- Author: Caperfin
- Date: February 24, 2020
- Updated: January 17, 2021
- Expansion: WoW Classic
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Charge, Masterwork Target Dummy, Gnomish 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.
The four most impactful threat generating rogue abilities are Hemorrhage (in raids Sinister Strike), Eviscerate, Slice 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.
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.
- PreRaid AoE
- Phase 1 Fire Resist
- Phase 2 (no PvP gear) Fire Resist
- Phase 3 (no PvP gear) Fire Resist
- Phase 4 (no PvP gear)
- Phase 5
- Phase 6
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 Evasion, Blade 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
- Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer: (If someone hands in Head of Nefarian or Head of Onyxia. Common but be in Orgrimmar)
- Mark of the Wild: Improved by talent: Improved Mark of the Wild (the resistance doesn’t stack with Shaman Resistance Totems)
- Traces of Silithyst: +5% damage to melee, range and spell damage dealt. Gained upon turning in Silithyst dust at Hive’Regal.
- Songflower Serenade: (From the easy and repeatable quest located in Felwood, Corrupted Songflower.)
- Spirit of Zandalar: (Obtained if someone hands in Heart of Hakkar, which is common but you must be in Booty Bay/Yojamba isle)
- Blessing of Kings: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +10% to all stats. Players may only have one Blessing on them per Paladin at any one time.
- Gnomish Shrink Ray: Used on a mob before a boss fight. (can backfire giving group attack power instead, usually done by healers)
- Fengus’ Ferocity: +200 Attack Power. (from Dire Maul North Tribute, learn more here. )[/color]
- Trueshot Aura: +100 Attack Power for 30 min. (An ability within the Hunter Marksmanship talent tree)
- Battle Shout: +185 Attack power for 2 min. (improvable by the talent Improved Battle Shout & Tier 2 set “Battlegear of Wrath“)
- Juju Might: (From the Winterspring repeatable quest: Frostmaul E’ko. You must have Cache of Mau’ari in inventory to use item.)
- Blessing of Might: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +185 Attack Power. Players may only have one Blessing on them per Paladin at any one time.
- Battle Squawk: +5% attack speed to group for 4 min, has a chance to happen on each attack made by Gnomish Battle Chicken.
- Ground Scorpok Assay: +25 Agility. (from repeatable quest: Salt of the Scorpok in the Blasted Lands)
- Elixir of the Mongoose: +25 Agility, +2% Melee Critical Strike chance. (purchasable through Auction House.)
- Grace of Air Totem: (HORDE ONLY) +77 Agility. (effect can be increased by the Shaman talent, Enhancing Totems)
- Grilled Squid: +10 Agility for 10min. (can’t stack w/other food Buffs, like the defensive Buff, Dirge’s Kickin’ Chimaerok Chops.)
- Strength of Earth Totem: (HORDE ONLY) +77 Strength. (effect can be increased by the Shaman talent, Enhancing Totems)
- Juju Power: (From the Winterspring repeatable quest: Winterfall E’ko. You need Cache of Mau’ari in your inventory to use item.)
- Holy Strength from Enchant Weapon – Crusader: Strength bolsters damage also the trigger of the Buff causes pure global threat.
- Thorns: Second highest damage reflective Buff. (Improved by Cenarion Raiment (3/3) tier set bonus & talent, Improved Thorns.)
- Gift of Arthas: Deals threat when the effect is applied on the target. It will continue to deal threat even if the effect is already present.
- Crystal Spire: (From repeatable quest “Crystal Spire” in Un’goro Crater & anyone can cast it on you) (will not stack with Thorns)
- Fire Shield: Applied by a Warlock’s imp. Deals 13 Fire damage to melee attackers. (bolstered by the Warlock talent Improved Imp)
- Retribution Aura: (ALLIANCE ONLY) Improved by Improved Retribution Aura. Great for AoE tanking.
Spell Damage Increasers
- Flask of Supreme Power: Only 1 flask effect can be active at a time. Activating another flask causes the previous one to disappear.
- Greater Arcane Elixir: +35 spell damage. (can’t stack with Fury of Ragnaros) Bolsters the damage of Dragonbreath Chili.
- Power Infusion: (Ability within the Priest Discipline talent tree) Optimally, put on you for the pulling & execute phase of a boss fight.
- Elixir of Greater Firepower: +40 fire spell damage for 30 min. Used to increase the damage dealt by Dragonbreath Chili.
- 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.)
TO BE DETERMINED/TESTED
- Rejuvenation: TBD (might cause threat through the Druid Tier3 Dreamwalker Raiment (2/2) set bonus, Rejuvenation)
Defensive Increasing Buffs
Stamina & Health
- Sayge’s Dark Fortune of Stamina: +10% Stamina for 2hrs. (From the quest, Sayge’s Fortunes in the Darkmoon Faire from Sayge).
- Dirge’s Kickin’ Chimaerok Chops: +25 Stamina. (will not stack with other Food Buffs, such as Grilled Squid)
- Rumsey Rum Black Label: (By fishing in many kinds of pools, mainly Floating Wreckage in Stranglethorn Vale or bought from AH).
- Power Word: Fortitude: +54 Stamina. (effect can be increased through the priest talent, Improved Power Word: Fortitude)
- Mol’dar’s Moxie: +15% Stamina overall for 2hrs. (From Dire Maul North Tribute)
- Spirit of Zanza: Buyable from Rin’wosho with Zandalar Honor Token. Tokens are gained through quests, ex: A Bijou for Zanza.
- Blood Pact: Warlock must be in the group for the “Aura” Buff to remain. (effect is increasable by the Warlock talent, Improved Imp)
- Flask of the Titans: +1200 HP for 2 hours. The most notable defensive Buff out there for Rogue tanks. Advised for easier raid tanking.
- Elixir of Fortitude: +120 HP for 1 hour.
- Regrowth: +50 HP stacks fives times, resulting in 250 HP. From the (6/6) Dreamwalker Raiment tier set bonus available in Phase 6.
- Warchief’s Blessing: (Gained if someone gives in Head of Rend Blackhand, be in Orgrimmar at that moment.)
- Greater Stoneshield Potion: +2000 armor for 2 min. Has a 2 minute cooldown w/notable potions, ex: Major Rejuvenation Potion.
- Elixir of Superior Defense: +450 Armor for 1 hour. (Purchasable from the Auction House. Will not stack with Crystal Ward)
- Polished Armor: +10% Armor for 10min. (from the PvP Battleground Alterac Valley quest, Enemy Booty. Persists out of Battleground)
- Crystal Ward: +200 Armor. From the repeatable quest Crystal Ward in Un’Goro Crater. (can’t stack w/Elixir of Superior Defense)
- Inspiration: Increases armor by 25% for 15 sec, shares the same effect as Ancestral Healing, they will not stack with each other.
- Devotion Aura: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +735 armor to party members in 30 yards. Improvable by the talent, Improved Devotion Aura.
- Improved Lay on Hands: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +30% bonus to armor value from items for 2 min. (From the Paladin Holy talent tree.)
- Power Word: Shield: Effect bolstered by the talent, Improved Power Word: Shield and item, The All-Seeing Eye of Zuldazar.
- Scarab Brooch: (Healers can trigger its effect on you before a fight and swap it out for another trinket and the effect will remain)
- Greater Heal: From the (4/4) Vestments of Faith tier set bonus.
- Bloodkelp Elixir of Dodging: +3% dodge for 30 min. (one time usable item from the Dungeon Set 1 quest chain)
- Juju Escape: (from repeatable quest, Ice Thistle E’ko. Must have Cache of Mau’ari in inventory to use item)
Heal Over Time
- Healing Stream Totem: (HORDE ONLY) (Effect improved by Restorative Totems. The healing doesn’t cause threat to anyone)
- Greater Heal Renew: From (8/8) Vestments of Transcendence tier set.
- Rejuvenation: Heal for 888 over 12 sec. (increased by the talent, Improved Rejuvenation)
- Regrowth: Heal for 1064 over 21 sec.
- Renew: Heal for 970 damage over 15 sec. (increased by the talent, Improved Renew)
Pure Damage Reducers
- Stoneskin Totem: (HORDE ONLY) Reduce melee damage taken by 30. (effect bolstered by the shaman talent, Guardian Totems)
- Dampen Magic: Useful for magical heavy fights. (effect is bolstered by Mage talent, Magic Attunement).
- Amplify Magic: Useful for physically heavy fights. (effect is bolstered by Mage talent, Magic Attunement).
- Blessing of Sanctuary: (ALLIANCE ONLY) Damage taken reduced by up to 24 for 5 min. We can’t block since we can’t wear a shield.
Resistance Specific Increasing Buffs
- Greater Fire Protection Potion: Absorbs 1950 to 3250 fire damage.
- Frozen Rune: Absorbs 1500 to 2500 fire damage.
- Juju Ember: +15 fire resistance for 10 min.
- Fire Resistance Totem: (HORDE ONLY) +60 fire resistance.
- Fire Resistance Aura: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +60 fire resistance.
- Greater Frost Protection Potion: Absorbs 1950 to 3250 frost damage.
- Juju Chill: +15 frost resistance for 10 min.
- Frost Resistance Totem: (HORDE ONLY) +60 frost resistance.
- Frost Resistance Aura: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +60 frost resistance.
- Greater Nature Protection Potion: Absorbs 1950 to 3250 nature damage.
- Nature Resistance Totem: (HORDE ONLY) +60 nature resistance.
- Greater Shadow Protection Potion: Absorbs 1950 to 3250 shadow damage.
- Crystal Basilisk Spine: Increases Frost and Shadow resistance by 10 for 1 min.
- Shadow Protection: +30 Shadow resistance for 10 min.
- Gift of Arthas: +10 Shadow resistance for 30 min.
- Shadow Resistance Aura: (ALLIANCE ONLY) +60 Shadow resistance.
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
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.