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Introductory guide to fighting rogues, Part 2

Zach Yonzon

Cloak of Shadows

In addition to Kick and their arsenal of stuns and incapacitate effects, rogues are absolute nightmares for casters because of Cloak of Shadows, which makes them considerably more resistant to spell effects for 5 seconds. Rogues can use this to remove DoTs, which would normally prevent them from re-entering stealth. When a rogue activates this, it can only mean one of two things -- she wishes to flee or she's moving in for the kill. In some cases, it's even both, with the Cloak of Shadows allowing the rogue to re-enter stealth without fear of it breaking and then returning to finish off an opponent from stealth with vicious opening moves. The ability is on a 1.5 minute cooldown, which means rogues won't be able to use it as often but the best rogues always find the right opportunity to use it and not just blow it on the first few DoTs.

The scary part is that it is considered a removal effect, and not a dispel, so it won't proc spells with dispel triggers such as Unstable Affliction. Despite their higher resistance through this period, keep casting spells at them, anyway. The chances of landing a spell will vary depending on your spell penetration, so higher Spell penetration Hit should grant you a better chance to hit a rogue with Cloak of Shadows.


So rogues can stun and incapacitate. Did I mention they can also disorient? Blind is a clutch ability that rogues use to escape, dictate the pace of a battle, stand aside to bandage, or keep a second opponent out of play. It has a long, three minute cooldown but talents can reduce that two. It has since been changed from a poison back in the day to a more difficult to counter physical effect, meaning practically the only things that can break a Blind would be a trinket or paladin immunities. Blind is almost always used defensively because it breaks on damage and rogues can take the opportunity to run and re-stealth after exiting combat.

It is often worth using the trinket on Blind, mostly because it is always used strategically. Rogues never use Blind at random the way they might use any other ability. Rogues who blow their Blind cooldown are either planning something nasty or hoping to flee. In either case, the ability's long cooldown makes it a prime candidate for the cc-break. That said, trinket use against a rogue is always discretionary considering how many crowd control and lockdown abilities they can employ.


This Wrath ability has become a staple in rogue PvP. Think of it as Kick for melee. Dismantle is on a longer, one minute cooldown, but it allows rogues to handle melee classes which they would otherwise have a harder time with. It helps to keep track of Dismantle through AddOns such as Afflicted 3. Because the abilities and attacks of most melee classes and even hunters rely on their having a weapon, Dismantle effectively keeps them from doing much for a very long ten seconds. A good way to counter this is by using your own crowd control abilities if you have some, such as a stun or fear. Keeping the rogue out of play for a majority of the time you are Dismantled should lessen its impact, allowing you to stay on the offensive.


While I could have lumped this in with stealth, Vanish deserves special mention because it's such a clutch ability. It allows rogues to escape almost any encounter completely, which is vital to rogue strategy. No other class has such a viable option for escape other than, perhaps, a paladin bubble-hearthing her way out of harm's way. A rogue with Vanish available means that she always has a way out, so even a rogue with a sliver of health can conceivably Vanish and spoil what would've been a killing blow. Almost any rogue worth her PvP salt will have it properly glyphed, allowing quick escape from even the most dire situations.

Keep track of Vanish, and always have a DoT applied on the rogue to break their stealth as soon as they enter it. It's a narrow window, but it's quite possible to pull off casting and landing a stealth-breaking spell or ability between the time they use Cloak of Shadows and subsequently Vanish. The best rogues won't be caught, however, because Vanish is off the global cooldown and some can macro it along with Cloak of Shadows to provide instantaneous escape. It has a long three minute cooldown, but the same talents that improve Blind can reduce that to two. The most aggressive rogues -- those who fight using burst instead of control -- will use Vanish offensively. If a rogue isn't low on health but Vanishes, you should expect to be dealth a vicious Ambush or if you're a caster, Garrote. And that reminds me. There's Garrote, too. Against casters, rogues will use Garrote instead of Cheap Shot or Ambush, using the 3 seconds of silence it grants to deliver even more damage. Garrote should give casters even more reason to keep the rogue from entering or starting the battle in stealth.


Rogues can also tailor their fighting style according to their enemy using poisons. Just remember that these debuffs are, obviously, poisons, which gives classes that can remove poisons a bit of an edge against rogues (this should give you an idea why priests dread rogues so much). Paladins can Cleanse, druids can Abolish Poison, and shamans can drop Cleansing Totem. In fact, against a rogue, Cleansing Totem is the water totem a shaman should use.

One of the most common poisons that they use in PvP is Crippling Poison, which hampers movement speed and helps prevent them from being kited. This sees a lot of use in PvP because rogues must do all they can to keep their enemies close. Rogues are practically no threat at long range, so it is in your best interest to keep them at bay unless you're a melee class. Against healers, rogues can use a potent combination of Mind-Numbing Poison and Wound Poison. Because rogues must take some time to apply the proper poison to their weapons, they are at their best when they have prepared for an opponent, making them the most deadly when they have tailored their preparation to their prey. The most dedicated PvP rogues even have the luxury of extra weapons coated with different poisons allowing them to swap in whatever poison is strategically best with virtually no downtime.

End of part one

Rogues are an interesting study for PvP, and we've only just touched the surface! Tomorrow, in the next installment of this introductory guide, we'll go a little more in-depth about the rogue's resource, Energy, as well as the combo point system. A deeper understanding of these mechanics will give you greater insight into how a rogue fights and thinks, as well as allow you to counter them. We'll also talk about their need for mobility, the kinds of rogue fighting styles -- pure burst, hit and run, and control -- as well as the obligatory spec overview to get a better grasp of the abilities that talent trees give them. Until then, stay safe and watch your back.

Zach delivers your weekly dose of Battlegrounds and world PvP in one crazy column. Read about how to defeat your most feared opponents, beginning with Death Knights, Druids, Hunters, Mages, Paladins, and Priests. At the very least, you can probably learn more about who whupped your butt.

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