When you think of a rogue in World of Warcraft, you probably think of stealth. They’re masters of sneaking around unseen, even able to vanish from sight in the middle of combat. They’re also capable thieves as the only class with the ability to pick both locks and pockets. Beyond that, they’re also exceptional damage dealers with very strong crowd control capabilities. All of this makes them an easy and fun class to level, as well as a fantastic class for solo play. So let us guide through leveling your rogue from 1 to 80 in WoW Classic (WotLK).
Best Rogue Leveling Spec
We’ll be using the Combat talent specialization for this rogue leveling guide. Assassination and Subtlety are both viable options, but Combat offers the best control and survivability for leveling.
Unlike in retail World of Warcraft, you will need to visit your class trainer in order to learn new spells as you level up. Trainers are located in every major faction city as well as each of the starting zones. You should train at least every few levels, because new ranks and new abilities can make a huge difference to your damage and efficiency.
Gear and Stats
As a Combat rogue, here are the stats you should look for on gear, in order of importance:
- Agility is your strongest stat, with each point granting two points of Attack Power as well as some Critical Strike. You should be able to get lots of it on your gear without having to look for it specifically.
- Strength is a close second, with each point increasing your Attack Power by one. Normally, you’ll opt for Agility instead, as they rarely appear on the same item.
- Attack Power increases the damage you do with most of your abilities and is the main secondary stat you should aim for.
- Critical Strike increases your damage by causing more of your abilities to critically hit.
- Haste speeds up your attacks, increasing the amount of damage you can do over any given window of time.
- Hit is much more important at level 80. You won’t see much of it as you level, but when you do, it’s good to grab.
- Stamina does nothing to boost your damage but is important for your survivability. It should come naturally on your gear without needing to look for it.
Rogues can use cloth and leather armor, with leather offering the best armor value. You should focus on the stats above rather than worrying too much about armor, but for the most part, rogue stats will appear on leather and not cloth.
For your primary weapons, rogues can use one-handed axes, maces, swords, daggers, fist weapons, and polearms. For a ranged weapon, the options are bows, guns, and thrown. Keep in mind that each individual weapon type has its own separate skill in WoW Classic. If you swap to a different weapon type, you may need to level its skill before you can be effective with it.
As far as choosing your weapons, Combat rogues favor swords and axes due to your Hack and Slash ability. You’ll also want to look for damage rather than DPS for your main hand, and weapon speed in your offhand (to quickly apply poison and proc your Combat Potency ability).
Best Heirlooms for Combat Rogue
Heirloom gear is well worth getting if you have a level 80 character and are able to purchase it. They scale with your level, so you don’t have to keep replacing your gear as you go. Chest and shoulder pieces also provide a buff to your experience gained, increasing your leveling speed significantly.
Heirloom items can be enchanted with low-level enchantments such as Crusader, which can provide an extra boost to your damage as you level.
These are the heirloom pieces you should look for if you are leveling a rogue:
- Shoulder: Stained Shadowcraft Spaulders
- Chest: Stained Shadowcraft Tunic
- Trinket: Swift Hand of Justice
- Trinket: Inherited Insignia of the Alliance/Horde
- Main Hand: Venerable Dal’Rend’s Sacred Charge
- Off Hand: Balanced Heartseeker
- Ranged: Charmed Ancient Bone Bow
Guide to Leveling a Rogue in WotLK
Now let’s get to leveling!
Rotation: Starting out, you’ll have one ability that builds combo points (Sinister Strike) and one that spends them (Eviscerate). This will be your rotation until level 10. You also have the Throw ability, but that’s only useful if you need to pull an enemy from a distance.
You can train Stealth as early as level 1, but you won’t get much use out of it at this point. Pick Pocket is trainable at level 4 and can be a lot of fun, but isn’t useful for combat.
At level 6, you can learn Gouge, which can be a very useful crowd control ability, especially when you learn Vanish later on. At level 8, you get your first defensive cooldown, Evasion, which you can start using when things get hairy. Just make sure to be facing enemies, as you can’t dodge attacks from behind.
Talents: At level 10, you’ll be able to choose your first talent. Here are the recommended talents for this level range:
- Level 10-11: Improved Sinister Strike (2/2)
- Level 12-16: Dual Wield Specialization (5/5)
- Level 17-19: Precision (3/5)
Glyphs: At level 15, you will be able to use your first glyphs. Glyph of Sinister Strike is a great choice for your major glyph. For your minor glyph slot, Glyph of Blurred Speed offers a unique benefit.
Rotation: You’ll learn Slice and Dice at level 10, which pretty much completes your damage rotation. It’s just three abilities! Here it is:
- Slice and Dice whenever you need to refresh the buff.
- Eviscerate if you have combo points to burn.
- Sinister Strike to build combo points.
This simple rotation belies the many utility abilities you’ll want to learn to use as a rogue. At level 10, you gain Sap, allowing you to take an enemy out of commission for 25 seconds before starting combat. Use it to make stealthing around easier or to buy you enough time to take down their friend before dealing with them.
You’ll also get Sprint, an amazing mobility cooldown. If you’re running the Glyph of Blurred Speed, you can even run across water while it’s active. At level 12, you’ll learn Kick, an interrupt on a short 10-second cooldown. Make sure you get used to using it, as interrupting is an important duty of rogues.
You’ll also learn Pick Lock at level 16, giving you a bonus skill that no other class has access to. You can make a nice bit of side money opening lockboxes for other players. Of course, you’ll also deal with constant requests for opening them, so it’s a bit of a double-sided blade.
Mount: You can buy your first mount at level 20! The basic ground mount has a speed of 60% and costs five gold. Head to the starting zone or capital city for your race to purchase a mount as soon as you can – it really makes everything a lot faster and easier.
- Level 20-21: Endurance (2/2)
- Level 22-23: Precision (5/5)
- Level 24-25: Improved Slice and Dice (2/2)
- Level 26-28: Lightning Reflexes (3/3)
- Level 29: Aggression (1/5)
Glyphs: You won’t unlock any new glyphs until level 30.
Rotation: You will continue your three ability rotation all the way to level 80. At level 22, you’ll learn Vanish, which allows you to peace out mid-fight it you so choose. Alternatively, if you’re playing with a group, it can let you drop aggro if you’re generating too much threat.
You also get another useful stealth-related ability at level 22 with Distract, helping you sneak around enemies you want to avoid. Cheap Shot is yet another stealth-based ability you’ll gain access to at level 26, giving you a way to stun targets from stealth.
Poisons: You’ll learn the Poisons ability at level 20 and should start getting in the habit of always keeping poisons up on both of your weapons. Visit a poison vendor and keep a couple of stacks in your bags at all times. Instant Poison will be your go to choice for most leveling content as Combat.
- Level 30: Blade Flurry (1/1)
- Level 31-35: Hack and Slash 5/5)
- Level 36-37: Blade Twisting (2/2)
- Level 38-39: Aggression (3/5)
Glyphs: At level 30, you can use a second major glyph. Glyph of Eviscerate is a great choice.
Rotation: At level 30, you’ll learn Kidney Shot – a stun ability on a short 20-second cooldown. Use it often when you need to keep an enemy locked down or as a secondary interrupt if your Kick is on cooldown.
You’ll also learn Blind at level 34, granting you another way to CC enemies mid-combat. Just make sure to not accidentally hit them and break the Blind prematurely.
The really big new addition to your arsenal is Blade Flurry from your talents. This is what makes Combat rogue so good in AoE encounters, as all of your single-target damage gets applied to an additional target while it’s active. The 20% attack speed buff is also really nice and stacks with Slice and Dice. Use it whenever fighting multiple enemies or if you really need to delete a priority target.
Mount: At level 40, you can upgrade your mount. An epic ground mount has a speed of 100% and costs 60 gold. You will most likely need to return to the same vendor you purchased your level 20 mount from.
- Level 40: Adrenaline Rush (1/1)
- Level 41-43: Vitality (3/3)
- Level 44-45: Weapon Expertise (2/2)
- Level 46-49: Combat Potency (4/5)
- Level 50: Surprise Attacks (1/1)
- Level 51-52: Savage Combat (2/2)
- Level 53: Combat Potency (5/5)
- Level 54: Aggression (4/5)
- Level 55-57: Prey on the Weak (3/5)
Glyphs: At level 50, you can use a second minor glyph. Glyph of Pick Lock can save you some time while you level your lockpicking skill.
Rotation: You’ll get Safe Fall at level 40 which is nice for surviving drops that other classes would shy away from. Otherwise, the only other major new ability at this point is Adrenaline Rush from your talents.
Popping Adrenaline Rush gives you a massive surge of Energy generation, letting you spam your abilities back to back. Aim to activate it after depleting your Energy bar and using it in tandem with Blade Flurry as your major offensive combo.
Also, thanks to the Surprise Attacks talent, enemies will no longer be able to dodge your finishing moves (Eviscerate, Kidney Shot). You should begin to see enemies dying a lot faster and more consistently.
You may also want to take into consideration the damage boost from The Prey on the Weak talent. Enemies will take additional damage for a few seconds after you stun them, so you may want to do so before popping your major offensive cooldowns.
Zones: Head to Outland as soon as you reach level 58. The items you can get there are much better than those in the lower level zones.
Mount: At level 60, you can purchase your first flying mount. A basic flying mount has a flying speed of 150%, a ground speed of 60%, and costs 300 gold total. The Flying trainers are located in Hellfire Peninsula and Shadowmoon Valley.
- Level 58-59: Prey on the Weak (5/5)
- Level 60: Killing Spree (1/1)
- Level 61-62: Unfair Advantage (2/2)
- Level 63-65: Deflection (3/3)
- Level 66: Riposte (1/1)
- Level 67: Malice (1/5)
Glyphs: You won’t get any new glyph slots until level 70.
Rotation: You’ll learn Killing Spree through your talent tree at level 60, and should start using this powerful cooldown for extra AOE damage whenever possible (especially when you activate Blade Flurry).
You’ll also learn Riposte from talents, and can begin weaving it in whenever you parry an attack. This will mostly only be used when solo leveling, as it’s largely irrelevant if you’re grouped with a tank.
Additionally, thanks to the Unfair Advantage talent, dodging attacks will actually deal damage to enemies. This makes Evasion even more potent as a defensive tool.
Zones: Head to Northrend as soon as you reach level 68. The quest rewards are much better and you can start working on the reputations you will need at level 80.
Mount: You can upgrade your flying mount at level 70 if you choose. An epic flying mount has a flying speed of 280%, a ground speed of 100%, and costs 5100 gold. But you will not be able to use it in Northrend until you train Cold Weather Flying. This can be done at level 77 for 1000 gold, or if you already have a level 80 character, you can purchase a Tome of Cold Weather Flight for your rogue to use as early as level 68. Northrend flying trainers are located in Dalaran, Storm Peaks, and Sholazar Basin.
- Level 68-71: Malice (5/5)
- Level 72-74: Ruthlessness (3/3)
- Level 75-76: Remorseless Attacks (2/2)
- Level 77: Vigor (1/1)
- Level 78-80: Lethality (3/5)
Glyphs: At level 70, you can use a third minor glyph. Glyph of Vanish is a useful option. You won’t get the third major glyph slot until level 80.
Rotation: Nothing new here, besides a couple more passive bonuses from your talents. Don’t forget to keep Slice and Dice up and maintain poisons on your weapons.
Congratulations on level 80! Just remember that this guide is specifically for leveling your rogue to reach end-game WotLK content. Your talent build and rotations will look fairly different when you start trying to maximize your DPS.
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Thanks for reading! Hopefully this guide has helped you with leveling your rogue through WoW: WotLK Classic. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!