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WoWApr 2, 2015 6:00 pm CT

Encrypted Text: A Rogue’s Questions

Ruffy asks the trainer: What happens if I cast Shadow Reflection when it's cloudy outside?

In the spirit of the incredible Patreon response that allowed Encrypted Text (and the rest of Blizzard Watch) to return, this week we’re going to do a The Queue-style Q&A column focused on rogue-specific topics that you’ve all requested. Stabtacular!

Over the past several days, I put out a call for questions on Twitter, in the official U.S. rogue forum and on Ravenholdt.net. I’m hugely grateful to all of you who responded — and sorry that I’ll only be able to get to a few of the questions you asked! We’ll do this again, though, I promise.

Let’s start things off with an easy, straightforward question to get me warmed up.

@Bitehattori tweeted:
What are the biggest problems rogues have at the moment?

Oh, wait. That’s not an easy question at all. Man, I’m bad at this.

I could easily fill up a column (or heck, several columns) on this issue, but in the interests of a relatively rapid-fire Q & A, I’ll get to the crux.

I love playing a rogue, and I particularly love playing a rogue in WoW. So when I refer to “problems” with the class, they’re not issues I rage about so much as concerns that make me sigh. And for a rogue, the primary concern that makes me sigh has nothing to do with the mechanics of how our class works; it has to do with how I feel Blizzard currently fails to consistently or thoroughly deliver on the rogue fantasy.

We have seen flashes of brilliance in how Blizzard’s designers have handled our class. The best example that comes to my mind in recent years is the legendary dagger quest chain introduced toward the end of the Cataclysm expansion. Because that chain was exclusively available to rogues, it was designed specifically so we could take advantage of the tools, and the lore, that are so unique to our class. Finding clever ways to force us to use our mobility, our crowd control and our cooldowns — and mixing that in with an intricate, Ravenholdt-based storyline and wonderfully rogue-appropriate areas like Karazhan and Gilneas City — was a stroke of genius.

Plus, since we finished many parts of the chain alone, that meant we could actually see ourselves as we were completing it — unlike many in-combat situations, where we’re lumped into a tightly packed group of tanks, other melee DPS and enemy targets, bathed in others’ spell effects and often relying on add-ons to tell us when we’re standing in something bad.

I’m not saying the entire game should play out like that legendary quest chain did. What I’m saying is that I’d like to see designers dive deeply into the issue of what it feels like to play a rogue, and try out new ways — be it through changes to spell effects, the game interface, cosmetic options, maybe even the way our stealth works — to make playing a rogue feel more distinct, unique and engaging.

blizzard art undead rogue header

@jmuije tweeted:
What’s the most misunderstood tool in a rogue’s toolkit? (I STILL don’t know hot to use “Distract” well!)

Yeah, Distract is a good one. I once spent about 15 minutes in Eye of the Storm, crouching in stealth near that thin strip in the center, trying to use Distract to make people suddenly change direction and run off the side into the abyss. Never quite got it to work, but I died a lot.

I’d also put money down on Shiv. It’s an interesting spell, and it’s one of our most complex, since it performs multiple functions — and one of those functions changes depending on what non-lethal poison you’re using. That makes it both hard to learn and hard to master. Plus I bet most folks have no idea how or when to use it to dispel an enrage effect on our target, especially in PvE. (Did you know, for instance, that it can be used to dispel Cruelfang’s Savage Howl during the Beastlord Darmac encounter in Blackrock Foundry?)

Sombrien asked:
Is Ravenholdt going to get a rogue only tabard? I know it’s not relevant to the class performance but it is something I’ve been wondering for the longest time.

Did somebody say “tabard design contest”?

Seriously, though, I also hope to see this someday — but only when there is a meaningful, permanent quest chain or non-soul-crushing reputation grind associated with the faction.

Ravenholdt once had some class-specific quests associated with it, but they were largely removed as part of a general cleansing of class-specific experiences when the Cataclysm left some of them incompatible with the post-Deathwing-tantrum world. Even when we had those quests, however, they weren’t a robust enough experience to warrant a tabard, in my view. If the designers can figure out a way to return an enjoyable, lasting Ravenholdt experience to the game, I agree it’d be neat to see a tabard come with it.

And maybe a commemorative hat, too.

blizzard art elf rogue header

@madsushi tweeted:
how long should you hold AR or KS for red bandit’s guile? e.g. Use if none/green, hold if yellow?

This is a setup, isn’t it, Chase Christian? You authored this very Encrypted Text column for five years; I bet you already know the answer, you devious, dastardly scalawag.

The short answer is: If you’re a Combat rogue, you don’t need to wait until your Bandit’s Guile reaches Deep (a.k.a. “red”) Insight before using Adrenaline Rush or Killing Spree. Any level of insight is fine.

The longer answer is: We don’t know whether there’s some kind of magical threshold for how long it’s worth delaying the use of Combat’s major DPS cooldowns. It’s arguably impossible to know.

There are any number of reasons why delaying may feel right. For instance, maybe casting one more Sinister Strike will take you from Moderate (“yellow”) Insight into Deep Insight, or maybe your target is about to leap away from you and you don’t want to waste part of your cooldown running over to it. These are perfectly logical reasons, and they may indeed be the wisest choice.

But what if, by delaying Killing Spree for five seconds, you cost yourself an additional Killing Spree you would have otherwise been able to use in the final few seconds of a boss fight? You’ve got no reliable way to know whether that will happen.

That’s why I don’t recommend that people use a general rule of thumb regarding how long to delay cooldowns. Instead, we must use our noggins (and our awareness of what’s happening around us, as well as what’s likely to happen during the next several seconds) to make reasonable, informed decisions about whether we should hold off using a cooldown at any given moment.

But don’t fret about delaying cooldowns specifically to get into Deep Insight.

Devaki asked:
I love my rogue, and I love DPS’ing my rogue. What are the chances of us getting some damage reallocated from passive auto-attacks into our builders and finishers? I feel like my abilities are only there to supplement my auto-attacks, not the other way around.

This topic comes up periodically, and my feelings on it have evolved over time. I’ll be honest: I’m not sure where I stand at the moment.

WoW‘s designers certainly have a target range in mind when it comes to the amount of a rogue’s damage they want to be “passive” — that is, not directly caused by us pushing a button. And they’ve made adjustments in the past to ensure that knob is turned where they want it for each spec.

At the moment, our melee autoattacks alone account for a large chunk of our DPS — generally in the 10% to 15% range for assassination, and more like 25% to 30% for combat and subtlety. And that doesn’t include other forms of damage we could consider passive, such as poisons or spells like Venomous Wounds and Main Gauche. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say, particularly for a spec like combat, that roughly half our damage comes from passive sources.

The question I have is: Is that really such a bad thing? Is there something inherently bad about having a big ol’ hunk of our damage not come directly from button mashing? To me, the combat spec is pretty interesting, complex and fast-paced; sure, each individual button press might do less damage, proportionally speaking, than an assassination rogue’s button press. But when I’m beating on a raid boss for five minutes, I’m not gonna notice how much damage each button press is doing. I’m more likely to notice such things when questing or in PvP, but I still don’t know if it changes how the gameplay feels to me. As long as my enemy’s health bar is dropping at a satisfying rate, I’m not sure I care whether 10%, 25% or 50% of that damage is passive.

We know that, when Blizzard was first designing the monk, they initially tried it without autoattacks — and apparently it felt super awkward, so they added them in. That’s an extreme example, sure. But what do you guys think? Do you truly enjoy playing your rogue less simply because you know that so much of its damage is dealt passively? For those of you who feel unhappy with your rogue’s gameplay, is passive damage the reason — or is it something else?

Naturesway asked:
Why doesn’t that 5th dentist recommend Trident?

Because she’s a moonkin, so she chews Eclipse.

Thank you, goodnight! Enjoy the buffet! I’ll see you all again in two weeks!

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