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 Five: Covenant Class Abilities
Blizzard announced these in this post: Shadowlands: A Look at Covenant Class and Signature Abilities.
For reference, Wowhead’s datamining is here: Shadowlands Covenant Abilities Deep Dive – Cooldown, Duration, Range, Other Effects.
Echoing Reprimand: Deal Arcane damage to an enemy, extracting their anima to Animacharge a combo point. Damaging finishing moves that consume the same number of your combo points as your Animacharge deal damage as if they consume 7 combo points.
Echoing Reprimand is a cool idea, but generally does not feel as if it will work super well in its current form. The Blizzcon incarnation was probably more intuitive. Hitting a specific, randomly-selected combo point target for most Rogue specs is harder than it seems initially and thus has very limited value. Some combo point numbers are significantly less frequent to hit during natural gameplay due to things like procs or the Broadsides buff. Overall, the ability is just confusing how it is currently implemented.
With this ability, they really need to sell me a real good reason why we’re doing arcane damage. Otherwise it seems like a very interesting ability that might really see some in game impact. I like it.
I am torn on my opinion on echoing reprimand, forcing yourself to reach certain combo points is just super awkward to hit for some specs that’ll just force you into adding poison knife or shuriken toss into your rotation just to hit specific values. At the same time though, this can be super interesting, sin can hold garrote to force yourself to hit those values, sub can maybe wait to shadow techniques, outlaw can hope sinister strike luck favors you. It’s hard to have a super strong opinion on things without having hands on access with it, but I think this can lead to some pretty fun rotational questions that you will need to respond to quickly.
Something to keep in mind that not only does it do this, but it’s also a 30 energy, gain 3 combo points ability on a 45 second cooldown, which is insanely energy efficient for EVERY rogue spec, it’s kinda similar to goremaws for sub in legion. This alone might make it a strong contender just DPS wise but it’s hard to say.
I give this ability the award for the most vague and unclear tooltip that I can remember from Rogue history. There are many possible interpretations of what it does but, from what I’ve learned, it selects a random combo point out of your 5 or 6 available ones and changes its color for a duration. Any finisher that uses CP up to exactly that colored one then counts as a 7 CP finisher. Wowhead dataminers found an upgrade to the ability that overcharges 3 combo points which gives you more possible thresholds to shoot for.
I have to confess that the underlying idea sounds interesting and cool. However, with the way each of the specs currently works, it is a horrible idea. Having exact CP values you have to achieve would be super frustrating as of right now. Assassination rogues are bound to steps of two with Mutilate and get random CP on top from crits making this very unpredictable. Outlaw rogues get 1 CP from Ruthlessness but after that have random double strikes of Sinister Strike and the impact of Broadside making this very unpredictable. Subtlety Rogues have to remember what generates how many CP as well (this will be very bad in AoE) and predict semi-random gains from Shadow Techniques making this very unpredictable.
Good idea but I don’t see this working out well at all and found the Blizzcon preview of just having an animacharged combo point that never goes away much better (and easier to understand).
Arcane combo points, description allows many interpretations
Sound like a interesting idea but could easy turn out terrible gameplay wise.
Def. needs testing.
While conceptually interesting, this sounds like my worst nightmare as a player. I’m not looking forward to needing an addon to micromanage CPs – which will be necessary unless the UI is brilliant.
Slaughter: Slaughter the target, causing Physical damage. The target’s anima mixes with your lethal poison, coating your weapons for the next 5 minutes. Slaughter Poison deals Shadow damage over time and steals a percentage of healing done to the target. This also awards combo points.
Slaughter sounds great, but seems to have a somewhat confusing identity. The fact that the poison lasts 5 minutes but that the ability itself is a shorter cooldown that generates combo points seems to be at odds. Otherwise, neat ability and seems strong in PvP.
Interesting ability. It’s obviously very tailored to PvP. There’s a chance this restricts design space in PvE encounters. A boss mechanic that heals being reduced by 15% is strong, especially if it heals the rogue in turn.
There really is almost nothing to say about slaughter, it’s a stealth ability that gives you a 5 minute buff which means it has 100% uptime, it does a bunch of damage, it heals you a bit, it gives combo points when you cast it. This just comes down to how strong numerically is this as it doesn’t really do much exciting.
This seems to be a precombat (and potentially 5min infight Vanish re-use) poison upgrade from stealth. It doesn’t really sound impressive or like much gameplay. That it is nothing else than a cooldown that can be broken down to some tuning modifier may or may not be a bad thing. No idea on this one.
5 minute Poison that does shadow damage and restores health + awards combo points. Adds another seemingly random cp income and passive damage. Can be good depending on tuning.
Oh look, precedent for my poison mixing idea! Glad someone at Blizzard has thought of that.
Serrated Bone Spike: Embed a bone spike in the target, dealing Physical damage over time until they die. Attacking with Serrated Bone Spike causes all of your active bone spikes to fracture and strike your current target, increasing initial damage by a percentage per spike.
Serrated Bone Spike seems like it could have some interesting skill cap implications despite the fact that it probably could be the most boring to use on some encounters. Will need to see what the usage is like in practice, but sounds like it could be fun in AoE-like situations.
Quite bland ability that will obviously be really good on longer raid boss fights and in turn be really bad for things such as Mythic+. Depending on how arena plays out, it might be problematic there as well and will certainly not function as advertised. Having a physical DoT that lasts forever in PvP will never exist, having an ability that endlessly scales would also create a situation for 2 healers + Necro Rogue where you just survive forever until your Bone Spikes can kill the opponent.
Honestly, I have no idea how this actually works, the wording on this is almost impossible to actually understand. We are currently having an internal debate on whose understanding of this ability is actually correct.
This tooltip is also a bit vague. I am assuming this applies a never-ending DoT and every use increases the initial damage. This might make the ability neat for focus damage and obviously more meaningful the longer a target lives. It also ticks only every 5 seconds so I am not sure how useful this will be in world content. Not too happy if this turns out to be a raid only option.
Dot ability that runs forever and increases in damage for every use. Has the potential to make rogue an interesting pick on longer fights.
You had me at exploding spikes! That said, I worry about the versatility of this ability if you are doing different kinds of content. If I choose Necrolord because I raid, am I compromised in m+?
Night Fae: (Work in Progress)
Sepsis: Finishing move that poisons a weakened foe’s blood, dealing (12.53% of Attack power) Nature damage over 1 min. Can only be used on targets under 35% health. Sepsis generates 5 Combo Points and 25 Energy over 5 sec if it does not last its full duration.
- 1 point : [(375.9% of Attack power) * 2] over 8 sec
- 2 points: [(375.9% of Attack power) * 3] over 12 sec
- 3 points: [(375.9% of Attack power) * 4] over 16 sec
- 4 points: [(375.9% of Attack power) * 5] over 20 sec
- 5 points: [(375.9% of Attack power) * 6] over 24 sec
Night Fae (WIP): will certainly be interested to see what direction this goes. The datamined Sepsis ability seems like an interesting idea, but I’m not sure it is the type of thing most Rogues are looking for. It seems to have too much overlap with the existing Energy refunds Assassination gets from Garrote/Rupture being on a dying target and with Slice and Dice being added, we already have enough durations to juggle. It also overlaps conceptually with Serrated Bone Spike quite a bit.
The datamined [Sepsis] sounds like an interesting route here. A finishing move that rewards the player for using it on enemies that are about to die. It would play into the Mythic+ role that none of the above plays into. The datamined 60 second duration however makes it extremely forgiving. Perhaps too forgiving for my taste.
Similar to bone spike, I have no idea how this works, it says it lasts for 1 minute in the tooltip, but you can only make it last 28 with finishers, so I assume this is a scrapped idea, or a work in progress still. It seems like too many plates to spin in general though especially for something like Outlaw. Having to keep up RTB, BTE on your main target, SnD on yourself, make sure you have proper RTB buffs, and Sepris on main target. This also adds a 5/6th finisher to subs laundry list of finishers.
Since this one was not mentioned in the blue post I am inclined to believe the datamined Sepsis ability is an unused or unfinished relic. Personally, the thought of a sub 35% DoT finisher is not bad but doesn’t really interest me for non-bosses, even with the returns on death, and I could see it end up in too narrow a niche. Let’s just wait what will actually happen.
Dot that deals nature damage over 1 minute. Requires target to be below 35%. Gives energy/cp if target dies before it expires. It seems a wip spell, it does sound rather limited in use.
Another finisher? Please no.
Covenants overall thoughts
Overall, I like covenants. Adding RPG elements back to wow is overall great, it’s why something like classic did so well. Hopefully the balance isn’t too wide across all the different covenants, but that will come down to tuning/how reliant on covenant abilities some specs are.
Something to note is that covenants are more than JUST covenant abilities, you also have legendaries, and also “buffs to covenant abilities” that you unlock later that might shake up overall what ends up the best faction to choose.
This also might finally change the mentality of “I need to minmax literally every single micro point of dps” WoW has become over the past few years.
In general, I am, like many, wary of the feasibility of making players able to choose a covenant strictly by style and preference. Not with the first outlook on covenant abilities, both shared and class-specific. Even if possible to balance these so that they matter only a little (like player race) I have my doubts. Personally, I’d like to see Covenant stuff to be either strictly for utility or not accessible in “competitive” content like M+, Raids, and PvP. Let it be open world abilities and people will worry much less about being locked to one best Covenant.
Besides, none of the Rogue covenant abilities impresses me very much, based on the first descriptions.
For the shared covenant abilities, these seem to be mostly for utility but I find it hard to comment yet. The Venthyr one certainly sounds strong for M+ so I can understand that community being upset.
Conceptually I love Covenants. I am very afraid that we will end up having to choose based on one factor for one kind of content which will not satisfy the need to choose based on aesthetic or the versatility needed to be decent in more than one kind of content. If Blizzard finds a way to let me choose what I think is cool, and have it be optimally (or at least decently) beneficial no matter what content I do, I’ll be thrilled. But I’m not holding my breath. And I’m refusing to be excited for an aesthetic so I won’t be disappointed when it’s not the one I get to choose.