There used to be a saying amongst healers: "It costs less mana to rez a rogue than to heal one." Rogues were the only non-plate melee class (shaman and druids were healers), and our leather armor didn't absorb heavy blows. I remember gearing my first rogue specifically for stamina and fire resistance. I wouldn't be invited to the raid unless I could meet the 4,000 HP minimum health requirement. If I accidentally stole aggro, I would be squashed like a grape.
Times have changed. Rogues are now the most durable melee class, and it's not even close. Enhancement shamans and fury warriors can't toss on a shield without severing all hope of dealing competitive DPS. Rogues are capable of dealing nearly their maximum damage while taking less damage than any other class in the raid.
While we've had good survivability over the last few expansions, Mists of Pandaria is what truly cemented our damage-reduction capabilities. Elusiveness was pulled out of subtlety's talent tree and made available to all three specs. Subtlety's survivability and utility talents being spread around to combat and assassination builds has been a common theme in Mists. It makes the class stronger as a whole, but weakens subtlety's place amongst the specs.
Feint was already an insanely powerful ability, providing us with 50% AoE damage reduction for 7 seconds (with the glyph). Elusiveness ups the ante, by providing us with an additional 30% damage reduction from any source. We're able to lower all of our incoming damage by at least 30%, and we cut up to 65% of our incoming AoE damage. And yes, Glyph of Feint also extends Elusiveness' benefits to 7 seconds as well. Feint also lost its cooldown and range requirement in Mists, which allows us to keep Feint up full time with a minimal DPS impact.
Rogues take less damage, period
No other class has anything that even comes close to Feint. The majority of incoming raid damage for non-tanks is AoE damage, and we're able to cut that down to just over a third of its normal effectiveness. We can also reduce the damage of powerful DoTs and spell effects by 30% with Elusiveness, which has literally zero competition in its tier. Leeching Poison is a joke with the current HP to DPS ratios, and Cheat Death is but an ounce of cure against Feint's pound of prevention.
Death knights might have Anti-Magic Shell and paladins have Divine Shield, but those are both cooldowns. Nobody has anything close to Feint's uptime, nor its effectiveness. Need someone to run through a sand trap or a poison cloud? There's nobody better than a rogue, period. We're no longer a liability in melee range. I'm completely able to stay in and DPS bosses through their powerful AoEs, while the warriors and feral druids are running away to safety. Nobody can play incoming AoE damage chicken with us and hope to win. We even have an area-wide incoming damage reduction cooldown in Smoke Bomb! Who else has it this good?
A cloak every sixty seconds
Cloak of Shadows was good at two minutes. Cloak of Shadows would've been great at two minutes with baseline Preparation. Cloak of Shadows is completely unfair to every other class at sixty seconds. Cloak is already one of the best defensive abilities in the game, especially when paired with its glyph. We have the option of completely negating most powerful boss debuffs or avoiding any powerful AoE blasts that Feint won't handle. In fact, when glyphed, Cloak can even let us tank a boss for a few precious seconds while someone gets a Rebirth. Cloak is an overpowered ability that had its cooldown cut in half.
I love when the boss puts a debuff on my rogue. I simply Cloak it off, and now my healers can rest easy. Parasitic Growth was a major pain to handle when facing Amber-Shaper Unsok, but rogues simply make the debuff disappear. There's a compendium of mechanics that rogues can avoid or mitigate via Cloak of Shadows at Elitist Jerks, and it's quite a list. In fact, Cloak is so good, that we often have several choices of which debuffs to clear in order to maximize its effectiveness.
Preparation is our ace in the hole
With Evasion, rogues can tank a boss for quite a long time. With Preparation, that time is doubled. I personally tanked Jin'rokh for nearly 30 seconds as my raid finished off the last few percentage points of his health. I can also use Evasion to avoid the Horridon adds, lowering my risk of getting hit with a powerful disease debuff. The beauty of Preparation is that I can pop Evasion whenever I feel like it, and I know I can have it available again if Horridon smushes my tank in one shot.
Preparation also gives us access to two Vanishes, which are quite handy for losing accidental aggro and breaking snares and slows. If something goes horribly wrong when a wave of adds spawn, I am always going to be the last one to die. In fact, any time my raid wipes, I know that I'll be the last one to hit the floor. Rogues are the tankiest melee class in the game, outside of actual tanks.
Pushing our limits
Taking less damage is great for our healers, but it also helps our DPS. By allowing us to negate debuffs that reduce our damage or would otherwise hamper our ability to attack a boss, we can always be dealing full damage. By reducing our incoming damage dramatically, we can push our damage to the limit, like when we faced Elegon or Tsulong. While everyone else has to run around to clear their stacks, we're still in melee range, blowing up the meters.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our patch 5.2 guide, a deep-dive into the world of assassination and combat rogue AoE rotations -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to a raid-ready rogue.