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Encrypted Text: The rise of the ranged rogue


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.

The original Shuriken Toss never made sense. Why would rogues, a purely melee class, want a single ranged attack? We don't have the supporting toolbox to make the transition into a ranged DPS spec. Melee uptime is our top priority. Because of our reliance on our melee attacks, mobility is our most requested feature. Why would a class want Shuriken Toss when they can have Shadowstep?

Patch 5.2 is turning a one-off ranged ability into everything a rogue needs to attack targets from range. If you use Shuriken Toss on a target that is farther than 10 yards away, your auto-attacks gain a 30-yard range for 10 seconds. The auto-attacks turn into tiny shuriken that you throw at your target. These shuriken have several special properties, but the extended range is obviously the most important aspect of the ability. With Shuriken Toss, ranged auto-attacks, and Deadly Throw, rogues suddenly have a ranged repertoire.

The details of shuriken auto-attacks

There have been a lot of rumors flying around about Shuriken Toss, so let's set the record straight. The shuriken don't deal shadow damage. The attacks deal regular physical damage, although reduced to 75% of our normal auto-attack damage. The upside is that the attacks are considered to be yellow attacks, so they use the yellow hit table instead of the auto-attack hit table, meaning that they'll never miss if you're at the yellow hit cap. The result is that you'll hit more often with shuriken than you do with your regular attacks, resulting in more poison damage and more auto-attack damage. The shuriken can be dodged, parried (deflected), and blocked.

You can throw Shuriken Toss at any target that is more than 10 yards away from you to gain the Shuriken Toss buff, and it persists through target swaps. However, you stop throwing shuriken when entering melee range (to discourage using it in a regular rotation). If you're less than 10 yards away when you use Shuriken Toss, you don't get the buff at all. Unfortunately, since Shuriken Toss is a combo point generator, you need to be careful not to burn any combo points on your previous target when using it.

The most important aspect of the shuriken is that they can still proc both of our active poisons, which allows us to deal roughly our normal auto-attack and poison damage from range. The shuriken are synced up with your weapons' attack speeds, so you'll throw slower but harder-hitting shuriken with slow weapons. Each hand throws its own shuriken and the damage is calculated separately, including passives like Ambidexterity. Procs, like trinkets, Combat Potency, and Main Gauche all still work with thrown shuriken. If you keep spamming Shuriken Toss from 10 yards away, the buff will keep refreshing itself.

You can't be a full-time ranged rogue

I am going to shatter your dreams: you can't play a completely ranged rogue. Assassination rogue damage relies on Venomous Wounds and Envenom far too much. Combat rogues need to use Sinister Strike and Eviscerate to activate Bandit's Guile and Restless Blades, respectively. And we all know how weak subtlety rogues are without Rupture ticking away on their target. Shuriken Toss itself won't rival your main combo point generator, and each spec's mechanics require their specific finishers.
It's about options

My excitement over the new Shuriken Toss isn't about what it can replace, but what it can supplement. Shuriken Toss will boost our mobility indirectly, by allowing us to lower the mobility of our opponents via ranged Crippling Poison application. Shuriken Toss gives us the ability to apply offensive pressure even when we're being snared or rooted or knocked back, which reduces the overall effectiveness of those types of attacks against us. The PvP effectiveness of ranged poison application and reasonably good ranged DPS capabilities cannot be overstated. We are going to be capable of far more ranged DPS than any of the other melee classes.

Shuriken Toss
is also going to be a compelling choice for raiders, on occasion. While Shuriken Toss will never make sense on a Patchwerk-style burn, there are plenty of encounters where we're running around outside of melee range. In tier 14, encounters like Feng, Gara'jal, Elegon, the Will of the Emperor, Tsulong, and the Sha of Fear are all places where we're regularly facing targets at range. I can name a dozen fights in previous tiers where I would've killed for this ability. Could you imagine how much easier Firefighter would've been if you could attack from 30 yards away? While Shadowstep and Sprint allow us to close gaps quickly, Shuriken Toss allows us to stay put. It's a subtle but important difference.
Anticipation is still pretty good

All rogue specs have somewhat erratic combo point generation, thanks to their various mechanics. Anticipation, which helps rogues smooth out those irregular combo points, is a net DPS boost in pretty much every possible situation. While Versatility is obviously useful once every great while, Anticipation is producing a real DPS gain on every single encounter. For the raiding rogue, Shuriken Toss will be a hard sell outside of specific encounters that favor a ranged approach. I do think we'll see rogues picking it up, even if just for fun, in dungeons and while questing.

In PvP environments, Shuriken Toss is already popular amongst rogues. Versatility, which seems like it would be valuable in PvP, never really took off. With the developers hinting that Versatility will see some love soon, but not yet, it's likely that PvP rogues will make the most use of Shuriken Toss. That's great news for our dwindling representation in high-end arena. I am eagerly awaiting the first frost mage that tries to root me.

Sneak in every Wednesday for our Mogu'shan Vaults guide, a deep-dive into the world of rogue rotations -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to a raid-ready rogue.

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