In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Combat Rogue rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Combat Rogue Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
Main ChangesCombat Rogues will notice three main changes in Mists of Pandaria. Two of them are general to Rogues while the last one is specific to Combat Rogues.
The first main change is related to Combo Point management. The three Rogue specialisations have mechanics that cause Combo Point generating abilities to sometimes generate an extra Combo Point. In the case of Combat Rogue, Revealing Strike gives Sinister Strike a 20% chance to generate an extra Combo Point, for 18 seconds. Also, Rogues get a new DPS cooldown: Shadow Blades, which temporarily causes your Combo Point generating abilities to generate an extra Combo Point. To prevent you from wasting Combo Points, Blizzard introduced a new, nigh-mandatory Tier 6 talent: Anticipation. This talent enables you to have up to 10 Combo Points on a target. When you use a Finishing Move, it will consume up to 5 Combo Points. This means that if you have 8 Combo Points and cast Eviscerate, you will be left with 3 Combo Points.
The second main change will concern AoE damage. When facing a few enemies, doing your normal single-target rotation while enabling Blade Flurry will be the optimal choice. When facing a certain number of enemies (number that we will determine later on, when we will update our Combat Rogue guide for Mists of Pandaria), it will most likely be more efficient to switch to Fan of Knives. Fan of Knives now generates Combo Points on your Combo Point target. These Combo Points can then be consumed by Crimson Tempest, a new AoE ability.
The third main change is that it will become viable to use slow off-hand weapons. Indeed, Combat Potency now has a chance to proc that is proportional to your weapon speed. The idea is that slower weapons and faster weapons should generate the same amount of procs during the same time window. We will do more testing on this later on in the expansion.
New AbilitiesAs mentioned above, Shadow Blades is a new DPS cooldown that increases Combo Point generation and Crimson Tempest is a new AoE ability that you will use to consume the Combo Points built by Fan of Knives. In addition, you gain the following new abilities:
- Shroud of Concealment is a raid-wide Stealth. It works just like Illidan's concealment aura in the Well of Eternity dungeon.
- Shadow Walk temporarily increases the efficiency of Stealth.
- Master Poisoner is a passive ability that causes targets afflicted by your poisons to take +5% increased spell damage.
- Swiftblade's Cunning is a passive ability that grants your party and raid members +10% melee and ranged attack speed.
Removed AbilitiesAs far as we could see, no ability has been removed.
Changed Abilities and MechanicsAs we mentioned in the introduction, Fan of Knives now generates a Combo Point every time it is used. We also mentioned that every time you use Revealing Strike, it grants you a 18-second buff that gives your Sinister Strike ability a 20% chance to generate an additional Combo Point. That buff also increases the damage of your Finishing Moves by 35%. In addition to this, you will notice the following changes.
- Slice and Dice now has a built-in duration of 36 seconds, which is 5 seconds shorter than what you had in Cataclysm when taking both Improved Slice and Dice and Glyph of Slice and Dice.
- The insights of Bandit's Guile (which is now given to you automatically when you choose the Combat specialisation) no longer drop when you change target. Previously, you had to use Redirect to transfer your insight of Bandit's Guile to your new target.
Poison ChangesPoisons are now spells so you no longer need to buy reagents from vendors. Also, a poison is always applied to both your weapons, so you can no longer have different poisons on your two weapons. Finally, all your poisons now have a set chance to be applied by each strike of your weapon; this means that slower weapons will have a smaller chance of applying poisons than faster weapons (though we believe that as a Combat Rogue, it will not make a big enough difference that you should use fast weapons).
Poisons are now either Lethal or Non-Lethal. Lethal Poisons are your damaging poisons while Non-Lethal Poisons provide crowd control and utility.
Deadly Poison and Wound Poison are your Lethal Poisons. Instant Poison has been removed from the game, so the slightly redesigned Deadly Poison will be your poison of choice. Wound Poison will only be used when you need the healing reduction that it provides.
Your Non-Lethal Poisons are listed below. Using Shiv when a Non-Lethal Poison is active on a target will apply a concentrated version of the poison effect.
- Crippling Poison reduces your enemy's movement speed.
- Mind-numbing Poison reduces your enemy's casting speed.
- Leeching Poison (Tier 3 talent) heals you for 10% of the damage dealt.
- Paralytic Poison (Tier 5 talent) stuns your enemy.
RotationYour rotation does not really change.
The fact that Slice and Dice now has a 36-second duration will make it harder to keep it up.
Since you will probably choose Anticipation as your Tier 6 talent, Revealing Strike should only be used to refresh the 18-second buff that it gives you. Using Revealing Strike for building the last Combo Point is no longer necessary since Anticipation makes it impossible to waste your Combo Points. Maintaining a high uptime on Revealing Strike will be a priority, as the buff grants you a 20% chance to build an additional Combo Point with Sinister Strike and increases the effectiveness of your Finishing Moves by 35%.
Rupture currently seems to deal more damage than Eviscerate, so it will make its return into the rotation. With the decreased duration of Slice and Dice, it will be hard to weave in Eviscerates while maintaining Rupture up.
Taking all this into account, we believe that the Combat Rogue rotation in Mists of Pandaria will follow this priority list:
- Keep Slice and Dice up.
- Keep Revealing Strike up.
- Keep Rupture up with 5 Combo Points.
- Cast Eviscerate with 5 Combo Points.
- Cast Sinister Strike
CooldownsFrom Cataclysm, you retain Adrenaline Rush and Killing Spree, which you should use in the same way as you did before (see our Combat Rogue guide). In addition, you gain Shadow Blades, which increases your Combo Point generation and should be used together with Adrenaline Rush. Lining up these two abilities will not be a problem as they both have a 3-minute cooldown.
Multiple-Target RotationAs we mentioned in the introduction, enabling Blade Flurry and doing your single-target rotation on one enemy will remain the optimal choice when you are facing a few enemies.
When facing a certain number of enemies (number that we will determine later), you should build up Combo Points with Fan of Knives and consume these Combo Points with Crimson Tempest, your new AoE ability.
TalentsTier 1 talents improve Stealth, which is largely useless to Combat Rogues who still do not benefit from Stealth. You have the choice between Nightstalker, Subterfuge, and Shadow Focus. We believe that Nightstalker will be the preferred option, as it can be useful while questing.
Tier 2 talents provide you with survival and crowd control abilities. Whichever you take should make very little difference on your performance as a raider. You have the choice between Deadly Throw (interrupts and slows movement), Nerve Strike (damage reduction), and Combat Readiness. Deadly Throw will be largely useless in PvE while the other two can be useful in fights where you take direct damage from an add.
Tier 3 talents provide you with powerful survival abilities.
- Cheat Death, which used to be only accessible to Subtlety Rogues, works in a similar way as it did in Cataclysm. We believe that this will be the preferred choice.
- Leeching Poison provides you with a self-healing poison that will be useful in situations such as the Twilight Realm against Valiona and Theralion in Bastion of Twilight.
- Elusiveness grants Feint a 30% damage reduction, which can be very useful if you often need to mitigate the damage you take.
- Preparation is an improvement over the old ability of the same name that was previously only available to Subtlety Rogues. It resets the cooldown of several survival and defensive abilities. This will most likely be the default choice for every specialisation.
- Shadowstep used to be a Subtlety-only ability. It teleports you behind your target and can be useful on fights where you often have to move away from the boss.
- Burst of Speed is a very powerful movement-speed-increasing ability that has a 4-second duration. While active, It also removes movement-impairing effects and prevents their re-application. It has no cooldown and costs 60 Energy to cast. We believe that this talent will be extremely powerful in PvP and while questing. It might also be punctually useful in raids, but that will depend on encounter mechanics.
Tier 6 talents deal with Combo Point management. Anticipation is so appealing that it will be nigh-mandatory for raiding. It basically allows you to store extra Combo Points so they don't go to waste if you happen to generate more than 5. Versatility, which removes the cooldown of Redirect, and Shuriken Toss, which allows you to generate Combo Points on a remote target, might be useful, but that will depend on encounter mechanics.
GlyphsThe only major glyph that has an incidence on your DPS will be Glyph of Adrenaline Rush because it reduces the global cooldown on all your important damaging abilities, which enables you to make better use of the increased Energy regeneration.
All the other major glyphs provide either utility, more survival, or more mobility, and your choice of glyph will largely depend on the encounter. Those that will come in handy are:
- Glyph of Feint, which increases the duration of Feint by 2 seconds;
- Glyph of Evasion, which increases the duration of Evasion by 5 seconds;
- Glyph of Debilitation, which gives your Eviscerate ability a 50% chance to reduce the target's movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds;
- Glyph of Sprint, which increases your movement speed during Sprint by 30%.
Other than that, we believe that the two following minor glyphs will be used by almost everyone: Glyph of Safe Fall and Glyph of Poisons.
Finally, Glyph of Killing Spree and Glyph of Blurred Speed can be useful for dealing with particular encounter mechanics.
This concludes our Combat Rogue preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!