The new poison system that's being implemented in Mists of Pandaria might seem like a fairly major revamp for a class that's typically seen very little change between expansions. The conversion of poisons from items to skills and the new lethal/non-lethal categorization is a massive update compared to what we saw between Wrath and Cataclysm. A rogue's ability to provide utility in a raid environment is being expanded dramatically and has always been a weakness of ours.
The truth is that those changes pale in comparison to the other poison updates due in Mists. While not carrying poisons around in our bags is simply a quality of life change, obtaining new poisons for the first time in years will have a much larger impact. The poison crit system, which has been fundamentally flawed since its inception, is being redone properly. Shiv is actually going to be back on every rogue's hotbar. Poisoning both weapons at once is merely chump change, while the rebirth of random stuns deserves the loudest possible heralding.
If you build it, they will come
The point of the massive poison redesign in Mists is to simplify the whole system. Our choice of DPS poisons is reduced to two, which will likely boil down to one for PvP and one for PvE. We already know that all of our poisons are moving to a percentage-based proc system to facilitate the elimination of the quick dagger. As an aside, realize that the death of quick daggers almost completely ensures that we'll never see a quick axe or sword again. Again, Mists looks to simplify and streamline.
Poisons were previously much more complicated. Between a variety of PPM and percentage-based procs and the different poison choices of each rogue spec, most rogues just looked up what to use and stuck with that. Blizzard wants to move away from the model of "just look it up" and move into the model of "I can figure this out on my own."
Poisons will crit like melee attacks
In order to further simplify poisons in Mists, poisons will now crit off of our melee crit rate, instead of using our spell crit rate. In addition, poison crits are going to deal double damage, instead of just the 150% they deal today. When you look at your character pane, your melee crit rate will actually reflect your crit rate for all of your abilities. All of our attacks will be dealing at least 200% damage when they crit. While it's still likely that our poison hit chance will still be based on our spell hit chance, tying poisons to our melee crit chance is a step in the right direction.
Mace stun is back ... sort of
I have been a mace rogue for as long as I can remember. While I have had fun with axes and I don't mind the double-dagger motif, my true love has always been maces. I found a Viking Warhammer while leveling up so many years ago, and I have never looked back. The random stun effect from the old Mace Specialization simply made playing a rogue more fun. Your target would randomly double over in pain, with bonus points if the stun landed while they were casting a spell.
Paralytic Poison brings random stuns back to our arsenal. While it's true that the stuns themselves will be more predictable due to Paralytic Poison's stacking nature, they're still considered random stuns for the purpose of diminishing returns. It will be entirely possible to line up a Kidney Shot right after a Paralytic Poison stun, yielding a powerful 10-second window of opportunity. Add in a Cheap Shot or two, and you're talking about a serious stunlock. The only bummer is that Paralytic Poison can be dispelled, which gives enemy healers an option for countering its effects.
Leeching Poison again borrows from Diablo II
If you ever played a melee class in Diablo II, you know that life leech items were the key to staying alive. Leeching Poison takes a page out of that playbook by allowing rogues to heal themselves while dealing damage. Leeching Poison has the potential to be incredibly awesome. As the poison stands today, it looks like once we've poisoned our target, our melee attacks will start healing us for 10% of the damage done. We don't know if that means just white swings or if all of our attacks will cause us to leech. Leeching Poison is straight-up overpowered by any calculation and will result in rogues' becoming the most self-survivable class by far.
My beef with Recuperate has always been that it's too weak to do any real healing and that it costs us DPS to use it. Leeching Poison solves both of these problems elegantly. My only concern is that it might just be too good, prompting an eventual nerf.
Shiv is the new Amplify Curse
Shiv is one of those spells that rogues forget they have. Aside from the random trash mob every few months that needs to have its Enrage effect dispelled, Shiv isn't that good. The ability is getting a major buff in Mists that should have it on our action bars once again. Shiv will instantly poison our targets with an improved version of our currently active non-lethal poison.
Don't worry, Shiv is still going to generate a combo point and remove enrage effects from our targets. In addition to its current abilities, it will also give us the ability to amplify a poison. Shiv will specifically increase the potency of the basic non-lethal poisons temporarily, like slowing our targets further via Crippling Poison or boosting Wound Poison's effect to 50% for a few seconds.
The new poisons are slightly different. Using Shiv with Leeching Poison up will instantly heal you for a percentage of your total life, while Shiv and Paralytic Poison combine to apply a root to your target. No matter what non-lethal poison you're using or what situation you're in, it's clear that Shiv will be incredibly valuable. If a poison is worth applying, then it's probably worth boosting, even if temporarily.
The beauty of the new poison design in Mists is that it not only simplifies several aspects of the system, it also provides us with interesting new options and important decisions to make.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Molten Front ganking guide, a deep-dive into the world of playing a subtlety rogue -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to the latest rogue gear.