Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the rogue class. This week, we talk about the proper way to start gearing your rogue to succeed in the raiding scene. Step 1: Don't forget your pants.
I would love to see the Horde conduct a democratic election. We've heard that Garrosh will be taking the reins from Thrall, but just think of the fun that we could have watching various candidates debate the issues. I can assume that Garrosh would be in support of stricter immigration policies, while Vol'jin would be voting for any measure that protected the Echo Isles rainforest. Sylvanas would be accused of campaign fraud by some pro-Earthmother TAC (Tauren Action Committee) members, who would then mysteriously disappear a week later without a trace.
The hot topics would obviously be the economy (or what's left of it, after Basil's had his shot), setting up a universal epic system, and perhaps the most controversial matter: GearScore. The primary cause for PUG elitism is the mentality that anyone with worse gear than me is a scrub, and anyone with better gear than me is a nerd. GearScore is only a means to an end, which is to make it easy for a raid leader to quickly judge players. Rather than complaining, there's an even easier way to bring your rogue up to the minimum GS bar set by trade chat: let's get you into some new gear!
Spreadsheets make gear choices easier
The first step in gearing your rogue for a raid is to get familiar with a spreadsheet. I highly recommend Aldriana's sheets, which you can find at Elitist Jerks. Make sure you get the right sheet for your build, whether it be mutilate or combat. Now, while you're gearing up, it can be difficult using the spreadsheets since they don't have a lot of weaker gear in them. Now, you could go through and make manual entries for every single item you're wearing and ever could wear at some point in the future. However, I have an alternative that will actually save you quite a bit of time.
First, get familiar with Tinkerbob's guide to modifying the hidden gear tab of the spreadsheet. Once you've familiarized yourself with adding new gear to the sheet, you can use my trick to save yourself some tedious work setting up every single item you have equipped. In reality, the spreadsheet doesn't look at any individual piece of gear to determine your DPS, but rather takes the total of all of your stats and plugs those into various formulas. All you have to do is create a dummy item in the sheet, similar to my awesome item: [Chase's COOL GLOVES] (Blizzard devs, take note). I adjust the stat balance on this item to match what my character screen shows in game. For example, I have it set to give me 1,222 agility and 500 stamina, as well as a variety of other stats. This allows the sheet to model my character correctly, without worrying about filling in every little piece of gear I have equipped. Let me mention now that this technique doesn't work at all for weapons or trinkets, so you'll have to leave the models for those to the spreadsheet.
I then create a single blank item, [Chase's BLANK GLOVES], for each slot with a total of 0 stats. I equip these across the board in every slot except where my uber item is being used, so I'm essentially naked except for a single piece of uber gear. Now, the spreadsheet knows exactly how much ArP, AP and hit I have, without my having to enter every piece individually. In order to compare a new piece of gear, I can simply write down my stats without the item, then add those stats into my uber item and see what the difference in DPS is. Let's say I want to evaluate some new shoulders. I would write down my current DPS, then take off my existing shoulders. I would take my stats while shoulderless and add my new item's stats to that total. I update my uber item with those new totals, and then I see what my DPS would be with the new shoulders. It may take a bit more math to figure out, but it can save you a ton of time over the long run. Once you start getting gear that actually is on the spreadsheet, you can equip those items on the sheet and just subtract the difference from your uber item.
Emblems of Triumph are your best friend
The best gear you can get without stepping into Icecrown Citadel or spending several thousand gold on BoE loot will come from Emblems of Triumph, which you should be able to get your hands on pretty easily. If you're a brand new 80, you can check out my guide to the reputation gear available to get yourself a starter set, and then just queue up for random heroics and specifically target ToC 5-man and the ICC 5-mans to maximize your gear income. The ICC 5-mans, in particular, host a ton of great gear as well, so if you're lucky enough to get one of those dungeons for a random heroic, be cheerful! We'll be trying to get you into gear that is item level 232 or above wherever we can, which will have you both passing GearScore checks and doing some serious DPS as well. Your decision between mutilate or combat will largely rest on which weapons drop for you, so don't be afraid to try out both specs if better weapons drop for one or the other.
I like to start with filling out my tier set when I'm moving onto a new tier of gear, as these are high-budget slots that will boost my stats by the highest amount, when compared to replacing something like a pair of bracers. You should also evaluate which pieces will give you the largest DPS increase per emblem, using the spreadsheet as a guide. I've compiled a post with all of the strongest Emblem of Triumph rewards listed, and you can plug in those items to your sheet and figure out what the best upgrade for your current gear is. Some of my advice on the individual pieces of gear may be a bit outdated, due to updated mechanics or gearing issues that we're only seeing in this final tier of Wrath. Spreadsheet every choice to make sure that you're getting the right results for your rogue.
If you're diligent about farming your triumph emblems, there are at least nine pieces of gear you can pick up that are all item level 232 or 245, which is plenty for starting ICC 10-man or 25-man. If you're at all lucky running the ICC 5-mans, you can hopefully pick up a couple of new weapons as well, which will have you ready to assault Arthas' front door in no time. Remember that most players were in item level 232 and 245 gear when Icecrown was first released, and we currently have a 15% damage buff backing us up as well. Never take a higher item level piece of gear if it is a DPS loss. The difference in GearScore that one item makes won't wash away the guilt of breaking rogue rule numero uno: DPS is everything.