Rogue Class Overview

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 00:00 by Sellin

Master of shadow and deceit Rogue are cunning assassins that have only become stronger in the Cataclysm expansion. All three specializations of Rogue are viable in Cataclysm and each offers unique and powerful buffs and debuffs that will allow you to augment your groups abilities in ways they have never been able to before. Regardless of the specialization you choose to play as a Rogue you will be able to deal competitive damage and are likely to easily find yourself a group for any type of content.


Introduction to Rogue

Rogue Class Crest Cataclysm Guide RogueRogue is a melee oriented class with three different DPS specializations. While Rogue is a pure DPS class, each of the three specializations plays significantly differently. Knowing how each operates will give you a better idea as to what specialization best suites your play style and the benefits of each specialization to best benefit your group. Rogue has two primary resources; Energy and Combo Points. Energy is a passively regenerating resource that is the resource used for the majority of your abilities. Haste increases the rate at which you regenerate Energy. Combo Points are the other resource Rogues use to cast abilities, the more Combo Points, up to a maximum of five spent on an ability the more potent its effects.


Rogue Specializations

Rogue Rogue is able to choose from three specializations: Assassination, Combat, and Subtlety.

  • Assassination Assassination — Assassination is a DPS specialization that focuses on dealing damage with Poisons and maximizing the uptime of debuffs on the target. The DPS rotation as Assassination is relatively straight forward, but changes slightly depending on the health of the current target. Assassination brings the highly sought-after Master Poisoner Icon Master Poisoner buff that increases the enemies Magic damage taken by 8% while your Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison is active on the target.
  • Combat Combat — Combat is a DPS specialization that utilizes powerful offensive cooldowns to deal large amounts of damage in short periods of time. While this specialization has noticeable damage spikes when cooldowns like Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree or Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush are used, it follows an extremely simple rotation that works to maximize the amount of combo points generated to use as many finishing abilities as possible. Combat is also the best of the three specs when it comes to cleave damage thanks to the Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry talent which causes your attack to strike an additional nearby enemy. Combat also brings the 4% Physical damage taken buff in the form of Savage Combat Icon Savage Combat.
  • Subtlety Subtlety — Subtlety is a specialization focused entirely around maximizing Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness uptime. The rotation for Subtlety is constantly changing depending on the duration of your current buffs and the debuffs active on the target. While a more niche debuff than the other two specializations, Subtlety Rogue provides the increased Bleed damage debuff in the form of Glyph of Hemorrhage Icon Glyph of Hemorrhage.

What Specialization Should I Play?

While all three specializations for Rogue are DPS, they are all significantly different. The ultimate deciding factor is what you enjoy playing the most. While there are certainly different situations where each specialization shines the primary differences you will find in these specializations is the weapons they utilize, the rotation, and what buff/debuffs they provide.



AssassinationAssassination is the consistently highest performing of the three specializations in regards to damage dealt. It also provides the incredibly important Spell Damage taken debuff in the form of Master Poisoner Icon Master Poisoner. The rotation for Assassination focuses primarily on maximizing your Mutilate Icon Mutilate casts until reaching 35% at which point you switch to casting Backstab Icon Backstab while applying and maintaining Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice and Rupture Icon Rupture. Any extra Combo Points will be spent on Envenom Icon Envenom which thanks to the Cut to the Chase Icon Cut to the Chase talent will refresh your Slice and Dice.



CombatCombat is a great option and it only becomes stronger with gear; Combat is the most gear dependent of the three Rogue specializations. Combat operates on a priority system that focuses on maximizing the amount of finishers casted while bolstering your Eviscerate Icon Eviscerates with your Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike talent. Combat is unique, as it has an additional mechanic, Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile to maintain. Maximizing the amount of time spent in Deep Insight Icon Deep Insight is the goal of this specialization while also optimally utilizing Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush and Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree. Combat also offers the highly sought-after 4% Physical damage taken debuff in the form of Savage Combat Icon Savage Combat.



SubtletySubtlety is the most niche of the three specializations but deals the most on-demand burst damage of the three thanks to the Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance talent. This specialization is great for situations where there are high priority kill targets that must be dealt with quickly. Subtlety operates similarly to Combat in that it follows a priority system based around maximizing the amount of uptime on your Rupture Icon Rupture debuff and your Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice buff while maintaining the increased Bleed damage taken debuff from your Glyph of Hemorrhage Icon Glyph of Hemorrhage.


How Viable is Rogue in Cataclysm?

Rogue Class Art RogueRogue is extremely viable and highly sought-after as all three specializations; In both ten and twenty five-man content you will rarely find a group without a Rogue or two. Rogue is consistently one of the highest DPS in the game, both Melee and Ranged, while providing crucially important buffs and debuffs. Tools like Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade make Rogues a must have. Rogues are also one of the tankiest DPS classes despite wearing Leather abilities like Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows and Feint Icon Feint make Rogues incredibly durable. Rogues remain second to none when it comes to crowd control as well, abilities like Sap Icon Sap and Blind Icon Blind as well as being able to consistently interrupt with Kick Icon Kick make them even more valuable in small group content where there are less players available to disrupt the enemies. In Cataclysm Rogues are even able to heal themselves thanks to the addition of Recuperate Icon Recuperate. You will likely have little to no issue finding a group as a Rogue regardless of the type of content, Dungeon,Raid, or organized PvP.


Races For Rogue

RogueRogue is fortunately able to play as any race except Draenei and Tauren, giving you quite a few different options depending on your preference. Mentioned below will be the breakdowns of the benefits of each race.


Horde Races

  • Goblin Goblin is a great choice regardless of what specialization you choose due to their increased Attack Speed from their Time is Money Icon Time is Money racial. Rocket Jump Icon Rocket Jump is another massive benefit; while Rogues do have a considerable amount of mobility options, another button to close the gap can never hurt.
  • Blood Elf Blood Elf does not offer a ton of benefits, but does have a slightly higher Arcane resistance as well as the ability to interrupt and silence nearby enemies with their Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent ability. Arcane Torrent also generates a small amount of Energy.
  • Orc Orc is widely considered to be the best race for DPS due to Blood Fury Icon Blood Fury. All three Rogue specializations have some kind of window that is well paired with Blood Fury. Pairing Blood Fury with Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance or even Overkill Icon Overkill is a considerable DPS increased compared to other options.
  • Troll Troll is a strong second choice to Orc due to the increased Attack Speed from Berserking Icon Berserking which synergizes incredibly with other Rogue cooldowns especially Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  • Undead Undead is similar to Blood Elf and does not have a ton of in-combat benefits as a Rogue. They are naturally more resistant to incoming Shadow damage and are able to remove Charm, Fear and Sleep effect through the Will of the Forsaken Icon Will of the Forsaken ability.

Alliance Races

  • Worgens Worgen is considered to be the best race for for DPS as Alliance due to their Viciousness Icon Viciousness racial. While Critical Strike is not the most highly sought-after secondary stat for any of the three Rogue specializations you will have an easier time finding the Expertise given by the other available racials than the Critical strike rating granted by Viciousness. Worgen also offers Darkflight Icon Darkflight which offers a burst of movement speed, similar to Goblin previously mentioned, the ability to close the gap quicker is never a bad thing.
  • Human Human is another solid option as you will receive bonus expertise rating with a Sword or Mace equipped thanks to Mace Specialization Icon Mace Specialization and Sword Specialization Icon Sword Specialization. Depending on your specialization this may be entirely useless which is a large part of why we recommend Worgen. Human also has the ability to instantly remove all crowd controlling abilities in the form of Will to Survive Icon Will to Survive which can be extremely powerful in very specific encounters.
  • Dwarf Dwarf comes with Stoneform Icon Stoneform, and while not a DPS cooldown, this is a great way to reducing incoming damage and more importantly clears any Bleed, Poison and Disease effects that may otherwise prevent you from being able to re-stealth. Dwarves also have Mace Specialization Icon Mace Specialization which can be useful as Combat.
  • Night Elf Night Elf is in a unique spot where Shadowmeld Icon Shadowmeld allows you to cast another Stealth Icon Stealth ability, while not a massive damage increase this can help increase your Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness uptime if you are playing as Subtlety.
  • Gnome Gnome offers extra expertise when using Daggers in the form of Shortblade Specialization Icon Shortblade Specialization and are able to instantly remove any immobilizing/slowing effects thanks to their Escape Artist Icon Escape Artist racial. Like other Expertise racials recommended above, it can be useful if you are playing Assassination, but Worgen is just too well-rounded to recommend otherwise.

Gearing and Stats

RogueRogue can only wear Cloth and Leather, but you should only be wearing Leather. Leather Specialization Icon Leather Specialization greatly outweighs any possible benefit you may find by wearing a differing piece due to the emphasis put on Primary stats in Cataclysm. RogueRogue is able to equip one-handed Swords, one-handed Maces, One-handed Axes, Daggers, Guns, Thrown Weapons, Bows, and Crossbows. The Weapon you use will depend on the specialization you are playing and plays a large part in what abilities you are able to use.

AssassinationAssassination will use two Daggers, ideally a slower one in the main-hand to maximize the weapon damage multipliers found in Backstab Icon Backstab and Mutilate Icon Mutilate and increased Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison proc chance. Your stat priority as a Assassination Rogue should be as follows: Agility, > Hit Rating (until 17% cap) > Mastery > Haste > Expertise (to cap 26) > Critical Strike Rating > Hit Rating (until 27%).

CombatCombat will be using a 2.6 speed weapon in your Main-hand and a 1.4 speed Dagger in your off-hand. Your stat priority as a Combat Rogue should be as follows: Agility > Hit Rating (to cap 8%) > Expertise Rating (to cap 26) > Haste Rating > Mastery Rating > Hit Rating (to cap 27%) > Critical Strike Rating.

SubtletySubtlety will be using a 1.8 Speed Dagger in your main-hand to maximize the amount of Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison procs and a 1.4 Speed Dagger in your off-hand. Your stat priority as an Subtlety Rogue should be as follows: Agility > Hit Rating (to cap 8%) > Haste Rating > Expertise Rating (to cap (26) > Critical Strike Rating > Mastery Rating.


Rogue Addons and Macros

Addons and Macros can greatly improve your quality of life in Azeroth and Northrend. Listed below are some of our recommendations on Addons and Macros to help get the most out of your time playing the game.



  • 07 May 2024: Page added.
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