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Encrypted Text: Patch 5.4's new Killing Spree and rogue glyphs

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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.

Killing Spree has been killing rogues since 2008. While assassination rogues are discussing the best opportunities to use Vendetta and subtlety rogues are planning their Shadow Dances, combat rogues are just hoping their cooldown won't throw them off a cliff or into fire. I remember when rogues simply didn't play combat when fighting Magmaw. Killing Spree on Garalon? Only if you had a death wish.

The Glyph of Killing Spree fixed most of these errant deaths, but didn't fix the root problem: Killing Spree takes away control from the rogue. We're not capable of choosing our targets or our destination when using Killing Spree, which makes it a liability in high-stakes situations. The new PTR version of Killing Spree looks to change that. The normal Killing Spree will turn into a powerful nuke on a specific target, while Killing Spree under Blade Flurry's influence will result in the random attacks we're used to.

Rogues are about control

I feel like I'm stunning myself when I use today's Killing Spree. My movements and attacks are outside of my control, and things can go tragically wrong. There's no way to cancel Killing Spree once you push the button. For a class that's so dependent on positioning and tempo, the current Killing Spree has always felt out of place. Combat rogues are constantly being forced to roll the dice: lose damage or risk dying to a bad Spree?

In Diablo II, there was a notorious item called the Oculus. When you were struck, it had a 25% chance to randomly teleport you somewhere within sight range (think Blink). It was a risky item to use, since you could easily be teleported into harm's way. The difference is that the Oculus was just one possible weapon choice in Diablo II, while Killing Spree is crucial to combat rogues dealing competitive DPS.

Killing Spree and PvP

Killing Spree is essentially 7 different attacks that are executed over a 3.5-second window. If there's one target around, you'll hit them 7 times. If there are two targets around, you'll hit one of them 4 times and one of them 3 times. If there are three targets around, it's 3-2-2. Four targets, 2-2-2-1. You get the idea. Each additional target you add to the mix dilutes the amount of damage you deal to any individual target.

PvP is all about burst damage. Combat's secret weapon should be Killing Spree, but it's far too easy to diffuse. The enemy team can simply stack up to split Killing Spree's damage, which makes it a pointless ability to use. Your only hope is to isolate a member of the enemy team, which won't happen once they know that you're playing combat. Killing Spree's uncontrollable nature has kept combat from being a serious PvP spec. The new version of KS could change that.

Note that on the PTR, Killing Spree is dealing insane damage when combined with the stacking damage bonus on our 4-piece set bonus. I don't think that the final damage numbers will be that deadly, especially since it's not as if we couldn't already land a single-target Killing Spree today with some luck. If KS is unbalanced without the single-target fix, it will still be unbalanced with the fix in as well.

Datamined rogue glyphs

While these glyphs didn't show up in the official patch notes, the fact that they're in the game files tells us that Blizzard is at least thinking about implementing them. It actually looks like a grab bag of old talents and abilities rolled into glyphs.

The possibly Glyph of Recovery, which boosts incoming healing by 20% while under the effects of Recuperate, is quite similar to the old Quickening talent. I don't see Recuperate getting much use outside of PvP, but a 20% boost to PvP healing is quite a big deal. The Glyph of Redirect seems to bring back Versatility, but in the form of a glyph. It's telling that Versatility has fallen all the way from being a level 90 talent to a simple glyph. I think Blizzard dramatically overestimated how good Versatility would be when they designed it. Combo points simply aren't that limiting anymore.

The Glyph of Sharpened Knives has me a bit confused. While I understand that applying Weakened Armor will help everyone's DPS, it still doesn't make Fan of Knives a good choice for combat or subtlety rogues. Even if we decide to pick up this glyph to help our raid's AoE DPS, we'll just push Fan of Knives a few times and then go back to our normal rotations. Why should subtlety rogues, which have some of the worst AoE in WoW, be casting a spell that lowers their overall DPS?

One of subtlety's biggest weaknesses, target swaps, could be addressed by the new Glyph of Hemorrhaging Veins. Subtlety rogues relied on Rupture or Garrote to deal their full damage against a target, which meant combo points or Stealth were required to swap targets. Now that Hemorrhage can activate Sanguinary Veins, subtlety rogues can start dealing maximum damage against new targets much faster. I think this will affect PvE more than PvP, but I could be wrong.

The tri-spec rogue

Blizzard seems to be working on bringing combat some more PvP viability (which it has lacked for a long time) and subtlety some more PvE viability (which it has lacked for just as long). I have always thought that spec diversity for rogues is an important part of keeping rogues playing the class and attracting new players. The ability to switch between specs and rotations and flavors is key to ensuring a class stays fresh and people don't tire out of the same old thing.
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.

Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

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