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Encrypted Text: Are rogues truly an unpopular class?

Ruffy vs. the Day Off
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

It is a lament that we, the ever-beleaguered players of the ever-shunned, ever-maligned, ever-misunderstood rogue class, often turn to when we're feeling glum.

Nobody plays a rogue.

We're WoW's most-hated, least-popular class. We never get the changes we need, so the class just continues to decay, month after month, patch after patch, year after year. If Blizzard hates us so much, why don't they just remove the class entirely already? Monks and ferals already have all the stuff we want anyway.

Nobody. Plays. A rogue.

... Right?

You guys should know me well enough by now to know my answer.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Designing WoW: It takes a village -- no, a city

Stormwind screenshot
Thanks to major events like BlizzCon, as well as an uncanny level of visibility in public forums, interviews and on Twitter, we tend to think of WoW as a personal project run by a very small number of people. Chris Metzen, Tom Chilton, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street -- these folks have received a fair amount of the praise, and virtually all of the blame, for nearly every good and bad thing we perceive about the game. And when a change is implemented that we don't understand or disagree with, too many of us often tend to think, "How could they be so stupid?"

The answer, a lot more often than we may be willing to realize, is: The people who make WoW happen are far, far greater in number than the few we see publicly -- and they're just as human as the rest of us.

In the wake of sad news in the gaming world -- Irrational Games, the company that brought us BioShock Infinite, is going poof -- we've been given an important reminder of how huge the gulf can be between our perception of who makes a game come to life and the realities of dame design.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Encrypted Text: The promise, and the peril, of Shadow Reflection

Ruffy vs. the Shadow
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and& subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

When a WoW game designer sends out nearly two dozen tweets in an hour about a talent, you know he's really excited about it.

Such was the case last week with Technical Game Designer Chadd Nervig (@Celestalon), WoW's torch-bearer on class design issues since Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street's departure from Blizzard late last year. Celestalon treated us to an epic twitversation about the upcoming Level 100 rogue talent Shadow Reflection -- one of the most involved, intricate discussions any WoW designer has ever had with us regular folk on Twitter. "It has pretty crazy potential," he said at one point in the conversation.

Celestalon is clearly psyched about what Shadow Reflection will bring to the rogue class. The question is: Should we be as pumped?

In a word: youbetterbelieveit.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Encrypted Text: Shadowcraft, a raiding rogue's best friend

Ruffy vs. the Optimizer
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

"Should I reforge for mastery or haste?"

If you're a rogue player who raids, reading that question probably generated one of two emotional reactions:
  1. Curiosity, because you wonder that yourself.
  2. A seething, bubbling cauldron of hatred and violent fury, because questions like these are asked endlessly -- even though, for a long time now, the answer has consisted of two words.
Shadowcraft it.

What Shadowcraft Is

Shadowcraft is a modeling tool for rogues. It takes a snapshot of your armory -- your gear, enchants, gems, talents, glyphs and everything else that affects the damage you deal -- and then it allows you to modify that snapshot in a host of different ways. As you tweak the snapshot -- for instance, swapping out one piece of gear for another, changing your reforges, turning on or off certain buffs -- Shadowcraft keeps track of each change you make, and assesses whether those changes will theoretically increase or decrease your DPS. You do the experimenting, it does the math.

Two things in particular make Shadowcraft truly special as a resource.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Encrypted Text: The buff rogues really need

Ruffy vs. the Light Bulb
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

My fellow rogues, it's time for an eleganza extravaganza.

For the past couple of months, you've joined me on a long, winding stroll through the state of roguedom today. We've talked about the burning questions on our minds as rogue players; how stealthy (or not) our stealth is; and what makes us (or used to make us) feel unique as a class. We've talked about what we're thankful for, as well as what we're less thankful for, as the Warlords beta likely draws near.

And finally, last week, we tagged along as three fictional rogues hung out in a fictional bar, got fictionally drunk and caterwauled over the many nonfictional (and sometimes contradicting) complaints players have about how their class works.

So. Where does all of this chatting leave us? Are we any closer to agreement on these issues?

I'm not so sure. In fact, I suspect that, while we've generated a lot of great conversation, the main thing we've done here is highlight just how tremendously varied our opinions are when it comes to the specific aspects of rogue gameplay we players would like to see altered.

But I think we're closer to getting at one of the major seeds of our communal discontent. Here's what I suspect that seed is.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

So you want to be a theorycrafter

detail of screenshot from simulationcraft.org
Theorycrafting.

If you're anything like me, just reading that word filled you with a sudden sense of intimidation, inferiority, awe ... and, whoa. Wait a minute. What's that other emotion huddled there in the corner, being beaten up by our fear of failure? Is that curiosity?

If you've ever used Ask Mr. Robot and asked yourself, "How do people determine which of our stats are better than others?" If you've ever played a healer and asked yourself, "How do people figure out which spells are the most efficient to use at which times?" If you've ever played a DPS class and asked yourself, "How do people figure out what my spell priority should be?" Basically, if you've ever wondered how some of our game's brightest players find the answers to our most pressing questions about game mechanics, then there's at least some small part of you that's interested in theorycrafting.

So, great, you're interested. Now what? How the heck does a person get started, especially when theorycrafting seems so complicated?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Encrypted Text: A tale of three rogues

Ruffy vs. Ruffy vs. Ruffy
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Three rogues walk into a bar. ...

Mute, the assassination rogue: Man, I am exhausted.

Toetoe, the combat rogue: You're always saying that.

Mute: I just haven't been feeling very energetic lately.

Toetoe: I dunno; you seemed pretty spry during our last raid.

Mute: That's just because we were buffed out the wazoo. I mean, sure, I feel better than I did back in Mogu'shan, but --

Toetoe: Ha! I remember that! You were stabbing so slowly you just gave up and started chucking shuriken instead.

Mute: Har har. Buy me a drink, will you?

Toetoe: Barkeep! Hey. Jack and Coke for me; Thistle Tea for my ever-tired companion.

Hush, the subtlety rogue: BOO!

Toetoe: And a Sneaking Potion for my little friend here.

Hush: I didn't scare you?

Toetoe: You've been standing right in front of me, Hush. Stealth ain't invisibility.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Encrypted Text: How the special rogue snowflake melted

Ruffy vs. Klaven's Tower
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

As we usher in a new year, our thoughts inevitably turn to the single most important subject there is: our rogues. And how we wish that WoW's designers would make a New Year's resolution to give them more love and affection and hugs and presents and big happy smiley-face stickers than any other class.

But that's just it: Although you might often read otherwise in public forums or on Twitter, the rogue class doesn't objectively have less fun stuff to do within the game than other classes, nor does it receive less attention from the game's design team. The reason I think some players grumble is that rogues receive roughly the same amount of love as everyone else -- but they used to receive more.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Encrypted Text: The stealthiest stealth rogues ever stealthed

Rfeann vs. Elmer Fudd
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

A couple of weeks ago, we all had a nice, long chat, you and me. I was all, "Hey guys, what's up with those rogues, amirite?" And you were all, "Totally!" And I was like, "Got questions?" And you were like, "You know it, Scott!" And I was all, "Whoa, whoa; since when are we on a first-name basis?" And you were like, "Hey man, I thought you were cool." And I ... may be digressing a little.

Point is, we've had a couple of conversations now about the aspects of roguedom we're least pleased with, and would thus like to see change somehow in the upcoming expansion. Three of the key themes I've seen recurring in the discussion are:
  • Many of us want stealth to be more interesting.
  • Rogues don't feel unique enough.
  • We don't have enough control over the damage we deal.
Over the next few weeks, we'll talk about each of these issues in greater depth. This week, I'm all, "Hey guys, what's up with stealth? Eh? Mmm?"

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Encrypted Text: What rogue changes should Warlords of Draenor bring?

Ruffy vs. the Dark Portal
Every week or two, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Scott Helfand (@sveltekumquat) will be your shadow on this treacherous journey; try not to keep your back turned for too long, and make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe.

The winds of change are howling through the mountain passes ahead. From the path on which we're walking, up a hill toward the mouth of the first pass, we can't see what's up there yet. But we know change is coming. We can hear it in the whoosh of air sweeping past those stone walls. The warlords are coming, the wind whispers. In the new expansion, rogues will not be the same.

But how will our class change? Rogues aren't utterly broken, but they do remain consistently unpopular (they make up roughly 6.5% of all level 90 toons in the U.S. and Europe, according to the latest RealmPop figures; only the still-new monk class comes in lower, and not by much), and senior designers have repeatedly expressed a desire to do something about it. Not a Warlock-level degree of change, but something.

Going into BlizzCon last month, many of us may have had hope that a solid look into our future would be offered at the convention. But we -- like most every other class -- got more of a teeny glimpse. Some of the key questions we have about the future of roguedom remain unanswered.

But, wait: What are those key questions?

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

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