In a recent blue post by everyone's favorite lead developer, Ghostcrawler gave us a bit of insight into Blizzard's view on Rogue strength in PvP. One commenter brought up that "Rogues are fine, but DKs are simply insane," which is an argument that I've made. GC agrees, stating that "We like where rogues are in PvP in terms of damage and utility, but other classes are doing too well."
While I'm glad to hear that we won't be seeing any serious nerfs in some unreleased 3.1 notes, I'm also very concerned about how the rest of the community will handle this news. If Rogues are considered sub-par bby most players, and yet Blizzard is happy with their performance, this means that other classes will be trending towards our current performance instead of away from it. If there's one thing the WoW community has a hard time stomaching, it's nerfs. But we can all agree those Death Knights need it, right? Right!
This announced satisfaction with Rogues is similarly reflected in our very short patch notes. The only class with a shorter list would be Mages, who received mostly mana-based balancing. With clear direction, the Rogue development team has laid down a few baseline changes to cement our specs in 3.1 to match their vision.
Combat will top the meters, again:
Blizzard tried to kill Shiv once, by removing it from Combat Potency's effect. It didn't work, as Combat Shiv with a Hailstorm is among the higher DPS specs on live. They've made a more decisive strike, by blocking Shiv from critical strikes, including any poisons applied to the off-hand. Our TBC mainstay will now be restricted to a gimmick ability for trick fights. The new proc-per-minute mechanic of poisons ensures that weapon speed will no longer be the sole determining factor in weapon selection, and Combat will be back to its Sinister Striking ways shortly.
The changes to Lightning Reflexes and Savage Combat ensure that the tree remains at the top of the meters, while the removal of the Mace Spec bonus is completely in-line with Blizzard's stance on Maces since day 1. They've always been the PvP weapon for Rogues, and anyone holding on to a mace for PvE should look to sharding it. Either Fist/Dagger or Fist/Sword will become Combat's weapons of choice, and so we'll be rolling against all of those Enhancement Shamans for our MH Fists. Give them the maces!
Assassination continues to lean on HfB:
Assassination saw a very short-lived Glyph of Envenom, which caused Envenom to leave behind the stack of Deadly Poison instead of consume it, was pulled out to prevent HaT Rogues from binding their sole key to Envenom instead of Eviscerate. Deadly Poison's coefficient buff (from 8% to 12%) and Master Poisoner's new bonus to DP proc frequency has also been buffed to ensure that the "poisonless" Mutilate spec of Instant/Instant/Eviscerate will never see the light of day. I wouldn't be surprised if Eviscerate is eventually removed from Cut to the Chase's tooltip to make as surgical a strike against Eviscerate as Shiv saw.
The spec has been further consolidated with precision buffs to Mutilate via a new Glyph, ensuring that the DPS remains competitive with the new PvE conqueror of Combat. However, when chained with Overkill, Vigor, Glyph of Vigor, and the 4 piece Tier 7 bonus, I see Blizzard walking the treacherous path of allowing too many Mutilates too fast in a PvP situation. We already know what their reaction was last time that happened...
Hunger for Blood retains its status as the highest DPS talent increase per point in the entire game: 18% if glyphed. The fact that a fifth of your damage comes from one talent point that is now insanely easy to maintain (15 energy, 1 stack, 60 second duration) shows just how strong Preparation is in PvP. Mutilate Rogues in PvP sacrifice 20% of their damage to simply have a second set of cooldowns. Isn't that a clear sign that something is wrong with a class that cannot compete without two Vanishes, Evasions, Cold Bloods, Sprints, etc is still at the bottom of the representation charts? The days of Rogues having OP cooldowns is over, say hello to Icebound Fortitude and Anti-Magic Shell.
Subtlety remains the trick spec:
Speaking of being completely cooldown reliant, Subtlety PvP completely leans on Shadow Dance to create kill opportunities. This kind of concentrated effort is hard to come by, as I commented on previously. HaT builds are also group reliant, making Subtlety the least solo-friendly out of all of the Rogue trees. Your solo DPS and PvP performance are worse than abysmal, while your group play can be some of the most potent. The tree saw not a single mechanic change in 3.1, and only a single Glyph, for its one-trick pony.
Ghostcrawler had commented that Sub was popular in other geographic areas. However popular a very specific spec may be for a very specific environment (RMP 3v3), it doesn't prove that Sub is "alright". Without significant changes to improve Sub's solo play, it will remain the plaything of masochistic raid theorycrafters and guys who just love Ambushing a whole lot.
With Ulduar's long and (hopefully) difficult raid coming up, I hope that we will be able to retake our place at the top of the damage meters. I am a bleeding heart for the Rogue class, and I will never give up hope for our old glory as PvE DPS gods and feared PvP opponents. If it takes a pair of Legendary Daggers to do it, then so be it, I want a pair Yogg-Saron's orange-text-bearing daggers sticking out of my opponents chest. If it takes dual-wielding Frostmournes to make Death Knights fear looking at our WoW Web Stats reports, then I will slay Arthas weekly. If it takes stacking four BM Hunters and spamming one key to do it, I'll gladly recruit some more of those mangy ninjas.
And if takes nerfs to 9 other classes to bring all of the classes in line... I'll avoid the forums for a few months. Ghostcrawler and the team has some heavy decisions to make. Here's to hoping that their thick skin allows them to push through the changes that Rogues have been waiting for since stepping foot in Northrend.