Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day of Thanks

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I kiss you!

There's a few thanks long past due. Days like today are good to set aside to think about how things affect our lives and touch us in profound ways. Therefore, I'd like to start by thanking my Season 2 swords, [Merciless Gladiator's Slicer] and [Merciless Gladiator's Quickblade]. You look so awesome and you hit so hard it makes me want to cry sometimes. I'm thankful for the Mongoose enchant on both of my weapons, because nothing is better than proccing dual Lightning Speed with 240 Agility, 240 Attack Power and 4% Haste. I'm thankful for my two pieces of Netherblade giving me the 2 piece set bonus increasing my Slice and Dice duration by 3 seconds. There's a lot of other pieces of gear for which I'm thankful. Every one of them, in fact. From my new [Dragonspine Trophy] to every one of my non-combat pets, like my new [Tiny Spore Bat].

And as you can tell from the last paragraph, I'm thankful for WowHead and how easy they made it to include tooltips on a site. WoWHead is always improving, like a Google of the WoW data reference community. Along with WoWWiki, they've changed the way I research information about the game.

I'd like to say how glad I am to have found the blogging community and be introduced to it and encouraged into it by Phaelia and so many others. There so many people theorycrafting and sharing their experiences, it is amazing. I track over 217 WoW Blogs on my Google Reader. Many are semi-inactive, but many are incredibly prolific generating over a post a day, and I skim every one of them — even the Shaman ones. ;D And Google Reader makes it possible, because without it I wouldn't have the time to visit each of them looking to see which ones posted something new.

I want to thank Blizzard for making something so fun to play. Like Phaelia posted on her blog, Blizzard filled World of Warcraft with multiple ways to feel like you're improving your character constantly. I'm so thankful for every thing on that list. Not only is the process fun because of that, but they filled the World with wonder, awe and humor. Before WoW, I'd only play most MMOs about 3 months before I just didn't feel like there was much of a reason to play. I've been playing WoW since beta, and though I did take a short break, I can't see myself ever leaving such a fun place.

But when it comes to WoW and life, what I'm really thankful for is the people. I am so lucky to be able to play with a great guild. We aren't the 'litist and we aren't the biggest, but it's filled with my friends, both local and distant. We've had at least 3 RL guild parties with over twenty players attending, some driving hundreds and hundreds of miles. I'm glad I have friends to play with, because without them the game would lose it's magic. It would lose the spark that I hold so dear. I'm so glad when I came back from my break I moved to Scarlet Crusade to join all my real life friends and I made so many other friends I hold so dear now. Just look at the guild roster and you'll see their names. They are Valenna's family.

Lastly, I'd like to thank the people standing in line when I bought my copies of World of Warcraft: Phaelia, Ebene and Khatrina. We have had so much fun together in game. Leveling our first characters, leveling horde, leveling and playing Burning Crusade. But more than anyone I have to thank Khatrina, my wife, for letting me play the game so much and for everything she does for me in our life together.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Rogue Sighted!

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I just wanted to say "Hi!" and "Welcome!" to Elistana for joining the Rogue blogging community! Her blog, Rogue Sightings, is completely devoted to PvP and has been marked as a "No Raiding" zone. Elistana also looks like she may be releasing more movies in the future, as she already has one featuring the new engineering mount. With already 7 posts since its launch last week, I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more from Elistana.

It seems Elistana has completely disappeared. Rogue Sightings isn't up anymore and the character has been marked as inactive on the Armory. If someone knows if she moved, let me know. It was the beginnings of a great blog.

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Petitioning Actually Works?

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As I reported yesterday, we one-shotted Gruul on Tuesday night, but the instance servers crashed before we could loot him. Our guild master's first petition was ignored, but after we all petitioned, he got a response in Zul'Aman last night and generated our loot. Among them was the [Dragonspine Trophy], which I received in the mail. I'd like to thank Raliah for passing to me as I've been waiting for this for a long, long time.

Dragonspine Trophy
Binds when picked up
Requires Level 70
Equip: Increases attack power by 40.
Equip: Your melee and ranged attacks have a chance to increase your haste rating by 325 for 10 sec.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Damage Meter Junkie

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Patch 2.3 is here. I've been reading so much and doing so much research; I wanted to try something new even if I eventually go back to what I have been playing. Therefore, I'm going to relay the first day of my experiences going from my old build to my new build.

I've been Combat Swords for a long, long time. Not to brag, but I'm often beating all of the melee (and usually ranged) by quite a margin, usually 8-15%. And I could achieve at least most of that without putting forth a major effort. I'm sure that's because I have worked out a solid routine of ability rotation and largely because of my old build and my Season 2 swords.

I had done my research and switched to a 1S/5R rotation. That's 1 combo point Slice and Dice followed by a 5 combo point Rupture. Because a 1 combo point Slice and Dice gives 17.4 seconds if you have 3/3 Improved Slice and Dice and 3 extra seconds from 2 piece set bonus of Netherblade. A 5 combo point Rupture does more damage if you get all your ticks out than a compareable 5 combo point Eviscerate and it lasts 16 seconds. After your Rupture, you have a 60% chance of getting 1 combo point back from the Ruthlessness ability and Relentless Strikes gives you 25 energy back from a 5 combo point finisher, which is exactly enough to start the process over again with a 1 combo point Slice and Dice. Combat Potency ensures you have enough energy to fuel enough Sinister Strikes to get your 5 combo points for your Rupture before the Slice and Dice runs out. Thus, you constantly have Slice and Dice and Rupture up on the mob once you get the rotation going.

But I had to experience the changes from Patch 2.3 for myself. So, I wiped my talents and took Hemorrhage. The exact build I went with was modelled after one that was posted by a high ranking Rogue. Basically, a AR/Prep build, i.e. Adrenaline Rush & Preparation, 0/31/30. I wanted to evaluate Hemorrhage firsthand, both in PvE and PvP. But I had to log off to take care of some RL, so I didn't get a chance to evaluate it immediately.

A few hours later, after a slow painful start due to server crashes, my guild made it into Gruul's Lair. Some people exited the raid and I was invited without really testing my new build at all. The raid itself went rather well. We dropped Maulgar after working out the new fear changes and then we one-shotted Gruul. And then the server crashed before we could loot him. >.<

And although I was prepared to have my damage suffer slightly, I was very depressed to see that on the first Lair Brute, I was coming in under all of of the other Rogues in our guild and even a Rogue guest. It was probably just randomness. First mob of the instance, but it was at this moment that my Damage Meter Junkie-side took over. It's not that I didn't know I was a DMJ, but I just didn't realize how much it really meant to me. Hence, when I saw that I was doing so poorly, I realized that I really just hadn't figured out the "rhythm" of my new build.

The biggest weakness of my new build was the lack of energy renewal. As I've discussed before, energy is pretty vital to Rogue DPS. And this is what I was finding with my new build. I have Adrenaline Rush and that's it. No Combat Potency, no Relentless Strikes. I also did not pick up 3/3 of Improved Slice and Dice, but rather only 1/3, a 15% boost. Instead of 17.4 seconds, my 1 combo point Slice and Dice only was lasting 13.8 seconds. Because Rupture is even nicer with Serrated Blades, I was trying to play the same way, with the same rotation 1S/5R. I have had to move up to a 2S/5R, a 2 combo point Slice and Dice will give me 17.3 seconds which should match up nicely again to my Rupture time. Still, I found myself waiting for energy. Energy to finish off 5 combo points for a Rupture before my Slice and Dice ends. Energy to get my 2 combo points for Slice and Dice.

However, now in this build, I have 10% more Attack Power from the talent Deadliness, and I have Preparation. Preparation allows me to reset my cooldowns on Adrenaline Rush and Vanish. That means I can use Adrenaline Rush three times in 10 minutes rather than twice. It also means I can Vanish an additional time to get rid of aggro or apply another Garrote.

So, how did I do? I ended up as #1 on my damage meter, but only as I started to juggle all my ability and trinket cooldowns. I know this isn't really a PvE spec, but the DMJ inside me kicked in and I had to try to do my best to keep on top of the meter. Because for me, if I'm at top the meter, I'm doing everything I can do, I can't say I'm not doing my part. At the end, my damage meter, Recount, had me at around 710 DPS for the entire fight, which seems about 50 DPS down from when I put forth the same level of effort with my previous build. I would have liked to have taken some screenshots to analyze it more, but the instance servers crashed on Scarlet Crusade before I had a chance.

What is next? Testing it in PvP for one, but I'm also thinking that I'm going to change my build slightly to include Combat Potency for energy renewal and Nerves of Steel for stun resistance. I will lose Deadliness (+10% Attack Power) and Dirty Deeds (+20% damage to target's below 35% health), but gain Vitality (+4% Stamina and +2% Agility). This new build should give me a bit more survivability in PvP and a bit more DPS from the energy renewal in PvE.

Anyone else have some suggestions on how to make Hemorrhage work with a Combat/Subtlety build? Or what have you changed with Patch 2.3?

Continue reading 'Damage Meter Junkie'

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rogues and Armor Penetration

Parry! Dodge! Spin! has moved! This version of the blog is no longer being updated, but all posts and comments are over at the new location! Please go to for the new location!

I just wanted to say hi to all the guilds, like Icon, Shadow Fate, Team Deathwish and Aequitas, linking to this post. Please feel free to post a comment and look around at the rest of the site.

There have always been abilities that have reduced your target's armor, and, there has been gear that has allowed you to ignore your opponent's armor, primarily from high level instances like Black Temple, but it is my opinion that with Patch 2.3, Armor Penetration will be considered by more and more players.

Rogues aren't the only class that is going to get Armor Penetration. All melee classes are getting it. However, Rogues also have the Expose Armor ability and Serrated Blades talent in our Subtlety tree. As many Rogues are going Subtlety, I thought I'd give a quick rundown on how Armor Penetration works and what sort of improvement you're going to see from it.

First, you need to realize that some of our attacks don't even consider armor. So, for the rest of this post when I talk about DPS, I'm speaking of DPS that is affected by your target's armor.

Here's a list of the damaging abilities we possess that don't consider armor:

  • Garotte
  • Rupture
  • Poisons
  • Envenom

Next, how does Armor work? At level 70, World of Warcraft uses the following formula to determine a character or NPC's damage reduction (or mitigation) from armor.

Damage reduction =        Armor       
(Armor + 10557.5)

Thus, the more armor you have, the less damage you take from attacks. Makes sense, right? Stacking on more armor has a diminishing return effect for the increase to your mitigation. However, your increase to your time to live remains constant as you add armor. For each 1000 armor, you increase your TTL (time to live) by 9.47%. Damage mitigation from armor is capped at 75%, so having more than 31672.5 armor doesn't gain you anything.

How does Armor Penetration work? It simply removes armor from your opponent and recalculates their mitigation before your attack. If your opponent has 7700 armor and you have 1500 Armor Penetration, they only have 6200 armor versus your attack. They go from 42.2% mitigation to 37%. Therefore, you've increae your damage against them by 5%.

With Patch 2.3, Rogues are receiving 11 new pieces of gear that will feature Armor Penetration.

SlotNameSourceArmor Penetration
BackDory's EmbraceBadges of Justice112
WaistBladeangel's Money BeltZul'Aman77
RangedAncient Sin'dorei LongbowZul'Aman126
FingerSignet of Primal WrathZul'Aman126
ChestShadowtooth Trollskin CuirassZul'Aman210
MH WeaponProwler's StrikebladeZul'Aman140
MH WeaponDagger of Bad MojoZul'Aman140
MH WeaponVengeful MHArena49
OH WeaponVengeful OHArena49
HeadVengeful Gladiator's Leather HelmArena84
LegsVengeful Gladiator's Leather LegguardsArena84
FingerVindicator's Band of TriumphArena56
ChestVengeful Gladiator's Leather Tunic Arena84
Total Max from Gear 1155

That's a lot of gear being introduced that has Armor Penetration. You can get about 1200 Armor Penetration. But you are probably wondering, "How does that correspond to DPS?" Well, after a bunch of math, I came up with the following graph:

Click for an expanded chart.

The way to determine you DPS increase from Armor Penetration is first find your Armor Penetration total on the bottom (x) axis. Then, find the line corresponding to your target's current armor total.


So, say you have 1715 Armor Penetration (1155 from the gear above and another 560 from Serrated Blades) and your opponent is a boss in Serpentshrine Cavern that you know currently only has 3690 Armor because Warriors applied 5 Sunder Armors (-2600 Armor), Druids cast Faerie Fire (-560 Armor) and Warlocks applied Curse of Recklessness (-800 Armor).

Find 1715 on the bottom axis and then finding the 3000 and 4000 armor lines. 3000 is near 11% and 4000 is near 9.5%. So, I'd guess about a 10% boost to DPS. The actual value is 10.14%.

A couple of quick facts arise from analysis at this data:

  • The more Armor Penetration the better. It's not a diminishing return, but rather an increasing return.
  • The less armor your target has the greater benefit you get from Armor Penetration and every additional point of Armor Penetration.
  • Every ability that your team uses to reduce your target's armor helps your Armor Penetration.

Outside of gear and Serrated Blades, we also have Expose Armor and the corresponding talent Improved Expose Armor. Expose Armor negates 410 armor per combo (512.5/615 with each points of Improved Expose Armor respectively). This doesn't stack with a Warrior's Sunder Armor and is the reason why it isn't widely used. However, if you examine the graph for a 2050 Armor Penetration (normal 5 combo point Expose Armor), you can see that you're getting 7-16% increase in your DPS once applied and, with a Rank 2 Improved Expose Armor, you're applied a 3075 armor debuff for a 11-22% increase in DPS.

Also new in Patch 2.3, the Executioner Enchant can be applied to any weapon and will occasionally proc the Executioner self-buff which will add 840 Armor Penetration for 15 seconds. These do not seem to stack and they have been reported to proc about the same rate as Mongoose, or about 1 proc per minute. Most reports I've seen seem to report that Executioner will result in lower DPS than Mongoose, but these tests seem to be judging Executioner vs Mongoose in a vacuum of many of the other factors that are going to come into play during both Arena and PvE.

Here's a few more items that I found that have Armor Penetration:

Icon of Unyielding Courage
Binds when picked up
Requires Level 70
Equip: Improves hit rating by 30.
Use: Your attacks ignore 600 of your enemies' armor for 20 sec.
Warp-Spring Coil
Binds when picked up
Classes: Rogue
Requires Level 70
Equip: Improves hit rating by 21.
Equip: Your special attacks have a chance to give you 1000 armor penetration for 15 sec.

As I go into Patch 2.3, I plan to evaluate this firsthand and I'll report back with what I find. I would love to hear other Rogues' encounters with Armor Penetration as well.

Continue reading 'Rogues and Armor Penetration'

Friday, November 9, 2007

First Rogues? Now Mages?

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That's right! On the heels of Rogue Tanking, we now have Mage Tanking! Euripedes over at Critical QQ posted about Mage Tanking!

He goes into a full discussion about how the changes to 2.3 for the Arcane tree for Mages will give them more survivalibilty and potentially a way to allow Mages to tank. I'm not a Mage expert myself, but it sounds very interesting!

Mages give it a try! BTW, this is apparently humor. These changes aren't real. Next time I should read posts more carefully after a long work week.

For Rogues that have tried some tanking from my post, what results have you found?

Continue reading 'First Rogues? Now Mages?'

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More 2.3 Rogue Changes

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PvPScene has some additional PTR changes that were made. Here are the Rogue ones:

  • Dirty Deeds: This talent will no longer interfere with getting the bonus damage from the Druid ability Mangle on Rupture and Garrote.
  • Hemorrhage: This ability now does 125% of weapon damage.
  • Shadowstep (Subtlety) can now be used at any time, not only while stealthed. Now increases the damage and reduces the threat caused by the next damaging ability. Cooldown increased to 30 seconds. Range changed to 25 yards. (Minimum range removed)

More Subtlety love. I would have to say that 2.3 will be the patch that has a lot of Rogues going to Subtlety, possibly forever.

Now, with Hemorrhage doing more damage, it should be even more viable. Plus all the changes to Shadowstep make it seem a lot more fun. No minimum range and an increased maximum range. The cooldown was just doubled, however, and that is definitely going to make it a little less fun.

Continue reading 'More 2.3 Rogue Changes'