Why Play a Rogue?

I was giving some thought to writing a guide on how to bring a rogue from its infancy in level 1 all the way to its maturity in level 80.  I realized that before I tackle that venture, it might be nice to answer the question, “Why should I play a Rogue?”  It’s true the class isn’t for everyone and there are plenty of people out there playing the class that don’t have a clue what they are doing.  Before I digress into the essence of how the class works and why anyone would want to play it, I’m going to discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of the class.


  • Strong Damage Dealer – While Rogues now have a fair amount of utility abilities, their main job is to destroy whatever they happen to be targeting.
  • Poisons – Rogues have access to a variety of Poisons that either augment their damage or cripple their opponent.
  • Stealth – Rogues can use stealth to bypass obstacles that most classes have to deal with.
  • Bag o’ Tricks – Rogues have numerous tools at their disposal to completely incapacitate an enemy.  They can also lessen or even negate the abilities that their opponents use on them.


  • Limited Area of Effect Damage – Rouges have one true AoE ability, Fan of Knives, and it isn’t trainable until level 80.  Catacylsm is supposed to see less reliance on AoE damage by groups, but while questing or leveling (again to level 80), only Combat Rogues can hit more than one target at a time.
  • Dual Wield – Rogues deal with a massive hit penalty, from level one for being a dual wield class.  This is typically only overcome near end game.

–  Why Play a Rogue?  –

The Essence of the Rogue

One pleasant afternoon in Grizzly Hills two trolls are going about their business patrolling ruins.  They hear a sound, and alertly turn toward it.  One of the trolls is instantly incapacitated by some unknown force, but the other is too oblivious to even notice.  Out of the shadows behind him appears a dark figure who begins a furious assault of swift jabs with daggers.  Then, as quickly as he appeared, the dark figure vanishes, the troll dead on the ground where he once stood.

The other troll regains consciousness and continues on his route as if nothing happened.  Without warning, the figure reappears behind him and begins his assault.  At first the troll is stunned and cannot move, but quickly regains his movement, only to be stunned again.  He is more resilient that his counterpart and survives the first wave of attacks, albeit wounded by the intruder. 

Once again able to move, he turns and is about to begin his assault on the shadowy figure when his eyes are gouged.  Regaining his sight, he begins to attack his assailant only to miss wildly as the other combatant evades almost all of his attacks.  Nearing death, the troll enrages, finding that most of his blows are landing and devastating his attacker.  Just when it appears that he is going to claim a narrow victory, he is blinded by powder thrown in his eyes.  When his vision returns, he notices that his situation is hopeless, as his opponent has mended his wounds and begun to attack him with greater speed.  A moment later the battle is over and the Rogue steps back into the shadows and is seen no more. 

When grouped or raiding, the roles of a rogue change, but that short passage describes perfectly the life of the solo Rogue.  Rogues live their lives in the shadows, exiting only to defeat an opponent.  The excitement of being a Rogue comes from knowing how to evade both your enemy’s detection and their attacks.

If you want to play a character that requires expert timing, precision movement, and causes general mayhem, the rogue class is for you.  But, you should play a rogue only  if you understand and accept the following concepts:

1.)  A rogue uses stealth to avoid detection and change the circumstances of battles.  

Stealth does not mean invisibility or invincibility; if you walk in front of a hostile mob that isn’t a lower level than you, it will see you and attack you.  This is why you get the distract ability, to alter the direction that mobs are looking, so that you can sneak past them, or get their backs turned to you.

From stealth you can change the fortunes of your next battle.  By sapping one member of a group of patrolling mobs, you can separate it from the group and pick them off one at a time.  Stealth is all about controlling the fight before it begins.

2.)  Rogues show no mercy to their opponent, crippling them whenever possible.

As a rogue, you can be as nice as you want to your friends, but you must be ruthless when taking out your enemies.  You have more stuns than you can count, and if you want to minimize the amount of combo points you spend on Recuperate to heal, you’ll use them.   Cheap shot, Kindney shot, Gouge and Blind are not abilities that should be dormant in your spellbook.  Bind them to keys and use them.

3.)  Rogues use poison to increase their damage.

Poison contributes significantly to a Rogues DPS, even more so if you for Mutilate Rogues.  If you are not using poisons, you are crippling your own damage.  Rogues are the only class that can use poisons, so make sure you’re using them.

–  Conclusions & Advice  –

Hopefully I’ve painted a pretty clear picture of the silent assassin that a Rogue can be.  It’s also true that a Rogue can be more of a swashbuckler and act more like a Warrior.  Warriors charge in an decimate a group of  enemies.  While Rogues can do this to a certain extent, the tools Rogues have to take out groups of enemies are on several minute long cooldowns.  There’s nothing wrong with playing a Rogue that way but expect more downtime to heal and wait on cooldowns.

The supporting cast of abilities for a Rogue can be just as important as the innate ones you’ll get from leveling and talents.  For professions Leatherworking and Skinning are good for gear, but I chose Herbalism and Alchemy on Samuel for the buffs and health potions.  I also leveled Cooking, Fishing and First Aid.  Being able to quickly bandage and make your own food is very helpful while soloing.  Having all of these abilities were almost a necessity for leveling, and while their importance has been a bit diminished in the age of Recuperate, they’re still valuable assets to have.

You can play the Rogue class many ways, but for me, I play it because I value the art of moving in and out of the shadows and swiftly dispatching my enemies before they even know what hit them. 

I’m SamuelTempus, and because I enjoy being master assassin, I play a Rogue.

– Sam

16 Responses to Why Play a Rogue?

  1. Aeltyr says:

    Indeed without our cooldowns we are a sitting duck, but with those cooldowns we have control (which is, in my opinion, what the rogue class can be called in one word)

    Pulled an add while soloing ? You have multiple options of dealing with that.
    Vanish and start over the fight later.
    Pop Evasion and burn down the other mob quickly.
    Blind and burn down the other mob.
    Disarm and ‘tank’ both.
    DoT the first mob and start DPSing the add, tanking both (with or without Evasion)

    On my druid I might pop into bearform and use Frenzied Regeneration, but that might not always help – same with a paladin that could bubble and heal (both are really good at surviving ‘oh sh-‘ situations). If the add was, say, a named elite patrol, both are probably screwed. A rogue can just vanish and sap him, or wait for him to go away.

    I think your story described the solo rogue quite nicely. You also make an excellent point in (1) – we can use stealth to assess a situation, and our many incapacitating abilities to tilt the balance in our favor. A druid also has stealth, but the only thing they can do from it is choose a target to use an opener on – they still have to face all the mobs.

    About rogue AoE .. meh. AR-BF or BF-KSpr are fun for the first few times you do it, but you get used to it. And I don’t like FoK spamming on Naxx trash (or anything else for that matter). I prefer some hard hitting trash you have to single-target DPS 🙂 I mostly do ToTT+FoK spam on some AoE packs, not because it’s particularly fun but because it’s usefull and allows the real AoE DPS more room with threat.

    Of course, I’m Mutilate, so combat rogues may enjoy some big FoK numbers a bit more.

  2. Kwinto says:

    If you state that rogues bring no utility, then mister, you’re doing it wrong.

    We bring buffs (unique +15% DPS for 6 sec every 30 sec on a fellow DPS),
    we bring debuffs (unique as long as no DPS warrior wants to go arms), we bring misdir, we bring AoE, we bring dispels, we bring counterspells, we even bring CC (if anybody still wants it in WotLK). We bring solid DPS (sometimes top, sometimes not) and finally we bring rez after wipe, if we vanish quickly enough and happen to be engineers 🙂

    In fact, there is no better way to do Sartharion +2D or +3D than to bring a combat rogue or two. No other class can compete with AR->BF->TotT(tank)->FoK->FoK->FoK->FoK->FoK->FoK macro, not to mention AoE enrage dispel on blazes coming along, so I’d like to disagree with your statement about “real AoE” here 🙂 .

  3. samueltempus says:


    I guess you’ve got me on the “no utility” statement. Taking it the way I wrote it, I can see your point. The problem with lists is that they are there to give quick information bites, not lengthy commentary or opinions.

    At the risk of once again being misunderstood, let me give a brief explaination:

    Rouges bring very little “unique” utility to a raid. Every example you cited is either an ability that another class can already do in some fashion, or in the case of Engineering, a profession.

    In some cases we can do the ability better, and in some cases our ability is either the same or less effective than another class’ version of the ability. It all depends on the situation.

    I don’t think that rogues have any issues getting into 25 man raids, but I’ve noticed that as you decrease the amount of people in a group(25->10->5) that groups want more utility/buffs and sustained AoE DPS, neither of which are the stronger points of the rogue class.

    On a brighter note, I guess this gives me something else to write about 🙂

    – Sam

  4. Kwinto says:

    I do understand you, I just disagree 🙂

    As of rez, it was of course a flavor, not real benefit (and yes, hunters can do it also, we’re not unique here).
    But really – Savage Combat is very important debuff (and will be even two times more powerful in 3.1) that we are unique to bring just because of mentioned serious Arms inferiority to Fury. It not only helps with physical DPS but also somehow (a little, true) helps tanks doing damage = building threat.
    Mutilate debuff can be replaced in way more means, especially in 25ppl raids, but in 10ppl and 5ppl – not necessary. So I wouldn’t skip it either, but you are right here – other classes do it better.
    Hemo is a f**k now, so I don’t even mention it thou 🙂
    TotT DPS buff is unique for us and other melee toons often beg for it when there is no problem with threat.
    TotT threat misdirection, on the other hand, is way more powerful than hunters one, in AoE situations. Same goes to enrage dispell.

    I guess I’m just allergic to posts saying “we bring nothing unique” and “we need more utility” after reading tons of QQ posts on EU official fora an I overreacted :).

    Personally I believe that we bring a lot of utility and it is just a subject of l2p to utilize them correctly.

    Regards 🙂

  5. samueltempus says:

    Kwinto, Life would be rather boring if we all agreed 🙂

    Anyway, if you search hard enough on the site, you’ll see that I’m in love with TotT, and its many uses. I’m looking forward to 3.1 and really getting a good feel for Combat again. Thanks to dual spec, I’ll be able to easily test it and Assassination.

    Thanks for the comments, and helping me think from a different view than I was when I wrote this post. I just wish that I had some people to bounce this stuff off of before I write it down. I’ve got a follow up post in the works already for the utility we possess, and when / how to use it.

    – Sam

  6. Kwinto says:

    You’ll hate it in 3.1. In case that you haven’t seen it on latest PTR builds, I’d like to point you our whine thread on EU forum:
    (I don’t look into US forums besides blue tracker, so I don’t know if there is any topic about it)

  7. samueltempus says:

    I’ll have to log on to the PTR and check it out. Hopefully it’s not nearly as horrible as it sounds. It’s already nearly impossible to see what’s going on in most AoE situations as it is.

    – Sam

  8. pitrelli says:

    Unless you are in a decent guild who are raiding then Rogues are pretty crap atm in my opinion, having played the rogue class for about three years I dont think we have ever had it so bad and are so gear dependant its unbelievable.

    Concerning sucking at pvp Im not sure if thats down to other classes (mainly paladins and death knights) being overpowered or us just not being ‘right’ . Sure gear makes a massive difference as my friends Rogue is awesome and Ive had a shot of him but actually getting that gear is near enough impossible due to heriocs etc wanting AoE spammers.

    Also I want to feel like im an important member of the group which just isnt the case, i say bring back CC or even let us utilise lockpicking or disarm traps in groups.

    I’ve rerolled a paladin for the good of the guild im in and I’ve left my Rogue at level 80. Will i revisit after the patch? Possibly but im not happy atm

  9. samueltempus says:


    It’s true I’m fortunate enough to not only be in a good guild, but be the leader of the guild too. When I’m not needed on my Paladin (I think you’ll enjoy the class) tanking guild heroics, I can almost always get a group together on my Rogue.

    As far as PuG heroics, I constantly see things like: LF2M AoE DPS, and in my opinion it’s a huge design flaw in the Wotlk Instances. Most groups are too dependant on AoE damage to get through things. I miss using CC and burning targets one at at time. It took more skill, and was more fun.

    I guess the real issue with our damage is that to reach our potential we need a stationary mob that can live long enough to complete full rotations. Sadly, there are few mobs that exist like this, and only a handful of bosses. Don’t even get me started on poison immune mobs 🙂


  10. pitrelli says:

    Yeah Im enjoying my paladin so far, and I have my rogue on standby when level 80s gank me. I have a feeling I will enjoy Lich king alot better as a paladin as it seems it revolves around them and death knights.

    I think you hit the nail on the head about design flaw. CC used to be great, hell i remember having to put 2 points into improved sap to be viable to raid.

    So Yep I think my rogue may well stay geared as he is until the next expansion, or until they bring back some more roguery to instances.

    You have some great posts and info on here btw

  11. samueltempus says:

    Thanks Pitrelli; I hope your Rogue doesn’t stay too dormant though. I’m sure you’ll be fine, but if you need any Paladin related advice, I’ve raided Naxx with all 3 specs, so don’t hesitate to drop a line. Unfortunately, I spend more of our raids tanking than playing Sam. On the bright side, it makes me a better raid leader, as I’ve experienced the fights from all four angles: Tank, Melee, Ranged, and Heals 🙂

    – Sam

  12. pitrelli says:

    Thanks Sam, Im sure pitrelli the rogue will keep himself occupied with world pvp and the occassional battleground.

    As for Paladin advice whats your thoughts on tanking with retribution build up to say level 60? I plan to respec at 60 to either holy or prot but Im finding retribution too hard too resist atm simply for ease of levelling. Also the instances Ive ran Ive actually tanked ahead of prot paladins due to them not managing aggro

  13. samueltempus says:

    Tanking anything up to 60 as Ret shouldn’t be an issue. Assuming Righteous Fury is up, you should have little issue holding threat with Retribution Aura and Consecrate. On your main target, I’d reccomend using Seal of Wisdom with either Judgement of Wisdom or Light depending on how much mana you’re losing from Consecrate.

    Becuase Consecrate is so mana intensive, I’d keep using Wis/Wis or Wis/Light even after you get Judgements of the Wise.

    I personally leveled from 10-60 Retribution, back in BC. I went Holy from 60-70, and solo leveling was painfully slow. I leveled from 70-80 Prot and leveled almost as fast as I did on Sam. If you go the Prot Route, use your Ret Gear with a 1 hander and a shield, and you’ll do good damage without taking a lot.

    – Sam

  14. pitrelli says:

    nice one, thanks for the tips

  15. Blayke says:

    Wow! (no pun intended) What a great blog! Combines two of my favorite hobbies: blogging and playing a rogue. Actually, I’m on hiatus from blogging just to concentrate on leveling up my rogue. I’ve been playing for just over two months (this is my first toon) and I’m up to level 63. The information on this blog has been invaluable as well as being a whole lot of fun to read. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  16. StareDad says:

    Yeah, I rolled a rogue last night. I’m frothing, but yeah. Good blog, useful information for what’s to come. I have a 68 hunter, but hunter just gets so boring.

    Maybe it’s just me finding the right class. 🙂

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