There are a lot of new rogues out there. Rogue seems to be a pretty popular class for Worgen.
I’ve seen a number of rogues lately who have just equipped the highest iLevel weapons they get, regardless of speed. Others don’t even realize that weapon speed makes a difference. Many new rogues are told flatly “use a slow weapon main hand and a fast weapon off-hand” but not given a reason why.
Why a slow weapon in the main hand?
For all of these abilities, the damage of the ability is based on the weapon damage.
Lets compare two weapons… the heroic Steelbender’s Masterpiece and the heroic Lightning Whelk Axe. Note that both weapons are the same iLevel. They both do the same dps (409.6). However, the axe has a higher weapon damage (745-1385) than the dagger (589-885). Slow weapons have to do more damage for each hit because they don’t hit as often. Fast weapons can do less damage per hit because they hit more frequently.
Special abilities use main hand weapon damage as the base of their calculations. These will hit harder if using a slow weapon. Since Sinister Strike for combat rogues, Backstab for subtlety rogues, and Mutilate for assassination rogues all make use of the main hand weapon, then you want a slow main hand to maximize the damage of those abilities.
P.S. – I am ignoring the topic of speed normalization… it doesn’t impact the general gist of the point I am making
Why a fast weapon in the off hand?
The main reason for this is poison stacking. The faster the off hand weapon, the faster it will get you to a 5-stack of Deadly Poison.
Look at the full tooltip for Deadly Poison. Once it gets to a 5-stack, every time you apply it, it procs your main hand poison instead. That means you are doubling up on your Instant Poison procs… once every time it procs from your main hand, and again every time your DP procs from the off-hand. For a Mutilate rogue, this usually makes Instant Poison our #1 source of damage.
Combat rogues have yet another reason to use a fast off-hand. They have a talent called Combat Potency. This gives you energy from your off-hand attacks. More energy means more attacks means more damage. So faster off-hand means more Combat Potency procs.
This makes a huge difference. The slow/fast combination has a major impact on your dps. In one run I was in, there another rogue and he was using a fast main hand dagger. When I suggested that he switch to a slow main hand, even though it was a lower iLvL weapon, his dps went up dramatically just from that one alteration.
Its so important that there are hardly any combat rogues dual-wielding swords any more. Even combat rogues are trying to use a 1.4 speed dagger in their off-hand.
The more you know!