Rogue Tank Guide by Caperfin - A Serious Look at Rogue Tanking in WoW.

  • Guide to Rogue Tanking - A Serious Look at Rogue Tanking

    About                                                                        alt text Hi, my name is Caperfin and welcome to my guide! For a long time there's been some negative stigma surrounding rogue tanking in original World of Warcraft, many players don't acknowledge them as tanks and not worth a second look. However, this stigma is typically fueled by misinformation or players refusing to go the extra mile to make it work. If you have questions regarding rogue tanking, feel free to drop by my Twitch stream.


    Can Rogues tank in World of Warcraft? The short and straight to the point answer is, yes. You might be rubbing your eyes right now in disbelief of this answer. Perhaps concocting up an entire four page manifesto around how only warriors can and should tank. Although, I could go on a long rant about how there are many other classes that can tank, today, I will be focusing on our stabbing friend, the rogue.

    Table of Contents

     - Intro       - Basics      - Race                 - Profession      - Threat
     - Buffs              - Rotation          - Debuffs
     - Gear       - Enchant   - Comparaison   - Raid Comp.


    My intent and statement with this guide is not to upset anyone or downplay different classes but to bring to light a rarely talked about topic of the game. Nothing about what will be detailed in this guide is orthodox, many distinctive elements can be tied to other hybrid classes looking to stray away from the path of normality.

    Every possible topic that comes to mind will be analyzed to answer any questions you might have. In the unfortunate situation a topic is not addressed or poorly, please let me know. I expect the same amount of scrutiny from readers as I've put into writing this guide, so don't hold back. Before moving on, a crucial subject needs to be brought to everyone's attention. For some players this will be old news, but for many others players this will be a much needed revelation.

    The topic of Viable and Optimal is a highly controversial topic as some people simply don't see the difference or mixed these words up and often impose their own misguided philosophy onto it. To put it simply, Optimal is the most efficient and foolproof solution to solve a problem that eliminates as many negative variables as possible and favors a more easy going route. Next, is Viable or often referred to as possible, which is often seen as the more challenging path to take but to many feels like a greater personal feat.

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                                                 A Rogue in BiS Tanking Gear


    Let me put your fears to rest, Rogues are fully capable of tanking 5mans, 10mans, off-tanking and even main-tanking a few raid bosses. Of course, as stated before, each form of tanking is heavily reliant on personal & guild experience. An important fact needs to be stated before moving on. A rogue's overall defensive capabilities will never approach a warrior's defensive capabilities. This leads to a lower mitigation of physical damage.


    Races play a big part as we are grasping for any amount of extra efficiency possible but before moving to that subject, let's look at factions first. Unfortunately, Horde don't have access to an exorbitant amount of armor, unlike Alliance in the form of [Devotion Aura] among many other tools. I highly suggest sticking to the Alliance faction as they have it much easier than the Horde. The list below, will highlight the best races out there.

    • Human
      Perception     Sword Specialization/Mace Specialization     Diplomacy     The Human Spirit
      What does this mean?: Because of their weapon skill specialisations in both swords and maces, they are the absolute best race for dealing as much threat as possible. Also many notable weapons are maces and swords. Human is without a doubt the top ranking race for rogue tanking.
    • Night Elf
      Nature Resistance     Shadowmeld     Wisp Spirit     Quickness     
      What does this mean?: Although, their defensive advantage might seem insignificant they are the leading race defensive-wise. Contrary to popular belief, Shadowmeld can't be used while in combat.
    • Troll
      Throwing Specialization / Bow Specialization       Beast Slaying       Regeneration       Berserking
      What does this mean?: The most suited race within the Horde for playing a rogue tank. However, as stated before, playing a rogue on the horde is an uphill battle filled with challenges and limitations as we'll explore later on.


    While leveling, select Herbalism & Alchemy. Herbalism provides reagents for Alchemy and a source of gold for our eventual endgame professions. The goal is to gather a large supply of gold and a bank full of potions the raid might need, for example the potion, Flask of the titans.

    After drop Herbalism and go for the late game profession, Engineering. In order to scoop up a few useful tools, such as the trinket: Gnomish battle chicken, Goblin sapper charge among many other beneficial gadgets.

    Finally, for secondary professions, I urge grabbing all of them as they all provide valuable assets. In terms of fishing, you can farm those elusive Stonescale Eels that are highly contested after for Flask of the Titans. First aid grants bandages for healing that don't require any mana to use. Lastly, cooking has Dragonbreath Chili a sheer delight as it not only scales with spell damage but also alongside the trinket: Arcanite Dragonling and its fire increasing debuff: Flame Buffet. This debuff scales with Goblin Sapper charge as well. All these items nicely combine into a decent boost in threat. Contrary to popular belief, Dragonbreath Chili does stack with another food buff.


    Because a plethora of questions surrounding aggro/threat are bound to come out of confusion. I'd like to first reference Kenco's words about how gaining aggro on a mob and overall threat functions in World of Warcraft. So without further ado, let me demonstrate how to get creatures more mad at you than unusual.

    • Sinister Strike or known as "SS" is first on the list of threat generators as it's our main ability in combat to garner combo points. Combo Points are generated onto a target and then consumed through specific spells as we'll explore later on.
    • Eviscerate is used to consume our combo points gathered by the previous spell. However, this "combo point spender" is seen as a luxury and used on points that are laying around after having firstly used: Slice and Dice commonly known as "SnD".
    • Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker is the best weapon for us in the game. On top of its damaging effect, it also places a debuff on the target which produces threat. The weapon will often push you over the edge and dictate the raiding content you are capable of accomplishing reliably. Also, beneficial for AoE tanking.

    • Deadly Poison V & Instant Poison VI Fourth on the list, you will want to make sure your poisons are always applied before starting an encounter as they are responsible for a decent portion of threat.

    • Oil of Immolation It will interrupt your swing timer but not trigger a GCD. It is undeniably good to use before a boss pull or against multiple mobs. Luckily, they can be bought on the Auction House or simply created through Alchemy with a profession skill of 220.

    • Goling Sapper Charge and similar bombs are great to generate additional threat and a definite must have against multiple mobs. The majority of bombs are made with engineering with the exception of the last two in the following list.
      Goling Sapper Charge (It shares a 1 minute GCD w/other bombs)
      Dark Iron Bomb requires standing still and a 1 second cast.
      Crystal Charge this can be stacked up to 20 and used while moving.
      Note: Not a bomb but Cluth of foresight (shares CD w/bombs) is an arcane spell good for fire resistant mobs.

    • Major Rejuvenation Potion & similar potions are global and .5x of the amount given. Health or mana effects cause no threat if at maximum capacity. Players on coherent fights will use a heal pot after Goblin Sapper Charge to deal a lot of threat. Below are Food/Consumables, in order of threat:
      Major Rejuvenation Potion is the highest threat output but it is costly.
      Major Healthstone is given to us by a warlock through a trade window.
      Night Dragon's Breath Easily acquirable, so place a few in your bank.

    • Thorns and similar reflective effects deal damage to attackers when hit. Typically, these type of buffs are great against multiple mobs but still have relevancy in single target scenarios. You can only have one reflective buff on you at a time. The second highest dealing damage reflective effect is: Fire Shield.

    Threat Diminishers

    Aggro and threat from teammates is a daunting obstacle to tackle. Conveniently, there are ways for heavy hitting classes to reduce their threat. To begin with, ranged classes are highly adored because if they were to mistakenly get aggro, they are likely at that sweet 30-40yrd range, so it's easier to supervise. Also characters standing out of the 30-40yrd range will not draw aggro until they exceed the threat level of the mob's current target by 30% as opposed to 10% for melee classes. Here are a few examples of threat diminishers or dumps in no particular order:

    ─ Rogue deal with threat thanks to their spell Feint & wipe threat with Vanish.
    ─ Mage as a frost talent can get Frost Channelling & fire talent Burning Soul.
    ─ Druid spending time in cat form can Cower. Healing druids have: Subtlety.
    ─ Priest within the discipline talent can get Silent Resolve and the spell: Fade.
    ─ Shaman can get the healing talent Healing Grace & use: Tranquil Air Totem.
    ─ Paladin reduce threat Blessing of Salvation & halt aggro: Blessing of Protection.

    Formula: Enchant Cloak - Subtlety: Used by high threat dealers within raids.
    Limited Invulnerability Potion: It will prevent aggro gain during its effect.
    Fetish of the Sand Reaver & Eye of Diminution: Obtainable within AQ/Naxx.
    Light of Elune: Prevents the user from aggro'ing. (one time usable Alliance item).


    The interesting part about gearing a rogue tank is the similarity with the traditional DPS rogue. It's possible to play as a DPS rogue and transition to tanking later fairly easy. You won't need to convince players about your desire for unconventional gear and go into a diatribe about your plan to go rogue tank later.

    Similar to gear, enchants must be tailored against the specific boss you will be facing. To avoid constantly having to re-enchant a piece of gear to tailor to a specific boss fights, have different versions of that gear in the bank or backpack to save on time and money.


    There exist two possible talents for rogue tanking. Naturally, if you are only doing dungeons the road ahead is much easier and there's more freedom to move points around. However, raid tanking is rigid and follows strict guidelines in order to be effective.


    Because dungeon tanking is fairly trivial, the following rotation will mostly surround raid tanking. Naturally, many actions are synonymous with both tanking environments.

    • Pre-pull: Apply poisons on your weapons. Next, make sure before pulling the mob all possible buffs are present on you and assure all possible buffs are present and max duration. Be sure to keep 3 buff slots open for yourself later on. Lastly, if it hasn't been done get the addon: KTM Threat, it displays the threat of members. A scenario can turn ugly quick, so watch KTM often.

    • Pulling: Pull the mob with a ranged weapon and activate Sprint (causes threat), click the buff off and apply an appropriate buff.

    • Comat: As the mob approaches all relevant debuff should be applied, ex: Insect Swarm, see Debuffs for suggestions. Before the first boss swing, use Evasion and Ghostly Strike. Activate Goblin Sapper Charge and any other form of threat generation alongside the constant use of Sinister Strike until 5 points then cast Slice and Dice followed by a Ghostly Strike. Maintain a 5point SnD and at least a 75-80% dodge chance for as long as possible. Some players save Thistle Tea to assure they can Ghostly Strike to stay in that dodge range.

    • Healer Actions: Power Word: Shield should be active constantly alongside similar defensive buffs, see Buffs for suggestions. A healer should preemptively cast a powerful heal on you every 2nd time you're about to get swung by the boss, they may cancel it if you don't get hit with damage. The goal is to get healed the moment, you get hit with damage.

    Below is a graph of how to maintain a high dodge chance:
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    Prioritize collecting Defensive buffs before acquiring Threat related buffs. Agility for example has the added byproduct of helping with defensive and threat measures. Because of duties of an off-tank or known as "OT", less damage is taken, therefore, it's not fully needed to aim for Defensive buffs. Also, some buffs are unobtainable due to certain patch restrictions or unable to stack with others. Let's highlight a few important facts about buffs. There is a max of 32 buffs: Talents, Set bonuses & Equip effects don't count. But Gear enchants count with exceptions: (Crusader enchant and enchants from the profession enchanting don't count.) Resistance enchants however need to be reconfirmed as they make it seem now like those should count. Let's move on and explore relevant buffs to our tanking duties. The following buffs are classified into sub-groups to better highlight their usefulness and showcase different options.

    Threat Increasing Buffs

    Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer:
    Gnomish Shrink Ray: (can backfire giving the party attack power)
    Fengus' Ferocity: (obtained from Dire Maul)
    Trueshot Aura: +50 Attack Power.
    Battle Shout: (Improved by Battlegear of Wrath (3/3) T2 raid set bonus)
    Juju Might: +40 Attack power.

    Sayge's Dark Fortune of Agility: +10% Agi. From the Darkmoon Faire.
    Ground Scorpok Assay: +25 Agility.
    Elixir of the Mongoose: +25 Agility, +2% Melee Crit.
    Grilled Squid: +10 Agility for 10min. (can't stack with other food buffs)

    Gnomish Battle Chicken: +5% Attack Speed for 4 min.
    Fist of Shahram from Blackblade of Shahram: +25% haste to party for 8sec.
    Juju Flurry: Others (healers) can keep this consistently active on you)

    Oil of Immolation: 50 Fire dmg to target within 5yds every 3 sec for 15 sec.
    Static Barrier: From Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator.
    Crystal Spire: (From a repeatable quest & anyone can cast it on you)
    Fire Shield: Deals 13 Fire dmg to melee attackers.
    Thorns: (Improved by Cenarion Raiment (3/3) T1 raid set bonus)

    Flask of Supreme Power: (Can't stack w/Flask of the Titans, choose wisely.)
    Greater Arcane Elixir: +20 dmg dealt from spells & abilities.
    Traces of Silithyst: +5% dmg to melee, range and spell damage dealt.
    Power Infusion: Target gets +20% spell damage & healing for 15 sec.

    Songflower Serenade: Boost melee, ranged, or spell to crit 5%, +15 all stats.
    Mark of the Chosen: 2% chance when hit of increasing all stats by 25.
    Spirit of Zandalar: +10 move speed, +15 all stats.
    Mark of the Wild: +384 armor, +16 all attributes,+27 all resistance.

    Elixir of Greater FIrepower: Bolster

    Dragonbreath Chili: (scales with spell damage)

    Horde Only:
    Strength of Earth Totem: +77 Strength.
    Call of the Raptor: +12 Agility. (non-repeatable quest reward item)
    Grace of Air Totem: +77 Agility and is equal to 4% dodge.

    Survival Increasing Buffs

    Sayge's Dark Fortune Stamina: +10% Stamina.
    Sayge's Dark Fortune Armor: +10% armor (can't stack w/similar Fortunes)
    Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops: (can't stack w/other food buffs)
    Rumsey Rum Black Label: Purchase from Booty Bay.
    Power Word: Fortitude: +54 Stamina.
    Mol'dar's Moxie: From Dire Maul.
    Spirit of Zanza: +50 Stamina, +50 spirit.
    Blood Pact: +42 Stamina.

    Flask of the Titans: +1200 Hp.
    Elixir of Fortitude: +120 Hp.
    Regrowth: From the (6/6) Dreamwalker Raiment T3 raid set bonus.

    The Lion Horn of Stormwind: (a friendly tank can activate it for you.)
    Greater Stoneshield Potion: +2000 Armor for 2min.
    Elixir of Superior Defense: +450 Armor.
    Crystal Ward: (allies can also cast this on you)
    Inspiration: Increases armor by 25% for 15 sec.

    Greater Heal Renew: From the (4/4) Vestments of Faith T3 raid set bonus.
    Power Word: Shield: Absorb 1105 dmg for 30 sec.
    Scarab Brooch: (Healers can trigger its effect on you before a fight)

    Bloodkelp Elixir of Dodging: +3% dodge for 30 min.
    Juju Escape: +5% Dodge for 10 sec.

    Greater Heal Renew: From (8/8) Vestments of Transcendence T2 raid set.
    Rejuvenation: Heal for 888 over 12 sec.
    Regrowth: Heal for 1064 over 21 sec.
    Renew: Heal for 970 damage over 15 sec.

    Dampen Magic: Useful for magical heavy fights.
    Amplify Magic: Useful for physically heavy fights.

    Alliance Only:
    Devotion Aura: +735 armor. Players may only have one Aura on them per...

    Horde Only:
    Stoneskin Totem: (effect bolstered by shaman talent).

    Mind Control Buffs
    It is possible for an Alliance priest to use  Mind Control or someone with engineering to use the head slot item  Gnomish Mind Control Cap versus players on the Horde. For that duration the mind controlled Horde character is now considered an Alliance player. This allows the character to receive buffs from paladins. In the many guild raids I’ve taken part, we'd have 2-3 players on their paladins and priests stationed near the raid entrance for mind control buffing. It's also possible for a priest of any faction to Mind Control certain mobs, which can dish out buffs to all raid members.

    Greater Blessing of Sanctuary: (Will stack w/Stoneskin Totem).
    Greater Blessing of Salvation: (can't stack w/Tranquil Air Totem)
    Greater Blessing of Might: (can't stack w/Strength of Earth Totem)
    Greater Blessing of Kings: +10% to all stats for 15 min.
    Improved Lay on Hands: Possible once it expires to go outside to get re-buffed then re-enter the instance & summoned back to allies.
    ─ BONUS: You can get Fear Ward from dwarf priests and if survivability is secured Curse of Recklessness from horde warlocks.

    Mind Control Buffs from mobs

    Fury of Ragnaros: From Twilight Emissary in BRD.
    Resist Arcane: From Scarlet Medic in Plaguelands.
    Resist Fire: From Scarshield Spellbinder in BWL.
    Bloodlust: From Gordok Mage-Lord in DM.
    Bloodlust: From Hamhock in Stockades.

    Special Event Buffs

    On an ending note for buffs, we can also get buffs from special events. An example, is The Midsummer Fire Festival an event celebrating the hottest season of the year. It lasts about two weeks (mid-late June to early July). The next ones are Love is in the Air, Lunar Festival, Wickerman Festival and Scourge Invasion. The following buffs are separated by their event.

    Thunder Bluff Gift Collection: +30 Stamina for 1 hour.
    Ironforge Gift Collection: +30 Stamina for 1 hour.
    Orgrimmar Gift Collection: +30 Agility for 1 hour.
    Darnassus Gift Collection: +30 Agility for 1 hour.

    Fire Festival Fortitude: (stacks w/stamina buffs above)
    Midsummer Sausage: Bolsters damage from spells by up to 23.
    Fire-toasted Bun: +2% hit chance for 1 hr.
    Fire Festival Fury: +3% spell and melee crit for 1 hr.

    Elderberry Pie: +13 defense for 1 hr.
    Buttermilk Delight: +13 defense for 1 hr.
    Very Berry Cream: Bolsters damage from spells by up to 23.
    Dark Desire: +2% hit chance for 1 hr.

    Celebrate Good Times!: +10% to all stats for 30min.

    Elune's Blessing: All stats increased by 10% for 1hr.

    Wickerman Festival (October 18th - November 1st)
    Invocation of the Wickerman: +25% health & mana regen. +25% stamina.

    Scourge Invasion
    Soul Revival: +10% to all damage caused for 30 minutes.


    There can be a total of 16 debuffs on a boss. Having as many debuffs on a raid boss is crucial. All debuffs on the list below benefit us in either Threat or Defensive aspects and assumed to be at their maximum rank and talent improvement. The following debuffs are placed into sub-groups to better highlight their utility and showcase different options.

    Curse of Recklessness: - 290 armor but bolsters melee attack power by 45.
    Sunder Armor: Reduces armor by 450. Can be applied up to 5 times.
    Expose Armor: (can't stack w/Sunder Armor but it reduce more armor).
    Annihilator: Reduces an enemy's armor by 200. Stacks up to 3 times.
    Faerie Fire: Reduces armor by 505 for 40 sec.

    Thunderfury, Blessed Blade: (can't stack w/Thunder Clap)
    Thunder Clap: (can't stack w/Thunderfury's slow effect)

    Curse of the Elements: To increase the damage of DBC.
    Improved Scorch: To increase the damage of DBC.
    Flame Buffet: To increase the damage of DBC.
    Nightfall: Spell damage taken by target increased by 15% for 5 sec.

    Stormstrike: To increase the damage of poisons.
    Gift of Arthas: If a target strikes you, they have a 30% chance...

    Demoralizing Shout: Reduce attack power of mobs by 140 for 30 sec.
    Curse of Weakness: (effect is increased through a warlock talent)

    Wail of the Banshee: (affected by spell hit, usually casted by healers.)
    Insect Swarm: Reduces target's chance to hit by 2%...

    Alliance Only
    Bag of Marbles: (quest reward item only usable once)

    Tank Compare:

    To showcase our max potential a full BiS geared and buffed rogue will be the closest in stats to approach a Druid tank. Let's look at the stats to see the differences. As a guideline, the Example Druid Tank below is BiS/buffed and able to clear most bosses with no issue. A rogue like other tanks tailors his gear versus the boss they're facing. Obviously, the Example Druid Tank can reach higher numbers and has a plethora of defensive spells, but the goal is to showcase the class with the closest similarity to a rogue in stats across the board that gets the job done in high-end raids.

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    Raid Composition:

    Raid composition differs with each boss but is seen as a skill that evolves over time and reflects the playstyle of a guild or raid. The following composition is an example with minor exceptions differing from the norm. By no means is it perfect since compositions change along side: patches, gear, experience, etc... With the raid leader's permission offer your advice on an ideal comp catering to your needs without overstepping.

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    Thanks for Reading!

    If you have any questions regarding rogue tanking, feel free to drop by the Twitch stream to chat.

  • Initiate



  • Initiate

    @Hardcore-Classic said in Dodge Rogue Tanking in Vanilla!?!? - Rogue Tank Guide by Caperfin:



    Your face is useless

  • @Hardcore-Classic It is written nowhere naxx gear is required but merely the BIS gear for a rogue tank. Take a look at the spreadsheet if offers tons of gear options for your wow content phase.