Sunday, 12 October 2008

Rogue 101: Stealth

There's been some discussion recently centered around the fact that rogues are getting something very similar to Misdirect in the form of Tricks of the Trade, whilst Hunters are not getting Camouflage because it was too similar to stealth and the developers referred it to a class defining skill.

Now I'm not going to go into the relevant merits of whether this is right or not, there's plenty of that here and on the forums but some of the comments about stealth were so inaccurate it's prompted me to write another Rogue 101 article.

So let's start by looking at the in-game description of this ability:
Allows the rogue to sneak around, but reduces your speed by 30%. Lasts until cancelled.
This is the current highest rank of stealth available (trainable at level 60), lower levels provide the same buff but have a higher reduction in movement speed. It is worth noting right at the start that stealth is not the same as Invisibility, any buffs (such as detect invisibility) that allow you to spot invisible targets will not help you spot a rogue in stealth.

To be spotted in stealth you need to be in front of the mob/player and close to them. How close depends on your stealth level compared to their stealth detection level. The general rule of stealth is that each level grants you 5 points of stealth and 5 points of stealth detection. So differences in level will be a big factor in how close you can get before before you're spotted. When sneaking up towards a mob, if you're spotted you'll get a warning as the mob makes a noise and turns to look at you, if you stay very still or back away you'll normally get away with it, otherwise the mob will attack and you'll lose the element of surprise.

An important thing to look for on a mob is an eye like symbol above their head which you can only see whilst in stealth. This indicates that the mob has the 'True Seeing" buff and will see you from a lot further out than a normal mob of that level. This is particularly important in dungeons and raids where there are more of these mobs and it'll negate the use of Sap as crowd control as you won't be able to get close enough to use the ability before they spot you and attack.

There are a few buffs that can be used to increase your stealth level which can be found on armor, talents or potions. Using these may allow you to sneak past higher level mobs or make you harder to spot whilst participating in a battleground.

Now that we know how stealth works and how it relates to other players and mobs, let's look at how we can use it during questing and playing in a group.

There are some key abilities that can only be used whilst in stealth:

Cheap shot is the standard opening move whilst questing which stuns the mob and adds two combo points.

Ambush requires the use of daggers but is great for burst damage either in PvP or soon in groups with the use of Tricks of the Trade on the tank.

Garrote adds a bleed dot and silences the target for a few seconds, this is a standard opener in PvE groups now, since the change making more mobs susceptible to bleed effects came into effect. Doing damage over time means that you're less likely to steal aggro from the tank in those first few moments of a fight.

Sap is the rogue crowd control which currently only works on Humanoids, but will soon be expanded to anything with a brain. Doesn't have a chance to break early and lasts 45seconds keeping the mob in place.

Distract causes mobs to look where you've put the distract. When used a targetting circle appears, everything in the circle will look at the centre of it should it not be resisted. Be wary of resists as you'll need to either wait for the cooldown or make another way round.

Pick pocket accesses a second loot table on humanoid mobs which always has some cash in it along with the possibility of some other goodies such as potions or junk boxes. Be vary careful using this before sapping as a resist on this will break you out of stealth and in the middle of a group of angry individuals.

The abilities we can use whilst in stealth as rogues are what make it such a core ability of the class. The fact that it's used to sneak around, bypassing mobs and getting the jump on opposing players only really scratches the surface of what it provides.

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