Random Monday Musings: Gibbons Syndrome

July 30, 2007

It’s not that I hate my job, I just hate working.

Now, it’d be hard for anyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment to argue that Office Space is not a classic movie. Especially, like me, if you work for a software development company. And even further if the software development company you work for employs a COO who personifies the Bill Lumbergh character. I’m not even remotely exaggerating when I say that this man speaks with the same drawn-out syllabic monotone when addressing his employees. It’s like Mike Judge spent a day in my office before writing his script for this movie.

And don’t even get me started on how many bosses I have to hear from when there is even the faintest appearance that I may have made a mistake…

…Really, it’s a problem of motivation. I get to a point everyday, usually around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, where I just lose all ability to concentrate on anything.

Randomness

Note to self: do NOT drink orange juice because you are thirsty. Further, do NOT drink orange juice because you are thirsty the morning after burning the roof of your mouth on a hot dinner.

I move to standardize the pronunciation of General Tso’s Chicken. Is it “so”? “tow”? “tao”? Can’t we just call it “All-American Chicken”?

Claymore (torrent here) is a wonderful new anime about well-formed-iron-clad-demon-fighting females. Just in time for me because Naruto is starting to get a bit boring (catch up to the manga already!!).

The customer is not always right. In fact, the customer is usually wrong.

Note to self: Actually make notes to self when thinking of “notes to self” before falling asleep. You will not remember them in the morning.

Google’s image search sucks, and Yahoo’s is useless since it started using Flickr images (Flickr.com is blocked by our web filter).

Rogueness

Just some more proof that Combat Mutilate, when played properly, is a superior DPS talent specification for raiding. This was up to and including Maiden of Virtue. Note that BRK‘s combined hunter/pet damage, as usual, is the gold standard. 21.02% to my 18.05%? I’ll take it.

The key? I keep Slice and Dice, Rupture (i’ll pop a trinket that awards extra attack power just before applying this bleed effect, as it’s damage increases accordingly), and 5 charges of Deadly Poisons ticking between Mutilates, timing the usage of each (along with an Eviscerate or Envenom when they are all in mid countdown) to keep Find Weakness from ever completely running out. Also, I never hesitate to vanish during a boss fight in order to wipe aggro and reapply Garrote.

EDIT: Moar proofs. This was from Curator through Chess and 4 shots at Aran. We got him down to 11% on our very first try, and 5% on our last. Damn respawn timers.


Blind: A Viable Form of Crowd Control?

July 13, 2007

BlindBlinds the target, causing it to wander disoriented for up to 10 sec. Any damage caused will remove the effect.

A disorienting effect much like a Hunter’s Scattershot or a Mage’s Dragonbreath, it does not suffer from diminishing returns. All of us have it. But, what can it be used for?

When soloing, it’s easy to tab-target an extra mob and hit blind, giving yourself a few seconds to finish off your primary and regroup. When dueling, it’s classic for the blind and bandage combo (pallies can bubble and LoH, so stop crying foul when it happens to you). It’s great for arena, to stop that caster when your kick is on cooldown. But what about when running dungeons or in a raid. Could you possible use blind as a form of crowd control? I do.
Especially in heroics, this can save a wipe. If you’ve got a good set of cooldown timers, you can keep a close watch on your sapped target. Use your discretion. If your party is still fighting off two mobs and your sap only has a few seconds left, run to your target and slap a blind on it. That 10 seconds should give your party plenty of time to finish the active targets and reposition. This is one of many seemingly simple things that will not only impress your running mates, but will also make you more valuable than just for raw dps.
Think about this. You are in heroic Botanica and you’re working the 5 mob pulls after Thorngrin the Tender. You can’t CC the fleshlashers, which seems OK because they aren’t elite, right? You can just burn em down no problem? Wrong. Those suckers hit on leather for 1500-2500 NON crit. And they have alot of health. They need to be either off or pet tanked, and they NEED to go down first because they will destroy your healers. So what about the other three Blood Elves? Not only do they do some wicked AOE that your tank needs to move out of, they have awful aggro issues. If you see one running away from your tank and towards a mage or a priest, tab target and slam that blind. So long as no one touches it, problem solved…for the next 10 seconds anyway. A crude example, but hopefully the point is solid.

So, to answer the question, is Blind a viable form of crowd control? Yes and no. It does have a 3 minute cooldown (thanks blizz for that 1 minute cd tease) without talents, so that is definately a limitation. It’s nothing like a hunter’s chain trap. Can it be resisted? Yes,and generally, if a mob is immune to poisons, it will be immune to blind. But when it does work (which in my experience is 98% of the time), you’ve effectively stopped that mob in it’s tracks for the next 10 seconds. Try it sometime, especially to lengthen the duration of your only true form of crowd control; sap.


Mutilate for PvE, Part II: Combat

July 9, 2007
It’s essential. Your role is as clearly defined as any class in the World of Warcraft. You do one thing, and you do it very well. Deal damage. Burst. Sustained. Even damage over time (the lesser known advantage of the Subtlety talents).

Traditionally, rogue dps is thought of in two ways: PvE and PvP. Either you have specialized yourself through talent points to be most effective for instancing and raiding, or battlegrounds and arenas. Can one specialization work for the other’s purpose? In a word, yes. I will always believe that regardless of talent spec, what makes any toon worth his or her weight in primal mights is the person at the controls. But, having said that and for the purposes of this post, I want to consider all things normal in that respect.

As far as rogue talent builds go, 15/41/5 (or some general variation of) combat daggers/swords/fists will produce the highest sustained damage over the course of any instance or raid (I dont consider combat maces to be viable for any sort of PvE, since the stun effect will be resisted by most instance and raid bosses…I know, kind of contradictory to the main point of the previous paragraph. Meh, I digress.) The primary talents, such as improved slice and dice, adrenaline rush, combat potency, aggression, and improved [weapon] are specifically designed for a rogue to maximize white damage and increase the base damage of skills. But what if we took the foundation of the combat build and married it to the burst damage of the mutilate build?

A few posts ago, I went through what I feel to be the best distribution of talent points in the assassination tree (for the purposes of raiding and PvE). Here, I want to review how to use your remaining 20 points in the combat tree and how to pull it all together to give you a very potent, very powerful and fun build.

Improved Gouge3/3 – Increases the effect duration of your Gouge ability by 1.5 seconds
Why? Because you’re going to be grinding alot, and your main attack is still made from behind. This ability gives you a short break in battle to regenerate energy and reposition yourself for that wonderful burst damage. However, there is an interesting contradiction here. Since I am going with vile poisons, I use deadly poisons almost always. Gouge is broken by any damage, including periodic DoTs. Alas, this talent becomes highly useful when I am grinding and aggro an extra mob (ogres, elementals, etc.), and need a bit of extra crowd control.

Improved Sinister Strike2/2 – Reduces the cost of your Sinister Strike ability by 5
Two of the first 10 talent points a rogue spends will go here. You wont use this very often, but when you need it, you really need it. If the situation requires you to not or prohibits you from being behind an enemy, well, you get the point.

Improved Slice and Dice3/3 – Increases the duration of your Slice and Dice ability by 45%
As I so gracefully discussed with poor math, this post, Slice and Dice is really one of your most important finishers. Simply, you attack faster; you hit your target more times per second and you apply more poisons per second. Putting 3 points in this talent means you can keep Slice an Dice up for a longer amount of time while freeing up combo points for other finishers.

Precision5/5 – Increases your chance to hit with melee weapons by 5%
Rogues, well, we miss alot. Enemies can dodge. One thing that I notice alot about rogues (since in neurotic and need to check every rogue I see on armory) is that they don’t pay enough attention to their hit rating. I haven’t the slightest idea how to calculate it (which means I’m just too lazy to look it up right now), but I know it makes a big difference in your damage dealt. Either way, this talent isn’t one that any rogue will argue…you put 5 points in here for the hit, but you really want that Dual Wield Specialization…

Dual Wield Specialization5/5 – Increases the damage done by your offhand weapon by 50%
Remember, this is a Mutilate build intended for PvE situations. It’s the beauty of burst damage with all the benefits of sustained dps, and this talent is where it all comes together. As a rule, offhand weapon damage is reduced by 50%. With this talent, that becomes 25%. Simple enough, right? Right. White damage, normalized. Check. But something that is largely unknown is that this talent also increases your offhand Mutilate damage. Don’t believe me? Allow me to plagiarize: “Previously, the Mutilate Bonus Damage was listed as being reduced by the offhand penalty. However, it is in fact not reduced by the offhand penalty. Also, not only is the bonus damage not reduced, 5/5 DW Specialization increases it by 50%. This means the offhand bonus ends up being 101 if you don’t have DW Specialization, and 151.5 if you have 5/5 DW Specialization.” Check out the calculation here. Is it as much of an increase as Opportunity? No, not at first glance. At least not to Mutilate. But Opportunity does nothing for your offhand. And in a long instance or raid, your white damage is more vaulable than your burst damage.

Endurance2/2 – Reduces the cooldown of your Sprint and Evasion abilities by 1.5 minutes
Not my favorite cooldown reduction talent. I like Camouflage better, and Elusiveness the most. But well, we’re not in the Subtlety tree at all…so this will do. I do use evasion quite often when grinding, just to increase my survivability, so having it’s cooldown reduced is nice. The main purpose for putting two points here is to reach Dual Wield Spec. It’s not going to make or break the build if you choose to put two points in Improved Sprint, or even split 1 point to each.

I wish I had more time today to bring it all together, but I think I could take a whole entire post just for that. There is such a ridiculously high rate of combo point generation with this build that you really need to pay attention to your energy ticks and time your finishers to keep Find Weakness up as much as possible. Until next time, if anyone has experience with this build and wants to share their own findings, I’d love to hear them.

ZOMG my pooter > urs

July 6, 2007

It’s a beaut. After my old GeForce 7900 decided to burn out last night…this is my new baby.

PNY nVidia GeForce 8600 GTS

This is long overdue, as my previous card was *GASP* AGP.

I really should upgrade my cpu again, even though my AMD64 3500 still runs super awesome. Maybe a newer mobo than this too?

I dunno, it can get costly…but who cares I can just go grind some primals to make up for it.

Uh, er, I mean…work a few extra hours.

Whatever.


The Ultimate Chopper! A Theorycraft? BAH!

July 5, 2007

Chop! Grate! Mince! Crush! Grind! Whip! Puree!

You’ve seen this guy before. Hes one of the most famous
infomercial hosts in television history (although this guy is gaining fast). His name is Chef Tony, and he sells the Ultimate Chopper.

ZOMGWTFBBQ am I talking about? STFU, k?1! YOU, silly rogue. Ask yourself, how often do you use slice and dice? Yeah, yeah, I know. Even a noob rogue knows this should be one of his or her most oft used abilities. But do you really, I mean really, know how important it is to your overall dps output? Take a look at these, a very simple set of calculations to understand the mechanics of the skill.

First, your overall dps is determined by a combination of your main hand damage and your off hand damage. Take a look at the damage tooltip for your melee stats. In my case, 349.5 damage per second. In other words, if I began attacking a “paper-doll” without using any specials, over the course of 1 minute I should do 20,970 points of damage. Right? Well, not really. Rogues do miss quite a bit, and our targets often dodge our attacks…and then there are glancing blows. But then, hmmm…what about my 23.38% chance to crit? And uh, well…ok I lied. It’s not really all that accurate to combine both the dps ratings for each hand into one. There are entirely too many circumstantial modifiers for me to try and make a realistic calculation. But the numbers look pretty, so why not just for arguments sake?

OK, so, back to that 349.5 number. Simple enough, 201.2 + 148.3. Any idea how much of an increase slice and dice adds? Well, itd be better to think of slice and dice as addition by subtraction. That is, from your attack speed. By 30%. My main hand dagger goes from 1.80 to 1.38, my off hand from 1.50 to 1.15. Here comes the fun stuff.

In order to figure the damage per second of either main or offhand, you first need to take the average between their respective minimum and maximum (which is affected by attack power and stuff, I just dont feel like looking it up).

Main Hand = ([394 + 330]/2)/1.80, or, 201.1, uh, 201.2 (no idea why the tooltip doesn’t match).
Off Hand = ([241 + 204]/2)/1.50, or, 148.3.
201.2 + 148.3 = 349.5

At rank 2, Slice and Dice reduces attack speed by 30%.
1.80/(1+0.3) = 1.38.
1.50 /(1+0.3) = 1.15.

Now…
Main Hand = ([394 + 330]/2)/1.38, or, 262.3.
Off Hand = ([241 + 204]/2)/1.15, or, 193.4.

262.3 + 193.9 = 455.7.

455.7 – 349.5 = 106.2

What does this all mean? I am gimping myself one hundred six and two-tenths (106.2) points of damage for every second that I do not have Slice and Dice up.

Over one minute? 6,372.

Remeber 20,970? Try 27,342.

Now, do this using your own numbers, and ask yourself, “Do I pay enough attention to Slice and Dice?”.

Note: The above calculations and statements are made with the intention to apply mostly to instances and raids.
Dislcaimer: Due to the author’s mathematical ignorance, the above calculations are subject to be completely wrong. Well, this came true, as GSH kindly pointed out. I adjusted my terrible calculations and viola…I fail.


Mutilate for PvE, Part I: Assassination

July 2, 2007

Playing a PvE rogue isn’t really all that complicated. Your job is simple. Stealth around, stun some stuff, incapacitate some more stuff, and dump large amounts of dps onto the main target (yay for button spamming! anyone see my drinking bird?) We even have an easy button for controlling our aggro.

Mastery of the PvE rogue, however, is a different story. Have I? Absolutely not. Hell, I’ve only been playing the game for just about a year. But when I get into something, I really get into it. It’s not just about progression and getting epic gear; for me, it’s about the entire experience. I thrive on learning how to specialize my toon through his talent trees and execute skill combinations that maximize what he does best: deal damage. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be reviewing some of the most popular rogue builds through actual game tested results. I’m not much of a theorycrafter, but I’ll try and add some calculations in as well.

First, lets take a look at my current build: 41/20/0. This build is also known as Combat Mutilate or Mutilate PvE.

Assassination
Malice – 5/5 – Increases your crit chance by 5%
Regardless of your build, you are putting 5 points in this talent. Period.

Ruthlessness – 3/3 – Gives your finishing moves a 60% chance to add a combo point to your target
One of the biggest advantages to the talents in the assassination tree is combo point generation, and it starts here. Six out of ten times, when using one of your finishers and wiping your combo points clean, you get to start your next step of points with a base of one.

Murder – 2/2 – Increases all damage caused against Humanoid, Giant, Beast, and Dragonkin targets by 2%
Two percent. ALL damage. DoTs, poisons, white, crit…all of it. In my very humble opinion, this is a no-brainer. Agreed, it’s not a true base damage modifier because it leaves out Elementals, Demons, and Undead. Screw it. I’ll take 2% increased damage to four out of the seven mob types any day of the week.

Relentless Strikes – 1/1 – Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy
Another automatic, especially with this build. As you’ll see in a bit with Seal Fate, combo points are a dime a dozen, so expect to often see SCT pop this beautiful little message on your screen “+25 Energy (Relentless Strikes) “.

Lethality5/5 – Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Gouge, Backstab, Ghostly Strike, Mutilate, Shiv, and Hemorrhage abilities by 30%
A source of mild debate for traditional Combat Dagger builds (how many points to put into this talent versus Opportunity), there is no discussion here. A critical hit for 1000 damage is modified and increased to 1300.

Vile Poisons 5/5 – Increases the damage dealt by your poisons and Envenom ability by 20% and gives your poisons an additional 40% chance to resist dispel effects
This is one of my favorite talents in the assassination tree. First, the 20% damage increase to poisons is outstanding. Poisons are a staple in the rogue diet of dps, so a base modifier is more than welcome:

  • Deadly Poison – 1 charge ticks damage over time for 12 seconds, for 180 damage total. This effect can stack up to 5 times, for essentially 900 points of damage. With this talent, 180 becomes 216, and 900 ramps up to 1080. With 5 charges, you will see about 300 damage per tick.
  • Instant Poison – Each strike from the applied weapon has a 20% chance to inflict the target with 146 to 194 nature damage. Add 20% and it becomes 175 – 232. Simple enough, right? It’s even better when you consider Shiv, an instant offhand attack which automatically applies to the target poison that has been coated on the offhand weapon…more on that later.
  • Envenom – This finisher is certainly an alternative and in some cases a replacement for Eviscerate. Where eviscerate is physical damage and is mitigated by armor, envenom deals nature damage (but can be resisted or diminished). Consuming the full damage per charge of deadly poison per combo point (5 charges and 3 combo points with consume 3 charges and all combo points, where 3 charges and 5 combo points will consume 3 charges and all combo points). The formula for this skill reads “5 doses: (900+AP*0.15) damage”. I have 1560 attack power. So, (900+[1560*.15]) = 1134. Add 20%, like the talent tooltip reads, and you get 1360. Multiply by 2 for a critical hit, and you have 2721. Hmm, how can I then explain that screen shot? Patience…patience. Is envenom better than eviscerate? I think so, yes. I’m sure some super theorycrafter out there can prove me wrong with all sorts of calculations and whatnot, but I see what I see…and 3k+ crits from envenom are just too pretty to pass up.

Cold Blood1/1 – When activated, increases the critical strike chance of your next offensive ability by 100%
Please. Cmon, it’s a guaranteed critical hit. On a 3 minute cool down. Putting one point in this talent isn’t mandatory. It’s not required. Go ahead, skip it. I dare you.

Improved Kidney Shot3/3While affected by your Kidney Shot ability, target receives an additional 9% damage from all sources
Huntards have Ferocious Inspiration, rogues have this. It’s the closest we get to a party buff (I have ideas, but am open to suggestions…future post? Something like battleshout that increases dodge rating?). At 5 points (generated easily with the entirety of this build), the duration is 6 seconds; 6 seconds where not only is the entire party/raid dealing 9% extra damage, but the mob is stunned and dealing none. Put three points here, and don’t look back.

Quick Recovery2/2 – All healing effects on you are increased by 20%. In addition, your finishing moves cost 80% less energy when they fail to hit
Want to give your healers a surprise? Grab this talent and don’t tell them you did. Seriously, this is a wonderful survivability talent, especially in heroics. Your bandages go from 425 healing per tick to 510. Priest and druid HoTs soar. Add a blessing of light (stop it already with the selfish demands for blessing of might, a dead rogue does o dps), and your healers will WANT to heal you, if nothing more than to pad their healing meter numbers. If you can think of an argument NOT to put any points in this talent, I’d love to ignore them.

Seal Fate5/5 – Your critical strikes from abilities that add combo points have a 100% chance to add an additional combo point
Where Ruthlessness starts, Seal Fate finishes. An Assassination rogue deals in two absolutes (no, I’m not suggesting we are Sith): high burst-type dps and combo point generation. If hot and heavy damage is your butter, this is your bread. With 5 points in this talent, every time one of your combo point generating abilities crit, you get an extra point. Not sometimes, not a chance, not if then this or that. If you are opening with cheap shot, timing your attack (if you don’t have an energy ticker on your HUD, get one) properly, and slamming a quick Mutilate…that’s 4-5 combo points in the first couple of seconds entering battle.

Vigor1/1 – Increases your maximum Energy by 10
If you are this far into Assassination, you’re taking this talent. Just like that, with one click of your mouse, you are blessed with 10 extra base energy. Once upon a time, there was a wonderful little set of tiered gear that also gave you an energy increase of 10. 120 energy? Will we ever see this again?

Deadened Nerves2/5 – Decreases all physical damage taken by 2%
OK. I’ll probably take a bit of flack for this one. This is somewhat of a filler for me. I could have put two points in Improved Poisons. Do I really need 4% increased chance to apply poisons? Maybe. I haven’t had a problem with my application rate so far, but again, im no theorycrafter. Master Poisoner? I’m not on a PvP realm, and I don’t do arenas or battelgrounds often enough…so no thanks. Fleet Footed? Same story. I chose put a couple points in Deadened Nerves because I like the idea of taking a little less damage. Flame on.

Find Weakness 5/5 – Your finishing moves increase the damage of all offensive abilities by 10% for 10 seconds
Remember that screenshot? Scroll up a bit. My Envenom calculation didnt quite match up to the game tested results. Why? I didn’t factor in that Find Weakness was up. 10% increased damage for 10 seconds. Once again, there is no argument with this talent. You are taking it, with 5 points and a tequila chaser. Think about it…5 point Improved Kidney Shot + Find Weakness = 19% increase to ALL of your damage for 6 seconds. Know your finishers (Slice and Dice, Rupture, Envenom, Eviscerate, Kidney Shot, etc.), get yourself a nice timer/countdown mod, and do whatever you can to keep this beast going. Don’t gimp yourself.

Mutilate1/1 – Instantly attacks with both weapons for an additional 101 with each weapon. Damage is increased by 50% against poisoned targets. Must be behind target. Awards 2 combo points

Old-schoolers will argue this is not a worthy 41 point talent. They’ll say that Backstab does more damage based on their crafting of theories and calculations. Funny, does backstab give you two combo points or one, or even three when it crits (Mutilate will not give you 4 points if both hands crit)? I didn’t think so. See that up there? What does that add up to…hold on let me get my calc…u…lator. *Presses some buttons*. 3063. Fully raid buffed with the same gear, in Karazhan, the highest my backstab ever reached was 1900. Factor in damage modifiers from this tree, even 19% increased damage only raises that to 2261. Either way, I’ll let the picture speak for me. Did I forget to mention that this by far, without a doubt, the second most fun ability we have. Number 1? Shadowstep…/sigh, another place and time. Another fun fact about Mutilate: Offhand damage is NOT affected by the duel-wield penalty; in other words, the full damage of your offhand weapon is applied without the 50% reduction (25% with talents).

EDIT: In fact, if you do have dual wield spec, the offhand damage is actually increased

Review
Again and again, I will say that I am NOT a theorycrafter. For as many calculations as I try and do, I feel that I get better information from game tested results. It’s just my way. I’m not the best rogue out there, and I’m certainly not the most informed about my class and it’s abilities.

Next up, Part Deux: Combat.