Cataclysm Raiding FAQ (Updated 11/29/11)
Note: Most recent updates are in blue.
Following is a brief summary of answers to common raiding questions, based on numbers pulled from ShadowCraft coupled with my own personal experience and discussions on these forums. Some of the answers involve some guesswork, and many involve oversimplifications; don't take this as the final word on all things. This is merely a quick reference guide for getting roughly the right answers; for more in-depth discussions, please see the Assassination, Combat, and Subtlety guides and their associated threads.
If you have any comments/questions/thoughts/whatever, feel free to PM me.
Q: What's the best spec?
A: From a theoretical perspective, all three specs do quite similar damage. One of them might appear to be a bit ahead or behind depending on the exact details of your gear and spec, but on the average, the differences are not large. That said: subtlety remains hard to recommend in general, due to the higher complexity of its cycle. This is not to say you shouldn't play it, but if you do it should be because you've done research beyond reading this FAQ and know what you're getting yourself into.
In practice, which will perform the best comes down to the details of the fights, as each spec responds differently to interruptions, multi-target situations, and so on. For instance, Assassination has strong sustained AoE and an execute while Combat has an amazing cleave - which spec winds up on top is going to depend primarily on which of these tools is more valuable for the particular set of fights that have been presented to us in Dragon Soul. Preliminary indications are that there are a number of places where Blade Flurry is useful, but I don't feel that the fights are sufficiently well-understood at this stage to make a blanket recommendation.
Q: Then why does ShadowCraft show Assassination as significantly behind Combat?
A: Good question. I think its a combination of modeling glitches and the practical realities of fights (target swaps resetting Insight stacks, etc.) making it harder for Combat to realize its full potential. This is something I'm looking into, but in the meantime I wouldn't worry about it too much - ShadowCraft's primary function as a gear and spec optimizer doesn't require it to be 100% consistent across specs, and I think its stat, talent, glyph, etc. priorities are fairly accurate even if there's some oddities when comparing across specs.
Q: And why does Combat show up as better in World of Logs/DPSBot/etc.?
A: Ranking sites tend to conflate spec performance with spec representation; that is, the reason Combat may appear to be superior to Assassination on a fight like Baleroc has more to do with the fact that there are three times as many Combat rogues doing the fight as any practical difference between the specs. There are more Combat rogues because it is better - or at least perceived to be better - on a few specific fights. This results in their being more Combat rogues than rogues of the other specs, which in turns result in a skewing of the numbers that make it appear to be better on the other fights as well.
Q: What about with the legendary?
A: There is no clear favorite. While its easy to point at any one spec and explain why it "should be" better for that spec, in practice all specs have their advantages and disadvantages, and Blizzard has clearly made an effort to have them provide comparable benefit for all three specs. It remains to be seen whether they'll actually succeed in doing so, but for the moment I'd assume that you can keep playing whatever spec you would otherwise choose whether you have Fangs of the Father or not.
Q: Which stats are good?
A: The short answer is "agility" - at the moment, agility is the runaway leader for all trees. As a slightly more useful answer, I get the following EP values for each stat (as usual, 1 AP = 1 EP):
Numbers are given to the nearest .05 EP. Note that the subtlety numbers are probably somewhat less accurate because a) its harder to model and b) I've spent less time optimizing the model. T13 numbers will be added over the next few weeks, as we have the opportunity to test and model the new procs and mechanics.
Q: What weapon enchant should I use?
A: Landslide, and by a pretty significant margin.
Q: What if I can't afford that?
Q: What about Avalanche?
A: Its reasonably competitive on your OH as Assassination. Hurricane is clearly better otherwise, particularly for Combat.
Q: Is Glyph of Tricks of the Trade a raid DPS increase?
A: Yes, in almost all circumstances. It seems a particularly good choice for Assassination, but is showing as a slight raid DPS increase for all 3 specs.
Q: What poisons should I use?
A: So far it seems that Instant MH, Deadly OH is optimal for all specs.
Q: What are the level 85 hit/expertise caps?
Q: What race will do the most DPS?
A: For Alliance, Worgen folllowed by any race that gets an expertise bonus for the type(s) of weapons you're using. For Horde, Troll followed by Orc and Goblin.
Q: What's the recommended spec for Assassination?
A: 31/2/8. Taking the third point in Precision instead of Opportunity may be viable for some rogues, but for most gear combinations I've checked so far this works out to be better. The point in Deadly Brew can be moved elsewhere if you don't need the snare, but in general I think Deadly Brew or Deadened Nerves is the best choice. Similarly, the points in Nightstalker can be moved to Improved Ambush, but in the vast majority of cases I think Nightstalker is a stronger option.
Q: What prime glyphs should I use?
A: Mutilate, Backstab, and Rupture are pretty clearly optimal in most circumstances. Vendetta only provides about half the average-case benefit, so in almost all circumstances you'll want to use these 3.
Q: What cycle should I use?
A: Rupture if its down, Envenom otherwise. While Mutilating, use 4+ finishers. When Backstabbing, 4+ and 5 give very similar results, but the latter appears to be slightly superior for most gear sets.
Q: What speed weapons should I use?
A: Slow MH, fast OH.
Q: So, I was looking at those EP values up above, and it looks like you're saying I shouldn't worry about maxing expertise at all and should instead prioritize agi > spell hit > mastery > everything else?
A: That appears to be the case, yes. If cycle stability turns out to be a problem that advice may be revised, but that's the best guess right now.
Q: Why does Expertise suck so much now?
A: A combination of factors which are too lengthy to go into here. Read this if you want the full explanation.
Q: Is Garrote worth using, either as an opener or to break out of Vanish?
A: Typically yes to both, provided you don't have to wait too long to do it. If the motion of the boss requires a delay of more than a second or two to open with it, its not worth it, and your Vanish should generally try to be timed against the bosses movement to make sure you can get it off immediately.
Q: So what's the optimal opener, then?
A: No one has come up with a definitive answer for that. Personally I find Garrote->Rupture->Mutilate->SnD->Vendetta->Mutx2->CB Envenom pretty smooth, but I make no guarantees as to its optimality. Note: Please don't make "well what about doing..." posts on this topic. I guarantee you we've heard people propose just about every possible permutation of opening moves, and unless you have hard evidence why its better, we don't need to hear it again.
Q: Is it possible to make a macro that casts Mutilate above 35% and Backstab below?
A: No. Macros can't make decisions based on health.
Q: But what it I...
A: Still no. Some people sort of fake this by keeping two bars - one with Mutilate and one with Backstab - and manually switching between them at 35%, but the key word there is "manually". I also think its a bad idea in general, as you will sometimes need to throw some Mutilates even below 35%, so having both keys available to you strikes me as generally a positive thing.
Q: What's the recommended spec for Combat?
A: 7/31/3 appears to be the current leader. The points in Improved Sprint and Blade Twisting are pure filler and can be freely rearranged as needed.
Q: What prime glyphs should I use?
A: Sinister Strike and Adrenaline Rush are clearly the best 2 options. For a third glyph, Slice and Dice is the current leader, but both Rupture and Revealing Strike seem reasonably competitive.
Q: What's the optimal cycle?
A: Keep SnD up, spam 5pt finishers - Rupture if its down, Eviscerate otherwise. Basically what we called "low rupture" in Wrath. However, dropping Rupture from the rotation is less than a 1% DPS loss, so when Blade Flurrying or switching targets frequently, switching to Evis-only usually makes sense
Q: How should RvS be used?
A: Optimal use involves using it only when at exactly 4 CP. This will mean that not all of your finishers will benefit from it, as sometimes Glyph of SS will take you straight from 3 to 5. However, this is the only way to be sure that you never waste combo points, and current estimates show the damage lost from wasting combo points is more than you gain from being able to do every finisher with RvS up.
Q: What about RvSing at 2 or 3 CP instead?
A: Doing so wastes the same amount of damage on average as RvSing at 5, and when you work out the numbers its pretty clearly behind the recommended approach of RvSing at 4 only. Note, however, that the differences we're talking about are not large; proper use is only about 2% ahead of dropping it from your cycle entirely, and the difference between using it for every finisher vs only at 4 CP is less than that.
Q: Should I use KSp as soon as it comes off cooldown or wait for Bandit's Guile to stack up?
A: It seems to be a slight increase to wait for Bandit's Guile.
Q: What about Adrenaline Rush?
A: Good question. We don't know for sure. I don't think it matters very much.
Q: What's the recommended spec for Subtlety?
A: 8/2/31 appears to be the highest DPS right now. Note that every single talent point in that is a DPS talent so you have basically zero flexibility. If there's some filler talents you can't live without, the weakest DPS talents are Initiative and then Elusiveness.
Q: What prime glyphs should I use?
A: Backstab and Slice and Dice are the best two; the model is insufficiently sophisticated at this point to determine whether Shadow Dance or Eviscerate is better for the third.
Q: What's the optimal cycle?
A: Keep SnD up, put up Recuperate if its down, and spam Eviscerates to roll Rupture. Backstab is your primary combo point filler. Hemo appears to generally be a DPS loss in all cases, though additional modeling is needed. Vanish/Ambush on cooldown to put Find Weakness up. Primary combo point builder switches to Ambush during Shadow Dance.
Q: What weapons should I use?
A: A slow dagger MH, a fast weapon (type doesn't matter) OH. Currently this means a dagger.
Q: Is Agi really that valuable?
A: Seems like.
Q: Doesn't that mean that 22 agi to cloak and 20 agi to gloves are optimal for Sub?
11/29/10 Original Post
11/30/10 Added Subtlety info
12/2/10 Updated Combat info based on identification of a bug in ShadowCraft.
12/21/10 Explanation of low expertise EP value for Assassination and alternate weapon enchants.
1/6/11 Discussion of Garrote and attack-switching macros for Assassination.
1/7/11 Revealing Strike note.
1/18/11 Assassination opener info.
2/8/11 Updated for Patch 4.0.6.
6/27/11 Updated for Patch 4.2 (Firelands).
11/29/11 Preliminary updates for 4.3 (Dragon Soul).
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