Archive for December, 2009

31
Dec
09

ICC Rep Runs – Get In There!

You’ve probably seen people asking in Trade chat about ICC rep runs.  If you haven’t done them, get in there!  If you’re not even sure why people are doing this, read on.

Killing mobs in ICC gives rep with Ashen Verdict. This is great rep to have.

If you were around in the Karazhan days, you’ll remember that Kara kills got you Violet Eye rep, and each level of rep got you a better ring from the guys standing outside the instance.  The same is true here.  Levels of Ashen Verdict rep get you increasingly better rings.  Here they are:

Friendly:   Ashen Band of Vengeance (iLvL 251)
Honored:   Ashen Band of Greater Vengeance (iLvL 259)
Revered:   Ashen Band of Unmatched Vengeance (iLvL 268)
Exalted:   Ashen Band of Endless Vengeance (iLvL 277)

On a rep run, the raid is just killing the trash in the first area, and then running out and resetting the raid.  Since no bosses are killed, you don’t get saved to the raid and you can run it with your guild at a later time.  There is no limit to how many times you can do this.  On my server, there are groups that just spend the whole day grinding Ashen Verdict rep this way, swapping people in and out as needed to keep the raid full.

Also, there are crafting recipes available at various levels of Ashen Verdict rep.  I’m not going to list all of the recipes here, but they have some for tailoring, leatherworking, and blacksmithing.  They also have the very in-demand recipes for epic bullets and arrows.  The bullet recipe is available to goblin engineers, and the arrow recipe is for gnomish engineers.

30
Dec
09

A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Deathbringer Saurfang

The fourth boss in ICC (and the last one available as of the date of this post) is by far the most challenging.  He has an interesting fight mechanic that will challenge your raid’s awareness and control.

The primary mechanic in this fight is the boss’s Blood Power.  You can see it in the boss’ unit frame where his mana/rage/energy bar would be.  It starts at zero, and it will increase during the course of the fight. Saurfang gains Blood Power every time either he or his minions do damage to anyone in the raid.

For each point of Blood Power he gains, his size and damage will increase by 1%.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, if it reaches 100 (a full bar) then Saurfang will place a Mark of the Fallen Champion on a raid member.  That raid member will take continuous damage.  The Mark cannot be dispelled, and even persists through death.  Not only does the Mark do damage, but that damage will also contribute more points to Saurfang’s Blood Power gain.  His Blood Power returns to zero when he casts Mark of the Fallen Champion, and the process starts again.

As you can see, the key to this fight is to avoid damage as much as possible to minimize his Blood Power gain.  No matter how good your tanks and healers are, if there are too many Marks of the Fallen Champion on the raid then the fight is lost.

Here are the ways he does damage (and gains Blood Power):

  • Boiling Blood – a debuff cast on random raid members.  Its unavoidable and can’t be dispelled, although a priest’s Power Word: Shield.will block the damage on you (and prevent Blood Power gains).  Don’t waste your CoS trying to get rid of it – it won’t work.  (I don’t think it even prevented the damage ticks – can anyone else confirm this?)
  • Blood Nova – this is only cast on players at range, so it shouldn’t have any impact on us rogues.  The person with Blood Nova doesn’t take damage himself, but does damage to anyone within 12 yards.  Ranged players must stay spread out to avoid this.
  • Rune of Blood – cast only on the tanks, so rogues won’t get this either.  The target with this takes debuff extra damage, and the damage heals Saurfang for 10x the amount dealt.  For this reason, tanks will swap during the fight.  Be aware of that in case it causes threat issues.
  • Summon Blood Beasts – he will summon minions (2 on 10-man, 5 on 25-man) who give him a point of Blood Power each time they hit someone.  It is imperative that no one gets hit by them.  They are mostly immune to AoE damage, so they must be focused down.  They can be slowed and snared.

The most important, and most challenging,  part of the fight is to prevent the Blood Beasts from hitting anyone.  If your players can do that, then Saurfang’s Blood Power gain, while inevitable, will be slow enough that you can kill him before his Marks overwhelm the raid.

The “textbook” strategy listed in all of the guides is to have the ranged dps get aggro on the Blood Beasts and kite them, using slow and snare effects, so that they can be killed before they reach anyone.  If your raid can accomplish that, then the melee dps is free to stay on Saurfang for the entire fight.  As long as rogues stay in melee range on the boss, they will avoid the Blood Nova, get healed through Boiling Blood, and ignore the Blood Beasts.  Its a very simple fight for melee, in that case.  All the pressure is on the ranged dps to kite and kill the beasts, and the healers to heal through the Marks.

One way a rogue can help other than pure dps is to Dismantle Saurfang when he gets to higher levels of Blood Power.  Since his damage is increased at this point, it will help minimize the severity of hits on the tank.

When my guild did this fight, we found that the Marks were a real issue for us.  When someone gets a Mark, not only does that divert healing but it also speeds up the rate that Saurfang gets Blood Power, making the second Mark come faster.  We made the decision to let the first Marked player die if it was a dps.  The slower Blood Power gain was more important than the loss of dps.  That worked well for us, although it was a bummer for the person who got the first Mark.

But…

What if your raid Doesn’t have the ranged dps to kill both Blood Beasts quickly?  What if you have a melee-heavy group?  That’s what my guild was faced with when we fought Saurfang, and we came up with a different strategy that worked.  In fact, we got the achievement I’ve Gone and Made a Mess on our first kill.

We were in 10-man ICC so we had only two Beasts to deal with.  Our raid leader assigned one of the Blood Beasts to ranged, and the other to melee.  In order for this to work, melee had to burn down the Blood Beast without getting hit.  The key was having multiple stuns available from the melee group.

When the two Blood Beasts spawned, our ranged dps pulled and kited one and focused it down.  The other one got immediately stunned where it spawned by one of our tanks.

During the stun, melee dps would open up on it, which gave me a chance to build up some combo points quickly.  When that first stun broke, the ret paladin in our melee group taunted it and pulled it a short way away from the tanks, and then he would stun it a second time.  During this stun, I popped my TotT on the main tank.  When that second stun broke, I had enough combo points to hit it with Kidney Shot and stun it a third time.  If it wasn’t dead by the time that third stun was finished, then it would start moving back toward the tank (from my TotT) and we would kill it before it got there.

If, by chance, I got aggro on the Blood Beast (usually due to the pally’s stun being on cooldown) then I could use Evasion to avoid damage, or Vanish and Cheap Shot to get another stun, or get a PW:S from a priest as a last option.

This strategy can be varied depending on the group makeup.  It is dependent on your melee having several stuns available, and it would be easier with multiple rogues to alternate stuns since they have a longer duration and shorter cooldown than pally stuns.

After he is killed, there is a nice bit of lore that you watch, and then the loot is found in a chest off in a corner.  He drops some nice stuff. On 10-man, you’ll be watching for the Scourge Stranglers for your hand slot or Saurfang’s Cold-Forged Band as a nice ring.

If you’re in a 25-man raid, you’ll keep your eyes open for the Bloodvenom Blade if you are Combat Swords.  Toskk’s Maximized Wristguards are a nice wrist item as well.  Most interesting is Deathbringer’s Will.  Its a trinket with 155 Armor Penetration, which is nice on its own for combat rogues.  However, it also has a proc that is unusual.  When it procs, it will give you either 1200 AP, 600 Agility, or 600 ArPen.  While the unpredictability is inconvenient if you’re trying to stack Armor Pen to the cap, it still a really nice proc no matter which way it goes.  Its slightly better for combat rogues than mutilate rogues, but definitely worth it for either.

24
Dec
09

What to do with those Emblems of Frost?

By this time a lot of us are starting to build up a good pile of Emblems of Frost.  If you have been diligent enough to run a daily random heroic every day since the patch, that’s 32 Emblems.  If you have done all three weekly raid quests, that’s another 15.  The quests for Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection awarded 2 Emblems each the first time you ran them, so there is another 6.  You could have 53 without running Icecrown Citadel at all.  If you have raided ICC all three weeks its been around, and killed all four bosses each time (2 emblems per boss), that’s another 24.  If you have done it on both 10-man and 25-man each week, that’s another 24.  It is possible to have 101 Emblems of Frost by now.

Most of us don’t have that many.  I have 42 at the moment.  Frost Emblems don’t accumulate as fast as Triumph emblems, so we have to be a little choosy about how we spend them.  For me, for example, I expect to do the random heroic about 4-5 times per week, do the weekly raid quest every week, and hopefully clear ICC 10-man every week.  That would give me 21-23 emblems per week.

What should we be looking to purchase?  Well, there are three groups of Emblem of Frost items available.  There is the Tier 10 armor, the there is non-tier armor, and then the trinkets and other miscellaneous items.

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First – there are a couple of nice miscellaneous items available.  There’s a trinket and a thrown item.  The trinket, Herkumi War Token, is very nice, and only 60 emblems.  Haste is all the rage these days for fast DP stacking.  That will be the first item purchased for a lot of rogues, especially those who aren’t using their trinket slots for armor penetration procs with Grim Toll and Mjolnir Runestone.   I plan on buying this first, as my spreadsheet tells me this is more than a 240 dps increase over my Pyrite Infuser.

Also available is a thrown weapon – Shrapnel Star – for only 30 emblems.  This may be best-in-slot right now, but its only a small upgrade over the Crimson Star that most of us bought with our Emblems of Triumph.  If you have the Crimson Star, you’re in good shape and you might wait to upgrade this slot.

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The Tier 10 gear system is different this time than in previous tier armor incarnations.  In ICC, all of the T10 pieces (Shadowblade’s Battlegear) are purchasable with Emblems of Frost.  They are iLvL 251.  The next tier (iLvL 264, called Sanctified Shadowblade’s Battlegear) are purchasable using the T10 piece + a Mark of Sanctification that drops from Deathbringer Saurfang in 25-man ICC.  The highest tier (iLvL 277 or Heroic Sanctified Shadowblade’s Battlegear) are purchased using the T10.5 pieces + a heroic Mark of Sanctification that will drop from heroic 25-man ICC.

Whew.

Summary: If you are running 25-man ICC and want the higher tier pieces, you will need to buy the T10 pieces and use them to upgrade to the higher tiers.  The higher tiers are iLvL 264 (and eventually 277 when heroic ICC is opened up).  Therefore, if you are in a guild that is running 25-man ICC, its probably in your interests to invest your Emblems of Frost in the T10 pieces now for later upgrades.

For those of us who are not running 25-man ICC, we can buy the T10 pieces now knowing that we won’t be upgrading them, or we can buy the non-set pieces (iLvL 264).

Tier 10 – Shadowblade’s Battlegear, iLvL 251 items for head, shoulder, hand, leg, and chest slots. =Shadowblade Helmet (95 emblems), Shadowblade Gauntlets (60 emblems), Shadowblade Legplates (95 emblems), Shadowblade Pauldrons (60 emblems), and Shadowblade Breastplate (95 emblems). The 2-piece bonus is Your Tricks of the Trade ability now grants you 15 energy instead of costing energy. The 4-piece bonus is Gives your melee finishing moves a 13% chance to add 3 combo points to your target.  Those are fairly useful set bonuses.  The 2-piece is only useful if you regularly use TotT.  Instead of using it whenever its up, with this bonus it becomes sort of a cooldown to use when you need more burst.  The 4-piece is really nice for sustained single-target dps.

The non-tier gear doesn’t have as many items, but they are higher iLvL (264).  There are items for hand, back, and waist slots.  They are the Cat Burglar’s Grips (hand, 60 emblems), Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape (back, 50 emblems), and Vengeful Noose (waist, 60 emblems).

You can see that there is not a lot of overlap in those two gear groups.  The only overlap is at the hand slot, where you can choose either the T10 hands or the Cat Burglar’s Grips (The Cat Burglar’s Grips are better).  The only slots that you cannot upgrade with Emblems of Frost are neck, wrist, feet, ring, and weapons.

So where to begin?  That depends on your current gear.  You’ll obviously do best upgrading your weakest gear slots first.  However, here are a couple of pieces of advice:

  • If you are raiding ICC 10, you can probably pass on the Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape for now.  There is a back slot item (Shawl of Nerubian Silk) that drops from 10-man Lord Marrowgar.  The Marrowgar drop is not quite as good, but it doesn’t cost you any emblems.
  • Lady Deathwhisper 10-man drops a chest item that is better than the T10 chest (Chestguard of the Frigid Noose) so this is another place where you might hold out for the drop rather than spend emblems.
  • Lady Deathwhisper also drops a nice waist slot item – Soulthief’s Braided Belt – that is comparable to the Vengeful Noose.  Are you patient enough to wait for the drop and spend your emblems elsewhere?

For me, I am definitely buying Herkumi’s War Token first.  After that I may buy the Cat Burglar’s Grips since they are really great, or  I’ll save up for the T10 legs, since there are not any good drops in ICC 10 that are comparable and my leg item is my currently my weakest gear slot.  There is no rush to decide.  For most of us, it will be several weeks in between each Emblem of Frost purchase, so you’ll get other drops between them and your purchase priorities will change.

23
Dec
09

A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Gunship Battle

This fight is epic.  Loads of fun. And nothing beats a druid in bear form using a jet pack.

It makes me think back to the Chess Event in Karazhan, and Flame Leviathan in Ulduar in that its a fun, gimmicky battle with unique mechanics and is not too complicated.  However, it was almost impossible to lose at the Chess Event, while it is certainly possible to wipe on the Gunship Battle.

After you fight through the trash (horde or alliance mobs depending on your faction) you get to the Skybreaker if you are Alliance or Orgrim’s Hammer if you are Horde.  You’ll board, talk to the NPC and the boat sets off.  You get attacked by the other ship and an aerial battle ensues.

The main concept behind the battle is that the gunships are firing cannons at each other and damaging each other.  You should be able to see health bars for the two ships somewhere in your UI.  Obviously, you want their ship to run out of health before yours does.  You will need raid members to man the cannons on your ship and fire on the other craft.  That’s not a job for rogues, typically.

Before you start, you’ll want to pick up a jet pack from the NPC on the boat.  That’s right -  a jet pack. You equip it in your shirt slot.  Make a button for it.  When you use it, you get a green target circle on the ground, and that’s where you’ll jump.

There are two areas of combat that during this fight.  Boarding parties will come to your ship to attack your raid members there.  They need to be tanked and burned down.  In our raid, we assigned ranged and caster dps to stay on our ship and handle the boarding parties.  They were also able to shoot across at the mobs on the other ship in between boarding parties.

The other, and more fun, combat, is on the opposing ship.  Periodically, your opponents will call a battle mage on deck, and he will freeze your cannons.  That cannot be allowed to continue.  A tank, healer, and some dps will use the jet packs to jump to the other ship to take out the battle mage.  The tank needs to hold aggro on the boss (either Saurfang or Muradin, depending on your faction) while the dps takes down the mage.  The dps shouldn’t take much damage, if any.  Watch that the tank is holding the boss away from you, because he cleaves.

Rogues are well-suited to go across and burst-dps down the mage, so that’s the role you should have.  Jump to the ship, and go straight to the mage.  If you’re combat, get your BF and/or AR going to take him down fast.  Mutilate rogues will use their normal rotation.  The mage ignores you while you attack so there are no threat issues.

There is another aspect of the fight that needs attention.  All the mobs on the opposing ship will gradually gain in strength.  You’ll hear the ship commander emote when he “promotes” them to higher rank.  As their ranks go up they do more damage and have faster attack/casting speed.  You can help slow this process.  If you kill the mage very quickly, you’ll have time to take out some of the other mobs as well – specifically look for the rocketeers at the back of the ship.  Kill them, and when they respawn they have lost their “promoted” rank.

As much fun as it is, you cannot stay on the other ship killing mobs indefinitely.  The boss that is being tanked will gain a stacking buff, and eventually his damage will be unhealable.  At some point your tank or healer will call out that its time to leave.  You’ll use your jet pack to jump back to your own ship.  When you get back, help take out any mobs that are there, and be ready to jump back over when another battle mage comes out.

As you repeat this process your cannoneers should have no problem damaging the other ship and should also be able to blow up a lot of the attacking mobs on deck.  As long as your tank doesn’t die, you repeat this cycle over and over until you destroy the other ship.

Its a pretty simple fight.  You need to get the rhythm of jumping back and forth, and your tank/healer will get a feel for how long they can stay before the boss is hitting to hard.  After that, its just fun!

There is a chest on the deck of your ship that contains the loot.  There’s nothing in the 10-man loot for assassination rogues, but combat rogues can look for an axe called Frost Giant’s Cleaver.  The 25-man raid has a couple of nice pieces – the chest piece called Ikfirus’ Sack of Wonder, and a back slot item named Shadowvault Slayer’s Cloak.  Also, there’s another axe for our combat-spec fans – the Scourgeborne Waraxe.

22
Dec
09

A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Lady Deathwhisper

There’s a room full of trash in front of this boss, and they don’t all pull at once.  They aren’t hard, so clear them out and get in position for the boss.

This is a fight with a lot of movement and changing targets, which isn’t ideal for rogues.  Still, we serve an important role in this fight, and we get interrupt duty again!  The fight is fairly complicated, so you’ll have a lot to think about.

This is a two-phase fight.  In phase 1 the boss doesn’t attack any single target and has no aggro table, so you can attack her whenever you get a chance.  She throws around random shadowbolts, which you can’t avoid, and death & decay which you don’t stand in.  Your attention will be on the adds. (on 25-man she also mind controls random raid members, who must be CCed)

When the fight begins, adds will spawn from one side of the room.  In 10-man there will be three adds from one side of the room.  In 25-man there are seven (spawns from both sides and one from the back).  All tanks and dps will work on taking these out quickly, because new ones spawn every 60 seconds.  Your role is to maximize your burst damage here and take out adds quickly.

There are two kinds of adds – Adherents and Fanatics.  They can go through three “phases” – when they first come out they are Cult Fanatics/Adherents.  Lady Deathwhisper can randomly buff them, making them Empowered Fanatics/Adherents, and they can kill themselves (doing AoE to all around them) and get reanimated to be Reanimated Fanatics/Adherents.  The main annoyance about this is that it makes it harder to write targeting macros.

Fanatics are melee and Adherents are casters.  The key features we need to know about them are that Fanatics cleave, and Adherents can put up a spell reflect shield.  In addition, in their Reanimated versions, Fanatics are immune to physical damage, and Adherents are immune to spell damage.  Put these factors together, and it points to rogues focusing on Adherents.

When my guild did this, we had melee focus on Adherents and caster dps focus on Fanatics.  That worked well.  If your raid is heavily melee or caster, then you’ll need to adjust your strategy or your raid composition.  Burn down the Adherents as quickly as possible.  You can thrown some interrupts in there to help reduce the damage on the tanks if your healers are having trouble.  If any add gets Empowered, focus on that one as a priority.  If you finish quickly you can help with the Fanatics, or run over to Lady Deathwhisper and get to work on her.

When the adds are down and the next wave has not spawned yet, get to the boss and attack.  When you’re attacking the boss, she takes no damage!  That’s because she has a mana shield.  All damage reduces her mana rather than health.  You have to burn through that, and it will take a while.  Keep on the boss until the next wave of adds spawn and go take out Adherents again.  Return to the boss when done, and repeat until her mana is gone and the mana shield drops.  Remember to drop Rupture on the boss when you leave her so it ticks while you are on the adds.

When the mana shield falls, there is a threat reset, so use Tricks on the tank to help with aggro.  From this point, it is just a tank and spank burn phase.  She has a long-cast-time Frostbolt that does a fair chunk of damage, so Kick that.  You should be able to interrupt all of them.  There will still be Death & Decay (and Mind Control on 25-man) as before, so watch for those.

Use Tricks of the Trade liberally but carefully.  The tank will get a stacking debuff called Touch of Insignificance which reduces their threat.  If you’re not paying attention you can easily pull aggro here.  Tricks will help you give the tank more threat, but if you are tank-swapping them make sure your Tricks goes to the correct tank.

Vengeful Shades will spawn around the raid during this phase, and they blow up if they reach anyone.  Keep an eye out for them and run away.  Remember, a dead rogue does zero dps.

If you can get through the adds to phase two you’re basically home free.  That is, IF you can beat the 10-minute enrage timer.

On a 10-man kill, you’re looking for the Chestguard of the Frigid Noose or the Soulthief’s Braided Belt.  There is also a bow (Njordnar Bone Bow) if there are no hunters that want it.

In the 25-man raid you’re hoping for the Cultist’s Bloodsoaked Spaulders.  Also, there is Heartpierce, a slow MH dagger with a unique proc.  Does the interesting proc make up for the lack of sockets and stats?  Time to hit the spreadsheet.

21
Dec
09

A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Lord Marrowgar

The first boss in Icecrown can be seen right from the entrance.  That cool-looking multi-headed winged skeletal being is Lord Marrowgar.

This fight doesn’t have a whole lot of rogue-specific aspects.  If you position yourself well, You should have opportunity to get a good rotation going during the first phase of the fight.

First – make sure you are never in front of the boss, even for a moment.  His Saber Lash hits once per second, and if you’re near the tank it will take you out instantly.

His hit box is enormous.  When the tanks have him positioned you will get behind him, of course.  You want to stand actually slightly inside his hit box, because his coldflame only spwns outside the hit box.  The healers should stand very cloe to you.

Phase 1 is fairly simple.  The tanks pick him up and keep him faced away from the raid so that they soak up the Saber Lashes.  YOu stand behind him and get your rotation going.  While Rupture-less rotations are the rage now, you are going to do some target switching, so its not a bad idea to have a bleed on him to keep ticking while you change targets.

He will create Coldflame, which are blue fires on the ground that spread out in lines from him.  You can easily avoid those. If your health is low and you find yourself having to cross a line of flame, you can CoS to avoid the damage.

When he casts Bone Spike Graveyard, someone in the raid will get impaled on a spike from the round.  The spike needs to be attacked, and it will die quickly.  That’s why you want the healers to be near you – if they get spiked you can quicly turn and take out the spike without wasting time running.

This goes on for 30 seconds.  Then phase 2 begins.  Marrowgar will start whirlwinding (called Bone Storm).  If you’re like me, you still have bad dreams of whirlwinds one-shotting you.  That won’t happen here.  The damage from his spinning attack is not too bad.  If your health is low already, try to run to the other side of the room, because the whirlwind damage is reduced with distance, but you cannot avoid the damage while he moves around the room.  Evasion will help you avoid some of the damage if its available, but Feint works as well, so make sure to use them and help your healers out.

Three times during his whirlwind Marrowgar will stop and send out lines of coldflame.  You need to watch for these and avoid them.  They travel out in an X from his stopping location.

If your healers are not having any trouble during the Bone Storm, then feel free to keep dpsing him.  Make sure to stop when he goes to his third target so that the tanks can get aggro in the transition back to phase 1.

Be careful while you’re running around to avoid the coldflames.  Don’t end up near the tank.  Once the Bone Storm ends, the tanks will pick him back up and the Saber Lashes start.  If you’re near the tank when the first Saber Lash hits, then you’re gonna die!

When the tanks have him, its back to phase 1 and get your dps rotation going again.  Group near the healers for quick spike removal, and repeat.  Remember to use Tricks of the Trade on the tank as phase 1 starts again because there is a threat reset.

Lord Marrowgar has a couple of nice rogue pieces.  On 10-man normal mode, if you’re still running combat spec, you might like his axe – Bone Warden’s Splitter.  All the agility-based dps will be rolling on the Shawl of Nerubian Silk.

If you’re killing him in 25-man raid, watch for Band of the Bone Colossus – a nice ring.  Frostbitten Fur Boots for your feet is a nice piece of lott as well.

19
Dec
09

Disarm traps.. is that on my toolbar?

OK, before anyone comments on the title of the post, Blizzard didn’t make us put Disarm Traps on our toolbar.

But we do get to disarm a trap.  When was the last time you did that?  I’ve heard that it can be done in PvP (which I don’t do enough to say).  Other than that, I think the last time I disarmed a trap was at Ravenholdt Manor sometime around level 25.  Old school raiders used Disarm Traps in the Suppression Room in BWL (rogues – if you’ve never gone into BWL, you should take a few friends and go through it just to see what you missed).

A lot of people are playing rogues that they started only after BC or WotLK came out, so its possible that many of them have never disarmed a trap.  So lets review.  Rogues have the passive Detect Traps ability.  It gives you a heightened ability to see a trap before you reach it.

When you see a trap, normally you would use your Disarm Trap ability to get rid of it.  Disarm Trap requires you to be in stealth.  Traps are so rare these days that you almost certainly do not have Disarm Traps on your toolbar anywhere.  That’s OK, Blizzard is going to help you out in Icecrown Citadel.

So where is this trap?  Its in the first trash area in Icecrown Citadel.  I stumbled on it when we went in there yesterday.  As we were working our way through the room, I asked in chat, “What’s that thing on the ground there?”  The raid leader replied, “What thing?”  It turned out that I was the only one who could see it.  Rogue FTW!

(in the picture, the plume of smoke is from a flare I threw so that the rest of the raid would avoid the trap)

The item is called a Spirit Trap.  If anyone in the raid gets too close, it animates one of those huge bone giants that are standing against the walls.  They aren’t too terribly tough, but they would be an inconvenience if they showed up in the middle of other trash fights.

When you mouse over it (while stealthed), you’ll get a wheel.  Click on it and you’ll attempt to disarm it.  If you succeed, it doesn’t go away but you no longer get a wheel when you mouse over it.  If the disarm attempt fails – a bone giant will be running at you.   Vanish!

Honestly, a lot of raids will want you to leave the traps alone.  The bone giants give a nice chunk of Ashen Verdict reputation, and killing them get you closer to the rep rewards.  Still, this was a nice little nugget for Blizzard to throw in there for rogues.

18
Dec
09

Dungeon Finder… another perspective

Note: I wrote this post only a couple of days after Patch 3.3 came out.  These were my initial impressions.  I’ve put an addendum at the end to sum up any changes in my opinions.

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The blogosphere is full of posts gushing about the new Dungeon Finder feature.  It has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the majority of players.

Let me put my own spin on it, from the perspective of (1) someone who doesn’t like to pug, (2) a guild leader, (2) a well-geared player with some lesser geared alts, and (3) someone who plays the game as much for the social aspects as for the in-game rewards.

Don’t Like to pug

Despite my aversion to pugs, I’ve done several using the Dungeon Finder to get the daily Emblem rewards.  Every one of them has been smooth.  No deaths, quick runs, no problems.  I’ve been on runs with well-geared players who knew their roles.  Pugs have never been so good.

However, I really don’t have much choice.  Most of the runs happening right now are pugs, and the Dungeon Finder is the fastest way to get Emblems of Frost.  If I don’t pug, I’m going to fall behind in gear.  I am hoping that the novelty of the pugs will wear off soon and I’ll be able to queue up for random dungeons with an all-guild group to get my Emblems.  I could get my frost emblems by doing a random dungeon with a guild group, but that’s not really happening.

Guild Leader

The guild leader in me sees good and bad.  On the good side, players will probably do a lot of instance runs, which means more badges and faster gearing.  Also, there is always that one player in the guild who begs and begs for instance runs to places that no one wants to go, like Oculus or Old Kingdom.  Now that player can get into pugs quickly and won’t spam guild chat.

On the bad side, since the patch came out three days ago I don’t think I’ve seen more than a handful of all-guild heroic runs, other than the new Icecrown heroics.  Everyone is hopping into pugs.  I’m not even sure that I could put together a guild heroic run if I wanted to because people are occupied elsewhere.  I see this as a negative.  It could detract from guild cohesiveness, and it gives us less practice playing together in a team.

Geared main, undergeared alts

As I said, in every pug I’ve done through the Dungeon Finder, the general gear level of the group was high and the run went smoothly.  However, there was sometimes that one player in the group who was either undergeared or simply not that good.  We had a DK who did 950 dps, but the rest of the group was so good that we just carried him.  We had a tank once with the same health as my rogue, but the group dps was so high that nothing lived long enough to kill him.  It hasn’t been a problem, but I’ve never been in the situation where I was the low-end player in the group.

What’s the flip side?

The groups have been of such high caliber, that I am completely intimidated about the thought of bringing in my paladin tank or priest healer to a pug.

My paladin tank is not well-geared, but I am pretty good at tanking.  Even so, I’m not good enough to speed-pull through a heroic in 12 minutes.  I’m not sure if I could hold aggro from ToGC-geared dps.  As of the time I wrote this, I have yet to run a pug on my tankadin.  And since my guild isn’t doing many guild-only heroics, that means that my paladin is not getting new gear until I get up the courage to pug with him..

My priest is in a worse situation.  He’s actually fairly geared (about Ulduar-10 level) but I’m just not good at playing him.  If I got thrown into a pug with similarly-geared players that wanted to chain-pull an instance, I doubt I’d be able to keep up.  I can’t imagine putting him into a pug.  So, again, his gearing process is at a standstill until my guild starts doing more heroics again.

Social player

I didn’t need to run heroics on my main before the patch.  My gear is pretty good.  Still, I ran them as a nice way to hang out with my friends in the guild.  I enjoy the banter in party chat or in vent.  I look forward to playing the game with friends.

For the moment, that is largely absent from the game.  My pugs have so far been silent, clinical speed runs with little or no chat, with people I don’t know.  I guess that for people who do a lot of pugs that’s nothing new.  For me, though, its boring.

Overall

For players who like to pug, this feature is incredible. The runs get pulled together quickly, the players in them (for now) are good, and the system is working smoothly.  The teleportation to the instance is incredibly convenient.

For players like me, it makes pugs… tolerable.  And that’s saying a lot.

___________________________________________________________

Addendum, one week later.

I am still doing few pugs.  The number of guild runs has picked back up, mostly because the people in my guild mostly share my dislike of pugs.  A ot of players are still making use of the pug system with random groups.  We still make use of the Dungeon Finder for its teleport feature.

I don’t pug every day for the social reasons.  I’d rather find other things to do than run with people I don’t know.  So I stand by the initial assessment that it makes pugs tolerable.

And I still haven’t done a pug with my prot paladin or disc priest.


12
Dec
09

HfB buff reduced… that didn’t take long

When I posted about the size of our dps increase in the patch, I assumed that we’d see an “adjustment” in the future.  Well, it didn’t even take a week.  Its already been hotfixed into the game.

From Blizzard official forums…

Hunger for Blood now increases a rogue’s damage by 10% down from 15%.

Mutilate still has a significant buff overall from the patch.  Looking at my dps test in my previous post, I had seen a 936 dps increase due to the patch changes.  About 145 of that was from the Murder change, and that is situational so I’ll pull that out.  Adjusting the HfB buff down from 15% to 10% would then bring the figures down by another 35 dps.  That would still leave me with a very healthy 756 dps increase over my pre-patch figures.

This isn’t doom-and-gloom.  We’re still well ahead of where we were before, and we knew it was coming.

10
Dec
09

Patch 3.3 and Mutilate DPS

Maybe it would be best if I didn’t post this.  Perhaps the powers-that-be at Blizzard won’t even notice if I don’t draw it to their attention.  Maybe if I don’t say anything this will slip under their radar without bringing out a massive nerf stick.

I guess I’ll take the chance.

On Monday, December 7th (pre-patch) I went to a Heroic Practice Dummy and did a 5-minute dps test in my Mutilate spec.  I took a couple of screenshots to set a baseline for comparison.  I was running a cookie-cutter 51/13/7 Mutilate spec with Golem-Shard Sticker MH and Dirk of the Night Watch OH.  Overall GearScore around 4850 by the add-on, or 2639 by WoW-Heroes.  Poisons are IP/DP of course.  Here are the results…

Note that Instant Poison makes up just under 14% of my overall damage.  I was not doing any kind of weapon swapping.

On Tuesday after I was able to log in, I went to the same Heroic Practice Dummy using the same gear and the same spec.  I had made no changes since the previous day.  No extra buffs or consumables that I was aware of.  Here were the results the second time around, post-patch 3.3…

Huh?  A 936 dps increase?  Nice!

First, notice that post-patch my white melee attacks were hitting a little harder.  The same was true for all of my attacks… they were just slightly higher.  That came from the change in Murder

  • Murder: This talent now provides a flat damage increase of 2/4% against all targets, instead of only targets which do not appear in Icecrown.

Since the Heroic Training Dummy is categorized as a Mechanical, I would not have had any benefit from the talent pre-patch.  Now I get the 4% from Murder on all targets.  That would account for about 150 out of the 936 dps increase.

The big effect that stands out is the change in my Instant Poison.  It went from 14% of my damage to a whopping 29% of my damage!  That’s from the new change in DP…

  • Deadly Poison: In addition to its existing effects, when a rogue applies Deadly Poison to a target which has already reached the maximum number of applications, this will also trigger the poison which the rogue is using on his or her other weapon.

Boy, did that ever have an impact!  Look how many more IP procs there were the second time!

This won’t help our trash dps much, and its not going to be a huge effect in pvp I’d think.  It only appears when you can get your DP stacked to 5 and keep it refreshed.  That means extended single-target dps.

For maximum damage output, Mutilate rogues will want to get DP stacked to 5 quickly.  Even on small trash packs, we will be better off picking one mob and burning it down rather than using FoK, as long is it lives long enough for DP to stack.  Once DP is at a 5-stack on your target you’ll see your dps jump as IP starts proccing.  (don’t give up on FoK  – its still useful on large trash packs or on trash that dies before DP can stack)

Is a nearly 1000 dps increase what Blizzard intended?  Are there nerfs inevitable?  Maybe there are not many tank-and-spank bosses in ICC, so we won’t get to realize that kind of damage in raids.  Time will tell.

In any case, there is no excuse now, rogues!  Lets show those mages and warlocks and ret pallies who the kings of single-target dps are!




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)
December 2009
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