I Ain’t Afraid o’ No Sub – or how I learned to stop worrying and love Subtlety

A few weeks ago, in a conversation between Fierydemise, Haileaus, and myself, Fierydemise posited that the single best thing that an Assassination rogue could do for his/her raid team would be to forget optimizing and instead take that time to learn Subtlety. He suggested that the half hour that might be spent on messing with gems and enchantments would be better spent reading up on Subtlety and switching specs. Haileaus and I were both a little dubious on this and felt that there would be a bit of a learning curve to Subtlety that might cancel out any advantage. We all agreed that to only way to know for sure would be to test. Since I just don’t do Subtlety, I volunteered to lab rat.

What I did:
I switched my Assassination spec to Subtlety. I spent exactly half an hour prepping. And then I went to raid. It was an interesting and humbling experience and my conclusion is, much to my surprise, that we are really both right. I do think that there is enough to Fierydemise’s theory that I, an Assassination-lifer, will keep the Subtlety spec for now at least.

Weeee 26k!

Was I perfect? Heck no! I’d been doing this for less than an hour, including setup time.

The Details:

  • I carefully did no research or reading on Subtlety prior to this so all I knew was what was in my memory from trying it back in Cataclysm – which is to say, nothing useful.
  • At 6:02 pm I went to the trainer and switched to Subtlety.
  • I went to Wowhead and read over the Subtlety rotation section of the very pretty rogue guide.
  • I then went to the Ravenholdt guide for Talents, Glyphs, multi-target rotation, and all of the finer details.
  • I set up my bars.
  • I set up a few macros (eg. macroing Shadow Reflection to Shadow Dance).
  • I went to the training dummies just to make sure that my buttons were in usable places and that I hadn’t forgotten any.
  • I did not touch my gear. My main gear was currently optimized for Combat and I switched out a few pieces when I went to Assassination – so it was a sort of hybrid setup. I had a two piece but not a four piece set.
  • I did not touch my addons. I do run SliceCommander and it was already set up to track Slice and Dice and Rupture.
  • At 6:32 I stopped messing with my spec. I even switched back to Combat to do my mine, and slaughtered the wee beasties with gleeful Killing Sprees so that I would have no additional practice or time to absorb what buttons were where.
  • At 8:00 I went to raid. We did Heroic Hans’gar and Franzok (1 attempt as Subtlety then switched to Combat for the kill), Gruul, and Oregorger.

The Subtlety rotation is a whole lot less complicated than I was expecting. Significantly so. I realized that I had been pretty intimidated by it – and needlessly. I was remembering the last time I tried it, when Shadow Dance was a separate stance and the bars were a pain in the …neck to set up.

The positional requirement for Backstab is annoying – especially since I’m out of practice taking that into consideration. It’s not that bad on most bosses, but on trash when the mobs are all milling about any which way or on Hans’gar and Franzok when the bosses are bouncing around like jumping beans, it’s seriously inconvenient.

Much to my surprise, the Backstab icon being the same as the Dispatch icon really bugged me. A couple of times my brain actually hesitated and said, “No you idiot, don’t Dispatch now!” Apparently I’m really visually oriented. Who knew!

Hans’gar and Franzok: the rotation wasn’t bad but I found it a bit difficult to concentrate on a brand new (to me) rotation with all the movement. Knowing that the boss is fine for all three specs, I switched to Combat after we wiped.
Gruul: I had no trouble pulling top dps early on. It fell off a bit over time as movement increased but I really feel that with a bit of practice I can kick butt as Subtlety on this boss.
Oregorger: same impression as Gruul.

The Takeaway:
Subtlety has a bad reputation for being complex and difficult to master. My experience suggested that it is no more difficult than either Assassination or Combat. With all three specs the mastery is in the timing. Getting Subtlety’s subtleties right is probably no more difficult than controlling Insight optimally is for Combat.

Overall, yes, I think Fierydemise is right. I am surprised and happy to admit that my reservations were unfounded. I do think that Haileaus and I were correct in that it will take a bit more practice to see a really significant difference and to get comfortable with more movement while maintaining numbers – but it really was less of a big deal than I was expecting. With a little more practice, it will be a significant improvement. If anyone is thinking about making the switch, I’d maintain that Subtlety is no more complicated than Combat. It takes a little bit more focus between the positional requirement and no coffee break while you Killing Spree, but it is a not a stretch at all.

If you are on the fence about trying Subtlety, I say go for it. If I can do it, you can do it.



WoW Warlords Patch 6.1 Rogue FAQ

What is changing for rogues in 6.1?
Not much, this is a pretty light patch for us after all the frenzied hotfixing of the previous couple months.

DfA got buffed, is it any good now?
Probably not. I can’t guarantee that DfA is never worth using but based on a lot of experimentation with Simulation Craft its hard to show DfA as a dps gain outside of some very contrived scenarios.  One thing that should be less of a worry in 6.1 are DfA whiffs.  At least on a stationary target the problems with DfA whiffing should mostly be fixed.

Should I change any gems or enchants?
Stat weights should remain the same however if you are using Mark of the Shattered Hand on your weapons you want to reconsider.  There was a bug with shattered hand in 6.0 that inflated the proc rate for classes with a source of non-haste attack speed (rogues with SnD), this bug has been fixed in 6.1.  Shattered Hand in 6.1 is now like the cheap enchants of previous expansions, if you aren’t concerned with topping meters and/or want to save a little money it’s a good choice but it is no longer the best weapon enchant choice in most gear sets.

Should I change my rotation?
Nope, there are no mechanic changes in 6.1 that require a rotation change.

What is BiS for BRF?
I don’t know and I don’t care.

Have other questions, ask on the forums.


Blackrock Foundry Tips for Rogues

This is a collection of ability tips for Rogues for the bosses in Blackrock Foundry. If you have any to add, please post in the Blackrock Foundry tips forum thread and I’ll update this article.

This post on MMO-Champion is awesome for additional insight and discussion of how to deal with mechanics for each boss as well as advice on whether or not to use a bonus roll: [PvE Guide] Quick Tips for Blackrock Foundry Bosses



Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Inferno Slice
If you use Shadowstep you may be hit by Overwhelming Blows or the area of effect component of Overhead Smash
If you use Killing Spree you may be hit by Overwhelming Blows or the area of effect component of Overhead Smash
Cloak of Shadows works to prevent Petrifying Slam if you cast it before the animation
Feint works on the Shatter from Petrifying Slam



Kick works on Blackrock Barrage
Cloak of Shadows works on Retched Blackrock
Cloak of Shadows works on Explosive Shard
Evasion works on Rolling Fury – but you have to be facing him
Feint works on Earthshaking Collision


Blast Furnace – Heart of the Mountain

Cloak of Shadows works against damage from Foreman Feldspar’s Rupture
Kick works to interrupt Foreman Feldspar
Feint works on Blast
Kidney Shot works on Firecallers
Kick works on Firecaller’s Cauterize Wounds
Cloak of Shadows works to remove the debuff from Firecaller’s Volatile Fire
Feint works when boss reaches 100% energy

Note: Create a macro or hot key to detonate bombs – /click ExtraActionButton1


Hans’gar & Franzok

 Feint works on Shattered Vertebrae


Flamebender Ka’graz

Cloak of Shadows and Feint work on Firestorm
Cloak of Shadows works on Singe



Cloak of Shadows and Feint work on Stone Breath
Feint works on Reverberations

If you miss getting Rune of the Grasping Hand, immediately Feint, use glyphed Cloak of Shadows when you get knocked up, Shadowstep to a Hand on the way down. 
If you stand towards the very edge of the platform (past the boxes) you can avoid all Reverberations.
You can use Killing Spree on this boss however you should be careful to time it to not coincide with Rippling Smash.
You can use Shadowstep on this boss while you are actively engaging him, however do not use it while Rune of the Grasping Hand is active or you will end up behind him and dead.


Beastlord Darmac

Feint works on Inferno Breath
Feint works on Conflagration
Shiv works on Unstoppable
Cloak of Shadows works on Tantrum
Shadowstep works to avoid Rend and Tear if you use it just as Darmac/Cruelfang is landing


Operator Thogar

Cloak of Shadows works on the trains


Iron Maidens – Admiral Gar’an, Enforcer Sorka, Marak the Blooded

Vanish works on Penetrating Shot
Vanish works on Blood Ritual
Cloak of Shadows works on Blood Ritual allowing you to solo-soak it without a tank
Cloak of Shadows works to remove the Dominator Blast debuff from Deploy Turret
Kick works on Earthen Barrier
Evasion works to prevent Expose Armor stacks if you are fixated by Iron Eviscerator 



Feint works in Phase 3 and transitions
Smoke bomb works in balcony
Shadowstep works to counter the knock-back from Shattering Smash and Massive Shattering Smash
Feint works on explosions
Feint works on Shattering Smash and Massive Shattering Smash
Smoke Bomb works on Massive Shattering Smash
Vanish works to remove the attached Slag Bombs
Cloak of Shadows works on the first floor drop but not the second
Shadowstepping to Blackhand will not save you when the floor falls out during the transitions



Don’t Run Two Sub Rogues

UPDATE: Lore has confirmed on the official forums and on twitter that a fix for this bug is in the works.  Lore’s 2nd post about how this bug may have fallen through the cracks is worth reading as well.  That said I stand by my comments in this post on the issues with Blizzard’s new communication policy.

UPDATE 2: It looks like ruptures from an assassination rogue also trigger this bug so if you are going to run multiple rogues you should probably run combat/sub to avoid this bug.

UPDATE 3: According to Lore the bug is fixed


There is a bug with subtlety right now that depresses the damage of a sub rogue if you have more than one of them in a raid group.  This bug is important, it is notable on its own, it’s a substantial dps loss and it explains a ton of things but that’s not why I’m making this blog post.  For most bugs like this I’d toss off a couple tweets, make a forum post or two and call it good but not with this bug.  This bug showcases many of the problems with Blizzard’s new communication policy in Warlords and it’s time to talk about them.


The Bug

The bug itself is pretty simple, if you have two subtlety rogues only one of them is getting sanguinary veins.  Only the rogue that cast the most recent rupture or glyphed hemorrhage gets SV, the other rogue simply deals -20% dps.  This means if you have two sub rogues on the same encounter on average they are each doing 10% less damage than they should be.  If you have three sub rogues in your raid group you are losing 13.3% from each rogue.

Looking at logs it’s pretty easy to see this bug in action.  Here Ninjablaze and I are both naked using grey daggers.  At this point in the logs both us have rupture up and my rupture is the most recent.  You’ll notice that before the bolded line where Ninja refreshes rupture, my rupture and melee attacks do ~25% more damage, 871 vs 697, 626 vs 500.  Now look at what happens immediately after Ninja refreshes rupture, the situation switches: now Ninja is out damaging me by exactly the same margin.

00:01:58.496     Fierydemise Rupture Raider’s Training Dummy Tick 871
00:01:58.899     Ninjablaze Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 500
00:01:59.866     Fierydemise Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 626
00:02:00.083     Ninjablaze Rupture Raider’s Training Dummy Tick 697
00:02:00.584     Ninjablaze Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 498
00:02:01.194     Raider’s Training Dummy’s Rupture is refreshed by Ninjablaze
00:02:01.586     Fierydemise Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 501
00:02:02.156     Ninjablaze Rupture Raider’s Training Dummy Tick 871
00:02:02.312     Ninjablaze Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 624
00:02:02.412     Fierydemise Rupture Raider’s Training Dummy Tick 698
00:02:03.317     Fierydemise Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 499
00:02:04.016     Ninjablaze Melee Raider’s Training Dummy 627
00:02:04.161     Ninjablaze Rupture Raider’s Training Dummy Tick 871
00:02:04.475     Fierydemise Rupture Raider’s Training Dummy Tick 697 

Note: These logs have been trimmed for readability, the full section of interest can be found here.

Despite being very easy to see when looking at logs carefully this bug is devilishly hard to find.  Unless you carefully walk through the log looking at what happens around bleed applications from each player you probably aren’t going to find it.  Just looking at trends, it looks like the results of this bug will look very much like random fight-to-fight variance.  As far as I can tell this bug was almost entirely unknown within the rogue community. As recently as two weeks ago Method was using two sub rogues for farm and the current world #6 guild, From Scratch, used double sub rogues on Mythic BRF progression.

Most people are probably looking at 10% thinking it’s a big number, but before we move on lets put 10% in perspective.  10% dps is about what you get from upgrading every single piece of gear you have by 10 ilvls, its bigger than almost every T17 set bonus and if you had a <1% wipe on Mythic Butcher you can blame this bug. If your guild ran double multiple sub rogues on Mythic Ko’ragh like almost every mythic guild in the world, you experienced this bug.  If your guild had a low percent wipe on Gruul or Oregorger this past week with two sub rogues, again you can thank Blizzard.


The Real Problem

As I said at the top, the fact that this bug exists doesn’t really bother me. Bugs happen, I get that.  The real problem is how I came to find out about this bug.  I did not discover this bug. A rogue who wishes to remain anonymous, we’ll call him Jack, brought this bug to my attention on Friday since it hadn’t been fixed.  Jack told me he originally discovered this bug in mid December while his guild was working on Mythic Butcher.  Then Jack did exactly what I suspect Blizzard wants players to do, he didn’t go running to the forums to make a “Blizz hates rogues!!!!!!” thread, he put in a bug report using the official in game tool.  A few weeks later he followed up, he tested again to see if SV was still bugged, he found that it was and put in another bug report.  Finally this past week, over 6 weeks after his first bug report he put in a 3rd bug report with data showing the bug existed and seeing no results, he contacted me.

If multiple bug reports over a several week period is not enough to get a bug fixed then what is? To use an old unix joke, are the in game bug reports sent directly to /dev/null?  This bug will probably be fixed by the end of the week now that someone with a louder voice is raising a stink about it but that shouldn’t be necessary. I get that Blizzard probably gets a ton of bug reports through the in-game tool and many of them are nonsensical or not actually bugs, but if they don’t have sufficient staff to look through the in game bug reports then why does the tool exist?  Maybe Jack should have submitted a bug report on the bug report forum, but if that’s the case why does the official battle.net support site say to use the in-game feature?

The issue Jack had is representative of a disturbing trend I’ve been seeing since Warlords launched.  It isn’t enough to find a bug and report it. To actually get something fixed you need to bring that bug to a prominent community member who has the developers’ ear or can raise hell or your behalf.  This fits into a complaint I’ve made many times about the new Warlords communication model. In previous expansions you could tell the developers were listening, either because they’d respond on the official forums or because you had a direct line to them via twitter.  Now it feels like every avenue to the developers is mediated by community managers who may not have enough information to properly judge the quality or accuracy of some feedback.  In this environment the best approach to getting issues addressed appears to be sheer quantity of noise rather than skill or intelligence in argumentation.

I don’t know how to fix these communication issues, managing a large community is hard but I hope Blizzard reconsiders their current very locked down approach to player communication.  It may be easier for them but its bad for the community and leads to an unproductive, adversarial relationship between the developers and the playerbase.



Fans of Knives: Our Weekly News Roundup for February 10th, 2015

Blogs are the big news for this week!

In his blog, The Shadowy Dancer, Haileaus took on the topic of self-improvement:

Are you looking to improve, or help others become better rogues? Do you want feedback on your logs or to see what others are doing? Post in this thread in our forums:


Vigilate has started his own new blog, The Bandit’s Guile, where he will talk Rogue stuff and other stuff. He is anticipating being able to post twice a week and we are looking forward to seeing what he has to say:


As everyone probably knows by now, WoW Insider is effectively dead, but from the ashes a new, crowd funded site has arisen, Blizzard Watch. Response to this has been so fantastic that Alex Ziebart and company have been able to bring back much of the content that was axed a year or so ago. We are very excited to learn that our own Rfeann, Scott Helfand, will be back to write Encrypted Text again. Super congratulations to Alex, Scott, and all of the BW crew.

If you would like to join over 2500 other Blizzard Watch fans and contribute to this incredibly promising site:

Also you can keep up with the latest Blizzard Watch goings on on Twitter by following:


And in other news, one wee hotfix for us:


That’s the haps in the Rogueverse this week – looking forward to lots of lovely new blog content coming up…


Dr. Deeps or: How to be a Perfect Rogue in just Three Steps

Hey all, in this post I’ll be going over some of the fundamental ways to improve raid performance.  While this is centered around raiding rogues, the general principles apply to all classes and all areas of the game.  Anyway without further ado, here is How to be a Perfect Rogue in just Three Days Steps.


Step 1:  Maximize your Resources

Rogues have three resources:  Energy, Combo Points (CP), and Uptime.  Without Energy we can’t use our abilities, without Combo Points we can’t use our finishers, and without Uptime we can’t even melee.  For anyone looking to increase their DPS, maximizing these resources is one of the most important – and challenging – things they can do.

For Energy and Combo Points the name of the game is not going over the maximum.  For energy this means never pooling energy so much that you reach your cap (100 base, +20 with Glyph of Energy, +15 with Lemon Zest, +20 with Assassin’s Resolve).  It also means making sure to dump energy if you know that you are going to lose uptime soon.  Combo Points are a similar story.  Using a generator when capped or using Marked for Death when already at 1+ CP will translate to wasted Combo Points.  Now of course there may be times when the situation or your rotation requires you to do this, for instance Combat rogues can rarely do better than using Marked for Death at 1 CP due to Ruthlessness and Assassination rogues should not be squeamish about using Mutilate at 3 Combo Points.

Maximizing Uptime is one of the biggest tests of skill that exists in game.  Partially, this is because uptime is extremely trinary:  Either (1) we are on the target, in which case we are happy (no DPS loss); (2) we are not, in which case we are sad (30-50% DPS loss); or (3) we are not and have capped energy, in which case we are even more sad (95-100% DPS loss).  You know how the worst thing you can do in a raid is die?  This is because death is the ultimate loss of Uptime.  For this reason, maximizing Uptime deserves its own paragraph.

The first and most important way to maximize Uptime is to not die.  There have been times when I have actually stopped DPS and run away from the boss for multiple seconds because there was AoE near the melee pile and I was at low health.  I distinctly remember after one such occasion placing second on overall damage, which for me with this group is actually slightly above average.  After not dying comes the more traditional form of Uptime, staying on your target.  This is usually done by minimizing travel time using Sprint and our tier 60 talent (usually Shadowstep but occasionally Burst of Speed for PvE).  This is where it is important to know fight mechanics, as for some fights it may be worth it to use Shadowstep for a very slight knockback whereas for others it may be a poor choice as saving it for another mechanic is more important (Think Imperator, where the adds push you when they die but you really want to be saving Shadowstep for the boss’s AoE).  The other way to increase Uptime by staying on target is ignoring mechanics using abilities such as Cloak of Swagger, Feint, and Smoke Bomb.  By ignoring waves of death that would otherwise destroy anyone near your target you can get an edge on the other members of your raid.  In fact, this is one of the ways in which rogues have historically shined, and one of the reasons that I genuinely think that if all specs were capable of dishing out the same amount of damage per second, rogues would naturally rise to the top.



Step 2:  Understand your Rotation

Even with 100% Uptime and no wasted energy/CP, a rogue will not be topping any charts with a broken rotation.  While most people reading this have probably read our guides, knowing the most up-to-date rotation and understanding it are two entirely different things.  This goes a bit into theorycrafting, but honestly thinking like a theorycrafter is exactly what I’m suggesting you do.  Using the Subtlety and Combat rotations as examples there are a few places where understanding the rotation can lead to non-trivial DPS increases:

Proper Pooling:  It is suggested that you pool energy before using most cooldowns.  This is because for cooldowns that create windows of increased damage from abilities (Shadow Dance, Vendetta, Shadow Reflection) it is beneficial to load more abilities into those windows, and since our abilities require energy, having a stockpile will allow that to happen.  That said when you consider the “why” it may become obvious that pooling Combo Points for those phases will also increase DPS.  In fact, the same logic can be applied to procs.  If I am running a weapon with the Frostwolf enchant, then pooling energy and Combo Points when I have no damage buffs so that I am ready to take advantage of a Frostwolf proc at any time will yield good results.  This is actually one of the main ways in which Anticipation can be a DPS increase, as pooling Combo Points without this talent is virtually impossible.  Using addons to help you notice when a major cooldown is almost ready can be helpful here, as being ready to use your cooldown as soon as it comes up can make a difference.

Knowing the Why:  This one’s important.  Understanding a rotation means knowing your abilities, how they interact, and why each ability should be used when whatever trusted source tells you to.  Consider Revealing Strike.  Most Combat guides simply say “Keep up the debuff.”  This is because Revealing Strike increases finisher damage and gives your Sinister Strike a chance to proc an additional Combo Point.  Well, what if your Revealing Strike falls off when you are at 3 Combo Points?  If you use Revealing Strike, then even if your next Sinister Strike would proc an additional Combo Point, it would be wasted.  However if you use Sinister Strike, then you will have gotten the same number of Combo Points you would have anyway, but now you are in a position to use Revealing Strike later for your 5th Combo Point.  Why does this matter?  Well the more you procrastinate on putting up the Revealing Strike debuff the greater the chances are that you won’t have to do it again later.  Similarly, pooling for a Shadow Dance becomes a DPS loss if the boss has only 10 seconds to live anyway.

There are tons of ways to push out more damage for those who understand the rotation, often including ones that theorycrafters haven’t even thought of.  By thinking critically about your rotation and understanding why theorycrafters and guide writers suggest what they do you can often find new ways to push DPS.


Step 3:  Strive to be the Very Best – Like no one ever was.

Make no mistake: there are always ways to improve.  Here are a few extra tips:

If your raid isn’t using WarcraftLogs, then start taking logs yourself.  It’s easy.  Look over them, taking special care to look at your cooldown usage, ability Uptimes, and encounter-specific mechanics.  If you want help, ask in our forums – I even made a thread.

Be flexible.  Different specs and talents are more useful for different fights.  While progressing on Ko’ragh our Combat rogue switched to Assassination because our raid needed more spell damage despite her daggers being far inferior to her Combat weapons.  On The Butcher as a Subtlety rogue I’ve switched out my Glyph of Hemorrhaging Veins for Glyph of Smoke Bomb because my Rupture was never falling off and our raid needed that extra damage reduction to live through the soft-enrage.  Our job as rogues is to make the boss fall down as soon as possible.  Usually this means pumping out numbers with our preferred spec, but occasionally this means helping our healers save mana or saving the butts of squishier classes.  If it helps, consider that as soon as we save them with Smoke Bomb, all of the damage they do from then on is ours.

Get involved.  The only reason that we have anything close to the correct idea for how to play a rogue is because of our great community.  From the developers of ShadowCraft to the rogue who found out that Glyph of Vanish extends the duration of Subterfuge, the community is easily the most important factor in the average rogue’s performance.  If you are looking to truly push yourself, then come hang out in IRC, post in forums, and let us guide writers and theorycrafters know when something we do seems wrong or could be improved upon.  There are a ton of unanswered questions and even more that nobody has thought up yet and the more people who step up to ask and answer those questions, the better off everyone is for it.



Comments?  Join the Discussion Thread.


What Happened to Rogues: Niches and Weaponlock

Two months ago I interviewed Vigilate and Flim, rogues in World 20 and 25 respectively, and they both agreed that rogues looked good coming into WoD.  Two months ago when we were looking at T17 none of us expected that rogues would be widely considered the one of weakest melee and a poor choice for mythic content during the most melee friendly tier in recent memory.  And none of us could have imagined the most recent batch of balancing hotfixes, hotfixes that contained buffs for rogues, being mocked all around.   So what went wrong? 

There is no one answer, the problems facing rogues in current PvE content come from the accumulated crud of several expansions worth of questionable or short-sighted design decisions and changing philosophies.  Numbers can be fixed, and they may be fixed yet but there are much deeper issues with rogue design and how rogues fit into the current raiding environment that need to be addressed long term.  This is going to the first in a series of posts on what went wrong with rogues coming into WoD.  Today the first and probably most pressing issue facing the rogue class, spec niches and weapon lock.

Blizzard likes spec niches, they’ve said as much many times.  The problem is their application seems inconsistent.  Blizzard’s logic has always been niches are fun, it’s fun to have a fight where you can shine but it creates problems with single-spec-per-role dps.  If you only have one spec it doesn’t seem fair to limit the spec to only a single or small number of niches because if one of your niches isn’t needed the alternative is swapping characters or feeling like a liability to your raid comp, neither of which is particularly fun.  Instead you end up with ret paladins (not picking on rets, some of my best friends are actually rets) above average single target, cleave and burst.  I should note here that not all single-spec-per-role dps are good at everything, some such as ele and enhance shamans for example still have a relatively rigid AoE niche.

The logic here is basically sound, and if the game were only made up of single-spec-per-role dps it would be a fine design but when more than half the classes in the game have multiple-specs-per-role there are problems.  While a ret paladins can do everything in a single spec, a rogue needs to swap between multiple specs for the same effect.  To achieve the same effectiveness as many single-spec-per-role dps a rogue needs to be comfortable with several, often dramatically different playstyles and rotations.  In fairness to single-spec-per-role dps, talents often define different rotations for different situations. For instance a serenity windwalker, specializing in burst and single target plays very differently from a chi explosion windwalker specializing in cleave and AoE.  Even in these cases however the windwalker can still use the same spec, similar binds, the same mechanical primitives, and a similar basic rotation while the rogue cannot and this ignores the elephant in the room, weapon lock.

Rogue specs are defined by our weapons, combat needs a slow main hand and now more than ever a slow off hand as well (recent discoveries about main hand daggers for combat AoE may change this somewhat but during beta a slow MH was noted as the design goal for combat), subtlety needs a dagger main hand and assassination needs two daggers.  To be fully effective a rogue needs four weapons and each poses it’s own set of challenges.  Daggers as niche loot tend to be quite rare, in Highmaul for instance there is only one dagger drop.  Since both assassination and subtlety need a dagger this single dagger drop boss can effectively lock rogues out of those specs with poor loot luck.  Slow weapons are much common however it doesn’t feel right (or smart) to take a slow weapon you will use for 50% of the bosses over another dps who will use it for 100%.  In the long term things mostly work out but over short progression gearing windows when weapons are the most important upgrades getting weapons for multiple specs is often a major concern.

The key problem here is Blizzard has been inconsistent with spec niches, on the 5.2 PTR Ghostcrawler said of Blade Flurry, “We feel like the implementation of Blade Flurry on live forces rogues to go Combat on any cleave fights, while leaving Combat too far behind on any single target fights.”  During WoD beta when combat looked to be far ahead of the other rogue specs on AoE, Blade Flurry was nerfed from 40% mirror to 30% mirror and the other specs AoE buffed significantly.  This quote makes the most recent combat hotfix even more baffling, with combat appears to be suffering on single target dps (player bias likely plays a role here however there are enough combat parses on Kargath and Butcher, possibly due to weapon lock, that I think WCL numbers have some validity) and yet the hotfix buffed combat’s AoE only.  The problem for combat is unlike in T14 it doesn’t have any perfect encounters, fights with all cleave all the time.  Instead T17 is full of partial cleave fights, sometimes you get to cleave, sometimes you don’t and on those fights combat’s below average single target dps rapidly becomes a liability despite its theoretically strong AoE/cleave toolkit.

Blizzard needs to figure out a consistent approach to niches.  If single-spec-per-role dps can do everything competently in a single spec, it doesn’t seem too much to ask for rogues as well.  If Blizzard plans to stick with the current niche heavy design where a rogue is expected to play multiple specs for full effectiveness weapon lock needs to be addressed either by increasing weapon availability or by making rogue specs more weapon agnostic. 


Ravenholdt Roundtable: Rogue PvP in Season 16 (Patch 6.0.3)

In our second Ravenholdt Roundtable, Haileaus welcomes Ayume and Nessper, a pair of experienced and decorated PvP rogues, to talk about the current state of competitive PvP for the rogue class in WoW’s Season 16 — a.k.a. Warlords of Draenor Patch 6.0.3.

In this 37-minute podcast, Ayume and Nessper talk about:

  • The best — and not-so-best — arena partners (comps) for rogues at the moment (starting at 7:43)
  • How rogue PvP strategy has shifted in the Warlords of Draenor expansion (starting at 12:28)
  • How each rogue spec is doing in arena — and why Combat in particular looks so strong (starting at 15:01)
  • The value rogues currently bring to rated battlegrounds — and why Subtlety can especially shine (starting at 23:12)
  • The best way to murder a hunter (starting at 25:51)
  • Why Retribution paladins and death knights are so frustrating to play against (starting at 27:04)
  • The overall direction of PvP in WoW, and how rogues fit into it (starting at 32:07)
  • Advice on how to get better at rogue PvP (starting at 35:30)


You can download an MP3 of the podcast or listen below:

{podcast id=2}


To talk about the topics raised in this roundtable, hop over to our dedicated discussion thread. If you have feedback on our Ravenholdt podcasts in general, or if you have any guests or topics you’d like to see on a roundtable in the future, let us know on Twitter.

Be sure to check out Ayume‘s and Nessper‘s Twitch streams to catch them in action!

Previous Ravenholdt Roundtables


The Mythic Rogue: To Sit or Not to Sit?

[EDITOR’S NOTE 1/7/15: The “FOOT IN MOUTH EDIT” section immediately below was written by Aeriwen on Jan. 6 and added to the top of this post at his request.]


TLDR: There was an error. Only about one rogue on average is being brought to mythic difficulty.
Moving into week 3, it was clear that the rogue numbers were still unusually high. After getting a correction from the developer of World of Wargraphs on his representation data, we now had second measure to check ours against. It shows that rogues with 1+ Mythic kills at 5.3%, and total rep at 6.2% (which is in close agreement with realmpop data), which indicates underrepresentation. After a bit of discussion on the #ravenholdt chat, vipbrj was able to correct the data. The error, which I admit should have been obvious, was that the data was missing healers and tanks from the calculations. I wish to thank Pathal, Fierydemise, and Vipbrj for their help in tracking down this error.
The numbers below are incorrect, and without healer and tank data from those weeks it isn’t possible to correct them. The article has been left intact for discussion purposes, but the numbers are wrong, and references to high representation are wrong. If you wish to read a fuller account, please see my posts on the official forums, and the edited OP.
A little over a week ago I posted in the official WoW rogue forum about mythic rogue representation. There was, and still is, a bit of concern over the topic of rogues being sat in mythic. The previous post is here.

I began by demonstrating that at least some very high end guilds were employing rogues for progression. But that wasn’t the focus of the topic which I wanted to address. The meat of the argument was that the general mythic population was utilizing rogues at a reasonable representation. There were concerns with my data, notably by the most respectable Fierydemise, that the later fights were harder and require more optimization to complete at the present gear levels and thus rogues were likely to be more of a liability going further into the tier, as most have only touched the “easy” bosses at that time. The point is a notable one, and still a point of concern, as you will see.

The crux of our “disagreement” depends on what is the most important behavior to which we should be concerned. Should we look at only what the top guilds are doing exactly when they kill the boss the first time, or should we look at the entire population also? I argued that for most players, even mythic raiders, the general trend of the total mythic population is more representative of what a rogue should expect when playing mythic with his/her guild. That the whacky things that world first race guilds do is an exceptional behavior, and not the rule.

I will admit that I am a bit stubborn. I have this notion that most players do not have multiple highly equipped characters and that even on the hardest difficulty, people just tend to play with their friends, not a specific class. I am a bit sappy sometimes. I do not apologize for that.

So now it is a week later. I was able to capture the first week of data, and now we have another week to compare it to. If indeed rogues are being sat, we might see at least some movement if the trend is significant. Keep in mind, the data is still very low quality, particularly on the later fights. There aren’t many guilds that have cleared the any mythic content, never mind the later bosses, and less of them have uploaded the data to warcraftlogs. We have to be very careful about what we can say with the data at hand.

Here’s the data. The overall data shows that rogues have 8.8% (1998 total) representation in the first week and 9.2% (4899 total) the second week. Rogues total about 6.6% of the population of level 100 US characters according to realmpop. This, as a side note, continues the trend of apparent overrepresentation of rogues in high end content from MoP.

So, let’s dig into the fights. Numbers are rogues as percent and (total).

1st week – 7.0% (59)
2nd week – 9.1% (390)

1st week – 3.7% (1)
2nd week – 8.9% (66)

1st week – 8.6% (1396)
2nd week – 8.8% (2751)

1st week – 7.3% (6)
2nd week – 10.5% (92)

1st week – no data
2nd week – 8.3% (1)

1st week – 8.8% (25)
2nd week – 9.4% (287)

1st week – 9.6% (515)
2nd week – 9.9% (1294)

We see that rogue representation APPEARS to have increased. I would caution that the numbers on all but bladefist were fairly small to begin with, which limits what we can say. And some of the later fights on the second week are still extremely low in numbers.

What it does SEEM to say is that rogues are being used fairly widely in mythic, at levels beyond our overall class representation. Someone is being sat. It is just not rogues who are doing the sitting.

We have some problems here though, besides the low sample size, which may just have swung in our favor due to random chance. There were slight buffs to each spec’s niche moving into the second week, which could have incentivized more people to play their rogues. It could also be that more rogues were ran in the second week because they weren’t used for the progression fight. We can’t really say without armory datamining. It could also lend credence to the idea that groups with rogues were behind because they lack the dps for kills the first week, and another week of gearing lead the groups to second week kills. The difference between swapping a strong dps like windwalker in instead of a rogue would result in a small difference in raid dps, much smaller than that of simple getting a week’s worth of gear for your entire raid.

One thing that I want to make sure to be clear, these are still very low number samples. And after talking with members of the high end raiding community, we may end up seeing the true impact on the next raid. The rogues that are geared up now and progressing right now may only be doing so simply because they haven’t had time to level and gear an alt to sub out their geared rogue. As the tier continues, more alts can be geared to reasonable levels before progression begins anew in January on the next raid. As such, representation may be a lagging indicator.

This is all firmly in the realm of speculation. No matter how well reasoned or authoritative the source. If it turns out that confidence in rogues does not meet expectations, we may see a drop as players switch to other specs for the next tier. But we also have conflating factors on the horizon as well. The new tier will likely bring out more tuning adjustment, as well as the very important tier bonuses and other itemization quirks to which all the classes are balanced against. For instance, the tier bonuses for combat are projected to be on the order of 5%. Where that stands in relation to other dps specs remains to be seen.

And to absolutely clear, there is no evidence, nor any speculation from high end raiders that you should be sitting rogues for the average guild. If you are in your average guild and killing tougher bosses maybe one or two a week and progressing through normal, heroic and into mythic, you need not be concerned. Your progression will happen naturally as the result of gear inflation and as your raid gets better experienced on the fights. The vast majority of rogues need not be concerned with getting sat unless you have a guild leader who thinks he’s a world first raider and treats the raid members as such. (This simply indicates that you should probably change guilds.) This is something that many high end raiders will say themselves. If you are in an average guild, don’t worry about it.

For next time, I’ll continue to look at representation as the tier progresses, but I’ll also take a look at recruitment trends.

What we do have now, is what appears to be solid representation, and according to the latest hotfixes, and the watchful eyes of the devs, a reason to be hopeful for the future. Take heart rogues, and have a happy holiday.

Happy Stabbing! 🙂

Want to talk about this post? Head over to its dedicated forum thread!


Highmaul Tips for Rogues

This is a collection of ability tips for Rogues for the bosses in Highmaul. If you have any to add, please post in the Highmaul Tips forum thread and I’ll update this article.

This post on MMO-Champion is awesome for additional insight and discussion of how to deal with mechanics for each boss: WoD Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry Rogue Tips+Tricks


Kargath Bladefist

Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Mauling Brew.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Fire Bomb.
Cloak of Shadows will remove the debuff from Iron Bomb.
Shadow Step and unglyphed Killing Spree are safe to use during Berserker Rush.
Feint and Evasion work on Berserker Rush.

Note: Cloak of Shadows does NOT prevent damage from Flame Gout.


The Butcher

Glyphed Cloak of Shadows works on Cleave.
Cloak of Shadows will reduce damage from Gushing Wounds but will not clear the debuff.
Smoke Bomb helps reduce group damage from Gushing Wounds.

Feint and glyphed Cloak of Shadows work on Paleobomb.



Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Creeping Moss.
Cloak of Shadows works against the damage done by Infesting Spores, will remove the debuff, and if timed correctly will prevent the debuff.
Vanish removes the stacks of Infesting Spores.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Spore Shot.
Feint, Cloak of Shadows, and Kick work on Decay.

Usage Tip:
Between Vanish, Preparation and Vanish, Cloak of Shadows, and Feint you can effectively take little to no damage during Infesting Spores.



Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on the damage from Fracture, Cloak of Shadows will stop the knock-back.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Tectonic Upheaval.
Kidney Shot works on the Night-Twisted Earthwarper.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Gift of Earth.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Raving Assault.
Marked for Death will not reset if used on Tectus, or his Shards or Motes. It will reset if it is used on the Night-Twisted Earthwarpers or Berserkers.
Smoke Bomb can prevent Crystalline Barrage if you drop it on Tectus or his Shards or Motes right before Crystalline Barrage happens, as long as no ranged or healers are in the bomb area.


Twin Ogron – Phemos & Pol

Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Interrupting Shout.
Evasion works on damage from Whirlwind but does not prevent the debuff.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Quake.
Cloak of Shadows works on Blaze and will remove the debuff.



Cloak of Shadows works on Suppression Field.
Cloak of Shadows can prevent the debuff from Expel Magic: Fire.
Cloak of Shadows can remove the debuff from Expel Magic: Fire but the AOE damage will happen when you Cloak the debuff off.
Feint works on the AOE from Expel Magic: Fire.
Cloak of Shadows works on the AOE from Expel Magic: Arcane.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work to reduce the damage from Expel Magic: Frost.
Burst of Speed works on the slow from Expel Magic: Frost.
Tricks of the Trade works on Volatile Anomalies.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Destabilize.


Imperator Mar’gok

Kidney Shot works on the 1st and 3rd set of Arcane Aberrations. The 2nd set is immune. Nerve Strike and Prey on the Weak are good talents to enhance this.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Mark of Chaos.
Cloak of Shadows can immune Force Nova.
Feint works on Nether Blast .
Cloak of Shadows works on Slow.
Burst of Speed works to remove the movement debuff but not the attack speed debuff on Slow.
Elusiveness works on Destabilize.
Cloak of Shadows works on Displacing Arcane Aberration.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Mark of Chaos: Displacement.
Cloak of Shadows works on Force Nova: Displacement.
Cloak of Shadows works to soak Arcane Wrath: Fortification.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Force Nova: Fortification.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on the damage from Mark of Chaos: Replication.
Feint and Cloak of Shadows work on Force nova: Replication.