Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blizzard vs. Melee -- Showdown in Ulduar?

Throughout my raiding career, a certain mindset always seems to prevail regardless of instance or level of progression. These are things I hear almost every raid night, at least until we have something on farm:

"This [boss/trash] is so melee-unfriendly!"
"Wow, Blizzard really hates melee."
"QQ moar, melee! Blizzard hates you!"

And you know, at first I kind of agreed, and I let myself wallow in this anti-melee bias (which, you know, considering I am a melee dpser was probably not too healthy). It was especially noticeable when my guild experienced Zul'jin and only allowed one melee dpser while we were learning, or when we got to Leotheras and melee hardly had any dps time at all, or when we moved into TK and trash owned the entire melee group pretty consistently, or how it's so common to have trash/bosses have some sort of whirlwind at some point during the pull or fight. Yeah, I was annoyed as much as any other melee dpser -- I still am pretty frequently, if only because "oh yay... another whirlwind..." just gets so old after the first hundred times you've seen it.

Melee has to constantly be watching out for these kinds of things, because if you don't notice a whirlwind as soon as it goes off, you're dead. People make fun of you as they rez you. You vow to do better next time. Your hate makes you stronger. (This is actually the line my guild leader used after our attempts at Deconstructor, but I'm posting it here if only because there's more truth to it than he may have realized.) Reaction time makes a huge difference between life and death, and this is something we have always had to deal with in almost every pull in higher-progression instances. I'm not discrediting ranged dps -- they've had their fair share of ranged-only "ohshi-- move now" fights (e.g. Void Reaver), but for the most part they get to be relatively comfortable as far away from the enemy (and its whirlwinds or AoE explosions or whatever) as possible. Not that I have ever been bitter about this or anything. >>

Anyway, after the first couple weeks in Ulduar, I realized something, and for once I think other people noticed it too. This "melee hate" used to make me feel ridiculed, slighted, and even offended by a perceived neglect of melee-dps-friendly fights in general. When Ulduar was released and it was our first time in, melee was instantaneously owned by Deconstructor trash (and Ignis trash and Freya trash and Antechamber trash...). I figured that this was no different from any other raid instance. But despite taking dirt-naps a lot more frequently than I ever had in Naxx, I was having a really good time.

And after getting rezzed for the nth time, I realized that perhaps over the course of my raiding career, I had actually started to really, really crave the melee challenge. It was like a dare, and not one of the pansy "Truth or Dare"-type dares, but more of a "super-duper-quadruple-extra-dare" -- the kind you really just can't refuse, even if you know it's a completely stupid thing to do. I mean really, who in their right mind sees a mob that they know whirlwinds or explodes and says to themself, "Fck yeah, I'm running in there and will die, but I gotta get me some of that!"

Melee dps is not just about dps. Sure, your rotation is important, but it's also the last thing to be concerned about. Melee dps is about acute reaction time, swift movement, and awareness (knowing both your immediate surroundings and any potential escape paths should something go wrong or the thing you're fighting explode). It's about knowing all your "oh shit" buttons and not being afraid to use them, because if you don't, you'll be completely dead within a split second. To add to this, my new pride and joy has come from the Assembly of Iron (and more recently, General Vezax) and my ability to interrupt Chain Lightning/Lightning Whirl and Searing Flames. We've only attempted Vezax about five times, but I seriously love this fight. It's always a challenge to see how many interrupts I can get, how well I can budget my energy and GCDs (and combo points for stunning), and still take as little damage as possible while maintaining a decent amount of dps. Interrupting is something I used to hate and get extremely nervous about in BC (I was never a primary interrupter for Reliquary of Souls in BT, for example), and now I find myself looking forward to interrupt-intensive fights. Vezax in particular has shown a very clear distinction between "seasoned" melee interruptors and "newbie" melee interrupters (lol former-hunter-and-now-DK says interrupt wut?). In fact, the ability to maintain consistent interrupts is what ultimately kept me playing my rogue as my main instead of switching to my feral druid.

Funny how that happens.

I'm not writing this to discredit ranged dps -- I just want to state that again, because it's important. Every raid member needs to be able to have good reaction time and be able to move out of bad stuff.

But nothing has been able to excite me as much as melee. Most of the time, I even find tanking and healing relatively dull in comparison. I feel all-powerful as melee because if I die, 90% of the time it's my fault, and I can own up to that because I am in charge of myself. I can make it not happen next time, because I am in control of how much attention I am paying to the ground or cast bars or whatever multitude of things might be trying to kill me. I'll let people think Blizzard hates melee, but secretly I think Blizzard knows what it's doing. Some people like to stand far away and cast. And some people like to be up in a mob's face, jumping around and shouting, "C'mon is that the best you can do?! Ahahaha!"

So you know what I have to say? Bring it, Blizz. Throw me your super-duper-quadruple-extra-dares. I'm a big girl. I can take whatever you dish out, and I'll kick your ass right back.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Belated Dingday?

At the risk of sounding too geeky, sometimes it's crazy how fast your characters can grow.

In just a couple weeks, Mudpaw went from this:

(lol what a noob jeez)

...to this:


At last, Mudpaw is ready to take on the big baddies of Northrend! Er, sort of. There's always that pesky "gear" thing, which is frustrating when you first start out. More specifically, trying to find groups to acquire said gear, and then also hoping that they are not after the same item, can be a huge headache depending on the time, day, and cycle of the moon. Fortunately, after only a few days of these headaches, little Mudpaw was grandfathered into a guild Naxxramas run. He didn't do too terribly, all things considered, and got two lovely upgrades.

Actually, what I was most excited about this run was the opportunity to use Karthis's "Swiping your way to the top" strategy on trash. It's funny, because the part I hate most about AoE pulls on my rogue is freaking Fan of Knives. Don't get me wrong, it's great that all rogue specs finally have a decent AoE ability (...that doesn't have a 2 minute cooldown either), but man is it obnoxious as hell. FoK and Swipe are still pretty much just mashing the same button over and over again, but at least Swipe doesn't look and sound completely asstastic?

Ok, that's not really fair. FoK has a lot of great uses (e.g. Sartharion -- being able to dispel tons of enraged mobs at once is something pretty handy), but I still find the Swipe strategy more interesting, if only because you can work in Tiger's Fury and Berserk every couple pulls. FoK is pretty much just... FoK.

Anyway, even though I was Swiping with glee for most of the night, it didn't go quite as well as I had expected. The problem with getting taken to one of these runs is that everyone there is already pretty good.. and the mobs were dead before I could get Savage Roar up. Whoops. Not that I could have expected anything better, but I was 18th on trash with a whopping 2,051 dps overall.

One day I will be okay at trash and AoE. But that day is not today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Savage Roar

Mudpaw dinged 75 yesterday, after the delay of that whole "I have a real life on the weekend" thing. As soon as it happened, I rushed to Thunder Bluff to get training, because I sure as hell was not going to forget or miss out on Savage Roar for a second.

I'd heard a lot of things about SR from my guild's token feral druid and from various people on my frequented WoW community. But even then I don't think I was really prepared for the
huge difference it makes. I remember at one point asking this community about dps rotations, because I was pushing out a grand total of about 500 dps (embarassing) until I got Cat Swipe... then it was more like 700-1k dps (depending on the group.. oh, PUGs, how I love/hate you). But now I'm really, really curious to try an instance with this whole Savage Roar thing. On Sarathstra, the elite bone-dragon you have to kill for a quest in Dragonblight, my damage increased by about 500 dps from the last time I'd seen it. Of course, this may also possibly be due to the fact that, oh, I hadn't trained new ranks of anything since level 72. I am notoriously bad about this kind of thing :( But still, that makes me really optimistic about the SR ability.

My next challenge is getting out of the rogue rotation. As combat, I'm used to Garotte, SnD, Sinister Strike x5, SnD, Sinister Strike x5, Rupture, Sinister Strike x5, Envenom (usually). This is not really applicable to feral druids (obvious), but it's difficult for me to remember that while I'm watching my combo points building because that is just how my fingers want to push the keys. I'm trying to get used to the whole "priority, not rotation" thing, because so far all my characters have had set rotations for pretty much anything.

So I'm told that the kitty dps list of priorities is this:
Savage Roar (only 1 point needed; new concept here D:)
Rip (always 5 points; awesome, I can do that)

After that, my issue is going to be timing. I am still in the stage of "holygod there is only 5 sec left on Mangle I should hit it again amirite??" when this is not the case, especially considering the Mangle debuff is only 12 seconds to begin with (or 18 if glyphed, which I am not right now.. oops). Pushing buffs/debuffs to their fullest is something that's going to take a lot of practice, as it always does, but getting to that point is both an interesting challenge and a royal pain in the ass.

I tried downloading Rogue PowerBars to manage all these debuffs that I'm not used to seeing (and to have a more obvious place to watch Savage Roar timing), but then I realized that I was just totally covering up my character by trying to put them in an obvious place, and that's not really helpful either. I'm still in the process of perfecting my UI though, so hopefully it will all fit together... some day, anyway...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rogue Megapost -- pt. 1, Basics (3.0.9)

I usually feel a little discouraged about sharing rogue information, but since it's all swimming around up there, I might as well put it down on paper-- er, or something. The discouragement mostly stems from 1.) the fact that most rogues I know Know Everything and Don't Want to Listen to You, and 2.) a select few resources are taken as god, and that's mostly what everyone looks at anyway. But you know, if you're one of those people, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog anyway so... :P nyah!

Here goes.

Part of the reason we excel in long-duration fights is the fact that we do not depend on mana, which can be used in huge bursts at the beginning but is slow to regenerate once used. Instead, we have energy, and although we only have 100 of it, it has a quick rate of regeneration and multiple tools to make that happen faster. Of course, you will still frequently see your most hated error on your screen ("Not enough energy."), but that's ok. You'll have enough in a second, so you learn to ignore the messages pretty quickly :P

Still, keep in mind that energy is our powerhouse, so generally, if you see an energy restoring talent or item (Thistle Tea!), it's a very good thing.

Combo Points, Builders, and Finishers
As I mentioned in my intro post, my first rogue was incredibly aggravating because I couldn't figure out combo points and finishing moves for the life of me.

Combo points are awarded for using special abilities. You can have a maximum of five, and a minimum of one is required to use a "finishing move," which then consumes the combo point(s). The more points you have, the more powerful the finishing move will be.

Your main abilities that award combo points are Garrote, Ambush, Cheap Shot (awards 2), Sinister Strike, Mutilate (awards 2), and Hemorrhagethough there are a few others that award points but will not be used often (if ever) depending on your spec and what you want to do. The first three are opening moves that require stealth, so they will only be used once per encounter, but they should still be used when possible.

Sinister Strike is the primary combat builder, whereas Mutilate is for assassination (since Mutilate is an assassination talent itself), and Hemorrhage is for subtlety (also a subtlety talent).

The primary finishing moves you will find yourself using are Slice and Dice (bonus to attack speed), Rupture (bleed DoT), and Envenom/Eviscerate (straight chunks of damage).

I feel like I only really understand two trees -- Assassination (often referred to as Mutilate) and Combat. I leveled as Subtlety and enjoyed it for its ability to be super sneaky (remember that I am lazy, and the less effort I have to spend steamrolling everything in my way, the better). So, that being said, here are the two specs I usually roll with:

Combat (fist/sword) -- 7/51/13
Mutilate -- 51/13/7

Let's look at some key talents for each.

For any spec you decide to take, the following talents are important to include:
Malice (5/5) -- 5% crit chance.
Dual Wield Specialization (5/5) -- Increases damage done by your off-hand weapon.
Precision (5/5) -- Increases your chance to hit by 5%
Relentless Strikes (5/5) -- Grants finishing moves a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy. Emphasis on the per combo point part. Any time you use a finishing move, you should have 4-5 combo points saved up, making this an 80%-100% chance to restore 25 energy. This is a ton of energy, hence its importance.

We have several to keep in mind, namely the following:

Agility -- each point of agility grants 1 attack power (AP) and 0.013% crit chance at level 80. Agility also contributes to armor and dodge, which can be helpful to keep in mind while leveling, but if you're more interested in raiding, the AP/crit is more important to consider.

Hit Rating -- since most of a rogue's damage is white damage (or "melee swing" on a breakdown of abilities, i.e. any non-special ability), ensuring that you're actually hitting what you are intending to hit is important! There are 3 hit caps you should be concerned about, namely those for Specials, Poisons, and White Damage. In Wrath, the white damage hit cap is so absurd that you would have to gem and enchant solely for hit and still only get about halfway to the goal, so instead we are more concerned with the next level of hit cap -- Poisons. Unbuffed, this cap requires a hit rating of 315. If you are grouped with a Balance druid or Shadow priest, these drops down to 235. And if you are fortunate enough to be Alliance and have a draenei in your raid, this drops even farther to 210.

Expertise -- reduces the chance your target will dodge, block, or parry your attacks. Bosses have a 6.5% dodge chance, so to make up for this, you will need to stack a little bit of expertise. Your total expertise should be close to 26 (214 rating for assassination, 132 rating for 2/2 Weapon Expertise combat rogues).

Attack Power -- basically affects how much damage your attacks will hit for. The more, the better.

Crit Rating -- determines how often your attacks will land as a critical strike. Stacking crit is nice because seeing big numbers is always fun, but now it also contributes to energy returns or generation of extra combo points, depending on spec.

Generally, when weighing two items of gear, the preference is Hit (until capped) > Expertise (until capped) > Agi > AP/Crit. But keep in mind that it is important to look at the overall set and how the item in consideration will change certain stats. Try not to get into the habit of looking at each piece at face value alone.

Hope this helps with some of the "I has rogue now wat?" sentiments I've heard some people express.


It is time for the obligatory "welcome to the blog" post, so here you go.

First, a little about the author/player. My name is Sarah, and I play World of Warcraft. Specifically, I play a blood elf rogue named Myrandah on the realm Thorium Brotherhood (woo RP server!). Well, that is my main character anyway. I have a healthy/unhealthy case of alt-itis, so the other characters I play include a tankadin, a blood death knight, a disc/holy priest, and the co-star of this blog, my quickly-growing feral druid.

Since I first started MMOs, I've always had a preference of melee classes to ranged or casters. If I can't get up in something's face and punch it a few times, or if I can't take a few punches myself, it drives me pretty nuts. Seriously, that priest I mentioned? I think it took about a year to level her because I was so terrible with it. I tried to pick her up again since the release of Wrath, but... well. Maybe one day, right?

Anyway. Of all the melee classes, rogue stood out as the most unique and interesting. I mean, being able to sneak past all those mobs you don't really feel like killing, only to pocket the desired item for a quest right under their noses or while they are incapacitated from a swift blow to the head? Yeah. We are the ultimate lazy class, and I approve.

My first rogue was a male dwarf, and I had no idea what the hell I was doing with him. It was an aggravating journey of "WAT IS COMBO POINTS DO??" all the way through level 5, at which point I deleted him and went back to my tauren warrior. But when BC came out and Blood Elves were introduced, their nimbleness and dexterity seemed perfect for a rogue.. so I tried again, and lo and behold, it clicked.

It's been an interesting journey ever since.

It wasn't until recently that I thought seriously about leveling a druid though. I had a rogue (covered the cat aspect), a warrior (covered the bear aspect), a priest (covered the resto aspect), and.. well, again not so much with the casters, so boomkin was sort of out anyway. I'm still not entirely sure what made me do it, but I think picking up jewelcrafting helped in some small way ;D I took little Mudpaw from 42 to 67 in a couple short weeks, and now look where we are. The more I read in patch notes, the more tempting it is to try kitty dps in a raid setting, but the loyalty I feel to Myrandah is quite an obstacle.

I feel a little uh.. unoriginal in wanting to go from rogue to cat. Same thing, right? Sort of. I'm interested to see where I end up once this crazy ride stops.

So... that was a long way of saying, "Hi I play WoW, enjoy this blog k? Thx later :D"
But seriously.
Thanks for reading. ;)