WoW Classic Rogue Tanking

Rogue Tank

I’m Caperfin. Shaman tank, Rogue Raid Tank, warlock tank and others are my forte. This guide culminates many years of work. If a topic is not addressed or you have questions, see my Livestream.

About Me

Let’s begin!

WoW Classic Stealth Icon

Can rogues tank in Vanilla? The short and to the point answer is, yes. You might be rubbing your eyes right now in disbelief of this answer. Perhaps concocting up an entire four page manifesto around how only warriors can and should tank. Although, I could go on a long rant about how there are many other classes that can tank, today, I will be focusing on our poison wielding friend, the rogue.


WoW Classic Rogue Icon

The topic of viable and optimal is controversial as some don’t see the difference or mix them up and impose a misguided philosophy onto it. Put simply, optimal is the most efficient and foolproof solution to solve a problem that eliminates as many negative variables as possible and favors a more easy going route. Next, is Viable or often referred to as: possible, which is seen as the more challenging path to take but to many feels like a greater personal achievement.

WoW Classic Rogue Tank

Rogues are classified into viable. Many rogue tanks will agree their motivation comes from the glory of accomplishing a feat the rest of the realm population dares not try. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to continue reading on. To restate my point, you rogue tank if you want a challenge and a refreshing perspective from a 15 year old game. If it wasn’t obvious before, shield bearing is a sizable undertaking. When experienced players pick up a rogue tank and put in the effort, it shines tenfold. Rogues can fully tank 5mans, 10mans, off-tanking and main-tank raids. But, this is reliant on personal and guild experience. I should point out, a rogue’s overall defensive statistics will never approach a warrior’s. However, it isn’t necessary to do so to tank.


Pick a race wisely as once you decide, there is no going back. Remember, you’ll be looking at your character for a long time. Therefore, players should consider a character’s appearance as a key aspect, as it could entice them to play more. Faction wise, the Alliance sweeps in efficiency due to Paladins. Since they can give us defensive boons, ex: Devotion Aura and cut down the threat from allies, ex: Blessing of Salvation among others. These Alliance assets are highly impactful for raid tanking. Ask yourself, if you’ll ever raid tank, if you won’t be than the Horde faction is fine for dungeon tanking.

Textual Race Breakdown


WoW Classic Human Icon

Sword Specialization Mace Specialization: Increases chance to hit with swords and maces and the damage dealt.
The Human Spirit: Increases spirit by 5%.(We don’t benefit from Spirit in anyway in Player versus Environment or “PvE”)
Perception: Dramatically increases stealth detection for 20 seconds. 3 min cooldown. (Unfortunately, sees no use in PvE)
Diplomacy: Reputation gains increased by 10%.

What does this mean? The weapon skill specializations makes them the best threat dealing race and overshadow in value other races.

Night Elf

Wow Classic Night Elf Icon

Nature Resistance: Nature Resistance increased by 10.
Shadowmeld: Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect you. (can’t be used in combat)
Wisp Spirit: Transform into a wisp upon death, increasing speed by 50%.
Quickness: Dodge chance increased by 1%.

What does this mean? Although it’s not a very large amount, their +1% dodge bonus racial makes them the best defensive race.


Wow Classic Troll Icon 1

Throwing Specialization / Bow Specialization: Increases chance to hit with bow and thrown while increasing damage.
Beast Slaying: Whether it be physical or magical, all damage against creatures categorised as Beasts is bolstered by 5%.
Regeneration: Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat.
Berserking: Increases your spell casting and attack speed by 10% to 25%. At full health the speed increase is 10% with…

What does this mean? Optimal Horde race. Fine for dungeon tanking, but being on the Horde means a more arduous path to raid tank.


The most beneficial profession to tanking is Engineering. It will grant access to valuable tools, ex: Goblin Sapper ChargeMasterwork Target DummyGnomish Battle Chicken as well as many others. The second most useful profession, is whatever profession grants the highest amount of gold on your realm. Large amounts of gold allows you to buy useful potions, ex: Flask of the Titans, as well as meaningful consumable food, ex: Dirge’s Kickin’ Chimaerok Chops, among many other items. In conclusion, one profession for generating a lot of gold and Engineering for its many tools.

Threat Management

The four most impactful threat generating rogue abilities are Hemorrhage (in raids Sinister Strike), EviscerateSlice and Dice and Instant Poison VI. Threat can also come from consumable items, ex: Major Healthstone and potions, ex: Major Rejuvenation Potion. Generally, health gained will deal threat based on a quarter of the total restored. Next, damage producing items, ex: Goblin Sapper Charge will deal threat equal to the damage. Similarly, so do reflective type effects, ex: Thorns. Lastly, certain items induce pure threat each time their Debuff is set off, ex: Gift of Arthas.

Threat Reducers

Install a threat tracking addon, ex: ThreatClassic 2, which will show the threat of your group/raid. Classes can reduce threat with items ex: Fetish of the Sand Reaver, with talents, ex: Burning Soul. Reduce the threat of others thanks to spells, ex: Blessing of Salvation. Wipe all threat with abilities, ex: Vanish & items, ex: Flask of Petrification. For a while, prevent Aggro, ex: Limited Invulnerability Potion. Lastly, redirect aggro, ex: Masterwork Target Dummy (taunts the target). Finally, classes within the 30-40 yard range won’t draw aggro until they outweigh the threat level of the mob’s current target by 30%, as opposed to 10% for melee classes.


Gearing a tank rogue will not step on anyone’s toes. It’s possible to play as a purely damage dealing rogue and transition easily to tanking later on. You won’t need to convince players about your desire for unconventional gear and go into a diatribe about your plan to go rogue tank later. The General Stat Priority is: Dodge, Agility, Stamina and Armor. However, a certain amount of a specific stat might make it trump the other, ex: (30 Agility > 2% Dodge.) this notion is further explored in the Gear Spreadsheet below.

Here is a Gear Spreadsheet, which display gear progression and multiple gearing options for your needs

Note: An item of notable value to rogue tanking is: Zandalarian Hero Badge This trinket can be activated before a boss fight and swapped out for another item and its effect will remain, these valuable types of items are referred to as “Pre-Activated Items”. These items are very situational and not included in the Gear Spreadsheet above. However, some will be listed below.

Zandalarian Hero Badge: Can be swapped out for another trinket before pulling the boss.
Defender of the Timbermaw: Can be swapped out… lasts 40 sec, will heal if caster is below 50%.
Petrified Scarab: Can be swapped… great against bosses that cast magical spells.

BiS Defensive Gear Sets by Phase

Here are Best in Slot gear sets by Phase focused on defensive aspects, see the above Spreadsheet for threat improving gear.

Gear Set Categories

Here is an explanation of Gear Set Categories and their differences

– Dodge/Agility set: The average player set and used throughout the first few weeks of a raid being released.
– Stamina set: A mainly focused stamina set is ideal for magic dealing mobs and usually coupled with notable resistance specific gear.
– Crit/AP set: All defensive notions are presumably satisfied and additional threat is the only goal, popular in dungeon tanking.


Enchants enable us to further round out our character. There are two categories of enchants for rogue tanks, defensive, ex: Enchant Gloves – Superior Agility. Next are offensive, ex: Enchant Gloves – Threat. Acquiring Enchanting is not necessary to benefit from the profession’s advantages. Simply, give the Enchanter the required enchanting materials and they will enchant your gear for a small gold tip. Getting all your gear enchanted can end up being very costly, I suggest enchanting gear, if you’re absolutely certain it wouldn’t get upgraded for a long time.


Dungeon tanking become easier with practice eventually you’ll reach a point tanking can be safely done with any talent setup possible. However, I still recommend having tank gear on you. If you are rogue tanking for the first time, it’s recommended to go (2/24/25) which will pick up, Hemorrhage. This dungeon setup supplies multiple tools for different scenarios and fixates on the Defensive side of tanking. The second setup, (0/30/21) is a preliminary practice route for raid tanking. The third setup is (20/31/0), grabbed once survival is solidified on raid bosses you’ve been practicing with a guild, it mainly centers on threat.


Pre-Pull: Use Instant Poison VI on weapons. Get all Buffs your group or raid can provide on you. Take a second to mark mobs in front of you by right-clicking their portrait, select Raid Target Icon and pick from either a Skull = kill first, a red X = kill second, a blue square = Freezing Trap and the last one is a moon = Polymorph. If lost, ask what needs a marking.
Pulling: Use Shoot to pull the target, use Sprint, next EvasionBlade Flurry and Hemorrhage (for raids Sinister Strike) till 5 Combo Points for Slice and Dice.
Combat: Maintain a 5 points Slice and Dice, leftover points are used on Eviscerate. 3 seconds before loosing Slice and Dice, generate points for a full Slice and Dice, repeat this process. When Evasion falls, Ghostly Strike if you get hit. If you get hit twice in row to lethal amounts of health use Preparation, Sprint and Evasion. When Evasion falls off, Ghostly Strike if you get hit.
Situational: If you get hit twice in a row to lethal amounts of HP, equip defensive weapons, ex: Dragonfang Blade and use Major Healthstone & Major Rejuvenation Potion or if need be a Paladin can Lay on Hands so you get full HP.
Situational: If you again get hit twice in row to lethal amounts of HP use Masterwork Target Dummy and Juju Escape. If it happens again, make sure healers are paying attention and apply Power Word: Shield as well as Scarab Brooch. A paladin can Blessing of Protection you, if survival is grim until they can replenish your health.


There is a max of 32 Buffs, avoid getting close to the max as it may result in Buffs getting accidentally pushed off. Talents, Set bonuses and Equip effects don’t count. A Buff Cap Calculator is used to see how many you have and what stacks. Prioritize stockpiling defensive Buffs, ex: Rumsey Rum Black Label before getting Threat Buffs, ex: Juju Might. Here’s a link to Realistic Defensive Buffs. Next are consumables, which also provide passive Buffs but some have instant active effects, ex: Goblin Sapper Charge and Major Healthstone among many others.
Threat Increasing BuffsHide

Threat Increasing Buffs


Attack Power

Attack Speed



Reflective Effects

Spell Damage Increasers


  • Mark of the Chosen: Triggering it & then un-equipping it will cause the Buff to stay. (Try to get hit by a mob before attacking the boss.)
  • Oil of Immolation: Interrupts the swing timer, only use before a fight or when switching targets. (purchasable through Auction House.)
  • Dragonbreath Chili: Takes 2 Buff slots, 1 passive & 1 active. Stacks w/another Food Buff if consumed after. Scales w/Spell Damage.)


Defensive Increasing Buffs

Stamina & Health





Heal Over Time

Pure Damage Reducers

Resistance Specific Increasing Buffs






A maximum of 16 Debuffs can be on a target. Having as many Debuffs possible is negligible for dungeons but paramount for raids. There are defensive Debuffs, ex: Insect Swarm and threat Debuffs, ex: Faerie Fire among others. With the raid leader’s permission offer recommendations on optimal Debuffs that suits your needs without overstepping. As rogue tanks, we can provide Gift of Arthas. There’s also Debuffs that come from special events, ex: Hallow’s End Pumpkin Treat, will when used, have a 5% chance when struck from foes to apply
Hallow’s End Fright: Time between hits bolstered by 25%.DebuffsShow

Raid Composition

With the raid leader’s permission offer your advice on an ideal raid composition that suits to your needs without overstepping. Within our group, we appreciate a warlock with Blood Pact a warrior with Battle Shout, a paladin w/Devotion Aura, etc… (see video). If we can pick the damage inducing classes to bring to the raid, we prefer ranged classes over melee. And, if melee classes are needed, we opt for rogues. On the Horde, groups with warriors and warlocks should look at having a shaman providing Tranquil Air Totem. A healing druid is welcomed for Insect Swarm.

Thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed exploring one of my favorite classes in World of Warcraft. If you are left with some lingering questions after having read the guide, feel free to swing over to the link below and I would be more than happy to answer them.


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3 years ago

“Main tank raids.”

If you’re playing with absolute removed by mods who don’t press any buttons, maybe.

Mod: Removed offensive language.

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