Have you ever read Blizzard's patch notes and wondered exactly where the developers are going with certain changes? We're all familiar with the fact that subtlety has been lagging behind the other rogue specs in DPS. It's actually still seeing some use in top guilds on healing-intensive encounters, due to Enveloping Shadows giving us nearly permanent Feint on top of 30% AoE damage reduction. The fact remains that subtlety has largely been a PvP spec outside of very specific situations, although it's a quite potent PvP spec. The patch notes show us that the developers obviously want for subtlety to be more competitive in PvE -- no surprise here.
What I don't understand is the new Blade Flurry mechanic. On the PTR, Blade Flurry no longer has a fixed duration, meaning that you can have it up 100% of the time. While yeah, it sounds awesome, it also opens up huge balancing issues. It means that any time there's a raid encounter with more than one target, we're stuck swapping to combat. There are plenty of other classes with similar Cleaving abilities, but none as powerful as Blade Flurry. While I'm all for spec diversity, I'd rather not waste development time on something that's certain to be cut once it makes it to live.
Assassination plays it cool
It's no secret that assassination is the top DPS spec for rogues at the moment; their mechanics have been well-defined and they scale relatively well with most stats. Because of their relative strength, Mutilate rogues aren't seeing many changes to their tree. Garrote's energy cost is dropping to 45 energy (from 50), but Glyph of Garrote's extending effect is dropping to 1.5 seconds (from 2). The change is a slight net-positive for just about everyone, since Glyph of Garrote is not really used often. Finally, the Deadly Momentum buff is being lengthened to 15 seconds (up from 10). I think this change is welcome considering how easy it was to lose the buff when switching targets, although it doesn't really affect raiders.
Combat gets flexible
Blizzard put it best when describing Blade Flurry's new mechanic: It's similar to Stealth. You turn it on when you like, and once you turn it off, you have to wait 10 seconds before turning it on again. I'm very hesitant about this change, but we'll have to see how it ends up being balanced. In addition to gaining that boost to our multi-target damage, Restless Blades will start affecting Redirect now, allowing us to switch targets more often. Combat is going to have a very easy time handling any multi-target scenario.
We also see that Vitality is getting buffed to provide us with 25% more attack power instead of 20% more, which is a scaling buff that should help keep combat competitive as rogues are getting more and more epic gear. Revealing Strike's finisher bonus was also buffed from 20% to 35%, meaning that it will now be more useful to include it in our rotations as the generator for our 5th combo point when using Rupture or another damaging finisher. We still don't want to use it with Slice and Dice and Recuperate, as it provides no benefit to these finishers.
Finally, and probably most importantly, Blizzard's devs got around to fixing Main Gauche. The new version is basically the Thrash / Hack and Slash effect: Our main-hand swings have a chance to proc an extra main-hand swing. The bonus is that these extra main-hand swings can also proc Combat Potency, which means that mastery rating can indirectly increase our energy regeneration. The new Main Gauche ensures that we'll always be sporting quick off-hand weapons with slow main-hand weapons, and quite frankly, it just makes more sense. Kudos to Blizzard for figuring this one out and getting it resolved.
Subtlety buffed across the board
Does subtlety need better scaling? Sinister Calling now grants 30% bonus agility instead of 25%. Do sub rogues need to do more damage with their CP generators? How about we boost Sinister Calling's effect on Backstab and Hemorrhage from 25% to 40%? Are sub's finishers just not up to par? Let's boost the potency of Executioner by 25% per point (from 2% per point to 2.5% per point) of mastery rogue have on their gear. Subtlety rogues received buffs across the board, but it remains to be seen if the boosts are enough to make the spec competitive. It's simply incredibly painful to try to maintain several finishers and timers while also watching for fight mechanics. These damage buffs are intended to offset some of the big subtlety cooldown nerfs that we're also seeing in patch 4.0.6.
All crowd control limited to 8 seconds
Blizzard is unifying the potency of CC effects in PvP to 8 seconds, cutting their effectiveness by a full 20%. This change includes all forms of rogue CC; Blind, Sap, and Crippling Poison are affected. While it's obviously a nerf to these abilities, at least Blizzard is being consistent and also nerfing the other classes' CC abilities, like Polymorph. Because the initial duration has been reduced to 8 seconds, this also means that the subsequent CC effects will be even shorter once diminishing returns are factored in. Instead of the first Sap lasting for 10 seconds and the followup lasting for 5 seconds, it will be 8 and 4 seconds respectively.
Plenty of PvP adjustments
Blizzard has gone after our cooldowns pretty aggressively in patch 4.0.6, and nearly every single one saw a nerf of some sort, with subtlety talents hit especially hard. Smoke Bomb has had its duration cut in half, and the cloud now only lasts for 5 seconds. Preparation now doesn't reset the CD of Evasion, which used to be crucial to giving us a 30-second window of protection from physical attacks. Shadowstep's cooldown was increased by 20% and is now 24 seconds. Elusiveness, which used to reduce the CD of Cloak of Shadows by 30 seconds, now only cuts 20 seconds from the timer. Finally, Combat Readiness saw its total duration cut to 20 seconds from 30 seconds, although the actual Combat Insight buff had its duration increased to 10 seconds, which will let us keep it up more reliably during those 20 seconds.
While our CDs did take a beating, none of the nerfs should be unrecoverable. Specifically, the nerf to double Evasion and Combat Readiness clearly show that Blizzard's team thought we were too potent against other physical classes, while the Smoke Bomb and Shadowstep nerfs look intended to reduce our strength against ranged classes. None of the nerfs are really so destructive as to wreck the class, and in most cases, we're just waiting a few more seconds for our CDs to be ready to use. There are even a couple of bright spots amongst these nerfs. Stealth is no longer broken by Demoralizing Shout/Roar, giving us a huge advantage over warriors and druids who used to be able to easily break us out of Stealth. Subtlety's Sanguinary Vein also allows them to Gouge targets that are bleeding, which seems like a great quality of life change for a rogue spec that relies on bleeds to keep the pressure on.
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