You won't play the game long before you encounter your first healing potion. This is your introduction to the wonderful world of potions, flasks and elixirs. So what are they? What are they for? Most importantly how can you most effectively make use of these wonderful treasures?
Potions are consumables that offer a short term boost or repair to an individual player. The most commonly seen are those dealing with replacing mana or healing instantly. There are several ways for individuals to obtain these little gems, as drops off of things you kill, purchasing them from vendors or most regularly and with the greatest variety, from someone who has learned the trade Alchemy. Alchemists take materials (most generally herbs) and craft specific potions based upon the recipes they know. An alchemist of the potion specialization will be able to create two to five times as many potions from the same amount of materials.
Now once upon a time players would time when to use these potions based on the cool down. This is no longer the case. Now a days as long as you are in combat the cool down will not reset once you use the potion. You will need to wait until combat completes before you will be able to start the cool down and use another. This drastically changed how we used potions and the ones that rogues carried around with them regularly.
So what potions are of interest to a rogue?
Health Potions - These instantly restore your health or life. The first you will encounter is at level 3, the lesser healing potion. From there you will notice an new "upgraded" version will appear about every 10 levels. Since rogues have no way of healing themselves during combat (unless they happen to be an herbalist) healing potions are something you need to have on hand "just in case". As a dps class you are going to be lower on the priority list for heals so having something that can keep you alive until such a time as a healer can spare you some attention will allow you to keep doing your job that much longer.
Resistance potions - These increase your resistance to specific types of spells for a short duration (usually no longer than a couple of minutes at most). Once upon a time these guys were something we carried around for those specific fights in which we knew that a boss would throw a very specific type of spell at a set time. Now, since they share a cool down with healing potions their use is rare especially since they most commonly have to be crafted by alchemists to obtain.
Buff potions - These instantly increase a specific stat for a short duration (usually no longer than a couple of minutes maximum) or until the buff is used up. For rogues the types of potions of this nature we would be interested in are those dealing with haste. Again, once upon a time these would be the type of thing you would carry around for those "just in case" pushes since it shares a cool down with healing. Now a days having a couple around is handy if you are running an Assassination spec.
There is one other thing we should mention here, Thistle Tea. This is a beverage that ONLY rogues can get the recipe for and use. It comes from a quest at level 20 (though you can use the tea at level 5). If you happen to destroy or sell the recipe you can get another from the vendor in the basement of Ravenholdt Manor. Now before you reach level 60 this beverage will restore your energy by 60, however after that point its effectiveness is decreased so that by the time you reach level 80 it will only restore 20 energy. It also shares a cool down with warlock health stones. Even now this tea can still be useful. Twinks adore it, and raiders sometimes use it for that last little push or quick kick if they miss judge a cool down. The materials are simple but Swiftthistle can at times be rather pricey since it is a secondary herb (meaning that rather than growing independently it comes from either Briarthorn or more rarely Mageroyal.) There are two other items which will do the same thing for us Crimson Steer and Pure Energy but since these are both quest rewards they really don't count.
Flasks and Elixirs:
A flask is a consumable which increases one or more specific stats or resistance for an hour but has the added benefit of persisting through death. The only difficulty is that you can only use one flask at a time and they take the place of elixirs. In addition to this flasks only become available as you near level caps for the various games (meaning levels 60, 70 and 80) . Both they and elixirs are created by Alchemists or more rarely obtained as drops or quest rewards. An alchemist of the elixir specialization will be able to create twice to five times as many for the same amount of materials.
An elixir on the other hand increases a specific stat for an hour but WILL NOT last through death. There are two types of elixirs Guardian and Battle. Guardian elixirs deal with such things as resilience, spell resistances, and health. Battle elixirs on the other hand focus on such things as attack power, armor penetration, expertise, haste, and hit rating.
What is nice about both of these is they stack with abilities like Savage Combat. Why would you go for an elixir over a flask? Usually the deciding factor is that you are after a SPECIFIC type of buff, for example expertise rather than attack power or multiple buffs such as agility AND health. The other thing is that elixirs are available AS you level (you can get your hands on Elixir of Minor Agility as early as level 2.) A less common influence is that the materials needed for flasks tend to be a tad more expensive than those for elixirs.
So what types of flasks and elixirs are useful for rogues? Generally we go for those that provide attack power and/or agility, occasionally you may need one that provides more health. Haste elixirs have also gained a foothold for a great many rogues of the Assassination discipline. If things go as we anticipate haste may become even MORE important come Cataclysm as they are proposing changing it to where it will increase our energy regeneration rates.
Determining which specific potions, flask or elixirs will be BEST for you to use greatly depends on your level. At this point level 80's are using the Flask of Endless Rage most frequently but at level 70 the Flask of Relentless Assault is the preference. I am certain that come Cataclysm, even though we will only see a five level increase there will be a NEW flask we will all be making use of. I hope this general guide will be helpful for those who are just starting out and attempting to determine just what these items are and how to best utilize them.
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