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Encrypted Text: Breaking down tier 12


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. This week, we'll be discussing the upcoming patch 4.2 and our new tier set. Feel free to email me with any article suggestions or feedback!

In case you haven't heard, the upcoming patch 4.2 is currently on the PTR. The patch notes currently include a ton of important rogue changes. First of all, Blind is getting buffed. In PvE situations, it will now last up to a minute. Also, Blizzard is unbuffing Stealth for rogues a bit, as Stealth will start its cooldown upon leaving Stealth, not entering it. I had always assumed that was an unintentional change, anyway. In addition, most crowd control abilities are going to be just like Sap, so that the casters can use them without pulling aggro. Like I said, there's a ton of major changes coming for the rogue class!

In all seriousness, I am a bit cheesed off that we didn't see any damage improvements with the patch. You've all heard my spiel about how rogues are the only pure melee DPS class and how that necessitates our having higher DPS than anyone else. Rogues are very "middle of the pack" right now, with the abominable hunters and warriors typically surpassing us in equal gear. In particular, our effectiveness drops sharply in heroic raids, where it can be downright dangerous to be in melee range. Either way, our raids need someone soak up all the rogue gear, so an analysis of the upcoming rogue tier 12 set is in order.

Tier 12 stat mix

When comparing our current Wind Dancer gear with the upcoming Dark Phoenix raid set, two of our previously blue sockets are converting to red sockets, so we'll be able to match most of our socket bonuses. The new stat mix is actually identical, with heavy doses of haste and crit, an average serving of hit, and garnished with a bit of expertise and mastery. The balance has been redistributed, though, as many of the stats have shifted to new slot locations.

I never like to see this much crit on our gear, but at least we can still reforge out of it. In Wrath, we were just stuck with whatever stats the item design team decided on. Reforging isn't a perfect solution, but if it helps us mitigate all this crit we're getting, then I'll take it. The reason we see so much crit is that it's equally valued for both specs (as opposed to something like expertise, which is awful for some but great for others). There are also several offset pieces that look to have better stat mixes, although our set bonuses may very well force us into using our tier gear.

Like Ignite, but for rogues

The current two-piece bonus on the Dark Phoenix set causes our "melee critical strikes to deal 6% additional damage as Fire over 4 seconds". I lifted the description word-for-word on purpose, as the definition of "melee critical strikes" can refer to either all melee attacks, or only our auto-attacks. We'll have to see what the exact mechanic is once we're able to try out the new gear. In order to figure out exactly how good it will be, we have to go to the parses.

Browsing World of Logs, I made a quick table of damage sources. By browsing the "Damage by spell" section of a few rogue parses across various fights, I can see how much of our damage comes from a particular source. When you mouse over the percentage of "Damage done," it tells you what percentage came from critical strikes. I added up the damage from things like melee attacks, Mutilate, Sinister Strike, and the rest. I excluded our poisons and Envenom, as these deal magical damage and probably won't activate our set bonus.

The results are fairly predictable. Combat rogues rely much more heavily on physical damage, with between 40-45% of their damage coming from melee critical strikes. Assassination rogues, on the other hand, were closer to 25-30%, depending on the encounter. Blizzard has already told us that the fire damage DOT will roll like Ignite, ensuring that we see the full damage always done. We can model the bonus as a straight 6% increase to the above damage values, although the bonus may also be effected by the various debuffs that might be on the boss. We just multiply the percentage of damage coming from melee critical strikes by 6% (or 0.06 on your calculator), and we can see what the percentage bonus will be.

For combat rogues, they can expect to see a 2.4% to 2.7% increase in their overall damage, while assassination rogues will be receiving a 1.5% to 2% boost. Those are great numbers from a set bonus and make our two-piece very desirable.

In the case that the set bonus only affects our auto-attack critical strikes, things are different. Combat rogues would still see a 1% to 1.2% increase, which isn't awful. Assassination would only be getting a 0.5% to 1% buff, which moves it into the "good but not great" category. Even with these hypothetically lower two-piece values, I suspect most rogues will grab their set anyway, as the four-piece bonus is the real boon.

I love Tricks of the Trade

Do you remember our awesome tier 10 two-piece bonus that granted us energy when we used Tricks of the Trade? I do, because I love set bonuses that encourage good play. Tricks of the Trade can be glyphed by most rogues, and we have plenty of GCDs to burn to help out our tanks. Every single rogue I ran a heroic with during the tier 10 era used Tricks on cooldown, and that is a Good Thing. The upcoming tier 12 four-piece bonus takes that to another level, granting us a significant power boost every time we use Tricks. Get your TotT macros ready for the Firelands!

Basically, every time we use TotT, we'll gain a 30-second buff that increases one of our ratings by 25% in a pseudo-random fashion. Since TotT has a 30-second cooldown, we can essentially always have this buff active. Blizzard's crew has already shared some great info on this proc for us. We know that it won't proc a boost to either of the cappable stats of hit or expertise, which means no proc will ever be wasted. We also know that the bonus won't proc the same stat back-to-back, which will help to prevent it from being too awesome if we got five mastery procs in a row and too awful if we got five crit procs in a row. There's still some RNG games at work, but it should be relatively smooth.

Aldriana and Antiarc are modeling the bonus in Shadowcraft as around an 8% boost to the value of the three proc-capable ratings of haste, mastery, and critical strike rating. Aldriana has also speculated that the balance of power between agility and the rating stats could be shifting, which would make any agility socket bonuses worth grabbing. Nearly every socket bonus on our Dark Phoenix set is agility-based, and the one that's not is tied to a solo red socket anyway. While I'm not happy to see our set stacked with crit and no buffs in the pipeline for rogues, these set bonuses definitely have me excited for patch 4.2 and Firelands.

Check back every Wednesday for the latest rogue strategies, from rogue basics and kicking your interrupts into high gear to how to handle your dual-spec rogue and how to pickpocket top tips from top-performing rogues.

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