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My Secret Life as a Rogue: Of Talents and Talent Builds

It's been some time since I wrote about my initial attempts at playing the rogue class. And, no, I haven't given it up yet! I've only reached the fairly puny level of 33, but the rogue changes coming in the next patch have me excited about continued leveling - after all, there's little joy in having half of a talent build.

However, my recent efforts have been divided between my own rogue on the live realms and a pre-made level 60 rogue on the test realms. After some initial goofing off - it is, after all, a bit disorienting to jump from a low-30s character in mostly greens to a level 60 character with dual crusader enchants - I set to work trying different talent builds. Of course I've read all of the discussion on possible builds, but sometimes there's just no substitute for experience - and the test realms provide an ideal opportunity to see just what the class is capable of, with all possible talent permutations.

And, perhaps, some experimentation could teach me something about how to play my own, lesser rogue a bit better...On the live realms, I have the start of a combat swords build, and my first build attempt on the test realm was similar - in fact, one I was considering using on the live realms. It was a 0/27/24 combat/subtlety build, with which I was attempting to leverage the power of dodge with lightning reflexes, ghostly strike, and setup. In my play experience, I always find myself at an annoying disadvantage if ever I face a challenging (or impossible!) opponent and evasion (or vanish, or sprint) is on cooldown, so I made a point to pick up all of the cooldown reduction talents, as well as preparation. (Though I imagine with such a build I would simply end up cursing the preparation cooldown...)

I took myself to Scarlet Monastery cathedral - as an undead rogue, this was convenient to the Undercity to respec in between runs - to get a feel for what this new rogue was capable of. I did two runs through the cathedral and two through the armory, trying out all of my various abilities. I found the stealth speed increase and cooldown reduction to be handy for sneaking about - sufficiently so that I may have to pick them up regardless of my final spec decision on the live realms. Both preparation and blade flurry - neither of which I have on the live realms - were both very nice to have, for obvious reasons.

However, the dodge build - though interesting - didn't impress me much. Without ghostly strike or evasion up, I'd generate a combo point every four to five seconds, which meant sometimes none at all if I made a serious attempt to kill my target. Though, when attempting to solo particularly challenging targets - using evasion and ghostly strike - the effect would probably be more noticeable. Perhaps I hadn't given it a fair shot fighting things twenty levels below me. So I headed out to Un'Goro crater, looking to tangle with some larger elites - the 60-61 elite stone guardians and the mid-50 elite devilsaurs.

I was accustomed to soloing equal level elites on my own rogue - with the use of evasion (and possibly a potion) - so this should prove a useful test. All fights went smoothly and successfully - though this could be attributed as much to gear as to talent build. Time to try something different...

I don't use daggers on the live realms, but I had two epic daggers, and it seemed like a shame to waste them. I respeced to a 15/31/5 combat dagger build with adrenaline rush. While the big crit numbers from backstab and ambush are fun, and adrenaline rush is an excellent addition to any style of play (for casters in the audience, think of adrenaline rush as similar to a mage's evocation or druid's innervate), I personally found the necessity of being behind my targets for my main attack (backstab) to be a nuisance. Stealth allows for an initial ambush, and during the fight I relied on gouge to get back behind my target for additional backstabs. The higher energy cost of backstab (as compared to sinister strike, of which I'd always had the improved variety) was also a a bit of an adjustment, though adrenaline rush certainly helped.

I soon decided to take a different approach on the dagger build, opting for a 31/20/0 build with cold blood, seal fate, and vigor. While I've never gotten a good vibe about vigor from the rogue forums, it was only one more point - and the only real alternative for the point was blade flurry, which I've already tried. I haven't found myself impressed by vigor, either. The additional ten energy it provides didn't seem to be enough to do very much with, and even with it, I felt constrained by energy costs of backstab use. However, I was much impressed by seal fate. Combo points seemed to rack up effortlessly - though this may be another benefit of epic gear, as the pre-made rogues have about 30% crit.

The last of builds I felt I hadn't experimented with was a heavy subtlety build with hemorrhage. I opted again to use swords, and thus skipped opportunity and improved ambush. I found hemorrhage to be particularly interesting - of all talents, it provides the cheapest possible combo point generation, though its full utility is likely found in group play, where its debuff can benefit multiple players. I played for a while, and found nothing that particularly stood out to me with this build, and I soon logged off, heading for my own rogue. I was now very undecided about its future, but did feel the need to head to the nearest major city to look for a dagger...

Update: I think I've fixed the talent build links.

Filed under: Rogue, Patches, Virtual selves

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