Rogue Leveling Guide

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Rogues have always been decently fast, very safe levelers. While each expansion has shifted the ideal leveling spec around, Cataclysm finds itself in a very reasonable position. All three specializations bring their own playstyles and benefits to the table, and all are solid choices for leveling. With that said, most players will typically prefer to level as Combat or Assassination, with Subtlety being mostly focused on attacking from behind, or attacking from Stealth.

The classic playstyle of maintaining Slice and Dice while you kill enemies one at a time is mostly unchanged, except now you also want to maintain Recuperate. This creates a fairly enjoyable flow to chain killing enemies, and significantly reduces the need to stop and eat.


  • Stealth
  • Tools for almost every situation
  • King of crowd control
  • High mobility


  • Struggles to deal with multiple targets
  • Can feel very repetitive

General Leveling Tips

Make sure you keep your Poisons active at all times. Depending on your spec and preference your choice of poison will vary, but in most cases Instant Poison will be the preferred choice. Once you unlock Master Poisoner as Assassination, you will want to keep Deadly Poison on your faster weapon. Some Rogues prefer to use Wound Poison instead of Instant Poison, as it has a significantly higher proc chance, and leaves a debuff on the enemy which can enable talents such as Savage Combat or Master Poisoner.

Don’t be afraid to use your cooldowns while leveling. Of course you want them for crucial moments, but the vast majority of your leveling is going to be going mob to mob killing them. Use Blade Flurry and pull an extra enemy. Use Evasion to minimize your downtime. Use Cloak of Shadows to avoid a high damage spell. These spells are all there to be used!

Upgrade your weapons often. Weapon upgrades will improve your damage significantly, so making sure both weapons are up to date can make or break your leveling experience.

Stat Priority

Your #1 stat will always be Agility, as it provides the majority of your damage. While leveling it is very unlikely that you will be able to maintain Hit or Expertise caps, so striving for them is generally not worth it. With that said, Hit Rating is rarely wasted even if it doesn’t get you to cap. A missed hit deals zero damage.

The three main secondary stats, Crit, Haste, and Mastery, are all valuable and can shift in priority as you level. Mastery isn’t available until the late stages of leveling, and because of this won’t be a priority throughout your leveling. Critical Strike Rating is nice to have, but for leveling Haste will have the most value. This is because Haste improves our Energy Regeneration, which improves our leveling efficiency nicely.

  1. Agility
  2. Hit Rating
  3. Haste Rating
  4. Critical Strike Rating
  5. Mastery Rating


All three specializations have very similar gameplay flow. Generate Combo Points with Mutilate, Sinister Strike, or Hemorrhage, spend those Combo Points on maintaining Slice and Dice and Recuperate. Occasionally against beefier enemies you’ll have a chance to use a finisher such as Eviscerate, but these chances are few and far between.

Stealth openers are strong, but require you to be out of combat and off your mount to use. Because of this, Combat and Assassination will rarely get a chance to use them. Subtlety on the other hand has a few tricks up their sleeve to make getting in with Stealth easier.






rogue leveling guide assassination talents 1
Assassination Talent Calculator


rogue leveling guide combat talents
Combat Talent Calculator


rogue leveling guide subtlety talents
Subtlety Talent Calculator









Rogues are able to use one-handed swords, axes, and maces, as well as fist weapons and daggers. Your choice of weapon is not as set in stone as it was in previous expansions, but each specialization has their preferences. Assassination Rogues will always want to use daggers to take advantage of Mutilate, while Combat Rogues prefer slower, harder hitting weapons. Subtlety Rogues are able to perform effectively with either or, but generally lean towards daggers to empower abilities such as Backstab and Ambush.

Rogues can also equip bows, crossbows, guns, and thrown weapons. These are rarely actually used and serve almost exclusively as “stat-sticks”, that is a weapon exclusively to provide you stats.

Weapon upgrades will often be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Weapons are your primary source of damage, and will be a big boost every time you upgrade.

Rogues are able to use Leather & Cloth armor, but you will never want to wear Cloth armor as it does not provide the stats you are looking for. Leather armor means that Rogues can be a little squishy, but they make up for that with a vast toolkit and a lot of avoidance.


While leveling your professions will rarely come into play. If you want passive bonuses from your professions for the leveling process, I recommend Gathering professions such as Mining or Herbalism. These are a lot easier to keep up with while leveling, and you can always sell what you gather and reinvest that gold into leveling crafting later.

If you want to get ahead of your crafting earlier, I recommend grabbing Engineering & Mining. These two work well together and Engineering is one of your best choices for endgame. Leveling Engineering also allows you to create bombs and other useful toys & tools as you level, which can make things both more fun and easier.

Useful Macros

There are generally very few macros that are useful while leveling. The main one that I would recommend every melee DPS class has at the ready is a startattack macro.

/cast Sinister Strike

This functions as a regular Sinister Strike macro, but will also initiate your auto-attack on press. This is useful for a number of reasons, but the short version is that it guarantees you will never be caught with your auto-attack disabled for whatever reason.


About the Author


I love MMOs of all shades, especially the nitty gritty numbers parts of them. You might recognize me from the Shadow Priest discord, otherwise I play a little bit of everything, especially games with support roles available.
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