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NewsMay 7, 2015 1:00 pm CT

Encrypted Text: An early glimpse of your patch 6.2 rogue

patch 6.2 rogue

The past few weeks have given us our first look at the changes in store for Rogues in the next major content patch of the expansion. Join me, won’t you, for a quick jaunt down patch 6.2 lane?

Be careful as you mosey, though — even though we’re a few weeks into the patch 6.2 PTR, none of these changes are final, and the upshot for Rogues once the patch launches could end up being quite different from how it looks right now.

For this column, I’ll focus mostly on class spell changes; we’ll save discussions about gear options, set bonuses and other issues for later (or the comments).

What’s in Store for Assassination Rogues

Originally Posted by Rygarius (Blue Tracker / Official Post)

  • Envenom now deals 30% more damage.
  • Mutilate now deals 30% more damage.

Though fewest in number, the Assassination changes currently amount to the largest damage buff for any of the three specs. Given that Envenom and Mutilate combined account for roughly 30% of our damage in a typical raid fight, these two buffs should jack up Assassination’s single-target DPS by about 10%.

Assassination is still a relatively popular spec to play among end-game PVE folk, but it has been used less and less often as the first several months of the expansion have worn on, particularly among higher-end raiders. These buffs may reverse that trend, and could even be enough to make the spec competitive with Subtlety in many boss encounters. (Very competitive raiders will still probably gravitate toward Subtlety on single-target fights, however, and that’s OK: Subtlety is a more complex spec to play than Assassination, so it deserves a higher reward for playing it well. And Assassination will still be plenty good enough for less-competitive raiding.)

It’s less likely that these buffs will change the situation for Assassination in competitive PVP, where the additional sustained damage doesn’t hold as much importance as it does in PVE. Great Rogues can still do well in arena with Assassination — as they can with any Rogue spec — but these changes in and of themselves are unlikely to alter the general perception of Assassination, among competitive players, as a suboptimal arena spec. (All three specs are fine for battlegrounds.)

One other important effect of these two simple buffs will be to increase the potency of the buttons you press as an Assassination Rogue. It’s a frequent complaint among Rogue players that a large proportion of our damage — by some measures, as much as half — comes from “passive” sources rather than directly from button presses. These buffs will shift that balance a bit further toward the active side of the scale.

What’s in Store for Combat Rogues

Originally Posted by Rygarius (Blue Tracker / Official Post)

  • Mastery: Main Gauche has increased in effectiveness by 10%.
  • Eviscerate now deals 10% more damage.
  • Sinister Strike now deals 10% more damage.
  • Killing Spree now only grants immunity to root and snare effects and the effect is now cancelled if the Rogue is affected by other crowd-control effects.

Between the buffs to their mastery, primary combo point builder and primary finisher, Combat Rogues are currently looking at a 5% to 6% DPS boost in raids in both single- and multi-target fights. That should be enough to keep it as a good all-around choice (and a downright excellent one for multi-target damage) in nearly every in-game situation, be it PVE or PVP.

The Killing Spree nerf is entirely a PVP change — and it likely did not come as a surprise to many competitive PVPers. Combat has spent most of Warlords thus far ranging between a very strong arena spec and an overpowered arena spec. One of the facets that makes Combat so dangerous in PVP right now is its ability to combine Deep Insight with an unstoppable Killing Spree for some serious burst damage. By removing “unstoppable” from that equation, WoW’s designers clearly hope to give more talented PVP teams a better chance of countering Combat’s over-the-top strength in a way that doesn’t make the spec go from hot to not.

Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Killing Spree left as it is (and has been for years), and perhaps made a change to Deep Insight instead. It was a leveling perk introduced with this expansion that made Deep Insight more powerful than it had been, arguably triggering some of Combat’s PVP imbalances.

What’s in Store for Subtlety Rogues

Originally Posted by Rygarius (Blue Tracker / Official Post)

  • Mastery: Executioner has decreased in effectiveness by 8%.
  • Backstab now deals 20% more damage.
  • Sanguinary Vein now causes the Rogue to deal 30% more damage to targets affected by Rupture (up from 25%).
  • Eviscerate now deals 10% more damage.

This intriguing mix of changes for Subtlety amounts to an overall buff of somewhere around 6% to 7% to the spec’s single-target damage, which (barring additional balance changes) seems likely to preserve it as the dominant choice among high-end raiders for raid fights that focus primarily on attacking a single target.

Similar to the Assassination changes, these adjustments should also bring a shift in damage to more active sources (such as Backstab and Eviscerate).

It’s a little hard to make sense of these adjustments; they appear to be trying to shift the chairs on the deck of a pretty smoothly operating ship. Subtlety is intended to retain its position as a top-tier DPS spec for those who can master its complexities, while the balance of active-to-passive damage is gently altered. If there are benefits in any of these changes for Subtlety in PVP, they’re probably more likely to be found over in the Combat changes, where the Killing Spree nerf could be enough to nudge a few more players to pick up Subtlety again (it has, for years now, been generally perceived to be the strongest all-around PVP spec).

The Adventures of Griftah, Act II

Originally Posted by Rygarius (Blue Tracker / Official Post)

  • New items have been added to pickpocket from humanoids in Tanaan Jungle.
  • Added a new weekly quest, Da Even Bigga Score.
  • Dingy Iron Coins now have a cap of 20,000 (up from 10,000).
  • Secretive Whistle now has a 15 minute cooldown (down from 1 hour).
  • Updated tooltip descriptions for pickpocketed items of value to help distinguish them from other items.

Ah, the pickpocketing weekly. I could easily devote an entire column to this topic, because I think what they’ve tried to do with Rogues’ Pick Pocket spell in Warlords is an excellent example of how the designers’ hearts are in the right place when it comes to making a Rogue feel special to play — yet their execution has fallen short of the mark.

In case you haven’t tried to pick any enemy NPC pockets yet this expansion (in which case you should have your Certificate of Thievery revoked), you’ve been missing a neat — if shallow — new sideshow: The first mob you successfully pickpocket will yield a Secretive Whistle, which you can blow to summon Griftah, an NPC from bygone days. He’ll give you a weekly quest in which you must pickpocket a metric ton of NPCs, obtain useless items, and trade them in for Dingy Iron Coins, which you then ultimately trade in for gold. (More recently, we also got the ability to trade coins for a Barrel of Bandanas or transmoggable hoods.)

For me, the initial weekly quest was neat to discover, but after completing it once, all the magic of the experience was replaced by the reality of an interminable grind. The addition of the Barrel of Bandanas toy reward was a nice touch with a little more staying power, but still leaves the overall pickpocketing experience feeling more shallow. These patch 6.2 adjustments appear to double down on the grindiness while greatly increasing the reward (Da Even Bigger Score appears to grant far more gold than its predecessor), and otherwise makes some minor quality-of-life tweaks.

I’m most intrigued by the “new items” mentioned in the first patch note in the list above. From what very limited testing I’ve done so far on the PTR, virtually none of the changes listed in the official patch notes appear to be in place yet, but I’m holding out some hope that the new patch will mark a return of fun flavor items — or perhaps even some useful items and super-rare gear drops — similar to those that made Pick Pocketing in prior expansions more interesting.

Oh. And Shuriken Toss.

Originally Posted by Rygarius (Blue Tracker / Official Post)

  • Shuriken Toss now deals 53% more autoattack damage. Additionally, fixed a bug that caused hits made with offhand weapons to deal 15% more damage than intended.

Lastly, in the “putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound” category, we’ll be getting a fairly significant buff to our Level 90 ranged-damage talent option — but only when we use it at a distance of 10 to 30 yards from our target (since autoattacks only become activated when we cast Shuriken Toss from that range).

To me, this is a far-too-conditional boost for a talent that has grown depressingly unpopular over the past couple of years. Sure, this provides some additional niche value when we’re trying to kite enemy players in battlegrounds (or duels), or when we’re kiting especially challenging (or frustratingly distant) mobs and bosses during solo PVE play. But beyond those specific cases, I have a hard time seeing how this change will alter the largely barren landscape of Shuriken Toss’s usefulness — especially given how widely beneficial it is to use Anticipation and Marked for Death, the other two talent options in our Level 90 tier.

What Do You Think?

I’ve only provided a broad overview and analysis of some of the changes we appear to have in store for us in patch 6.2. Keeping in mind that none of the changes I’ve discussed above are set in stone, and that major adjustments to a class can’t happen in the middle of an expansion, what are some of your early observations? Do the changes I’ve mentioned here (or other changes you know of that I didn’t include) satisfy your hopes for further class adjustments in Warlords, or are there other, relatively minor tweaks would you like to see that would make playing a Rogue more enjoyable for you?

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