So, you're thinking of starting as a rogue? This page is intended to give a short overview of what to do over the first 10 levels or so, just to get you started on the right path. If you're looking for more of an overview of the class's abilities, see the rogue article. For more advanced topics, see the rogue tactics.
For a more general overview on starting out playing WoW, see the Newbie Guide.
Rogues are the premier melee damage-dealing class in World of Warcraft. In PvE, rogues specialise in delivering sustained DPS at close range, often topping the damage meters in raids. PvP rogues use stealth and their armory of stuns, interrupts and disengages to take out an enemy before they get a chance to react, or get away clean if they do.
The downside of being a rogue is a lack of flexibility. They have no useful way to attack from a distance, their leather armor and lack of healing skills make them vulnerable to counter-attack. If you want to get up close and personal with your enemies and hit them fast and hard, the rogue is a solid choice. If you are looking for a class with a mixture of roles and playing styles, a rogue may not be for you.
Agility, Attack Power, Haste, and Hit Rating. Agility and Attack Power are the only stats a rogue needs to worry about at lower levels (1 to about 50), then Hit Rating will become an important stat to consider. Hit Rating reduces the chance that you miss your target, as this attribute's name suggests. Haste reduces the time between attacks at all times, so this attribute is clearly important. Don't worry about Haste until you raid, because it's a newer addition and few items below high-end content have Haste.
You may want to consider the various Racial Traits when choosing your race. You might also consider the racial stats, but after the first 20 levels or so these become largely irrelevant, as the items you've gained will far outstrip any racial bonuses. For more information on these, see here.
- Dwarf - Stoneform removes bleed, poison, and disease effects, which would normally make vanishing ineffective. Mace Specialization is helpful should you chose maces as your weapons.
- Gnome - Escape Artist removes snare and root effects, which is great for PvP. Engineering Specialization helps in learning Engineering, which offers many useful items to rogues. Also, a gnome's small size can make him or her difficult to target in PvP.
- Human - Diplomacy is useful to all classes. Sword and Mace Specialization will help if you chose either of those weapons. Every Man for Himself is an excellent ability in PvP. Perception (removed from game) will help you against other rogues and Feral druids.
- Night elf - Shadowmeld allows you to disappear a second time if Vanish is on cooldown. Shadowmeld has a passive ability that makes you harder to detect while in stealth. 1% dodge is good for survival both in PvE and PvP
- Worgen - Darkflight gives you an extra speed boost, in addition to Sprint, a useful tool for PvP to escape or close in on an opponent. Viciousness gives a small improvement to critical strike rating, good in all combat situations. Aberration is especially good for rogues, due to the poor defensive nature of the class. As rogues only wear leather, Flayer can make collecting skins for Leatherworking a bit easier.
- Blood elf - Arcane Torrent and Magic Resistance are both great abilities to use against enemy casters, as well as getting a boost of energy for potential burst damage.
- Orc - Blood Fury helps to increase your damage output. Hardiness can give you an edge against other rogues and paladins. Axe Specialization will make more of your attacks land while wielding axes or fist weapons.
- Troll - Berserker can increase your damage, Da Voodoo Shuffle reduces the duration of movement-hindering effects, and Regeneration allows you to recover health in combat. Beast Slaying increases your damage against beasts and is at its best if you make your own armor.
- Undead - Will of the Forsaken is great in PvP and will make warlocks and priests much less scary. Cannibalize helps to reduce downtime while soloing.
- Goblin - Rocket Barrage gives the rogue a decent ranged attack, while Rocket Jump is an excellent movement ability. Time is Money improves attack speed, something every rogue needs. Better living through Alchemy is excellent for a rogue who choses Alchemy, which gives access to hand crafted poison, as well as health potions. Pack Hobgoblin and Best Deals Anywhere give rogues a boost financially. As with Gnomes, goblins are small targets in PvP.
In the end, your race is your own choice. If you're the person that will end up wanting the best race ("best" being in the eye of the beholder), make sure you look into this class's end-game expectations, what is expected of you as a rogue in a large raid or PvP, and which racials can make you shine on the Recount report.
Leveling and End Game
The easiest way to progress through the early levels is to simply do any and all of the quests you can find. Not only will you breeze through the first 5 to 10 levels, but you'll get useful gear and precious money. Money is particularly important so you can purchase your rogue abilities.
You will spend levels 1 to 5 in your starting town. Make sure you get all the rogue abilities you can from your trainer. Between level 5 and 6 you'll find yourself heading off to your second town and a new trainer who can teach you various things. At the second town, repeat the process - do each and every quest you can find. It's important to keep up with your abilities and your gear. Now is also an appropriate time to start training in your chosen professions.
If necessary, use Throw to pull a single mob from a crowd.
At level 4, you can learn Backstab (1 (Friendly 95)), and Pick Pocket (1 (Friendly 95)) (which requires the use of Stealth). Before opening combat with an aggressive enemy, enter Stealth and try to Pick Pocket the target if humanoid. Afterwards, open with Backstab and continue to spam Sinister Strike for 2-3 combo points. Then try to finish with Eviscerate.
(Backstab does not need to be used from stealth. If you are in a group and someone else has aggro, you can get behind and proceed to use Backstab. This move can also be used with Gouge.)
At level 6, you can upgrade Sinister Strike to Rank 2 (1 (Friendly 95))and learn Gouge (1 (Friendly 95)). Open with Backstab, then use Gouge, run behind the target, and use Backstab again. Finally, use Eviscerate to finish them off. Use Sinister Strike if necessary. Sinister Strike may also be inserted before Gouge for another combo point and added damage to Eviscerate.
At level 8, Eviscerate (2 (Friendly 1 90)) can be upgraded to Rank 2 and Evasion (2 (Friendly 1 90) can be learned. Use Evasion only when running away, or when facing multiple mobs, due to the long cooldown.
-Weapon Choice- (Consider Specialization as well)
-Dagger- Burst PvE: Assassination rogues depend mainly upon Mutilate. Subtlety rogues make heavy use of Backstab. Burst PvP: The most prevalent PvP weapon is daggers. Subtlety and Assassination specs have a reputation for being great for PvP.
-Sword- Sustained PvE: very Slice-and-Dice and Attack-Power-dependent due to Sword proc. Sustained PvP: Hemorrhage or Sinister Strike, each hit hard, and depend on spec.
-Fist- Sustained/Burst PvE: very crit-rate dependent, you will rely on Agility much more than a sword rogue in raids. Burst/Sustained PvP: larger crits than normal regardless of position due to Fist Specialization and Malice.
-Mace- PvE: Not as effective as other weapon choices due to mobs' armor working differently than players'. Sustained PvP: Varies due to the diminishing returns of armor.
-Attention Combat rogues- Do not mix and match weapon specializations. The waste of talent points is substantial and something you want to avoid.
On Soloing and Grouping
For the first 10 levels, the rogue shouldn't have much trouble soloing up to two mobs at a time around your level. You won't be able to Backstab much when soloing, so the main focus will be on Sinister Strike and Eviscerate. Try to find a weapon with high end damage for hitting those big Sinister Strikes, as this will help more than a weapon with high DPS. After level 6, you might start using Gouge to stun your opponent briefly to get behind and do a Backstab. This is one of the staple early strategies.
If you're interested in solo grinding your way to level 70, then stick to the Combat Tree and focus on low-HP mobs that you can form a route around. This will allow the rogue to excel at what they do best: consistent damage.
Grouping isn't all that different from soloing. At these levels any class can pretty much look after itself, but be ready to help out a weaker caster class if you see them under attack - always protect your healer!
Remember to "assist" the warrior or paladin if you have one in your group, to ensure you focus your party's firepower on one mob. You can do this by selecting the tank (use the F1-F5 keys to target group members) and then pressing "F". This way, mobs will die faster. If you don't have a tank in the group, agree amongst yourselves whom to assist. Although it's not all that important now, it's an important habit to get used to for later levels.
Your rogue is your character. With talent points, you have to decide how you want to build your rogue. Assassination, Combat, and Subtlety are the specializations that are available. Many, many rogues decide to invest their points in Subtlety at lower levels. In the beginning, Subtlety is a build that flows well with PvP and PvE Combat. But, if you pick Combat, and get good at it in any situation, you will be a force to be reckoned within any encounter at any time. Subtlety rogues won't present a huge threat when they can't get behind the enemy for Backstab (assuming they use daggers), or are out of their cooldowns that allow them to escape, and engage again or flee. But a Combat rogue, with Combat-based cooldowns is not dependent on an escape to gain an edge on their opponent.
The rogue can benefit directly and indirectly from many of the professions available.
If you are beginning your first character, consider taking two gathering professions. Crafting professions rarely provide any useful items before the end-game, while taking gathering professions (and selling the proceeds on the Auction House) will provide you with a much-needed income as you level. Once you reach the level cap you will find gold much easier to come by, and can quickly power-level a crafting profession.
- A useful profession for all classes, Alchemy lets you make all kinds of potions, elixirs, and flasks; many of which will fetch a fair price. You also get the passive ability Mixology, which causes you to receive a greater and longer-lasting benefit from elixirs.
- Blacksmithing allows the creation of weapons, mail and plate armor (not usable by Rogues), and sharpening or weight stones (temporary weapon enhancements). The biggest benefit of Blacksmithing is the ability to add gem slots to your own bracers and gloves; having additional high-level gems can give you a massive bonus to Agility, your primary stat as a Rogue.
- A convenient source of gems is desirable at higher levels and there are some equippable items suited to rogues.
- Offers some new abilities and some of the best headgear a rogue can have in the form of goggles. Also includes some AoE with grenades. While a fun profession, the toys made by Engineering aren't the most useful in PvE or PvP.
- Allows you to make leather armor and armor modifications. Very good for a rogue.
- Allows you a more convenient source of enchantments. The profession-unique benefits are the ability to put enchantments on rings.
- Gives you a convenient source of glyphs and a reliable source of scrolls, as well as some nice shoulder enhancements at high levels.
- Lets you make your own bags, as well as fashionable clothes if you like to roleplay. For rogues, this is mostly useful paired with Enchanting, as an easy way to make things to disenchant without needing to use the Auction House.
Start your professions early! It's usually not too expensive, and you want to ensure that the gear you create with your skills is applicable to your rogue's level.
All of the crafting professions offer several items only they can use that are good for almost any class and spec, if you wish to maximize your personal gains with your profession you should look through the endgame recipes to see which of these items appeal to you the most.
- First Aid
- Rogues can't heal, so keep your First Aid on track for a smoother and safer mission.
- The ability to drag up a chest and catch oily fish may or may not be useful depending on your other professions. Fishing is almost mandatory for cooks and tailors and good to have for alchemists, blacksmiths, leatherworkers, and engineers. This will also help your Pick Lock since many chests or boxes that are fished up must be unlocked.
- Many types of food made with cooking grant Well-Fed buffs that provide small bonuses to various stats. At high levels there are plenty of high quality dishes to be made, so keep your cooking skills sharp.
With the Cataclysm expansion, the Lockpicking skill now increases on its own without the need for training as you level. Each time you level your skill will increase automatically by five skill points.
In the past, rogues would have to travel around Azeroth to various locations to find appropriate objects to unlock or mobs to pickpocket for lockboxes to skill up their Lockpicking.
In raids, rogues generally are not considered crowd control due to the risk of sapping. Many mobs have True Sight as well. There are situations where saps are needed, however. As the primary melee DPS and more often than not, the main assist, you have a pretty tough job to make sure the raid can safely assist off you to the next target. Since you are right there with the tanks and the enemies, you have to be on your toes 110%, making sure Blade Flurry won't hit poorly placed Polymorphs or Seductions and you are attacking the main tank's target, or the target your raid master has designated aside from the tank's. Keeping Slice and Dice and Rupture up 100% of the time is the most essential skill of a Combat rogue. Remember, hunters want to be just like us, so they will not hesitate to take the trinket you have been farming for the past three months. So when you lose that roll to a hunter (oh, yes, it will happen) be prepared to count to ten. Don't stress about not topping DPS; look at Damage Done.
When the warlock is using Seed of Corruption and the mage is using all of his nifty AoE Spells, don't freak out about them leaving your single-target DPS in the dust.
Heals: You are not a tank, you are not a major form of crowd control, and you are squishy. You are not a priority. Accept this fact and move on.
Enchants: Dual Mongoose. It does stack, and it is wonderful. Learn to love your Goosey.
When choosing a set of weapons to raid with, there are a few basic guidelines. A: For your main hand, look at the maximum damage the weapon can strike for. Since Sinister Strike is an instant ability, the DPS isn't applicable. The slower the weapon in your main hand, the harder your melee swings and Sinister Strikes will land for. B: For your off-hand, look at the speed and the DPS. When you get Combat Potency the speed becomes a major stat to look at. A good weapon for a rogue's off-hand is generally going to have to be very fast.
When looking at a new piece that just dropped off the huge boss your guild downed, remember that balancing your stats is key. Ask a fellow rogue, or someone you know won't lead you astray.