After a couple of months of TBC, we can do a much better analysis of which talent specializations are good, which ones are bad, and when to use which one. Some of you probably heard about the PVE hemo specialization that I’ve tested for the past weeks on my Twitch, and this is what we’ll cover in this article.

When it comes to talent specializations for PvE for rogues, there is not very much room to play around. The best spec is the one that contributes the most damage to the raid, and that is that. If you are trying to optimize damage dealt to bosses, 20/41/0 Combat Expose Armor (or the 16/45/0 variant with a mace and sword) is the clear winner. If you want to optimize overall damage dealt in a raid counting both boss and trash, 0/40/21 Combat Hemorrhage is worth consideration.

The strengths of Combat Expose Build

Before we get into Combat Hemorrhage, let’s review the strengths of the Combat Expose build.

Rogue PVE talent Burning Crusade Classic

The standard talent specialization for raiding rogues is 20/41/0 Combat Expose Armor specialization. 

This build uses the strong deep combat talents to pump out good individual damage while also providing the raid with the Expose Armor debuff. Expose Armor is a strong increase to the physical damage that your raid deals, about 3.4-3.8% increase over using Sunder Armor. 

Since this is a percentage gain, exactly how much DPS your raid gains from this varies based on how much physical DPS is in your raid. Combat Expose is the main raiding specialization that we’d recommend for most rogues.

Personally, I dislike the rigid playstyle of maintaining both Expose Armor and Slice and Dice. There is no doubt that it is strong, but the rigidity of the rotation makes it so that I often cannot properly utilize random procs of Combat Potency or other things effectively, which is not fun. Combat Hemorrhage has the same rotation as a regular Combat Assassination rogue who is not applying Expose Armor - Slice and Dice, Rupture, and Eviscerate. You have some flexibility in the number of combo points you can spend on your finishers, and if Rupture falls it isn’t an enormous loss of raid DPS. To me, this is much more enjoyable.

The benefits from the combat hemo specialization

Now let’s see how the Combat Hemorrhage spec differs.

PVE Hemo combat build rogue BC Classic

You have almost all of the hard-hitting and valuable Combat talents, but you trade the investment in Assassination for points in Subtlety to unlock Serrated Blades and Hemorrhage. The other 17 points in Subtlety mostly don’t matter – some people prefer to take Opportunity and use Garrote as an opener. This is only good when you can position behind the mob before the pull happens, like on the Channelers for Magtheridon. If you lose attack time due to moving up to a mob in stealth, opening with Garrote is not worth it.

The raid benefit from Hemorrhage debuff is mostly a flat gain – 10 charges per cast, 42 damage per charge, increased by critical strikes and reduced by mob armor. There is no doubt that one rogue applying Hemorrhage provides less raid benefit than an active Expose Armor debuff. However, the rogue will apply Hemorrhage to every mob they attack, boss and trash, whereas Expose Armor is only applied to bosses and other long-lived mobs. The balance is that Hemorrhage is providing less benefit per second but is applied for more seconds, whereas Expose provides more benefit per second but is not active as much throughout a raid.

Another consideration for the Combat Hemorrhage build is that the rotation is much more fluid and much less punishing if you make a mistake. If you make a mistake and drop Expose Armor debuff, a typical raid is losing over 1000 DPS until you can reapply it. There is no dramatic necessity like the Expose Armor debuff when you are playing Hemorrhage. It may be worth considering that you want a simpler rotation (and less punishing if you make a mistake) especially on complex fights, fights with frequent interrupted uptime, or on fights where you are still learning the mechanics.

Watch my video about the PVE Hemo spec

Rogue raiding specialization comparison

Talent Spec Personal DPS Raid DPS Contribution Total DPS
20/41/0 Applying Expose Armor Medium High High
0/40/21 Hemorrhage Medium-Low Medium Medium
20/41/0 Not Applying Expose Armor High None Medium-Low

If you are raiding with only one rogue on your team, we still recommend the standard Combat Expose talent specialization.

Hemo spec tested on Gruul the Dragonkiller 

If you are raiding with two or more rogues, it may be a good idea to have at least one of each Combat Expose and Combat Hemorrhage to maximize total raid damage. This Combat Hemorrhage talent specialization has only been seriously tested for about a month at the time of writing, so the sample size of raid data is not enormous, but looks good so far.


Simonize is a long-time Rogue player from original Vanilla, Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King. Primarily focused on PvE, he is the author of two rogue damage simulation spreadsheets – one for Classic and one for The Burning Crusade.
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