Our Stealth system, which has survived dozens of patches unscathed, is seeing some new action in Mists of Pandaria. In spite of the developers' previous attempts to normalize Stealth levels via the removal of Master of Deception, they're bringing some of that flavor back. Shadow Walk and Shroud of Concealment bring brand new elements to our Stealth repertoire.
Shadow Walk looks to improve our own personal Stealth capabilities, while Shroud of Concealment allows us to share our Stealth with others. The duo is the most exciting thing to happen to Stealth since Distract, and I look forward to finding new and unique ways to abuse both of them.
Shadow Walk's uses are limited
Shadow Walk is a fairly weak ability, in spite of sounding fun at first glance. The basic concept is that it improves your Stealth level temporarily, making you harder to detect. Normally, it doesn't do anything to improve your Stealth detection, and but the glyph can fix that. With the extra Stealth detection, it becomes very easy to use it effectively in a rogue-vs.-rogue Stealth battle. It won't be too useful for sneaking past Stealth-detecting elites, as they can still see right through any level of Stealth.
Currently, when you Vanish, you gain a short Vanish buff that disappears and then applies a Stealth buff when it expires. In Mists, that mechanic is changed slightly. After you Vanish, you simply gain an improved Stealth buff with a timer on it, which turns in regular Stealth when the timer expires. There's now only one buff and therefore only one icon. Vanish's improved Stealth buff doesn't help your detection at all but still boosts your Stealth's potency. Again, the potency improvement isn't transferred through Shroud.
Shroud of Concealment is another ability that looks great but ends up being lackluster. It's not the raid-wide Vanish that we all had hoped for; instead, it's a short-term version of Stealth for raid members within its radius. While it immediately sounds like an amazing ability for skipping trash in instances, I can guarantee you that Blizzard simply won't let that happen. My guess is that will be a ton of Stealth-detecting trash in raids from now on.
Every party or raid member who's within the 20-yard circle is covered by your Stealth. If you get brought out of Stealth, everyone does. If you are detected, then the visual circle becomes visible to your enemies, which lets them know you've got party members nearby. The covered party members get the exact same Stealth level that you have and are detectable at exactly the same ranges. Shroud doesn't work if anyone is in combat, which means it can't be used to reset bosses or to make a hasty getaway.
Where Shroud will definitely shine is in PvP, where an entire group stealthily approaching the Blacksmith from the Farm could turn the tide of the game. I would love to combine Shroud with a druid's Stampeding Roar, allowing my group to traverse more ground while under the cover of Stealth. Expect for every Arena team with a rogue to start the match with Shroud activated, allowing them to gain a positional advantage.
While Shadow Walk and Shroud of Concealment certainly aren't going to be cornerstones of our PvP mechanics, they're still fun to have in our arsenal. A bit of extra Stealth and the ability to sneak our friends through trouble will come in handy every once in a while. The rogue class has plenty of room for cool utility abilities, especially since we haven't seen any in quite some time. With challenge modes coming up in Mists, even skipping a single pack of trash will make rogues a worthy addition to any group.
I'm eagerly awaiting the first raid group to abuse Shroud. Imagine a raid group tasked with sneaking into the Undercity, with several rogues rotating through their Shroud cooldowns to keep the whole group in Stealth as they make their way to the throne room. There's a lot of potential here, and I can't wait to see what rogues come up with.
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