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Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
Will the new lands signal the end of the old?

Weekly World of Warcraft #22 - Burning Crusade First Impressions
Positive first impressions from our resident warlock.

Weekly World of Warcraft #21 - Thoughts from a Disgruntled Wyvern Windrider
Won't anyone think of the Windriders?

Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
Nick lays out some WoW-related goals for 2007.

Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm
A look at the most-recent patch and Blizzard's next game.

Weekly World of Warcraft #18 - Casual Raiding Vol. 2
Another look at casual raiding from our brand new writer!

Weekly World of Warcraft #17 - South Park, Expansion Plans, and Updates
A look at the infamous South Park episode, and talk of the future.

Weekly World of Warcraft #16 - All Quiet on the Kalimdor Front
The calm before the Burning Crusade storm.

Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
Burning Crusade will have a negative impact on raiding, but it should bring some good PvP changes.

Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It's time to renew!

Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
Our first guest discusses how a casual player can raid successfully.

Weekly World of Warcraft #13 - I Still Hate the Baron: Clarifications & Responses
Clarification of last week's points after receiving a deluge of responses.

Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints
I hate the Baron, and other .5 tier complaints.

Weekly World of Warcraft #11 - Undead Events
A deeper look at Patch 1.11 and the Scourge Invasion.

Weekly World of Warcraft #10 - Busiest Week Ever
You want more of this?! Patch 1.11, Diablo/Starcraft MMORPGs, and more!

Weekly World of Warcraft #9 - Mailbag Edition
9 out of 10 naked dancing dwarves agree: mailbags are good!

Weekly World of Warcraft #8 - Guild Woes
Guild improvements and raid interface changes discussed this week.

Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
What's wrong with PvP in today's World of Warcraft.

Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
We look at the addition of the Draenei, and various problems with Burning Crusade.

Weekly World of Warcraft #5 - Expansion Outlook: Pre-E3 Edition
Looking forward to next week's E3, and what the future holds for WoW.

Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
Nick's perspective on playing the nerfed Rogue class.

Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided
The third in our series focuses on the lack of content for smaller groups.

Weekly World of Warcraft #2
The second in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants focuses on crafting.

Weekly World of Warcraft #1
The first in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants by our resident level 60 Rogue.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of VGGEN.com as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such. Weekly World of Warcraft is usually updated each Tuesday.

Hi, my name is Nick and I play a Rogue in World of Warcraft. Yes, it is a bit melodramatic to use the standard support group opening line to introduce a column on class balancing, but that is how many Rogues, including myself feel about the state of our class. Before I begin, lets examine Blizzard’s stated class role from the official Web site:

The stealthy Rogue is an up-close damage dealer. Like the Mage, they can rip through mobs quickly and brutally using their wide range of combination moves. They are also worthy scouts, being able to sneak past monsters if they are skilled enough to see what lies beyond. And there's no one better than a Rogue at the end of a dungeon when a locked chest or door stands between you and hard-earned riches. We're not telling you how to play the game - one of the fascinating practices of this genre is the ingenuity exercised by the players every day!

What I am about to say is sure to trigger many angry reactions: The Rogue class is broken. There, I said it. Nobody wants to acknowledge the plain and simple fact that Rogues have little to no use in World of Warcraft on any level.

Before harping about the negative aspects of the Rogue class, let me put the good aspects of the class on the table. A Rogue is perhaps one of the best classes outside of the Hunter to solo-play. The amount of damage a Rogue can deliver makes up for the lack of heavy armor on all levels in PvE content. Even if a Rogue does over commit, the Vanish ability allows a quick and easy escape. Stealth is a great ability to have, especially on PvP servers. Lockpicking, while facing severe deficiencies in instances, is a great skill to have while killing time in a capital city. Rogues are also very versatile in terms of weaponry, and allow for some interesting gear combinations. In terms of PvP Battlegrounds, teams of Rogues can effectively ‘ninja’ opposing graveyards in Alterac Valley or checkpoints in Arathi Basin. Yes, there are indeed several good aspects of the Rogue class. In fact, many of the shortfalls in the PvE game are not seen until level 60 (PvP is noticed immediately). Even so, the bad aspects outweigh the good aspects.

Let's break down the Blizzard description point by point. There is no argument that a Rogue is an up-close damage dealer. However, a Rogue’s damage is only as good as the tank. If you are in a group situation, you need a tank that knows what he’s doing. One aggro slip and resist feint and the Rogue is dead. Even though Rogues can and do deliver extreme damage to enemies, they are often passed over in 5-man groups in favor of other casters, hunters, or druids. While the other classes can provide a similar damage service, they tend to be a bit more durable. Mages can sheep more enemies than rogues can sap, making them better for crowd control. Hunters have a pet that can soak up aggro and can deliver rapid damage from long range. Druids can not only tank in bear form, but also stealth and heal. While rogues could be useful due to the stealth ability, it simply is not the case in the realities of the PvE world. Random enemies, especially elites, can almost instantly see through the stealth ability and start attacking you. In fact, the only benefit of taking a rogue into a dungeon is the ability to pick locks. However, lockpicking is a dead talent in the real PvE world. Every dungeon has a key that can be obtained through a normal run or through a quest, and many groups have them. While there may be the occasional treasure chest in the dungeon that is locked, almost all of the chests contain garbage loot. Basically, the choice for a group is this: they can either take a class that deals damage but has no armor, no group buffs, and no real outside use, or we can take another caster/tank/healer/hunter that can do similar things but not run the risk of dying.

The usefulness of a Rogue is even further diminished by the evolution of the classes since the game’s release nearly two years ago. Instead of working on all of the classes simultaneously, Blizzard adopted a staggered class review system. This system, for lack of a better word, sucks. After a year and a half since World of Warcraft’s release, Blizzard is down to three remaining classes to review (Mages, Shaman, and Rogues in that order). See, these are issues that should have been addressed by the middle of year one, not this far into the game’s life cycle. While other classes have been reviewed, had talents changed, and generally been strengthened, Rogues, Shaman and Mages have been practically ignored and continuously encounter class issues that have been in existence since launch. Seemingly after every class review, the Rogue becomes more and more underpowered. I could use this point to harp on the blatantly overpowered Hunter class (in terms of PvP), but I’ll simply focus on Fury Warriors since ripping on Hunters is beating a dead horse.

Fury Warriors are an interesting group. Similar to Shadow Priests, Fury Warriors have abandoned the primary focus of their class (in this case, tanking) to do something completely different (in this case, damage per second or DPS). While they aren’t going to be effective tanks, Fury Warriors have essentially destroyed any reason to even take a Rogue into a group. A Fury Warrior can wear plate armor (thus take more damage) and deal out extremely high amounts of burst damage. In other words, Fury Warriors are essentially Rogues in plate armor.

Perhaps classes like the Rogue wouldn’t feel neglected if they actually got feedback and minor bug fixes every so often. Yet, almost every patch gives Rogues a nerf or some sort of idiotic bug. The latest patch introduced a bug to the Seal Fate talent. Under this talent, a critical strike from an attack ability would add an extra combo point. This is extremely helpful for those rogues geared up for fast damage, as it allows you to access a 5-point finisher quicker. This bug, however, will not award the extra combo point. Essentially, a bug has destroyed an entire class build. Instead of releasing an instant hotfix for this particular bug (and the dozen or so others introduced by patch 1.10), Blizzard has instead pushed it off for a middle patch due out at some point in the future after a test realm stint.

Rogue in the corner
So lonely...

The biggest thing I have never understood about the Rogue class is the constant nerfs. Most of the nerfs take effect in the PvP side of the game, although some do carry over. When I first started playing World of Warcraft, I would have a caster, hunter, or druid dead-to-rights if I snuck behind them in stealth. After the various nerfs, patches, and “fixes,” I can only kill idiots or people at ¼ to ½ of their health. Simply put, if I kill a hunter at full strength, it’s because he doesn’t know how to play the class at all. The same goes for Warlocks, Priests, and Mages. I never had a chance at killing Warriors and had an outside chance of killing Pallies/Shaman. However, killing those classes was never really a goal for Rogues due to the armor classes, healing abilities, and the *ahem* nature of the Shaman class in general. If I can’t kill cloth users in a few seconds, what am I supposed to do in leather armor? Well, once I get fear-spell kited, I usually just press the “x” button to sit down and watch the last centimeter of my life bar drain out. So what exactly is the Rogue class supposed to do in PvP? As it stands right now, apparently catch people when they’re eating/drinking and gank them. While it is fun to do that, it pretty much damages any role the class has in the already shoddy PvP system. This doesn’t even begin to comment on the constantly weakened stealth talent. With every patch, stealth loses its effectiveness. While it would be an over-exaggeration to say that a Rogue’s PvP duty is to stealth and sit in the corner of a graveyard, it seems like a better alternative than going out and getting slaughtered by every class in the game.

The PvP issues aside, a Rogue’s PvE usefulness can be increased very easily by adding two things to dungeons: traps and locks. As it stands, detect traps is likely the most useless skill in the entire game. The only traps in the game, outside of the one you have to detect to learn the skill, are the ones Hunters put down in a PvP situation. Even then, disarming them is not an option. To make Rogues useful, put traps in PvE instances. Not only would it make Rogues serve a purpose, it would make it easier to get Rogues into groups for high-level 5-man dungeons. While locked doors and chests are already present, they ultimately do not require a Rogue to open. There is a key to every door, and most groups going to a dungeon are likely going to have a key. Chests, as stated earlier, contain garbage and vendor trash. Instead of putting nonsense into high level dungeon chests (seriously, nobody wants leather and food), try putting in some Epic loot, good recipes, or a ton of Gold in the chest. Make chests worth the effort of clearing out a huge room. Actually, those two things aren’t fixes; those are things that should have been in instanced dungeons to begin with.

Taking a Page from Blizzard’s Book

To the other classes: YOUR REVIEW WILL COME LOLOLOLOLOL! Trust me, I understand my class is not the only one broken, and I know there are plenty of problems with the various classes in the game. I just know the Rogue class better than others. If anything, this article should illustrate the inherent problem of Blizzard’s review strategy. There is no conceivable reason why class reviews have taken this long. By all estimates, Blizzard will wrap up class reviews in time for the projected Fall release of the Burning Crusade expansion. If you want the reason why there will be no new expansion classes, look at how long it took them to fix the existing classes.

If you play another class and would be interested in writing a guest editorial class review, feel free to contact me at weeklywow@vggen.com.

Posted: 04/25/2006