- Author: Nevermore
- Date: June 24, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
In Wrath of the Lich King, Rogues can only be played by Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves, and Gnomes for the Alliance, or by Orcs, Undead, Trolls, and Blood Elves for the Horde.
Unfortunately, unlike for casters, race matters a lot for a Rogue’s DPS. Only 1-2 races per faction are considered viable.
Orc is the strongest race for Horde Combat Rogues. This is largely due to Blood Fury, a powerful attack power boosting cooldown. Orcs also get Axe Specialization, which provides 5 expertise when using axes and fist weapons — with axes being some of the best weapons in WotLK.
Often considered the best race for Horde Combat Rogues in PvE, Orcs provide several powerful racial effects that make them extremely strong. While Orcs are not typically associated with being sneaky, it just so happens that arguably the most famous Rogue — Garona Halforcen — is an Orc!
- Blood Fury is an on-use spell that increases your Attack Power and scales with your level. At level 80 it will provide +322 attack power for 15 seconds on a 2-minute cooldown. The fact that this is an on-use ability has big implications for burst phases / stacking your cooldowns. Its 2-minute cooldown makes it perfect for Combat Rogues, allowing us to stack it with Blade Flurry every time.
- Axe Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using axes or fist weapons. Indeed, Rogues can finally use axes in Wrath, and the Sword Specialization talent becomes Hack and Slash, making axes some of the best weapons in this expansion. Rogues aren’t exactly starved for Expertise, as there’s a pretty decent amount on gear already and we get 10 more from the Weapon Expertise talent, meaning this racial isn’t as big for us as it is for other races, but still fairly powerful nonetheless.
- Hardiness is an incredible PvP racial, as Rogues can get killed fairly easily if they get stunned. Sadly, it’s not as relevant in PvE, as there aren’t many stuns this passive can help you with.
- Command is a very powerful racial, that unfortunately does not apply to Rogues, as they have no pets.
Trolls are the 2nd strongest race for Horde Combat Rogues. Their racials are slightly situational, but don’t you underestimate trolls, mon.
- Berserking is an on-use spell that offers +20% increased attack speed for 10 seconds on a 3-minute cooldown. The fact that this is an on-use ability has big implications for burst phases / stacking your cooldowns. However, the 3-minute cooldown is a bit awkward for us, as it does not sync with any of our other cooldowns. Still, Haste is a pretty powerful stat for us, making this racial very solid anyway.
- Beast Slaying increases your damage dealt to Beast type enemies by 5%, which is very powerful. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of Beasts in Wrath of the Lich King, specially inside raids, making this racial not too impressive in practice.
- Da Voodoo Shuffle passively reduces the duration of movement slowing & immobilize effects on you by 15%. Generally mostly a PvP racial, but it can occasionally come in handy in PvE as well.
- Bow Specialization and Throwing Specialization increase your critical strike chance with bows & throwing weapons by 1%. A neat little bonus, but unlike Hunters, you only use your bow or thrown weapon occasionally, thus mostly negligible.
- Regeneration increases health regeneration by 10% and allows you to regenerate health during combat at 10% of the your normal regeneration rate. Rogues don’t have any active health regeneration abilities (it does not apply to healing effects, like potions, just health regeneration) thus this talent is only relevant while leveling or questing.
Blood Elves became a fan-favourite race after their introduction in OG TBC. Their racials are pretty underwhelming for Combat Rogues — being the 3rd strongest Horde race and significantly weaker than the top 2 options — but their looks are impeccable! Who doesn’t want to look like Valeera!?
- Arcane Torrent is an on-use spell on a 2 minute cooldown that silences all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds, while also restoring 15 of your Energy. The silence effect can be useful in dungeons and PvP, but most bosses are unfortunately immune to silence. The Energy restoration component is handy, though it isn’t much.
- Magic Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Magic spells by 2%. This essentially combines all of the various Resistance-type racials out there, making it surprisingly flexible. Still, its benefit is mostly neglectable in PvE, while being alright in PvP.
- Arcane Affinity increases your initial and maximum Enchanting skill by 15. This doesn’t have a gameplay impact besides minor convenience.
Undead Rogues are feared in PvP thanks to their incredibly powerful Fear-breaking racial, Will of the Forsaken. Unfortunately, that racial isn’t as useful in PvE, nor are any of their other racial traits, making them indisputably the weakest race for a Horde Combat Rogue. They look super cool though!
- Will of the Forsaken removes charm, fear, and sleep effects. This can help you avoid some raid mechanics, but it’s incredibly situational.
- Cannibalize allows you to feast on the corpses of your slain enemies to restore your health. This does not have big implications for PvE content but does come in handy whilst doing solo content.
- Shadow Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
- Underwater Breathing helps you survive for a very long time underwater. If only there was an underwater raid!
Human is undoubtedly the strongest option for Alliance Combat Rogues. They gain 3 expertise when using swords and maces thanks to Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization respectively. This is lower than the 5 expertise that other races get, but instead offers more versatility when it comes to picking weapons. Every Man for Himself also has some niche use in removing crowd-control effects.
Human is the strongest race for Alliance Combat Rogues, thanks to the versatility offered by having 2 different weapon specializations. Many will pick Human for its powerful racial effects, particularly for PvP, but don’t sleep on how clean Human Rogues look!
- Sword Specialization & Mace Specialization increase your expertise by 3 when using swords or maces. This is lower than the 5 expertise that other races get with equivalent racials, but you have more versatility in picking different weapon types. In practice however, you are forced into swords or axes due to our must-have Hack and Slash talent, meaning you only receive this bonus while using swords.
- Every Man for Himself is a crowd-control removal ability just like the Undead race, but this one has universal applicability. It is useful in PvE scenarios but has much more use in a PvP encounter, where Humans are typically considered the strongest race in the game.
- Perception passively increases your stealth detection level by a small amount. Since there aren’t a lot of stealthed mobs in PvE, this benefit is largely not too useful. However, this bonus is very neat in PvP, allowing you to see other Rogues while they cannot see you.
- Diplomacy increases the rate at which you gain reputation by 10%, a major boost for your reputation grind. Whilst a beneficial quality of life racial, it doesn’t impact actual gameplay.
- The Human Spirit increases your spirit by 3%. This is unfortunately nearly useless for Rogues.
Dwarf is arguably the 2nd strongest Alliance race for Combat Rogues. Nobody could fault you for not associating Dwarves with stealthing around, but they’re actually a pretty cool option!
- Mace Specialization increases your expertise by 5 when using maces. Unfortunately, our must-have Hack and Slash talent pretty much forces us to use swords or axes, as the mace equivalent (Mace Specialization) is significantly weaker. This in turn means you won’t be receiving this racial bonus very often — but when you do, it’s certainly welcome.
- Stoneform is an on-use spell that gives you +10% increased armor for 8 seconds and dispels poison, disease and bleed effects on you, on a 2-minute cooldown. There are occasions where this racial can help out — though it’s undoubtedly a PvP-centric racial.
- Gun Specialization increases your critical strike chance with guns by 1%. A neat little bonus, but unlike Hunters, you only use your gun weapon occasionally, thus mostly negligible.
- Frost Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Frost spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
- Find Treasure is a very cool racial from a roleplay point of view, allowing you to see treasure on the minimap. This is very fun to use while questing and leveling up, and as a Rogue you can stealth around looking for chests, but it unfortunately has 0 relevance in raids.
The crafty little buggers known as gnomes are seen as caster-focused race, having no real PvE-relevant racials for Rogues. As such, they’re seen as one of the 2 “useless” races for Alliance Rogues. However, there’s something funny about being a little guy sneaking around, picking people’s pockets and stabbing them in the back!
- Escape Artist instantly removes all movement slowing and immobilizing effects on a 1 minute cooldown. While this can occasionally be useful in PvE, it’s generally better in PvP (where Humans are far better anyway), so this is overall not amazing.
- Engineering Specialization increases your initial and maximum Engineering skill by 15. This is slightly more useful than other profession-boosting racials, as Engineering has guardian-type summoned pets, which scale with your Engineering skill. This racial makes your summoned pets level 83, which makes them a decent bit stronger, but as there aren’t many useful guardians, this racial isn’t really ground-breaking.
- Arcane Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Arcane spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
- Expansive Mind increases your total Intellect by 5%. While Rogues fancy themselves to be intellectuals, the unfortunate reality is that intellectuals they are not — thus this racial will provide no bonus to them, sadly.
You would think that Night Elves, the race most closely affiliated with agility, elegance and swiftness, would be the best race for Rogues. Unfortunately, Blizzard has a cruel sense of humor, as in reality they are one of the two “useless” races for Alliance Combat Rogues in PvE, offering no useful racials. Why Blizzard, why?!
- Quickness reduces the chance you’ll be hit by melee and ranged attacks by 2%. This is the most useful racial you get as a Night Elf Rogue, which says a lot, seeing how it’s almost useless.
- Nature Resistance reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%. This is mostly a neglectable racial when it comes to PvE.
- Shadowmeld can be used in order to escape combat and become stealthed once every 2 minutes. It will also cause you to drop all threat on every target you’re currently engaged in combat with, but all threat will be restored the moment you leave stealth — which will happen the moment you move or take any action. Rogues get extra value out of this ability, as they can enter Stealth after dropping combat, which is nice in PvP, but unfortunately almost entirely useless in PvE.
- Elusiveness reduces the chance to be detected if you are stealthed. This can certainly come in handy in solo content, but you will struggle to find a use for it in raids.
- Wisp Spirit increases your movement speed by 75% while dead. You generally don’t want to be dead.