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.

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.

Thoughts on Combo Points

It’s time to break my not-posting streak.  This post is different from my other posts in that with the exception of this introduction I did not write this as a blog post.  Rather, what comes below is my response to someone asking what the reasoning behind the Alpha change of having CP stack on the rogue instead of the target and some additional thoughts I had during the subsequent discussion.


The First Section

There’s no super compelling gameplay reason why combo points (CP) should be on the rogue. Unlike issues like Cata-era Blade Flurry which cause legitimate and non-trivial balance concerns regarding a single spec, CP on the rogue has never held us back enough to the point where rogues would be dropped for certain fights. Moreover, since all specs have CP on the target, that mechanic has never encouraged rogues to keep a specific spec like they did when Blade Flurry was OP. So basically, the reasons for having CP stack on the rogue really have very little to do with balance.

In the next section I’m gonna go ahead and state the reasons that I remember/can think of for CP stacking on the rogue instead of the target. It will be me attempting to justify this change. I am going to try real hard, but I have to be honest – the one after will be me saying why most of these arguments are flawed.

The Next Section

Combo points stacking on the rogue has been a long time coming. Rogues have always been below the curve when switching targets. While our ability to swap targets has improved over the years through significantly less ramp-up time, Redirect, various new talent/glyph options, and more, CP stacking on the target has consistently been a problem. This change will allow rogues to be more in-line with other melee and provide a more balanced environment in PvE and PvP alike.

Our resource system used to be cool and unique, but then Blizzard decided to give paladins, then monks and warlocks an even better form of our resource system. Now not only are CP not unique, but they are also clearly inferior to the systems that were modeled after them. While sharing resource systems with other classes is fine, having ours be the only CP-like system with the significant downside of being on the target feels kinda crummy. When considered alongside the fact that rogues have had this system since their creation without any updates, it feels like CP have been both used and neglected – an undeniably unpleasant combination.

I’ve played and enjoyed my rogue ever since I started playing WoW. Until recently, I’ve always loved it. Except nowadays, something’s different. When I play my rogue, it just isn’t as exciting/fun as it used to be. On the other hand, when I play my monk (/lock/pally/anything really) I find it really fun. It feels new and streamlined and makes my old rogue look wholly outdated by comparison. We all know that rogues are the least played class*, and have changed the least since Vanilla**, and I can’t help but think these are connected. In order to bring back life to the rogue class we need to get with the times. The easiest way to do that without completely reworking the class would be to have CP stack on the rogue.

The One After

Here’s what I say to those arguments:

The first argument pertains to relative balance between classes. While everything in it is true in theory, as I explained earlier the weakness rogues have in swapping targets is no so strong as to prevent us from participating in certain fights, nor has it been a particularly prevalent factor in PvP balance (though it does raise the skill cap). The only way I can interpret this argument is “rogues are bad at swapping targets therefore target swapping should be buffed, and this would be accomplished by allowing CP to stack on the rogue.” Of course, I didn’t phrase it like that in the above paragraph, because if I were to make that argument then I’d just feel silly. The fact is, just like rogues should be the best at some things, so should we be the worst at others. In order for me to buy this argument, I need to be convinced that this is actually a problem. I’m not. Yes, the fact that the placement of CP failed to prevent me from doing the content that I wish is a factor here, but more than that the very fact that swapping targets has always been a disadvantage is an extremely compelling reason for CP to stay as they are. This is because (1) As much as I may think I want to play a class with no disadvantages, I don’t; (2) I like my rogue and the skill required to swap targets and manage CP is a fundamental part of my rogue (and something I personally enjoy), and am worried this change will make me feel like I am playing a different class; and (3) because the need for balance requires equivalent exchange and I don’t want a new flaw, I want the one that I have accepted as part of my class for what, 9 years? As far as I’m concerned, this argument is a well made bucket that holds no water.

Now this argument is interesting. Unlike the previous one, it makes no attempt at being subjective. I suppose the fact that some people feel that way is unfortunate. I don’t feel this way to the point where I have to wonder how big of a deal other classes having a measurably better system actually is, because to me this just seems like an argument that is tacked on because it is extremely easy to make.

This one feels a lot like “My tastes have changed and I want my rogue to change with them.” My initial response is, “…eh?” Thing is, getting tired of the class you’ve played for 5+ years seems incredibly reasonable. I can’t help but interpret this argument as a sequence of events that goes [Gets burnt out with rogue] > [Wonders why while playing another class] > [Sees outdated mechanic that holds rogues back and no other class has] > [Decides that mechanic needs to change in order for them to like playing their rogue again]. The thing is, if you are looking for a reason, you’ll find one. Maybe the one you find is the right one, but maybe it isn’t. The points about rogues being one of the least played classes and having undergone relatively little iteration since Vanilla aren’t necessarily problems, nor are they necessarily the reasons someone stopped playing the class, despite what they may think.**** I have lots of thoughts on this but if I tried to articulate them this paragraph would get even more confusing than it already is, so I’ll just get to the point. As much as this wants to be an argument for why CP should be on the rogue, it isn’t. In actuality it is something much stronger. It is a statement that says that in order for the rogue class to be interesting again, it needs change. Attached to that is a suggestion for one such change.

Hey, a Conclusion-eque Thing!

I like my rogue. I like knowing my class inside and out. I like how playing a rogue gives me challenges to overcome – being melee, managing a complex rotation (Subtlety), and yes, thinking about swapping targets. From this perspective, I cannot help but think that rogues who want either change or something to complain about latched on to this issue because it is an easy, tangible subject that seems like it would help. The question is, if these people not enjoying their rogue is a disease, will making CP stack on the rogue actually cure the disease, or will just make it more tolerable by treating some of the symptoms?

Whoh.  Footnotes.

*Except monks, which don’t count because they are new.
**True or not, this (along with the previous statement) claim is widely accepted as true among the rogue community, which is far more relevant than the actual fact of the matter.
***Rfeann talked about the question of whether or not people know why they are bored with their rogue far more eloquently here.


But Wait, There’s More!

Here’s something I wrote in the aforementioned discussion in response to a feral druid who was in favor of positional requirements.

1) I think being bad at swapping targets is a legitimate (that is, noticeable and not game-breaking) disadvantage to have.

2) There aren’t all that many legitimate advantages and disadvantages. In contrast, there are many classes.

3) Each class deserves strengths (advantages), but in order for them to be meaningful they must also have weaknesses (disadvantages). Moreover, each class should feel unique.

4) From (2) and (3) it follows that in order for classes to be different it is only reasonable that each legitimate advantage and disadvantage be represented. This ties into the whole concept of a class system – some classes should be better at some things than others. Conversely, some classes should be worse at some things than others.

5) At the moment there is one class and one spec that have a natural (built-in) handicap at target swapping. The class has ways of getting around it (though it requires some skill) while the spec has fewer – but is also just one spec out of 34.

6) I am of the opinion that (5) seems completely reasonable. There is a disadvantage that needs to go somewhere. One class has it for all specs but is also given ways to work around it. In addition, one spec has it. While that spec has fewer ways of dealing with the mechanic, restricting oneself to a single spec should come with a slightly higher disadvantage (There’s a reason why rogues doing heroic progression don’t only play as Subtlety).

7) This specific change is significant (especially for rogues) since it removes the most tangible reason that we have a disadvantage at target swapping and gives a very strong message of Blizzard no longer wanting this to be a disadvantage. I say especially for rogues because it is a class-wide change for us that may well fundamentally alter our role in a raid.

That last sentence deserves a paragraph. This change may well fundamentally alter the role of rogues in a raid environment. If we are able to easily swap to adds and even open with back-to-back finishers via Anticipation or MfD, then we may very well be *good* at add fights. What the hell! In all my time raiding there has never been a time when I’ve thought to myself, “Man, I really wish I could do something other than stay behind this boss and stab it.” That’s significant, because I’m pretty sure other classes think that. As a rogue (especially a subtlety one!) I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to sit on a boss pretty frequently. Again, I like this. It is one of the reasons that I enjoy raiding on my rogue. I like having one job, and being damn good at it. If I wanted to be on add duty, then there are 10 other classes that I could play depending on how much time I wanted to be on them. If I log on in 6.0 to find my CP stacking on me, I know I’ll be more versatile and that they will be more convenient. Maybe I’ll even enjoy it. The thing is though, being closer to other classes in this regard means that rogues as a whole will be closer to other classes, and I really don’t want that.

People throw around the word “balance” like it is something we should be constantly striving for. Like if perfect balance means a perfect game. I’d like to remind everyone that such a claim is stupid. The word “rogue” can mean a lot of things. It can be an assassin that kills enemies before they can react, or an agile fighter that can kill a great warrior without taking a hit, but oh boy if they get hit they go down, or a brawler who disables their foes so that their friends can kill them easily. The list goes on, but there’s one thing these archetypes all have in common: Rogues are not meant to be balanced.

To wrap up, I don’t give a damn about Feral Druids. If you want to drop combo points in favor of Kitty Power, then far be it from me to complain. If anything, that just means that rogues are more unique. While you’re having fun chasing adds, I’m going to do what I’ve always done: Killing the biggest, meanest thing in the room, because it’s damn fun.


I originally wrote this in my subtlety PvE guide on the official forums (link), but since I have a blog now I figure it makes sense to post it here.  Plus a little bird with a red hat suggested it.  Anyway, I just copied this over word for word with the only modification being to update the SV buff to 35% (was 25% at the time of the writeup).

Subtlety-specific notes:

  • T16 is out! That means some really good bonuses that I’ll put into one of the theorycrafting sections.
  • Nightstalker now increases damage while stealthed by 50%, up from 25% – But you should still shouldn’t be using it.
  • Sanguinary Vein now increases damage by 35% (up from 20%)
  • Eviscerate damage reduced by 10%.
  • Backstab and Hemo damage increased by 15%.
  • Ambush damage increased by 12%.
  • Fan of Knives damage increased by 25%.
  • Glyph of Sap replaced by Glyph of Hemorrhaging Veins: Allows Hemorrhage to apply the SV damage increase (This is game changing).
  • Glyph of Crippling Poison replaced with Glyph of Sharpened Knives, which makes FoK apply the Sunder Armor debuff.
  • Glyph of Adrenaline Rush was made baseline, now we get Glyph of Redirect, which reduces the cooldown of Redirect by 50 seconds (down to 10 seconds).


Subtlety is getting buffed a lot, which will make it much more competitive in every type of situation. While it will still be behind in terms of AoE, it should be a lot easier to match the single target output of the other specs even with positional issues for small portions of the fight. The addition of Glyph of Hemorrhaging Veins and Glyph of Redirect will make Subtlety much better at switching targets, though how target swapping compares to other specs remains unknown. The buffs to FoK and SV will also help bring our AoE closer to that of the other spec’s but it is still looking quite weak.

All in all this is a happy day if you want to play Subtlety in Siege of Orgrimmar. While we don’t yet know what the best spec will be, Sub is definitely worth a try, as it should be strong on any fight without crucial AoE or long-lasting times where we must face our target.


For the record, the single target DPS increase should be just over 15% if you ignore the t15 4pc nerf.  That, or my math is off.

Patch 5.4 Subtlety Write-up