Due to a bit of luck on BlizzCon ticket day, I was able to score a pair of tickets for one of this year's most desired events. I had a great time at the WoW.com reader meetup, and getting the opportunity to play as both a Goblin and Worgen Rogue really highlighted the weekend for me. I'm also excited at how Diablo III and Starcraft II are coming along; I am eagerly awaiting their releases.
However, it wasn't all fun and games. I had serious business to attend to, I had to use this opportunity to spend time with the WoW developers and ask some of the more important questions facing Rogues today. During the 2nd Class Discussion Panel, I got the opportunity to ask Ghostcrawler one question in front of the crowd. What'd I ask? About Vanish, of course! As expected, there's no timeline for a possible fix, but they don't want us to have to wait until Cataclysm for our most unique defense cooldown to provide more reliable protection.
A fellow Rogue used their Q&A time to ask about Assassination and daggers, to which Ghostcrawler commented that he'd like to see a little more balance between Assassination and Combat Rogues. Just a few days after his words, we saw an updated version of the patch 3.2.2 PTR build, including two buffs to Assassination Rogues.
Master Poisoner: Now also provides a 33/66/100% chance of preventing Envenom from consuming Deadly Poison.
While it may seem like a big upgrade, this change is actually fairly small in terms of actual DPS variation. It won't see us using two slow daggers, even though we won't have to worry about Deadly Poison falling off, because Focused Attacks still favors the quickest weapons. It does allow us to skip the tedious work of "timing Envenoms" between Deadly Poison ticks. It also should result in higher DPS in high-movement fights where we may not have had enough time to regain a 5-stack of Deadly Poison after an Envenom before needing to move. All in all, it is a very slight buff to our sustained DPS.
Envenom's scaling has been increased from 7% to 9% of attack power per combo point.
Now this change should see a tangible DPS boost for Assassination Rogues. With our buffed attack power in the 5 to 7 thousands, we'll see an additional 500-700 damage per Envenom (2% boost per combo point, 10% with a 5-point Envenom). Add in Vile Poisons, and we're looking at closer to 1,000 damage per 5-pt Envenom, or possibly 1,250-1,500 damage if we factor in a decent crit rate. A typical Mutilate rotation uses Envenom every 10-12 seconds, which mean the Envenom buff provides an extra 1,250 damage every 10 seconds, or ~125 DPS.
It's nothing to sneeze at, as it improves our damage in a very elegant way, instead of simply tacking on a few more damage percentage onto Hunger for Blood. However, with some of the Combat spreadsheets showing 10k DPS being possible in ToC gear, it's only a 1% nudge towards Assassination. There aren't any fights in "easy mode" ToC that specifically require DPS cooldowns, which has allowed Assassination to stay relatively competitive with Combat. However, with the upcoming release of ToC hard modes and a far stricter mindset for the raiding Rogue, it remains to be seen if these Assassination changes will keep Rogues rolling on daggers.
The simplification of stats:
Blizzard also announced their intentions for itemization at BlizzCon, and dropped quite the bombshell. They're removing Attack Power and Armor Penetration, changing Haste to increase our Energy regeneration rate instead of our attack speed, and doubling the AP we receive per point of Agility (from 1 AP/Agi to 2 AP/Agi). This should greatly decrease the complexity of our current gearing spreadsheets. By removing ArP and AP, it should also keep the plate classes from going after our precious leather!
The Haste change is one I am particularly interested in. Haste has always been a primarily "white" stat for us, increasing our auto-attack frequency but doing very little for our yellow damage. Now, the situation is reversed, and Rogues will actually have a way to increase our yellow damage and get us "pushing more buttons", as Blizzard intends for every class to do. Exactly what levels of energy regeneration we'll be able to accomplish with the new gearing model remain to be seen. Bloodlust may change from a simple white damage increase to a pseudo Adrenaline Rush!
Mastery is the stat that is designed to replace Armor Penetration on gear. It basically gives a boost to whichever talent tree you have put the most points into. For example, a Combat Rogue will gain Armor Penetration (possibly) for every point of Mastery they find on their gear. However, if you were to respect to Mutilate, that Mastery would change to say "Increased Poison Damage". Change to Subtlety? Now your Mastery is reducing the energy cost of all of your attacks. The goal is to provide a fun and interesting stat that gives each spec a valuable addition without adding a "wasted" stat. Mutilate currently cares very little about Armor Penetration, and some Combat Rogues with exceptional gear are nearing the "white crit cap", meaning all of the additional crit on their gear is reduced in value.
Mastery solves the problem of having too many disparate drops that no class can use, and allows for greater gearing flexibility. Between the removal of the Armor Penetration balancing meta-game and the simplification of gear, I see our spreadsheets in Catacylsm becoming far, far more refined.
There's a lot of new changes coming our way, though months out they may be. However, if we start planning and discussing these changes now, we can provide Blizzard with our feedback and assist in steering our class towards the bright future ahead of us. Next week, I'll be doing a full write-up of Rogue tips for the ToC bosses: just in time for Anub'arak's triumphant return!