What you need to know about the PvE combat spec to get started

Combat is the best build when considering to maximize one’s DPS output.Having two very powerful offensive cooldowns and weapon specializations for every type of weapon on top of that, makes picking Combat an absolute no brainer for PvE. This build is pretty straight forward, very fun to play and you could even top the meters if you play your cards right on some fights and the group composition allows it.

The gear of the Combat Rogue for PVE

Stat EP values for Combat may vary a little depending on the weapons you choose to play with (or the RNG gods give you), but overall stat priority looks like this: Expertise>Hit>Agility>Haste>everything else. It may come as a surprise to some that 50% of a rogue’s DPS is from normal (white) attacks – therefore, getting Expertise and Hit capped is your primary goal here. 

Expertise and Hit caps are as follows:

          • 44 Expertise – for Humans using Swords or Maces (with 2/2 Weapon Expertise)
          • 64 Expertise – for everyone else and Humans using Fist Weapons or Daggers (with 2/2 Weapon Expertise)

Even though Expertise is usually deemed the most valuable stat, getting expertise capped even as a human may be tricky in the initial stages of TBC. In some cases, you may even choose to drop some expertise for set bonuses and/or more of the other stats which can outweigh the Expertise rating from certain items. If you can’t cap both, try to have a healthy balance between them.

What I would personally do is get hit capped at all times because it is way easier to achieve that initially. Later on, I can optimize my character further depending on what expertise items and set bonuses I have available.

Which professions to choose?

Rogues are very versatile in PvE and can benefit from almost every profession. If, however, you are serious about raiding and want to get into a top tier raiding guild, most of them will require you to have: 

          • Leatherworking:
            This profession offers certain good items for raiding, some of which are even useful in PvP. The biggest reason for you to pick LW is Drums of Battle. These are so good, that top guilds are asking every raider to have them for 100% uptime (yes, even healers and tanks). Having a small Bloodlust all the time does not only serve the purpose of maximizing DPS – killing bosses faster minimizes the risk of wiping due to mechanics, thus making progression and farming easier. 

You have more freedom to choose your second profession. Gathering professions would help you farm gold, Blacksmithing can give you good weapons, Alchemy will ease the cost of consumables for your wallet. That being said, Jewelcrafting is arguably the best choice as a second profession due to its trinket, necklace, and unique gems, but my personal choice is:

          • Engineering (my pick)
              • The Quad Deathblow X44 and X11 Goggles are something I can not miss out on. I know this is a PvE guide but let’s be honest: if you are playing a Rogue you at least want to dip your toes into PvP. That said, the goggles score very high among PvE items as well. 
              • The second reason is the Zapthrottle Mote Extractor, which will make gold farming somewhat easier. If you go heavy on consumables, as you should, you are going to need a good income source to fund your raiding adventures.

For more information, check our Guide that explains how to choose professions.

Is there an optimal race for Combat ?

          • Humans are the best choice if you play for the alliance. Its biggest advantage over other races is the Mace and Sword Specializations. As we mentioned above, expertise is the most valuable stat. With combat swords arguably being the best rogue PvE spec and also most of the BiS weapons being either swords or maces, it makes perfect sense to pick a Human. Last but not least, Diplomacy boosting your reputation gains by 10% more will make the grind less time consuming for you.
          • Trolls are a good option to pick as a horde player due to their racial traits Berserking and Regeneration. Berserking would give you 10% more haste which may arguably be the best racial for DPS as a horde player, because of Sword Specialization and Combat Potency talents. The 10% regeneration bonus might not seem much on face value, but in combat, it might be the difference between death and surviving.
          • Orcs are also a great pick. Blood Fury is much like having another Attack Power trinket; pretty neat for maximizing DPS, though keep in mind it also reduces healing taken.

Choosing your optimal race as a rogue is a topic more closely examined elsewhere on SilentShadows, so make sure to check it out.

The PVE Combat Rogue Template

There are 3 different combat builds to choose from. The main difference between them is the Weapon Specialization you select; other than that, there is almost no room to change any talents. One can only swap Improved Gouge For Lightning Reflexes, which are both defensive talents and are not going to affect your DPS at all.

Combat Swords

Link to the spec: Combat sword PVE
Note: Some guilds might ask you to get Improved Exposed Armor. In that case, your spec should look like that: Combat sword with EA

The spec is similar for Fists, just swap the Weapon Specializations

As mentioned above, this is deemed the best PvE spec for a TBC rogue. Having a good pair of swords will not only help you climb the meters but may also come handy if you want to do some PvP in between raids. That said, there are some ground rules regarding swords (and weapons generally) which you may choose to equip as a combat rogue.

          • Main Hand – Ideally, you want a slow 2.6-2.8 speed sword with high damage in order to pull bigger numbers from your Sinister Strikes, Auto-attacks, Weapon Specialisation and Windfury procs.
          • Off-hand – In this case, the faster the sword is the better. More frequent hits will help you:
              • Keep Deadly Poison up all the time,
              • More opportunities for Sword Specialisation to proc,
              • More opportunities for Flame Cap to proc,
              • Last but not least, way more energy generation from Combat Potency talent.

Key talents:

          • Adrenaline Rush (AR) – 100% more energy regeneration makes AR your best cool down hands down.
          • Blade Flurry (BF) – will let you hit two targets standing next to each other and if you choose it wisely you can bump your DPS significantly on some fights.
          • Sword (Weapon) Specialization –  5% chance to land an extra attack doesn’t look too impressive at first, but we do hit very frequently and this damage piles up substantially.
          • Combat Potency (CP) – This talent gives your offhand attacks 20% chance to add 15 energy, which translates to ~ 10 DPS for every 0.1 seconds of your off-hand weapon’s speed.

Combat Fist/Sword

Link to the spec: Combat PVE Fist/Sword
Everything stated above is applicable here. The only thing to remember is that if you want to have both specs in play, you need to use a fist weapon in your main hand and a sword in your off-hand; the other way around won’t work!

Combat Daggers

Link to the spec: Combat PVE Daggers
Everything stated above is applicable here. You can split-test having Lethality over Opportunity for a better damage output


DPS rotation as a Combat Rogue is fairly simple: just remember to keep your slice and dice and rupture up at all times and maybe sneak an eviscerate in when you have to dump combos. 

Depending on your weapons’ type and gear availability (like t4 2-piece set bonus) the best-case scenario looks something like this:


          • Without T4 bonus – 3-5 combo Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Rupture
          • With T4 Bonus – 1-2 combo  Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Rupture


          • Without T4 bonus – 3-5 combo Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Rupture
          • With T4 Bonus – 1 combo  Slice and Dice with 3 Combo Rupture

Note: If your poisons are about to expire, use Shiv instead of Sinister Strike to refresh them.

Remember these rotations are not set in stone and may vary depending on the situation at hand. Just prioritize 100% uptime on Slice and Dice over Ruptures when you can’t keep both.

Raiding tips

          1. Don’t die – dead DPS = no DPS simple as that. Trying to open asap on a boss to get a few extra hits, for example, may lead to pulling aggro and wiping the whole raid after killing yourself. 
          2. Always stay behind the target – that way your hits can not be blocked or parried.
          3. Don’t be greedy for DPS – Ignoring a boss mechanic (kicking for example) in order to sneak in an extra sinister might result in wiping the raid.
          4. Come prepared – learn the tactics beforehand and bring consumables
          5. Maximize your uptime on target – being good with positioning may be crucial for getting the most out of your rogue at times. In other words, make sure to not waste half a fight running around.
          6. Don’t let your Slice and Dice run out 
          7. Don’t let your Energy Cap

How to maximize DPS?

Apart from these raiding tips, the most important aspect of maximizing your DPS is how you time your cooldowns. Some would argue that you should dump everything at once for the best outcome, which is partially true, but there are also a few tricks for squeezing in a little bit more. 

First of all, know your fight – the dumbest thing you can do is to blow all your cooldowns during  a knockback or when you need to reposition.. The best case scenario is waiting for the first knockback for example and then going all in. That way, chances of pulling aggro are slim and you would hopefully have 100% uptime with CDs. Knowing the length of the fight may also help you with using them in even smarter ways. For example:

          • The fight is under 2 minutes, allowing you only one use of BF and AR. It follows that the ideal time to use them is when at least one of your Mongoose enchants procs. If there is going to be a Bloodlust and you don’t have Mongoose up, wait a couple of seconds as BL lasts for 20s while your CDs are 15s, allowing you to have a few hits to get a proc. If you are unlucky in the first few seconds, blow your CDs…
          • The fight is over 2 minutes, allowing you to have 2 BF and 1 AR. In this case, you can wait for mongoose before you pop BF+AR, all the while ensuring that you don’t rip the threat forcing you into a Vanish or a Feint as well as having the time to use your second BF before the end of the fight.
          • The fight is over 5 minutes – with 2-3 BFs and 2 ARs one can make wonders. Pop them asap in these cases. It is better to use AR twice in suboptimal conditions than using it only once in optimal ones. Again, make sure to not pull aggro and dump the threat if you have to.

To recap, use your CDs and consumables asap and simultaneously, because you may not always make it to the end. In fights executed flawlessly, there is room to play around and split tests to find the best opportunities to use your stuff.

See you in raids!