So, one of the other officers in my guild wanted a compilation of guides so that when people wanted to level alts they had a quick place to look over basics and not suck. I decided to help him out and this guide was born. And since it is almost no work to port the guide over to you guys I figured that I would share. Be warned that while this guide does cover the important rogue mechanics and rotations it is going to be a bit less streamlined than an EJ guide. This is simply because I believe that there are some things we take for granted that everybody knows about the class and raiding in general that are not common knowledge throughout the raiding community. Combine this with the raid finder lowering the bar of entry into raiding this guide is going to be much more than simply "5 CP SnD 5CPR 5CPEvisc repeat." You have been warned.
Shadow Council Rogue Guide
So, you want to be a rogue but you don’t want to browse through all the raging and qqing on all the rogue forums out there. Well you’re in luck, Havock has threatened me with certain doom if i don’t cooperate in his make SC baller initiative and here is my contribution: how to be a sneaky, lowlife, backstabbing troll 101.
Each rogue spec plays pretty differently than the others so I’ll first give a brief rundown of the specs.
Combat: this spec uses either 2 slow weapons or two fast daggers. At the moment the projections say that it really doesn’t matter which. So if you want to use harder hitting attacks less often, or smaller ones more often its up to you. Combat tends to use many combo point generators and fewer finishers. It also tends to do damage in rather large burst cycles. You are completely Cooldown dependent for your true damage output and learning to manage your energy during AR is one of the key features to playing combat correctly.
Subtlety: Sub spec is probably what you think of when you imagine the rogue class. You prefer daggers and mooch off of your group to generate combo points and in an attempt to milk your finisher damage for all its worth. As sub you are going to do more active damage and always be ready to throw out a finisher soon after reaching 5 combo points in order to not waste HaT procs. Your main Cooldown in this spec allows you to act as if you were stealthed for 8 seconds and allows you to spam ambush to your hearts content. This spec really relies on combo point management to be played to its full potential.
Assasination: Mut spec is different even still. Your built in energy regeneration comes from applying and keeping up rupture 100 percent of the time. This spec only uses daggers. It emphasizes poison damage done to the target and it is the spec you’ll want to play if managing procs is your prefered poison. Mutilate generates a lot of combo points at a relatively high energy cost, but only requires the weaving of two finishers rupture and envenom. I would go so far as to say it is potentially the easiest rogue spec to play, while allowing an experienced rogue to still milk more out of it than a novice.
As you have probably figured out by now, rogues spend energy on combo point generators and then spend those combo points for hard hitting, inexpensive finishing moves. Each spec has its own primary generator. Combat has Sinister Strike (SS), Sub has Backstab (BS) and Assasination has Mutilate (mut). Your prime finishing move for every spec that you will want to always use is Slice and Dice(SnD). THIS IS THE SINGLE BEST ABILITY ROGUES HAVE HANDS DOWN. Never, ever let this spell drop. Each second you do not have the SnD buff you are losing thousands of damage. Never fail to reapply this buff. If you are close to energy capping it acceptable to clip the last 2 to 3 seconds of your SnD in order to keep it up. Anything more than that is a bad habit and you are doing something wrong. If you come to ask me questions about how to improve as a rogue and I ask you what your SnD uptime is and you tell me anything less than 100 percent I am going to tell you to go back to a training dummy and practice until your fingers fall off. Now that said, I’ll continue with saying all of the specs juggle other finishing moves based their personal priority system. It is very important that you always use the correct finisher at the right time. Now onto more specific stuff.
Minor glyphs are completely irrelevant except perhaps safe fall for a very few mechanics.
Out of the major glyphs, I would suggest the Adrenaline rush glyph if you are combat, the Vendetta glyph if you can make use of the extra uptime as Assassination, and Expose armor if you are forced to supply that debuff to the raid. Otherwise I prefer the sprint and feint glyphs over pretty much everything else
So, as much as blizzard really tried hard to make talents all appealing and equal, they pretty much made all rogue talents lackluster and unappealing for PvE. That being said there ares till a few talents that are better than others so I’ll cover every tier.
Tier 1: Your choices here are nightstalker and shadow focus and subterfuge. I personally pick shadow focus b/c it helps ease the of openers for the specs. When you get good and are confident of your own awesomeness you can try out subterfuge openings as sub but i would not recommend it as a beginner rogue.
Tier 2: Pretty much a useless tier. Nerve strike is good if you have adds in a fight that do crazy damage, otherwise Kick is a much less expensive interrupt and Combat Readiness does not work well with most raid mechanics that cause damage.
Tier 3: I personally recommend leeching poison for this tier. 10 percent of the damage you deal back in healing is pretty significant. However there is nothing wrong with taking either cheat death or elusiveness if you make sure you use feint whenever you’re taking unavoidable damage.
Tier 4: Shadowstep all day every day don’t even think about taking anything else ever for PvE. You should never need prep, and Burst of speed costs energy two huge drawbacks.
Tier 5: Prey on the weak works if adds can be stunned and need to die immediately, otherwise this tier is irrelevant.
Tier 6: Shrunken toss is not something i would really recommend playing with in pve at the moment. There are some rumblings of it being good for sub but until this is confirmed I can not in good faith tell people to pick it up in place of your normal rotation. This leaves versatility and anticipation. Both of them have pretty good arguments but I am heavily in favor of anticipation. Bonus combo points stacking on you are incredibly useful. And as it stands redirect is already on a minute cooldown and with proper planning this should be fine for most situations. Furthermore you can abuse the mechanics of anticipation to do the same thing for pretty much free. Finally Anticipation allows simplification of rotations for all specs. Everything becomes a lot more forgiving when you can bank combo points. So my suggestion is anticipation but with how easy and cheap it is to change your talents don’t be afraid to swap them if there are situations that may cater to each other.
Combat: For combat your main CP generator is going to be SS. You are going to want to keep the revealing strikes debuff up on the boss whenever you are about to either SS or use an offensive finishing move. This is pretty simple but you might want a timer to track it. Other than that you want to make sure you use Shadow Blades and AR at the same time. This is going to cause you to generate a huge amount of energy and combo points. This is by far the hardest part of combat.. Keep in mind that your finishers are going to give you back 25 energy so if you are close to capping and don’t have 10 combo points feel free to use sinister strike to try and drop your energy a little. But it is much more important to dump combo points if you do not have room for more.
Your next cooldown is killing spree, you should pretty much use this on cooldown after you have spent all of your energy. The important thing about KS is that by the time you come out of it you will have almost full energy. However that being said please be careful with killing spree, I can attest to its tendency to get you killed if use it recklessly.
Now as to your finisher rotation in simulations using rupture as well as eviscerate usually shows a small dps increase over simply using eviscerate and SnD. However, in a raid you only have so much attention to allocate to different things, and managing an extra debuff for a 1 or 2% theoretical dps increase when you can instead use that to stay out of void zones, make sure you vanish if you pull threat, or even feint at the right time to reduce damage taken from unavoidable boss mechanics. Furthermore if you can hit a second target with blade flurry Eviscerate damage transfers while rupture doesn't. This means you should always use Eviscerate if BF is up; otherwise it is technically preferable to use rupture in your rotation you’ll have to make the decision whether juggling the extra debuff is worth it or not.
Going back to Blade Flurry, If you can cleave, you must cleave. This ability is so good, i would actually go so far to say that its pretty much broken. The penalty of -20% energy regeneration is severely outpaced by effectively doubling all direct damage you do to your target.
Combat’s unique form of energy regeneration is Combat Potency which has a chance to proc every time you do damage with an offhand attack. This combined with main gauche is what allows fast weapons to compete with slow weapons for combat. The reason I bring this up (other than you should just know this) is to point out that when energy pooling never allow your energy to rise above 75-80. If you get much higher than that, and get a Combat Potency proc you are going to lose out on energy and therefore damage.
So, the TL/DR is keep up the revealing strikes debuff, keep up SnD with whatever combo points you have when it falls off, do five combo point eviscerates until your three key dies. Use your cooldowns on cooldown, be very careful if you are using AR during bloodlust and be a cleaving tool whenever you can be.
Sub: As a sub rogue you are going to have to manage a few different mechanics than combat. The first thing is that Sub rogues need to keep up the hemo debuff. This gives a very efficient energy to damage conversion when you combine the initial hit and the dot. After that you want to use backstab to generate combo points. From there you are going to have a finisher priority that looks as follows
You are going to feel like a simplified affliction lock of old. The important thing to note here is you are not going to be able to feasibly practice sub on target dummies. Without a group to spoonfeed you combo points through Honor Amongst Thieves it is pretty much going to be impossible to keep this rotation going strong so I would recommend doing raid finders to practice, even if you can’t win loot rolls. Also, you should keep in mind that this specs bonus energy regeneration is rolled into slice and dice so it should never be something you have to think about as keeping SnD up should be as natural as breathing to you.
Now for what you are playing this spec for, Shadow Dance. Shadow Dance allows you to act as if you are stealthed for 5 seconds. As simple as this sounds it requires proper planning to execute correctly. First of all try to make sure your SnD and Recuperate are at almost max duration, then you need to pool energy until you have almost 100. Now, Cast shadow dance. The first thing you are going to want to do is Ambush twice, this is going to give you enough combo points to either rupture or Evisc depending on your priority. After that you are going to want to cast premeditation and then spam ambush until you are out of energy. This is likely going to leave you with over five combo points so note you are going to have to add in an extra evisc if you did not take the anticipation. Furthermore you are going to want to use vanish about 30 seconds after you use shadow dance whenever possible. When you vanish you are going to want to premed and ambush as quickly as possible to keep your dps going. I couldn’t tell you right now whether you should stack shadow blades with shadow dance or not, its something you are going to have to experiment with.
Assassination: Mut spec is pretty straightforward. You are going to have two main combo point builders, Mutilate from 100% to 35% and then Dispatch both from 35-0% and whenever you receive a blindside proc. At the beginning of the fight you are going to want to open with a mutilate then immediately use SnD. Then you’re going to want to mutilate to 5cp as quickly as possible to apply rupture. After that, Every time you do a 5 CP envenom your SnD will be refreshed to its full duration. So your finishers are either rupture if its alost fallen off, or envenom.
Now, you should hands down take anticipation for mutilate. This allows you to use 5cp envenoms every time you envenom. If you do not take anticipation, while you are above 35% life on the boss, you are going to want to mutilate until you have 4+ combo points and use a finisher. This is because if you mutilate at 4 combo points you guarantee to waste one and likely are going to waste 2 which is simply more inefficient than utilizing an underpowered envenom. Also to make the most out of your envenoms you want to pool energy as high as possible before using them. This is because of the bonus poison application granted to you afterwards also applies to special attacks. This also means you never want to clip envenom buffs if you can help it.
If you are an astute player and study your parses you are going to notice that rupture does rather pitiful damage and probably ask yourself why you are even bothering to spend energy and combo points on it. The answer is the venomous wounds passive you get for being Mut spec. This skill gives you a 75% chance to do additional damage and grants you energy every time your rupture does damage to a target. Both of these things indirectly prop up rupture and make it a mandatory finisher for assassination. This being said you want to attempt 100% uptime on rupture as well as SnD. Furthermore you are always going to want to use full cp finishers for rupture because of damage scaling and energy returns on relentless strikes. While you are not going to be able to have the insane envenom buff uptime that was present in Cata you can still manage to weave these finishers in a way that both allows for 100% rupture uptime and still manages to use the envenom buff to its full effect.
As far as cooldowns go for assassination you should use them when you know you are going to be on the same target for the duration. You should then proceed to use them as soon as they come off of cooldown. As a quick note, this is the spec that I recommend the most for newer rogues. The playstyle is straightforward yet it still manages to teach you proper cooldown, energy and combo point management without punishing you to hard for your mistakes.
Advanced Rogue trickery
Advanced cooldown usage: Now above i recommended for each spec to utilize cooldowns whenever they are up, as soon as they are up. This is a reasonable rule of thumb and you can’t go too wrong playing like that. However, there are ways to wring more dps out of your cooldowns and I’ll give you some tricks to doing so.
For adrenaline rush you are going to want to make sure that if you have any haste cooldowns on you, be them trinkets, berserking or bloodlust you run yourself dry of energy before using AR. This will help alleviate energy capping issues. However, even with this if you have a string of lucky combat potency procs you are not going to be able to prevent capping. This is another example of where anticipation can shine because if you do happen to build up too much energy and managed to keep your combo points low during the first stages of AR you can pool CPs to try and drop your energy reserves with the more expensive SS.
For all cooldowns it is generally beneficial to line them up with Bloodlust. However, do not sacrifice an extra usage for the sake of Bloodlust unless you have a situation where burst on demand far outweighs normal usages (classic example being XT’s heart).
Target Swapping: As a rogue target swapping can be a pain. Its a lot easier now than it has ever been but there are still a few tricks to try and help you out. Redirect is your friend, if you are target swapping as mut spec it is always a good idea to build 5 combo points and redirect allowing you to immediately envenom or rupture your new target. What is more important is what you do with your energy and how you move. If the distance you move is going to take you longer than two or three seconds, you need to make sure that you spend all of your energy before swapping. Energy capping is pretty much a sin as a rogue and a few seconds of not attacking really puts you at risk of this.
The other important thing to keep in mind when you are switching target is dps uptime. Every second you are not attacking you are completely useless to your raid. As a rogue you bring neither spot healing, nor “oh shit” raid cooldowns. Because of this you have to know how to move efficiently. As easy as this sounds it is not uncommon to be lax about this in an actual raid when there are void zones all over and you are tunnel visioning your energy bar. Truthfully, concise, proficient movement is one of the things that separates great raiders from adequate ones regardless of class.
Shadowstep has a 24 second cooldown. This should be used when the distance to travel is the furthest. If you are going to do a couple of swaps right in a row plan it out and maybe pop sprint for the shorter distance and then use shadowstep for the farther one. Remember, ShS can now be cast on friendly targets. This means that anything from your healer or huntard, to a shaman’s totem can be a useful target if you have good mouse accuracy and a need to move right this second.
The next thing to remember is that you have cloak of shadows; quite possibly the single most broken defensive cooldown in the game for PvE content. Many debuffs you get from bosses that force you to move out of the raid can be immediately cloaked, negating any dps loss they may incur on you. On new bosses do a little experimentation, cloak is categorized as a remove effect and not a dispel effect meaning that many times when you get a bomb type debuff it is completely safe to cloak it in the raid without negative effects. Make sure you know for a fact you won’t kill your raid though, because there are mechanics that do not behave this way. Furthermore, if you are target swapping and there is a puddle of evil killer goop on the ground and you have to be somewhere right now it is perfectly acceptable to cloak and prance through the bad stuff of doom as if it were a field of daisies.
Dead rogues do no damage
This is something that I even struggle with sometimes for various reasons. The first is that we are not durable. If you manage to rip aggro from a tank, unless you have a very quick finger for vanish you are likely going to get your face stomped in. This generally isn’t too much of a problem on single target fights, but as a combat rogue any time you use blade flurry you need to assume that your tanks are not going to be able to keep up with you on both targets for the first minute or so of the fight and while it is unequivocally their job to put out so much threat that you could never hope to catch up, it is your job to make sure you don’t die. “My tank didn’t produce enough threat” is not a valid excuse for why you are laying face down begging for a Brez. Next, do not let yourself get distracted by your cooldowns. I have found that this is mostly a problem for combat and the flood of energy regeneration from AR. You need to recognize that you are at your most vulnerable to raid mechanics at this time due to the attention required from your rotation. Even the best players in the world recognize that a wasted dps cooldown is better than being dead. The stone guard in Mogu’shan Vaults decides that during your AR you should be fire chained to a holy pally half-way across the room it is your job to man up, take the dps hit and get to that guy as fast as possible. His job is more important than yours in an immediate sense and you need to recognize that.
I have found that the best way to condition yourself into not dieing is to have your resident snarky, spoiled ranged dps player make fun of you mercilessly every time you die. I’m quite sure he not only be happy to oblige, but point out how you are dumb for rolling a melee dps to begin with. And when all else fails in your attempts to not die, glyph feint and use it when you do something dumb. Also as a tip do not forget that vanish breaks snares, this can and will save your life in raids (I’m lookin at you frost bombs that like to chain freeze you in the stone guard encounter).
Know the boss fights:
This is pretty simplistic but know what you can abuse in each bossfight. If cloak makes it so that you can ignore mechanics, don’t be afraid to do so. If shadowsteping to your linked partner when you have fire chains pops up saves both your lives do so without hesitaion. If there is a mechanic that you can vanish immune (which I'm not 100% sure is still in the game atm but is a good example of knowing how to exploit mechanics) learn how and get that extra 20 seconds of dps on professor putricide so you can LOL at your guild mates who simply can’t compete in damage with the overpowered rogue. (I'm not 100% sure vanish immuning things still works but is a good example of knowing how to exploit mechanics.)
Energy Pooling: I have mentioned this a few times before in this guide and i want to both explain what it is and why you should practice it. The what of this is easy, sit on energy and let it build up instead of spending it as you get it. Now, the why tends to be a bit less intuitive and for this we need to look at the way rogues do damage.
For all of our specs we do an incredible amount of “passive damage” And what i mean by that is not only the massive amount of auto-attack damage we do, but also things like poison applications and bonus combo point generation on different abilities. These are things that just seem to happen to you and at first glance might seem a bit beyond your control. But, energy pooling allows you to exploit these mechanics to squeeze more dps out of your rotation. The envenom buff is the straight up easy example of this. As i stated before the bonus poison application apply to every attack you do during the buff including yellow attacks. This means if you can pool energy and get one more Mutilate off during the buff you are potentially getting 20k more damage out of that 55 energy than you would have if you had not pooled and used the attack at a less than optimal time.
And that is the long and short of it. By energy pooling we can squeeze more damage out of the finite amount of energy available to us over the course of a fight. I know it is probably in your bones as a rogue to want to spam your abilities as fast as you can all the time. I mean we have had the shortest gcd in the game for a long time. Fight that urge. Think clearly and know when to spam until your keys break and when to be patient and wait for the right moment to strike.
Gearing for a rogue is rather straightforward. For weapons, take them as they become available. If you have higher item level weapons that are good for combat but unusable for the other specs suck it up and play to your gear. I suppose if you’re an alt you can maybe ignore this but if you are trying to be the best rogue you can be, man up and do the right thing.
Agility is going to be your best stat hands down. The rule of thumb I use is that 1 point of Agility is about 2x better than any other stat. That being said socket bonuses and secondary stat gems are potentially a lot better this expansion so look at them closely when making gemming decisions. Other than that here are the stats you want in their general order. Please note that I stole this straight from Pathal’s guide on EJ because I don’t have the time to explain to you why this is true. But if you want to know more about your class (which if you want to be awesome you do) head on over there and wade through the crazy math to understand why all of this is true.
The link to his guide is :
http://elitistjerks.com/f78/ The threads: The art of combat, Assasination in the mists and Subtle ways of subtlety are his guides.
And while his guide makes some assumptions about the baseline knowledge of his audience I don’t quite agree with he is the man.
Stats by awesomeness for combat/sub
2. Yellow hit (aka hit to 7.5%)
3. Expertise to 7.5%
As you can see except for main hand weapons these two specs gear almost the same. Mut is slightly different however due to most of your damage coming from poison sources.
2. Yellow hit (aka 7.5%)
4 Expertise to 7.5%
As you can see if you have a specific spec you are playing please remember to reforge your gear correctly. You would be surprised how much having your gear reforged correctly really helps your damage. The reason I have not simply given you EP stats is mostly because that non-personalized EP stats really are not too much more effective than simply a list of prioritzed stats. Since they vary with every upgrade you get, there are going to be times when it is beneficial to take a crit socket bonus and others where crit is so bad for you it won’t be.. But without a personalized set of stats you are simply hedging your bets and hoping you are correct. If you want a set of stats there will be tools out there that can help you do so. I know there may not be too many at the moment but as always there are people sinking their free time into fixing that problem.
As a note this guide is not completely exhaustive. As you get better there are other subtle things you can do to improve your damage. However, I have covered the most critical parts of rogue dps and the other techniques are currently beyond the scope of this guide. If there is an extreme desire, I may update some of those in over time but I make no promises.
Thats about it, as i think of more things I’ll add them and if you have any criticisms or questions feel free to either post them below or hit me up in game. If I’m not around feel free to send me an in-game mail if all else fails. Good luck, and I hope your quest to put a dagger through the ribs of Garrosh Hellscream for Vol’jin is successful.