The Rogue Leveling Guide for BFA

Rogues have a really easy time leveling; you could even say it’s in the class’s pixilated blood.   Running through monsters like a meat-grinder and hitting with enough force to bash even warriors down, the Rogue poses one of the greatest leveling threats of all.

Leveling Contents
Blood Elf Rogue, Contender's PvP gear set
Other Rogue Guides
Undead Rogue looking for someone to gank.

But wait, it’s not only pure burst-DPS, also known as smashing power, that gives Rogues their advantage over all others, it’s cooldowns.  Cooldowns that include everything from vanish, blind, cloak of shadows and much more. These give Rogues a great deal of versatility and generally allow the Rogue to set up their attack in a more calculating manner than most.

Buffs and Nerfs: Any time any expansion is released the class balance goes all to heck. One day a given spec is “God Mode” and the next it’s “Doormat.” Rogues are in generally good shape all around. We haven’t been in God Mode (contrary to what some wags might say,) but with even a bit of skill we’re far from being doormats. As for leveling? Rogues are just fine, thank you.

Battle for Azeroth tweaked a bunch of abilities and talents, as is usual with an expansion. but not much in the way of big changes. A few new abilities and a few removed, as usual, but your character will pretty much feel the same as before. Oh yeah, there was a huge item level and stat squish. Your item level 800+ stuff in Legion became 200+ in BFA. Ditto stats, damage, etc.

Leveling in Battle for Azeroth, the Fast and Easy Way

 Click Here to level fast all the way through BFA!

Quick Info For Rogue Leveling

Dwarf is ready for Adventure!

Which Rogue spec to pick?

All Rogue specs are great for any leveling, since all Rogues do is damage and lots of it. Pick whichever spec works for you.

Combat Rogue Leveling

Outlaw is the easiest for general leveling. You start out with hard hitting abilities and good energy regeneration, which the others lack, and you are better against multiple opponents. You’re also less restricted with weapon types. This is why most people recommend Outlaw as the leveling build. Does very well in PvP, too.

Subtlety Rogue Leveling

Subtlety might be the most fun. It’s built around coming out of stealth with serious burst damage. And then they also have the deadly Shadow Dance ability. Daggers are required in the main hand. Harder than the others for long fights, but can still be at or near the top of the damage lists.

Assassination Rogue Leveling

Assassination makes great use of poisons and bleeds. Nice for Dungeons, raids, and PvP, and no slouch at regular leveling. This is the only spec with poisons.

Which Race for the Leveling Rogue?

Well, first things first. Which race is your new Rogue going to be? Horde? Alliance? Most of the races, even Pandarens, can be Rogues. The only exceptions are the Tauren, Highmountain Tauren, Draenei, and Lightforged Draenei.  Why not them? Who knows. Maybe it’s the horns.

Female Orc Rogue with a kiss for you

Which is the best Rogue race?

Best race for what, exactly?

The racial abilities aren’t that important unless you’re really looking for every last drop of efficiency. The best DPS that you get from any racial is a 1% improvement in something, or a Burst ability once every two minutes or so.

So play what you like.

Here’s the very short version, with just the high points. See our overview Rogue Page for all the racial abilities.Human Rogue doesn't want a kiss

  • Alliance: Humans have better secondary stats, Gnomes have a bit more energy, Dwarves can get stones and resist damage, Dark Iron Drarves can get a nice stat boost, Night Elves have Shadowmeld (which can drop aggro,) Worgen have a slightly higher crit chance, and Void Elves have a portal ability. 
  • Horde: Orcs can Enrage for more damage, Mag’har Orcs can get a boost to their secondary stats, Trolls can go berserk, Blood Elves have a decent debuff, Goblins can leap away, Nightbourne can do an area effect slow, 

Pandarens can be either Horde or Alliance.

Your Quaking Palm is much like the Outlaw’s Gouge, in that it can put enemies briefly (4 seconds) to sleep with a touch of your paw. It takes you out of combat and damage will break the effect.

You’re “bouncy” so take less falling damage. This stacks with other Rogue “safe fall” abilities.

The Alliance Racials:


Your Might of the Mountain ability increases the damage and healing from your critical strikes by 2% and you can become one with the stone via your Stoneform. This removes all poison, disease, curse, magic, and bleed effects and reduces all physical damage taken by 10% for 8 sec. Cooldown is 2 minutes. 

Dark Iron Dwarf

Your Fireblood removes all poison, disease, curse, magic, and bleed effects, just like your Dwarven “brethren,” but your ability increases your primary stat (Agility) by 600(!) (scales with level) +200 for for each additional effect removed. Lasts 8 sec. with a 2 min cooldown.

You’re a tunnel dweller and Dungeon Delver and you’ve learned how to move 4% faster while indoors, plus your people have the Mole Machines: While outdoors you can summon a Mole Machine that tunnels through the earth and can pop you up in a variety of places. 


Your Escape Artist ability allows you to break the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect.  Plus, being so Nimble you have +1% Haste. 

Expansive Mind: Maximum energy increased by 5%.


Your Every Man for Himself ability removes all stun effects, so is much like a PvP trinket. This effect shares a 90 sec cooldown with other similar effects.

The Human Spirit: You gain 2% more of all secondary stats (Haste, Critical Strike, Mastery, Versatility) from all sources.

Kul Tiran

Wind up, then unleash your mighty Haymaker upon your foe, dealing little damage, but stunning for 3 sec and knocking them back substantially. 2.5 minute cooldown 

Brush It Off – Increases Versatility by 1%. When you take damage, heal for 2% of that amount over 4 sec.

Night Elf

Shadowmeld: Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect your presence. Lasts until cancelled or upon moving. Any threat is restored versus enemies still in combat upon cancellation of this effect. You can also S’meld and then Stealth. Against certain spells, if you have really good timing, you can S’meld after it’s cast and then dodge it. 

Void Elf

Your abilities have a chance to empower you with the essence of the Void, Entropic Embrace, which increases your damage by 5% for 12 sec. It has a 33% proc chance with 60 seconds internal cooldown.

Spatial Rift: Tear a rift in space. Reactivate this ability to teleport through the rift. 30 yd range. 3 min cooldown. You can activate this, then change direction, hit it again, and be back to the original spot.

Example: Mobs chasing you? Fire it to one side of a rock/pillar/hill and run to the other side. When you hit it, you will portal through the rock and the mobs will have to run the long way round. The rift can’t go through solid objects but you certainly can. Even on flat ground, if you run at right angles to the line of fire, you can portal a fair distance. Put it up at the edge of a cliff and jump off, the port back. Experiment with it. 


Your Altered Form allows you to switch between your human and Worgan forms and your Two Forms lets you turn into your currently inactive form.

Then your Darkflight activates your true form, increasing current movement speed by an additional 40% for 10 sec. Always nice to have an extra Sprint. 

You also have your Running Wild ability, where you drop to all fours to run as fast as a wild animal.

Draenei and Lightforged Draenei: Not interested in being Rogues. Too noble or something. Or maybe it’s the horns? 

The Horde Racials:


Enrage (Blood Fury) to increase damage every 2 min, which is generally useful and quite nice for leveling. Drop this into a macro to use right after your opener (since it breaks stealth.)

Your Hardiness makes you resistant to stuns (20% shorter duration, about 1 second off a 5 second stun) – Useful in PvP, but also nice at times while leveling/raiding.


Berserking increases your Haste by 15% – Generally useful, since it reduces cooldowns and gives you faster energy regeneration.

You get a 20% XP increase when Beast slaying. This only applies to beasts, not humanoids or other non-beasts. You’ll be chopping up lots of beasts while leveling, so this is a nice bonus. 

Do Voodoo Shuffle gives you a nice 20% reduced duration of movement impairing effects, such as snares, slows, etc. Not stuns or anything else. .

Zandalari TrollPick your Loa.

Your Embrace of the Loa ability allows you which Loa you are associated with. 5 day cooldown. 

    • Embrace of Akunda – Your healing abilities have a chance to heal their target. A Rogue, with healing abilities? Hmmm…
    • Embrace of Bwonsamdi – Your damaging abilities have a chance to deal Shadow damage and heal you for 100% of the damage done. Even random heals are nice for Rogues. 
    • Embrace of Gonk – Increase movement speed by 5%.
    • Embrace of Kimbul – Your damaging abilities have a chance to cause the target to bleed over 6s. This effect stacks up to 3 times. More damage is always good, and Sub and Outlaw don’t have any bleeds. 
    • Embrace of Krag’wa – Taking damage has a chance to grant you additional Health and 66 Armor.
    • Embrace of Pa’ku – Your abilities have a chance to grant you 4% critical strike for 12 seconds. Well liked by all Rogues. 

Regeneratin’ – Regenerate 100% of your maximum health over 6 sec, interrupted by damage. 2.5 min cooldown. Vanish, move away, regen, come back…

Blood Elf – Debuff and a bit more Crit. 

Your Arcane Torrent removes one beneficial effect from any nearby enemies (8 yards) and restores 15 Energy. 2 minute cooldown.

Undead – Remove Fear and such, drain life, eat dead enemies.

Your Will of the Forsaken removes fear, sleep, and charms. Definitely useful in PvP and of occasional use elsewhere.

Your Touch of the Grave is a passive ability that will add a small amount to your overall damage and self-healing.

Cannibalism is a nice “in your face” ability for PvP and eliminates the need to use a bag slot for regular food (you’ll want to keep any foods that provide buffs.) Just go full zombie mode and eat what you kill. Humanoids only, not beasts, slimes, etc.

Goblinleap away, rockets, a bit of Haste 

Can rocket jump forward, or away, so is a bit like the hunter ability disengage. It breaks your Stealth. Speaking of rockets… Rocket Barrage!!! The perfect Goblin ability. Can launch rockets at enemies. Damage is trivial, but you can probably find a use for it.

Nightbourne – Reduce enemy speed, character starts at level 20. 

You can do an Arcane Pulse, which slightly damages all nearby enemies and reduces their speed for 12 seconds. Note that this will break any Sap or Blind you might have on those enemies. 3 minute cooldown.

Mag’har OrcBoost secondary stats, starts at level 20. 

You Ancestral Call will boost a random secondary stat (crit, haste, versatility) for 12 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown. The boost scales with level. 

Your love of the open skies increases your mounted speed by 10% and your Savage health, you barbarian you, reduces the duration of curses, poisons, and diseases by 10%.

Pandaren: scroll up to the top of this section.

Tauren and the Highmountain Tauren : What? You think a 9′ tall man-cow thing can be sneaky? Maybe it’s the horns.

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Rogue Talents and Abilities for BFA

Level 1 Goblin Rogue, Ready to go!

At level ten you get your first specialization (spec) abilities, at 15 your first talent. As you level you will get the basic Rogue abilities, your spec abilities, and every 15 levels a new talent.

In return for having to stick with one spec you get certain unique abilities, such as Pistol Shot or Mutilate.

All abilities are gained automatically, without ever having to visit your trainer (once upon a time, ages past, you did have to visit your trainer to get new abilities.)

Mastery is stat that you will receive at level 78. It gives you an extra bonus to your abilities, such as harder hitting finishing strike for Sub.

The leveling builds below assume that you’re questing/grinding, but there are notes for the other methods of XP acquisition. All the Rogue trees are great for leveling, but have different feels.

Assassination – Requires daggers and can pump out some consistent, and very nice, damage. End game? Very solid for raiding.  Faster Energy regen when you get Venomous Wounds. This means that on any fights lasting more than a few seconds you will want to have your bleeds active on the enemy. 

Poisons Note: once you get Envenom you must keep your daggers poisoned at all times or you will severely gimp your damage. Your poisons are a one hour buff, and they are easy to forget. Consider an addon like Poison Tracker, which will give you a warning when they are about to expire. 

Outlaw – The most “in your face” of the trees. Starts out with good energy regeneration and is the only Rogue build with any “hit two or more at once” skills, other than Fan of Knives. Very competitive with, and maybe better than, Assassination for PvE content. 

Subtlety – Are you seeing Rogues appearing from nowhere, behind the target, and putting down a brutal initial burst? That’s the Subtlety spec and Shadowstrike is the ability. 

Rogue Abilities

These abilities are common to all Rogues and are listed in order of learning. CP = Combo Points. 

  1. Your Critical Strikes ability, gained at level one, give you +5% chance to crit. 
  2. Stealth – (5) You sneaky thing you. One of your signature abilities. 
  3. Cheap Shot (8) – 4 second stun out of stealth, earns 2 CPs.
  4. Pick Pocket (13) – Steal something from the target. Helps to Sap it first.
  5. Sap (14) – Knock him on the head and put him to sleep for (up to) a minute.
  6. Crimson Vial – (16) your own personal heal. You can take this back top back with a healing potion as they do not share cooldowns.
  7. Kick (18) – interrupt a spell and lock the caster out of that spell school (eg: Nature) for 5 seconds.
  8. Pick Lock (24) – You can pick locks of a level 5x your own, 600 in BFA
  9. Blind (24) Blind one target for up to a minute, damage breaks the effect. 
  10. Sprint (32) – Run fast for a few seconds. A level 66 version drops the cooldown by 50% (becomes 1 min, from two. )
  11. Distract (38) – distract your opponent(s) for 10 seconds.
  12. Detect Traps (42) – detect those traps that the unfriendly Hunters will be laying down.
  13. Feint (44) – take less damage from area effects for a few seconds.
  14. Vanish (48) – Poof, you’re invisible. Breaks movement impairing effects (such as slows, not stuns.)
  15. Fleet Footed (58) – run 15% faster and take less falling damage.
  16. Safe fall (62) reduces your falling damage.
  17. Shroud of Concealment – stealths your whole group for 15 seconds.
  18. Tricks of the Trade (70) – Transfer your threat to your choice of Party Member. Activate it, then you have 30 seconds to start attacking.  Once started all of your threat from your attacks for six seconds will be directed to the party member. So you could start attacking before the tank and he’ll get all your aggro.
  19. Cloak of Shadows (80) – remove damaging spell effects and then resist others for a few seconds.

Next up are the abilities that differentiate one Rogue from the other and are listed in order of acquisition. Keep in mind that you can switch specs any time that you’re out of combat, no reagents needed. 

The only new abilities gained after level 78 will be talents. 

CP = Combo Points
Fin = Finishing Strike
DOT = Damage over Time

Assassination Outlaw Subtlety
Sinister Strike (1) whacks the enemy. Uses a little less energy at level 12. Replaced by Mutilate at 40.

Eviscerate (3) is your finishing strike until replaced by Envenom at 36.

Deadly Poison (10) coats your blade with toxic stuff that puts a DOT on the enemy. Additional applications are instant damage. Note that all poisons are blade buffs that last an hour.

Improved Poisons (10) allow more efficient application of your Deadly and Wound poisons.

Poisoned Knife (10) lets you throw a poisoned dagger which then applies your lethal and non-lethal poisons.  1 CP.

Garrote (12) is a strike that bleeds your opponents and, at level 42, silences him (for 3 seconds) if used from Stealth. Awards 1 CP.

Rupture (20) is a finishing strike that bleeds the target.

Shadowstep (22) allows you to teleport behind your target and gain 2 seconds of increased speed. Must be in line of sight. You do not need to be stealthed. The target does not need to be hostile.

Evasion (26) greatly increases your dodge for 10 seconds.

Seal Fate (28, Passive) lets your crits from CP generating strikes give an extra CP.

Kidney Shot (34) is a finisher that stuns the target for a few seconds.

Envenom (36) is a finishing Strike consumes your CPs and gives a higher chance to apply poisons for a sort time. Replaces Eviscerate.

Crippling Poison (39) slows the enemy’s movement.

Mutilate (40) replaces Sinister Strike and hits fairly hard, providing 2 CPs.

Venomous Wounds (50) let’s you gain energy from targets that are bleeding from Rupture or Garrote.

Wound Poison (54) does instant damage and reduces healing received by the target.

Vendetta (56) is for when you really want to murder someone. More damage, lasts 20 seconds, and he can’t hide.

Fan of Knives (63) sends your knives flying in all directions, potentially poisoning anyone they strike. Awards 1 CP.

Mastery: Potent Poisons (78) increases the damage from your lethal poisons.

Combat Potency (10, Passive) increases your energy regeneration rate.  At level 50 your off-hand strikes can generate 10 energy (75% chance.)

Sinister Strike (10) is your basic strike to whack the enemy. At level 12 might hit the enemy an additional time (35% chance) and also make your next Pistol shot half-cost and double damage.

Dispatch (10) is a finishing move that causes damage per combo point and has increased range.

Pistol Shot (10) pulls your hidden pistol, fire off that sneak shot, and also slows him for a few seconds.

Between the Eyes (20) is a finishing strike that damages and stuns the target for up to 5 seconds. At level 42 your crits will do 4x damage.

Ambush (22) is a solid smack from stealth. Generates 2 CPs.

Grappling hook (22) was a talent, now it’s an ability. Toss out your hook, snag something, and pull yourself to it. You can use it to travel across any space that you can normally move to.

Riposte (26) greatly increases your chance to parry (100%) and each time you parry it replies with your own attack (your Riposte.)

Ruthlessness (28) gives you a chance to gain another CP when you use a finisher.

Gouge (34) incapacitates your target for 4 seconds, but must be in front of it to do that. Damage will break the effect.

Roll the Bones (36) is a finisher that provides a random combat enhancement, such as increased crit, and might provide as many as five (on a very low chance.) 

Restless Blades (50) is a finishing move that does no damage, but reduce the remaining cooldown of Adrenaline Rush, Between the Eyes, Sprint, Grappling Hook and Vanish by 1 sec per combo point spent.

Adrenaline Rush (56) is a cooldown that provides 15 seconds of faster attack and much faster energy regeneration.

Blade Flurry (63) hits all nearby targets for partial damage. Lasts until cancelled.

Mastery: Main Gauche (78) increases your chance for more off-hand attacks.

Eviscerate (3) is your hard hitting finisher. At 52 it does 50% more damage.

Backstab (10) stabs the target and does more damage if you’re behind it. Requires daggers.

Shuriken Toss (10:) See? You are a ninja! Ranged, awards one combo point.

Evasion (8) greatly increase your dodge for 10 seconds.

Shadowstrike (12) is a hard strike from stealth or Shadowdance. At lev 42, if you’re in stealth, then it has a 25 yard range and hits 25% harder.

Nightblade (20) Finishing strike that applies a DOT and reduces healing on the opponent. You will also do 15% increased damage with your follow up strikes to that opponent.

Shadowstep (22) Teleport behind your target and gain 2 seconds of increased speed. Must be in line of sight. You do not need to be stealthed. The target does not need to be hostile.

Evasion (26) gives a much higher chance to dodge attacks.

Shadow Techniques (28, Passive) Your auto-attacks might generate a CP and 8 energy.

Kidney Shot (34) Finisher that stuns the target for a few seconds.

Symbols of Death (36) 10 seconds of 15% increased damage with a 30 second cooldown.

Shadow Dance (40) 2 charges and 5 seconds (6 with Subterfuge) of being able to use stealth abilities out of stealth. Abilities cost 20% less to use while ‘dancing.

Shadow’s Grasp (40) Your backstab and shadowstrike reduce the opponent’s speed by 30% for a few seconds.

Relentless Strikes (50, Passive) Your finishers have a chance to restore energy.

Deepening Shadows (54, Passive) Your finishers reduced the cooldown of Shadow Dance.

Shadow Blades (56) More CPs and your auto-attacks do +50% damage as shadow damage. Lasts for 15 sec.

Shuriken Storm (63) Spray Shurikens at all nearby targets, +1CP per target hit. Damage is greatly increased if you’re stealthed or in Shadow Dance.

Shuriken Combo (70) enhances your Shuriken Storm, increasing your Eviscerate damage by 8% for each enemy hit beyond the first, up to 40%.

Sprint (62) – This improved Sprint allows you to run over water. Only Sub gets this one.

Mastery: Executioner (78, Passive) Your finishers hit harder.

Rogue Leveling Builds

These talents were picked with solo leveling (questing) in mind. There are other options depending on what you are doing, such as PVP or dungeons, and some comments are added below the image.

PVP note: In Battle for Azeroth the world PvP rules changed a bit. You no longer risk getting ganked if you don’t want to be. You have to actually choose to enter War Mode, and if not? Then you’re safe from other players. 

However, all bets are off if you DO enter War Mode. Besides the thrill of being pounded into jello by well geared bands of enemy players, and returning the favor if you’re in an appropriate guild, you get a 10% bonus to all experience earned. You will also be able to enable the PvP talents. 

For some great “How to Kick Ass as a Rogue in PvP” videos and info, check out Skill Capped.

Talents can be easily changed, but you do need to be in a rested area (city or inn) to change them. No special reagents are needed.

You can change your specialization (spec) any time that you’re out of combat. Do fight #1 as Sub, switch to Outlaw for fight #2, Assassination for #3, and so on. No trainer or reagents needed.

Optionally, you can change your talents anywhere by using a Tome of the Clear/Quiet/Tranquil Mind. (example)  Buy them off the Auction House of from your buddy with the Inscription skill. 


Talents for Subtlety Rogue leveling

Tier 1 (Level 15:)

Subtlety Assassination Outlaw

Weapon Master

Find Weakness



Tier 2 (Level 30:)

  • Nightstalker
  • Subterfuge
  • Shadow Focus

Tier 3 (Level 45:)

  • Vigor – More energy and faster energy regen.
  • Deeper Strategem – You can have a max of 6 CPs and you finishers can use all six, plus you get a 10% damage bonus. Probably the best overall choice here.
  • Marked for Death –  puts an immediate 5 CPs on a target. Nice way to start a fight with a full finisher. Gives you an extra finisher in long fights, several when fighting more that one mob as it refreshes if the target dies in less than a minute.

Tier 4 (Level 60:)

  • Soothing Darkness
  • Cheat Death – Avoid fatal attacks. Just the things if you expect the occasional crushing damage.
  • Elusiveness – Feint reduces all damage, not just A of E. Very nice anytime you need some damage reduction.

Tier 5 (Level 75:)

  • Shot in the Dark
  • Night Terrors
  • Prey on the Weak allows your enemies to briefly take more damage from all sources, including from you, after you use cheap shot or kidney shot.

Tier 6 (Level 90:)

  • Dark Shadow
  • Alacrity adds 1% Haste when you use your finishers (at 4+ CPs) which can stack up to 20 times, though you probably won’t ever see that.
  • Enveloping Shadow

Tier 7 (Level 100) 

  • Master of Shadows
  • Secret Technique
  • Shuriken Tornado

Death From Above empowers your weapons with Shadow Energy. This is a finishing strike (damage is based on your combo points used) which lets you attack all nearby enemies and then leap up and crash down on the main target for Eviscerate + 50% damage.

Glyphs for the leveling Rogue

One upon a time Glyphs had some value in combat, but that went away with the arrival of Legion. Now, they’re purely cosmetic and add no combat value. For example: Glyph of Disguise

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Rogue Gear, Stats, Etc.

Primary Stats:

Agility is your #1 stat, always, regardless of which specialization you happen to be. Strength and Int are useless for all Rogues.

  • Stamina should be stacked at lower levels until survival is not an issue, go for Agility after that. With your Crimson Vial ability, gained at level 16, you should have little down time..

Other Stats: Don’t worry about these too much while leveling, unless you’re serious about PvP or dungeons. Otherwise wait until the end-game before optimizing your stats.

  • Haste Rating – Good for all Rogues. Mobs die too fast while Quest leveling for this to be a lot of use. Raiding and PvP are another story. Outlaw really likes Haste.
  • Crit Rating – The more the merrier. Always. This is the best secondary stat for Sub. All Rogues get a 10% Crit bonus through their base ability: Critical Strikes
  • Mastery rating – obtained at level 78. Nice for Assassination, fair for Outlaw, and good for Subtlety.
  • Attack Power – Great for all Rogues, but only appears on a very few items and some enchants. In BFA it’s making something of a re-appearance.
  • PvP Power is an old stat that adds straight up damage in PvP only. It’s useless outside of PvP. It was also nerfed in patch 5.3. If you find some gear with this stat (and you PvP,) then great, otherwise don’t bother to increase it. More about PvP Power and Resilience
  • BTW – if you’re serious about PvP then check out Skill-Capped now

Gearing a rogue is, like with most other melee classes during the leveling process, all about maximizing damage while leaving just enough stamina for a reasonable health.

While Rogues can wear cloth armor, you should wear Leather Armor in all slots. At level 50 you get +5% Agility IF you’re wearing all leather.

“…of the monkey” gear is perfect for Rogues, “…of the bandit,” once you hit your 60s, is better.  Basically, anything with Agility. 

Got Heirlooms? Heirlooms are as good, or slightly better, than blue (rare/superior) gear of the same level. They increase in level as you do, so you won’t have to think about that gear until they hit their level cap. Buy them with gold and upgrade them to level 120.

Your heirlooms live in a tab at the bottom of your mounts/pets window. When you finally get better gear you can destroy them, but they still exist in that heirlooms window for your next character. So you only have to buy them once, ever. Note that If you enchant the ‘loom and then destroy it then the enchant is lost, so you might want to save those, for future reference.

Heirlooms do not exist for all gear slots, you will still have to get regular pieces for your wrists, hands, belt, and boots and maybe a ring and a trinket.

To get your heirlooms go see:

  • AllianceKrom Stoutarm is in the Library of Ironforge, which is found on the north-eastern edge of the outer ring.
  • HordeEstelle Gendry lurks around the Rogue’s Quarter of Undercity. Note that if you’re 110+ and have seen Lordaeron sacked, then you’ll find her atop the gates of Orgrimmar.

At any particular level, if you don’t have (or want) heirlooms, then you can get good gear by running regular Battlegrounds (PvP) or dungeons. Smash player or monster heads, win, get some nice gear (usually.)

Enchanting note: Any high level enchant, including crafter enchants (such as Angerhide Leg Armor) can be added even to level 1 items and the enchants will scale to the appropriate level. You can add these to your heirlooms at level 1. For the crafter enchants they will need to be applied by a high level (85+) character, though they can be used by a level 1.

With a full set of enchanted heirlooms you’ll do very well.

Gem sockets are rare while leveling and you’ll level out of that gear quickly enough anyway. Skip ’em. Ok ok… if you must: Gem for Agility.

If you have questions about “how to socket your gear” then hop over to YouTube and watch this video.

  • Note: Once you hit level 110 and are in BFA you can drop an Insightful Rubellite into a socket. It’s gives you +5% experience. 


  • Outlaw can use any 1-handed weapon
  • Assassination requires daggers in both hands.
  • Subtlety only requires them for the main hand. So if you want a club in the off hand, go for it. 

Poisons are for Assassination only:

Your poisons are just like any other class’s buffs and they last for one hour and last through death. You do not have to apply them directly to your weapons anymore. Just activate the buff from your action bar and you’re good.

Use Deadly or Wound for your lethal poison and Crippling for the non-lethal. Deadly is for questing and general use, as Wound doesn’t do much damage. Wound is, however, nice in PvP or anything else where heals on the enemy might be an issue.

You can also pick leeching poison, it’s a lev 60 talent, which adds a leech effect (small heal) to your deadly and wound poisons. That talent will be much more valuable, while leveling, than the others in that tier.

Like spells, poisons scale with your level. There used to be a quest to get them, but the poison quest has been removed from the game and the trainer who gave it to you has been disappeared.

You can have one lethal and one non-lethal up at any one time.

  • If you change weapons to something else, such as equipping a fishing rod, you will lose the poison buffs. So be aware of that. If you change weapon types (dagger to sword, for example) you will not lose the buffs.


  • Deadly (lev. 10, ability) does damage over time.
  • Wounding (lev 54, ability) does instant damage and suppresses enemy healing. Deadly does a lot more damage, so only use wounding if your opponent’s healing is an issue.


  • Crippling (lev 38, ability) slows your opponent’s movement. Nice for mobs (or players) that run away.
  • Leeching Poison (lev 60, talent) heals you for a percentage of the damage done. Harder hits from you = better healing. It’s a small, but nice and steady heal.

For leveling: Use Deadly poison, it hits harder than Wounding. Use Wound poison for PvP or any situation where the enemy has access to heals. Using Cripping as the non-lethal poison will make sure that mobs don’t run so much. This makes kiting the mobs much easier.

For PvP

  • Deadly for most uses. It keeps damage ticking and will interrupt stealth.
  • Wounding is better if you’re fighting healers or those being healed (and someone should be on that healer…)
  • Crippling keeps your opponent slowed.
  • Leeching if you need the heals.

Consider an addon like Poison Tracker, which will give you a warning when your poisons are about to expire. 


Glyphs: Purely cosmetic these days, that have no combat value. 

Professions: What? They’re a nice way to make some gold and Herbalism and Mining give you XP. Skinning provides no XP other than from the kill, but does supply your Leatherworking, which will make your gear.

Make sure you carry enough thistle tea (restores 100 energy.) You can either buy or make it. If you can cook it requires cooking skill 60.

BTW – If you need to blast to 120 as fast as possible then check out our favorite leveling guide.

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Useful Rogue Macros

You have a Pickpocket skill, here’s an easy way to make sure you use it. Open up your macro creater, create a new one, and add this code. 

#showtooltip Cheap Shot
/cast Pickpocket
/cast Cheap Shot (Or use Garrote or another ability, or make one for each.)

The above macro will pickpocket your opponent and then attack. If it can’t have its pockets picked then the macro will just attack. The automatic pocket picking will result in several gold over the long haul as well as a few other items, such as lockboxes and healing potions.

Sapping your way to Fame and Glory. Well, a few extra gold anyway…  This clears any existing targets and then targets the nearest sapable enemy. 

Note that both Sap and Pick Pocket have a ten yard range. 

#showtooltip Sap
/targetenemy [harm][nodead]
/cast Sap
/cast Pick Pocket

Sap will still work, even if it cannot have its pockets picked.

1st Aid Macro

This will fire off First Aid even if you don’t have a target to Blind. (Change the bandage type to whatever bandage you are using.)

/cast Blind
/use [target=player] Put Your Best Healing Potion Here
/use [target=player] Your Best Bandage Here

So  a Draenor version would be:

/cast Blind
/use Healing Tonic
/use Antiseptic Bandage

Targeting an NPC
Merchant troll dude is targeted.

Targeting the Enemy

Can’t find the mob you’re looking for? Try this macro.

Enter the name of the mob you’re looking for, in place of Mistblade Ripper. It will find the mob, if it’s in range, and put a skull icon on it. Change the ‘8’ to a different number (1 to 8) if you want a different icon.

Partial names work, such as Mistbl, but they do have to be spelled correctly. It targets players, but won’t mark them with the icon.  So if Phredd ganks you just put his name in and it will target him, if he hasn’t run away yet.

If you already have something targeted then it will not change targets, but will put that skull on the current target. See the image for an example.

/target Mistblade Ripper
/script SetRaidTarget(“target”, 8);

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Lockpicking & Picking Pockets

Pocket Picking in Warlords and Legion is a bit more interesting than in previous expansions. Most NPCs with pockets have green, blue, or purple “stuff,” but you can’t sell it to a vendor. You need a fence.

In Battle for Azeroth Pickpocketing is back to where it originally was, you just find some coins and occasionally misc. stuff to sell to a vendor.

Early on in your Draenor pocket picking you will find a Secretive Whistle. Use this item to fence your “loot” in exchange for “dingy coins.” Once you get 1,000 of these your fence will buy them from you for 250 gold. Each item that you pick will be worth 2-20 coins. 

In Legion you will find a troll, in the Rogue base, who fences the gear and who gives out pickpocketing quests. Finish the quests and every few days you can had in your coins of air for 5k gold. Talk to Griftah and his Genie pal to get things started.

Lockpicking – Used to be that you had to train Lockpicking like any other skill. This died awhile back and now you get the skill automatically as you level.

Any boxes you find are pickable and will let you know what skill you need to have to pick them. You’ll probably have to gain a few levels first. 

Treasure boxes are scattered all over the place in Draenor, Legion, and BFA. They don’t require lock-picking, but do usually provide a nice chunk of XP in addition to possibly useful stuff. 

Stunning Moves & Interrupts

Practice these all the time. Of course, if your timing is off and/or the lag monster gets you then you aren’t interrupting anything. In general, none of these will work on boss mobs, though they will work on most elites, rares,  and players.

All stuns are subject to Diminishing Returns (DR.) Your first stun of any given type within a 15 second period is at full effect, the second is at half, the third is at a quarter. Your team’s stuns count towards that DR. So when you Sap a player you get the full 8 seconds, then Bob saps it and gets 4, and Jane Saps it and gets 2 seconds.

15 seconds of Sap (stun) Free living resets the DR.

Cheap Shot – Level 8 – Opens your attack by stunning the opponent for a short time. This gives you a bit of time to beat on the opponent in safety. Learn to CS and then immediately hop behind the opponent to attack (if you have Backstab.)

Sap – Level 14 – Stuns your target for some time. Great for setting up attacks or just keeping one enemy out of play while you kill another. Great in dungeons when you need to hold a mob before the fight starts. Great for just being annoying to enemy players.

Kick – Level 18 – Interrupts spells, but does not stun. Use this often against casters. It will also block some of their casting for a few seconds.

Blind – level 24 – Blinds the target which causes it to wander aimlessly for a few seconds. Interrupts spells and any damage to the target will break the effect.

Gouge – level 34 – Outlaw only – Causes zero damage, stuns the opponent for 4 seconds, and takes you out of Combat. It will interrupt spells. Any damage will break the Gouge.

  • Run up to mob, gouge, hop behind, and backstab.
  • Spellcasting happens > Gouge

Kidney Shot – Level 34 – Uses your Combo Points to stun your opponent for a few seconds. Also interrupts casting.

  • a minor stun lock is Cheap shot > strike until you have up to 5 combo points > Kidney Shot. Your level 75 Internal Bleeding talent adds a bleed to the Kidney shot stun.

Distract – lev 38 – Distract is neither an interrupt nor a stun, but it does turn and stop non-player opponents, for about 10 seconds, allowing you to slip past them or set them up for an attack. It will also turn and stop running players. It does not break stealth, either yours or the opponent’s.

Shadow Dance – (Requires Subtlety) Lev 40

  • This top Subtlety ability isn’t a stun by itself, but it does allow the use of Cheap Shot (CS) or Sap while out of stealth, so it allows more stuns. Make sure your “jump behind opponent” skills are up to snuff. Practicing this on the target dummy is highly recommended. When Shadow Dance is active your stealth bar will also be active.
  • Shadowstrike becomes your Combo Point builder, most of the time.
  • If you’re Sub. then you must learn to ‘dance effectively. Yes, it’s required, otherwise you’ll be half the Sub Rogue that you could be. Find a target dummy or a cooperative player friend. Or uncooperative enemy.
  • Shadow Dance >  Cheap Shot > Shadowstrike > Shadowstrike > Nightblade…

Dismantle – Level 40 PvP talent, Outlaw only

  • Disarms the enemy for 6 seconds. Useful for getting his “Sword of Doooom!” out of the way, if only briefly. 

Opening and Finishing Strikes

You generate Combo Points with your opening and primary strikes. You spend your Combo Points on your Finishing Strikes. CP = Combo Points.

Opening Strikes

You must be in Stealth to deliver these strikes. Shadowstep (not for Outlaws) also puts you behind the target, with a brief speed increase, but gives you the option of doing a Sap instead of an attack.

  • Shadowstrike (Sub only) has a 25 yard range (from Stealth, not while in Shadow Dance) at level 42+.
  • Ambush (Outlaw only) – Crushing strike delivered from behind. Awards 2 CPs.
  • Cheap Shot – Stun the enemy for a brief time. Awards 2 CPs.
  • Garrote (Assassination only) – Attack from behind causing bleed damage and briefly silencing spell casting (at 42+.) Awards 1 CP.

And yes, you can skip the stealth and just run up and beat the enemy down, but why give up the advantage? 

Finishing Strikes


  • Eviscerate  – Your big hit.
  • Nightblade – DOTs the enemy and increases your followup damage.
  • Kidney Shot – Stuns the opponent.


  • Envenom is the big whack for Assassination Rogues. It replaces Eviscerate and increases the chance for poison application for a brief time.
  • Rupture – Causes him to bleed. More CPs makes it last longer.
  • Kidney Shot – Stuns the opponent.


  • Dispatch is a finishing move that causes damage per combo point and has slightly increased range over your other strikes.
  • Between the Eyes damages and stuns the target. At level 42 your crits will do 4x damage.
  • Roll the Bones that provides at least one random combat enhancement, such as increased crit, and might provide as many as five buffs (on a very low chance.) 

Leveling Notes and Tips

Leveling in Legion, the Fast and Easy Way
Click here to get to level 120, fast

Sneak up, Cheap Shot, and then take him down. Toss in a Kidney Shot or Between the Eyes, to stun again (remember the Diminishing Returns rule.)

Blind or Gouge or Vanish if you need get away or reset the fight.

Cheap Shot – Run up, stealthed, and whack. Use whatever weapon you have and you don’t have to be behind the opponent.

Stun-locking– The idea is to lock up your opponent so that he/she/it is always stunned or incapacitated. Keep in mind that stuns suffers from Diminishing Returns, making a long stun-lock somewhat more difficult. You have your Sap, Cheap Shot, and Kidney Shot. 

Kiting: This is where you attack while staying out of range. For example:

  • Assassination can use Crippling Poison to slow the enemy while running around, keeping out of range, and throwing poisoned knives. Leap in every now and then to spend your combo points on Rupture/Envenom and refresh Garrote.
  • Outlaws can do something similar with regular Pistol Shots. Either can toss in a stun as a finisher to get an extra couple of seconds.
  • Subtlety‘s Shadow’s Grasp will also slow the opponent, but not as much. 

Shadowstep will bring Assassination and Sub. back into the fight. Sorry Outlaws, but you don’t have the ability. All of you can Sprint.

Healing: All specs have Crimson Vial, which is a pretty cool ability. You can use Kidney Shot or Between the Eyes to stun the enemy and then bandage yourself. It’s also pretty nice to have a bunch of healing potions. Buy potions and bandages off the auction house or from a friendly Alchemist or Tailor.

Picking Pockets – You might as well pick the pockets of all humanoids you come across. The cash doesn’t amount to much, but you also find potions and the occasional odd item, such as lockboxes. The Dreanor and Legion zones provide additional stuff that you can sdell to your fence (and only to your fence.)

More Notes on Leveling

Nowadays we have three (or four) ways of gathering our XP. All are fast. It used to be that going level 1 to 60 in 6 days in-game time was pretty fast. These days? Zygor’s + heirlooms + questing + Recruit a Friend (RaF) + charging as hard as you can can get you to 120 in similar time, or less. Our RaF pair went 1-80 in 17 in-game hours, doing just that.

  • Grinding (just mashing endless mobs with no quests attached) used to be the thing to do, many expansions ago. Nowadays it’s pretty pointless. And boring. You will get XP, but all the other ways are better. About the only use for grinding is to farm for certain items that those mobs will drop, such as cloth or meat for cooking.
  • Questing  – Lots of peoples all over the land have jobs that only you can do. Questing is, overall, about as fast as dungeon or PvP leveling for Rogues.It also helps to plan your questing. For example – when you come into a new area you should grab all the available quests then do them in an order when makes sense for you.
  • Dungeoning – via the Dungeon Finder tool: sign up as DPS/Damage (yeah, DPS = Damage, so that’s you.) Damage classes are a dime a dozen so the wait times to get into the dungeons can be a few minutes or longer, but this can result in fast XP and better gear than you’ll get from questing. Just go questing while you’re waiting for the dungeon queue.  Groups tend to move quickly, so you’ll need to know your stuff and keep up, or at least make note of who the Tank is and follow that person around. here are some very basic dungeon tips:
    • Only attack what the tank is attacking.
    • Stay out of any goop (fire) on the floor unless your people are creating it (such as healing circles.)
    • Stay behind the opponent at all times, your attacks will be a little more effective that way.
    • If you get aggro then either kill the mob or Vanish or use Tricks of the Trade and transfer that aggro to the tank. 
  • PvP leveling – Battleground weekends can result in seriously fast XP if your side wins. Since winning doesn’t seem to be a priority these days, for either faction, it might be best to do this with a well-oiled team. Even if it’s not the BG weekend, wins still result in very nice XP gains. XP while losing is about the same as questing XP and is more frustrating (to me, anyway.)

    Also note that in Battle for Azeroth, putting yourself in “War Mode” gets you 10% more XP and possibly better gear. If that’s for you then you can get more details here.

Miscellaneous leveling notes:

Always have the biggest bags you can afford.

Make an Auction House alt and send anything (that isn’t grey) to the alt instead of vendoring it. Vendor the grey junk.

In Battle for Azeroth (level 100+) consider Scrapping any armor or wearable items that you find. You will get materials for crafting as a result. You can go here to learn about scrapping.

Keep your weapons updated; the rest of your gear can fall behind a bit. Assassins make sure that they are always poisoned.

Always log out at an Inn, to get the Rest XP when you come back.

Level with a new friend for 3x XP. (see above)

Gonna bash player heads in the BattleGrounds?

  • Stay in the group and grab the other side’s flag/goal while keeping them from taking/keeping yours. Protect your flag-carriers and kill theirs.
  • Sap/blind/stun flag carriers or any important runner.
  • Fighting some enemy in some corner of the BG is fun for dueling, but does not help you team to win and it’s winning that gets you the XP and rewards.
  • Each BG has certain goals that have to happen in order to win. Make sure you know those and focus on doing things to accomplish those.
  • Random fighting in the field, for any BG, does not help your team.
  • The team with the best teamwork will win and winners get far more XP and honor than losers.
  • Lots more Rogue PvP stuff here.

Rogue Professions

While leveling, unless you already have a ton of cash, skip all of the crafting professions. They are way too expensive. Yeah, there is some nice gear to be had with leatherworking, but they’re all expensive and time-consuming to level up.

I suggest you stick with mining, herbalism, and skinning (pick any two) for now. Work those hard, and either sell all of your stacks of ore/herbs/skins on the Auction House or save them for when you want to start crafting. Notice that Mining and Herbalism give you XP for each one you pick or dig up. Skinning does not, beyond the XP of the kill.

And the others: 

  • Leatherworking makes your gear. If you have a level 2 Garrison and a follower working your LW hut then you have access to tents which will boost your stats by 10%. These tents are account bound, so mail them to all of your alts. These tents can only be used in Draenor.
  • Alchemy can make a number of useful chemicals to consume when needed, such as potions and flasks for stat boosts. Take Herbalism with this, you’ll save some gold.
  • Enchanting? Very expensive to level, but can put some pretty nice buffs on things.
  • Engineering? If you’re rich and want to ride on of those Mechano Hog Motorbike things eventually then get this profession.  Backfires? The Goblins and Gnomes have pretty much eliminated the backfires.
  • Inscription? It can be a nice money maker, if you work at it. Take Herbalism with this, you’ll save some gold. Scribes can make staves for their Mage/Druid friends, darkmoon cards, and other trinkets.
  • Jewelcrafting? Can be a good money-maker. Take Mining to go with it.
  • Blacksmithing? You’ll be able to make some nice weapons/
  • Tailoring? You can make a nice flying carpet, bandages (as of BFA) and some other neat stuff, including nets to snag players or mobs.
  • Cooking can make interesting foods, some of which buff Agility and various other stats.
  • Fishing can provide mats for cooking.
  • First Aid was removed in Battle for Azeroth. Tailors now make all bandages.

Useful Addons

At last count there were 23,098,147,365 addons for the World of Warcraft (actually, Curse has just over 5,700,) covering just about any aspect of the game, several times over. Everyone has their favorites and there’s usually something else out there that’s pretty cool. Here are some that I use and like:

NeedToKnow – Nifty way to track buffs, debuffs, your poisons and bleeds, etc.

NPCScan – If you’re hunting rares then this is useful. It detects them and marks them and you can download some extras, such as the path that the rares take. Yes, in BFA the rares are marked with a star on your mini-map. 

OneBag3 – Merges all of your bags into one bag. There are several of these out there and some UI mods, such as LUI, will provide their own “one bag” utility. Bagnon is one of the others. 

Recount – Want to know how much damage you’re doing, so you can brag about it? Then you want recount. Skada is very similar.

Deadly Boss Mods – This will tell you what the boss is going to do and what you should do when he does it. It has a few other useful abilities, as well., including some value in PvP. Very nice.

Auctionator – A very nice Auction House addon. Lets you make shopping lists and does a much better job of presenting info than the standard auction house interface.

Auctioneer – Another auctioning addon. Does lots of stuff, including scanning the AH for deals. Much more complicated than Auctionator.

TradeSkillMaster is another useful tool. Has a lot going on, like Auctioneer. But there are plenty of “how to” posts and videos. 

LUI will completely redo your user interface. Bars, frames, chat, bags, everything. It’s pretty nifty, but it’s not trivial to set up. Set aside an hour or two to set it up the first time. The upside is massive customization of your interface. New players should skip this.

Tycoon (not free) – This one is for people serious about getting more gold. See the linked page for a lot more detail. Somewhat easier to use than the others. 

Rogue leveling, the fast way

Zygor's Guide for the World of Wacraft

Once you have decided on the right build for your Rogue consider a in-game Rogue Leveling Guide for the most effective (fastest) leveling.

Why? With thousands of quests and a million mobs to grind the trip the level cap can take a while. A long while. An in-game leveling guide will (almost) automate the whole leveling path for your Rogue.

Even if you pay the $60 (or the equivalent in tokens) to boost to 110 you’ll still want to cruise through those last ten levels.

Start from any level and use Zygor’s to blast to the finish. Heck, you can even grab a few levels in the dungeons and battleground PvP. Zygor’s guide will figure out your new level and get you to the best spot to continue your questing.

Pick your starting point and the guide will show you where to go and what to do. It automatically updates and advances as you complete tasks and quests, sets a waypoint arrow automatically (always showing you where to go next,) and includes all the important quest info. You will probably never need to look at your quest log again, much less stop mid-play to browse some website.

Note: Zygor’s is always quickly updated to the latest patches and expansions, whether it’s Legion or BFA or whatever comes after that. Grab your copy now and hit that level cap ASAP.

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22 thoughts on “The Rogue Leveling Guide for BFA

  1. “Which races can be Rogues?

    Most of them, even Pandarens. the only exceptions are the Tauren and Draenei. Why? Who knows. Maybe it’s the horns.”

    Just thought I’d chime in on this – those two races can’t be rogues because they have hooves, and hooves just aren’t sneaky!

      1. It’s also apparently down to the Races Lore. After all both the Tauren and Draenei factions playable in the game are considered Noble. Which Rogues are not 😛

  2. I rolled a new Blood Elf Rogue. It’s my second one, lol.
    I deleted the first one a while ago, that was lvl 30 or something because 1 click on a spell and boom I had almost no Energy anymore.. When I had to fight more mops than 1 at the same time I couldn’t do a thing because of the lack of Energy.

    My question: how do you rogue players manage it with the Energy; so that it won’t lower that fast ?

    I also have problems to get behind a target to Ambush it.

    Maybe also a suggestion for this ? I really want to learn play a Rogue. Besides druid it’s the only class I can’t play well.

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Hey Ingrid,

      I have two lev 90 Belf Rogues… 🙂

      To Any spec works as a leveling spec, but Combat might be easiest just because of better energy return early on. As far as energy, you learn to pause occasionally. Much like an enforced cooldown.

      Getting behind is easy. Early on, just run up and hack. When you get sap (level 12) you sneak up, sap, get behind, and hit. If you take the Subterfuge talent at 15 you can sap to ambush to eviscerate (or cheap shot, at lev 30) all in stealth. Sap is your friend, make good use of it. If you take Shadow Focus that initial ambush will cast a LOT less energy. At lev 60 Cloak and Dagger and Shadowstep will both put you right behind the target.

      Rogues have sap, gouge, blind, kidney and cheap shots, and a few others specific to the individual builds. Use them to control the enemy and set yourself up, which is really what Rogues are about.

  3. You might mention n the gear section that at 85 you can go to Pearlfin Village, to the Adventuring Gear vendor, and buy 372 MoP greens for every slot. Total cost is around 600g, and it gets your average ilvl high enough to use the Dungeon Finder immediately.

    1. Very good point. There are several of those vendors throughout MoP. I think it also explains why the M of P gear tends to be so cheap on the AH, at least on Emerald Dream. I’ll add it in, thanks.

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