1. #1
    The Lightbringer therealstegblob's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    Kill All Mages

    Classic WoW Rogue Leveling Guide (WIP)

    As I level in Classic WoW, I've decided to create a guide on leveling as a Rogue through Classic content. I leveled a Rogue back in 2005 and it's been my main for more or less of all of WoW's lifespan (give or take the times I've swapped a main to Prot Warrior). Anyways, I noticed a lot of people in Classic who are having trouble leveling a Rogue and I've noticed all the guides you find on Google only offer general information rather than anything more in depth. I wanted to start making a guide explaining some of the more specific things relevant to Rogue talenting/playstyle while leveling. A lot of this is just my own personal experience/opinions on things, but it's working for me very well as I level through Vanilla. This guide will be updated as I continue leveling.

    CURRENT LEVEL (as of 1/18/2020): 40

    CURRENTLY HOSTING: Guide Patch 1.5, "Blind is there to remind Mages of their own mortality". (1/18/2020)

    Edited Foreword: Long, long overdue updating to this stupid guide. I'm including some updated talent choices and playstyle, as well as updating suggested macros/addons and some random quest tips I discovered while leveling. I took an extended hiatus from even playing Classic because it's so FUN and also because I've been busy with more important bullshit.


    Rogue might not be the absolute best class to level as. It isn't nearly as easy as a Hunter or as safe as Druid or Mage, but Rogue is still pretty damn easy to level if you know what you're doing. Leveling as a Rogue is all about learning how best to exercise your control over mobs and when to use defensive cooldowns. Your talent choices, especially the earliest ones, will also drastically effect your survivability and damage output. Rogues have very good damage output compared to some of the other classes, and it eventually allows us to kill mobs before they can even do damage. In this guide I want to touch on general information regarding Rogues and how I feel best to level as one. Hopefully whether you've been playing Rogue on retail for the last few expansion or are totally new to trying the class, this guide can help you with the infernal hellscape that is leveling in Classic.


    There are plenty of good addons available for Classic right now and likely more to be made in the coming months/years. The best part about Classic addons is that, due to the fact that Classic isn't going to ever (likely) receive any major updates, addons will never break or go out of date (probably). These are some addons I'm using right now, along with the reasons why I like them.

    -NugComboBar: Nug is a crazy Russian guy and one of the original grandfathers of Rogue addons. I don't always agree with some of the things he does, but he makes good addons. I like having my combo points present somewhere other than locked on my target's unit frame, so this is a good addon if you want something like that. It simply tracks your combo points on a movable, customizable bar. You can also toggle it to play a sound at 5 combo points, which is helpful.

    -EnergyWatch: Another lightweight addon that I use for tracking my energy. Nug also has his own Nugenergy addon that does the same thing, but I prefer EnergyWatch due to the functionality of being able to track my health bar along with energy. Energywatch also has its own built-in combo point tracker, but I prefer Nug's for better visibility, if you prefer having energy and combo points tracked on a single bar however then this would be very useful for you. EnergyWatch can also track mana, rage and other resources and has a good degree of customization, which I feel makes it a super useful addon in general no matter what class you are.

    -WeakAuras: WeakAuras is helpful in Retail but in Classic it's amazingly useful. Classic doesn't have built-in duration tracking for things like DoTs or Stuns on enemy targets. WeakAuras helps you pinpoint how long your stuns or bleeds will last on enemies.

    -DejaClassicStats: A generic addon that tracks your stats, including ones not listed on the default character menu. It's just generally really useful.

    -RealMobHealth: A generic addon that helps tell you how much health mobs have. It's useful in general but for Rogue it's really helpful so you can gauge whether or not it's worth it to waste more energy on finishing a mob off or not.

    -https://www.curseforge.com/wow/addons/classiccastbars"]ClassicCastBars: A generic addon that recreates the castbars from Retail. It's pretty much mandatory and is stupidly useful. It's not 100% accurate, however, and is kind of just making informed guesses at how long an enemy's cast is going to be, so don't count on it always accurately predicting the precise length of any given spell cast (i.e., kick sooner rather than later).


    Vanilla Rogues have a lot of different little different bullshity quirks to them in Classic compared to Retail. You're probably already aware of some of the more obvious ones, like Rogues needing to craft their own poisons, leveling their lockpicking, etc. I want to use this part of the guide as an introduction to some of the general bullshit you'll experience or need to understand concerning classic Rogues.

    -I prefer sticking with daggers while leveling, at least until you start hitting some of the mid-level Combat tree talents. It's just easier, especially in the first third of your levels, to use daggers for Ambush and Backstabs (both these spells require dagger in the main hand to use), as these spells will delete mob health while leveling earlier on. You can always do a Sword leveling build or tryhard with a weaponswap macro, but I find it unnecessary and I think daggers are faster overall for leveling.

    -Energy Regeneration happens in increments rather than gradually. In Retail you're probably aware that energy restores to you gradually in a rising bar. In Classic, energy is restored every few seconds in chunks of 20 energy at a time. This was apparently due to tech limitations of 2004, but it's been retained in Classic. It might not seem like a big deal at first but you'll find it will sometimes limit your output of abilities; for instance, if Gouge costs 45 energy and you only have 40 energy, you need to wait for your next increment of energy to come. This is something to keep in mind when using abilities.

    -Combo points are tied to mobs and will reset if you target something else. Most people who started pre-WoD or so will probably remember the days of combo points not transferring to other targets, but in Classic it's even worse. Just de-targeting your current target is enough to immediately lose all combo points on it. This will be one of the more annoying things you deal with and to help cope with it I would suggest always trying to use your combo points on something if you need to target another mob in a fight (it's better to just throw them into Slice and Dice or a Kidney Shot or something than it is to totally lose them). Keep this in mind when you plan to swap targets, as it's a huge damage loss to just lose 3-4 combo points.

    -Poisons not only have a duration, but also charges. In Classic, poisons last for 30 minutes and have a set amount of charges before they run out and you lose your poison buff. Poisons in Classic are more like situational buffs rather than something you're always going keep applied to your weapons, though for leveling they're incredibly useful.

    -Almost everything has an energy cost. Kick, Gouge and Blind all cost a significant chunk of energy to use. Kick costs 25 energy, meaning you can't always use it on demand. When you're fighting an enemy you know you'll need to interrupt (especially enemy players), always be cautious and try to keep your energy above 20.

    -You need to train lockpicking and you'll need thieve's tools to use it. Thieve's tools are a generic profession item ala mining picks/blacksmith hammers that has to be kept in your inventory. The good news is that in Classic, you'll get a free thieve's tool and the opportunity to quickly train lockpicking up to 75-100 or so thanks to the level 18 quest Plundering the Plunderers.

    -Rogues can shoot and throw knives again. This means you need to have ammo on you, and unlike past versions of throwing weapons where they didn't consume items on use and were infinite usage, Classic throwing items deplenish like any other ammo. Ranged pulling is incredibly useful for mob tagging or for pulling mobs away from their friends.

    -Sap removes you from stealth and puts you into combat. This devalues sap a little bit compared to Retail, where it's a great tool for pre-fight CCing. It's not useless, however, so don't feel it's never worth using just because it's not as powerful as Retail Sap. It can also only be used on humanoid targets. Just keep in mind that when you sap, you'll drop Stealth.

    -First Aid is very useful. First Aid is much more useful in Classic than in Retail in general, but it's excellent for Rogue leveling. It's very worthwhile to pick up and train the skill, as it will be incredibly useful for leveling a Rogue.


    It's easy to Google a talent guide for leveling a Rogue, but none of them really explain why they have you pick most of what you pick, or especially how to utilize some of them. I'm going to cover what talents I recommend and how/why to use them.

    Points 1, 2 and 3: Invest your first three points immediately into Improved Gouge. At max rank it makes Gouge last 1.5 seconds longer. At face value 1.5 seconds doesn't seem that powerful, but once you put it into practice it's very very useful. Gouge in general is one of your best tools at lower levels (and remains one of your best at level 60). It doesn't cost too much energy to use and it has a very short cooldown (10 seconds at all ranks). 3 points into Improved Gouge makes Gouge last 5.5 seconds. 5.5 seconds for an on-demand stun that requires no combo points is crazy, not to mention the duration of Gouge lasts over half as long as its 10 second cooldown. It is immeasurably powerful for running away or setting up burst damage on mobs. You can also juggle a mob in a permanent Gouge-chain by Gouging it, running a few feet away and then re-Gouging it by the time it gets to you. Gouge has a pretty good change to hit, making it very dependable. It's also great for CC-ing an extra mob when you pull more than one thing. Gouge has a good tendency to hit even on mobs much higher level than yourself, and it will save your ass tons of times. Gouge is a powerful spell in general, but Improved Gouge makes it one of your absolute best abilities in the leveling process. The biggest use for Gouge is to Gouge an enemy, run behind them, wait for your energy to regen a bit (ideally you want to wait for the last absolute nanosecond to break Gouge, WeakAuras helps with this) and then Backstab your target. You can also bandage, cannibalize, mine a node, open a chest, etc while the enemy is Gouged.

    Points 4 and 5: Invest your next two points immediately into Remorseless Attacks. Each point of the skill gives your next Ambush, Sinister Strike, Backstab or Ghostly Strike a 20% increased chance to critically hit, after you kill a target that gives you honor or experience. This stacks with other talents that increase the critical strike chance of the respective spells it effects. Sinister Strike and Backstab are your two most used abilities, especially at lower levels. This increases your damage output dramatically and is very great for chaining kills on mobs. Keep in mind that you lose the buff if your attack fails to critically hit and you need to land the killing blow on a mob to trigger it (it won't trigger when your party members kill a mob you tagged). I vividly recall the days where Remorseless Attacks absolutely decimated mobs once you obtain a near 100% crit chance to Ambush with it. Nothing is more satisfying than nearly one-shotting a mob the second you start fighting it; not to mention also being safer and more efficient.

    Points 6 and 7: Invest your next two points into Improved Sinister Strike. 2 points in the skill will reduce the energy cost of Sinister Strike by 5 (from 45 down to 40). This isn't super major but it's a decent improvement to damage output, as Sinister Strike is your primary combo point builder (especially for most of your early levels). It also meshes well with Classic's energy regen, as you'll be less likely to find yourself unable to Sinister Strike for want of only 5 more energy.

    Points 8 and 9: Invest your next two points into Improved Backstab. This will increase your chance to critically strike with Backstab by 30%. This stacks with Remorseless Attacks. For the most part you'll always want to make sure you use Remorseless Attacks with Backstab. Not only because Backstab does more damage than Sinister Strike and is more available to use than Ambush, but also because Backstab stacks to a 70% chance to crit (before your base crit is even factored in). Once you get a good 20% crit chance, you will almost always crit with Backstab when hitting it with Remorseless Attacks.

    Points 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15: Invest your next 5 points into Deflection. Each point of Deflection is a 1% increase to your chance to Parry (for a max of 5%). The reason I suggest investing points into this prior to or in place of Lightening Reflexes is because you're already going to have a fairly high chance of dodging, especially with a lot of +Agility gear. Maxing out Deflection also gives you access to the next skill I suggest picking up.

    Point 16: Invest your next point into Riposte. When you parry an enemy, you'll now procc the ability to use Riposte. Riposte hits for 150% weapon damage (as much as the weapon damage bonus of Backstab) and only costs 10 energy. In addition, it disarms the target. This is not only amazing for PvP, but very useful in niche PvE situations against monsters with weapons. The real power of Riposte's disarm effect, however, is that you can hit anyone with riposte after parrying any attack. This means you can disarm a Hunter when you parry his pet, for instance, or you can intentionally pull a low level mob to trigger a parry and then disarm a powerful mob with it.

    Points 17, 18, 19, 20: Invest your next 4 points, in whichever order you choose, into Endurance and Improved Sprint. Endurance lowers the cooldown of Sprint and Evade by a whopping 1.5 minutes at rank 2. This is, obviously, incredibly great both for survivability and also quality of life (sprint is a decent movement speed booster pre-mounts). Evasion is one of the strongest defensive cooldowns in the game and will save your life, or enable you to defeat tougher enemies, many times through leveling. Improved Sprint is good for both PvP (it's almost necessary for it) and also has a lot of use in breaking out of snares or slows when fighting monsters. Many humanoid enemies will root you and then run away to shoot at you, which is annoying at the best of times and deadly at the worst. It also lets you get the hell away from enemies if they're slowing you. Unfortunately, it won't break the Daze effect because that would legitimately be overpowered. Improved Kick is just cool because it's a 2 point investment to silence an enemy for 2 seconds after a Kick. Not super relevant in a lot of PvE situations but it's funny to watch a Druid sweat.

    At this point I suggest transitioning towards using swords (In the early to mid 20's you'll be able to get a lot of decent BoE swords from mobs or off of the AH, and if you're horde you'll eventually get the Sword of Hammerfall from Arathi Highlands questing which is a very decent quest reward sword). Backstab still has a lot of use, especially for weapon swap macros, but you can feel free to refund your talent points at a class trainer and invest the 3 points spent in Improved Backstab and instead put them in Improved Eviscerate (at this point Eviscerate is doing better damage overall, mobs will start to have more health in general and Improved Eviscerate is a flat 15% damage bonus where as Improved Backstab is only a crit chance modifier). You'll get more mileage from Improved Eviscerate from here on.

    Point 21: Invest point 21 in Blade Flurry. Blade Flurry is an amazing boost to your power. For only 25 Energy you're gaining 20% increased attack speed (as much as your rank 1 Slice and Dice) for 15 seconds (as long as a 3 combo point untalented Slice and Dice). That's not the best part, though. Blade Flurry makes your attacks (including all spells like Sinister Strike, Eviscerate or even Riposte) to strike a nearby enemy. You can mow down two enemies at once (there is absolutely no damage falloff from Blade Flurry, it is a 100% damage reflection), or just use it for an extra steroid when facing an elite monster. You won't be AoE farming like a Frost Mage or anything, but given how tough it is for most classes to deal with two monsters at once, Blade Flurry is a massive aid for Rogue. A 5 CP Eviscerate while Blade Flurry is up is essentially getting a double value for every CP spent.

    Points 22 and 23: Depending on what you want to do with these two talent points you can either place them into Improved Kick, which at rank 2 causes Kick to silence your target for 2 seconds. This is primarily useful for PvP engagements, but if you're not getting into any PvP (which as a Rogue, especially during leveling, is one of the funniest things you can ever do due to how overpowered you are), then you could throw them into Murder, which at rank 2 gives you a 2% damage increase to Humanoid, Giant, Beast and Dragonkin monsters. This bonus isn't super good on its own but it does stack with things like the Troll's Beastslaying racial. A lot of the tougher mobs you'll face while leveling will also be things like Humanoids and Dragonkin (and all enemy players are Humanoid). Alternatively, you could put these talent points into Ruthlessness, which will give you a 40% chance to gain a combo point when using a finishing move. Ruthlessness is really meh-tier even by Vanilla standards, though. For a 2 combo point investment the return isn't bad, but I think you'll get more mileage from other options.

    Points 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28: Put your next five points into Precision. It's not entirely necessary to max this particular skill out, but the 5% chance to hit enemies really helps in the long run that is the relentless grind of Classic WoW leveling. If you want, you could invest them differently, though nothing else in the early Assassination or Subtlety is really that worth it in my opinion. Besides, these talents will directly synergize with the next talents you'll want to pick up.

    Points 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34: Put your next five points Sword Specialization. At this point I'd urge going dual sword build and Sword Specialization is a great DPS boost, especially when you're dual wielding swords. You're basically getting a 10% chance for an extra hit, which is pretty much on par with Dagger Specialization giving you a 5% crit chance (or essentially 10% for dual wielding daggers), though the extra sword hits CAN apply poisons and other on-attack proccs. This is obviously very useful.


    Here's some tips to deal with some of the bullshit you'll encounter on Rogue class quests. These quests are the Horde version of the class quests. If you're Alliance, well, I don't play Alliance so I guess just WoWhead it like every other asshole.

    Plundering the Plunderers: This level 18 quest becomes available at level 16, and will be one of the first Rogue quests you do. It's pretty easy and straight forward but some tips to keep in mind are that 1.) You need the Thieves' Tools (provided for you, but can also be purchased from NPCs like Poison Vendors) to unlock the locked chest, so keep it in your inventory. 2.) You can grind out lockpicking to around 100 in 15-20 minutes by using the chests located in the captain's room of the ship you go to for the quest. 3.) The E.C.A.C item is consumed on use and a level 50 parrot mob named Polly is summoned every time the chest for the quest item is opened, so DO NOT OPEN THE CHEST MORE THAN ONCE, or you'll summon two Pollys and one of them will bite your dick off.

    Mission: Possible But Not Probable: This is a level 24 quest that becomes available at 20 (it's part of chain that begins with the quest picked up from the class trainer in Orgrimmar). It involves killing some tougher mobs, but they can be dealt with easier by using your Rogue abilities.

    The Mutated Drones are almost one shot by Ambush (They walk in a pair of two, so Ambush one and then run away to reset combat and Ambush the second one).

    The Patrollers take like 500% more damage to Rupture.

    The Lookouts will turn into green slimes when hit by Eviscerate and are easier to kill.

    Gallywix can be ambushed to remove around half of his health, but will have to be fought normally after that. He's an elite mob but doesn't hit too hard for his level/elite status. He shouldn't be too hard to solo, but I do believe Gouge will hit him 100% of the time, so you can at least abuse that.

    You need to pickpocket Silixiz to get his key, and he's unusually difficult to pickpocket. One major tip is DO NOT OPEN GALLYWIX'S CHEST BEFORE PICKPOCKETING SILIXIZ, at least not unless you have some way of cleansing a poison off of you (like a first aid anti-venom). When you open Gallywix's chest, you're infected with Zanzil's Poison, a poison debuff that lasts for 7 days. This is supposed to be removed from you through the quest line, but literally any form of poison dispell removes it from you. If you have it before trying to pickpocket Silixiz, he seems to notice you from very far away and it makes it incredibly difficult to pickpocket him. Your best bet is to have a friend aggro him so you can remain in Stealth, or Sprint into him while spamming Pickpocket. Or, better than those options, just pickpocket him before opening Gallywix's chest.


    A list of macros I recall from the original vanilla, and some newer ones I've found since.

    -Riposte Macro: You can also use the following macro to bind Riposte to Sinister Strike, so that your Sinister Strike will turn into a Riposte cast whenever it's available.

    /script U,P,C=UnitMana,"Player",CastSpellByName
    /script I,G=IsUsableAction,GetActionCooldown
    /script if (U(P)>=9) and (I(1)) and (G(1)==0) then C("Riposte");end;
    /cast Sinister Strike

    -Mouseover Blind: This will make your Blind cast by simply mousing over a target rather than tabbing onto them. This is big because it means you don't need to wipe your combo points mid-fight.

    /cast [@mouseover] [ ] Blind

    -Generic Weapon Swap macro (for poisons or Backstab/Ambush): Backstab, and especially Ambush, both stay very powerful through the leveling process. Obviously they're less practical to use, which is why many Big Brain Rogues will utilize weapon swap macros. You can play with a MH sword or mace or whatever and keep a spare dagger in your bags to utilize as a Backstab/Ambush tool using this cool and fun macro.

    /Equip <Insert exact weapon name here that you want to swap to for the attack>
    /Cast <Insert exact spell name here>
    /Equip <Insert exact weapon name of the weapon you want to re-equip after the attack>

    -Generic Poison macro: Apply poisons quickly and funly with this cool and fun macro. Note that the obnoxious thing about this is that EACH POISON needs its own macro, as well as EACH WEAPON SLOT. Enjoy!

    /use [button:1] <Insert exact name of poison here>
    /use [button:1] <Insert 16 here for Main Hand, 17 for Off hand>
    /click StaticPopup1Button1


    YOU DO NOT NEED TO BUY EVERY DAMN THING FROM THE CLASS TRAINERS. Money is a good commodity to have in Classic, especially while you level. Not only is it very useful to buy things like cloth (for bandages), potions (for not dying) and other things like the occasional BoE upgrade, you also want to save for things like your mount and more important skills at later levels. Be selective about what you upgrade at the class trainer. Things like ranking up Kick, for instance, do not decrease its cooldown or energy use; only increasing the negligible damage it does. Rupture is almost useless for leveling and barely useful for low level dungeons. Garrote is equally as useless when Cheapshot is generally always a better opener in leveling content. Save your money by passing up spell upgrades that give negligible power increases or are spells you won't be using very often. The following is a list of things I'd recommend to forgo while leveling.

    -Ignore all Kick upgrades (only increases the negligible damage).

    -Ignore all Gouge upgrades (same as Kick).

    -Ignore Expose Armor.

    -You can pick up Rupture and Garrote but I wouldn't consider upgrading them.

    I've already mentioned Gouge's usefulness but I want to mention it again. Gouge is stupidly useful. When combined with Sprint, you can even usually escape monsters 5, 6, 7 or more levels higher than you. Make sure you use Gouge to pool energy or heal up.

    If you're careful, you can make enemies pause with Stealth. Before you get the actual Distract spell at level 22, you have no way of making an enemy face away from you so you can open from Stealth with a Backstab or Ambush. However, if you're careful, you can approach an enemy and 'alert' it to your presence (the thing a mob does when it makes a little 'huh'/aggro noise and turns towards you but doesn't see you yet). Enemies in this 'alert' mode will face the direction they spotted you for several seconds, which is more than enough time to move around them for an opener.

    Pool energy against enemies you know will run. Most humanoids try to run in fear, and this can be disastrous since you have no good ways of killing the enemy from a range (if it gets away from you). Pool your energy when mobs that flee get low so you can quickly burst them down before they run too far.

    Thistle Tea is by far one of the best items in the game for Classic Rogues. It instantly regenerates 100 Energy. Thistle Tea was reintroduced in Retail in Legion, and while it's great for outdoor use it's not really relevant in PvE content anymore due to the fact it counts as a potion. However, in Classic the 100 energy budgets way better for your damage output than 100 energy does in Retail, making Thistle Tea super powerful. You always want to make sure you use it as close to 0 energy as possible to maximize its usefulness.

    Most escort quests are shit, but some are worse than others. For example, the Desolace quest Get Me Out of Here! spawns four Centaur mobs at one point that are notoriously tough to beat solo (especially at the quest's appropriate level). These four mobs spawn in two groups of two and begin patrolling towards each other. You can carefully hit both groups with a Distract and stop them in their tracks long enough for the quest NPC and you to pass them, making the quest much easier (i.e. possible to do alone).

    Guide will be updated in the future.
    Last edited by therealstegblob; 2020-01-18 at 12:11 PM.
    i am not the real stegblob. My blog where I review books and crap.

  2. #2
    Nice idea. Could use some additional formatting.
    No one wants to choose. Everyone wants everything.

  3. #3
    The Lightbringer therealstegblob's Avatar
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    Kill All Mages
    Formatted it some more just now. Formatting options are bit limited on this forum but I plan to move this over to a Wowhead guide at some point anyways.
    i am not the real stegblob. My blog where I review books and crap.

  4. #4
    The Lightbringer therealstegblob's Avatar
    Join Date
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    I'm going to add a section for quests, since I noticed WoWhead comments were full of useful information but the information was spread out over a bunch of different comments/I have things of my own to add that no one noticed on WoWhead. So there you go.
    i am not the real stegblob. My blog where I review books and crap.

  5. #5

    What do you think of my tactic to level up without losing much health?
    I call it "rupture kite"


    I hope you like it.
    Love your entire thread btw
    Last edited by Shadoowpunk; 2019-09-07 at 11:41 PM.

  6. #6
    An idea for a section for this may notable items, like weapons and armour and why they’re good. great info so far though

  7. #7
    Hello, do you have the macro to sap without target when you are dueling an other rogue ? Thank you !

  8. #8
    I decided to respec once again (yes i just wasted 5 gold to respec) just so i could try your playstyle...but with the best spec possible.
    This are my talents now:

    I miss a lot more without precision talent and am without blade flurry
    But the playstyle feels amazing.
    Extremely powerful.
    550 crits with ambush.
    More than 50% chance to crit with ambush. 90% with remorseless attacks.
    30% more damage with rupture.

    This is the perfect talent combination that mixes both your playstyle and mine...i love it.

    Thanks for your guide and for introducing me to AMBUSH spec.

  9. #9
    The Lightbringer therealstegblob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Look, I updated this shit. Is anyone even leveling in Classic anymore :y
    i am not the real stegblob. My blog where I review books and crap.

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