Kick will cost zero energy in patch 5.2, bringing it in line with most of the other melee interrupts in the game. Ghostcrawler indicated that as PvE utility ability, Kick should be free to encourage regular usage. In PvP situations, Kick was already the straggler in the process of becoming free, not the forerunner. Blade Flurry's new 4-way 40% cleave allows us to deal 260% of our normal melee damage to 5 targets. Combat's cleave is still quite potent against two targets, but now excels when facing small groups.
In addition to these improvements, Smoke Bomb is learning a new trick. In patch 5.2, Smoke Bomb will reduce damage taken by our allies inside the Smoke Bomb radius by 20%. While Tricks of the Trade has always been a valuable addition to our arsenal and we have several buffs and debuffs, the new Smoke Bomb is our first true raid cooldown.
We're on the hook
With great power comes great responsibility, and the new Smoke Bomb now qualifies as great power. Just as warriors are tasked with popping Rallying Cry and paladins use Devotion Aura, rogues will be asked by raid leaders to use Smoke Bomb strategically. Smoke Bomb doesn't cost energy to use, so it's not going to be a DPS loss for us. The most unfortunately situation would be if we had to run outside of melee range to drop our Smoke Bomb for ranged classes.
In this age of raid addons and widespread boss guides and videos, boss abilities are no longer a surprise. The powerful attacks are often telegraphed by addons, raid leaders, and the game itself. Raid encounters are balanced around these cooldowns being present, and so our Smoke Bombs will be worked into the rotation. We'll be expected to coordinate our cooldown with the raid to mitigate powerful AoE attacks or to help save a tank from death.
While Smoke Bomb has worked its way into regular offensive usage in PvP to shroud an enemy target from their healers, its defensive uses have been fewer. It's a great tool to prevent ranged classes from nuking us while we're stuck in a root or a snare. However, with Preparation making its way back into our repertoire, Smoke Bomb was going to need some more utility to set it apart. Smoke Bomb is now useful for us when facing both melee and ranged opponents.
Smoke Bomb has seen infrequent usage due to its specific line-of-sight design. The new Smoke Bomb will be universally useful, in situations ranging from solo questing to heroic raiding, and in every PvP environment. A 20% reduction in incoming damage is simply too good to pass up. For many rogues, Smoke Bomb will be moving from the spell book to a hotkey on the action bar.
Rogues are great in raids
Rogues already have several types of raid utility. All rogues provide Master Poisoner passively, Expose Armor is easily worked into our rotation, and Swiftblade's Cunning is always active for ourselves and our allies. Tricks of the Trade is an amazing threat redirection ability, and Vanish has allowed me to resurrect a raid group on more than one occasion. Feint allows rogues to take less raid damage than any other class, especially when paired with our Glyph of Feint and Elusiveness. We're still doing reasonably good raid damage and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon.
Smoke Bomb is simply icing on the cake. Back in the day, rogues didn't bring anything to a raid besides DPS. Today, rogues have an entire suite of raid utility. Smoke Bomb is simply the latest addition to our already potent arsenal. While we're still only a pure melee class, so we can't tank or heal, we can still provide plenty of utility. There's no reason not to bring a rogue to a raid, and now there's one more reason to bring one.
While the strength of the rogue class is not directly correlated to the number of rogues active, buffs certainly can't hurt our case. Rogues have been strong in PvE throughout Mists of Pandaria, and that is a trend that looks to continue in the upcoming patch. My hope is that raid leaders and PvP teams will be looking for more rogues to supplement their rosters after reading about all of the positive news. Rogues are going to be in a relatively strong position in 5.2, and that's good news for the class.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Mogu'shan Vaults guide, a deep-dive into the world of rogue rotations -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to a raid-ready rogue.