Monday, July 11, 2016

Avast Ye! Combat, No, Wait, Outlaw in 7.0

When Legion was announced, Blizzard mentioned that some specs would actually be getting renamed. Many of us assumed that would break up pairings like Frost and Frost, Protection and Protection, Restoration and Restoration, and Holy and Holy. Turns out that's a no, but Combat Rogues have been renamed to go along with a pretty significant redesign. It's not on the level of Survival (which is really just a new spec with a familiar name,) but there's definitely some change in the air for these odd Rogues who don't use daggers.

Combat was always the most generic Rogue spec. It's only real defining trait was that it was the only spec that didn't use daggers - making it more like other classes, really. Even the name was about generic as they come. Combat? Isn't that what literally every class and spec does?

Thankfully, Outlaw is going to bring a lot more flavor to the spec, as well as some fun mechanics that go beyond "this is basically how Rogues work." Word of warning though: if you dislike RNG in your rotations, stay the hell away from Outlaw, which is probably the most RNG-dependent spec in the game. Luckily, Assassination is nearly devoid of RNG, so you have an option. However, for those of you who really like reacting to new situations, oh boy. You're in luck.

And you're also in luck if you wanted a different feel for the Rogue class. While Subtlety is leaning much heavier into the shadowy Ninja and Assassination is focusing considerably on its treacherous bleeds and poisons, Outlaw is going for an archetype that Combat always kind of hinted at if you squinted at it from just the right direction. Dust off your Ragefury Eyepatch and hoist the mainsail, because Rogues can now be full-on Pirates!

Combo Points:

While Warlords changed CPs to be "on the Rogue," a change that I'd literally been waiting for since vanilla, in Legion we're actually going to get that reflected in the UI. Both Rogues and Feral Druids will now see the red dots below their energy bars - much easier to track.

Slashing and Shooting:

Outlaw's two main combo builders are Saber Slash and Pistol Shot. While you can spend energy on Pistol Shot if you need to deal damage and generate combo points from range, you can, but generally you're going to save it for a proc.

Saber Slash is your new Sinister Strike (same initials!) and costs 50 energy. Ordinarily, it just does some physical damage and generates one combo point. But the ability inherently has a chance to strike twice, literally duplicating the entire effect - damage and combo point - and then gives you Opportunity, which makes your next Pistol Shot free. So, for the price of one Saber Slash, you'll often get three combo points and an opportunity to shoot your enemy in the face.

(Pistol Shot's pistol is just a spell effect - you don't need to equip a gun or anything.)

Opportunity is one aspect of the RNG basis of this spec, but it's not the biggest one.

Finishing Them Off:

Eviscerate gets replaced by Run Through for Outlaw, which similarly does physical damage to the enemy based on combo points consumed. This attack actually has a 5-yard range, so you can use it even if you're slightly outside of the enemy's hit box. Basically, it's like a lunging attack. Still, you'll of course want to be in melee for your auto-attacks and Saber Slashes.

There's also a ranged finisher called "Between the Eyes," which does some damage and stuns the target for a few seconds. This does quadruple damage on a crit, which, depending on how the tuning and theorycrafting turns out, means you might actually want to swap this in under certain circumstances. It has a 20 second cooldown, though, so you'll still be using Run Through even under the circumstances which we'll be talking about next.

The "maintenance" finisher is Roll the Bones, which deserves its own section.

They See Me Rollin':

Roll the Bones consumes combo points, giving you 1, 2, 3, or 6 36-second buffs (at max CPs) from a list of 6 buffs. These buffs are:

Broadsides: Each combo-point generating ability generates an additional combo point.

Shark Infested Waters: Increases critical strike chance by 40%

Grand Melee: Increases Auto Attack Speed by 20% and gives you 40% Leech

True Bearing: Causes your Finishing Moves to reduce the remaining cooldown on almost all Rogue abilities by 2 second per combo point.

Buried Treasure: Increases Energy regeneration by 40%

Jolly Roger: Saber Slash has a 40% additional chance to trigger a second attack.

Using Roll the Bones again will eliminate existing buffs, so if you get buffs you like (or you get the rare all-six) you definitely want to let the buff tick down until it's done before you cast it again.

This ability is going to make playing an Outlaw Rogue very reactive. I think you're going to want to use Weak Auras to tell you exactly what buffs you have up. True Bearing is going to make you want to use your Adrenaline Rush whenever it's up and Shark Infested Waters might make you want to use Between the Eyes in place of Run Through while it's up.

I also wonder if it will be considered prudent to re-roll the bones if you get one of the less exciting buffs.

Given how insane this ability is, they've also provided boring old Slice and Dice as a level 100 talent to replace it, giving a full 100% attack speed buff for up to 36 seconds (and remember that with Combat Potency, attack speed also means more Energy.)

Rotation is Different, Other Stuff is the Same:

So clearly you're going to have some very different abilities to use in your main rotation. What's the rest of the spec look like?

Well, it's actually pretty familiar. Adrenaline Rush is still your main cooldown, doubling your Energy regeneration and giving you 20% additional attack speed for 15 seconds on a 3-minute cooldown (though likely less in practice, thanks to True Bearing.)

You'll still do your AoE via Blade Fury, which you can toggle on to have your attacks deal 35% of their damage to nearby enemies at the cost of 20% of your Energy regeneration.

All three Rogue specs have Crimson Vial as their self-healing ability, which costs 30 Energy to heal you for 30% of your max health over 6 seconds on a 30 second cooldown.

You still have Stealth, and actually you're now the only spec that uses Ambush.

You still have Sap, Pickpocket, Cheap Shot, and Distract, as well as Gouge, Cloak of Shadows, Feint, Pick Lock, Sprint, Vanish, Tricks of the Trade and Kick.

Evasion gets replaced with Riposte, which works similarly but now has you parrying instead of dodging, and striking back at enemies who attack you, but has a 2-minute cooldown and no longer reduces damage taken.

Also, instead of Blind you have a very different ability called Bribe. Bribe has a 30-minute cooldown and works similarly to abilities like Enslave Demon or Control Undead, but this time for Humanoids. You can control your target for 5 minutes, so of course you can't maintain this forever.

Pirate Talents:

There are a lot of talented abilities that play even heavier into the pirate theme of the spec, including Grappling Hook (which give you a sort of ground-targeted Shadowstep) and Cannonball Barrage, where you can call in an artillery strike on an area.

Yarr, Matey!

I've really got to say, having held a lot of disdain for Combat in the past as a spec that was focused much more on optimizing mathematical game systems instead of living out a fantasy, Outlaw has been a complete reversal. I will absolutely not judge Rogues for going down this path. In fact, I think it might out-fantasy Assassination at this point. There's a really strong spec identity now, and it's a lot of fun to play. I only hope that we'll get some really great Rogue tier sets in the future that embrace the buccaneer theme.

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