Where are Rogues Going?

Matthew Rossi at WoWInsider has written an article based off of some number crunching by Cynwise at Cynwise’s Warcraft Manual.  He analyzes the distributions of the classes and how they have changed over the past two expansions.

(Image taken directly from Cynwise’s Google Docs):

Warcraft population data indicates Rogue decline

Note the precipitous decline in Rogues since the release of Mists.  The WoWInsider article and the comments that follow do some speculation about the causes of this.

As a long-time rogue player (PvE only) and blogger, I’d like to offer my thoughts.

  • Monks.  Obviously, a lot of people rerolled to the new class at MoP release.  A lot of those players then went back to their mains after getting used to the monk.  I would speculate that monks took a bigger chunk out of rogue players than other classes.  The reason is that monks play a lot like rogues, but with better resource management and more interesting abilities.  In particular, monk AoE is more compelling than rogue AoE these days.  I have heard from a lot of people that monks are what rogues would be if rogues had been redesigned.

and that brings me to the second point…

  • Sameness.  For a long time, the Blizzard developers have implied that they really liked the rogue design.  Rogues have received the fewest tweaks over the past few expansions.  I have grown used to looking at patch notes and seeing nothing listed for rogues.  At first, that was a point of pride – we didn’t need adjustments or tweaks because we were already damned-near perfect.  However, over the years we have seen other classes get changed and buffed, gain new abilities and grow.  Rogues today are essentially the same as they have been since Wrath.  There are subtle differences, but our main mechanics are almost unchanged.  This can easily become boring, and when we hear that warlocks or monks or the other flavor-of-the-month classes are a lot of fun, the draw to switch classes can be strong.

and finally…

  • Decreased energy regeneration.  At the surface, this seems like such a small adjustment in our class mechanics.  In reality, it has completely changed the way the class plays.  In Wrath and Cata we were whirling dervishes of death, attacking with a ceaseless stream of stabs and slashes.  The class played frantically with almost no downtime.  Now, in MoP, we have these comparatively massive pauses in between attacks while we wait for energy.  The class no longer feels like a rogue.  When you combine this with the interesting mechanics of the new monk class…  yeah.

I’ll also concede that there may be some sour grapes among rogue players.  For the past two expansions, rogues sat easily at or near the top of damage meters in a lot of raid boss parses, and it took very little effort to reach those lofty damage totals.  When you’re used to being at the top, it might be hard to adjust to the new paradigm where we are middle-of-the-pack.  I’m certain that there are some rogues who have fled to a DK or mage or warlock since they are the top of the dps heap these days.

I don’t PvP, so I can’t speculate on how the changes to the rogue class have impacted that side of the game.

What can be done?

It’s long past time to redesign rogues.  I still think that rogues are very well designed mechanically, but a redesign would create buzz and interest and bring some wayward rogues back into the fold.

In that redesign, I think rogues should get additional mechanics linked to stealth.  Also, stealth should be a more integral part of combat rather than just a way to get an opener at the start and after a Vanish.

I think that it is imperative that the class returns to its frantic non-stop attack playstyle.  We’re not warriors or ret paladins, so it shouldn’t feel like we’re playing those classes.

I’d like to see Slice and Dice folded into other abilities, and free up those combo points for other more interesting purposes.  Assassination already does this, allowing SnD to refresh with every Envenom.

Rogues need more interesting and effective AoE.  Blade Flurry is too limited, and Fan of Knives too energy intensive with our current energy regen rate.  The idea of using FoK to build up combo points for a Crimson Tempest was a good thought, but in practice this is too slow to be an effective AoE rotation.  Every time we’re in a heroic instance and do a group pull and see a warrior or monk more than double our dps, it’s just a bit more demoralizing than the last time.




2 Responses to “Where are Rogues Going?”

  1. 1 Mechaninja
    December 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I feel like Killing Spree could stand to be a class-wide AOE button instead of a combat only cooldown. It’s too goofy and does weird things that result in death or other problems as a single target cooldown.

    Also, I’d like to stop falling through stairs when I cast it, but I assume it is Blink’s fault that happens all the time …

  2. 2 Echthros
    December 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I think the biggest issue is definitely how slow it feels. I dread the Virmen and Birds on my farm, not because they are difficult, but because I end up feeling like I’m just auto attacking.

    Why bother giving us abilities at all when most of our damage comes from just standing there poking the mob? I want to be more active in the damage that I do as a Rogue. I miss having to time everything out so that I could keep SS-ing with Rupture and SnD up at all times. Now I feel like I’m spending most of my combo points on keeping SnD running and Rupture isn’t worth the DPS gain at casual levels to manage because trash dies too fast and there’s so much target switching in a number of boss fights (Elegon and Will esp).

    I’m definitely on board with having more abilities in stealth. Something along the lines of Shadow Dance, but instead of moving back and forth between opener moves and regular, the moves you get while in that mode are less per hit (white), but do direct shadow damage.

    I would also really, really, really, like some more group utility. We used to be taken along to raids because of our DPS, but now that we’re back to middle-of-the-pack, bringing in almost any other DPS class is a better gain for a raid.

    Smoke Bomb is rarely used in non-guild PvE because tanks run out of it… and it isn’t even worth using on most fights. What would be nice would be a CD that “Shrouds your party or raid in the shadows” for 5 seconds on a 10m CD… which will reduce AOE damage for everyone by 25-50%. Then we’d have a long CD like other classes that would be beneficial on a raid fight. If someone screams “OP”, just give something similar to monks, but it’s mists instead of shadow.

    Meh, just spitballing options. I’d take anything to make me feel like I’m contributing to my character and to my raid other than whitecutting.

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