- Author: Strong
- Date: January 27, 2024
- Updated: January 27, 2024
- Expansion: WoW Classic
Hail, friend! With February 8th quickly approaching us, we’re diving into expected new abilities and talents for the Rogue Class in Phase 2. We know what talents and new abilities to look for next phase, and what a selection it is! Rogues will delight in a number of new cooldowns from the talent trees, with the new talents setting potential new build paths for the meta DPS builds and PVP Rogues receiving new tools for controlling the battlefield. If there’s one commonality to the talent trees for this phase, it’s that each one will yield a number of game-changing cooldowns that’ll define build paths and playstyles in the phase to come.
Here come the cooldowns! So many great Rogue abilities are being added in the 25-40 bracket for both PVE and PVP applications. In fact, it’s in this bracket that we’ll start to feel the heat from PVP Rogues in battlegrounds and world PVP; however, the future of current PVE builds is a bit more nebulous.
From the trainer, skills like Cheap Shot and Kidney Shot add two more stuns to the Rogue arsenal, whereas Blind disorients for 10 seconds; hello fragile clothies in STV next phase! There’s also new utility in the form of Disarm Trap, which does exactly as its name describes, and new poisons in the form of Deadly Poison, which is currently only available from Deadly Brew in Phase 1, and Wound Poison. Will Rogues choose poisons over sharpening stones next phase? Is it optimal to even do so with Envenom engraved? Rogue players will need to answer these questions for themselves in Phase 2.
From the talents there’s a plethora of new, powerful abilities in all three specs, though you’ll not be able to splash points into other trees if you want the keystone abilities, Adrenaline Rush and Premeditation. In the Assassination tree, Cold Blood and Seal Fate reward stacking critical strike in, most likely, a PVE scenario with a protracted engagement. Blade Flurry in the Combat tree will be huge for PVE builds with 20% increased attack speed every 2 minutes, and it stacks with Slice and Dice, while also providing the only form of AoE for Rogues in Phase 1. Of course, the iconic Adrenaline Rush will be used on cooldown in conjunction with Blade Flurry for maximum DPS in PVE situations. Finally, Subtlety bears nifty new tools like Preparation, a 10-minute cooldown resetting all your other cooldowns, and Premeditation, adding free combo points to a target every two minutes, which will together make Rogues a new type of terror in PVP.
Cold Blood (Talent)
Blade Flurry (Talent)
Safe Fall (Passive)
Adrenaline Rush (Talent)
Rogue makes out so-so in the core ability department, as key damage-dealing abilities like Backstab and Sinister Strike don’t get their Phase 2 maximum upgrades at level 40 but at levels 36 and 38 respectively. With that in mind, current Rogue builds break down to a choice between Saber Slash, Mutilate and Backstab as your core abilities.
Unless new runes appear which make integral changes to the way Rogues deal damage, we’re probably looking at players continuing to use the rune abilities, which may scale more effectively at level 40 than their counterparts from the trainers. Our newest rank of Stealth at level 40 will further reduce the movement speed reduction while stealthed, and having a level 40 Eviscerate makes for great finishing damage in PVP and short PVE encounters and may be a the newly preferred finisher in situations when Envenom isn’t engraved.
New Ranks for Existing Abilities
Like a butterfly, Rogues will burst out of the chrysalis of newly accessible talents ready to take flight. All three talent trees grant new cooldowns and crucial tools for both PVE and PVP.
The Assassination tree offers a 10-point block of two talents; Vile Poisons improves the damage dealt by poisons and increases your poisons’ resistance to dispel effects, whereas Improved Poisons will increase your chance to apply those poisons. Cold Blood, a 3-minute cooldown increasing critical strike by 100% for Sinister Strike, Backstab, Ambush, and Eviscerate, will be desirable for PVP Rogues, but may not be as effective in PVE with its inclination to burst damage rather than sustained damage.
Seal Fate, the talent that Cold Blood precedes, will be a must-have talent for Rogues looking to focus on critical strike. Combined with 5 points in Lethality from earlier in the tree, Seal Fate offers a new pathway for those Rogues who’ve been relying on bleed and poison damage in Saber Slash builds in the form of critical strike-focused gameplay. You’ll be able to build up combo points much faster and actually use finishing moves with more regularity, rather than scraping for a Rupture or Envenom before you need to re-apply Slice and Dice. While not confirmed, Classic-era Gnomeregan brought Nature and Bleed resistances and immunities, which could drastically change the specs that top-parsing Rogues look to use in Phase 2.
Combat introduces a lot of new, highly desirable talents for PVE Rogues looking to maximize their DPS and will likely be the PVE-oriented talent tree in Phase 2. Blade Flurry immediately pops out as another increased attack speed buff on a 2-minute cooldown with a small energy cost of 25 energy. Weapon Expertise can increase Sword, Fist and Dagger skills by 5 with two talent points allocated, which is huge for reducing the damage penalties to your glancing blows; PVE Rogues will look to this talent to offset the need for weapon skill and hit on their items.
There’s a little customizability in the form of Sword Specialization and Dagger Specialization respectively; though if you’re this far into the Combat tree, you’ll likely be taking Sword Specialization, as all the best critical strike talent synergies are in Assassination. The result is that Mutilate and Backstab players will have to determine whether to go deep into Assassination or Combat.
Of course, if you’re going this far into Combat, taking Adrenaline Rush is a no-brainer; the increased energy regeneration will allow you to get your initial setup with a 5-combo-point Slice and Dice much more quickly than in Phase 1. Don’t forget to use it on cooldown during boss fights for maximum effect.
Last but not least we have Subtlety, the spec focusing on PVP and griefing random unfortunates in Hillsbrad and Stranglethorn Vale. Like it’s name, Subtlety will surprise you in unconventional ways. Look no further than Preparation, the 10-minute cooldown 20 points into the tree which resets all your other Rogue abilities. Remember the classic WoW compilation, “World of Roguecraft“? Well, that’s made possible by the magic of Preparation. A master Rogue will hold on to this cooldown until the very last minute for maximum effect; a good Rogue may use it too early in a panic. The skill ceiling here is a high one.
Improved Sap gives you a 90% chance to stay in Stealth with three points allocated, perfect for setting up targets in world PVP or stalling in a battleground as well as CC’ing targets in dungeons and raid settings. Serrated Blades sunder armor on all your attacks, which helps level the playing field when fighting against plate and mail users, and is bolstered by Hemorrhage, which increases all physical damage dealt to your target by a flat amount.
The keystone ability, Premeditation, adds 2 free combo points to your target every 2 minutes. This allows a Rogue to jump out of stealth on a sapped target with a big, 5-point Eviscerate or Rupture, rather than needing to build up combo points and use precious energy on combo point generating abilities.
A Note on Tank Rogue
Because tank Rogue relies on Blade Dance and Just a Flesh Wound to increase Parry chance, reduce Physical damage dealt and achieve critical strike immunity, there’s not much flexibility in build path: Rogues have to allocate 5 points into Deflection. Belying the obvious problem of tank Rogue’s reliance on Parry chance, it’ll still need to build AoE threat for trash pulls.
Rogue struggles to build threat beside tab-targeting and attacking each mob with the exception of Blade Flurry, which allows your weapon strikes to hit an additional target; without more tools like Fan of Knives, there’s no new way for Rogues to build AoE threat at level 40. Furthermore, there remains the problem of losing combo points on a target each time the target changes, severely hampering the Rogue’s ability to build threat quickly, or “snap threat,” on other targets. Hopefully new runes address this lack of AoE damage and threat generation for tank Rogues next phase.
If it weren’t for Gnomeregan being the next raid, Assassination may be a much more obvious choice for PVE Rogues. If Bleed and Poison immunities are present in Gnomeregan, the DoT damage from Saber Slash and Envenom will be severely stifled. The silver lining is Cold Blood in conjunction with Seal Fate and maxed-out Lethality, which will provide a Physical damage alternative to the Bleed and Poison kit of current builds. It’s looking like players can expect to play more Mutilate/Backstab builds in Gnomeregan.
Currently, the best PVE builds spec into Assassination, but Combat is getting some paradigm-shifting new talents in Phase 2. Blade Flurry and Adrenaline Rush alone are reasons to spec into this tree, but Weapon Expertise and the specialization talents add excellent static bonuses necessary for damaging higher level enemies like raid bosses.
PVP Rogues have waited for this moment, when they finally take the weights off to become the masters of 100-to-0 assassinations. Improved Sap allows you to isolate your target, Serrated Blades and Hemorrhage both guarantee consistent damage against that same target, and you can use Premeditation for a big finishing move in the first few seconds of the engagement. If you make a mistake, use Preparation to reset; if you can hold onto it with steel nerves, it only becomes more effective with each cooldown it resets.