Leveling a Rogue: Leveling Combat: 10-80
March 9, 2009 29 Comments
*** Now Updated for 3.3 ***
Ok, so you’ve made it through the starting zone, and you’ve reached level 10. Now that you’ve got talent points, how are you going to use them as you level?
Today I’ll discuss using the Combat tree to level. While Combat is, in my opinion, a pretty easy spec to level with, it’s definitely the least Rogue feeling. However, if speed and ease are your main concerns, this spec should help you out…
– Leveling Combat: 10-80 –
Please note that there are differing viewpoints on the “best” spec to use for leveling; this one is mine. As always, I’d recommend that you find more than one source of information and decide what’s “best” for you.
This guide works best with a Sword, Fist Weapon, or Mace in the main hand. When leveling, you should use the best weapons you can find, just make sure you get your weapon skill up before you go nuts. In my raiding Combat Build, I use Axes, but all four weapon types are viable. Because this is a leveling build, we won’t be picking up the weapon specializations. Instead those points will go into survivability talents. Let’s begin:
Level 10 – 14 – Dual Wield Specialization
Rogues start with the ability to Dual Wield, so we’ll be using 5 talent points for the 50% increase to our offhand weapon.
New Skills at level 10: Sap, Slice and Dice and Sprint. Sap allows you to incapacitate an humanoid from stealth; later levels will allow for Sapping other mob types. Slice and Dice is a Finisher that increases attack speed; the duration of the buff depends on the number of combo points. Sprint is a handy tool for increasing your movement speed for 15 seconds.
New Skill at Level 12: Kick. Kick is the Rogue’s Interrupt ability. This, with your other stuns, such as gouge should make killing casters much easier.
New Skills at Level 14: Expose Armor, Garrote. Expose armor is a Finisher that reduces the target’s armor (90 per combo point) for 30 seconds. Garrote is our first real Opener, and it does two things. First, it applies a bleed effect on the target, which is our first DoT (Damage over Time) ability, and in a higher rank also has a silence effect.
Level 15 – 19: Precision
For most classes, spending points on a +hit talent at this point in the game doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, dual wielding melee classes have a much higher chance to miss than other classes (25%, against an on level mob, I believe).
New Skill at level 16: Feint. Feint, which lowers your threat, has little use in solo play, but at later levels it does get some AoE reduction added to the talent.
New Skill at Level 18: Ambush. This is another Opener, but it is only usable with a dagger in the main hand. If you are using a dagger, this is your best damage option for an opener, and it awards 2 combo points.
Level 20 & 21: Improved Sinister Strike
Two points here will shave off 5 energy from the cost of our Sinister Strikes. As your main source of combo point generation, this will make your rotations faster.
New Skills at level 20: Dismantle and Rupture. Dismantle will allow you to disarm your opponents, thereby lowering their damage. Rupture is a new Finisher that puts a bleed DoT on the target, the damage and length increase per combo point.
Level 22 – 24: Deflection
The 6% parry chance combined with the 6% dodge we’re going to pick up with our later will go a long way in keeping us alive.
New Skills at Level 22: Distract and Vanish. Distract makes using moves in Stealth much easier, as you can use it to both freeze mobs in place, and face away with you. Vanish is your best survival tool. If you bite off more than you can chew, you simply Vanish, and combat resets.
New Skill at Level 24: Detect Traps. This will allow you to see traps that Hunters drop. Very few mobs in the game drop traps, so it’s real use is PvP.
Level 25 – 27: Lightning Reflexes
This newly redesigned talent now will pull double duty for you. It will bring your talented avoidance up to 12% with the 6% dodge it provides. In addition, it will also grant 10% Melee Haste, and increase your damage.
Level 28 & 29: Endurance
In addition to lowering the cooldown of your Sprint and Evasion by a minute, this talent gives you a 4% total Stamina increase. This increase will be minor at this time, but as you get more stamina on your gear it will become more noticable.
New Skill at Level 26: Cheap Shot. This is probably my favorite opener when soloing Combat, as it stuns the target for 4 seconds, and gives you 2 combo points. I personally like to macro it with Pick Pocket, so that anything I Cheap Shot will have it’s pockets picked, if able:
Edit: This will only work if you enable the autoloot option. Thanks to Jentlek for catching this.
/cast Pick Pocket
/Cast Cheap Shot
If you’re a purist and you don’t like to macro things, then don’t. If you don’t care, using this macro will make leveling lockpicking a joke from all the junkboxes you’ll pick up.
Level 30: Blade Flurry
20% increased attack speed, and the ability to hit two targets at the same time. Accidentally pull a second mob? Burn both down at the same time. Your leveling just got significantly easier.
New Skills at Level 30: Disarm Trap and Kidney Shot. Again, like the Detect Trap ability, Disarm Trap’s main use is in PvP. Kidney Shot is another Stun like Cheap Shot. It’s possible with those two abilities and gouge to kill a mob without them ever being able to attack. It just requires efficient use of the cooldowns.
Level 31 -35: Aggression
A flat 15% damage buff to Sinister Strike, Backstab and Eviscerate. Take it and enjoy the extra damage.
New Skills at Level 34: Blind. You can use Blind to “stun” an enemy for 10 seconds. Note that any damage dealt to the target will break the effect. If you plan on using this on targets you are fighting, make sure you’re not using any DoT effects, as they will break the Blind.
Level 36 & 37: Blade twisting
A 10% increase to Backstab and Sinister Strike Damage, as well as a 10% chance for your melee attacks to Daze the target for 8 secs. Enjoy the extra damage and the daze effect.
Level 38 & 39: Weapon Expertise
That’s 10 Expertise, not 10 Expertise rating. This will significantly reduce the mobs chance to parry or dodge your attacks.
Level 40: Adrenaline Rush
100% increased Energy regeneration for 15 seconds. Read that again. If you pop this, and Blade Flurry and Evasion, you can take out a group of 3-5 mobs in a 15 second period, while taking minimal damage.
New Skill at Level 40: Safe Fall. You can now fall from higher ledges and survive; It’s not Slow Fall though, so don’t overdo it.
Level 41 – 43: Vitality
This will increase your Energy regeneration by 25%. The faster you can gain Energy, the faster you can dispatch your enemies.
Level 44: Improved Slice and Dice
This is a 25% duration boost to Slice and Dice. In a full raiding build I’d take two points here, but we’ll only take one point for the leveling build. Players have been more likely to instance while leveling with the redesign to LFG, so it will help improve your DPS there too.
Level 45 – 49: Combat Potency
This ability works best with a fast offhand weapon, and even better if it’s a fast sword or axe with the Hack and Slash talent (which we didn’t take). For now, get a fast weapon in your off hand (probably a dagger) with good stats. You’ll be surprised how much extra energy you get with this.
Level 50: Surprise Attacks
Assuming you’re behind an enemy, and you’ve got enough + hit on your gear, this talent guarantees that your Finishers will land. In addition, you should enjoy the 10% damage buff to most of your Combo Moves.
Level 51 & 52: Savage Combat
A flat 4% buff to your attack power, as well as 2% physical damage buff on any target you have poisoned. This buff applies to anyone in your group/raid.
Level 53 & 54: Unfair Advantage
When this ability procs you get an instant attack for your main hand damage. It can’t proc more than every second, but as a rogue, you have a fair amount of dodge already. Imagine it with evasion though.
Level 55 – 59: Prey on the Weak
20% Increased critical damage as long as you have a higher percentage of health than your target. That’s just sick.
Level 60: Killing Spree
Another fun ability for taking out multiple mobs at the same time, in conjunction with Blade Flurry and Slice and Dice, it can be devastating. It’s also a decent DPS boost on single target.
Level 61 – 65: Malice
Finally, we’re off to the Assassination Tree. Some people choose to use their first 5 talent points for this. It’s a flat 5% increased chance to crit. I feel that some of the better abilities in the Combat will make leveling much easier than the extra crit chance, so I grab them first, and then take this.
New Skill at Level 62: Envenom. This ability consumes combo points and Deadly Poison stacks on your target to deal massive damage. It also increases the chance that your poisons will land after the ability.
New Skill at Level 64: Deadly Throw. This Finisher deals high amounts of Thrown weapon damage and slows the target for 6 sec.
Level 66 – 70: Relentless Strikes
Time for the Subtlety Tree. Your 5 point Finishers will grant you 25 Energy. Your rotation speed increases.
New Skill at Level 66: Cloak of Shadows. Using this ability will make you near Immune to magic and poisons. If used while either are affecting you, it will remove them.
New Skill at Level 70: Shiv. This is a physical attack that applies your off hand poison on the target. Very useful in PvP, but Blizzard has stated that they don’t want it to be widely used in PvE.
Level 71 – 73: Ruthlessness
The rest of our points will be used in the Assassination tree, starting with 3 here. This ability gives you a 60% chance to add a combo point after using a Finisher. Another increase in how fast you can perform your rotation.
Level 74 & 75: Blood Spatter
You’re likely instancing more in Northrend, and on a target that will live long enough, a 5 point Rupture will out perform Eviscerate for damage, so it makes sense to take a talent to increase that damage.
New Skill at Level 75: Tricks of the Trade. This is the Rogue version of Misdirect. I personally think it’s more useful than Misdirect, and you can read about its many uses here.
Level 76 – 80: Lethality
Another increase (30%) to your critical strike damage. You’ve finally got the crit to take advantage of this, so enjoy the increase in DPS on your way to the end.
New Skill at Level 80: Fan of Knives. A true AoE ability for the Rogue that has great synergy with Tricks of the Trade.
Congratulations! You’ve reached level 80! I hope you’ve enjoyed leveling Combat, but it’s time to ditch the survivability for some good, clean, old-fashioned DPS. If you want to stay Combat, try something like this, If you’d prefer Assassination, try this. Enjoy the endgame; you’ve earned it.