Rogue PVP in 5.3

The 5.3 changes have been live for several days now and the changes to rogue PVP are pretty massive. I haven’t had chance to properly run 3s (our healer is […]

The 5.3 changes have been live for several days now and the changes to rogue PVP are pretty massive. I haven’t had chance to properly run 3s (our healer is moving house) but from playing a a couple of hundred 2v2s, dueling and running BGs it’s safe to say that subtlety is now a shadow of its former glory.

As expected, the 33% reduction in our ArP from Find Weakness is a painful nerf to opening burst and not being able to Cloak and Dagger during Shadow Dance has destroyed the mobility during the times we need it the most. Subtlety will still be playable but it feels like it has become a dedicated support class with HAAM mode now relying on the aggressive use of defensive CDs (instead of being a 60second single button key press).

I can’t talk properly about 3v3 yet, but in 2v2 at we’ve been mostly playing Assassination setups and it feels pretty strong. MMR has been <2k but we've faced a steady stream of AM's and Gladiators thanks to the messy state of 2v2 on the battlegroups we've been practicing on (Blackout-EU and Stormscale-EU). Setups we've tried are Mistweaver/Rogue, Windwalker/Rogue and Disc/Rogue. Playing with a priest was probably the most fun - after 6months of running away and restealthing whenever another melee class looked at you it's a pretty novel experience being able to go toe-to-toe with the big boys and not get stomped into the ground. Assassination sustained damage is pretty impressive; with mastery stacked high those poisons really hurt. We even managed to score some fast kills thanks to the burst of unglyphed vendetta and shadow blades.

Playing healer/rogue in 5.3 is a very different experience to 5.2. The damage reductions across the board have given rogues more survivability in general – it’s no longer a death sentence for me when our priest spends half the game spamming Dominate Mind so we could setup some pretty evil CC chains. Blind > sap > dominate mind spam > redirect > stun is enough to kill classes through their defenses.

Assassination Talents and Glyphs

Shuriken Toss vs Marked for Death vs Anticipation

This feels like a tough decision at the moment. Shuriken Toss is no longer a low-energy CP generator – at 40 energy it can’t be spammed BUT it does still proc Deadly/Wound poison and can be used for finishing off targets. I wasn’t a fan of this talent pre-5.3 since you’d lose countless opportunities to restealth>teleport with Cloak and Dagger, but vs teams that are going to root spam you (resto shamans, mages, hunters) it’s worth considering.

Marked for Death was #1 for 5.2 purely because of the double eviscerates it gave at the end of every shadow dance. As Assassination you’re no longer totally dependent on small windows of burst and envenom hits half as strong as eviscerate – I don’t think it’s worth taking Marked for Death for mutilate specs, but please prove me wrong.

Anticipation is the lvl90 talent I’m running with the most. Assuming Seal Fate and Blindside don’t proc, you’ll be constantly stacking 6 combo points on your target. One free CP doesn’t sound like much, but it’s all you need for a quick envenom to keep Slice & Dice topped up from Cut to the Chase. You can open with cheap shot + garrote for a 3CP SnD – once the garrote bleed has ran out you will easily have the CPs for a full rupture with a free CP afterwards to refresh your Slice’n’Dice. So much easier than keeping them both up as subtlety!

Cloak and Dagger vs Shadowstep vs Burst of Speed

This tier is also a hard choice. I was quite surprised to find Burst of Speed pretty useful in a lot of situations. As well as letting you close gaps on Paladins with Hand of Freedom and Priests with Body and Soul, it lets you kite defensively and even hold orbs in Temple of Kotmogu. Being able to use it while stealthed is a nice bonus, even if I do still find myself auto-sprinting at the start of every game. Sprint can be saved for those times when you’re energy starved and your target is on 5% and you need all your energy to spam Dispatch.

Shadowstep is still the talent with potentially the highest skillcap – step-kicks and trap eating are gamebreaking when done right. You will also have an easier time getting saps in arenas, but for kiting it isn’t as good as Burst of Speed as you can’t spam it to escape charges/double death grips.

I might be disagreeing with a lot of rogues here, but Cloak and Dagger just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Unless you can get a lot of restealths it’s just not worth losing the reliable mobility the other talents provide. In 2v2 it’s not hard to restealth but I’m finding I don’t ~actually~ want to restealth all of the time. I’m not a one-hit wonder anymore; I can stress out healers in between CDs instead of getting /sigh spammed. The only times I missed it was after getting feared to Africa, but spending 20energy on BoS to get back into the game isn’t that much of a hardship to deal with. The one advantage CnD does bring is it lets you easily garrote multiple targets on your opener. If you proc a poison at the same time, Venomous Wounds will give you decent energy regeneration for 18 seconds.


For glyphs, Glyph of Vendetta is good for comps that will peel you heavily on your burst. I didn’t find it that great in 2v2 unless it was vs hunters/mages. Blind is a priority unless you’re playing with Dirty Tricks and well behaved partners, so no change there. Glyph of Cheap Shot now only gives 0.5seconds extra stun time (not updated on tooltip yet) so it’s no longer as tempting as it once was, but Glyph of Garrote is still good against casters/DKs.

For 2v2 I’ve been experimenting with swapping Glyph of Blind for Dirty Tricks plus Glyph of Gouge. You lose paralytic stuns but gain an extra 30% chance to proc crippling poison and the ability to gouge for free. Assassination gives you many spare GCDs so you can squeeze countless gouges into your rotations (great fun being able to run to a warrior with Die by the Sword and gouge from behind).

I’m still running with Glyph of Feint, but if survivability is an issue for you vs melee trains, Glyph of Cloak of Shadow is an interesting choice for the extra 40% melee damage reduction.

The most important glyph I’ve found is Glyph of Poisons. Deadly Poison hits hard (40% of my damage when I use it) so I’ve been experimenting with waiting for Wound Poison to proc then switching to Deadly Poison for Vendetta burst. You lose 1.5seconds applying the poison but the pressure difference is really noticeable. Since it’s a minor glyph, there’s no excuse to not take it! The following screenshot from recount shows a short game vs a feral druid where our priest chain cc’d their healer. Just look at all that dirty nature damage… 25k crit from a dot? I feel like an Unholy DK.

Deadly Poison Damage

Stat Priority and Reforging

Agility! Take it wherever you can, it’s the stat you need to focus on now. Stat weights haven’t been theory crafted yet but I have a feeling the +PVP power set bonuses aren’t worth going for. I’ve been experimenting with gemming hit into blue sockets on one of my rogues and reforging hit off everything (with the +crit belt instead of +hit). I’m sitting at 3.2% hit and have lost out on agility but gained crit/haste/power – as soon as I know more about the weights I’ll post more about this.

Are Rogues Viable?

Simply put, yes. My initial thoughts were that all the finesse has been stripped from the rogue class – after a lot of games I’m happy to say I’ve changed my mind. Kills now need decent setups and any ‘finesse’ generated by spamming CC on multiple targets during a dance was offset pretty hard by the frustration of being the worst melee class in the game for 50seconds every minute.

One of my rogues is now fully geared so next week I’ll start buying swords so I can experiment with Combat. I’m not sure it will be any good but there’s nothing better to spend conquest on.

One last note, if you haven’t played your offspec for a while you will probably need to change the PVP trinket on your action bar (and if you’re an engineer, also change the name of the gloves in your burst macro). Yes, I know I should do “/use 14 etc”, it’s just so much easier clicking the item name 😉

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.