Rogue > Warcraft > WoWJul 25, 2016 5:00 pm CT

Encrypted Text: Patch 7.0.3 Rogue crash course

Salutations, sneakthieves, spies and scalawags. Welcome to your new Rogue. After months of previews, predictions and analyses, it’s finally time for all of us try out the Legion Rogue for ourselves. Or, at least, the part of the Legion Rogue that doesn’t involve artifacts, PVP talents, or class halls. Even without those components, though, there’s a lot to get accustomed to now that most of our new class design is in place. So let’s take a deep breath together and spend a few minutes answering the question: What are the most significant changes to the Rogue class in Patch 7.0.3?

Here, from my standpoint, are the three most noteworthy adjustments to note for each of our three specs, as well as for the class as a whole.

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Classwide Changes

1) Resources are now front-and-center. For those of us who use WoW‘s default user interface (UI), we no longer need to divert our gaze up into the top-left corner of the screen to see how many combo points we have, how full our energy bar is, or whether a key debuff on our target is about to expire. If you’re not a fan of the new in-your-face display, though, you can disable it by opening up your game menu, selecting Interface, then clicking Names, then unchecking the box for Personal Resource Display.

2) Need complexity? Add talents. By default, there are relatively few buttons that make up each spec’s DPS rotation, though Assassination is arguably the simplest. But Legion may go farther than any previous expansion in giving us a say in how many additional buttons to add, thanks to a revamped set of talent tiers. Player experts are still crunching numbers on how much more damage these optional buttons will bring in Legion; hopefully they’ll be a little better (thus rewarding players who can master a greater gameplay challenge), but not so much so that they’ll feel required even for more casual players. In the meantime, as veteran Rogue player and guide writer Aeriwen puts it:

 

3) Spell effects. So pretty. In addition to a revamp of our spellbooks, WoW‘s visual effects team clearly put a ton of time and care into adding aesthetic oomph to what has traditionally been an understated set of Rogue spell animations. The gorgeously colored, swooping arc of Outlaw’s Saber Slash is my early favorite.

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Assassination

1) A monopoly on poison. The class designers were so confident (or maybe just extremely optimistic) about the impending success of their efforts to give each Rogue spec its own unique flavor that they wiped away poisons from two of our three specs, even though poisons have long been one of the few defining characteristics of the Rogue class as a whole. They remain a critical component of Assassination’s damage, however — and we even get a little more choice in our lethal poison options with the addition of Agonizing Poison as a talent.

2) Your bleeds matter. Poisons aren’t the only type of damage that’s become Assassination-only in Legion; bleeds are also now solely Assassination’s domain — even that old Subtlety stalwart Hemorrhage has moved into the Assassination spellbook. In fact, with Patch 7.0.3, bleeds are now a huge source of damage for Assassination in their own right. Gone are the days when we only cared about bleeds as a trigger for Venomous Wounds energy procs. Depending on our talent choices, it appears possible that bleeds may end up being our largest single type of damage, ahead even of poisons.

3) Dispatch has been … dispatched. As I explained in the Assassination spec preview last month, the baseline Assassination DPS rotation (i.e., before you begin to factor in talents and artifact traits) is about as simple as any you’ll find in WoW these days. The most noteworthy simplification is that Dispatch is gone: We no longer randomly get free procs of it when we cast Mutilate, and we no longer switch to it when our target’s health is below 35% (instead we now continue our regular rotation as normal).

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Comba — er, Outlaw

1) A new name for a new spec. Wisps of the old Combat remain scattered through Outlaw’s spellbook — enough that you might begin to feel as though the spec’s changes are more a reskin than a redesign. But don’t be fooled; Outlaw is not Combat 2.0. You’ll be happier, and have an easier time adjusting, if you take all of your accumulated experiences and opinions about Combat, place them lovingly in an imaginary shoebox, close the lid, and stash it away in a corner of your memory.

2) The spec is now guileless. There may be no more fundamental sign of the passing of the old Combat than the long-overdue removal of Bandit’s Guile, the DPS-ramping spell over which we had virtually no real control. My imaginary shoebox is filled with memories of frustration as I solo-played as Combat and my spells hit enemies like overcooked fish whenever I was at no or low Insight. I’m seeing some players complain about the randomness of Roll the Bones, but I’ll gladly take that hit-or-miss risk over the inexorable ebb and flow that was Bandit’s Guile.

3) Roll the Bones is not Slice and Dice. Speaking of which: Roll the Bones offers a far greater range of potential buffs than Slice and Dice — and, as a result, it’s also way more at the mercy of the RNG gods. If you want something more stable, you can still replace Roll the Bones with ye olde Slice and Dice as a talent, but in my opinion RtB adds an appropriate and interesting element of risk to the new spec’s DPS rotation.

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Subtlety

1) Meet your new Shadow Dance. It’s no longer a once-a-minute spell we cast for a special eight-second window of devastating burst damage. Now it’s a three-second spell with three charges, hopefully giving it a more interesting and nuanced role in our gameplay. Also of note: Shadow Dance no longer gets its own “stance,” meaning we no longer switch to a special Dance-only action bar — and we no longer have the ability to create Dance-specific macros. This is a completely intentional change, and it will make the optimal use of Shadow Dance harder (especially in PVP) — but it will also return a lot more manual control to the process.

2) It’s only Backstab in name. The spell itself can now, finally and really truly, be used from the front — albeit with a significant damage penalty. But here’s what’s even better: At Level 15 we can opt into a talent, Gloomblade, that replaces Backstab entirely. It’s ideal for any situation in which we rarely have the option of hitting our target from behind — e.g., leveling, questing and solo play.

3) So. Many. Shadows. As I mentioned earlier, Assassination is now our only bleed spec — a characteristic that has traditionally been more in Subtlety’s domain. Instead, Subtlety has shifted from a combination of physical and bleed damage to a spec based primarily on shadow magic damage. (This is why roughly eleventy kabillion of our spells have “shadow” in the name.) This doesn’t just impact spec flavor, although it is interesting that Subtlety becomes the only Rogue spec that feels like it has a direct connection to magic. The switch can also affects gameplay (particularly in PVP), where debuffs and dispels can differ depending on the type of damage being applied, especially where damage-over-time spells are concerned.

Those are my big 12 items when I think about the Rogue changes we’re adjusting to with the new patch this week. How about you? What are the most seismic adjustments you find yourself making on your Rogue now that 7.0.3 is here — and what are you most looking forward to (or dreading) when the full expansion hits late next month?

Keep in mind, too, that during the alpha/beta, I wrote more detailed previews of how Assassination, Outlaw and Subtlety were shaping up for Legion, as well as which talents I think you’ll most likely want to use while questing and leveling. Give them a gander, and peruse Ravenholdt’s collection of 7.0.3 Rogue resources for up-to-date guides and information to keep you in the loop during this pre-patch period.

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