Encrypted Text: Blackfang Battleweave, or Deathwing is the Joker

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 questions or article suggestions you'd like to see covered here.

Blizzard has been posting previews of the upcoming tier 13 sets, allowing us to see what our new sets will look like visually. When describing the tier 13 set for rogues, Blackfang Battleweave, it was said that the armor is bat-themed. When I think of bats and bat-themed armor, I immediately think of the Caped Crusader. Not to worry, as the preview also claimed that they "were careful to skirt the more obvious inspirations." Oh, that's good news -- so they're not designing our next tier set in such a way that it would warrant a cease and desist letter from DC Comics. The only real similarity between our gear and the Dark Knight's is the pointy cowl; I don't see any shaped abs on our leather tunic.

As soon as I let my guard down, the WoW Facebook page posts an image of a rogue soaring through the night air on a pair of dark wings. Our new legendary daggers, the Fangs of the Father, apparently, give us wings. You can't see this picture and not immediately see the resemblance to the Masked Manhunter himself. I can only think of two possibilities: Either I accidentally started playing DC Universe Online at some point without realizing it, or Frank Miller has replaced Samwise Didier as Blizzard's art director.

Embrace the bat

You can view the tier 13 art design as an affront to your sophisticated sensibilities, or you can simply accept that Blizzard has done everything it can to make us a superhero besides killing our parents and making Michael Caine our personal butler. I plan to embrace my inner bat in Cataclysm's waning hours. My goblin rogue already sounds like Christian Bale talking in his angry voice, and I've got my engineering bag -- I mean, utility belt -- full of cool tricks and toys to get out of and into trouble. Mechano-hog? Batcycle. Throwing weapon? Batarangs. Shadowstep? Batcable. The similarities write themselves. I wouldn't be surprised if our agility ring from tier 13 is called the Green Kryptonite Ring and carries the following flavor text: "I want the means to stop me in the hands of a man I can trust with my life."

I'm not sure what bats have to do with Deathwing or the Dragon Soul. I'm actually not really sure what bats have to do with WoW in general. I've only ever seen bats in low-level dungeons like Razorfen Kraul. While the idea that the developers wanted us to sport bat-themed armor is neat, I have a hard time buying that explanation. I think that when we look at the entire motif of the tier 13 set and the legendary daggers, we're designed to be superheroes. There's nothing wrong with that. I actually like the fact that tier 13 for us is being based on a singular concept, and everything works together to support that theme.

TotT and set bonuses

Looking back at the past few set bonuses we've seen on our rogue tier sets, it's clear that the devs like tying our bonuses to Tricks of the Trade. Aldriana wrote a blog post lamenting the mix of Tricks and our set bonuses, as it both forced us into "wasting" Tricks for our own DPS, which limits its usefulness and forces us to add a boring spell to our rotation. While Aldriana still doesn't like it, I feel that our new two-piece set bonus is a step in the right direction. Once we have our two-piece bonus, our abilities will cost 20% less energy for 6 seconds. Rather than spamming TotT on cooldown, it will actually be better to pool our energy first to get more abilities into that 6-second window. I am very happy to see that our set bonus was designed to reward skillful use.

I put the set bonus into a spreadsheet in order to figure out how much energy we would be saving. We're obviously going to see the largest energy return when using our expensive moves like Mutilate and Sinister Strike during the energy reduction window, as they cost the most energy. We should try to stack as many of our combo point generators in that 6-second window. I think that we can actually squeeze four Mutilates and one Envenom into a single window if we start with a nearly full energy bar, which will save us over 50 energy every 30 seconds. While the perfect scenario won't always occur and some of the bonus will be wasted, it's still a serious boost to our overall energy. Combat rogues may actually not enjoy this bonus, as they can already run into energy-capping issues without even factoring in Dragon Soul-quality gear.

If we maximize the number of abilities we cast in the window, we boost our effective energy by between 5% and 10% over the course of an encounter. According to some math by Aldriana, this could yield a large DPS increase, especially as we optimize our energy usage around it. I am also excited to see that this bonus is also effective in PVP, serving as a mini-Renataki's of sorts. The extra energy helps subtlety rogues to get more Ambushes and Eviscerates in during their Shadow Dance.

Increasing cooldown durations -- boring

Our two-piece bonus may be interesting, but our four-piece bonus falls flat. Subtlety rogues will be able to squeeze in another Ambush during their Shadow Dance, which synergizes nicely with the reduced energy costs from our two-piece bonus. Assassination rogues will get 9 extra seconds of Vendetta, which should add up to approximately a 1.5% damage boost -- fairly standard when compared to last tier's set bonus. Combat rogues will have Adrenaline Rush up approximately 3% more often, equalling out to around 1.5% increase in damage, possibly higher. While I feel like the four-piece bonuses are uninspired, they're at least potent enough to get the job done.

Sneak in every Wednesday for our Molten Front ganking guide, a deep-dive into the world of playing a subtlety rogue -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to the latest rogue gear.