One of Cataclysm's biggest changes came in the form of the stat redesign. Blizzard's team made several huge changes to the stats we were used to seeing on our gear. Attack power was rolled into agility's base potency, while armor penetration was never to be seen again on an item. We picked up a new, role-agnostic stat in mastery, with the hopes that it might help consolidate gear between the various rogue specs. Finally, haste was changed to increase the resource regeneration of melee classes and specifically accelerates the rate of energy regeneration for rogues.
Haste has always boosted our energy recovery in PvE, although that mechanic was reliant on talents like Focused Attacks and Combat Potency. Now, all three specs see an energy boost from their haste, with combat still regenerating the most energy due to Combat Potency. The idea is that as your character gains gear, you get the ability to push more buttons per minute. As we progress through raiding tiers and the ilevel of our gear climbs, our rotations should be becoming more robust.
Haste vs. attack speed increases
One of the most common myths involving the new haste mechanic is that our energy regeneration is boosted while under the effects of Slice and Dice. While it's true that combat rogues will see more Combat Potency procs with SnD active, the buff itself does nothing to increase our energy regeneration directly. Slice and Dice is an attack speed increase, not a haste increase, and so we passively regenerate energy at the same speed with or without it active. Additionally, we don't see any energy regen increase from the attack speed boost that Adrenaline Rush inherited from Blade Flurry, although its other effect of doubling our energy regeneration still works.
Aside from these examples, other haste effects actually do work, especially if they specifically boost our "haste rating." Weapon enchant procs like Hurricane and regular enchants like haste to gloves will increase our energy regeneration appropriately. Bloodlust (along with its siblings) increases our energy regeneration during its duration, which is actually pretty important. Without Bloodlust bolstering our energy regeneration, it would normally only increase our white damage done, which can be pretty low depending on our spec. Letting BL affect our energy regeneration ensures that all three rogue specs see a DPS boost similar to what casters experience.
In order to test whether or not a particular effect boosts my energy regeneration, I like to run a Fan of Knives test. I'll start a stopwatch and see how long it takes for me to use Fan of Knives 100 times, starting with a full energy bar. I then run the test again with the buff active, and see if I shave a few seconds off of my overall time. For example, with Bloodlust active, you'll see results in almost immediately.
If you have a question about how a certain mechanic works, try figuring out a test that allows you to confirm or deny your idea. It's called the scientific method, and by researching with your rogue, you can gain a deep understanding of all of the mechanics involved in making the class complete.
Combat's energy problems
Due to Vitality, combat rogues start out a higher baseline energy regeneration level than either of the other two rogue specs. While assassination has Venomous Wounds and subtlety has Energetic Recovery to boost energy regen, neither of these talents scales with gear. Combat Potency scales temporarily with hit and expertise (until their respective caps) and scales indefinitely with haste. CP is even more effective now that weapon specializations are gone and combat rogues now use quick daggers in the off hand. Combat's energy regeneration is clearly the strongest of any spec, and thus it can end up feeling like you're pushing a lot of buttons. While it may seem spammy, it's important to always plan your actions a few steps ahead so that you're not trying to decide what to do with all your energy in the heat of the moment.
Combat's yellow (special attack) damage is fairly low, and the incredible energy regeneration of the spec is the only thing keeping its yellow damage from falling off completely. Haste is also great for increasing your white damage done, and thus it's one of combat's favorite stats. With combat favoring haste due to its bonuses to both white and yellow damage, it's easy to see how combat rogues' energy can scale upwards very quickly.
Adrenaline Rush's double energy effect only exacerbates the issue. Keeping yourself from capping your energy is a key to playing a combat rogue effectively. Killing Spree has been known to cause the same issue, as we're locked out of using our yellow attacks for its duration. Never use Adrenaline Rush or Killing Spree when you have a ton of energy, and do everything in your power to burn off any excess energy if you're nearing the cap. Wasted energy is a pure damage loss, and with careful planning, it's usually preventable.
Cutting haste is a waste
I've heard a few rogues talking about purposefully lowering their haste or running Blade Flurry at all times to help cope with the energy regeneration problems they're facing. That's basically the worst way to solve the problem, as it both reduces your overall damage and approaches the problem from the wrong direction. Any issue that can be solved by playing differently should be approached first, as playing optimally is the simplest way to boost your DPS.
If you want to play combat, you need to embrace the energy-rich nature of the build and learn to cope with using an ability on every other GCD. This style isn't for everyone, but nerfing your energy regeneration to compensate is not a solution, for the same reason you wouldn't stop wielding an off-hand weapon if you had too many Combat Potency procs. The haste situation is only going to get worse as we gain better and better gear, so learning to deal with it now is key to being effective in the future.
Check back every Wednesday for the latest rogue strategies in Encrypted Text! We'll show you how to navigate Cataclysm rogue basics, dig into new rogue mechanics, and gear up for heroics.