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Encrypted Text: Should all rogues use daggers?

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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 questions or article suggestions you'd like to see covered here.

When the art team at Blizzard developed the class icons for World of Warcraft, it based them on that class' weapon of choice. Mages cast spells through their crystal-laden staves, druids fight with their paws and sharp teeth, and paladins wield a mighty, righteous hammer.

The rogue class has been represented by the swift, poisoned dagger for years. While our dark leather armor and our brittle yellow class text are easily recognizable symbols of the rogue, the dagger is our one true sigil. While only two of our abilities can't be used with swords or other weapons, both assassination and subtlety rogues are still forced to bend the knee to the dagger god. Even the most stalwart combat rogues carry a dagger in one hand. Why not go all the way?

Daggers are already rogue-only items

No other class wants agility-based daggers. Druids use their druid staves since they can't dual-wield other weapons, while hunters also prefer using druid staves just because it makes druids mad. Enhancement shaman have been Windfurying with slow weapons for as long as I can remember, and the only daggers they've ever wielded were caster daggers (just to make mages mad). When the developers implemented the very first class-specific legendaries, they were a pair of daggers for rogues.

Holy paladins have an entire class of gear, intellect plate, dedicated to a single spec. Their only healing weapon option is the intellect mace. Rogues could easily consolidate toward daggers, ensuring weapon parity between specs and focusing our gearing efforts. Daggers are already plentiful in the game for subtlety and assassination rogues, and moving combat to the dagger standard would actually lower competition for other agility weapons.

Monks can pick up the slack

While removing swords and maces from combat's arsenal might not make sense in Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria is an entirely different story. The monk class will also be rolling on agility-based one-handed weapons -- exactly the same ones combat rogues would be giving up. Monks and shaman can compete for maces and fist weapons, ensuring that these weapons go to good homes. Daggers are only a few mechanic tweaks away from being viable for combat, as the Fangs of the Father clearly demonstrate.

Rogues are already going under the knife for major surgery in Mists, as our poison system is being completely restructured and several other mechanics are being altered. The developers could easily make Sinister Strike require a dagger to use and then adjust the damage of SS, Revealing Strike, and Main Gauche accordingly. Combat and subtlety rogues would share a common poison application rate, while all three specs would share the same weapons. You'll only need to enchant one pair of weapons per raiding tier.

Blizzard is sending mixed signals

We've learned that in Mists of Pandaria, rogues will use either Wound Poison or Deadly Poison as their lethal poison option. Both abilities (not items, remember) are currently using percentage-based proc rates, which greatly favor faster weapons. With both our lethal and non-lethal poisons being applied to both weapons and poisons being core to the class' performance, we clearly want to use the fastest weapon possible. The entirety of the new poison system design increases the value of dagger-based specs.

In a reversal of that design direction, the developers adjusted Combat Potency so that it scales with weapon speed. As your weapon speed increases, your chance to proc Combat Potency increases, which should equalize energy regeneration amongst off-hand weapon choices. Combat Potency was one of the major forces keeping a dagger in the off hand of combat rogues, along with the fact that there were literally zero fast agility one-handed weapons in Cataclysm. The new Combat Potency definitely implies that combat using slower off-hands shouldn't be thought of as completely outlandish.

It's Main Gauche all over again

If you recall the early version of Main Gauche, it was a mechanic with serious issues. I actually called it the game's worst mechanic. It attached a percentage-based proc to the rogue's main weapon, which didn't mesh with our slow main-hand weapons. Its instant attack used the off-hand weapon, which was fast and therefore unsuited for instant attacks. The entire mechanic ran counter to combat's core design. It was finally redesigned in the image of Sword Specialization to make it more congruent with combat's style of play.

daggers
Blizzard needs to make a decision about rogue weapons in Mists. If the devs want combat to be the swashbuckler spec, then either dual slow weapons needs to become viable via PPM poisons and other fixes, or quick agility weapons need to be itemized. Dual slow weapons is the obvious favorite choice here, as it prevents the itemization team from needing to recreate an entire item class for one hand of a single spec. If not, just bite the bullet and force daggers upon all three rogue specs. Subtlety rogues have already given up on the slow weapon/Hemorrhage builds, and I'm sure that combat daggers will eventually catch on too.

I feel like we're already on the slippery slope toward dagger ubiquity. I have loved maces from day one, and there wasn't a rogue more ecstatic than me when I learned that we'd be wielding axes in Wrath. The fact is that with quick agility weapons already long dead, there's no reason to keep rogues tied to slow agility weapons either. Letting us still wield them for transmog purposes but focusing each mechanic toward daggers would allow us to keep some of that flavor without compromising the spec's design integrity.

The rogue population is in a very vulnerable place right now. While our numbers have been steadily on the rise with the introduction of Fangs of the Father, we need to keep these rogues playing in Mists. The Webbed Death debacle was embarrassing in Wrath, Main Gauche's originally broken design soured the tastes of many rogues in Cataclysm, and we can't allow that to happen in Mists. Each rogue spec needs to have a unified design that focuses each mechanic around the weapons of that spec. I've always told rogues to "spec your weapons," as they'll never lead you wrong. We need for that to hold true in Mists.

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.

Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

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