My last Encrypted Text post generated a lot of terrific feedback, and when you smoosh it all up and blend it I think you'll find that saying Rogues are a controversial class is a bit of an understatement. No more especially so than on the PvP side of things. In a future column I'll dig deeper into specific PvE instances, both raid and heroic, as well as give you some commentary on the new skills that come with the Wrath expansion. In the column this week we're talking about PvP and how to get the most out of it with your Rogue. I hope to make this a semi-regular topic, updating as we go, focusing on one or two PvP related items each time.
If you could distill the feelings of the majority of non-Rogues out there, at least the most vocal ones, you'd come up with a collective "over-powered" when it comes to PvP. Designed to counter most (but not all) casting classes, especially those *not* geared or spec'd to prevent spell push-back, our goal is to get our target into melee range and keep them there. Keeping this in mind, my first bit of PvP advice for you is avoid fair fights at all costs.
PvP basics that not everyone knows (but should) - Grouping
Fair fights, where you battle one on one, or at least without overwhelming numbers or other mitigating factors, that put you at nearly even odds for a win or loss are pointless. Unless constrained by other factors (e.g. you choose not to group for PvP or were road-kill to a traveling band of baddies) PvP, like sex, is much better in groups. This is an MMO, you recall.
It is fabulously frustrating, and quite a bit funny, to watch people who seek out solo-PvP in group situations. A good example of this occurs on my server (a PVP server) on the Isle of Quel'danas. Marginally Horde dominated, Quel'danas dailies brings out the differences in critical thinking between the two factions. Here, Alliance predominantly solo the quests while Horde stick to groups of five to six. It's possible to just sit by the first minor quest hub near the flight point and watch Horde utterly decimate Alliance solo questers. By afternoon, you could stack the bones pretty high. Yet, the Alliance still don't seek out the protection of a group, even with all the empirical evidence, over the course of months, that Horde will steamroll them by sheer numbers. Even mice in mazes learn faster than that.
Another great example are the folks who storm into Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm bases solo (or near solo by trickling in one or two at a time), with no communication or attempt at grouping. People, battlegrounds are forced grouping, why are you not taking advantage of that? Although patently obvious, always move in small groups of five to eight in Eye of the Storm, Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley. EotS and AB especially, since they are the smaller of the three, look at your group and/or announce via "/bg" where you're going and that you need support to take the node.
On being a Rogue
I play in a very opportunistic fashion on my Rogue, looking for the targets within the larger fight to go after, aiming to tip the battle to the benefit of my team. When approaching a site of conflict I strongly recommend staying in Stealth, observing who the best targets are and then attacking. This is in opposition to a lot of what I see which is ride in, quick Stealth, and an attack on the nearest target. In order of importance, here are what I suggest you focus your attention on: anyone who is actively healing (pro-tip: the ones in the dress), or anyone nuking from a distance (Mages, Hunters, Elemental Shaman). I recommend that you stay away, at least initially from anyone in plate and anyone actively DoT'ing or fearing until the primary healers are dead. Depending on what the situation looks like once the healers and long range bombers are neutralized, plate wearing aggressors can be engaged directly or kited. The situation I find myself most in is me and the Arms Warrior left standing in the debris of both our teams, me at one-half health and him at nearly 60% rage and three-quarters health. What now?
Proper preparation is key for fights like this, and I always enter a BG with lengthy timers on both Wound Poison and Crippling Poison and Blind on my bar and bound to my Middle-Mouse. Gear and Resilience stats aside, I've found it successful to re-stealth (if possible, if not Vanish, again if possible) and open up with a Garrote bleed. I've now got 810 damage over 18 seconds and a combo point. I can try to get off two Shivs (applying my Crippling) and a Hemo and apply a Rupture. I am constantly moving, trying to get out of range, waiting on my Shadowstep to reset so I can get back behind, apply at least one Shiv then a Kidney Shot (two second stun). Repeat as necessary. Clearly this fight is over sooner/later based on the match-up, if you get support or if he/she gets support.
Clicking, Key-binding and Standing Still
You've got to stay focused on the action on screen and not the location of your pointer to get it hovering over your finisher. Key-binding and mouse turning is far superior to clicking and key turning (e.g. clicking the button-bar button where your ability sits) and I highly recommend you move essential bars up your screen to frame in your avatar. I don't personally use heads up display mods, but I do place an indicator of my health, my energy, target health and combo point count right up where the action is. Most every unit frame, with the exception of the stock BlizzardUI frames, can be unlocked and moved to wherever is most effective for you.
When attacking, I've seen (and personally felt) an impulse to ferociously spam Sinister Strike and Hemorrhage. The problem for any build is to maintain an adequate energy level, never bottoming out at zero, while still applying combo-points for the finishers. Thorough use of Shiv, an off-hand attack [Updated] with an energy cost that scales with weapon speed that only costs twenty energy (Sinister Strike is 45, Hemo is 35) and is lower damage but it can crit, always adds a combo point, is faster due to it being off-hand and will get you quicker to your five-point Rupture (my preferred finisher) or Expose Armor. My typical rotation is: (Stealth) Garrote, (Not Stealth) Hemo x2, Shiv x3, Rupture. If the target is still alive or has healed, I reapply Hemo x2, Shiv x3, Expose Armor x1 then repeat back to the Rupture sequence till dead.
Throughout it all, you need to keep moving. I bind auto-run to my mouse button 4 (I use a Logitech G5 mouse) and don't every stop circling, running-through and off to the side of my targets. Even though the combat engine does not have an effective mechanic for attacks to miss just because you are not in the same spot as when the attack cast, standing still makes you an easy target for clickers.
There is so much more to talk about in this area of game play, but space limitations being what they are, I'll have to pick this up in a future Encrypted Text. I especially want to show you the cast-sequence macros I and others use as well as talk about interesting PvP mods and talent builds. See you next week!