Thursday, January 26, 2012

Killing you Subtly

On Tuesday I finally collected the last of the shadowy gems I needed for stage 2 of the rogue legendaries. Luckily we cleared the entirety of Dragon Soul that night so I knew I had the rest of the week to work on getting stage 2 without resorting to "AMG RAID STARTS IN 5 MIN AND IM STUCK ON THE STEALTH PART!!!" type of panic.

I read a few guides that suggested combat or subtlety for the stage 2 boss, Nalice. I can't stand playing combat (tried it, pulled decent numbers but I hated it) and I personally feel like subtlety has more survivability and neat "tricks", so I fixed up my spec, loaded up on bandages, potions, food, and got prepared to tackle the next stage in the quest progression.

I had watched the video so I knew the stealth part would be significantly easier than Creed. Creed was an absolute nightmare, and it took me close to 20 tries before I realized I was never getting in through the front door. Whereas with Nalice, within 10 or so tries I had made it to the boss. There are quite a few mobs, but way fewer pats and the behavior seemed a lot more patterned. With Creed I swear mobs literally jumped out of nowhere to ambush me.

So anyways, Nalice. I was ready to wipe more than a few times before I actually got in, and was a long fight to be sure (maybe 5 min or so? That's pretty long for an unscripted, solo fight). But in terms of difficulty? Cakewalk.

It all came down to using the right "rogue trick" at the right moment. When she uses her weapon, disarm or stun her. When she casts, kick. When she enrages, shiv off the enrage. When she puts up armor, expose armor. As long as you take care of each boss buff/debuff mechanic, things were pretty smooth sailing. I had recuperate up the entire time for self-heals but honestly I think I could've managed with just a potion and a bandage. My health barely got below 90% the whole fight, and she hits like a wet noodle.

It also made me recognize that subtlety has a lot more potential than I previous gave credit. I was prepared for a really long drawn out fight as a pvp-survival subtlety spec, but surprisingly I was pulling 11-12k DPS (considering that I had no raid buffs and was facing the boss the whole time, this is pretty good). With a more DPS-oriented spec, for instance putting the points into Honor among Thieves, I think those numbers could be much higher. The rotation was not too onerous, and if I didn't have to worry about saving energy for disarm, kick, gouge, etc, I think it's very manageable. Just get the slice n dice & recuperate rolling and it all comes down to good energy management.

The DPS cooldowns for subtlety are not as straightforward, I'll admit. With mutilate basically you just coordinate the timing so that you can use all of your CDs in conjunction. Which mainly comes down to vanish -> garrote -> vendetta -> racial buff. Whereas with subtlety, the main DPS CD comes from shadowdance which should be used in conjunction with shadowstep, not only for the added buff but because positioning is so crucial to effectively utilize shadowdance. There is basically no point in popping shadowdance unless you're in a position to ambush, which require you to be behind the boss. With practice and maybe a couple macros, it should not be a huge challenge, I bet.

One thing about subtlety is that I won't be seeing huge 50k crits like I do with mutilate spec. But there are many upsides, such as a vastly increased survivability, faster energy regen, quick combo point regeneration, and excellent mobility. I also won't have such a huge dependence on poisons as a main component of my DPS, which is not really an advantage but more of a personal preference. I think it's weird that my poisons hit harder than daggers. Doesn't that seem backwards?

With that said, managing the buffs are trickier than mutilate for sure. And subtlety has such as huge dependence on positioning to maintain competitive DPS - on fights like Ultraxion I'd be a sitting duck, unable to utilize my strongest DPS CD. And who knows, maybe after a while spamming hemo might get just as old as spamming mutilate.

It's also hard to try out something else when you're doing so well in your current spec. I'm usually top DPS or #2 on most fights, and I'd obviously drop down as subtlety until I really master the spec. That hurts the raid, which sometimes does depend on me to pull through during DPS check encounters (I'm not carrying anyone, but I will say that we still struggle to meet the enrage on Ultraxion, and every little extra I bring helps). Not to mention the pride factor here - I like being #1.

But we'll see. Maybe once the content becomes easy enough and we go on farm mode, I can attempt a transition.

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