Vanilla WoW Wiki
Classese Druid Hunter Mage Paladin Priest Rogue Shaman Warlock Warrior
Class races Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Quests Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Abilities Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Trainers Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Talents Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Talent builds Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Tactics Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Armor sets Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Starting a Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
PvE Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
PvP Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr
Useful macros Dr Hu Ma Pa Pr Ro Sh Wl Wr

General Tactics

Weapons and Talents

PvP: The most common PvP spec (post 3.2.2) is a "deep" Assassination spec, using Mutilate and Envenom for huge burst, relying on the use of deadly poison, which in other specs is generally not ideal, as the ticking DoT can break CC. Another viable spec is Assassination (41/5/25) going down into Preparation in the Subtlety Tree.

Since early 3.1, Shadowstep (Hemorrhage or Ambush) specs have become far less common. The most common Shadowstep spec is 20/0/41.

PvE: There are two highly viable specs to use in PvE, A Combat spec using either the Hack and Slash talent with swords/axes, or the Close Quarters Combat talent with a Fist/Dagger combination. Alternatively, if your gear is good enough, you may wish to go into the Assassination Tree, Maintaining Hunger for Blood, gaining combo points with Mutilate and using Envenom for its newly improved burst DPS.

At earlier stages in the game, it's advisable to choose combat, especially pre-60, as Killing Spree combined with Blade Flurry helps immensely when grinding mobs / questing.


Blind is an attack that makes your target wander aimlessly, essentially dazed for 10 seconds. It is broken by any damage caused to your target. Be careful you don't try to Blind a person with DoTs on him/her! Blind now shares the same diminish category as Cyclone and is now diminished in PvE as well as PvP. Please note Blind no longer needs any kind of reagent, and without Elusiveness has a 3 minute cooldown. With Elusiveness, it has a 1.5 minute cooldown.

Blind is most useful when soloing a difficult monster or fighting multiple mobs, or in a PvP environment; typical uses include:

  • To aid a getaway, particularly if Vanish is down - or just as added insurance.
  • When you get snared or rooted - most of these effects won't outlast the 10 second duration of the blind, so effectively the two moves cancel one another out. Dirty Tricks increases the range of your Blind and Sap abilities by 2/5 yards and reduces the energy cost of them each by 50%.
  • To buy some time to bandage or reposition yourself.
  • To slow a mounted opponent long enough to stealth and initiate an attack.
  • As a weaker form of Crowd Control when taking on more than one enemy; in conjunction with Sap and other crowd control devices, can sometimes allow Rogues to take on quite a few enemies alone. Since it disorients it also interrupts spell casting, making it useful in PvP when a healer comes along to try to save the enemy you're about to kill.
  • In PvP the 10 seconds is enough time to restealth, recover energy and do another opening move.
  • Be careful if you put any sort of DoTs or harmful affect on the person you want to CC. Otherwise the blind will be wasted.


See Rogue Poisons for information on the actual creation of poisons.

Crippling Poison
Crippling Poison slows your enemies by 70%. As a result, it is extremely useful in PvP situations (by reducing an opponents mobility) and PvE situations (by preventing mobs that run from alerting additional enemies). At level 70, a rogue typically uses Crippling Poison on an off-hand weapon in battlegrounds, applying it instantly with Shiv. Lower-level rogues without access to Shiv may run with Crippling on both weapons to increase the chance of applying it.

But with Deadly Brew, applying Crippling Poison to your weapons is not such a good idea.

Instant Poison
Instant poison is useful for increasing flat DPS. Instant Poison is typically used when a rogue wants increased DPS without the DoT associated with Deadly Poison or when fighting mobs that will not live long enough for Deadly Poison to run its course (or simply if the rogue is too low in level to learn Deadly Poison). This poison works best with daggers, especially if one is using Slice and Dice. Troll Rogues take this step even further by using Berserking. If you have fast weapons, choose Instant Poison. If you have slow weapons, Deadly Poison is the premier choice.

EDIT The slow weapon should always be in your MH and be coated with Instant Poison and Deadly Poison should be on your OH fast weapon for more procs and the ability to Shiv at higher levels (when this ability is learned).

Deadly Poison
Deadly Poison imbues the weapon with a DoT poison, which stacks up to 5 times. It is particularly useful against enemy rogues, as the DoT prevents them from entering stealth. However, the DoT also breaks the Gouge stun. As a result, using Deadly Poison is a matter of personal preference and situation. The Rupture ability, on the other hand, offers a more controlled stealth-blocker at the expense of combo points.

Also for Combat Rogues you will get the talent Savage Combat granting a party/raid-wide 4% bonus to damage every time this (or other debuff) poison is present on the enemy as of 3.1.

Mind-Numbing Poison
With Mind-Numbing Poison, every strike has a 50% chance of increasing a target spellcaster's casting time by 30% for 10 sec. The mind-numbing poison works well against casters, but it can be a close call whether it's best to just use say instant poison to kill them quicker, as rogues already have quite a few good anti-caster tactics. It can, however, provide good insurance against a caster. It is also useful when there are many casters in an area, and you need more than what is available through abilities. Additionally, it can be useful against instance bosses who cast spells and aren't immune to poison (the assistants of Sulfuron Harbinger and Majordomo in Molten Core are one example).
Wound Poison
This poison inhibits healing effects used on the target. This poison reduces all healing effectiveness by 50%. Also because it has a high frequency of proccing some rogues choose this for their off-hand over deadly poison. In addition, every successful "proc" deals a small amount of damage. Useful when you know your target is going to receive healing, and on several self-healing raid and instance bosses, such as Thorngrin the Tender and High Botanist Freywinn in the Botanica, Terestian Illhoof in Karazhan, and others.

Picking Pockets

Pickpocket is one of the bread-and-butter skills of the Rogue. It is an easy way to raise your cash flow starting at a mere level 4. Some have wondered, why pickpocket a mob when I can just kill it and take its stuff? Pickpocketing loots from a different pool, so you double your take. Here are a few tips to remember.

  • Try to be behind your target. Pickpocket has limited range and stealth is 75% level versus level. Higher level targets will often growl at you. This is a hint that you're too close, but it's also a great chance to circle your target and examine its pockets.
  • If a monster is patrolling an area, try to catch it mid-route instead of waiting for it to stop. If it stops, it can turn around and catch you mid-theft.
  • After level 22, Distract is a very good way to keep your marks in position for you to rob them. It also improves your chances of success.
  • If a pickpocket goes bad in an area full of enemies, remember to fall back on tricks like Sprint and Vanish to escape.
  • Pickpocket every enemy you can. This may seem tedious at first, more so at lower levels when you only gain 1-10 copper from enemies, but it's very much worth it and really adds up. 100 Copper equals 1 Silver, 100 Silver = 1 Gold, and you're going to have killed thousands of mobs by the time you reach level 80. If you pickpocket at every opportunity you'll make a tidy profit. At higher levels you will start to relieve enemies of 2-5 silver instead of just copper. For instance, if you Pickpocket exactly 1 million mobs (although unlikely, as that would mean roughly 2 mobs per minute of every hour of every day for an entire year (real time)) from level 1 to level 60/70, and the yield is 10 copper per Pickpocket(obviously the yield will be much higher, but bear with me), then 1,000,000 mobs x 10 copper per mob = 1000 gold. More realistically, the yield will be much greater, and you will be looking at the VERY least 5 times that amount. Hey, how about getting Epic Flying Mount Training as soon as you hit 70? (This is a bit exaggerated but the point is taken.)
  • Pickpocket mostly only works against humanoid enemies, but also against some slimes (gross) and demons, notably satyrs.It also seems to work fine against humanoid undead (e.g., skeletons and abominations).
  • You can Sap your Humanoid pickpocket target to help ensure your theft. However, this may be resisted.
  • Picking pockets provide a great opportunity to get junkboxes (increase lockpicking skill) and get free poisons - picked pockets usually hold these things, while a regular drop will not. Junkboxes have a small chance of holding unexpected items, including patterns. There are a few world drops that can appear as pickpocketed drops as well -- most notably some epic throwing weapons. Picked pockets also have a chance to yield healing potions. In addition, NPC mobs can carry a number of funny gray Easter Egg-style items, including A_Steamy_Romance_Novel and An Exotic Cookbook.

PvP Tactics

Solo PvP

Also see: Rogue PvP tactics, for more details on how to kill specific classes.

  1. Stealth is your friend but know its limitations!
    • You may want to test the full limitations of stealth if you do not already know them with a friend in a duel. (Just make sure you're not in a group with your friend, since that negates stealth for your group members.) Once you know its limitations know what different level variations do to the limitations. In solo PvP stealth is the number one priority as your best bet at winning a battle is getting that first hit in.
  2. Assess the situation.
    • If you don't think you can handle it yet or are waiting for the right moment be patient. Many times in solo PvP you will find that your enemy gives you the best opportunities if you just wait.
    • Take a cue from predators in nature and strike the weakest of a group when they wander a little too far for their friends to back them up. You can always vanish and come back for others after the weak one is down.
    • Prioritize your enemies. Nothing is more annoying than getting someone under 5% of their health, then watching their friend, whom you could have killed in a few seconds, heal them back to full health. Don't waste time on a heavily-armored warrior while the cloth-wearing mage is firing nukes at you. An alternative option to deal with a pesky healer is to kick the healer while you're dealing with the other class or better yet, blind and put the healer on pause for 10 seconds. Then you can easily finish off the healer with the other player gone.
    • Look for people sitting down, drinking or eating. Attack them. Attacking a seated player is automatically a 100% critical chance! Be wary of casters who are sitting but not drinking, particularly near capture points, as this is very often a trap, with another rogue stealthed nearby.
  3. Know your specials
    • Cheap Shot is arguably the best opener in PvP and PvE. You instantly get 2 combo points leaving you open to many options and your opponent is stuck stunned as you beat on them. Also, if you use premeditation, you'll start with 4 combo points, leading to a decent finishing move at the beginning of a duel, match, or PvE battles against mobs. Cheap Shot however isn't always the best choice depending on number of enemies, armor class of your enemies, and level difference. A well placed Ambush can instantly kill a cloth armored enemy (below level 60) and allow you to work on the tougher enemy, but it is often difficult to get behind a player in limited time, making it more useful in group PvP. Talents such as improved ambush and waylay, which slows movement and attack speed for 8 seconds after an ambush. Some classes, like the Mage can use powers like Blink to move even while stunned by a cheap shot, making it less useful on them. But since almost every mage uses Blink when stunned, it can be predicted and negated by instantly Shadowstepping after them. Additionally, in endgame PvE raids, many enemies are immune to stuns. Note however that in end-game PvP, most opponents will have a significant amount of resilience (especially cloth wearers), making ambush much less effective. I can argue that Garrote is a very important opener on some guys you just want to burst out on DoTs and DPS, for example sometimes its more useful to DOT up a warrior than stun them, because they carry talents that help them while being stunned. One's choice of openers is decided upon but an equation of various factors. For example, when opening on a highly-armored target, something like good ol' garrote may be the best choice of opener because the bleed effect bypasses the heavy armor. I've had some amazing encounters where a quick garrote, some defensive moves (like dismantle), followed by a rupture allowed me to flee with very little life, survive, while the heavy-armored class bled to death.
    • Evasion has limited use in PvP as it protects you against physical melee attacks and, to a slight degree, ranged attack, but has no effect on spell damage. Although warriors have a counterattack called Overpower which would normally make dodging a liability against them, the ability has a short cooldown and evasion while taking one overpower hit is superior to not evading at all.
    • Some may not know this but Distract does work in PvP. And boy is it fun and useful! It can be hilarious (and tactful) to throw a distract to a fleeing player on a mount. They do a 180° turn and sometimes if they are unfamiliar with rogues, it can take them awhile to get back heading in the direction they were going. In other words, even in PVP, distract can function as a quasi-2-3-second disorient on players who aren't familiar with the ability. The exact same as in PvE other than the player can move around after initial distraction. You can use this to make sure you hit them where it counts - Their backs. It is also useful to stop or redirect moving targets and allow you to catch up with them while in stealth. This works mainly from the confusion factor of the player wondering "What just happened?" and "What direction was I heading again?". It's perfect for road-side ambushes. You can often distract a straggler, getting that player separated from a moving pack, so that you're free to then attack the individual straggler instead of the entire pack. Distract can also be useful when fighting Mages, so long as it is thrown from a safe distance. Throwing a distraction alerts the Mage that a Rogue is nearby, but not your exact location. As a result mages will often waste most of their mana before you even attack, attempting to catch you with AoEs. Plus, it's amusing to see a mage running around like an idiot wasting mana. Distract does not work on NPC targets that are already in combat, however, it may be used on players who are in combat, but are not attacking. For example, when fighting a Mage, you might be counting down the Mage's cooldown for Blink, and throw a distract down between the Mage and a wall or other large obstacle right before you think they may use Blink again. Proper application will send unlucky Mages teleporting face-first into a wall, their backs to you a very ideal situation, but such a well-timed distract-during-blink maneuver is difficult to execute and implausible upon which to rely.
    • A simple Kick can turn the tide of any fight with a caster. Rogues speccing into the Combat tree can pick up Improved Kick, which adds 50/100% chance to silence the caster for two seconds. With good timing, any Rogue can effectively tie up a caster between the use of Gouge, Kick, and Cheap Shot. Kick works best when you can identify which school of spells your opponent needs most, and timing your interrupt to deny them of those spells for 5 seconds. Used with Improved Gouge, one can keep a caster from casting any spells for 5.5 seconds, and then denied their favored spells for another 5 seconds, greatly minimizing their utility. Throw in one or two Mind-numbing Poison('s) and that's +30% to their casting time. This combo can be repeated rather easily, with a Rogue going all out on an opponent for five seconds after a Kick, and then reapplying Gouge to incapacitate the opponent again, giving most opponents about 5 seconds to act between incapacitates. Be sure to Kick right before they are about to finish casting, so they will have wasted time trying. Be wary not to Kick too late, however...
  4. Poisons are key!
    • Before you begin, know what types you plan on attacking or where you are. Choosing your Rogue Poisons can be tricky and most people fail to understand some of the variables going into the fight. Your main hand and offhand weapons have the same chance to hit, but the main hand weapon will probably apply poisons more often (this happens because of the rogue's instant attacks, which are dealt by the main hand weapon). However, if the main hand weapon is very slow and the offhand is very fast, then the offhand weapon may poison the target more often. So the main-hand and/or fastest weapon is your guaranteed best estimate for the most frequent application of poisons. So if one poison is more important (often crippling) you should put it on the weapon that has a higher chance to apply the poison. Keep in mind that if your opponent has Deadly Poison applied to him and you Gouge him, he will come out of the Gouge if he takes damage from the damage over time effect of Deadly Poison.
    • In 70 PvP, a common setup is to apply crippling poison to your main hand weapon and deadly poison or wound poison to your off-hand weapon. Deadly or wound poison can then be applied manually using shiv (a level 70 ability). In 70 PvP, players tend to be more organized and it's common to see a group of DPS classes with a healer nearby. Therefore it is highly recommended to use wound poison to decrease healing effects. Deadly poison is good as well, but will be worthless if the player is getting healed. It's primary function is to keep rogues and druids out of stealth and to help slowly drain a heavily armored player's health. Crippling poison is quintessential for its slowing effect. Some rogues may choose to have deadly or wound poison on their main hand so that they can shiv crippling poison onto their target, but it's a matter of preference. Many rogues, however, prefer to have control over the stacking poison (deadly or wound) and let crippling poison work on its own.
  5. You don't always need to kill them all at once.
    • With Vanish you are able to give yourself a second chance at a battle. And talents such as "Cheat Death" truly do give you a second chance if you get extremely low health points. Use this when fighting groups to give yourself some time to regen a little and keep them on edge. A group on edge will more than likely mess up at some point rather than someone who is calm and thinks they have it under control. Remember that any DoTs on you will break your stealth, wasting your cooldown. Be sure to move away, as groups of players will generally try to find you once you've restealthed, using a variety of abilities.
  6. Potions, Food, and Bandages
    • You should always have a well stocked supply of each of these for the ability to do many things very quickly. Bandages when used right start you with a fresh slate and using food buffs as well as Thistle Tea to regen your energy bar to full on a tough opponent can help immensely. For a rogue, it is important to have as many healing items that do not share a cooldown timer as possible. An excellent "twink trick" for rogues in the lower (<60) PVP brackets is keeping some Jungle Remedy on hand which often can cure Warlock diseases, removing the damage over time, allowing for a safe Vanish.
Equipping Yourself

In PvP your primary goal is to drop Healers and cloth-wearers first, because you have the ability to sneak around the battle and get to these players with ease, this obviously makes damage a priority. While it is true that most Priest and Mage characters have really low armor class, Rogue is a more hit-and-run PvP character than a stand-and-fight type. Focus your equipment on the highest Attack Power possible, Agility being your primary and Strength being your secondary. All your equipment should have at least some bonus to Agility and you should have the highest damage range weapon in your main hand, and highest DPS weapon in your offhand that you can buy, with +damage or agility enchants, or proc enchants like Fiery, Lifestealing, Icy, Crusader, etc. Additionally, you should be well stocked in poisons and reagents before entering any sort of PvP. Carrying a variety of poisons may take up bag slots, but it allows you to adapt to any given PvP situation. Additionally, keeping a steady stash of healing potions and special consumables such as Jungle Remedy (explained above) can prove to be invaluable in PVP.

Group PvP

In group PvP, a rogue's role can be split into the following:

  1. Take out specific targets fast - especially priests and mages.
  2. Interrupt casters - kick, gouge, kidney shot, mind-numbing poison.
  3. Scout ahead for the group
  4. Save your own group's priests/mages
  5. Limited crowd control - sap, blind, stun-locks

The rogue's main strength is probably their ability to mess with the casters. Firstly, their low AC and hp makes them relatively vulnerable to quick surprise attacks. Secondly, rogues can interrupt much of their spell casting, even their instants if mind-numbing poison hits. Finally, rogues can keep them stunned for a fairly long duration.

A typical rogue might hang-back in the first seconds of battle until confusion kicks in, before sneaking around the back to where the casters are. Priests are often best attacked with a Cheap Shot to keep them stunned, but against a Mage who can Blink right out of a Cheap Shot, an Ambush or Garrote may be best. If a rogue can move quickly and catch an enemy not already engaged, then Sap is another good option to take them out of the battle briefly. At level 61 rogues get rank 7 Garrote which silences the target for 3 seconds in addition to doing damage over time. This is also a good tactic to use against mages as it prevents them from blinking away and does a decent amount of damage to their already low amount of HP. Note that in end-game PvP (level 70), opponents tend to have very high resilience making ambush without talents almost worthless (even against cloth wearing opponents). However, with talents like improved ambush and waylay, ambush can be one of the rogue's most vicious and effective openers in PVP. It is for this reason that many rogues prefer swords, maces, or fist weapons later on as burst damage isn't nearly as effective as it used to be in level 60 PvP.

Once the rogue has made their first move, there are two main options. He can either stay in the thick of things (suits the combat builds well) or he can back out and try to return to stealth (suits the assassination/subtlety rogues more). Strategic use of Vanish can also be very powerful, but he must be wary for any DoTs present.

In a Capture the Flag scenario (e.g. Warsong Gulch), a rogue can often make a good flag-bearer by staying in stealth for part of a battle, then grabbing the flag and running like hell while a mage freezes the enemy in place. Abilities like Sprint, Shadowstep and the talent Improved Sprint can give the rogue a way to cross large open spaces with extreme speed.

Raid PvP

In raid PvP go for the healers. Rogues are good at interrupting spells and making a caster's life hell. Just stealth and while everyone is working fighting at the front creep around back and get the healers and mages.

PvE Tactics

Solo PvE

A quick note: Match your play style and talent build to your weapons.

- If you stick with daggers, invest more in heavy burst damage (Assassination), as many Rogue abilities with high burst damage require daggers. You can inflict a lot of damage in a matter of seconds, but after that your damage will drop sharply. You want your enemy to be dead (well, as close as possible) in the first ten seconds or so.

- If you go for swords or other weapons, invest in more sustained damage (Combat), as your opening attacks will not be as powerful, but you will put out higher sustained damage throughout your fights.

Quick and Easy

Battle for lower level Rogues
  1. Draw aggro by throwing a couple of knives from the farthest possible distance.
  2. When the mob is near, use Gouge to immobilize him.
  3. Go behind and use Backstab.
  4. You should have two combo points by now. Use some sinister strikes as needed. If the mob still has plenty of health, use sinister strikes to accumulate five combo points.
  5. Eviscerate.
  6. Rinse and repeat (as necessary).

Alternatively, open up by sneaking up behind them, use pickpocket and then Backstab or Ambush if you are high enough.


  1. Stealth up to the mob, and use Backstab, and your enemy should now be facing you.
  2. Wait for some energy, then use Gouge and go behind the enemy and use Backstab.
  3. Use Sinister Strike while you wait for Gouge's cooldown to finish.
  4. If you want you can now use Gouge and repeat from step one (Backstab, Sinister Strike, Gouge, etc...) or
  5. Eviscerate.

At the levels 10 - 15, the mobs usually die at around step 3 / 4 so Eviscerate usually isn't necessary.

Grinding for higher level ambush Rogues
  1. Find an area with good bit of "caster" mobs, which are mobs that tend to cast lots of spells and have lower HP than the standard "warrior" mobs. The easiest way to find these mobs is to just look for mobs with a mana bar. These mobs are easy to kill for rogues for two reasons. Firstly, they have low HP; and secondly, you can disrupt their spells with either kick, gouge, kidney shot, or cast slowing poisons.
  2. Always open with Ambush.
  3. Have Kick ready, because the "caster" mob will usually turn around and start casting a 2-4 second spell. Better though is to learn their casting time and gouge at the last second, so when you break the gouge they usually begin to cast again, kick at the last possible second(Usually the standard Fire Ball, Frost Bolt, or Shadow Bolt. A few mobs will cast a short healing spell which can be easily kicked.) You want them to be casting for as long as possible, so you are gaining maximum energy and taking minimum melee damage
  4. After you disrupt the spell with kick, wait for your energy to build up near 100/100 and then do a standard gouge and Backstab. Depending on your talent build the mob should be near death by now and your kick timer should be finished so you can use it if necessary.
  5. In my experiences I was able to just ride along roads looking for caster groups, once I found a group I would grind there for hours. They're easy to kill and give just as much XP as "warrior" mobs. Most of the time I don't take ANY damage from these guys, which reduces down time between fights. I have literally killed these mobs so fast I had to wait for my cooldown on stealth before going for the next "caster" mob.
  6. contains a good list of places to grind between levels 35-60.
Grinding for higher level Combat(Sword) Rogues
  1. As with ambush Rogues, caster mobs are good for grinding quickly and efficiently
  2. Humanoids are nice for pickpocketing, and often drop cloth for bandaging yourself, which increases grind speed dramatically
  3. Open up with either a Cheap Shot or a pull with a ranged weapon
  4. SS spam with the occasional Eviscerate or Expose armor for low armor opponents
  5. When grinding on elite opponents (they give tons of xp), keep in mind that you can Blind and bandage if you get too low on health
  6. Try to avoid using Rupture on elite opponents because it will break your blind and they will be able to disrupt your bandaging
Non-stop grinding techniques
  1. Health Pots are a valuable asset and can be boosted nicely with the Quick Recovery talent in the Assassination tree.
  2. Using the right items and stunlock rotation, you can make sure you do not need to stop for around 30-40 mobs. Recommendation: Mark of Conquest[1], Essence Infused Mushroom[2], Lifesteal enchant[3], Blade of Unquenched Thirst[4], and Revenger[5].
Equipping Yourself

Rogues main attribute is Agility and should be the foremost thing equipment is chosen for. In PvE situations, it's best to also have equipment that boosts Stamina as Rogues generally have low hitpoints. Each point of Stamina equals 10 more hitpoints. Spirit is also helpful to avoid long downtimes between fights.

Also, any equipment that gives +% to crit or raw attack power is very nice, in addition to agility 1% Crit ~~ 29 Agility at level 60 (keep in mind this does not increase your attack power or dodge as straight agility would) Think of AP as strength, it gives you the same bonus: 1AP = 1 Str and vice versa

As of 3.1 there is more to keep in mind then merely Agility. A link to start off your research Stat Weights

Self-Healing as a Subtlety Rogue

UPDATE: In the 4.0.3 patch, two changes were made that alter the strategy below somewhat. First, Recuperate no longer always breaks stealth. That is, if you can pick pocket a mob without dropping stealth, you can more than likely hit it with premeditation and/or recuperate without dropping stealth. When done against neutral enemies the change your recuperate and/or pick pocket will unstealth you is virtually zero, so you can now use the trick below on them in areas populated by hostile enemies with relative safety. Second, Recuperate ticks now heal you for 2% of your health per tick, down from 3% in the 4.0.1 patch. This means that, at maximum duration, recuperate will only recover 60% of maximum health instead of the 90% it previously could. However, if you do wait the maximum duration (nearly 30 seconds) in the same time, your normal health regeneration should give you at least 10% to 15%, maybe more, so this is still a free 75% heal, which isn't anything to balk at. As an additional note that probably applied in 4.0.1 but is nonetheless worth mentioning now, when you kill a mob with combo points still on it, those can still be consumed by abilities such as Slice & Dice or, for example, Recuperate. This means that, in dungeons or areas where you are killing multiple enemies in groups, it is wise to make a habbit of tapping your recuperate button after every pull. In fast moving groups, you should be under the effects of this free HoT about 70% to 80% of the time. Since Recuperate does not conflict with any other HoT in the game (i.e. totally separate from Healing Stream Totem and other similar effects) then healers will thank you for this, especially single-target-centric healers like Holy Paladins.

Since the 4.0.1 patch, Subtlety rogues can use a combination of Premeditation and Recuperate to self-heal in the field at level 39 (when you can first talent Premeditation). To do this, find a neutral, but attackable mob. Stealth, use Premeditation, then use Recuperate. You won't attack the mob but you will gain a HoT. This can be done every 20 seconds, i.e. every time Premeditation is off cooldown, and when grinding in areas far away from a shop, it can be invaluable. Keep in mind your recuperate will break stealth, so this should be done after clearing the area of hostile mobs first. For bonus points, get 3 points in Energetic Recovery and in an area with an even mix of neutral and hostile mobs you should be able start each battle with about 5 seconds of Recuperate remaining, generating 60 extra energy during that time, i.e. enough for a free Backstab.

If you're desperate, you can also do this trick on a hostile mob. Stealth, Sap, Premeditation, Recuperate, Vanish. This is a pretty lousy way to waste your Vanish cooldown, but again, if you're desperate, a heal is a heal. Of course, if you're grinding in a very sparsely populated area, where you are unlikely to need Vanish very often, you might as well.

Advanced Combos

"Stunlocking" is a common tactic for Rogues. This basically stems from the concept that if they can't attack you, they can't harm you. This is especially effective for fighting warrior mobs, or in general anything that will deal a great deal of damage with just one hit.

Stunlock Combo - Long Version

This assumes you are not using any DOT poisons. I prefer Instant Poison on the main hand and Crippling Poison on the off hand which deals extra DPS on assassination moves, and a chance to slow the mob during normal rolls.

  1. Distract and sneak behind, remember to pickpocket if it's a humanoid, this will give you a chance to work your lockpicking after the fight as well as some extra loot.
  2. Cheap Shot (awards 2 combo points / total: 2)
  3. Backstab (awards 1 combo point / total 3), this is a great time to use Cold Blood if you have it (If you are not a dagger rogue, you can substitute Backstab for Sinister Strike)
  4. Gouge (awards 1 combo point / total 4), depending on your rolls you will usually need to wait for this one. It's tempting to go for a different ability or quickly do a 3 point Kidney Shot, but be patient (this step doesn't work. even if you have 5 pieces of tier 1 and 31 pts in assassination for 120 energy this only works if you get lucky.) Alternatively, you can wait for energy to regen to almost full and use a 3 point Kidney Shot. This should only be used if it seems the mob can be killed or very nearly killed by the two Backstabs that will follow. This technique tends to result in you losing slightly more health in a battle, so it's preferable in only certain situations (should be fine if you have some kind proc healing effect, i.e. crusader enchant, Lifestealing enchant, Darkmoon Card: Heroism, etc.; or if you're fighting a caster mob that'll probably only get one spell off)
  5. Sinister Strike (awards 1 combo point / total 5). Again, be patient, let the Gouge do the work. You will be tempted to SS too early because typically it's ready while the mob is still stunned. Let your energy keep building and at the last second SS
  6. Kidney Shot (5 point finishing move) this will award you with a very long time to deal damage. If you're lucky or are using an Assassination build, you will be awarded a "free" combo point
  7. Backstab (awards 1 combo point / total 1 or 2). Use this Kidney Shot opportunity to sneak behind, be patient and your Backstab should light up soon (Again, if you are not a dagger rogue, use Sinister Strike instead. If you have Combat Potency, you may be able to do two Sinister Strikes)
  8. Gouge (awards 1 combo point / total 2 or 3). Just as they fall out of the Kidney Shot stun, stun them again and wait for your energy to charge up. Depending on the area, you may have the room to backup and throw a dagger or two. If they are a warrior mob that is crippled by your poison, they will be slow to run at you after the thrown dagger. This gives you the extra damage of throw and the extra time for energy regen while they run. Even half a second makes a difference in combos like these.
  9. Sinister Strike (awards 1 combo point / total 3 or 4). If you are really lucky with your rolls you may be able to do a Backstab here instead which should deal more damage if you are using an Assassination build
  10. Finishing move, your choice. If the mob still has quite a bit of health left, you may find that you will end up looping through this stun lock again with another Kidney Shot, however with decent equipment fighting mobs about the same level as you, they should be almost dead if not down already. I like to throw a quick Kick in right before the Eviscerate to finish things up because the timing is almost perfect.
  11. This is an excellent stunlock sequence and a useful mnemonic in ability-shorthand is: cs bs g ss 5pt-KS bs g ss (optional: kick) EVISC.

Mutilate Stunlock

This is an alternative stunlock for mutilate rogues. Specc'd right, and assuming everything hits, your mob will only have 2 seconds to do any damage on you. If everything goes dandy, a mob of similar level will be killed in about 18 seconds. But don't be dependent on this, as this will recive a nerf when Cataclysm comes out for play. Rogues will rely on passive survivability rather than Stun locks.

  1. Cheap Shot (awards 2 Combo Points/total: 2)
  2. Gouge Let your gouge go almost until the very end.(A stunwatch addon might be useful) Imp gouge really shines here as you regen more energy than you use. (awards 1 Combo Point/total: 3)
  3. Mutilate Hopefully you administered poisons during your 4 secs of stun. Make sure you mutilate towards the end of your gouge for maximum energy regen. It's also possible to mutilate before you gouge (during the Cheap Shot) assuming poisons are already applied. This would be ideal because you will get all of gouge's duration for energy regen. (awards 2 Combo Points/ total: 5)
  4. Kidney Shot Assuming you have the Relentless Strikes talent, the KS will end up cancelling out the cost.
  5. Mutilate (awards 2 Combo Points/total: 2)
  6. Mutilate If you have relentless strike you will be able to get a second mutilate off during the 6 seconds of stun. (awards 2 Combo Points/total: 4)
  7. In ideal conditions either ruthlessness will have procc'd off the KS or Seal Fate will have procc'd off one of the mutilates and you'll have 5 combo points. If I somehow have only four combo points, I prefer to gouge for energy regen and more stunlock.
  8. Eviscerate Generally this will kill any mob about your level. If not, lather, rinse, repeat. Cold Blood, if needed. Of course, any finisher works, but this is the most ideal for PvE. Assuming everything hits, the time between the end of KS and when you can first evis (2 secs)will be the only time the target is not stunlocked. In my experience, with no +hit or +crit gear, this will work at least 75% of the time.

Modified Mutilate Stunlock Build

  1. Cheap Shot Begin your fight with two combo points and a 4-sec stun.
  2. Mutilate With Lethality and Opportunity you'll do massive damage, and with Seal Fate if you crit you'll have five combo points before the enemy even unstuns. If no crit, just use sinister strike.
  3. Wait for your energy to get to one tick short of full. This'll take a few seconds and the time between the stun ending and full energy will be the only time your enemy will be able to retaliate.
  4. Kidney Shot With Relentless Attacks the energy cost is negated so you'll be full again and with Imp Kidney Shot they'll take an additional 9% and with Find Weakness they'll take an additional 10% damage for a damage bonus of 19%.
  5. Mutilate twice. This'll be massive damage with Lethality, Opportunity, and the 19% from your procs , to really let them have it. You have time time in the stun for two and, if bad luck and one doesn't crit giving you five combo points, use sinister strike.
  6. Eviscerate This will most likely be your finisher. My lv60 Rogue was able to annihilate mobs 3-5 levels lower than me in about six seconds, so I had to wait for Stealth to cool down.
  7. If that's not enough, let your energy recover and use Gouge, then Mutilate. That should do it for tougher monsters about your level. Or you can Dismantle the target if he or she is resistant to stun.

It is in fact possible to use Deadly Poison in a stunlock build and use envenom instead of eviscerate, but you need to look for the deadly poison tick. Deadly poison only ticks once every 3 seconds so it's very possible to see it tick, hit gouge and get behind for a mutilate before it ticks again but it might take some practice. Envenom in general actually does superior damage to eviscerate (even though you wouldn't say so while looking at the descriptions) because Envenom ignores armor. Especially if you have the Vile Poisons talent maxed.

Group PvE


Whatever the situation, the key thing to remember is that you are there to deal damage and up the group's average DPS. In practice, this means two things - killing things fast, and minimizing downtime.

Killing things fast is, in general, the easy bit. The Rogue is born for this very task!

Minimising downtime typically means not dying, and letting the Tank take all the hits. Make good use of Feint if you find you're stealing aggro from the tank. Conversely, if you see a cloth-wearer in trouble, help them out and try to pull the mob off them and onto you. Resist the urge to start dps'ing like mad though, but instead make sure the tanks picks up the mob from you asap since even though you might be able to kill it eventually, you require too much healing which needlessly increases the stress on the healer.

Rogues need to be very aware of the entire area that you're doing battle in. Most classes will be content to stand behind the tank and let him hold aggro, hitting the target with their nukes, melee and ranged attacks. But you need to be behind the mob being tanked to do your best damage. This may mean you're further down the hallway than the rest of your party. Look around before you just slip behind the mob by default. Are you going to end up pulling an add (or worse a group of them) because you'll be in a threat radius that nobody else is in? Then maybe it might be better to forgo some DPS in favor of party survival.

Think about what skills you use, especially when the fight starts. You may be accustomed to open with cheap shot and backstab/mutilate a lot, or maybe you ambush first and then backstab/mutilate while solo'ing, but cheap shot will make the tank generate less rage, which makes his job harder and ambush is really even worse as it's a sure way of having the mob pound at your right away.

Instead, it might be wiser to start slow. By using Garrote to open with and following up with a rupture after a few more combo points you not only minimizes the chance you pull the tanks aggro, but you will make full use of armour piercing effect of bleeds on the usually highly armoured elites. Using deadly poison instead of instant poison further enhances this effect. How you get the combo points for your initial rupture is debatable and highly dependant on your talents, but generally backstab is not recommended until the tank establishes a good threat level.

Healing will be focused on the Tank first, and depending on the situation and how many healers there are, there may not be enough for you. Be sure to back off and use First Aid to heal yourself; healthstones and healing potions can also be useful.

For emergencies, be ready to use abilities such as Gouge, Kidney Shot and Evasion - these can make the difference between life and death for the group. Just be aware that not all enemies can be stunned, especially bosses and many enemies in large raid PvE.

Also see: Rogue PvE tactics for a guide on how to assist specific classes.

Equipping Yourself

Rogues are the most useful in group situations. Since you want to increase the group's DPS it's necessary to focus your equipment on Agility. Every point of Agility raises your Attack Power by 1, Armor by 2, your Critical Strike chance, and your chance to Dodge. Attack Power, Hit Rating, and Crit Rating are also important for rogue damage. Stamina is a secondary consideration to help keep the rogue alive. Strength, while common in rogue gear before The Burning Crusade, has essentially been replaced with the more useful Attack Power.

Engineering's Goblin Jumper Cables (it does not depend upon spec, gnomish engineers can also get it) can save the group from wiping, and they give you an excuse to vanish and save your own hide (otherwise it may anger your party members). Be sure to get the XL version asap, as it is much more effective. Chance to work is also increased if the target has not released, so tell your rezzer at the start of the instance.


Outdoors, your main role is simply dealing damage. You may, on occasion, have to help out with some Crowd Control using Sap before a pull.


Enter a dungeon and the Rogue can really start to shine. You are the group's eyes and ears. Make sure you know how to use Distract and Stealth to move about undetected. Your role will be to scout ahead and call the shots. Quite often you won't be the actual puller, but you will direct the puller to tell them what mobs are around. You will also be called upon to use Sap a fair bit.

Once battle commences, your role is much as it is in any other group situation. However, you'll often find mobs are elite and have a very high Aggro Radius, making you less effective than normal. If this is the case, be ready to use other abilities such as Rupture, and also Expose Armor if there's no Warrior (If there are Warriors, don't use it, as they'll likely need to use Sunder Armor to keep aggro, but that can't be used if Expose Armor is active on the target). A rogue can also use Feint to attempt to get the mob to switch targets from the rogue to another player if the rogue is in danger of being killed. If Feint fails, and you have some Combo Points try and use Kidney Shot. So the person tanking can try and retake the Aggro of the mob. If that fails or no combo points, use Vanish as a rogue tanking is a dead rogue, more often then not.

One of the biggest threats in an instance is that a mob will run when low on health, and call its buddies to help. Make sure to keep Crippling Poison on your weapons to prevent this happening.


If you have a friend that you want to play with, a duet combination can work well with a Rogue. Have your friend choose a profession that can pull mobs. Most caster professions work well since they have nukes that can hit at range. A Hunter partner would work well too. Pairing with a priest, druid or shaman would give the two of you some healing to reduce downtime.

The tactic you want to use is to let your friend pull the mob, then with all its hate focused on your friend, you can fire off your back attacks. Basically it works like this...

  1. Your friend calls the mob he/she is going to pull next.
  2. You turn with your back to the mob and stealth up
  3. Your friend pulls the mob toward him/her
  4. Once the mob passes you, you can then use your stealth attacks that require you to be behind the mob
  5. Build up your energy, firing off specials as you're able. Eventually the mob will turn toward you as you out threaten your friend. But by then, it will probably be almost dead.
  6. For tougher mobs, you and your friend can play ping-pong with the mob, allowing the other person to pull aggro by reducing how many specials you use (or even stop attacking all together). This way you can spread the mobs damage between you and kill off something that neither of you could have handled on your own.

If your friend happens to pull two mobs, don't panic. You'll probably find that you can kill off the first one fast enough that the one add isn't a big deal. In that case, you might want to spam your biggest threat moves to try to get aggro from the main mob. Your friend will thank you for not having both of them pounding on her.

If your friend is new to WoW, you may find that at times you pull more than you can handle. Wipeouts will happen at first. But eventually, the puller should be able to learn to judge threat radius, social mobs, etc and get better at pulling. Not only will you be learning skills that will help with bigger groups, but your friend will also be learning about pulling and aggro management that will help once you get into instances and raids.

Raid PvE

In endgame raid instances such as Karazhan, rogues are no longer called upon to perform any sort of crowd control. This is partly because the majority of mobs in these instances are immune to the rogue's stuns, and also because raid groups have more room for other classes with more reliable forms of crowd control. In some fights the rogue's ability to kick will be called upon to interrupt certain spells from being cast, but beyond that the rogue's only role is to provide melee DPS. They do this best when grouped with other melee DPS classes, as those classes usually have abilities that benefit rogues (such as the Warrior's Battle Shout, the Druid's Leader of the Pack, and the Shaman's Windfury Totem).

Movement and positioning - which are already quite important to rogues - are even more so while raiding. Attacking from behind is always ideal as it is the optimal way for melee DPS to deal damage (and necessary in the case of dagger rogues trying to use Backstab), but when raiding it becomes a matter of survival; many raid bosses have powerful cleave attacks that can kill any rogues in front of them with a single blow. There are also many powerful AoE attacks that must be either evaded or dealt with in some other manner, though these effects are usually as much a concern for other classes as they are for rogues. Further many bosses have frontal cone attacks making it necessary that no melee dps or anyone is in front of the boss save the tank. Cloak of Shadows is often useful when dealing with these effects.

See also

Go to Rogue
Go to Rogue Category