Welcome to the Build Shop! This is a new weekly feature where I examine one talent build, and open it up for discussion. Normally, the talent builds will be taken from reader submissions, but since this is the first week, I'll just use one of my own builds, the one my Rogue is working towards right now. So I don't have to use another of my cookie-cutter builds next week, though, please do send submissions to email@example.com.
This is a pretty straightforward (and cookie-cutter) combat fists build. My Rogue is still leveling (67 at the moment), and combat is great for that. I'll probably stay with combat even when I hit 70, since the character is intended mainly to farm gold and mats for my main, and besides combat's quite fun. It's true that the 41 point talent, Surprise Attacks, is less flashy than Mutilate or Shadowstep, but it delivers in the numbers. A 10% increase to my Sinister Strike for one point is huge, seeing as how SS contributes something like 30% of my damage output; that's not even to mention the elimination of finishing move dodges. This means Surprise Attacks gets me more than a 3% increase in DPS for one talent point. My "gold standard" for talents is 1%: if a talent will raise my DPS by 1% per point, or lower my damage taken by 1% per point, I'm quite comfortable taking it. By that standard, then, I'm very pleased with Surprise Attacks.
Within combat, I decided to go for fists, as soon as I got the lovely vendor fist weapons available at 66 (Nexus-Claw and Void-Talon). Fist weapons offer the best of both swords and daggers, as far as solo combat builds go. What do I mean by that? Swords are great because it's comparatively easy to find high damage range swords for highest SS damage. However, daggers are good because the Dagger Specialization talent is better than the Sword Spec talent. Dagger Spec gives an additional 5% to crit with daggers, whereas Sword Spec claims it gives a 5% chance to get an extra attack. But that's not actually how Sword Spec works.
What it really does is give a 5% chance to reset your swing timer, immediately swinging your sword. This is not quite an extra attack, since it can proc off specials -- if you SS when your sword was about to swing anyway, and get an sword spec proc off the SS, you haven't gained anything. Additionally, if sword spec procs from an offhand weapon, it resets the main hand swing timer, again not giving you the full benefit of an entire extra attack. Fists are the best of both worlds since you can find nice slow ones for you main hand, but the fist spec talent is just like dagger spec -- a juicy 5% crit. Thus, if you can find decent fist weapons (which is a lot easier in BC than it used to be in vanilla WoW), fists are better than swords.
The rest of my talent choices in Combat are fairly self-explanatory for a solo-focused PvE build, though a few points bear examination. Possibly most controversial is the choice between Imp Gouge and Lightning Reflexes. In my view, Imp Gouge is more of a PvP talent -- I find that I very rarely even use Gouge in PvE, tending to rely on Blind if I want time to bandage or escape. Lightning Reflexes, on the other hand, meets my 1% gold standard: 1% to dodge means 1% less incoming damage (at least as far as physical damage goes).
I also pick up Deflection and Riposte instead of Imp Sprint, Imp Kick, and Endurance. Again, I feel like the other three talents are more PvP-focused. I don't get snared too often in PvE, so Imp Sprint wouldn't help much, and regular kick is usually quite sufficient to lock down a spell-based mob (with the occasional gouge, KS, or CloS if kick is on cooldown). As far as Endurance goes, it looks nice, but Deflection/Riposte is huge. 1% parry is again 1% less physical damage, and Riposte is basically a SS for 10 energy that also disarms your opponent. What's not to love about that?
Since I'll be running more and more instances to gear up, I figured the seven in Subtlety for Improved Sap would help. Imp Sap is way more attractive now than it used to be, what with it now being 100% chance to stay in stealth for two points. I was a bit disappointed that none of the first-tier Sub talents were particularly attractive for me. Since I never backstab, mutilate, or ambush and rarely garotte, I skipped Opportunity and went for Master of Deception. It's nice having a bit more leeway when sneaking around mobs out in the world, though, so this talent is not as useless as I had first thought.
The one part of this build I'm not quite satisfied with is the Assassination tree. Only having 13 points to put in there means I have to leave a lot of stuff out that I could get in a 20/41/0 build. Malice is a definite must, since you can't beat crit. Improved Evis is pretty solid: Evis is 15% of my damage, and at 5% increase to Evis damage per point, Imp Evis gives me a 0.75% increase to damage per talent point. Not quite 1%, but close enough for rock and roll. After that, though, it starts to get hazy -- I really can't decide between Ruthlessness and Murder. To determine how much Murder would help me, I'd need to know what percentage of the mobs I face are humanoids, giants, beasts, or dragonkin, and I simply don't have that information.
As far as Ruthlessness goes, I don't think I frequently use more than one finisher per mob in a way that would matter. My usual casting order is Cheap Shot, 3x SS, Evis, and then SS a couple more times and it's dead. Sometimes I throw an Evis in at the end if it'll do more damage than SS (i.e. if I have 2 or more combo points), but it doesn't seem like adding an extra CP to that would do all that much. On the other hand, Ruthlessness definitely helps on bosses, in PvP, and when trying to Deadly Throw-kite. All in all it seemed like a safer bet than Murder, so I put the two points in it to get down to the third tier. Relentless Strikes seemed like a no-brainer, and two in Lethality a better investment than one and finishing out Ruthlessness (mathematically, with my 23% crit rate, each point in Lethality is a 0.6% dps boost).
So that's my PvE combat fists build. Now it's your turn -- what do you think of my build? Any better arrangements of those troublesome points in Assassination?
And please, don't forget to email in your suggestion for the next build we should look at to firstname.lastname@example.org! Include a link to the build on a talent calculator (I like Wowhead's, though Blizzard's is fine too) and a brief rundown of the build's goals (PvP, PvE, solo, group, etc.). It would also be helpful if you could put the class name and talent breakdown in the subject line (for example, "Priest 23/38/0").