This post is the expression of my want for Rogues to be more. More complex, more engaging, more dynamic.
What I am about to say is written in large part as a reaction to this thread on the Battle.Net forums – http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/5794630014?page=11 - but not entirely.
Ghostcrawler and the WoW developers have expressed that they feel the Rogue class is not broken, is functioning as intended, and therefore does not need the changes that the other classes are seeing as we move into Mists of Pandaria.
I have felt for some time, rather regrettably, that the Rogue playstyle has become quite lackluster. It has lacked a degree of complexity that I have grown to love in MMO gaming. And for that matter, I found myself wanting to push more buttons, so to speak.
Now, to stem the flow of hate mail, I would like to point out that I love my Rogue. He is my main. His name is Rilandune, the name I use as my nom de plume on all the facets of the internet. He was the first character I rolled at launch of World of Warcraft in November 2004. At the time my guild had no healers. At all. I took up the call and so I played a Holy Priest throughout Vanilla and the first half of The Burning Crusade. It was then, mid-way through TBC that I went back to my first character, my Rogue, and he has been my primary and almost exclusive focus ever since.
I did hunger for more complexity during Wrath of the Lich King, and so I leveled a Paladin. First in Protection spec, then in Holy. But all the while, my heart was with my Rogue.
So, I want to be very clear before anyone reads the remainder of this post, which I do intend to keep brief (hopefully) that I love the Rogue class, I will always consider Rilandune to be my main, even if I am playing another character predominantly.
Elitist talk aside of what class is “harder to play” or which class is dependent upon more “skill” – there are, in the simplest manner of speaking, classes in World of Warcraft that just have fewer abilities that *need to be used during PVE content with specific focus on dungeon and raid content.
|*there are situation-specific spells and abilities that will lend themselves well to certain encounters, or more often, aid in fixing a scenario in which mistakes were made and the party is in danger of wiping but for a miraculous turn-around due to the use of a non-standard-rotation spell.|
To all my Mage brethren-in-arms, I am not using you as an example for any specific reason but that Arcane Mages are well known, however regrettably, as a “two button class.” The real story is, however, that Arcane Mages are not the only ones. As an Assassination Rogue one has very few abilities to use in a standard rotation.
Let me demonstrate a typical fight situation from the opening:
- Begin fight in stealth
- Garrote the boss if possible, or Ambush
- Use acquired combo points to begin Slice and Dice
- Use Mutilate to generate combo points up to 4, or 5
- Hit Envenom to use combo points, and refresh Slice and Dice
- Continue rotation until target is below 35%, switch to using Backstab, and using Envenom only at 5 combo points.
- Using Feint on cooldown if glyphed and there is AOE damage to avoid
- Using Tricks of the Trade on cooldown, easily macro’d to a single keybind
- Applying Vendetta, our capstone talent, up to 2 times per fight, occasionally 3
- Using Cold Blood up to 2 times per fight, occasionally 3
- Using Vanish for Energy regen up to 2 times per fight, occasionally 3
That is the Assassination Rogue in PVE dungeon and raid content, in a nutshell. As the asterisk above denotes, there are situations where other, non-standard skills will be used. However they are in such infrequent occasions that they need to be set aside as anomalies. And to be clear, I do not look at the Arcane Mage as a two button class, I’ve heard Arcane Mages correct that statement, jokingly, saying they are indeed a three button class ^__^
The complexity of the class, the amount of buttons one must push in a properly run boss encounter, cannot be quantified by looking at the amount of skills/spells/abilities a class has. Hybrid classes will certainly lend themselves to a broader array of talents as their individual roles will borrow less from one another. However, I think these numbers are something to keep in mind for our discussion. I looked at the class page for all 10 current classes in game on WoWHead. I added up the Abilities, Talents, and Specializations for each of the classes. I left in the passives because certain classes the passives were an intrinsic function of the gameplay, like the Death Knight presences.
Those numbers are as follows:
- Death Knight – 196
- Druid – 220
- Hunter – 199
- Mage – 212
- Paladin – 187
- Priest – 181
- Rogue – 183
- Shaman – 205
- Warlock – 190
- Warrior – 183
- Mean total – 195.6
Again, I am not so brash as to think that you can quantify the complexity of the classes in WoW by the amount of skills and talents and spells they have. However, I do think it is telling that the Rogue class has roughly 12 less spells than the mean, and 37 spells less than the Druid (the class with the highest figure at 220, but for good reason certainly, given their ability to fill 4 roles). I must say I was surprised to see that Priests have the lowest number of spells and talents, at 181. And also that Warriors tie Rogues at 183.
Honestly, I do not know how to “judge” those numbers, or even if they are worthy of judging. Perhaps those numbers mean nothing at all. I truly have no idea. I am not pretending to know a way to “fix” the Rogue class, or even that it needs “fixing.” All that I am saying is that I hunger for more to do in a dungeon and raid environment, and currently the Assassination spec and Combat spec do not offer that.
Which leads me to my next point. I am fully aware of the complexity of the Subtlety spec. I am fully aware that by playing as that spec I will have a great deal more complexity. However, there is a good reason that Subtlety is the most played PVP spec for Rogues, and is very seldom played as a PVE spec. (Based on numbers pulled from competitive 3v3 Arena and top raid parses)
Is it capable of being played in PVE? Yes. But it is a niche spec, with limited practical application in a raiding environment – particularly with respect to the abysmal AOE capability the spec provides – and in truth, I simply do not care for the “feel” of Subtlety. It has a pacing that I cannot get into, and I can never find a nice “groove” so-to-speak.
However, I am trying. If you look at my Armory link above, I dropped my Combat spec in favor of a Subtlety spec and I am running Heroic Hour of Twilight dungeons with it.
I understand that the availability of a more complex spec may serve to undermine my entire point thus far, however I would point out that Blizzard is doing an amazing job of balancing each of the classes specs so that they all offer a unique playing experience, but at the same time are very close to universally viable in all dimensions of the game.
Keep in mind, this is not actually a complaint, so much as it is a general statement of my displeasure in how simplified the Rogue has become. Or at the least, how it feels now, compared to “the old days” (get off my lawn!).
For instance, in the old days, we Rogues had a great deal of interaction with our core skills and abilities. I miss that. A lot.
I truly enjoyed:
- Making my own Poisons
- Making my own Vanishing Powder / Blinding Powder
- Having to keep Vanishing Powder / Blinding Powder in my inventory
- Making my own Thistle Tea
- Having to drink Thistle Tea as part of my rotation
- Having to use an addon like EnergyWatch to track Energy Ticks
- Timing my openers with my Energy Ticks
- Leveling Lockpicking by Picking Locks
Some of those changes, removing those mechanics, could lend themselves to “quality of life” changes. Blizzard has made quite a few of those along the way. However, I miss those things.
And yet, after all those “quality of life changes” we still have some very aggravating mechanics. Such as: the core self-buff of the Rogue class – the ONLY active buff for the Rogue class, is our Poisons. Poisons that have to be applied to each weapon (currently 3 weapons). This application is a 3 second cast time (with a glyph to reduce that to 1.5 seconds) that cannot be done while moving. So, without the glyph, that is a minimum of 9 seconds to get one ready for battle. With the glyph, 4.5 seconds.
Please correct me in the comments if I am wrong, but with the exception of a Hunter and a Warlock summoning their pets, no class has their core, absolutely-necessary, self buff(s) as anything but instant casts and they are able to be done on the move.
Are Rogues functioning properly, with no mechanical deficiencies, and are well-balanced with good damage numbers and good survivalability? Yes. But that does not mean they do not need attention moving into the next expansion.
In truth, I am uncertain of what I am asking for. Can the Rogue class be made more compelling to play in the PVE environment? I will still play my Rogue in PVE content, but I think I may dedicate him more to PVP in Mists of Pandaria. Because the truth is – the Monk is shaping up to be just the kind of versatile, agile, melee class I always wanted the Rogue to be. That is not a bad thing, necessarily. That is not a flaw in the game. I just wish the Rogue could be more.
Therefore, I will ask this question of you -
How would you change the Rogue class, if you were to make it a more dynamic and engaging class to play in PVE content?
Do you feel the Rogue class needs any changes? Or are they in fact functioning properly as Ghostcrawler has said?
Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear what you think!!