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Combat Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW 4.3.4)

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Combat Rogue Art Image

In this article, we list your Combat Rogue (WoW 4.3) core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation). We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that playing a Combat Rogue will face you with. The other articles of our Combat Rogue guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the left.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

Combat Rogues have one of the simplest rotations in the game, which takes the form of the following cycle:

  1. Build 5 Combo Points by spamming Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike.
  2. At 5 Combo Points:
    1. Apply Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice, if it is not up.
    2. Refresh Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice, if it is about to expire.
    3. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate, if there is no need to apply or refresh Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  3. Repeat from step 1.

1.1. Revealing Strike

Use Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike whenever you are at 4 Combo Points and you intend to use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate as your next Finishing Move.

Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike is a less efficient Combo Point builder than Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike, which deals more damage and has a chance to add an additional Combo Point on the target (thanks to Glyph of Sinister Strike). However, Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike increases the damage of your next offensive Finishing Move by 35% for 15 seconds. Using it before Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate is a DPS gain, but only if Revealing Strike adds the fifth Combo Point on your target. If you already are at 5 Combo Points, using Revealing Strike just for the damage increase is a DPS loss.

1.2. Rupture

We advise you against using Rupture Icon Rupture at all. It greatly complicates the rotation and ends up being a DPS loss.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

If there is a very large number of enemies to kill (at least 10-12 enemies), then you can use Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives on them, provided that you have a Thrown Weapon.

Otherwise, turn on Blade Flurry Icon Blade Flurry and proceed with your single target rotation on one of the enemies.

3. Poisons↑top

As a rule, always use Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison on your Main-hand weapon and Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Off-hand weapon. If your raid needs the reduced healing debuff on the target, use Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison on your Main-hand weapon (Instant Poison is only very slightly better).

If you are using Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives for doing AoE damage, then use Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison on your Thrown Weapon. You can also use Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison with great success, if the enemies will stay alive long enough that Deadly Poison can stack up to 5 times on some of the targets.

Refer to our Poisons and Weapons section for detailed explanations about poisons and the way they influence your choices of weapons.

4. Cooldowns↑top

Your two main DPS cooldowns are Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush and Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree. We advise you to use them on cooldown. You can delay using them when there is a period of increased damage on the boss. As one of our readers put it, a rule of thumb for cooldown management as Combat Rogue is to use them often and early.

When Adrenaline Rush Icon Adrenaline Rush is stacked with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Heroism Icon Heroism, or Time Warp Icon Time Warp, you will regenerate so much Energy that you will not be able to spend it. While the increased Energy regeneration that Adrenaline Rush provides will be, in these circumstances, largely wasted, you will still benefit from the increased attack speed. Therefore, using Adrenaline Rush during Bloodlust, Heroism, or Timewarp is still a DPS gain.

Before casting Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree, make sure to be very low on Energy, so that the Energy regenerated during Killing Spree does not go to waste.

Also, you need to be very careful when using Killing Spree Icon Killing Spree, as it teleports you from enemy to enemy. This runs the risk of you standing in a dangerous place when Killing Spree ends.

Using Redirect Icon Redirect in fights where you have to fight different enemies is a DPS gain. See our Redirect section for more details.

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;
  • how your poisons work and how they affect your choice of weapon;
  • 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 Rating + haste-enhancing buffs);
  • your Vitality Icon Vitality proficiency, which increases Energy regeneration by 25%;
  • your Combat Potency Icon Combat Potency talent, which grants your off-hand melee attacks a chance to generate 15 Energy;
  • your Relentless Strikes Icon Relentless Strikes talent, 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 two 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 15%.

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

Note that, thanks to Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness, your Finishing Moves have a chance to add a Combo Point on your target.

5.2. Poisons and Weapons

As a Combat Rogue, you will mostly use these three poisons: Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison, Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison, and Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison. In this section, we will explain how these poisons are applied and how they influence your weapons of choice.

5.2.1. Poison Application

While the tooltip for Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison clearly mentions how often the poison is applied, the tooltips for Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison and Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison do not. For these two poisons, the number of applications per minute is fixed (between 9 and 10 for Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison and about 24 for Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison).

These numbers never change, regardless of your weapon speed, your melee haste, and the various haste buffs from which you are benefiting. For example, if you can perform 48 normal melee attacks in a minute with a Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison imbued weapon, then each of the attacks will have a 50% chance to apply the poison. If you can only perform 24 normal melee attacks, then each attack will have a 100% chance to apply the poison.

The one thing to remember is that a slow weapon is associated a higher chance to apply a poison (be it Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison or Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison) than a faster weapon. This is important because the per minute limit only affects poison applications from normal melee attacks. It does not affect poison applications from special melee attacks, which have a chance to apply the poison equal to the chance associated with their corresponding weapon.

For example, the slower your Main-hand Weapon, the higher the chance that Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike will apply Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison.

Understanding this is important, as it determines (partly) your choice of poison for your weapons as well as your choice of weapons.

5.2.2. Why Wound Poison on Thrown Weapon

Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison is a more potent poison than Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison. Even if it does much less damage than Instant Poison, Wound Poison can be applied many more times per minute, leading to higher damage. To convince yourself, you can try spamming Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives on a dummy with your Thrown Weapon imbued by Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison. Repeat with your Thrown Weapon imbued by Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison. Wound Poison will be a clear winner.

5.2.3. Why Instant Poison and Deadly Poison on Melee Weapons

As a Combat Rogue, you should always have Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison on your Main-hand Weapon and Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Off-hand Weapon.

Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison is your most potent poison. It deals a sizeable amount of damage by stacking a DoT on your target, up to 5 stacks. Once at 5 stacks, each new application refreshes the DoT and applies, with a 100% chance, the poison of your other weapon.

Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison must be applied on your fastest weapon, so that you maximise the number of applications of Deadly Poison. The benefits are two-fold:

  • the chances that the DoT will drop (no application within 12 seconds) are minimised;
  • the chances that you will get additional applications of your other weapon's poison are increased.

As seen in the previous section, Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison is less potent than Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison. The experiment we described can be repeated by imbuing both melee weapons with Instant Poison and Wound Poison, and performing only normal melee attacks on a dummy. Wound Poison will be the clear winner.

The only reason why one of your weapons should be imbued with Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison is because there is Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on the other weapon. Indeed, the guaranteed chance to apply Instant Poison with each application of Deadly Poison more than makes up for the damage penalty of using it instead of Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison.

Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison must be applied on your slowest weapon, so that the chances to apply it with your special melee attacks are maximised.

Note that using Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison instead of Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison is perfectly viable if your raid needs you to provide the healing debuff. This will result in a very small DPS loss.

5.2.4. Weapon Choice

Your choices of weapons are influenced by several constraints. First of all, your poisons dictate that:

  • one of your weapons should be as slow as possible, so that your special melee attacks have an increased chance to apply Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison.
  • one of your weapons should be as fast as possible, so that you get as much benefit as possible from Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison;

Your abilities dictate that:

Unlike the other Rogue specialisations, your abilities do not require you to use Daggers, therefore you should equip:

  • a 2.6 Agility Mace or Axe (the slowest type of agility weapons available) as your Main-hand Weapon and imbue it with Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison;
  • a 1.4 Agility Dagger (the fastest type of agility weapons available) as your Off-hand Weapon and imbue it with Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison.

5.3. 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 any combination of Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike and Revealing Strike Icon Revealing 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 restarts 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 resets your cycle of Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile. Using Redirect Icon Redirect on a new target will transfer your current Bandit's Guile buff to the new target.

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. We detail this in the next section.

5.3.1. 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 Restless Blades Icon Restless Blades, 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.

5.3.2. Refreshing Slice and Dice

While keeping Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice up is your top priority, it is not required to always refresh it with 5 Combo Points. It appears to be viable to refresh Slice and Dice with any number of Combo Points.

The rotation is easier to perform if you choose to always refresh Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Points. Doing this leads to good results (but not optimal).

If you choose to optimise your refreshing of Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice, then always refresh Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice when you have no Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile buff. This way, you should not have to refresh Slice and Dice again before the beginning of the next Bandit's Guile cycle.

5.4. Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade was originally designed to be cast on tanks in order to help them keep aggro. With the changes that threat generation has undergone in WOTLK and Cataclysm, it is now more beneficial to your raid if you use Tricks of the Trade on one of the best DPS players in order to increase their damage done.

Note that you can (and most often should) cast Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade on the tank at the pull, before switching to a different target when refreshing it.

Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade costs you a Global Cooldown to cast (but no Energy, thanks to Glyph of Tricks of the Trade). The best time to refresh it is when you are waiting for Energy to cast Sinister Strike Icon Sinister Strike or Revealing Strike Icon Revealing Strike.

Please refer to our Macros and Addons page for a Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade macro.

Note that with the Rogue Tier 13 Set 2-piece Bonus, you get a temporary DPS boost whenever you use Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade.

5.5. Using Redirect

Redirect Icon Redirect is a very convenient ability for Rogues.

This ability transfers your existing Combo Points to your current target. Note that when you kill an enemy, your unused Combo Points remain on it, which means that they can be transferred through Redirect Icon Redirect. Moreover, your Combo Points on a dead enemy are removed when another enemy dies with unused Combo Points.

Redirect Icon Redirect is very useful in two situations:

  • when you switch target and want to start on your new target with the Combo Points you had on your previous target;
  • when you engage a boss and you want to start with as many Combo Points as possible (by transferring the Combo Points of the last trash mob that died).

For Combat Rogues, Redirect Icon Redirect also transfers your Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile buff from your previous target to your new target.

5.6. Recuperate

Using Recuperate Icon Recuperate is optional as a Combat Rogue. Thanks to the Improved Recuperate Icon Improved Recuperate talent, you get a bit of self-healing and damage reduction while Recuperate is active.

You should only ever use Recuperate Icon Recuperate if it will make the life of your healers so much easier that it compensates for the sizable DPS loss; for example, when the Purple Ooze is up against Yor'sahj.




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