We often read that World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is not substantially different from Classic and just feels like an improved version of it. In this topic, we’re going to review what changed from a rogue’s perspective from Vanilla (Classic) to Burning Crusade (Classic TBC) and how it affected the playstyle, especially for PvP’ers.

Evolution of the rogue’s abilities and talents

New key abilities

With the release of The Burning Crusade, every class gained ten extra levels (from 60 to 70) in which multiple new key abilities were implemented. Most of these new abilities are making a huge difference in a PvP environment. They offer new options, more survivability, better mobility, damage and efficiency. They helped a lot to secure rogue gameplay for almost every situation.

Shiv & Envenom

Shiv is a very useful ability, especially in PvP, with a cheap cost of energy which is calculated as follows: 20 + (10 * weapon speed) = Energy consumption.
It performs an instant off-hand weapon attack that automatically applies the poison from your off-hand weapon to the target. In addition, it awards 1 combo point which makes it an excellent combo builder to prepare your finishing moves alongside Hemorrhage.
Shiv also brings new options in terms of managing one’s enemies and applying pressure :

          • Stack up 5 Wound Poisons as fast possible on an enemy to apply a 50% healing reduction on him.
          • Get a Mind-Numbing Poison on casters, making it harder for them to cast and easier for you to interrupt (it also affects the global cooldown duration).
          • Get the enemy snared with Crippling Poison and kite them defensively, or just keep them snared to make sure you are not being kited when playing offensively.
          • Stack up 5 Deadly Poison on a target for an additional DoT and use Envenom to consume these stacks of Deadly into powerful instant damage.

Let’s talk about Envenom which is also a new ability brought by The Burning Crusade. It consumes Deadly Poison doses on the target and deals instant poison damage. This is the only rogue finishing move that ignores armor which is why it’s useful in PvE but could be of interest in PvP.

NB: By now it has hopefully become clear that slower weapons require more energy to use Shiv, hence rogues are looking for 1,5-speed (or less) weapons as off-hand. So shiv usually costs 35 energy.

Cloak of Shadows

Cloak of Shadows is probably the biggest change for rogues on Classic TBC. Available at level 66, it instantly removes all existing harmful spell effects and increases your chance to resist all spells by 90% for 5 sec. Note that it can’t be used while being controlled. Cloak of Shadows is really useful:

          • To remove magical DoTs (mostly from Warlocks, Priests, but also Druids, Hunters, or Mages’ Fireball)
          • Remove Faerie Fire to get a restealth or use Vanish.
          • Remove Poisons (very useful for Healer/DPS players)
          • Remove Root effects such as Mages’ Nova, or druid’s Entangling Root.
          • Prevent incoming damage from Priest/Mage/Warlock be it stealthed or not.
          • Prevent CC like Cyclone, Fear, Polymorph but also some Traps
          • Prevent instant CC such as Psychic Scream or Death Coil when precast.

This is one of the most important abilities of the rogue’s toolkit. It has to be used carefully and wisely, even if the cooldown is “short” (60 seconds). A lot of debutant rogues may waste this cooldown impulsively in PvP situations and regret it a few seconds later; but when properly used, Cloak of Shadows becomes a game-changer.

NB: Blind is no longer considered a Poison, so you cannot use Cloak to prevent incoming Blinds. It’s also not possible to use it in order to prevent Hunters’ stings (like Wyvern Sting) nor Flare.

Deadly Throw

Unlocked at level 64, Deadly Throw is another major addition to Rogues’ toolkit because it is a finishing move that offers multiple options in terms of control, survivability and damage.

          • Reduces the target’s movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds,
          • Causes increased thrown weapon damage (can be a nice finisher when an enemy tries to escape),
          • With PvP Gloves, it also becomes a ranged interrupt that can counter controls cast at a distance such as Fear, Polymorph, or Cyclone.

Deadly Throw has two points of interest:

          • Snare: especially against
                • Rogues: if the opposing Rogue removes Crippling Poison with Cloak of Shadows, Deadly Throw is a good way to snare them.
                • Dwarves: When an opposing dwarf removes all poison effects with Stoneform, Deadly Throw helps to keep them snared.
          • Interrupt: A rogue can alternate Kick and Deadly Throw on the same target to keep him locked. It costs a lot of energy, but in a few situations, this is an efficient way to chain three or four interrupts in 15seconds to land a kill.

Abilities obtained through your specialization

Combat Specialization

The TBC combat tree doesn’t differ a great deal from the Classic combat tree. The most noticeable improvement is the implementation of a new talent: Combat Potency.
It gives successful off-hand melee attacks a 20% chance to generate 15 Energy. This also explains why a fast off-hand is recommended to play rogue because it increases the chances of procs.
For more detail about this talent, make sure to read our Hit & Expertise guide as well as our PVE Combat Guide.

Surprise Attacks is the new ultimate ability of the Combat tree. Sadly for PvP’ers, it is a passive one which doesn’t really make an interesting difference in the gameplay but it comes in handy for PvE’ers.
The finishing moves can no longer be dodged, and the damage dealt by Sinister Strike, Backstab, Shiv and Gouge abilities are increased by 10%.

Last but not least, Improved Slice and Dice talent was moved from the Assassination tree to the Combat tree.

Assassination Specialization

The Burning Crusade also brought minor changes to the Assassination build.
We can find 3 new talents, from which the ultimate offers a new ability: Mutilate

          • Master Poisoner which reduces the chance your poisons will be resisted by 10% and increases your chance to resist Poison effects by an additional 30%.
          • Find Weakness that increases the damage from offensive abilities by 6%.
          • Mutilate which instantly attacks the target with both weapons for an additional 101 with each weapon. Interestingly, the damage is increased by 50% against Poisoned targets. The downside is that it requires to be behind the target and costs 60 energy, though awarding 2 combo points. It is the main ability of Mutilate PvP rogues.

Shadowstep Specialization

On The Burning Crusade, the go-to spec for PvP’ers is the famous Subtlety also known as Shadowstep spec, or Hemo/Step, which is the name of the ultimate talent from the subtlety tree. With this build, the rogue gains two very interesting new abilities:

Premeditation

When used, Premeditation adds 2 combo points to the target. This ability requires Stealth to be used and offers a lot more opener options for Subtlety rogues. Having those two extra points means that opening with Cheap Shot could directly set the rogue at 5 combo points and use a finisher move such as Kidney Shot, Eviscerate or Expose Armor. It gives a lot more freedom.
An example from arenas is that it allows an opener on your target and an interrupt on a second player (eg. Shadowstep Kick /focus) without being forced to build combos for a 5 combo Kidney Shot.

Shadowstep

Shadowstep is the emblematic rogue ability of The Burning Crusade because it makes the subtlety spec way more viable in PvP situations primarily on account of the mobility it offers. It pairs well with loads of rogue abilities with multiple purposes.

          • Shadowstep combined with Sap: A must-have macro for PvP’ers, especially on /focus to manage a good chain of controls (after a Fear for example)
          • Shadowstep combined with Cheap Shot: Very good when you have to open very quickly an enemy that is not close to you.
          • Shadowstep combined with Kidney Shot/Blind: Very important against opposing rogues or Ferals which are able to dodge most of your front-facing abilities. Using Shadowstep is the best way to secure a Kidney Shot especially when Evasion is active on the enemy.
          • Shadowstep combined with Kick: Another must-have macro for advanced players is to combine Shadowstep with Kick on /focus to have an additional interrupt on a second enemy (healer for example, or caster). This is also a way to lock the target when he’s trying to cast something after successful kiting of the rogue.
          • Shadowstep combined with Ambush, Eviscerate, Hemorrhage: Shadowstep increases the damage of your next ability by 20%. This is a great way to have more pressure, especially with a critical strike.
          • Shadowstep combined with Shiv: The enemy managed to escape from you? Shadowstep into Shiv (crippling) and you’re back in the game.
          • Shadowstep on Intercept or Charge: This tricky move requires some experience (and decent spell batching) to be performed, but is a nice way to keep the distance and avoid incoming pressure. The stun or root effects will be applied, but at least the enemy loses their opportunity to do damage following that.
          • Shadowstep during rooting effects (Nova, Entangling Roots): If it is not possible on WotLK, it’s completely doable on TBC, meaning you could potentially execute Shadowstep Kidney Shot right after being rooted by your enemy.
          • Shadowstep an enemy on the edge of the Bridge (Blade’s Edge ArenaWorld PvP and Battlegrounds): A pretty flashy move inciting the enemy to follow you and then you Shadowstep back on him to stay on the top of the edge.
Cheat Death

Cheat Death offers a 100% chance that an attack which would otherwise kill a rogue will instead reduce him to 10% of his maximum health. In addition, all damage taken will be reduced by up to 90% for 3 sec (modified by resilience).
It is not necessary to explain why this is a key talent for every PvP rogue. Bear in mind that this effect cannot occur more than once per minute.

Modified abilities

Preparation, Blind, and Adrenaline Rush

On WoW Classic, Preparation immediately finishes the cooldown on the other Rogue abilities when activated. This includes Blind and Adrenaline Rush.
On The Burning Crusade, Preparation no longer resets Blind.
On the other hand, Elusiveness talent reduces its cooldown by 90 seconds, as well as the cooldown duration of Vanish. This nerf of Preparation sounds like a pretty fair deal, especially with today’s meta where two Blinds would be considered as gamebreaking.
Speaking of Blind, it is no longer considered a Poison, nor needs Blinding Powder!

After the 2.3.0 patch, Preparation also nerfed Adrenaline Rush in favour of Shadowstep. This is the reason why Combat HArP Specialization died as fast as Shadowstep became the go-to specialization for PvP’ers.

Sap

A great improvement to expect from the Burning Crusade expansion is also the fact that the chances of breaking your stealth by Sapping are completely removed. The talent Improved Sap also was removed in favour of Dirty Tricks which increases the range of the Sap ability by 50%.
This makes Sap a way safer and more reliable CC, helping you to create a lot of opportunities to reset the fight for example. It also makes Vanish + Sap a more useful move, if not mandatory, for PvP rogue (especially in arenas where a rogue often has to control two targets simultaneously).

Poison charges and buff duration

A big aspect of the rogue’s gameplay relies on Poison management. We previously introduced a new ability, Shiv, that will completely change the way of using poisons since they can be applied on demand – contrary to Classic where it was all about procs.

A second improvement is the increased duration of poison buffs. Instead of 30 minutes, they are applied for one hour.
Also, the poison charges (between 100 and 115 charges for max level poisons) are also completely removed from the game. Now, the only thing to care about will be the timer of poisons applied on the rogue’s weapons. One could argue that one hour is still lame and short, but compared to WoW Classic, this is a big step for every silent shadow. That means less farm and a more comfortable experience as a rogue. Enjoy! 🙂

PvP Playstyle evolutions

Multiple target management

Many aspects of WoW Classic are surely charming for the old school players, but there are also various features that really improved the PvP experience; especially for rogues.

On Classic, targeting a second enemy while having at least one combo point left on the first target would reset your combo points. For this reason, dealing with multiple enemies, as a rogue, requires sacrifices, consumables or items like engineering grenades or the helm.
On The Burning Crusade, like all other classes, it’s now possible to switch between two targets (and target them) without losing combo points on the first enemy.
This brings a lot more options and allows more creativity for control management.

In addition, Blizzard also implemented a new feature that allows players to comfortably play on multiple targets with macros: the famous /focus.
For example, this command significantly optimizes a CC chain on a second enemy while killing one. Its importance in arenas cannot be overstated.

Last but not least, Controls cannot randomly break in PvP anymore. Welcome to a (somewhat) safer PvP world.

Multiple Off-Hand

In PvP, the addition of Shiv also brought new weapon management, creating the need to use weapon swapping macros to play with three, four, or five weapons.
From experience, playing with only two weapons (and two poisons) is not a fast method of stacking 5 wounds while keeping an enemy affected by a second poison. Since playing with multiple off-hand requires a bit of experience, we’d recommend starting by playing with three weapons:

          • Main Hand: Wound Poison
          • Two Off-hands: One for Crippling Poison, the other for Wound Poison.

This way, you will be able to get – for example – 5 wound stacks during a Cheap Shot if you use the Shiv ability after your opener. You can also switch weapons to snare your enemy when necessary (eg. at the end of your stuns or combined with Shadowstep when being kited).
Once you get used to swapping between those two off-hands, we’d recommend you to add a third off-hand for Mind-numbing poison. This poison is likely to be less used (especially in arenas) because you may spend a lot of time applying your Crippling and Wounds – but with experience, you may appreciate having this poison in your toolkit.
Most of the rogues playing on the ladder will use at least 4 weapons (1 MH and 3 OH as detailed above). But you could have more if you plan to use Ambush (which may require an extra MH – dagger – if you don’t already use a dagger as a Main Hand) or also an extra off-hand for Deadly Poisons.

A new PvP template

PvP’ing as a rogue is extremely enjoyable on The Burning Crusade as well as on Classic. The biggest difference is that TBC doesn’t have a lot of viable specs to offer as a PvP player.
There are three builds to play on TBC:

…and only one of them is viable for arenas : Subtlety.

Both Combat and Assassination builds are lacking mobility, energy and combo generation so playing becomes a lot more frustrating in arenas – these specializations are way more enjoyable outside arenas.

Also, we don’t mention weapon specialization on TBC unlike Classic.
Since the go-to build for PvP’ers is the famous Shadowstep specialization, you won’t see major differences by going double swords, double maces, fist weapon/dagger. It is a matter of preference and the only optimization of weapon that you’re going to look for will come from your race (eg. human being passively specialized with swords and maces).
Nonetheless, weapon specialization matters if you choose to play the Combat PVP Spec: mace specialization brings 5% chances of proccing extra-stuns, sword specialization offers 5% chances of proccing extra attacks, and fist weapon specialization offers +5% crit chances. Weapon specialization aside, there are marginal differences amongst seemingly identical weapon types of the same item level which you may wish to consider according to your risk appetite. We encourage you to check our article How to choose your weapon covering that topic in depth.
This means that the Dagger spec disappears as it becomes less efficient as Subtlety, in favor of double swords, double maces, or Fist weapon/dagger with 2.6s main-hand weapon. They’re not considered a “spec” per se anymore since there are no weapon specializations in the common arena PvP build as explained before.

Building combo points

In PvP, the way to build combos differs from Classic or Wrath expansions.
From experience we can state that Backstab becomes quite a useless ability on TBC. You can definitely choose to play with it, but you’ll probably find out that it isn’t the most efficient way to damage your enemy.

For PvE, Sinister Strike is your main ability to build combos. Sometimes you may use a Shiv if your poison isn’t naturally applied for a while and stacks are about to disappear.

For most arena matchups, applying poisons on the target will be your first priority. This is why Shiv is one of the two popular combo-building abilities. For example, Cheap Shot followed by two Shivs can get you to 5 wound stacks before a full Kidney Shot.
Besides that, you will also use a lot of Hemorrhage to deal your damage (especially if playing Shadowstep specialization) and its low cost of energy makes it a solid combo builder as well.

New PvP environment

More competitive 1v1 situations

Rogue remains one of the best classes for 1v1 situations and duels, though most classes were also improved, making them a lot harder to deal with as a rogue in comparison to Classic.

Your “anti classes” are:

          • Warriors: you cannot rely on stun anymore against them.
          • Resto shamans: extremely resistant due to Earth Shield.
          • Ferals are tough.
          • Disc. Priest can be tough (due to Reflective Shield),especially if Dwarf.

We plan to cover every 1v1 situation here on Silent Shadows, so stay tuned,
….and if you want to contribute by writing 1v1 guides, please let us know on Discord!

Arenas & Titles

TBC brought something new which completely changed PvP on World of Warcraft: Arenas. They became the most competitive place to fight other players in three different brackets: 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5.
By doing arenas, you can also compete for new rewards:

          • Gladiator (S1)
          • Merciless Gladiator (S2)
          • Vengeful Gladiator (S3)
          • Brutal Gladiator (S4)

….each of them coming with a great flying mount (310% Gladiator Drake). Below these ranks, one can be titled Duelist, Rival, or Challenger.

If 5v5 isn’t the favorite place to be as a rogue, 2v2 and 3v3 are really designed for our beloved class. It offers many combs and a lot of them are considered as “S-tier” team compositions.
We cover this topic extensively on the website, so feel free to check our 2v2 Rogue Arena Guides section.

Also, make sure to check this article to help you with choosing the best team composition to start arenas on TBC if you’re still not sure what you want to play.

What about PvE?

NB: weapon skill no longer affects glancing blows in TBC so items with +weapon skill become useless in Classic TBC. In exchange, they add expertise.

Rogue & raids

A lot of bosses in TBC (at least T4 and T5 ones) are not melee friendly. This perhaps presents a stark contrast between Classic and TBC raiding content. For this reason, rogues are sadly not really the preferred class for raids, even though they can perform very well in PvE, and they become extremely powerful later on T6.
Besides that, rogues are also known for not buffing the raid, beside Improved Expose Armor which doesn’t stack with Sunder Armor (used by Warrior tanks).

So yeah, let’s face the reality, looking for a hardcore PvE guild may be tougher as a rogue, especially on early TBC, because top guilds are likely to pick only one core raider rogue for 25 man raids. There are also a lot of guilds that don’t even have a single rogue on their core raid.

Specialization

The go-to spec for PvE Rogues is Combat. For more details, please make sure you check this part :
Abilities obtained through your specialization > Combat Specialization

Professions

On Classic TBC, the best professions rely on your orientation: PvP or PvE or Both.

For PvE: Leatherworking is the best profession primarily because of Drums which are mandatory in hardcore raids. You could choose to have your gathering prof on an alt-character and pair this profession with engineering, for endgame goggles for example.

For PvP, a lot of rogues will opt for Engineering (Goggles) and Jewelcrafting (gems, Figurine – Shadowsong Panther, as well as endgame BiS offset). In comparison to Classic and Wrath expansions, Engineering is not as significant, though it helps still. Note most gadgets are not usable in arenas, and you may choose to use a 3 socket chest piece instead of goggles.

For more detailed information to help you choose, make sure to have a look to our best professions guide.

Conclusion

As you can see, the evolution from Classic to TBC offers a lot of improvements for rogues’ gameplay, especially in PvP. Securing a raid spot as a rogue in early content may be tough, but bear in mind that Warglaives rarely go to Fury Warriors. Without a doubt, The Burning Crusade is one of the most enjoyable expansions to play as a rogue.