- Author: Nevermore
- Date: June 24, 2022
- Updated: October 19, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
The stat priority of Combat Rogues is very similar to that of other melee DPS classes, and particularly other agility users. In the briefest terms possible, you will want to focus on hit rating until cap, then expertise rating until cap, then armor penetration rating until cap, and then go all out with agility after you’ve reached all the caps.
Rogues are somewhat unique amongst melee DPS in that they want to reach for hit cap for spells rather than physical attacks. This is because our poisons, which now deal a significant portion of our overall damage, scale with spell hit, and thus we get to double dip on excess hit past the regular 8% — we improve spell hit chance for poisons, and hit chance for auto attacks due to dual wielding.
- Hit rating
- Cap: 237 rating, or 210 rating if there’s a Draenei in your party
- Expertise rating
- Cap: 91 rating for orcs using axes & dwarves using maces, 107 for humans using swords or maces, 132 for others
- Armor penetration rating
- Cap: 1400 rating, or 1190 rating if using maces with Mace Specialization
- Attack power
- Haste rating
- Crit rating
Hit rating will be your most important stat — if you can’t hit your targets, you’re not dealing damage. You gain a 1% increased chance to hit for every 32.79 hit rating you have. Furthermore, as a Rogue you get a 1% increased chance to hit with your spells (poisons) for every 26.232 hit rating you have.
The soft-cap for dual-wielding melee hits versus level 83 (boss) enemies is 8%. You do not have to care about the hard-cap, as it simply takes too much investment to reach. Normally you would stop at that point, but we want to cap spell hit for our poisons too — meaning we need a whopping 446 hit rating to cap, or 17% spell hit chance. That is an excessively high amount, but thankfully we have ways to reduce the amount needed.
Combat Rogues have access to the Precision talent, which means that we only need 12% hit chance, or 315 hit rating. Furthermore, having a Shadow Priest (Misery) or Balance Druid (Improved Faerie Fire) in your raid reduces that requirement by a further 3%, meaning we need 9% hit chance, or 237 hit rating. Finally, having a Draenei in your party (not raid) gives you the Heroic Presence aura, which offers an extra 1% hit chance, meaning you need 8% hit chance to cap, or 210 rating — or, if you don’t have a Shadow Priest / Balance Druid in your raid, you need 11% hit chance, or 289 hit rating.
Expertise (and expertise rating) will be your 2nd most important stat — again, if you can’t hit your targets, you’re not dealing damage. You gain 1 expertise for every 8.1974 expertise rating you have. 1 expertise reduces the chance that your attacks get dodged or parried by 0.25%. However, expertise has an unfortunate quirk: you cannot have fractional amounts of it. For example, if your character has 111 expertise rating in total, you will end up with 13 expertise, rather than 13.54 which is what you get if you divide 111 by 8.1974.
The soft-cap for melee hits versus level 83 (boss) enemies is 26 expertise, reducing the chance that your attacks get dodged by 6.5%. You do not have to care about the hard-cap, which involves eliminating parries, as you should always be attacking the boss from behind, and enemies cannot parry from behind. This means that melee characters need 214 expertise rating in order to reach the expertise cap — but there are ways to reduce that.
Combat Rogues can pick up the Weapon Expertise talent, which grants us a massive +10 expertise, meaning we only need 16 expertise, or 132 expertise rating. Furthermore, orcs using axes and dwarves using maces gain +5 expertise thanks to their racials, meaning they only need 11 expertise, or 91 expertise rating. Humans meanwhile get +3 expertise when using swords or maces, meaning they need 13 expertise, or 107 expertise rating. Rogues have a really easy time capping expertise, compared to other melee.
Armor penetration is infamously the strongest stat for physical damage dealers in Wrath of the Lich King. Combat Rogues are no exception — the vast majority of our damage is physical, meaning we get a massive benefit from armor penetration.
Armor penetration is one of the most “math-y” stats out there and it’s generally pretty difficult to understand, so we won’t go into details about how it works here. The only thing you really need to know is that, for most Rogues, it takes 1400 armor penetration rating in order to reach 100% armor penetration in raids. For Rogues that are using maces along with the Mace Specialization talent, it takes 1190 armor penetration rating to hit 100% instead.
I must mention the fact that Armor Penetration is a very scarce stat in the first two phases of the expansion, having only trinket procs as a reliable source of Armor Penetration. Generally speaking, you will want to gain trinkets that grant you such procs in the first two phases of the expansion, starting to prioritize Armor Penetration armor pieces as well with the beginning of the third phase of the expansion.
If you’ve reached the cap, you should switch your armor penetration gems, enchants, etc to agility equivalent versions. Don’t forget your armor penetration procs when calculating how much armor penetration you have.
Attack power makes your attacks hit harder — it is the core stat of all physical damage dealers, melee or ranged. As a Rogue, you’ll get the bulk of your attack power from the agility stat found on items, but attack power on its own is incredibly powerful.
Rogues are an agility-based class, meaning agility will be your “bread-and-butter” stat, so to speak. Raw attack power will generally be better than agility (as most sources offer 2 points of attack power per 1 point of agility), so you won’t want to stack agility through gems etc, but it’s an incredibly valuable stat nonetheless.
As a Rogue, you gain 1 attack power per 1 point of agility, as well as 1% increased chance to crit for every 83.33 agility you have. These amounts are further increased by 10% when buffed with Greater Blessing of Kings, meaning you get 1.1 attack power or 1.1% crit for the same amount. This means that 1 point of agility is always better than 1 point of attack power, but you usually get 2 points of attack power for each 1 point of agility from most sources (for example, gems), meaning agility doesn’t make attack power obsolete.
Haste is one of the most straight-forward stats — it makes you attack faster. You gain 1% increased attack speed for every 32.79 haste rating you have.
Rogues benefit tremendously from haste, as a very large percentage of our damage comes from auto attacks and poisons, which are both improved by haste. Moreover, attacking more often causes you to gain more energy from Combat Potency, meaning haste boosts energy regeneration too — albeit at a smaller rate than in future expansions. At a certain point, haste will be extremely close if not surpass agility, but you will typically need simulation programs to find out if that’s the case for your character, so we will value haste just underneath agility.
Crit rating is a great stat for any physical damage dealer, increasing your chances of landing a critical strike. You gain a 1% increased chance to crit for every 45.91 crit rating you have.
Rogues have a very high critical damage multiplier, thanks to our talents: Prey on the Weak & Lethality. However, we don’t have many crazy crit procs like other classes do, meaning crit will generally be our weakest secondary stat — though plenty strong nonetheless.
Here’s a little secret: strength is actually better than attack power, even for rogues. As an agility-centric class, 1 point of strength gives us 1 attack power, but that’s further improved by 10% thanks to Greater Blessing of Kings, meaning strength is 10% better than attack power, when comparing 1 strength to 1 attack power.
The reason why it’s last on our list is that strength is typically found on items designed for warriors, paladins and death knights, which typically lack agility and attack power, replacing both of them with strength. Thus, an item designed for a rogue will end up being slightly better, as it provides a better mix of the stats we want. That’s not to say it’s bad, however, it’s just most of your strongest pieces will be those that have attack power and agility, rather than strength.