After hitting lvl70 and in between reputation grinding, gold farming and raiding, you might have considered stepping into the arena..
But where to start? How to choose your team composition? Is any combo easier than another? More comprehensive and intuitive?
Read on to discover, or re-discover some of the 2v2 arena combinations for WoW Classic TBC rogue.

Somewhat contrary to your future in PvE as a rogue, in PvP your class becomes an absolute must-have for many 3v3 combinations and extremely appreciated in 2v2. You are playing what is probably the best class for TBC PvP, making you a versatile arena partner.

Rogues pair well with most classes for the 2v2 bracket: priests as discipline or shadow, restoration druids, frost mages, Siphon Life/Soul Link warlocks, and many more. Rogues have been seen playing even with a warrior or a retribution paladin and managing to go over 2000 rating. Yes, the options are extremely varied and you may drift around quite a bit before picking the correct class to play with, as different combinations require different strategies.

Pick-up your playstyle

Contrary to a healer limited to partnering with a DPS, the rogue can choose between a Healer partner or another DPS. Technically, playing healer/DPS and double DPS differs a lot in many situations (if not most) and before choosing you must determine your preferences in terms of arena experience.

          • Am I willing to do quite a lot of lengthy games? (especially if you’re a debutant)
            or, do I prefer to do a lot of quick arenas?
          • Do I prefer to solo DPS the target, even against other healer/DPS combs?
            Or do I prefer to synergize my controls and damage to set up my kill with another DPS?
          • Am I looking for fun? Do I want to try hard? (both types of combs can offer those options)

Once you’ve thought of these questions you’ll be able to define part of your PvP orientation. Let’s sum it up in a short table:

Warning : If you’re reading on mobile phone, please turn your screen to read the table

 HEALER DPSDOUBLE DPS
GAME DURATION

Long games may happen.

…Especially for the debutants that manage well overall, but lack some knowledge about the meta.

Short games, most of the time.

Since you’ve got almost no way to heal yourself (no healing ability and limited healing assistance from your partner) you may win or lose quickly.

IMPORTANCE OF THE OPENERS

Can handle more situations with unfavorable openers.

For example, if you’re sapped, but your druid partner is safe in stealth, you will be likely dealing with a burst pressure but comebacks remain possible with wisely spent cooldowns.

Heavily relying on openers.
As a debutant, you may struggle a lot if you don’t manage to get proper openers to start your fight (e.g being sapped by other rogues, or spotted by AoEs). The decision making has to be fast and correct to deal with openers gone wrong.
IMPACT OF MISTAKES & RNG

Playing with a healer allows for mistakes or bad RNG… 

…because a healer offers more solutions in terms of survivability. Most abilities can be played defensively (e.g Cheap Shot, Kidney Shot, Fear-Sap, Crippling Poison Shiv to run around a pillar etc.) until your team recovers.

Mistakes as well as bad RNG lose games.

Your Kidney Shot gets resisted? Your Blind missed? Say bye to your pressure. You die.

COOLDOWN MANAGEMENTThe cooldown management as Healer/DPS is very important in longer games; you may regret a bad vanish or evasion. For example, in some situations evasion may allow your healer to drink as he has less pressure to deal with.As double DPS, there is a lot more freedom in terms of cooldown management allowing for a quicker flow. Of course, your games will be organized around your controls (CC rotation) like Vanish-Sap after Fear etc. but certain matchups provide for more flexibility.
TRYHARDTrying hard as a Healer/DPS may look exhausting. You are likely to go through several phases made of long arenas, a lot of defensive plays, looking for a window to produce your offensive strategy then going back to defensive, etc. An upside is that you have more opportunities to learn your combination.

The games are short. One mistake, one resist, or a bad opener is immediately sanctioned and can turn into a loss.

Relying on all these factors slows progress down as there are missed opportunities to learn your comb, let alone that there’s nothing to learn if you lose because of a Kidney Shot Resist). So trying hard as double DPS may involve a bit of frustration due to the general absence of recovery windows.

FUNDepends on what you call fun, but struggling hard at 1640 because you don’t know how to handle a Warrior is anything but fun. Welcome to reality.As a debutant, playing double DPS offers multiple options to deal your damage and CC. The freedom with faster cooldown usage offers a bit more fun sensations, even if learning can be tougher.

Obviously, there are some healers that can play very aggressively and become a second DPS; but the more you climb, the riskier this is (as well as rarer).

The best combo to start arena as a rogue

The best combo is a matter of taste, in terms of game experience. Before looking for a teammate, you must define what you are looking for: Performance? Security? Fun? Intensity? Entertainment?

We made a poll and asked the community (on reddit) to give their opinion. The question was: Which team composition would you recommend to a ROGUE that wants to start 2v2 on Classic TBC? 
There were 7 options :

          • Disc Priest/Rogue
          • Resto Druid/Rogue
          • Rogue/Mage
          • Shadow Priest/Rogue
          • Rogue/Lock
          • Double Rogue
          • Rogue/Feral

Here are the results (600+ votes – to date). They represent reality in terms of the top 4, though I personally would change the order.

I reserved the poll’s first 150 votes to the current active TBC community and the results were:

          • More than 1/2 (55%) of the voters picked a Healer/DPS comb
          • Disc/Priest was the most voted option, as 30% players picked DPR
          • Rogue/Mage was the most popular double DPS, closely followed by Spriest/Rogue

After that, I opened the poll to the Classic WoW population interested in TBC Topics (TBC subreddits, dedicated TBC channels on discord servers etc.) and we observed multiple unexpected changes in the voting pattern, such as a preference for double DPS:

          • A lot more votes in favour of R/M, which increased the gap with SP/R (21% vs 12%)
          • DP/R keeps its first position but falls to 27%, followed by R/D (25%).

This poll confirms the need to offer as many inputs as possible to help you guys to make your choice.

The Healer/DPS Supremacy

With all the factors detailed in the table that compares Healer/DPS and Double DPS, it would appear that starting 2v2 as Healer/DPS to learn arenas is the way to go, as there is more margin for error and the learning curve is less steep.. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best combos to pick as Healer/DPS are:

They’re pretty difficult to oppose because they both have a lot of strengths and low downsides, so here’s another table to see what they can offer.
NB: We did not offer more Healer options in the poll because they are not relevant to debutants and anyhow make suboptimal combinations, i.e Rsham/Rogue and Hpala/Rogue

 DISC PRIESTRESTO DRUID
BUFFSStamina, Spirit, Shadow ProtMark of the wild, Thorns
DISPEL

Magic Dispel (offensive/defensive)

Disease dispel

No poison abolish

Poison Abolish

Remove Curse

No Magic dispel

CC SYNERGY WITH ROGUE

Fear: 10 sec

Chastise (if dwarf): 2 sec

Mind Control: 10 sec

No shared diminishing returns with Rogues’ CC

Cyclone: 6 sec

Root: 10 sec

Bash: 5sec

Hibernate: 10sec (vs. druids, hunters’ pets, shamans in ghost wolf)

→ shared diminishing returns with Rogues’ CC (Clone/Blind & Bash/Cheap Shot) 

DEFENSE & SURVIVABILITY

Shield

Pain suppression

Dispel (defensive)

Barkskin

Poison Abolish

HEALING

HoT: Renew

Cast: Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal

AoE: Holy Nova

HoT: Lifebloom, Rejuvenation

Cast: Regrowth, Healing Touch

AoE: Tranquility

INSTANT HEALNO (Desperate Prayer for the priest only)YES (Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch, Swiftmend)
MANA REGEN.Shadowfiend (pet)Innervate (buff)
DPS ASSIST

DPS Assistance with 2 schools:

DoT: Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague if UD

Cast: Smite, Mind Blast, Holy Fire

AoE: Holy Nova

Instant: Shadow Word: Death, Holy Nova

Passive: Reflective Shield Talent (Phys.)

DPS Assistance with 1 school mostly:

DoT: Insect swarm, Moonfire

Cast: Starfire (Arcane)

AoE: Hurricane

Instant: Moonfire

Passive: Thorns

Both classes are solid partners because they’re the expansion’s greatest healers, reliable DPS and CC assist and competent duelists. From a DPS assist perspective, Discipline Priest is a bit better because of a larger toolkit (Reflective Shield is an extremely powerful passive way to deal damage, Holy Nova does damage to opponents while healing self and allies. Most significantly, a priest is able to alternate between Holy and Shadow schools to do damage). The downside is that the Discipline Priest runs easier into mana issues compared to a Resto Druid.

They both offer a lot of CC, but Priest has kind of a safer rotation – it’s easier to Sap after 10sec of Fear than after 6sec of Cyclone. Also, Disc priest and Rogue are not sharing Diminishining returns on TBC contrary to WotLK. The pressure management is in favor of Druid that can Abolish Poison. Removing a healing reduction debuff is powerful considering that Rogues are likely the most popular DPS to face in arenas on TBC. The same applies to Crippling Poison. Druids can use a Travel Form to escape and eventually re-stealth and can rely on NS+Healing Touch to deliver a big heal right on time. Also, the power of HoTs allows being controlled while keeping good healing. Last but not least, the Druid’s buffs are a bit more useful for rogue’s damage while Priest’s buffs are more oriented towards survivability (Stamina/Shadow protection).

Undoubtedly, both have their strengths. If I was asked to give my opinion about these two compositions, I would probably recommend Disc/Rogue for a beginner because the general CC and DPS assistance is slightly better and the magic dispels allow removing important CC and debuffs (DoTs, Fear, Novas, Faerie Fires) bringing a lot of survivability to the rogue which can preserve its cooldowns. The combination is more documented on YouTube, so you can easily find examples to learn. Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference.

The popularity of double DPS

Rogue is probably the only class that can pair with every other DPS. With good experience and game knowledge, you can literally play with any other class and make it work at some point, with a few exceptions of course. Frost Mage, POM Mage, SL-SL Lock, Destro Lock, Shadow priest, Feral Druid, Retribution Paladin, Arms Warrior, Hunter, as well as another Rogue! Obviously, all these team compositions can be classified in four categories depending on their viability/difficulty:

          • Top-Tier: Frost Mage/Rogue (RM), Rogue/SL-SL Lock (RL)
          • Tier 2: Shadow Priest/Rogue (SPR)
          • Tier 3: Feral Druid/Rogue (RF), Rogue/Rogue (RR), POM Mage/Rogue
          • Tier 4 aka not viable anymore (or extinct): Destro Lock/Rogue, Hunter/Rogue, Ret/Rogue

This classification could be discussed as we have practised a lot for the past decade on many TBC private servers and witnessed different evolutions of the WoW TBC meta, but I am pretty sure that this classification would be the same ten years ago, if not with SPR and RL reversed.

That being said, here are the most popular options to pick (from experience, but also in agreement with our poll’s results)

          • Frost Mage/Rogue
          • Shadow Priest/Rogue

There is a lot to say because opinions may differ a lot from one TBC veteran to another. We’ll do another table to examine both classes comparatively.

 SHADOW PRIESTFROST MAGE
BUFFS

Stamina,

Shadow Protection

Intellect,

Magic resistance increased

DISPELMagic Dispel (offensive/defensive)

Curse Removal (defensive)

Spellsteal (offensive)

CC SYNERGY WITH ROGUE

Fear (10sec)

Mind Control (10sec)

Blackout procs

→ No shared diminishing returns with Rogue’s CC

Polymorph (10sec)

Frost Nova / Pet Nova (8sec)

Frostbite procs

→ Sheep shares diminishing return with Gouge/Sap

→ Crippling Poison may or may not overwrite mage slows

DEFENSE & SURVIVABILITY

Power word: Shield

Dispels (defensive)

Frost barrier (only for mage)
Mana shield (only for mage)
A lot of snare effects that allow kiting a target along with other CCs like Polymorphs that can be chained as well as novas. Very good assistance to partners in danger.
HEALING

YES
– Vampiric Embrace heals SP+R through spriest damage, both – DoTs and direct damage)

– Can off-heal if necessary but quite weak (compared to disc priest) as well as costly.

NO. But mage provides the team with food, than can be used when out of combat.
MANA REGEN.Shadowfiend
Vampiric Touch
Mana gems (3 stacks)
Evocation
DPS

One school: Shadow

– Relies on DoT (SWP+VT) and Mind Flay

Burst phase: Mindblast + SwD (both DR)

– Devouring Plague makes Undead a natural choice if you intend to play Shadow Priest.

Three schools: Frost, Arcane, Fire

– Nice toolkit of instant (Fireblast, Cone of Cold, Ice lance on frozen target, Arcane explosion) and cast abilities (Frostbolt, Scorch, Arcane Missiles). – Burst phase: Shatter combo (Nova – Frostbolt+Icelance)

SURVIVABILITY VS MELEE

Quite tanky due to :
– Shadow Form,
– Shield,
– Healing through DoT (and ability to use healing abilities by coming out of shadow form).

– Gearing, which relies a lot on resilience

– Stoneform (if playing Dwarf)

– Fear is removed by WoTF which makes it weak against undead Rogues

– When out of shields and forced to go for healing, Shadowpriest becomes weak until the next Fear (long cooldown)

– Heavily susceptible to kick effects (three DPS abilities are cast: mind flay, mind blast, vampiric touch).

Reliant on snares and roots.

– Can Blink out of stuns,

– Can use Ice Block in case of big pressure

– Escape Artist if gnome

SURVIVABILITY VS CASTERS

– Can Dispel magic debuffs such as DoTs and root effects.
– Offensive dispel can give opponents a hard time

– Only one school for damage can be kicked.

– Good CC through repeatable Sheep

– Great silence effect (4sec blanket CS, 8sec if applied on cast)

– Spell Stealing is a great tool but costly

– Weak against Warlocks

Different conclusions could be drawn from these class profiles, I guess, but the choice remains quite hard because Mage and Priest have their own strengths and weaknesses.

I played SPR as Shadow Priest for 3 years before playing rogue myself (I played most of the double DPS combs) and I would say that RM is a bit harder to master compared to SPR.
What I can share from experience is that starting arenas by playing double DPS team compositions requires a bit more experience with the game because you’ve got less time to analyze a situation when playing. It relies a lot on the rogue’s CC management (oftentimes controlling two targets) which requires both good vision, proactivity and reactiveness to work efficiently. Your caster, whatever the class, needs a rogue that knows what to do and when to do it. Your decision making has to be fast and clear.

Another difference that weighs in the balance apart from what I’ve developed previously is that RM relies a lot on the Mage when SPR relies a lot on the Rogue.

– As Rogue/Mage, if you’re quite new to TBC Rogue , one would say that you could focus on doing your CC correctly and let the DPS part to your Mage. That’s a common statement that can be read everywhere and this could be true for some of the new Rogues here (lucky you). To be honest, I do not share this view for the new TBC rogues.
It would mean you’re playing with a perfect Mage that masters this comp which is quite unlikely to find if you are new to the game.
It also means that if you’re both (Mage and Rogue) debutant on TBC, playing RM may feel like a disaster… You’ve been warned.

– On the other hand, playing SPR relies a lot more on you, the rogue. You must equally handle the damage part and the CC part.
From a rogue perspective, Shadow Priest/Rogue is more debutant-friendly for few reasons :
You have a shield and some dispels on top of that. It gives you more options for your cooldowns (such as Vanish and Cloak). You can tank Kidney Shots if you’re protected by a shield, thus making you more resilient.
You benefit from off-healing along with your partner’s damage, making you a bit more threatening.
The tactics are less complicated to learn and to set up.

As Rogue/Mage, you have to adapt a lot to the opponent’s playstyle and your mage can really set up a switch of kill target just by doing a Sheep on the initial target. But you have to be aware that RM relies a lot on the synergy between the Rogue and the Mage. (Like every comp on high rates, yes…)

Finally, both comps have quite scripted tactics in arenas, but due to DoT, SPR is a bit more simple because there are a lot less windows for reversing CC to kill the other target and because DoTs cannot be kited. Once you start on an opponent, you’ll spend the whole duration of the game trying to kill that one. The higher you climb, DoTs tend to become a problem for exactly this reason and you may prefer playing RM so you can modify your tactics on the fly.

Conclusion

To conclude, keep in mind that playing with a healer brings more permissive gameplay in terms of mistakes because of better survivability. On the other hand, playing with another DPS will bring more sensations.

 SECURITYINTENSITY
HEALER DPSDiscipline Priest/RogueResto Druid/Rogue
DOUBLE DPSShadow Priest/RogueFrost Mage/Rogue

I wouldn’t recommend playing double DPS to begin in arenas as a Rogue, but it really depends on your experience with the game. If you have played it for a long time, your knowledge may suffice to properly start with the team composition that you prefer. If you have never touched TBC nor rogue before, starting with a Healer/DPS comb will probably yield better results. In both cases, the only way to properly learn and improve is through practice, so do not be afraid of trying things and waking the Silent Shadows that slept in you all this time.

I hope you found this article both informative and useful, it was certainly a pleasure to write it and if you want to react to it, please join our Discord server!