Rogue Dodge Tank Overview (Video and Written)

  • Video


    This is an inclusive overview in which I address Solo, PvP, 5-man and Raid applications all to an extent.

    So! Turns out, Rogues could actually tank pretty well in Burning Crusade, and in some cases were better at it than Warriors, Paladins, or Druids. This was because they were capable of getting up to 100% chance to Dodge and Parry, making them immune to all melee damage. They were able to tank many of BC's Dungeons and Raids (including Illidan!), and it wasn't until Wrath of the Lich King that Blizzard added in diminishing returns on dodge and parry, preventing anyone from going to 100% ever again...

    But Classic is pre-Burning Crusade, so this video is going to be an overview on Rogue tanking in Vanilla, based on the Rogue tanking capabilities of BC.

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    But the answer is:
    Yes. You can reach 100% dodge chance passively in Vanilla WoW. But to tank a level ?? Boss, you need 101.8% chance, which is also possible... but only if you're Horde. That's right Alliance, pack it up and go home. Although, the only way a Horde Rogue can break 101.8% chance to dodge is with a Paladin's Blessing of Kings, and to get that you need some cross-faction collusion because Paladins are all Alliance. Which might be a bannable offense in Classic (especially if you use it to break some record or make a Raid encounter far easier than normal).
    So with that in mind, let's assume that getting a passive 101.8% dodge chance is impossible in Vanilla. What else is there? Well, you can still get to 101.8% dodge chance temporarily, through abilities or consumables or trinkets. You can still tank things other than level ?? Bosses. And there's the option of regular old Avoidance tanking, going lower than 100% dodge and having enough Stamina and Armor to be able to eat the few hits that go through, but let's put that aside for now.


    So before getting into the specifics, why would you want a Rogue tank?
    Well, for soloing the answer is clear: less damage taken = less time spent eating. You can also solo some Elite mobs (Devilsaurs anyone?) if you have high enough Dodge.
    In PvP you have an advantage against enemy Rogues, Hunters, Paladins, Feral Druids, and Enhancement Shamans (but not Warriors, those guys have a built-in counter). Your one advantage gets nullified completely if you are attacked from behind or from the sides, where you can't dodge or parry from.

    For 5-mans and Raids, a Rogue tank offers one advantage over a regular tank - immunity to melee damage. However, this one advantage has multiple implications: You don't need nearly as much healing as a normal tank. Also, in some cases you can run content with fewer people than normal.


    Downsides are aplenty. Rogues can only gain threat through raw damage. Unfortunately, Rogues also need to invest talent points in talents that don't give any damage. Also, the items they use to tank are often very low-damage as well - the biggest offender being the Adventurer's Bandana of Defense, which is (funnily enough) probably the best Vanilla-era Headgear for Rogue tanks. Low damage = low threat, so allies will need to pace themselves when it comes to dps. Of course, if you have more damage spread around more because you have fewer healers, then you may still have competitive clear times. But Rogue tanks also lack AoE, and can only get some semblance of it if you invest deep into the Combat tree and pick up Blade Flurry, which you can only use once every 2 minutes.

    Now how hard is it to get all the way up to 100%? It's insane. To get there you need some very rare gear from multiple end-game Raid bosses coupled with consumables you can only get in certain times of the year as well as (most importantly) Sayge's Dark Fortune of Agility and the Spirit of Zandalar buffs. So very few people will be in a position of getting to 100% passively. But through abilities, items, and consumables you can get to 100% temporarily for surprising amounts of time. Before getting into that side of the math, let's start with the options a Rogue tank has in the talent trees:


    You are going to NEED Lighting Reflexes and Deflection from the Combat tree, combined they give you 10% Avoidance. Here is where your choices may diverge: if you're going for a build that still relies on getting to that 100% or 101.8%, you can start grabbing damage and utility talents, and you can go into any tree for this. It may still be wise to invest the 18 points in Subtlety to grab Setup, which gives you a 45% chance to gain a combo point when you dodge (and you will be dodging a lot), but besides that there's nothing out there that's specifically synergistic.

    But if you're gonna go for lower dodge levels (which is far easier to gear for) and only gain temporary boosts to get up to past 100%, you're gonna want some more specific talent investment. The Subtlety tree will give you access to Preparation, which resets the cooldown of all other Rogue abilites. If you have 50% dodge, using Evasion pushes you to 100% dodge for 15 seconds with a 5 minute cooldown. If you use Evasion > Preparation > Evasion, you can stay at 100% dodge for 30 seconds, but Prep's cooldown is 10 minutes total.

    Now, if you have 85% dodge, you definitely want Ghostly Strike (also a Subtlety talent), which gives 15% dodge for 7 seconds on a 20 second cooldown. This lets you Ghostly Strike > Evasion > and then Ghostly Strike again (because Evasion lasts the remaining duration of Ghostly Strike's cooldown), and keeps you at 100% dodge for 28 seconds. Throw in a Preparation at the end and do the dance again and you can become melee immune for 56 seconds straight, almost a solid minute!

    There are some other weird consumables that let you do weird stuff, so (without getting into the specifics) the longest time a below-100% dodge Rogue can push themselves over 100 temporarily is 124 seconds, or just over 2 minutes. So theoretically you could have multiple Rogue tanks bouncing cooldowns and taking over threat when the other tanks' cooldowns are up through Feints or Vanishes.

    Another talent that could help that is Endurance, which reduces the cooldown of Evasion by 1 minute and 30 seconds. And there's Heightened Senses, which reduces the chance you get hit by spells and ranged attacks by 4%. In the same vein there's Sleight of Hand, which reduces the chance you're critically hit by melee and ranged attacks by 2%. But other than that, there's nothing that specifically helps with tanking.

    The Math

    Ok so now we can get real nerdy, when it comes to loot you're gonna want to prioritize things that have Defense, +Dodge%, +Parry%, and loads of Agility. The formula is this:

    Personal Avoidance% is equal to your Dodge% + your Parry%.

    Agility gives Dodge at a rate of 14.5 Agi to 1% Dodge.

    Defense gives both Dodge and Parry at a rate of 8.3 Defense to 1% Avoidance (which is split 50/50 between Dodge and Parry).

    So Defense is almost twice as good as Agility for Avoidance, but stat multipliers such as Blessing of Kings for Alliance or the Spirit of Zandalar buff will make Agility a bit more desirable. You can get Green gear "Of Defense" in the Hands, Head, Shoulders, and Waist slot for a ton of Defense, which equals more Avoidance than most other items in those slots. For everything else, usually just maximize Agility because there are no Greens "Of Defense" for those slots (as far as our records show, although there are large discrepancies between the online databases and so this may be wrong), but most regular Leathers don't have Defense on them anyway except for some very rare Bear tank gear.

    Final Notes

    Now we come to the conclusion of the matter. Assuming our information on items and stats are accurate, Rogue tanking is not going to be as useful in Classic than it was in Burning Crusade, purely because of the extraordinary difficulty and cost in reaching the same goal. I'm sure it would still be very effective if pulled off for all the same reasons that it was done in BC, but the alternative of only temporarily being invulnerable is just less appealing. Again, I might be wrong and the Greens can't roll these stats and this whole thing becomes a pipe dream, or I might be wrong in the other way and all the Greens will roll the Defense stats beyond what we need and it'll be way easier.

    I'll admit, my hopes are low, but I'll still accept the challenge! I'll attempt both builds and put these numbers to the test when Classic launches, and it will be difficult, but hey, what else can you expect from the original World of Warcraft?

    About the Author

    I make videos about the lesser-known ways you can play the 9 classes of Classic World of Warcraft. I'm also a big fan of level 19 twinking. If you would like a video made about something, feel free to let me know!