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Encrypted Text: Let's get kicking


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any article ideas or questions you have!

You've all seen my arguments for having rogues top the DPS meters. We're the only pure melee DPS class, meaning we have the most specific role. Yellow is a great color, and so having a nice patch of it at the top of Recount is awesome. You get the idea. The fact is that rogues are known for their DPS, so doing lots of it becomes pretty important in succeeding.

Even with this huge focus on DPS, we do have one other trick up our sleeve. Back in the days before balance, the developers had to find a way to ensure that every class was brought to a raid. Hybrids could bring powerful buffs, bosses would use debuffs that required certain healers, and there was always a boss per tier that you needed a warlock to Banish. Even the DPS-focused rogues had a special niche to keep them getting invited: Kick. A boss would be designed with an ultimate ability that needed to be interrupted, and there was nobody better at that job than a rogue.

Under pressure

What's the best part about Kick? You might get to save the day with a single kick. What's the worst part about Kick? If you make a mistake, you may have wiped the raid. Being a raid's designated kicker is a lot like being a kicker for a football team. Making Kicks is considered to be a required part of your job, and as such, it's often thankless. If you miss a clutch Kick, you might end up being ostracized like Kyle Brotzman. Rogues are often assigned to be the primary kickers on many fights due to Kick's potency. It's interrupting effect lasts longer than any other, and other interrupts like Mind Freeze aren't always available.

There's a lot of people that don't understand how interrupting works and the stress that's placed on an interrupter. We have to be ever-vigilant and quick to react; often we have less than a second to respond to a casting spell. Blizzard's team has even included several bosses with trick abilities designed to confuse and infuriate kickers. It's a punishing job, and it can be incredibly difficult to do your job well, watch out for other raid mechanics, and manage interrupting at once. Most players only have to worry about doing their respective jobs and watching out for fire. Having solid keybindings can help with multitasking, as you can spend more time watching the fight and less time watching your buttons.

Kicks first, DPS second

The key to being a successful interrupter is realizing that the fights are often tuned around the interrupt itself. While the Patchwerk-style tunnel vision fights are fun and getting to focus on nothing but your rotation can be rewarding, interrupts take priority. One rogue said it best: "On this fight, the winner is whoever tops the interrupts meter." You're already sacrificing some of your DPS by using Kick, as it costs energy. You still want to do your best on DPS, but realize that it's not important if you cause the raid to fail anyway. One more Sinister Strike isn't going to revive the tank that died, and getting that last Eviscerate off won't counter the 1,000,000 life that the boss just healed himself for.

When it comes down to letting Slice and Dice fall off or getting an interrupt, you don't have time to weigh your options. If the Kick is more important, stop what you're doing and make the Kick. Blizzard removed it from the GCD so that we'd have no excuse for missing it. If the Kick isn't that important, then continue on as normal. You need to know ahead of time what abilities must be Kicked and what abilities you can survive missing. Doing your homework before engaging a boss is critical to being an effective kicker. If you know what can and can't be interrupted and the priorities of each, you can make the correct decisions. You don't want to ask, "Wait, I was supposed to Kick that?" Ask other rogues, ask your raid leader, or even look it up on the internet. No excuses; you need to Kick like a champion.

There are plenty of mob abilities, particularly in dungeons, that you don't need to Kick. Caster enemies are going to cast spells at your tank, and that's a fact of life. Try focusing on the most important abilities first, like anything that summons adds or deals AoE damage. If you waste your Kick on a Fireball, you can't use it on the Polymorph that the mage will be casting right afterwards. There's nothing wrong with simply interrupting a spell to reduce incoming damage; just be cognizant of the environment. The responsibility for interrupting is on the rogue, and so it's your duty to be informed and aware.

Making kicking easy

With any reasonable amount of haste, you can generate enough energy to interrupt any spell that takes more than 1.5 seconds to cast. Even if you burn all of your energy immediately as the mob starts casting, you can typically get the interrupt off anyway. In the old days, we used to have to wait for energy ticks in order to Kick, but our smooth energy regeneration fixes that issue. In addition, Kick is now off the global cooldown, and so it can never be locked out if you use another ability. Make sure to bind Kick to an easy-to-reach key (I like the E key) for instant activation.

If you're having problems kicking successfully, try using a pair of PvP gloves. They reduce the energy cost of Kick down to a mere 5 energy, ensuring you'll always have the energy to Kick. If you're kicking regularly, you can actually see a DPS increase due to the energy savings. Don't bother with the Kick glyph, as the cooldown penalty for a missed Kick guarantees that you'll miss the next one as well. Many boss abilities are timed specifically to coordinate with Kick's cooldown in mind. Either you'll be able to get them all yourself, or it wasn't designed for you to be able to anyway.

I use a mod called Quartz to display a huge casting bar for my target's current spell. If my target is casting something, I see it displayed in my UI immediately. Many raid alerting mods will play a sound or generate a warning when a key spell is being cast. You need to be able to recognize that a mob is casting, identify the spell being cast, and determine if you're going to Kick it or not. The entire process has to take less than a second, and so doing your homework is the only way to ensure that everything happens smoothly.

If you know what to expect and you have the tools in place to handle it, kicking can be a simple task. If you're constantly guessing or being surprised, kicking is going to be painful for both you and your raid. Good interrupters get brought back every week, while poor interrupters get put on the bench. Any decent rogue knows how to deal a ton of damage, but only the great rogues can interrupt at the same time.

I used to spend a lot of time practicing my Kicks to get my reaction times down. I'd duel a mage and have him start randomly casting Fireball, Frostbolt, and Polymorph at me. I would only interrupt Polymorph and try to avoid interrupting the other spells. My kicking finger began developing the muscle memory necessary to make those quick Kicks, and my ability to check the cast bar for the spell name continued to improve. Learning to Kick is as important as learning to DPS. With so many interrupt-heavy fights in this tier of raiding, you owe it to yourself and to your raid to truly master the art of interrupt.

Check back every Wednesday for the latest rogue strategies in Encrypted Text! We'll show you how to navigate Cataclysm rogue basics, dig into new rogue mechanics, and gear up for heroics.

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