Getting Past Level 10
March 22, 2010 13 Comments
There was a discussion in guild chat (SAN-US) a week or so ago about how new players to the game tend to not make it past level 10 before they decide that WoW is not for them. In the course of that conversation the idea was brought up to post about it, so here I am doing just that, from the Rogue perspective. I’ll warn you though, you’re in for a Wall of text.
Having struggled through the starting zone leveling Sam (my first toon), I was surprised at how much easier the “kiddie pool” area in Dun Murogh was this time around. Nothing in the starting area is hostile, so you can pick and aggro what you choose. Because of this, getting to level 5 isn’t too much of a problem. However, getting from 5-10 can be a challenge, and it’s my guess that’s where people lose interest. Today, I’ll talk about my perspective on this issue and throw out some tips / tricks that might make life a bit easier for the lowbie Rogues out there.
Before I embark on a conversation that might spark some controversy, let me add that I’ve leveled the following classes to 80:
As for Priests, Warriors and Druids, I’ve leveled each of these to at least level 20. Why do I bring this up? So that someone can’t start a comment with “You just don’t understand about class X and it’s problems…” The reality is, I read a lot of WoW blogs, and I’ve leveled most of the classes to max level, and understand the low-level problems with the few I haven’t. This post isn’t about how much it sucks to level a lowbie caster and drink after every other pull. This is about the problems that a young Rogue faces and how to combat them. If I mention something that a class has going for it, I certainly am not implying that everything is great for a low-level player of that class; again, I’ve been there.
One of the real issues with leveling a Rogue at low levels is the lack of abilities you have. Due to class design, you’re not going to overwhelm your opponent with a heavy hitting two-handed weapon (Paladin / Warrior), nor are you going to be doing any serious attacking from range (Priest, Warlock, Shaman, Druid, Mage and Hunter). You don’t have the ability to heal yourself, or conjure your own food. Also, as a Rogue, you receive very few class defining abilities until you get to and beyond level 20.
Rogues have only a handful of talented spellbook abilities, most of which are found in the Subtlety Tree, and each tree has a good deal of synergy with the abilities of the other. In fact, if you look at a level 80 Rogue’s spellbook, you’ll often find that each tree has only one page of abilities. Part of this stems from the fact that poisons aren’t considered an ability. If they were, that would add 5 separate abilities to the Assassination tree, for a total of 14. However, you can’t even use those until level 20, so that doesn’t really help a level 8 Rogue much. With the small number of abilities a Rogue has, Blizzard can only give them to us so quickly, so it’s really not until a Rogue is in their mid 20’s before they start getting the tools to be a truly effective assassin.
As I just stated, Rogues have very few abilities when compared to most other classes. There are only two classes in the game that I consider to be “pure” classes; Rogues and Mages. Warlocks and Hunters have a legitimate argument for being considered as “pure” classes, but for the sake of this post we’ll say that as of level 10 Hunter and Lock can use their pet to tank for them. Also, before getting to this point, these classes can kill a mob without it touching them, if played properly. Everything else can either DPS and Tank or Heal. In the case of Paladins and Druids, they can do it all.
While Mages are designed for pure DPS just like Rogues, they attack at range and can even slow their opponents down via Frostbolt, which is trainable by level 4. In addition, they can make water at level 4, conjure food by level 6 and Polymorph mobs at level 8. Rogues, by contrast, are given far less useful tools in their first 10 levels. The only two comparable abilities that a Rogue receives before level 10 are Gouge (level 6) and Evasion (level 8). The other major non-talented class defining control abilities come later in the game:
- Sprint & Sap – Level 10
- Kick – Level 12
- Dismantle & Poisons Level 20
- Distract & Vanish- Level 22
- Cheap Shot – Level 26
- Kidney Shot – level 30
- Blind – Level 34
- Cloak of Shadows – 66
As you can see, things get a bit easier in levels 10 and 12, but it’s at and beyond level 20 that we start seeing the main control abilities, like the two Stuns, Vanish and Blind. It takes some creativity to make it to level 10 and then to level 20 and beyond, but there are some things that you can do to make your journey a little easier.
– Lowbie Rogue Tips –
I’ve only really leveled a Rogue in Dun Murogh, but I’ve leveled through each of the 4 major Alliance starting zones, and while each has its own unique quests, the problems that players face are generally the same. With the limited amount of tools you’ll receive from being a Rogue, it’s a good idea to augment those abilities via professions. Before you go too crazy leveling beyond level 5, you may want to take a visit to the nearest Capital city and look into the following:
- Alchemy / Herbalism – Since you won’t have any way to heal yourself from just being a Rogue, being able to create health potions can be a very valuable tool. There are also a handful of other useful potions and elixirs you can make to augment your abilities at a low level. Herbalism, in addition to fueling the mats for Alchemy will give you a spell called lifeblood which is a Heal over Time spell that can help you in a tight spot. Selling extra herbs can help you acquire some much-needed gold as well.
- First Aid – First Aid is a quick way to heal yourself up outside of combat, and in it as well if you know how to use it properly. Also, making Anti-Venom will be useful to all non dwarf Rogues in dispelling poisons. Generally this secondary profession is the easiest to level, as you’ll acquire al the mats you need as you level.
- Fishing / Cooking – The buffs you can get from cooked food can be very helpful to both your damage and survivability. Low level cooking isn’t too difficult to level, and the mats you need can be easily gathered while completing quests. Fishing is a bit more time-consuming, but fishing makes cooking significantly easier to level later in the game.
Ok, so you’re level 5, and you’re trying to make it through level 10 and hopefully at some point 80. You’re starting to run into harder quests and areas where it’s pretty easy to get yourself killed. What’s a Rogue to do?
Basic Ability Advice
At level 4 you picked up Backstab. You can use it to land a fairly fierce first attack on an enemy. If the enemy is hostile, you can use Stealth to sneak up on a mob, but that can be rather difficult, as Stealth is by no means invisibility. Be careful as you approach and watch the way the mob faces and paths.
With level 6, you gain Gouge, which is your only stun / interrupt that you’ll have for a while. It lasts 4 seconds and stops your auto attack. There are several ways this ability can help you. In a pinch you can Gouge the mob and use a First Aid bandage. Also, you can stun the mob and run behind for another Backstab (you’ll need about 60 energy when you use Gouge for this to work). Or, you can use it to stun the mob and run away if you feel that you cannot survive the encounter.
When you hit level 8, you’ll gain Evasion. I pop evasion anytime I’ve accidently pulled 2 or more mobs. I believe that it’s far better to pop it and not need it than pop it later and realize that you should have used it sooner. Either way, this ability will only help you avoid mellee damage.
Dealing with Casters / Ranged
As you approach level 10 you’ll begin to face mobs that either cast spells or attack you from range in other ways. If at all possible you want to pull these mobs one at a time. Your best bet is to ranged pull with your thrown weapon and line of sight the mob. If the mob cannot “see” you because there is a building in the way, or some other large terrain obstacle, it will run in your direction until it can.
Eventually you will be engaging the mob in close quarters, but you do not want to do that if another mob will pull by running up to the mob. If there is no way to line of sight the ranged mob, pick off any other mobs by pulling them away from the ranged mob via a thrown weapon pull and then engage the ranged mob. If it is a caster you can use gouge to interrupt its cast and avoid most damage that the mob would deal to you.
Being a low level Rogue can be tricky and require creativity, but it generally boils down to this: Safely pick apart the area one mob at a time if possible. If you take the time to assess the situation you’re in, you should be able to do just that. Vary rarely will you pull 2 mobs if you’re careful, and certainly not 3. If you accidently do miss pull, don’t be afraid to run away rather than fight.
I think that most people give up on the Rogue class too early. Granted, it’s not entirely their fault. It’s something that you have to stick with for 30 or so levels before it starts to really reflect what the class is like. Rogues are very different from other classes. If you are dying constantly on a low level rogue, you’re probably doing it the hard way. We’re a close quarters melee class, but being a Rogue is not about charging in and trying to take on 5 things at once. Leave that to the Warriors and Paladins and be sneaky about it.