Raise your hand if you remember fighting against Shazzrah. I'm not talking about our recent bout with Shannox or even our old fights against Mother Shahraz. Shazzrah goes way back, to WoW's very first raid instance, Molten Core. Due to the frequent AoE explosions that Shazzrah unleashed, rogues couldn't engage him without being slaughtered immediately. While the rest of the raid fought the boss, I joined the other rogues in my group crushing Blindweed and making some food next to the Cooking Fire.
As a melee class, our biggest weakness for years has been that we can only deal damage to nearby targets. It's limited our ability to swap targets effectively, our ability to avoid point-blank AoE attacks, and our ability to attack any target that's not on the ground. Rogues, along with other melee classes, have actually been benched because of these limitations. These shackles and restrictions have bound our class since its inception.
Shuriken Toss has the chance to change all that. The new level 90 rogue talent slated for Mists of Pandaria might redefine what it means to play a rogue.
I'm not complaining. Imagine this image with me: a rogue standing resolute, alternating hands deftly producing instruments of pain from hidden pouches, subsequently launching these deadly shuriken at his unsuspecting target. A flurry of steel and glimmers of reflections from the blades are all his opponent sees before being vanquished.
Our current toolbox doesn't work
We've had Throw and Deadly Throw for years, but neither has seen regular use. I think I tossed a couple of Deadly Throws toward Atramedes in Cataclysm, but that's about it. Wait, I did actually use Throw during Morchok's Black Blood phases, before I realized that between Cloak of Shadows and a bribe to my raid's healers, I could just stay in melee range instead.
Deadly Throw used to be a valuable asset in PvP when combined with the interrupt bonus from our PvP set gloves. Once that feature was removed, DT fell off the action bars of most rogues. We have always lacked a potent ranged attack, and Shuriken Toss looks to change that. It will be especially important since there's a strong possibility that we'll lose Throw altogether in Mists.
How strong is Shuriken Toss?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. Shuriken Toss, at first blush, seems perfect for the job of adding a ranged attack to our arsenal. It costs a moderate amount of energy, deals a moderate amount of damage at a moderate range, and provides us with a combo point. It's quite obvious that we'll always want to combine Deadly Throw with Shuriken Toss to give us an outlet for our combo points when dealing sustained ranged damage.
The question is how powerful Shuriken Toss ends up being. If the damage is too low, it won't be worth our time. If it doesn't apply poisons, it may not be effective enough in PvP. Are there going to be any glyphs to affect it? Shuriken Toss can usher in a new era of ranged rogue DPS, or it could simply be an ability of last resort for those moments where we're waiting for Baron Geddon to finish exploding.
Regardless of how good Shuriken Toss ends up being, rogues are always going to be a melee class first. We have too many mechanics and abilities and talents that rely on melee range. Don't expect to see rogue standing back with the mages and warlocks any time soon. Melee is always going to be our bread and butter, and that's never going to change.
What is changing is what we're capable of when our bread and butter is missing. Now, when we're without the ability to melee our targets, we can still remain somewhat functional. We can build up combo points for when we're back in melee range; we might be able to keep our poisons applied and maybe even deal some damage while we're at it. Shuriken Toss isn't about enabling rogues to become a ranged class. It's about giving us something to bridge the gap between enemies.
A rogue's most powerful weapon is his versatility. We've got a cooldown or an ability for nearly every situation, and that preparedness and flexibility gives us the upper hand in our encounters. With Shuriken Toss further developing that story, rogues look to be more capable than ever.
And come on, you can't tell me it's not going to be sweet, sweet revenge when you kill your first frost mage with Shuriken Toss while you're frozen inside of his Frost Nova.
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.