Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any article suggestions or screenshots you may have.
Why do I ever talk myself into running heroics without my guildmates? I always end up with a tank that doesn't like waiting for CC, the healer who thinks that Recuperate is all the healing I need, and the hunter who wins the roll on Left Eye of Rajh. Despite all of this, I still put myself through all of pain because I love running heroics. Not everyone I meet is awful, and it helps me to keep my gameplay sharp for my upcoming raids.
Practicing in heroics, as if they were raids, can have you learning your new rotation and gearing up at an accelerated pace. The last thing you want to do is underperform at your opening raid, as you'll be first on the chopping block. Heroic bosses have come a long way from the easily conquered Wrath dungeons, and many bosses are basically bite-sized raid encounters. By learning new mechanics and keeping your timing and rotations sharp, you can be fully prepared for whatever tier of raiding you intend to conquer.
Bring your best
The best thing you can do to hone your rogue skills in a heroic dungeon is to give every fight your all. In the words of John Hammond, you need to spare no expense. You should be using whatever rotation and abilities that deal the most damage and focusing on dealing the most damage possible. What you shouldn't be doing is goofing around while you watch a Law & Order marathon. If you get used to sloppy play, you'll end up carrying those habits into raids.
I like to keep myself honest by using a flask when running heroics. It makes me realize that I'm actually spending gold to be there and that I should do whatever it takes to maximize my performance. Practice doesn't make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect. Consider heroics to be your training ground, with you acting as your own personal trainer. Record your DPS with an addon like Recount, and challenge yourself to push harder on every fight.
While it's really none of our business, you should probably know that healers saw some major shakeups in Cataclysm. Their entire healing paradigm was radically redesigned, and mana is now incredibly scarce. Healing is no longer the mindless game of infinite throughput and mana pools; instead, it's more like a survival-horror game in which you're constantly scrambling around for more ammo.
With these facts in mind, we need to be kind to our healers. You should offer to Sap any mobs that you can, and be fast about doing it. If you're quick with your CC, you can move at nearly full speed through instances. Try to score the Glyph of Pick Pocket to allow you to PP while Sapping, and you might score a Spinerender. As a few of the commenters mentioned, we can also help dispel any Enrage effects that an enemy might use by simply attacking them with Shiv. This will reduce the incoming damage to your tank, making everyone's life easier.
With Glyph of Feint (you did get this glyph, right?), you can reduce the amount of damage you take by a dramatic amount without any penalty. Feinting is the easiest way to save your healer lots of mana and time, but we have a few other tricks too. Evasion and Cloak of Shadows have such short cooldowns that you can easily use them for every boss fight, as you should. Combat Readiness is the new spell that everyone forgets to use, including myself. Start using CR when fighting any boss, just to get in the habit of casting it. By reducing your incoming damage, you are directly increasing the chance of your group succeeding. All of our defensive cooldowns are free to use, and if you're not taking advantage of them, you're simply not playing your best. In addition, feel free to spend any excess combo points on Recuperate, especially if you know there's a period of heavy damage coming up.
Even if we're on our very best behavior, our group is going to take damage. As healer mana is no longer an infinite spring, we need to ensure that boss fights are over as soon as possible. While we shouldn't stand in a puddle or in some fire just to get a few extra swings in, we should recognize any opportunities we have to deal extra damage. With Sprint on its new 1-minute cooldown, you can find a use for it multiple times per boss fight. If you're moving, you should be Sprinting. If you can offensively use Cloak of Shadows to dodge a powerful attack, then keep burning down the boss' life.
One of my rogue mantras is that the purest way to increase your DPS is to increase your uptime. It doesn't cost you anything, and more uptime always yields more damage. Find creative ways to deal more damage than ever before. Using Blade Flurry to cleave targets as combat is smart, using Adrenaline Rush and Blade Flurry as a combo is an even smarter (due to the extra replicated attacks). Look for opportunities to use Vanish to activate Overkill or Master of Subtlety. Remember that many bosses often make themselves immune to damage for a short period of time, opening a window for you to Vanish.
Find out what the bad spells are, and then Kick them. Always Kick. If in doubt, Kick. Already Kicked? Kick again anyway. Interrupts play a huge role in so many Cataclysm heroic encounters, and if your reaction times are to be trusted, you need to practice Kicking. Often you will save the healer mana, reduce damage incoming to the tank or group, and even increase your own damage by avoiding a crippling debuff. As a rogue, you should be first in line to Kick any casted spell.
The Glyph of Kick may seem like a great idea, but it can be painful in practice. If some clever shaman decides to interrupt a spell before you do, and you accidentally Kick, now you're locked out of Kick for longer than 10 seconds. There's no encounter tuned to require Kicks more often than every 10 seconds, so don't risk causing a disaster by picking up this glyph.
Seriously, learn what spells to interrupt, and then interrupt them. If you haven't fought a particular boss, look up its abilities on Wowhead or another site for information. Your group will expect you to know your role, and if you're not interrupting as required, you will almost certainly be removed from the group. I guarantee you that there will be an interruptable raid boss in Cataclysm, and if you're the best Kicker in the guild, I also guarantee you that you'll be brought along for the fight.
Check back every Wednesday for the latest rogue strategies in Encrypted Text! We'll show you how to navigate Cataclysm rogue basics, dig into new rogue mechanics, and gear up for heroics.