Extended Rogue Guide

By: Twikster

This is an extension to our Rogue Guide. It goes into detail about Rogues as of WoW patch 2.3. It's a must read for any Rogue.

Rogues in Brief

Rogues are a Melee combat class focusing on damage dealing (DPS = Damage per Second).  What makes the rogue unique from the other Melee combat classes (Warrior and Paladin) is the way a Rogue goes about dealing this damage. 

Table of Contents

A Rogue’s M.O. is a quick burst of front-loaded damage, followed by a short period of sustained damage, punctuated by periodic bursts of damage, ultimately leading to the killing blow.  How a Rogue does this is by sneaking up on an enemy undetected, then striking from a near-invisible state.  As the Rogue progresses through a fight, he/she sets up the enemy for a heavy blow by building up Combo Points.  Sometimes the finishing blow results in the killing blow or it weakens stronger enemies until they die.

The rogues tools include: Stealth, Opening Moves, Poisons, Combo Points, and Finishing Moves.  Each of these tools will be discussed in depth in the following section.

Pros and Cons of the Rogue Class:


  • High DPS and speed.  The rogue can kill enemies quicker than many other classes.  Their abilities do not rely on long casting times nor especially long cooldown times.
  • Stealth allows a Rogue to solo some quests that other classes would require groups to do.  This includes sneaking into a network of caves or a fortress stronghold after a specific target, avoiding the enemies that protect the cave.
  • Rogues are trained to use their agility to great advantage, increasing both dodge and armor.  The higher a Rogue’s agility, the greater the damage avoidance.  This allows agile Rogues to off-tank for short periods of times in groups.  They aren’t absorbing the damage like a normal tank, but avoiding it all together. They are the perfect class to protect casters and healers from adds.
  • Rogues are the only class to dual wield weapons at level 10.  Almost from the start of a Rogue’s career, Rogues do 150% damage compared to classes using similar weapons in a single hand, just from normal attacks.
  • Rogues are very effective versus caster classes due to their high speed attacks (to slow casting time), stunning abilities (Cheap Shot, Gouge and Kidney Shot), and interrupt ability (Kick).  They also have anti-caster and healer poisons (Mind-numbing and Wound Poisons).


  • Rogues have absolutely no inherent healing ability.  They must rely on potions, first-aid, and food for recovery.  One mitigation to this problem is the Pickpocket ability, which often nets healing potions.
  • Rogues are limited to cloth or leather armor, though you will seldom see a rogue wearing cloth.  One fix for this, at low-mid levels, are armor kits that can boost the armor value of gear.  It is highly recommended to keep armor kits equipped at all times.  At higher level, focus on agility enchantments and agility bonuses on gear.  High agility will add significant bonuses to Armor.
  • Rogues must close to melee range to be effective.  A Rogue’s ranged weapon is only effective for pulling enemies, not for damage.
  • Rogues are limited in their weapon choices, as they lose some of their abilities if they do not equip a dagger in the main hand.  Two-handed weapons are not available to Rogues.  Other weapons available to Rogues are one handed swords and maces, fist weapons, bows and thrown weapons.

Choosing a Race:

Racial bonuses are negligible at high levels, so when picking a race, look at the various abilities that are unique to that race.  Or you might choose a race based solely on aesthetics (looks) or the starting area.


Human – Perception: A good boost to detect stealthed enemies, but it’s on a very short timer.  This is only good for PvP and if you know you are around stealthed enemies.  I’ve never had a use for it, as I have never had a problem seeing stealthed enemies in PvE. 
Many players prefer humans for there ordinary looks (and the females don’t look like anorexic barbie dolls!). 
The Human starting area is close to one of the main Alliance cities: Stormwind.

Dwarf – Stoneform: A very useful ability for Rogues.  It clears poisons and bleed effects that can prevent you from going into stealth at the end of a battle.  In tight spots, where stealth/vanish is essential, this can be a lifesaver.
Dwarves are squat and musclebound, making a rather unlikely-looking Rogue.
The Dwarven starting area is near the city of Ironforge and is shared with Gnomes. 

Gnome – Escape Artist: As a melee class, it is imperative that you prevent runaways.  Many enemies (especially other players) use nets, webs, or freezing effects to prevent you from following.  Escape Artist can delete that advantage.  Unfortunately, it’s on a fairly long cooldown.
Hope you don’t mind how your character looks in gear.  Some of the Rogue gear, when shrunken down to Gnome size, looks fairly ridiculous.

Night Elf – Shadowmeld: Another pro-Rogue ability.  While not actively used by Night-Elf Rogues, Shadowmeld adds the equivalent to a free point in Master of Deception, increasing your stealth effectiveness.
Night Elves are also the coolest looking Alliance Rogue.
The Night Elf starting area is rather spread out and time-consuming.  Even their capital city of Darnassus sprawls in comparison to the other cities. Be prepared to travel a lot, or you could just make your way to human or dwarf starting areas, like many Night Elf players do.


Undead – Will of the Forsaken: This is similar in use to the Gnome’s Escape Artist, except against Fear and similar effects, instead of immobilizing effects.  One of the most sought after abilities for PvP Rogues.
The Forsaken is the most sinister looking Horde Rogue.
The Undead starting area is dreary and depressing (on purpose).  But their home city of Undercity/Lordaeron is one of the most interestingly designed cities.

Orc – Blood Fury: Increases attack power.  This scales with level, but it also decreases healing.  However, orcs also have Hardiness, which is a stun resist. 
Orcs, like dwarves, are a little too musclebound to look very rogue-ish in my opinion.
The Orcish starting area, shared with Trolls, is a barren, rocky wasteland similar to West Texas or Arizona.  The Orc city of Orgrimmar has the lowest level instance in the game.

Troll – Berserk: An ability similar to Slice and Dice, this ability increases attack speed based on how much damage the troll has taken when it is activated.  It does stack with Slice and Dice, so it very nice to have in a pinch.
Trolls also have a regeneration ability which shortens down-time.

Blood Elf – Mana Tap: Useful in combat against casters, but then, a Rogue is a caster-killer by nature, with plenty of other interrupts and stuns to prevent casting.  But it never hurts to have another.
Blood Elves, like Night Elves are pretty cool looking in Rogue gear.
The Blood-Elf starting area is at times pretty, then twisted, sort of like the Blood Elves themselves.  Silvermoon, the capital city is a grand metropolis more modern-looking (with a light arabic feel) than any of the other cities save The Exodar.


In order of importance, the stats are:
Agility: increases armor, attack power, crit chance and dodge chance.
Strength: increases attack power.
Stamina: increases health points.  This may seem just as important as strength, but remember, a Rogue doesn’t take damage, he/she avoids damage (with the help of agility).
Spirit: increases Health regeneration.  Rogues have a relatively low health compared to other melee classes, so any additional Spirit can help.
Intelligence: affects nothing for a Rogue, save the speed at which you increase your weapon skills.  You can be sneaky and dumb (in WoW, not the real world).

Equipment for Increasing Rogue Stats

Focus on equipment ending with “of the Tiger”, “of the Monkey”, and “of the Bandit” Each of these will give a bonus to Agility and one other stat.

Also get equipment with +hit, +crit, +dodge, or +attack power.

If your choices are limited, get something with a bonus to one of the above and/or a bonus to Spirit.  Something is better than nothing if your equipment is old and nothing else is available. 

Stay away from equipment with magic bonuses and Intelligence bonuses, unless it’s a weapon with significantly more DPS than your current weapon and nothing else is available.  If I see you walking around with +Int & +Spell damage on your gear, I will beat you down. ;)


Rogues should always dual wield.  ALWAYS.  This is one of the strengths of the Rogue and should always be exploited.  Speed should also be a factor when choosing weapons.  A faster weapon is better (DPS being equal) as your poisons will proc more.  Also, keep in mind that your Burst damage abilities (Ambush, Backstab, Eviscerate) rely on the damage (not DPS) of your main-hand weapon.  So, a slower, higher damage weapon in the main hand is beneficial.  Ideally, you should balance speed and damage in the main hand. 

The choice of weapons is up to you, but here are some thoughts and tips I’ve found to be advantageous over the years:

Swords vs. Daggers
Many Combat Rogues swear by Swords.  Some dual wield them, some carry a dagger in the Main Hand and a Sword in the Off Hand.  I personally believe that Rogues should stick with dual daggers for the entire leveling process, including PvE groups.  Here are the reasons:
            Daggers are some of the fastest weapons in the game.
            Dual wielding Swords, or using a Sword in the main-hand, will negate some of the Rogue’s most useful abilities. (This can be mitigated with a weapon change macro.) The abilities affected are Ambush and Backstab, two of the highest damage attacks in the Rogue’s arsenal.
            Using a sword in the off hand is slow, causing poisons to proc less, actually reducing overall damage while using Instant Poison, and reducing the effectiveness of Crippling, Deadly and Wounding Poisons.
Swords can be useful in PvP for higher damage.  Also, in PvP, you are not usually using Ambush or Backstab, but using Cheap Shot as an opening move and Sinister Strike or Hemorrhage as the main attack.
Maces are an option for Rogues if they spec up the Combat tree and after acquiring the Mace Specialization Talent.  PvP rogues specialize in maces in order to have the chance to stun an opponent without resorting to Gouge or Kidney Shot.  I would only recommend maces for PvP rogues.  Most maces are abominably slow, though there are a few fast Epic maces.

Fist Weapons
Fist Weapons look cool and you would think that the majority of Fist Weapons would be fast, but that is not the case.  Some Fist Weapons can have a speed around 2.60.  Why this is, only the folks at Blizzard know.  Many of the most powerful Fists are slow, but there are a few Epic Fists with speed around 1.50.  The best of these for a Rogue (off-hand) is The Claw of the Phoenix which is dropped by Al’ar in The Eye in Tempest Keep.  Not the most accessible of weapons.  A fast Fist Weapon would be great in the off-hand.

Ranged Weapons
Ranged Weapons are only used to pull enemies toward you, not for damage.  Yes, more damage is always good, but you won’t make a difference at higher levels when you only have one shot, maybe two (with a fast weapon) before the enemy is upon you.  Expect your weapon skill with your ranged weapon to fall behind that of your melee weapon at later levels, especially if you are a subtlety Rogue that uses opening moves most of the time.

Choosing Professions

The choice of profession should be based solely on your interest in that profession.  I will however, attempt to lay out some benefits the various professions can have for Rogues.

Gathering Professions:
Skinning, Mining and Herbalism are useful to go with the appropriate crafting profession.  However, taking SOLELY gathering professions is also useful for the first time player or if your Rogue is your main character.  Gathering is a guaranteed money-maker.  With my gathering rogue, I had over a hundred gold by level 20.  I had 200 by the time I needed to buy my mount at level 40.  This was WITH buying gear and training.

Crafting Professions:

Leatherworking: The most useful profession for a Rogue.  As long as you keep the skill level up and keep up with the recipes, the armor that you create can be very useful (with the exception of the mail armor at higher levels).  Also, armor kits are a necessity for rogues at the early levels for a much appreciated armor buff.

Engineering: Almost as useful as Leatherworking.  Engineering can provide a rogue with explosives for mass damage and stuns (if you feel the need for more of those), goggles for stat buffs early in the game, and guns (if you prefer the more noisy of the ranged weapons).  Other gadgets may also prove useful for the creative Rogue.
Alchemy: Potions can be useful to buff stamina, strength or agility, and also to create healing potions, useful because the Rogue has no innate healing abilities. Plus, extra potions sell for good money in the AH.  Keep in mind that only one Guardian potion (Armor or agility buff) and one Battle (Strength buff) potion can be used at a time.

Jewelcrafting: If you have the Burning Crusade expansion, you can try Jewelcrafting.  Necklaces and rings can sell for good money at the AH, and the healing totems can be helpful in combat.  But there is only one Jewelcrafting trainer for each faction on Azeroth, in the out-of-the-way locations of The Exodar and Silvermoon.

Blacksmithing: Not a useful profession for a Rogue.  You can make weapons that a Rogue may be able to use, but the armor can only be sold to a vendor or at the AH, and the time spent finding materials, may not be worth the price you’ll get for the item.  Despite this, it might be worth power-leveling Blacksmithing at Level 70 for the high-end weapons only Weaponsmiths can use.

Enchanting: Very difficult and gold-consuming to level, as you need magical gear to disenchant into materials for enchants.  This is magical gear you will not be able to sell and make money off of.  It’s cheaper to buy enchants when you are ready for them.

Tailoring: With the lack of a Rogue’s healing ability, anything that uses up bandaging material is something to stay away from, especially when most of the items crafted by a tailor are useless to a Rogue.

This is part one, stay tuned for part two which goes into detail about some advanced Rogue tactics and understanding how gameplay mechanics work for the Rogue class.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

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