While typically known for more PvE-oriented builds, combat has come into its own in terms of PvP viability. It plays differently -- combat has a beatdown feel to it, and the ability to break snares easier and more often is key to this. Combat is also a control-oriented spec that has a lot of tools to deal with casters. What the combat tree does is highlight a rogue's basic abilities and pushes them into overdrive, making it play the most like a "classic" rogue.
- Improved Recuperate Better self-healing and a damage reduction while Recuperate is active? Why yes, please, thank you. This is one of two talents other specs would go down the combat tree for ...
- Improved Sprint ... and this is the other. This talent guarantees a snare break every minute, which helps greatly against kiting. It probably still won't save you against frost mages, though. Consider using Glyph of Sprint (major) for an even more powerful speed boost which should see a lot of play in the battlegrounds. Imagine playing a worgen rogue with Darkflight at your disposal, too. Speed bursty goodness!
- Improved Kick This is important because this makes Kick require less precision. This means it doesn't matter if your opponents are trying to juke you or not, the blanket silence will get them, anyway. However, if you're confident about your skills (and Kick not getting avoided or anything like that), you might want to gamble with Glyph of Kick (major), which is a conditional 2-second reduction to Kick's cooldown. This prevents you from using Kick preemptively, but can also translate to a near total lockdown of an enemy caster if you always manage to interrupt him. With its energy cost down to 15, it's perfectly easy to spam, as well.
- EDIT: Reinforced Leather - I totally forgot to include this even though I'd made a mental note of it. Thanks to Crazyates for reminding me. This is actually worth something in PvP now for one major reason: armor penetration is dead. There will no longer be any AP-stacking warriors or other crazy thing that will make mincemeat of you. Resilience being what it is now, you'll want as much mitigation as you can get. This won't help you with spell damage, though ...
- Improved Gouge This is a beautiful PvP ability. This makes Gouge extremely easy to pull off at 15 energy and allows combat rogues to exert a lot of control over a fight. When glyphed with Glyph of Gouge (major), Gouge becomes an extremely powerful PvP talent that can be used at any time against any target within range, even those running away from you.
- Blade Twisting Finally, a talent that isn't an improved version of something. This talent effectively does for combat what Deadly Brew does for assassination -- eliminate the need for Crippling Poison. The bonus is that the snare isn't even a poison, which means it can't be removed through a dispel. This frees up your blades for more interesting stuff.
- Throwing Specialization A reworked ability that turns your Deadly Throw into an interrupt, as well. It's hefty at 35 energy, but as a means of closing the gap and interrupting spells, you won't need to cast Deadly Throw too often, anyway. This is part of combat's toolkit that makes it so potent against casters.
- Restless Blades This ability is important for PvP mostly for its reduction to Sprint's cooldown. This makes combat extremely resilient against kiting, especially since you can use Deadly Throw and consequently get to Sprint sooner.
This spec starts off on a good note primarily because Shadowstep
is so wonderful for PvP. The mobility that the specialization ability grants is superior mobility and even bypasses normal means of movement. Subtlety is an opener spec that requires the most planning in play. It is arguably the most difficult rogue PvP spec to play because you'll need to balance going in and out of stealth and because key abilities have facing requirements. Openers aren't as strong in a longevity environment, but it's subtlety's game, so you'll need to find ways to keep at it throughout the fight.
- Nightstalker You'll want this because you'll be in stealth more often than the average rogue. Faster movement speed is a basic for PvP, and the reduced cooldown to Stealth (although it won't come into play too often, since you'll probably be in combat) means you can pop in and out of stealth faster.
- Improved Ambush and Waylay You want to Ambush your opponent. Blizzard wants you to Ambush your opponent. Improved Ambush makes it perfectly clear that you will be Ambushing your opponent coming off stealth. Waylay doesn't have the same kind of survivability granted by a talent like Blackjack, but it does have the snare. This is useful because subtlety is pretty much the only spec that needs to use Crippling Poison, so any ensnaring ability helps.
- Elusiveness What the subtlety tree lacks in punch, it makes up for in ... elusiveness. This is an important talent that grants access to the class' most important PvP cooldowns about 30 percent faster. You'll also want to use Glyph of Cloak of Shadows (major) for physical damage reduction during Cloak of Shadows. This is pretty useful for those times when you're up against superior melee opponents.
- Energetic Recovery You'll be popping Recuperate quite a bit in PvP, which means you'll appreciate the extra energy that kicks in from this.
- Hemorrhage and Sanguinary Vein Basic damage talents that you'll pick up on any subtlety build, but I wanted to point out how important bleed effects are in PvP. It's the one DoT that's a complete pain to remove because it's a physical effect. Don't discount that because while your openers won't have the same impact in a long engagement, bleed will make a difference. That means, naturally, that you'll also be glyphed with Glyph of Hemorrhage (prime).
- Premeditation As much as openers and cooldown abilities have lost their punch in the new environment, you'll want to use them as much as you can, anyway. Premeditation allows you to make the most out of your openers.
- Enveloping Shadows The damage reduction isn't as great as Deadened Nerves, considering there just isn't as many AoE effects in play on the battlefield, but in a pinch, you can use it with Feint to virtually negate damage from powerful AoEs such as Bladestorm or Starfall. Combine it with Cloak of Shadows for even more damage-shrugging goodness.
- Cheat Death Still the best PvP talent in the tree, Cheat Death is your passive get out of jail free card.
- Preparation Longer engagements means more chances to blow cooldowns, and Preparation makes sure you get to use those cooldowns again. If anything, this raises your survivability significantly. You aren't going to be hardy, but at least you'll be slippery and annoying. That's a plus in PvP.
Overall it's an interesting transition to the expansion, with the most exciting and welcome change probably being the fix to Vanish. There's also Combat Readiness
waiting at level 81, which should pump up survivability even further and make other specs not miss Preparation as much. Assassination rogues will also feel a new and improved Backstab, making things a little more interesting. A few more days to go before we see new abilities on the battlefield!
Zach delivers your weekly dose of battlegrounds and world PvP in one crazy column. Find out how the Cataclysm talent tree redesign affects PvP, how sub-speccing will work at higher levels in the expansion, and how the new Azeroth will affect world PvP. Visit Blood Sport for the inside line on arena PvP.