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Leveling Guide for Rogue in World of Warcraft (Warlords of Draenor 6.x)

This FAQ is for new rogues. It is full of simplifications and generalizations. The focus is on optimal leveling speed and viability. This is not how things will work for end game pve/pvp.

Video Combat Video Guide:

A basic explanation rogue mechanics and combat spec rotation.

Assassination Video Guide:

Down and dirty assassination gameplay guide.
What is the best spec for leveling a rogue?
  • Each spec does very well currently. Your best spec is the one you, personally, play the best. 
  • Assassination has really hard hitting non-stealth burst via Mutilate. Poison heavy focus. Slower rotation speed. 
  • Subtlety will kill most things in an opening combo via Ambush. Stealth heavy focus. Fairly tricky rotation. Needs really good mainhand weapon for soloing efficiently, especially at higher levels. 
  • Combat is Sinister Strike spam. Choose this if you like pressing buttons really fast.
What stats should I be looking for?
  • Agility
  • Secondary stats aren't going to have much impact for leveling.
What weapons do I use?
  • Assassination – Daggers only. Mutilate requires it.
  • Subtlety – Anything for Hemorrhage spam. If you want to use backstab, say in group or pvp, you will need a dagger in your mainhand.
  • Combat - Slow Sword, Mace, Axe, or Fist in the mainhand. This capitalizes on Sinister Strike higher damage with slower weapons. Sinister Strike will be the vast majority of your damage while leveling. A dagger mainhand does less damage, but not as bad as it was before 6.0. However, I wouldn't recommend it.
What heirlooms should I buy?
What enchants to use.

In general, use the highest level enchants on your looms now that they scale. They won't always be best for specific level brackets, but they won't be bad and you won't have to change them.

What poisons to use?
  • PvE - Deadly/Leeching
  • PvP - Wound/Crippling
This is decision that will need to be evaluated as the situation dicates. The most obvious change is if you don’t pickup the leeching poison talent, you’ll need to use a different poison.

Which talents to choose?
  • 15 - Shadow Focus. The free opener can help with energy regen issues from lack of haste while leveling.
  • 30 - Combat Readiness. The extra survivability can help maintain your quest flow if you start to get low on health and Evasion is on cooldown. Save you from vanishing and resetting.
  • 45 - Leeching Poison. You don't really need any other utility poison while leveling and this one can keep you topped up.
  • 60 - Burst of Speed. No cooldown sprint with a bonus effect that removes snares and roots. Since unless you are human, you likely won't have a trinket equipped while leveling. It also speeds up movement between quest mobs to help keep Deadly Momentum rolling.
  • 75 - Dirty Tricks. Lets you Gouge and Blind with impunity to bandage or deal with another immediate threat even with deadly poison or rupture on your target.
  • 75 - Anticipation. Marked for death works best for short duration fights like leveling, but you'll likely want to get some practice with anticipation since it is a general go to talent for your 90 tier.
What Glyphs should to use?

Major Glyphs
  • Glyph of Hemorrhaging Veins (Subtlety only, 25)
  • Glyph of Recuperate (50)
  • Glyph of Deadly Momentum (25)
Minor Glyphs
  • Glyph of Blurred Speed
  • Glyph of Safe Fall
At least play around with Glyph of Disguise just a little bit. :P

What is my rotation?

Rogues are built around the concept of building combo points up and then spending those points. Combo points now stack on the rogue and slowly decay, one at a time, out of combat. Try not to waste points on finishers when a mob is near death and most of the damage will be wastes since it is now easy to use those points to start your next salvo on the next hapless victim.

Combat
  • Keep up Revealing Strike for bonus combo points.
  • Use Sinister Strike until 4 or 5 combo points and then use Eviscerate.
  • Keep Slice and Dice up. Preferably with Deadly Momentum.
  • Keep up Recuperate when needed. Preferably with Deadly Momentum.
  • Use your cooldowns freely.
  • Toggle Blade Flurry on when you want to aoe. (Don't forget to turn it off.)
Assassination
  • Use Mutilate to add 4 or 5 combo points on your target and then use Envenom.
  • Use Dispatch below 35% when you get it. (40)
  • Use Blindside procs when you get them. (40).
  • Keep Rupture going as a priority finisher, since it gives you extra energy.
  • You can keep SnD running with Envenom after you get Cut to the Chase. (20)
  • Keep Slice and Dice up. Preferably with Deadly Momentum.
  • Keep up Recuperate when needed. Preferably with Deadly Momentum.
Subtlety
  • Use Hemorrhage (with glyph @ lvl 20 for Sanguinary Vein) to add 5 combo points on your target and then use Eviscerate.
  • Use Backstab when you can get behind the target.
  • Keep Slice and Dice up. This will give you more energy regen. Preferably with Deadly Momentum.
  • Keep up Recuperate when needed. Preferably with Deadly Momentum.
General Stategies

  • There are five general rules for playing a rogue well.
  • Always be attacking.
  • Don't cap energy.
  • Don't cap combo points. (This is partially wasted energy.)
  • Use your cooldowns.
  • Know and execute your optimal rotation.

This applies whether you are leveling or trying to get the most of out of your rogue. Highly skilled players do this stuff first and then worry about finicky bits. If you find yourself having large issues, you are probably breaking one of those rules. Just like most things in life, the basics tend to take care of most problems. Professional musicians still do scales, professional basketball players still practice free throws and layups, every skill based endeavour has basic elements that must be mastered to built upon. Don't worry about fancy macros or cool tricks, all that stuff will come naturally when you've mastered the basics.

These specs aren't designed exactly the same as end game specs. At cap, and soloing for 80-100, mobs live much longer and you often finish multiple times during a fight including buffs. At lower levels, building and finishing on a single mob is a rarity. A typical fight usually involves spamming a combo point builder until it dies. Don't forget to use your points to buff up SnD or Recuperate and move on. Don't underestimate Slice and Dice it is a very strong buff, every spec does large amounts of damage that depends on attack speed.

It is not as hard to level now as it once was, but try and practice your CC abilities. It possible to take on 3-4 opponents at once with most having been CC'd at least once. It is also encourage to try PvP. It really teaches you how to play your class more than any PvE encounter ever could. And you can bring that experience back to PvE and be a better player.

Most of all, have fun!

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