Sprint by the numbers
Due to subtlety's near uselessness outside of specific arena team compositions, Shadowstep has been off of rogue action bars since the days of Naxxramas. We've been left with Sprint to provide for our every mobility need, and it's been woefully underpowered. While the Fleet Footed talent in assassination gave us decent base movement speed, we were still nowhere near as agile as a warrior with Intercept. In a pure footrace, we'd only edge a warrior out by a measly 7 yards, if we used Sprint and they used Intercept on cooldown.
While we may have been one of the fastest classes in the land for marathon running, that's not how WoW really works. The arena game is played in short bursts and quick swaps, and PvE environments simply aren't big enough for us to take full advantage of Sprint. In fact, if we ever actually had a use for the full 15 seconds of the original Sprint's duration, the other classes would be left woefully behind. There's really no room in the game for a cooldown that gives us an extra 60 yards of running distance in just 15 seconds, and so most of Sprint's duration has been wasted.
Flip the coin: slows
The alternative to having a speed-boosting mechanic would be having powerful slows, which is something that we're actually lucky enough to have at our disposal. Crippling Poison, while one of the strongest slowing effects, is still not perfect. Poisons are able to be dispelled by all of the four healing classes in some way, which leaves our prey free to run away. Our ranged snare, Deadly Throw, consumes valuable energy and combo points.
While Hamstring can't be dispelled and Chains of Ice can be spammed on the run, we're left hoping our opponents stop to take a break. I know retribution paladins are in a similar boat, but I heard they got some similar loving in the latest beta build as well. In order to compete at the same level as the other melee classes, we've got to have similar mobility. Do you know what the No. 1 way to increase your DPS is? Increasing your uptime on the target. Better uptime equals better DPS. The formula is that simple, and it works for both PvE and PvP. We need to be able to continually attack our enemies if we want to have any hopes of ending up on the top of the pile.
The Sprint fix is in
There's really no other way to say it: we've finally got 1-minute Sprint. While the duration was halved, the fact is that we never needed 15 seconds of movement speed boosting anyway. We needed short bursts of speed to catch fleeing opponents or avoid powerful attacks, and being locked into a 3-minute cooldown simply didn't work. The new Sprint is actually now in competition with Intercept for the best mobility technique. Intercept is usable twice as often, but Sprint doesn't require a target and can be used in any direction and for any purpose.
It makes sense that we'd see a less potent and more frequent Sprint sometime soon. With encounter length increasing, the value of long cooldowns goes down dramatically. Even our level 85 ability, Smoke Bomb, requires increased mobility to use properly. Having a giant pillar of smoke to exploit line of sight isn't very valuable if we can't get behind it. Maximizing our uptime on bosses is going to be important if we intend to stay competitive in PvE environments. The new Sprint doesn't even add that much potency to our overall marathon speed; flexibility is what earns this change our admiration. Here's to Blizzard's increasing our flexibility and hoping that we see many more quality changes to rogues in the beta patches to come.
Check back every Wednesday for the latest strategies in Encrypted Text! Get ready for Icecrown Citadel with our rogue guide, part 1, part 2 (Plagueworks), part 3 (Crimson Halls) and part 4 (Frostwing Halls). Just hit 80 and need information? Try Combat 101 or Mutilate 101.