Rogues often initiate combat with a surprise attack from the shadows, leading with vicious melee strikes. When in protracted battles, they utilize a successive combination of carefully chosen attacks to soften the enemy up for a killing blow. Rogues must take special care when selecting targets so that their combo attacks are not wasted, and they must be conscious of when to hide or flee if a battle turns against them. (Battle.net source)
This page is an overview of Rogues in the Battle for Azeroth.
If you’re looking for more detailed info on any particular Rogue spec, whether leveling or for PvE or PvP, then see the links in the contents section, just below.
Other Rogue Guides
Introduction to The Rogue
Rogues are a group that I find hard to describe – Not because the class is so very complicated, although they do have their fair share of tactical and situational abilities, but rather because it’s so very much fun, it’s almost hard to find a good place to start.
Rolling a rogue is the discovery of an entirely different world than that experienced by any other class save druid, the world of stealth, mystery, and most importantly, awesome PvE and PvP.
The sheer magnitude of what stealth grants our class is what sets us apart from a simple DPS class and makes us one of the top Arena, Battlegrounds, and Raiding classes.
Rogues were once famed for mayhem and slaughter with a side-dish of being nigh unbeatable when we choose to be, that is why you might choose to roll a Rogue.
Once one of the most popular classes, Rogues are a bit less common now because Bliz has been working at improving class balance. Still, all it takes is a little bit of dedication and some gaming skills to stand head and shoulders above the crowd.
The difference between a rogue who chose his class for speed leveling and ease of use to those who truly master the class is astounding.
The difference is clearly illustrated by game chat. Various people complain about how other classes have passed the Rogue by for DPS, etc., and the next group, probably slaughtered by a Rogue in their last PvP match, complains about Rogues being way overpowered. Played right, the Rogue is deadly. Played wrong, well… not so hot.
Buffage and Nerfage
When 4.0 landed Rogues were kind of left behind to casters, along with everyone else. Caster nukes were critting for completely unreal damage while Rogues went poke, poke by comparison. A couple of days later the Rogues received a little love from the Devs and were one or two-shotting everything with their Ambushes. A few days later…
Mists of Pandaria changed everything. Again. So did Warlords of Draenor, Legion, Battle for Azeroth… And probably every other expansion in the future.. Shadowlands, of course, smashed the levels in addition to the item levels (again.) And also shuffled a few things around.
Expect changes. Blizzard is doing a mostly decent job of class balance these days, so get down with the new abilities and then sneak up and kill something. Or someone.
(Not yet at the level cap? Get there as fast as possible with our favorite leveling guide. )
A Few of the Rogue Changes over Time
This section is just a summary of some changes. Similar changes have happened since.
Back in Warlords of Draenor Bliz decided that various classes had too many abilities. To that extent, a bunch of abilities were removed completely, such as Redirect, Disarm Trap, Shadow Blades, and others. There hasn’t been a similar ability hacking since, but who knows what the next expansion brings? Shadowlands’ level crunch, for one.
Agility classes (that’s you) now get a base bonus of +5% Crit added to the base of 5% that everyone else gets. So you start at 10% Crit before any gear, effects, or mods.
Stats were changed in Legion. Hit, Expertise, Resilience, and Reforging all bit the big one. Of the new stats added, Versatility is the only survivor.
Also, there are some tertiary stats, still working in BFA, such as Leech, Avoidance, Speed. which will sometimes appear on gear. You cannot gem or enchant or otherwise stack those stats, other than accidentally. Still, it’s nice when they pop up.
The Stat Squish went live in Warlords and was unchanged in Legion. Another, bigger, squish happened with Battle for Azeroth. The game will feel the same, but the numbers will be a lot smaller. Expect more stat squishes in future expansions.
Naturally there are lots of new levels to gain, but very few new abilities.
PVP in Battle For Azeroth is now optional. PVP servers are gone. If you don’t want the experience of being ganked while leveling, just keep War Mode off and you’re good. Turn it on if you like PVP and take advantage of the +10% experience bonus.
Glyphs and Perks died in Legion and are still dead in BFA. Well, you can get some minor glyphs, but they are cosmetic only.
Shadowlands brought changes, as well. Including the first level smash. What was level 120 is now 50 and the cap is 60. You’ll also find your way into another realm entirely and meet up with various groups of entities. Also, poisons are returned to all Rogues, though Assassination still has the poisonous edge. Various other abilities shifted around, too.
Rogues, a Very Brief Overview
Rogues use energy to drive their special strikes. No energy? Then no specials, so energy management becomes important.
Combo points (CP) drive your finishing strikes and you get CPs from your opening strikes and special strikes (such as Sinister Strike.)
Leveling? Check out our Rogue Leveling Guide for more information on leveling up.
Finally, and everyone who has War Mode activated will most likely agree with me on this one: rogues are one of the the better ganking classes in the game. We not only possess the tools to avoid an attempted gank and survive quite easily, but are also pretty good at returning the favor. (And you can see Skill-Capped to improve your ganking skills.)
Look into the Spy addon to keep an eye on potential player enemies.
Speaking of ganking… Subtlety is still the spec of choice for PvP, but Outlaw is quite viable and Assassination isn’t bad at all. Note that all Rogues now have poisons.
- Assassination PvP – Better poisons and consistent serious damage.
- Outlaw PvP – Solid consistent damage, good burst damage.
- Subtlety PvP – Murderous burst out of stealth and with Shadowdance, but relatively weak damage when not in those situations.
- Want to learn how to really do it? Check out Skill-Capped.
Some quick Rogue Details
Scroll down the page for more info on all of these items.
PvP? Just fine. Sneak up and kill someone.
- Most races, including Pandarens and most of the Allied Races, can be Rogues. But if you have horns, such as the Tauren and Draenei, then forget it.
- See below for more
- Assassination requires daggers, Subtlety prefers them. Outlaw doesn’t care, but likes one hand weapons because they hit harder than daggers.
- Leather gear for all Rogues.
- Poisons are, in Shadowlands, available to all Rogues, but Assassination has a better assortment. They are applied like any buff and last an hour.
- Weapon DPS > Agility > Stats
- Agility is the # stat, by far, especially for Sub.
- Sub likes Mastery, the others like Versatility.
- More on Stats
Gems and Enchants:
- Gem slots are uncommon these days, but go for: Agility and your best secondary stat.
- Stam is nice when leveling and you’re dying too much. It’ll help. Stamina scrolls are also pretty cheap on the Auction House or from someone with Inscription.
- Note that you can put the highest level enchants on your level 1 gear, but that is only worthwhile if they are heirlooms. Crafted enchants need a high level character to apply them, but then you level 1 can then use the item.
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The WoW Rogue Races
Most races can become Rogues, but not the horned races. So if you’re Draenei or Tauren or Lightforged Draenei or High Mountain Tauren you are out of luck.
One nice change in Shadowlands is in acquiring the Allied Races, such as Mechagnomes. You no longer have to earn exalted rep. with the races, just earn an achievement. Then hop over to the embassy in Orgrimmar or Stormwind.
- Nightborne requires the Legion expansion
- Mag’har Orc, Zandalari Troll, and Vulpera, Requires Battle for Azeroth expansion.
- Void Elf requires the Legion expansion
- Dark Iron Dwarf, Kul Tiran, and Mechagnome require the Battle for Azeroth expansion.
All will start at level 10. If you have the latest WoW expansion you will have potential access to all races. You simply need to complete an achievement with each one and then visit the embassy in Orgrimmar or Stormwind.
If you level the allied character to 50, without boosting or anything, then you can do a series of quests to earn their Heritage Armor. More here.
Best Rogue races for PvP?
- Alliance: Humans (for the escape and a little extra damage) and Night Elves (Shadowmeld)
- Horde: Orcs for the Blood Fury and stun resistance, Blood Elf for Arcane Torrent (removes buffs) and Energy restoration.
Visit our Rogue Leveling Guide for a detailed list of all the Rogue races.
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Rogue Specs and Their Abilities
Rogue skills and talents are quite fun to play around with, all the abilities will likely remain in common use due to the simple requirement of variety to remain viable as a rogue.
Talents and abilities will change with every expansion. Our Rogue Leveling Guide has a complete list of all Rogue abilities.
Or grab Zygor for the fast leveling.
A bit on the Assassination Spec
Sneak up and attack with poisons and bleeds. Various talents increase the damage from your poisons and your general damage is much more effective against poisoned opponents. Plus, the Venomous Wounds talent returns some energy if the opponent is bleeding and poisoned. This means, of course, that if you forget to apply your poisons (it happens) then this spec will be far less effective than otherwise.
Daggers are required.
A bit on the Outlaw Spec
You’re the only Rogue spec with any real “strike more than one opponent” abilities, other than Fan of Knives or Shuriken Storm, though you’re far from being able to tank groups. You have faster energy regeneration and your abilities allows you to do high damage and maintain that damage over long fights.
You can use any one-handed weapons.
A bit on the Subtlety Spec
The “I Hate ROGUES!!!” comments you sometimes see in chat were probably brought on by encounters with subtlety rogues. You’re the master of sudden burst damage and stuns. Not so hot for long fights, but pretty fine for ganking players and mobs.
Rogue Poisons, Locks, and Pockets
Poisons are, in Shadowlands, back on the weapons of any Rogue. Assassination Rogues have better poisons, though, allowing you to apply extra damage, DoTs, and other effects.
Once upon a time there was a poison quest needed to learn how to create the poisons that you will be applying to your weapons. Nowadays you just learn the poison spells like any other ability and the poison quest is no longer available.
Poisons are a buff. You cast them like any spell and you no longer apply them directly to your weapons (as you do with Enchants.) They last one hour. No more stocking them in your bags (as you used to do.)
You can have one lethal and one non-lethal poison up at any one time, and can change them on the fly.
All Rogues can use these poisons in Shadowlands:
- Instant Poison: (Lev 10) Has a 30% chance to do some instant damage to the target with each strike.
- Wound Poison (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.
- Crippling Poison (38) slows your opponent’s movement (30% chance per hit.) Nice for mobs (or players) that run away.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Poisoned Knife (29) has a 30 yard range, does light damage, and applies both of your poisons.
- Leeching Poison (35) is a talent and adds a 10% leech effect to your deadly poison applications.
Lockpicking is another unique Rogue skill. It’s the path to ultimate riches, piles of Epics…. Well, maybe not. The main use for Lockpicking is to unlock the various boxes that are found throughout the game, some of which may actually, on occasion, contain something interesting, such as healing potions.
You pick up lockpicking like any other ability and your skill automatically scales with your level, just like weapons. In Shadowlands you can pick locks equal to your level.
Pickpocketing is a fun little skill that, like lockpicking, can sometimes result in some interesting finds. Over time it will add more than a few gold to your pockets.
In Warlords and Legion you no longer pick potentially useful items from pockets (such as healing potions) or bad items (Ogre underwear.) You pick money and a jewelry sort of item. All the jewelry has to be fenced, no vendor will take it.
Your Fence is summoned by a Secretive Whistle, which you will quickly find while picking pockets in Draenor. Summon the fence, sell your goods and gain… dingy coins. Eventually you can sell 1,000 of these coins to that same fence for 250 gold or more coins for more gold.
In BFA you will mostly pick some coins and junk items. Same for Shadowlands, but with a bit of luck those pockets might contain items to improve your Crimson Vial potion.
Since you have the Pickpocket skill here’s an easy way to make sure you actually use it. Open up your macro creater, create a new one, and add this code:
/cast Ambush (Or use Cheap Shot or Garrote, or make one for each.)
/cast [stance:0] !Stealth
/cast Pick Pocket
The first 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 those items to sell to your fence.
The second one is great for wandering through an area of NPC enemies and picking the pockets of each one. It makes the pickpocketing much more reliable.
By the way, you can have some productive pick pocketing of Ashran NPCs.
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Stunning Moves & Interrupts
Of course, if your timing is off and/or the lag monster gets you then you aren’t interrupting anything.
Must be out of combat to use. Stuns your target for some time (only a few seconds for players.) Great for setting up ambushes, slowing flag carriers, keeping a mob out of combat in PvE, and so on.
Interrupts spells, but does not stun. Use this often against casters. 15 second cooldown.
Gouge – Outlaw only.
Causes no damage, stuns the opponent for 4 seconds, and takes you both out of combat. It will interrupt spells. If the enemy takes damage or has any kind of bleed or DOT effect then that will break your gouge.
Run up to mob, gouge, hop behind, and backstab.
Spellcasting happens > Gouge
You can Gouge and bandage for a small mid-combat heal.
- Distract is neither an interrupt or a stun, but it does turn non-player opponents, for about 10 seconds, allowing you to slip past them or set them up for an attack.
- In PvP it will turn and stop an opponent, which will change their run or otherwise “distract” them, possibly setting you up for an attack or other action.
- It does not break stealth, either yours or the opponent’s.
- Opens your attack by stunning the opponent for a short time and generating 2 CPs.
- Blinds the target which causes it to wander aimlessly for a while. Interrupts spells and any damage to the target, as with Gouge, will break the effect.
- It can stop a mounted opponent and doesn’t require stealth. Blind > stealth > attack
- Uses your Combo Points to stun your opponent for a few seconds. Also interrupts casting. The Internal Bleeding talent, for Assassination, adds a 12 second bleed.
- a minor stun lock is Sap > Cheap shot > strike until you have up to 5 combo points > Kidney Shot > strike > strike > blind…
Shadowdance – Sub. only
- This Subtlety ability isn’t a stun by itself, but it does allow the use of Cheap Shot while out of stealth, so it allows more stuns.
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Hit, Expertise, Resilience, and Reforging, are all dead, as are Multistrike and “Attuned stats.”
As for your basic stats :
- Agility – This is your main stat, by far, especially at high level and especially for Subtlety. It adds to your Attack Power and Dodge.
- Each point of Ag provide 1 Attack Power
- Ag does not add to armor nor does it add to Crit.
- Stamina – This is your second important stat, while leveling, though it’s well behind Agility in importance at mid to high levels. At low levels you should get lots of Stam. You’ll need it to survive and level easily and a few points of Stam will count for a lot more than a few points of anything else. At higher level keep the Stam and start looking for more Agility. Stam is also much more important for PvP than PvE.
- Strength, Intellect – Useless.
Other stats that are useful and start appearing on gear at higher levels. These are more or less in order of desirability:
- Crit Rating – Directly increases your chance to critically hit the opposition. Sub. can never have enough. Crits do 200% damage in all but PvP, where they do 150%.
- Haste Rating – Increases the speed of your attacks, so it also increases your overall damage done. Outlaw prefers Haste over other stats.
- Mastery – Gained at level 80 all specs of all classes get this ability. It increases some ability that defines your character. For Assassination and Subtlety it’s very nice, Outlaw prefers Haste.
- Versatility adds directly to your offense, any healing you do, and your damage reduction. Pretty decent for PvP, a little less interesting for max DPS in the raid.
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Gems for Rogues to Equip:
What gemming? The gems are there, but the sockets only appear (rarely) on PvE or PvP gear and those items have to appear as drops or rewards. There are no sockets on vendored items.
The gems fit into any socket and any socket takes any gem (of high enough level.)
Just find gems with the best stats and pop them into the socket. Some might cost a bit, but you do have a few gold to your name, right?
- Raiding and PvP – Gem for your offensive stats. Agility before everything else. Especially for Subtlety.
- Leveling – Skip the gemming, you’ll outgrow your gear too fast. If you have plenty of gold and want to gem anyway, then go for Agility.
Enchants for Rogues
Yes, you will want to enchant your items.
Enchants of any level (prior to Shadowlands enchants) can be added to any lower level item. So yes, you can take the top BFA level enchants and add them to your low level gear. I recommend only doing this with your heirlooms, as the other gear you will level out of too fast to make the enchant worthwhile.
Crafted enchants, such as those by the Inscription profession’s Shoulder enchants, will require a level 32+ character to apply (to your heirloom,) but then your new level 1 can use it.
If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Zygor Gold Addon can do about about improving your situation.
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Tradeskills for Rogues
The crafting skills are generally way too expensive, unless you have a good cash flow or a generous benefactor. If you just have to go for a craft, then Engineering and leatherworking might be the most generally useful crafting professions.
The crafts aren’t all that useful even for gear, though there are some sweet spots.
- Leatherworking has a lot of nice items that you can create and use. Skinning is a natural match. You’ll be able to make some useful stuff while leveling or for your leather or mail wearing alts.
- Alchemy has a number of useful potions and various transmutes. There is a very nice trinket, as well.
- Inscription makes all the glyphs, all the high level shoulder enchants, a few nice items for your caster buddies, and some misc items, including Fortune Cards.
- Engineering has a number of useful gadgets and may be worth the expense, but watch for side-effects. Draenor engineering is easier, faster, and lets you make rockets, shields, and other useful items.
- Blacksmithing has a couple of useful weapons, but is a very expensive profession to level if you want those. It’s easier to buy the mats and hire a Blacksmith to make your items. Dreanor Blacksmithing will let you make item level 630 weapons.
- Jewelcrafting & Enchanting have little value while leveling. If you need gems or enchants it’s much easier just to buy them from a crafter or off the AH.
- Tailoring is of no use to a Rogue, unless you really want a flying carpet.
First Aid has wandered off into the void. Buy bandages and potions off the Auction House or from a Tailor or Alchemist.
Secondly Cooking combined with Fishing can ease the price of food while leveling should you feel like picking them up. Certain fish and some cooked foods sell well, so there’s gold potential here. Neither of these skills take up a profession slot making it easy enough to pick both up.
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How to Get to the Level Cap Fast!
Rogue leveling is easy and all specs work well.
Regardless of which build you choose you really will find the leveling to be easy. Still, there are thousands of quests and a bazillion mobs to kill (not to mention other players, but they don’t count here.) Sorting out which quests are best and which series of quests will get you to the top the fastest is another game, which is why we highly recommend Zygor’s Guide.
Zygor’s is an in-game guide and it nearly automates the whole leveling process: you just pick your starting point, at any level, and the guide tracks which quest you’re on, tracks the quest objectives, and automatically advances and updates as you complete your tasks and quests.
In addition, a waypoint arrow is set automatically, so you never have to wonder where to go. All of the important quest info is included in the guide so you never have to wonder what to do.
Playing with Heirlooms and/or Recruit a friend? Gaining a few levels in the dungeons or in PvP? Zygor’s has your back. The guide knows what level you are and will correctly suggest where to go next. It will also dump all of your obsolete quests. And you will probably never need to look at your quest log again.
Grab your copy here.
Like this page? How about recommending it?
Other Rogue Guides – Where to go from here:
- Rogue Leveling – Tips and help on how to get your Rogue leveled quickly.
- Assassination Rogue DPS guide – Maximizing your DPS in the Raid and…
- Assassination PvP is looking pretty good these days.
- Outlaw Rogue DPS Guide and …
- Outlaw PvP is also pretty good.
- Subtlety Rogue DPS Guide – Raiding with Sub. for max DPS.
- Subtlety PvP is as good as it ever was. Sub didn’t get worse, the others just got a little better.
- Rogue Posts on the blog.