If you studied my Excel usage patterns, you would be able to easily predict when a new patch is scheduled to drop. As soon as the release date is relatively fixed, I start working on my gear acquisition plan. My rogue takes priority when it comes to gearing up quickly. I'll spend as much gold or as many valor points as necessary to make sure I'm ahead of everyone else.
I typically spend my holy paladin's first batch of available valor points on the BoE valor piece for my rogue. Healers don't need gear anyway, right? If I can get my gear faster, my raid will be able to down bosses faster, and I'll get my hands on the Fangs of the Father sooner. It's a win-win scenario, and so when it comes to my rogue, I spare no expense. Please note that there are now three different levels of gear available, with the introduction of the Raid Finder difficulty level. The gear is identical between all three tiers and is simply scaled up or down appropriately.
Our tier set requires raiding
The developers love to switch up our method for acquiring tier gear with every new tier, and patch 4.3 is no different. Our tier set will only be available via killing bosses in the Dragon Soul raid instance. Luckily for those rogues who aren't raiding today, you can actually PUG the bosses via the new Raid Finder to get your tier set. You're still going to have to spend a couple of hours in Dragon Soul, but it's easy work and still yields some great gear. If you aren't able to even run the Raid Finder, your options for gear will be limited to the loot that drops in the three new dungeons in this patch.
When we're looking at our five tier slots, we typically have two options. We can either pick up the set piece, or we can grab the non-tier piece. The choice typically comes down to how the pieces of gear are itemized. Since we want to acquire our set bonuses in tier 13, we will want to wear four pieces of our tier set, which leaves us with the ability to wear one non-tier piece in one of the core five tier slots. Your choice of non-set piece will likely be determined by your luck with drops, to start. When it comes to buying valor point pieces, I typically like to save up my points. By waiting a few weeks before making any purchases, I get to see more raid drops, reducing the chance of buying a piece of gear with valor points only to receive a similar piece from the raid soon after.
Helmets are fairly straightforward for us, mirroring what we saw last tier. Our Blackfang Battleweave Helmet isn't perfect, but the set bonus makes it worth using. The token for our helmet drops toward the end of Dragon Soul. The alternative is using Nocturnal Gaze, which we can buy for 2,200 valor points. For our shoulder slot, the non-tier piece Underdweller's Spaulders are perfectly itemized for assassination rogues, and they drop from the first boss of Dragon Soul. Our Blackfang Battleweave Spaulders drop off of the second boss in Dragon Soul, so it's likely that we'll be getting one or the other very quickly.
The chest slot matches our helmet slot, where our non-tier piece Shadowbinder Chestguard is purchasable for 2,200 valor points and our tier chest Blackfang Battleweave Tunic drops from a later boss in Dragon Soul. The tier chest is a haste/mastery combo item, so it fits perfectly into an assassination rogue's setup. Our non-tier gloves Lightfinger Handwraps come from the vendor again, and our tier Blackfang Battleweave Gloves come from the token from the third boss. Because of the high expertise on our tier gloves, these may be the piece we leave out of our four-piece combo.
For our leg slot, we actually have a new option available. The Bladeshadow Leggings are crafted by leatherworkers, and their 397 item level will make them valuable to rogues at every level. They require Essences of Destruction to craft, and so expect to pay a premium for these unless your guild furnishes them. Our tier leg token, which we redeem for Blackfang Battleweave Legguards, drop in the middle of Dragon Soul. I would recommend crafting the leatherworking pants, which have great itemization, and saving your DKP or rolls for a different tier slot if you can.
The off-set armor pieces
You'll notice that most of our gearing options so far come from the valor points vendor, either via valor points or token turn-ins. Blizzard has put a ton of gear onto the valor points vendor in this tier in an effort to remove some of the randomness of gearing up. For our bracer slot, we actually have three different options. We can have a leatherworker craft us some Bladeshadow Wristguards, we can acquire Shadow Wing Armbands from late in Dragon Soul, or we can buy the valor points item, Bracers of Manifold Pockets. Notice that the valor points bracers are BoE, as usual, so you can buy these on another character and ship them to your main, or even buy them off the Auction House.
When it comes to our boots, we also have three options. The valor points boots are our Rooftop Griptoes, which are fine and will suit most rogues. Assassination rogues can upgrade to the Interrogator's Bloody Footpads midway through Dragon Soul, while combat rogues will have the option to score the Molten Blood Footpads, which are a half-tier stronger than the other boot options. We also have three options for our belts. The Belt of Hidden Keys, which we can buy with valor points, is our best choice here, but we can also acquire the BoE trash drop belt Nightblind Cinch from the Auction House if we're having bad luck. The Belt of Flayed Skin is our final option and is focused toward non-assassination rogues. The Belt of Hidden Keys will likely be my first valor point purchase.
We only have one cloak option, the Batwing Cloak, and it's a guaranteed pickup via valor points. The cloak will be a good first purchase for any rogue that didn't get a Dreadfire Drape from Rhyolith. Our necklace choice is similar, as the Cameo of Terrible Memories comes from valor points and is our only real option. Many rogues will already have the amulet from Ragnaros, which is already better than most Firelands gear, so the Cameo will likely be a later upgrade. Because our only necklace and cloak options are from valor points, you can safely purchase these at any time without worrying about getting a better piece from Dragon Soul.
There are three rings available to us, although we'll all be picking up the Emergency Descent Loop from the valor vendor. The two remaining rings, the Seal of Primordial Shadow and the Signet of Grasping Mouths, each favor a different spec, and they both drop from Dragon Soul bosses. We can buy our thrown weapon with valor points, as the Windslicer Boomerang is amazing for assassination rogues. An alternative thrown weapon drops in Dragon Soul, and I'll probably wait for the Razor Saronite Chip to drop before spending any valor points on my thrown weapon.
I don't have any solid information on which trinkets are the best for which spec, but I do know what we have to choose from. Three of our four trinket options are raid drops. The Starcatcher Compass and the Vial of Shadows are fairly standard, as they provide agility and have a chance to proc some bonus haste or extra damage, respectively. The Wrath of the Unchaining is a stacking agility trinket, which I think will prove to be one of our best options if we can maintain good buff uptime. Finally, we can buy the valor points trinket, the Kiroptyric Sigil, which provides us with haste and an agility on-use effect. I doubt this will see much use once we acquire the other trinkets from Dragon Soul.
You're getting the legendary daggers, right?
If you're not first in line to receive the Fangs of the Father, you'll be stuck using regular Dragon Soul weapons for a while. You should at least be able to start the quest to obtain the first pair of daggers relatively quickly, although you can't start the quest when using the Raid Finder. There are assassination and combat/subtlety weapons available, although the only unique item is No'Kaled. Similar to the Icecrown proc weapons, No'Kaled is void of any secondary stats, replacing them with a random magical damage proc. Once we have more solid testing done, we'll know if its proc stands up to the other weapons in the tier.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Molten Front ganking guide, a deep-dive into the world of playing a subtlety rogue -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to the latest rogue gear.