Rogue: How to Spec and Play Combat
January 20, 2009 139 Comments
*** Updated for 3.3 ***
Since 3.1 was released, Combat became a truly viable spec for raiding. In subsequent patches, it has come very close to Assassination in single target encounters, and is considered by many to be the best Rogue spec for multi target and movement fights. From what I’ve heard and read, most guilds that raid 3 Rogues in a 25 man, usually take 2 Combat Rogues and 1 Assassination Rogue. This is likely due to the extra versatility that Combat brings to the table via on demand burst.
Today, I’m going to break down a Ruptureless Combat spec, and discuss how to play it. Combat specs are extremely dependant on which weapons you use. I’m currently using a pair of axes, but you can use Fists, Swords or Maces as well. While you can mix and match, using two weapons from the same Weapon Specialization is the best way to go.
Please note that while you may be able a few hundred more DPS with Rupture, I haven’t tested it personally, and there’s still a debate going on over at Elitist Jerks as to what talents make the absolute best spec for using Rupture with Combat. If you’re looking to up your game from 11k DPS to 11.2k DPS, take a look over there. I’ll update the guide again when a consensus has been reached as to what makes the “best” spec
– How to: Combat Spec –
We’re going to build a 20/51/0 Ruptureless Combat Spec. This Spec is designed with pure damage dealing in mind, and has little in the way of utility. You’ll notice that I’m going to leave 5 points in the Combat Tree unaccounted for. These are meant for your specific Weapon Specialization, and will be indented with three asterisks (***). Note that of all of these, Hack and Slash is considered the best.
Combat Tree (51)
5/5 Dual Wield Specialization – This talent increases your offhand damage 2% per talent point, for a total 10% increase. It’s also a prerequisite for Close Quarters Combat
2/2 Improved Sinister Strike – This will reduce the cost of your Sinister Strikes by 5 Energy. You will be using Sinister Strike hundreds of times on boss fights, so the energy adds up quickly.
2/2 Improved Slice and Dice – Increases your Slice and Dice duration by 50%. This ability should be up at all times, so extending its lifespan is a must.
5 /5 Precision – Increases your hit chance by 5%. Dual wielding carries with it a huge hit penalty; every PvE Rogue should have this, although some specs can live without all 5 points.
1/2 Endurance –This will give you a bit more Stamina and slightly lower your cooldowns on Sprint and Evasion.
*** 5/5 Close Quarters Combat– Take this if you’re using fist weapons, as this will increase your Crit chance by 5%.
5/5 Aggression– This talent increases your Sinsiter Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate damage by 15%. Another boost to Sinister Strike, which you will be using often, as well as Eviscerate.
3/3 Lightning Reflexes – This provides 6% Dodge and 10% Melee Haste. Hopefully you won’t be needing the dodge, but the haste should come in very handy for a nice DPS boost.
*** 5/5 Hack and Slash – Take this if you use Swords or Axes; it will give you a 5% chance to gain an extra attack with your swords whenever they hit.
*** 5/5 Mace Specialization – If you’re using maces, take this; It will allow you to ignore 15% of your opponent’s armor.
1/1 Blade Flurry– 20% increased attack speed, and your attacks will hit and additional nearby enemy while activated, for 15 seconds. Multi target DPS and faster attack speed on a 2 minute cooldown, you’d be hard pressed to find a Combat Rogue skipping this talent.
2/2 Weapon Expertise – Increases your Expertise by 10. That’s 10 skill (the cap is 26), that you don’t have to get from stacking expertise rating.
2/2 Blade Twisting– Increases Backstab and Sinister Strike Damage by 10%, and gives your melee attacks a 10% chance to daze the target for 8 secs. The daze effect and Backstab damage are nice, but the reason for picking this up is Sinister Strike damage bonus.
3/3 Vitality– Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 25%. Faster regen equals more energy to use sooner.
1/1 Adrenaline Rush– Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 100% for 15 sec. Even more Energy regen on a 3 minute cooldown; another talent Combat Rogues do not skip.
5/5 Combat Potency– Your successful off-hand auto attacks have a 20% chance to generate 15 Energy. This is why we took a sword offhand and Sword Specialization; another talent that keeps feeding our energy machine.
1/1 Surprise Attacks– 10% increased damage to Sinister Strike, Backstab, Shiv, Hemorrhage and Gouge, as well as removing the chance that your finishing moves can be dodged. Another boost to our damage output.
2/2 Savage Combat – Increases your attack power by 4% and all Physical damage caused to poisoned targets is increase by 2%. This is not only a nice buff to attack power, but also a 2% buff to all group/raid members doing physical damage to poisoned targets.
5/5 Prey on the Weak – Critical strike damage increased by 20% on targets with less health % than you. If you can keep your health % above the boss for a whole fight, you can have this bonus the whole time.
1/1 Killing Spree– Step through the shadows from enemy to enemy within 10 yards, attacking an enemy within 10 yards every 0.5 sec with both weapons until 5 assaults are made. Can hit the same target multiple times, but cannot hit invisible or stealthed targets. A good solid AoE ability, or single target damage ability, but with a 2 minute cooldown. It is best used with Slice and Dice up and Blade flurry popped.
Assassination Tree (20)
5/5 Malice – Increases your critical strike chance by 5%. An easy 5% crit; no serious rogue specs of any spec skip this talent.
3/3 Improved Eviscerate– Increases the damage of your Eviscerates by 20%
2/3 Ruthelessness – This will give you a 40% chance to generate a combo point when you use a finisher, such as Slice and Dice and Eviscerate.
5/5 Lethality – Increases non-stealth combo moves by30%. For us, this means Sinister Strike gets a 30% bonus.
1/3 Vile Poisons – This will give you a 7% damage buff to Envenom and poisons, as well as making DoT poisons 10% harder to dispell. We won’t be using Envenom in this build, but the 7% poison buff is nice.
4/5 Improved Poisons – This talent will up the frequency of Deadly Poison procs by 16% and Instant Poison procs by 40%. Because of how Deadly Poison works, the 16% increase in Deadly Poison procs will actually increase the Instant Poison procs even more. The result: better single target damage.
Nope, no points here.
How to play this spec:
Assuming perfect conditions (stationary mob with enough health) the following rotation will produce very good DPS.
Sinister Strike to 2 combo points
Slice and Dice
Sinister Strike to 5 combo points
It’s kinda boring, but that’s it. To be honest, the real fun in Combat comes from the cooldowns, and popping them at jus the right time. If Slice and Dice is dropping, you might consider getting three combo points before using it.
Other abilities and Glyphs:
Killing spree should be used when it is available, and if possible at the same time as Slice and Dice / Blade Flurry. Use Tricks of the Trade whenever it’s up if you have the 2 piece T10 bonus for the extra energy. Use Adrenaline Rush as often as possible, unless you need to save it for on demand burst.
I use the following Glyphs with this setup:
Glyph of Eviscerate (10% extra Crit chance)
Sinister Strike (SS crits have a 50% chance to generate a combo point)
Killing Spree (reduces cooldown by 45 seconds)
Combat gives you more options than Assassination, and because of this, it will produce greater DPS on multi target fights. Also, you can decide when to pop the numerous cooldowns available to combat, so it’s very effective in fights where specific adds have to be targeted quickly and dispatched of as soon as possible. It’s hard to call one spec better than the other, but for sure Combat has many advantages as a spec.