Important notes: Rogue tanking was feasible with numerous successful cases in TBC. However, with the recent addition of diminishing return of dodge rating in patch 3.0.2, it is highly unlikely that rogues can have total avoidance in level 80. Therefore, please bear in mind that information on this page may not be practical in WotLK.

Basic of Rogue Tanking Edit

Rogue tanking is the use of a rogue as the primary meatshield of a group or raid. This article discusses some of the history of the use of rogues as capable alternative tanks, and describes some of the tactics and circumstances that make rogue tanking feasible.

Rogues' advantages as tanks are their high damage output, potentially extreme avoidance, and several key abilities such as kick and especially Cloak of Shadows (a 5-second magic debuff remover and spell shield). Limitations are their lack of AoE capabilities, inferior threat generation compared to conventional tanking classes, lack of a "taunt" ability, and poor damage mitigation in most circumstances. Also, having low health means they have no hope to survive bosses that do frequent and significant spell damage.

Rogue tanking is all about 2 objectives; becoming unhittable while maintaining aggro. Neither of these are easy tasks to accomplish. Keep in mind that if you want to be an effective rogue tank you CAN make it happen, but it isn't cheap whatsoever. Be prepared to spend around 5000g easily to gather all of the "required" gear and delicate crimson spinels (+10 agi gems). To become physically unhittable by a level 70 or below, you will need an avoidance rating of 100%. Blizzard doesn't actually let you see your avoidance rating ingame, so you'll want to memorize the formula and constantly calculate it yourself. Formula is... Avoidance=Block+Parry+Dodge+Enemy Miss Chance(5% base, increases with defense) or A=B+P+D+EMC. This is the formula that any good rogue tank should memorize. Since rogues cannot block, our formula is A=P+D+EMC. Remember that. Now the idea behind avoidance is that if you can get those numbers (parry + dodge + enemy miss chance) to add up to 100% by any combination of the three, you CANNOT be hit by ANY physical attack by anyone level 70 or below. Since you will fight level 72 and 73s in raids, you will want about 102.4% Now, getting your avoidance to this high of a number is NO easy task, you will have to have specialized gear, talents, and gems for maximum avoidance. Fortunately, the best avoidance stat to stack happens to be one of our best offensive stats as well. AGILITY. 1 point of agility = .025 crit, .05 dodge, 1 attack power, and 2 armor. You are gonna need about 1000 agility. Which in essence will give you 25% crit, 50% dodge, 1000ap, and 2000 armor. By getting your dodge up to 40% with a 10% chance of parry (5% class base and 5% from deflection) EVERYTIME you use evasion you will be unhittable. Now keep in mind the goal here is to become unhittable 100% of the time WITHOUT evasion, so you will need at least a 60% passive dodge chance (daunting, i know). Some key talents that will help you tank: 1. Lightning reflexes (5% total avoidance) 2. Deflection and Riposte (5% total avoidance and the ability to disarm) 3. Preparation (Double evasion) 4. Sinister Calling (15% more agility) 5. Improved sprint (So you can't get rooted, you can always get back to the action) 6. Improved Kick (silence on your kick) 7. Ghostly Strike (15% avoidance for 7 seconds (20second cd) 8. Blade Flurry (ESSENTIAL when pulling mobs of 3 or more) 9. Setup (45% chance to gain combo point everytime you dodge)

The rogue must be sure to use stuns, interrupts, and avoidance abilities (Evasion and Ghostly Strike) effectively to prevent dying quickly. Between Gouge, Kick, Cloak of Shadows, Blind, and Kidney Shot, a rogue should be able to mitigate a large share of whatever spell damage is facing them. Never use Evasion except in an emergency, but Ghostly Strike should be used as often as possible (that is, every 20 seconds). In addition to granting Ghostly Strike, subtlety is probably the optimal spec for basic rogue tanking because of the talents Preparation and Setup. Setup grants a combo point 45% of the time the rogue dodges (which may be a lot), assisting threat generation substantially. Preparation can be used to cancel the cooldown on Evasion in a pinch, allowing for up to 30 seconds of nigh-invulnerability. Subtlety spec will also net a rogue Cheat Death if enough points are invested, which can easily mean the difference between a wipe and glorious success. If worse comes to very worst vs. a single stunnable mob, the rogue may also vanish and immediately Cheap Shot, buying time for either a heal or for their Kidney Shot cooldown to end (such that the rogue may stunlock it further).

Other than these basic strategies and spec details, the other main factor to rogue tanking damage. Besides being the only means of threat generation, it also benefits a group because the rogue is effectively both a tank and an additional damage dealer. In essence, a group using a rogue tank has one healer and FOUR dps classes, meaning mobs die much quicker. This both makes the instance run more smoothly and makes the tank's chances of survival much greater. In reality, when party buffed a rogue tank should have 100% avoidance while doing much greater damage than a prot warrior or pally could hope for. However, we do not have moves that grab aggro. So we have to generate threat through damage alone. Since this is the case its is very wise to bring a paladin for salvation buff to put on everyone BUT the rogue. This will even the threat field. Now, just make sure you pull first and use blade flurry asap, switching targets afer every finisher to grab threat on all. Make your party wait about 3–5 seconds before they unleash on the mobs.

Level 70 Heroic Dungeons Edit

Do NOT attempt to tank a heroic instance if you do not have 102.4% avoidance. Rogues have tanked every heroic in the game, but it requires a competent party that has patience, gear, and skill. In order to reach that avoidance rating, you will want to bring:

Holy pally: Salvation on party, Blessing of Kings on you (extra 10% agility) Hunter: Ice trap, scorpid sting (5% enemy miss chance (5% avoidance)) and misdirect/FD Shaman: Grace of air (77 agility) Another rogue: Won't help with your avoidance, BUT, its another sap/blind AND they won't steal aggro from you (feint or vanish) Druid: Mark of the Wild (slight stat buff) and insect swarm (2% enemy miss chance)

Those are a rogue tanks best party members to bring, choose 4.

Level 70 Raids Edit

Again, do not attempt if you do not have the required avoidance!! Rogues do have a much harder time holding aggro on raid groups. In raids the avoidance rogue has a MUCH easier time as an OFFTANK. That way only he is on his target, dodging all attacks till the team has killed the maintarget.

Because of the ability to become fully melee invincible, in some situations rogues make far better tanks than a warrior/druid/paladin ever could. Because the rogue "avoidance tank" requires no extra healing in fights such as Gruul, Magtheridon, Tidewalker, Sharhaz, and other melee based encounters, healers are free to better assist the raid. Note also that enrage timers can often be effectively ignored: the boss' damage may triple, but that doesn't mater to the rogue who can still dodge every swing. While total avoidance is possible in practically auction house greens with raw agility alongside defense/agility enchants, threat generation is lacking, and other classes must use abilities such as Scorpid Sting and Insect Swarm in order to bring avoidance over 102.4%. For these reasons, rogues must rely on gear that provides decent damage alongside equal if not better avoidance. Given high enough avoidance, a rogue may choose to use more DPS-based gear for threat purposes, substituting the use of things like scorpid sting for the lesser avoidance from gear.

Some Itemization Edit

Rogue tank spec

Sample Talents for Maximizing Avoidance in a Rogue tank.

Formulas for Avoidance Edit

Parry Rating; ~23.651% parry chance
Dodge Rating; 18.91% dodge chance
Defense Rating; 50.91% dodge, 1% parry, 1% to be missed (3% avoidance)
Agility; 201% dodge, modified by Sinister Calling and Blessing of Kings

Night Elves gain a 1% bonus to dodge via the racial ability quickness, and have higher agility as a base stat. However, total avoidance is still possible with all races of rogues given appropriate gear and talents.

Wrath of the Lich King; Rogues as Tanks? Edit

Blizzard altered the avoidance formulas and mechanics in patch 3.0.2. Dodge and parry rating now have diminishing return, i.e. additional 10 agility at 40% dodge now gives significantly less extra dodge % than at 20% dodge. Therefore, it is very likely that total avoidance is impossible at level 80. It appeared that Blizzard looked disfavorably on the prospect of avoidance tanking.

From the look over the WotLK talent trees, someone may still argue that Blizzard in fact intends to BUFF rogue tanking. Here are the relevant new talents:

  • Dismantle : Disarm the enemy, removing all weapons, shield, or other equipment carried for 10 seconds (Trainable at 20!)
  • Unfair Advantage: Whenever you Dodge, you gain an unfair advantage and instantly strike back for 100% main hand damage.
  • Setup: Gives you a 33/67/100% chance to gain a combo point when you dodge an attack or fully resist a spell. (increased from 15/30/45%)
  • Fan of knives: 50 energy, Instant. Throws both weapons at every target within 8 yards, doing 100% weapon damage.
  • Killing Spree: 5 attacks over the course of 2.5 seconds against multiple successive targets in range.
  • Tricks of the Trade : current party or raid member becomes the target of your Tricks of the Trade. The threat caused by your next attack and all actions taken for 6 sec afterwards will be transferred to the target. In addition, all damage caused by the target is increased by 15% during this time. (HUGE reason to bring another rogue with you when rogue tanking, absolves threat issues!)

Hence there is some suggestion of slight AoE tanking capabilities as well. One can also expect some impressive solos coming out of the Unfair Advantage talent. (For the new WotLK talent calculator for rogues, see

Conclusion: it is difficult to comment whether rogue tanking will still be feasible in WotLK. At this stage, it is safer to resume the intended dps task until further reports are available.

External links Edit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.