I love October. While any baseball fan will tell you that there's a special feeling in the air during October, I couldn't care less about the World Series. I know plenty of football fans who enjoy spending their Octobers obsessing over their fantasy rosters, but my team has cruised to a 5-and-0 start already. I'm not even particularly excited that my birthday falls in October, as another event takes priority. October is BlizzCon month for me, and I can't wait to hear all about what's in store for rogues as we learn about next year's expansion.
When thinking about what cool abilities rogues might see in the next WoW expansion, I started reflecting on the new spells we received in Cataclysm. For our new high-level spells, we picked up Combat Readiness, Redirect, and Smoke Bomb. Recuperate was added to our low-level spells to help make leveling smoother and to provide rogues with a healing option that didn't involve bandages. How useful have these spells proven themselves to be over the past year?
Redirect and Recuperate earned hotkeys
Redirect is the only one of our new Cataclysm abilities that I use every single raid night. The ability to shift my combo points to a new add has proven invaluable on several occasions, even though its 1-minute cooldown is a bit restricting. I find myself regularly using it on Firelands fights like Rhyolith and Majordomo Staghelm, as we're required to swap targets, and bringing our CP with us boosts our damage. I think that lowering its CD would make it more useful, though making it too low could start to make combo points less important. Now that Redirect moves our Bandit's Guile buff with us as well, I don't really have any complaints about its potency.
Recuperate is an amazing ability, and I find myself using it quite often in PVP and when questing by myself. I rarely use it during raids, though, as it does hurt my DPS to spend combo points on it, and the healing isn't substantial enough to counter any boss' attacks. If you have healers handy, let them do their job unless Recuperating is absolutely necessary. We're still built for dealing damage, they're built for healing, and we should stick to what we're good at.
In situations where we don't take much damage, like when questing, Recuperate is more valuable. Subtlety rogues also get to use Recuperate as part of their normal rotation, not for the healing but rather for the bonus energy from Energetic Recovery. The extra healing from Recuperate is simply icing on the cake for sub rogues, adding to their already incredibly survivability.
Combat Readiness' death
Combat Readiness has always been situationally useful, specifically when faced with heavy incoming physical damage. I always imagined that it was the perfect counter to Lord Marrowgar's Bone Storm, but we haven't seen any encounters in Cataclysm that feature incoming physical damage. CR had obvious PVP usefulness, as there are plenty of physical DPS classes that we could thwart with it. I used CR regularly when Evasion was down in PVP and even when questing to reduce my downtime. CR was just another cooldown in our stash, used when it was appropriate.
When the developers tied Combat Readiness and Cloak of Shadows together to the same cooldown, they killed CR in nearly every scenario. We'll almost never use CR in a raid, since Cloak is so useful for clearing debuffs and avoiding damage. Unless you're fighting heads-up with a warrior, you're usually better off saving your CD for Cloak of Shadows in PVP to avoid/break a crowd control effect or to save your life against a big spell barrage. When forced to choose between CR and Cloak, we're simply always going to choose Cloak. Magical damage and effects are simply too prevalent in every area of the game.
Smoke Bomb is crippled
If you watch any of the early heroic Ragnaros kill videos, you'll notice a common theme. Boomkins are present in every kill, namely because Typhoon is ridiculously powerful when used for add control. There was a time where boomkins actually skipped over Typhoon in their talent tree, but now it's considered to be their defining ability. When You Don't Have an Eternity was one of the game's hardest achievements, death knights were revered for their unique Death Grip spell that allowed them to properly position the sparks.
Rogues too have a unique and interesting spell, Smoke Bomb. The only issue is that every raid encounter is specifically coded to ignore Smoke Bomb, making it useless in any raid encounter. While the other classes are using their custom abilities to toss adds around, Smoke Bomb ends up just being a waste of a global cooldown.
Smoke Bomb is amazing in PVP, and there's no denying that. I've seen so many matchups decided by clutch Smoke Bomb decisions, as its unique effects allow for many potent use cases. I have also used SB successfully in several dungeons, as all of the mobs there aren't immune to its vision-obscuring capabilities. The issue is that even though Smoke Bomb is so powerful in PVP and dungeons, it's simply never used in a raid situation. Smoke Bomb could be that special ability that gives rogues a unique flavor in raids, but right now it's pointless. I have always thought that a good compromise would be to have Smoke Bomb act like an AOE Feint, cutting down incoming AOE damage by 25% for anyone inside its radius.
I'll be at BlizzCon again this year to inform you of any rogue news. I am hoping that we see a new utility move in the works for us, rather than just another personal cooldown. I have always thought that rogues would be a good secondary source of Death Grip, via a Scorpion-esque grappling hook. Trainable Shadowstep is another dream of so many rogues, though I think that outcome is unlikely. If you had to design a new utility ability for rogues, what would it be?
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Molten Front ganking guide, a deep-dive into the world of playing a subtlety rogue -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to the latest rogue gear.