Cover art of Combat Rogue
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Combat Rogue

    Hardcore viability

    Rogues are a great choice for players tackling the Hardcore challenge in World of Warcraft Classic. They have a unique toolkit that makes them ideal for solo play and capable of dealing massive burst damage in group play.

    Their ability to stealth past enemies and pick their battles can help them level up quickly with minimal downtime. They can also solo difficult quests and elites with ease, making them a great choice for players looking to tackle challenging content on their own. Additionally, they have a variety of crowd control abilities like sap and blind, which can be used to take on enemies one at a time, reducing the risk of being overwhelmed. Their evasion ability can also help them avoid damage and buy time to heal up, making it easier for them to survive while levelling up to 60.

    Best races


    Dwarves and Gnomes are comparable as the safest Alliance levelers. Their racial abilities can save you from various situations - Stoneforming off bleeds or poisons and getting back into stealth without worrying about it breaking, or Escape Artist to get you out of a root/slow and run away.

    Humans are your best endgame choice because of their Sword Specialization passive. If you don’t go Human, you are usually pigeonholed into being Daggers at 60. Human racials don’t add much to your leveling toolkit though.

    Night Elves don’t bring anything notable to the table - their improved stealth is irrelevant.


    Trolls are the quickest and safest levelers because of their combat-regeneration passive, allowing you to have less downtime between pulls. Berserking is also powerful.

    As an Orc, Blood Fury is a solid damage boost, especially when combined with your other cooldowns.

    Undead rogues are good for utilizing Cannibalize mid-combat with Gouge, as a generally larger heal than a bandage, but it isn’t super impactful, and their other racials don’t add much to your kit in a hardcore setting.

    Talent builds

    Level 10-30

    Though we are Combat, we actually start with 2 points in Remorseless Attacks in the Assassination tree, giving us a massive chance to crit the first ability on every mob, assuming we’re managing our downtime well. This lowers killtimes quite a bit, and ends up with us taking less damage because of it. We then rush down to Deflection and get Riposte as soon as possible, picking up Imp SS and Imp Gouge along the way - the extra 1.5 sec on Gouge can save your life in an escape, or when needing some extra time to bandage midfight. Fill out the rest of the points shown, then we’ll be respec’ing at either 29 or 30, whenever you go to your trainer.

    Level 10-30 Combat Rogue Talents

    Level 30-60

    You’ll notice that none of the talents we chose the first time are missing here, so why respec? Getting Blade Flurry ASAP when we ding 30 is very important. This is also the difference between Adrenaline Rush at 40 or 42. When we respec we do not put the points into Remorseless Attacks this time. Instead we go straight down the Combat tree. Fill down 31 points here (I opt to leave Dual Specialization at 4/5, fill in the rest) before swapping back to Assassination. You can fill out the last point in Dual Spec at 57, then the 2 points in Murder come from 58/59 which are both flexible points you could put anywhere.

    Level 30-60 Combat Rogue Talents

    See my video below if you want slightly deeper talent-order explanations, and why I recommend skipping specific weapon specialization talents.

    Important skills

    Rogue has a huge breadth of useful abilities in hardcore. We bring tons of CC to the table, and only get stronger as we level. Your expansive toolkit lets you form lots of crafty plays, allowing you to take on otherwise very dangerous situations with ease. We can turn multipacks into 1v1s by doing things like opening with Sap on one, Blind and/or Gouge on another, and then working on the third.

    Once we get Vanish at 22, you have a huge safety net that can get you out of most sticky situations if you ever make a mistake.

    Riposte is one of the best solo abilities in the game. You also get it at 22 with our talent build. It is a high damage smack for only 10 energy. The drawback is that you can only use it after parrying an attack, but after putting 5 points in Deflection, it happens more than you might think. It also disarms the target for 6 seconds, on a 6 second CD, meaning you have the potential to disarm mobs multiple times in a row, making things very easy.

    Once you have poisons (typically 22 or later), always coat your weapons! Double Instant Poison is my go-to, but if you’re fighting mobs that run away, or plan to kite some strong enemies, it’s nice to have a stack of Crippling Poison in your bags to swap to.

    At 30 you get Blade Flurry and can handle bigger camps - especially when paired with Evasion to not even worry about taking so many hits at once. With Adrenaline Rush at 40, rogue becomes very adept at taking down Elite quests at-level.


    First, secondary professions: First Aid is a must-have as rogue! Always keep up with this, and never get caught lacking on bandages. This isn’t just for between mobs, but to bandage while an enemy is Gouged too. Cooking is nice to get to at least 60 for Thistle Tea (and access to cooking quests while leveling). Fishing isn’t very relevant.

    Herbalism/Alchemy is the most popular profession combo for rogues, and for good reason. It gives you consistent access to rogue-specific items: Thistle Tea and Blinding Powder (made from Swiftthistle and Fadeleaf) which is required us to Blind enemies. Plus rogues utilize most of the stat buffs very well.

    Mining/Engineering provides additional stuns plus damage burst, and gives you another safety with Target Dummy. I always recommend Engineering to anyone that hasn’t hit 60 before. Be careful with Dummies; if you lay a Dummy, then Vanish while the Dummy is still active, you WILL be put back into combat even though you are stealthed, and the mobs will start running at you again once the taunt runs out! So even though it can save you, be careful when using Dummies with Vanish.

    Skinning/LW typically ends up giving less stats on average than rolling Elixirs with Alchemy would, and doesn’t provide the extra utility of Engineering. If it scratches an itch for you, it can still be somewhat useful. It just isn’t super impactful unless you’re doing a self-made challenge.

    Any other professions: Not worth.

    Class quests

    Your level 10 class quest offers a great Dagger as reward that you’ll use well into your teens.

    Around level 20, do your class quest for lockpicking and make sure to get your lockpick skill to at least 70 before attempting your poison questline. Though it’s available at 20, I recommend waiting until 22 and training Vanish (don’t forget Flash Powder from the vendor!) before attempting the poison quest. If your Pickpocket or Sap ever resists, the mobs on this quest hit like a freight train - you will be 3-shot by the Drone - so being a higher level to lower resist chance and to have Vanish as backup is crucial in hardcore.

    One other note is to make sure you get your First Aid to 80, and get a Small Venom Sac, before or around the time you finish your poison questline in order to cleanse yourself with an Anti-Venom. The quest puts a 7 day duration poison on you that lowers your agility and makes your stealth much less effective.

    Weapon progression

    This is a basic weapon list, including dungeon quest rewards, but not random dungeon drops or BoEs. In general, boss drops are better than level-equivalent quest rewards or BoEs. Always look for the highest top-end damage in your mainhand, since your abilities scale off weapon damage. A fast offhand is best for poison application, but if there is a notable dps difference between your options in the offhand, just use the highest dps/best statted weapon rather than prioritizing offhand speed - it will be better than the little bit of extra poison damage.

    Alliance Progression

    Level Notes
    Pre-10 Buy a Stiletto as soon as you can afford it from your starting town vendor.

    Learn 1H Maces in Ironforge. Do A Pilot’s Revenge (+Lost Pilot) in Dun Morogh, choosing Compact Hammer instead of the dagger. This has the highest top-end damage available for a while. Do your class quest for Blade of Cunning for your OH.


    Buy a Hammer for your MH. A Hunter’s Challenge in Loch Modan gives Daryl’s Shortsword for your OH - you’ll need to learn 1H Swords in Stormwind for this.

    21-25 Buy a Longsword and a Kris (you can get the Kris as early as 19 for your OH).
    25-30 If you’re Herbalism, do the Greenwarden’s Questline in Wetlands which ends with Rethiel in Wetlands and rewards Phytoblade. Otherwise, run The Stockades completing What Comes Around for Lucine Longsword.
    31-34 Buy a Broadsword.
    35-39 Go to Badlands for A Dwarf and His Tools to get Ryedol’s Hammer.
    39+ Get both exceptional dungeon rewards, from SM and RFD - Sword of Serenity from In the Name of the Light Vanquisher’s Sword from Bring the Light
    48+ Thrash Blade from Maraudon Corruption of Earth and Seed is your BIS until 60.
    55+ Do the Jaedenar escort chain in Felwood, ending with The Remains of Trey Lightforge. If you didn’t grab a Thrash Blade for some reason, choose Tidecrest Blade for your MH. Otherwise choose Hunt Tracker Blade for your OH.

    If you end up skipping some dungeons, you can find a more comprehensive list with other options here, or talked about in this video.

    Horde Progression

    Coming soon…

    Dealing with danger

    Before you get Blade Flurry, it’s better to pull mobs one at a time. If you have to engage multipacks, make use of your CC like Sap and Gouge, and/or pop Evasion early, depending on how deadly the enemy is. Once you have Blade Flurry you can deal with multipacks every time it’s off cooldown.

    If you get overwhelmed pre-22, Gouge and Sprint away. After you get Vanish at 22, if you don’t think a Sprint out will do the trick, then make sure you try to: 1) make some distance from the mob before Vanishing, pop Sprint first if you have it, and/or 2) carefully watch the enemy swings, and time your Vanish right after you get hit. There is a common misconception that Vanish can be resisted, but what really happens is the mob batches their hit in the same window that you press Vanish, and you end up getting hit out, rendering your Vanish null.

    What classes pair well with a Combat Rogue?

    Rogue is extremely versatile, making pairing with any class viable. If you want to totally maximize your power though, Paladin is your best option. Rogues make amazing use of Blessing of Might, and both classes have a lot of built-in safety, while tearing apart mobs with very little downtime.


    Most of the way up, you can get away with just Sinister Strike until you gauge that an Eviscerate will finish the mob without much overkill.

    If you think the mob will live long enough to get the full duration out of it, then Slice and Dice after the first combo point or two. This isn’t a huge gain until your 2nd rank of Slice and Dice at 42 where it becomes much stronger. So if you don’t use it much before 42, it’s not a big deal.

    Once you get Garrote, if the mob is beefy enough to run most/all of the duration out before it dies, then open Garrote from stealth. This, again, gets more relevant at later levels when the kill-time on enemies generally lengthens.

    If the enemy is about to die and you didn’t use your combo points, you can load up a Slice and Dice just before you auto-attack it to death, and bring that duration into the next enemy for a little boost without wasting your combo points.

    Advanced Tips

    All throughout leveling, you can turn combat into very one-sided fights in lots of ways. Get creative and make a plan before pulling hard enemies. Does the mob have a lot of armor? Put on Crippling Poison, then start with a Garrote opener into a quick Rupture and let it bleed out while kiting it. Does the mob enrage at low HP? Save your combo points for a long Kidney Shot when it hits 30%. Your whole kit is useful as a Rogue. Leave nothing in the spellbook (except maybe Feint). You have ways to deal with everything - don’t be afraid to try out different plays and see what works best for different enemies!

    Learn to utilize Gouge+Thrown Weapons to kite tougher enemies. You can Gouge and run, then max range Throw a few times to whittle down your target, and repeat. This also builds up combo points to finish with. Just make sure you watch where you’re running to not overpull.

    The simple use of Distract is to save yourself from getting a patrol too soon in caves or dungeons. But one of my favorite Distract uses is to break up mobs like the Ogre patrol in Badlands for the Tremors of the Earth quest, then take down the boss without chaining adds.

    When running away, or kiting, don’t face your back to mobs. Strafe and jump over and over, facing the mob while you’re jumping, only turning briefly to keep going the right direction when you land. This will help you to not get dazed, and allow you to keep dodging if you’re running with Evasion active.

    Hardcore Rogue Leveling Guide

    Looking for a step-by-step leveling guide that is tailored for the Hardcore Rogue leveling experience?

    Click below to visit RestedXP and download their awesome add-on to start receiving in-game directions. The guide is free for the first 20 levels, so give it a try!

    Important Macros

    Standard /startattack macros into most abilities:

    #showtooltip Sinister Strike /startattack /cast Sinister Strike

    Stick Pick Pocket into all your stealth opening abilities (Garrote, Cheap Shot, Ambush). Be aware, you will have to loot mobs twice after they die - you don’t get the pick pocket loot right away with the macro:

    #showtooltip Garrote /cast Pick Pocket /cast Garrote

    Mouseover Kick, so you can interrupt spellcasts on another target. You can use the same macro for Blind too:

    #showtooltip Kick /cast [target=mouseover,exists,harm,nodead][harm,nodead] Kick

    Poison macro to put on your bars. It allows you to left click the button to apply to mainhand, and right click to apply to offhand. Adjust the rank number each time you get an upgrade, and make a separate one (or modified one) for Crippling Poison too:

    #showtooltip Instant Poison VI /use Instant Poison VI; /use [button:1] 16; [button:2] 17; /click StaticPopup1Button1