How do you get invited to groups and raids or even more importantly NOT get called "that scrub dps" in a group? It is more than just riding the top of the Dps and Damage output meters despite what many believe. It is knowing what skills and abilities you have and how to use them. It is having the ability to survive a fight to DO that dps, the added bonus of making the tanks and healers jobs easier so they want to take you with them wherever they go.
Lets face it, in the world of DPS, Rogues are not the most popular due to our lack of ability to provide "goodies" unless we have specific trades. Our recent rise in popularity among players was due primarily to our dancing at the top of the damage meters again...so I won't be surprised to see us take a nose dive in the aftermath of our most recent encounter with the nerf bat.
Lets take a look at each ability we have, when we get it and how we can use it so that we can become "That Rogue" EVERYONE wants to take with them on a run.
The first "trick" we get our hands on is at level six called Gouge which stuns the target for just a short time while turning off your attack. I personally like to use it when you have some random mob that has broken away from the tank and heads off towards the healer. I don't have to go anywhere, any damage the mob takes will break it but it is usually enough to stop it in its tracks and give the tank enough time to pick it back up with out ME accidentally picking it up in the tank's place. You can also use it as a back up interrupt when your kick is on cool down. The Combat tree also contains Improved Gouge which you can use to increase the duration of this ability if you chose to do so. There is also a Glyph available which reduces the energy cost.
Level eight gives us the all important Evasion. This is an instant ability with a three minute cool down that increases our dodge by 50% and reduces our chance to be hit by ranged attacks by 25%. There is also a talent in the Combat Tree called Endurance at level 20 which can shorten the cool down by 30 or 60 seconds. Rogues often joke about "Evasion tanking" as this is our "oh crap" button when we pull aggro off tanks or the tanks go down and we are left facing the boss alone. Some rogues even like to create entire SETS of gear around this premise and for them the Glyph of Evasion is a must.
Level 10 gives us Sap, which slowly scales as you progress up the ranks. When you first obtain it at level 10 all you can do is incapacitate (knock out) humanoids for a max of 25 seconds. By the time you are Level 71 this list will extend to include Beasts, Demons and even Dragonkin and the duration will have increased to about 1 minute. All that is required is that you be stealthed when you bonk them on the head and that they not be in combat. You can even increase the duration by an additional 20 seconds with the use of a glyph.
The other ability we get at level 10 is Sprint. At its most basic this allows you to increase your movement speed by 50% for 15 seconds so you can get out of Dodge FAST when trouble or damage is a brewing. Put a few talent points into Improved Sprint at level 25 and suddenly you can not only run away from trouble but get out of movement impairing effects as well. The Glyph of Sprint will increase your movement speed an addition 30% which some pvpers enjoy and there is also a fun glyph that will allow you to run on water.
Level twelve gives us one of the most often used moves in our arsenal, Kick. Quite simply this instant move interrupts spell casting and prevents any other spells from the same spell school from being used for 5 seconds. It has a ten second cool down but you can enhance this ability by putting talent points into Improved Kick from the Combat Tree which will allow you to silence the caster as well. Learning to identify casts and managing your energy so you have enough to cast kick while maintaining your normal damaging rotation is key.
At level sixteen we get an ability which at one time was considered so much of a joke the vast majority of rogues didn't even have it on their action bars. It has now become one of my most beloved moves of all time. Feint. When you first get it, all it does is reduce your threat by a small amount...a VERY small amount. So if you see that your building more aggro than your tank the idea is you can use this ability to get it back down. However for the energy cost verses the aggro dump it provides few of us really see the usefulness of this as we level. At level 78 however it gains a little something VERY yummy. In addition to providing a larger aggro dump it also reduces the amount of damage you take from area effect attacks by 50% for 6 seconds. That means if you learn to time it right you can continue to dps on bosses that other melee have to flee from because you are now able to mitigate half of the damage. It is LOVELY. There is even a glyph that will reduce the energy cost of this but I don't think it is that useful personally.
Level 20 grants us the wonderful opportunity to disarm with Dismantle. I remember when I first read this on Beta. The description reads that it "gives the ability to remove all weapons, shields and other equipment carried for 10 seconds." On Beta they had left out the "carried" part, so I had visions of naked Paladins and Warriors in my head for days. It lasts for 10 seconds but has a rather daunting one minute cool down. This ability can be VERY helpful for disarming bosses or certain trash mobs. Learning when to use it for best effect is key as Warriors can also disarm but all other tanks lack this ability.
Vanish, this level twenty two ability is one that is considered part of the quintessential rogue arsenal. Yeah, its buggy, yeah it has been FOREVER. Just learn to work with it. It is SUPPOSE to remove you from sight, break all movement impairing effects and place you in an improved state of stealth for 10 seconds. When it works it can wipe your aggro, free you from traps and save your life. When it doesn't...well yeah...not so much, but we don't play rogues because we like to play it safe.
Detect Traps is one that you get at level twenty four. For a long time it was largely ignored. Those of us who have played this game for FAR to long remember when it use to be an ACTIVATED ability and the lovely swirly ball. Now it is passive, only requiring you to pay attention to what is going on around you and know what various traps look like. In PvP that means Hunter's Traps but in the new Icecrown Citadel that means the Spirit Traps. Having the ability to be able to locate them so others don't accidentally sent them off is a really nice bonus gift to your raid.
At twenty six we get Cheap Shot. This is an opening stun move that we use coming out of stealth. Word of advice, most tanks DO NOT LIKE YOU TO USE THIS MOVE AS YOUR OPENER, use Garrote instead. However if you are tasked with keeping a particular mob "stun locked" like in the Faction Champions THIS would be where you would start out.
At level thirty we get Disarm Trap which allows us to then neutralize the traps we have been able to see for the past six levels. This was a long underutilized ability outside of PvP. Not since Blackwing Lair have we seen it truly needed. Now in Icecrown Citadel Raid Leaders will again be calling for rogues to Disarm Spirit Traps so they can avoid the statues, giving raids more time to progress deeper into the Citadel. In that particular case our disarms stay in effect for one hour giving plenty of time to clear a wing and then avoid it completely using the transporters.
The other key move we obtain at level thirty is Kidney Shot. This stunning move gains its power from our combo points. The more points you have when you use it the longer the duration of the stun. This ability can be further augmented by placing talent points into the Assassination Tree's Improved Kidney Shot.
At level thirty four we get Blind. This ability has changed quite a bit over the years from when we were required to keep stacks of Blinding Powder to now where the assumption is we take whatever we find and toss it. (Like dirt and snow.) It has also changed from a Poison type ability to a Physical one. What that means is that while it can no longer be dispelled it CAN be resisted. Our Hit Rating ALSO effects this ability. Blind (when it works) will disorient the target for about 10 seconds unless something happens to disrupt it, giving you the opportunity to heal, get away or allow a tank to pick up. Blind is also part of the "Stun lock" arsenal which includes Cheap Shot, Gouge, Kidney Shot and Blind. It does have a 3 minute cool down so you want to use it wisely.
Level Sixty Six gives us one of my FAVORITE rogue abilities, Cloak of Shadows. This is another ability that has changed quite a bit since it was first introduced. As it now stands Cloak of Shadows is available to ALL rogues via their trainers and will grant the ability to instantly remove all existing harmful spell effects as well as increase your chance to resist all spells by 90% for 5 seconds. It does not however remove any effect that prevents you from using Cloak of Shadows in the first place (like a disorienting effect.) It's biggest weakness is against damage over time effects as it doesn't always remove those or bleed effects. Still against things like poisons and AOE damage is very effective especially since the cool down is only a minute and a half. This ability can be made even more powerful with a Glyph which decreases the amount of PHYSICAL damage you take by 40% when used as well.
Things stay pretty quiet for a while until level seventy five. It is then you will get your hands on an ability that can make or break how you interact with your tank and healers, Tricks of the Trade. Don't underestimate this ability, it is a LIFE SAVER. Put this on your tank who is struggling with aggro then fan of knives all the mobs right to him. I have this move macroed in before I do a blade furry/killing spree combo to go directly to the tank just to offset the aggro generated. For the small cost of 15 energy you can save yourself a lot of frustration. While it CAN be used as a pulling tool it is MUCH better to use this as a way to help your tank build and maintain aggro. You may find that the 30 second cool down will not allow you to use it EVERY pull so just learn to use it when it is MOST effective and your newbie tanks will bless you for it.
Now I have mentioned a variety of options here that you won't necessarily want to do or even have access to. (Not all of us are Level 80 Rogues sporting Tier 9 or 10 gear who enjoy raiding.) The idea was to share with you the tools we have and when we gain access to them, so that no matter where we are or what we are doing we are aware of all the options we have available to offer our group mates. (Granted some will never give us the CHANCE to show them our skills but that doesn't mean we can't develop them.)
There are a few additional things to keep in mind as well.
- Always attempt to fight from BEHIND the target when applicable to avoid cone, and cleave effects.
- Keep stock piles of food, bandages and healing potions on yourself at all times.
- Restock your poisons at regular intervals so you don't run out and keep small amounts of even infrequently used poisons on you "just in case"
- Never be afraid to ask questions, sure they may blow you off but better to risk looking foolish and get the information you need than keep silent and not improve.