Updated Sat, May 21, 2011 by Stow
This article is out of date. Click here to return back to the Rogue Guide to find newer articles. This one is from WoTLK, some of the information may be useful but overall is very dated.
When our goal
is not to heal damage, or take damage, we have but one goal in
WoW. Deal it. Dish it out in the wildest way
possible, in a cascade of white and yellow numbers that ends with a
death cry. Unfortunately, every class shares the same
weakness we do as Rogues. If we stab too fast and too hard,
they stab us back. Controlling agro is the name of
the game, and we Rogues have every other class beat. So not
only do we dominate the meters, but we make it so the other classes of
the game can go faster and harder and have a chance of keeping up with
us, no matter how futile of an effort it may be.
As a class dedicated to punishing enemies and nothing else, we have an innate modifier of about 30% reduction to threat done. This is compared to the tanking classes having about double threat generation, so if we deal 1000 damage, we gain 700 threat, and if the tank does 500 damage, he gains 1000 threat. Good! Staying 30% behind the tank is a lovely target since we can get spikes in threat and damage with our finishing moves and many bosses just love to affect the meters with damage buffs, threat reduction, or flat out wiping the slate with phase changing, teleporting, or just feeling like it because they're a pain in the ass.
How To Get Ahead of the Tank - In a good way
All we have to do is keep convincing the opponent we're not the one hitting them. With liberal use of Tricks of the Trade every time it is up, ~20% of our hate generation will be directed to that guy in plate armor instead (or ... plated bear fur?). Ulduar has given us many encounters with the potential to become a wrecking crew. Take Hodir, for instance. It's possible to have a massive boost to our critical damage as well as having our attack speed increased 50% on top of our own buffs. When we are a tornado of destructive one-handed steel (Had to differentiate us from the Warriors, you see) due to these buffs, it's imperative that Tricks is used and has been used in the past. No tanking class has a chance at holding a monster for long due to these damage buffs, and it's up to us to give those tanks a fighting chance at keeping the opponent fighting them. Hunters have Misdirect. 3 shots is a good chunk of damage. Rogues have 6 seconds of 'here, blame this guy for what I'm about to do.' It simply has no equal and you will never be a good rogue if you do not have this macroed! In the heat of battle you don't have the luxury of changing targets. Designate your tank, off tank, and annoying warlock that needs to eat the dirt, separate Tricks macros with assists coded in afterwards to get back to your victim. Sometimes you'll need to be careful with this though; in a fight like Kologarn for instance, the tank might just stay on the body the whole time where as you have a date with his arms. If you're flailing at buttons and accidentally generate combo points on another target, of course upon switching back you'll have a nice 0/5 points on your real target. Suck it up and hit the Slice and Dice before the switch. You might as well get something out of your failure.
Evasive Maneuvers - Not the Evasion skill, sorry
If you're like most people these days, you have a threat meter mod running. If you're not, don't fret. It's easy to be aware of your surroundings and agro situation. With the amount of area of effect nonsense flying around in most encounters these days you need to bust out a skill that was gathering dust until a few months ago. It's time to Feint. It might take up a bit of your DPS pool, but you'll be saving your own hide potentially, saving a full spell from your healer's mana pool, and lowering your threat on the target by a solid amount. Almost everything in the game that is not targeted at your skull will have its damage cut in half by Feint. Some retard can't figure out the difference between Positive and Negative in Naxx? Feint, so you have twice as long for him to realize he's retarded before you kiss the pavement. Emalon charging a Lightning Nova and the melee running away in a mad panic? Not you. You're going to feint that and still have half of your life left comfortably. XT throwing a tantrum? Tell him to quit being a baby and feint it instead of being forced to use your health stone or potion. Feint has become a wonderful skill that enables us to stay in the fray when all hope is lost for the other classes. The threat reduction is just icing on the cake, really.
Vanish - Gone in 60 nanoseconds
consider this our 'standard' threat reduction ability compared to the
casters now. Ours is on a 3 minute cooldown and no longer has
a stupid reagent thankfully. This also has the double impact
of a few talents getting some serious use and increasing our DPS
overall. There are two things to consider when vanishing to
wipe threat though, assuming the monster isn't charging you.
Get out of stealth! - Wait, what? Yes. You want to wipe threat. You do NOT want to stop attacking. As soon as you hear that noise, you either need to reactivate your auto attacks or do a quick stealth opener once more. If you stay stealth for longer than a second, you're doing it wrong and I can see you falling down the DPS leaderboard quickly. Get those stealth bonus talents reignited and get back to kicking ass anew!
...Is this going to end well? - Listen, things are expensive now. And if you're not running daily quests at this point, and just pummeling bosses by moonlight with your guild and buddies, saving yourself from death is neat. I don't like a 75 gold repair bill. Every successful vanish to safety on a wipe will save you big bucks down the line. We're rogues. It's okay to be selfish.
But don't be selfish enough to top every meter. If you're topping the threat meter, soon you'll be topping the dead meter. Even if that was really stupid, you know how much DPS a corpse does. As a rogue, since we have DOTs, dying doesn't stop our DPS calculations and remove us from combat until they’ve finishing ticking. So going all out and dying early will impact you heavily, making your extra heavy effort, extra foolish. However, if you manage to top the healing meters, well, post a screenshot in our forums for me to see. That'd be a good idea for an achievement, actually...