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Encrypted Text: Shuriken Toss' unlikely popularity

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any questions or article suggestions you'd like to see covered here.

I'm not very happy with how the rogue talents turned out in Mists. Rather than new utility or cool features, we saw our old abilities given back to us, except that they were made mutually exclusive. The level 90 tier was particularly disappointing, as it focused on improving our quality of life instead of adding new functionality. Paladins get Boundless Conviction for free, and yet we're paying for Anticipation. I have yet to meet someone using Versatility. Couldn't we just see Redirect's base CD lowered to 30 seconds and call it even?

The worst talent of the bunch seems to be Shuriken Toss. Why would you use an ability that's significantly weaker than Mutilate? The surprise is that assassination rogues don't care about how much damage Mutilate does; mutilate is only their 7th-highest source of damage. Shuriken Toss, on the other hand, generates more combo points per energy than Mutilate. Shuriken Toss still procs Deadly Poison, which makes up 40% of our overall damage. Rogues across a variety of gear levels are reporting Shuriken Toss results that are at or near Mutilate's performance. Update: Due to last night's PTR updates, Shuriken Toss will no longer proc Seal Fate when in melee range. As such, Shuriken Toss will not be viable after patch 5.1 goes live.

What's wrong with Mutilate

Why can a simple ranged attack keep pace with the core of the assassination rotation? Mutilate has been tuned to deal very poor damage to keep rogue burst under control. How does it compare with a windwalker monk's Blackout Kick, which is used a similar number of times per encounter? Mutilate deals less than half of Blackout Kick's damage while costing 15 more energy to use. Mutilate only exists to generate combo points for Envenom and Rupture, not that either of those are dealing much damage either.

It hasn't always been this way. In Firelands, Mutilate was much higher in our DPS ability hierarchy. In Dragon Soul, both Envenom and Mutilate were in our top 5 damage sources regularly. The dramatic retooling of weapons and weapon damage in Mists has resulted in Mutilate being sidelined for more exciting attacks like Deadly Poison procs, Deadly Poison ticks, and melee swings.

The only thing in Mutilate's favor is its ability to proc a free Dispatch via Blindside. Mutilate also scales better with gear, so don't expect to be using Shuriken Toss once you're sporting epic weapons. What's scary is that Mutilate's damage is such a small portion of our DPS that a token ranged ability can actually compete for its spot in our rotation. Could you imagine if the old hunter ability Raptor Strike became part of their core rotation?

What's right with Shuriken Toss

Shuriken Toss is cheap. We generate 20 energy in less than 2 seconds. If you've been falling asleep with the existing Mutilate-based rotation, get ready for a wakeup call. You'll be spamming buttons like you're playing combat in Dragon Soul. With all of the extra combo points that you'll be generating, you'll be able to increase the number of Envenoms and your overall Envenom uptime will be amazing. Seal Fate still works with Shuriken Toss, so with a few lucky crits you can be hitting Envenom every few seconds.

Shuriken Toss is fun. You get to push a lot of buttons, you get to see big Envenom crits way more often, and you can have fun attacking targets from far away. I have really enjoyed playing around with Shuriken Toss, and it's something that every rogue should try at least once.

Shuriken Toss is simple. It doesn't take any work to merge it into your rotation in place of Mutilate. You're still going to maintain Slice and Dice's buff and Rupture's debuff, and you still swap to Dispatch when your target is at low life. In fact, it's sort of telling that our other level 90 talents are so weak that we can play around with Shuriken Toss and not miss Anticipation or Versatility at all.

Shuriken Toss doesn't scale

At the end of the day, there's no way for Shuriken Toss to stay competitive. The ability has a high base damage but doesn't scale with weapon damage at all, so as our weapons improve, Mutilate quickly outpaces Shuriken Toss. However, this is also a strength of Shuriken Toss, as it can actually be a noticeable DPS increase for new level 90s that are using low-quality gear. If you're not running around with better than ilvl 450 weapons, give Shuriken Toss a spin.

I've also seen reports that Shuriken Toss can work for subtlety rogues, even in raid gear, but I haven't seen any parses to back it up. There's been a lot of people posting on several different threads and forums about Shuriken Toss, but very few actual logs have been linked. Unless I see a parse of ST outperforming Backstab for subtlety, I won't hold my breath.

Rogues are desperate

The arena charts recently went live, and rogues are next-to-last in terms of representation. Around 1% of the players in top teams are playing a rogue. Rogues are still amongst the top DPS classes in raids. How can there be such a huge disparity between PvE and PvP success? Our DPS has been migrating from active attacks to passive damage, and the effect of this migration on the class is clear. We're doing poorly where burst damage and yellow attacks are required, and we're doing well where passive strikes is allowed to thrive.

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.

Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

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