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Really, what is a Rogue .. if we look at the dictionary we are told it is a “dishonest or unprincipled person, esp a man; rascal; scoundrel” . In fiction we have plenty of rogues that everyone loves .. Han Solo, Mal Reynolds, Jack Sparrow and plenty more. But what is a Rogue in any fantasy trope .. its the Thief, the Assassin, the Pirate .. the person no one wants to like because, lets be honest, they do bad stuff.

For years the Rogues in Warcraft have been the personification of the Assassin .. and thats fine, we’ve had the ability to be one that strikes from the shadows, kills through poisons or overpowers through brute force. But it has limited the class. I will be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of any particular Rogue Class. As a Druid I’ve despised them in PvP , and cursed their burst dps, burst deaths and long QQ’s in PVE when they don’t watch what they are doing. As an alt, who doesn’t raid or pvp, one spec was pretty much the same as another to me. Slash, stab, poke.. usually for 1/2 hour, then I would recall I needed to apply poisons, apply, do the same,  occasionally stealth and pickpocket, but not much else. As someone who had the option on his first and main toon of being a raging bear, a viscous lion, a weird space chicken or a mobile tree .. I was fairly disappointed. Rogues have always been the bottum rung of the ladder for me when I consider player classes.

Which is why when Blizzard announced their class previews for Legion I had some great hopes for Rogues, and they were not totally unfulfilled!

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They start off by telling us that we have three specs, the Assassin, the Outlaw and the Subtlety Rogue. Ok, so we all know what an Assassin but what about an outlaw, everyone seems to be thinking Pirate, but lets be honest if you are going to be a Pirate you need a ship .. without a ship you are not a pirate. No you are a Bushranger .. well, Higwayman I suppose would be the better term. Nothing but you, a horse, a weapon .. and a number of unsuspecting travellers to waylay.

As much fun as it sounds to be a pirate, I think being a Bushranger will be a much better way to look at it, after all .. were not all the Bushranger loveable larrakins that were beloved of the people while they went around doing deeds of a questionable nature against the man? Probably not, but that is the Mythos that has been built around them.

In Australia our biggest villains have all been immortalized as lovable scoundrels no matter what they had done in life. Here the stories of the daring Bushrangers like Ned Kelly feed us an incredible vision of poor outcasts, fighting for their survival against a harsh regime. The earlier Bushrangers like Jack Donahue (who is called by so many names) were even immortalizes in songs which we are taught as children as we enter school at 5 or 6 years of age ..

In sixty-one this daring youth
Commenced his wild career,
With a heart that knew no danger,
No stranger did he fear.
He bailed up the Beechworth roll mail-coach,
And robbed Judge MacEvoy,
Who trembled and gave up his gold to
The wild Colonial Boy.

So here we are , a bunch of tiny tots singing and learning about men who literally pillaged, plundered and killed their way across the Australian Territories in the 1800’s , most of whom were shot down by police hunting parties, or Hung in public executions in order to discourage others following in their footsteps, yet still over a century on we are in love with out bushrangers, despite everything*

Now this is not to say that Australians are the only ones who flavor their doers of dirty deeds with a romantic stripe. Highwaymen plagued Europe and the Britain for centuries but many still had a sort of romanticized air about them .. just look at the tales that arise of Robin Hood.

This is what I picture an “Outlaw” to be when Blizzard mentioned the new Rogue Spec .. I mean lets take a look at a very brief excerpt from the Highwayman by Alfred Noys, it describes him as follows ..

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
         His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky
if that doesn’t match Blizzard version of a pistol toting swordsman – of an outlaw, then I do not know what does!
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This is not to say I don’t approve of the whole Pirate chain of thought and dream, and can easily imagine myself as a swashbuckler plying the waves .. or would if they ever make Tauren Rogues .. but I really do think that the Highwayman / Bushranger feel is a lot more appropriate. Pistol in one hand Rapier in the other, and an unrepentant grin across your face as you skewer one enemy while shooting the next.
So Assassin .. Check. Swashbuckling Pirate, Charming Highwayman .. Check.
That leaves us with .. subtlety. When I read Blizzard carefully captioned sentances that are supposed to capture the feel of the class the explanation for Assassination ( Assassins begin their work stealthily, choosing their targets and methods of engagement carefully) is a bit too similar to Subtlety ( The subtlety rogue’s acumen on the battlefield and ability to hide in plain sight are unrivaled) for my liking .. so they are basically both the type of character that hides in the shadows and strikes the unprepared.  Not seeing a big difference.
Then I read the full explanation ..
Subtlety rogues are the masters of the shadows, and they strike unseen. They don’t have the lethal poison-tipped daggers of the assassin or the brawling prowess of the outlaw, but their acumen on the battlefield and ability to hide in plain sight are unrivaled. Some claim the art of subtlety looks like malevolent shadow magic—but no matter from where their power is derived, these rogues are capable of performing devastating assaults on their enemies, slipping away unharmed to strike again without detection. Most rogues train their entire lives to learn how to walk in the shadows—subtlety rogues were born there
OK so the Subtly Rogue is something a bit different. In fact when I read the above I am put in mind less of the traditional Assassin Role, and less of the traditional rogue style themes we are used to and instead see something closer to  .. Cultist Assassin? Cultist Warrior?  Ok that could be interesting.
As the true masters of stealthy gameplay, we’ve pushed Subtlety further toward making heavy use of Stealth as their primary combat mechanic. The new version of Shadow Dance allows Subtlety to weave in and out of Stealth rotationally. Meanwhile, Shadowstrike provides incredible mobility for attacking from Stealth. Finally, to further reinforce the matter of their relationship with sinister Shadow magic, Subtlety makes use of a new ability called Nightblade, which applies Shadow damage over time.
When I read the further description of spells and abilities  a picture begins to grow in my mind. How many of you have read the Malazan Series of books by Steve Erickson and Ian Esselmont? If not I highly recommend them. This description they give reminds me of Lostra Yil, a former shadow cultist, as well as Pearl, Dancer, Possum and Laseen .. assassins trained to use magic amid their daggers and swords. Popping in and out of the battlefield using magic pathways .. yes this is sounding better and better to me.  The sound of Subtlety Rogues is sounding good.
Then I remembered this post I made, oooh ages ago, about Holy Striders, a group of Magic Wielders that are part spy, part scout part diplomat that have their own place in Warcraft and can be read about in the old RPG guides ..
”The holy strider’s job is part scout, part diplomat, part spy. Her job is to reach her destination as quickly as possible and then meet with — or spy on — her target. She is highly trained, but sometimes things don’t go as well as hoped. In these cases, the holy strider must rely on her skills to get out of the situation as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. A holy strider can use shadow meld as a spell-like ability.
Sounds a lot like a Subtlety Rogue to me .. but wait, its just not possible to play a holy strider. Why? Because Blizzard haven’t allowed for Tauren Rogues. Thats right, the Holy Striders are Tauren. With the advent of Gnome Hunters, I no longer see a reason to hold back on Tauren Rogues .. after all we can see how they fit in the Subtlety spec, and how many Tauren Pirates are there not in the game .. that fits the outlaw spec. Its time I tell you, its already more feasible than other class combinations, just do it dammit!
Tauren Rogue
OK enough of that old rant**, and back onto topic .. a shadow dancer / holy strider  is a fantastic third class for a rogue and one on which understanding sounds fantastic. Druids, Paladins, Warriors, Mages, Priests, Shamans, Monks, Hunters, Warlocks .. all the traditional classes have had really distinct feels for their different specs for years, and while sometimes they do overlap here and there in their feel they have always been fairly unique, and not just because some are tank vs heals vs dps. The abilities of Fire Mages vs Frost Mages is the perfect example of the individual class spec and how they feel and play differently from each other. With the changes in Rogues upcoming I can only hope that they finally obtain (at least to my worldview) some of the talent tree individuality that has for so long been available to others but not them.
Notes:
  • If you want to read “The Highwayman”by Alfred Noyes you can find it here ..
  • If you wish to read two of the more popular versions of the Wild Colonial Boy then check it out here ..
  • For the full image of the rogues outside Ravenholdt Manor click here.
* It should be noted that the early film industry in Australia Idolized bushrangers incredibly and early films in the 1900s about them were incredibly popular.. leading to a decades long ban of Bushranger Films by most Australian states in an effort to discourage the romaticism of Burshranging. That it killed off the early Film Industry in Australia was a side effect I don’t think they saw coming.
** Not that I am tired of it, I just don’t believe saying “Gimmie Tauren Rogues” for another 3 or 4 paragraphs will be anymore eloquent than my original post 🙂
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