Welcome to the first of many (well, probably 12) articles in the Altoholic series! Now, a lot of times people ask questions like “Which class is the most fun?”, “Which class is best for solo content?”, or “Which specialization is the best for PvP?”. I’ve found through years of playing Warcraft that a lot of this is very subjective. Not everyone has the same preferences or is looking to get the same thing out of their time in the World of Warcraft. Therefore, the purpose of these posts is NOT to provide in-depth strategy, rotation, or build guides for the included class, but instead to provide a brief rundown of what playing the class is like for someone who may be considering choosing the class as their first character, rolling one for the first time, or coming back to the class after an extended break to see where it’s at now.
For this first one, I’ll give you a little behind-the-scenes, and hopefully an idea of exactly how much of an altoholic I really am. Before I could really get into writing this, the class in the subject of my outline changed three times. When I started it, I was primarily playing my dwarf paladin. Then some cool lore I read on the void got me wanting to finish leveling my shadow priest to 110. This was followed by an urge to PvP in a way that, to me, only a rogue could really satisfy.
So here we are. If all goes well, I’ll finish this article before the temptation to finish my druid’s order hall campaign overwhelms me.
Meet the Rogue
Rogue is a class that has changed quite a lot since it’s inception. When I first made a rogue back during The Burning Crusade, it was almost a completely different class. Combo points didn’t carry between targets. Poisons weren’t an ability, but items that you crafted with a rogue specific skill, one that you needed to level. Same with lockpicking. I remember spending a lot of time picking locks on a ship outside Ratchet to level it up enough to unlock some of the lower level lockboxes, then standing on top of the central bank in Orgrimmar and advertising those skills for tips. We couldn’t even use axes back then, and definitely not freaking pistols!
Now I’m not here to just wax all nostalgic about the “good ol’ days” and tell you what the class used to be like. Let’s talk about what playing rogue is like now, in Legion 7.2.5. Although the rogue has lost a lot of it’s iconic toolkit over the years, it’s gained a lot of character again in Legion. Each specialization now has it’s own unique feel, fantasy, and play style. What a lot of nostalgic players probably won’t mention is that “back in the day”, each specialization played pretty much the same. Open with garrote, spam sinister strike or mutilate, keep slice and dice up, then rupture/envenom/eviscerate. Today, Assassination, Subtlety, and Outlaw (once Combat) each bring unique rotations, weapons, and styles of play to the table.
Assassination does most of it’s damage through the application and upkeep of damage-over-time poison and bleed effects. The assassin’s kit is pretty flexible, including the huge toolbox of crowd control options available to all the specializations, but where it really excels is single-target burst damage.
Fantasy and Playstyle
Assassination is for those who like DoTs. Assassination is a great spec to play if you like the idea of covering your opponent in a bunch of superficial cuts, making them think they haven’t taken much damage at all, that you aren’t really a threat, and then seeing that cocky smile vanish as all your myriad poisons start to take hold in their veins. Assassination starts off slow, then builds up to insurmountable damage over time.
At time of writing, assassination is the favored spec for Mythic raiding.
- Starts from Stealth, opens with Garrote, it’s first bleed effect.
- Uses abilities like Mutilate, Toxic Blade, or Poisoned Knife to build combo points and apply poisons.
- Consumes combo points with Rupture and Envenom (or Death From Above if talented).
- Only real offensive cooldown is Vendetta, but it’s quite a good one.
While different talent builds don’t offer much in the way of rotation variety, you do have a choice of which poisons to use for each weapon. Currently, you can choose between Deadly Poison, Wound Poison, and Crippling Poison by default, and you can spec into Leeching Poison at level 60. The damage of all your poisons is increased by the assassination mastery, Potent Poisons.
Subtlety rogue is next on our list, and by far my personal favorite. Subtlety is all about one thing:
Fantasy and Playstyle
I don’t think I could sum up the subtlety fantasy as well as Blizzard did in their Legion class preview:
Some claim the art of subtlety looks like malevolent shadow magic—but no matter from where their power is derived, these rogues are capable of performing devastating assaults on their enemies, slipping away unharmed to strike again without detection. Most rogues train their entire lives to learn how to walk in the shadows—subtlety rogues were born there.
Batman references aside, what draws me to this specialization the most is the subtle (hehe) presence of shadow/void magic in its kit. Where assassination uses poison, and outlaw uses cheap tricks mixed with brute force, subtlety is the only specialization that seems to use actual magic. Abilities like Shadow Blades or Symbols of Death even describe the magic in the tooltip. Although it’s gotten a mixed reception, especially among shadow priests, I absolutely love the new lore provided in both Legion and Chronicle about the Void, and have a particular fascination with it this expansion.
Artifact Weapon: Fangs of the Devourer, another pair of daggers, these crafted from the fangs of Sargeras’ beloved felhound,
Fluffers Goremaw. They grant the ability Goremaw’s Bite, which does massive damage, slows the target, and grants 3 whole combo points.
- Opens from stealth with abilities like Shadowstrike or Cheap Shot.
- Can go into Shadow Dance to use stealth based abilities outside of stealth.
- Outside of Stealth or Shadow Dance, generates combo points with either Backstab or Shuriken Storm.
- Consumes combo points with Nightblade or Eviscerate (or Death From Above if talented).
- Mastery: Executioner increases the damage of finishing moves.
- Has a few offensive cooldowns in it’s arsenal, like Shadow Blades, Shadow Dance, and Symbols of Death.
Subtlety is pretty free to change around its talent choices. The only big decision you’ll have to make is between Enveloping Shadows and Dark Shadow. Otherwise, there are plenty of completely viable choices to go with, so feel free to experiment and choose what feels best for you!
Subtlety is also my go-to PvP rogue spec. Stealth, mobility, crowd control, and insane burst can bring down anyone unlucky enough to be in your path. If the fight’s not going your way, you have tons of escape potential to back out and pick a fight with more favorable odds.
Alright, that’s not technically an outlaw rogue, but it’s pretty damn close.
Fantasy and Playstyle
In Legion, the combat rogue has been creatively re-imagined as the outlaw rogue. Replacing the theme of “Rogue who fights stuff with combat”, the outlaw is a treacherous master of swordplay and skulduggery, relying on a combination of martial prowess, dirty tricks, and concealed firepower to take down foes. Where other rogues rely on stealth, patiently waiting for the right time to strike, the outlaw fights toe-to-toe with anyone who would dare offend them. Now this doesn’t mean they always fight fair. In fact, if a fight doesn’t seem to be going the outlaw’s way, they hold no scruples about drawing a concealed pistol, calling down a Cannonball Barrage, or quickly escaping with a well placed shot with their Grappling hook. They also have the ability to Bribe enemy humanoids, paying them to fight alongside you for a time. The outlaw specialization packs a ton of AoE damage, and is the specialization I’d recommend to any rogue tired of hiding in the shadows who’s ready to face down entire groups of enemies at once.
Artifact Weapon: Outlaw rogues take for themselves The Dreadblades, a pair of cursed sabers with a long, bloody history. The Dreadblades grant their wielder the Curse of the Dreadblades, which, in exchange for some of the rogue’s health, makes all of their combo point generating abilities fill their combo points completely.
- Uses Ambush as its primary stealth opener.
- Builds combo points with abilities like Saber Slash and Pistol Shot.
- Consumes combo points with either Between the Eyes, Run Through, or Roll the Bones.
- Roll the Bones can provide 1, 2, or even 5 buffs at once, ranging from increased crit chance or attack speed to extra combo points or leech.
- Can toggle Blade Flurry to add cleave to its attacks.
- Has offensive cooldowns in the form of Adrenaline Rush and Curse of the Dreadblades.
- Mastery can cause main-hand attacks to trigger a bonus off-hand attack.
The outlaw has some interesting talents as well. The aforementioned Cannonball Barrage and Grappling Hook add some fun flavor, as well as damage and mobility respectively. My personal favorite from a purely aesthetic perspective is Killing Spree. Turning this on alongside your cleave causes you to teleport between enemies, dealing massive AoE damage with the added bonus of looking absolutely badass doing so.
Since patch 7.2.5, rogues are once again able to claim some pretty sweet prizes for being a successful pickpocket with the new and improved pickpocketing mini-game. Rewards range from pets to exclusive transmog items, so be sure to give it a shot when you’ve got some time. I’d advise you either talk with Griftah in the Underbelly, or check out this cool guide over on Wowhead.
Above all, I find the rogue to be a very fun class to play. There is a bit of a learning curve to conquer when playing the class for the first time, and if your vanish is on cooldown, you may find surviving some fights rather difficult. However, rogue plays best when you’re patient, and pick your targets carefully. Learn to fight smarter and not harder, and you’ll be a terrifying shadow of death on the battlefield in no time.
Now I’m aiming to put out one of these articles a week, but because of my my aforementioned condition, I can’t say exactly what class will be featured yet.
If you play a rogue yourself, let me know in the comments what the class means to you. If you don’t play a rogue, let me know why, or what other questions you still might have.