I am not in the Cataclysm alpha. I'm fine with waiting until the official release date to experience the goblin and worgen races first hand and to see the destruction that Deathwing's arrival has wrought upon the world. However, that hasn't stopped me from reading up on any alpha information I can get my hands on. A prepared rogue is a successful rogue, knowledge is power, knowing is half the battle, etc. My curiosity gets the best of me, and I can't help but speculate about the tentative changes that are coming our way.
There is one upcoming item in particular that has me incredibly excited: a possible fix for Vanish. The best part is that's there's even more to it than that: a possible "clutch" ability to replace the old Vanish immunity windows. I can't imagine rogues asking for anything more, considering that guaranteed restealths through Vanish are required for Vanish to remain a powerful cooldown. Let's be honest here -- who has seen a video of a rogue vanishing a Death Coil and not immediately wanted to go try it out? I can tell you that I called my warlock friend up that minute and had him outside of Durotar testing the technique with me. All rogues need is an instant of protection mixed with fast reflexes to get the job done.
What Vanish should do
Vanish should put a rogue into Stealth. I think that's a fairly neutral statement that all classes can agree on. Vanish should remove all movement-impairing effects. Pretty standard, it's part of the spell's design. Vanish should drop all of the rogue's threat. Not like we need this part with Tricks of the Trade, but hey, why not? After that point, things can get sticky. How long should a rogue be able to remain in stealth after a Vanish? Should the spell guarantee an opener? Should it negate any attacks that would bring us out of stealth? These are the questions that the rogue community and the developers wrestle with when trying to figure out exactly what Vanish is even supposed to do.
In this case, Blizzard has tipped their hand -- well, they tipped it to the alpha participants, who tipped it to the public internet. The new Vanish effect guarantees that we'll stay in stealth for a full three seconds after using the ability, regardless of any incoming damage or effects during that time. Now while it's far too early to start speculating about how this change will interact with spells like Flare and Faerie Fire, I think we can make some base assumptions here. Pre-existing debuffs like a DoT should not remove us from stealth for the first three seconds of a Vanish, spells that were in the air like a hunter's shot will strike us but we will remain hidden, and even a mage's furious Arcane Explosion spamming won't cost us the opener.
So we will be guaranteed an opener even against heavy offensive pressure, which rules. However, I am imagining Blizzard removing the immunity portion of Vanish from the table now and allowing all attacks to hit us during the Vanish effect. It's a fair trade, and I would much rather have Vanish do something reliably than pray to the latency gods that I was lucky enough to push "T" before the Death Coil reached me. It even gives Vanish some additional potency when used pre-emptively; a successful pre-Vanish while in stealth could allow you to charge that priest who is spamming Holy Nova and still get the opener. Vanish gives you an opener. I have to say, I'm pretty happy if that becomes the new definition for our signature spell.
Cloak of Shadows gets an upgrade
We knew that a new form of Cloak of Shadows was coming our way via a blue post. It was destined to move to a 100% resist chance; just look at what happened with the old Improved Sap. The randomness of a failed resist was simply too volatile for tournament play. It looks like CoS saw an even bigger bump, though, by inheriting Vanish's old immunity effect. The wording implies it will even make us immune to physical effects for a full second, which would make it the reactionary ability that we've always wanted. Tying it to Cloak of Shadows means that Vanish can be used reliably, and we have to make the decision between using our defensive CoS for a quick immunity burst or a tactical spell resistance period later on.
Is it fair for rogues to have an ability with such power? We're already a one-second GCD class that never has to cast. Why not grant this style of reactive technique to every class? These are tough questions to answer, but I look at it from the perspective of the other classes. Every class has its own flavor, and every class has a variety of defensive cooldowns that work in multiple ways. For example, why complain about rogues gaining a one-second immunity when every paladin gets a 12-second immunity? By putting our special "clutch immunity" effect on CoS, Blizzard is forcing the rogue to choose. We still only get one CoS per minute, and by consolidating our defensive abilities into tactical choices, the rogue PvP game becomes more exciting.
There's no more guessing about what Vanish is supposed to do: it grants us an opener. There's no more guessing about the proper way to avoid a Death Coil: pop Cloak of Shadows, or don't. Rogue retain all of the flavor that we've come to love, but Blizzard allows us to use Vanish for what it's actually meant to do instead of saving it for some showoff technique while we're running FRAPS. Rogues get a reliable and intentional immunity that comes with a cost that balances it, and we don't even need to add a keybind to do it. Blizzard needed to break Vanish and its immunity effect to balance it, and it looks like they've taken a smart approach to resolving this issue for good. Whether or not these changes will make it to release is another story altogether.
Are you a rogue looking to up your game? Check back every Wednesday for the latest strategies in Encrypted Text! Get ready for Icecrown Citadel with our guide for rogues, part 1 and part 2 (Plagueworks), part 3 (Crimson Halls) and part 4 (Frostwing Halls). Just hit 80 and need information? Check out our rogue lessons: Combat 101 or Mutilate 101 for all you need to know to get started.