If you've been keeping up on yesterday's patch notes, you'll notice that quite a few of the hybrid and caster ranged classes received some significant DPS buffs. They have been trailing in the ICC meters, and these changes were designed to bring them back within range of the rest of the pack. Rogues have still been stunning on every fight in Icecrown, but the competition is definitely heating up. The true test will be how we fare against the Lich King himself.
We've all heard about the hybrid tax: Blizzard regrets mentioning it, and every druid and ret paladin brings it up when they complain about their position on the DPS charts. Some estimates put it between 5-10%, but obviously hybrid classes are currently designed to stay near the pure DPS without passing them up. However, how many rogues are actually doing their maximum theoretical DPS? There are several common mistakes or oversights that can cost us dearly. Read on for a detailed list of ways you're hurting your own DPS, and how to fix it before your next raid.
Tricks of the Trade:
We picked up the seemingly humble Tricks of the Trade at level 75, where it looked like a Misdirection clone that was likely to get rogues killed with its short range and our need to be in melee range to do damage. I was certain that a hunter developer at Blizzard threw it in just to spite us. Why would we want to waste our energy on threat? Isn't that the tank's job?
I was wrong. Tricks of the Trade has become so essential, so core to our class, that I can't imagine raiding without it. It is so good that they went back and killed the original Misdirection and replaced it with our version. The student destroyed the master. TotT is one of the biggest DPS boosts rogues have ever received, even if we don't see it right away. It costs us energy and yields no direct damage bonus, which can be confusing when evaluating its worth.
Tricks to the tank early in a fight lets the entire raid stretch their legs early, without worrying about creeping up on the tank's threat. There's no more "just white swing Onyxia for a while", it's "Tricks the tank and unload". Even if you add 2 seconds to your raid's DPS time, that's between 50k-100k damage gained that would've otherwise been wasted as the tank built up their initial threat. Rogues have essentially added time to the duration of every encounter, and that number is multiplied even further on fights with adds we can TotT.
Even without our awesome new 2-piece Tier 10 bonus, using Tricks of the Trade on cooldown was a net raid DPS boost, especially for a Mutilate rogue with the TotT glyph. Now, once you pick up your set bonus (which you should be working towards ASAP!), Tricks'ing on cooldown becomes a necessity instead of a luxury. Every second that Tricks sits waiting to be used is energy lost, as if you were sitting at the energy cap waiting to strike.
The solution for Tricks:
Make macros and always keep it on cooldown. If you raid with the same crew on a regular basis, set up a few custom macros. Choose your typically main tank for your first Tricks macro, have one for the off tank just in case, and add in a macro for a couple of melee DPS. Another rogue is preferred, as they can Tricks you back to offset the threat boosts and can Vanish if their threat gets out of control. By having these prebuilt macros, you can save time trying to point and click with the spell, letting you maximize the DPS and energy benefits it yields. Make a special 'Tricks bar' and put a short row of similar macros on it. I also use a [target=targettarget] macro to use while in a PUG: it just sends Tricks to whoever the current tank is. By maximizing your Tricks usage, and using it early and often, you boost the tank's threat, your DPS, your raid's DPS, and your Tricks target's DPS. Use it every time it's up!
Weapon and poison swaps:
If you're like me, you pick up every viable rogue weapon you can get your hands on. You never know when you'll need to be combat or assassination, and so keeping a well-stocked arsenal is key to flexibility. However, those weapons don't need to sit in your bank collecting dust, chances are you can find a use for them in specialized situations. Keep a variety of weapons in your bags, especially a slow version of each hand's weapon (two slow daggers, two slow combat weapons).
Using macros (again) and a bit of pre-planning, you can boost your DPS significantly by making the right weapon swaps. Consider Onyxia's whelp phase: while it's not necessarily a difficult fight, it is a great opportunity to swap your weapons and poisons. You can swap to your slower weapons, daggers if assassination or slower weapons if combat, and then use Fan of Knives on the whelps that are spawned. The slower weapons will hit harder due to their higher base damage, they'll proc more poisons due to their adjusted PPM, and if you swap to the right poisons (typically a mix of Instant and Wound – Instant for the damage, Wound to add a poison debuff), your DPS can see a significant increase in this phase.
Consider this for any fight where you're using FoK regularly: Lady Deathwhisper is also another great opportunity to use this strategy. Make a few macros, one to swap to your "regular" weapons and one to swap to your "FoK" weapons, and then work on your flow of switching weapons depending on what mobs you're currently attacking. This strategy may see additional use on Valithria Dreamwalker's adds: I'll let you know next week after I get a chance to tackle it myself.
If we're 5% below our maximum output, then we have truly lost what separates us from every other DPS class in the game. The margin of error is so thin that without using every trick in our arsenal, we could find ourselves falling behind. We must focus on perfecting our play to squeeze every last point of damage out of an encounter. Simply using Tricks more often will increase your DPS (and your raid's DPS) by a significant amount, and using clever weapon swaps to boost your AoE DPS will allow you to drop those adds fast and get back to your uptime on the boss.