Thursday, April 17, 2008

Leveling a rogue

My rogue is level 13 now, and I started some research into how to best level him. I was faintly aware of the general tenor of advice on rogue leveling you always hear: get a slow sword for your main hand, and a fast dagger for you off hand. But I was lacking deeper understanding of why that would be better than using a dagger in the main hand, and where to get good swords apart from the auction house. I found the answers at Zodar's Rogue Leveling Tips and in various WoW forums: The problem with daggers is that their awesome damage is positional, you need to stealth, backstab, gouge, run through the mob, turn around, backstab again, etc.. That is already a lot of work with one mob, but gets downright impossible if fighting several mobs.

Furthermore if you twink (I'm still using the old definition of twinking as equipping a low level character with stuff he couldn't get on his own, not the WoW definition of doing so just for level 19 / level 29 battleground PvP), your health points, armor, dodge, etc. are going do be much better than that of an untwinked rogue. So you can very well afford to stand face to face with a mob and exchange blows, even if you aren't really a tank. Taking a slow sword means that even if the regular dps is the same as the one of a dagger, your Sinister Strike which is based on the maximum damage your weapon can deal will be far superior. The only downside is that spamming Sinister Strike is more boring than the positional dagger attacks. But if you really want those, you can use weapon swapping macros and have the best of both worlds.

For talents it seems the best way to go is taking Improved Sinister Strike first, from the combat talent branch. Then put 5 points in Malice from the assasination branch. And then back to combat for most of your leveling career.

I'm having fun twinking my rogue. My wife has a level 68 rogue on the same server and side, so I already got a "boost" run through the Deadmines, and will be able to visit a couple more dungeons, even if regular groups are hard to come by. What makes it fun is that the rogue actually can use various stats: agility, attack power, crit chance, stamina, they are all useful. The character I leveled up before the rogue was a mage, and for that class there is only one good stat for leveling: +spell damage; so I ended up leveling all the way up to 70 in green "of the frozen wrath" gear and awesome frost damage. Extremely cheap for twinking, but so trivial it isn't even fun, because the only way to get that gear is to buy it. For my rogue I can use a combination of dungeon boosts, and crafting leather armor with my level 60 priest who I moved to the same server. The gnome rogue himself has mining and engineering, which not only is a lot of fun, but the various bombs, exploding sheeps, and target dummies are actually a big help in low level combat.

There is a certain art to twinking. You still get to see all the content, quests, and zones, but you are trying to cruise through it as smoothly as possible. While killing lets say Hogger with a level 70 character isn't fun, soloing him with a level 11 twink sure is. You are feeling powerful, because the twinking elevates your actual power level to far higher than your nominal character level. Thus you can win combat against elite mobs of your level, or "red" mobs a couple of levels higher than you. The goal isn't really to level as fast as possible, you sometimes waste more time getting some set of equipment than that gear saves you in leveling up time. The fun lies in being more powerful than you should be.

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