Archive for January, 2011


Rogue Basics: Why slow/fast?

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?

Look at abilities such as Sinister Strike, Mutilate, and Backstab.

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!


Shouldn’t guild groups be the norm?

Last week when Blizzard announced more upcoming changes on the PTR for patch 4.0.6, one of them was a change in the definition of a guild group.

  • If 3 out of 5 players in a group are members of the same guild, they will now be able to complete guild achievements and earn guild experience at 50% of the normal rate.
  • If 4 out of 5 players in a group are members of the same guild, they will now be able to complete guild achievements and earn guild experience at 100% of the normal rate.
  • If 5 out of 5 players in a group are members of the same guild, they will now be able to complete guild achievements and earn guild experience at 125% of the normal rate.
  • Also note that Heroic dungeons offer a 1.5x multiplier on all guild experience earned.

I thought that was an interesting change.

Then I was puzzled by the reaction from a writer at WoWInsider…

This is all well and good, but if more guilds are running dungeon groups, this means less people using the dungeon finder and longer queue times for those who have to wait.

I thought that was an odd consideration.  Then I read the comments on that post and most were in agreement.  In fact, the majority of commenters seemed to think that Blizzard should be somehow fixing the LFD system to reduce the queue times.

All around the blogosphere, voices started complaining about the LFD system – mostly about the lack of tanks and healers in LFD, and how its a shame that the LFD has long queues.  A lot of people seem to think that this is a problem for Blizzard to solve.

I know I’ll take some flak for this, but I disagree.

Since the LFD system was introduced, it almost seems like its taken over the game.  When people decide to run an instance, often their first instinct is to queue in LFD rather than asking in their guild.  I wonder how many of the players do most of their instance runs through LFD?

In my opinion, that’s not really the way the game is structured.  When I look around Stormwind, I see that almost everyone has a guild tag under their name.  Why aren’t they running in their guilds?  What exactly is the point of being in a guild if not to do things with them?

My vision of the game is that most groups should be guild groups, and that pugs of randomly grouped people should be a last resort if you can’t get into a guild group.  For that reason, I don’t really think that the LFD system needs to be changed.  In fact, the difficulty of heroics really promotes the effectiveness of guild grouping.

Guilds are one of the hallmarks of MMOs.  In Everquest, being guilded was all but mandatory. In vanilla WoW you almost had to be guilded to run instances or raids.  In BC there were more pugs but they were hard to put together in the trade channel.  Guild groups have far outweighed random grouping through all the years of WoW.   Has the LFD channel improved the game?  In Wrath it certainly made it easier and faster, but then again I think that the speed and easiness of Wrath has nearly destroyed WoW.

The more the game de-emphasizes guilds, the weaker it becomes.  As a single player game, WoW is just OK.  As a multiplayer game its enormous fun.

Also, I don’t think that there is a shortage of healers and tanks.  I think that there is a shortage of healers in tanks in the LFD system.  Players who have healing/tanking off-specs won’t use them in LFD out of fear of being berated or insulted. That’s a reflection on the people in LFD system, not on Blizzard.

For those who have continued to persist in frustrating themselves with long queues and bad pugs.. why haven’t you run with more guild groups?  Small guild?  No one in your guild will tank?


Glyphs are still profitable

Inscription was my main gold-making activity during Wrath, earning me hundreds of thousands of gold.  When the glyph system was changed, making them learn-once-and-use-them-forever items, I thought that the market might dry up.  I know that a lot of scribes got out of the glyph business at that time.

To an extent the market has gone south, as predicted.  I sell less than 1/3 the volume of the glyphs that I did during the Wrath days.

However, Outland and Northrend herbs are pretty scarce on the auction house because there are not a lot of players leveling and herbing in those zones.  That drives the cost of Ink of the Sea and Ethereal Ink up.  At the moment I am buying stacks of Outland herbs for 60g each and then selling glyphs made from Ethereal Ink for around 200 gold apiece.  Even if I only sell a handful, it still earns me a lot of profit.

Eventually, the cost of Cataclysm herbs will come down.  When that happens the older inks will be bought from Jessica Sellers in Dalaran in exchange for Blackfallow Inks.  Until that happens, inscription is still quite profitable.


OK, back

Shouldn’t there be a nice abbreviation for when you get back from afk?

I had two and a half weeks off from work over the holidays. I played quite a lot of WoW – so much so that it kind of overwhelmed me. When the holidays ended, I needed to step back.

I still kept playing because I had obligations to my friends and my guild as far as running the guild and setting up our new web site. However, I pulled back from reading blogs and writing on my blog just to give myself some WoW-rest.

I feel a bit rejuvenated. I’ll get back to posting again.


Combat spec getting love in patch 4.0.6?

In the patch notes for 4.0.6 currently on the PTR, there are two relevant changes to combat dps…

(1)  Main Gauche (Mastery) now provides a chance to deal an attack for 75% of main-hand damage. This attack can trigger Combat Potency.

This is a nice change.  One of the big knocks against combat’s Mastery (Main Gauche) is that when it procs it gives an extra off-hand attack.  Since rogues are forced to use fast off-hands (for Combat Potency and poison application) our off-hand is always a much lower damage weapon than our main hand.  Thus, the Main Gauche proc was always underwhelming, and Mastery was a weak stat for combat rogues.

If this change goes live, then the Main Gauche proc will give an extra hit from our slower, harder-hitting weapon.  That should make Mastery more appealing and more useful to combat rogues.

(2)  Revealing Strike now increases finisher effectiveness by 35% (45% glyphed), up from 20% (30% glyphed).

This is a straight damage buff.  The theorycrafters at Elitist Jerks estimate this as about a 1.5% increase in combat dps.



Heroic Bosses I Like or Dislike

I only run one heroic per day (if that), so it took me until yesterday to finally see all of the heroic instances.  Here’s my impression of some of the the bosses I like and dislike.

Throne of the Tides:

  • Like: Commander Ulthok.  While it is a kiting fight, I can spend most of my time behind / off to the side and can maintain single-target dps.
  • Dislike: Mindbender Ghur’sha.  Target switching and moving out of line-of-sight of his shadow beams is frustrating and disruptive to our dps.


  • Like: Slabhide.  Healers dislike this one because there are a lot of line of sight issues, but for us its focused damage except the brief moments we duck behind a stalagmite to avoid Crystal Storm.
  • Corborus.  Well, everyone hates Corborus.  In particular for rogues, the little shards need to be AoE’d down, but our FoK requires us to be in melee range so we end up taking a lot of damage if we need to help take down the adds.

Vortex Pinnacle

  • Like: Asaad.  Basic tank and spank.  The other fight mechanics like jumping and moving are not too disruptive.
  • Dislike: Altairus.  The upwind/downwind mechanic is obnoxious when you’re trying to stay behind the boss.  The tornadoes are everywhere.

Lost City

  • Like:  General Husam.  Another kiting fight with occasional running out to avoid AoE effects.  If you’re lucky enough to avoid randomly being thrown into a pillar, then its a dance to stay behind the boss while avoiding the mines on the ground.  Fun.
  • Dislike: Siamat.  Lots of target switching and running across the combat area to acquire new targets.

Halls of Origination

  • Like: Temple Guardian Anhuur.  There is something satisfying when you pop Tricks onto the tank before jumping down, and then you FoK and watch all the snakes run away from you to the tank, leaving the way clear for you to pull the lever.
  • Dislike: most of the bosses are dps burns so none stand out as particularly unlikable.

Grim Batol

  • Like: Erudax.  Anytime the strategy is “burn the adds asap” you know that rogues are into it.  Gives me a reason to spec into Deadly Brew
  • Dislike: Drahga Shadowburner.  I have a hard time finding the invoked spirits when I am staring at the back of the boss.

Shadowfang Keep:

  • Like: Baron Ashbury.  I enjoy fights where I have to interrupt.  It gives me something extra to do beside my dps rotation.
  • Dislike:  Commander Springvale… unless you drag him outside to avoid the adds when this becomes much simpler.


  • Like: Vanessa Van Cleef.  Who could dislike swinging on ropes?
  • Dislike: Foe Reaper 5000 because I spend half the fight running away from him.  Also Cookie.  Its really tough for melee to get close enough to attack with all the bad food lying around.  And Ripsnarl, for that matter, because of the frequent target switching.  Oh, and don’t forget Glubtok… that moving wall of flame is hard on melee.

Blackrock Caverns:

  • Like: Beauty.  Basic tank and spank.
  • Dislike:  Karsh Steelbender.  I hate taking unavoidable AoE damage in a fight.  I end up spending a lot of combo points on Recuperate, which helps out the healer but makes it hard to keep my damage rotations going.

Gear Yourself with Gold

A lot of people ended Wrath with a big pile of gold.  As we moved into the Cataclysm era, much of that gold probably went into leveling tradeskills and getting enchants on your gear.

If you are trying to gear up and you still have a fat sum of gold sitting around, here are some BoE epics that rogues might look for on the auction house.

Realistically, many of these won’t show up on the auction house for several weeks or even months, because when they drop they are being used by the lucky people that get them.  Eventually these will be found by players who don’t need them and they’ll go up for sale.

Head:  Tsanga’s Helm (BoE zone drop in Bastion of Twilight)

Neck:  Don Rodrigo’s Fabulous Necklace (random drop)

Shoulders:  none

Back:  Dory’s Finery (random drop)

Chest:  Morrie’s Waywalker Wrap (random drop) or Assassin’s Chestplate (LW)

Wrists:  none

Hands:  none

Waist:  Belt of Nefarious Whispers (LW)

Legs:  none

Feet:  Treads of Fleeting Joy (bought with Valor Points but BoE)

Ring:  Gilnean Ring of Ruination (random drop)

Trinket:  Darkmoon Card: Hurricane (inscription) or Unheeded Warning (random BoE drop in Bastion of Twilight)

Thrown Weapon:  Spinerender (random drop from pickpocketing) or Dragonwreck Throwing Axe (random BoE drop in Bastion of Twilight)

Fast dagger:  Scaleslicer (random BoE drop in Blackwing Descent)

Sword:  Krol Decapitator (random drop from pickpocketing)

Fist Weapon:  Claws of Torment (random BoE drop in Blackwing Descent)

It would take hundreds of thousands of gold to buy all of them, but if you’re needing one piece to shore up your gear then keep an eye on the auctions.

This list is only epics.  There are rare items comparable to instance drops available for every slot, so it is possible to completely gear yourself without running any instances if you have enough gold.


Dinaer - 100 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 92 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 91 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 100 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 100 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
January 2011
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