November 20, 2007

hemo-swords.jpgI wont be posting (or playing) much for the rest of this week, mostly because of the holiday. We had a focused busy day today in an effort to get as much done as possible so we could all get a head start on the long weekend. Gotta love a boss who, while competant and fair, still holds the air of a teenager (we had a team lunch a few weeks ago, complete with a fun little ice breaker survey, to which he answered the question “what would be your dream job?” with “doing nothing”).

Anyway, I took the advice I got yesterday from a few commenters and did some of my own calculations. Once I get the season 2 swords (should only take a few more weeks), I will switch to a build more like this, which Feist-Mok suggested. After looking at my recount data (pictured below, Akil’zon kill) from last night’s ZA run, I realized that 2/2 weapon expertise would be a better investment of points than 5/5 [weapon] spec and 1/1 prep. You can see the numbers pretty clearly.

eaglerecountmelee.jpg eaglerecounthemo.jpg

10 less dodges for melee at an average hit of 369 = 3690. 3 less dodges of hemo at an average hit of 663 = 1989. That totals 5679 pts of damage I could have had with 2/2 weapon expertise. Not to mention that those 3 hemo dodges meant 3 times I wasted energy failing to put a debuff on the boss, which means overall raid damage lost. Consider it’s worth 10 charges, and costs 35 energy. 40 charges missed (including the one parry). Up to 36 points of raid damage per. Add that together with the damage I missed out on, and I cost the raid just over 7k damage for that fight. Akil’zon only has about 1.3 million hitpoints, so the disparity is minor: .55%. But still, damage is damage.


Finally, this was a big surprise to me. Not so much me being second to BRK, as I am quite used to that, but rather my being able to maintain a 778 dps for a fight where there is quite a bit of running around. Once I get more comfortable with the rotations and energy management, I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to break pretty well into the 800’s.


Mutilate for PvE, Part III: Tactics

August 6, 2007

I sit here on a rainy Monday morning, the sleeves of my black dress shirt rolled to mid-fore, top button undone and matching black tie loosened. The small fan on my desk is blowing straight across my unshaven face, and Bear Vs. Shark‘s Terrorhawk is driving strong indie rock (read: awkwardly layered guitar riffs, driving drum beats, and aggresive vocals) straight through my day drifting thoughts. It’s days like these, where I couldn’t care less if was told today was my last (at the office), that put to bed my realist negativity and awaken my hopeful idealism.

To the point you say? Tactics. That is, how to use the 41/20/0 Combat Mutilate build. Putting it all together, like any other Rogue build, it stards with an opener and ends with a finisher. But which? And in what situations are they specifically best used? Since I don’t do arena and I rarely do battlegrounds, I will focus on 5-man dungeons and raiding.

The Basics
Every Rogue build focuses on one main voluntary offensive skill, one secondary voluntary offensive skill, and many auxiliary offensive, defensive, and passive skills. Rogueplay has long been regarded as button mashing, skill spamming, and disappearing when things go awry. To a degree this isn’t totally innacurate. Often times when soloing or partaking in regular world activity, relentlessly tapping one or two keys will produce the same results as paying attention to all of the buffs (proccable or combo-point based), countdowns, and cooldowns that are at a Rogues disposal.

But when grouping either in a raid or party instance, this style needs to change. A well balanced group should consist of proper healing, threat generation and damage mitigation, mob control, crowd control, and damage production (both ranged, melee, physical, and magic). As a Rogue, you bring the potential for heavy amounts of both sustained and burst melee damage (Your crowd control options are limited unless you are an advanced thinker, but thats for another post, another time). I say potential because in order to provide your group or raid with the varied types of damage for which you are capable, you can not simply spam one or two skills.

Attack Sequence & Positioning
Going into any particular pull of grouped mobs or a boss fight, it is critically important to think ahead about where you are going to be standing, what type of mobs you are fighting, and the sequence at which you will execute your attacks.

The beginning
The first of your attacks in any fight. Before the pull has even started, identify the mob type you are about to engage. This will ultimately determine which of your openers will be most effective. Is this mob immune to stun? Can it bleed? Is it a caster?

My most used opener in regular/heroic 5-mans and the beginning of Karazhan is Cheap Shot. I always make sure to be in stealth mode well before a pull is about to begin. From this point I will position myself almost directly on top of the tank. As the primary target approaches, I will strafe around behind that target and perform a cheap shot. If the mob is immune to stuns but not to bleed effects, than I will open with Garrote. If the mob is immune to both, I will open with Ambush.

The objective here is to start off the fight by giving myself a foundation by which I can begin to build combo points and stack attack speed buffs. With 160 haste rating for 6 seconds from the Assassination Armor set bonus and 2 combo points, Cheap Shot is my preferred opener. At level 70, a 10.5 haste rating gives 1% increased attack speed. This calculates out to about a 15% increased attack speed for the duration of the effect, which not only ramps up my dps rating, but also gives me more strikes to proc poison applications.

For boss fights and even a large number of pulls in Karazhan, Cheap Shot does not work. This is when I use Garrote. At level 70, Garrote does a base of 810 points of damage over 18 seconds (the 3 second silence effect is purely meant for PvP, but is useful when soloing). Modified by only attack power (since for this build I obviously don’t have any of the Subtlety talent multipliers):

Total Garrote Damage = Garrote Rank + (Attack Power * 0.18)

I’m going to assume Garrote Rank to be 810, because I am level 70, and I have a raid buffed attack power averaging around 1800. So, 810 + 324 = 1134 over 18 seconds, or 189 damage per tick (where 1 tick = 3 seconds). Further, if you have a Feral Druid in your raid or party, wait for them to apply Mangle (which they will almost always do right away). This skill adds 30% damage to all bleed effects to target for 12 seconds. Assuming the Druid keeps this debuff from expiring, my Garrote will increase to a total damage done of (1134 * 1.3) 1474, or 245 per tick. In my opinion, this is better than opening with Ambush because it does as much or comprable (not counting heavy crits, since I do not have Improved Ambush or any damage multipliers) damage without anywhere near the same amount of threat. Will the average trash mob last 18 seconds? Hopefully not. But on boss fights, where it counts, Garrote is always my number 1 choice.

When fighting mechanicals, ghosts, or any other mob or boss type that is immune to bleed (Attumen or Mechano-Lord Capacitus, for example), I will just open with Ambush. It doen’t crit very often, which I prefer (I don’t want to spend the next 6 or 8 seconds waiting for my threat to decrease), and gives one combo point. Good enough considering. Another alternative that I will sometimes use, when I absolutely know that neither Cheap Shot or Garrote will work, is to open with a Shiv. Low energy cost, instant Deadly Poison application, 1 or 2 combo points (depending on if it crits).

The Middle
The fight has begun. You have your foundation. Now what? Well, it’s up to you, really, but this is what I do.

For some time, when I first started using this build for instances and raids, my sequence for trash would go Cheap Shot > Mutilate > Kidney Shot > Slice and Dice/Shiv (note: or vice versa, depending on if Ruthlessness procs from KS) > Rupture/Shiv (see previous note) > Shiv > Mutilate > Envenom. I thought that by keeping the mob stunned for 10 seconds (and giving the 9% increased damage from all sources) that I was really helping the entire party or raid. What I failed to realize until recently is that unless the tank is controlling multiple mobs at once, I am taking away his only way of generating rage. It’s fine for that one mob because the healer doesnt need to, well, heal…but the tank would have no rage at all when moving to the next mob. This is not a good thing. No rage = no threat. No threat on the tank means death amongst the ranks, or it forces the tank to burn cooldowns that aren’t otherwise necessary. So I modified my sequence, for a few reasons.

Cheap Shot > Slice and Dice > Mutilate > Rupture > Mutilate > Envenom/Eviscerate is now my preferred attack order on the first mob of a trash pull. When moving to the next mob, I will throw a Shiv as I make my way around behind. This gives me at least 1 combo point to keep Slice and Dice going, as well as that guaranteed 50% increased damage from Mutilate when the mob is poisoned. So, Shiv > Slice and Dice > Mutilate > Rupture > Mutilate > Envenom/Eviscerate.

This isn’t THE best order in which to use your skills, but it is the one I have found the most comfort using. You can really mix and match as to per your preference, whatever fits your playstyle. However, there are two very important buffs that you must keep from expiring. Slice and Dice and Find Weakness.

Way back in this post, I tried (somewhat failingly) to give a few actual caclulations as to how much Slice and Dice increases your DPS. Well, it’s simple really. Thirty percent. Keep it going, and dont let it run out. Having Improved Slice and Dice is a key talent in contributing to this build’s overall DPS.

Where Slice and Dice is a skill that you can control with the push of a button, Find Weakness is procced by a finishing move. Since I regularly opening with Cheap Shot, a 2 point Improved Slice and Dice will last me 17 seconds. This, in turn, will last 7 seconds longer than Find Weakness. So in the next 10 seconds, I will throw a Mutilate to generate 2-3 more combo points, wait until Find Weakness has just under 3 seconds left, and then I will hit Rupture. Using Rupture at this point in my attack sequence serves a number of purposes.

First, it adds a very nice damage over time effect to the target. At level 70, a two point Rupture will deal 460 base damage over 10 seconds. Using the same attack power value as I did for Garrote (1800), this increases to 640 damage. Add to that the 10% increased damage from Find Weakness and the DOT increases to 704 over 10 seconds. Add, once again, the 30% damage to bleeds from a Feral Druid’s Mangle, and I get about 896 total damage. According to Wowwiki.com, at 2 points this will tick 5 times (provided the mob stays alive for the duration) at about 128 damage per. Factor in the 40% worth of multipliers, and the DOT ticks at about 179 every 2 seconds (and very little threat!). Taking this even further, I will always use this as my first 5 point finisher on a boss fight. 5pt = ([(1800) * 0.24 + 1000]*1.4), or about 2004. So, about 250 every 2 seconds for 16 seconds. *I’m actually very unclear if damage multipliers like these stack or are applied seperately. In other words, having (dmg * 1.1)*1.3 > (dmg *1.4). Anyone have any ideas?

Second, and probably most important, is the 10% increased damage bonus from Find Weakness. 10% to all normal swings. 10% to Mutilate. 10% to Eviscerate. 10% to Envenom. Everything. It’s simple really, do your best to keep this going at all times, and your DPS will increase by 10%.

The Finisher

Where Slice and Dice and Rupture are classified as finishing moves, Eviscerate and Envenom are the true battle-enders. I don’t have talents in Improved Eviscerate, mostly because I hardly ever use it. I prefer Envenom largely because of the 20% damage increase from Vile Poisons, but also because it is not mitigated by armor. Since it is nature damage, it can be partially resisted, but I have not noticed this but for 1 or 2 times. I will normally wait until I have 3-5 charges of Deadly Poison on a mob and there is less than 10k hit points left before it’s death. This pretty much ensures that any threat I generate from my oft 3k+ Envenom crits won’t put me in a position of certain wisp-form.

Using a Mutilate or Backstab build requires a Rogue to be positioned behind the enemy. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be sniffing up the buttcrack of said mob, just that you have to be near it. Think of the target as a compass, with the center being the actual mob and the radius being your attack range. If the mob is facing any of the four cardinal directions, you must remain behind the corresponding perpendicular directions, slightly less than 180 degrees from point to point.

Grouping with BRK on regular occasion, he has said that watching me keep my position is something he would have a hard time doing. For me, it’s pretty simple. I don’t use my mouse during combat. Ever. I have all of my main attacks mapped to keys on my number pad. I have the left and right arrow keys controlling my strafe, and the A and D keys controlling my left and right movement. It’s just my preference, but it allows me to move in all directions and attack without moving my hands and hunting for hot bar buttons to click.

Well, that’s about it for now…I’ve written a lot. If you’ve read this entire thing, I commend you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts/flames/trolls/etc’s.!

Muta1337 (Myoo-TAH-1337)

August 2, 2007

Yesterday, Chris (moar posts pls!) asked me for some actual DPS numbers that he could compare to his 10/41/10 combat swords build. So, I made a video last night (first time using Fraps, and I guess I have something to learn because youtube doesn’t care much for 1.7gb avi files). Then he sent me an email this morning, and I guess I didn’t really understand that he meant DPS RATING numbers. Doh.

Here is his email, and the screenshots I took from our Attument fight last night (we cleared up to and including Opera last night with considerable ease). Tonight I will try and get some screenshots that show some actual DPS rating numbers, although I did discuss this briefly in a this post.

“Ok, the SWstat crop shows my DPS while grinding lv 70 mobs with no raid buffs, just Instant/Deadly on the MH/OH. I’ve been as high as 650 on bosses when I had Priest, Pally and Druid buffs.

My armory profile is: Ontherocks

The reason I was asking to see your DPS in the manner I sent to you, is that number can be compared, while those cumulative damage totals can’t. And the reason I’m curious is that I’m curious how my gear and spec would hold up with someone whose gear is itemized for PvE. I have a Lumbergh-esque meeting to get to, so I may add more later.”

One thing I noticed while actually watching the video that these screenshots (check out the first Mutilate crit!!11//!) were taken from, is that even with 126 hit rating, I still miss quite often on ?? bosses. I’m not sure if I should sacrifice some crit rating for hit through gem itemization, but I may try it.

Regardless, you can see that with raid buffs and proccables, well, proccing (trinkets, Find Weakness, DS3 set bonus, Mongoose, etc.)…the raid DPS output of this build is just outstanding. I’m going to install SWStats tonight so that I can monitor my DPS rating, and tomorrow I’ll post some numbers and caps and maybe even some calculations.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.