Selecting Talents for the Rogue

Updated Sat, May 21, 2011 by jeffprime

 

This article is out of date.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.



The sentry makes his way slowly along down the dimly lit corridor, unaware that he is being stalked. Stealthily, you creep up behind the sentry, your weapons ready. He pauses, tilting his head slightly as if to hear something. You grin, confident in your abilities, and move up just behind him. Now is the time to unleash your ferocity, to bring a swift release from life for your unfortunate prey. How do you proceed? Do you backstab him, impaling him with your blade? Do you wrap a garrote around his neck before he realizes his danger? Or do you do something completely different? That answer depends entirely upon what build you've decided on for your Rogue.

There are three different schools that a Rogue can choose from when making their build: Assassination, Combat, and Subtlety. Each school focuses on inflicting the most damage, but through differing methods. The Assassination school specializes in doing burst damage and getting as many combo points as possible as quickly as possible. The Combat school focuses on regular, sustained DPS over the course of the combat. The Subtlety school emphasizes speed and stealth while getting the most combo points possible on the opening shot. Each school has various talents that can be learned as you progress in levels. The talents chosen will greatly influence how good your Rogue will be in at various aspects of the game: soloing, raiding, and PvP.

We’re going to look at a common build, one for each school. Each build is suited for a different style of gameplay. As the famous Rogue, Adrian “Seven Fingers” Slotsky, once said, “There’s more than one way to slit a throat!” Please note that while each build uses talents from two, or even three, schools, the talent picks are concentrated in a single school. If a different school has a great talent that you are able to take, then take it. Remember Seven Fingers’ old adage, “Why steal from one man when you can steal from many?” For each build, we’ll look at several talents that are useful for that build and some that aren’t as useful. Please remember that this is not an exhaustive list of every useful talent, just some of them.

Assassination
Mutilate Build

The most common Assassination build is the Mutilate build. This build is a dagger and poison based build that focuses on racking up combo points quickly to inflict deadly amounts of burst damage. Poison is essential to this build as several talents in the build focus on increasing the chances of poisoning an enemy and increasing the damage done to a poisoned enemy. Envenom is the main Rogue ability used with this build as this ability inflicts damage over time based upon the number of poison doses upon the enemy. The Mutilate build is typically an end-game build as the main ability, Mutilate, requires that 40 talent points to have already been spent in Assassination. The Mutilate build is great for raids and PvP. The main weakness of this build is if an enemy is immune to poison, as several bosses are, or able to dispel the poison. Without the enemy being poisoned, the damage output of the Rogue drops severely.

Useful Talents:

Mutilate
- Not too surprising, eh? This talent is the main focus of the build. Mutilate instantly attacks with both hands (daggers) for additional damage, based upon rank, with both weapons. Poisoned targets take an additional 20% damage, and this attack awards two combo points. With a poisoned enemy, damage is greatly increased, and the combo points can quickly build up so you can then use Envenom.

Hunger for Blood - This ability enrages you, increasing all damage caused by 15%. However, it does require a bleed effect on the target for it to work. Therefore, make sure you open up with a nice Garrote or a similar attack. This ability lasts for 1 minute. Never let this one drop during combat. Extra damage is extra damage is awesomeness!

Improved Poisons - Another essential talent, Improved Poisons increases your chance to apply deadly poisons to an enemy by up to 10% (if maxed out) and the frequency for instant poisons by 50%. Since you need a poisoned enemy for this spec to succeed, this talent is a no-brainer.

Master Poisoner - This ability increases the critical chance of all attacks made against any target you have poisoned by up to 3% (maxed out), whilst reducing the duration of Poison effects upon you by 50% (maxed), and increases the bonus chance to apply Deadly Poison when using Envenom by an extra 45% (maxed). Extra poison plus extra crit chance = dead enemies!

Vile Poisons – This talent increases the damage of your poisons and Envenom ability by up to 20% and gives your damage over time poisons a 30% chance to resist dispel effects. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Envenom is your main finisher and everything revolves around a poisoned enemy, so increasing your poison damage and keeping the poison on your foe is essential.

Dual Wield Specialization – While this talent is from the Combat school, it is essential. Maxed out, it increases the damage of your off-hand weapon by 50%. Since you’re using two daggers, it’s needed to keep maximum DPS possible for your off-hand.

Not As Useful Talents:

Improved Kidney Shot – This talent increases the damage dealt to a foe while they’re under the effect of Kidney Shot. Since you won’t be using Kidney Shot (use Envenom), it’s pretty useless.


Deadly Brew – This talent gives a chance to apply a Crippling poison to a foe when you apply Instant, Deadly, or Wounding Poison. Since you’ll be doing damage over time using Deadly poison, plus the effect of Envenom, you shouldn’t be too worried about a foe running away. Even if they do so, they should drop dead rather quickly.

Combat
Combat Swords Build

The most common Combat build is the Combat Swords build. This build focuses on dual swords and keeping up a sustained, high amount of DPS. The main Rogue ability for this build is Sinister Strike, which inflicts additional damage plus the base damage of the weapon used. Since swords have a higher base damage than daggers, that’s why you’ll be using swords. This build is great for soloing (leveling) as you won’t rely so much on burst damage, since you’ll tend to be facing multiple foes. This build is also good for raids and PvP, dishing out continuous amounts of DPS. The main drawback to this build is that you don’t build up combo points as quickly as you would with Mutilate.

Useful Talents:

Dual Wield Specialization – As explained above, you’ll need this talent as that you should be using two swords in combat. Every increase in damage is vital.


Killing Spree - This ability allows you to step from enemy to enemy within 10 yards, attacking an enemy every .5 seconds with both weapons until 5 attacks are made. Plus, it increases all damage by 20% for the duration, and it can be used against a single opponent. While it has a 2 minute cooldown, it does increase your damage output by quite a lot and it looks damn cool.

Improved Slice and Dice - This talent increases the duration of your Slice and Dice ability, which increases attack speed by 20%. You should always have Slice and Dice up, as that it impacts your DPS. The quicker you attack, the more damage you do.

Blade Flurry – This talent increases your attack speed by 20% and hits landed also do damage to an adjacent enemy. This talent is amazing for soloing. If you’re attacked by two enemies, you can Dismantle one, and then switch to the other and hit Blade Flurry. The first attacker is doing less damage, while at the same time; you’re hitting the armed attacker and inflicting damage upon the disarmed foe. I wouldn’t recommend this one for raids, though, as that you want to avoid drawing aggro onto you.

Blade Twisting – This talent increases the damage done by Backstab and Sinister Strike by 10%, and your damaging melee hits have a 10% chance to daze an opponent for 8 seconds. While you don’t use Backstab (no daggers), Sinister Strike is your bread and butter attack. Anything that increases Sinister Strike damage is necessary. The daze effect can be useful in PvP as it reduces movement rates by 50%. If somebody is trying to run away from you, hopefully, you’ll have landed a dazing shot on them.

Surprise Attacks – This talent makes it so that your finishing moves can no longer be dodged, and that damage dealt by Backstab, Shiv, Gouge, and Sinister Strike is increased by 10%. While ensuring that your Rupture or Eviscerate won’t miss (and you won’t waste the energy spent on them), the increase in Sinister Strike damage is worth it.

Not As Useful Talents:

Close Quarters Combat – This talent increases your critical strike chances with fists and daggers. Too bad you’re not using those. Any talent that does not help increase damage from your basic attacks or help with your sword abilities need to be avoided.

Throwing Specialization – This talent increases the range of Throw and Deadly Throw, while also giving Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives abilities up to a 100% chance to interrupt a target for 3 seconds. You won’t be using Deadly Throw finishing move at all, plus, Fan of Knives does not award a combo point.

Subtlety
Subtlety Build

Subtlety builds emphasize attacking from stealth with a huge combo point advantage, then heading back into stealth to strike again. This build is mainly a PvP build as it lends itself to very quick, very bloody fights. This is not a good leveling build as the full range of talents needed to work together for this build take quite a few levels to accumulate.

Useful Talents:

Honor Among Thieves – When this talent is maxed out, you have a 100% chance to get a combo point on a foe if somebody in your group critically hits with damage, healing, or ability. It also states that you can’t receive more than one combo point per second.  Generating additional combo points is what this build is all about.

Premeditation – This talent adds 2 combo points to your target when activated, but you must be in stealth. You have 20 seconds to use the combo points or else they go away. With only a 20 second cooldown, this talent is great for cheap combo points.
 
Preparation – This talent immediately finishes the cooldown on Evasion, Vanish, Sprint, Shadowstep, and Cold Blood abilities. Even though it has a 10 minute cooldown, this talent helps you to regain defensive abilities immediately. Popping this, and then using Vanish, followed by Premeditation and then Garrote, Ambush, or Cheap Shot is deadly.

Sinister calling - This ability increases your Agility by 15% and your percentage damage bonus of Backstab and Hemorrhage by an extra 10%. More attack power and more damage is what a rogue is all about.

Initiative – Maxed out, this talent gives you a 100% chance to gain an additional combo point when using Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot. Any extra combo points generated is necessary for this build.

Elusiveness – This talent decreases the cooldown times of Vanish and Blind by 60 seconds and Cloak of Shadows by 30 seconds. Again, anything that allows you to go back into stealth quickly is tremendous. When you attack out of stealth, you should have at least 4 combo points already built up.

Not As Useful Talents:

Waylay – This talent gives your Ambush critical hits up to a 100% chance to reduce your foe’s melee and ranged attack speeds by 20% and their movement speed by 70% for 8 seconds. Since this ability does not award combo points or help you to get back into stealth, then it’s not needed.

As you can see, there are many different ways to spec your Rogue. The three builds above are not set in stone. There are many variations of those builds, depending upon the player’s taste. Try them out and see what best suits you. As “Seven Fingers” says, “You can be a knifer, a cutpurse, a blackguard, or an assassin.  It’s impossible to be everything, so pick a specific skullduggery and be the best you can be at it!”

Talents by Level Suggestions

Now we’re going to look at three common builds for the rogue and what talents to take for each build as you level up. Please keep in mind that these steps are not written in stone, and that your personal play style might make you prefer to take one talent before another, even though this leveling guide might suggest otherwise. Remember, it’s your rogue, so play him how you see fit. This guide is meant to suggest, not force. If there’s a talent that you want and it’s not listed, then take it!

Two Swords Build– Combat School (15/51/5)

This build is the most common build used while leveling and is useful at end-game. As the name suggests, the build is based upon the rogue wielding two swords. You can substitute maces or fist weapons in place of swords, but good maces or fist weapons are hard to come by until the higher levels. Swords are rather plentiful and you should have a range of picks for you to choose from either drops or quest rewards.

Level

Talent

 

Level

Talent

10

Improved Sinister Strike – Rank 1

46

Combat Potency – Rank 2

11

Improved Sinister Strike – Rank 2

47

Combat Potency – Rank 3

12

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 1

48

Combat Potency – Rank 4

13

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 2

49

Combat Potency – Rank 5

14

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 3

50

Surprise Attacks – Rank 1

15

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 4

51

Unfair Advantage – Rank 1

16

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 5

52

Unfair Advantage – Rank 2

17

Precision – Rank 1

53

Savage Combat – Rank 1

18

Precision – Rank 2

54

Savage Combat – Rank 2

19

Precision – Rank 3

55

Relentless Strikes – Rank 1

20

Precision – Rank 4

56

Relentless Strikes – Rank 2

21

Precision – Rank 5

57

Relentless Strikes – Rank 3

22

Improved Slice and Dice – Rank 1

58

Relentless Strikes – Rank 4

23

Improved Slice and Dice – Rank 2

59

Relentless Strikes – Rank 5

24

Endurance – Rank 1

60

Malice – Rank 1

25

Aggression – Rank 1

61

Malice – Rank 2

26

Aggression – Rank 2

62

Malice – Rank 3

27

Aggression – Rank 3

63

Malice – Rank 4

28

Aggression – Rank 4

64

Malice – Rank 5

29

Aggression – Rank 5

65

Prey on the Weak – Rank 1

30

Blade Flurry – Rank 1

66

Prey on the Weak – Rank 2

31

Sword Specialization – Rank 1

67

Prey on the Weak – Rank 3

32

Sword Specialization – Rank 2

68

Prey on the Weak – Rank 4

33

Sword Specialization – Rank 3

69

Prey on the Weak – Rank 5

34

Sword Specialization – Rank 4

70

Killing Spree – Rank 1

35

Weapon Expertise – Rank 1

71

Ruthlessness – Rank 1

36

Weapon Expertise – Rank 2

72

Ruthlessness – Rank 2

37

Blade Twisting – Rank 1

73

Ruthlessness – Rank 3

38

Blade Twisting – Rank 2

74

Blood Spatter – Rank 1

39

Sword Specialization – Rank 5

75

Blood Spatter – Rank 2

40

Adrenaline Rush – Rank 1

76

Lethality – Rank 1

41

Vitality – Rank 1

77

Lethality – Rank 2

42

Vitality – Rank 2

78

Lethality – Rank 3

43

Vitality – Rank 3

79

Lethality – Rank 4

44

Endurance – Rank 2

80

Lethality – Rank 5

45

Combat Potency – Rank 1

 

 


Mutilate Build – Assassination School (51/13/7)

This build emphasizes doing incredible amounts of burst damage and relies upon the Mutilate talent. Most people follow a Combat build up to level 50, then respect if they wish to do this build as that Mutilate only becomes available at level 50 (after spending 40 points in the assassination school). 

Level

Talent

 

Level

Talent

10

Malice – Rank 1

46

Focused Attacks – Rank 2

11

Malice – Rank 2

47

Focused Attacks – Rank 3

12

Malice – Rank 3

48

Find Weakness – Rank 1

13

Malice – Rank 4

49

Find Weakness – Rank 2

14

Malice – Rank 5

50

Mutilate – Rank 1

15

Ruthlessness – Rank 1

51

Find Weakness – Rank 3

16

Ruthlessness – Rank 2

52

Master Poisoner – Rank 1

17

Ruthlessness – Rank 3

53

Master Poisoner – Rank 2

18

Blood Spatter - Rank 1

54

Master Poisoner – Rank 3

19

Blood Spatter - Rank 2

55

Cut to the Chase – Rank 1

20

Puncturing Wounds – Rank 1

56

Cut to the Chase – Rank 2

21

Puncturing Wounds – Rank 2

57

Cut to the Chase – Rank 3

22

Puncturing Wounds – Rank 3

58

Cut to the Chase – Rank 4

23

Lethality – Rank 1

59

Cut to the Chase – Rank 5

24

Lethality – Rank 2

60

Hunger for Blood – Rank 1

25

Lethality – Rank 3

61

Opportunity – Rank 1

26

Lethality – Rank 4

62

Opportunity – Rank 2

27

Lethality – Rank 5

63

Relentless Strikes – Rank 1

28

Improved Poisons – Rank 1

64

Relentless Strikes – Rank 2

29

Improved Poisons – Rank 2

65

Relentless Strikes – Rank 3

30

Improved Poisons – Rank 3

66

Relentless Strikes – Rank 4

31

Improved Poisons – Rank 4

67

Relentless Strikes – Rank 5

32

Improved Poisons – Rank 5

68

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 1

33

Cold Blood – Rank 1

69

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 2

34

Vile Poisons – Rank 1

70

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 3

35

Vile Poisons – Rank 2

71

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 4

36

Vile Poisons – Rank 3

72

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 5

37

Seal Fate – Rank 1

73

Precision – Rank 1

38

Seal Fate – Rank 2

74

Precision – Rank 2

39

Seal Fate – Rank 3

75

Precision – Rank 3

40

Seal Fate – Rank 4

76

Precision – Rank 4

41

Seal Fate – Rank 5

77

Precision – Rank 5

42

Overkill – Rank 1

78

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 1

43

Murder – Rank 1

79

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 2

44

Murder – Rank 2

80

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 3

45

Focused Attacks – Rank 1

 

 


Subtlety Build – Subtlety School (8/20/43)

This build is great for racking up as many combo points possible at the start of a fight. However, this build is probably the most difficult to use while leveling. Most rogues respec to this build at a higher level, but if you want to persist in following this build from beginning to the end, then you are a beast and I salute you. 

Level

Talent

 

Level

Talent

10

Opportunity – Rank 1

46

Sinister Calling – Rank 2

11

Opportunity – Rank 2

47

Sinister Calling – Rank 3

12

Relentless Strikes – Rank 1

48

Sinister Calling – Rank 4

13

Relentless Strikes – Rank 2

49

Sinister Calling – Rank 5

14

Relentless Strikes – Rank 3

50

Honor Among Thieves – Rank 1

15

Relentless Strikes – Rank 4

51

Honor Among Thieves – Rank 2

16

Relentless Strikes – Rank 5

52

Honor Among Thieves – Rank 3

17

Camoflage – Rank 1

53

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 1

18

Camoflage – Rank 2

54

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 2

19

Camoflage – Rank 3

55

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 3

20

Ghostly Strike – Rank 1

56

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 4

21

Elusiveness – Rank 1

57

Dual Wield Specialization – Rank 5

22

Elusiveness – Rank 2

58

Improved Slice and Dice – Rank 1

23

Serrated Blades – Rank 1

59

Improved Slice and Dice – Rank 2

24

Serrated Blades – Rank 2

60

Precision – Rank 1

25

Serrated Blades– Rank 3

61

Precision – Rank 2

26

Initiative – Rank 1

62

Precision – Rank 3

27

Initiative – Rank 2

63

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 1

28

Initiative – Rank 3

64

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 2

29

Setup – Rank 1

65

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 3

30

Hemorrhage – Rank 1

66

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 4

31

Setup – Rank 2

67

Close Quarters Combat – Rank 5

32

Setup– Rank 3

68

Aggression – Rank 1

33

Dirty Deeds – Rank 1

69

Aggression – Rank 2

34

Dirty Deeds – Rank 2

70

Aggression – Rank 3

35

Deadliness – Rank 1

71

Aggression – Rank 4

36

Deadliness – Rank 2

72

Aggression – Rank 5

37

Deadliness – Rank 3

73

Improved Eviscerate – Rank 1

38

Deadliness – Rank 4

74

Improved Eviscerate – Rank 2

39

Preparation – Rank 1

75

Improved Eviscerate – Rank 3

40

Premeditation – Rank 1

76

Malice – Rank 1

41

Deadliness – Rank 5

77

Malice – Rank 2

42

Master of Subtlety – Rank 1

78

Ruthlessness – Rank 1

43

Master of Subtlety – Rank 2

79

Ruthlessness – Rank 2

44

Master of Subtlety – Rank 3

80

Ruthlessness – Rank 3

45

Sinister Calling – Rank 1

 

 




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