Insta-Stealth, Ahoy!

Blizzard just released updated 4.1 PTR patch notes! The latest notes show Rogues are indeed getting their Stealth buffed in 4.1 (contrary to prior datamines that showed them reverting the change). Here’s the juicy stuff:


Stealth base cooldown has been reduced to 4 seconds, down from 10, and the movement penalty from being in Stealth has been removed.


Nightstalker now reduces the cooldown of Stealth by 2/4 seconds, and instead of negating the movement penalty from Stealth, it adds a 5/10% movement speed bonus (stacking with other effects) while Stealthed.

This constitutes a major shift in Rogue playstyle. It’s much more than just a quality of life improvement.

The old Rogue talent tree. So. Many. Icons. And 8 points you'll never get back

First, a bit of history. Since WoW’s inception, you needed to invest 8 points (of 71 allocated at level 80- a full 11%) into Stealth-enhancing talents for Stealth to reach its full potential. Otherwise, you’d be easily detectable and move like a sloth.

For PvPers, being found by your opponent 10 yards away and trudging (painfully slowly) up to them while they backpedaled and /lol’d at you wasn’t going to cut it. These talents were non-negotiable. PvE Rogues were silly to take these talents since Subtlety was a joke, Combat didn’t reach Stealth-enhanced talents (such as Overkill), Assassination wasn’t relevant until mid-3.3, and there were far better DPS-increasing investments. Not to mention Sprint closed gaps like a champ.

Cataclysm's improved & compressed talent trees. Get a better Stealth for a measly 2 talent points!

Now in Cataclysm, Rogues are speccing Assassination for PvE and Subtlety for PvP. Stealth is back in style. If it’s gimp in any way, you can be certain the Rogue community is yelling about it this expansion more than ever. Those moans are finally being addressed by the above patch notes.

Now if you’re specced 2/2 into Nightstalker you’ll move faster in Stealth than out of Stealth and can toggle Stealth as fast as your GCD will let you. Plus the ability’s cooldown is gone. This’ll be a lovely change for PvE, but an absolute game-changer for PvP.

I can’t even count the amount of times in raids I’ve stealthed to get an opener on a boss pull or trash pack just to have mobs dragged across the room faster than I could chase them. These situations were sometimes due to my own poor positioning, but for the times when the tank or ranged DPS messed up, it was an unnecessary punishment. I’d be watching my teammates run ahead of me spamming their ranged abilities at the target, and all I could do was skulk in the shadows behind everyone and pray I caught up before some boss ability / target swap forced me to peel before I even stabbed the thing. Oh, and since all of Assassination’s openers require you to be behind your target, sometimes I’d have to slowly strafe around the boss to its back. Not fun.

In Battlegrounds it’s become a regular occurrence where I’ll Vanish to re-open on my opponent (with a clutch Gouge silence, Ambush finish-off, or NO-U-DON’T-HEAL Cheap Shot) just to have them run the opposite direction and increase the gap exponentially. If Sprint or Shadowstep wasn’t up, welp, wasted cooldown. To add insult to inury, half of my opponents would have some ability that would force me out of Stealth at range. There’s few things more embarrassing than Vanishing, donning what appear to be gravity boots, and grasping out futilely with your daggers only to be feared, shouted, or AoE’d back into play and subsequently smashed. And if I was trying to get the jump on an unsuspecting running target, cue the Benny Hill music! Hell if I was ever catching them.

Well, NO MORE! Now we’ll run faster in Stealth than out of it. And we can re-enter it as soon as we leave combat (or immediately if we’re out of combat).

What does this mean? Well, I foresee Rogues (Nightstalker-specced or otherwise) remaining in Stealth in all situations. Stealth’s penalties are gone. Talenting into Nightstalker actually makes Stealth preferable to being out-of-Stealth. Rogues, by and large, will probably become much more scarce around the world of Azeroth once this patch releases. (I give my condolences in advance for the players who need to turn Rogues into turkeys next Thanksgiving. That’ll be a feat.)

To recap:

  • Current Stealth –  10-second cooldown; 70% movement speed while stealthed
  • 4.0.6’s (Current) 2/2 Nightstalker – 4-second cooldown; 85% movement speed while stealthed
  • 4.1’s (Upcoming) 2/2 Nightstalker – 0-second cooldown; 115% movement speed while stealthed

So our class will no longer be the hard-to-see-but-lagging-behind class we’ve been known as the majority of this game’s existence. We’ve finally achieved parity with other classes in combat engagement. So expect us. We will be in the shadows, waiting… and outrunning you.


5 Comments on “Insta-Stealth, Ahoy!”

  1. Oestrus says:

    When I decided to make a rogue alt, I always envisioned being the rogue of old – dual wielding daggers, being stealthy, using poisons, attacking from the back, etc.

    Then it became kind of en vogue for rogues to use mismatched weapons, axes, running into battle without any kind of stealth, etc. That wasn’t really what I had in mind and when I saw that becoming a popular playstyle, it made me lose interest in my rogue.

    I know that subtlety for rogues is sort of the same as frost for mages, but I always wished subtlety would have made a comeback in PVE. It was fun! I don’t know enough about rogues to know if these changes will lead up to that or why it will lead to less rogues wanting to play their class. I think it sounds neat.

    Maybe I should dust my rogue off. >.>

    • Kuri says:

      Rogues were always able to be stealthy and dual-wield daggers. But since Rogues were the only class that used 2 daggers for melee, it was really inefficient to itemize daggers into the game via quests/dungeons. Thus, Combat became the spec of choice. If you were expecting a 100% “true Rogue experience”, I can see how that would be pretty earth-shattering. 😛

      Attacking from behind sounds awesome, but in practice it just plain sucks. During leveling, you’re only ever behind your target when you open on it. For raiding, you can’t even start attacking bosses until you use Garrote, which has a behind-target requirement. For PvP, you’re persistently running around, hoping to god you’re behind your target when in reality (due to lag) they’re spun towards you and you’re wasting precious seconds spamming. While it’s conceptually good, it doesn’t work well in the game. (I might just do a whole separate entry on this sometime.)

      Subtlety Rogues are actually making a big PvE comeback for those willing to invest the time and effort. It’s an unforgiving rotation, but since it scales sickeningly well with Agility, it ends up being the 2nd best PvE spec in full 372 gear. That’s assuming you can handle the rotation.

      Thanks for stoppin’ by. 😀

  2. Oestrus says:

    Are you thinking “unforgiving rotation” similar to the one that feral druids contend with or something better or worse than that?

    It sounds fun, though – in a masochistic kind of way. Maybe I just enjoy being the underdog a bit too much!

    • Kuri says:

      I’m thinking *worse* than Feral Druids. Because the amount of RNG that can cause any one of your 3 timers to fall off can severely impact your DPS, along with your party possibly not critting (thus causing Honor Among Thieves to not stack CPs), and due to the fact you’re only powerful in short bursts due to it being highly cooldown-reliant, you’re talking about a spec that is supremely unforgiving for any number of factors (not the least of which is player skill).

      That said, if you play it well in PvE you get unmatched mobility and some kickass survivability through Recuperate.

  3. […] touched a bit on positional requirements when I wrote about 4.1′s Stealth, but after a rough week of PvP and raiding, my inner rage has been reignited. When only 3 specs […]

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