- Author: Passion
- Date: August 31, 2022
- Expansion: WotLK Classic
Welcome to our WotLK Classic leveling guide for Rogues! Masters of stealth and deception, Rogues are known for suddenly appearing, employing skirmish strategies to kill a priority target, and vanishing just as quickly as they came.
Rogues in WotLK Classic are a fantastic DPS class and a favorite of PvPers everywhere. They offer unparalleled crowd control and cooldowns while also doing very high single-target damage. Rogues offer a unique leveling experience with Stealth and its incredible toolkit, offering multiple solutions to every problem.
Most Rogues will choose to level as Combat, as it is the most reliable for chain-killing enemies. Despite this, some people still prefer to level as Subtlety or Assassination, but both of these have distinct weaknesses while leveling, relying heavily on either Stealth or longer fights. Because Combat is generally seen as the superior leveling spec in WotLK Classic, this guide will be focused on Combat Rogues, but a lot of the tips can be applied to Subtlety and Assassination equally.
In this guide, we’ll go over helpful tips, where to spend your talent points, what to look for when gearing, effective use of your abilities, and other general advice to make the leveling process as smooth and easy as possible!
- Very wide toolset
- Able to take many approaches to every situation
- Can be played actively or passively in combat
- Fantastic crowd control
- Great burst damage
- Stealth gives you a lot of freedom in approach
- Cooldown reliant
- Loses output if they don’t get the opener
- Can be hard to master
- Lots of situational abilities can be overwhelming
General Leveling Tips
With Vanish available, you can afford to play a bit riskier, knowing that you can fall back on it as a get-out-of-jail-free card. This also works wonders for killing enemies with guards, killing your quest target, and Vanishing away from everything you don’t need to kill.
Rogues have more crowd control available than any other class, easily able to nullify several enemies at once. Initiating a fight with Sap, hitting a target with Blind, using Gouge and Kidney Shot can easily even the odds in your favor.
Don’t neglect your ranged weapon. This will often be your best method of pulling single enemies and avoiding being swarmed.
Make sure you keep a decent supply of Poisons around, the situational ones might just be the solution to your current problem.
Distract is one of your most powerful tools, able to stop patrols in their tracks, or turn an enemy around to make your positioning easier. You can even stop enemy players mid-run.
As a Rogue, most of your damage is based on your weapon, not your spell ranks. This means that upgrading your weapon will be the best increase in your leveling speed and a lot of the time a detour into a dungeon or a different zone to get a better weapon early can be worth it. Spells like Sinister Strike deal damage based on “weapon damage”. Because of this, you want a slower weapon that deals higher damage in your main-hand. Something like Ebon Hilt of Marduk is going to be better than Blade of Necromancy even though it has lower DPS, simply because every individual hit will deal more damage.
As a Rogue, you have very few ways of healing yourself. Consider leveling First Aid and try to always carry level-appropriate food with you. You never want to be stuck waiting around for your health to regenerate, time spent waiting is time spent wasted! You won’t need to carry a ton, but at least a stack or two should always fit into your bags.
- Agility – This is always going to be your favorite stat. Each point of Agility gives you 2 Attack Power and increases your critical strike chance by a small amount.
- Strength – Increases your attack power by a lesser amount than Agility.
- Attack Power – Increases your damage dealt with most of your abilities.
- Critical Strike Rating – Increases your chance to deal critical damage. This is fantastic, especially for finishers, which take a long time to build but do massive damage.
- Haste Rating – Increases the speed of all your attacks, allowing you to do more damage faster!
- Hit Rating – Increases your chance to hit with all attacks. This is a great extra stat, but while leveling you will rarely find enough of it to make it worthwhile.
- Stamina – Increases your maximum health! This is a fantastic stat that is already on most gear, so it is usually not something you aim at, but instead something that comes naturally.
The Rogue rotation revolves around builders and spenders. You build Combo Points using attacks like Sinister Strike and then spend them with abilities like Eviscerate. As a Combat Rogue, we will be spending most of our Combo Points on Slice and Dice, increasing our attack speed dramatically.
Before any pull, make sure you have Poisons on both your weapons, typically either Instant Poison (Unlocked at level 20) on both weapons or together with Deadly Poison (Unlocked at level 30) on your off-hand.
- Keep Slice and Dice (Unlocked at level 10) up at all times
- Use Blade Flurry (Unlocked at level 30) against 2 or more targets
- Spend Combo Points on Eviscerate (Unlocked at level 1) or Kidney Shot (Unlocked at level 30)
- Build Combo Points with Sinister Strike (Unlocked at level 1)
Stealth openers are generally not great for actual damage, while leveling you will spend a lot of time in Stealth and will have a lot of opportunities to use openers. When you do want to open from Stealth, you can use Cheap Shot for the stun and easy combo points. If you are against a caster or want damage instead of a stun, you can use Garrote.
The Combat tree has a large focus on passively increasing our damage, without actually impacting how we play the game much. A lot of the choices can feel very similar, with talents like Blade Twisting and Aggression doing very similar things, but they all work in synergy together to massively boost your power.
These are the key points in the talent tree:
- Blade Flurry at level 30, giving you a damage cooldown and the ability to kill two targets at once.
- Hack and Slash at level 31, giving your attacks with swords and axes a chance to hit twice.
- Adrenaline Rush at level 40, giving you a fantastic cooldown, doubling your energy regeneration for 15-seconds.
- Vitality at level 41, passively increasing your energy regeneration.
- Combat Potency at level 45, giving your off-hand attacks a chance to restore 15 energy.
- Unfair Advantage at level 54, passively hitting an enemy every time you Dodge an attack.
- Killing Spree at level 60, every Rogues favorite button. This spell teleports you to an enemy in combat 5 times, once every 0.5-seconds, attacking with every teleport.
Glyphs aren’t always going to be the easiest to get a hold of while leveling, but if you happen to swing by an auction house you might find some cheap and useful glyphs to use.
Here are some of the Major Glyphs worth considering:
- Glyph of Sinister Strike – Sinister Strike criticals have a 50% chance to add another combo point. This is invaluable and easily the best Glyph you can get.
- Glyph of Eviscerate – Eviscerate has a 10% higher critical chance. Criticals with finishers are your biggest burst damage, making this very useful.
- Glyph of Killing Spree – Reduces the cooldown of Killing Spree by 45-seconds, allowing you to use it significantly more often.
- Glyph of Cloak of Shadow – Cloak of Shadows also reduces physical damage taken by 40%, making it more versatile as a defensive tool.
- Glyph of Sprint – Increases the speed boost of Sprint by 30%. This isn’t fantastic but more speed is never a bad thing.
- Glyph of Vigor – Vigor now grants 20 maximum energy instead of 10. This doesn’t help a lot, but it’s better than nothing!
- Glyph of Evasion – Increases the duration of Evasion by 5-seconds. This is your most powerful defensive tool, so another 5-seconds is fantastic. The only negative is that typically enemies will be dead before this has time to be useful.
- Glyph of Adrenaline Rush – Increases the duration of Adrenaline Rush by 5-seconds. More duration on Adrenaline Rush can be used to chain kill mobs for a longer time, giving you a lot of value.
- Glyph of Slice and Dice – Increases the duration of Slice and Dice by 3-seconds. This can be useful while leveling if you find Slice and Dice drops between enemies more often than you’d like.
Here are some of the Minor Glyphs worth considering:
- Glyph of Blurred Speed – Sprint allows you to walk on water, not useful often but when it is you’ll be very thankful you have it.
- Glyph of Safe Fall – Increases the distance of Safe Fall, allowing you to fall further without dying. This is great for taking more lethal shortcuts.
- Glyph of Vanish – Increases your movement speed by 30% in Vanish, allowing you to reposition faster in emergencies.
- Glyph of Pick Lock – Makes your Pick Lock instant cast, saving you a lot of time, especially while leveling the skill.
Noteable Abilities To Train
- Sinister Strike at level 1, 8, 14, 22, 30, 38, 46, 54, 62, 70, 76, 80
- Eviscerate at level 1, 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 60, 64, 73, 79
- Stealth at level 1
- Gouge at level 8
- Evasion at level 8
- Sap at level 10, 28, 48, 71
- Slice and Dice at level 10, 42
- Sprint at level 10, 34, 58
- Kick at level 12
- Expose Armor at level 14
- Garrote at level 14, 22, 30, 38, 46, 54
- Dismantle at level 20
- Rupture at level 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 74, 79
- Distract at level 22
- Vanish at level 22,
- Cheap Shot at level 26
- Kidney Shot at level 30, 50
- Blind at level 34
- Cloak of Shadows at level 66
- Shiv at level 70
- Tricks of the Trade at level 75
Poisons are sold by vendors, often close to your Rogue trainer. You always want to have Poisons active, and while I recommend Instant Poison and Deadly Poison for the vast majority of scenarios, it is also always good to keep a stack of the other poisons around, just in case the situation arises!
- Instant Poison at level 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 73, 79
- Crippling Poison at level 20
- Mind-numbing Poison at level 24
- Deadly Poison at level 30, 38, 46, 54, 60, 62, 70, 76, 80
- Wound Poison at level 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 78
- Anesthetic Poison at level 68, 77
- Blade of Cunning – At level 10 Rogues will be given a quest from their local Rogue trainer, eventually rewarding them with Blade of Cunning to compliment their new Dual Wield skill.
- Recipe: Thistle Tea – At level 20 Rogues can pick up a quest from their trainer, leading them around level appropriate zones and eventually rewarding Recipe: Thistle Tea, allowing Rogues to cook a unique item that restores Energy on-use.
- At level 50 all classes receive a quest taking them to the Sunken Temple. For Rogues, this quest offers a choice between Duskbat Drape, Ebon Mask, and Whisperwalk Boots. While Duskbat Drape and Ebon Mask are great items by themselves, Whisperwalk Boots offer a rarely found boost to your effective stealth level, making you harder to detect while in Stealth. This can be equipped at any point if you ever need to make sure you aren’t discovered, making these boots the most long-term useful.
Rogues are able to use Swords, Maces, Axes, Daggers, Fist Weapons, Crossbows, Bows, Guns, and Thrown Weapons. You should always try to use your best weapon, but as a Combat Rogue, you will generally want to stick to Swords and Axes because of Hack and Slash.
Prioritize slow, heavy hitting weapons in your main-hand. Abilities like Sinister Strike are based on your main-hand weapon damage, not DPS, meaning a weapon with a higher damage range will hit for more. Something like Blade of Necromancy may seem good at a glance but when compared to a slower weapon like Ebon Hilt of Marduk, available 3 levels earlier, the two are night and day for damage.
Prioritize fast weapons in your off-hand. As a Combat Rogue, your off-hand isn’t used for abilities the same way, so the actual damage is much less important. DPS matters a lot more, but you also want a fast weapon because a fast weapon will both proc Combat Potency more often and apply Deadly Poison more often.
Weapon upgrades will be the biggest damage increase while leveling. Most of your damaging spells don’t gain much damage with rank and scale with gear a lot more than spell ranks. A notable exception is Eviscerate, which scales significantly more with ranks than with gear.
Rogues are able to use Cloth and Leather armor and ideally will always want to wear Leather armor. Cloth armor typically provides caster-related stats like Intellect, Spirit, and Spell Power, and all of these stats are entirely wasted on Rogues.
Professions can be hard to keep up while you level, but in Wrath of the Lich King, they give a lot of benefits. Something like Blacksmithing is very difficult to keep up while you level, but gathering Professions like Mining and Herbalism are incredibly easy to keep up as you go, and even if you don’t want to craft things yourself, you can sell the materials on the auction house to supplement other aspects of leveling.
While every profession gives some kind of stat boost, most of them give them towards max skill. Gathering professions instead give skills early that constantly scale as you level.
- Mining gives Toughness, a passive boost to your Stamina, starting with 3 Stamina at 75 Mining, and ending at 60 Stamina at 450 Mining.
- Skinning gives Master of Anatomy, a passive boost to your Critical Strike Rating, starting with 3 Critical Strike Rating at 75 Skinning, and ending at 40 Critical Strike Rating at 450 Skinning.
- Herbalism gives Lifeblood, an instant cast heal-over-time on a 3-minute cooldown. This scales with both Herbalism and your maximum health.
If you instead want to craft things while you level, Alchemy and Engineering are fantastic alternatives.
- Engineering allows you to craft grenades and bombs alongside a bunch of fun or niche utility items such as target dummies and fireworks.
- Alchemy allows you to craft your own potions, flasks, and elixirs which can all be invaluable for improving your leveling experience and speed.
There aren’t many useful macros while leveling, but one important one that I recommend always having is a startattack macro to make sure you are always auto-attacking while fighting.
#showtooltip /startattack /cast Sinister Strike