Note: this guide assumes you have The Burning Crusade.
The Rogue is a special class in most games, and in World of WarCraft it is no exception. A Rogue in World of WarCraft is one of the four core pure classes, and fundamentally may be the most single specialized class in the game. Warriors are the pure tanks, Priests are the pure healers, Mages are for pure magic and ranged damage… yet each has the ability to do or become something else. A Warrior need not only absorb damage, he can become a considerable damage dealer himself, as may a Priest. Mages never vary from their damage-dealing roles, but they bring considerable utility to a party – they create food and water for healing and mana regeneration. Their water is the best in the game, better than anything you’ll buy at a vendor or see drop off a mob (‘mob’ being the MMORPG term for monster, being sort for mobile object, a word coined in MUDs). Moreover, Mages provide crowd control options with their polymorph spells.
A Rogue? Well, Rogues can pick locks on chests and scout ahead in a dungeon, but the reality is that in a Player vs Environment situation, a Rogue serves one purpose and one purpose only – to deal damage. Rogues do have some nice tricks like Sap and Blind, but generally speaking, other classes have abilities that have similar or better effects. Outside of his ability to deal hideous amounts of damage, there is little a Rogue can provide that another class usually can’t match or surpass. This guide will not only help you maximize your damage ability, but also teach you the few tricks a Rogue can bring to a group that help you stand out from your competition. We’ll also teach you how to gear yourself, what the best race choices are, and how to avoid the most common mistakes.
What’s the downside to being a Rogue? You’re not alone. Not nearly alone. They are one of the most common classes in the game and while you’ll hear in public chat and guild chat constant requests for a tank or healer, hardly anyone finds themselves saying “man, it’s so hard to get a Rogue these days.” Competition for groups is fierce. Find a guild – trust me.
Just as the key feature of a Rogue in a group is his ability to deal damage, the key ability of the Rogue for himself is stealth. Stealth makes the player invisible to creatures, friends, and foes around him, but with certain limitations. Get close enough to someone, they will see you. Also, if you’re in a party or raid group, you’re always visible to your comrades. Finally, people and monsters higher level than you have an easier time spotting you. There are items and talents that boost your stealth level, but it’s never a 100% free pass. Also, you have to beware of certain mobs out there that are specifically stealth-detectors. When you enter stealth mode, you’ll see a spinning teal colored icon above the monsters with stealth detection ability.
Certain restrictions apply to stealth. Once you leave it, you cannot re-stealth for at least ten seconds. If you spend points in the Camouflage talent, you can reduce the cooldown time to re-stealth to five seconds, or one second per point. Also, you cannot stealth while you have been flagged as “in combat”. In PvP, you leave combat if you have not attacked or been attacked by an opposing player for five seconds. However, in PvE, there is no such grace period – you must either kill your target, be killed, or run away until the mob gives up and stops chasing before you can restealth. Finally, if you take any damage while in stealth, you leave stealth. This means that area of effect attacks (including non-damaging shouts from Warriors and frost traps from Hunters) as well as damage-over-time (dot) attacks that have already been applied to you before you stealth will break your stealth when they tick. Examples of dots that break stealth are bleed effects like Rend, or dot spells like a Warlock’s Curse of Affliction.
Finally, certain classes have special abilities to sniff you out. In addition to frost traps, hunters can use flares to detect stealth. The Warlock’s Felhunter pet can also see right through you. Naturally, this doesn’t include the area of effect attacks we’d already mentioned. Most classes have those – Mages, Paladins, Shamans, and so on.
In stealth is where you deliver your opening attacks – Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot. Ambush requires a dagger in your main hand and does a lot of damage insantly. Garrote can use any weapon, and does damage over 18 seconds in 6 ticks (ie, every 3 seconds). It usually won’t do as much damage as a critical attack with an Ambush, but Ambush won’t always critically attack, and Garrote is a bleed effect, so it ignores armor. Finally, Cheap Shot will stun your target for 5 seconds. It’s the preferred opener for almost all situations, except stun-immune critters, usually bosses.