Combat Rogue PvE Guide (WoW: Warlords 6.2)

Combat is a fast paced spec built around multiple cooldowns that can provide substantial burst damage.  Combat’s energy shifts from moderate with approximately 20% free GCDs to a fast paced GCD locked gameplay during cooldowns.  Some people dislike the spaminess of combat dps and find it painful to play.  Combat’s central mechanic is managing the multiple cooldowns and the cyclic damage buff Bandit’s Guile.  Combat excels at sustained AoE fights with its Blade Flurry mechanic and burst with its multiple, powerful, cooldowns.


 Talents

Tier 15: Stealth Talents

The tier 15 talents provide a small dps increase when using vanish.  The dps difference between Shadow Focus and Nightstalker is generally less than 0.2%.

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Nightstalker is slightly weaker than Shadow Focus so it is generally not used however the difference is negligible on most boss encounters.

Subterfuge allows the player to use stealth abilities for a longer duration however at their full energy cost stealth abilities are strictly weaker than their non-stealth counterparts making Subterfuge useless.

Shadow Focus is the numerically best talent on the tier however the gap between it and Nightstalker is very small.

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Tier 30: Utility Talents

The tier 30 talents are in general quite situational and in most scenarios not particularly useful.  There is no general recommendation for this tier.

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Deadly Throw can be used for dealing damage from range when paired with the tier 90 talent Shuriken Toss however this is quite rare.  Deadly Throw can also be used as a backup interrupt on “interrupt-or-die” fights such as Fallen Protectors.  Using Deadly Throw as an interrupt requires 3 combo points and is a dps loss; a multi-person interrupt rotation is generally preferable.

Nerve Strike can be useful on fights with a dangerous add that needs to be stunned till death, for example the large adds during the Tsulong day phase.  Nerve Strike provides a very powerful buffer on an add that needs to be stunned till death by substantially reducing the target’s damage output after the stun fades.

Combat Readiness can be useful on fights where you expect to take melee swings from a non-boss attacker such as Dark Animus.  Since the damage reduction applies to all sources of damage but only stacks from melee attacks this can be a very powerful defensive cooldown if allowed to stack.

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Tier 45: Survivability Talents

All tier 45 talents can be useful depending on the damage profile of the fight.  Cheat Death is a strong general purpose choice for progression raiding but the other talents on the tier can be situationally better.

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Cheat Death allows a lethal mistake to not waste a battle res.  In a progression raiding environment this can be invaluable even if you don’t expect to make mistakes since mistakes from other people in your raid group can be lethal to you.  Cheat Death is best on fights with spikey, unpredictable damage where mechanics will kill you if you are not topped off.

Leeching Poison is considered the weakest talent on this tier however it can still be useful on fights with moderate constant damage where it will most of the healing will not overheal.  On fights with spikey damage much of the healing provided will be overhealing.

Elusiveness is very powerful on fights where you will need to soak a high damage mechanic with high regularity.  Elusiveness adds an additional 15% damage reduction on AoE which can be enough to make certain mechanics such as Sparks on Heroic Will of the Emperor soakable.  Certain mechanics such as Violent Gale Winds on Lei Shen are not considered AoE damage and on those Elusiveness grants a 30% damage reduction.

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Tier 60: Mobility Talents

Both Burst of Speed and Shadowstep can be useful in a raiding environment.  Shadowstep is generally preferred if there isn’t a specific need for Burst of Speed since it does not cost energy.

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Cloak and Dagger is rarely used in a raiding environment since players rarely enter stealth during boss fights.

Shadowstep is the strongest general purpose talent on this tier, the 24 second cooldown is enough for most boss movement if planned appropriately and unlike burst of speed it does not cost energy to use.  Shadowstep can also be useful to attack enemies you would not otherwise be able to reach such as the Siege Engineers on Garrosh.

Burst of Speed while not generally the best talent for general mobility has a number of situational uses where it can be better than Shadowstep.  Burst of Speed is powerful on fights that have sustained mobility requirements such as the kite phase of Thok or fights where a snare break may be needed such as Heroic Malkorok.

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Tier 75: Crowd Control Talents

As with Tier 30 talents the tier 75 talents are highly situational and there is no general recommendation on this tier.

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Prey on the Weak is quite powerful on fights with adds that need to be stunned to death and provides a useful damage boost to the rest of the raid that will generally make up for the personal damage loss from using Kidney Shot instead of Eviscerate.

Internal Bleeding

Dirty Tricks is generally not useful in a raiding environment since even if your dots will not break Gouge and Blind, other people’s dots will.  Gouge and Blind are rarely used so the energy reduction is not particularly useful.

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Tier 90: Combo Point Talents

Both Anticipation and Marked for Death are useful in a raids. Anticipation is generally considered the stronger talent since it provides substantial quality of life benefits.  On add heavy fights Marked for Death is the stronger talent.

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Shuriken Toss allows you to dps from range to a limited degree, this is rarely useful since the damage from Shuriken Toss and the ranged auto attacks is less than that of a full ranged dps.

Marked For Death grants a similar number of combo points per minute to Anticipation on a single target however it is generally considered harder to play and so is rarely used on single target.  On add heavy fights such as Spoils of Pandaria where the cooldown reset is utilized it is a very powerful talent.  Marked for Death is also useful on fights where an add must be stunned very rapidly since you do not need to build combo points on that target.

Anticipation is generally considered the standard talent on tier 90 since it provides comparable damage to Marked for Death and a significant quality of life increase.  Anticipation provides a combo point buffer that allows greater control over ability timings such as shifting finishers into the next level of Bandit’s Guile.

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Tier 100: Damage Talents

Venom Rush is the strongest talent for single target and AoE for combat.  Shadow Reflection has strong synergy with both of combat’s cooldowns and is useful on fights with moderate length burst windows.

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Venom RushLemon Zest is the numerically strongest talent for combat for both AoE and single target.

Shadow Reflection has strong synergy with both of combat’s cooldowns but unlike the other two specs it cannot guarantee that the cooldowns will line up with each other.  On fights with a major burst component that last long enough for the clone to do damage (minimum 8 seconds, realistically >12 seconds) such as Siegecrafter Blackfuse shadow reflection may be stronger than Venom Rush.

Death from Above  is a weak talent for combat, while the additional damage from envenom the high energy cost results in slower cooldown and bandit’s guile cycling.

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Glyphs

Damage Increasing Glyphs

Glyph of Energy – Helps avoid energy overflow during Adrenaline Rush with a string of combat potency procs, generally ~2% dps increase.

Glyph of Disappearance – Increases overall combo point generation through vanish, generally ~1.5% dps increase.

 

Utility Glyphs

Glyph of Cloak of Shadows makes Cloak of Shadows useful against physical damage.  On fights with low amounts of magical damage to mitigate or physical damage that aligns with magical damage this glyph makes Cloak of Shadows even stronger.

Glyph of Feint increases the duration of Feint.  On pulsing aura fights where you are attempting to keep high Feint uptime, this glyph reduces the amount of energy needed for Feint.

Glyph of Smoke Bomb increases the duration of Smoke Bomb by 2 seconds.  If Smoke Bomb is being used to mitigate more than a single AoE pulse this glyph is very powerful.  Additionally your raid leader, when planning cooldowns, may expect you to have this glyph; talk to your raid leader if you don’t plan to use this glyph.

Glyph of Sprint makes sprint a 100% speed boost (mount speed).  This can be useful on fights where you utilize Sprint heavily.  Additionally the greater run speed can be very useful to combat pushback mechanics which have been very common this expansion.

Minor Glyphs

Glyph of Killing Spree makes you end in the same place you started Killing Spree.  This can be deadly on some boss fights if the place you started from is no longer safe however on some fights this can be required to use Killing Spree successfully.

Glyph of Poisons makes poisons apply faster.  This is a useful, albeit minor, quality of life glyph.

Glyph of Safe Fall can be useful on fights with knock up mechanics.  It can be also be useful to defeat the deadly elevator boss in most raid instances.


Stats and Gearing

As a general rule, use whatever items have the most agility.  While it is tempting to give a straight stat priority for the secondary stats, their values change quite a bit depending on gear.  Instead, we suggest you go straight to the source of numbers and use ShadowCraft.  


Rotation

Assumptions

The majority of this section assumes you are using Shadow Focus (Tier 15 talent), Anticipation (Tier 90 talent), and Venom Rush (Tier 100 talent).  If you are not using any of these, check out the “Alternative Builds” subsection.

Poisons

The best lethal poison is Instant Poison (the Draenor perk Swift Poison changed your Deadly Poison to Instant as you leveled from 90 to 100).  As for non-lethal poisons, if you are running Leeching Poison then use it, otherwise Crippling Poison is the only option.  It is worth noting that Crippling Poison is highly situational, while Instant is completely essential.

Single Target

  1. Keep Slice and Dice up
  2. Keep Revealing Strike up on the target
  3. Eviscerate on 5 combo points
  4. Sinister Strike for combo points

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Combat relies heavily on auto attack damage for damage and energy regeneration through combat potency.  This makes maintaining 100% Slice and Dice uptime combat’s top priority.  The new pandemic mechanic in 6.0 allows Slice and Dice to be refreshed with up to 11 seconds remaining without losing any Slice and Dice uptime, this should be used to refresh Slice and Dice with 5 combo points.  It is also important to maintain high revealing strike uptime to increase combo point generation and finisher damage.  Like Slice and Dice Revealing Strike can be refreshed with less than 30% of the duration (7 seconds) without losing uptime however maintaining 100% revealing strike is not necessarily required.  If you are using sinister strike or a finisher you should have revealing strike on the target but if it falls off for a short period it is not a dps loss.  Eviscerate and Sinister Strike are the bread and butter of your rotation, simply build to 5 combo points and use eviscerate.  One their own neither eviscerate or sinister strike do a lot of damage however they allow you to cycle Bandit’s Guile and your damage cooldowns for strong overall dps.

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Cooldowns

Combat has two powerful cooldowns.  Adrenaline Rush substantially speeds up the rotation, increasing the rate of Bandit’s Guile cycling as well as cooldown cycling through combat’s Ruthlessness mechanic.  Killing Spree is a high burst damage cooldown however it takes away control of your character for the duration.  These cooldowns should be used seperately and if both cooldowns are up at the same time use killing spree first.  Only delay the cooldowns if a boss mechanic would prevent you from getting full use of the cooldowns.  Combat also has vanish as a dps cooldown like other rogue specs, vanish should be used as close to on cooldown as possible when other cooldowns are not up.

Adrenaline Rush

Adrenaline Rush synergizes very well with the Combat passive ruthlessness.  The additional energy regeneration and combo point generation grants substantial additional cooldown reduction.  During these cooldowns your goal should be to maximize GCD utilization so if possible avoid using abilities on the GCD other than Sinister Strike, Revealing Strike or Eviscerate.

Killing Spree

Killing Spree is a unique cooldown because it takes away control of your character for 3.5 seconds.  This means you should carefully watch boss timers before you use Killing Spree because mistiming it with a boss ability can be lethal.  Since you cannot use other abilities during Killing Spree you should try to dump energy before using the ability and you should not use Killing Spree during Adrenaline Rush because the energy regeneration of those abilities will be wasted.  Finally if both Killing Spree and Adrenaline Rush are off cooldown at the same time, use Killing Spree first so it can benefit from the additional cooldown reduction of Adrenaline Rush.

Multiple Target

Combat has a very simple multi-target rotation with the ability Blade Flurry which mirrors damage onto surrounding targets.  In general combat rogues should continue their single target rotation as normal but put Blade Flurry up.  If there are greater than 6 targets AND all targets will live long enough for the Crimson Tempest dot to tick full duration, 12 seconds, Crimson Tempest should be used instead of Eviscerate.

One consideration when using Killing Spree for multiple targets is if Blade Flurry is up Killing Spree will bounce between targets potentially dropping you in a damaging mechanic.  If this is a concern turn Blade Flurry off before using Killing Spree and turn it on after.

Alternative Builds

Marked for Death: Rotation proceeds as normal.

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Marked for Death can be a very strong talent for combat especially at low gear levels where combo point generation is slower however it can be a bit harder to play.  When using marked for death you should use sinister strike at 4 combo points even though a procced combo point may be wasted.  On single target fights marked for death should be used on cooldown ideally when both adrenaline rush and killing spree are on cooldown but don’t delay using marked for death too much to achieve this case.  On multi-target fights marked for death should be used on adds that are dying shortly to maximize the number of uses you get out of the talent.

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