With one glance at the notes, you'll see that rogues are obviously the class getting the most updates in the upcoming patch. There's an unusual number of changes coming our way. I'm used to a few terse sentences under the brittle yellow Rogue heading in the patch notes. Currently, we're facing paragraphs of tweaks, a handful of completely new abilities, and even redesigns of old techniques.
None of the changes should affect our core DPS mechanics. Our rotations are going to stay exactly the same, our weapon and poison changes won't be changing, and we'll want the same stats on our gear. Combat and subtlety rogues were both slightly buffed, but all three specs should be competitive in PvE. Many of the changes should significantly increase our stock in PvP, via both offensive and defensive improvements.
Poisons and weapons stay the same
Deadly Poison is still going to be the lethal poison of choice for all rogues. Due to the new designs of Deadly Poison and Wound Poison, it's unlikely that we'll ever use Wound Poison in PvE again. Deadly Poison will always deal more damage. Deadly Poison's proc chance remains at a static 30% rate, meaning that faster weapons will yield more poison damage. Assassination rogues are forced to use two daggers for Mutilate, and subtlety rogues will want to use daggers to maximize their poison damage. Combat rogues can choose to use two slower weapons, if they have them available, as poison damage isn't critical to them.
Combat rogues are sort of lucky and unlucky in patch 5.2, as they'll be able to transmog the models of their slow weapons to any other slow weapon models. You'll be able to make your sword look like an axe, or your axe look like a mace! Unfortunately for combat, fist weapons are left out from the mix, due to their unique animations. Daggers can still only be tranmogged to other daggers.
The fist restriction wouldn't be so bad, but there are also no swords, axes, or maces currently itemized in the upcoming patch. Only fist weapons and daggers have been found so far. So, even though we have a new transmog feature available, we won't be able to use it, outside of PvP. Even though most of the former Main Hand-only slow weapons (like caster maces and swords) have been converted to One Hand weapons, allowing us to use them for transmog, we'll never see their models in raids until the itemization team starts making some non-fist one-hand weapons for us.
Back in the days before damage meters, we used to transmog the hard way: by actually wearing the gear. My first rogue wielded an Argent Avenger well after it was useful, simply because it was the best-looking weapon around. Today, I know better: using my Argent Avenger now would lower my DPS by several thousand. That's why I only wear it before the raid. Well, only when we're clearing trash. And for a couple of bosses. Okay, most bosses. Until my raid leader finds out. Sorry.
Our single-target DPS should be close
All three rogue specs should be dealing about the same single-target damage, due to the buffs to combat and subtlety. Assassination rogues are still going to have the best multi-target AoE for groups of more than 6. Combat will be able to cleave up to 5 targets at once with Blade Flurry, which gives it some great small-group AoE damage. Subtlety's niche is likely mobility, thanks to the new Cloak and Dagger. Subtlety rogues can use both Vanish and Shadow Dance to active C&D, allowing them to teleport around the battlefield in the shadows. Add in baseline Preparation, and subtlety rogues are going to be very mobile.
I am hoping that a lot of rogues give combat and subtlety a shot in the upcoming patch, rather than just sticking with assassination. I am personally going to give both specs a chance in my raid, if only to get some useful data. A Cloak and Dagger subtlety build also doubles as a powerful PvP build, and I've been wanting to work on my PvP gear for a while.
Shuriken Toss moves to pure damage
While we're not sure what the final version will be, the PTR version of Shuriken Toss is changing again. The ability and the subsequent shuriken auto-attacks won't proc our non-lethal poisons. We won't be able to keep our targets painted with Crippling Poison at all times. The rumor is that the reason for the nerf was actually Paralytic Poison, which was being applied far too quickly and allowing us to stun people from 30 yards away. I would rather see just Paralytic Poison's proc rate adjusted with ST, but we'll see what ends up making it to live servers.
Shuriken Toss will continue to proc our lethal poison, so we'll be able to apply pressure via damage at a distance. Assassination rogues are reliant on poisons to deal most of their damage, so ST will still be useful to them in PvP. I am also hoping to see more combat and assassination rogues trying out PvP in this patch, thanks to Shuriken Toss, the PvP set bonus upgrades, and baseline Preparation giving us a bit more utility and mobility.
Raiding is even easier
Rogues already have it pretty easy with Feint allowing us to soak up tons of damage. A few more buffs can't hurt, though. Our Kick ability will finally be free to use, so we'll be able to interrupt more often and without worrying about pooling energy. Make sure you have your Kick hotkeyed to something easy to reach. Smoke Bomb's new 20% damage reduction will also help us survive powerful attacks, and gives raid leaders another reason to bring us.
I do see one issue with the new Smoke Bomb, though. Because it retains its line-of-sight mechanics, if we have to drop it on a tank to lower his incoming damage, it could interfere with other boss mechanics. For example, the boss could decide to cast a spell on someone else in the raid instead, due to the tank being in a Smoke Bomb. We'll see if this ends up causing any issues or not.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Mogu'shan Vaults guide, a deep-dive into the world of rogue rotations -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to a raid-ready rogue.