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Starting a rogue

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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.

Introduction

Rogues are the premier melee damage-dealing class in World of Warcraft. In PvE, rogues specialize 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, it's difficult to look past the rogue. If you are looking for a class with a mixture of roles and playing styles, a rogue may not be for you.

Primary attributes

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.

Race selection

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.

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

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.

Levels 1-3

Rogues start with [Sinister Strike] as their main energy-using ability. [Eviscerate] becomes available from a trainer at level 3 for 60c (or slightly less with Reputation discount). Eviscerate is your introduction to the combo points system: rogues attack using certain abilities (Sinister Strike in this case) to build up combo points. Finishing moves like Eviscerate consume all of the accumulated combo points, doing higher damage for each point used.

Another ability is sort of available at level one: [Mutilate]. This skill requires a lot of energy, but it deals a large amount of damage in one burst, strikes instantly, and generates two combo points. As of 4.2.2, the Spells page says that you need to see a trainer to learn Mutilate, but that's a bug; it is available from the start. To use this skill, you'll first need to equip two daggers, one in your main hand and one in your off-hand. To get around the bug, you'll need to create a macro (see that page for details) and add it to your toolbar like you would any other ability. The macro is:

#showtooltip Mutilate
/cast Mutilate

Levels 4-5

At level 5, you can learn [Stealth] (1s 42c before rep discount). As the name implies, this allows you to move without being seen. You are not completely invisible, however; higher-level characters and mobs can still see you, and Stealth is broken as soon as you attack an enemy. This is a staple Rogue talent, and will become much more useful when combined with other skills. From now on, you'll usually open fights by Stealthing and sneaking up behind the target.

Most of your quests at this point will involve killing baddies or retrieving items. Take this time to set up your toolbar and get into the habit of building combo points and then using a finishing move to dispatch your opponents. Between levels 3 and 6, you'll get quests taking you further away from the settlement, eventually leading you to your second town.

Levels 6-10

When you arrive at the second town, look around for profession trainers. Characters can take up to two primary professions and any or all of four secondary professions (though the fourth requires that you own the Cataclysm expansion. The rogue professions page provides rogue-specific advice, but the short version is that first-time players should take two of the gathering professions (Mining, Herbalism, and Skinning), because these professions provide income at the early levels. You'll progress faster if you have enough money for training, consumables, bigger bags, and eventually a mount. If you don't find a trainer for the profession you want, just wait until you reach a capital city; they have trainers for every profession. The second town usually offers a quest to take something to the capital.

At level 7, you can learn to [Pick Pocket] (2s 84c). Pick Pocket only works on humanoids, and requires the use of Stealth; before opening combat with an aggressive enemy, enter Stealth and try to Pick Pocket the target. Afterwards, open with Sinister Strike or Mutilate, and continue to spam Sinister Strike for 2-3 combo points. Then try to finish with Eviscerate.

At level 8, [Ambush] (3s 90c before rep discount) is available. This ability is available while in Stealth and standing behind the target. It causes a large amount of damage and generates two combo points, which makes this a good opening move. Follow up with Sinister Strike or Mutilate to generate combo points, then finish with Eviscerate.

[Evasion] (5s 52c) can be learned at level 9. Evasion makes it easier for you to avoid enemy attacks, but it has a long cooldown. For now, it's best used to facilitate a getaway or when facing multiple mobs.

Level 10 brings two new abilities:

  • [Sap] (6s 80c) is a crowd control ability. Like any crowd control, its purpose is to temporarily incapacitate an enemy and keep them out of combat. Potential uses include breaking up a pack of enemies, or Sapping a sentry so you can take the thing they're guarding without a fight. As with any crowd control, any damage done to the target will break the control. To Sap an enemy, you must first apply Stealth.
  • Poisons can now be applied to your weapons. This is a Passive ability, so it does not need to be trained, but the poisons themselves can be bought from any Rogue trainer. These are consumable one-hour enhancements that either increase the damage your weapon does or gives a chance to apply a debuff to your enemy (debuffs are negative status ailments, like slowed movement or reduced healing.)

Talent Trees

Level 10 is also where you'll receive your first talent point, and be prompted to specialize in one of three talent trees. Talents are how you can personalize your character and differentiate yourself from other rogues. There's really no bad place to spend your talent points, but some talents are more useful in certain environments. The rogue talents page offers advice about each tree and the play style each is meant to complement. From here on, you'll get one talent point at each odd-numbered level until level 81, while even-numbered levels will introduce new trainable spells.

Bright Lights, Big City

Around level 12, you'll run out of quests at your second town, and you'll usually be given a quest guiding you to the nearest capital city. Once you get there, the possibilities really open up. You can move on to the next zone and continue leveling through quests or killing mobs, you can participate in battlegrounds (organized Player vs. Player combat) as early as level 10, and group dungeons (instances) start around level 15. There's also a transporatation network linking the capitals (boats and a tram for the Alliance, zeppelins and a teleporter for the Horde), allowing you to travel to the other side of the world within minutes.

Rogue quests

These quests are available only to rogues, and offer unique rewards.

Level 20

Level 50

On soloing and grouping

Soloing

For the first 10 levels, the rogue shouldn't have much trouble soloing up to two mobs at a time around your level. Open with [Ambush], then focus on [Sinister Strike] and [Eviscerate], Mutilating as energy permits. 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 16, you can start using [Gouge] to stun your opponent briefly so you can attack from behind. Combining this with the level 18 skill [Backstab] is one of the staple early strategies.

If you're interested in solo grinding your way to level 85, 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

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.

Roguecraft

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.

Useful professions

The rogue can benefit directly and indirectly from many of the professions available.

Primary professions

Gathering

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.

Skinning
[Master of Anatomy] is a good bonus for a rogue. Skinning fuels Leatherworking.
Herbalism
[Lifeblood] gives you a handy self heal. Herbalism fuels Alchemy and Inscription.
Mining
[Toughness] slightly boosts your max health, though emphasis on slightly. Mining fuels Blacksmithing, Engineering, and Jewelcrafting, and allows enchanters to gather the mats to have a rod made.

Crafting

Alchemy
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
Being able to make your own weapons and sharpening stones might be nice, though it's probably not worth the materials cost. Still, it's an option to consider.
Jewelcrafting
A convenient source of gems is desirable at higher levels and there are some equippable items suited to rogues.
Engineering
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. With [Goblin Jumper Cables XL], vanishing and shocking the healer back to life can be a shining moment. You can also make Practice Locks, which will help you get your Lockpicking skill up early on.
Leatherworking
Allows you to make leather armor and armor modifications. Very good for a rogue.
Enchanting
Allows you a more convenient source of enchantments. The profession-unique benefits are the ability to put enchantments on rings.
Inscription
Gives you a convenient source of glyphs and a reliable source of scrolls, as well as some nice shoulder enhancements at high levels.
Tailoring
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.

Secondary professions

First Aid
Rogues can't heal, so keep your First Aid on track for a smoother and safer mission.
Fishing
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.
Cooking
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.
Archaeology (requires Cataclysm expansion)
Treasure hunting for EXP. Accelerates leveling, and provides insight into Azerothian lore; helpful for any class.

Lockpicking

Main article: Lockpicking

You can learn [Pick Lock] at level 16 from any Rogue Trainer. Since patch 4.0.1, lockpicking skill has been based on character level, and automatically increases as you level. This means that once you have trained the ability, you won't have to worry about further training or having to practice lockpicking in order to increase your skill.

You may find lockboxes while levelling, from either pickpocketing or looting mobs. Uncommon lockboxes contain more valuable items, which are seldom of any use other than to be sold to a vendor for some extra money. Uncommon lockboxes are found more often in dungeons. Players in your party may ask if you can unlock boxes they loot, and doing so will normally be much appreciated.

Long-term goals

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.

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.

External links