Welcome to our WoW Classic guide for combat rogues! There are three different rogue specializations, but all focus on dealing damage. Combat rogues are the most common specialization you’ll see around, offering good damage output without requiring significant amounts of critical strike rating. Rogues have several intricacies to learn, but understanding them all makes the class quite rewarding.
In this guide, we’ll cover all of the important elements that go into optimizing a combat rogue. This includes your stat priorities and professions, but also the best enchants and consumables to have for maximum damage. We’ll also cover the best race choices for a combat rogue, along with the best talent builds available. To finish this guide, we’ll cover the best way to use your abilities to make yourself as useful as possible!
When it comes to picking a race, rogues have quite a lot of flexibility. Of the 8 races in the game, only the beefy tauren are unable to play as a rogue. While you can pick any race, there are definitely a few that stand out. If you want to know what every racial ability offers, take a look here! Otherwise look for your favorite faction choice below!
- Dwarf – If you want to play as a dwarf, you won’t receive any offensive racial bonuses. You’ll also have quite a low agility base value, but decent strength to compensate. Dwarves can use Stoneform for +10% Armor, but this isn’t very important for you as a rogue.
- Gnome – Another weak choice is a gnome. Gnomes are fantastic in PvP thanks to Escape Artist, but this has far less use in raids. The only thing propping the race up is a high agility base value.
- Night Elf – Night elves are quite an interesting choice. They have the best stealth in the game due to Shadowmeld, but this isn’t very important for raiding. Night elves do have the highest agility base value of any race in the game, so they aren’t a bad choice at all, especially if you plan on using daggers.
- Human – The best choice for an alliance rogue, especially if you plan on using swords, is a human. Humans have great base values of all their stats, making them good for any class. Sword Specialization also offers a boost to sword weapon skill, which gives them a clear DPS advantage over any other alliance race.
- Undead – Thematically undead are great as rogues, but the stats tell a different story. Their agility and strength base values are mediocre, and they don’t have any offensive racial bonuses. Will of the Forsaken is a niche ability that won’t see much use in raids.
- Troll – A good choice for a rogue is a troll. Trolls have Berserking, arguably the second strongest racial ability in the game that offers between 10-30% attack speed based on missing health. Trolls also have great base values for agility and strength.
- Orc – Even better than a troll is an orc. Orcs have the strongest racial ability, Blood Fury. It grants +25% Melee Attack Power for 25 seconds on just a 2 minute cooldown. Combined with other rogue cooldowns, this makes orc rogues absolutely lethal and the best choice of any race.
Deciding on your talents for a rogue depends on what weapons you choose to use. Deep within the combat tree, there are talents that offer bonuses if you use fist weapons, maces, daggers, or swords, but the best benefits come from daggers and swords. That means there are two main combat builds, one for daggers and another for swords!
If you plan on using swords, you can’t go wrong with this 19/32/0 build. You’ll notice the most important talent here, Sword Specialization that gives a 5% chance to attack an additional time after you deal damage. You’re also able to pick up Ruthlessness for a 60% chance for finishers to add a combo point.
Alternatively, you can use daggers as a combat rogue with this 15/31/5 build. Instead of Sword Specialization, you’ll pick up Dagger Specialization for +5% Critical Strike Chance with daggers. You also need 5 points in Opportunity for +20% damage to Backstab, and 3 points in Improved Backstab for a 30% bonus to critically strike with Backstab.
One of the most important things any player can do for the character is optimize. It is definitely nice just to have strong gear, but you’ll be much better off if you’re careful to choose gear based on stats and make sure to make it stronger with enchants. If you want to do the most damage you can, you’ll need to carefully optimize your character.
To understand how to optimize your character, you’ll need to know what makes your character work. As a melee damage dealer, you benefit greatly from attack power, but you also need to respect the hit rating rules. Unlike assassination rogues, agility and attack power are more important than raw critical strike rating.
This is how you’ll want to prioritize stat values for a combat rogue:
- Hit Rating to Cap (9%) – Melee attackers are required to reach the hit cap of 9% to ensure their special abilities don’t miss. This isn’t difficult as you already have 5 points in the Precision talent, giving you 5% hit rating passively. Devilsaur Armor will give another 2% if you have both pieces.
- Agility – Once you’ve capped your hit rating, you’ll want to load up on agility. Agility grants attack power, but it also gives you critical strike rating. It is far more efficient than strength or attack power alone.
- Strength/Attack Power – Strength and attack power are fantastic for boosting your damage. Unfortunately they don’t give critical strike rating, but they’re still amazing for combat rogues.
- Critical Strike Rating – Critical strike rating is always nice, but it isn’t mandatory for combat rogues. You won’t need to go out of your way to prioritize it, but it certainly won’t hurt.
An often overlooked aspect of optimization is your weapon skill. Weapon skill is incredibly important to determining your damage as it will prevent you from dealing glancing blows, which severely cut the damage you deal. If you’re able to go above the usual 300 weapon skill cap, the bonuses continue to stack up, making humans fantastic when using swords.
You’ll also want to level weapon skill because each point gives you:
- 0.04% reduced chance to miss.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent blocking attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent parrying attack.
- 0.04% reduced chance of opponent dodging attack.
- 0.04% increased critical strike chance.
While rogues don’t require any professions to craft armor, they can still benefit from leveling two of them up. Professions are vital for gathering and crafting, but they can also be used as a source of money generation. Some professions will also directly boost your damage, like engineering, so you’ll need to decide based on what is most important for you.
These are the best professions for a combat rogue:
- Engineering – There just isn’t a better choice than engineering. This is the best choice for any class, but is more convenient for melee classes like rogues due to the fact that you’ll already be up close and next to enemies for convenient targeting. Tools and gadgets never hurt either.
- Mining – Your life will be much simpler if you choose to pick up mining to supplement your engineering. All the metal ore you’ll ever need can be gathered with mining, so save yourself the hassle by leveling them together.
- Leatherworking – If you don’t want to be an engineer, another decent choice is leatherworking. This allows you to make Devilsaur Armor for +2% hit chance, but the equipment isn’t bind on pickup. Engineering is definitely better.
- Skinning – If you’re dead set on being a leatherworker, you’ll want skinning for convenient access to materials. You’ll need leather, which is acquired through skinning.
Enchants are absolutely critical to ensuring that you deal the most damage that you can. There are several useful enchants for a combat rogue, most offering some form of damage boost. These can get fairly expensive, so don’t feel compelled to purchase pricier ones until you have gear optimized for your stat priorities.
Collect these enchants to maximize the potential of a combat rogue:
- Helm – Death’s Embrace, +28 Attack Power, 1% Dodge or Lesser Arcanum of Voracity, +8 Agility
- Shoulders – Might of the Scourge, +26 Attack Power, +1% Critical Strike Chance or Zandalar Signet of Might, +30 Attack Power
- Cloak – Lesser Agility, +3 Agility
- Chest – Greater Stats, +4 All Stats
- Bracers – Superior Strength, +9 Strength
- Gloves – Superior Agility, +15 Agility
- Pants – Death’s Embrace, +28 Attack Power, 1% Dodge or Lesser Arcanum of Voracity, +8 Agility
- Boots – Minor Speed, + Movement Speed or Greater Agility, +7 Agility
- MH Weapon – Crusader, Chance on Hit to Give +100 Strength and a Minor Heal
- OH Weapon – Agility, +15 Agility
While rogues do have less consumables than most other classes, they do have some special reagents to collect to cast some of their abilities. You might not think consumables matter as much for a rogue considering that there are fewer, but they can make the difference between a 1% wipe or a kill. If you really want to show your commitment to your raid group, you’ll need to have a healthy supply of consumables every week.
These consumables are mandatory for a combat rogue:
- Elixirs – Elixir of the Mongoose, +25 Agility and +2% Critical Strike Chance for 1 hour.
- Food – Grilled Squid, +10 Agility or Blessed Sunfruit, +10 Strength
- Rogue Materials – Instant Poison VI (main poison), Thistle Tea (100 energy every 5 minutes), Flash Powder (for Vanish), Blinding Powder (for Blind)
- Juju – Juju Power, +30 Strength for 30 minutes and Juju Might, +40 Attack Power
- Others – Winterfall Firewater, +35 Attack Power for 20 minutes, Scroll of Agility, +17 Agility for 30 minutes
Rotation & Gameplay Tips
One of the key distinguishing features between assassination and combat rogues is Seal Fate, which combat rogues don’t have. This means that you won’t get extra combo points from critically striking with combo point generators. As a result, combat rogues tend to have a more reliable rotation, but with less finishers.
Check out some useful gameplay tips for a combat rogue here:
- Use your damage cooldowns whenever they are available. Blade Flurry has just a 2 minute cooldown and gives +20% Attack Speed for 15 seconds. Adrenaline Rush doubles your energy regeneration for 15 seconds on a 5 minute cooldown.
- Learn when the best time for defensive cooldowns are. These all have 5 minute cooldowns. Sprint gives +70% movement speed for 15 seconds, Vanish will remove you from combat and place you into stealth, Evasion will boost your dodge by 50% for 15 seconds, and Blind disorients an enemy for 10 seconds.
- You’ll want to use Instant Poison IV for your poison. Deadly Poison V does deal more damage, but it takes up a debuff slot and isn’t worth it. Horde players will want to avoid using this on their main hand weapon so they can benefit from Windfury Totem.
- Understand how to use Distract to effectively Sap an enemy for crowd control. This becomes important when pulling dangerous trash pulls.
- If you’re drawing too much threat, drop it with Feint, or Vanish if you’re in danger of dying. Use Kick to interrupt any spell casts.
- Only use Slice and Dice and Eviscerate for your finishing abilities. Rupture does deal more damage, but will eat up another debuff slot. If you have permission, feel free to use it, but this won’t often happen. Expose Armor is identical to Sunder Armor from a warrior, and Kidney Shot doesn’t work on bosses.
- Don’t let Slice and Dice fall off. 30% attack speed is nothing to sneeze at, and you can easily lose a few auto attacks across the course of a fight if you let it continuously expire.
- Only use your finishing abilities when you have maximum combo points, including Slice and Dice. This will give you 25 energy due to the Relentless Strikes talent.
Combat rogues do have several abilities available to them, but you’ll just need three of them to successfully deal damage. Rogues use the energy resource to deal damage with combo point generators, then spend those combo points with finishers. It is important to maintain Slice and Dice for added attack speed, but it lasts for 30 seconds with each 5 combo point application, giving you plenty of flexibility.
Whether you use a sword or dagger will change your combo point generator. Sword rogues are focused on auto attacks to proc Sword Specialization and using Sinister Strike to generate combo points. Dagger rogues instead use Backstab, hoping for Ruthlessness procs so you need just 4 Backstabs for each Eviscerate. Both weapon types will finish off with Eviscerate.