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Rogue Guide: Basics

Updated Sat, May 21, 2011 by Xerin

There is nothing simple to the Rogue. Sure, it may sound like they hit things hard with their weapons and call it a day, but there is a lot more to this class than that. There is a lot of thought, preparation, and theorycrafting involved. With that said let's delve into the Rogue basics.

Getting Started

Rogues are a pure melee DPS class. They don't cast spells or sling bullets. Even as a melee DPS they don't wield massive bastard swords into battle to chop enemies in half. Instead, they have a more refined combat style focusing on smaller weapons (daggers, axes, swords, maces, fist weapons) and using their stealth to move around without being seen.

  • Rogues can do massive damage with two weapons.
  • Poisons can increase DPS and utility at no expense.
  • DPS leather is easy to obtain with the only competition being Feral Druids.
  • Rogues use Energy instead of Mana, Rage, Runic Power, or any other form of resource.
  • Energy constantly refills, which means that downtime is only reliant on your health.
  • Rogues need two weapons, because they dual wield. There are no two-handed weapons for Rogues.
  • Rogues can kill things FAST making leveling easy and solo PvE a breeze.
  • With Recuperate Rogues have a potent self-heal making them a potent class for solo questing and farming.

Races

Choosing a race for a Rogue can be hard, because all 12 of the races can become Rogues except Tauren and Draenei. There are "better" races than others (Human for Alliance, Blood Elf and Undead for Horde), but any race is an alright pick and won't make you useless by any extent.

Alliance

  • Humans: They start with 3 Sword/Mace expertise making them already healthy Rogue candidates. Combine that with Perception (allowing you to see stealth easier) and Every Man for Himself (removes all movement impairing effects & effects that make you lose control of your character) and you have yourself a very, very strong race for a Rogue.
  • Gnomes: A "bad" choice going by racials, the only good Gnome racial is Escape Artist which is good for getting away from snares. Very small and hard to see while stealthed, which is a plus in PvP. Gnomes now have 5 expertise with daggers making them a truly excellent pick for new Rogues.
  • Dwarf: Stoneform can get rid of bleeds, poisons, and diseases which normally keep you out of stealth. Expertise with maces is increased by 5 which is really, really good. So it's not a bad choice.
  • Night Elves: Shadowmeld is pretty good for a second "vanish", Elusiveness is really good for PvP, and Quickness is great in solo content when you're getting hit.
  • Worgen: 40% increased run speed and 1% additional critical strike chance make this new race a no-brainer, plus they look awesome!

Horde

  • Orcs: Blood Fury gives you 322 attack power for 15 seconds at level 80, while Axe Specialization gives you 5 expertise with axes and fist weapons making it one really good racial. Stuns role off an Orc with ease, making them one of the better PvE Rogue races.
  • Undead: Will of the Forsaken removes fear, sleep, and charm affects making this a good PvP choice. The other bonuses are "meh".
  • Troll: Beserking is really good. Throwing Weapon Specialization is funny, but useless.
  • Blood Elf: You get a 15 energy heal and silence, but that's just bleh.
  • Goblin: Rocket jump gives your Rogue much needed extra mobility, rocket gloves increase PvE DPS, and you'll net an additional 1% haste with these green menaces.

Professions

Professions are a tough one, but we'll try to go through them. The net attack power gain is standardized at about 64 (except Enchanting which gives 80).

  • Inscription: You gain the best shoulder enchant, but Rogues have a very complicated geming/enchanting scheme. Inscription doesn't give you a lot of flexibility. This is a poor overall choice.
  • Jewelcrafting: This is a really good choice because you can gem for hit, if you're desperate for it, gem for armor pen, gem for agility, or make a ton of other awesome BoP gems that only you can equip. Think 81 extra agility which gives you attack power and crit, instead of just raw attack power. You can only use a limited number of JC BoP gems.
  • Alchemy: It's good during low end raiding and for money making. You get the standard attack power boost when you're flasked, a reusable flask/healing potion, and more. Mixology is awesome for saving money when a flask lasts 2 hours and you can make it yourself.
  • Enchanting: 80 attack power. It's alright.
  • Leatherworking: Bracer enchant for about 130 agility gain. Hands down the single most powerful profession for passive stats. You can make your own leveling gear too.
  • Blacksmithing: You gain two additional gem slots, which is a big boost when combined with Jewelcrafting.
  • Engineering: This profession is a godly choice for Rogues that aren't worried about making money from professions. As long as engineering enchants continue to stack with regular enchants you'll get a fearsome amount of utility and tools ranging from rocket boots to parachute cloaks to mind control caps and grenades. It's very hard to go wrong with engineering right now.
  • Gathering Professions: As always, they're good for the money and not much else.

Energy

Energy is the major resource for Rogues and required for the majority of Rogue abilities. Unlike Mana which comes in a large pool and regenerates slowly out of combat or Rage that generates based on damage taken/given, Energy regenerates at a constant of 10 Energy/1 second at a maximum (untalented) of 100 Energy (120 for Assassination Rogues). Rogues don't need to drink anything to bring their Energy back as it will naturally regenerate at a relatively fast speed (10 seconds to go from 0 to full).

Managing Energy on the other hand is a difficult task. You have to plan around your energy regeneration so you can make the most of it. The worst thing to do in combat is to hit full Energy, so you should always be using abilities that require Energy. On the flipside, you want to make sure you have enough Energy in the future to do finishers or Slice & Dice or to stun/interrupt.

It is both a simple and complicated mechanic. As you level up you'll begin to understand the intricacies of it.

Dual Wield

Dual Wielding is the Rogue's way of wielding weapons. You get to put one weapon in each hand (one-handed weapons only, only Warriors can dual wield two-handers). The trade off is that you have an additional 19% chance to miss with each weapon, putting your chance to miss at 24% (everyone has a 5% base to miss with melee) and that's for even level'd creatures. You'll need an unrealistic 28% hit to never miss a boss.

That's alright, though, because of how fast and how often Rogues attack. You'll find that the miss chance won't start being a problem until you're much higher and by then you'll get gear to compensate for it (with hit rating, which increases your chance to hit with weapons and spells).

Active "yellow damage" Abilities, like Sinister Strike and Mutilate, DO NOT suffer from the Dual Wield penalty. Only auto attacks (but they do suffer from the regular miss chance everyone has).

Weapon procs/poisons for instant abilities for main hand weapons will trigger when a weapon hits like normal. So you can get double the procs (some procs do not stack though) and you can poison both weapons and have both poisons trigger independently of one another. When using skills, like Sinister Strike, they will often hit with the main-hand weapon which trigger the procs affixed to the weapon in your main hand (you have a main-hand and off-hand weapon, the main-hand one is the one on the left in the equipment screen). Some skills hit with both weapons, in which case both weapons gain a chance to proc.

You will gain a 50% damage reduction for your off-hand weapon. This can be improved only by specializing in the Combat tree.

You are going to want a very slow main-hand, because slower weapons do more damage with instant attacks which is dependent on energy regeneration which is static. Your off-hand can be as slow as you want it until level 49 when you get Combat Potency maxed, at which point you'll want to get a fast off-hand so it hits more and you get more Combat Potency procs. Combat Potency gives you a static 20% chance to regenerate 15 energy (at rank 5). This isn't normalized to weapon speed, so it's a big thing to take advantage of.

If you're not Combat or picking up Combat Potency, you can pretty much just get whatever speed off-hand you want that fits your talent build.

The damage dealing poisons, Instant and Wound, are applied using a "Proc-Per-Minute" or "PPM" scheme. This means that WoW will take a look at your weapon speed and multiply it by the PPM rate to determine how often your poisons will fire. For example: if Wound poison has a PPM rate of 10 procs per minute and you're using a 1.8 speed dagger then you'll have a roughly 30% chance for your poison to be applied to every strike. (60 seconds / 1.8 speed weapon is 33 attacks per minute, if your poison applies 10 times per minute then 33 attacks / 10 procs = around 30%). This can be a bit complicated, but knowing that in general slower weapon means higher poison proc rate will be helpful in the future.

Combo Points & Finishers

Combo Points are gained when abilities connect that grant combo points. For instance, if you hit with Sinister Strike you'll gain 1 combo point. Combo points stack up to five and no more. Once you're at five combo points you'll be unable to gain anymore until you consume them.

Finishing moves use combo points as a resource. They require at least one combo point to be on the target in order for you to use them, but gain in power the more combo points that are on the target. Some finishers, like Slice & Dice, can be effective at 2-3 combo points while damage finishers are almost always the most effective at 5 combo points.

Combo points are stored on a target until its corpse disappears or you begin to gain combo points on another creature.

Managing your energy and combo points is KEY to Rogue combat.

Poisons

At level 20 Rogues can begin to apply poisons to their weapons. There are five poisons in the game: Crippling Poison, Mind-Numbing Poison, Instant Poison, Deadly Poison, and Wound Poison. For more info on poisons see our poison guide and our Rogue Combat Guide.

Poisons do stack with enchants, but do not stack with temporary enchants. Rogues cannot poison other players weapons. Poisons are bought from the poison vendor.

Statistics

  • Strength: 1 AP (attack power) to 1 Strength. It's a "good" stat, but doesn't give critical strike, which makes it a "bad" stat for Rogues.
  • Agility: 324 AGI to 1% critical strike, 243 AGI to 1% dodge, 2 AP to 1 AGI. That's a lot jammed into one stat, which makes this the primary stat for Rogues.
  • Stamina: 10 health to 1 Stamina. You don't need to worry about this.
  • Intellect: Doesn't apply to Rogues.
  • Spirit: Mana regeneration, which doesn't apply to Rogues.
  • Attack Power: Determines the damage you'll do with melee hits and abilities. DPS is generally considered to increase by 1 for every 14 attack power, except when dual wielding, in which case the untalented offhand will gain 1 DPS per 28 attack power.
  • Critical Strike: Your chance to gain a critical with melee attacks and abilities. At level 80 you'll need 180 critical strike rating to gain a 1% to critical strike.
  • Hit: Your chance to hit, see the table below.
  • Haste: Decreases the time between attacks, but has no affect on how fast you can use abilities since Rogues and feral Druids have a general 1 second global cooldown compared to the normal 1.5 second global cooldown. Haste now also increases energy regeneration at a rate of 10*(1+ haste%).
  • Expertise: Caps at 26 and determines your chance to be dodged or parried. Enemies CAN NOT dodge or parry from behind, so this mostly applies to situations where you have to be in front of the enemy.

What's the best stat? This depends on your spec. The general rule of thumb is hit up to the yellow damage cap (8% hit) > hit up to the poison cap (17% hit) > expertise up to the cap (26 rating) > agility > haste > hit over the poison cap > critical strike. This is for PvE, for PvP it's safe to always go with agility once you've got 5% hit.

When leveling up, obviously whatever stats you can get are big hits, but aim for Agility and Hit.

Hit Rating

The following assumes you're dual wielding and are level 80. Hit rating isn't important past being hit capped for special attacks (which you will WANT to do for raiding), but still remains a concern since white damage missing all the time can be annoying. Yellow damage is abilities, white damage is your auto attack, and poisons are your spell hit.

Yellow Damage: ~960 (8%)
White Damage: ~3360 (27%)
Poison Damage: ~2040 (17%)

Take away ~120 hit rating for every 1% you gain through abilities or talents. (like Heroic Presence).


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