Sticky Sap is Sticky

I know I had stated that I wasn’t trying to turn this project into a be-all, end-all rogue leveling guide, but it’s okay if I share a few detailed tidbits right? Okay, good. With that out of the way, let’s get on with some more goodness with the rogue’s primary crowd control: sap.

In my last entry I mentioned the usefulness of practicing with utilizing sap in order to clear packs of mobs while avoiding cascading aggro pulls. Unfortunately I didn’t provide a picture to better illustrate what this possible situation might look like. Let’s correct that …

Here’s a pretty standard camp setup that you’ll see quite frequently while soloing. Obviously the enemies are just close enough that without any form of crowd control you’ll aggro all three enemies. But before I go into how to tackle this situation, I’ll need to give you a little more information of what you’re facing here:

  1. She has a ranged attack.
  2. He has a knockdown attack.
  3. Named NPC and is +2 levels of the other two enemies.

Obviously enemies #2 & #3 are in such close proximity that even if you do successfully sap one of them, when you pull the other you’ll gain aggro on the other even while they’re still sapped. Taking into consideration the higher level of enemy #3, it’s probably not a great idea to try to sap him unless you’re only one level below him. If you are lower than him by more than one level like I was when I took this screenshot, going for a sap on enemy #2 seems logical, but you’ll want to steer to the far side of him away from the higher level enemy #3.

So while your best bet is sapping enemy #2, it is plausible that enemy #1 could knock you out of stealth with some bad luck and her ranged shot while you’re getting into position. What do you do? Remember that you can sap as many times as you need as long as you’re in stealth, the targets are not in-combat, and you still have energy for the sap. If you keep these three things in mind you may realize that you can sap enemy #1 to ensure that she doesn’t knock you out of stealth while you’re getting into position to sap enemy #2.

Viola! There you go. Now providing that you don’t trip over the crates while setting up enemy #2 you can sap him and proceed to open up on enemy #1 to reduce the enemy count by one. But before you go and just stand in place after opening on enemy #1, it would be a good idea to pull her away from the camp just in-case your sap wears off before you kill enemy #1. After she’s taken care of, you can then proceed to re-apply sap to enemy #2 and kill your true target, Mr. Pirate Hat.

Well there you go, a short blog entry elaborating even further on the possibilities of utilizing sap to make your life a little easier.

Adjusting to Limitations

As I’ve reacquainted myself with the early doldrums of the rogue leveling experience I have come to accept the fact that without twinkage, I can’t just run around like a demi-god with my baby rogues. I just don’t have all the tools at my disposal yet that make the rogue such a versatile class to play as. I catch myself hitting my buttons for vanish and blind when things turn south and then realizing “Oh yah, don’t have that yet” while admiring the dirt.

But you know what? I’m glad that I’m relearning things that I’ve come to take for granted about my class so that I can share with you what it means to be a rogue. Things such as paying attention to the paths of mobs, knowing how to approach a pack of aggressive mobs, and which mobs to sap to avoid accidental adds. You need to be aware as a rogue because you are not a demi-god early on and being blind to important little details will send you back to spend quality time with the spirit healer.

Let me elaborate on this a little bit more …

If you’re approaching a pack of enemies, you need to keep in mind the potential aggro radiuses of all the enemies directly around you. If they’re of the humanoid persuasion you should sap the closest potential add of your intended target. This allows you to open on your kill target without causing a cascading aggro pull of two or more enemies, something you definitely do not want happening as a fledgling rogue.

You could always avoid attempting to clear these higher density packs, but this is a skill that you want to learn as a rogue. You may be asked to use your sap while in a dungeon and if you practice clearing packs, you’ll be better prepared to rise to the occasion when it calls. Sure, you’re going to make mistakes and eat some dirt, but with each accident you’ll learn the nuances of aggro mechanics.

Another thing I have come to take for granted is keeping slice n’ dice up while leveling. It’s instinctual for me as a level 80 rogue, but back in vanilla I severely underestimated just how powerful slice n’ dice is. In other words, it is far more beneficial to keep SND up, than it is to waste time building up for a 3-5pt eviscerate. Now I’m not saying to not use eviscerate, but there are two things working against you if you neglect SND for using eviscerate exclusively:

1. Eviscerate can and will miss, wasting energy and time that you could have been swinging faster and 2. Not keeping SND up reduces the chances for critical white hits while you’re building up combo points.

Remember that Slice n’ Dice is a percentage haste increase and can never miss. Keeping SND up directly correlates into a percentage increase in your damage output, so use it!

Now let’s say that you have plenty of time left on your SND (for the sake of argument I’ll say 8 seconds or more) or your target is rapidly approaching death, this is when you should choose to use eviscerate to finish the job.  Occasionally you may also run into situations where you will have 3 or more combo points and while your SND maybe about to drop off, it wouldn’t make sense to refresh SND with that many combo points. This is one time where I wouldn’t frown or shake my head for allowing SND to fall off.

So, okay. I think I’ll conclude the guide portion of this blog entry and move into a little bit of what my troll and dwarf rogues have been up to, more bone-headed deaths! Okay, I’m kidding … a little 😉 As you might suspect, I’m still catching myself being a little too over-confident with my baby rogues and that’s prompted my getting up on my soapbox and preaching about all things rogue.

My dwarf rogue hit level 14 the other night and has quickly grown tired of collection quests where the items are low-chance drops on scarce mobs in Loch Modan. He must have killed three times as many boars as bears and spiders for that painful quest, but at least the leather he got from skinning them were worth it. Well, alright that’s not really true, the economy on Winterhoof isn’t great and light leather barely goes for more than 1.5g a stack.

As for my troll rogue, he’s just shy of level 14 and desperately desiring a mount to travel across the barrens faster. How in the world did I tolerate running around for 45 levels in vanilla? (Yes, I didn’t have enough gold to get my first mount until level 45 ;_; noob I was!) However, after skipping over to Ratchet the ensuing pirate killing quests have revived his hopes for rapid advancement.

I really hope the old rogue lockpicking quest with Polly, the HUMONGOUS parrot in the hold of the pirate ship is still intact. I loved that quest …

Polly yells: SQUAWK!

Polly says: MmmmmMmmmm… Enormous chemically altered cracker….
Polly says: What the squawk? Squawk squawk, squawk? SQUAWK!

Eating Crow

Remember how one of the points of blogging about my experiences with leveling rogues was to debunk the difficulty of trying to solo with the class? Well, I should have added the caveat that it’s easy with good gear. Until you start getting some decent daggers from quests or the auction house, leveling is oh so painful. I almost lost count of how many boneheaded deaths I suffered if I accidentally pulled more than one mob, especially if one of them is a ranged or spell-casting mob.

So yah, I have to eat my own words … a little.

Anyhoo, things were going really slowly with my dwarf rogue since he was wielding really underpowered daggers. So slow that I even picked up blacksmithing to just create two copper daggers until I realized the materials required to make them were horrifically not worth it. But there was a glint of hope on the far eastern side of Dun Morogh with a decent dagger upgrade from an easily completed quest.

That’s when things turned around.

I felt like a god again even though I barely had many of the tools that my main rogue has. It became worth it to stealth up to mobs and stab them in the back, especially on a crit. Then once I got sap, slice n’ dice, and sprint the heavens parted and the great Titan Aman’Thul reached down and blessed my little rogue. Okay, that’s just a slight exaggeration, but it was as if the game had completely changed from one of painful drudgery into one of great joy.

I guess I had blocked those painful memories of my first few days on Azeroth and I can’t imagine how I got through it stabbing things with ONE dagger from level 1 to 10. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what leveling like a rogue will be like post-cataclysm with each spec’s mainstay ability; having mutilate at level 10 just seems downright overpowered. But for now, I’m having plenty of fun now that my dwarf has escaped the cold lonely landscape of Dun Morogh and into the loving arms of Loch Modan.

Sure I’ve passed through Loch Modan before, but never have I truly appreciated its beauty. Other than a brief stint with my draenei mage, my exposure to the zone has been limited to my horde toons running/riding through on their way to the Badlands to pick up the flight point at Kargath. This is exactly why I decided to start this project now, I want to experience as much of Azeroth as possible before everything is changed forever.

Sure I could have rolled a class that I haven’t played before or gotten far with, but then I’d be distracted from the experience by the learning of how to play the class. Going with rogues frees me to enjoy the experience as I already know how to play a rogue, well at that even. So even though my overconfidence has led to a few embarrassing deaths, I’m having a blast in the Eastern Kingdoms running ale to and fro.

As for the logistics of where my dwarf rogue is at level and talent-wise, he’s sitting at level 12 with all 3 points into malice for an extra 3% to crit. I could have gone with points into opportunity for an extra 20% backstab damage, but at this level an extra 20% isn’t going to mean much. Besides it would also delay when I’d be able to pick up mutilate and that’s not something I want to delay any longer than need be.

I’m really looking forward to hitting level 18 when I’ll be able to pick up ambush and open proper on enemies. Garrote becomes available at level 14, but I’m not sure if it’ll be worth using over backstab considering how long the average fight is lasting. I suppose I’ll have to run the numbers, but not tonight. I’m just glad I finally got sap and slice n’ dice as they’re invaluable for the leveling process.

Things are looking great for my dwarf, now I just need to get my baby troll rogue some daggers and repeat the process over on Jub Jub. Until next time, for the stabby stab!

Sub-Prime Rogue

Before I get into the meat of this entry, I wanted to address a few things game-plan related to my rogue leveling project. First thing you’re going to notice is that I’ve decided to ditch the one-word titles for my entries and this will extend to any blog entry I decide to write in the future, or at least until I change my mind again. It was getting difficult to come up with unique one-word titles and in some ways, it was getting a little pretentious. So yah, the titles of my entries will be slightly more descriptive now.

Secondly, my current plan is to take both rogues to the end of vanilla content and share my experiences along the way. I’m not going to attempt to create the be-all, end-all rogue leveling guide, I just want to share and encapsulate the experience. Sure there will be tips scattered along the way, (PROtip style … okay I kid) which should hopefully be beneficial to both WoW noobs and perhaps even grizzled veterans like myself.

Now without further adieu, let’s get on with it …

Sub-Prime Rogue

But first, a brief introductory paragraph …

Leveling as a rogue in the old world content is something that I haven’t done since World of Warcraft first came out. My very first character in WoW was a rogue, and I pretty much identify myself as a rogue player. In vanilla I leveled as a combat rogue. In TBC I tried leveling as an assassination rogue with the introduction of mutilate, but quickly went back to combat because at the time mutilate still had positional requirements. I also dabbled quite a bit in rogue PVP with a subtlety spec near the end of TBC. Then came WotLK and my attention turned back to PVE and once again I tried leveling as an assassination rogue but abandoned it for combat.

As you can see my leveling experiences as a rogue have almost exclusively been with the combat tree. Leveling as combat is very straight-forward and provides plenty of abilities to make the leveling process easy. There are no worries about positional requirements and you’ll have a larger selection of weapons to utilize along the way. So for most players I would heartily suggest going with the combat tree, especially if you’re still relatively new to WoW.

There’s only one down-side to leveling as a combat rogue, you don’t feel very roguish. That’s why I have decided to try out both assassination and subtlety for leveling. I really want to get that last taste of leveling through the old world content not as a brigand, but as a rogue.

Over the past couple of days I’ve created my two project toons: Nevïk the dwarf rogue on Winterhoof, and Nevik the troll rogue on Jubei’thos. As of today, both toons are approaching level 10 and their very first talent point. In the absence of talent points to spend, my experiences on both toons have been nearly identical so there is little need to differentiate between the two.

There is, however, one big difference with my experiences as a rogue from my vanilla days: you start off with two daggers, a throwing weapon, and the ability to stealth. While stealth is pretty much useless in these early levels, having a throwing weapon has allowed me to engage at range instead of blindly running up to a mob and slapping them to death. Well you could use backstab as an opener from stealth once you reach level 4, but once you start encountering red/aggressive mobs your stealth is far too weak to get into position.

You’ll get gouge at level 6 and that makes things a little more interesting for the rogue: engage the mob at range and then use gouge when it is melee range to setup an easy backstab. Sliding behind a mob to backstab screams rogue and it is a lot of fun to do when your gouge does connect. Just remember that if you’re attempting to set this up after engaging at melee range you’re going to want to wait to gouge until you have at least 65 energy, otherwise you will not regenerate enough energy to execute a backstab before the gouge wears off.

Another thing to keep in mind is that unless you get really lucky with weapon drops (or have heirloom daggers) or have plenty of gold to waste on “throw away” weapons you’re going to want to be fairly careful about the battles you engage in. Rogues are not great at handling multiple mobs at once in these early levels (well … most classes aren’t for that matter) and you will die if you don’t pay attention to the environment around you.

It is also highly advisable that you avoid caves if you’re not twinking your rogue with heirlooms or gear from the auction house. Caves present too many possibilities for pulling extra mobs and you will spend a lot of time admiring the ground, and there is nothing fun about that, nor multiple corpse runs.

If you are dead-set on spelunking, head over to WoWhead and look into ways to outfit your rogue with better weapons. Weapons are the cornerstone of your rogue’s leveling ability, so the sooner you improve your weaponry, the better your experiences will be. Don’t be afraid to buy a white-quality dagger from the vendors either. Making incredible amounts of money (at least comparatively to the old days) is as easy as picking up mining and/or skinning at the second town/outpost you reach. You will, however, have to make a trip into a capital city to put the bars/ores/skins up on the auction house, but the amount of gold you’ll get from selling just ONE stack will cover all of your training expenses for a very long time.

And finally I have one more little piece of advice to share: make sure to pick up first aid and go fight some humanoid npcs for linen cloth. Even though your health will regenerate exceptionally fast out-of-combat in these early levels, you will occasionally run into situations where your survival can hinge on landing a gouge and getting two ticks of healing from a bandage.

That’s all I have for now; there isn’t much to rogue leveling at these pre-talented levels. Even then, I wouldn’t expect a big impact from my talent choices until I get closer to level 20 when I’ll finally get a few more tools in my rogue kit. My next RLP entry will likely cover both my assassination and subtlety rogue, but if my experiences with leveling differ enough, I may split them into two separate entries.

For the stabby stab!


Guess what folks, it’s not only my first blog entry in over a month, but it’s also a WoW-related update!

Wait, wait, WHAT? A WoW entry?!?

Yes, my friends, my WoW hiatus is over and I’m starting a new project that should hopefully keep this blog rolling for the next few months leading up to Cataclysm. I am going to fully embrace becoming an alt-aholic and blog about starting from scratch. Yes, that’s right folks … from scratch … no heirlooms, no DK sugar-daddies.

Meet Nevïk, a dwarf rogue on Winterhoof and Nevik, a troll rogue on Jubei’thos.

Why two rogues?

“Why not?” I say.

Kidding aside, I plan on leveling these two rogues in different fashions with the troll favoring subtlety and the dwarf either assassination or combat. Currently I’m leaning towards assassination with the dwarf considering that combat is the easiest rogue leveling spec and I really would like to see what it is like to level assassination.

But why now?

I guess I want to encapsulate what it is like to level as a rogue prior to Cataclysm as well as comparing and contrasting with the rogue leveling experience post-Cataclysm. Yes, my madness isn’t going to end with just two, but three new rogues. There’s just something about the rogue that I love dearly, especially with all of the anti-rogue sentiment out there. Also, I want to debunk any thoughts out there that rogues are hard to solo/level with.

This project will also give me one last chance to experience the old world vanilla leveling experience from both sides before everything we’ve known is turned on its head. As such, I’m going to focus mostly on questing, with the occasional dungeon thrown in when appropriate. It just wouldn’t make sense to chain-run dungeons anyways because in doing so I would trivialize questing and I want to stick with the a-typical leveling experience.

There’s only one little hitch in this grand plan-of-mine, time to dedicate to everything I want to do. Post-Cataclysm I will be wanting to create a whole bunch more alts: tauren ret-pally, goblin hunter, dwarf shaman. Then there’s the nagging issue of how much priority do I give my current main toons on Cenarius. I’m almost certain my level 80 troll rogue will be #1 on my list, but where will my death knight and priest lay on the priority list?

Time will tell, but for now I will be putting my focus on getting both of my project rogues to level 58 in the coming months leading up to Cataclysm. Hopefully my plans won’t be derailed by a Cataclysm beta invite *wink*wink* *nudge*nudge* *cough*Blizzard don’t you be sending me one now*cough* I do not want to have anything to do with blogging about my beta experiences as a worgen rogue. Nope, definitely don’t want that. /sarcasm. *wink*