Archive for July, 2009

31
Jul
09

Switching From Mutilate to Combat Swords

Ninja AssassinMutilate?  Combat?  Subtlety?  Its easy to get locked into one spec.  After you have played one for a while you learn the rotation, you know the panic buttons like second nature, and you can use all of your attacks with your eyes closed.

There’s an old bit of rogue wisdom that you should spec to your weapons.  If you have awesome swords, you should play a spec that makes use of them.  If you get a great main hand dagger, you should consider an assassination build.

This all applies to me, so I’ll use my own process as an anecdote.  I love Mutilate.  I think it is the most fun rogue playstyle.  I have always enjoyed Mutilate, even when it was a more difficult rotation to manage with Hf B stacks.  As far back as Karazhan in BC, I played as Mutilate but finally switched to Combat Daggers because it was a good bit stronger than Mutilate at that time.  Once WotLK came out I jumped right back to Mutilate.

And yet…

In Ulduar I picked up two swords (Rune-Etched Nightblade and Razorscale Talon) rather than let them be DE’d.  They have been sitting in my bags, unused.  However, I have not managed to get a new dagger in a long, long time.  I am still using my Twilight Mist and Webbed Death from Naxx 25.  After much internal debate, I decided to give Combat Swords a try.

This is a big deal.  I have not wielded a sword in as long as I can recall.  Daggers = rogue, IMO.

So here are the steps I went through.

1.  Research a good spec

I looked online at several specs, read all of the talent descriptions, and looked to blogs and EJ for suggestions.  I decided to go with a 15/51/5 sword spec to start with.

2.  Combat dummy testing

I went to a heroic combat dummy and did a 5-minute dps run with my regular Mutilate spec to set the benchmark.  No buffs or consumables used.  Then I respecced and re-glyphed for Combat Swords and did another 5-minute test to compare.

My dps was terrible.  Really, really terrible.  Why?

Surprise!  My swords skill wasn’t maxed out.  (Actually, that’s not really a surprise)  So I went and ran some guildie alts through Zul’Farrak a few times until my sword skill hit 400.

Back to the Combat dummy… this time better results, but still lower than I expected.  Why?

Enchants.  My daggers both have Berserking.  My swords… didn’t.  One had Mongoose, the other was unenchanted.  So I busted out the bankroll and got Berserking on my swords.

Back to the combat dummy again… and this time my Combat dps was actually a tad higher than my Mutilate baseline.  I’m talking only a percent or two higher, but still comparable.  If that was the only difference then I’d just stick with my Mutilate spec that I love.  But I know that my dps should increase as I learn the rotation and get a feel for when to use my cooldowns.  Also, it would be nice if my raid got the benefit of the Savage Combat buff I can bring as a combat rogue.  So I’m satisfied that I can move to the new spec without gimping myself.

3.  Run a heroic instance

I ran Heroic Old Kingdom and it was a learning experience.  It was a PuG, and not the best players, but still a fair test.  My dps was lower than I am used to by a good margin.  Combat dps is very dependent on its cooldowns – Blade Flurry, Killing Spree, and Adrenaline Rush.  In any fights that I didn’t have those available, the elemental shaman would out-dps me.  In any fights that I had one or more cooldowns to use, I would out-dps him.

But that was just on trash.  On the bosses I did quite good sustained damage simply because I outgeared everyone else in the PuG.  The Combat Swords build has a really slow combo point buildup compared to Mutilate, so it worked best on single-mob fights when I had a lot of time on target.  In the end I felt OK, but not thrilled.

4.  Run something harder

My best test of the specs came in a 25-man Vault of Archavon PuG.  The difference between the Emalon and Archavon fights really showed the strength and weaknesses of the build.

On Archavon, I was easily top dps.  It was a single target fight, so I never lost my combo points by switching targets, and all of my Killing Spree damage went to the boss.  I had a satisfyingly high damage total (and then lost the roll on the rogue gear that dropped).

Emalon was a different story.  Running away from his AoE bursts disrupted my rotations much more than it ever did with Mutilate.  When we turned to burn down the buffed add, my Killing Spree was of limited use because I didn’t need to hit the non-buffed adds.  I could have used it to artifically pump up my damage figures, but that wouldn’t have helped the raid – better to save it for Emalon.  Then by the time I got back to the boss I had to scramble to keep my SnD from dropping, and had no other combo points ready for Rupture or Evis.

In the end I was 9th on the damage meter for that fight.  I haven’t been that low on a damage meter in as long as I can remember.  I feel that the switching targets was a huge disadvantage for the Combat spec because its combo points build up so slowly.  Mutilate has better target-switching capability because of faster combo point generation.

Also, I felt like the Combat build had less utility.  Well, not less, but not as readily available.  There are plenty of times in a typical raid that I will use a Kidney Shot to stop a mob from attacking a healer, or spend a global cooldown or two on FoK when there is more than one mob in the area.  That’s not a problem at all with Mutilate.  It builds so many combo points that you always have enough available when you want to use a finishing move.

With Combat, I felt like the rotation was so tight and the combo point gain so slow that I couldn’t waste the points on a Kidney Shot without suffering a major blow to my dps.  I felt like a GCD used on anything other than SnD or Rupture would result in my rotation falling apart.  This could just be my inexperience with the rotation.

As of this moment, my dual specs are Mut and Combat Swords.  My plan for this coming week is to use Combat on single-target bosses like Deconstructor, Ignis, Kologarm and Vezax, but go back to Mutilate for target switching fights like Razorscale and Thorim.  After that I will re-evaluate my spec.

30
Jul
09

A Rogue in Ulduar – Freya

This is part of a series of posts about the role of rogues in Ulduar.  The focus is on 10-man raids, but on occasion mention will be made about 25-man strategies as well.  This is not meant to be a general strategy guide.  It is completely targeted at rogues, their abilities, and their strengths in specific combats.  Much of what is written could apply to other melee dps as well.

If you are looking for a more general overall strategy guide, try Bosskillers or StratFu or WoWWiki.

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FreyaFreya is one of the Keepers – essentially she is a good guy that has fallen under the control of the Old God Yogg-Saron.  As such, you won’t actually kill her.  When you get her down to 1% health she becomes friendly and gives you a chest as a reward called Freya’s Gift.

All four of the Keepers are challenging fights.  This one takes good raid coordination and dps control.  The Freya fight is challenging in the execution.

First you have to go around her zone killing the trash.  There are three minibosses in the zone.  Leave one or more of them up for harder modes.  They are not that tough individually.

Once you engage Freya, you start out by… ignoring her.  She has a buff that increases her self-healing by 4% per stack and it has 150 stacks.  That’s +600% healing to the HoT she casts on herself.  So unless you are running with a fully-hard-mode-geared raid (and if you are you wouldn’t need to read this), you can’t dent her health at all.  Let the tank pick her up and hold her.

The goal is to get those stacks off of her.  She loses stacks of the buff every time an add dies.  There will be six waves of adds that spawn.  If you kill all six waves, then her buff will be completely gone and you can focus dps on her.  Each wave of adds comes on a 60 second timer so the goal is to get a wave down before the next one spawns.

There are three types of add waves and you will see each one twice in random order.

  • Ancient Conservator – a large treant type mob.  He needs to be tanked and single target focused down.  The catch is that he will cast Conservator’s Grip which silences everyone in the raid.  All of your abilities are unusable unless you stand under one of the mushrooms that spawn during the fight.  As melee dps, rogues are dependent on the tank to drag the Conservator over to a mushroom so that you can attack.  He also puts a Nature’s Fury debuff on random players that does AoE damage to nearby raid members, like Deconstructor’s Light Bombs.  If you get hit with this, Cloak out of it.
  • Detonating Lashers – these are small plant mobs that are not too hard to kill.  When one dies it explodes and does AoE damage.  The trick is to make sure you don’t kill too many at once or their explosions will wipe you.  When they come out, group up around the off tank and FoK several times.  Once they are low in health, you single-target dps them the rest of the way so that they die one at a time.  If your health is already low, don’t kill another one until you get some heals.
  • Elementals – the toughest of the three add waves.  Three elementals will come out (Stormlasher, Ancient Water Spirit, and Snaplasher).  They each have their own abilities, but the big deal is that they must die within 12 seconds of each other. So you need to watch their health bars.  If one is much lower in health than the others, switch targets.  For a rogue, the Ancient Water Spirit is most annoying since he charges and keeps moving out of range.  Better to let ranged get that one.  The Stormlasher casts hurricanes and other damaging spells, but he is stunnable and interruptable so Kick and KS his casts.  The Snaplasher builds up a buff that increases its damage output but also decreases its movement speed, so it can be kited and damaged by ranged classes.

For the most part the elemental wave is the toughest because of the coordination involved.  If you can’t get them all down within 12 seconds then they respawn and you’re going to wipe.  We have our best results when we assign melee to the Stormlasher and ranged to the other two.  Depending on your raid makeup this may or may not work for you.

Remember that you will see each type of add wave twice for a total of six waves.

While all of these add waves are going on, glowing trees called Eonar’s Gift will spawn.  They slowly grow at a random location somewhere in the vicinity of the fight.  If a tree reaches full growth (10 seconds) then it heals Freya and any adds that are up for 60% of their maximum health.  This will probably cause a wipe since you won’t get the add wave down before the next one comes.

Usually ranged dps kills the trees since they don’t have to waste time running back and forth.  They are tough to find in the chaos though, so if you see one growing near you don’t hesitate to attack it with some quick bust abilities.

If you make it through all six waves, then Freya has lost her stack of healing buffs, so you focus attacks on her.  She still has the HoT ticking on her (heals 6000 per second) but without the buff you can out-damage the healing if most of your dps is still alive.  The Eonar’s Gift trees will still grow, and she throws some raid damage around.

She will toss nature bombs around in the raid.  They look like little green glowy things on the ground.  After ten seconds they explode.  Your tank should kite Freya so that the raid can move away from the bombs.  Other than that, this phase is mostly tank-and-spank.  Rogues should be able to get a good attack rotation going, only interrupted if they have to help kill an Eonar’s Gift tree.

There is a lot of target-switching in the adds phase of this fight, so its a rough one for rogues since you keep losing your combo points.  You’ll make up for it in phase two which is a single-target sustained damage phase.

When she dies, Freya’s Gift on 10-man can contain the T8 gloves or the Tunic of the Limber Stalker.  On 25-man, you can get the T8.5 legs or the Nymph Heart Charm neck slot item.

If you can do this on 10-man hard mode you might get the Seed of Budding Carnage – a top tier neck slot item, or the nicely named Serilas, Blood Blade of Invar One-Arm.  Heroic hard mode has the chance for Bladetwister – a best in slot off-hand dagger.

30
Jul
09

Top Crafted Gear – No Longer Out of Your Price Range

After my last post on Emblem of Conquest gear, commenter Illianeth reminded me of another source of gear upgrades.  Those high-end leatherworking recipes that drop in Ulduar have been out of the average player’s reach for a while.  They each require 6 Runed Orbs to craft.  At typical auction house prices, that would run you 8000-10000 gold.

Well, Runed Orbs can be purchased with Emblems of Conquest!  It costs 18 Emblems for one Runed Orb.  That means that after the patch, anyone that can run heroics can conceivably get the Footpads of Silence and Death-Warmed Belt.  The Footpads are best in slot, and the belt is pretty close (although not as good as the one you can buy directly with Emblems).

Since each recipe requires 6 Runed Orbs, it would take 108 Emblems for each of those items.  That makes them by far the most expensive EoC-related gear, and certainly not worth that much.  Instead, you’ll probably do better buying the Runed Orbs from the auction house after the price plummets due to their new availability.

28
Jul
09

Emblem of Conquest gear for Rogues

emblemofconquestWith Patch 3.2 on the horizon, one of the more notable changes is in the Emblem system.  You won’t be able to get Emblems of Heroism and Valor.  All bosses in heroic instances and both levels of Naxxramas will drop Emblems of Conquest instead.

(note that your existing Emblems of Heroism and Valor do not go away, and you can convert Emblems of Conquest into Valor or Heroism if you want.  Epic gems can be purchased with older Emblems)

This reminds me more of the BC Badge of Justice days, when even endgame raiding guilds would still do heroics and Karazhan because the badge gear was worthwhile.

If your guild is not currently raiding Ulduar, it’s possible that you haven’t even given a thought to the Emblem of Conquest items.  Now that they will be readily available, lets look at what is available for rogues.

First off there are two T8.5 pieces available.  The Conqueror’s Terrorblade Breastplate and the Conqueror’s Terrorblade Helmet will run you 58 Emblems each.  In addition to being nice pieces on their own merit, together they will get you the 2-piece T8.5 bonus which gives you 1 energy for each damage tick of Deadly Poison.  Its not a great bonus, but every little bit of energy is helpful.

Among the non-tier Conquest gear the pieces I am looking forward to is the Belt of the Twilight Assassin.  At iLvL 226 its better than Ulduar 10 gear, with the nice feature that it gives both hit AND expertise.  At a mere 28 Emblems its a bargain that you can get from just a few heroic instance runs.

For 19 Emblems you can get the Broach of the Wailing Night.  Unless you have the neck from killing heroic Malygos, this is probably an upgrade over whatever you are wearing.  It gives Armor Penetration, which a lot of players are still not sure about.  Its nicely itemized though with crit and AP and hefty agility.

Also high on my list are the Gloves of the Blind Stalker.  Lots of agility and AP, for only 28 Emblems.

Want something with gem slots?  The Leggings of Wavering Shadow have ‘em (although one is blue).  They are perhaps not an enormous upgrade from legs available in Naxx 25, but still full of agility and hit and AP.  You’ll need 39 Emblems for that item.

So if you are not currently raiding 25-man Ulduar but you want a nice set of Ulduar level gear, there’s your shopping list.  That’s a head, neck, chest, waist, gloves, and legs.  All for a total of 230 Emblems of Conquest.

Oh – and for the PvP fans you can buy all five of the Deadly Gladiator’s armor pieces for 46 or 58 Emblems each.

27
Jul
09

A Rogue in Ulduar – Thorim

This is part of a series of posts about the role of rogues in Ulduar.  The focus is on 10-man raids, but on occasion mention will be made about 25-man strategies as well.  This is not meant to be a general strategy guide.  It is completely targeted at rogues, their abilities, and their strengths in specific combats.  Much of what is written could apply to other melee dps as well.

If you are looking for a more general overall strategy guide, try Bosskillers or StratFu or WoWWiki.

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ThorimThorim is one of the Keepers – essentially he is a good guy that has fallen under the control of the Old God Yogg-Saron.  As such, you won’t actually kill him.  When you get him down to 1% health he becomes friendly and gives you a chest as a reward called the Cache of Storms.

All four of the Keepers are challenging fights.  This one is probably the easiest of the four to get the hang of.

When you enter the room, there are a bunch of mobs fighting a huge jormungar.  You’ll kill the worm and the guards.  Most are quick kills, but there is one Captain in the group with a lot of health that will take a little longer.  This is just the warm-up though.

You’re going to have to split up the raid.  Once group stays in the starting room (the arena) and the other goes through the tunnel up to where Thorim is.  Rogues can perform well in either group, but I have found that our raid is most successful when I stay in the arena.

The Tunnel

If you’re in the tunnel group, your goal is to move quickly through the mobs in the tunnel to get to Thorim at which time he will jump down into the arena.  Faster is better.  You’ll encounter small groups of mobs and two minibosses.

As you move down the tunnel toward the first miniboss, the mobs are pretty easy.  Make sure you don’t pull aggro.   They are susceptible to all forms of stuns and CC, and those are useful in controlling the fights.  The Acolyte is a healer so be ready to stun or Kick him.  Keep an eye down the hall to the first miniboss.  He will thrown electricity down the hall at you, either on the right or the left.  You’ll have to move sideways to avoid them (much like the Skadi gauntlet in Utgarde Pinnacle).  You can see which side it will come from by watching his hands.

When you get to the first miniboss your tank will engage him and you will dps him down.  Stay behind him because he has a frontal cone Smash.  Also, he puts up a Runic Shield that will do damage to you as you attack.  Either Cloak to avoid the damage or stop attacking before you kill yourself.

Immediately go up the ramp, where more mobs are waiting followed by another miniboss.  This one can use Rune Detonation on you, where you are immobilized and you will explode after 4 seconds, doing damage to everyone around you.  If your Cloak is up you can get rid of this, otherwise you’ll have to depend on someone else to dispel it, or just heal through it. He also has a knockback attack.

When you have killed him you’ll come up behind Thorim.  CAREFUL!  The big circles on the floor behind him are traps!  Go around them, or you will be temporarily paralyzed.  Once someone casts anything on Thorim he will jump down into the arena and start the next phase.  You will jump down right after him to join the fight.

Note that if you can get to Thorim in under 2:45 you will start hard mode.  If you see Sif still there when you get to him, and you don’t want to do hard mode, then wait until she leaves.  On the other hand, if you take more than 5 minutes to get to him he will auto-wipe the raid.

Arena

The arena group is facing an endurance test while they wait for the tunnel group to get to Thorim.  They will face wave after wave of mobs.  AoE damage and healing is a must.

There are four types of mobs that enter the arena area.  The Commoners come in a big bunch.  They have very low health and can be wiped out with a little AoE.  FoK is very effective there.  Keep TotT on the tank so you don’t pull aggro on all of them.  The Warbringers are regular melee adds.  They can be AoE’d or single-targeted down.  The Champions are annoying because they do a Whirlwind.  Dismantle is very effective in removing their most dangerous ability.  If all disarms are on cooldown be prepared to use Evasion when he whirls.  Rogues should make the Evokers their main target.  They are casters and will heal the other mobs.  Stuns and Kicks are very useful.

When in the arena you cannot wander too close to the edges.  There are big orbs around the perimeter.  When one starts to glow it will deal lightning damage to anyone that is too close.  For this reason, the preferred strategy is to stay bunched up in the center.  It makes the group susceptible to the Champions’ whirlwinds, but as long as they are disarmed its not a big problem.

Thorim will also toss his Stormhammer ino the arena group now and then.  Its does a stun to whoever it hits and slows casting time for the group.  Its mostly an annoyance, unless the tank gets stunned and the dps grabs aggro.

The goal of the arena group is to stay alive until the tunnel group engages Thorim and starts Phase 2.

Thorim

Once Thorim jumps down into the arena the fight is pretty straightforward.  A tank picks him up, everyone starts dps on him.  The tanks will have to taunt him back and forth because he does an Unbalancing Strike which will reduce their defense skill and leave them crittable.  So you need to take note of which tank currently has aggro if you are using TotT to boost the tank’s threat.

You can get into a regular dps cycle in this phase.  He casts Chain Lightning so you’ll want to avoid being grouped up with other melee.

Periodically there will be a line of electricity running along the floor from Thorim to an orb on the wall.  When you see this, move around to a side of Thorim away from that line.  It is a link between Thorim and the power source, and when it “goes off” it damages anyone in a cone between Thorim and the orb.  The damage increases as the fight goes on.

If you can avoid the electric lines on the ground and not get hit by chain lightning in a large group, then the damage should be healable.  Thorim’s damage increases as the electric charge buffs stack, so you want to get him down to 1% before the tank and healers get overwhelmed.   This phase is not too bad.

The trick to the fight is splitting up the groups to get the healing and damage just right.

The Cache of Storms has some very nice loot.  On 10-man it has T8 shoulders, but the real find is the Guise of the Midgard Serpent, which is one of the top two or three head slot items in the game right now.  That’s a nice find in a 10-man raid.

The 25-man Cache of Storms offers the T8.5 head slot, and a slow one-hand mace that has a cool name (Vulmir, the Northern Tempest) but is probably better for shamans than rogue.

If you can do this fight on hard mode, you can get the very desirable Combatant’s Bootblade or Mjolnir Runestone on 10-man or the Embrace of the Gladiator or Skyforge Crossbow on 25-man.  The dagger, chest item, and crossbow are at or near the best items for their slots.

24
Jul
09

A Rogue in Ulduar – Hodir

This is part of a series of posts about the role of rogues in Ulduar.  The focus is on 10-man raids, but on occasion mention will be made about 25-man strategies as well.  This is not meant to be a general strategy guide.  It is completely targeted at rogues, their abilities, and their strengths in specific combats.  Much of what is written could apply to other melee dps as well.

If you are looking for a more general overall strategy guide, try Bosskillers or StratFu or WoWWiki.

——————————————————————————–

HodirHodir is one of the Keepers – essentially he is a good guy that has fallen under the control of the Old God Yogg-Saron.  As such, you won’t actually kill him.  When you get him down to 1% health he becomes friendly and gives you a chest as a reward called the Cache of Winter.

All four of the Keepers are challenging fights.  This one takes a bit of practice to get the rhythm down.

There is a large amount of raid damage going on, most of it frost.  I actually switch out a couple of pieces of my gear for crafted frost resist items here (Polar Boots and Polar Cord), although if you have well-geared raid healers that is less necessary.

(FYI – one the way to Hodir’s room there are snow piles that each spawn a group of jormungar… wait in stealth until they are all spawned, then TotT and FoK.  Its a good way to pad your dps numbers)

When you look in Hodir’s room you’ll see the boss and four NPCs (eight in 25-man) that are encased in ice blocks.  They can be freed by attacking the ice.  When freed, they give beneficial buffs and they will also help attack Hodir and can even free rooted players from ice.  Thus, freeing them is usually priority #1.  They will be re-frozen periodically during the fight, and you’ll want to free them again.

Lets take this fight one item at a time.  First, there is the Biting Cold debuff.  This is much like the aura in the Keristrasza fight in the Nexus.  If you stand still, the debuff DoT will stack on you.  You must keep moving to keep it from stacking.  Unlike the Keristrasza fight, though, moving does not wipe all of the stacks, but rather removes one stack at a time.  To be safe, you should always be moving.

Ah, but Hodir has another trick up his sleeve.  He will periodically cast Freeze on a person in the raid.  That person and everyone nearby will get rooted to the ground for 10 seconds.  If you let the Biting Cold debuff stack for that long, you’ll die, so you must free yourself.  Cloak of Shadows works, as does Vanish.  If you have points in Improved Sprint then that may work too, but I haven’t tried it.  A priest or paladin can dispel it as well.

Those are the easy parts to avoid.  When the fight starts, the tank will pick up Hodir and all the dps will run around freeing the frozen NPCs.  Keep moving to avoid the debuff.  Don’t let yourself stay frozen in place for too long if you get rooted.  Once the NPCs are freed, get behind the boss and start dps.  The tank will likely be dragging the boss around the room, so you’ll have to keep moving to stay in range.

Why is the tank moving the boss around?  Falling ice!  Keep your camera angled slightly toward the ground so that you can see your feet.  Often, you will see a cascade of snowflakes from the ceiling and a white circle on the floor.  GET OUT!  That means that ice is about to fall there.  It will do a bunch of damage, knock you back, and put undue strain on your healers.  Keep a close eye out for them.  They are not hard to avoid, unless you happen to get rooted by a Freeze right under a falling icicle.  I try to save my Cloak or Vanish to escape from that situation.

The big deal in this fight is when Hodir casts Flash Freeze.  You’ll see a raid warning that says that he is casting it.  It is a long, uninterruptable cast.  When he starts, you will see two LARGE white circles appear on the floor (3 of them on 25-man).  Move next to one of them, but not in it.  You will see a very large ice block fall there… and as soon as it hits the ground it leaves a snowdrift.  Run onto the snowdrift ASAP.  If you run in too early you get hit by the falling ice and knocked back.  If you run in too late you’ll get hit by the Flash Freeze.

When the Flash Freeze goes off everyone in contact with the ground gets encased in an ice block.  This will include the four NPCs who are not smart enough to get on a snowdrift.  Hopefully it won’t include anyone from your raid.  Once the Flash Freeze is cast, everyone encased in ice must be freed.  If anyone is still in an ice block the next time Hodir casts Flash Freeze, they are instantly killed.  So you and all the other dps will be running around attacking ice again to free everyone who was frozen.

One other important thing is that Hodir will periodically gain a buff called Frozen Blows.  When this happens he hits the tank with massive frost damage, and everyone in the raid takes AoE frost damage.  Its a big strain on your healers.  Use Feint to reduce the AoE damage.  Cloak of Shadows should work too.

Let me sum up all of that information:

  1. free the NPCs
  2. keep moving to avoid the stacking debuff
  3. attack Hodir
  4. free yourself or let a pally or priest free you if you get rooted
  5. AVOID FALLING ICE by watching for white circles on the ground
  6. when Flash Freeze is being cast, move next to the large white circle
  7. when the large ice block falls, run onto the snowdrift to avoid being ice-blocked
  8. run around freeing anyone who is in an ice block
  9. Feint during Frozen Blows
  10. get back to Hodir and repeat steps 2-8

He has an 8-minute hard enrage.  The damage done by the NPCs is crucial to your raid until you are well-geared.  Also, the buffs they give (to ranged and casters – not to you) is very helpful.

The 10-man Cache of Winter may contain the T8 leggings, or an awesome back slot item called Winter’s Frigid Embrace.  There is also a bow called Avalanche if no hunters are grabbing it.

On 25-man the Cache can have the T8.5 chestpiece or the very nice chest slot Winter’s Icy Embrace.

Note that if you can defeat Hodir on hard mode (kill him in under three minutes) he drops the Rare Cache of Winter in addition.  The 10-man version has nothing for rogues, but the 25-man one has the Drape of Icy Intent for the back slot.

23
Jul
09

A Rogue in Ulduar – Auriaya

This is part of a series of posts about the role of rogues in Ulduar.  The focus is on 10-man raids, but on occasion mention will be made about 25-man strategies as well.  This is not meant to be a general strategy guide.  It is completely targeted at rogues, their abilities, and their strengths in specific combats.  Much of what is written could apply to other melee dps as well.

If you are looking for a more general overall strategy guide, try Bosskillers or StratFu or WoWWiki.

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AuriayaAuriaya (however you choose to pronounce that) is better known as the crazy cat lady.  She wanders around in Ulduar with her feline companions.  He fight is fairly complicated.  There is a lot going on, and its sometimes frustrating.  Everyone hates fear mechanics.  Also, this fight has unique positioning requirements so you may want to gather some expertise gear.

The pull is the toughest part of the fight.  You need your tanks to control both the boss and her cats (two cats on 10-man, four cats on 25-man).  Unfortunately, as soon as they are in range the cats will Pounce ahead of the boss and can go for a healer.  That makes it very hard to control initial threat.  A lot of raids choose to hide around a corner and leave a shaman totem, hunter trap, or DK death and decay in her path to cause the pull.  With this method, due to line of sight all of them will come around the corner together, making it easier to pick them up without a Pounce.  Then the cats need to be separated because they buff each other if they are close.

Don’t contribute to a bad pull.  Stay in stealth and out of the way until the tanks have established aggro and positioned the cats.

At the direction of your raid leader you will focus dps on the cats first and kill them one at a time.  They do not respawn.  About a minute into the fight a new add appears – a Feral Defender.  This is another cat, but a really annoying one.  It has an aggro wipe every few seconds and it will dart around the raid doing damage to everyone.  It can stun, it can put DoTs, it can interrupt casting.  Its just an annoyance.  Some raids ignore it and heal through its effects.  Others kill it.

Even if the Feral Defender dies, it doesn’t stop being annoying.  It will leave a void zone where it dies.  And then it will respawn! Arrgh!  Fortunately, every time it respawns it does a little less damage.  It can respawn up to nine times.

As melee dps you’re most likely going to ignore the Feral Defender.  With it running all around and being untankable you won’t be able to maintain melee range on it.  Once it comes out, just focus on the requirements of the boss.  If your raid kills the feral defender, be prepared to quickly move out of the void zone.

Auriaya has her own challenges.  The tank will hold her still for a while, allowing some good dps time.  However, melee dps will not be standing behind her.  She has an ability called Sonic Screech that does massive damage in a frontal cone.  The damage is split between everyone it hits, so you and other raiders will want to stack up in front of her and divide that damage.  This is why you’ll want to have expertise gear on for this fight.

Periodically she will summon a swarm of little tiny cats.  They can be killed by one or two Fan of Knives.

As you try to get into a good rotation, you’ll get hit with a Horrifying Screech which is a 5-second fear.  Your Cloak won’t prevent it.  A priest’s Fear Ward or a Tremor Totem will help.  A PvP trinket will work if you feel like equipping that.  As soon as the fear is dispelled, you want to run quickly back to the boss because she is channeling Sentinel Blast, which does a lot of shadow damage to the whole raid and has a stacking debuff that increases damage.  If it stacks too much it will wipe the raid, so someone has to interrupt it.  Honestly, mages and shamans are better for this because they have a ranged interrupt.  If the raid leaves it to you and your Kick to do the interrupts, you’ll really want to have a reliable fear-breaking mechanism to let you get back to the boss ASAP.

Once the Sentinel Blast is interrupted, stack in front of the tank again and go back to dps.  Between the fears, interrupts, void zones, and the Feral Defender you probably won’t be able to get a good attack rotation going.  Make sure to keep Rupture on her so that your DoT is ticking even when you’re not on target.  This is a fight that is very stressful on everyone.  Lots of raid damage, positioning issues, fears, adds.  Whew!

Unfortunately, she doesn’t offer a whole lot of rogue loot as a reward for her demise.  On 10-man you’ll only be looking for the Nimble Climber’s Belt.  On 25-man there is the Gloves of the Stonereaper.  There is also Siren’s Cry, but you’ll want to pass that to hunters before you get a shot.  And there is Stonerender if there are any mace rogues out there who want a 1.5 speed mace.

22
Jul
09

Are Rogues the Best PvP Class?

For the past couple of weeks I have thrown myself into PvP.

(Background: If you haven’t read this blog before, I never did any PvP while leveling or while raiding, and just picked it up about a month ago.)

The first week was pathetic. I was using a raid spec with almost no resilience.  I thought that the gear and spec weren’t as important as the player and if I sucked in my Ulduar gear I would suck in PvP gear too.  It was an experiment in futility.

I did 2v2 arena with a very patient partner (ret pally) and watched our rating plummet as I made every noob mistake in the book.  When I tried BG, I was running around aimlessly, getting yelled at by other players for being at the wrong node or fighting in the wrong place.  When I did WG I felt completely overwhelmed by the aimlessness of the battle.

And yet I was undaunted.  All the other classes complain about rogues in pvp – there must be something to it!

So, I got a pvp dual spec (Mut/Prep), picked up some gear with some resilience and started doing BG and Arena and WG more seriously.  I brought in some guildies to advise me on objectives and strategies.

Almost immediately, my PvP fortunes turned around.  For the past few weeks our 2v2 arena team has had a winning record, bringing my rating back over 1000 (from the low 800s when I was learning and messing up). Also, in most of the BG I have run in the past two weeks been top three in Killing Blows, HKs, and Overall Damage.  I know that’s not indicative of pvp skill, and that winning is more important than individual numbers.  But I’m not HK farming – I’m really trying to help us win.

Are rogues simply built for PvP?  Did the spec change make that much of a difference?  Is it me and my leet skillz? (lol!)

Here’s my anecdotal (unscientific) evidence why its the class rather than my own play.  In BG you often find yourself in one-on-one combat at a bottleneck or resource.  If my cooldowns are available, I can take down most classes (well, not pallys… grrr…).  Except one.  I always lose to other rogues.  Always.  I don’t know if I have ever beaten a rogue unless I jumped  him when he was at low health.

That tells me (again, unscientifically) that I am not that good at rogue PvP.  Or not as good as the other rogues, at least.  This makes me think that my success in PvP due to class mechanics rather than my limited skill as a pvp rogue.

The argument could be made that my years of raiding on the rogue have prepared me well, and that I know my class skills intimately.  I’d agree with that premise.  I am very quick with my Evasion, Vanish, and Cloak due to their raid utility.  However, I’ll also admit that I rarely remember to use Blind or Sap and I often forget that I have Prep until after I no longer need it.  Those aren’t used in raiding, and I haven’t become accustomed to them yet.

So when people gripe about rogues in PvP, I can see their point.  This abilities of the class seem perfect for PvP.  Our stuns, burst damage, and even AoE do wonders in BG and arena.

Or maybe I’m just a fast learner.  My PvP partner is very happy with my progress and wants to get me on a 3v3 team to see how we do.

21
Jul
09

Call me Chef

I’ve had the Chef title for a while, but it just seems better with the hat.

ChefHat2

Now I can skip the cooking dailies sometimes.  What a relief.  In the patch this will give an increase to cooking speed.  That’s not why I got it, but it’ll be a nice perk.

15
Jul
09

A Rogue in Ulduar – Assembly of Iron

This is part of a series of posts about the role of rogues in Ulduar.  The focus is on 10-man raids, but on occasion mention will be made about 25-man strategies as well.  This is not meant to be a general strategy guide.  It is completely targeted at rogues, their abilities, and their strengths in specific combats.  Much of what is written could apply to other melee dps as well.

If you are looking for a more general overall strategy guide, try Bosskillers or StratFu or WoWWiki.

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TheironcouncilThe Assembly of Iron (or Iron Council, as it is often called) is a group of three bosses.  It has a very unique mechanic in that the order that you kill them determines the difficulty of the encounter.

The largest of the three is Steelbreaker.  The medium-sized one is Runemaster Molgeim, and the small one is Stormcaller Brundir.  The neat part about this fight is the way it gets progressively harder.  When the first of the three is killed, the remaining two get stronger and gain new abilities.  Then when the second one is killed, the last one gets even more new abilities.  Thus, the order in which they are killed completely determines the strategy.  This guide is for “normal” mode, which is to kill Steelbreaker, then Molgeim, then Brundir (that’s from largest to smallest).

All three need to be tanked.  In 10-man, Steelbreaker and Molgeim can both be tanked together by one well-geared tank, and Brundir gets his own tank and healer far away from the rest of the raid.  Or if you have an extra tank Molgeim can be off-tanked on his own.  Brundir does a lot of AoE and ranged damage, so one tank and one healer will take him all the way to the back out of range of the rest of the raid.  Brundir is stunnable and interruptable, so a warrior tank does well with that.

The first to die is Steelbreaker (the big one).  He is mostly tank-and-spank.  Periodically he will cast Fusion Punch which is a buff on himself, and he can wreck the tank with that.  It must be dispelled, but its not interruptable so there’s nothing that rogues can do here.  We just stay on the boss and dps hard and hope that the dispellers are doing their thing.  There is an aura from Steelbreaker doing nature damage, and you can reduce the damage with Feint to help the healers if they are having trouble, but it shouldn’t be necessary on 10-man because the damage is not severe.

Throughout this first part of the fight, Molgeim is casting Runes of Power on the ground.  The runes will give a big damage buff to whoever stands in them.  He will sometimes cast it underneath Steelbreaker, and the tank will drag the boss out of the rune.  But the rune stays on the ground. The ranged dps will all cluster in the rune and get buffed.  Can rogues stand in the rune?  Yes, but only if the tank is careful how far he moves the boss.  So you might discuss this with the tank in advance.  See if he can move Steelbreaker only as far as it takes so he loses the buff.

If he moves the boss too far, then the ranged dps gets to stand in the rune and we don’t.  In that case, don’t expect to top the meters on this fight.  Ah well.  Can’t win em all.

So after a few minutes, Steelbreaker will die.  Next up is Runemaster Molgeim.  He still drops his Runes of Power and he also has a Shield of Runes.  That absorbs damage, and if it absorbs its maximum damage (20k) then the boss gets a damage buff.  Hopefully someone in your raid will dispel that or spellsteal it.  Again, there is nothing that rogues can do about it.  Just stay targeted on the boss.

When Steelbreaker died, Molgeim gained a new ability called Rune of Death.  This is a HUGE green rune that he places on the ground that ticks for very heavy damage (about 7k per second).  When you see the green rune appear on the ground you have to get out of it ASAP.  If your reactions are slow, use Sprint, or Cloak, or Feint to reduce the damage.  Then run around it and get back on the boss.  Maintain time on target as much as possible.

When Molgeim dies, everyone turns to Brundir.  He has an assortment of electricity-based abilities.  However, he is interruptable so be ready with your Kick.  Also, it may be worth your time to quickly switch to Mind-Numbing Poison for this fight to slow his casts.  Brundir was stunnable earlier in the fight, but once the other two bosses are dead he gains Stormshield which makes him immune to stuns, but not interrupts.

Brundir frequently casts Chain Lightning.  Try to interrupt that to minimize raid damage.  His big damage ability is Overload, which is much like the corresponding AoE explosion from Loken or Emalon.  It has a long cast, and when it goes off it does 20k to anyone near him.  He can’t be interrupted while casting this, so you’ll want to run out.  If your reactions are slow you can Cloak to avoid the damage.

Since his two friends died, he has gained new abilities.  He does a powerful Lightning Whirl that will fire out bolts of electricity at a high frequency.  Kick that to stop it.  Make this a priority to interrupt.

His final ability that he gained from his partners dying is Lightning Tendrils.  You can’t miss it.  He floats up in the air and gets all these spidery electricity legs arcing down to the ground.  Its very cool looking.  He targets someone and follows them.  Its easy to avoid.  Just run away.  Bandage while you are far from him.

When Brundir is the last one up, you just Kick him whenever he casts, run out of the Overloads, and run away if he floats up in the air.  Its actually the easiest part of the fight, in my opinion.

The fight has a fifteen minute hard enrage timer.  It is a fairly long fight, but very interesting.  Once you have done it with the order listed above, you can try it with other sequences.  Hard mode is to leave Steelbreaker for last, in which case he gets to auto-kill of the tank once every 60 seconds.  Of note for rogues – if you ever fight Brundir when he is not the last one up, then he is stunnable.  In those fights, you will want to get him locked down with all of the stuns in your arsenal.

On 10-man normal mode, there are two rogue items you’re looking for.  The Rune-Etched Nightblade is a nice fast sword for offhand use.  The Leggings of Swift Reflexes are good dps pants.

On 25-man normal mode you’ll be watching for the Drape of the Lithe back item or the Runed Ironhide Boots for a good boot slot upgrade (56 expertise!).

A note: if you can pull off Hard Mode on either 10-man or 25-man you’ll have a shot at a couple of the best daggers in the game.  10-man Hard Mode offers the Perilous Bite, and 25-man Hard Mode has the Fang of Oblivion (best in slot MH dagger).




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
July 2009
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