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Krushinator

Why You Should Learn All Three Specs

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The pure DPS classes that I raided with in the past have all had different attitudes about how they pick and switch between their specs. I have been a part of my guild for almost 5 years now, and from watching literally hundreds of players come and go from raids, I have noticed some patterns in these attitudes.

 

The Mages were the most fiercely resistant to spec swapping for different encounters during a patch. They either had emotional attachments to a spec, some kind of problem with the rotation of other specs, or some amount of math and theory to back up their choice.

 

The Warlocks seemed to intentionally avoid learning how to play other specs so they wouldn't have to change from their current. For the most part the Warlocks I've played with were aware of the advantages of one spec or another in a given situation, but they didn't swap anyway.

 

The Hunters seemed to consistently have a clearly dominant spec for all situations. For one reason or another one spec would just fire out ahead of the others and all the Hunters would switch. A few were resistant, but most switched once per patch and didn't switch back.

 

The Rogues I raided with I would equate closest to the Warlocks, with a few differences. We have the unique problem among the pure DPS classes of being hamstrung by weapon type for spec swapping (not in 6.0! Yay!), which I believe contributes to a lot of Rogues not playing the correct spec for the correct encounter. Once a Rogue has all the weapons required, they will often swap between Assassination and Combat as necessary to get better cleave damage or better single target damage. Subtlety, after all the simplifying and math that shows how viable and in some cases superior it is, still has the stigma of being the overly hard spec that doesn't match Assassination in single target.

 

Since weapons will no longer be a barrier to spec swapping for Rogues, this is the perfect time to put your energy into learning all three of your specs. Especially at a higher level of play, each spec offers very unique benefits that can make or break a progression encounter.

 

So, why should you learn all three specs? In my experience, there have been opportunities in every tier of raiding for one or more variations of all three specs to shine through. You can't just care about theoretical Patchwerk DPS, you have to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each spec and playstyle against the scenarios presented by each boss. Sometimes it isn't about maxing out your overall DPS, sometimes it's about even DPS across multiple targets, or burst DPS on a critical mob. You will feel like a raiding genius if your raid is having a problem with a mechanic and you're able to switch your spec to fix it. You will feel like a scrub if your raid leader asks you to switch specs to help with that mechanic, and you have to tell them that you can't, because you don't know how.

 

Subtlety has two somewhat distinct play styles; sustained single target and burst single target. All the same spells are used, but the priorities are different. Sustained single target DPS is what is described in our class guides, burst play is a little more nuanced. This is something you'll want to know for a boss that spawns an add that must die as quickly as possible, but has enough health to live more than 4 seconds (unfortunately, most adds these days die too quickly). I won't go into the details here because it would muck up the thread, but if you'd like me to I can make a separate post about it.

 

Assassination has an underused multi target play style which amounts to Rupture spreading. The reason this play style has vanished is because Combat for some reason now has a higher sustained single target DPS rotation than Assassination does, theoretically. Going forward I would not count on this being the case. Multi-Rupture rotation for Assassination is great for a fight where there is one available target for parts of the fight, and there are 1 to 2 other grouped up targets for other parts of the fight. The concept for this play style is easier than Subtlety burst, and I'll go through it in detail if anyone wants to read about it.

 

Combat, well, there's one way to play Combat. Cleave city. I wish there was more variety and more functionality for this spec, but there isn't. Enjoy your Galakras ranks (if Warlocks and Ele Shamans ever stop being insane for AoE).

 

Learning all of your possibilities isn't about ranking or forcing them into situations, it's about having options and being the best you can be in a specific scenario. Maybe one week on Norushen your group is having a terrible time killing the Amalgam's, so you switch to Subtlety during the break to help with the burst. Maybe the next week they are fine, so you switch back to single target Combat. If the group isn't killing tiny adds on Sha of Pride well enough late in the fight, you could switch away from single target Subtlety to a mass AoE Assassination play style. Knowledge of your own class will weasel you through progression kills; I've done it myself a number of times.

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Combat, well, there's one way to play Combat. Cleave city. I wish there was more variety and more functionality for this spec, but there isn't. Enjoy your Galakras ranks (if Warlocks and Ele Shamans ever stop being insane for AoE).

 

This, although If the RNG favors me I can beat locks and shaman. Just not that often.

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Changing specs for each fight isn't required for all but the most hardcore progression types. The specs are so similar in performance that simply being dedicated to a spec and playing well can overcome most advantage any one spec has in a fight. The exception would probably have been combat in 5.0, where you could use combat daggers (big no-no) and still outperform your main spec on cleave fights. Which was why it was nerfed.

 

The best players are going to know every spec inside and out and can perform them flawlessly. For the mortal majority however, simply being good at the spec you enjoy and focusing your remaining attention on fight mechanic is more than enough to overcome the advantages of switching specs in most cases.

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I agree with WaveFunctionP here, not that I really have played a rouge, but it makes sence that you shuld go whit the spec that you like the most and are moste comfterbel with, otherwise you might find your self in a situation were you miss something important in the fight and die due to having to concentrate on your rotation to much or you are preforming worse beacuse you dont know when to use cds in the new spec for exampel. Oh and btw, the "you in here referse to a general "you" not specific, just wanted to be clear :P

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It's true that the specs perform very similarly... at this point in time on a Patchwerk fight. It's true that being at your top potential for one spec is usually good enough. However, this leaves you having to relearn your class when an ability gets nerfed, a new raid is released, or your guild hits a progression wall.

Dragon Soul was a great example. If you wanted cruise control for mediocre, you played Assassination. As long as your raid leader assigned you to hit the boss only, you could perform respectably on -almost- every boss. If you were a more skilled rogue you could get away with single target Subtlety on -almost- every boss.

For the Assassination rogues, the wall was Spine of Deathwing. Suddenly you couldn't just whale on the boss for 7 minutes straight; you needed burst damage. Suddenly where Subtlety and Assassination were fairly close together, Subtlety was the completely superior spec. If all you knew at that point was Assassination spec, you were setting your guild back potentially for weeks. For the Subtlety rogues, the wall was Ultraxion. No Backstab, no Ambush. If you didn't know another spec at that point, you were screwed.

Knowing your specs and potentials isn't just for top 50 world rankers. It's for those times when your raid cannot succeed without a specific task being performed, and you as a player have the tools to adapt and do the job.

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A rogue can play every fight as combat, and do quite well. Combat has the greatest AoE potential of all the specs, and still retains good single target. However, it is typically not optimal to just play combat for every fight (I believe that it is for the best to do so in SoO, but this is also atypical). If assassination were to get ahead in single target dps during a tier, then it would be best to swap between assassination and combat, unless assassination was able to do enough single target dps to outweigh the benefit of having combat's AoE, which may have been the case during ToT. I think that, in actuality, it is best to know every spec, but less for the purpose of switching between specs on any given fight (keeping in mind that you can only optimize gemming/enchanting for one spec, anyway), and more for the purpose of being able to play a spec when it becomes the strongest for a tier.

Edited by Nastynelbur

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