Patch 6.1 PTR Notes: BoS Nerfed, DfA Buffed, Leeching De-Fanged and More

We’ve gotten our first solid glimpse at the changes that await us in Patch 6.1. The first version of the official PTR patch notes, which was posted on Friday, Jan. 23, includes four rogue-specific adjustments:
  • Burst of Speed now has a 3-second cooldown.

  • Death from Above’s damage has increased by 25%. For Assassination Rogues, the talent now also increases the duration of Envenom.

  • Leeching Poison has been redesigned. It now grants 10% Leech while active, and no longer applies a poison effect to the target. Its Shiv effect remains unchanged.

  • Griftah now sells a variety of transmogrification items for Dingy Iron Coins. In addition, he now sells a Rogue-specific toy, Barrel of Bandanas. Barrel of Bandanas spawns a barrel that gives players that use it a random visual bandana buff for 30 minutes.

This is also a good time to note that what appeared to be previously datamined changes to Ambush, Deadly Throw, Envenom, Rupture and other abilities were in fact just corrections to make sure tooltips matched up with the way those abilities are already intended to work.
That’s the news. Here’s a bit more context and analysis on each of the confirmed changes.

Cool Down, Burst of Speed

The Burst of Speed nerf is a PvP balance adjustment; it’s intended to prevent rogues from spamming a button that allows them to repeatedly break out of movement-impairing effects that slow or snare them. The change should have little to no effect on rogues in PvE, outside of very specific occasions. (I had no specific occasions in mind as I typed that; I can just see, for instance, a theoretical boss fight in an old raid you’re soloing in which spammable BoS could maybe be useful.)
Among competitive PvP players (rogues included), the feedback I’ve seen has been generally accepting of the change. (That’s in contrast to reaction in online forums, which was swift, copious and pretty rabidly negative.) Although we saw hotfixed nerfs to Combat’s PvP stun earlier this month, the overarching perception in high-end arena has been that rogues still have too much mobility in the current meta (i.e., the way competitive 3v3 arena is currently played); this tweak is designed to cut into that.
According to current World of Wargraphs data, 79% of Assassination rogues, 95% of Combat rogues and 53% of Subtlety rogues with an arena rating of 1800 or higher take Burst of Speed as their Level 60 talent. (By contrast, about a third of Mythic-level raiders take the talent, regardless of spec.) It’ll be interesting to see how much this change swings the PvP pendulum back toward Shadowstep.
The BoS nerf is currently in place on the Patch 6.1 PTR.

Death from Above Gets Deathier

Poor Death from Above. The most visually striking rogue ability in the history of WoW — and we’ve largely shoved it into a corner. In PvE, World of Wargraphs currently shows it as taken by 2% of Assassination, 4% of Combat and 7% of Subtlety rogues with at least one Mythic kill. In PvP the numbers are only somewhat less bleak, with DfA being grabbed by 17% of Assassination rogues, 4% of Combat rogues and 23% of Subtlety rogues with an 1800+ arena rating.
In an effort to breathe more life into the flashy but moribund Level 100 talent, the designers have swung the buff hammer, jacking up its damage by 25%. They’ve also offered a significant additional boost to Assassination rogues by having DfA extend the duration of the Envenom debuff on the target, which is intended to offset the extra second or so it takes to refill our energy bar after using DfA (50 energy) instead of Envenom (35 energy).
Whether this will be enough to get DfA back on the radar of more end-game players is anyone’s guess at the moment. Theorycrafting will determine, once we have more detail on the change, how the DPS potential of buffed DfA will stack up against Lemon Zest Venom Rush and Shadow Reflection. (We don’t yet know how long it will extend Envenom’s duration. In addition, DfA is a two-part finisher, and it’s unconfirmed at the moment whether the 25% buff applies to DfA’s initial damage, the smash-you-over-the-head second attack, or both.)
But DfA’s got a tough hill to climb: Part of its relative unpopularity in the L100 talent tier isn’t just that the damage it deals is comparatively lackluster. Players have also expressed concerns that it’s hard to use optimally throughout a fight, takes away control of the rogue’s character while it’s active, can be as deadly to use as Killing Spree (in terms of teleporting the rogue into bad), and sometimes inexplicably fails to work properly. No word yet on whether those aspects of the talent will be improved, though designers are actively seeking detailed evidence from players whenever DfA misfires.
(For my part, I only used DfA for a short time while questing to get a feel for how it worked. It was fun to press the button and fling myself into the air superhero style, but using it as part of my regular gameplay experience just felt awkward, especially by comparison to the set-it-and-forget-it Venom Rush and the all-but-invisible Shadow Reflection.)
The DfA buff is not yet in place on the Patch 6.1 PTR, but should be there within the next build or two.

Leeching No-Longer-a-Poison

And then there was one.
At the start of the Warlords of Draenor expansion, Mind-Numbing Poison was removed from the rogue arsenal as part of a general reduction in crowd-control abilities across all classes. That left just Crippling Poison and Leeching Poison as the rogue’s non-lethal poison options.
Come Patch 6.1, only Crippling will be left.
The decision to turn Leeching — a Level 45 talent option — from a poison into a passive talent makes sense in light of the introduction of the Leech stat in Warlords. This change simplifies game mechanics (note that a similar change was already made to warriors’ Second Wind for Patch 6.0) and, in theory at least, should make it easier for designers to balance the talent alongside other DPS classes’ self-heals. And, of course, no longer having to apply a poison every hour to keep the buff in effect will be a small quality-of-life perk to those who saw it as a hassle.
That said, it’s hard to call this change either a buff or a nerf just yet. It’s unlikely to make more people select the talent in raiding (where it’s chosen relatively often, though Cheat Death is the more popular choice) or arena (where Elusiveness rules the roost). It also deepens the question of what rogue poison design will look like in the future, now that the class will be left with only two lethal options and one non-lethal option in its dwindling poison menu.
Like the DfA buff, the Leeching Poison redesign is not yet in place on the Patch 6.1 PTR.

The Instant Ninja Party Tool

Patch 6.1 datamining had previously given us a glimpse of the Barrel of Bandanas, but left unexplained how rogues would actually be able to get their hands on the class-specific toy. Thanks to the official patch notes, we’ve got our answer: It’ll be the first reason, outside of the repeatable weekly pickpocketing quest, to blow our Secretive Whistle and provide Griftah our pocket-pilfered parcels.
WoW Insider has more (including screenshots) on this new addition, which is already available on the Patch 6.1 PTR.