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Rogue Leveling Guide for WotLK Classic
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Rogue Leveling Guide for WotLK Classic

Rogue is a unique DPS class, initiating combat from the shadows as being one of the few classes that can use Stealth (Druid being the other). Rogues can deal not only large amounts of damage to a single target but also provide large amounts of Crowd Control with the many tools from their arsenal. 

Yet, being focused more on killing one target at a time, it can be pretty daunting to level up this class. That’s why, through this leveling guide, you will be able to reach 80 on WotLK Classic as fast as possible without sacrificing power along the way.

Advantages

Let’s start with why one should play as a Rogue Class. And there is a simple reason: It’s one of the best DPS classes in WotLK Classic, not only in PvE but in PvP too. 

Assassination and Combat Rogue are really high in the DPS rankings for PvE content, with Unholy and Frost Death Knights and Affliction Warlock. Meanwhile, Subtlety Rogue also sits high in PvP and 2v2 Arena (if paired with a Shadow Priest). Although it falls short in 3v3 Arena, dominated by Paladins, Elemental Shamans, Warlocks, and Unholy Death Knights.

Rogues shine in high single-target damage, which, combined with stealth mechanics, usually starts with the upper hand in combat thanks to the element of surprise (and using skills only available during this state). They are outstanding at controlling the pace of the battle, as they can incapacitate and stun several enemies to gain time and reset. And even if everything gets out of hand, they can rely on skills like Vanish to disengage. 

Rogues use Energy as the main resource for abilities, which helps diminish the number of provisions that you need before and in combat. Another resource is the Combo Points, which enhances some of your skills (Finishers), and the correct management of this two makes the difference between a good and a bad Rogue player.

Disadvantages

However, Rogues must be at an advantage at all times. If things turn the other way around, they are screwed. It’s a squishy melee class; thus, you will become an easy target without proper execution in combat. Limited on using Cloth and Leather armor means that your defense will be low most of the time. 

Then, besides using Sprint (a skill that boosts your Movement Speed but has a 5-minute cooldown), they have low mobility. Also, they lack sustain, and Rogues are dependent on eating food and using bandages for healing. In other words, they lack survivability at all.

Gear will be another concern for any Rogue, as most of its damage comes from weapons rather than skills. In fact, Rogues prioritize upgrading their weapons rather than leveling their skills and spells.

It’s a hard class to master, but really rewarding once you know what to do in every situation.

Recommended Races

Each Race in World of Warcraft has unique abilities and traits. Although one might choose a race and faction for roleplaying or because they like it lore-wise, if you are not interested in that sort of thing and want to optimize your Rogue character, there are Races that may have better benefits than others. Luckily there are options for both factions.

Alliance

For Alliance players, a Dwarf Rogue is pretty strong in PvP encounters thanks to the use of its racial ability, Stoneform (it cleanses you from ongoing damage effects like poison and bleeding and gives you 10% physical damage resistance for 8 seconds), and the Mace Specialization. 

As a second choice, we have Humans, as they have the racial ability Every Man for Himself, which you can activate to remove any stun effect and specialization with Swords and Maces. 

In third place, you can opt for being a Gnome, who has a similar racial ability with Escape Artist, but this removes any immobilization and movement speed reduction effects. More situational than the other two, although it has a 1-minute cooldown against 2 minutes for Stoneform and Every Man for Himself.

Horde

For Horde players, Orc ends up being the best race for Rogues, thanks to two factors: Blood Fury (once activated, it increases your attack power and spell power for 15 seconds and scales with your level) and Hardiness (passively increases your Stun Resistance by 20%). 

The second choice would be Undead, as its active ability, Will of the Forsaken, eliminates any Fear, Charm, or Sleep effect on you, which is great for PvP and some Dungeons and Raids. But also, they have Cannibalize (eats a corpse of a Humanoid or Undead, regenerating 7% of total health and mana every 2 seconds for 10 seconds) that is very useful for Rogues as they lack healing abilities even outside of combat. 

The third option to keep an eye on is a Troll Rogue: more experience killing Beasts from the passive trait Beast Slaying, 20% less duration of impairing movement effects (from Da Voodoo Shuffle), and increased health regeneration by 10%. 

Stat Priority Through the Leveling Process

Rogue is pretty simple when discussing which Primary Stat one should prioritize. However, it leads to some decision-making, as you may want to be a pure damage Rogue or have some sustain and health.

  • Agility: It’s the most important stat for Rogues. It increases your Attack Power, Critical Strike chance, and Dodge chance. It’s useful in every aspect for Rogues and what you should seek upon upgrading your gear.

  • Strength: This is where you decide if you want to have more damage, sacrificing some survivability. Strength will give you some extra damage but not much more.

  • Stamina: It would be your second option if you want to increase your health pool. You could consider going for Stamina over Strength during your leveling process and switch when you are reaching towards end-game stages if you want to do more damage.

  • Spirit: More health regeneration is not bad for a class that lacks any, but you should never prioritize Spirit over the other three stats.

  • Intellect: You should discard getting more intellect as a viable option. It gives very little value to Rogues.

Then, we have some secondary stats that you should consider over others:

  • Attack Power: Increases the damage dealt for many of your skills. You are a DPS class; you will be focused on increasing this stat by any means.

  • Critical Strike Rating: What is better than doing lots of damage? Deal even more damage! Having a high chance of doing Critical work is perfect for your Finishers skills, which are the skills that do more damage to your class.

  • Haste: It increases the speed of all of your attacks. This synergizes excellently with poisons, as you can apply more stacks in less time.

  • Hit Rating: This is another great stat for Rogues, but you will rarely find the good gear that provides a significant amount to focus on getting more Haste.

Talent Tree

Rogues struggle leveling against multiple mobs. Their solo leveling speed is pretty bad as their strength radicates in single-target burst damage. So, for leveling, you don’t have much of choice but distribute your Talent points on the Combat Tree. This is the tankiest build for PvE leveling spec, as it also provides the few options that Rogues have of dealing AoE damage and chain-kill mobs.

The good news is that you can go for a Dual Spec later at Level 40, which you can purchase from any class trainer. Although, it will cost you 1000 gold. Then, you can switch between Combat spec and go into Subtlety or Assassination tree.

Next, we’ll see how you should level your Combat Tree to be optimal for PvE and leveling:

TALENT NAME

TALENT DESCRIPTION

CHARACTER LEVEL

Improved Sinister Strike

Reduces the Energy cost by 5 (Rank 2)

10-11

Dual Wield Specialization

Increases the damage done of your off-hand weapon by 30% (Rank 3)

12-14

Improved Slice and Dice

Increases the duration by 50% (Rank 2)

15-16

Precision

Increases your the chance to hit with weapons and poisons by 5% (Rank 5)

17-21

Dual Wield Specialization

Increases the damage done of your off-hand weapon by 50% (Rank 5)

22-23

Endurance

Reduces the cooldown of your Sprint and Evasion abilities by 30 seconds, and increases your Stamina by 2% (Rank 1)

24

Lightning Reflexes

Increases your Dodge chance by 6% and your melee hasting by 10% (Rank 3)

25-27

Aggression

Increases the damage of your Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate by 6% (Rank 2)

28-29

Blade Flurry

Active Ability - 2-minute cooldown

Increases your attack speed by 20% and your attacks strike an additional nearby opponent. Lasts for 15 seconds (Rank 1)

30

Hack and Slash

Gives you a 5% chance of getting one extra attack  on the same target if you are hitting with a Sword or an Axe (Rank 5)

31-35

Blade Twisting

Increases the damage done by Sinister Strike and Backstab by 10%

Your damaging melee attacks have a 10% chance to Daze the target for 8 seconds (Rank 2)

36-37

Aggression

Increases the damage of your Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate by 12% (Rank 4)

38-39

Adrenaline Rush

Active Ability - 3 minute cooldown

Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 100% for 15 seconds (Rank 1)

40

Vitality

Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 25% (Rank 3)

41-43

Weapon Expertise

Increases your expertise by 5 (Rank 1)

44

Combat Potency

Gives your successful off-hand melee attacks a 20% chance to generate 15 Energy (Rank 5)

45-49

Surprise Attacks

Your Finishers moves can no longer be dodged

The damage dealt by your Sinister Strike, Backstab, Shiv, Hemorrhage, and Gouge abilities is increased by 10% (Rank 1)

50

Savage Combat

Increases your total attack power by 4%

All physical damage caused to enemies you have poisoned is increased by 4% (Rank 2)

51-52

Weapon Expertise

Increases your expertise by 10 (Rank 2)

53

Unfair Advantage

Whenever you dodge an attack, you strike back for 50% of your main hand weapon damge. This cannot occur more than once per second (Rank 1)

54

Prey on the Weak

Your critical damage is increased by 20% when your target has less health than you (as a percentage of total health) (Rank 5) 

55-59

Killing Spree

Active Ability - 2-minute cooldown

Step through the shadows from enemy to enemy within 10 yards, attacking an enemy every 0.5 seconds with both weapons until 5 assaults are made, and increasing all damage done by 20% for the duration. Can hit the same target multiple times. Cannot hit invisible or stealthed targets. (Rank 1)

60

Unfair Advantage

Whenever you dodge an attack, you strike back for 100% of your main hand weapon damage. This cannot occur more than once per second (Rank 2)

61

Endurance

Reduces the cooldown of your Sprint and Evasion abilities by 60 seconds, and increases your Stamina by 4% (Rank 2)

62

Malice (Assassination)

Increases your critical chance by 5% (Rank 5)

63-67

Deflection

Increases your Parry chance by 6% (Rank 3)

68-70

Riposte

Active Ability - 6 seconds cooldown

A strike that becomes available after parrying an opponent’s attack. This attack deals 150% weapon damage and slows their melee attack speed by 20% for 30 seconds. Awards 1 combo point (Rank 1)

71

Ruthlessness (Assassination)

Gives your melee finishing moves a 60% chance to add a combo point to your target (Rank 3)

72-74

Remorseless Attacks (Assassination)

After killing an opponent that yields experience or honor, gives you a 40% increased critical rating on your next Sinister Strike, Hemorrhage, Backstab, Mutilate, Ambush, or Ghostly Strike. Lasts for 20 seconds (Rank 2)

75-76

Lethality (Assassination)

Increases the critical damage bonus of all combo point-generating abilities that do not require stealth by 18% (Rank 3)

77-79

Vigor (Assassination)

Increases your max Energy by 10 (Rank 1)

80

Combat Rotation (PvE)

Fighting with a Rogue character revolves around incapacitating your target and building Combo Points (up to five) for your Finishers. Its abilities are categorized as Openers (for example, Cheap Shot, Garrote, and Ambush), Builders (Backstab, Sinister Strike, Hemorrhage), Finishers (Eviscerate, Slice and Dice, Kidney Shot), and Cooldowns (Vanish, Killing Spree, Adrenaline Rush).

  • Openers are the skills you use to initiate a fight. This usually awards Combo Points or will stun your target.

  • Builders are skills that give you more combo points.

  • A Finisher is the big damage dealer. These skills will “upgrade” the more combo is set up on your target. For example, Eviscerate will deal more damage, while Slice and Dice will increase its duration.

  • Cooldowns are skills that have big timers to be available again. So, you should beware of when and how to use them.

With this in mind, a basic rotation that you could do is: 

  • Single Target: Opener => Sinister Strike x5 => Eviscerate

  • Vs. Tougher Enemies: Opener => Sinister Strike x1-2 => Slice and Dice => Sinister Strike x5 => Eviscerate

  • Multi-Target (vs 2): Opener (consider Garrote) on Target #1 => Slice and Dice => Blade Flurry on Target #2 => Sinister Strike x5 => Eviscerate

  • Multi-Target (vs 3+): Opener (Garrote) on Target #1 => Slice and Dice => Blade Flurry on another Target => Adrenaline Rush => Evasion => Repeat the combo “Sinister Strike x5 + Eviscerate + Slice and Dice” twice

When fighting multiple enemies, you can use grenades for AoE damage. If you need to retreat for healing, you can use Blind and incapacitate or stun any other enemy, then apply your bandages. Keep Vanish for dire situations.

While playing, you will discover how to chain more skills against stronger enemies and use different attack rotations.

Equipment

This is crucial for Rogues as they depend exclusively on their weapon stats to deal damage (with few skills that can scale with better ranking and level - a notable exception is Eviscerate). 

They can use Swords, Axes, Maces, Daggers, and Fist Weapons for melee; and Crossbows, Bows, Guns, and Thrown Weapons for range combat. Even though you may want to use your best weapon, focus on using Swords and Axes to proc Hack and Slash. You should prioritize slow, one-handed, heavy-hitting weapons in your main hand. Many skills, like Sinister Strike, are based on your main-hand weapon damage. Ignore its DPS value at all.

For your off-hand, you should prioritize a fast weapon. It is the other way around here, as you want to focus on its DPS value rather than total damage. And you want a fast weapon so you can apply stacks of poison into your enemies and proc the skill Combat Potency.

Some notable main-hand weapons are Bloodrazor (Level 45), Krol Blade (Level 51), Assassination Blade (Level 52), and Ebon Hilt of Marduk (Level 54). For off-hand weapons, you should consider Venomspitter (Level 55), Bashguuder (Level 55), and The Cruel Hand of Timmy (Level 56).

One more tip: at level 50, all classes receive a specific quest that will take you to the Sunken Temple. For Rogues, completing this quest will give you three choices as rewards: Duskbat Drape, Ebon Mask, and Whisperwalk Boots. Although the first two give you good stats for your class, the boots offer a rare boost to your Stealth skill, upgrading it one more level, and you can use it at any time that you need be more…” stealthy.”

Poisons

Undead Rogue poisoning her weapon

Not only having a better weapon is crucial for Rogues. But the use of poisons is part of the DNA of any Rogue character. You can get Poisons from vendors (named Shady Dealers) that usually are close to the trainer. They act as enchantments, and you want to have poisons always applied to your weapons. 

These are some of the poisons you want to consider having on your inventory:

  • Deadly Poison: Unlocked at Level 30. Once it stacks 5 times, it will apply the poison used on the other weapon. Naturally, you will enchant your off-hand weapon with this.

  • Instant Poison: Unlocked at Level 20. It’s the most basic of all, but the first that you will get. It adds Nature damage per second.

  • Crippling Poison: Unlocked at Level 20. you will use this more on PvP or against some Elite enemies, as it slows the opponent’s movement speed severely. 

  • Mind-numbing Poison: Unlocked at Level 24. Situational. It’s ideal against caster characters as it extends the cast time of spells.

  • Wound Poison: Unlocked at Level 32. Another one is for situational uses. It reduces the healing of your enemies. 

  • Anesthetic Poison: Unlocked at Level 68. Even more situational than the other poisons, as it dispels one Enrage effect.

Professions

Rather than thinking of leveling a crafting profession to make your own equipment, you should consider leveling a profession for additional stats and traits for your class or complement some specialization.

  • First Aid: It is a must-have for Rogues, as they lack any kind of healing. First Aid will increase your leveling efficiency because bandaging up is much faster than stopping to eat food. 

  • Mining and Engineering: With engineering, you can craft useful gadgets not only for your early leveling process as its best items come to play on end-game scenarios. It provides grenades, which are very useful for dealing AoE damage. And pairing engineering, you have mining as a gathering profession. It provides materials and grants the bonus passive trait Toughness, which increases your Stamina by 3 on 60 Mining, and goes to 60 Stamina at 450 Mining. 

  • Skinning: Just like with mining, you should level up Skinning to have Master of Anatomy, which increases your Critical Rating by 3 at 75 up to 40 at 450 Skinning.

Conclusion

Rogue one of the most difficult classes to master in WotLK, but so rewarding once you know how to use it.

Using the Combat Rogue tree as a leveling spec could not be the most interesting way to play. But the Dual Spec eases so much pain on changing rogue specs for single target damage. Overall, it is one of the most rewarding and best classes to master in WoW.

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