Encrypted Text: Rogue mechanics for the Cataclysm era

Chase Christian
C. Christian|12.01.10

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Encrypted Text: Rogue mechanics for the Cataclysm era
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any rogue questions you may have.

After writing Encrypted Text for over two years now, I have gotten into the groove of writing about rogue life at level 80. I've talked about all about armor penetration's various iterations (and eventual removal) and where to snag the best leather gear with your emblems justice points. We've discussed the trade skills that best suit the discriminating rogue and how to hide from our would-be assassins and their Turkey Shooters. However, all that is about to change.

Blizzard has implemented a ton of changes that affect the rogue class in serious ways. Cataclysm is by far its most ambitious expansion yet. With such a huge delta between what was and what is, the transition is going to be a bit rough as we cope with the post-Shattering world. Poisons have been streamlined (again), our Stealth was buffed significantly, and our talent trees were redesigned from the ground up to ensure that each spec provides a useful raid buff. I think it's safe to say that the rogue as we know it has evolved.

Poisons, simplified

While Wrath brought the removal of the Poison skill from the game, Cataclysm heralds in an even simpler version of the poison system. Instead of the multi-rank smorgasbord of poisons we have today, every poison has been reduced down to a single rank that scales as we level. The system makes sense when we remember that Blizzard also removed ranks from all abilities as well, implementing a scaling system there as well. The new poisons ensure that you'll always have the right rank ready, and leveling rogues can safely stockpile poisons in their bags without worrying about outgrowing them. We've definitely come a long way from painstakingly purchasing the right materials and quantities of reagents from the vendor and going AFK as we leveled our poison skill.

Poison vendors' inventories will be reduced dramatically with the introduction of the single-rank poison system, but Blizzard didn't stop there. Anesthetic Poison, by far the least-used poison in our arsenal, has been completely removed from the game. Fear not, Blizzard didn't nerf us by removing the poison -- it simply made the Enrage-dispel part of Shiv's baseline effect. Not only does that free up a bag slot in our inventory, it allows us to always use our optimal DPS poisons. No more clunky weapon-swapping macros to switch to a different OH weapon, Shiv to dispel, and then switching back. We just push Shiv, and the enrage effect is gone. The only downside is that I'll need to keybind Shiv to something easy to reach again.

The poison changes weren't all buffs, though. Wound Poison had its effectiveness dropped to a measly 10 percent. While yes, it's comparable to the other healing reduction effects like Mortal Strike (it was nerfed, too), it's still a nerf nonetheless. The good news is that shaman are no longer able to dispel poisons, although paladins and druids retain that ability. I was secretly hoping that while rebalancing healing reduction effects, the Blizzard dev team would make Wound Poison more like Necrotic Strike and less like Mortal Strike. The old Wound Poison used to reducing healing done in an interesting way, and I think allowing a second class to possess the new "healing absorbed" mechanic would be more than fair. While we're taking death knight abilities, how about a Death Grip clone that pulls opponents to us via a chain?

No more Master of Deception

Straight from the mouth of Ghostcrawler (lead systems developer), rogues get the best stealth. We deserve it. And in Cataclysm, Blizzard acknowledges that. Master of Deception is completely removed from the game, and even combat rogues are nearly invisible. While it may seem like a simple change, it dramatically changes the way we approach Stealth. Before, if we didn't have MoD, Stealth was just a precursor to our opening attack. Sneaking around mobs or players was nearly impossible, and you'd get caught every time. Now, we can easily go wherever we please, and our opponents won't be any wiser. By spreading the love to all specs, it makes it far easier for any given spec to be PvP-viable, since Stealth is a huge part of a rogue's success.

Tricks of the Trade can't be wasted

Have you ever popped Tricks of the Trade, only to be stymied by a slow tank or years of RP preventing you from attacking your target? It used to be that once the 30-second duration of Tricks expired, it would put Tricks on cooldown, forcing you to wait if you wanted to use it again. I pleasantly discovered that this issue is now gone, and if the 30-second buff of Tricks disappears before you can utilize it, the spell's cooldown is not activated. This simple change allows you to keep Tricks up 100 percent of the time when out of combat, which means you'll be ready for whatever the dungeon throws your way (like an unexpected patrol).

Guaranteed cooldowns

Vanish works. I've talked enough about that already; suffice it to say that it's the single best change of Cataclysm so far. What's awesome to see is that Cloak of Shadows received a similar treatment. It now provides 100 percent immunity to incoming spell effects while active, which means we don't have to guess if it's going to work or not. When I'm not happy with how something works, I complain about it, just as I complained about CoS' RNG back in 2009. Although the fix came more than a year later, I'm still excited to see that Blizzard has been working to fix even the little things that have been pestering rogues everywhere.
Check back every Wednesday for the latest strategies in Encrypted Text! Read up on the most popular pre-expansion questions, deep-dives into current class mechanics, and crucial spec and glyph choices for patch 4.0.1! Not sure what your rotation is going to look like at level 85? Read the rotation guide for Cataclysm!
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