(This mostly a repost of a thread I started on the WoW forums here).
It seems that with the new rogue talent trees in Burning Crusades, along with the shrinking raid size, it may now be possible to use Rogues as in offtank capacity, at the cost of DPS. As warriors are the best tanks as well as respectable DPS, rogues could be the best DPS as well as respectable tanks. This would be a nice way to get better class balance in smaller raid sizes, however, there are few things that would still need to be done to make this a complete reality.
What's the spec?
First, let's start off with a reference spec ( 3/13/45 ) for discussion. Talent Link
So what are the key talents that would make this work?
* Lighting Reflexes: +5% dodge
* Deflection: +5% to parry
* Riposte: Disarm after a parry
* Sleight of Hand: -2% to be crit
* Ghostly Strike: +15% to dodge for 7s
* Setup: 45% to add combo point on dodge or resist spell.
* Heightened Senses: -4% to be hit by melee or ranged spells.
* Preparation: Reset key skills like evasion.
* Cheat Death: +20% chance to not die (How many MT's would kill for this? Its +20% not to wipe the raid!)
* Enveloping Shadows: +15% to avoid AOE effects (I.e. Cleaves, Blastwaves, etc)
* Sinister Calling: +10% to Agility
* Cloak of Shadows: +90% to avoid spells for 4s
Superior Magic Damage Mitigation
One interesting note is assuming similar stamina and resist gear as warriors (itemization), Rogues could potentially have superior mitigation against mobs that are heavily spell damage based (as opposed to melee). Warrior have shield wall and a passive 10% reduction from defensive stance, where as Rogues have Enveloping Shadows, Heightened Senses, Cloak of Shadows, and Cheat Death.
The major limitation of a Rogue/Avoidance tank is that is very luck based. This comes down to Consistant vs. Unpredicable Damage. Armor, Block and Shield Wall are 'consistant mitigation' which healers love. In leather, with no shield, damage is still going to be spiky. Dodge, Dodge, Dodge, 3k, 3k, 3k, Dead. Oops, rogue down, somebody pick up the loose mob.
So the ideal rogue would be a fight with many fast but smaller attacks. Lots of fast 1k/2k hits, or lots of mobs with 50 damage hits (ala Fankriss) Huge spike damage fights would be really rough without some form of consistant mitigation. Much of this comes down to Blizzard's fight design in the expansion. If bosses have huge spike damage melee attacks (i.e. Broodlord/Patchwerk), a rogue tank would be like playing russian roulette with your raid.
Don't Leave the Role Unfinished!
In addition, there are still a couple of things which Blizzard will need to change which would make Rogue tanks viable as opposed to just a gimmick. Nothing earthshattering, but small concrete steps which would give rogue's a new viable raid roll. There are two key issues I see, along with a few minor ones.
1) Itemization (Key Issue): To start with, none of this works if we don't have the gear to tank with. We need leather with high armor (i.e. NecroKnight's Garb for starters), defense (need probably +75 to avoid getting critted along with Sleight of Hand) and especially lots and lots of stamina.
2) Threat generation (Key Issue): If we can't hold agro, we can't really tank. Threat generation through damage could easily be the way we do it, just like Paladins. Paladins have a skill (Righteous Fury) to increase their threat generation. We need a way as well, because passive threat generation for us is -29% now. Elegantly solved by giving us a poison that increases threat generation. See Threat Poisons below.
3) Crushing Blows: These guys are going to be the rogue tank killer. Warriors have shield block (which reduce crushing blow chance) and high armor (to reduce the damage). Druid's extremely high armor makes crushing blows less damaging. We on the other hand, would take full damage and have no way to reduce the frequency of them. This I don't have a great solution to, but maybe they can change Heightened Senses to "reduces the chance you are hit by spells, ranged attacks and crushing blows by 4%.
4) Snap Agro: If we are looking at an OT role, this probably won't be an issue, since we can dump energy for threat to start with. Snap agro skills might be left to warriors and paladins. However, it could be solved with a Taunt poison. See Threat Poisons below.
5) Heavy Subtlety Investment (Minor): To get the all the damage mitigation skills in the subtlety tree, you need 45 points. The only 'free' points are the 3 in Enveloping Shadows and 1 in Cheat Death, both of which are key mitigation talents at the top of the tree. Points in Camouflage are wasted, and it would be nice to free them up somehow. Tying serrated to hemo also limits points flexiable. Not a huge deal, but it feels like you need a bunch of unhelpful talents just to max mitigation, when a rogue tanks will need more damage to hold agro (from the combat/assassination tree).
In addition, since rogue tanks are going to need high stamina values to make up for lower armor, vitality (31pt combat/+4% stamina) would be an ideal talent. Unfortunately, its out of reach for this spec.
As mentioned above, we need some way to increase our threat generation. The most elegant solution is poisons. Here are two poisons that would do the job. The first we need, the 2nd would be useful, but probably workable without.
Use: Coats a weapon with a poison that lasts 30 minutes. Each strike has a 30% chance of poisoning the enemy, increasing all generated threat generated by you towards the enemy by 59%. Hemorrhage and Ghostly Strike abilities you use on this target will generate a high amount of threat.
Note: This basically gives us the threat generation of a warrior in defensive stance, without defiance. In addition, it lets Hemo/GS act as sunder/heroic strikes for threat generation. Without this poison, or a mechanic like it, we just won't be able to hold agro without our passive 29% threat reduction.
Use: Coats a weapon with a poison that lasts 30 minutes. If the target has Aggravating Poison on it, each strike has a 1% chance of poisoning the enemy, taunting them to attack you for 1s. Has no effect if the target is already attacking you. Increases the cost of Shiv by 20 energy.
Note: This poison would be used on the off hand, along with the new skill "Shiv", which allows you to spend 40 energy to apply your OH poison. It would in effect give us a taunt ability, though it comes with some conditions. The added energy cost to Shiv, and the low application chance means you need shiv to apply it, and you can't do as often. Duration of the taunt is less important than a way to snap agro.
Minus % to be crit
Paladin's are getting -5% to be crit, and druid's may be getting it (according to speculative leaks). If rogues got their sleight of hand talent buffed to 5/5 for -5% crit, that would radically simplify the need for new itemization, since we wouldn't need to stack defense. Again, the same set armor could serve both druids and rogues (since neither would need +defense on it).
Given the presence of resilence, it make a much better target stat for rogue tanks over defense, which has wasted effects that we don't want. Plus we know we are getting PvP itemization which has resilience.
Based on known information here http://forums.worldo...craft.com/threa Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ p;pageNo=1 , here is what we know.
* @60: 25 Resilience Rating (RR) = 1% Resilience ®
* @70: ? Resilience Rating (RR) = 1% Resilience ®
* Crit Frequency Reduction: Reduces the chance you will be critically hit by R %
* Crit Severity Reduction: Reduces the damage dealt to you by critical hits by 2R %.
So at 60, it would take a combination of Sleight of Hand (-2% to be crit) and 75 Resilience Rating to be uncrittable by level 60 mobs. I'm assuming we would need sleightly more for level 63 mobs (maybe 80-85 RR or so). We don't know the numbers at 70 yet, but it seems like it might be an obtainable number.
The PvP Arena sets already have a high amount of resilence and stamina, both of which are stats we would want our hypothetical 'rogue tank' itemization. The complete Gladiator's Set for rogues has +145 resilence rating right now according to http://www.thottbot.com/beta?set=577 by way of comparison.
Blue posters have already stated they are not planning anymore posion beside anethetic (-threat), so we are still left in a lurch for a way to increase our threat on our own. However, with the hunter talent, Misdirection, we do have a way of increasing our threat, beyond our own damage.
Main problem is, its just 3 attacks every 2 mins, so its not nearly as good as temporarily disabling (or reversing) our passive threat generation aura. Not great, but its something to work with.
326 Mana 2 min cooldown
Threat caused by your next 3 attacks is redirected to the target raid member. Caster and target can only be affected by one Misdirection spell at a time. Effect lasts 30 sec.
Smaller raid design could greatly benefit from having multiple classes which could act as tanks. With the talent trees Blizzard has laid out, Rogues are potentially 90% there as a potential tanking class. With a few more changes plus viable itemziation, there is no reason why rogues can't get their turn in the tanking spots.
Your thoughts and comments on this are welcome.
Special thanks to Celandro and Kalman for putting this idea into my head, and their feedback on refining it.
* Balanced Enraging Poison so that it would not be a completely spamable agro lock.
* Added info about -% to be crit talents based on paladin and possible druid trees.
* 10/18/06 - Updated to add Resilence and Misdirection to the discussion