What Your Rogue Wants You to Know (and Enemy Rogues *Don’t* Want You to Know)
Hey, there, I’m a rogue and I would like nothing better than to sink my daggers into your back. Well, unless you’re my teammate; then I’d like nothing better than to sink my daggers into the back of whatever is attacking you. You want to know something funny? I need *your* help to do either one.
Rogues Are Opportunistic
Rogues are, quite literally, Ambush predators. We are the lion that picks off the straggling zebra, or the crocodile that snags the unwary gazelle. As such, one of the best and easiest ways to thwart us is to stay with your group.
One of my most common tactics is to Sap a target and see what happens. Despite the popularity of the SaySapped addon, which notifies nearby teammates that my target has been sapped, it is not at all uncommon for the group to run ahead without their sapped teammate. When/if that happens, they’re mine. What’s more, the gap normally gives me time to re-stealth and do it again, so even a flag group of 2-3 can be picked off by a single rogue if they are slow enough (or I catch them early enough).
As such, if you see somebody standing still with a swirling circle over their heads, or if they have the SaySapped addon that warns you of the Sap, stay close. The rogue may choose to wait for an easier target, or not attack at all. Even if they do attack, you have an excellent chance of saving your teammate or at least killing the rogue if you stay nearby.
Rogues Work Best From Stealth
A Rogue caught out in the open is relatively easy prey. Especially at lower levels we are the proverbial glass cannons. We tend to have smaller health pools and less armor, relying on CDs for survival. We rely on surprise and stealth to get in close and kill our enemy before he can fight back.
As such, a Rogue should always attack from behind. An enemy will never see you sneaking up behind him, but alert players may see you coming in from the front. When I’m on my hunter, I can easily bring a noob rogue out of stealth before he has a chance to attack. I have been able to catch up to three rogues at a time, because they were streaming in from the front. As a rogue myself, I can bring up to two enemy rogues out of stealth (depending on my energy situation) before they have a chance to Ambush. I can only imagine they were sitting in the GY accusing me of cheating, but it was nothing more than a very poor choice for their avenue of attack. If you are a Rogue, take the extra second or two to circle around behind the enemy or you may well find yourself a free HK. If you are the teammate of a Rogue and you see him circling behind the enemy instead of bee-lining in from the front, try to be patient and understanding. My best shot at saving you is killing your attacker, and the best chance at that is to attack from behind. If I attack from behind, I almost certainly will kill him, even if he gets you first. If I move through his line of vision, all I’m doing is gambling with *both* of our lives.
As a Rogue, one of my favorite things to do is to Sap an enemy Rogue, bringing it right out of stealth. Pay attention, folks. If a rogue suddenly appears in your midst, kill it before it gets a chance to re-stealth. If it looks like my teammates aren’t going to kill it in time, I’ll hop in and do the deed myself, but IMO, it’s much better to have all those hunters, warlocks, and mages in the group nuke it down. Think of Rogues as a six-shooter pistol: you can’t afford to pray and spray, you need to make every shot count.
Rogue Damage Is Front-Loaded
Remember up there, when I was talking about how precious Stealth is? And how we have limited ammunition in our metaphorical guns? Well, Ambush is why. Ambush hits very hard; in fact it’s the hardest-hitting weapon in our arsenal. The catch is that it has some requirements: that we are in Stealth mode and that we are behind the target. This means that we will have only one shot (or two with the Subterfuge talent) to use it. This is why I was really hitting hard on the point of bringing the rogue out of Stealth with an instant attack if you can. If you bring him out of Stealth before he has a chance to Ambush you are taking the teeth out of his attack.
Owing to the front-loaded nature of Rogue attacks, there are a few tips you should use, especially if you are a healer. Priest bubbles are a Rogue’s bane, especially at lower levels when the shield can nearly double the effective health pool of my target: try to keep them up at all times. Keep an eye on your health bar. Thanks to the aforementioned Subterfuge talent, a Rogue may be able to get off two, count ’em two, Ambushes before he comes out of Stealth. At lower levels, that’s generally enough to take 75-150% of a health pool, depending on crits, gear, etc. As a healer, noticing that drop in health and healing it before the second Ambush hits can be the difference between life and death, but it’s a very tight window. As a target of the attack, noticing that drop in health may give you the chance to pop a CD to minimize damage or move you out of harm’s way before the second shot lands. Again, it takes careful attention and split-second reactions, but it can be done. Having been on both sides of that equation, I can safely say that killing a healer or flag-carrier before they even know you’re there is a great feeling, mirrored by how frustrating it is to have all your work undone by excellent play from an attentive EFC/Healer.
Rogues Are a Control Class
Rogues do have some excellent tricks up their sleeve, and yes, coming from Stealth their burst is pretty extraordinary, but once out in the open, we rely on control to carry us through the battle. This is where you can really separate the wheat from the chaff, as far as Rogue skill goes. Bad Rogues just stand toe-to-toe with his opponent and slug it out. Even with a 75% head start on the health bar, that is all too often a losing strategy. Positioning is paramount for a Rogue. Our attacks (like all melee attacks) are more effective from behind, where the effects of an enemy’s dodge, parry, and block are minimized, and just as importantly the opponent’s attacks cannot hit you. The more effective I am at staying behind an opponent, the better my chances at winning any skirmish. If I am simply standing still and fighting you with no CDs and minimal movement, then I have absolutely no respect for your ability to put up a fight. As such, when fighting a Rogue, do your best to keep him in front of you, and use stuns, disorients, snares, and roots to keep him at a safe distance and direction.
Good rogues make effective use of all their tools to survive being caught out in the open. There are some obvious defensive CDs that should be used appropriately, such as Evasion and Combat Readiness, but to a skilled Rogue, even Kidney Shot, Gouge, and Sprint are defensive CDs. Each of these tools can buy me a couple of precious seconds to get a tick of Recuperate or 1-2 ticks of First Aid, which can easily mean the difference between life and death. Evasion and Sprint can also be used to kill a noob hunter who relies too much on Concussive Shot to keep his distance.
Finally, I highly recommend the “go out with a bang” strategy, especially if your targets have no/limited self-healing. If it looks like I am about to die, my last great act of defiance is to dot up as many folks as I can before I die. While it may not seem like much, a ticking dot or bleed can weaken up an opponent so that he can be more easily brought down by your teammates. The way I figure it, if I can take out the healer, whatever damage I do to the rest of the group is gravy. Sadly, all too often I have seen an EFC with 50% or less health run the entire length of the field completely unmolested, but I’ve also had groups that were decent enough to finish him off quickly.
Rogues Aren’t Just For Offense
Rogues make excellent goalies in flag-based combat. Just when a flag or base looks to be completely undefended, BAM! You’re dead on the ground, wondering WTF just hit you. On my latest lowbie Rogue, I play D a lot in WSG. A single rogue can cause a surprising amount of chaos for enemy teams. A single flag-runner that stealths into the base is easy pickings for a rogue. Sap, Ambush, Cheap Shot (Stun), Eviscerate, and it’s usually Game Over. I use Crippling Poison to slow my enemies and a combination of poisons and bleeds to dot them up, so even if they manage to get a few paces on me, I can often kill them without blowing Sprint to catch up. Even with a group of 2-3, I can almost always take out the healer (or EFC, if there is no healer) before the EFC team even knows they’re under attack. With a wingman (a 2nd Rogue or a hunter are particularly effective, especially if it’s a night elf that uses Shadowmeld to stealth), even teams of 4-5 can quickly find themselves in trouble.
In Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm, I like to dot up everyone I see, because each tick of the dot interrupts would-be flag-claimers. A good Rogue can neutralize an enemy healer, taking the wind right out of the sails of any incursion team: they aren’t nearly as tough without their healer. When you’re playing D, either guarding a flag or seeking out the enemy flag-carrier, remember, Healers Die First in all but a very few situations (if you’re trying to run out the clock, harassing the EFC with Sap is usually better).