Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rogue update

My little Rogue hit level 54 last night, so I’m close to heading into the Outlands where I expect things will pick up even more than they have over the last week or so for him. I’d most likely already have been in and through the Outlands if it weren’t for the still horrible quests in vanilla WoW. I won’t beat that horse much more, so let’s just skip forward to what I am beginning to see as the strengths and weaknesses of the class. First what I really like is the strong DPS capability of the class. And keep in mind my Rogue is still very young and I have yet to see any of the real content of the game with him. So anything I say will be pertinent to vanilla WoW content only. That being said the Rogue is still one of the better classes I’ve yet played with a good ability to keep DPS up even in a mobile fight.

The class has several abilities for taking on groups of two or more mobs, from sapping an extra before a fight, to blind which gives a short duration “stun” to an add, to blade flurry if you are leveling as Combat. Blade Flurry requires X talent points, so it’s not something that is immediately available but does come in very handy when you do. Especially with adrenalin rush. I’ve burned down three mobs at a time with Adrenalin Rush/Blade Flurry in the same time it’s taken me to burn down one mob with a complete action bar and little if any health missing from my health bar. When I did run into trouble, getting out of it was usually a simple vanish away. Strong DPS with multiple means of controlling adds, and an ability to disengage from any fight that begins to head south. Win, win.

Where I think the class is somewhat weak is against casters and dots specifically. When taking on casters in a 1v1 encounter its trivial for the Rogue to control that mob so that either no casting, or very little casting occurs. But against a caster add the only thing you can really do is blind, gouge, or vanish. If you have been dot’ed then vanish isn’t an option as you have no means to clear dots for several more levels. Of course that is also the case with other classes, like Warriors for instance so I don’t mean to say it’s a class issue. It’s more of an issue introduced across many classes when Blizzard designed them, but in the case of the Rogue at least you will normally have a lower level of health than a Warrior and so are somewhat more susceptible to these kinds of situations. I’ve preferred hybrid classes previously because I really like to be able to heal, not to mention the utility of those classes. And I’ve run into certain situations, like the one I just explained where I miss that ability to heal. No ability to heal or low survivability in situations where you’re left facing multiple casters is something I think Blizzard should probably think about a little more.

As with melee classes in general, the Rogue class is fairly gear dependent. Perhaps not as gear dependent as some though. Even with many pieces of gear that are severely out of date still being worn I have few issues with completing quests or grinding on mobs, which still falls in line with previous classes I’ve leveled up like my Druid, and the Paladin. I am wearing the heirloom PVP shoulders and have the heirloom badge dagger, but everything else is quest reward or something purchased off the AH. Speaking of the AH, some people are completely insane for listing mid-levels greens for 30+ gold, and that is the reason why so many of my pieces are 10-20 levels out of date. Sorry, but I’m not spending that kind of gold every 5 levels to keep him updated. It’s really too bad the new heirloom chest items aren’t out yet because that would be one less item to worry about. I’ve found that weapons are simply more important than armor, so I’ve made an effort to keep my main-hand weapon updated within a few levels of myself.

I still occasionally have to sit and eat, but I think that is probably more to do with the Rogue being a little under-powered because of the gear situation than anything else. Despite those occurrences being on the fewer side of things, I still find myself missing an ability to heal and have passed more than one casual thought on the topic of “wouldn’t it be great if Rogues had an ability to proc small heals like Feral Druids and Death Knights?” I know Rogues (or anyone else for that matter) could use life-stealing, but I found the heals from life-stealing to be so inconsequential that I removed the enchant by putting another fiery on the weapon instead. A self-healing ability similar to what Feral Druids have would be just what the doctored ordered, though I do admit it might be considered over-powered by some.

So if I find even the small amount of downtime I’ve encountered thus far on the annoying side, why am I considering playing the Rogue further? I like Stealth. I like burst DPS. I have that with my Feral Druid as well, plus the ability to heal but I found raiding as Feral to be less than ideal. The rotations are complicated to say the least and I just don’t think I’d be happy with it, though I find PVP and questing great with it. I’m really looking for a class that I can be happy with—PVPing, questing, running instances and doing some ad-hoc raiding on. If it weren’t for the complicated nature of feral DPS I’d simply stick to my Druid. Well, I’d still wish they’d give feral a vanish ability, but outside of that it’s all about the DPS.

I have yet to do any PVP with the Rogue but I already know I can’t heal. Once I hit 70 I’ll have Cloak of Shadows which I can use to clear dots and steal myself against casters but I think I’m going to miss the healing in PVP. Which of course means I’m going to have to be a little more selective in the battles I fight in than I normally am. Where I know I’m going to enjoy the Rogue is in Raiding. Mobile, strong burst DPS, great AOE DPS at 80….. what isn’t to like there?

Honestly I don’t think I’ll be able to stick with just two classes. I think I can feel that already. My DK will remain my “main” but I’ll probably be playing my Druid and the Rogue in that secondary role though I don’t anticipate chasing achievements with either of them like I have been with my DK.