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 remember the first time I ran into a warlock in vanilla WoW. We were both around level 40, and I met him in an Uldaman run. I didn't even know the class existed until he responded to my advertisement in trade chat. During the dungeon, he was constantly Fearing mobs into other groups, accidentally tab-targeting and tossing DoTs on patrols, and letting his pet steal aggro from the tank. My first impression of warlocks was a negative one, and it took a long time for that prejudice to subside.
Most players' first experience with a rogue will be on the receiving end of our daggers. Whether it's in a battleground or in the open world of a PvP server, rogues are killing thousands of players per hour. If a rogue gets the opener on an unsuspecting player, it's not a pretty sight. The target will be ambushed from nowhere, stunned, slowed, interrupted, poisoned, and bled to death. Being killed by a rogue isn't a fun experience. You're hit with the shock of surprise, denied control of your character, and incredibly restricted. It's easy to see how a player's first experience with a rogue could leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Stealth is a one-edged sword
If a rogue is able to approach a target undetected and land the opener, their chances of victory are greatly increased. Surprise allows rogues to uneven the odds quickly, and our openers have been clearly demonstrated to be our most powerful individual abilities. Stealth is always beneficial for rogues, and so it has become a crucial part of our PvP strategy. Opening salvos are precisely micromanaged to ensure we're dealing maximum damage immediately.
I would love to see PvP statistics from when rogues get the opener versus when they're caught out of Stealth. If I had to guess, I would say our chances of winning a fight double when we're able to get the opener. Stealth is great for rogues.
It's not a good surprise (for them)
Stealth is not great for our targets. Remember, the majority of content in WoW is focused around scripted combat against simple and predictable enemies. Players can see mobs coming from a mile away, and can even see 90% (or more) of enemy players at a distance as well. WoW, as a game, doesn't teach players to be afraid of the dark -- that's learned from rogues.
The first time that a player is hit with a Cheap Shot to Kidney Shot combo, they have no idea what's going on. They've lost control of their character, their fight/flight reaction is kicking in, and they're not properly equipped to handle what's happening. After a bit of flailing, their corpse is on the ground and the rogue has already disappeared.
Is there a counter to being opened on by a rogue? Absolutely. Players from every class are able to go toe-to-toe with rogues when played properly, regardless of the opener. Focused PvP players have been attacked by rogues hundreds of time, and they know not to panic. They keep their cool and already have a plan of action for after Garrote or Cheap Shot wears off.
Rogues are a strong class, but we're nowhere near the stunlock masters of vanilla. Giving every player a base level of resilience for free has only hurt our opener's effectiveness, since it tips the scales slightly less in our favor now.
We're designed to neutralize
Our damage is nothing to sneeze at, but rogues have traditionally filled a control-based role in PvP. We're designed with plenty of moves to neutralize both physical classes and casters. We have Crippling Poison and Dismantle to prevent warriors from crushing our friends, and Mind-numbing Poison and Gouge let us keep casters locked down. We've got stuns and slows, LoS breakers and CC, mobility and flexibility.
Players don't like it when control is taken away from them. Blizzard has often commented on the current state of CC in PvP, and how effective and rampant it's become. Rogues are the CC masters, which makes us public enemy number one. While I love pulling off crazy CC combos with Sap and Blind and Gouge, it's not fun for the players on the receiving end. Players have an easier time dealing with massive incoming damage than being locked out of their character.
We're rubber, they're glue
It's pretty hard to pummel a rogue. We've got a wide arsenal of defensive cooldowns at our disposal, like Cloak of Shadows, Evasion, Feint, Cheat Death, and Vanish. Even when our opponents get an opening to unload a salvo, we can typically deflect or mitigate much of the incoming damage. If you want to kill a rogue, you have to fight your way through all of our cooldowns, twice! During those few seconds when our enemies can act, we're negating their attacks with ease.
If WoW was entirely PvE-based, I think rogues would be more respected and welcomed. Healers love that we take less damage than any other class, tanks and DPS count on Tricks of the Trade, and we've got useful abilities and utility that contribute to our groups' success. We're very rarely a liability, and our damage is traditionally top-shelf.
All of the negative energy towards rogues comes from PvP. Fighting a rogue is frustrating, difficult, and often futile. We're labeled as dishonorable, cheaters, and sociopaths. It's not our fault that the class is based around surprise, control, and cooldowns. We're just working with what we're given. If we walk into an encounter out of Stealth and just faceroll into our opponents, we get crushed. But every time we push Kidney Shot or Vanish, we're building up just a little bit more ill will with our opponents.
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.