Rogue PvP: Talent Considerations

As I’ve mentioned before, PvP can be a touchy subject, and there’s really not one standard spec that is used by all PvP Rogues.  Each tree has tools for PvP, and depending on skill, gear and talents, any tree could be effectively used for a Rogue to PvP.  Today I’m going to discuss talents in the three trees that specifically have a PvP flair to them, and let you decide for yourself what suits your individual playstyle.  Today’s discussion more to Arena usage, but world PvPers and Battleground enthusiasts should find the information useful too.

–  Rogue PvP Talent Analysis  –

Note:  I won’t be discussing damage talents in great detail.  The talents I will be discussing will mainly deal with Survivability, Crowd Control and Mobility.


Unlike the other two trees, most of the PvP related talents are located lower (Tier 4 or greater) in the tree.  If you want the PvP goodies that this tree offers, you’ll either need to make it your primary tree, or use a hybrid spec.

Vigor, Tier 3: Increases your maximum Energy by 10

I never recommend this point for raiding builds, as 10 extra energy is simply a 1 second lead time on a target you could be fighting for 3 minutes ( basically no difference).  However, on a target that you can kill quickly, the extra 10 energy can make the difference between keeping an enemy stunned, or them escaping.

Fleet Footed; Tier 5:  Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 30% and increases your movement speed by 15%.  This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

It really is a shame that this is so far down the tree.  The 30% in movement impairing effects is nice, but the 15% speed increase is the real gem here.  Closing speed is a necessity in PvP; if you don’t get it here, you’ll probably want to pick it up in another way (gems, enchants).

Quick Recovery; Tier 5:  All healing effects on you are increased by 20%.  In addition your finishing moves cost 80% less energy when they fail to hit.

Assuming that your team runs with a healer, this is a significant boost to your survivability.  Also, if for some reason your Finishers don’t hit, this will help you recoup most of the cost.

Deadly Brew, Tier 7:  When you apply Instant, Wound or Mind-Numbing Poison you have a 100% chance to apply Crippling Poison.

This is probably my favorite talent in this tree for PvP.  Crippling Poison is one of the best tools a PvP Rogue has to keep ranged opponents in melee range.  With this, you can use Wound and Mind-Numbing poisons and still proc Crippling poison.

Deadend Nerves; Tier 7:  Reduces all damage taken by 6%

While it may not sound like a lot, 6% damage reduction can be the difference in you living long enough to get a heal or not.  If you’re this deep in the Assassination tree already, you should get this.


Combat offers a wide variety of PvP talents, and many of them are located in the first 4 tiers.  This makes it a good choice for your left over points if you go deep into a tree, and an even better if you want to use a hybrid spec, with half of your points in Combat.

Improved Gouge; Tier 1:  Increases the effect duration of your Gouge ability by 1.5 sec.

The 1.5 second increase can help you in two ways.  First, it makes stunlocking easier to manage, and second, it makes it possible to have more energy after a Gouge than before you used the ability.  For 3 points in Tier 1, I don’t see any PvP builds skipping this.

Deflection; Tier 2:  Increases your Parry chance by 6%

This is not the strongest of PvP talents, but it does have its uses.  If for some reason you find yourself in prolonged melee combat, the parry could save your life. 

Endurance; Tier 3:  Reduces the cooldown of your Sprint and Evasion abilities by 60 sec and increases your total stamina by 4%.

The cooldown reductions are nice for longer fights, but the 4% stamina buff is primary reason for choosing this talent.

Riposte; Tier 3: A strike that becomes active after parrying an opponents attack.  This attack deals 150% weapon damage and slows their melee attack speed by 20% for 30 sec.  Awards 1 combo point.

If you take Deflection, you might as well take this too.  The ability hits pretty hard and the debuff is quite nasty as well.  However, it is important to realize that the attack speed reduction only applies to white damage, not special abilities.

Improved Kick; Tier 4:  Gives your kick ability a 100% chance to silence the target for 2 seconds.

A clear choice for PvP, the 2 second silence effect can devastate another team if used at the right time.  Between this and your stuns, you can make it near impossible for a healer to cast heals.

Improved Sprint; Tier 4:  Gives you a 100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects when you activate your Sprint ability.

If you’re not a Gnome (like me), then this is your own personal Escape Artist.  If you are a Gnome, now you have two.

Lightning Reflexes; Tier 4:  Increases your Dodge chance by 5%.

Another avoidance talent for your consideration.

Mace Specialization; Tier 5:  Your attacks with maces ignore up to 15% of your opponent’s armor.

If you’re going to use maces, this talent will help you take down enemies faster.

Blade Twisting; Tier 6:  Increases the damage dealt by Sinister Strike and Backstab by 10%, and your damaging melee attacks have a 10% cnahce to daze the target for 8 sec.

The extra damage is nice, but for a PvP build, the daze effect would be your reasoning for taking this talent.

Nerves of Steel; Tier 7:  Reduces damage taken while affected by Stun and Fear effects by 30%.

You’re not going to be able to get out of every Fear or Stun, so this talent will help you survive some of those situations.

Throwing Specialization; Tier 8:  Increases the range of Throw and Deadly Throw by 4 yards and gives your deadly throw and Fan of Knives a 100% chance to interrupt the target for 3 sec.

Deadly Throw is already a great tool against casters, particularly when you’re trying to catch them.  The interrupt effect and extra make it even better.  Also, this gives you a use for fan of knives, other than taking out Army of the Dead.

Unfair Advantage; Tier 9:  Whenever you dodge an attack you gain an Unfair Advantage, striking back for 100% of your main hand weapons damage.  This cannot occur more than once per second.

Free damage whenever you dodge an attack.  If you took Lightning Reflexes, and you’ve made it this far into Combat, you might want to consider taking this.


The Subtlety tree can greatly enhance our Stealth ability, amongst other things.  Subtlety like Combat works great with another tree as a Hybrid, and has enough low level talents to use after going deep into another tree.

Master of Deception; Tier 1:  Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while in Stealth mode.

Stealth is a huge part of being a Rogue.  Taking the 3 points here makes sense for any PvP build.

Sleight of Hand; Tier 2:  Reduces the chance you are critically hit by melee and ranged attacks by 2%. and increases the threat reduction of your feint ability by 20%

The 2% crit reduction is worth much more than 2 points.  If you’re going to take Master of Deception, make sure you use 4 more points to get to the second tier and take this too.

Dirty Tricks; Tier 2:  Increases the range of your Blind and Sap Abilities by 5 yards and reduces the Energy cost of your Blind and Sap abilities by 50%.

Getting the opportunity to Sap your opponents is very useful in PvP.  It can force your opponent to decide whether or not to use their trinket /racial to break the stun.  The same applies for Blind, and this talent makes them both cheaper and more effective.

Elusiveness; Tier 3:  Reduces the Vanish and Blind abilities by 60 sec and your cloak of shadows ability by 30 sec.

Cooldown reduction for two survivability talents and one crowd control talent.  Very useful.

Ghostly Strike; Tier 3:  A strike that deals 125% weapon damage and increases your chance to dodge by 15% for 7 sec.  Awards 1 combo point.

Coupled with Lightning Reflexes and Evasion, you would have a 70% + your base dodge / parry to avoid melee attacks.

Serrated Blades; Tier 3: Causes your attacks to ignore 640 of your target’s Armor and increases the damage dealt by your Rupture ability 30%.

Reducing 640 of your opponents armor will drastically reduce the armor reduction of cloth wearers, and the extra Rupture damage can help with Plate wearers.

Heightened Senses; Tier 5:  Increases your Stealth detection and reduces the chance that you are hit by spells and ranged attacks by 4%.

Being able to survive while closing the gap between yourself and a ranged attacker is crucial to surviving in Arena.  Also, you’re not always the only stealther, so being able to see the other ones before they see you is very useful.

Preparation; Tier 5: When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on your Evasion, Sprint, Vanish, Cold Blood and Shadowstep abilities.

An immensely useful too if these moves are on cooldown and you need them.  You can use this to either escape or destroy your opponent.  How you use it is up to you.

Cheat Death; Tier 7:  You have a 100% chance that an attack which would otherwise kill you will instead reduce you to 10% of your maximum Health.  In addition, all damage taken will be reduced by up to 90% for 3 sec (modified by Resilience).  This effect cannot occur more than once per minute.

Cheat Death is a great ability.  While it can’t prevent you from dying in all cases, it can keep you alive long enough to receive heals, or give you the time to finish off a badly wounded opponent before they do the same to you.

Waylay; Tier 8:  Your Ambush critical hits have a 100% chance to reduce the target’s melee and ranged attack speed by 20%, movement speed by 70% for 8 sec.

If you’re speccing Subtlety and using daggers, picking this up will help you keep ranged mobs in melee so that you can kill them quickly.

Shadowstep; Tier 9: Attempts to step through the shadows and reappear behind your enemy and increases movement speed by 70% for 3 sec.  the damage of your next ability is increased by 20% and the threat caused is reduced by 50%.  Lasts 10 sec.

One of the best PvP moves available to a Rogue.  Using this will allow you to basically teleport behind a target.  Also, it only has a 30 second cooldown, so it is more than possible to use many times during a fight.

Shadow Dance; Tier 11:  Enter the Shadow Dance, allowing the use of Sap, Garrote, Ambush, Cheap Shot, Premeditation, Pickpocket and Disarm Trap regardless of being stealthed.

Obviously this tool can be very useful in PvP; I won’t be listing all of the potential uses here, but here’s an example:

Shadow Dance – > Shadowstep -> Cheapshot – > Ambush -> Kidney Shot – >Premeditation, Eviscerate

A sequence like that would be fairly devastating to the person on the other end.


There are enough talents in each tree that allow Rogues to tailor their Spec to their individual style.  Are some specs better than others?  Well, yes, but skill is a much greater determining factor in victory than spec.  If you’re more comfortable and confident playing with a spec that someone (In their opinion, mind you) says is inferior to their “perfect” PvP spec, by all means play it your way.  Still, if they offer a logical argument, I’d listen; you might learn something.

– Sam

22 Responses to Rogue PvP: Talent Considerations

  1. Pingback: The Daily Quest: Of Rogue PvP, Hunter macros and the Flying Bear maneuver |

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  4. J says:

    You forgot overkill, although it’s not a consideration and something we are forced into to get mutilate, it is definitely a more pvp oriented talent in the way that it provides quick burst after unstealthing.

  5. samueltempus says:

    It wasn’t oversight. I left out Overkill and Master of Subtlety on purpose. The talents that I highlighted in this post were those that were used for Crowd Control, Survival or Mobility. If I had included PvP DPS talents, this post would have certainly doubled in size.

    However, both of those talents are something that I would include in a PvP build of their respective trees, so I’m not disagreeing with you, just clarifying what the post was meant to discuss.

    – Sam

  6. dishinki says:

    Good job rewording exactly what the tooltips already say.

  7. samueltempus says:


    While I thank you for your insightful comment, I respectfully disagree.

    In the case of a talent like lightning reflexes, there’s not much more to say about it than it will increase your dodge (at least until 3.1). However, if you are going to create a Combat based PvP, it is an important talent to consider, and that was the reasoning behind including it in this post.

    By my count, at least 2/3 of the talents that I chose for this post have some comment specifically pointing out either how to use them or their synergy with another talent.

    – Sam

  8. somerogue says:

    “Vile Poisons; Tier 4: Increases the damage dealt by your poisons and Envenom ability by 20% and gives your poisons an additional 30% chance to resist dispel effects.”

    I’m afraid this is no longer accurate.

    it’s currently-

    “Increases the damage dealt by your poisons and Envenom ability by 20% and gives your damage over time poisons an additional 30% chance to resist dispel effects.”

    meaning that deadly poison is the only poison to benefit from dispel resistance, giving this talent little to no value in terms of dispel resistance for most PVP rogues

  9. samueltempus says:

    Thanks for catching that. 🙂

    I used the talent calculator on my iPhone to grab the tooltips, and it apparently needs an update. I can’t always be at my home computer to check live, and I appreciate both the comment, and the manner in which it was presented.

    You’re absolutely correct about the current tooltip, and using Deadly Poison in PvP would not be a very strong choice. DoT effects have very negative impact on things like Gouge and Blind, which are incredibly useful tools. I have removed the Vile Poisons section from the post.

    – Sam

  10. Khass says:

    I stopped reading after you considered Improved Gouge and Kick to be mandatory, and taking Blade Twisting for the slow. How much do you PvP?

  11. samueltempus says:

    I never made the claim that Improved kick was mandatory. I will admit to writing that for 3 points in Tier 1 skipping Imp. Gouge seemed like something most PvP builds wouldn’t do. Also, I included any talents that could be used for a PvP spec if use. I included Blade Twisting because I felt that someone (not everyone mind you) could find a way to make use of it.

    This is an analysis of talents, not a suggestion of what to pick. The point was to provide information and let the individual player decide. Instead of stating that you “stopped reading,” and misstating what I’ve said, I would have preferred something constructive that would have helped anyone who stops by.

    – Sam

  12. dumb says:

    this was a terrible site you didnt even leave a link for us to use to make the pvp spec

  13. samueltempus says:


    The point was to provide information for you to make a decision on your own. If you want someone to tell you what to do, try google. There are plenty of places on the internet that you can find that information so that you don’t have to do the work yourself.

    I won’t write PvP specs for people, they should be a personal choice.

    – Sam

  14. food-cook says:

    both of those talents are something that I would include in a PvP build of their respective trees.


  15. jmo says:

    You mentioned the synergy of using various talents in coordination with each other. I think listing these talents (and their respective effects) could also be a helpful post for new PvP players.

    Thanks for the post. I thought this was a helpful list. I appreciate your “There is no one right way to build a spec” attitude. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime, right?

  16. Chronic says:

    I actually think, if anything, that PvP specs are *more* prone to cookie-cutter fotm replication and involve less personal choice than your average raid spec.

    99% of rogues right now are 41/5/25 prep mutilate with very little variation even in the filler talents. About the only discussions you see are around maxing focused attacks vs deadened nerves vs find weakness, and maybe serrated blades vs setup vs initiave in the sub tree (though in my analysis serrated blades seems to be by far the most popular). Note that this build *never* includes improved gouge.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that “personal choice” and “playstyle” only comes into play for pvp as much as it does for raiding – it’s almost always better to use a “better” spec and just learn to play it!

    Overall it’s an interesting analysis of talents, although it’s hard to take your “I’m not telling anybody what to do” stance seriously when you say things like “If you’re this deep in the Assassination tree already, you should get [deadened nerves].”

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  18. Cpt Spalding says:

    Thanks for this. Pretty much a noob with my 1st rogue combat spec’d at lvl35. Got owned the other day by a 31lvl rogue spec’d for assassination & I’m starting to appreciate different specs, PvP vs PvE.
    Still a long way to go for me but this gives me some insight. Thanks

  19. sam says:

    ty for your comment on rouges sam it really cleared alot of stuff up for me i just started playing as a rouge traded accounts lol. I find playing as a rouge very difficult I used to think playing as a rouge in pvp was easy I was dead wrong. but knowing any spec is good for pvp makes me feel a whole lot better about getting curb stomped. so i guess ill just have to practice

  20. taylor says:

    oops sry i put my name as sam sry about tha

  21. alex says:

    Very helpful information for my rogue. So far I’m using a sword dps build. What do you think about that for patch 3.2?

  22. alex says:

    Nvm, I’ll stick with my build. Thanks anyway.

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