- Author: Dwarflord
- Date: November 21, 2023
- Updated: November 26, 2023
- Expansion: WoW Classic
Rogues have been tanking bosses and saving raids in World of Warcraft ever since its initial release, albeit only for as long as Evasion lasted. Now, in Season of Discovery, Rogues receive some additions to their toolkit that will finally allow them to become a proper tank!
Tanks are able to sustain damaging attacks through mitigation and avoidance. Rogues gain 20% Physical Damage Reduction from the rune Just a Flesh Wound, but primarily rely on their avoidance. Our avoidance comes from an innate high Dodge chance, as well as abilities that greatly increase our Parry chance. We can expect acceptable single target threat however we have no methods of generating AoE threat, making a Rogue tank a potential liability on any AoE fight.
Our primary process in any fight will be to maintain Blade Dance and Slice and Dice, while spending any leftover Combo Points on Eviscerate. We generate Combo Points with Sinister Strike and Main Gauche. Additionally, we want to make sure we never fully empty our Energy pool, as this means we cannot use vital situation abilities such as Kick.
We are limited by our Energy regeneration, restricting how fast they can generate Combo Points. Rogues gain 20 Energy every 2 seconds (every 2.03 seconds for the sticklers out there). On large packs, Rogues tanks will need to constantly swap target to maintain threat on the whole pack. This causes another problem in that Combo Points are target based, and swapping target will cost you any Combo Points. For this reason, make sure you use a spender before swapping target, even if it is just a one point Slice and Dice. We can supplement both our AoE and single-target threat with Dynamite created with Engineering, making it a near mandatory profession to have. Additionally, every tank needs an emergency button, and for us that is Evasion.
Outside of our abysmal AoE threat, another disadvantage of Rogue tanks is our smaller health pool, alongside our focus on dealing with Physical damage. This puts us in an awkward spot for any Magic heavy fights, removing almost all of the benefits Season of Discovery brought us.
You take 20% reduced Physical damage while Blade Dance is active. Additionally, you have 6% reduced chance to be critically hit by melee attacks, the threat generated by all your actions is massively increased, and your Feint ability is replaced with Tease, which Taunts the target to attack you.
This is the key to the entire build. This Rune is effectively what defines a Rogue tank, granting us significantly reduced Physical Damage taken, alongside Crit Immunity. This also massively multiplies our threat generation, which allows us to hold onto a boss at all. Finally, we are given a Taunt, by replacing Feint with a new spell, Tease.
The Physical Damage Reduction component of this Rune is based on keeping Blade Dance, a Leg Rune, active. Expect to combine these on almost any fight in which you will be tanking.
Finishing move that increases your Parry chance. Lasts longer and grants more Parry chance per combo point:
1 point: 14 seconds, 6% parry
2 points: 18 seconds, 7% parry
3 points: 22 seconds, 8 % parry
4 points: 26 seconds, 9% parry
5 points: 30 seconds, 10% parry
This ability functions similarly to Slice and Dice, giving us a buff based on the Combo Points spent. Unlike Slice and Dice, the more Combo Points spent on Blade Dance, the stronger the effect is, instead of just increased duration. Getting this running early in a fight is important, but you may have to choose between an early Slice and Dice for increased Threat, or Blade Dance for increased mitigation.
Blade Dance also activates the reduced Physical damage portion of Just a Flesh Wound. This makes it even more important to keep running at all times. The main exception is on Magic focused bosses, as neither Parry nor Physical Damage Reduction will help us there.
Instantly strike with your off-hand weapon for normal off-hand weapon damage and increase your chance to parry by 10% for 10 sec. Awards 1 combo point. Main Gauche benefits from all talents and effects that trigger from or modify Sinister Strike.
This is our defensive option, dealing a fairly weak off-hand hit, and giving us 10% Parry chance for 10 seconds. We generally want to keep this buff running at all times, but refreshing it too early is a significant damage loss.
It is worth noting that the talent Riposte activates by Parrying attacks, giving Main Gauche synergy with it. Using Main Gauche, a full 5 point Blade Dance, Parry, and our innate parry chance we can achieve reach 30% Parry. We are also likely to be able to reach 30% Dodge, giving us a substantial amount of avoidance.
Viciously Slash an enemy for 130% weapon damage, and cause the target to bleed for 11 damage every 2 sec for 12 sec, stacking up to 3 times. Awards 1 combo point. Saber Slash benefits from all talents and effects that trigger from or modify Sinister Strike.
If you do not need the avoidance provided by Main Gauche, Saber Slash can be substituted as a higher damage alternative. This places a stacking Bleed on the target. If we do run this Rune, we want to make sure we never let all stacks fall off, refreshing them at least once every 12 seconds.
This is the build I would aim to use. This allows us to get important mitigation talents such as Dodge and Parry. We also opt for 2 points in Improved Sinister Strike, bringing the cost of Sinister Strike down to 40 from 45. Over the course of a fight this will likely have saved you enough Energy to squeeze in one or two more abilities.
The tree culminates in Riposte, easily activated by our high Parry chance for extra damage and a potentially useful disarm. We also opt for Endurance, reducing the cooldown on our only real defensive cooldown, Evasion. If you find yourself not needing Evasion, you can shift the points into Precision for additional Hit chance, giving us more reliable threat generation.
Key Spells and Abilities
This is your main combo point builder. This has a high Energy cost in exchange for an instant hit. Try to manage your Energy so that you always have options available, even if that means not pressing buttons for an extra second or two. As this scales with your weapon damage, a slow, hard-hitting weapon is your best choice of main-hand.
In addition to Blade Dance, you want to try to keep Slice and Dice running at all times. Increasing your Attack Speed means you generate significantly more threat. Depending on the situation, you may want to prioritize activating Slice and Dice before Blade Dance, based on what is more important at the time, threat or mitigation.
There might be some instances where threat is more important than mitigation and you might want to use Slice and Dice prior to Blade Dance.
This is your last priority spender, dealing high damage based on the combo points spent. However, you never want to prioritize this above maintaining Slice and Dice and Blade Dance, making it fairly rare to use.
This is a fantastic talent for both leveling and tanking. Each time you Parry an attack, you can cast Riposte for a measly 10 Energy, dealing damage based on your weapon damage, and disarming them for 6 seconds. Some of the hardest hitting bosses in Classic are susceptible to Disarm, and coupled with a Rogue’s high Parry chance, bosses will likely spend the majority of the fight disarmed.
It is important to remember that despite all the positives of Riposte, it does not generate Combo Points.
New in Season of Discovery, this is the Rogues version of Taunt. Use this either to regain aggro on stragglers, or on any boss that requires a taunt rotation. This ability replaces Feint while Just a Flesh Wound is active.
This allows us to instantly interrupt spell casts, and is one of the shortest cooldown interrupts available in Classic. The downside is that it costs 25 Energy. We want to try and always have 25 Energy available to us in any situation that could need an interrupt. This is easily achieved by simply delaying your damaging abilities a little to make sure they never bring you below 25 Energy.
This is likely the best trinket you can get in Phase 1, and holds up in later Phases too. You will be competing against a lot of other players for this so bring friends and get ready to brawl!
Engineering is always great for getting low level helmets, and for threat generating items like Heavy Dynamite. Alternatively you could get Ringed Helm from an Alliance only Rare, or Humbert’s Helm, a Horde only helmet from level 29 Elite Dwarves in Hillsbrad Foothills.
This is a relatively easy main-hand weapon to obtain, available from the Deadmines. Sinister Strike benefits from slow weapons, giving this an extra edge.
Another fantastic and slow main-hand option. This weapon is Bind on Equip, meaning you can pick it up from the auction house. The downside of this is that it is likely to be incredibly expensive, especially in the early days of Season of Discovery.
Stoneform is a niche ability for both tanking and PvP. Removing a Bleed, Poison, or Disease at will has saved my life as a tank many times. The 10% Armor bonus is nice to have, but as we are primarily an avoidance based tank, this is less valuable.
Escape Artist is great for removing any slow or root, and mobility on a tank is always important. Unfortunately this is rarely useful in raid content, but if you ever end up able to use it, you’ll be glad it’s there.
The Berserking racial is great for improved threat generation and for Horde, Troll is considered to be the best tank race for Warriors and this will likely be the same for Rogues. The 5% bonus damage to Beasts from Beast Slaying is nice, however only one boss in Blackfathom Deeps that is a Beast.
Blood Fury is a great damage increase, but reduces your healing received which can easily be a death sentence for any tank. Rogues also cannot use Axes, making Axe Specialization functionally useless for us.