After this week's deluge of Mists of Pandaria information, Cataclysm is fading fast. Everyone is looking ahead to the future, with dreams of exploring Pandaria and complaining about monks being overpowered on the general forums. Deathwing has been vanquished millions of times, and with no new content slated for Cataclysm, this expansion has come to its end.
We're now officially entering the inter-expansion lull.
What better time than now to roll a new rogue alt? You've got plenty of justice and valor points banked, and your guild has probably been level 25 for months. If you haven't been playing recently, then you can simply have someone use a Scroll of Resurrection to give you a free level 80 character on the server and faction of your choosing. If you've ever wanted to play a rogue, there's no better time than today to try one out. If you're lucky, you might even make it to 85 in time to pick up your guild's inevitable fifth or sixth set of Fangs of the Father.
Rogues are killing machines
When it comes down to raw killing power, there's no class that can compete with the rogue. I laugh to myself when I read strategy guides for warlocks and hunters that revolve around using their pets as tanks. Rogues don't wait around for things like aggro; we enter the fray with an explosion of damage and end the encounter just as quickly. Death knights might be able to struggle with a handful of mobs at once -- good for them. Rogues simply sneak past the hordes of useless enemies and assassinate their quest targets without ever being detected.
Rogues don't have to be hard
For most caster classes, maximizing your damage is usually as simple as ensuring that you're always casting something. For rogues, perfecting your art can be more difficult. In every encounter, assassination rogues wrestle with clipping Envenom and Rupture timers and erratic combo point generation. Subtlety rogues are trying to track a plethora of finishers, their screens cluttered with timers and charts detailing their remaining durations.
If you're new to rogues, you don't want to get ridiculed the first time you queue up for a random dungeon. You want to experience what the rogue class has to offer while also performing at a level that won't have your dungeonmates kicking you at their earliest convenience.
It doesn't have to be this way. Rogues playing a combat build tend to have an easier time. There are fewer buttons to push, fewer timers to track, and fewer things that can go wrong. With a bit of optimization, combat rogues can actually become one of the easiest classes in the game to play.
Introducing the lazy combat build
I'll be talking more about this in the coming weeks, but WoW tends to undervalue great performance while overvaluing good performance. A combat rogue playing decently will end up dealing nearly the same damage as a combat rogue playing perfectly. Even though there might be a serious gap in skill between a new rogue and a veteran rogue, the gap in damage isn't nearly as large. You can exploit this fact to pretend you know what you're doing until you learn the ropes.
My lazy combat rogue build prioritizes simplicity over complexity at the expense of DPS. Let me be very clear here -- you're not going to be performing your best until you master of all of combat's subtleties and actually use all of your abilities. Until then, you can fake your way to success while learning the ropes. This build is designed to help new rogues learn about how to play combat in stages.
If you're just starting out as a lazy combat rogue, your rotation is incredibly simple. It doesn't rely on having good gear or any of the latest the latest set bonuses. Get your rogue in the best gear you can and run things through Shadowcraft. Put Instant Poison on your main weapon and Deadly Poison on your off-hand weapon. You're still following the normal combat best practices for gearing and glyphs but simply practicing a simpler rotation.
The world's easiest rotation
Your job is simply spam Sinister Strike as often as you can, and then use Slice and Dice when you're at 5 combo points. You should always have Blade Flurry active, unless you're fighting a boss. Just leave Blade Flurry on all the time, and turn it off when you get to a boss, if you remember. That's it. You don't need to worry about anything else. I was able to deal about 70% of my normal DPS simply by keeping SnD active while spamming SS.
Once Blade Flurry is activated, you'll only need two buttons to do your job. With this strategy, you'll be dealing reasonably good damage in any dungeon group. Using Sinister Strike to generate combo points to keep Slice and Dice is the core of combat's damage. Everything else that a professional combat rogue does is simply tacked onto this core rotation. If you don't like spamming SS until you have enough combo points to use SnD, then you don't like playing a rogue in PvE. Slice and Dice uptime is an important part of every rogue PvE build.
Mix in Eviscerate
Once you've mastered the basic SS/SnD cycle, it's time for you to mix in a new finisher, Eviscerate. You'll quickly notice that with a pure SS/SnD cycle, you're often refreshing SnD when its buff still has a long duration remaining. Are you not noticing that? Then you probably need to grab a timer or buff duration mod, like Power Auras, EventHorizon, or one of many others. They'll help you keep track of your SnD timer, as well as several other important timers you'll be tracking in the future.
Basically, to introduce Eviscerate into your rotation, you simply alternate between Slice and Dice and Eviscerate usage. Once Slice and Dice is active, you use Eviscerate for your next finisher. Swapping between SnD and Eviscerate for your finishers will boost your DPS and will have you ready for longer boss fights.
With just simply SnD and Eviscerate usage, you can handle most heroic dungeons and even some Raid Finder bosses without much issue. You are doing about 80% of combat's potential damage with just three buttons. The remaining 20% of our damage comes from the addition of several other mechanics, which require a firm grasp on combat's rotation before implementation. The simple SnD/Eviscerate rotation system works for rogues of all levels and is the most basic form of rogue DPS in existence. We've been using it for years, and getting yourself into its rhythm and flow is crucial to learning the class itself.
Check back next week for details on how to squeeze the other 20% out of your combat rogue!
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.