Monday, January 22, 2007

Are druids the better rogues?

Finally Burning Crusade got released and after installing I had to make a tough choice: What to do first? Make a Draenei shammie, play my imba epic rogue to 70 or rather play my other level 60 character, a druid with just 10 days played. After seeing the quest rewards of the first quests in Outland I figured it would be more fun to play the druid and get upgrades all the time.

Now that I played him for a while in Outlands I have to say it's not only the upgrades that make playing him a lot of fun. Comparing Tumbler with Solfyre is like comparing a Swiss army knife with a dagger.

First of all with 41 points in Feral you can play as damage dealer or tank without swapping gear. And both seems to be very valid if you compare your performance to the specialists. The little difference that might exist is well outweighed by the group buffs and flexibility the druid contributes:
  • Someone dies? Combat ress.
  • Lots of low hp mobs? Hurricane AoE.
  • Group is on low hp? Channel Tranquility and heal each group member for 4k health.
  • Caster is oom? Innervate.
  • Untanked mobs? Offtank in bearform.
  • Dangerous runner? Moonfire spam.
And don't forget the buffs and debuffs:
  • Every member of my group gets +5% melee crit rate.
  • Every melee/range crit from a group member heals him for ~200hp. (more exactly: 4% of their max hp, procs at most once every 6 seconds though)
  • A damage shield for tanks. (Thorns)
  • Armor, stats and resistances for everyone.
  • An armor debuff that is free of cost and castable in forms. (Faerie Fire)
All this flexibility makes you survive almost any situation while questing. Where I'd be forced to use cooldowns as a rogue (Vanish, Evasion, Sprint) I have a lot more choices as druid. Often when you play as kitty and get adds, you take your time to kill the original target, shift out, pop barkskin to prevent cast interruption, heal up and apply 2 hots. Then enter bear form, pop enrage and kill the rest. If you need to heal again, you have a stun at your disposal or can just heal in bear form using Frenzied Regeneration. So far, I died maybe 3 times while questing, twice because of fall damage while being mounted. (I'm used to the rogue's slowfall ^^)
I don't think there is any other class that can handle as many mobs without dying as a druid.

Another feature I like is that there is no downtime. I never drink or eat. I can save all my mana for shifting and healing as I kill things in forms. So when I need health, I heal , shift back and while I fight my mana is regenerating. If it happens that I run out of mana, I got Innervate ready.

Lastly fighting mobs as cat is really close to what a rogue can pull off, but way less boring than SS mashing. Both the stun opener and the Gauge like incapacitating finisher don't only CC the target but deal a considerable amount of damage too. Thx to talents I can reduce the cost of the Backstab equivalent (Shred) to only 42 energy. As Mangle (a worthy 41 talent that replaces Claw in kitty form) applies a debuff that increases Shred damage by no less than 30%, I use Mangle as the basic attack and do a Shred whenever possible. So the attack pattern looks more complex than most patterns I had as a rogue. Usually I open with Pounce (stuns for 4 secs and applies an 18 secs bleed), apply Faerie Fire, Mangle and Shred. Now the stun ends and I do one or two Mangles. At 4-5cp I either use the Eviscerate equivalent to finish the target or Maim (Gauge/Evi combi finisher), regen energy and Shred. In long fights Rip (Rupture equivalent) is usually the best finisher as the target gets 30% increased damage from bleed thanks to the Mangle debuff. (Works for rogues too.)
Now that's a lot of different keys to press already, but the real-boredom killer is Omen of Clarity, a 30 min self buff that gives your melee attacks a chance to proc clear casts, i.e. reduces the cost of the next spell or ability to zero. If you are lucky and it procs while the target is still stunned from the opener, you get to do a Mangle and 2 Shreds in 4 seconds and enough CP's to do a finisher.

Well I could go on a bit about PvP but not in this post. To answer the question of the topic: As Feral druid I don't feel like an inferior damage dealer if I compare myself to rogues. The difference is not in the dps but in what the class contributes besides doing damage. My druid contributes all kinds of buffs and powerful wipe-saving abilities on moderate cooldowns. Rogues contribute better crowd control (KS was very useful in the Ramparts and Blood Furnace and, if improved, Sap is a valid CC too), can disarm traps (there are loads of nasty traps to disarm in Blood Furnace at least) and picking locks (there are locked chests containing about 5g and greens in both Blood Furnace and Ramparts).

Friday, December 22, 2006

The last month, mutilate and me!

More then a month without a new post on this blog... shame on me.

So, here are the news. 2 days after I made my last post my guild managed to get some serious tries on the Four Horsemen and downed them. Sapphiron followed a week later and Tuesday, 28 November they finally got Kel'Thuzad down. These were moments where I regretted that I had to stop raiding the most.

When patch 2.0.1 got released I started to pvp a bit more serious. I did every BG and even some world ganking, played in pickups and premades and guildgroups (10 AB wins in 2 hours -> 2.5k honor after the nerf. yay!) and had some great time. Even though the overall gear level is rapidly increasing my rogue is still at the top end gearwise.

For the first 2 weeks I was playing a mutilate build which I enjoyed a lot. It's insane combo point generation and some great burst damage. I had my bank full of Thistle Teas and knowing they will get a nerf soon I used them freely. CS-CB-Mut-KS-Mut-Tea-Mut-Evi muhahahah!

If you didn't try using CB on the first Mutilate yet I'm gonna tell you why you should start doing it. It makes the 2 individual strikes both crit so you increase your burst damage quite significantly which is helpfull in all fights while a CB Evi after a CS-Mut-KS combo is often not possible because the target a) died or b) escaped.
You also get a guaranteed 5cp thanks to Sealfate! That means that your Kidneyshot will hold the full duration and you get the most out of your Find Weaknesses and Improved Kidneyshot skill.

Now you might have the impression one of your Mutilate strikes is critting often enough... well if you got 30% critrate the chance for at least one of your mutilate strikes to crit is 51%. (The chance not to crit with one strike is 0.7 with both attacks its 0.7 * 0.7 = 0.49) Imo once every second fight is not often enough once you got to win a hard one on one.^^

You might also point out that you don't like to waste CB on an attack that has already a high chance to crit on its own. Well, with 30% base chance you have a 30% chance that your Evi would have critted anyway so it's a 30% chance that your CB is wasted there. When you do a CB before Mutilate it applies to both individual strikes and these strikes have just the same crit chance as an Eviscerate so the average chance for CB being wasted on a Mutilate is the same 30% as for Evi. (It's just that there are more possible outcomes than "completely wasted" and "made full use of") But your Mutilate can't be parried or dodged as your target is affected by a CS and you are in his back. So you won't lose your CB to a dodge or parry whereas (dependant on what you are fighting against) a dodged or parried Eviscerate is quite a common thing.

If you are still not convinced here is another good reason why Mutilate should get your CB instead of Eviscerate: Mutilate strikes that crit do 230% of the base damage while Eviscerate crits do only 200% of their non-crit damage. That is because Lethality does affect Mutilate while it has no effect on Eviscerate.

Unless you have very weak gear where critting Eviscerates do a lot more damage then a double-crit Mutilate the Mutilate is a lot better to use CB on. Give it a try!

Next post I'm gonna write a short review of my current Hemo spec that I use with a GM sword. I'm running out of lines for today! =)

Monday, November 06, 2006

I stopped raiding

I started to feel like a raiding bot over the last weeks. No time for the other aspects of WoW and still a bad conscience cause I feel like I don't devote enough time to neither WoW nor my work nor my studies. And my girlfriend, friends and family deserve a larger chunk of my time as well. So as I can't make the day last longer I have to abandon the one thing I actually can abandon, and that's raiding.

I don't stop playing WoW and I remain with my guild. We have a non-raider rank so I can still stay with the guys I raided with for one and a half year. I'll focus on writing my diploma thesis now but I got plans for WoW aswell.

When patch 1.13 arrives and brings the PvP revamp I'm gonna get myself a decent low speed mainhand (Grand Marshals Claw or Longsword) and spec Heavy-Sub Hemo. Thats a spec you can't experience really while playing in a hardcore raiding guild. I really look forward to try my nice gear (7 Bonescythe items and two 65 dps daggers) in PvP. And while my gear is nice theres lots of room for improvement regarding my duelling skills.

Furthermore I got the TBC Collectors Edition preordered and once it arrives I plan to level a Draenei Shammy parallel to playing my rogue in the new zones. I'm not gonna rush it and once I reach endgame again I'll most likely stick to the PvP and casual PvE side of the game.

Raiding with Fusion gave me many great moments and was quite some fun overall. I wish them the best of luck with further progress in Naxx and hope that the Four Horseman (where we are stuck for 7 weeks now) will go down soon!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Whats WoW doing when you swing your weapon?

When you attack someone and swing your weapon, a lot of things can happen. In most cases you'll just land a normal hit, but sometimes you'll crit. Or you miss. Or maybe the opponent dodges or parries. If you want to decide what gear is best in a given situation, it helps if you know how WoW decides what's gonna happen to a swing.

While I have no insight to the actual implementation, the result comes down to this: The game is rolling a virtual dice and using the result to identify one of the entries in a big table (which is usually called the hit-table). And there it will be able to read what's gonna happen with this swing.

To say it a bit more technical: There is a random number generated. The range of possible numbers is devided into "areas" that map to one of the possible results of the roll like miss, crit, dodge, hit etc.

To keep it simple let's say we roll with a 100 sided dice. (/random 100)
If you have a 20% crit chance, 20 possible rolls will be a crit. If you have a 5% miss chance, 5 of the possible rolls will be a miss. The same is done for dodge, parry and block. The remaining possible rolls will map to a normal hit.
As hit-chance is not really a fixed chance, the line "Improves your chance to hit by X%" actually means "Reduces your chance to miss by X%".


These are the parameters:
Your miss chance = 5%
Your crit chance = 20%
The enemy's chance to dodge = 5%
The enemy's chance to parry = 5%
The enemy's chance to block = 10%

For every attack the server generates ONE SINGLE roll to see if the attack lands or not. As I said, to keep it simple let's just say the roll is random from 1 to 100.
If the roll lands between:
1 to 20 you crit
21 to 25 the foe dodges
26 to 30 the foe parrys
31 to 40 the foe blocks
41 to 45 you miss
46 to 100 you score a normal hit

This means that unlike common believe WoW does not determine first if you hit and then if the hit is a crit. If you have a 20% crit chance this means an average of 20 out of 100 swings (attacks) will crit and not only 20 out of 100 hits.
That does mean that crits can't miss, which in turn means that the amount of crits you do out of an amount of swings does NOT depend on your miss rate or any other variable except your crit rate.

This above rule of thumb suffices for everything except the most exotic situations: Situations where so many special things (meaning everything else than a normal hit) can happen that the chances add up to more than 100% which means they can't be placed in the hit table all at once. In that case certain things take priority over others and sadly all disadvantages take priority over the nice stuff like crit and hit.

If you have trouble to understand that, let me depict it like this: Imagine the dice the game is gonna roll for you. On each of its sides is written what's gonna happen to your swing. When the game sets up the hit table, its like preparing the dice by writing possible outcomes of a swing on its sides. At first on every side you can read "HIT". Then the game will start to fill in the other stuff: If you have 10% miss chance, then 10% of the dice's sides will get the "HIT" removed and "MISS" written on them (if it's a dice with 20 sides like pen&paper roleplayers use them, then "MISS" would be writen to two of the 20 sides). After filling in your miss chance the game will continue with other things that can happen: Dodge, Block, Glancing maybe... and in the very end it will come to your crit rate. If there are not enough sides left with the initial word "HIT" written on it, the game can't add "CRIT" tags anymore. In that case (and only in that case) you'll end up with less sides reading "CRIT" than you should get and that means you crit less than you deserve. Luckily for us rogues only in the most exotic situations (like when fighting Loatheb) there won't be enough free sides on the dice (or entries in the hit table if you want to be more technical), so you end up losing crit chance.

I hope this information helps!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Combat Dagger builds and Adrenaline Rush

With patch 1.12 rogues got their revamp and most of us will have a new spec by now. Being in raids most of my time, I opted for a combat dagger build with Adrenaline Rush (15/31/5).

It was not much of a question for me to take Adrenaline Rush now that I could. But I hear a lot of rogues wonder if it's really worth to take or if they should not just go only 28 points deep into the combat tree and put the remaining points elsewhere.

Is AR worth it or not?

In 5 minutes you get to spend 3000 energy, if you have no major downtimes (every downtime favors the AR though). With AR you get 15 seconds double energy or a total of 3150 energy over 5 minutes. Your overall damage through energy abilities increases by: 3150/3000 = 5%.
If you do 50% of your overall damage with backstabs thats 2,5% increase to your sustained dps.

Your dps boost through AR becomes even bigger the longer the phases are in which you don't fight but the cooldown is ticking.
There are countless examples where you get a lot more out of AR than the theoretical 2,5% damage buff.
- The typical PvP fight that you start with all cooldowns and that takes only a bunch of seconds.
- Hit and Run bosses like Firemaw, Chromaggus, Gluth or Heigan where you have large gaps within the bossfight where you can't melee, but your cooldowns will refresh.
- All fights that are shorter than multiples of the cooldown. For example killing Patchwerk takes at max 7 minutes, but I doubt any guild kills him in less than 5. That means you get to use AR 2 times in this fight and it boosts you dps by at atleast 3,7%.

And if you combine the use of AR with Blade Flurry (provided there are 2 mobs in range) or the effect of an Earthstrike trinket or Jom Gabbar, you again increase the theoretical boost.

Last but not least there's a more subtle buff to your dps. Now that Ruthlessness is not a prereq for Relentless Strikes anymore, putting 3 points into that talent looks like a waste. Take 3 points from Ruthlessness and put a 3rd point into Improved S&D instead as this is the only finisher you'll ever use in PvE and you safe 2 talent points but get the same effect: You can maintain a 100% S&D coverage with only 5 cp Slice&Dice finishers - in other words for 0 energy cost. (A 5cp S&D will hold 30 seconds now, and that's just as long as it takes you to get another 5cp with a combat dagger spec.)
The problem is to get to the first 5 combo-points though. Whatever you do... you will have a large initial gap in the S&D coverage (or many small ones) OR you have to do so many low-cp finishers that you waste 25 energy a couple of times due to Relentless Strikes not proccing. Adrenaline Rush however is the solution. Pop the first S&D after only two backstabs. With 4parts of Bonescythe that's most likely two energy ticks into the fight - otherwise you need three energy ticks. After that pop AR and spam Backstabs. Just when the S&D buff is about to run out, you can do a 5cp one already, thanks to AR, and keep it up for the rest of the nukage.

But don't think only about what damage meter will show in the end. The real big reason why you should spec AR if you go for a combat dagger build is burst damage. Be it Maexxna, C'Thun, Ouro, Huhuran, Gothik... there are plenty of situations where the key is to muster insane dps for just half a minute or so. About 3k more damage in these critical periods does help a lot!

Does it have no drawbacks at all?

Sure it has... one is aggro. Burst damage does always mean burst aggro. And when you want to make full use of AR, you need to use it early in the fight (for the reasons listed above), so you really need to be cautious with your aggro. A well timed Vanish solves all your problems in most cases though.

Then there is the problem that if you take all damage talents that make sense for dagger rogues from the combat tree, you end up with only 28 points in there. To get AR you need to spend another 2 points on talents that don't really increase your damage output. Well, I had no problem spending those. Improved Sprint is a great PvP talent that has its uses in PvE too. The same goes for Improved Kick. Endurance is nice too, especially if you also got Improved Sprint. And if you don't like these talents, buff your survivability and increase your dodge or parry rate. There are enough cleaving mobs in raid instances to make it worthwhile.

Another drawback - at least for me - is that I consider it my precious best cooldown skill I have and I don't want to waste it. Thats why I don't use it as often as I could... its really hard sometimes (for example in an instance where trash dies in a matter of seconds or when you grind easy mobs) to find a situation where it really makes sense to use it.
But the important thing is that you got a way to increase your damage output and cp generation by a large proportion once every 5 minutes which is a big help in countless situations.


Adrenaline Rush is not only a significant buff to your sustained damage, it's greatly increasing your flexibility and burst damage and thus might safe your life many many times. It's the best 31pt talent of all trees and a must for every combat dagger build imho.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My first WoW addon: PoisonPouch

I wanted to learn a bit more about how to code addons for WoW, and when I got increasingly annoyed by the tedious process of applying poisons to my weapons I thought a little addon helping with that would be a nice starting point.

So I checked for similar addons (trinket menu, rogue tracker etc), tried to learn from them and assembled my own little weapon buff addon that I called PoisonPouch.

I uploaded it to curse-gaming today. Get it here if you want and give me your feedback. I tried to do a localization for french and german clients but I couldn't test them yet so any input on that is welcome.

If you have any suggestions, feature requests, bug reports or other comments, let me hear them.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Serrated Blades and Deadliness.

In 1.12 the Subtlety tree gets considerably buffed. It's not restricted to talents that buff your stealth, openers, finishers and flexibility but it also contains two talents that increase your (sustained) damage output.

How do the new talents Serrated Blades and Deadliness compare to the old damage talents like Malice, Lethality or Opportunity etc?

Serrated Blades (3/3)

This talent scales perfectly with gear and level. All our damage is physical and armor mitigation is percentage based so the only variable to gauge the power of Serrated Blades is the opponent's armor.

Armor mitigation calculates like this: armor / (armor + 400 + 85 * level)

With 3 points invested and for a level 60 rogue it ignores 300 of the target's armor. How does it affect the effective damage mitigation of a level 60 target?

1000 armor: Mitigation 15,4% -> 11,3%. Physical damage taken +4,84%.
2000 armor: Mitigation 26,7% -> 23,6%. Physical damage taken +4,17%.
3000 armor: Mitigation 35,3% -> 32,9%. Physical damage taken +3,66%.
5000 armor: Mitigation 47,6% -> 46,1%. Physical damage taken +2,94%.
10000 armor: Mitigation 64,5% -> 63,8%. Physical damage taken +1,97%.

So all in all, Serrated Blades is quite efficient against low armor targets. This makes it especially useful against clothies, sundered mobs or in combination with Expose Armor. Note that it also buffs your Rupture considerably.

Deadliness (5/5):

For most rogues the dps through attackpower is slightly higher than the weapon dps. These rogues would see their white damage increase by 5-6% through Deadliness.
(0.1 * attackpower_dps / (weapon_dps + attackpower_dps) * 100).
If Deadliness affects not only attackpower from gear but also attackpower added through buffs, the increase would be like 7-8% in groups.
Specials attacks like Sinister Strike, Backstab and post patch even Eviscerate and Rupture are also affected by attackpower. However a large part of the special damage is always a flat bonus which is not affected by Deadliness.
How much a special attack's damage will increase depends on how much of its damage is based on attackpower.

Your Hemo damage is 100% weapon damage and thus will increase by the same percentage as your white damage. (Usually a bit more than 5%).
Sinister Strikes:
Lets say you have a Vis'kag and with it your Sinister Strikes hit for an average of 380 damage on 0 armor targets. 68 damage of that is the flat bonus each SS gets. (100 + 187)/2 = 144 damage come from your weapon and the remaining 168 damage will come from your attackpower (~980AP). Deadliness would increase your Sinister Strike damage by 0.1 * 168 / 380 = 4,4%.
Let's say you have a Perdition's Blade and your Rank 9 Backstabs hit for an average of 550 damage on 0 armor targets.
225 damage are due to the flat bonus. 1.5 * (73 + 137)/2 = 157 damage come from your weapon and the remaining 168 damage will come from attackpower (~922AP). Deadliness would increase your Backstabs by 0.1 * 168 / 550 = 3.1%

If you got exceptionally good gear then the flat bonuses of your specials aren't as significant and you should expect a proportionally higher dps increase. If your gear is worse than what I used in the examples, then you can expect a proportionally smaller dps increase through using specials.

To compare these new talents with old damage talents such as Lethality, Opportunity and Malice you can use the following values as reference points:

Malice (5/5):

White damage increases by ~5%. Sinister Strikes by ~4%. Backstabs by ~3% (3.8% with Lethality) for an epic equipped rogue. The overall effect becomes slightly smaller the better your gear (+hit and +crit).

Lethality (5/5):

With a basic crit rate of 25% 55 of 100 Backstabs will do 15% more damage than without Lethality. So your average Backstabs get a 8.25% damage increase. If you do 40% of your damage with Backstab, its a 3.3% dps increase.
For sword rogues with the same basic crit rate only 25% of your Sinister Strikes get a 15% damage boost so your average Sinister Strike gets a 3.75% dps boost. If you do 30% of your damage with Sinister Strikes, thats a lame 1.125% damage increase.

Opportunity (5/5):

Backstabs get a 20% dps increase, so if you do 40% of your total damage with Backstabs, you get a 8% overall dps increase. Pretty straight forward and very very strong compared to other talents. A must-have for dagger builds.

Precision (5/5):

If you have less than ~6% hit chance on your gear, points in Precision are kinda powerful. It will up your damage by ~4-5% depending on the spec and gear. As soon as your specials don't miss anyway +hit will only improve your white damage. If you are combat specced that is still a 3-4% dps boost, a Sealfate build will get only like 2-3% total dps increase out of speccing Precision.

Dual Wield (5/5):

This one is straight forward again. Your damage through normal melee attacks is upped by 1.75/1.50 = 16.67%. If you do 40% of your damage with white hits that's a 6.67% damage boost. Most rogues that are deep in the combat tree (especially raiding ones) do 60% or more of their damage with white hits. So Dual Wield would be a 10% damage boost for them.


Blizzard added two very cool damage talents in the Sub tree. But as those that optimize their specs for raid damage won't want to waste lots of points into the lower tier utility talents, you might wonder what these talents are good for. Well, actually they make builds that go deep into the Subtlety tree more viable than they were pre patch. For example 21/8/22 dagger builds not only get better utility talents than before but they can pick up Serrated Blades and increase their dps in groups and against low armor targets by a couple of percent. The true winners however are Hemo rogues in my opinion as they get a number of interesting new choices. For example with patch 1.12 you can combine Hemo with 2/2 Dirty Deeds and Improved Kidney Shot. Or you could use Hemo together with Seal Fate and Cold Blood. But with Deadliness promising you 5% or more of total dps increase with both Hemo and white attacks it seems smart as well to spend 30 points in Sub and the remaining points into the Assa tree up to Cold Blood. And it's not less viable to spend full 31 points in the Sub tree and get the buffed Premediation and Gauge instead of Cold Blood.
So while Blizzard isn't buffing high-end raiding rogues there, they offer us a large range of new builds that are all tailored around PvP and at the same time stronger in PvE than current PvP builds and thus they make the Subtlety tree much more competative than before compared with the other trees.