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Encrypted Text: The Lumberjack Rogue


Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, we talk VERY tongue-in-cheek about the upcoming addition of Axes to the Rogue arsenal.

As it turns out, my cynicism last week was completely unfounded. I had assumed Death Knights would be getting the new weapon skill that Blizzard had thrown up for grabs, and that we'd have yet another class rolling on Fist weapons. However, Rogues were the recipient of this new buff, and we'll now be able to use Axes in the upcoming patch!

While many of the old Rogue veterans may put the kibosh on using anything that's not a dagger, I'd like to see us take the opportunity to embrace this change. Orc Rogues will be able to take full advantage of Axe Specialization (which will actually include Fists in 3.2), and it opens up the door to an entirely new playstyle that I like to call 'The Lumberjack'. You'll see what I mean, after the cut.

If you heard me on the podcast last weekend, you might've caught me mentioning the absolute lack of appropriate end-game axes available for Rogues to use. Blizzard has stated that their plan is to drop more Axes in future instances, since there is one more class capable of using them. At 80, the Touch of Madness axe is really the only viable MH contender outside of PvP gear. It seems that we'll have to wait for future itemization to appear before we'll be able to truly brandish a pair of tree destroyers.

In addition to just being able to use Axes, Blizzard remembered to change a few talents to affect Axes as well. Sword Specialization has been renamed 'Hack and Slash', and allows for extra attacks on 5% of our hits. With only quick axes available, and a talent spec that favors quick weapons to activate the 5% proc for even more attacks, I think we're looking at this all wrong. Axes are not meant to be the slow, heavy-hitting weapons of Warriors and Death Knights, but the quick and furious hackers of a mad assassin.

We shouldn't be stealing these slow Axes from the Enhancement Shaman who call us friends. We should be creating a vortex of swirling steel that any Restoration Druid would cringe upon seeing. What if we're intended to be using axes now, and we're just not picking up on the signs? First, the buff to Lightning Reflexes in the Combat tree to include 10% additional Haste. Then, the ability to use Axes. The answer is simple!

The Lumberjack Rogue:
Here's a quick link to the spec on WoWHead. It revolves around the idea of a true Lumberjack: open combat with your enemy, no stealthy attacks or dangerous assassinations. I would suggest weapons like the Last Laugh (if you can get your tanks to allow it) and the Axe of the Sen'jin Protector. The key to remember: the faster, the better. Gem and enchant all of your gear for haste rating. We're not trying to beef up the damage of a slow hitting mace or sword, and we're not trying to ambush someone from the shadows with a dagger through the heart. We're making a woodchipper of death, and may the Light help anything that's dumb enough to stick its hand and/or head into it.

Of course, there are clearly other aspects to being a Lumberjack Rogue than stacking Haste and being feared by Tree Druids from here to Tanaris. You've got to have the right threads! Find yourself a friendly tailor, and threaten them until they make you a nice Red Lumberjack Shirt and Blue Overalls. We would also be amiss in our duties if we didn't set up a quest for new Lumberjacks to receive their very own axe. A quick excursion to kill the fearsome Old Whitebark will instill a hatred for all-things-leafy in our young for years to come.

While trying to find ways for Blizzard to make the Axe transition easier, I came up with a few ability, talent, and glyph ideas.

Glyph of Deforestation – Your Fan of Knives ability, when used with Axes, causes 50% more damage to targets in Tree Form.

Improved Kick – Renamed to "Timber!" – Gives your Kick ability a 50/100% chance to knock over the target tree.

Path of Wood – Similar to the Death Knight's "Path of Frost", it allows the Rogue to walk on water, by creating rolling logs in the water that he or she will then jump on. Players must remain running in order to maintain their balance.

Item – Goblin Shredder – Ride a Goblin Shredder around! This mount is only available to Lumberjacks. This is a very fast mount.

Glyph of Chainsaw – Your Killing Spree, when used with Axes, now instantly kills your target, but no longer retains any of its previous effects. During this kill, the camera will zoom in for a close-up as you cut your enemy in half and as you are showered with their sawdust.

Bearded Vanish – You instantly grow a huge beard, and enemies are unable to recognize you. You are unattackable for 10 seconds, or until you cut down another tree.

The innovation doesn't stop there. Many forum posters have been begging for years to see Woodworking introduced as a new profession. We could craft bows and shields, and training weapons that speed up the Weapon Skill leveling process (which we'll all have to trudge through with our new axes). Is it coincidence that the Lumberjack is introduced just as the Resto Druid is (back) at the height of arena prowess? I believe we have been sent by Blizzard to end the Tree tyranny at the highest ends of PvP play. No more sneaking around to ambush our prey. No more crowd control or fancy footwork to outmaneuver our opponents. All that we need are a pair of axes and Slice and Dice activated.

While we still may be a few patches off of true Lumberjack viability, I believe it will be catching on shortly. If you're leveling a new Rogue, there are a ton of Axe options available that were previously designed for Hunters and Warriors. It should help you through some of the weapon 'dry spots'. There's even a great starter axe at level 80 from the Sons of Hodir, which can help you get straight into Heroics with a solid blue MH. Here's to hoping we'll be drinking maple syrup and hanging out with our giant blue oxen in an upcoming patch!

Are you a Rogue looking to up your game? Check back every Wednesday for the latest strategies in Encrypted Text! And for the raiding Rogue, get ready for Ulduar with Ready Check and our Ulduar guide for Rogues, parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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