Archive for February, 2010


To horde or not to horde?

I’ve been playing WoW for just about four years now.  I’ve never switched servers, never switched my main toon or done a name change.  I’ve never even switched guilds.

And I’ve never played horde.

I have three alliance toons at max level and two others that are in the process of being leveled.  All alliance.  Why is that?

First, I definitely feel like I connect more with alliance.  In all of my RPG experiences I have played human or elf characters.  I prefer my characters to look older and wise.  My rogue looks more stately and noble than sneaky and devious.  I’m not sure that you can really get a noble look from a troll or undead.

While the alliance vs horde is not really a “good vs evil” comparison, alliance definitely seems more like the “right” side in the world of Azeroth.  Again, that connects with me.

Most importantly, though, is the social aspect.  I have been in my guild with many of the same people for a long, long time.  When I log into the game, I look forward to the chat and conversation.  I know nobody on the horde side, so playing there would not have the same social aspect that I have come to enjoy.

Now Cataclysm is coming, and the entire old world is being changed.  Should I take the time to level a horde toon and see what I’ve missed?  I’m not talking about game mechanics reasons like racial abilities or the differences in trade chat.  I’m talking about the difference in zones, NPCs, and backstory.

Is the flavor of the horde side game – storylines and play experience – sufficiently different from alliance to make it worth my time?

If so, which horde race has the most interesting and rich lore and storylines?


Rogue changes in 3.3.3

Just when everyone was settling into their no-Rupture cycles… patch 3.3.3 brings it all back.

Or does it?

Rupture: The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes.

If Rupture can crit, then combat rogues will likely use it over Eviscerate as their finisher for sustained-dps fights.

For Mutilate, its not so cut-and-dry.  The goal of Mutilate cycles these days is to maximize the uptime of the Envenom debuff on the target.  While adding Rupture as a finisher shounds nice, even with crits it may not be worth the loss of poison damage when you skip an Envenom.  We’ll have to see how this plays out.  It may end up not really changing the way Mutilate works.

Its also possible that this will push Combat back above Mutilate as the raid spec of choice for top-geared rogues.  Again, we’ll have to see how this pans out on the PTR.

Another issue: if rogues are going to bring Rupture back for the crits, there is going to be a push for more crit rating.  That may warrant using Agility gems instead of AP gems again.  Gah!  Regemming is expensive!

If you gem for agility/crit and you’re in a lot of T10 gear, you’re going to have to watch out for the crit cap. Be warned.

That one change will have a lot of impact on the direction raiding rogues will go.



  • Filthy Tricks: Now Reduces the cooldown by 5/10 seconds and energy cost by 5/10 of Tricks of the Trade, Distract and Shadowstep abilities, and reduces the cooldown of Preparation by 1.5/3 minutes.
  • Ghostly Strike: If the rogue has a dagger equipped, this ability now deals 180% weapon damage instead of 125%.
  • Hemorrhage: If the rogue has a dagger equipped, this ability now deals 160% weapon damage instead of 110%.
  • Slaughter from the Shadows: Now adds 1/2/3/4/5% damage to all attacks in addition to its current effects.
  • Waylay: The debuff from this talent can now be caused by Backstab in addition to Ambush.

So you don’t have to go and look up the current versions of these talents: Shadowstep added to the Filthy Tricks talent. Damage buff added to Slaughter from the Shadows (the talent currently reduces energy cost of Ambush, Backstab, and Hemo).  Backstab added to Waylay.  Ghostly Strike and Hemo buffed for daggers.

Blizzard has tried before to make Subtlety a viable spec for rogues.  Through it all, Sub has novered on the fringes as the “pvp spec” (other than the brief glory days of  HaT spec). Recently its not even that, as most pvp rogues I see are full Assassination or in a Mut/Sub build that doesn’t get as deep into Sub as the listed talents.  On the WoWpopular site, the top Subtlety build is 28th on the rogue talent list.

These changes still won’t bring Sub up to the level of Combat or Mutilate as a PvE spec.  It does make it more appealing for PvP, and the changes to Ghostly Strike, Hemo, and Waylay make it possible to play it with daggers, which is a long-awaited change.

I haven’t had a subtlety spec since I was leveling in vanilla WoW.  Since Blizz is going to such effort to make it more appealing, I may try it after the patch drops and give it a test drive.


Lack of posts reflects lack of activity

Haven’t posted in almost two weeks.  That’s mostly because there has been nothing going on.  I took a week off from WoW (due to work, not by choice) and have had limited time otherwise.  So, here’s a generic “what have I been doing” post.

Raiding: not much.  We’re being pulled in too many directions.  Since we aspire to run 25-man raids, and we are a casual-friendly guild, we are committed to doing as much 25-man content as possible and getting everyone involved.  One night a week we do the weekly raid quest for everyone online.  Then one or two nights a week we do 25-man ToC or something similar.  We aren’t able to handle 25-man ICC at this time, so we’re surfing behind the progression curve.

Our 10-man team is capable of ICC, but its hard to find time.  Three nights are already accounted for as listed above.  We spend one night each week clearing lower ICC.  Honestly, most of our raiders are not into raiding more than four nights a week.  That has kept us from having any serious time to work on upper ICC.

Solution: unknown.  We could stop running organized weekly raid quests and let people pug them, which would free up another night for progression raiding.  That’s not optimal.  We could only dedicate one of our scheduled guild raid nights to 25-man raids, since we can’t do anything more than ToC anyway.

Guild: generally good, but could be better.  We’re still hovering around 20-24 regular raiders.  Every time we get one geared, someone else stops playing or leaves.  Then we bring in a new recruit with no gear or experience and have to work them in.  Our core is still great, though, and generally happy.  I am certain that there are a few who are a bit disgruntled at our lack of progression, though, so I’m not sure how long the peace will last.

My main, Dinaer (rogue): not so good.  I barely play him anymore.  I log onto him and do a random dungeon each day for my two emblems, and that’s about it.  Sometimes I raid with him, and sometimes I raid on my pally.  A month ago, Dinaer was one of the guild’s best geared players and easily the top dps.  Now there are many players who outgear him and I’m no longer a top damage dealer.  I’m close to getting my 2-piece T10 bonus, so maybe that will help.

My alt, Derence (prot pally): Not bad.  He’s in fairly good shape, gear-wise.  He’s been able to tank whatever content he’s encountered.  I just don’t play him enough to get him new stuff.  He’s geared at the T9 level, mostly, with two ICC pieces.  I just got him enough emblems to buy his 2nd Emblem of Frost item.  I really only log on this toon when he’s needed, though.

My other alt, Metius (disc priest): Honestly, I gave up on this character.  The Zen of Discipline healing just wasn’t coming to me, so I stopped.  Now he’s just my tailoring toon.

So what have I been doing?  Leveling a mage, using only the LFD tool.  No, its not as fast as questing.  Other people in my guild have outleveled me greatly.  But the fact that I never have to run/ride from one end of a zone to the other and back for a quest is so worth it.  Currently at level 48.

My favorite part of playing the frost mage is survivability.  Often, during an AoE trash pull, my Blizzard will pull aggro from the tank (oops).  Then its Cone of Cold to slow them, Frost Nova to stop them, Blink to the other side of the tank, repeat until either the tank picks them back up or they die.  That’s fun.

My other favorite part of playing the mage is that I don’t have to move when the mobs move.  As long as they stay in range, I can stand still and blast away.  Soooo much different than the positioning problems with a rogue.

Other endeavors: I’m trying to do more Auction House profiteering.  I’ve done a great Arctic Fur trade and a sell lots of Netherweave Bags.  I also do well with crystallized fires, although I fear that market is going away with the next patch.  I’m not a hardcore AH player, so I’m happy making a fair amount in excess of the gold it takes to support two raiding toons.

I’m also leveling inscription and enchanting on the mage.  I’ve never had a scribe before, so this is new.  We’ll see if its as profitable as they say one I max it out.  Enchanting is just for convenience in enchanting my other toon’s gear and disenchanting their usless loot.

Aaaand that’s all.  More as details emerge about the next patch.


Crit Cap

WoW is filled with “caps.”  Soft caps, hard caps.  Caps that are nearly mandatory to reach, caps that are suggested to reach.

For most of our rogue lives we have watched our hit rating for caps.  We know about the hit cap for special attacks and poison hit cap, and the out-of-reach white hit cap.  (if you don’t, see my detailed post from last year).  In recent months rogues became very concerned with the armor penetration cap.

For my five years of playing WoW, though, I never really worried about crit.  More crit = better.  That’s changing.  At T10 gear levels, there is a point where more crit no longer helps your autoattack white damage.  Thus, the existence of a crit cap.

Chase Christian at did a good job of explaining this briefly.  I’m going to go a little more teacher-like, because that’s what I do.  To skip the discussion, scroll down to the Wrap Up at the end.

To start, we need to be familiar with the hit table.  When you attack, its as if you roll a die from 1-100.  You have a chance to crit, hit, be dodged, get a glancing blow, or miss.  I’m omitting parry as an option here on the assumption that you’ll be attacking from behind, as you are certainly a well-informed rogue.  🙂

If you had zero hit rating and zero expertise and were attacking a level 83 raid boss, with a 30% crit chance, your hit table would look like this:

27% miss
6.5% dodge
24% glancing blow
4.8 % crit suppression*
30% crit
the rest (7.7%) is normal hit

* crit suppression is a mechanic found to exist on raid bosses by theorycrafters after extensive combat log analysis

Of course, no one goes into a raid with zero hit or zero expertise.  However, we’ll go with that table above as a starting point.  Lets say that this rogue gets some new gems with +crit and increases his crit %.  All of the numbers in the attack table have to add up to 100%, so if crit % increases then something else has to decrease.  What decreases is the chance to get a normal hit.

So if our fictional no-hit, no-expertise rogue gets another 5% crit, then his new attack table would be…

27% miss
6.5% dodge
24% glancing blow
4.8 % crit suppression
35% crit
the rest (2.7%) is normal hit

Now he has only a 2.7% chance to get a normal hit! Hopefully, you can see where this is going.  If he keeps adding +crit, then eventually his chance of getting a normal hit will go to zero.  When that happens his attack table will be

27% miss
6.5% dodge
24% glancing blow
4.8 % crit suppression
37.5% crit

What next?  If you keep adding +crit after that it no longer increases your chance to crit at all!  Our fictional rogue in this case has a crit cap of 37.5%.

But that’s not your crit cap.  Yours is different.

Essentially, your crit cap is whatever % you have left after subtracting your hit, dodge, glancing, and crit suppression from 100%.  You can’t change the glancing blow % or crit suppression, so the way to make more room for crits is by reducing the chance for misses and dodges.  That means adding +hit and +expertise.

Lets say that our fictional rogue above gets some new gear.  He still has his 37.5% crit chance, but manages to get himself expertise capped.  That eliminates all of the dodge chance.  Now his attack table will be..

27% miss
0% dodge
24% glancing blow
4.8 % crit suppression
37.5% crit
the rest (6.5%) is normal hit

He now could increase his crit by another 6.5% without hitting the crit cap.

Now for hit rating.  When you add hit rating, you actually are reducing your chance to miss.  If our fictional rogue adds 5% hit chance he actually reduces his chance to miss from 27% to 22%.  THen his attack table would look like:

22% miss
0% dodge
24% glancing blow
4.8 % crit suppression
37.5% crit
the rest (11.5%) is normal hit

This gives him lots of room to add +crit without hitting the crit cap.

The wrap-up

To find your crit cap, do this:

  • start with 100%
  • subtract the chance to get a glancing blow (24%)
  • subtract the crit suppression for raid bosses (4.8%)
  • subtract the bosses chance to dodge (base 6.5%, reduced by expertise – hover over expertise on your character page to see this)
  • subtract your chance to miss (base 27%, reduced by your +hit chance – hover over Hit Rating on your character page to see this)
  • What you have left is the total chance to hit and crit.  This figure is your crit cap.

Most of us won’t be up against the crit cap unless you’ve been stacking a lot of +crit gear.  Personally, I’m not that close, but another rogue in my guild is within a few percent.  If you’re getting near the crit cap you’ll need to make informed decisions about gear and gems.  Make sure to account for trinket procs if you are getting close to the crit cap.


Switching Specs During Runs

In the past I’ve talked about the fact that I am a die-hard dagger rogue.  I’ve stated this many times, and its due to lore-like reasons.  I’ve always pictured rogues attacking with a dagger in the back from the shadows.  I know that others disagree – commenters have made very well-written cases for swashbuckling rogues with swords or ninja-like rogues with fist weapons.  I can see that.  Its just not my personal vision.  For me, Assassination spec has always been my preferred way to go, even when Combat was the top dps spec.

Game mechanics have pushed me to change my tune on Combat spec.  Specifically, the chain-pulling speed runs in heroics with the LFD tool.

Assassination is a great single-target spec, but it lags when the targets are dying in just a few seconds due to massively overgeared instance groups.  As a Mutilate spec, I’m usually forced to use FoK spam because I can’t build up poison stacks or combo points fast enough for envenoms.

Combat, though, has those nice cooldowns.  If I alternate Blade Flurry, Killing Spree, and Adrenaline Rush on trash pulls, and save two out of the three for boss fights I can do excellent dps in heroics.

This has given me a lot of practice with Combat Sword/Axe, to the point that I’m now comfortable using it in raids.  My routine is ICC now is to go with Combat spec for trash and Mutilate spec for bosses.  This has kept me at an acceptable level of damage (by acceptable I mean #1, of course).

It helps that I’ve been the recipient of a nice axe and sword through the “take it or it gets disenchanted” loot system.  If I was really dedicated to this, I’d actually build up two different sets of gear, since Combat seems to improve with ArPen and haste more than Mutilate does.  However, Combat is still a special-situation set and trash doesn’t require min/maxing the way tightly-tuned bosses do.


A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Festergut

As with all of my guides, this is not intended to be a strategy for the whole raid.  It is only intended for rogues and other melee dps classes.

Festergut, like Saurfang, is a very easy fight for rogues.  Specifically, this is a dps test for your raid.  Your job is generally going to be standing still going all-out on the boss.  Therefore, this guide will be fairly short.

On the pull, plant yourself right behind him and go nuts.  The fight will last no more than 5 minutes so you’ll get to use your 2-minute cooldown abilities twice.  If everything goes well in the fight, the boss won’t move at all, and neither will you.  Your raid needs to average about 5-6k dps per damage class (depending how many healers you have and what your tanks can do).

This fight has one interesting mechanic.  You’ll notice that the room is filled with a haze when you start.  Everyone takes damage from that.  Festergut will inhale some of the gas, which reduces raid damage but makes him hit harder.

Every so often there will be gas spores that spawn (two on 10-man, three on 25-man).  In about 10 seconds the spores will explode, but you don’t want to avoid themGet close to them! When they explode, you take a small amount of damage but, more importantly, you get a stack of Inoculation.  You really want that.  You should get three stacks from the first three spore spawns.

During the fight, after Festergut has inhaled all of the gas in the room, he will exhale it all at once, doing 50,000 damage to each player.  However, the damage is reduced by 25% for each stack of Inoculation you get, so if you got three stacks you only take about 12-13k damage.

The only time that you might be asked to move is to get the gas spores around.  Each spore spawns on a person.  The whole raid needs to be next to a spore when it explodes, which is 12 seconds after it spawns.  If, by chance, all spores  spawn in the melee group, then one of the players with a spore needs to run out to get to the ranged dps so they can get Inoculated.  You’ll need to set that up with your raid in advance.  Just make sure that you are near a spore when it goes off.  If the spore is on you, make sure you are close enough to the tanks so that they get the Inoculation.

Other than that one possibility, you’ll be able to stay put and do big, big dps in this fight.

One other piece of advice – Festergut can do a targeted AoE effect that makes people vomit for 6 seconds.  He only casts it on players at range, so we rogues don’t have to worry about this.  However, if there are fewer than three players at range (eight in 25-man) he may cast it on melee, which would be bad.  Make sure your raid has enough players at range, and that they are spread out so they don’t all end up puking.

The fight sounds simple, but that’s just for melee dps.  The tanks will be switching to manage a stacking debuff (so be careful with your Tricks if you use it on the tank).  Healers need to switch from raid healing to tank healing as Festergut inhales gas.  None of that affects the rogues, though.

A note about a “just in case” situation… if somehow you don’t get all three stacks of Inoculation then I’ve read that you can avoid his 50k damage explosion by using Vanish just at the instant the cast goes off.  I haven’t tried it myself, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

Festergut has a couple of attractive drops for rogues.  On 10-man, he offers Precious’s Putrid Collar for your neck slot and Plague-Soaked Leather Leggings.  There’s a slow mace, too, if you have seen any mace rogues out there.

The 25-man version has a leg slot item, also – the Gangrenous Leggings.  There is a lso a 2.6 speed fist weapon, Black Bruise.  Unfortunately, there’s really nothing else for us here.


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
February 2010
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