Monday, June 29, 2009

Rogue or Druid Dilemma

I am amazed whenever I see, or am reminded of someone that has been playing a specific character for a very long time. For me a long time has essentially been no more than a year and a half, but I know people that have been playing the same character since the launch of WoW. To me that is an alien concept because I haven’t been completely happy with any character I’ve created in my four years of playing WoW. Hence my alt-a-holism.

I’ve been explaining my current dilemma recently, and that continued to play out somewhat over the weekend. I spent a good amount of time over the weekend completing the leveling of my Rogue into the Outlands, where I’d hit level 62 by yesterday morning. Then the remainder of the day I spent on my Druid in order to better compare energy regeneration, capabilities, rotations and trying to get a good feeling for what to do. I also spent a little time on my Paladin last night and ran some dailies.

One of the issues that is perplexing me at the moment is professions. I never took any appreciable profession on my Druid (although he does currently have 450 skinning) because I guess I had some reservations about the character. Likewise I never took anything on my Rogue. With my Druid I’m completely happy how the class works in a purely PVE questing or farming role but not so much in instances or raiding. I suppose I could try a bit harder to figure out an initial DPS rotation and then test out different things after that to see what really works. But I really dislike the AOE capabilities of the cat. It simply takes too much energy and you can’t really expect to get more than 3-4 swipes in on any given group before you are completely energy starved and sit back in single target mode waiting on regeneration.

By comparison I don’t have any very good AOE ability on my Rogue yet (outside of blade flurry with its 2 min cool down and killing spree which I just got yesterday morning at level 62. It also has a 2 or 3 min cooldown), though at level 80 I would get fan of knives which I’ve seen used to a lethal extent in many raids. So I think I really have to give the point to the Rogue.

When questing on the Druid, if I take any damage it’s a simple matter of popping out into caster form and casting a couple HOTs on myself and then drop back immediately into animal form to continue on with what I was doing. There simply is no downtime. On the Rogue there isn’t a great deal of downtime, but the downtime I do experience is annoying. Point to the Druid.

In those situations where I get adds I can usually burn them down fast enough to not worry about it, but occasionally I take quite a beating. In cat form I can use health potions now, and if I need more healing while fighting I can always switch to bear form and pop frenzied regeneration for a second heal. On the Rogue I have only the ability to use health potions and do not yet have any ability to clear the effects of spells. I will get Cloak of Shadows at level 70 that will do that however, but unfortunately I don’t have anything of the kind on the Druid. On the Rogue I can vanish if things get dicey and I don’t have any spell effects, or damage effects that cause DOTs. Don’t have that on the Druid—once I’m committed to the fight and emerge from stealth I’m there until I’m out of combat or can run off far enough to pop shadowmeld. That’s not really vanish, but it’s close enough I guess. Taken all together it’s very close but I think the Druid eeks out the point on all this.

In PVE questing both the Druid and the Rogue perform adequately in comparison to one another. I’m leveling as combat on the Rogue, so I probably take a little more damage than I would in a dagger build using stuns, but I’m much better at handling adds. I’ll usually Cheap Shot > SnD (1cp) > SS > SS > SS > Evis or KP depending on the health of the mob. Either way it’s usually dead by the time Evis finishes or before the stun from KP is up. If I come up on mobs that are close together I’ll sap one (if possible) and kill the other. Then kill the first. If I can’t sap one I’ll CS one then burn evasion, Blade Flurry and Adrenalin Rush in order to burn them both down before Evasion is up. I’ve found this all works very well but I take damage and it accumulates as I go along until after a few fights I usually have to sit and eat, unless the mobs are a couple levels below me. Energy regen isn’t a problem because of talents. I regen energy 25% faster and currently have two talents that give me a chance to return 25 energy on finishing moves and another than gives me a chance to return 15 energy, so generally I’m able to keep high DPS, but can burst extra DPS when I get either of those procs.

I was able to run Ramparts and Blood Furnace a few times on Saturday and found I lag a bit behind others on the current AOE capability but also on single target mobs because most of my attacks are white hits. I’ll get a couple SS off and maybe an Evis before the mob dies. On groups where my Blade Flurry and AR is up I’ll burn those for some extra DPS. On single target bosses I use AR/BF with ruptures and evis for good DPS.

By comparison Feral Druids have no talents that affect energy regeneration, other than Tigers Fury which, if taken, gives you an ability to use the ability on a one minute cool down to return nearly a full energy bar. So it’s something that you normally want to use when your energy is close to zero, and requires the use of a global cool down. Generally I have to space out my attacks a bit more than I do on the Rogue but they tend to hit harder than my Rogues attacks do. When I attack a mob I’ll usually open with Pounce > Shred > Mangle > Mangle or Rip > FB. The mob, I think, lasts about the same between the cat and the Rogue.

Where things really tend to differ is in an instance setting. In comparison to the Rogue, as a cat I’m not greatly affected by haste, so I have no SnD ability to manage. What cats have is Savage Roar, which increases damage by 30% but consumes CPs like SnD does. In a multi-mob fight I’ll usually just mangle > SR (1cp) then either stay single target by applying Rip > Shred to 3-4 CPs then Rake or FB depending on the health of the mob. Or I’ll just try to AOE by Swip > Swipe > TF > Swipe > Swipe …. Energy regen and single target the rest of the way. Most of which will be spent in white hits. It sucks. If the mobs are doing AOE damage (physical) on the Rogue I’d hit Evasion to avoid it as best I can but in cat I only have barkskin to reduce the amount of damage I’ll have to take. Or I can get away from the mobs.

All together I have to give the point to the Rogue. Clearly better in an AOE environment, better damage avoidance, and the energy regeneration mechanic I think has advantages and is more predictable over the feral mechanic. I guess the trade off for that is the inconvenience of downtime while questing.

As I was thinking through some of this yesterday I still couldn’t really get myself to commit fully one way or the other. So there are evidently other issues and thoughts which are percolating around in the recesses that simply need to come to the surface at some point.

In the mean time I guess I’ll continue to level my Rogue and try to work through the rotation/priorities on the Druid. And continue to look in utter amazement at those people I know who have been playing the same class for four years.