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Encrypted Text: Stealth, openers, and the 5.3 nerfs

Encrypted Text: Stealth, openers, and the 5.3 nerfs
Chase Christian
Chase Christian|May 1, 2013 9:00 AM
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.

Rogues have an identity problem. We're a class that's based around Stealth and subterfuge, but WoW's combat mechanics aren't conducive to that design. Our opener abilities are immensely powerful to compensate for their relative unavailability. If you've ever dueled another rogue, you know how critical the element of surprise is to PvP combat. A rogue stuck in the open is hardly a rogue at all.

The flip side of that coin is that a rogue in Stealth is a powerful force. Cheap Shot and Garrote are amazing abilities without any true cooldowns, and Shadow Dance keeps subtlety at the top of the arena charts. Rogues that specialize in PvP are focused on how to sneak as many openers as possible into an encounter. Vanish, an inconsequential PvE ability, is one of the most potent offensive PvP cooldowns available. The divide between a stealthed rogue and an exposed rogue is massive.

Our openers are being nerfed, slightly

Any rogue that's serious about PvP chooses both the Glyph of Cheap Shot and the Glyph of Garrote. Cheap Shot nullifies physical classes, allowing us to both focus down targets and to peel for our teammates. Garrote silences casters, taking a healer or caster out of the match for a precious few seconds. Rogues aren't brought to the arena for their raw sustained damage, but rather for their ability to control enemy players. Rogues are about control and finesse in PvP, not about brute force.

The Cheap Shot and Garrote glyphs are both being nerfed by 0.5 seconds in the upcoming patch. The current Glyph of Cheap Shot extends the duration by 1 second, the new one will only extend it by 0.5 seconds. While that seems like a 50% nerf, it's really only a 50% nerf to the glyph, not to Cheap Shot itself. The difference between a 4.5-second stun and a 5.0-second stun is about 10%, which really isn't too bad when you think about it. It's about a 10% nerf to Cheap Shot overall.

It's about the glyphs

I don't think the nerf is solely intended to nerf Cheap Shot, since you wouldn't have to touch the glyph to do that. I think the idea is to get rogues trying out new glyphs instead of just sitting on Cheap Shot/Garrote. Rogues are so focused on the control-first style of PvP that anything other than those two glyphs seems silly. It wasn't that long ago that rogues were playing with obsolete weapons just to prove the point that control was our only value to an arena team.

I expect that other great glyphs like Gouge, Blind, Feint, and Smoke Bomb will be getting more action after 5.3 lands.

Cloak and Dagger's range change

The latest 5.3 change for rogues is a nerf to Cloak and Dagger's range: from 30 yards to 20 yards. CnD's range is now shorter than Shadowstep, which is its direct competitor. CnD has great synergy with restealthing and Shadow Dance, but it also lacks the defensive and on-demand capabilities of Shadowstep. Again, I'm not so sure that the nerf is designed to kill CnD. I think it is supposed to make Shadowstep or Burst of Speed more attractive in comparison. Blizzard went through a lot of effort to redo Burst of Speed, I'm sure they'd like to see more people using it.

Shuriken Toss is the real nerf

Shuriken Toss' tooltip is one of those really long ones that you have to read a few times to fully understand it. There's the damaging portion of the ability, which generates combo points, and the auto-attack buff portion, which is only applied when attacking from far away. The first part, the combo point generator, was too strong in PvP. I've used it quite a few times to deal way more damage and generate way more combo points than I should be able to.

Shuriken Toss is being streamlined and nerfed. There's no more double damage business when you're more than 10 yards away. The ability's damage has been doubled, but so has its energy cost. Shuriken Toss will now cost 40 energy, which means fewer combo points overall. Shuriken Toss will no longer deal double damage when you're more than 10 yards away, so our ranged DPS is going down overall. The base damage was doubled, but that's offset by the energy cost increase, so it's a push.

The auto-attack portion is staying put, but we'll be dealing half of Shuriken Toss' current damage with Shuriken Toss itself from more than 10 yards away and generating half the combo points. Our long-range DPS is being cut significantly, although it's still leagues better than anything we've had in previous expansions. Our mid-range damage (under 10 yards) is roughly the same, but with half the combo points. Shuriken Toss is no longer the cheap CP generator that we can spam all the time.

I fully expect to see Marked for Death replacing ST on most rogues' action bars. The nerf to our sustained ranged DPS means that we're going to need to focus more on burst melee DPS, and there's no talent better than MfD for that. An extra Eviscerate or Envenom at the right time makes all the difference in PvP. If you haven't tried Shuriken Toss yet, I suggest you give it a spin before the 5.3 nerfs hit it like a pile of bricks.
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.
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Encrypted Text: Stealth, openers, and the 5.3 nerfs