Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the rogue class. This week, we discuss the new abilities that we'll see as we level up in the upcoming expansion.
As I've mentioned several times before, rogues are often thought of as the "cooldown class." We've got a plethora of abilities, with nearly one (or two) for every situation. We're then regulated via cooldowns attached to each abilities, limiting how often we can use them. This gives the rogue class incredible potency in short fights, when our cooldowns are able to be used in quick succession. However, we have often stumbled in longer encounters, when our cooldowns are only active for a small percentage of the overall fight. Blizzard has been working on resolving this by reducing both the potency and the cooldown of a few of our moves, like Sprint, to give us more flexibility.
The DPS model for rogues hasn't change at all since The Burning Crusade. The only real addition was the creation of Mutilate and Envenom, which have been staples for rogues for years now. While Fan of Knives was a fun addition at level 80, its use on anything but trash has been limited at best. It's unsurprising that even though we're receiving three new abilities in Cataclysm versus BC's two, they're still all cooldown abilities. However, our new spells are actually incredibly fun and useful. They also take some skill to use properly, which is something that the rogue class needs desperately to get back to. Using your abilities wisely should yield a large reward -- and with that thought, I will now introduce the 2010 graduates of the Rogue Ability Academy.
Smoke Bomb is pure cool
As you can see in the intro video, Smoke Bomb is exactly as awesome as I had originally hoped. I tested it as thoroughly as I could, in both PvE and PvP. Targets affected by Smoke Bomb remain targeted and targetable the entire time, but you're simply not able to cast into or out of the cloud if the rogue is your enemy. Friendly healers can heal in both directions, but enemy healers and DPS are locked down. Because of this, Smoke Bomb can be used both offensively and defensively. My favorite usage will likely be on an enemy caster who is trying to use crowd control on one of my friends. Not only will his spell not go off, but he'll be unable to be healed -- and my ally is now free to do as he wishes. It's a pseudo-interrupt for any spell that's not being cast toward the caster or you.
We can be knocked out of the Smoke Bomb by AoE moves like Typhoon, and all AoEs will still affect us. However, even if a spell is being cast as we run into the cloud, we are protected. Spells in the air will still land, however, so make sure to activate Smoke Bomb before your opponent finishes his cast. Pets will definitely follow you into the Smoke Bomb, so beware of hunters. Also note that Smoke Bomb protects both you and any other friendlies who decide to wander inside, and I am sure that proper SB use will be the hallmark of successful gladiator-class rogues everywhere. I have been able to use it to successfully restealth against several casters who were too afraid to venture inside.
Redirect is useful -- but only just
Redirect is one of those moves that I want to like, but I'm still not quite convinced about it yet. Warlocks saw something similar with Soul Swap, so it's clear Blizzard wants to work on making target-swapping easier. I can definitely see some cases for using Redirect, especially on any encounter with high-priority targets. I always end up losing combo points on Marrowgar's Bone Spikes, and being able to unload a 5-point Kidney Shot onto a val'kyr immediately would be awesome. I honestly think Redirect will see the most usage in PvP, where target swaps are a powerful part of setting momentum and scoring kills.
Also featured in this video is a great shot of the new Vanish. The new Vanish functions by putting us into a "Vanish" phase first, during which no damage can break us out of Stealth. After 3 seconds of guaranteed stealth, we're then put into regular old Stealth like we're used to, in which damage will break us out again. Three seconds is a very long time, especially if coupled with Sprint or when attempting to re-open on our targets. This even works on pets and attacks in the air, since there is nothing that can break us out of Stealth for those few seconds. It's amazing. Go download the PTR client and try it yourself!
Combat Readiness wins for best spell animation
I have always been in love with the Assassin class from Diablo 2. It strongly resembles the rogue in many aspects, including the combo point and finisher system. Combat Readiness looks like a spell straight out of Diablo, with swirling shuriken protecting us from all sorts of damage. Combat Readiness' effect only lasts a mere 5 seconds, but as long as we're continually punished, the effect refreshes itself. Imagine using this on Lord Marrowgar to cut your damage taken by half for an entire Bonestorm. There are plenty of situations where we're taking damage, and having such a powerful ability at the ready is going to give us untold survivability. When coupled with Recuperate, it's going to be incredibly hard to kill a rogue. Evasion has shown its age now that everyone has stuns available to them, and Cloak of Shadows simply didn't save us from focused fire. We used to all sport Cheat Death in our level 70 PvP builds, and I think that Combat Readiness is going to bring back a bit of the "tankiness" that we've been missing. Check back every Wednesday for the latest strategies in Encrypted Text! Get ready for Icecrown Citadel with our rogue guide, part 1, part 2 (Plagueworks), part 3 (Crimson Halls) and part 4 (Frostwing Halls). Just hit 80 and need information? Try Combat 101 or Mutilate 101.