Archive for October, 2012


Combat spec effective in heroics

Long time readers of this blog knows that I have been  a dedicated Mutilate rogue since I switched from Combat Daggers (!) back in Burning Crusade sometime.  Through the times when Combat was the theoretically highest dps spec, I stuck with Assassination.  Even on fights with adds, I’ve been a diehard Assassin and I’ve made it work.


In my previous post I lamented how rough it was to keep my damage competitive in heroics these days.  Well, I cured that.  All I had to do was switch to Combat spec.  Last night I ran a couple of heroics in Combat spec, and finished in 1st or 2nd in dps in most fights.  Blade Flurry was active almost the whole time, but even with that I felt considerably less energy-starved than I do in Assassination spec.

Trash packs are still the AoE-fests that they have always been, and Combat shines there.  Many bosses in heroics have adds, making Combat the spec of choice.  Even without adds, Combat has less ramp-up time so it is preferable on single-target fights if they are not too long.

I still expect to go back to Assassination once I start raiding, but it looks like I’ll be sticking with Combat for now.  Since stat priorities are slightly different between the two specs (Mastery is better for Assassination and Haste for Combat) I may have to work on two gear sets, or choose which spec will be slightly non-optimized.


DPS lament

I know this will sound like qq, but its not really.  I know that I am behind on the gear and leveling curve, and I’m looking for someone to tell me if things are going to get better.

In BC, Wrath, and Cataclysm, I was always at the top of the damage meters.  Even when rogues have had their ups and downs through the past three expansions, I’ve always been able to milk a lot of dps out of my assassination spec.  The rotation comes as naturally to me as walking.  Over the past 6 years I have developed a reputation within my guild for big dps numbers.

As I leveled from 85-90 doing normal dungeons, nothing had changed.  I led in damage on almost every run.  On single target fights I was way above other classes.

Then I hit 90… and its all come crashing down.

Even in guild runs with others who are not wearing any raid gear, I have yet to lead a single heroic instance in damage.  If I really push it I can sometimes finish in 2nd, but more often its third and sometimes its 4th behind the tank.  I have been beaten by every hunter I have run with.  I was beaten handily by a Blood DK in all PVP gear.  I’m having to apologize to guildies for my dps.  I feel like I’m being carried.

I can still be competitive on single-target fights.  I think that’s going to be a gear issue.  However, on AoE fights its just terrible.  I am energy starved beyond belief.

I remember when Blizzard announced that Fan of Knives would grant combo points, and we could spend those on our new attack Crimson Tempest.  We all got excited about a true AoE rotation.  Well, I’m lucky to get a single Crimson Tempest off in an AoE fight.  It takes so long to build up energy after each FoK, even with my Rupture running, that almost everything is dead by the time I get to use CT.  That system is simply not working for me.

I tried reforging to haste to boost my energy regen, going against the advice of simulators.  It hasn’t helped.  Sometimes it feels like I can leave to get a sandwich between attacks because my energy takes so long to build up.

My question, then, for rogues who have already spent some time gearing up.  Does it get better?  Does energy regen catch up at higher gear levels?  Is our dps competitive?  Do I have to switch to Combat for Blade Flurry on trash packs?  Is that my only option?


P.S. – I’m wondering if my legendary daggers might still be the way to go.  Despite the lower iLvL, Assassination gets so many procs from those daggers, and a proc lets me launch up to three consecutive finishers.


Rogue Gearing Progression at level 90

You reached level 90.  Congratulations!  Unfortunately, your quest green and blue gear isn’t going to get you into any heroics.

Here’s a general pattern of gearing once you are at level 90.

1st: Run normal dungeons.

Drops in regular dungeons are iLvL 435.  I’m not going to list all of the drops here.  Just about every boss drops at least one piece of agility gear that can be an upgrade.  Also, you will get Justice Points from these instance runs.  Do this until you can queue for heroics.

2nd: Quest through Dread Wastes

Most of the quest rewards in this zone are iLvL 437, but the end-of-questline rewards are as high as 450.  By the time you finish this zone you are probably at a gear level around 435-440, and you should buy your first Justice Points item.  You have also unlocked the Klaxxi quartermaster.

3rd: Buy Justice Point gear

JP and VP gear in this expansion is sold by quartermasters, so it is tied to reputation.  You’ll likely be Honored with Klaxxi first, and you can buy Cruel Mercy Bracers which are iLvL 458.  (reputation requirements for Justice Point items was removed on 10/2)

Once you get to Honored with Golden Lotus find the Golden Lotus quartermaster in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms you’ll be able to purchase Surehand GripsAmulet of Swirling Mists, and Leggings of Twisted Vines.

Alternately, there is a JP vendor in Townlong Steppes at Niuzao Temple (Commander Lo Ping) that sells all the JP gear from all of the factions.  You can do this once you hit level 90, before questing through Dread Wastes or before you have unlocked August Celestials or Shado-Pan factions.

4th: run the Arena of Annihilation

By this point you should certainly have the item level to queue for this (425).  Its pretty quick and you’ll get a 450 dagger or axe as a quest reward.

5th: check the Auction House

I’m not going to list them all here, but watch the auction house for BoE items.  They will be pretty pricey.  There’s the inevitable Darkmoon deck trinket, which in this expansion is the Relic of Xuan.  I buy one of these deck rewards every expansion.  Sometimes they last a while, other times I find better trinkets pretty quickly.

6th: check with crafters

There are some high iLvL crafted items, but in MoP some of them require Blood Spirit, which only drops in raids.  That will make these hard to come by until more people are raiding.  However, look for Greyshadow Gloves (iLvL 470), which is easy to make, and also a 450 back item from leatherworking.  A blacksmith can make you an iLvL 463 sword or dagger, but they require 5 Spirits of Harmony which means they won’t come cheap.  Jewelcrafters can make level a 450 ring and necklace.

7th: run heroics

Once you have the item level to get into heroics (435), there’s plenty of gear to be had.  The drops in heroics are iLvL 463.  You’re now rolling against both feral druids and dps monks, so expect to lose out on agility leather a little more often than in previous expansions.

8th: Valor Point gear

Assuming you have been doing dailies regularly, you should hit Revered with Klaxxi and Golden Lotus before too long.  At that point their quartermasters sell some epics.  Look for level 489 items legs, neck, and belt from Klaxxi.  Check for a ring, shoulder, and chest from Golden Lotus.  Of course, it will take quite a while to accumulate the Valor Points to buy all of that.  Keep grinding those heroics…

Then you’ll start on Shado-Pan and August Celestials.  Eventually you’ll be buying JP and VP gear from them, too.

9th: run LFR raids

If you are in a raiding guild you might skip this and go straight to regular raids.  Raid Finder drops are item level 483 476.



It took me sixteen days, but I finally got my main to the level cap.  I wasn’t at all in a rush (obviously).  I did start to feel a little self-conscious for the past few days since so many of my guildmates were at level 90, so I focused completely on my main this week.

I’m a little disappointed that the leveling process didn’t get me to all of the zones.  I’m only partway through Townlong Steppes, and I have not set foot into Dread Wastes.  As a completionist, I still want to quest through those zones and see the storylines, but at the same time I’m not sure how I’ll find time to do that along with all of my other new activities.

Has anyone else had trouble with bag space in this expansion?  I have been fighting to keep open spots in my bags for quest items and rewards.  One problem is that there are so many trinkets as quest rewards, and they are so varied that its hard to tell which ones are good.  I have a ton of trinkets in my bags.

I still haven’t replaced my legendary daggers.  I’ve had daggers that are close, but the frequent proc on the daggers keeps them as a solid choice.  Also, batwings.

I have run all the available dungeons from 85-89.  I have led in overall dps in every run, so I know that rogue damage is holding up pretty well.  I’ve had some push from mages and ret pallies, especially in AoE heavy fights.  No one can touch me on single-target, though.

My project for this weekend: plan out the reps that I will work on first.  Figure out which dungeons have good gear upgrades.  Finish leveling my cooking and fishing.  Do some pet battles.


Negative Stigma from Playing WoW

There’s some buzz in the gamer community about politics in Maine.  It seems that a Colleen Lachowitz, a Democratic candidate for state office, plays WoW in her free time.  The Republican Party there is using that to portray her in a negative way leading up to the election.

The Maine Republican Party created a web site that details a lot of posts that Ms. Lachowitz has made on some game-related forums.  Some of it is actually relevant to the political discussion.  She makes comments about politicians and political parties, probably feeling that the anonymity of a forum allowed her to state her true feelings without sugar coating them.  To call her out on that is appropriate.  We should all know by now that usernames and other internet handles do not give you carte blanche to say whatever you want.  Your words never go away.

However, if you look at all of the things posted on there, it also highlights her gaming as if it were a negative in its own right.  They highlight her statements like “I went heavier into the assassination tree” and “I did dungeons” and “I spent my day leveling an undead warlock” as if these were somehow inherently bad.

It goes without saying that the authors of this attack are woefully uninformed about a huge part of culture in the world today.  This attack on Ms. Lachowitz is, of course, without merit.

That doesn’t mean that it won’t work.

Does gaming have a negative stigma?  Clearly, it does.

I know a lot of gamers who have two distinct sets of friends.  They have their “gaming friends” with whom they talk about their boss kills, their kill/death ratio, headshots, and late night Mountain-Dew-fueled gaming sessions.  Then they have their “other friends” with whom they would never bring up those topics because its viewed as strange or weird or immature.

Doesn’t this indicate that gaming is still not an acceptable social activity?

I’m a high school teacher, and I make an effort to never discuss gaming with my students.  I don’t want them to know that I play WoW.  Its not that I am embarrassed of my gaming.  I do think that people have a specific stereotype of what a “gamer” is, and I don’t want that label.  I try to be professional in front of my students, and the gamer image does not fit with that persona.  Also, I would rather not have their parents know.  Call me a coward, but its easier to keep it a secret than it is to explain the truth to those who have certain notions about gaming.

There was one time that I did let on to a few students that I played WoW.  Within a few days, someone had tracked down my character on the armory.  Then it was printed and copied and passed around with the label “This is the REAL Mr. [my name]” written across the bottom.  This was distributed among my students.  Clearly the intent was to portray me as something other than who I appear to be at school.  Its not that different than what is happening to Ms. Lachowitz.  The difference is the scope – for me it was only within a few hundred students, while for her it is regional and, to some extent, national.

I know that I am preaching to the choir here.  Those who read this are gamers and will, of course, defend gaming.  Do you feel self-conscious about how the outside world views you?  Do you hide your hobbies from non-gamers?


Keep Calm and Carry On

I’m a bit behind in my WoW leveling right now.  While others are hitting the level cap and raid guilds are already clearing the first tier raids, my main is still at 86. I have managed to do the opening questlines on four characters, however.  No worries, though.  I’ll get there eventually.

Here’s my story.  My wife has not had time for WoW for the past year.  She checked out of Cataclysm about two years ago, after reaching 85 but before we started raiding.  Mists has rekindled her desire to play, but she wanted to level with my rogue, the way we did in back vanilla and Burning Crusade.

With that in mind, on expansion day I chose to start with my shadow priest, which is actually one of my less-enjoyable alts.  However, he is an herbalist and the herbs I got would be good for alchemy and inscription.  I played him through the first two zones.

I then moved on to my druid.  I have now played him through some of Jade Forest, and then switched over to my rogue main whenever my wife had time to play along with me.  Both of those characters were about halfway to 86.

I then had to switch to my mage inscription mule to get him Honored with my guild for his inscription to count for the Working Better As a Team guild achievement.  He’s a ridiculously undergeared squishy mage who has never run a single heroic, and those first MoP quests were hard!  I died six times just on the first few quests!

After a week, my wife admitted that she won’t have as much time to play as she hoped.  She told me to level my rogue without her.  With that in mind, I expect to be working hard getting up to speed this week.  I haven’t tried pet battles or farming yet.  I just hit 86 with him yesterday and ran my first instances.

After all that preamble, here are my initial impressions:

  • The questing is really well done.  Those who blast through the quests without reading are really missing something.  I am enjoying the structure and organization.  Also, the zones seem really big.  The questlines go on and on.  I recall that in Wrath it seems like I did all of Borean Tundra in a couple of hours.  In Mists, each zone is loaded with things to do.  You can ignore some of the side quests and move on to the next zone, but I am taking my time and being thorough.
  • The placid feel of the zones is surprisingly enjoyable.  I was worried that the lack of a “bad guy” would diminish the tone of the game, but this is nice.  I feel like a traveling adventurer helping people in need.  In Wrath and Cata, it felt like side quests were a distraction from the ultimate goal.
  • I don’t like the lack of character advancement when you level.  No new talent point, no new skills to train.  It makes leveling a non-event.  For us old timers who remember the “Ding!” at every level back in vanilla, its a letdown.
  • The instances are really short.  That’s actually a bit disappointing.  I enjoy when an instance tells a story.  The first two that I have seen are hardly long enough to have a good storyline.  I like the way that questing with Chen in the zone leads up to the Stormstout Brewery story, but I suspect that many people did the instance before they did the quests.

From a more rogue-centric point of view, I’ll say that Assassination is still fun.  The legendary dagger procs are still coming frequently. My damage output is still competitive.  As I move up to 90 I’ll keep a close eye on how things change.  I’m especially curious to see how long it takes before I replace my legendary daggers with a green dagger drop or blue quest reward.

Also, Shadowstep is awesome.



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)
October 2012
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