Archive for August, 2009

31
Aug
09

I’m still here

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  August is a rough month for me.

I’m a school teacher.  The first weeks of school involve a huge amount of time and an adjustment in my sleep schedule, so I haven’t had much time to blog, and barely enough time to play.

Also, the big news event of the past week was Blizzcon, and there was very little rogue-specific information there.

Hopefully I’ll be back on a regular schedule soon.

19
Aug
09

A Rogue in Ulduar – General Vezax

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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The Descent into Madness is very cool.  If you have your music turned off or down, its worth turning it up for your first trip in there.  Very creepy.  The bosses in there are very H.P. Lovecraft-eqsue.

vezaxGeneral Vezax is a huge bug-looking boss.  He is surrounded by trash mobs, but he won’t pull with them unless you get really really close.  Note that when you kill the leftmost trash pack, the left Faceless One will come.  Then, when you kill the center trash pack, the right Faceless One will come.  Once you have killed all three trash packs and both Faceless Ones, its just you and Vezax alone in the room.

Let me be honest – this is an easy fight for rogues, and a complicated fight for casters.  Try to be sympathetic while they learn it.

The fight is even easier if your tank and healers are geared enough to keep the tank alive through the Surge of Darkness.  When this fight first appeared, the strategy required tanks to kite him during the Surge (which increases his damage by 100%).  If you have tanks and healers that are mostly in iLvL 219 or above, then you can probably hold the boss still and your tank can survive the Surge and the fight is dramatically simpler.  With the new Emblem of Conquest system, you should be able to gear up your tanks and healers to accomplish this.

Lets assume that you’re holding the boss stationary for the fight.  In that case, your are going to get behind the boss and dps and interrupt, and that’s it.  Watch your threat – use TotT to give threat to the tank if needed, and Vanish sometime to wipe your threat.

You have one super important job.  Vexaz will cast Searing Flames once every 12-15 seconds.  You can’t miss it – the boss lights up like a Christmas tree during the two second cast time.  This MUST be interrupted.  If he gets a single cast off, then you will likely wipe because the spell reduces everyone’s armor by 75%.  I can’t stress enough that this MUST be interrupted every time.

You, rogue, can do this job by yourself if the boss is being held stationary.  Your Kick has a 10-second cooldown, and he casts Searing Flames every 12-15 seconds.  As soon as your Kick is off cooldown, get ready to use it.  Kick when you see the flashing lights.  You can interrupt 100% of the casts.  I am personally very careful… once my Kick is off cooldown I just let myself autoattack so that I have no chance to miss the interrupt.  Then, during the 10 seconds that Kick is on cooldown I attack like crazy.

If, for some reason, you accidentally blow your Kick at the wrong time (I have done this due to nervous fingers) then call out for a mage or shaman or warrior or anyone else to get the next Searing Flames cast.  Then resume your Kick rotation.

One other word of advice for rogues – use Wound Poison.  Vezax has an ability called Mark of the Faceless on the players at range.  If it hits anyone, it heals Vezax for huge amounts of health.  While its easy to yell at the ranged classes to avoid it, its also prudent to apply Wound Poison.  This cuts Vezax’ healing in half and shortens the fight.

There are all kinds of crazy things going on in this fight – Surge of Darkness, Shadow Crash, black pools, green pools, Saronite Vapors, and a total lack of mana regeneration for the casters and healers.  None of that has any impact on what rogues do.  Since this is a rogue guide, I’ll leave all of that for someone else to explain.

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If you find that your tank cannot survive the Surge of Darkness periods, then your raid may want to kite Vezax.  When Vezax casts Surge of Darkness, his damage is increased by 100% but his movement speed is reduced.  Thus, a tank can run away from Vezax during this time and prevent taking the increased damage.

The added difficulty here is twofold…

First – if you don’t keep in melee range of the boss, then you could be hit with all of that bad stuff that only happens to ranged classes – Shadow Crash, Mark of the Faceless, etc…  That’s bad.  So you have to keep up with Vezax as much as possible.  Use Sprint if you fall behind.

Second, Vezax can still cast the Searing Flames while being kited.  If you find yourself out of melee range, then you may not be able to get the Kick in time.  In this case, urge your ranged interrupts (mage, shaman) to get any Searing Flames casts while he is being kited.

Because of this, if it is at all possible for your raid to keep him stationary, urge them to do so.

Vezax drops some very nice loot.  On 10-man, he has two very desirable items.  The Choker of the Abyss is a great neck item.  Shadowbite is a great main hand dagger (and the first one that drops in Ulduar 10-man).

On 25-man there is the Metallic Loop of the Sufferer, a good dps ring.

Hard modes have better stuff, of course.  10-man hard mode has the Drape of the Faceless General for your back if you’re stacking armor penetration, or Void Sabre as a fast off-hand sword.  25-man hard mode gives the amazing Pendulum of Infinity for the neck slot.

18
Aug
09

I Hate It When Things Don’t Work

My guild is currently working on Yogg-Saron.  As we were initially learning the fight, we wanted to interrupt as many of the Dark Volleys as we could.  The cooldown on my Kick was really limiting my interrupts.  I read somewhere that speccing into the Throwing Specialization talent really helped in this phase.  So for our attempts last night I put two points there.

For whatever reason it did not work at all.  I’d see a cast bar start, I would hit my Fan of Knives, and… the cast would still go off.  Again and again FoK failed to interrupt the spells.  It was terribly frustrating.

Has anyone else run into this?  Is it buggy or is it just something I am doing wrong?

14
Aug
09

Patch 3.2.2 Slaps Rogues Around A Bit

Patch 3.2.2 is on the PTR.  As with all patches, anything that is up now can possibly change as it is tested.

However, even if these changes do not make it to the game in exactly this form, Blizzard has shown that they feel that rogues need to be taken down a peg, particularly in PvP.  The changes are not overall damage nerfs to all rogues, but are pushes to force some situational playstyle changes.

Here are the three announced changes:

(1)  Fan of Knives: The damage done by this ability has been reduced by 30%.

I guess this has been a long time coming.  I don’t think anyone intended rogues to be the top AoE class.  But 30%?  Ouch!

This is of minor importance in PvE, because its mostly useful for trash.  Sure, it will be sad to fall below the mages and warlocks on the trash pulls, but boss fights are where you make your damage meters jump anyway.  I think it really hurts in PvP though, where FoK is used to good effect.  Rogues will still use it to apply poisons to groups of opponents, but it won’t have those sexy damage totals anymore.

(2)  Throwing Specialization: This talent no longer causes Fan of Knives to interrupt spellcasting.

Boo!  Yet another reason to stop using FoK in PvP.

The above two talents send a clear message – rogues are great single-target damage dealers, and should not be running around hitting FoK in every situation during PvP.

(3)  Honor Among Thieves: A 1-second cooldown is now enforced on how often a rogue can gain combo points from his party via this talent.

Again, this has probably been a long time coming.  HaT is a gimmicky build and I suspect that the developers didn’t intend it to play like it does.  Now the question will be asked… is subtlety still (and I hate this term) “raid viable”?  Is that one second delay a crushing blow to the HaT build?

I don’t play HaT, but I suspect it will still work, although you’ll actually have to build up some of your own combo points rather than just hit Eviscerate all the time.  I’ll be watching the analysis on EJ to see their evaluation.

_______________________________________________

No one likes to see a patch where we get all nerfs and no buffs.  For me, personally, this is very minor since I don’t play HaT and I don’t PvP too often.  I’ll live with the nerf to trash pack damage.  To a rogue that raids in subtlety, this is bad.  To a PvP rogue, this could be really annoying.  How much will these changes affect you?

13
Aug
09

Isn’t She Pretty?

We killed the new ToC boss, Lord Jaraxxus, on 10-man (normal) last night, and lookie what I got…

dirk

Pair that with my recently-acquired Golem-Shard Sticker (from 25-man Deconstructor) and I may have to go back to Mutilate spec, after all.

12
Aug
09

Stack Your Raid Buffs

buffsDPS got you down?  Your guild can’t quite beat those pesky enrage timers?  Maybe you should check what buffs and debuffs are being used by your raid.  Rogue dps scales incredibly well with a lot of these buffs, so every one is worth having.

Lets look at what raid buffs are available that help rogue dps…

(note, wherever two or more buffs are listed together in the same paragraph, they are exclusive… you can’t have more than one of them at a time.  For example, you can’t have both Horn of Winter AND Strength of Earth Totem)

+155 Agility and Strength is a buff provided to the whole raid by a Death Knight of any spec using Horn of Winter or a Shaman using the Strength of Earth totem.  If the shaman has a talent point in Enhancing Totems (Enhancement tree) then the totem gives 178 strength and agility instead.  Most raids these days have DKs in them, and if so then Horn of Winter should be up 100% of the time.

+540 AP comes from either a warrior’s Battle Shout or a paladin’s Blessing of Might.  A Fury Warrior with Commanding Presence or a Ret Paladin with Improved Blessing of Might can give 688 AP instead.  You can’t get both.  The more powerful one with overwrite the lesser one.  This is interesting, because rogues always ask paladins for BoM, when they can get the same benefit from Battle Shout and maybe get Kings from the paladin instead.  However, warriors can only do one type of shout at a time, so if you have only one warrior your raid leader might want him/her to do Demoralizing or Commanding instead.  Also, the shouts need to be renewed more often, while the paladin blessing lasts a while.

+10% Attack Power is from three sources – a marksman hunter’s Trueshot Aura, an enchancement shaman with the Unleashed Rage talent, or a Blood DK with Abomination’s Might.  Since it is a percentage based increase, this one is better the more base AP you start with.

+3% damage from a ret paladin’s aura if he has the Sanctified Retribution talent or a BM hunter’s Ferocious Inspiration.  The hunter version only works when the pet is alive and attacking, so the ret paladin one may be more reliable in fights that are pet-unfriendly.

+3% haste comes from a moonkin with Improved Moonkin Form or a ret paladin’s aura if he has points in Swift Retribution.   Oh, we rogues love our haste.  Again – these do not stack with each other, although they do stack with Windfury.

+5% critical strike chance is provided by a feral druid’s Leader of the Pack or a fury warrior with Rampage.  The druid’s buff is always up, while the warrior’s buff only comes up when he gets a crit, so the druid’s is a little more reliable (but if your fury warrior is not getting a crit at least once every 10 seconds there is a problem).

+20% melee haste is an amazing buff that is given by a Frost DK with Improved Icy Talons or a shaman’s Windfury Totem if the shaman has points in the Improved Windfury Totem talent.  This totem is typically used by enchancement shaman, and not often used by resto or elemental shaman because they have other air totems that benefit casters. If you have a melee heavy group with no frost DK, you can try to lobby your raid leader to request it (meaning that the shaman wouldn’t be able to use Wrath of Air totem).

20% reduction in target’s armor comes from a rogue’s Expose Armor, but more commonly from a warrior’s Sunder Armor.  If you have a prot warrior tanking then they will apply Sunder as part of their threat rotation.  If your raid’s warrior is fury or arms you need to ask them if they are going to sunder.  Often they do, and its easier since they can renew it more easily than rogues.  If not, its a little tricky for rogues to work it into their rotation without too severe a dps reduction, but remember that your small sacrifice in dps will boost the rest of the physical dps in the raid.  Alternative: if you run with a BM hunter that happens to raid with a worm as a pet (I’ve never seen this), then their acid spit does the same thing, but is applied much more slowly.

5% reduction in target’s armor can be applied by a warlock’s Curse of Weakness or a feral druid’s Faerie Fire (Feral).  You’re more likely to get this from a feral druid, as warlocks can only apply one curse at a time so they might not use the Weakness one.  This effect does stack with the major reductions listed in the previous paragraph, so those two combined with some Armor Penetration rating can do some serious bypassing of armor.

+30% bleed damage is very useful for our Rupture damage.  It is applied by feral druids when they Mangle or arms warriors with Trauma.  Rogues love running with feral druids because their bleeds help us keep HfB up while their Mangle increases our damage.

+3% crit chance on the target is like the one listed a few paragraphs above, but the two effects will stack because the previous one is a buff on you, while this one is a debuff on the target.  This comes from an assassination rogue’s Master Poisoner, a ret paladin’s Heart of the Crusader, or a shaman’s Totem of Wrath.  If you’re a mutilate rogue then you probably provide this (unless you took points in Turn the Tables instead), but there are very few raids these days that don’t have a ret paladin, so its usually covered.

+4% physical damage to the target is applied by a combat rogue with Savage Combat or an arms warrior with Blood Frenzy.  If your raid has multiple rogues, its nice to have one in assassination spec while another is combat spec so that this and the previous debuffs are taken care of.  Although, as I said, the previous one is typically handled by a ret paladin.

+3% spell hit… wait, what?  Why do rogues need spell hit?  We can use it because our poisons count as spells.  If you are not at the poison hit cap (315 hit rating) then the Misery debuff from shadow priests or the Improved Faerie Fire from balance druids can give this welcome boost to your poison hit chance.

There are three raid buffs that are still unique to specific classes…

Heroism/Bloodlust has become a staple of raids.  Every raid group wants to bring a shaman for this buff, which gives 30% increase attack speed for its duration.

Blessing of Kings provides an increase of 10% to all stats, and can be given by any paladin spec.

Mark/Gift of the Wild can be applied by any spec of druid and increases all attributes by 37.

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Based on all of this, the classes that seem to mesh best with rogues are ret paladins, arms warriors, and feral druids.  A ret paladin can provide five of the buffs I listed (although not all at once, BoM and BoK), plus replenishment for the casters in the raid.  An arms warrior brings four from the list, but one of them (Frenzy) we can do ourselves if we are combat spec.  A feral tank druid brings us four from the list.  An enhancement shaman can also bring us several from the list if he uses both the windfury and strength of earth totems.

This week I had the fortune to be in a raid that had just about all of these buffs covered.  That means that I had added over 200 agility, over 1400 AP, over 20% increased melee haste, 8% crit, +8% damage, +30% bleed damge, and 25% reduced armor on the target from contributions from my co-raiders.  Let me tell you, my dps totals made me a very happy rogue.

Now that you know what is out there, check your combat logs to see if you’re getting the buffs.  Do you run with an enchancement shaman?  See what totems he is using.  Running with a moonkin?  Check that he is using his Improved Faerie Fire.  DPS Warrior in your group?  Ask if he is applying Sunder Armor.

There is a nice raid buff stacking tool at MMO-Champion.  You put in the composition of your raid and it tells you which buffs are available and unavailable to your raid.

07
Aug
09

Best. Item. Ever.

Sometimes its the simple things in life that are the most rewarding.

My favorite piece of gear in the game is not my Guise of the Midgard Serpent or Treacherous Shoulderpads.  Its not my Rune-Etched Nightblade or recently-acquired Golem-Shard Sticker.

ChefHatIts is the Chef’s Hat.  Hands down.

I got it just for kicks a while ago, because I was doing the cooking dailies anyway so it seemed like a worthwhile, if cutesy, reward for that.

But Patch 3.2 changed all that.  It is now a blue item, with the bonus feature that it makes you cook faster.

How much faster?

Holy cow!

To test it, I grabbed a stack of uncooked Worm Meat out of the guild bank to make some some Spiced Worm Burger.  Just for comparison, I made one without the Chef’s Hat on.  It takes about 2 seconds to make one Burger.

Then I put the hat on and tried again.

BAM!  Burger done!  Fractions of a second.

So, with another 18 burgers to be made, I clicked on “Create All.”

BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM the burgers appeared my bag at machine gun speed.  It was so amazing to watch that I grabbed another stack of uncooked meat and cooked it just to watch it go.

OK, so its a simple thing and probably shouldn’t entertain me as much as it does.  But it is what it is – a frill thrown into the game that is now my favorite item.




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)
August 2009
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