7.6 Guide to Maximizing Gear for Raid DPS by Zodar
Every day, I see Rogues who are getting close to level 70, or have just reached level 70, and they constantly ask "What types of weapons/gear/etc should I be looking for " My website is specifically designed to address that issue. But there's a big difference between looking at a bunch of information on charts and actually knowing how to apply that knowledge. With that in mind, I've put together this guide to help you maximize your gear for Raid DPS.
Main Hand Weapon
Your main priority should always be upgrading your weapons. You'll see the most improvement in your DPS when you upgrade your weapons, and most importantly, your main hand weapon. A Rogue's main hand weapon should be hard hitting, with a high average damage range. I make that distinction, because some Rogues get carried away with top end damage for those screenshot moments, when it's the weapon's average damage that matters most. Stats and special effects are always nice, but it's the average damage that makes a main hand weapon.
Off Hand Weapon
Your offhand weapon is also important. Once you've secured a hard hitting main hand weapon, you need to get yourself a quality offhand weapon. Generally, Rogues want offhand weapons with fast speeds for increased poison application and weapon specialization procs. Speed is even more important for Combat Rogues due to Combat Potency. Mutilate Rogues, on the other hand, value weapon damage for maximum effect.
Gladiator weapons are the offhand weapon of choice these days, because they offer fast speed, high DPS and nice stats. Most importantly, ANY Rogue, whether you regularly PVP or not, can acquire a Gladiator offhand within a few weeks with minimal effort. All it takes is one other teammate to make a 2v2 Arena Team and 10 matches per week. For the most part, queue times are very short and matches are quick and painless. Just spend 1 or 2 hours each week and you WILL be able to earn yourself an endgame offhand in about a month or so.
Now that you've built yourself a solid foundation around your weapons, it's time to get your armor in order. First and foremost, you must understand the difference between PVE and PVP armor. PVE armor focuses on offensive stats like Hit Rating and AP. PVP armor focuses on defensive stats like Stamina and Resilience. If you want to maximize your effectiveness for Raid DPS, then you need to make gear decisions based on that very important distinction.
A Dead Rogue = 0 DPS, but the key is knowing when you expect to die. As you raid more and more, you should get a good feel for which encounters are going to give you trouble (cleaves, AOE's, etc.) and which won't. Armed with this knowledge, you can make intelligent gear changes on the fly to maximize your Raid DPS when it counts. When engaged in battles where you don't realistically expect to take any damage, use your Maximum DPS gear. But in situations where you expect conditions to be less than favorable, swap in some Stamina-heavy gear to keep you alive.
Instead of trying to create a hybrid set that works for both types of situations, you should make two sets and use a wardrobe mod to switch between them with a click of a button. As you gain more and more epic armor, those pieces can often serve both purposes. Until then, you should try to acquire two pieces of armor (through questing, crafting, instances, etc.) to meet those opposing needs for each slot.
To see an extreme example of this, just check out my own Armory. My current Max DPS set (all pre-Heroice/pre-Karazhan) has nearly 1500 AP and over 300 Hit, with very little Stamina (5,400 health). But at a moment's notice, I can use Outfitter to switch to a partial Stamina set (7,000 health) or Heavy Stamina set (8,000 health), depending upon the circumstances.
Inexperienced Rogues often underestimate the value of quality enchantments. If you don't enchant your gear, it's the equivalent of walking around with 2 or 3 broken pieces of armor. Your stats really are hurt that much. If you don't believe me, just do the math. Here is what a decent collection of quality enchants adds up to:
Weapons: 15 Agility + 15 Agility
That's a lot of stats. If your gear isn't enchanted, then your stats are suffering, plain and simple. Your PVE set should be enchanted with Agility, AP, Hit and Crit. Your Stamina/PVP set should be enchanted with Health and Stamina. Doing this will maximize your gear for those opposing purposes.
Much like with enchantments, you should maximize your gems for PVE to improve your Raid DPS. Use Agility, AP, Hit and Crit gems for your PVE gear, and use Stamina gems for your Stamina/PVP gear. Whenever possible, you should always try to match socket colors for the socket bonus to get the most out of your gear. If the socket bonus is terrible (3 Dodge) then feel free to ignore the socket bonus and use whatever color gem works best for you.
Listed below are the gems I recommend for each color socket:
Red: Delicate Living Ruby, Bright Living Ruby, Glinting Noble Topaz
Blue Sockets are the weakest for PVE purposes. If Stamina means little to you, then you may want to socket them with Red or Yellow gems instead. However, I do not recommend blindly socketing Red/Yellow gems in all of your Blue sockets if the socket bonus makes up for the relative weakness of using a Blue Gem. Examples of this would be any item that has 4 Agi, 4 Hit, 4 Crit or 8 AP as the socket bonus. In those cases, you could socket a single blue Shifting Nightseye or Jagged Talasite and essentially get the 6 Stamina for "free".
I often see Rogues who don't put much effort into building up their professions. Some professions can give you some very useful benefits to help you increase your Raid DPS. Blacksmiths can craft epic weapons, Leatherworkers can craft epic armor, Engineers can craft some really nice helms, Enchanters can enchant their rings, and even Alchemists can make a nice trinket for themselves. If you aren't taking full advantage of your professions, then you're doing your character a disservice.
When collecting gear, always keep set bonuses in mind. Item A might technically be better than Item B, but if Item B & Item C give you a set bonus that more than makes up for this difference, then go with the set. Conversely, don't feel that you are married to wearing 3 pieces of a set while waiting for that elusive piece to complete your 4-piece set bonus. If you have access to an item with better stats than any one of those three set pieces, then swap one out until you get that 4th set piece.
With the 2.1 patch out now, consumables, and specifically Alchemy, have taken a big hit. In the past, you could stack tons of consumables to maximize your damage while improving your survivability. Now, your options are much more limited. You can only use one Battle Elixir and one Guardian Elixir, and Flasks count as both. To make matters worse, many quest-type consumables (Juju items, Blasted Lands Buffs, etc.) have been lumped into these narrow categories. Even Food and Drink have been combined. But that doesn't mean you should give up on consumables. Consumables have been and always will be an important way to increase your effectiveness and boost your overall DPS. If you ignore consumables, then it's like raiding with broken gear.