainly for its historic importance but won’t really matter for gameplay. Blindside is changed to allow using Ambush instead of being its own ability, which will hopefully make it more potent again but that remains to be seen. Then, there will be Toxic Blade (not on the latest alpha, afaik) which reduces Shiv cooldown.
The talent tree looks a bit unfinished/untouched as Toxic Blade is not in yet and instead there is Alacrity in its place. Hard to comment on it, for now.
|Blindside||Now gives free ambush casts||Potentially good talent.|
|Crimson Tempest||Buff||More damage and no target cap could push the talent for aoe/m+|
|Alacrity||Replaces Toxic Blades||Potentially problematic spell. Problematic because it adds no gameplay value but could become the best pick.|
Assassination stays largely untouched.
While it seems that Assassination may remain largely unchanged, I like what we are seeing with Shiv/Toxic Blade. Ambush coming back as a dedicated Stealth opener seems like a good move. My biggest concern for this spec is pacing. At the moment it is so agonizingly ponderous…