The buzz among rogue theorycrafters recently has been the emergence of a ruptureless cycle for Combat rogues. Lets take a look at this.
Traditionally, Rupture has been a must for rogues. Every attack cycle tried to maximize Rupture uptime. Why? Because Rupture is that good. For a mere 25 energy, a 5-point Rupture (glyphed and with points in Blood Spatter) is going to drop a big chunk of bleed damage on your target, ignoring armor. Your Eviscerates, on the other hand can do good base damage, but not as much as Rupture and the hits are mitigated by armor and cost more energy.
In a traditional Combat cycle, Rupture gets priority over Eviscerate. That’s why the cookie-cutter Combat spec doesn’t put points in Improved Eviscerate – its not used enough to make those points worthwhile. In my time spent in Combat spec, almost all of my finishers were used for SnD or Rupture.
That changed with T9 gear and armor penetration. Instead of ArPen being a stat occasionally found here and there, at the T9 level its all over the place. If you’re accumulating iLvL 245 gear you can build up lots of ArPen. When you’re gemming for ArPen, eating ArPen food, and using Grim Toll and/or Mjolnir Runestone, your total armor penetration rating can go through the roof.
With enough ArPen you can reach the point that your Eviscerate damage basically ignores your target’s armor. At that point, and with points in Imp Evis, Eviscerate can out-perform Rupture. Thus, the Rupture-less cycle is born.
So how much Armor Penetration is enough? That’s hard to say exactly. Armor Penetration is a very math-y stat (which is why its being removed in Cataclysm). Most online guides advise you to put your gear in a spreadsheet and play around with the numbers. The general guideline is that you want to be over 1000 Armor Penetration rating.
If you have Grim Toll or Mjolnir Runestone, then you don’t have to be that high. They each have a proc that gives over 600 ArPen. Since the cap (100% armor penetration) is 1400, then its a waste to be over that. If you have either of those trinkets, then you will want the ArPen from the rest of your gear to be between 700-750.
Also, keep in mind that mace spec gives 15% armor penetration. So if you’re sporting maces your numbers are different.
So, the million-gold question… how do you get 1000 ArPen?
If you’re not regularly clearing 10 or 25 man ToC, then you have little chance of getting to the required level of armor penetration. Sure, there are some nice ArPen items in Ulduar like the Cindershard Ring and Winter’s Icy Embrace. But to get to the big numbers you’ll need T9 pieces and items from ToC such as Steel Bladebreaker and Gloves of the Silver Assassin. You’ll be filling your gem slots with Fractured Cardinal Rubies (+20 ArPen), which will get you pretty far toward the cap. Then you can eat some Hearty Rhino for another 40 ArPen.
Once you’re at the required level of armor pen, your rotation is simple. Get SnD going. Build up 5 combo points, Eviscerate. Repeat as necessary. Refresh SnD at the last possible moment before it expires, no matter how many combo points you have at the time. That’s it.
Is this useful for Mutilate rogues? Not as much. Assassination rogues depend on Hunger for Blood, so the target must have a bleed effect. Sure, you can depend on druids and warriors to put bleeds, but I’d rather rely on myself. Also, Envenom already ignores armor, so the Ruptureless cycle is only for assassination rogues that want to use Eviscerate. There is some theorycrafting that shows that this might work, but they also include weapon-swapping and other inconveniences.