One of the biggest challenges for new rogues is figuring out the combo points/finishing move system. Sure, the combo points are easy, even though they really don't rely on "combos" per se. You hit stuff with your main move and get points. Any human, great ape, or intelligent robot could do it. But without an understanding of finishing moves, your target will die with five combo points on him and you will curse yourself for ever getting involved in this soul-sucking game.
So, to help you decide what move is appropriate when, here's a guide to the seven rogue finishers. (We'll get to openers in a couple of weeks.)
- What it is: Your first finisher, and if you're like most rogues, probably your favorite. This most basic of spells does direct physical damage based on how many combo points you have.
- Mechanism: According to WoWWiki, the official damage range of Eviscerate Rank 10 is:
Eviscerate = (Base Damage Minimum + Attack Power * (Number of Combo Points used * 0.03)) - (Base Damage Maximum + Attack Power * (Number of Combo Points used * 0.03)). Yeah, I'm bad at math too.
So what does this mean? Well, starting in 1.12, Evis finally began scaling with AP (a change many rogues were clamoring for.) But it scales very slightly -- and the more combo points you have, the better it scales, since the AP multiplier increases with each point.
- Affected by: Improved Eviscerate, a first-tier Assassination talent, improves Evis's damage by 5/10/15%. Aggression, a sixth-tier Combat talent, improves it by 2/4/6%, along with SS and Backstab. The two-piece bonus of Tier 5 armor increases Evis's damage by 40 per combo point.
- Analysis: Sinister Strike/Eviscerate is the bread and butter of rogue leveling, particularly for combat swords/maces/fists rogues who don't spend a lot of time stunning. It's also great for grinding and finishing off opponents who have low health. However, when it comes to raiding, Evis is nearly useless. Unless the mob can't bleed (like in Kara), Rupture will always end up doing more damage than Evis, assuming the mob doesn't die before Rupture finishes ticking.
- What it is: The premier finishing move of all raiding rogues, Slice and Dice increases your attack speed.
- Mechanism: Increases your attack speed by 30% (after you get Rank 2 at level 42) for 9/12/15/18/21 seconds.
- Affected by: Improved Slice and DIce, a second-tier Combat talent, increases the length of Slice and Dice by 15/30/45%. The two-piece set bonus of Tier 4 increases the length by 3 seconds, and the two-piecer of Tier 6 increases the haste effect by 5%.
- Analysis: I will never understand rogues who don't use this ability. You want haste rating on your gear? This is a 30% haste increase that can be kept up easily throughout an entire boss fight. Admittedly, it's not the best for PvP, where Kidney Shot and Evis will be the weapons of choice. (Ultimus recommends using SnD in PvP if you have dual-wield spec, if you need to apply poisons quickly, or if you've almost killed a target and need to dump your combo points for the next fight.) SnD and Rupture are the backbone of rogue raiding. In the combat tree, sword-users do a 2pt SnD, 5pt Rupture rotation; daggerinos generally go 3pt SnD, 5pt SnD, 5pt Rupture, repeat. Mutilate and hemo rogues will have different rotations, but all specs will greatly benefit from keeping SnD up at ALL TIMES during raids. The mod Slicer helps.
- What it is: A finishing move that decreases your opponent's armor rating for 30 seconds. Becomes more effective with each combo point.
- Mechanism: Exposes the target for 30 sec, reducing armor per combo point: 410/820/1230/1640/2050 armor.
- Affected by: The third-tier Assassination talent Improved Expose Armor increases the armor reduction by 25/50%.
- Analysis: During my First Raid Evar, way back in ZG, I asked our overgeared BWL tank what I should do with Expose Armor. His answer? "Take it off your bar and never mention it again." While I wouldn't go that far, Expose Armor doesn't really fulfill its intended PvE role as a rogue-specific debuff. Sure, it helps increase melee damage against all sorts of mobs, and it can be killer against squishies in PvP. However, it's got one huge drawback -- if you've got a warrior tank, you can't use it. Your quick, five-point Expose Armor will go up a lot faster than his threat-generating Sunder Armor, and he won't be able to use one of his biggest threat moves. And after the group wipes because someone pulled off the tank, you're going to get a five-minute lecture on this very point. However, if a) a paladin or druid is tanking, b) you have two or more melee DPS on the target, and c) the fight will last the whole 30 seconds, go to town.
- What it is: A damage-over-time version of Eviscerate that ignores armor.
- Mechanism: Causes damage over time, increased by your attack power.
1pt = Attack Power * 0.04 + 324 over 8 sec
2pt = Attack Power * 0.10 + 460 over 10 sec
3pt = Attack Power * 0.18 + 618 over 12 sec
4pt = Attack Power * 0.21 + 798 over 14 sec
5pt = Attack Power * 0.24 + 1000 over 16 sec
So why is this better than Evis? The AP scaling is better, sure -- but most importantly, Rupture ignores armor, which takes off a lot of your Evis damage.
- Affected by: Serrated Blades, a third-tier Subtlety talent, increases Rupture's damage by 10/20/30%. The feral druid's Mangle debuff will increase Rupture's damage by 30%.
- Analysis: As stated in the Slice and DIce section, Rupture is one of two big finishers for raiding rogues and is generally used after Slice and Dice. However, if your target has less than 30 seconds to live, Rupture will be less effective than Evis -- and if your target is a skeleton, a ghost or an elemental, it's REALLY less effective -- in fact, it doesn't work at all. For PvP, Rupture is a good way to prevent a target from stealthing or to kill someone who's planning on running away at low health. Note that this effectively invalidates most forms of crowd control.
- What it is: A long stun.
- Mechanism: Stuns your target for 2/3/4/5/6 seconds. Subject to diminishing returns.
- Affected by: Improved Kidney Shot, a fifth tier Assassination talent, increases damage done to a KS target by 3/6/9%. Kidney shotting a target within 15 seconds of the last KS will decrease the duration of the KS by 50%.
- Analysis: Of course, Kidney Shot shines in PvP, and is an important part of a stunlock build. The best time to KS is when your opponent has already blown his Blink/PvP trinket/etc. getting out of your Cheap Shot. But KS also has PvE uses. Dagger rogues use it for soloing and grinding, as it gives them time to run around to the back of a target and BS/Mutilate. All rogues can use it to stop a stray mob from chewing on a squishy. And it's super helpful for decreasing damage taken by your tanks from hard-hitting trash mobs (wait until after they get enough rage!) However, most bosses are immune to stuns at all times.
- What it is: A finishing move that converts Deadly Poison charges on a target to instant damage.
- Mechanism: Yet another complicated finisher modified by AP, the formula for this one goes:
1 dose: [180 + AP * 0.03] damage
2 doses: [360 + AP * 0.06] damage
3 doses: [540 + AP * 0.09] damage
4 doses: [720 + AP * 0.12] damage
5 doses: [900 + AP * 0.15] damage
- Affected by: Vile Poisons, a 4th tier Assassination talent, increases Envenom damage by 4/8/12/16/20%.
- Analysis: Well, on the surface, it deals less damage than either Eviscerate or Rupture, and requires you to have both 5 combo points AND 5 Deadly Poison doses to get its full effect. So why would anyone use it? There's been an incredibly long theorycrafting fight over whether Envenom can ever really be worth it in raids. Like Rupture, it isn't affected by armor, but like Eviscerate, it's instant damage. The general consensus seems to be that Envenom is better than Eviscerate/Rupture if your mob has significant armor, you have a full stack of Deadly Poison, and your fight is going to be over quickly. Some rogues claim great use of Envenom with the right spec; I haven't seen much of this personally. Feel free to refute me!
- What it is: A ranged finishing move that slows the target and causes thrown weapon damage.
- Mechanism: According to WoWWiki:
1 Combo Point: 132-228 plus thrown weapon damage
2 Combo Points: 216-312 plus TWD
3 Combo Points: 300-396 plus TWD
4 Combo Points: 384-480 plus TWD
5 Combo Points: 468-564 plus TWD
- Affected by: The High Warlord's/Grand Marshal's Leather Gloves add a spell interrupt and 3 second silence to Deadly Throw.
- Analysis: Deadly Throw is mostly a PvP gem, and requires the gloves to be super-effective. Deadly Throw is good for finishing off ranged enemies, particularly annoying mages who like to freeze you, Blink, and then start throwing a fireball at you. You can also turn and "jump-shot" enemies when running away. While Deadly Throw has few PvE implications other than killing runners, sometimes an ability's PvP purpose is good enough to justify its existence. Especially when it makes casters cry. (See: Cloak of Shadows.)
What's your favorite finisher? Do you think Envenom has a place in raids? What about fun tricks with Deadly Throw?