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DIY Rogue Evaluation Guide

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The intention of this guide is not so I can stop helping people on a case by case basis. The intention is to provide some transparency on how I evaluate my own rogue performance and the performance of anyone gracious enough to provide me with their combat logs.


My ultimate goal for the Icy Veins rogue community is to reach a level of discussion that revolves around current content, theories, ideas and fun conversation. This guide will advance us towards that goal by addressing the basic rotation discussion all at once.


How to use the guide


The first reply past this original post is filled with anchor links that will take you to other parts of the guide. At every section there is an anchor link to take you back to the first reply. If you use the links to bounce around the article you will have a much easier time navigating than if you try to scroll around.


How the guide is separated


I separate out the evaluation into four sections: Defensive, Assassination, Combat and Subtlety. Everyone should be looking at the Defensive links, along with your specialization links.


Why should I use this guide?


The only way to get better at something the next time you do it is to know exactly how you did this time. Knowing that you want maximum uptime on Rupture as Assassination is a great thing to know, but when your damage is lower than you want and you don't have the real data on your Rupture uptime, how can you improve? You'll just go into the next fight from the same place you entered the last fight.


Evaluative information


I spend a lot of time telling you how to interpret log information once you have it, but you'll notice that I do not tell you how to get it. This is because the point of this guide is not to teach you how to use combat log websites. I highly recommend getting an account over at http://www.warcraftlogs.com/ and take the short amount of time it takes to learn their information system. World of Logs is a dying website and the user interface over on Warcraft Logs is so much more friendly and easy to use. Get your guild to switch websites or start recording your own logs.


Practical knowledge


In each evaluative section I will be providing you with real steps you can take to improve your performance in that area. There will be a few mental and macro tricks, but I'll say right now that the majority of this advice will be UI related.


Please please PLEASE believe me that a well formed UI will solve 99% of your rotational and awareness problems.



I hope you will find this helpful, here we go!

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Rupture (If you use it in your rotation)





Damage Taken --

Knowing the sources of your incoming damage is very important to your success as a raider. Dead players don't do much DPS, so the better you are at staying alive, the more damage you will do.


To analyze this metric, you have to see how you rank in damage taken versus the rest of the raid. First check overall damage taken, then start looking at it by specific source. As a rogue, you should at the very least be in the bottom half of the damage taken rankings in any aspect, if not in the bottom few players.


You can improve your damage mitigation awareness by better learning the sources of incoming damage and the timing of them. Learn the best places to use abilities like Cloak of Shadows and Smoke Bomb, and use Feint for everything else.


Your main interface helpers for damage taken are going to be your boss timers, your debuff array and your power auras. In whatever boss mod addon you use, take the time to go through the bars boss by boss and eliminate any bars that don't mean anything to you. This should leave you with a short list of timers that you can track and react to accordingly. Having your debuffs easily visible will help you to Cloak away bad debuffs and get out of whatever you're standing in. Power auras can also be used for this purpose.



Healthstone --

Healthstones are so underused it's crazy. They are a mana-free emergency self-heal on a 2 minute cooldown that anyone can use if a warlock is in the group. You don't even have to wait for an emergency situation, as long as you aren't overhealing with the Healthstone, you are saving your healers mana for later in the fight.


My general rule of thumb is that if a fight lasts longer than 5 minutes, you very likely had enough opportunities to use all 3 charges of your Healthstone. The best way to measure Healthstone usage is to look at the ranking for the whole raid night on number of Healthstones used. Chances are there will be a very wide range of usage, but you still want to be at or near the top of the list.


I recommend creating a conditional power aura to manage your Healthstone usage. This power aura should be positioned very close to the center of your screen and should be easily visible when the conditions are met. The conditions for this power aura to appear are 'Yes my health is below 70%' and 'Yes the Healthstone is off cooldown'. If you create this aura, all you have to do is slam your healthstone keybind when you see the aura and never think about it again.



Feint --

Feint is the best defensive ability that rogues have, and it comes at an incredibly small price for the benefit. You should be using this for any unavoidable AoE damage throughout the fight, as well as any time you are forced to run through ground effects.


This metric isn't as easy as the others to analyze because there is no cooldown on Feint, but it can still be measured. After you checked out your Damage Taken rankings and seen how you stack up on particular mechanics, you can check the number of times you cast Feint against the number of times any AoE was cast during the fight. Your Feint casts should meet or exceed this number.


I found the best way to increase the number of times I used Feint was to put the keybind in a very accessible place. I actually have it on one of my mouse buttons, so I can cast Feint as a quick reaction without having to interrupt the rotation abilities that I'm casting with my left hand.


I would also suggest creating a power aura that appears whenever the Feint buff is active. You could also just increase the size of the buff wherever you have it currently appearing on your screen. Either way the idea is to be aware of whether the buff is active and when it will fall off.



Cloak of Shadows --

Cloak of Shadows is another amazing personal defensive ability. Zero magical damage for 4 seconds. Zero. The cooldown is even reduced if you have an Assurance of Consequence. Since this buff is so powerful, you have to be more careful of what you use it for. Save this ability for the biggest piece of damage the boss is going to throw at you.


If you divide the length of the fight by the length of your Cloak of Shadows cooldown, it should be equal to or lower than the number of Cloak of Shadows cast. If the divided number is higher than your cast number, it means you could have used Cloak more often.


Fight knowledge will play the biggest role in your usage of this ability. Generally a boss will have one distinct AoE attack that is more deadly than the others, and this is what you want to be using your Cloak for. Once you have the timing down for when this attack is coming, you might find times in between the casts where you can sneak in an extra Cloak to help out your healers.



Smoke Bomb --

Smoke Bomb is a fairly new addition to the rogue's defense arsenal, but it can be invaluable in some key situations. The 20% AoE reduction isn't great on a personal level compared to your other mitigation abilities, but its ability to coat the whole raid when grouped stacks very nicely with other raid wide mitigation cooldowns.


Evaluate your performance on Smoke Bomb by dividing the length of the fight by 3 minutes and round down. If your cast number is less than this number, you could have used this ability more.


To most effectively use this ability, make sure your raid leader or your healing leader knows that you have this ability. Chances are they will start scheduling the ability for you. If they don't, start looking for times in a fight where people are grouped up to help split the damage on some major mechanic.



Attack --

This one seems a little bit too obvious, doesn't it? It's something that happens passively, so why track it? You are really tracking your target uptime with this damage source. You can't do any damage if you aren't in range of your target, so uptime is very important.


You can evaluate your damage uptime by checking what percentage of the fight Attack was active. This will obviously vary from fight to fight depending on the number of target switches and your particular role. The best way to measure this metric is by comparing your Attack uptime to that of other melee in your raid. Ideally you'd like to compare to another rogue who has the same job you do, but take the best comparison you can get. If you are significantly lower than the other comparable melee in the group, you need to make better use of your Sprint and Shadowstep abilities to move around.


I use three different indicators in order to maximize my damage uptime. The first one I use is a fader on my target unit frame. If you have any kind of custom unit frames, there is probably a built in function called a Fader, which can change the transparency of the frame based on how far away your target is from you. I set my Fader to 30% alpha whenever my target is out of melee range. This is an easy visual reminder for me to get closer to my target.


The second and third are power auras to keep track of my Sprint and Shadowstep. These don't have to take up a ton of space, but they should be in a very accessible place. What I have is two small icons, about half normal size, sitting on on either side of my character. My personal preference is for the icons to show when the abilities cannot be used, but you set it up however feels right. I also wouldn't bother with timers on these icons; you will rarely be counting down the seconds and waiting to use one of these abilities.



Slice and Dice --

No matter your spec, you want as close to 100% uptime as possible with this buff. Not much else to say about it.


If you notice when evaluating this buff that there are any gaps in your uptime, it means you probably took a transition in the fight poorly.


Unlike other timers you have to track, a low combo point Slice and Dice is just as effective as a high combo point Slice and Dice for the time that it is active. If you are coming up to a point where two or more timers are expiring at once, use your 5 combo points to refresh something like Rupture, and cast Slice and Dice with any proc combo points or the next combo points you generate.



Blindside --

Oh, Blindside. Important, yet elusive. I have yet to find a way to track how effectively someone is using the Blindside buff because of Dispatch spam at the end of the fight. 


What I want to be able to do is just look at the boss information from the start of the fight to the point where the boss hits 35% health. If the number of Blindside procs is greater than the number of Dispatch strikes, that means that a Blindside proc was wasted. Similarly I would isolate the last 35% of the fight and look for any Mutilate casts. Greater than zero would be bad. There will likely be a bit of overlap at the 35% mark when switching from Mutilate to Dispatch, but it shouldn't be more than one or two casts.


If you want to improve your performance on Blindside, the following macro is going to be your best friend:


#showtooltip Dispatch


/castsequence reset=0.2 1, Mutilate;

/castsequence reset=0.2 Dispatch;


Just use this instead of Mutilate and Dispatch and have fun.


The struck information is now out of date as the macro has been broken as an exploit. You will now have to either turn on the in-game aura for Blindside or create your own, and move Dispatch to its own keybind. Sad day.


You will also need to create an aura that pops up when your target is sub 35% to remind you to switch point builders.



Revealing Strike --

Revealing Strike is important to the Combat rotation, but it behaves a little differently than the other timers in the rotation. 100% uptime is not the goal with Revealing Strike, the goal is to have it active for every Sinister Strike and offensive finisher that you cast. For this reason, when you're evaluating how you did with this ability, you have to dig a little deeper.


When you're evaluating your Revealing Strike uptime, you must check if during any gap in the uptime you cast a combo point builder or an offensive finisher. This can be a tricky and tedious process, so if you're looking for a quick method, I would just check if it was down for more than 3 or 4 seconds. Unless you were refreshing Slice and Dice and running across the map to your new target, there isn't really an excuse to have the timer down for that long.


You will increase your performance with this ability by making a significant power aura near your energy and combo points that shows when the buff is not active. You will be looking at your energy and combo points the majority of the time, so this is a good place to put this kind of reminder.



Hemorrhage --

Hemorrhage is a minor part of the Subtlety rotation, but it becomes useful in target switching situations. If you take the Glyph of Sanguinary Vein, you no longer have to worry about applying rupture to high priority low health adds. You just have to hit it with the Hemorrhage first and Eviscerate to burst victory. For single target you still want to have a very high uptime for the theoretical optimal rotation.


Your uptime likely won't be perfect because you don't want to clip this debuff, but any gaps in your single target rotation of more than 2 or 3 seconds are very likely on oversight on your part.


You will improve your performance with Hemorrhage if you track it next to your Rupture. The behave very similarly and require the same reactions from you, so keeping them together will put them in the same place in your brain.



Rupture --

Rupture is a part of all three Rogue specs, although somewhat less so for Combat. Assassination absolutely needs Rupture active as much as possible, Subtlety can get away with glyphed Hemorrhage when constantly target switching to weak targets, and Combat can viably ignore the ability.


Based on your spec and the situation of the fight, use your judgement to evaluate your Rupture uptime. If you are Assassination spec on Sha of Pride and you never help on far prisons, you'd better be at 100% uptime beyond the first couple seconds of the fight. If you are Subtlety spec on Norushen, your boss Rupture might fall off while you are buzzing around using Hemorrhage to kill adds. Be honest with yourself when evaluating the numbers whether or not any Rupture downtime was justified or a mistake.


To improve your Rupture uptime on target switching fights, do your best to switch off of a target right after applying a 5 point rupture. If you can't delay the switch it can't be helped, but delaying the switch a few seconds to apply the new Rupture will help your overall DPS. As a rule, it is okay to overwrite the last tick of your Rupture when you are refreshing it. Since it ticks every 2 seconds, you will be okay to refresh when the timer is at 2 seconds or less.



Envenom --

Managing the Envenom buff is part of what separates the good rogues from the great rogues. It gives a major boost to our poison damage, which is our most valuable asset. Clipping this buff is a loss of potential DPS, but in some cases it is unavoidable. This will generally happen during Heroism or Adrenaline Rush/Shadow Blades.


A simple way to check whether you are clipping your Envenom buff too often is with the following equation: (Envenom Buff Uptime) divided by (Number of Envenoms Cast * 6 seconds). The number will be less than one for the reasons I outlined above, but if you see a big difference between the your actual and potential uptimes you should focus harder on not clipping this buff.


Energy and combo point pooling are going to be your friends when it comes to the Envenom buff. Assassination isn't a spec where you can just mash your buttons constantly for 7 minutes, you actually have a controlled and gap filled rotation. When you are in an LFR run or hitting a dummy, practice slowing yourself down and only pressing your intended key once per GCD. You will have a lot easier time controlling your Envenom buff if you get good at this.



Tricks of the Trade --

Tricks of the Trade is tragically no longer a personal buff, however it is a useful buff for any other bursty DPS players in your raid. Your raid leader will be expecting you to use this ability on cooldown, so you'd better have it ready.


Evaluate your performance with this by dividing the total fight time in seconds by 30 and round down. Your total number of casts should ideally by one more than this number, but it may be the same in some situations. If your cast number is less than the fight length divided by 30 rounded down, it means you could have used it more.


You want this to be a simple button press that doesn't distract you from the rest of your rotation and movement. I advise that you use the following macro and bind it to an easy key: 


/cast [target=focus] Tricks of the Trade. 


It doesn't cause a target switch or reset your swing timer. All you have to do is /focus your intended target before the pull and you're good to go. You will want Tricks bound to another key as well in case you have to apply manually (this will happen if your Tricks target dies).



Shadow Blades --

This cooldown is tricky to evaluate because each spec uses it just a bit differently. Assassination will use it on cooldown, Combat will also use it on cooldown but that cooldown is variable, and Subtlety will wait for either Shadow Dance or a gap in the Find Weakness buff to use it. No matter your spec you will still want to use it as much as possible.


For Assassination, just divide the fight length in seconds by the cooldown on your Shadow Blades and round down. Assurance of Consequence changes this amount, so be sure to check what your personal cooldown timer is. If your number of casts is higher than or equal to the potential number, you used Shadow Blades correctly.


For Combat, the only thing you can do with just your personal log is make sure you cast Shadow Blades and Adrenaline Rush the same number of times. They should be bound together on one key anyway. The next step would be to find logs from other combat rogues who killed the same boss in about the same amount of time and see how many times they used Shadow Blades. If they used it more than you did, it means you either delayed your cooldown too much or you didn't use Restless Blades as effectively.


For Subtlety, you're going to check at what points during the fight the buff was active. If Shadow Blades was active at the same time as Find Weakness and it was not paired with your Shadow Dance, you did not use Shadow Blades properly. If you have the Tier 16 4pc you may have been betrayed by a random Ambush proc if you see Shadow Blades overlapping Find Weakness. You can check if this happened by seeing if you cast Vanish or Shadow Dance before the Find Weakness buff went active.



Vendetta --

Vendetta is very straight forward for evaluation purposes. On a single target fight, you should be using it at the very start of the fight and at every opportunity from that point on. If there is target switching involved, there may be more of a delay while you wait for a target that won't be dead in the next 30 seconds.


Same drill as usual, divide the fight length in seconds by the length of your Vendetta cooldown and round down. Your cast number should be equal to or higher than this number.


You will get the best use out of Vendetta by dong pre-fight research and gaining experience. Learn at what points you will be on a target long enough to use the ability. If you go into a fight blind, you might use Vendetta on the boss right before it goes immune or before a mandatory target switch. Knowledge is your friend when it comes to Vendetta.



Adrenaline Rush --

Adrenaline Rush creates a crazy bursty spam fest, especially when paired with Shadow Blades. As was mentioned in the Shadow Blades section, managing your Restless Blades passive ability is the key to getting the most out of Adrenaline Rush.


See the Shadow Blades Combat evaluation section on how to evaluate this cooldown.


It might seem like spamming is the key to victory with the crazy energy regen and reduced GCD during Adrenaline Rush, but this will very often lead to combo point capping. You still want to control the number of times you press any ability. If you go crazy on the Sinister Strike button, then try to hit Eviscerate, you may cast Sinister Strike one or even two more times than you intended. This could produce up to 6 extra combo points while Shadow Blades is active. Maintain your calm during the madness.



Find Weakness --

Find Weakness is the central piece of the Subtlety rotation. All of your many damage cooldowns will be used around keeping up and not clipping this very important cooldown. Sometimes the Tier 16 4pc bonus will betray you and overwrite your buff with another one, but overall this is a good thing.


When you are evaluating this cooldown, you ideally do not want to see any clipping of the buff, but you also want to see maximum uptime on it. If you see a spot where the buff was clipped, check if it was a 4pc proc or if you used a Shadow Dance or Vanish too soon. If you see a spot where the buff was inactive for a while, check if you had a cooldown you could have used to reapply it.


I would highly recommend creating a centered power aura to track this buff. The better you can manage this buff, the higher burst and overall damage you will see.



Shadow Dance --

Shadow Dance is a very important cooldown to manage properly because it doesn't last very long. If you mistakenly use this cooldown with low energy and low combo points, you could waste a lot of potential damage. Nonetheless, you still want to be using this ability as often as possible.


Divide the fight length in seconds by your Shadow Dance cooldown and compare it to your number of casts. If your casts are equal to or one more than the resulting number then you are where you should be with this cooldown. If your casts are less, you are delaying this cooldown too long or too often.


You want to be in the right position leading into this cooldown. Ideally you want your Slice and Dice and Rupture to have long enough timers to last the duration without needing to be refreshed, you want Find Weakness to be inactive, you want to have high energy and you want to have high combo points. This can be a tall order in some circumstances, but this is what you should be striving for. Your best advantage here is awareness. Always keep an eye on your timers, and realize that prepping yourself to get into this position could take as many as 10 seconds.



Vanish --

Vanish is a much bigger deal for Subtlety than it is for Assassination or Combat. Assassination and Combat just get a cheap special now and again, whereas Subtlety uses this in conjunction with Preparation and Shadow Dance to properly manage the Find Weakness buff. 


For Assassination and Combat, you should be using this ability on cooldown. There's really no excuse not to. Same as usual, if your potential casts are 2 or more higher than your actual casts, you didn't use Vanish correctly.


For Subtlety, Vanish may be cast less than the potential if you have to delay waiting for Find Weakness to fall off. To track your Vanish performance, you're going to have to figure out if Vanish was available to use during any gaps in your Find Weakness buff that are 13 seconds or longer. To more effectively use this cooldown you can't treat it as a use-when-available ability. Keep a close eye on your Find Weakness and use Vanish to boost your uptime.



Premeditation --

This cooldown is often overlooked in the Subtlety rotation because you can only use it when stealthed and all it does is give you a pair of combo points. However, if you remember that you have this ability, it is very easy to use.


The best way to see if you are using this properly is to see if you are pairing it with your Vanish or Shadow Dance cooldowns throughout the fight. You won't pair it every single time due to the 20 second cooldown, but be honest with yourself when you're checking whether you really couldn't or you just forgot.


If you want to remind yourself to use this more often, create a power aura that will pop up when the ability is active and you're in stealth. It'll just be a little reminder not to forget the ability.



Preparation --

This ability has such a long cooldown that you will only be using it once or twice per fight. The main time you will use this cooldown is as a part of your opening sequence to extend your Find Weakness uptime. Later in the fight you can use it again for the same reason.


When you're evaluating your performance with this cooldown, just make sure that you've used it twice if the fight is longer than 5 minutes.


You don't need to do anything special in terms of tracking this cooldown, just remember to put it alongside your other cooldowns. You'll want to use this right after you use your Vanish, then monitor your Find Weakness until you can use the second Vanish.


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Talking about blindside:


In Warcraft logs you can go to the 'casts' tab and find where the majority of dispatches where used. You can then cut the last 35% out of the log with the zoom and then look at the dispatch / blindside ratio. 


You can also make a pin for blindside (by clicking the + button next to the buff section) and look at the casts of spells within them. 

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That's really interesting actually, I had only a bit of experience with Warcraft Logs when I originally made the post and I didn't know you could isolate time frames. I'll have to test and possible edit the OP.


By chance do you know if this is a function of World of Logs? I'm fairly sure it isn't unless I missed it.

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I haven't used WoL since probably Nov or October of 2013. I wouldn't know nor care since its going to be obsolete come the release of Warlords.


If you need more specific help with it, send me a PM and we can work out a time to get in mumble or something so I can show you.

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thanks for you for your detail guide so far. i had a hard time on sub just to rotate my rotation well enough. i couldn't burst my dps up to 70k. i read all the guide so far and try to maximize my find weakness uptime as well as rupture, hemo and SND. but still i fail to boost my dps. could you provide me the detail of the rotation as well as the keybind for sub spec? appreciate all your guide and effort. all the best.

my email would be leonghoteck@gmail.com 

Edited by RichmondLeong

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thanks for you for your detail guide so far. i had a hard time on sub just to rotate my rotation well enough. i couldn't burst my dps up to 70k. i read all the guide so far and try to maximize my find weakness uptime as well as rupture, hemo and SND. but still i fail to boost my dps. could you provide me the detail of the rotation as well as the keybind for sub spec? appreciate all your guide and effort. all the best.

my email would be leonghoteck@gmail.com 


I can give you very in-depth analysis for Sub, as it's my main spec, if you post logs. Without them, however, I'm not really able to help since I can't see what you're doing wrong

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Well shit. I'll do some testing to see if I can change the syntax to achieve the same effect, but the little miracle macro may have run out of steam. Will update soon.

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It appears the macro was labelled an exploit and broken on purpose. This means there is likely no fix for it. We'll have to play Assassination the old fashioned way now.

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      ZR-Blood RushMolting/Blood RushPotency
      Overwhelming Essence Blood is Power Stand Alone / Aberrant Animator Draw Life / Life from Death / Final Service  
      Now, into the parts that honestly don't matter nearly as much. Most of the build is in your hands, now this is just the nitpicky optimizations that I will honestly spend far too much/little time on. For the next sections I will be discussing gear, gems, Kanai's Cube, and paragon points. 
      For Gear I recommend going for a Legacy of Dreams build. This is rather standard, gives you an insane damage boost, and overall is versatile and workable. Make sure that you haveMaltorius' Petrified Spike. Another recommendation is your helm. Leoric's Crown is ideal for general battling, but Broken Crown is my preference for base gem farming, for hopefully obvious reasons. Honestly, just use common sense. LoD builds are incredibly player dependent, and you can build them just about however you want. Just prioritize whatever will feed into the general gameplan of spamming SimulacrumReservoir and Bone SpearTeeth. 
      For Kanai's Cube, you want to slot in Reilena's Shadowhook as your weapon, Krysbin's Sentence for jewlery, and the worse of either Reaper's Wraps or Nemesis Bracers. Shadowhook scales your damage based on your maximum essence, and with Overwhelming Essence and SimulacrumReservoir you're pretty well maxed out on your essence. 
      For Paragon Points you want to basically use common sense. This build is an ability spam build with limited sustain. Play to that. For example, you want to invest heavily into Essence, Cost Reduction, and Cooldown reduction. As far as defense, I recommend investing in armor so that Blood is Power is easier to proc. 
      For  Gems you should put Bane of the Trapped, Enforcer, and Legacy of Dreams in your ring slots. Zei's Stone of Vengeance is a solid alternative. For your Helm, slot in  Flawless Royal Topaz to provide resource cost reduction or Flawless Royal Diamond for CDR. Personally, since this is a teeth build you should go Topaz. For your weapon, you should go Flawless Royal Topaz if going the ranged build, and Flawless Royal Emerald for the close range build. And for your other slots, you should go (you guessed it) Flawless Royal Topaz. In my honest opinion, Topaz is the best base gem for necromancer. It provides Intelligence, thorns, and resource reduction. Sure, the thorns are only especially ridiculous with Aberrant Animator but once again, topaz is a godsend for Necromancer. 
      Changelog: 10/2/19 Fixed some grammar errors, clarified poor usage, and added more details to the build    

    • By Lithell
      Okay so between Nelf and Human rogue my questions are this
      Doesn't the weapon skill see a diminishing return?
      Is the dps difference actually there?
      Also shadowmeld vs perception: I don't understand why shadowmeld isn't considered to be the better choice?
      Reasoning being that a nelf should get the jump on another rogue first regardless, because of the better stealth..that is a passive. Also wouldn't the shadowmeld be better in a raid setting for sap?
      I understand that perception is active for 20 seconds but it has a cool down, and is also on the same faction?
    • By Lithell
      Okay so between Nelf and Human rogue my questions are this
      Doesn't the weapon skill see a diminishing return?
      Is the dps difference actually there?
      Also shadowmeld vs perception: I don't understand why shadowmeld isn't considered to be the better choice?
      Reasoning being that a nelf should get the jump on another rogue first regardless, because of the better stealth..that is a passive.
      I understand that perception is active for 20 seconds but it has a cool down, and is also on the same faction?
    • By positiv2
      This thread is for comments about Fr0zen's Pogo Rogue deck.
    • By positiv2
      This thread is for comments about RaFaEl's rank 1 Legend Lackey Rogue deck.
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