Thursday, December 29, 2011

Subtlety Rogues for Felines

If you've got your kitty DPS rotation down pact now, and as an added bonus did well with the slightly more difficult rotation in wrath, you are in a prime position to pick up a subtlety rogue and play like a pro. They are just that similar.

In fact I have come to enjoy subtlety DPS over kitty DPS after playing my rogue more regularly; cat form comes off as a cheap imitation afterwards. More so now that most all of the tanking utility will be removed from the feral DPS spec. What utility will kitties have left? A lackluster innervate, a battle rez that two other classes provide, and some limited off healing ability which would be time better spent DPSing. Rest in peace hero bear, you will be in our hearts, always.

Back to subtlety DPS; rogues like cats like to start off in stealth, it is even more important for subtlety rogues because we get a buff called 'Master of Subtlety' buffing our damage by 10% for 6 seconds after breaking stealth. Like cats we also like to jump into combat with 'Shadowstep' which bears a striking similarity to a cat's 'Feral Charge'. Then we unleash an opener, 'Ambush', for big damage just like a cat would use 'Ravage'. More on this later, but just like a cat will also use 'Feral Charge' with the 'Stampede' talent to get off additional 'Ravage's off during combat, rogues too will use 'Shadowstep' with 'Shadow Dance' to get off additional 'Ambush'es.

Now is a good time to mention the first difference for playing your rogue. You'll want to macro 'Premeditation' and 'Pickpocket' into all of your openers: 'Cheap Shot' ('Pounce' to cats), 'Garrote' (rogues get one more opener than cats, it's a silence/bleed instead of a stun/bleed) and 'Ambush'. Neither ability triggers the global cooldown so you can have them go off invisibly behind the scenes. Be sure to have auto loot enabled so you don't have loot windows pop up at the start of combat. Optionally you could also not macro 'Pickpocket' into your openers, but I find I don't otherwise remember to 'Pickpocket' in fast paced dungeons or raids.

Once you are out of stealth it is time to start building combo points, oh wait, you already have 5. Did I mention subtlety rogues build combo points a hell of a lot faster than cats (and other rogues for that matter)? So while your cat would be applying 'Mangle', 'Faerie Fire', 'Rake' and 'Shred'ding to get some combo points, your rogue already has to pick out a finisher.

Subtlety rogues use four finishers to maintain 2 buffs ('Slice and Dice' and 'Recuperate') and one debuff ('Rupture'). Cats on the other hand only use three finishers to maintain one buff ('Savage Roar') and one debuff ('Rip'). Cats always prioritize 'Rip' over 'Savage Roar', but rogues are a little more complicated.

If you are fresh out of stealth, and have your 10% damage buff, 'Rupture' is your best choice if you will be maintaining it for a few minutes; think boss fight. Otherwise it is better to start with 'Slice and Dice', this is what you will start with on trash. If 'Slice and Dice' is already up, and your target will stay alive for 20 seconds or so for the bleed to tick a while, then you should apply 'Rupture', otherwise pop 'Recuperate'. When both your 'Slice and Dice' and 'Recuperate' don't need to be refreshed, use 'Eviscerate' to do some damage and dump your combo points. 'Eviscerate' will also refresh your 'Rupture'; much like 'Blood in the Water' cause your 'Ferocious Bite' to refresh 'Rip', but all the time. Unlike cats which will apply 'Rip' even if it will only tick a couple times, rogues will forgo their long term bleed entirely and just use 'Eviscerate' on short fights.

I suppose it is a good time to mention 'Honor Among Thieves'. Subtlety rogues not only generate extra combo points for their own crits like cats do, they also generate extra combo points for everyone else's (including healers, but more on that in a moment). Just like it is beneficial for cats to just auto attack and pool energy at times, to prepare for a 'Berserk' for example; it is doubly important for subtlety rogues to pool energy prior to gaining that 5th combo point. If we use an ability to get that last combo point ourselves we'll have wasted a combo point that would have been gained through 'Honor Among Thieves', but if we sit there a moment at four combo points we get the last combo point free and have enough energy saved up to use a finisher immediately so as to not waste the next free combo point that comes our way. Even outside of a group auto attacks and the bleed from 'Glyph of Hemorrhage' will get us that 5th combo point while pooling energy. It is a little slower, but at higher gear levels you can pull off your usual rotation solo and/or on a combat dummy.

I mentioned gaining combo points from healers earlier. You can use this to your advantage gaining combo points out of combat between or before pulls, so long as you have a mob targetted. This is a great way to get 'Slice and Dice' up before you even start attacking for maximum damage. Healers are usually tossing heals around after/before a pull so be sure to take advantage of thier crits.

Now back to generating combo points yourself, like those workaday cats do. You'll want to apply and maintain 'Hemorrhage' which when glyphed is sort of like a combination of 'Mangle' and 'Rake'. 'Hemorrhage' is also your primary combo point generator when you are forced to attack from the front, just like 'Mangle' for cats. When 'Hemorrhage' is up, and you can get behind your target, you'll use 'Backstab' to generate combo point (just up to four remember).

When if comes to DPS cooldowns subtlety rogues have four: 'Shadowstep' which really just enhances the other three, 'Shadow Dance', 'Vanish' and 'Preparation'. All these cooldown share a common goal, which is to use 'Ambush' as much as possible. 'Shadowstep' buffs the damage of your next 'Ambush' so you want to use it right before you 'Vanish'/'Ambush' or in the case of 'Shadow Dance' you want to use 'Shadowstep' after the first 'Ambush' (I'll get into details in a moment). 'Preparation' resets the cooldown on vanish allowing you to use it more often as a DPS cooldown.

Now as awe inspiring as it might be on a short fight we don't want to blow all these cooldowns in rapid succession on a long fight. Well not within the same ten seconds anyway. 'Ambush', along with our other two openers, provides an armor bypassing buff via the 'Find Weakness' talent that lasts for ten seconds. Bypassing 70% of our targets armor is quite the DPS boost. This is why when we use 'Shadow Dance' we don't buff 'Ambush' with our 'Shadowstep' ability until the second 'Ambush'. That allows us to have our empowered 'Ambush' benefit from 'Find Weakness'. Oh yeah, this is deep stuff; just imagine the possibilities of working these cooldowns into specific boss fights. There is a reason Subtlety has the highest potential damage output of any class/spec.

Let's talk about survivability and utility now. Cats have two cooldowns to reduce incoming damage: 'Survival Instincts' and 'Barkskin'. In addition to that cats have the passive healing provided by 'Leader of the Pack', and if glyphed for it 'Ferocious Bite' also provides a self heal. This is all well and good, but kitties are still gonna get tore up pretty bad.

Rogues large damage reduction cooldown 'Evasion' avoids damage rather than reducing it. We also have 'Cloak of Shadows' to remove any dots and reduce incoming magic damage or 'Combat Readiness' which reduces incoming physical damage and shares a cooldown with 'Cloak of Shadows'. These abilities only work for direct damage though. What to we rogues do about AOE damage? Laugh it off for the most part. Rogues have an ability called 'Feint' which like 'Cower' reduced aggro, but it also reduces AOE damage by 50% (this can be talented for up to 80%). So rogues have some serious staying power in AOE situations. That doesn't even include the healing provided by 'Recuperate' that keeps us pretty close to topped off while everyone else's health bars are dropping like rocks.

Speaking of AOE, subtlety rogues don't. It's not that we can't, the 'Fan of Knives' button is there; our single target rotation just does more damage. Hopefully that will change in the future, but right now subtlety does the lowest AOE damage of any class/spec. It is more laughable than shaman AOE at its worst. So as a cat coming from a 'Swipe' spamming AOE utopia, be prepared to be disappointed. Of course if there are a bazillion little mobs that dies quickly in a group it is better to AOE, but it won't happen often. Keep 'Wound Poison' on your thrown weapon just in case, it works out to more damage than 'Instant Poison' for subtlety AOE.

I suppose poisons are a new mechanic for cats. You go to the poison vendor and buy a bunch of each, but more 'Instant Poison' and 'Deadly Poison' as these will go on your mainhand and offhand daggers respectively. See how I snuck that in there, subtlety should be using daggers.

For completeness sake I will mention the last few remaining rogue abilities you should be aware of. 'Gouge' is a frontal attack which will incapacitate your target until it takes damage, bleed effects don't count if you are talented correctly into 'Sanguinary Vein'. You can probably stick this in the same spot you have 'Rake' on your cat.

A quick note on where to stick abilities, most subtlety abilities have abilities almost exactly the same as cat abilities so you should stick them in the same spots to ease your transition. I mention sticking 'Gouge' where you had 'Rake', but a couple other dissimilar abilities I stuck in the same spots are: 'Slice and Dice'/'Savage Roar' and 'Recuperate'/'Tiger's Fury.

I already mentioned 'Pounce' and 'Cheap Shot' being equivalent opening stuns; 'Kidney Shot' is the equivalent finishing stun to 'Maim'. Rogues don't have a bash like cats do flipping to bear, but 'Gouge' fills that role rather well.

Cats can remove enrage/frenzy effects with 'Soothe' which rogues can do with 'Shiv'. Cats can also use 'Remove Corruption' to remove curses which rogues would use 'Cloak of Shadows' for. These are good abilities to keep in similar places between classes.

So far as crowd control goes rogues have 'Sap' which can only be used on mobs out of combat, but when glyphed lasts for 3 minutes. If that isn't long enough rogues also have 'Blind' which will cause a mob to wander around for another full minute.

That brings us to the last couple rogue only utility abilities: 'Smoke Bomb' and 'Tricks of the Trade'. Smoke bomb isn't useful in many places, it just stops direct damage spells from hitting people inside it. Sometime it is useful, but not too often.

‘Tricks of the Trade’ on the other hand is an awesome ability, and should be used often. It behaves a lot like misdirect, but in addition to redirecting your aggro to someone else, it also provides a damage buff to whomever you "tricks" to. As you can imagine this leads to pairs of rogues "tricksing" one another throughout a fight to increase each other’s damage. Since they are just redirecting their threat to each other that portion of the ability cancels itself out. Usually you'll just "tricks" the tank to avoid pulling aggro early in the fight, but you can also use it on a DPS to boost their damage so long as the tank can maintain aggro (not so much an issue anymore).

So concludes this massive wall of text giving anyone familiar with kitty DPS a massive head start into subtlety DPS.

Fear and Vengeance

The first incarnation of what could become a pair of legendary rogue daggers is pretty easy to obtain. The two parts of the quest line that are potentially the most difficult are: finding a dragon soul raid group that has killed the first 3 bosses and will let you pickpocket the fourth after the trash is cleared, and getting together and subsequently parting with the non-negotiable 10k gold required to complete the second quest.

The pickpocketing itself is very easy and rumors of a 15 minute wait between rogues is greatly exaggerated. A rogue can pull the boss, vanish, and proceed to pickpocket a freshly respawned quest item with no waiting (unless your vanish was on cooldown for some reason).

Many groups have been charging rogues admission to come in and pickpocket. Certainly a good option for anyone who isn't part of a sufficiently progressed dragon soul raid group, and also doesn't know anyone that is. It's really no trouble at all to bring in a rogue with a mass summon while the group takes a short break they would have likely taken anyway.

Oh, and most importantly, remember to turn in your pickpocket quest before you leave the instance and pick up the next quest. If you don't you'll have to find another raid instance to enter just to turn it in.

So now you're no longer at the mercy of a raid group, you've spent your 10k, it's time for the fun part. These quests are a lot of fun, almost worth the 10k just to play the rogue minigames. The first "warmup" quest is to infiltrate Ravenholdt Manor without being detected.

I won't spoil any of the fun, but there is a new stealth mechanic for these quests where you have to evade mobs with heightened senses. There will be a large red circle around your feet showing how close you can get before being detected. There isn't any wrong way to sneak around the mobs so long as you get past them, and if you screw up a few times you get ported back to the beginning to try again, no penalty.

You'll be using pretty much every ability in your rogue bag of tricks to complete these stealth quests: you can sap a mob so you can walk through it, you can distract mobs so you can walk behind them, vanish or cloak of shadows will both remove your red circle temporarily so that you can sneak around as if the mobs didn't have heightened senses, and if you are specced into subtlety you can shadowstep behind mobs and continue undetected.

The manor is easy to sneak into, I got it first try without any prior knowledge. The real fun is on the next quest where you need to sneak deep into Gilneas. It is pretty much a trial and error process of finding a path through that works best for you. There are a lot of pats walking all over the place and there are very narrow corridors through which to sneak between mobs. A lot of time is spent sitting in a safe spot and watching for where to make your next move.

You'll be happy to know that when you make it to Creed you don't have to sneak through all the mobs again if you fail to kill him. You get to run right back to your corpse and try again. Rumor has it that even if you leave the area to do something else you can fly back to Creed directly on your mount.

Both of my rogues specs are subtlety; I have a leveling/survivability spec and a raiding/damage spec. I of course did all these quests in my sneakier survivability spec with shorter utility cooldowns and more self healing. Since my damage was pretty low as a result I had to go the route of using blind (preferably glyphed to remove dots) to reset his enrage timer between damage bursts. Assassination and especially combat rogues will have an easier time of beating the two minute enrage timer, but they can only use blind once during the fight to reset the timer.

The fight is mostly move out of circles and avoid his frontal cone breath attack while beating the crap out of him and interrupting his one other spell which hurts a lot and drains energy. You'll also be using damage reduction cooldowns and stuns as often as possible to reduce your damage taken and get in some more powerful attacks from behind (unless you are combat and face roll him from the front).

If there is someone else attacking Creed when you get there, rumor has it you will get credit for the kill just for being there and get ported back to the NPC to complete the quest. So you have the choice of helping to kill Creed and perhaps annoy the rogue wanting to solo him, sit back and watch potentially never getting a chance to try Creed yourself, or fly away and come back later to do it yourself. I'd say if you get put in that position, you should just help kill him and get your daggers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bye Bye Resto, Hello Pandas?

I finally did it, I can no longer queue in the dungeon/raid finder with all the checkboxes checked anymore. I dropped my resto spec and teased my hybrid feral spec into a dedicated tanking spec and a dedicated DPS spec.

I never really cared for druid healing once I had tasted shaman healing, but I kept it around anyway because sometimes you just need a healer. I have a couple hundred achievement points on my druid just because I tagged along with group looking for a healer. I can also attribute a large chunk of justice/valor points to my resto spec since I find healing 5-mans to be more fun than tanking or DPSing. Something about the deciding who lives and who dies...

So for the first time since I started playing I actually have a proper DPS spec and a few more quality of life talents in my tanking spec. Well my tanking spec mainly just got the one talent that extends my pulverize buff, and I splurged and stuck a point in stampede. I'm still getting used to the longer pulverize, but it certainly seems to make my tanking rotation less of a lacerate frenzy. Other than that not too exciting on the tanking front; I only moved 3 points.

I moved 9 points to create my feral DPS/PVP spec of doom. Yeah that doesn't sound too exciting either when you think about classes that actually have different trees. I've not really had a chance to DPS yet, but blood in the water is quite nice and I can't wait to get the two piece bonus to enhance it further; I'll be like a subtlety rogue or something. I also really like pouncing and ravaging in combat. Strangely enough what I am most looking forward to is using tranquility to save the day now that I have 50% of my agility as intellect. Hmm... I might even be able to rez more than one person without drinking.

That should be a whole different topic... why are rez's stupid expensive? Classes with a rez still use mass rez on 1-2 people just because it is more efficient.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Transmogrification Woes

Finding the perfect combination of items for your toon isn't easy. You have to use wowhead, the model viewer, or some other tool to browse through hundreds of possibilities, determine if you can actually get the items and where they can be found.

Best case scenario you can craft the item you want, buy it outright from a vendor, solo some old dungeon boss a few times till it drops, or do a few quests to earn it as a reward.

Of course not all items are that easy to get, you'll undoubtedly find some items that drop in raids. Even if you can solo the raid you have to wait a week between attempts. More than likely you'll need to find other people interested in running the raid with you, and that isn't always easy.

Then the absolute worst case scenario are items that are just world or trash drops. Those greens that have a one in a hundred chance of dropping off of mobs of a certain level. I want three of those for my shaman right now and I must say AOE clearing an old vanilla dungeon repeatedly is quite boring.

Of course there is always the auction house, but these hard to find greens are just as rare on the auction house and it certainly isn't worth buying an item on a different realm and spending 25$ to realm transfer it to yourself. I did start to consider it until I realized I had all 10 slots filled.

So I check the auction house every time I am nearby now, and I farm for a while when I can stomach it. It seems the most efficient way to go about transmogrification is to come up with the items you want on as many toons as possible in hopes that some of the farming can be done in parallel. Still I've been doing one at a time, it takes a couple hours to come up with a good looking set.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paid Profession Change

I've got a realm full of alts with maxed professions, as I am sure many others do. This gets to be a source of some anxiety when a new expansion rolls around. I really like this class and this one, but I'd really need to level this profession. What can you do when your favorite alts don't correspond to your favorite professions?

Retraining a profession from scratch is pretty much the only option, but with all the rare pattern drops and whatnot, it really isn't an option. Plus it is much more enjoyable, and perhaps faster as well, to just keep you professions as is and spend the time to level an alt through new content than it is to grind old content and/or pay dearly for all the mats to relearn a profession.

So I had this brilliant idea that there should be a bind on account tome that you can purchase for gold (or possibly even real money in the blizzard store) that would allow you to record all of your patterns and skill points for a given profession (dropping the profession in the process) and relearning the profession on another toon by using the tome (in the process destroying it).

This would make it possible to move professions around your account quite easily (or at least one realm as BoA items currently work). Spend a decent sum of gold or a few bucks and you'll have your professions exactly as you'd like. I'd certainly shell out the gold/cash for that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

5 Most Annoying Warcraft "Bugs"

Repairing With Guild Bank

You can only use guild funds to repair if your repair bill is less than or equal to the guild funds available. If your repair bill is higher you either need to pay for it all yourself, or manually repair items one by one to bring your total repair cost down below your available guild funds. Obviously you should be hit the repair with guild funds button and use all of your available funds and have the rest come out of your own pocket if needed.

Switching Enemy Targets Quickly

Often times there is need to flip quickly to a second target and interrupt, crowd control, or even just changing targets because you've just killed your current one. With the introduction of the spells/abilities on your action bars being cast/used on mouse down hitting a hotkey for your interrupt and clicking an enemy at the same time (the click on the enemy slightly before the hotkey) you end up wasting the interrupt on your previous target. Why? Your target doesn't change until you let go of the mouse button.

Spell/Ability Highlighting With Macros

Update: Turns out the highlighting issue was addressed in 4.3 and now works, but I still get to complain about macros not working for special proc'ed abilities.

With Cataclysm came the action bar enhancement that highlights proc enhanced abilities by putting a shiny golden yellow border around them. This feature doesn't work for spells or abilities in macros. Pretty annoying to miss out on a really helpful UI feature just because you can't efficiently play your class without macros. To add insult to injury Some of the procs that enhance abilities also change the name of the ability making macroing the ability exceedingly difficult. For example, hunters can't macro throwing a trap without doing research on the new name of the trap ability when being thrown. Similarly for cats, they cannot macro feral charge with ravage without using the modified spell name "Ravage!".

Can't Use Alt-F4 as a Hotkey

The function keys, specifically F1-F5 are so handy to bind to spells/abilities due to their proximity to WASD, the default movement keys. Of course with the best of intentions I stick only abilities that I would never use my self targeting alt modifier on the F4 key, but once in a while I slip up and boom I have to log back in mid dungeon. Alt-F4 may be a windows shortcut, but the warcraft client can choose to ignore that event and remain running if it were programmed to do so, and it should be.

Can't Transmogrify Directly From Void Storage

This was actually addressed in a blue post recently and said to be a "feature", but it's still damn annoying. The whole point of void storage is to save old gear for sentimental reasons, this is also most likely the gear you are going to use for transmogrification. So every time I get a gear upgrade I have to take the item I want to copy out of void storage, do my transmogrification and put it back. If the additional gold cost is important, then just charge more for the transmogrification when using an item in void storage as a template, but don't make the process annoying.