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Rogues are hard to play and it requires something that most other classes do not need. Smarts. A while back, rogues were the least played class for a few years. This wasn't because they were weak or have crappy skills, it was because it required you to use the skills they gave you correctly or else you would be dead. If you played a rogue but yet don't know what you are doing wrong, than this guide was made for you. If you want to see if you are playing your class right or if I am a dumby on the class, that is your opion. You can also read this to learn how to fight a rogue by knowing their main moves in battle. It is all up to you and how you use this information.
To tell you the truth, you can build your rogue however you desire. I am not going to tell you that you need this one talent to win all the time. I hate it when someone comes on to the party, raid, or just questing with me and says, "Duh, you know Nightstalker is better than Shadow Focus, right? You should switch it now to be top dps.". To be all fair, if you want to build the most powerful rogue of all time, than you need to learn there are different types of rogues out there. Also you won't have the heart and soul to play your rogue at a lower level set and even at 90 level set. If you want to build the most powerful player, pick a class that can feed your need on power.
Like I said above, there are different rogues out there that you can play as. You can play as the stealthy kind were you keep yourself hidden almost all the time. You can play as a killer, where you pick a target and dish out a lot of dps to kill it before moving on to the next one. Or you can be the one that worries about everyone and does a lot of AOE skills. Each one has something that the other doesn't have so be sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
The stealthy one is the Subtlety. This here focues on your stealth abilities the most and on a later level (80 I believe, used to be when you picked it but was removed until you reach 80) you get an ability called Shadowdance where you can use your stealth abilites without being stealthed. This can be very dangerous since Ambush does a lot of dps. Another thing that you get that the others do not is your energy regen. If you play your cards right you will never run out of energy and therefore can do whatever skill you want to do whenever, so long you have points on the target. The cards you need is being higher than level 50 (I believe) and have Slice and Dice on. You see, when you turn a certain level you learn a passive ability that lets Slice and Dice increase your energy regen in battle. This is very useful in both PvP and PvE.
The one target rogue is the Assassin spec. This is the spec I normally go for since they do a lot of damage. This spec has more dps moves than the Subtlety but because of this they don't have very much ways to regen energy like Subtlety. Later on once you become level 50, you get a passive ability that lets your Rupture and Garrote abilities to give you more energy (but not both at the same time). If the target dies while it is still on, than whatever time is remaining it gives you that much energy. You also get another ability that is only to the Assassins, an extra 20 energy. So you have 120 energy to spend, very helpful. However, to get this you must wear daggers. This class focues on using daggers, if you use maces, swords, or fist weapons than you will be loosing a lot of passive buffs. Daggers are weak, but Assassin has a lot of buffs to make them good as or better as the other one handed weapons you can use. This spec is very useful in PvP but in PvE it is good but not great.
The last time of rogue is the least played (for me), combat. I only tried combat a couple of times but always I grew a dislike on it. Combat is great for PvE but is terrible in PvP due to the damage you do and the energy regen they have. Their target is AOE and because of this they have a lot of AOE skills than the other types of rogues. So they can focus on multible targets at a time. Abilities like Blade Flurry and Killing Spree makes this spec stand out quite a bit. Sadly even if they get a 20% energy regen at a low level, having Blade Flurry on will cancel this effect. Also the class is more accepting to the off hand damage with the buffs it gives. This way you can do about the same damage with your off hand as your main hand. This is very desireable since off hand weapons have a reduce of damage with all classes.
Like I said, with the builds you can pick yourself. Most are better with certain specs than the other specs. For example Shadow Focus is better for Assassin than Subtlety because after you use a stealth ability, you have enough energy to use Mutilate (cost 55 energy) two times. Whereas Nightstalker is better for Subtlety than Assassin since it increases your stealth speed and ambush damage. Subterfude isn't something I use but a lot of other rogues get them with Assassin because you can do Ambush two times (ambush cost 60 energy and you have 120 if you go for Assassin). It is also useful for stunning the target and using ambush at a row (This way you don't have to pick to do damage or stun at the target). The rest of the talents is up to you and if you don't understand them then test them out or do some research.
Playing a rogue
Most people see Rogues are these weak little guys that can't dish out damage when needed when others see them as over powered one hit kill kind of class. Both people are right, rogues can kill you in one hit and they also cannot dish out enough damage to do the job. The only thing missing here is what level the rogue is. Rogues at level 10-70 can kill you in one hit with the right gear. Of course heirloom gear fits in this area and since so many people have heirlooms people think being a rogue is over powered. Level 80-89 you start to see a little less one hits and a little more "why can't I kill this guy?" Depending on the gear you have and how you play your class, you will get a different result to another rogue. In battlegrounds, sometimes I would get the most kills while other times another rogue will have most kills. This is mostly due to the part that when a rogue sees an enemy with low hp, they can use Cloak and Daggers to port behind him and do Ambush at the same time, resulting in a kill. If you do this to someone that has full health then you will be in a real battle and may die if you are not careful. At level 90, you are at the bottom of the list almost all the time until you get better gear. This is almost the same for every class, but rogue at 90 is different. If you fight someone that has the same gear level as you you might not win. The only times you win is if you battle a lower item level gear player. Of course since the update with Patch 5.4 they really upgraded rogues damage so it will be less stuns and pokes and more stuns and kills. Levels 1-15, you are going to suck. Even with heirloom gear you are going to suck more than the other classes. For one when you are stealthed, you cannot catch up the the person until you are level 15 and get the talent that increases your stealth speed. Another is that you cannot flee when you need to flee (Unless you are a night elf) You don't get Vanish until 34 so you have to be careful on how you pick your battles.
I know that a lot of people who play tanks or plated geared classes will call rogues wimps for running away in battle. That they should be a man and take the damage and die honorable. There is nothing honorable about dying and rogues cannot take in damage like mail or plated classes. Even Druids and Monks have a skill that increases their armor value to plate gear but rogues don't have anything like that. So don't be ashame if you had to vanish before that warrior shield bashed you or if a hunter is firing too many arrows at your face. Vanish and plan out accordingly, that is how a rogue defends himself. Of course you can use vanish for other things like going back to your stealth abilities to use or to teleport to someone that is 40 (45 yards if you have the glyph on) yards away from you. In PvP in the Eye of the Storm a Shaman had the flag and pushed me off the hill to the bottom. So I vanished and teleported behind him with a stun and killed him off. This was just me being level 72, it is just how you use your skills in the field that makes them powerful.
The class that is the weakest to rogues is Mages. Mages cannot heal themselves unless they have first aid or race ability and most of their skills are quite useless against a rogue. Don't get me wrong, a mage can kill a rogue but it isn't going to be easy. If you have the right glyph on you can find a mage that is invisible. If the mage freezes himself in a ice block use this time to vanish and wait. If he uses blink and teleports to another area while having you frozen to the ground, vanish and use Cloak and Daggers ability on him to teleport yourself out of that ice and behind him. If he is using a powerful spell that can kill you, use Cloak of Shadows to make your guy immune to all spells (however, you cannot use this if you are stun). Mages have no hope against a rogue on their own, unless they have better gear and can kill you in one hit or two.Other spell casters like priests, warlocks, and druids are a little harder to kill. Priests can shield and heal themselves by a butload and even with the poison the reduce the healing they take in isn't enough. Warlocks have pets and an ability to shield themselves with the 10% of damage they can do with certain abilities, and it stacks. Druids can heal themselves and even sometimes shield themselves, but it isn't as powerful as the priests shields. Druids can out rogue you in dps so watch out.
Places to hide! Sometimes going stealth isn't enough, sometimes you need to hide while you are hidding. A lot of players have AoE skills that can make you come out of your stealth and others know where to run to if they are looking for a rogue. Them with their mounts are going to be faster than you and if you can't sap them in time or if they are immune to it due to the 3 other saps you gave them you can be caught. Here is a few tips that will keep you hidden even if someone is looking for you. First one, use your surroundings. If you see a tent, go inside it. If you see a hill, go on top of it. If you see Kingsbloom or some herbs, go to it and sit in it. There are a lot of stuff around you that can help you hide, you just need to find them and use them right. The other is not going to a place that is well known for rogues to be in. Like in Warsong in the flag room, don't stand in the corner or the little room, go towards the wall or even above the flag. A lot of players know that rogues are in the corner to their left and will sometimes throw an AoE at the flag. Another trick, and possibly the most useful one, is to hide out of sight and port out of there. I know this cannot be used in Battlegrounds but in the outside world if you are facing a group of 5 hunting you down because you killed their healer, it is better to get out of that area.
Here is a little trick if you are into PvPing in the outside world. If you know you can one shot them or kill them quickly while they are in booty bay or their own little town, you can vanish after the kill. This will remove the guards in the area that want to kill you or see you as a threat. I used that trick a few times to help out a friend that is being stalked by an enemy player that has heirloom gear on. They will be waiting in a town thinking they are safe and boom, they are dead and no one is there.