Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Art of War(craft), covering battlegrounds and world PvP, and Blood Sport, with the inside line for arena enthusiasts. Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? Battlemaster Zach Yonzon, old-world PvP grinder and casual battleground habitué, rambles on about anything and everything PvP.
Rogues are a class that lends itself extremely well to PvP, and even six years in, rogues pouncing on unsuspecting prey is one of the enduring visions (and fears) of the game. Rogues play entirely differently from most other classes because of their ability -- and need -- to utilize stealth. The only other spec that has a similar playstyle are feral cat druids.
Rogues always get a lot of goodies for PvP, and the new world isn't any different. It's a new game, though, and the stunlock as we know it is gone. It's been comatose for a long time, but shared diminishing returns put a final nail stunlock's coffin. There are abilities that steer the rogue to do more fanciful things, though. I mentioned before how Recuperate is such a game-changer, allowing rogues to keep up with other classes in a higher-stamina world. Longer combat also means more opportunities to use all those cooldowns rogues are known for -- but it also means they'll need to time it even better now, because blowing all available cooldowns for one big burst does not necessarily translate to killing an opponent.
Anyway, with about a week left to go before Cataclysm goes live, we'd better get this whole thing sorted out, so let's get right into what rogues should pick up for PvP.
Assassination rogues This rogue spec specializes in poisons, which has some interesting implications for PvP. This means you'll need to keep poisons constantly applied, which isn't a tough task at all, but you'll also need to be more mindful against classes that can remove poisons, namely druids and paladins. With a lot of the changes, assassination is no longer the PvP powerhouse it used to be but gains a lot of PvE sustainability. Overall, it's a good change that spreads the love around. Players can pretty much choose any spec for PvP; it should theoretically only be a matter of preference. If you like building up for huge bursts and like the appeal of poisons, then assassination should be a good fit.
- Deadly Momentum I'll make the call to include all talents that have effects that proc upon killing opponents that give honor as part of a PvP build. Most of these sorts of talents are found early in various trees, and this talent will proc pretty often in the hands of a good rogue. The most important aspect of this talent is that it resets Recuperate's duration -- a great way to take advantage of this is to finish with Recuperate before landing a killing blow.
- Ruthlessness It's a three-point investment for a 60 percent chance to add a combo point after spending all of them. In PvE, it's a massive DPS boost; in PvP, you'll need it to keep on going like the Energizer bunny on an opponent. This has great synergy with Deadly Momentum, allowing you to finish with Recuperate and getting to that next finishing move quicker.
- Quickening This is the standard speed boost talent with the added bonus of increasing healing effects on you by 20 percent, which means a better Recuperate. See how I mentioned Recuperate in all three talents so far? That's because it'll probably be your most important PvP ability, allowing you a kind of resilience and survivability that fits perfectly in the new paradigm of longer engagements. This talent is the reason other specs will dip into assassination for their PvP builds.
- Blackjack Oh, this is a sweet talent that changes the game for rogues, who are encouraged to open with something other than Cheap Shot in PvP. Blackjack increases rogue survivability significantly on one-on-one situations, and coupled with self-heals and further damage reduction, rogues can pour on the offense with little fear of retaliation.
- Deadly Brew Possibly the best PvP talent in a tree loaded with PvP-friendly talents, Deadly Brew allows you to concentrate on dealing damage with one weapon and utility such as Mind-Numbing Poison with another. A passive snare with nearly 100 percent uptime is simply pure win.
- Vile Poisons and Master Poisoner It just keeps getting better. Vile Poisons was overhauled to apply poisons with Fan of Knives in addition to higher poison damage. That's pretty crazy. This means more damage with the right poisons, which is cool, but in combination with Deadly Brew, guarantees that Fan of Knives as an AoE snare. Want to slow down an opponent rush? Pop Fan of Knives in their midst and apply Crippling Poison to everyone in range. An absolutely sweet ability in the battlegrounds, where you'll have ample opportunity to use Fan of Knives. Master Poisoner is an important ability less for its bonus to spell damage, which is a great PvE debuff, but for how it reduces the duration of all poison effects applied to you. It won't come into play all the time, but it's another layer of survivability.
- Deadened Nerves This is a hefty investment at three points, but a flat 10 percent damage reduction is incredibly powerful in the new PvP environment. It's going to be all about longevity -- imagine combining this with Blackjack and a perpetually ticking Recuperate. You'll be practically impossible to kill, which should be a great experience.
- Overkill This is another sweet talent that allows you to keep on ticking right after breaking stealth. This will proc a whole lot in PvP as opposed to PvE because you'll be going in and out of stealth a whole lot.
- Improved Expose Armor While designed to allow rogues to insert Expose Armor into their attacks without losing out on too much DPS when a warrior isn't around, this ability translates pretty well to PvP, too. It allows rogues to weaken melee opponents (i.e., warriors and paladins in plate) without having to slow down their damage.
- Vendetta Normally, I don't discuss 31-point talents, but I want to point out Vendetta's secondary effect similar to that of a Hunter's Mark, which seems like a great PvP bonus. On the other hand, Vanish removes it, which makes it pretty useless as an anti-stealth tool against other rogues. Whether that's intentional or not (I'd have thought Vendetta should see through Vanish), it's something to keep in mind.