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The Rogue Leveling Guide for the Shadowlands

So you’re going to level a Rogue? You just need …

To be a sneaking backstabber? Yes. And then… 

How about a nice dagger? – Just a few gold off the Auction House or a nice boss drop.

And a back to stick it in? There are plenty of enemies (and players) around.

Having the right skills in the right place at the right time? Priceless

Rogue Leveling Contents

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.

Talents and abilities have the usual collections of tweaks. 

Dragonflight 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 feel much the same as before.

So You Want to be a Rogue?

Which Rogue spec to pick?

Moving in silently,
downwind and out of sight
you’ve got to strike
when the moment is right
without thinking

Pink Floyd, Animals (Dogs)

Dwarf is ready for Adventure!All Rogue specs are great for any leveling, since they are about 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 a bit, and you are better against multiple opponents. You’re also less restricted with weapon types. Does well in PvP, too.

Subtlety Rogue Leveling

Subtlety is built around coming out of stealth with serious burst damage. And you also have the deadly Shadow Dance ability. Daggers are required in the main hand. Harder than the others for long fights, but can still do very well with a bit of skill.

Assassination Rogue Leveling

Assassination makes great use of poisons and bleeds. Nice for Dungeons, raids, and PvP, and no slouch at regular leveling. Pop out of stealth, pile on the bleeds, poisons, and a stun, then sit back and watch it die.  Not bad at all. 

Which Race for the Leveling Rogue?

Well, first things first. Which race is your new Rogue going to be? Horde? Alliance? With DragonFlight any race, other than Dracthyr, can be a Rogue. 

Female Orc Rogue with a kiss for you

Which is the best Rogue race?

Best race for what, exactly? Leveling? Role-playing? Raiding? PVP? 

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. This page will focus on getting your Rogue leveled. Other pages will focus on the PVP or Raid game.


Human Rogue doesn't want a kiss

Best race for Rogue PvP? 

Well, if you’re going to enable PVP in the leveling game you’ll be running back from the graveyard fairly often, as higher levels gank you. But it’s your call. Not necessarily in order, we have:

    1. Orc (Stun resist and fury)
    2. Night Elf (an extra “Vanish” and a bit more dodge.)
    3. Blood Elf (wipe buffs and more energy)
    4. Undead (remove effects)
    5. Human (remove stuns, bit more damage.)

And now, the Rogue Racials: 

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.
    • Since you love to eat you naturally get better effect from food buffs Epicurean, and, of course,  you have an enhanced (+15) cooking ability.
    • your Inner Peace allows your rested XP to last twice as long as for other races. Pretty nice for leveling. 

The Alliance Rogue Racials:  


    • Your Might of the Mountain ability increases the damage and healing from your critical strikes by 2%
    • 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. 
    • You are also an Explorer and Archeology research finds more fragments faster than others.
    • Being naturally cool, you have a bit (1%) of Frost Resistance .

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. 
    • Being tough you have your Forged in Flames ability, and take a bit less (1%) physical damage.
    • Having spent your life working in the forges you have a Mass Production skill , giving you +5 to your blacksmithing skill and letting you work 25% faster.
    • This is the achievement to earn Dark Iron Dwarf: Ready for War


    • 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%..
    • And your Engineering Specialization gives you +15% to that skill.
    • You also have a bit of Arcane Resistance , and so take 1% less damage from the stuff.
    • Your small size also has certain advantages in PvP.


    • Your Every Man for Himself ability removes all stun effects (no other effects are removed,) so is something 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.
    • And since you are skilled at Diplomacy you have a faster rep gain with everyone than does any other race. Since working to gain reputation with various factions is “a good thing” this becomes a nice trait. 

Kul Tiran

    • Wind up, then unleash your mighty Haymaker upon your foe. Doesn’t hurt much, but does stun then for 3 sec and knocks them back substantially. (Just picturing this one sneaking up and then SMASH! as the opener…)  2.5 minute cooldown
    • Brush It Off – Increases Versatility by 1%. When you take damage, heal for 2% of that amount over 4 sec.
    • Your Child of the Sea ability lets you swim a bit faster and hold your breath longer than anyone who is not Undead. 
    • You are a Jack of All Trades  which increases all of your Tradeskills by 5. Unfortunately it does not give you free tradeskills, just a boost to the ones you actually learn
    • Many generations of seafaring experience have earned you the Rime of the Ancient Mariner ability, and so you take 1% less from Frost and Nature damage.
    • There are the achievements to earn Kul Tiran: A Nation United and Tides of Vengeance

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. 
    • A bit more Dodge, via your quickness.
    • Touch of Elune gives you a bit more Crit by day and Haste by night. 
    • Transform into a  Wisp Spirit  upon death, increasing speed by 75%. Hopefully you will only rarely have any use for this trait.

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.
    • You take 1% less Shadow Damage from your Chill of Night racial and your Ethereal Connection gives you cheap Void Storage and Transmogrification.
    • This is the achievement to earn Void Elf: You Are Now Prepared!


    • 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.
    • Flayer increases your Skinning skill by 15 and allows you to skin faster.
    • And your innate Viciousness increases critical strike  chance  by 1%.
    • And being an Aberration, you take 1% less Shadow and Nature damage.


LightForged Draenei

Dark Iron Dwarf



The Horde Rogue 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. 
    • Regeneration, Mon! Trolls regenerate 10% faster than others and can even regenerate a bit while in combat, not that you are likely to notice.

Zandalari TrollPick your Loa.

    • Your Embrace of the Loa ability allows you which Loa you are associated with. 5 day cooldown. 
      • 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 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 Pa’ku – Your abilities have a chance to grant you 4% critical strike for 12 seconds. Well liked by all Rogues. 
      • Embrace of Akunda – Your healing abilities have a chance to heal their target. A Rogue, with healing abilities? Hmmm…
      • Embrace of Gonk – Increase movement speed by 5%.
      • Embrace of Krag’wa – Taking damage has a chance to grant you additional Health and 66 Armor.
    • Regeneratin’ – Regenerate 100% of your maximum health over 6 sec, interrupted by damage. 2.5 min cooldown. Vanish, move away, regen, come back…
    • Pterrordax Swoop – Slows your fall for two minutes. Time for some serious cliff jumpin’.
    • These are achievements to earn Zandalari Troll: Zandalar Forever! and Tides of Vengeance

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.
    • And your Arcane Acuity gives you a bit more crit (1%.) 
    • Naturally your Arcane Affinity gives you +10% to the Enchanting skill.
    • And your Arcane Resistance allows you to take 1% less Arcane damage.

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.
    • You also have a bit of Shadow Resistance, taking 1% less damage from those shadows.

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.
    • A bit more Haste, Time is Money ya know.
    • Being an expert negotiator, of course, you receive the Best Deals Anywhere . You pay whatever the minimum price is for stuff, regardless of faction.
    • Your relentless urge to try “Crazy New Things” gives you the Better Living Through Chemistry ability, which adds +15 to your Alchemy skills.
    • Check your bank stash from anywhere, every 30 min, with your pack Hobgoblin . A truly deadly ability.

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.
    • Can read your mail from anywhere, with your Cantrips ability. Get a note while you’re in the middle of nowhere? No problem.
    • Your love of lore and Ancient History give you +15 to your Inscription skill.
    • Your Arcane Resistance   allows you to take 1% less damage from Arcane energy and you also have a Magical Affinity which allows you to do 1% more magical damage.
    • This is the achievement to earn Nightborne: Insurrection

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

    • Your 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%.
    • If you could have a pet it would have a 10% health boost. 
    • This is the achievement to earn Mag’har Orc: Ready for War

Vulpera: Tricks and an extra hearthstone. 

    • Bag of Tricks: Cunning thing that you are you can use a trick on an enemy to damage them or on an ally to heal them.  
    • Make Camp: Set your camp location outdoors and then you can use Return to Camp, which teleports back to your camp location. Basically another hearthstone.
    • Nose for Trouble: Take a little less damage from the first strike inflicted by an enemy.
    • Your Fire Resistance reduces fire damage taken by 1%.
    • Your  Alpaca Saddlebags  increase the total size of your backpack by 8 slots.
    • This is the achievement to earn Vulpera: Secrets in the Sands.


High Mountain Tauren

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Rogue Abilities for DragonFlight

Level 1 Goblin Rogue, Ready to go!

Once upon a time you needed to train your abilities. No more. All abilities are gained automatically, as you level, without ever having to visit a trainer.

All the Rogue specs are great for leveling, but have different feels.

Want to be one spec for one task and then change for another? No sweat. You can change specs at any time, you just have to be out of combat.  

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 and poisons active on the enemy. 

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. 

Basic strikes, such as Sinister Strike and Cheap Shot, generate Combo Points, up to a max of 5. You then use them for your finishing strike, such as Eviscerate. Most of your attacks also cost Energy. So your job is to maximize Combo Point generation while not running out of Energy. 

All of the Rogue Abilities

These abilities are common to all Rogues and are listed in order of acquisition.
CP = Combo Points, P = Passive ability

  1. Blast to the level Cap, with Zygor
    Into the  DragonFlight, to the level Cap!
    Click Here to Start
    Your Critical Strikes ability, gained at level one, give you +5% chance to crit. 
  2. Sinister strike (1) to whack the opposition. Awards 1 CP. 
  3. Eviscerate (2) is your hard hitting finisher, does more damage as more CPs are used. At 52 it does 50% more damage. Sub. Rogues, at 44, get an improved version. 
  4. Cheap Shot (3) – 4 second stun out of stealth, earns 1 CP.
  5. Stealth – (3) You sneaky thing you. One of your signature abilities. Taking damage will break your stealth.
  6. Fleet Footed (4, P) gives you +15% run speed and less falling damage.
  7. Sprint (5) – Run 70% faster for a few (8) seconds. At 44 Sub. can run on water. 2 min cooldown becomes 1 min at 31.
  8. Kick (6) – interrupt a spell and lock the caster out of that spell school (eg: Nature) for 5 seconds.
  9. Ambush (7) is a solid smack from stealth. Generates 2 CPs.
  10. Crimson Vial – (8) your own personal heal. 20% of your max health over 4 seconds. You can take this back to back with a healing potion, as they do not share cooldowns.
  11. Slice and Dice (9) Finishing strike that increases your attack speed by 50%, and each CP used adds more time.  
  12. Instant Poison: (Lev 10) Has a 30% chance to do some damage to the target with each of your strikes. 
  13. Sap (11) – Knock him on the head and put him to sleep for (up to) a minute. Damage will wake him up. 
  14. Kidney Shot (13) Finisher that stuns the target, more CPs spent = longer stun. 
  15. Detect Traps (19, P) – detect those traps that the unfriendly Hunters, and maybe others, will be laying down.
  16. Evasion (21) greatly increases your dodge for 10 seconds.
  17. Vanish (23) – Poof, you’re invisible. Breaks movement impairing effects (such as slows, not stuns.) Also provides 3 seconds where harmful attacks will not break the stealth (and normally they will.)
  18. Pick Lock (24) – You can pick locks of a level up to your own. 
  19. Pick Pocket (24) – Steal something from the target, usually will be coins or junk. Must be stealthed. You might get caught, so be careful. 
  20. Safe fall (25, P) reduces your falling damage.
  21. Distract (28) – distract your opponent(s) for 10 seconds. Does not require stealth to use. 
  22. Shiv (32) does physical damage and applies a dose of your non-lethal poison. Used to dispel Enrage effects. No longer. 
  23. Crippling (33) slows your opponent’s movement (30% chance per hit.) Nice for mobs (or players) that run away.
  24. Feint (34) – take less damage from area effects for a few seconds.
  25. Wound Poison (38) does a small amount of instant damage (30% chance per strike) and reduces healing received by the target by 8% for 12 seconds. Can stack 3 times.
  26. Blind (39) Blind one target for up to a minute, much less time for a player, and damage breaks the effect. 
  27. Cloak of Shadows (47) – remove damaging spell effects and then resist others for 5 seconds.
  28. Tricks of the Trade (48) – 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.
  29. Shroud of Concealment (49) – stealths your whole group, within 30 yards, for 15 seconds.
  30. Numbing Poison (54) has a 50% chance, per strike, of slowing your opponent’s attack and/or casting speed by 15%. 

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. 

CP = Combo Points
CD = Cooldown
DOT = Damage over Time
P = Passive effect. 


Bleeds and better poisons. Oh my. 


In your face Swashbuckling. 


Stalks and pops in for the kill. 

Mastery: Potent Poisons (10) increases the damage from your lethal poisons. Gets a boost (rank 2) at level 41.

Mutilate (12) replaces Sinister Strike and hits fairly hard, providing 2 CPs.

Sinister strike rank 2, uses 5 less Energy. Awards 1 CP. 

Deadly Poison (13) coats your blade with toxic stuff that has a 30% chance, per strike, to put a DOT on the enemy. Additional applications are instant damage. 

Garrote (16) is a strike that bleeds your opponent over 18 seconds, and, at level 46, silences him (for 3 seconds) if used from Stealth. Awards 1 CP.

Rupture (17) is a finishing strike that bleeds the target. Lasts longer per CP used. 

Shadowstep (22) allows you to teleport behind your target and gain 2 seconds of increased speed. Target must be in line of sight. You do not need to be stealthed. The target does not need to be hostile. 30 second cooldown. 

Fan of Knives (63) sends your knives flying in all directions, hitting up to 8 opponents, potentially poisoning anyone they strike. Awards 1 CP. 

Envenom (36) is a Finishing Strike and gives a 30% higher chance to apply poisons for a sort time. More CPs = more damage and longer duration. Replaces Eviscerate. 

Seal Fate (27, Passive) lets your crits from CP generating strikes give an extra CP.

Poisoned Knife (29) lets you throw a poisoned dagger for some damage and which then applies your lethal and non-lethal poisons.  1 CP.

Venomous Wounds (37) let’s you gain energy from targets that are bleeding from Rupture or Garrote. Target must also be poisoned.

Vendetta (42) is for when you really want to murder someone. More damage, lasts 20 seconds, and he can’t hide.

Improved Poisons (43) allow more efficient application of your Deadly and Wound poisons. At 52 (rank 2) they have a 100% chance to be applied. 

Wound Poison, rank 2, (44) can now stack up to 5 times. 

Slice and Dice, rank 2 (56) increases your attack speed by another 20%.

Shiv, rank 2 (58) increases the Nature Damage done to the target by 20% for 9 seconds.

Of course you can Find Treasure. Sense any that is near and it will appear on the mini-map

Mastery: Main Gauche (10) gives a 30% chance for an off-hand attack for slight damage.

Sinister Strike (10) is your basic strike to whack the enemy. Hits harder than the level 1 version and, at level 12, might hit the enemy an additional time (35% chance) and also make your next Pistol shot half-cost and double damage. Awards 1 CP.

Pistol Shot (10) pull your hidden pistol and fire off that sneak shot, and it also slows him for a few seconds. Awards 1 CP.

Between the Eyes (17) is a finishing strike that damages and increases your Crit chance against the target by 20%.  More CPs spent = longer duration for the enhanced crit chance. At level 44 your crits will do 4x damage.

Grappling hook (18)  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. 1 min. CD. At 56 the CD is reduced by 15 seconds. 

Blade Flurry (19) hits up to 4 nearby targets for partial damage. At 52 it’s 5 targets. Lasts 12 seconds, 30 sec. cooldown. 

Dispatch (22) is a finishing move that causes damage per combo point, more damage per CP. 

Ruthlessness (27) gives you a 20% chance, per CP spent, to gain 1 CP when you use a finisher.

Roll the Bones (29) provides a random combat enhancement, such as increased crit or Energy regeneration, and might do more than one. It does not use CPs, just Energy. Lasts 30 seconds and a 45 sec. cooldown. 

Combat Potency (37, P) increases your energy regeneration rate by 35%.  At level 43 your off-hand strikes can generate 10 energy (75% chance.)

Restless Blades (41) your finishing moves reduce the remaining cooldown of Adrenaline Rush, Between the Eyes, Sprint, Grappling Hook, and others by 1 sec per combo point spent.

Adrenaline Rush (42) is a cooldown that provides 20 seconds of 20% faster attack +50 Energy,  and 60% faster energy regeneration.

Gouge (46) incapacitates your target for 4 seconds, but must be in front of it to do that. Damage will break the effect.

Evasion, rank 2 (58) Your Mastery (Main Gauche) is triggered when you dodge an attack with Evasion active.

Riposte is dead in Shadowlands.

Mastery: Executioner (10, P) Your finishers hit harder.

Shadowstrike (12) is a hard strike from stealth or Shadowdance. If you’re in stealth, then it has a 25 yard range and hits 25% harder. Earn 2 CP. 

Backstab (14) stabs the target and does more damage if you’re behind it. Requires a dagger in the main hand. At 46 your crits will apply Find Weakness for 6 seconds. 

Shuriken Toss (16) See? You are a ninja! Ranged, awards one combo point. Earn 1 CP. 

Rupture (17) is a finishing strike that bleeds the target. Lasts longer per CP used. 

Shadowstep (18) 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.

Shuriken Storm (63) Spray Shurikens at uo to 8 nearby targets (9 at 42,) +1 CP per target hit. At 56 the crits will apply Find Weakness for 6 seconds.  Fighting a group? Just alternate Storm (for 5 CPs) and Eviscerate.

Shadow Dance (22) – 8 seconds (of being able to use stealth abilities out of stealth. Abilities hit 15% harder while ‘dancing. Abilities that modify Stealth also affect Shadowdance. 1 min CD. 

Relentless Strikes (26, P) Your finishers restore 6 energy per CP used.

Shadow Techniques (27, P) Your auto-attacks might generate 1 CP and 8 energy.

Symbols of Death (29) 10 seconds of 15% increased damage with a 30 second cooldown. At 42 your next CP generating strike will crit. 

Find Weakness (37, P) Your Shadowstrike and Cheap Shot allow you to bypass 30% of your opponents armor for 18 seconds. Nice against plate wearing enemies (eg: Warriors) or armored mobs. 

Deepening Shadows (41, P) Your finishers reduce the cooldown of Shadow Dance.

Shadow Blades (42) More CPs and your auto-attacks do +50% damage as shadow damage. Lasts for 20 sec. 3 min. CD. 

Eviscerate, rank 2 (44, P) does an extra 50% damage as Shadow to targets affected by your Find Weakness. 

Black Powder (52), shouldn’t this be for Outlaw? Anyway… Hits up to 8 nearby targets with your explosive black powder. More damager per CP used. At 58 your targets will take an extra 50% damage as Shadow. 

Shadow Vault (58) does additional damage to any targets affected by your Find Weakness. 

Nightblade is dead in Shadowlands, replaced by Rupture. 


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. Unless you enter the Battlegrounds… You can enter Warmode only in your capitol city, either Stormwind or Orgrimmar. You can turn it off in any “Rested XP” area, such as an inn.

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. Maybe more if your side is outnumbered. 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.

Onwards to the Talents

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 materials needed.

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

Need to change talents elsewhere? (such as about to enter PvP?) You can change your talents anywhere by using a Tome of the Quiet Mind up to lev. 59 (or Still Mind, after 51,)  Buy the tomes off the Auction House or from your buddy with the Inscription skill.

An Assassination build is just below, or go to Sub or Outlaw.

The Z? The “Z” on some of the talents comes from Zygor’s Guide and is their pick. Feel free to pick something that works better for you. Our picks are checked in the descriptions: Best talent  

An Assassination Leveling Build

Assassination Rogue Leveling Talents


Tier 1 Talents, Level 15

    1. Master Poisoner: 30% more damage and 20% better effects from your poisons. 
    2. Best talent Elaborate Planning: Your finishers giver you a 10% damage bonus, across the board, for a few seconds. This one is one that you can plan on. 
    3. Blindside: Your Mutilate has a 20% chance to grant a free Ambush strike, even outside of Stealth. The chance is 40% if the target is under 35% health. If you like the idea of the random Ambushes, them grab this one. 

Tier 2 Talents, Level 25

    1. Nightstalker: More speed (20%) while stealthed and hit harder (50%) when you come out of it. Good pick if you just want to pop out and smash. 
    2. Best talent Subterfuge: Use your stealth abilities for 3 seconds after breaking stealth. Garrote hits a lot harder (+80%) and has no cooldown while Subterfuge is active. Yes, that means you can Garrote three separate opponents if your timing is good. 
    3. Master Assassin: 50% chance to crit with strikes for 3 seconds after exiting stealth. 

Tier 3 Talents, Level 30

    1. Best talent Vigor: 50 more energy and a 10% faster energy regeneration rate. Lets you hit that much more, before having to slow down.  
    2. Deeper Stratagem: Can spend 6, instead of 5, CPs on finishers and those finishers do a little bonus damage, as well. Good at managing your energy? Then this one gives you a harder hit when you Rupture/Envenom.
    3. Marked for Death: 30 yard range, instantly apply 5 CPs to any one target.  Someone pops up behind you, or otherwise joins the fight? Mark him right now. 30 second CD. Resets if target dies. 

Tier 4 Talents, Level 35

Depends on what you are doing in your game. 

    1. Leeching Poison: Adds a leeching effect to your wound and deadly poisons, so you will get a bit of health back over the duration of those effects.  Good for travelling the world as you’ll always have a small heal going in your fights. Not worried about being squished? This is a good pick. If you’re worried, then the others are better. 
    2. Cheat Death: Some player (or monster,) 50 levels higher than you, attempts to squish your puny self with one shot, but your Cheat Death allows you to survive with 7% health and 3 seconds of 85% educed damage.) 6 minute cooldown, and you won’t survive hit #2, but maybe you can escape and get revenge later.  This is the pick if you are worried abut being insta-killed, such as if you have War Mode on or the dungeon boss think you’d be a good snack. 
    3. Best talent Elusiveness: Reduce all damage by 30% for 5 seconds. 15 seconds cooldown, so you can use it far more often than Cheat Death. The last is why it’s our pick. 

Tier 5 Talents, Level 40

    1. Best talent Internal Bleeding: Your Kidney Shot also bleeds the poor victim for the duration of the stun.  Solid for solo play. 
    2. Iron Wire: Nice PvP talent. Casters are silenced for an extra three seconds and do 15% less damage for 8 seconds. Does no damage, so is not the choice here. But if you need an improved Silence, then take it. 
    3. Prey on the Weak: Your targets that are hit with your Cheap Shot or Kidney Shot will take 10% more damage, from all sources, for 6 seconds. Nice for teams beating up on Elites or Rares or tough Players. 

Tier 6 Talents. Level 45

    1. Venom Rush: Your Mutilate will refund 8 energy when used against a poisoned target. You DID remember to poison your blades, right? Not enough to be interesting. 
    2. Best talent Alacrity gives your finishers a 20% chance, per CP used, to grant 2% Haste for 20 seconds. Can stack up to 10% max. 
    3. Exsanguinate: A strike that applies your lethal techniques to make your bleeds bleed out twice as fast. Useful if the things you are fighting aren’t that tough. For example: Your 5 CP Rupture might finish out in 12 seconds instead of 24. Other than that it is a zero damage “strike.”

Tier 7 Talents, Level 50

    1. Best talent Poison Bomb: Every now and then (4% chance per CP spent) your finishing strikes will cause the drop of a poisonous bomb at the feet of your enemies, that deals damage to all close enemies for 2 seconds.  The best general use pick, especially since it’s passive. Look at the other two if you’re in a group. 
    2. Hidden Blades: Nicely buffs your fan of knives, +20% damage every 2 seconds, stacking up to 400%.  Very nice if you’re always fighting groups, such as in a dungeon. 
    3. Crimson Tempest: A finishing strike that damages up to 8 enemies and also bleeds them. More damage and longer duration for each CP spent. Also nice for those dungeon groups.

War Mode Talents for Assassination

For those of you who choose to level with War Mode on, for the extra 10% (or more, if your side is outnumbered) experience gain. These talents will help in leveling & questing, outside of PvP. Pick any three after the first.

    1. Smoke Bomb, for those times when you really do not want to be targeted. 
    2. Honor among Thieves is great for groups. You will collect more Combo Points. 
    3. Flying Daggers is great when your tank is pulling large groups. More range and damage.


Subtlety Leveling Build

Subtlety Rogue Leveling Talents for Shadowlands

The “Z” on some of the talents comes from Zygor’s Guide and is their pick. Feel free to pick something that works better for you. Our picks are checked: Best talent

Tier 1 Talents, Level 15

    1. Weaponmaster: Your Backstab and Shadowstrike abilities have a 15% chance to hit the target twice anytime they do damage. 
    2. Best talent Premeditation: Enter stealth or ShadowDance and your next Shadowstrike gives you +10 seconds of Slice and Dice. If you already have S&D up then you also get +2 CPs. 
    3. Gloomblade replaces your backstab, does a little more more damage, and bypasses armor. No need to be behind the opponent, either. The damage is a bit weak, though. 

Tier 2 Talents, Level 25

    1. Nightstalker lets you run faster while stealthed and hit quite a bit harder coming out of stealth or Shadowdance. 
    2. Subterfuge: Use your stealth abilities for 3 seconds after breaking stealth. Adds 1 second to your Shadow Dance duration. Yes, that means you can Cheap Shot 2 – 3 separate opponents before stealth breaks. 
    3. Best talent Shadow Focus reduces the energy cost of your abilities, by 20%, while in Shadow Dance or Stealth. More efficient murdering. 

Tier 3 Talents, Level 30

    1. Vigor: More energy and a faster energy regeneration rate. Let’s you hit that much more, before having to slow down.  
    2. Best talent Deeper Stratagem: Can spend 6, instead of 5, CPs on finishers and those finishers do a little bonus damage, as well. Useful anytime 6 point finishers would be useful, which is most times. 
    3. Marked for Death –  puts an immediate 5 CPs on a target. Nice way to start a fight with a full finisher. Nice in group fights sine it resets when the target dies and you can immediately apply it to the next target. 

Tier 4 Talents, Level 35

    1. Best talent Soothing Darkness allows you to heal faster while stealth or Shadow Dance is active. 3%  of your max every second. This will have your ready to go for the next fight. Do you want this or will your Crimson Vial and stack of healing potions handle the healing nicely?
    2. Cheat Death – Avoid fatal attacks. Just the things if you expect the occasional crushing damage. Take this one is that’s the case. 
    3. Elusiveness – Feint reduces all damage, not just A of E. Very nice anytime you need some damage reduction. If you occasionally die, take Cheat Death. 

Tier 5 Talents, Level 40

    1. Shot in the Dark gives you a free Cheap Shot after you enter Stealth or Shadow Dance.
    2. Night Terrors causes your Shuriken Storm to reduce your enemies’ speed for 8 seconds. Can see some definite PvP and maybe some dungeon use here. Especially with some Mythic+ encounters.
    3. Best talent 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 Talents, Level 45

    1. Dark Shadow: While your Shadow Dance is active all of your damage is increased by 30%. Pretty nice. Do you need the damage or an extra charge? 
    2. Alacrity gives a chance at a small Haste buff, up to 10%.
    3. Best talent Enveloping Shadow: CPs spent on finishers reduce Shadow Dance’s cooldown and you get an extra charge of Shadow Dance. More S. Dancing is always a good thing. 

Tier 7 Talents, Level 50

    1. Best talent Master of Shadows: Gain 25 energy over 3 seconds when entering Shadow Dance or Stealth. The most effective for solo leveling. 
    2. Secret Technique – A finishing move that deals good damage to all of your opponents. Doing a lot of fighting against groups, such as in dungeons? Then this is a great pick. 
    3. Shuriken Tornado: Release 4 Shuriken Storms in 4 seconds. Has your tank rounded up a nice group? You’ll will get 4 Storms right into 4 Eviscerates onto the primary target. Might be worth thinking about. 

War Mode Talents for Subtlety

For those of you who choose to level with War Mode on, for the extra 10% (or more, if your side is outnumbered) experience gain. These talents will help in leveling & questing, but maybe not so hot for PvP. Pick any three after the first.

    1. Cold Blood adds a shot of Shadow damage to your cheap Shot, up to 10% of the target’s health. 
    2. Dagger in the Dark gives you a more brutal Shadowstrike opener, +100% damage, if you can wait 10 seconds before attacking. 
    3. Smoke Bomb, for those times when you really do not want to be targeted. 
    4. Honor among Thieves is great for groups. You will collect more Combo Points. 


Outlaw Leveling Build

Ourlaw Rogue Leveling Talents

The “Z” on some of the talents comes from Zygor’s Guide and is their pick. Feel free to pick something that works better for you. Our picks are checked: Best talent

Tier 1 Talents, Level 15

    1. Weaponmaster: Your Sinister Strike has a +10% chance to hit a second time. 
    2. Best talent Quick Draw: +1 CP and 50% added damage to the Pistol shots awarded by your Sinister Strikes. What’s not to like? 
    3. Ghostly strike: Whack the enemy with a nice hit and for 10 seconds your abilities will do 10% more damage. Good thing to use right before any burst damage you want to use. Or use this for the last CP you need right before your finisher. Awards 1 CP. 

Tier 2 Talents, Level 25

    1. Acrobatic Strikes: More range on all of your strikes, including Blade Flurry. Useful in area effect situations or in PvP where the enemy is just out of normal range. Grab this one if that’s your game. 
    2. Retractable Hook: More grapples, with a CD lowered by 15 sec.  Do you use it a lot? 
    3. Best talent Hit and Run: Faster movement all around. A generally useful talent. 

Tier 3 Talents, Level 30

    1. Best talent Vigor: More energy (50) and a 10% faster energy regeneration rate. Let’s you hit that much more, before having to slow down.  
    2. Deeper Stratagem: Can spend 6, instead of 5, CPs on finishers and those finishers do a little bonus damage, as well. Good at managing your energy? Then this one gives you a harder hit on your Dispatch.
    3. 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 than one mob as it refreshes if the target dies in less than a minute. Kill one and start the next with that 5 pt finisher. 

Tier 4 Talents, Level 35

    1. Best talent Iron Stomach: Better effects from any healing items, such as potions, healthstones, and your own Crimson Vial, but not spells. Good pick if you’re not concerned about being crushed by something, in solo leveling, for example. For those other encounters check out the other two. 
    2. Cheat Death: Some player (or monster,) 50 levels higher than you, attempts to squish your puny self with one shot, but your Cheat Death allows you to survive with 7% health. You won’t survive hit #2, but maybe you can escape and get revenge later.  This is the pick if you are worried abut being insta-killed, such as if you have War Mode on, or if the Boss mob has its eye on you.  6 minute cooldown.
    3. Elusiveness – Feint reduces all damage, not just A of E. Very nice anytime you need some damage reduction. 35 Energy, which is why it’s not the pick. 

Tier 5 Talents, Level 40

Do you want more Crowd Control or more damage? 

    1. Dirty Tricks: Your Cheap Shot, Gouge, Sap, and Dismantle no longer cost energy. Leaves more energy for damage. PvP a lot? Take this one or Blinding Powder.
    2. Blinding Powder: Lowers the cooldown and increases the range of your Blind. 
    3. Best talent 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. Nice for groups fighting stunable targets. 

Tier 6 Talents, Level 45

    1. Loaded Dice: Use your Adrenaline Rush and you are guaranteed at least two successes from your next Roll the Bones. Rush has a 3 min cooldown. 
    2. Best talent Alacrity: Your finishers provide a small Haste buff, up to 10%. Helps with energy regeneration, attack speed, etc. Overall damage will get a boost from this. 
    3. Dreadblades: You build faster CPs at the cost of 5% health each time you use a finisher. 1.5 minute CD. Overall, for most situations, Alacrity is better. 

Tier 7 Talents, Level 50

    1. Dancing Steel: Love your Blade Flurry? This make it a little better. Weaker than the other two. 
    2. Best talent Blade Rush: Charge in (20 yards) and smash the target and do damage to nearby targets. Does more damage to those targets if your Blade Flurry is active. Need a charge? Grab this. Get knocked back, charge back in. Generates 25 Energy over 5 seconds. 45 second CD.
    3. Killing Spree: Teleport up to 10 yards and deliver a hard hit to the target. Do it with Blade Flurry active and hit up to 4 more nearby targets for full damage. Stops your auto-attacks for the 2 second duration. 2 min. CD. 

War Mode Talents for Outlaws

For those of you who choose to level with War Mode on, for the extra 10% (or more, if your side is outnumbered) experience gain. These talents will help in leveling & questing, maybe not so hot for the PvP.

Pick any three. 

    1. Take Your Cut: Grants you and nearby allies (within 8 yards) a 15% haste buff when you Roll the Bones, which is nice.
    2. Death from Above: Provides an empowered Dispatch with a  30 second cooldown and gives that Dispatch a 15 yard range.
    3. Boarding Party: Using Between the Eyes makes you and all nearby friendly players move 30% faster for 5 seconds.
    4. Smoke Bomb, for those times when you really do not want to be targeted. 
    5. Honor among Thieves is great for groups. You will collect more Combo Points. 

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. Rogues have an extensive list (LoL) of glyphs to pick from: 

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Rogue Gear, Stats, Gems, Enchants, Etc.


    • Outlaw can use any 1-handed weapon in either hand. 
    • 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. 

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 8, and maybe a stack of healing potions, you should have very little down time.

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.

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 – Basically speeds up whatever you do, including energy regeneration. .
    • Crit Rating – +100% damage on critical strikes (is +50% in PvP.) All Rogues get a 5% Crit bonus through their base ability: Critical Strikes
    • Mastery rating – obtained at level 10. Improves some aspect of  your damage. Sub is finishers, Assas. is poisons, Outlaw is extra off-hand attacks. 
    • Versatility adds its value in damage to all your abilities and also half that in damage reduction. 
    • Attack Power – Great for all Rogues, but only appears on a very few items and some enchants.
    • BTW – if you’re serious about PvP then check out Skill-Capped now

Which Stats for Your Rogue? 

Agility and item level of new gear take priority over all other stats.

Otherwise, it varies a bit depending on gear, level, and exactly what your are doing. For example: solo leveling vs arena PvP. But generally speaking:

    • Subtlety: Mastery >= Versatility > Critical Strike > Haste
    • Outlaw: Versatility > Critical Strike > Mastery > Haste
    • Assassination: Versatility > Critical Strike > Mastery > Haste

For generally leveling, it is not really a concern. 

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.


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 their max. This will be a bit expensive. Figure 9k for an armor/ring/trinket boosted to the max, and 13.5k for a weapon. But you only ever have to buy it once. 

Your heirlooms live in a tab at the bottom of your mounts/pets window. When you finally get better gear you can delete them from your character, 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 the enchanted ‘looms, 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 (sometimes.)

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 character, though they can be used by a level 1.

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

About Those Gems and Enchants

Zygor's Gold Guide, Make TonsGem 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.

In BFA you were only able to enchant your weapons and rings. Shadowlands will allow more.

At lower levels you can enchant most of your gear, but those enchants will start losing their effectiveness at item level 50+. Below are the best enchants, but they might cost a bit. Numbers for stats are for the max level enchant. They will all scale down to your level, even level 1.

Something cheaper? Just search the Auction House, or a friendly enchanter, for your items to be enhanced.

Note that there are some better enchants in Shadowlands (Chest, boots, rings, weapons,) but they require level 50+, so are not listed here. 

A change in Shadowlands is that heirloom pieces no longer give extra XP. But if  you are wearing several pieces than you do get a set bonus. The bonuses mostly let your Rested XP last significantly longer. If you happen to level up in the middle of a fight, you will do a nice bit of burst damage and gain 40% to your Agility for 2 minutes. 

This first group is for items that are available as heirlooms. 

    • Head, Trinkets: : None.
    • Neck: Mark of the Claw: Sometimes increase Crit and Haste by 16 for 6 seconds. Max item level 60.
    • Back: Binding of Agility, +3 Ag, Cannot be used past item level 60.
    • Chest: Glorious Stats: +4 to all stats, max item level is 50.
    • Cloak
    • Shoulders: Tiger Claw, +5 Ag, +2 Crit, max item level is 50.
    • Legs: Shadowleather Leg Armor, +6 Ag, +3 Crit, Requires a level 85 to apply, item level 50 max.
    • Rings: Get Accord of Haste or Crit or mastery or Versatility, each adds +9.
    • Weapons: Force Multiplier: Sometimes gain +28 Ag and +18 Mastery, Haste, Or Crit (it picks your highest stat.) 15 seconds.

Non-heirloom pieces


The Poisons You Will Use

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.

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.

All Rogues can use these poisons in Shadowlands: 

    1. Instant: (Lev 10) Has a 30% chance to do some instant damage to the target with each strike. 
    2. Wound (38) does a small amount of damage and suppresses enemy healing by 8%, stacking up to 24%. At 44+ Assassination Rogues can have it stack twice more. 
    3. Crippling (38) slows your opponent’s movement (30% chance per hit.) Nice for mobs (or players) that run away.
    4. Numbing Poison (54) has a 50% chance, per strike, of slowing your opponent’s attack and/or casting speed by 15%. 

And Assassination Rogues get Improved Poison Abilities

At level 43 your chance to apply poisons goes up to 50% with each strike. At 52+, if you are stealthed, then it is a 100% chance. 

    1. Deadly Poison (13) is still only for Assassination Rogues. Poisons the target (30% chance to apply with each strike) over 12 seconds and additional applications deal instant damage. 
    2. Mind Numbing Poison (20) is a PvP talent. The caster takes poison damage every time they cast a spell. It is applied automatically along with either your Deadly or Wound poisons. 
    3. Poisoned knife (29) has a 30 yard range, does light damage, and applies both of your poisons. 
    4. Leeching poison (35) is a talent and adds a 10% leech effect to your deadly poison applications. 

For leveling: Use Deadly or Instant poison. 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.
    • Get a whole lot more Rogue PvP info on Skill-Capped.

BTW – If you need to blast to 60 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. (See below for more pickpocketing info.)

#showtooltip Cheap Shot
/cast Pickpocket
/cast Cheap Shot (Make one of these for each opener you use.)

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, appropriate to which expansion you are cruising through.

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.) Note that currently the First Aid skill is dead, so you will get your bandages from the Auction House or a friendly Tailor. 

/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 the Enemy

Targeting an NPC

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

In Shadowlands you pickpocketing will result in a bit of cash and some junk. You might, every once in awhile, see some items to improve your Crimson Vial, though. 

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 around in some zones. They don’t require lock-picking, but do usually provide a nice chunk of XP in addition to possibly useful stuff.

A Rogue’s 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 no stuns resets the DR.

Cheap Shot – 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. 

Sap –  Stuns your target for some time. Great for setting up attacks or just keeping one enemy out of play while you kill another. Nice in dungeons when you need to hold a mob before the fight starts. Fun for just being annoying to enemy players. It does not, of course, last so long on players. 

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

Blind – 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. Like Sap, it does not last so long on players. 

Gouge – 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.  Spellcasting happens > Gouge

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

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.

Dismantle, PvP talent, Outlaw only.  Negates their weapon and shield for 6 seconds. 

Shadow Dance – (Requires Subtlety) 

    • 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 x2 > Rupture/Eviscerate…

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.

You must be in Stealth to deliver certain opening strikes, such as Ambush.

Shadowstep (not for Outlaws) also puts you behind the target, with a brief speed increase, but since it does not attack it gives you the option of doing a Sap instead of an attack.

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


    • Cheap Shot – Stun the enemy for a brief time. Awards 2 CPs. Run up, stealthed, and whack. Use whatever weapon you have and you don’t have to be behind the opponent.
    • Ambush is a solid smack from stealth. Generates 2 CPs.


    • Open: Shadowstrike (Sub only) has a 25 yard range (from Stealth, not while in Shadow Dance.) Similar to Shadowstep, but does attack. 
    • Backstab is your CP builder when out of Shadowdance.
    • Eviscerate  – Your big hit.
    • Rupture – Bleeds the enemy, More CPs makes it last longer.
    • Kidney Shot – Stuns the opponent.


    • Garrote (Assassination only) – Attack from behind causing bleed damage and briefly silencing spell casting. Awards 1 CP.
    • Mutilate replaces Sinister Strike and hits hard, providing 2 CPs.
    • 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.


    • Sinister Strike to whack the opposition and build CPs.
    • 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 increases your crit chance against the target. At higher level your crits will do 4x damage. 


Leveling Notes and Tips

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.

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:

    • Crippling Poison to slow the enemy while running around, keeping out of range, and throwing knives. Leap in every now and then to spend your combo points on a bleed or stun.
    • Outlaws can do something similar with regular Pistol Shots

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 also use Kidney Shot or Between the Eyes to stun the enemy and then take a potion or bandage yourself. It’s 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. 

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 max level in much less time. 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. And the all require a quest of some sort. 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 – Battlegrounds can result in solid 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. XP while losing is about the same as questing XP and is more frustrating (to me, anyway.)
    • Also note that in Battle for Azeroth, and beyond, 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 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. 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.

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. You can buy it off the Auction House, maybe, but the price might be a bit steep. Otherwise get the recipe from Smudge in Ravenholdt, in the Ravenholdt Manor in Hillsbrad Foothills. 

Zygor's Gold and Professions GuideI suggest you stick with mining and herbalism 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.

Note that Battle for Azeroth made an interesting change to professions. Each expansion has it’s own sub-profession. This means you could boost your character to 110 and then get Kul-Tiran/Zandalar skinning without having skinned anything anywhere else. You do not need to have leveled the profession prior to obtaining the Kul-Tiran/Zandalar profession. This remains true for Shadowlands. 

And the others: 

    • Leatherworking makes your gear. If you are in Draenor and 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 and alchemists all of the potions.


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. You do not need both. 
      • 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. Has a bunch of modules. Very nice.
    • TradeSkillMaster is another useful tool. Has a lot going on, like Auctioneer. Have questions? There are plenty of “how to” posts and videos, just search. 
    • 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 one. 


Rogue Leveling to the Cap, the fast way

Level in Shadowlands with Zygor
Level from 1 to DragonFlight.
Click Here to Start

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 to boost to 60 you’ll still want to cruise through those last ten levels.

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 DragonFlight 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 the Shadowlands”

  1. Pingback: Rogues in Warlords of Draenor -

  2. “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 😛

  3. 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.

  4. 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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