Now that the patch is live, we know which changes made it and which were cut in development. Vitality's buff was cut in half, but combat rogues are still sitting quite pretty. Assassination had a last-minute 10% boost to its damage via Assassin's Resolve, which should ensure that the spec performs well. Subtlety's Sanguinary Vein buff also stayed put, which should increase the number of subtlety rogues raiding in this tier.
Along with the purely numerical changes, we also have to factor in our new set bonuses, talents, and ability changes that arrived with the patch. Rogues received more changes than usual in this patch cycle, and I am hopeful that we'll continue to excel in PvE while also gaining ground in PvP representation. Patch 5.2 is full of cool new tools for rogues, which has me very excited for this raid tier.
Combat's cleave and bleeds
Combat rogues will be able to cleave up to 4 additional targets with the new Blade Flurry, which dramatically increases their capabilities against small groups. In fact, it almost seems that the new Blade Flurry was perfectly designed for Horrdion's waves of adds that are all tanked in a neat pile. Combat rogues will also be exceling in dungeons and challenge modes.
While Rupture is typically not worth using (or very close to neutral) for combat rogues, our new tier set's two-piece bonus changes that. The extra combo point does affect Rupture, but not Eviscerate, which gives Rupture the slight edge. Remember that the bleed debuff no longer exists, so you don't have to factor that into your decision. We'll want to start working Rupture into our rotation as soon as we pick up two pieces of our tier set. Rupture still activates our Restless Blades, so it's not really a loss.
Assassination and subtlety rotations aren't changing at all. Both specs already feature Rupture in their rotation, and most of the patch notes are balance tweaks and not mechanic updates.
Marked for Death is great
Marked for Death's minimum value is easy to calculate: 5 combo points per minute. Every target that dies adds an extra 5 combo points to that total. For a standard 6-minute boss encounter, you can count on at least 30 combo points, plus any bonus points. When there are adds that die mid-fight, like when facing Horridon, MfD compares favorably with Anticipation, which typically generates between 3-5 combo points per minute in my research.
Anticipation has the benefit of allowing us to always use 5-point finishers, which are more efficient than 4-point finishers. In addition, Anticipation can help us smooth out periods of excessive combo point generation, such as Bloodlust, Shadow Blades, Shadow Dance, or Adrenaline Rush. These benefits are much harder to quantify, which makes it difficult to compare against Marked for Death. Combat rogues are definitely safe taking Anticipation to save tons of combo points during AR/SB. Subtlety and assassination rogues will have to decide if there are enough bonus combo points from dying adds.
Where Marked for Death really shines is in dungeons and while playing solo. Marked for Death allows rogues to chew through enemies on the Isle of Giants as if they were tissue paper. I'm literally churning through mobs before my Kidney Shot is off its cooldown. Marked for Death is the type of talent that would be infinitely more valuable at level 60 than it is at level 90. I guarantee that every rogue will be using MfD for the inevitable grind to 95 in the Emerald Dream. Shuriken Toss is fun, but Blizzard's balancing has ensured that we'll only be using it for niche situations.
Cloak and Dagger is an offensive powerhouse
Along with Marked for Death, Cloak and Dagger is my new favorite grinding talent. Between the two, I am able to leap from target to target with ease. While I'm still going to keep Shadowstep around most of the time, Cloak and Dagger is a powerful talent for leveling and grinding mobs. Subtlety rogues can use Cloak and Dagger to do some interesting things in PvP, but otherwise this talent lacks the versatility that makes Shadowstep our top choice in the level 60 talent tier.
Shadow Focus still wins
Subtlety rogues will stick with Subterfuge since it lets them unleash extra openers on their targets. Shadow Focus, the choice of assassination and combat, was nerfed in patch 5.2 to only reduce our energy costs by 75% instead of 100% when in Stealth. Even with the nerf, it's still the best option for non-subtlety specs. The change is minor and is unlikely to affect our DPS in any meaningful way.
Everyone loves Preparation
I hope you still had a hotkey available for Preparation on your action bars. Doubling our cooldowns gives us some new utility, but I have to remind myself to use them. I try to pop Evasion as often as I can when doing dailies, and Sprint does help me get around when I'm in combat. Preparation's value is definitely evident when you need an extra Vanish to drop aggro or when you're being pursued. Rogues that focus on PvP will be getting the most use out of the baseline Preparation.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our patch 5.2 guide, a deep-dive into the world of assassination and combat rogue AoE rotations -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to a raid-ready rogue.