Combat Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.2)

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Combat Rogue Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Combat Rogue core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft WoD 6.0.2. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Combat Rogue.

The other pages of our Combat Rogue guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewers

This guide has been reviewed and approved by FieryDemise, a prominent Rogue theorycrafter and the author of Rogue Chat (a theorycrafting blog for Rogues), and by Greph, one of the best Rogues in the world, who raids in Envy; you can watch his stream on Twitch.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Rogue Transition Guide!

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

  • Combo Point builders (by order of priority)
    1. Cast Ambush Icon Ambush when you are in Stealth.
    2. Cast Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike only to keep its debuff up.
    3. Cast Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike.
  • Finishing Moves (by order of priority)
    1. Apply and maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice (with 5 Combo Points preferably, because of Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness). Refresh it when it has less than 10 seconds remaining.
    2. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate with 5 Combo Points.

For more information about the optimal opening sequence, refer to our dedicated section.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

When fighting 4 or more enemies, turn on Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry and proceed with your single-target rotation on one of the enemies.

If your main target will die in less than 1 minute and you have chosen Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death as your Tier 6 talent, then use it on cooldown.

3. Poisons↑top

Your Lethal Poison should always be Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison.

Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison is your only default Non-Lethal poison and you should use it, unless you choose Leeching Poison Icon Leeching Poison as a Tier 3 talent.

4. Cooldowns↑top

You have two main DPS cooldowns. As one of our readers once put it, a rule of thumb for cooldown management as Combat Rogue is to use them often and early.

  • Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush greatly increases your Energy regeneration for 15 seconds. It should be used on cooldown. Do not hesitate to stack it with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Heroism Icon Heroism, or Time Warp Icon Time Warp, as you will still benefit from the increased attack speed (but the increased Energy regeneration will, for the most part, be wasted).
  • Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree performs a series of attacks against your target (or a nearby enemy, if you have no target). If Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry is active, Killing Spree will perform its attacks against random enemies. Use this ability on cooldown and make sure that you are low on Energy before casting it, as you will not be able to spend any Energy while Killing Spree is active. In AoE situations, activate Blade Flurry before using Killing Spree.

Because of your Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness passive ability, the cooldowns of Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush, Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree, and Sprint Icon Sprint are reduced by 2 seconds every time a damaging Finishing Move consumes a Combo Point (i.e., 10-second reduction for each 5 Combo Point Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate). As a result, try to always use Killing Spree before Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush. This will cause the cooldown of Killing Spree to be greatly reduced, thanks to the numerous Finishing Moves you will get to use while Adrenaline Rush is active.

In addition to those, you have several minor DPS and utility cooldowns.

  • Vanish Icon Vanish makes you enter Stealth. Use this ability on cooldown, immediately followed by Ambush Icon Ambush. Because of Shadow Focus Icon Shadow Focus (your Tier 1 talent), Ambush Icon Ambush's cost is reduced by 75% when using it in Stealth. The cooldown of Vanish can be reset with Preparation Icon Preparation.
  • Sprint Icon Sprint (in addition to its obvious survival role) can give you more uptime on the boss, which translates into a direct DPS increase. So, you can use Sprint as a DPS cooldown in some fights. Its cooldown can be reset with Preparation Icon Preparation.

Finally, you have a number of survival cooldowns, such as Feint Icon Feint, Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows, Preparation Icon Preparation, Evasion Icon Evasion, etc., which you can use to keep yourself alive. See our section about survival cooldowns for more information.

5. Mastering Your Combat Rogue↑top

The guidelines above should enable you to play your Combat Rogue with near perfection. That said, if you want to excel at playing your character, you need to understand, among other things, how your Combo Points and your Energy are generated, and what Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile does and how you can benefit from it.

5.1. Combo Points and Energy

As a Rogue, most of your abilities need Energy to be used. Your Energy bar has a capacity of 100 Energy and refills at a rate of 10 Energy per second. Your Energy regeneration is increased by:

  • your melee haste (Haste + haste-enhancing buffs);
  • your Combat Potency Icon Combat Potency, which increases your haste by 5% and causes your off-hand attacks to have a chance to generate 15 Energy;
  • your Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness passive ability, which grants your Finishing Moves a 20% chance per Combo Point to restore 25 Energy;
  • your Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush cooldown, which temporarily increases your Energy regeneration by 100%.

The faster you regenerate Energy, the more casts of Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate you can fit between your refreshes of Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.

Note that, whenever you are in Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry, your Energy regeneration is reduced by 20%.

Letting your Energy reach its maximum is something to avoid. You should always try to spend your Energy by (literally) spamming your buttons. Unlike for Assassination Rogues, Energy pooling is not beneficial for Combat Rogues. There are many situations when you will generate more Energy than you can spend (haste trinket procs, Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Heroism Icon Heroism, Time Warp Icon Time Warp, Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush, etc.), and you should spam your buttons even harder than usually during such times.

Some abilities add one or several Combo Points on your target, up to a maximum of 5 Combo Points (10 with Anticipation Icon Anticipation). Other abilities, called Finishing Moves, consume up to 5 Combo Points on your target. The more Combo Points a Finishing Move consumes, the more powerful its effect is.

Your Combo Point generation is increased by the debuff that Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike applies on your targets. This buff lasts 24 seconds and causes, among other things, Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike to have a 25% chance to generate an additional Combo Point. You should never ever use Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike before its debuff drops.

Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness causes your Finishing Moves cast at 5 Combo Points to generate a Combo Point. This is an incentive to use Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Points.

You should never waste Combo Points. Never cast a Combo Point-generating ability when you are at 5 Combo Points (if you are not using Anticipation Icon Anticipation). With Anticipation, never cast Sinister Strike if you have 4 or more stacks of Anticipation.

5.2. Bandit's Guile

Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile is an important mechanic for Combat Rogues. It causes your character to cycle through different buffs of increased damage dealt to your current target:

Attacking your current target 4 times with Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike will cause the cycle to progress to the next buff. For Shallow Insight Icon Shallow Insight and Moderate Insight Icon Moderate Insight, you need to make one attack every 15 seconds at least, otherwise the buff will drop and the cycle will restart from 0% increased damage. Deep Insight Icon Deep Insight cannot be refreshed and at the end of the 15 seconds, the buff drops and the cycle restarts from 0% increased damage.

Switching to a new target does not reset your cycle of Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile.

Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile is largely out of your control and the cycle will repeat itself as the encounter progresses. That said, you can try and time your cooldowns so that they are used during one of the buffs, possibly the highest one. Also, thanks to Anticipation Icon Anticipation, you can save Combo Points and use them for Bandit's Guile. We detail this in the next sections.

5.2.1. Delaying Cooldowns for Bandit's Guile

It can be viable to delay Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree slightly so that it benefits from a higher Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile buff. We believe that Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush should not be delayed for Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile.

Because of Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness, the real cooldown on Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree and Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush is much lower than what the tooltip indicates. Depending on your Energy regeneration, it should be between 40 seconds and 1 minute for Killing Spree and between 1 minute and 1 minute 30 for Adrenaline Rush.

These abilities will therefore often be available and delaying using them can be a DPS loss.

  • For Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree, we advise you to delay using it, if you will gain a higher buff of Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile in the next 3 or 4 seconds. Otherwise, use it immediately.
  • For Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush, we advise you to use it as soon as it is off cooldown, in order to benefit from the increased Energy regeneration as often as possible.

5.2.2. Anticipation and Bandit's Guile

Thanks to Anticipation Icon Anticipation, you can save Combo Points for Deep Insight Icon Deep Insight. To do so, use your finishing moves when you reach 4 or 5 stacks of Anticipation. Once you enter Deep Insight, use the extra stacks of Anticipation to cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate more times while Deep Insight is active.

5.3. Revealing Strike

Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike afflicts your target with a 24-second debuff that you will need to strive to keep up. This debuff is important because, while active, it increases the effectiveness of your offensive Finishing Moves against the target by 35% and it causes your Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike to have a 25% chance to generate 2 Combo Points.

5.4. Opening Sequence

  1. 1 second before the pull, use your Virmen's Bite Icon Virmen's Bite potion and get in Stealth.
  2. When the boss is pulled:
    • Shadowstep Icon Shadowstep it if the boss is far away, if you have picked this talent, and if you will not need it in the next 24 seconds;
    • Sprint Icon Sprint to reach the boss if it is far away and you cannot use Shadowstep;
    • otherwise, simply run to the boss and continue your opening sequence.
  3. Cast Ambush Icon Ambush.
  4. Cast Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  5. If you are using ICD-based trinkets (e.g., Vicious Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault Icon Vicious Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault), cast Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike and spam Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike until they proc.
  6. Cast Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree.
  7. Cast Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush.
  8. Start your rotation.

5.5. Survival Cooldowns

One of the greatest strengths of Rogues is their survivability, which they owe to a large number of powerful survival cooldowns.

  • Feint Icon Feint (with Glyph of Feint Icon Glyph of Feint) reduces your damage taken from AoE attacks by 50% for 7 seconds. With the Tier 3 talent Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness, damage taken from AoE attacks is reduced by 65% and damage taken from all other types of damage attacks is reduced by 30%. Feint has a very low Energy cost and has no cooldown, which makes it your primary survival tool (as you can use it whenever you need).
  • Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows removes all harmful spell effects on you and makes you resist all spells for 5 seconds, on a 1-minute cooldown. This 5-second window consists of 1 seconds of immunity against spells (both damage and application of harmful effects) followed by 4 seconds during which spells will miss you. Some fight mechanics can only be bypassed during the 1-second window (e.g., Ionization Icon Ionization against Jin'rokh the Breaker in Heroic mode).
  • Evasion Icon Evasion increases your dodge chance by 100% for 10 seconds, on a 2-minute cooldown. It should be used whenever you receive physical damage that can be dodged (e.g., Ji-Kun's Quills Icon Quills or Sha of Fear's Death Blossom Icon Death Blossom) or when you have to tank an add. The cooldown of Evasion Icon Evasion can be reset with Preparation Icon Preparation.
  • Combat Readiness Icon Combat Readiness causes you to take 50% less damage from melee attacks. The damage reduction builds up gradually by stacks of 10%, until you have 5 stacks. Each enemy hit grants you a stack. The effect lasts 20 seconds, but it is removed after 10 seconds without receiving melee attacks.
  • Smoke Bomb Icon Smoke Bomb reduces damage taken by your raid by 10% on a 8 yard radius during 5 seconds (7 seconds with Glyph of Smoke Bomb Icon Glyph of Smoke Bomb). It is the only raid cooldown you have. You can use Smoke Bomb to force ranged enemies to come to melee range or to prevent those inside the smoke to be targeted by mechanics.