To the Point: Level 90 Talents
Ok. So I got lazy and didn’t do the level 90 talents right away. So sue me. Anyhow, with the realm downtime and LotRO (another MMO which I play very casually) patching, I decided to spend this time finishing up the talent overhaul and to explain what I had in mind for the level 90 talents.
So far we’ve had a talent row dealing with stealth, one dealing with stealth, survivability, mobility, non-lethal poisons, and control, all iconic aspects of the rogue toolkit. This leaves one class defining mechanic to enhance/change up in some way: Combo Points.
The inspiration for my choice in dedicating level 90 to combo points should be pretty obvious. Marked For Death and Anticipation both create an interesting choice around each other because they both handle combo points in different ways. The problem is Anticipation is too convenient–too many rogues take it. The overflow protection is an extremely convenient QoL and that alone will make almost every rogue want to take anticipation. So I propose to nerf and baseline it. The idea here is to grant enough extra combo points for overflow protection. To this extent, assassination gets a maximum of two overflow charges. Combat and Subtlety each get only one. Slice and Dice and Recuperate, however, will consume these charges and grant combo points. Lets borrow shadow focus as a name for this new overflow protection since it’s leftover from renaming existing shadow focus to cloak and dagger. We’re going to use the name Anticipation for a different talent in its spot.
Shuriken Toss as it exists now is much too situational or a niche talent to truly compete against Marked For Death or Anticipation. Either baseline it or toss it (pun intended). So in thinking of what to put in its place, I realized we already have a combo point tool in the form of shadow blades. I thought it might be an idea to tone it down and add it as a cooldown only without the shadow autoattack component. At this point, we have a talent in the form of shadow blades where combo generators generate an additional combo point. The duration and cooldown will need to be tuned but based on average actions-per-minute of combo generating abilities, I propose a 15 second duration on a 2 minute cooldown. This version of shadow blades will NOT be affected by restless blades. This is to balance it against Marked For Death and Anticipation. Shadow Blades will grant an additional overflow combo point for “Shadow Focus.”
Marked For Death will receive only 2 changes. It will no longer reset the cd when the target dies. There are a few reasons for this. One is that it becomes a de-facto choice on any add fight. While I think it’s ok for talents to have strengths and weaknesses based on encounter, this becomes exceptionally powerful and as such almost mandatory for that style of fight. A secondary reason for removing the cooldown reset has to do with opening opportunities in PvP play. Right now using Marked For Death while stealthed removes the rogue’s primary advantage in an opener–surprise. Once your victim sees the Marked For Death debuff appear, they will certainly know a rogue is nearby and be on the lookout or otherwise prepare for an opener. Removing the debuff allows Marked For Death to be used almost like Premeditation without alerting someone to your presence.
The second change to Marked For Death is that its cooldown scales with haste. Why? Because as your haste increases, the number of combo points you gain from Shadow Blades and the revised Anticipation increase. Allowing Marked For Death’s cooldown to scale with haste balances it against those options as your gear gets better.
Now we come to the redesigned Anticipation. I decided to take a queue from the tier 15 2-set bonus which I found to be a very interesting set bonus as far as gameplay goes, but weak in terms of output. So for this version of Anticipation I decided to work on the ideas of that set bonus. This new version of anticipation will treat all finishers as if they had an additional combo point, but will never consume more than 4. What this means is that you will never perform a 1-point finisher nor will you ever consume 5 combo points. A 1-point finisher behaves like a 2-point finisher, etc. This includes Relentless Strikes benefits so a 4-point Eviscerate will deal 5-point damage and have a 100% chance to return 25 energy. The idea here is to generate extra combo points by requiring you only generate 4 for a finisher.
So each of these talents deals with combo points in different ways. Shadow Blades gives you a burst of combo points over a limited duration on a long-ish cooldown. Marked For death gives you basically 1+ free finishers per minute, and Anticipation gives you a constant stream of effective combo points with every finisher.
What does the finished tree look like? Like this.