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Rogue Strategy





The Rogue


Cunning, deceptive, secretive and deadly: the Rogue. An assassin whose main purpose in combat is to devastate single targets in short order. In this guide, you will become educated on the many aspects of playing a Rogue, their talent trees, and their unique play style.

Rogues are damage-dealers, and that is their group role. You are in a group solely to take down single mobs and provide some limited crowd control (as well as pick locked chests and boxes). Rogues have the fastest (and arguably the most exciting) combat pace the game has to offer. Rogues attack the fastest because they are dual wielders and always use fast-swinging weapons (1-handed swords and maces and daggers). Rogues have to be versatile, patient and very articulate.




Basic Rogue Information

Allowed races: Human, Dwarf, Gnome, Night Elf, Orc, Troll, Undead

Standard Bars: Health/Energy

Equipment: Cloth, Leather

Weapons: Daggers, Thrown, Bows, Crossbows, Guns, 1-handed Swords, 1-Handed Maces and Fist Weapons




Strengths
  • Stealth allows Rogues to sneak around undetected
  • Great lockpicking and poison abilities (without the use of tradeskills)
  • Great DPS and solo capabilities.

Weaknesses
  • Can only wear Cloth and Leather
  • Are only allowed to use 1-handed weapons, daggers or fist weapons
  • Certain abilities require a dagger in the main-hand, sometimes forcing you to use the weaker dagger as opposed to a sword etc, in order to make certain abilities effective





Combo Points

Blizzard has incorporated a very unique system to their version of the Rogue class. Fighting as a Rogue requires you to build up combo points on your target. A single target can have up to 5 combo points on it, and can acquire no more. Rogues have a variety of finishing moves that vary in effectiveness depending on the number of combo points you've accumulated on the target. For example, the most common finishing move is 'Eviscerate', a powerful finishing move that deals more damage with each combo point. Eviscerate can be a waste to use if you only have 1 or 2 combo points on your target, but can be quite devastating with 4-5 combo points.

There are many skills that give combo points to your target, as well as certain talents that can tack on additional combo points to your abilities.


Energy

Rogues have a unique bar that they draw power from to use their abilities called energy. All Rogues have 100 energy which does not change (unless they get a talent that increases their energy capacity by 10, but is hard to obtain), and all abilities retain their energy cost from rank to rank unless reduced through talents. At standard, your energy rests at full (100) and regenerates both in and out of combat. Rogues need energy to use their combat abilities, much like a Mage needs mana to cast powerful spells. Rogues can also use 'Thistle Tea', a drink that gives the Rogue 100 energy instantly. The recipe to create Thistle Tea is obtained through a low-level Rogue quest, and requires Swiftthistle (an herb) and Refreshing Spring Water (drop or vendor) to make. You'll need herbalism to collect the herb and cooking to make the tea.


Stealth

Another unique ability (mirrored by the Druid's cat form, which is a representation of a Rogue) is Stealth. Stealth is a special mode a Rogue can enter, which allows him/her to sneak around without being detected. Many Rogue abilities require you to be in stealth, and sometimes behind the target. When in stealth, your movement speed is cut down (which can be brought back up a bit by talents). If you are much higher level then the enemies around you, you have a smaller radius to be discovered, but if the enemies are higher level, then it becomes tougher to stealth around them as they will detect you quickly.

Stealth is great for sneaking by mobs without aggroing them. A Rogue can stealth up to 2 monsters, sap one of them (Sap is a crowd control ability only available in stealth) and proceed to fight the other. This way, the Rogue becomes an effective solo'er against humanoid monsters and can continually handle groups of 2 and only fight them 1 at a time. You'll also find many a Rogue stealth past the minions to get to the big boss without all battling along the way. A good Rogue will of course pick any humanoids' pockets on the way by.


Lockpicking

Back in Beta testing, lockpicking was a tradeskill that anyone could learn. The whole tradeskill system got an overhaul and Rogues were given the class-unique ability to be able to pick locks. In the World of Warcraft, you will find many locked doors, chests and lock-boxes (Lock-boxes are boxes that have a lock on them and usually contain green-quality items inside). Blacksmiths can create destructible keys that open locks, engineers can make explosives, but Rogues are the only class that can pick as many locks as he/she wants without penalty.

Locked things, such as chests and lock-boxes, have a skill level associated with opening them, just like mining has a skill level associated with the different type of ores. With the new content patch, Blizzard has added new 'lockers' stationed at different points in the world that can help Rogues practice their skill in lockpicking. In addition, some Rogue quests will require you to pick a lock or level up your lockpicking skill.

A lot of Rogues tend to get lazy with lockpicking, and it bites them in the arse afterwards when they receive lock-boxes and can't open them. Fortunately, there are always high level Rogues willing to lockpick for free.




Attributes

Every class has five attributes that determine their. Each attribute helps each class differently. Let's look at how each of the stats affects Rogues:

Strength: Adds to your Attack Power: Damage-Per-Second (DPS). Strength does not affect Critical Hit chances at all. Strength does not improve your chance to block, but rather the amount blocked when you succeed. This amount is determined in part by Strength and in part by your shield.

Strength is considered the #3 attribute for Rogues. It increases your DPS, but does not give you higher rate to perform a critical hit. Since Rogues can't use shields, the blocking bonus is of little use.
Stamina: Increases Health points. Considered the #2 attribute, Stamina is important for Rogues. Because Rogues can only wear leather or cloth, their armor is quite weak and they need to get as many hitpoints as they can. A Rogue with a lot of hitpoints can dish out the damage quickly while being able to take a bit of damage themselves.
Intellect: Increases Mana points as well as chance to Critical Hit with magic spells. Intellect also grants a higher chance to increase melee skills. (It does not affect trade skills though.)

Intellect is the #5 attribute, and is of practically no use to a Rogue. The only bonus it gives is a faster weapon skill increase (meaning if you are starting a new weapon type that is at low skill, higher intellect will help the skill rise faster). This bonus is almost non-existent, and intellect should never be sought after in equipment or enchantments for Rogues.
Spirit: Increases Health and Mana regeneration. Spirit affects all characters' mana and Hit Point regeneration rates in and out of combat. Spirit also increases your chance to 'proc' with weapons.

Spirit is the #4 attribute. It is slightly more useful than intellect, but all the same it does not aid Rogues much. It increases hit-point regeneration, but since your hit-points stop regenerating during battle; spirit only kicks in when you are not at full health but also out of combat. Try to stay away from getting spirit equipment, as Agility and Stamina are much more influential for a Rogue.
Agility: Increases all characters' chance to Critical Hit. The amount of the bonus is higher per point on Rogues than other classes. Agility affects dodge. Rogues get more Dodge per point of Agility than other classes. Agility adds directly to Defense

The #1 attribute that all Rogues strive to get higher, Agility gives us a higher critical % as well as a higher dodge rate and increases the already low-armor Rogues have to deal with. Always try to get as much agility as you can, as it is the staple Rogues live off of. The higher your agility, the more you will perform critical strikes that will eventually win fights for you, or at least make them go by faster.





Rogue Skills

The Rogue has three talent trees, which in essence is its three main areas of skills. The first is Assassination, and it has to do with doing a lot of burst damage quickly. Assassination focuses on improving your critical hit percentage, giving you more combo points and increasing your chance to land finishing and stun abilities. The second talent tree is Combat. Combat focuses on improving your combat skills that are the core of your character. The combat tree has all weapon-related talents, as well as the upgrades for Sinister Strike, Gouge and Backstab (all very commonly used Rogue abilities). The final talent tree is Subtlety. This tree offers all of the stealth-related talents, such as improving your skill in stealth and your movement speed while in it, as well as improving abilities that require stealth to pull off.


Combat Skills


Backstab
An attack that deals 150% weapon damage plus additional damage to the target. You must be behind the target. The additional damage increases with each rank. Combined with gouge, this is a great ability to use in combat.

Evasion
Increases your chance to dodge by 50% for 15 seconds. Evasion is on a long cool-down, so it's good to use on a boss, in a PvP battle or that duel you really need to win. This works great against other Rogues or melee enemies.

Feint
The Rogue executes a "feint" which puts someone else first on the monster's hate list. Feint is a great ability to use in instance groups, when a mob is pounding you and you need to get him off. On a somewhat short cooldown, but you cannot spam it.

Gouge
Gouge is a great Rogue ability that stuns the target for 4 seconds and causes a bit of damage. Gouge breaks on damage, and requires you to be in front of your target. Use in conjunction with backstab (Gouge then go behind the monster and use Backstab).

Kick
Kick is the Rogue's primary way to disrupt a spell being cast. It interrupts the current spell being cast for 5 seconds and prevents casting of any spell in that school for 5 seconds. This works great against any kind of caster mob or class (i.e. Mage, Paladin).

Sinister Strike
The bread and butter of the Rogue, SS is an attack that adds extra damage to your regular weapon damage. SS is used to rack up combo points quickly (1 second cooldown) while doing a bit of extra damage.





Assassination Skills

A devastating attack that deals 250% of your weapon damage. Ambush requires you to be in stealth as well as behind your target. Ambush is an opener best used against cloth-wearers or mobs with a small amount of hitpoints.
Ambush
Eviscerate is the Rogue's most used finishing ability. Eviscerate is purely damage, dishing out more damage with each combo point added. Eviscerate is used very widely, and is useful for almost any situation.
Eviscerate
Expose armor is another finishing ability whose effectiveness varies with the amount of combo points tacked onto your target when you pull off the finisher. Expose armor reduces armor on a target, useful when facing bosses or heavy HP mobs.
Expose Armor
Garrote is a useful opening attack that deals a large amount of damage over time. Garrote is a great opener when you purely need to damage a target that will take a long time to kill (bosses, higher level characters, tank mobs, etc). Must be stealthed and behind the target.
Garrote
Arguably the most useful Rogue opener, Cheap Shot is useable with any weapon and can be performed from any direction, but does require stealth. Cheap Shot stuns your target and adds on 2 combo points. A lot of people find the stun/2 combo points to be much more useful than Garrote or even Ambush. Great to open with and then use backstab while the mob is stunned.
Cheap Shot
Kidney Shot is a finishing ability that stuns the target. The more combo points, the longer the stun lasts. The stun does not break on damage, so you may attack your opponent. Kidney Shot is great to use when you need to keep a target under wraps, or under a stunlock.
Kidney Shot
Slice and Dice is a finisher that gives you a 20% attack speed bonus for X amount of seconds (duration increases with amount of combo points). This ability is great when you are grinding mobs that are close to each other.
Slice and Dice
Rupture is a finisher that deals a lot of damage over time. At times Eviscerate can deal the same or slightly less damage instantly, but a lot of the time Rupture can be great to use versus high HP/armor opponents, or against boss mobs.
Rupture





Subtlety Skills


Blind
Blind is a an ability that disorients a target, causing it to wander around for up to 10 seconds at 40% movement speed. Blind requires Blinding Powder, which is made from Fadeleaf.

Detect Traps
This ability allows you to see all invisible traps for 3 minutes. Good to use when against hunters, or for certain Rogue missions.

Vanish
Requiring a vendor-bought reagent, vanish allows a Rogue in-combat to immediately get into stealth. Vanish will fail if an Area of Effect spell hits you, or a Damage-over-Time spell damages you.

Disarm Traps
Disarms a target trap that you detect.

Ghostly Strike (TALENT)
A strike that deals 125% weapon damage and increases your dodge by 15% for 7 seconds. Awards one combo point. Bad to use against warriors since the more you dodge a warrior, the more he can overpower you (and if the Warrior has Improved Overpower means critical hits every time you dodge). Good against a mob or player who's hitting slow, but not warriors.

Hemorrhage (TALENT)
Hemorrhage awards you one combo point and increases the physical damage dealt to a target. This is a good talent to get, as putting this on a target during the fight will give you a good boost in DPS.

Pickpocket
Picks the pockets of a humanoid (doesn't work on other player-controlled characters), stealing money and items. Pickpocket is a great way to find junkboxes that you can unlock to get your lockpicking skill up. it can also generate some extra silver if you pickpocket a mob before you kill it. Certain mobs will also have food on them, so you won't have to buy food or ask a mage to summon it for you. Does not reduce the mobs after kill loot.

Premeditation (TALENT)
Instantly adds 2 combo points to a target. You must be in stealth and the target must not be in combat. After using the talent, the monster must engage in combat in 5 seconds or the combo points are lost.

Preparation (TALENT)
When used, this talent finishes the cooldown on all other abilities (except for its own timer).

Safe Fall
A passive ability that reduces Rogue's falling damage. Great for when you have to make a big jump. Especially useful for all those Rogues who love jumping off the Zeppelin or jumping down into Un'Goro Crater from Tanaris.

Sap
Sap is a Rogue's primary form of crowd control. Sap is a stun that can only be used on humanoids (including player characters), requires you to be stealthed and behind the target.

Stealth
Stealth is the Rogue's class defining ability. Stealth is a state in which the Rogue is concealed/camouflaged. Higher level players can detect lower levels Rogue's very easily. However, at level 60, it's very tough to spot a Rogue. Especially with a talent from the Subtlety tree, Rogue's stealth can be quite hard to spot. However, Rogue's cannot stealth if they have a DOT (Damage-over-time debuff) on them, or an ability like Faire-Fire. You cannot enter stealth while in combat.





Poisons

At level 20 you can begin a quest that will give you the ability to create and utilize poisons upon successful completion. Poisons are add-ons that you create from buying vendor materials and apply to your weapons. Poisons are not overly costly but will run up a bill for you. Poisons come in a variety of fashions, including instant damage, damage over time, anti-spell casting poisons and much more. Here are the poisons available to Rogues:

This is a very effective and useful poison that has a 30% chance to slow your enemy to 30% of normal movement speed. I find this useful when I am soloing or when I am in an instance because it helps to slow runners.
Crippling Poison
Instant Poison is a great poison that has a chance to deal instant poison damage to a target. Instant poison is great for any situation, especially PvP where any extra damage can be the difference between living and dieing.
Instant Poison
Each strike gives you a 20% chance to increase the target's casting time by 60% of 12 seconds. This is a good poison to use against casters, but sometimes seems like a waste because of the many stuns a Rogue can use to interrupt casting (Kick, Gouge, Kidney Shot, Cheap Shot).
Mind-Numbing Poisons
Deadly Poison is a DOT (Damage over time) poison that has a chance to infect your target with poison damage that damages over a set amount of time. This can be useful for long-winded fights or to prevent bandaging or stealthing.
Deadly Poison
This poison reduces healing effects on a target if it procs. This is useful against mobs that can self-heal, heal each other or have some form of healing which is hard/impossible to stop. This is great against Paladins and Priests.
Wound Poison





Opening/Starting a Fight and Combat

As a Rogue, you have many options to begin a fight. You always want to start off stealthed.

  • Opener Number One
    Stealth up and approach your target. Get behind them and use Cheap Shot. While they are stunned, use backstab. Then use regular attack until you have around 70-80 energy. Then use gouge, go behind your target and backstab again. You now have 5 combo points, and can stunlock your opponent (use Kidney Shot), try to kill him (Eviscerate) or go for DOT (Rupture).

  • Opener Number Two
    Stealth up and approach your target. Use Ambush on your target and then gouge. Get behind him and use backstab, and then Sinister Strike. Use gouge when possible, backstab and eviscerate for a quick kill.

  • Opener Number Three
    Garrote your enemy in stealth and continue to sinister strike and then either kidney shot or eviscerate your enemy. This opener works good for mobs who have a lot of hitpoints, where the Garrote DoT will slowly take them down.

  • Ultimate Stunlock Combat
    Cheapshot your enemy from behind and use backstab. Then use Gouge/Backstab combination again. At 5 combo points, use kidney shot (and a Thistle Tea would help anytime you are out of energy). Now you can backstab, Sinister Strike and perhaps another Gouge and eviscerate to finally kill off your opponent.






Talent Builds

You can build your Talents in numerous ways. Here are some samples of builds others have used to some success.

~Assassin Build~



Assassination Talents (33 Points)

Improved Eviscerate - 3/3 points
Increases the damage done by your Eviscerate ability by 15%.

Malice - 5/5 points
Increases your critical strike chance by 5%.

Murder - 2/2 points
Increases your chance to hit while using your Sap, Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot abilities by 5%.

Lethality - 5/5 points
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Gouge, Backstab, Ambush, Ghostly Strike, or Hemorrhage ability by 30%.

Ruthlessness - 3/3 points
Gives your finishing moves a 60% chance to add a combo point to your target.

Relentless Strikes - 1/1 points
Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy.

Vile Poisons - 5/5 points
Increases the damage dealt by your poisons by 15%.

Cold Blood - 1/1 points
When activated, increases the critical strike chance of your next Sinister Strike, Backstab, Ambush, or Eviscerate by 100%.

Improved Deadly Poison - 4/5 points
Increases the chance to apply Deadly Poison to your target by 12%.

Improved Instant Poison - 4/5 points
Increases the chance to apply Instant Poison to your target by 8%.


Combat Talents (5 points)

Improved Gouge - 3/3 points
Increases the effect duration of your Gouge ability by 1.5 seconds.

Improved Sinister Strike - 2/2 points
Reduces the Energy cost of your Sinister Strike ability by 5 Energy.


Subtlety Talents (13 points)

Master of Deception - 5/5 points
Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while in Stealth mode. More effective than Master of Deception (Rank 4)

Opportunity - 5/5 points
Increases the damage dealt when striking from behind with your Backstab, Garrote, or Ambush abilities by 20%.

Improved Ambush - 3/3 points
Increases the critical strike chance of your Ambush ability by 40%.





~Stealth/Subtlety Build~



Assassination Talents (30 points)

Improved Eviscerate - 3/3 points
Increases the damage done by your Eviscerate ability by 15%.

Remorseless Attacks - 5/5 points
After killing an opponent that yields experience, gives you a 40% increased critical strike chance on your next Sinister Strike, Backstab, Ambush, or Ghostly Strike.

Malice - 5/5 points
Increases your critical strike chance by 5%.

Ruthlessness - 3/3 points
Gives your finishing moves a 60% chance to add a combo point to your target.

Relentless Strikes - 1/1 points
Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy.

Murder - 2/2 points
Increases your chance to hit while using your Sap, Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot abilities by 5%.

Lethality - 5/5 points
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Gouge, Backstab, Ambush, Ghostly Strike, or Hemorrhage ability by 30%.

Cold Blood - 1/1 points
When activated, increases the critical strike chance of your next Sinister Strike, Backstab, Ambush, or Eviscerate by 100%.

Seal Fate - 5/5 points
Your critical strikes from abilities that add combo points have a 100% chance to add an additional combo point.


Combat Talents (8 points)

Improved Sinister Strike - 2/2 points
Reduces the Energy cost of your Sinister Strike ability by 5 Energy.

Improved Gouge - 3/3 points
Increases the effect duration of your Gouge ability by 1.5 seconds.

Improved Backstab - 3/3 points
Increases the critical strike chance of your Backstab ability by 30%.


Subtlety Talents (13 points)

Master of Deception - 5/5 points
Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while in Stealth mode. More effective than Master of Deception (Rank 4)

Opportunity - 5/5 points
Increases the damage dealt when striking from behind with your Backstab, Garrote, or Ambush abilities by 20%.

Improved Ambush - 3/3 points
Increases the critical strike chance of your Ambush ability by 40%.




~Combat Assassin Build~



Assassination Talents (20 points)

Improved Eviscerate - 3/3 points
Increases the damage done by your Eviscerate ability by 15%.

Malice - 5/5 points
Increases your critical strike chance by 5%.

Ruthlessness - 3/3 points
Gives your finishing moves a 60% chance to add a combo point to your target.

Relentless Strikes - 1/1 points
Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy.

Lethality - 5/5 points
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Gouge, Backstab, Ambush, Ghostly Strike, or Hemorrhage ability by 30%.

Improved Slice and Dice - 3/3 points
Increases the duration of your Slice and Dice ability by 45%.


Combat Talents (31 points)

Improved Sinister Strike - 2/2 points
Reduces the Energy cost of your Sinister Strike ability by 5 Energy.

Improved Gouge - 3/3 points
Increases the effect duration of your Gouge ability by 1.5 seconds.

Deflection - 5/5 points
Increases your Parry chance by 5%.

Riposte - 1/1 points
A strike that becomes active after parrying an opponent's attack. This attack deals 150% weapon damage and disarms the target for 6 seconds.

Precision - 5/5 points
Increases your chance to hit with melee weapons by 5%.

Dual Wield Specialization - 5/5 points
Increases the damage done by your offhand weapon by 50%.

Blade Flurry - 1/1 points
Increases your attack speed by 20%. In addition, attacks strike an additional nearby opponent. Lasts 15 seconds.

Improved Evasion - 2/2 points
Increases the effect duration of your Evasion ability by 4 seconds.

Improved Sprint - 3/3 points
Reduces the cooldown of your Sprint ability by 90 seconds.

Aggression - 3/3 points
Increases the damage of yo
ur Sinister Strike and Eviscerate abilities by 6%.

Adrenaline Rush - 1/1 points
Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 100% for 15 seconds.




Glossary of Terms

  • Proc - Short for 'process', which describes an item's feature to deal extra damage based on chance. For example, a sword may have a proc on it that says "Has a chance to send out a bolt of fire, dealing 50-75 damage". That is classified as a proc. Proc can also be used as a verb. For example: My weapon procs almost every fight.
  • CP - Combo Points
  • SS - Sinister Strike
  • Evis - Eviscerate
  • Stunlock - A combination of Rogue skills that keeps a target stunned continually.
  • Solo'er - Refers to someone who can complete quests, kill monsters and go through content alone, without any help. A "Solo'er" is somebody who usually does quests on their own, and levels their character without the help of groups.



Researched and written by Mogrin.
Exclusive custom art: Rogue banner by Misologistic.
Night Elf Rogue by Xmetallium.

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June 5, 2006