Posts Tagged ‘rogue population’

The extraordinary Cynwise published his latest class distribution numbers over the weekend; let’s take a quick look at the rogue bits.

I very much recommend reading Cynwise’s summary of the new data, in which he takes snapshots of various class-population measurements on U.S./EU servers at the start of Patch 5.3 and compares them to earlier patches (and expansions). There are oodles of charts and lots of numbers and it’s all very overwhelming for a former English major like me, but there are several key takeaway points worth noting:

  • At the start of Patch 5.3, 6.2% of toons at max level were rogues. That’s up from 5.8% at the start of Patch 5.2, but still the lowest percentage of any class other than monks.
  • Not including monks, rogues were the least-popular class in heroic raids and the second-least-popular class in competitive arena (after hunters). It may be that the PvP overbuffing we got for Patch 5.2 wasn’t around long enough to seriously alter rogue representation in arena, although it does look like the proportion of arena players who were rogues did increase quite a bit. (It’s just that the percentage was so low to begin with that increasing the proportion “quite a bit” still wasn’t enough to make them objectively “popular.”)
  • Despite their low overall representation, rogue popularity at endgame grew more than any other class except monks during Patch 5.2. The number of level-90 rogues jumped 32%. (They just appear not to be finding their way into heroic raids or arena as frequently as other classes.)
  • The total number of rogue toons in the game (across all levels) dropped during Patch 5.2. The drop was slight — only about 1% — but rogues were the only class who saw a reduction in total toon number between the start of Patch 5.2 and the start of Patch 5.3.

And then there’s this (quoting Cynwise):

At all levels, there are more Rogues than Monks, Warlocks or Shaman. There are almost as many Rogues as there are Priests! But Rogues are not making it to level 90. […]

Some of this might be due to Rogue populations swelling in late Cataclysm for the legendary daggers. A large number of leveling PvP rogues might also account for it? I’m sure that the Rogue community will have much greater insight than I over it.

But right now, Warriors are behind the other hybrids by a little, and Rogues are behind the other pure DPS classes by a lot.


Rogues are more popular than they seem but are struggling to make it to the endgame. Those Rogues who make it to the endgame can do well, but so few of them do compared to everyone else that there’s something abnormal with them. Rogues are less likely to experience Pandaria than any other class, and that is worth investigating.

To illustrate his point, Cynwise showed us this chart:

It shows that, compared to all other classes, people are much less likely to finish leveling a rogue. This made me wonder: Where the heck are they “stopping,” and why?



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It looks like Ghostcrawler’s thoughts on what drives rogue population numbers have cemented a bit since he engaged folks on the topic a couple of months earlier. :)

I won’t add to the extensive ranting I’ve already done (not once, but twice) recently on the subject. But I do want to point out that GC is specifically referring here to the rogue population’s drop during the Lich King expansion, not to the rogue class’s relative lack of popularity over all (which may have a whole host of additional explanations).

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We can haz shinyness?


Firstly: Whoever you are, @Aulper7, you are incredible at asking questions that Ghostcrawler feels compelled to answer. If you taught a class, I bet hundreds of WoW tweeters and GC stalkers would sign up for it.

On topic: Despite the small number of words involved in this exchange, they provide us with what might be a telling insight into what the class design team (or at least GC) feels drives rogue population trends. Patch 5.2 seeks to increase rogues’ viability in competitive PvP (thanks to changes to an array of talent changes, Preparation going baseline and the PvP set bonus granting extra energy), as well as a little bit of their PvE utility (largely thanks to Smoke Bomb becoming a group damage-reduction cooldown). But if it’s not enough to offset our persistent unpopularity as a class, what can Blizzard try next?

It’s dangerous to read too much into a tweet, and GC did just talk briefly about how he feels they need to work on rogue rotations, but this suggests he’s looking at the idea that more aesthetic fixes might make a difference where mechanical changes have thus far failed to have an impact.

I greet this with skepticism. Yes, visuals are really important in a game as graphically oriented as WoW. And yes, rogues have long been one of the most “low-key” classes aesthetically — even among melee toons, who are traditionally less flashy by virtue of the fact that they can’t cast pretty, ranged spells that fly spectacularly through the air at their target. (Even the newly buffed Shuriken Toss does little more than make the rogue look like it’s a highly caffeinated cat batting at a string.)

But do people stop playing their rogue — or stop leveling it, or decide not to even roll one in the first place — because the spells they cast aren’t visually exciting enough?

I have a hard time believing that people would abandon or ignore a class for quite that superficial a reason. I’d think that deeper gameplay issues — such as the lack of any AoE ability prior to level 66 (though this will change with the Blade Flurry adjustments in 5.2, potentially making Combat feel required while leveling in dungeons) — would be more behind that kind of thing than a more abstract lack of “cool-looking stuff” involving our abilities.

Could I be sorely underestimating the power that visuals have in keeping players interested in a class?

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Because there’s no horse quite like a dead horse. Except maybe another dead horse.


There’s been a lot of discussion swirling lately around the lack of people actively playing rogues in WoW. Heck, I’ve ranted about the issue *twice* (and a one, and a two) in the past several weeks, and I’m the world’s most peaceful rogue bunnyrabbit, so you know that’s gotta mean there’s some sort of trend.

I don’t want to retread too much ground those recent blog entries have already covered. But I don’t think this is solely a people-hate-being-melee (or a raid-leaders-don’t-like-bringing-melee) issue,  and I don’t think it’s a people-hate-being-constrained-into-one-role issue either, since we don’t see chronic population issues with mages or hunters (but we do with warlocks). If anything, this is a gameplay/perception issue; people either see the class as unattractive in the first place for some reason, or they stop enjoying the class at some point while (or after) leveling them.

Conversations like this ultimately slide back into the often-stated argument that one of the rogue specs should be turned into a tank spec. I’m sure this would make plenty of players happy. (I know it wouldn’t make *me* happy; even for a person like me who only plays WoW 5 to 10 hours a week, leveling an alt doesn’t feel like such a huge commitment that I wouldn’t just level up a tank if I felt like tanking.) But tanking isn’t exactly the most popular WoW pastime either, if those of you who queue for Raid Finder as DPS — and then spend 45 to 60 minutes waiting for *two* tanks to join in the fun — hadn’t noticed. Giving players the “extra option” of tanking on their rogues if they want isn’t necessarily going to do anything for the class beyond pleasing a small subset of people who want the ability to have their rogues deal less damage but carry all the burdens and responsibilities of tanking.

I’d make a reference here to the idea of a rogue spec being devoted to healing, but c’mon. That would just be a bloody mess. Literally.

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Whose rogue is it, anyway?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.

wouldn't the world be a better place if insults were always delivered via bunny rabbit?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: 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?

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Here’s a tweetversation that started off nowhere and then went somewhere really interesting. And I say that not only because I got involved and Ghostcrawler replied to something I said. Well, OK, primarily because of that.

(UPDATE 12/19: This has turned into one of the longest conversations GC has been engaged in thus far in his young tweexistence. I’ve added a ton of new tweets to the exchange since originally posting this on 12/18; everything below is kind-of in order from oldest to newest, though I’ve tried to group related tweets together where I could.)


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Shuriken Toss in action.WoW Insider’s Mathew Rossi knows how to write a sexy headline. “Are rogues a dying class?” is the tantalizing title of a new article posted on Dec. 10 that explores a lovely series of spreadsheets and graphs by Cynwise on Warcraft’s current class population numbers. In it, Rossi writes:

Rogues went from 7.67% of max level at patch 5.0.4, the pre-Mists of Pandaria patch, to 5.51% of max level as of patch 5.1, a drop of over 2%. This is at a time when most other classes either held steady (Paladins, Druids, DK’s and Hunters all held at about even with their Cataclysm and patch 5.0.4 numbers), went up (Warriors saw a jump from 9.25% at max level to 10.14% between 5.0.4 and 5.1, while Warlocks went up from 6.7% to 7%) or saw slight declines (Shamans, Priests and Mages all saw slight declines). By comparison, the rogue decline becomes stark.

So, where have all the rogues gone?


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