Ruffy Rants: Are Rogues Too Evil to Be Popular in WoW?
Dec 20, '12 by sveltekumquat
Over the past week, there’s been a big ol’ burning hunk of discussion among some WoWians regarding the low number of max-level rogues in the game. (Though, to be honest, this is a topic of conversation I’ve seen come up periodically for years now; it’s just that a recent WoW Insider post brought the issue back to the forefront, causing idiots like me to rant about the problem and pulling Ghostcrawler into a lengthy back-and-forth with players on Twitter about it as well.)
What makes this convo fascinating to me is that there are so many potential reasons to explain why rogues are much more rarely played than most other classes. (And thus, so many potential ways to fix the problem — if it’s even really a “problem.” But that’s a rant for another day. :) )
Much of the discussion tends to revolve around issues of class mechanics — that compared to other classes, we don’t have enough mobility, aren’t strong enough defensively, have too much passive damage, rely too heavily on cooldowns, have to wait too long between using abilities, yada yada ya.
I’m not saying those are stupid explanations for why rogue population numbers are low — heck, I even proposed a few of them in my last rant on this subject. They just ring hollow to me, because the more I think about this issue, the more I feel like that the majority of the playerbase — as in, the people who *don’t* read this blog (or any WoW blog, for that matter) or game forums, and who just like to play the game without studying it intensely — I don’t think the majority of those folks give a crap about those sorts of nuances. I’ve begun to think that for them, whether to play a rogue or not play a rogue comes down to subconscious questions: Do they connect with the class on an emotional level? Does it feel fun to play? Does it feel comfortable, like that old pair of jeans you refuse to throw out even though there’s a huge hole in the crotch and your significant other cringes whenever you squat while you wear them?
To explore these questions, I did what any other moron on the Internet would do: I went on Twitter and harassed the crap out of people who are way more well-known and important than me, like @madsushi (Chase Christian of WoW Insider’s Encrypted Text column), @wowcynwise (Cynwise, a well-known WoW blogger and brain-smart person) and @Ghostcrawler (Greg Street, who does somethingorother with some online game we play sometimes).
The results of this harassment were the twitversations below, which explored two lesser-discussed questions behind why rogue population numbers might be lower than we’d like. I’ll copy/paste the individual tweets below; hope y’all will take a moment to read them and maybe even offer your own thoughts, since I think this is a fascinating issue to explore more deeply (and potentially come up with some realistic solutions for).
The convo started off with me chatting with @madsushi about his keybinds. He then linked me a three-year-old blog post of his, which made me realize he is an AAAAAAAANCIENT blogger by WoW standards. Then these two discussions happened. (Please be sure to note the part, early on, where @madsushi basically calls this blog the best thing ever in the history of anything — I’d highlight it in blinking text, but I don’t want to get all egotistical about how superawesome everybody anywhere thinks I am.)
Is the Rogue Class Suffering Because We Don’t Have Enough Heroes?
- @SvelteKumquat: Has anyone on the planet been (consistently) rogue-blogging longer than you?
- @SvelteKumquat: (Rogging? Blogueing? Blinja-ing?)
- @madsushi: Nope. The old guard of Akrios, Ming, etc all closed up shop. I wish there were more roggers, RHR is a nice addition.
- @SvelteKumquat: :D I prefer to think of it as R-cubed. You think they all burned out generally? Or is it the class? (I kind-of include Aldriana.)
- @madsushi: It’s a mix. Many rerolled, many left for other games, etc. Not many people are built to play the same game/class for years.
- @madsushi: More and more, the vanilla players are fading. Most of the guys in my guild started in Wrath. It’s been a very long time.
- @madsushi: I talked about the lack of rogue heroes recently. Reckful hanging up his daggers was a big blow to our role model roster.
- @SvelteKumquat: Does a class need role models to thrive, though? How many others even truly have such defining icons?
- @madsushi: Swifty and Kungen and Kripp bring a lot of attention and new players to their classes.
- @madsushi: how would a new player know rogues are any good? Who advertises for them in a public venue?
- @SvelteKumquat: Is that relevant to a majority of the folks who play @Warcraft, though? How many pick/stick with a class based on “public” faces?
- @SvelteKumquat: I’m not saying I’m the norm, but I picked rogue b/c I wanted to be stealthy. I’ve stuck w/ it because I still want to be stealthy.
- @SvelteKumquat: I played for ~2 years before I even started to browse the Web and seek out others who played my class. “Public” folks meant nada.
- @madsushi: I just know guys like Swifty get 6-figure views; has to count for something.
- @madsushi: I play Terran in SC2 because I saw Boxer play. I started an alt warlock after seeing a Drakedog PvP video.
- @SvelteKumquat: Wish I could instinctively know whether you or me are outliers or representing the majority. Maybe it’s both. :)
Does WoW Fail to Give Us the Rogue Archetype We Crave?
- @madsushi: Cynwise made a great argument re: the warlock and rogue identity of being frail, evil, cowardly, cheesy. Hard sell for many.
- @SvelteKumquat: The “evil” argument is interesting; didn’t know @wowcynwise talked about that. Something about that tack feels “right” to me.
- @madsushi: Here was post: http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/appendix-b-the-problem-of-evil/ He also mentions the lack of warlocks in lore, rogues have the same problem.
- @madsushi: Garona is really not that important of a lore figure and Wrathion has decided to work with everyone now.
- @SvelteKumquat: Will go read the crap out of this shortly. I Assume Horde faction has enough “good” qualities to avoid the same trap?
- @wowcynwise: Oh man, that post featured “Friendship Wizards.” I still laugh about that.
- @wowcynwise: I think you’re right, Rogues have the same problem. Expecting RP parity with Pally/Druids might be unreasonable.
- @SvelteKumquat: But if what @Ghostcrawler says is true (abt rogue pop dip being since LK), then “evil” perception only goes so far.
- @SvelteKumquat: And wouldn’t it suggest games like Assassin’s Creed would be UNpopular? Evil has plenty of vg allure.
- @madsushi: AC only has to hold your attention for a few weeks, not a few years. Just a stroll down Evil Lane…
- @Ghostcrawler: I think the rogue fantasy is out there. Maybe we just don’t / can’t deliver on it. (AC fan here.)
What do you think? Does Blizzard fail to deliver a real “rogue experience”? And if so, is THAT why not enough people play them? Or is it really just about the mechanics, stupid?