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WoWApr 8, 2020 5:44 pm CT

Rogue class changes in WoW Shadowlands

Edwin VanCleef

If you play a Rogue in World of Warcraft, you should know that the first rule of Rogue Club is: we don’t talk about Rogue Club. Or at least, that’s the way it should be.

But not in here! When a blog post is released with a great deal of important information about the changes that the class is undergoing for the Shadowlands expansion, it is our duty to spy everything, decrypt it, and report it to you — you are one of us; we save our Bribes for the scallywags!

So here’s what’s new for the Rogue class in Shadowlands.

All specializations

  • Major changes:
    • Poisons are class-wide again! Assassination rogues hogged them for a couple of expansions, we know, but that was just wrong.
  • Minor changes:
  • Spells that are once again shared by all three specs:

Assassination Rogues

  • Returning spells:
    • Ambush is back as an option for assassinating your targets in a more brutal fashion.
  • Major changes:
    • The returning Shiv has absorbed the functionality of the Toxic Blade talent: it will increase nature damage taken by your target for a few seconds. Toxic Blade still exists as a talent, but it’s now a simple cooldown reduction for Shiv.
    • The Blindside talent no longer gives you a new attack on your action bars, but works with Ambush instead. The functionality seems to be unchanged, save for the fact that you no longer have a guaranteed “execute” attack: when your target’s health is low, the chance for it to proc is simply increased, but your rotation is otherwise unchanged — so you’ll want to keep Mutilating.
  • Minor changes:
    • Even though Assassination Rogues are no longer the sole users of poisons, they are still the masters of it: their poisons are faster, stronger, and always apply when used from Stealth.

Outlaw Rogues

  • Returning spells:
    • Kidney Shot sounds like a very painful thing to do to your opponent, which makes it shocking that Outlaw Rogues weren’t doing it anymore.
    • Evasion is back. But keep reading to find out the fate of Riposte!
  • Major changes:
    • Roll the Bones no longer costs any Combo Points! That’s right! It’s not a dream, stop pinching yourself.
    • In fact, the spell seems to have been completely reworked. Blizzard describes it as “a modifiable cooldown which can be manipulated to line up with their staggering finishing moves.” We have no way of knowing for sure what exactly that means until actual alpha testing begins, but it sounds like there will be much more thought — and less RNG — attached to its use, in theory, at least.
  • Minor changes:
  • New talents:
    • Retractable Hook — increases the speed of your oh-so-incredibly-useful Grappling Hook.
  • Yarrr.

Subtlety Rogues

  • Returning spells:
    • Rupture returns, but we lose Nightblade for it. This change seems directly related to the return of poisons to the Subtlety spec — reducing your opponents’ movement and healing should be their job now.
  • Minor changes:
    • Find Weakness has been made baseline, instead of being a talent. Beyond bypassing a portion of your target’s armor, it also allows Eviscerate to deal additional Shadow damage. Yes, that probably means that, despite the loss of Nightblade, the class fantasy for Subtlety Rogues is still that of being a Shadow Ninja!
    • Dark Shadow is no longer a talent either, having been incorporated into baseline Shadow Dance — which you’ll be casting less frequently now, but with more power behind each cast. A good change, if you ask me.
  • New abilities:
    • Shadow Vault — an AOE finisher that deals additional shadow damage to targets marked by your Find Weakness. (The blog cryptically states that “Find Weakness can mark a large number of targets to setup for this when needed,” but doesn’t really mention how.)

Rogue Covenant abilities in Shadowlands

  • Kyrian:
    • Echoing Reprimand — this one is interesting. It deals Arcane damage, and “Animacharges” one of your combo points.
      • When you use a finishing move, if it consumes the same number of combo points as your “Animacharge,” that finisher will deal damage as if it had consumed seven combo points.
      • This ability sounds a little complex; I’m eager to see it in action on the testing environment.
  • Venthyr:
    • Slaughter — deals Physical damage, awards combo points, and coats your weapons with Slaughter Poison for five minutes.
      • Slaughter Poison — deals Shadow damage over time and steals a percentage of healing done to the target.
  • Necrolords:
    • Serrated Bone Spike — embeds a Bone Spike on the target, which deals Physical damage over time on it until it dies.
      • When you attack with this ability, it deals increased damage that scales for each other active Bone Spike you have!
  • Night Fae:
    • Sepsis — infects the target with a Nature damage over time effect. If they survive it, you Vanish!
      • And if they don’t survive it, or the ability doesn’t last its full duration for some other reason, the cooldown is reduced by 60 seconds.

The return of poisons to the entire Rogue class reverts a change that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The class lost a whole lot of flavor in the name of spec fantasy. But it does seem like Blizzard intends for classes to be more unified again, instead of having each specialization feel almost like a “subclass” at times.

Historically, Rogues haven’t been a class that changes much from expansion to expansion, and Shadowlands seems to keep that tradition alive. No major revamps are happening — I have to admit that I expected Subtlety, in particular, to receive bigger changes. Outlaw seems to be gaining some much-needed quality of life improvements with the Roll the Bones rework. And Assassination sees the Blindside change as the most noteworthy adjustment so far.

All in all, Rogues of all gets should diligently keep an eye on these and other changes over the Alpha and Beta periods, all the while providing good feedback on what they see — something that the Rogue community has always been pretty good at, whether they’re SI:7, Shattered Hand, or something else.

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