Encrypted Text: The secret rogue skills

Chase Christian
C. Christian|04.13.11

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Encrypted Text: The secret rogue skills
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. Feel free to email me with any article suggestions or questions you have!

The word "rogue" has several meanings. Some people envision a swashbuckling pirate, deftly wielding two maces and smashing faces in. Others imagine a trained ninja, assassinating marks silently in the night. Many of those with Dungeons & Dragons experience expect rogues to be similar to the thief, sneakily disarming traps and picking locks. I love the rogue class because it has enough versatility to meet all of these stereotypes and more.

Before dungeons were the streamlined "on rails" encounters of today, they were complex and open-ended. There were several paths to victory, and rogues had the ability to use their unique flair to unlock alternate routes. While it's obviously not good for business to have rogues be a pivotal part of every dungeon, it was nice to see our utility actually being utilized. Young rogues today don't get the experience of playing their class outside the box.

Avoiding detection for fun and profit

Indiana Jones hates snakes, and rogues hate dogs. Batman hates dogs too, so we're in good company. The hounds and pooches of Azeroth are typically able to see right through our Stealth, but a sneaky rogue can find a way around them. Knowing the limits of your Stealth is key to avoiding detection and the mark of a good rogue. With the old Master of Deception and Camouflage baked in, rogues are sneakier than they've ever been. The key is to use your Stealth to your group's advantage.

Distract and Sap are the two tools that let us conquer nearly any challenge. There's a particular set of trash pulls in Vortex Pinnacle that can be completely avoided with some clever Stealth and Saps. By using Distract and then Sapping a guard in a bad position, you can open up a route for your group to take without being detected. Distract can also be used to separate packs of mobs and to stop a patrolling boss from leaving. You can even Sap a target that can see through your Stealth if you're quick, allowing you to sneak past.

The ultimate Stealth test used to be making your way to Plugger Spazzring without alerting any of the guards. There were patrolling dwarves, angry fire elementals, and even gnome mechanics on the lookout, but you could sneak past all of them. Now, once you got to Plugger you still had to kill him, and that was difficult by itself. If you're leveling a new rogue, once you're around level 60, I suggest taking a quick solo expedition to Blackrock Depths to knock out our most ancient opponent. You might even get an original Barman Shanker as a souvenir.

Players have learned how to pull rogues out of Stealth with AoE abilities. If a priest thinks you're nearby, expect to see a spam of Holy Novas. Hunters will toss out a Flare and put their pets on high alert. Practice dueling with friends until you can reliably get an opener against every class. With good timing (which Sprint can help with), you can get a Sap off on anyone. Rogues perform at peak efficiency when they're setting the tempo, and getting the opener is key to establishing your dominance.

Picking locks

I've said it before and I'll say it again: A true rogue levels lockpicking. Blizzard's even made leveling LP simple -- you just need to level your character. Lockpicking is one of the spices that make up the rogue class. Without LP, how are you going to pick all of the Junkboxes you've been Pick Pocketing? You have been Pick Pocketing everything, right? There are epic weapons, blue gems, and Rogue's Draughts to be found!

No other class has a utility ability like Lockpicking, and we need to embrace it if we want to keep it. As classes are being streamlined and superfluous abilities are being removed, lockpicking is at risk of disappearing. Keep picking every lock you find, and offer your skills in trade chat. It might just be useful in a dungeon again.

Disarming traps

Have you ever seen a bomb squad working? They're careful, meticulous, and patient. These are the traits that a rogue will need to be successful at disarming traps. I can't tell you how many rogues I saw setting off traps in the opening hallways of Icecrown Citadel. If you want a crash-course in properly disarming traps, go to ICC and try to disarm all of the traps before Lord Marrowgar. You'll need to use your Stealth skills to avoid detection by the patrols, while patience and caution will let you discover any traps before you activate them. Blizzard seems to toss traps into instances every blue moon, and so disarming traps is still a valuable skill to have.

You can also disarm an enemy hunter's traps, though that can be much more difficult. They'll usually have a Flare nearby, making it almost impossible to reach the trap. If you're standing on the edge of a Flare and you reach with both hands, you can make the crucial right-click to disable the trap. Hunters never see it coming, and often they're so shocked that they forget themselves for a moment.

Fighting to keep our flavor

There's not really a lot of creativity when playing a rogue in combat. Our optimal rotations have been theorycrafted, and anyone can be trained to push the right buttons at the right times. All melee classes share the same strategy of bashing their targets in while making sure to stay in range.

The suite of Stealth and thief abilities is what separates us from every other class, and we need to respect their importance. I want to be the rogue who's actively looking for opportunities to use Stealth to my advantage. I want to be the rogue who has every trap in the room disarmed before anyone else even realizes there were traps. I want to be the rogue who pops open the lockbox to claim the riches inside. I want to embrace our class' unique aspects; otherwise, I'm just playing a warrior in leather.

Check back every Wednesday for the latest rogue strategies, from rogue basics and kicking your interrupts into high gear to how to handle your dual-spec rogue and how to pickpocket top tips from top-performing rogues.
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