Guaranteeing your Raid Spot : Rogue Play Beyond DPS

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Check the bottom for the update log.


The purpose of this post is to outline what I think makes a rogue valuable in a raid, and to tell you the things that kept me my guaranteed raid spot for so long. 99% of the rogues passing through this forum are here for advice on how to increase their DPS, but in my eyes this is only 50% of the equation. The other 50% is how much damage you take. As a raider since Tier 7, the number of bosses that my guild wiped on due to enrage with a fully alive group is absolutely dwarfed by the number of wipes caused by too many preventable mid-fight deaths. When it came time to bench underperformers, it wasn't the low DPS that got sat, it was the ones that took the most avoidable damage and died the most. Managing damage taken and quickly mastering boss mechanics is how you keep your raid spot.


Over the years I unconsciously developed a 3 step system for progressing through and mastering a raid boss, and 1.5 years ago I made a generalized post on Krush's Kavern detailing the system. This will be the latest update, with a focus on rogues. One thing to keep in mind is that these steps are meant to build on each other; do not move to the next step of progression until you have mastered the current step. If you jump around the steps you will not be getting the most out of the system and may not end up in a better place than you started.


There's one major assumption to keep in mind before we go on. I am assuming that anyone looking to follow this system is already familiar with the best rotation and damage priorities of the spec they are playing. You should be able to perform your damage rotation along with cooldowns as well as possible on a target dummy.


Step 1 is to learn the nature, timing and order of the boss mechanics, along with your role in the fight. Part of this step is doing pre-fight research on the boss, and the other part is getting into the raid and experiencing it for yourself. You need to determine which raid mechanics are unavoidable, avoidable, trivial, raid-wiping, irrelevant for rogues, or ideal for you to handle. During this step you are learning how to position yourself in the fight to properly perform the strategy that your raid leader has implemented. You are also learning how to best use your movement cooldowns to best manage the boss mechanics. 


Shadowstep is a great tool for last-second movement and avoidance; Sprint is useful as well. One facet of Shadowstep that rogues often forget is that you can use it on friendly targets. So, if there is a mechanic that will cause you to stack with others somewhere that isn't right next to the boss, you can use Shadowstep on someone already in the stack to get there.


You have mastered this step once you are regularly avoiding all fully avoidable damage without the use of damage mitigation like Cloak of Shadows, and you are using Shadowstep and Sprint as much as needed to move around the room.



Step 2 is to structure your damage cooldowns effectively around your role and the boss mechanics, as well as maximize your effective DPS uptime. Now that you are comfortable with the movement of the fight, it's time to start figuring out how to maximize your DPS. What will more than likely happen to you on this step is you'll start trying different timings and structures for your damage cooldowns, and suddenly you'll start dying to mechanics you were avoiding before. Take an attempt or two to further ingrain the movement of the fight, and then start working with your cooldowns again. Remember what I said at the top of the post; do not attempt to master a next step without mastering the previous one.


At this step you'll not only be working with your own cooldowns to make sure you get full DPS uptime during them, but you'll be working with other major raid cooldowns like Heroism/Bloodlust. If your raid likes to blow that cooldown at a certain point, you'll want to try to avoid layering more haste cooldowns on top of it. Also at this step you will be trying to maximize your uptime on effective targets. This means working on moving off your current target to either another or a place on the ground at the best time. If you need to get to a certain spot on the floor, you'll want to practice getting there as late as possible without missing. If you need to switch to an add that has to die immediately, you'll want to practice leaving your current target with a strong DoT, a high Slice and Dice timer and some extra energy and/or combo points to switch over and burst the add down.


You have mastered this step once you are getting as much effective damage uptime as you can, especially on damage cooldowns.



Step 3 is to minimize your damage taken. You are already partly doing this by dodging the avoidable boss mechanics, but now it's time to focus on mitigating the unavoidable damage. You don't need to start using Recuperate or anything so hurtful to DPS, but you need to work Cloak of ShadowsFeint and possibly Evasion into your play. 


Cloak of Shadows you want to be available for the biggest incoming spell damage attack whenever possible. If you are able to find times to use it on other attacks and still have it available for the big attack, that's a good thing. If you are on a fight where the biggest incoming damage spike is physical damage, you will want to use Glyph of Cloak of Shadows to compensate. 


Feint is an amazing ability for rogues, and I can't say enough good things about it. When glyphed and talented (which I highly recommend), you mitigate 30% of all damage taken (65% if the damage is AoE) for 7 seconds at the cost of 20 energy. You don't even need to be in melee range of an enemy to cast it anymore. If you are able to weave Feint into your rotation at the proper times during a boss fight, your healers are going to notice, and your raid leader is going to notice. Feint is what keeps rogues alive to the bitter end on narrow kills and wipes. 


Evasion won't do a lot for you unless you pull aggro on something, but you should still have it at the ready in case things go awry.



This plan will work for you commit to it and use it as intended. This will not fix all of your problems in one night, but it will teach you how to prepare and behave like a top tier rogue. Once you have this process fully integrated into your raiding style, you are ready to move on to the theorycrafting discussion on exact spec, reforge, rotation, gear and cooldown choices per boss.



2/11: Horcored makes a good point about Smoke Bomb. Use of this ability will mostly be explored in Step 3, however raid mechanics and raid leader instruction may cause you to work out Smoke Bomb timings and best situations in Step 1.I will incorporate it into the main article later this week.


This is alot of useful information, but you seem to have forgotten to mention here that rouge bring a good raidwide defensive Cooldown. I dont remember if this came in at launch of MoP or in a later patch, but as alot of rogues dont know is that smokebomb now reduces dmg taken by anyone standing in it by 20% for its duration, which is really helpful on almost any fight. In my raiding experience, rogues still think that its only a pvp talent, but thats not the case anymore.


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Very good article, Krush.


+1 for Glyph of Cloak of Shadows and the Elusiveness talent


Staying alive is a huge part of maximising DPS, and a lot of that comes from raid awareness.


Raid experience with the same team, is a big help in learning fights, too. Learning what you need to do and what you can safely ignore (because others are dealing with it), as well as learning to work with the team, and getting used to the flow of fights will all take time, but it should improve your ability to survive and keep maximum uptime on bosses.


Also, bear in mind that rogues are one of the least played classes at max level, so many raid leaders may not be fully aware of your spells and abilities. Don't be afraid to mention something that may be useful if it seems to have been overlooked.

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This is alot of useful information, but you seem to have forgotten to mention here that rouge bring a good raidwide defensive Cooldown. I dont remember if this came in at launch of MoP or in a later patch, but as alot of rogues dont know is that smokebomb now reduces dmg taken by anyone standing in it by 20% for its duration, which is really helpful on almost any fight. In my raiding experience, rogues still think that its only a pvp talent, but thats not the case anymore.

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Smoke bomb is a Heroic Thok cooldown you mean :P


Our first kill would've been impossible without it.

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The change to smoke bomb was brought in at patch 5.2


I'd think that a big part of playing any class is knowing your spellbook, including any changes that are relevant to you. Similarly, keeping up with changes to raids, and knowing how they affect your role is good practice.


Patch notes are well laid out, so it shouldn't be difficult to keep up to date with hotfixes and changes to spells.


I would expect most rogues, or any class, (certainly those who are considering progressive raiding) to know about their class and be aware of changes to their abilities. But, as I mentioned above, some raid leaders may not know about your class quite so well, especially with changes happening occasionally, so it's useful to let them know what you can use to help if they seem to be overlooking certain spells.

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Ye, i thought it was 5.2 but i was little unsure. Also, true what u say that when ur playing a class into raiding u should know its spellbook, as i am not playing rogue myself i'm little unsure when this came in. All i know is that its also a Raid leaders duty to make sure ur raiders use their raid cds at given points. This is why i brought up the smoke bomb scenario, as one night i was taking the role of leading the raid since our RL was away for that night and we had a rogue take his spot. When i called for smoke bomb, he had no clue why and didnt even have it on his bars =P Believe me, we'll never let him forget that =D

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Don't forget about TotT, 15% damage on someone and/or if you're having tank aggro problems. (:


Just be careful to not screw up even more that aggro. (Mage + extra aggro... Lol)

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You make a good point, lipsinch, however I would categorize TotT as more rotational knowledge and less boss knowledge. I will use TotT on the starting tank on the first pull, but after that it shouldn't be a problem unless there are periods of extended tank down time or critical target switches. By critical target switches I mean you must go full out on a target the moment it becomes targettable; in that situation you can avoid some risk by using TotT on the appropriate tank.

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The rogue is a very under-rated class, and one of the most hated classes ingame. This infamy is mainly due to the over-power ambush (almost) 1 shot ambush in vanilla or how easily we could stun lock others in PvP (not that easy on latest xpacks). This infamy has transported to PvE, and as said before here, since it's very uncommon at end game compared to the other classes so the changes are unknown by many, changes such as the passive ability_rogue_disembowel.jpgSwiftblade's Cunning, the defensive changes of ability_rogue_smoke.jpgSmoke Bomb, especially if you glyph it for an extra 2sec duration which is very helpful in numerous fights (not only on Thok like it was mentioned above). And because the majority of rogues love to troll PvP, and stick to PvP due to the lack of interest of the class in PvE.


Also, what makes rogues indispensable to raids is the survivability in raids. Rogues can eat/avoid a lot of damage, especially if you have AoC which affects the CD on spell_shadow_nethercloak.jpgCloak of Shadows which in my eyes is a mechanic skipper. In many progression fights, heroic or normal, I'm almost always the last one to die due to the ability to stay alive. Feint (+ elusiveness), CoS, Combat Readiness, Evasion, Smoke Bomb, Recupe, Vanish... That says a lot for a class, if well played you can not only be at the bottom of the list on damage taken, but also be on top of the dps meters since we burst so much with little effort.


Another thing to add is the mobility of this class, whatever the spec now thanks to Shadowstep being a class talent point, rather than a sub spec talent like it was pre-MoP. We have sprint, with the ability to refresh it with prep (and some defensive cooldowns refreshed with it) which is damn useful in fights. The ease how rogues move around the battlefield in an encounter is unmatched with any other class due to the lack of sacrificing dps in the process. This is extremely helpful not only to be at the right place at the right time, but can also be used as a helping tool for tanks if you combine your mobility with TotT. I was going to list the encounters I found to benefit more with such mobility but I found myself writing down the majority of the encounters, so no use really.


Conclusion: Rogue has been changed from a selfish class to a team-player, versatile DPS with tank-like features regarding to survivability. Not many has realized this or ignore it due to the hate that's been haunted rogues since the vanilla days. Know your class and fights and you'll be sure to guarantee your spot. It will be hard for a RL to decide to remove you if you're able to burst +600k dps, maintaining +300k dps while surviving throughout the whole fight.

Edited by Blackshade
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