The Redridge Smuggler

Welcome friends, to Story Time with Hail. Tonight, a tale of wit and guile.


One day a clever rogue from Lakeshire  showed up at Three Corners with a horse loaded with pelts.  The border guard, Jimmy, asked the rogue where she was going.

“I am on my way to the Eastvale Logging Camp. I have been practicing skinning and wish to sell my pelts. I hear with so many horses sold there they have need of materials to craft saddles.”

Jimmy looked at the rogue and her steed suspiciously. “I’ll have to check to see if you or your steed is carrying anything other than leather. If I find valuables you will have to pay the fee.”

The rogue nodded. “Naturally, but I assure you what we are carrying is perfectly legitimate.

The guard picked apart the bundle of leather and found nothing. He had the rogue open her cloak and fold out her pockets, and again found nothing. Begrudgingly, he turned to the rogue. “I am certain you are smuggling something, but if you are I cannot find it. You may pass, but be warned – next time I will be more thorough.”

The rogue smiled and crossed the river.


The next day, the rogue showed up once again to Three Corners with a horse loaded with pelts.

“You again!” Jimmy said. “I was thinking about where you might have hidden your goods last night and have some ideas. Either way if you wish to cross I must search you and your steed.”

The rogue agreed, and Jimmy checked her cloak, her pockets, her pelts, her shoes, and in dramatic but anticlimactic fashion, her boots. Finally the guard shrugged his shoulders. “I know you are hiding something, rogue, but again my search has failed. Go.”

The rogue smiled and crossed.


Day after day, season after season, the rogue came with her steed loaded with pelts, and each week Jimmy would search just a bit more rigorously than the last and come up short. Finally after many years had passed, the guard retired.


Years had passed and the border guard was old and gray. One day as Jimmy perused the market, still mulling over where the rogue could have hidden her goods (perhaps he should have checked under the horse’s tongue?), he noticed a familiar face in the crowd.

“You! You are the woman who came to Three Corners every day with the horse loaded with pelts! Come, speak with me!”

The rogue walked over.

“Please, I am old and retired, but for peace of mind I must know – where you smuggling something across the river all those years?”

The rogue nodded.

“I knew it! What was it?”

“Horses,” the rogue smiled.


This story is an adaptation of one of many amazing stories from the Middle Eastern story of the Donkey Smuggler, which I read from Heather Forest’s Wisdom Tales from Around the World.  I highly recommend the book, the stories and her writing are fantastic.


I’ve always theorized that the stories hardest to tell are the ones most worth being told.  This toes the line of being too hard to tell, and posting will assuredly be a challenge.  I suppose that’s why stories like this that include self-harm are so rare.

Note:  This is deeply personal and very hard for me to post.  I’ve always had a hard time believing people care about this kind of content.  Making posts about my life is highly experimental which means feedback is even more appreciated than usual.  If you like this post, please tell me.  If you don’t, please tell me.  I will always appreciate good, well thought out feedback and will not take relevant criticism personally.


To achieve Greatness

The story begins in India the summer after my Sophomore year of college, making it nearly three years ago.  I had spent the last six weeks in Yunnan, China studying traditional Chinese medicine and learning more about myself than imagine most people learn in their lifetimes.  One lesson, taught to me by the many people I interacted with during those weeks, was that I was far more powerful than I had previously imagined.  Young, strong, healthy, and with all the privileges and opportunities that come with being a 20-year-old attending a top university, I genuinely could do and be most anything I wanted.  And what did I want?  Everything.  Well, rather to be good at everything.  A renaissance person.  In my words, I wanted to achieve Greatness.

While I have never been foolish enough to believe true Greatness can be achieved, I made a decision to strive for it.  Not knowing where my life would take me but sure that I wanted diverse experiences and travel to be a part of it, I decided the approximation to Greatness that would work best for me would be to attain a high baseline skill level in as many things as possible.  The idea was that if I and another novice attempt to do the same task, I will do it better.

With that goal in mind the next few years I strove to achieve Greatness.


A foolish aspiration

The funny thing about achieving Greatness is that as impossible as the goal is, moving towards it is relatively simple.  Since I want to be good at everything nearly every activity has the potential to push me towards that goal if done properly.  Do I feel like playing video games?  Great, then I’ll play well and actively work to increase my skill.  Do I feel like writing a blog post instead of a homework assignment?  Fantastic, not only do I enjoy writing when I feel like it but it will help me to grow as a blogger.

This strategy worked quite well for me.  I have a large variety of interests and at any given time there are one or two that I feel like doing any number of them which I do not.  Adopting a mentality where all growth is considered equal proved effective, and over the last three years that philosophy brought results.

Of course, as always the idea of achieving Greatness in some soft of absolute form remained absurd.  As the song goes,

From the day we arrive on the planet // and blinking, step into the sun // there’s more to see than can ever be seen // more to do than can ever be done

– “Circle of Life”, Elton John


Such noble self-harm

Ok, NOW we get to the part that’s hard to write.  As such I am going to start by going on a tangent:

I don’t like trigger warnings, as I fear they give people permission to not read something that might make them uncomfortable.  Feeling uncomfortable is important to gaining a fuller understanding of others, the world, and diverse humanity.  That said, I have two rules, and one of them is “Don’t be an idiot.”  So on that note if after reading the title of this section you know it would be actively stupid to read this section at this time, then follow Rule #1 and don’t be an idiot!

Now that I’m out of excuses, let’s get started!  One of the things I dabble in is energy work.  This is not the place for a proper explanation but effectively I am pretty good at reading the physical energy of other humans.  I usually use this to find pressure points and areas of tension when I give massages, but I can also get a sense of deeper things like emotions under the right circumstances.

One day late last November I was teaching my friend Thalia how to read this type of energy.  One of the exercises I gave her was for her to move her hand over different parts of my body and describe the color of what she felt.  (This works because people associate tons of things from feelings to taste to sound with color.)  During this exercise she found a “gross dark blue” area deep in my lower abdomen.  I focused my attention on it and took a few guesses as to what it was but mostly kept them to myself.

A few weeks later I was teaching a different friend the same thing and they also pointed out the area, although given my attention was on it one shouldn’t put too much stock in this.

That big blue/black chasm in me is anger, and here is where we return to the plot.

One of the tactics that I have used extensively in my quest for Greatness is high standards for myself.  I am a master of double standards.  While it may be acceptable for others to get drunk, let go, and do something stupid, it isn’t ok for me – I can and should do better.  Being bad at things went from understandable to failure, and with every failure I poisoned myself just a bit with self-directed anger.  You see, along with my two rules, the other of which is “Don’t be an asshole,” there is an important clause:  Everyone messes up sometimes, and that is both understandable and no reason to break the rules further.  My double standard removed this clause.

Last Monday morning I arrived London.  Last Tuesday night I went clubbing.  Some time during the drunk-sitting the lid on that self-directed anger came loose.


I don’t know why but there’s something about the physical scars brought about from self-harm that I find beautiful.  It’s one of the very few things I believe could captivate me for a full hour.  I doubt I’ll scar, but for the time being it’s weird having that beauty on me.

When a friend self harms it is scary, and I would never give any one of my own permission to do that.  That said I am a believer in Yin and Yang, and one of the things that philosophy teaches is that within Yang there is Yin and within Yin there is Yang.  In other words and in context, there was a lesson to be learned from the marks on my wrist.

Achieving Greatness is noble goal, but the way I went about it meant denying myself the ability to make mistakes.  I live by the principle that if one is going to do something they outta do it right, and still hold to that.  Will I stop my quest for Greatness?  Perhaps, for for now it is only on hold.  I’ve tried to be everything, and actually done a damn good job at it.  Now it’s time to remember what being myself is.  Perhaps when I do I’ll once again take to the road towards Greatness.  For now though, I suppose I’ll just have to be content with being great.

This Needs to Stop.

Tonight I started writing a post about women in gaming.  I was talking about how the little things we do and say create a culture where being male is the default and women are treated as outsiders.  Outsiders whom it’s ok to ask personal and irrelevant questions, and who should not be offended simply because offense was not intended.  I hit a wall and closed the post.

During this time I learned that a former teammate of mine died.  It was only after I gave up on the post that I learned she was trans.  For those of you who don’t know, the cause of death among transgender women in their early 20s is almost always suicide.  Given the tone of one of her friend’s posts, I’m all but certain that was the cause.  This has to stop.

It doesn’t matter that she was trans.

It doesn’t matter that she was young.

It doesn’t matter that she was an athlete.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t really know her.

What matters is that the effect of being treated like an “other” is pain.  Deep, internal pain that makes life not worth living as long as it remains.

There are people all over the world who are treated poorly because they are outsiders.  People from all walks of life, in all sorts of categories.  Many such people happen to play video games.

I shouldn’t need to explain to you that the gaming community as a whole tolerates those who target individuals for being “different”.  I put different in quotes because even women fall into this category even though they make up approximately half the population.

I also shouldn’t need to explain that our actions have an impact on the community.  Every time we default to calling someone “he”, or call the people we’re playing with “boys”, or stay silent in an effort to avoid drama when someone calls something that displeases them “gay”, we perpetuate an idea that gaming is a space for non-queer males.

Let’s put an end to this already.

For every one asshole who asks me if I’m a woman during a game of League of Legends there are at least a hundred other players who know that that question is inappropriate.  Well guess what?  If every time someone acted inappropriately towards my former teammate Sam just for being an Other someone stood up for her, she’s probably still be chasing plastic.

I’m not going to ask you anything on behalf of Sam.  Hell I’m not even going to ask you anything on behalf of me.  She’s dead and I can take it.  But I am going to ask you something on behalf of my people, nearly all of whom are some form of Other.

Please, be active.  When someone in a game says something sexist or homophobic or transphobic or hell is just rude to someone for any stupid reason whatsoever, call them out.  Make it clear that you are on the side of the one who’s being attacked.  Avoiding drama be damned, it is not ok to attack or diminish another person just for being who they are.  I don’t know if I can do anything to fix that small percentage of assholes, but if I can encourage the rest of you to speak up then maybe, just maybe, we won’t need to see more of this.

In a blog post like this it’s easy to talk about suicide prevention as a motivator, but I think that’s overkill.  Everyone has times when they are feeling down.  Humans are most vulnerable to each other and everyone has days when they don’t want to deal with jerks.  Even if by some miracle you don’t, I promise you that someone you care about does.  When that person is going through a tough time and a stranger starts calling them slurs or objectifying and diminishing them, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for them?

By standing up for the people you are playing with you not only help them, but you encourage a culture that doesn’t tolerate bigotry towards those Others.  It’s not just that you are an upstanding player or whatever, but your actions will actively be appreciated and that appreciation will spur those you help to do what you did.  Calling people out is hard, but in an online game you can do it with minimal risk.  As people it’s our job to protect your own, and the best way to do that in-game is to act with integrity and discourage those who do not.


Finally, a special note to the content creators out there:

You are extremely powerful.  YouTubers and streamers especially, you are the ones players look towards as examples of how their game is to be played.  If you are calling your team “boys”, then you are encouraging a mentality of online gaming being a male space where woman and non-binary folk are Others.  Asking you to change how you act is unfair, especially since such turns of phrase are often part of your success, but please remember that you have great power, and with that power comes responsibility.  Consider that the reason you are successful is your followers.  All of your followers.  As I’m sure you know gamers are a diverse group and it would be foolish to think your base isn’t also diverse.  Whenever you treat someone with disrespect or your tongue slips and you let out a slur, there’s a pretty good chance you are attacking one of your own.  People can change, but they will not if their role-models do not.  So please, consider carefully the kind of community you want to foster, and then work towards making that a reality.

Why I Want to be Called “They”

Hey all,

Earlier today I send out a Tweet asking people to refer to me using “they” instead of “he”.  It occurs to me that some people might want to know why.  Specifically, why be called something that isn’t he and why they over some other word.
Heads up that I am going to try to keep the jargon to a minimum because by and large the words people use for this stuff is needlessly complicated.  If you want fancy words then feel free to ask and we can talk.

Why Gender-Neutral

I don’t like video games because I’m a male, nor do I like wearing flowy clothes because I am feminine.  I don’t do or feel anything because of my gender and when people attribute my actions to being male it only serves to reinforce stereotypes.  As someone who’s seen (and experienced) a lot of pain from stereotypes, I have quite the prejudice against them.  While people referring to me as gender-neutral (by the way the fancy word for this is non-binary) isn’t going to stop people from stereotyping, at the very least someone might not know what to expect.
I have a lot of friends who feel very strongly about their gender.  In order to respect them, I need to accept that there’s something more to someone’s gender than their parts and how they are treated.  For me, I pretty much never feel male or female.  This means, according to the definition of gender I subscribe to, that I am in fact neither.  Frankly, I find that freeing.

Why They

Remember how I was talking about not liking when people stereotype me?  Often when talking about someone you can refer to them as a “they” and people won’t notice.  Heck, I just did and I’m pretty sure you knew what I meant.  Since this is often the case, it allows people to refer to me in the way I like that doesn’t require a pause in a conversation in order to explain what the hell xir means.
Terrible Alternatives
Seriously, xir is only the beginning.  Here’s a list of pronouns people have come up with.  I use they for the following reasons:
1)  As stated above, people generally know what to do with it.
2)  It’s the most popular one, which means hopefully people won’t need to learn multiple sets.
3)  It makes less of a statement than some of the others.  (I’d still rather people not give a damn, and that doesn’t happen when you ask people to call you thon.)
Are there issues with they?  Hell yeah.  It’s usually used as plural which means people sometimes don’t know how to use it (“They is” or “They are”? (the answer is “They are” btw)).  Moreover for the same reason many people have an aversion to it.  While they say they has been used as a gender-neutral term for centuries, that isn’t exactly relevant.  Still, it is true that most people are familiar with some degree of singular-they.  More to the point, while it is jarring to hear or read lots of talk about someone who’s a they at first, most people in my experience get used to it pretty quickly.  Finally, there’s the issue of a lack of alternative.  While for a lot of people “they” implies plurality and it is strange to hear it explicitly refer to a single person, hearing “it” is at least as awkward (also, dehumanizing).

Wrapping Up

Anyway, I hope I’ve cleared up why I’m asking the WoW community to call me something new.  Obviously you can call me whatever the hell you damn well please regardless of my feelings towards it.  I very much appreciate being called a they and referred to as something other than an example of a male (or female, yes it happens).  To anyone who takes the effort to put up with my bullshit, thank you.  This goes double for those who are new to this.


There are a lot of people for whom refusing to use their preferred pronouns is taken as personal insult.  Don’t go using me as an example for how to be trans because my gender identity is a hell of a lot less important to me than it is for most other trans people.  Also, I’m totally down to be a resource for anyone who wants to learn more about this from a source that isn’t obsessed with being politically correct.

For Content’s Sake

Fools!  Did you think just because I started the illustrious I had simply abandoned my old haunt?  No, such treacherous abandoning of one’s home could only be committed by the lowest of the low.  It has come to my attention that Paryah, producer of Fans of Knives – Ravenholdt’s weekly news roundup – has noted a lack of content this week.  Being the kind entity that I am, I have decided to use my powers as master wordsmith to sate the rogue community’s lust for words.

The Dancer’s Haunt

As you’ve no doubt noticed I am back at my old residence.  This fact along with my tone should inform you that after reading this you will very likely be no more informed about rogues than you were before reading any information in this post.  Posts on The Shadowy Dancer will tend to be less serious, off-topic, inappropriate, or otherwise unfit for The Manor.  In this case, I anticipate a hodge-podge of hopefully amusing ramblings.  Oh, and speaking of Anticipation

Can we fix it already?

Every expansion thus far has brought with it a host of quality of life changes, including one targeted at making poisons easier.  At this point it seems the only way to have us put less thought into our poisons would be to remove them entirely or give them unlimited duration (which is functionally the same thing) so let’s all bit a collective and preemptive goodbye to one of our iconic skills.  Hey, at least we can still give weapons the visual for poisons at our Enchanter garrison huts.

Other quality of life changes are harder to guess.  Will Blizzard finally remove positional requirements from Backstab and Gouge?  Will Blizzard fix our damage mitigation abilities instead of randomly deciding they are too good for certain mechanics?  Will Blizzard remove Shadow Reflection, which while in theory vaguely interesting is really just a headache for theorycrafters and an ability you macro to your major cooldown for the rest?  Who knows*?

But seriously, Anticipation.  Someone wrote a whole blog post on this, like, a while ago, and without reading it I can tell you that the author is completely right about everything.  Anticipation is a fanstatic wonderful ability that really just wants to allow rogues to store 10 combo points, but doesn’t because Blizzard won’t allow it.  Also come on even if you keep the wording as-is Slice and Dice is TOTALLY an offensive finishing move.  I get not calling Recuperate offensive, although part of me has to disagree because a dead rogue is significantly less offensive than a living one.  And really?  Premeditation not giving Anticipation charges is just stupid.  Blizzard, I’mma quote my raid leader here:  Do better.

Now, where were we?  Oh yes…

About a year ago I got into Magic: The Gathering.  Playing that particular game competitively was out of the question as it is both expensive and boring (there are only a handful of viable decks and I like creating my own).  I did however recently decide to make one deck that I could play in a competitive format, and being the saucy individual that I am I went ahead and made a rogue-themed deck.  To anyone who plays, here’s the list.  Last Friday I played it for the first time.  Being a saucy home-brew, my goal was to win one game.  In actuality I won two out of five rounds, which are best-of-three!  I’m so proud of those scrappy bastards!

In other news…

Have feelings.  What’s that?  You don’t have feelings after watching that?  Well then you need to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender immediately.

Some things I’d like

  • A job (Waiting on an offer from one place so woot!)
  • Fewer hunters (Duh)
  • Ice cream! (Mmmmmm)
  • A Legendary Ring (Mostly because no more LFR)
  • To be actually good at League (Hey so far I’ve stayed out of Bronze)
  • Fewer Hunters (They’re even stealing our role!)
  • Less he (More they)
  • Alpha access to Legion (Duh)
  • Beta access to Overwatch (Mostly because it seems interesting)
  • Tea Parties with Iroh (WTB Secret Tunnel to the Spirit World)
  • And most importantly…Fewer hunters!  (#HuntersSuck)


So it looks like rogues might be getting a pirate spec.  Idk about you, but if I get pirate spec I want a boat.  Also, booty.  No, not that kind of booty, what kind of pirate do you think I am?  But seriously, I’m not sure why Blizzard would pick pirates over bandits for WoW seeing as players are almost never doing anything on the open seas.


Well if you made it this far then I’m flattered.  I’ve love to have feedback on this post in particular as it is very different from anything I’ve done in the past.  Even the little talking about myself I did here makes me feel pretty uncomfortable so it is unlikely to be something I do much more of if I don’t get positive feedback on that front.  On the other hand if I do get good feedback I’d be down to make more of this type of post.

Subtlety in 6.0.2

With the Warlords of Draenor pre-patch coming out tomorrow, I’ve decided to finally get off on my tush and write about what’s going on with Subtlety.  I’ll start with a description of what’s changing, then move on to what’s staying the same, and finally talk about what you’ll need to change.  Keep in mind that this article is coming from the perspective of a raider, and as such I will not be explaining every change or ramification, but only the ones I deem relevant for raiding.  This is also somewhat geared towards what we’ll be seeing at level 100 rather than on live, however I will try to distinguish between these two when the difference is relevant.

Subtlety:  It’s different…

The devs went through a huge amount of iteration with Subtlety.  They tried having Hemorrhage and Crimson Tempest’s DoT roll over through refreshes making them spammable, having Backstab and Ambush multistrikes give extra ticks from our DoTs, removing Premeditation, making Hemo way better than Backstab, making Hemo way worse than Backstab, and probably some other things.

Here’s what they ended up doing:

  • Not specific to Subtlety, but all of our buffs/debuffs can be refreshed early and get up to 30% of their original duration tacked on, making refreshing our buffs/debuffs a lot easier.
  • Hemorrhage really wants to be worse than Backstab, and mostly succeeds.  (More on this later.)
  • Backstab and Ambush multistrikes cause our DoTs to advance forward 2 seconds, gaining exactly one tick’s worth of damage for all DoTs (Hemo/Garrote now tick every 2 secs).
  • At level 100, Vanish will have a 1.5 minute cooldown due to a leveling perk.
  • At level 100, Fan of Knives will grant a Combo Point for every target hit.
  • At level 100, Shadow Dance will last 10 seconds instead of 8.
  • Some stuff got better and some stuff got worse, but not so much that we care.
  • Some other things, but we don’t care.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of changes that seem relevant.

…but also, the same…

Here’s the thing:  As much as they changed Subtlety, the spec as a whole really isn’t all that different.  In MoP, our goal was to maximize uptime on Slice and Dice, Rupture, Hemorrhage, and Find Weakness, while being smart about cooldown usage.  With these changes, our goal will be to maximize uptime on Slice and Dice, Rupture, Hemorrhage (we’ll get there), and Find Weakness, while being smart about cooldown usage.  Note how close those look!

When it comes down to it, all these changes to Subtlety actually mean very little.  Well, except for the Fan of Knives one, that’s actually about as big of a deal as it looks.

At this point you might well be wondering if any of these changes are relevant to you.  If you are like most rogues, they aren’t, because you don’t raid as Subtlety.  However, for the three of you that do, the answer is yes.

…but actually, different.

All of those changes that didn’t actually change anything are surprisingly impactful.  It’s not that what we want to do is different, but rather what the best way of achieving that is.  I’ve been doing a lot of mucking around in SimulationCraft and have come upon some interesting findings.

Disclaimer time:  Everything that I’m saying after this point comes from mucking around with SimulationCraft.  When possible, I cross-checked with my character’s ShadowCraft.  The theorycrafting you see here is only as good as me and the tools I used, which is to say, distinctly questionable but notably alright.  As always, if something looks fishy, feel free to inquire or investigate, but please refrain from calling me an idiot without backing it up with evidence.

Here’s a list of things:

  • Shadow Focus is now significantly better than Subterfuge, which is now slightly better than That Other One.
  • Pooling energy before Vanish doesn’t matter as much as you thought.  (Pooling energy before Shadow Dance probably does matter as much as you thought.)
  • With sufficient levels of Multistrike, Hemo Weaving is a thing of the past.  (READ:  If you are level 90, Hemo Weave.)  Hemorrhage continued to be useful for keeping up Sanguinary Veins, and is better than Backstab if the Sinister Calling multistrike mechanic will cause Sanguinary Veins to expire.  Because that’s not confusing at all.
  • Garrote is comically bad and should never be used.  Ever.
  • Because of Sinister Calling’s multistrike mechanic, refreshing Rupture as early as possible without losing ticks is recommended, though at level 90 this is mostly just practice for when you get relevant levels of multistrike.

The Takeaway

As confusing as this all is, the takeaway is actually pretty simple.  If you liked Subtlety in MoP, you’ll probably like it in Warlords.  I’m hesitant to say whether the changes make the spec funner or not, because that’s really quite subjective.  For sure the experience will be different, but at the core the two iterations of the spec are close enough that I doubt very many people will change their mind about the spec.  Well, until Draenor at least, when people pick up the uber leetness that is Empowered Fan of Knives.

EDIT:  So I wrote this last night and I almost ended it with a line long the lines of “That is, until Blizzard decides to nerf Hemo Weaving.”  This morning I saw that they are buffing Backstab, but apparently that will be accompanied with a buff to Hemo, so I’m not quite as amazing at predictions as I thought.  Darn.

Subtlety Feedback (WoD Beta)

This is a post with lots of Subtlety PvE feedback. You have been warned. If you are not familiar with the theorycrafting that has been done thus far with Subtlety, I suggest you read my post on Ravenholdt so that you are up-to-date.

In theory, I really like how Subtlety is changing. The new Multistrike mechanic, SC, is super interesting, and the Fan of Knives perk is amazing. In practice, I think there are a lot of small problems with Subtlety mechanically that all together could make it a bit of a mess. Here goes:

nHemo Weaving

nHemo Weaving is what I and Fierydemise, and therefore everyone, is calling the playstyle of maintaining a certain potency of the Hemorrhage DoT by using some number (n) of Hemorrhages, then using Backstab as the primary combo point builder. In theory, this is really interesting, and in fact using a 4-Hemo rotation was really fun during raid testing. The problem is, there is a good chance that the n will fluctuate quite a bit depending on both gear and RNG.

This could very well lead to addons being required to play Subtlety at a top 100 progression level, which would be a problem. Moreover, for those who do not want an addon or to check out the average number of Hemorrhages to weave every time they get an upgrade, this question becomes even more of a problem, since guide writers have no idea what kind of gear this person has so it could very well be that for one, weaving 4 Hemorrhages is optimal, while for another, a full-Hemorrhage rotation is best. This leads me nicely to my next point.


As I mentioned in my theorycrafting post, it is reasonable for someone with low multistrike to completely forsake Backstab and use a full-Hemorrhage rotation. This is problematic for multiple reasons. First, without Backstab it is unlikely that Multistrike will be our most valuable stat, making justifying it somewhat difficult. I don’t see that as a big issue, but if you are fighting for gear with another class that would use that gear immediately you may find it a hard fight to win. Second, discouraging Multistrike means discouraging our attuned stat, which means Subtlety rogues with bad gear are also getting fewer stats for their item level, which is just kicking them while they’re down. Third, it is super unintuitive to not use Backstab at all for Subtlety, so while it is unlikely that a new player will get the rotation right if they are supposed to be nHemo-weaving, it is even more unlikely that they will on their own realize that Backstab is strictly worse than Hemorrhage for them.


On a similar note, while the Fan of Knives perk is amaaaaaaaazing, the fact that we may actually want to AoE as Subtlety brings to light some of its problems.

First, Subtlety AoE gains no particular benefit from haste, since with 5 CP per FoK you are unlikely to be low on energy unless the AoE lasts quite a long time and autoattacks are less significant. Similarly, Subtlety AoE is unaffected by SC, which means that once again the mechanic that makes our attuned stat good is no longer functional. Crit just kinda continues to be Crit for Subtlety, however with a finisher every other second, Mastery’s value is substantially increased. This means that while for single target DPS we ideally want Multistrike over all else, for AoE we go from caring maybe some but not a ton about mastery to OH DEAR LORD GIMME MORE GIMME MORE. Why is that a problem? Well first of all, it might encourage Subtlety rogues to carry two gear sets so that they can switch to their mastery set for AoE fights, second, because it might encourage rogues to go Assassination for single target and Subtlety for AoE/cleave (depending on how numbers tuning works out) since both specs when used that way would like mastery, and third because shouldn’t our attuned stat be useful in all common circumstances? It is worth noting that a full mastery build would probably discourage the use of Backstab altogether, which I already talked about.

Second, as much hype as there has been regarding SC, I’d argue Find Weakness is still the main mechanic of Subtlety in PvE. Unfortunately, Find Weakness is only applied through single target abilities, which makes it pretty useless in AoE situations. While I could see it being worthwhile in cleave situations, it still involves ignoring the other targets for the duration of the ability as well as only dealing extra damage to one target after AoE resumes.

Finally, none of Subtlety’s AoE abilities do good damage with the possible exception of Crimson Tempest, which takes 12 seconds to do its damage. The lack of instant AoE damage encourages Subtlety rogues to use FoK only for the combo points and just keep dumping them on the boss or for SnD, as the damage dealt that way will be significantly more and other classes are far more capable of dealing with quick AoE bursts.


As I see it there are two basic problems, which I will address one at a time.

The first is Sinister Calling’s interaction with Hemorrhage. Since at this point in Beta this is unlikely for this to be addressed via major mechanical adjustments, I think the two best ways of solving this issue are to revert the change that makes Hemorrhages’ bleed damage be conserved upon refreshes, and to significantly reduce the duration of Hemorrhage, say to dealing 100% of the initial damage over 3 seconds, ticking once every second.

The first would lead to regular Hemo-weaving like we do on live, which I dislike for a few reasons. Right off the bat, the thing I really liked about nHemo-weaving is how I really felt that Hemorrhage and Backstab were working together, and that I had a great deal of control over their interaction. Testing out this rotation on a target dummy, I realized that for the first time since Cataclysm, I felt true satisfaction in executing the Subtlety rotation. Reverting the rotation to single Hemo-weaving would make the spec notably easier to play, which completely removes one of the points of the Multistrike mechanic which was to “add rotational depth” (WoD Beta Patch Notes, Subtlety Section). Right now, Subtlety is super close to being utterly amazing, and removing the rolling periodic behavior from Hemorrhage would be undoing everything good that happened to Subtlety’s single target rotation.

Another objection I have for removing the rolling periodic behavior of Hemorrhage is that the rogue community as a whole will likely see that as a huge nerf to frontal damage. As it is, Sublety rogues are still forced to use Hemorrhage as their primary combo point generator when facing their target. The potency and rolling behavior of Hemorrhage, combined with the frequency in which we can side-stab, finally got some respected raiders that I know to drop positional requirements as a reason not to play Subtlety. Whether valid or not, I think it highly likely that my fellow rogues will once again find it impossible to recommend Subtlety for Mythic progression.

Also, I recently talked about this very issue with Fierydemise and we agreed that sacrificing the rolling periodic behavior of Hemorrhage for the purposes of rotational stability would be a step in the wrong direction. I only say this because when Fiery and I agree on something, it is worth noting.

Can you tell I really don’t want this option? Because I really don’t want this option….

Option two, shortening Hemorrhages bleed to the point where it would be unfeasible to weave more than one Hemorrhage, still has its problems but is also clearly superior. For starters, it keeps the rotation interesting. The dynamic of pooling energy to pull off Hemo-Backstab-Backstab works really well with the need to maintain Rupture and Slice and Dice. While pulling off Hemo-2xBS is easier than 4Hemo-weaving, the fact that Rupture is now the only consistent way to maintain SV makes up for it. This also has the interesting dynamic of Hemorrhage still being good for providing fast SV for quick swaps, but not being passable as a consistent source of the debuff. This is significantly more OK than it is on live, because Rupture does a lot more work in Warlords and therefore should be up more anyway. This rotation also makes Hemorrhage no longer an upkeep buff that should be ideally used during Find Weakness (yes, there would be issues there, losing a few ticks so that it snapshots during FW for more damage would likely be recommended).

I’m getting really tired and know I am missing some arguments regarding the short-duration option, however all in all I think this would solve the issue of nHemo-weaving in a way that would keep Subtlety approximately as fun as it is now on Beta, which is really super fun!

Finally let’s get to the second problem, which is Subtlety’s core mechanics’ lack of interaction with AoE. Honor Among Thieves gets completely overshadowed by FoK, which is fine because getting 5 CP on a generator is amazing and HaT still does work, however Find Weakness and Sinister Calling not interacting at all with AoE is pretty anticlimactic. Since Subtlety’s AoE continues to be pretty meh (not to be confused with its single-target DPS when surrounded by a bunch of baddies), and numbers haven’t been tuned yet, I think it makes sense to talk in terms of adding mechanics which are inevitably going to be buffs.

First on the list is SC, which actually is a serious issue because it messes with stat weights. The easiest way of dealing with this is to make it so that FoK multistrikes proc additional procs of bleeds on the affected target – in other words, add FoK to SC. This would slightly help Subtlety’s problem of backloaded AoE, but mostly make the mechanic that is supposed to make Subtlety rogues want Multistrike actually good on all fights. Thankfully, Crimson Tempest hits for low enough that extra procs shouldn’t be a very big deal, though if they are I would love you to frontload more of its damage as a “nerf”.

Second, Find Weakness. The only reason I mention this is because I really think it is Subtlety’s primary mechanic, and not having it be single target feels awkward. I think the best solution for this is to make Ambush cleave, allowing the debuff to be applied to multiple targets (say in a cone). If this is OP, then instead make Garrote cleave or FoKs from Stealth or Shadow Dance apply FW. While I admit that these mechanics are a bit unintuitive, I think that at the very least Subtlety should have a bit more support of cleave from its primary mechanic.


If you have comments, please post them on the discussion thread for this post at Ravenholdt.