Gyle's Advanced Guide to 51 Bladedancer
So you are considering 51 Blade Dancer as the spec for you?
First there a few things you should probably know. For one thing, 51 BD will not out DPS Bloodstalker Single Target at current gear levels, though it is pretty close since the fix to offhand PA’s. Also, it has no ranged attacks (unless you sub soul MM, which I don’t recommend) so unless you are very good about staying in melee range at all times, you can lose a significant amount of DPS if a mob moves around a lot.
So then why would you want to play 51 BD?
Well for one thing it is the only spec we have that can even hope to keep up with warriors’ in DPS on fights with cleaves + Single Target damage. The second and most important reason IMO is that unlike most specs that have a set in stone rotation, there are a number of judgment calls that must be made as situations change to maximize your DPS. 51 BD is fun, because it’s the premier spec that emphasizes skill over button mashing.
There are 3 main 51 BD variations that are worth bringing up.
Spec 1: http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=0M...RGdz.0VMc.V.-5 (51BD/10sin/5RS)
Spec 1 is so listed because it is currently, and IMO always will be, the best 51 BD spec. Some people claim that 10mm/5rs will be better at a certain gear level, and maybe it will be on Single Target, but even when it is, 10 Sin will still out AoE it, which IMO is the entire purpose of running BD. This is because Twin Strike spreads Serrated Blades in AoE, which can account for a huge amount of AoE damage. Also the first 5 points in the MM build only apply to Single Target, whereas every point in 10 sin applies to AoE and ST. For the remainder of this guide this is the spec I will actually be talking about by default.
*Note* do not get Puncture, get Murderous Intent. Puncture is an extra button that complicates the rotation; it costs extra energy, and provides almost no DPS gain over a second Keen Strike, or just DSing at 4 CP’s. The extra +2% the Physical damage makes up the difference.
Spec 2: http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=0M...RGdz.0VMc.V.-5 (51BD/10sin/5NB)
Spec 2 is somewhat of a half measure. It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to run 51BD if you are not over 1k Attack Power, however, if for some reason you decide that you do want to use a 51 BD spec with a lower Attack Power value, this is the variant to run. The +15% damage bonus to your CP generators will yield a greater DPS gain than 5 RS will.
Spec 3: http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=0M...RRGdz.x0x.V.-5 (51BD/10MM/5RS)
Spec 3 is the spec that seems by looking at it like it should be the top DPS spec. BD has huge AP bonuses to its attacks, and this is without a doubt the max AP spec. The flaw in the logic here is not taking into account Serrated Blades, which does a LOT of damage over the course of a fight. Also 10 sin has poisons, which while not accounting for a ton of DPS, do add to the 10sin build. There may be a point at which AP values on gear from ID will push this spec over 10 sin, but I suspect it will either not happen, or will require a full set of BiS gear from the next tier.
Now that you know what spec to run, let’s talk about macros.
#show Quick Strike
/cast precision Strike
/cast quick strike
That’s it. That is the only macro you should be using in 51 BD. There are three questions that most seasoned rogues would ask about that macro.
The first is why no Keen Strike?
This is simple, Keen Strike causes macro lag, don’t macro Keen Strike under QS/PS. You will lose about 10 attacks per minute last time I checked, it may be more.
The second is why show Quick Strike and not Precision Strike?
This is personal preference I suppose, but there is a purpose behind it. Any time you use Keen Strike, Quick Strike is immediately available, and lights up. Precision Strike does too, but it costs 40 energy, and when it’s on CD it is partially greyed out. I just find that Quick Strike is easier to see, it’s never on CD, and it’s only 30 energy, so it is always visible when it is available.
The third is why no Expose Weakness?
Again, this could be chalked up to personal preference, but IMO you should not EVER be spamming buttons in your 51 BD spec. It is not energy starved with fervor, and there is never more than one attack per button, so you should never have to push a button more than once. Unless you macro EW into it… then every 20 seconds you have to press that button twice. So you either have to spam needlessly all the time just in case EW is up, or watch its CD and remember to press twice when it is up. If you are going to do the latter, you may as well put it on its own button and activate it manually. You will lose less DPS by forgetting Expose Weakness for a few rotations than you will by accidentally messing up your attack order because you pressed Deadly Strike, or Quick Strike, and EW happened instead. Also, if for some reason you have no cost reduction EW is a DPS loss in every Rhythmic except B&SP.
Next up, Rhythmic Actions, or what will henceforth be (and should have originally been) called “Dances” and when to use them.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER FOR 51 BLADE DANCER!!!! Is you should never be hitting something without a dance running. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as the skeletons in RoS with 50k hp… don’t waste a dance on them, but by and large there is absolutely no excuse to not be in a dance at all times while DPSing.
For single target DPS there is a pretty strict order to the dances. This order is Blade and Soul Parity -> Dualism -> Double Coup -> Blade Tempo, which you clip as soon as B&SP come off of CD again.
There are 2 reasons for this order, the first is obvious, the second is not. The first reason is that with the increased crit chance of B&SP almost every single attack you make will crit, and this will build up your stacks of the HK 2 piece much faster than would be possible otherwise, and you really want to start Dualism with a full 20 stacks. The second reason does not really apply if you have Fervor, or Living Energy and a tablet, but can be a huge DPS difference.
If you run Dualism first, then B&SP, you will be energy starved by the time Double Coup and Blade Tempo are over, and you are back to Dualism, and you will be in your highest DPS dance, completely energy starved. However if you run B&SP first you have full energy when you start Dualism, and only energy starve during Double Coup and Blade Tempo, which is a much more acceptable DPS hit.
The Single Target rotation is pretty set in stone, but only if you are attacking one target at a time, throughout the entire fight. If for any reason you will have to AoE during the encounter, that can really change up your dance rotation, also dead time, or transition time can change the order in which you choose to do your dances.
Area of Effect:
The order of your dances is much different in an AoE situation. For one thing, Dualism is completely worthless, as it only affects Quick Strike and Precision Strike. The obvious order then would be B&SP (clearly the top AoE dps Dance) followed by Double Coup, and then Blade Tempo. In an ideal situation this is the order of preference, but AoE situations are rarely ideal in their flow. Either they are broken up, like trash packs, or come in waves or varying numbers like adds on Akylios or Matron. This is where the nuance of Blade Dancer comes in.
You will really have to figure out what order of things you prefer for each fight, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
Dancing Steel- This ability is awesome, its AoE DPS is sick, and it is really fun to use. However, both Dualism and Double Coup do not modify the damage of Dancing Steel at all. Blade Tempo and B&SP do. B&SP clearly adds a lot more damage, but depending on the fight it may not always be practical to use Dancing Steel when you use B&SP. This is why it is important to remember that Blade Tempo is a great substitute. NEVER EVER use Dancing Steel without either Blade Tempo or B&SP up if you can help it. You are just losing a huge amount of added damage.
Double Coup- This actually makes Twin Strike hit very hard. Do not ignore it, there is no reason you should not be able to keep up with similarly geared warrior and mages in Double Coup.
Trash Packs- Some people don’t care what their DPS is on trash, and to be fair it is pretty irrelevant, but I like to see my name at the top of every list if I can help it, whether it “matters” or not. Don’t be afraid to blow through 2 dances in one trash pack. There is always dead time between pulls, and the dances refresh pretty quickly. That said I wouldn’t recommend using both B&SP and Double Coup in the same pack if you can avoid it, or you may as well AFK for the next one. Blade Tempo + Double Coup is pretty respectable DPS, but Blade Tempo alone kinda blows.
Dualism- Another important thing to remember about AoE IMO is use Dualism any chance you get in between waves, or at the end of trash packs on that one big mob that dies last. For Akylios I always use Dualism on Lashers, because other than the first couple seconds of P1 and all of P3 Lashers are the only place to use it. Get whatever you can out of it, whenever you can.
Compound Attack- There are many encounters in which it is nice to have a little extra passive cleave damage without having to sacrifice your ST damage. Examples would be Matron and Zilas. For these kinds of encounters use Compound Attack as your finisher instead of Deadly Strike in your normal ST rotation. It will add to your overall DPS with even just one add.
Next up is your rotation. You may have expected this earlier in the guide, but I almost forgot to put it in here… so it goes near the end.
Single Target in Dualism ONLY your rotation is QS>KS>QS>KS>DS. You completely ignore how many CP’s you have, and completely ignore whether it was Precision Strike or Quick Strike that was used.
For all other dances the rotation is PS>KS>QS>KS>DS followed by QS>KS>QS>KS>KS>DS.
This rotation is somewhat debatable however. I have parsed it again and again and I can’t seem to find any DPS difference at all between this and just using the Dualism rotation and having every other DS just be a 4 CP DS instead of 5. I am told by my relic wielding friends that at the Akylios relic gear level the 4 CP rotation pulls noticeably ahead.
For AoE there is no real rotation. You use Twin Strike 5 times and then Compound Attack. Dancing Steel was covered earlier, but it is not part of any set rotation.
Gyle’s Tips and Tricks:
This part of the guide is for all of the things that I wanted to add to other parts, but cut because they just didn’t quite fit. However, these kinds of small variations are what is so nice about the 51 BD spec, they can make a substantial difference, and can be tailored to very specific encounters to maximize your DPS. So here they are in stream of consciousness order.
If you have two weapons of separate tiers, or have more PA's in one type than the other, be sure to put your higher DPS weapon in your offhand. QS, PS, and most of the hits for Twin Strike are offhand attacks.
For single target DPS, I don’t use the normal rotation right off the bat. I Flash of Steel in, Keen Strike, then hit B&SP, and Deadly Strike at 3 CP’s. I then go right into the normal rotation. Over the course of a long fight this little change adds essentially no DPS, but it does make things smoother. In a relatively quick fight however it will be a DPS increase. Reasoning behind this is your other options are worse. You can either FoS>KS>PS>KS>DS which goes to 6 CP’s and uses your PS with absolutely no DD buff, or you FoS>KS>PS>DS at 5 CPs which is even worse, though I suspect most novice rogues would do this innately.
The other option when beginning a fight is to put Quick Strike on a separate button and just use Quick Strike instead of PS as your first followup attack.
Sometimes, depending on the encounter, it is more beneficial to open with Dualism rather than B&SP. One example of this would be Matron. Depending on how fast your raid tends to DPS matron down, and when they purge her stacks, you may be able to time B&SP to be up during an add dump, so you can use Dancing Steel to maximum effectiveness. If opening the Fight with Dualism rather than B&SP will accomplish that, do it.
Along the same vein as the above, keep an eye out during your encounters for times when you really wish you had this dance available rather than the one you currently have up. Your dance order is whatever you want it to be, and most importantly whatever order you will see the most DPS gain from. 51 BD is malleable, and in the hands of someone who really wants to min/max it, there is a lot you can do. By the same token, if you are in a muli-phase encounter don’t be afraid to clip your dances if you feel like you can squeeze a little more out of it. In fights like Akylios or Grug there are dead spaces where you are not using a dance at all, and this time allows you to catch up a bit.
There are also some little tricks to maximizing your DPS in AoE situations. One is of course opening with Flash of Steel->Twin Strike x3 ->B&SP -> Compound Attack-> Dancing Steel. I have revised my old rotation here after a great point by Adnoz. If possible you ALWAYS want to use Dancing Steel after having just used a 5CP finisher. This is because of Combat Culmination giving you armor pen. It will increase your Dancing Steel dps noticeably.
Similarly, when trash packs or AoE packs are nearing death, don’t be afraid to Compound Attack at 3 CP’s rather than 5, just to get those last few Twin Strikes DD buffed rather than not.
B&SP + Dancing Steel is the highest AoE burst in the entire game that I am aware of, use it often, but intelligently. One nice thing about Dancing Steel is like any channeled ability, it does its calculation at the beginning of the channel. So if you activate Dancing Steel in the last second or two of B&SP you will get its full benefit, and effectively extend the dance a few seconds.
I don't know how you have your bars set up, but for most of my specs i have my normal CP builder on my 1 button. In most specs you can pretty much mindlessly hit this button while you look at other things like how many CP's you have, what mechanic is going on, how much time you have left on your blink buff or Impale, and so on. I found when i was trying to train myself to use 51 BD that if i put Keen Strike on my 1 button, on occasion out of habit i would absentmindedly hit Keen Strike when i should have been hitting my QS macro. Because of this i actually put my QS macro on my 1 button, that way it is impossible it accidentally over-Keen Strike. I would rather push a button and have nothing happen than waste a DD charge on a Keen Strike. Just a thought, for many it wont help, but for me it helped train me not to spam buttons.
*New* There is no need to actually use PS during Dualism if you can avoid it (such as putting QS alone on its own button for use during dualism). It costs 10 extra energy and does the same amount of damage as QS. Normally it's worth the extra 10 energy because it gives you an extra CP, but you go to 6 CP's at least in Dualism anyway, so it's just a waste of 10 energy. In full raid buffs it's not really an issue, but for the sake of min/maxing it is worth noting.
Hopefully I will be able to update this guide as time goes on with more tips and variations. 51 BD is the most dynamic spec rogues have, and we are just getting to know it. As time goes on the nuances of this build’s rotation will only grow and become more interesting.