April 4, 2009

Encrypted Text: Upcoming Rogue gear in patch 3.1

With patch 3.1's steam winding down, I predict its release in the next three weeks. Our most recent change was a simple increase to Deadly Throw's velocity: hardly groundbreaking. We should begin finalizing new builds, and planning our gear upgrade paths.

Between the Argent Tournament, Ulduar, and new PvP gear, Rogues everywhere will be very busy collecting all of the new leather gear that we'll have access to. Read on to find out where to pick up the best upgrades, and how to prepare by stockpiling now. And to any Warriors looking for a wishlist: Sorry guys, leather is for Rogues (& our pictured feline friends)!

Argent Tournament:
Blizzard's first attempt at a true solo PvE environment is one of the bigger attractions of patch 3.1. We've compiled a guide to the Argent Tournament, based on the information available so far. Siha over at Banana Shoulders also has an excellent series covering the actual Tournament mechanics. While many of the details concerning the rewards are still unknown, we do have information on a few of the available items.

It's all ilvl 200 gear, which is equivalent to a Heroic Dungeon or Naxx10 gear. If you're already sporting a level 80 epic in the same slot, it's unlikely that these rewards will be very attractive. However, for those Rogues who are still working on building their level 80 set, these should be some easy items to acquire.

Displayed here at MMO-Champion, there appears to be two weapons of interested to Rogues: a slow mace and a slow dagger. These are comparable with The Fleshshaper and Crimson Steel, with these PvE items having better stats than the current AT rewards. There are also a pair of leather boots, complimented by a necklace and a new resilience trinket.

While I still prefer the Wintergrasp version of the trinket, the boots are actually very solid. It could be that I was still using level 75 blue boots even after weeks of raiding, and that they were my last blue piece before going all epic, but I really had a difficult time finding some good armor for my sneaky feet. I'd suggesting picking these up if you're still kicking around in your Rhino Hide Kneeboots.

Wintergrasp has had its rewards upped a notch, with a new belt, trinkets, and chest pieces available for Rogues. These are all ilvl 213, and as such are comparable with the Deadly Gladiator pieces available. If you compare the pieces, they are almost identical, except for a few switched stats (ArPen for crit, for example). These are very easy pieces to obtain, as they only require Wintergrasp Marks. I suggest saving Wintergrasp Marks now to purchase these new pieces if you don't have a Deadly Gladiator piece available. The PvP trinkets are particularly valuable to Rogues, as they will allow us to grab even more offensive stats in lieu of resilience on our 2nd trinket slot. Ghostcrawler says that players follow the loot... and he's absolutely right.

We've also seen the addition of Furious Gladiator gear, the next progression in PvP gear. It's a tier above the current Deadly Gear, and as such will be highly desired. You can save up Honor for it now, but remember that Arena points will be wiped come the patch. While it remains to be seen how the upcoming arena rating shakeup will affect the ease of acquiring this gear, there will still be a constantly tapped source: Emalon. Think of Emalon as Archavon's bigger brother, and with better loot. He'll be sharing a place with Archavon in Wintergrasp keep in 3.1, and will give you the ability to roll on some new PvP gear if your faction has control.

I've added a quick-reference list of the new items that are confirmed for patch 3.1, but I'm doubtful that this is the complete list. Ghostcrawler was quoted as saying that Ulduar would contain more items than all of the raiding instances in TBC combined, and this was AFTER the caster gear consolidation. How many items are missing will remain to be seen, but we still have a good idea of the types of gear we'll be seeing.

Ulduar10 gear should be comparable with Naxx25 gear, which will allow for players in smaller guilds compete with the Naxx25 geared players. Ulduar10H (my signal for "hard mode") will be comparable with Ulduar25! This is huge, as it allows a well-trained and organized group of 10 to collect the same level of gear as a beginning 25 person raid. My guild will be gunning for U10H as quickly as possible.

U25 will be a half-tier above Naxx25, with U25H providing the full tier upgrade over current content. I don't see U25H being completed be nearly as many guilds as there are downing KT25 every week, and so this should help to normalize the gear spectrum. With many guilds sporting U25 and a few sporting U10H, they will be on even footing for output. U25H will have the advantage, but will be reserved for the most talented of raiders.

MMO-Champion has a great collection of the new leather gear available, split up by normal and heroic difficulties. If you found this guild to ilvls confusing, check out the WotLK section of the ilvl WoWWiki. They've got a nice chart that should answer any questions you may have.

Emblem Gear:
While much of the emblem gear is unavailable, I want to explain how the new token and naming system works. The "Heroes" prefix refers to ilvl 200 gear, the "Valorous" prefix refers to ilvl 213-219 gear, and the "Conqueror's" prefix refers to ilvl 226+ gear. Emblems of Heroism will continue to buy ilvl 200 gear, so don't expect to find any upgrades here. However, there will be a new type of Valorous token introduced (some are calling them different colors, such as red and blue Valorous tokens) that will be used for ilvl 219 gear exclusively. Current Emblems of Valor will NOT allow you to purchase any of this new gear, and so saving up your EoVs is not a wise investment.

The new EoV2s (my name for them) will be usable for the new ilvl 219 gear, and the current EoVs will stick to ilvl 213 gear. While it's only a slight upgrade, my hopes are that the EoV2 gear occupies different slots than the current gear, allowing us to maximize our gearing speed without worrying about wasting any Emblems. Look for two pieces of T810 and T825 available on the vendors as well!

Tier 8, Terrorblade Battlegear:
Our new set, called Terrorblade Battlegear, is again available in two flavors: Valorous (ilvl 219) and Conqueror's (ilvl 226). The set bonuses, which are often the key difference that sways our gearing choice one way or another, have been a subject of controversy. The 2 piece bonus sounds fairly weak on paper, a 3.3% increase in our base energy regeneration when a target has Deadly Poison on them. This is less than half the value of a single point into Vitality!

However, this bonus will truly shine when consider that many of the bosses in Ulduar will have adds and other mobs participating in combat. This is not something that was very prevalent in Naxxramas. The ability to Fan of Knives and apply Deadly Poison to 5 mobs would then give us 5 energy every 3 seconds, which is closer to 15% increased energy regeneration. Consider if there were, I don't know, say 15 mobs in range. This would be 15e/3s, or a 50% increase in energy regeneration! Rogues will thrive in multi-mob environments, where before we were lame ducks without Blade Flurry available.

The 4 piece bonus is something that Feral Druids will receive as a talent, but beggars can't be choosers. The fact remains that this will be an awesome talent. With Rupture currently making up around 5% of a Rogue's raiding damage (this is true for most builds), this should increase its damage by a percent equal to your critical strike chance. So with 40% crit buffed, your Rupture damage will be increased by 40%. This is a serious boost to one of our more underused abilities.

A subject I brought up on EJ without any answers: does HAT proc off of these new Rupture crits? If so, Rupture could become a mainstay of the HAT Rogue's rotation, adding a steady stream of CP for only the one GCD it will take to apply it. This will allow HAT Rogues to generate significantly more CP by themselves, while also assisting them in reaching the ideal 5 CP / second goal in a raid environment. With one tick of Rupture every two seconds, and a 40-50% crit chance in a raid, a pile of HAT Rogues could be back to generating enough CP to top the PvE charts. I tried testing this on the PTR with Primal Gore but nobody was available.

Start saving up WG marks and honor for the upcoming gear, and watch a few videos of the U10 and U25 starter fights so that you'll know your role in these 3.1 dungeons. We've got a lot of new content to conquer, and having a plan ahead of time will put you ahead of all the other Rogues vying for your arena team and raiding spots.

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