- Preparation is now baseline, learned at level 60.
- Burst of Speed now removes snares and increases speed at the same time, rather than one or the other.
- Deadly Throw now interrupts spell casting with 3 combo points instead of 5.
- Hit and Run (New Level 60 Talent) Immediately teleport to a targeted location, leaving a shadow of yourself behind. Upon activating the effect a second time, or after 10 sec, you will return to your shadow's location.
- Marked for Death (New Level 90 Talent) Mark the target, instantly generating 5 combo points on them. When the target dies, Marked for Death's cooldown is reset.
- Nerve Strike now reduces healing by 25% for 6 seconds, in addition to reducing damage by 50% after a successful Kidney Shot or Cheap Shot.
- Shadow Focus now reduces the cost of all abilities while stealthed by 75%, down from 100%.
- Shuriken Toss now also turns your auto attacks into ranged attacks for 10 seconds.
Overall, this is obviously a buff for Rogues. The standout is probably making Preparation baseline. The other changes appear to be focused on buffing talents that are rarely selected, or nerfing talents that are popular. Versatility, one of the least selected talents in the game (and perhaps the worst level 90 talent in the game) appears to have been removed.
This is probably going to prove to be less of a buff than many people expect, and fails to address the actual problems of the class. For the vast majority of Rogues, the only noticeable changes will be that Preparation will be back (buff), and Shadow Focus (talent) will be nerfed (probably making most Rogues switch their level 15 talent to Subterfuge). In PvP, any Rogue not taking Shuriken Toss probably will now, and Rogues will put up a lot of their pressure from range now.
Review of Changes
This is a change that many Rogues were calling for, and removing it from Subtlety has been blamed as the major reason why Rogues have been so weak in PvP in MoP.
Personally, I don't agree with people who have been making this argument. Rogues were down in MoP because of a dearth of nerfs, although the biggest was probably the reduction of Rogue burst in Shadow Dance. I tend to also view the addition of Shadow Blades as a nerf to the class, due to the changes it necessitated.
Result: Rogue mobility and survivability will be improved slightly with this change, as Rogues will now have a double vanish and double cloak they can use every 5 minutes. This will not, however, drastically improve Rogue survivability against Warriors or other melee, which it is particularly weak against at the moment (Evasion is not a great defensive skill).
The mobility many classes have on short cooldowns, however, will drastically outshine Rogue mobility, and a 5 minute cooldown is not going to really change that.
Burst of Speed (level 60 talent)
This is another change many Rogues had proposed to make the talent more useful. Unfortunately, the skill just pales in comparison to the usefulness of Shadowstep, and frankly just isn't a very fun mechanic.
Again, this is a change that may help Rogues against some ranged classes and casters, if they choose it. However, it's still not nearly as useful as Shadowstep/Kick and will likely still be less popular than Shadowstep.
Hit and Run (level 60 talent)
This appears to be the new level 60 talent to replace Preparation.
I'm sure somebody at Blizzard thinks this is what Rogues want their playstyle to be like. It's not.
On top of that, the 45 second cooldown is beyond bad. This will be the absolutely least selected talent in this tier now, and possibly the least selected Rogue talent, period.
Deadly Throw (level 30 talent)
I'm one of the few Rogues who currently choose Deadly Throw over Nerve Strike or Combat Readiness. The most popular choice here is Combat Readiness, and I suspect the reason for that is how weak Rogues are to other melee classes at the moment. Combat Readiness is almost a requirement to survive Warriors in arena (I have the advantage of getting Growl from Symbiosis).
Really, I think this talent is already quite strong and can shut down many casters (when combined with Shuriken Toss). It's just underselected because Rogues have greater weaknesses elsewhere that are mitigated on this talent tier.
I'm biased so I'll take the buff, but I suspect it may need to be reverted in the future, or at least brought up to 4.
Result: Minor change, most Rogues will still go with Combat Readiness because they need the survivability against Warriors (and to a lesser extent, every other class that does physical damage/melee). There may be some annoyed Mages and Warlocks though.
This change may actually convince some less hardcore players to start swapping between Deadly Throw and Combat Readiness for arena matches, depending on the comp they're facing. I suspect at higher ratings, people are already doing this.
Nerve Strike (level 30 talent)
Interesting change, and probably about right. It's a buff, but probably fairly balanced. It will make this talent slightly more interesting and may allow for some interesting combos with Wound Poison, allowing a Rogue to put out more pressure on a healer. Healers will probably still be immortal due to their better mobility or through the use of CCs though.
Result: Minimal change. Slight buff, and makes the talent selection at the level 30 tier rather interesting, although I suspect people were taking this as a defensive talent, not an offensive one. Deadly Throw will probably prove to be more useful for shutting down healers due to the lack of Rogue mobility.
Shadow Focus (level 15 talent)
This was the most popular talent at the level 15 tier. Unfortunately, this tier was incredibly well balanced, and Shadow Focus only had a slight edge. With the nerf to Shadow Focus, I suspect Nightstalker or Subterfuge will become the new talent to have at this level, although I haven't bothered to run the numbers yet.
Result: Unfortunate nerf to one of our best tiers. It would have been interesting to give the tier a bit more time to see if more people selected Subterfuge after the bug fixes. I suspect Subterfuge may become the new talent to get at this tier.
Marked for Death (level 90 talent)
This appears to be the talent that will be replacing Versatility. I don't know why Blizzard just doesn't get over themselves and let combo points stack on the Rogue instead. There are so many issues with the current design that would be solved... anyway...
This may be an interesting talent in PvP if you're trying to just blow up a target as quickly as possible.
This will probably, however, just be used to get a full Slice and Dice up and running before opening. Considering you'll really only be using this talent once per arena match (or per boss fight in PvE), it's basically crap, especially for a level 90 talent.
I don't know why Blizzard can't design a level 90 talent for Rogues, but this is not going to be selected any more frequently than Versatility was. Anticipation and Shuriken Toss are far better.
Shuriken Toss (level 90 talent)
It's kind of funny. Just yesterday I was joking that the only thing keeping Rogues from becoming a pure ranged class was auto attacks.
Rogues will now be able to put up a huge amount of pressure from range. I don't think this is really the way the Rogue class's lack of mobility should be fixed, however.
This was already quickly becoming the most popular PvP talent, and will almost assuredly be dominant in 5.2.
Result: Even more Rogues will taken ST for PvP, and Rogue pressure from range will be almost as good (maybe as good?) as it is in melee range.
Conclusions and Suggestions
It's obvious the collection of changes here were a result of 2 things:
1) A slight backtracking of the nerfs Rogues received between Cata and MoP (giving Prep back)
2) An attempt to make unpopular talents more popular
Unfortunately, the game has changed quite a bit since Cata, and a lot of these changes are either addressing the wrong problem, or are failing to understand why one talent is actually more popular than another.
The real problems with the Rogue class are not being adequately addressed with the above changes.
Hit and Run and Burst of Speed are just dumb. Stop trying to come up with an alternative to Shadowstep. You got it right way back in Burning Crusade when you gave Rogues Shadowstep. The level 60 tier should be about buffs to Shadowstep, not alternatives to it. Model the tier on the Warrior level 15 Charge tier and reduce Shadowstep to a 20 second cooldown again. This is how you begin to address Rogue mobility. Making Sprint remove snares and putting it on a 45 sec cooldown would be the other change.
Rogues probably suffer more than any other class from armor. Caster classes ignore it, and other melee/physical classes get Mail or Plate. Warriors can ignore 100% of armor on a 20 second cooldown. Two Rogue specs (Subt and Assassination) have some capacity to ignore armor. These are unsurprisingly also the most popular PvP specs.
A geared plate class gets about 40% damage reduction from armor, while Rogues get about 26%. Cloth wearers have spells and shields to improve their armor (or effective damage mitigation). Warriors can drop into defensive stance and get an additional 25% damage mitigation passively.
So a Warrior takes 60% physical damage (45% in defensive stance). A Rogue takes 74%. So a Warrior, even without defensive stance, takes only about 81% as much physical damage as a Rogue. For a long time, this was mitigated because Rogues as agility users got more dodge from agility than plate classes got parry (from strength). Strength and Agility now give the exact same amount of parry/dodge.
The easiest away to return the classes to equal footing would probably be to allow Dodge for Rogues to also act as a damage mitigator (you can think of it as moving into a position to take less damage from a blow, even though you couldn't avoid it completely). Rogues today have around 17-20% dodge, so you could do a straight 1:1 dodge:damage reduction. The alternative would be to give Rogues more dodge from agility again.
Giving Rogues back Preparation is the wrong solution. There's already too many damn buttons I have to hot key for, and Preparation is not the advantage it once was. Many abilities have been removed from it (including Smoke Bomb and Kick). Rogues don't need Preparation. They need shorter cooldowns. Using the charges mechanic on some abilities, as opposed to tying them all together under Preparation, would also be better.
I'm sure many people are going to look at the Rogue changes are declare 5.2 the return of Rogues. Simply put, they're wrong.
These changes are not sufficient, nor do they address the right things. Mostly they just try to make some bad talents less bad.
For most Rogues, the only changes will be slightly more damage from range (Rogues already put out far less pressure than most classes), and a minor increase in survivability (every 5 minutes).
Rogues will still have terrible mobility, they will still have terrible sustained pressure (due largely to poor mobility), and they will still be trained into the ground by Warriors and other melee classes.
Blizzard, you need to do better than this.