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Should you play a rogue in WoW?

If you're just getting started with World of Warcraft, don't worry: you're not too late to have plenty of fun. (In fact, we think this is a great time to be playing WoW.) But getting started can be a little tricky with all the choices you have to make. Which race you select is a primarily cosmetic choice, but the class you pick -- and whether it's a good fit for your preferred style of gaming -- is a choice that will make all the difference.

But we're here to help make that choice at least a little easier by talking you through WoW's classes, one at a time. And on the menu for today is the rogue. In World of Warcraft, rogues are lightly armored meleers who use stealth to get in close and then hit their target with precision strikes. The rogue is one of four classes in the game that focuses solely on DPS: their three talent specializations only changing their preferred way of dealing damage.

If getting up close to the bad guys and always being in the middle of combat sounds like your thing, a rogue may be the ideal class for you. Read on for more about what to expect.

Just what is a rogue?
Don't write rogues off as just another melee damage class, because rogue gameplay is definitely unique. Instead of focusing on heavy armor and heavier weapons, rogues are light on their feet with leather armor and tend to use smaller, one-handed weapons -- most commonly daggers. But lighter weaponry -- rogues can wield daggers, fist weapons, one-handed maces, one-handed swords, one-handed axes -- doesn't mean they aren't hard hitting. Rogues have lots of tricks up their sleeves, dual-wielding weapons coated with poison and striking from stealth for extra damage. Rogues have three talent trees, just like the other classes, but each one focuses on a slightly different way of dishing out damage: assassination focuses on poisons, combat focuses on general combat, and subtlety focuses on stealth abilities.

Rogues (and their melee brethren, feral druids and windwalker monks) use a fairly unique resource system called energy: unlike mana, you start at level 1 with 100 energy, and that's all you'll ever have. (Though you'll run into a few things in the game that can increase your energy pool slightly.) Energy regenerates pretty quickly, both in and out of combat, but with the fast pace of rogue combat, you'll still find yourself hitting the bottom of your energy pool as you play. Additionally, certain skills generate combo points and other skills will use them for more powerful strikes, somewhat like a monk's chi.

For racial options, rogues have plenty, with the choice of dwarf, human, worgen, gnome, night elf, goblin, troll, pandaren, blood elf, orc, and undead. The only races who can't be rogues are tauren and draenei (though we do still think tauren rogues would be pretty cool).

Gameplay built around stealth
Stealth is probably the most important part of rogue gameplay: a rogue in stealth sneaks around, unseen by monsters or other players, which allows the rogue to sneak up on targets and wait for the best time to strike. A rogue uses this advantage to hit their opponents hard -- often creeping up behind them for a high-damage Ambush or Backstab. Rogues are also able to coat their weapons in a variety of poisons that deal damage or cause other debuffs, like slowing movement speed or increasing spell damage taken.

But rogues can do a lot more than just dish out damage. They have a number of abilities to stun their targets and a rogue with good timing can keep their target stunned for some time by chaining one stun after another. They can also crowd control using Sap, which incapacitates a target for up to a minute -- which can be useful for groups and while soloing. And when they're in over their heads, rogues have some great panic skills, like Combat Readiness and Evasion to avoid damage and Vanish which gets them out of combat and into stealth. Combined, this gives rogues some good survivability.

And, while this doesn't do much for gameplay -- it certainly won't help you fight any better or gain experience any faster -- rogues can also pickpocket humanoids and pick the locks of doors and junkboxes. Pickpocketing nets you a few coins and the chance of a item or a locked junkbox, which may have other loot inside. While it won't net you big money, the little bit can add up as you go. Additionally, you may find people willing to pay you to open junkboxes... and who's going to say no to some extra coin?

Who should (and shouldn't) play a rogue?
We like playing rogues and think you might, too. Here's the type of player who's most likely to enjoy a rogue:

  • If you like stealth gameplay, rogues are probably the class for you. Though druids can also stealth in cat form, stealth is core to how the rogue class works and plays into many of their abilities.
  • If you want to be in the middle of combat, rogues are always there.
But, we admit, the way of the rogue is not for everyone. These are signs you probably shouldn't play a rogue:
  • If you want to do anything other than melee DPS, a rogue is not the class for it.
  • Though rogues have good survivability and nice arsenal of panic buttons, you might find them a bit too squishy for your taste, in which case you might look at the plate-wearing death knight, paladin, or warrior for your class of choice.

Want to know more about rogues?
If you're interested in learning more about the rogue class, these are all good places to start:
If you've decided rogue isn't the class for you, don't fret: there are plenty of other options! Be sure to check out our guide to druids, hunters, monks, paladins, priests, and warlocks -- and look for more newbie class coverage coming soon!
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.

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