Combat PVP

With the patch notes showing some interesting looking changes to the Combat tree, it’s worth having a look at what was once the king of rogue PVP trees. HArP offered […]

With the patch notes showing some interesting looking changes to the Combat tree, it’s worth having a look at what was once the king of rogue PVP trees. HArP offered rogues the best bits from the combat and subtlety trees, but was sank during S3 when Blizzard swapped Preparation and Premeditation around. The tree infamously returned at the end of S6, when several rogues used/abused the talented interupt mechanism of FoK that it offered.
Once 4.0.6 goes live, the guild I play rated BGs in will be trying out one or two combat rogues as flagroom defenders/EFC chasers – while the single target damage of Combat is lacking the burst of Assassination, the spec may turn out to be useful in some situations.

Elgrey from Shadowmoon has put together these notes for Combat PVP.

The Combat tree is grossly overlooked by rogues in PvP as it does not have that “Ride me, I am famous” feature. However there are plenty of hidden jewels which in my opinion can put Combat rogue on par with Sub rogue in terms of control and mobility while outperform Sub in terms of damage.

Combat Basics

Before proceeding to talents analysis I want to summarize a few things:
(a) Damage-wise, Combat does not seem to beat Mutilate at the moment. Mutilate damage is highly poison-based and poisons ignore armor, so no matter how hard your SS hits, its damage will be mitigated by plate by roughly 50%. Just like Sub and unlike Assassination, Combat rogues needs a very solid main hand weapon. If you do not have it – go grind some arenas and rated BGs and respec to Mutilate for the time being. A decent starting weapon is the Ravening Slicer, which can be purchased from Tol Barad for 85 commendations.

(b) It is a common belief that Combat rogues are not restricted to daggers alone and have full freedom of weapon choice. Wrong. Combat rogues are restricted to slow Main Hand weapons to maximise SS damage.

(c) You do not have immediate burst out of stealth like you have with Ambush or Mutilate.

(d) The beauty of Combat is in its huge control potential – apart from usual stuns we have 6-sec Gouge for 15 energy, Silence effect on Kick, and Interrupt effect on Deadly Throw. Gouge counts as a disorient rather than a stun, so will only share CDs with sap, sheep and a couple of other similar effects.

(e) Combat has two burst tools – Adrenaline Rush and Killing Spree. It is important to know what to use and when. AR has the same nasty perk as Shadow Dance – if you pop it and get a fear/stun in your face then it is wasted. Use it at times when your opponents have low CC-potential. On contrary, KS makes you immune to all CC-effects and it is best used against controllers. Another thing to consider is enemies density per square foot – save KS for later or you are going to waste it jumping from one enemy to another.

(f) According to Skada, my damage chart is as following: White Attacks – 32%, SS – 24%, Wound Poison – 11%, KS – 10%, Eviscerate – 9%, MG – 6%, others – 8%. Combat rogues need more than 5%-to-hit even in PvP and Combat rogues
have low crit values. Consider this when making gear decisions.

(g) Our mastery says it is “MH attacks based” but I suspect in fact it is “MH hits based”. And not “white MH hits based” but “all MH hits based”. The number of my hits and mastery procs is in a better consistency than the number of my white MH autoattacks and mastery procs. I feel I am lost in all Combat Mastery tweaks so need to wait and get more test data.

Talents review

I stick to Dcruize’s approach and describe talents from a Required and Essential standpoint. I begin with secondary trees as I strongly believe that we need to focus on them first – we have at most ten points to invest for secondary trees which give us no chance for mistake.


Nightstalker (Required) This is a no brainer – stealth is our innate snare.

Relentless Strikes (Essential) Combat has enough of own tricks to restore energy, so spending points here can be an overkill. Besides, there will be moments when you will need to slow down SS-spamming. But we’ll get back to this later.


Coup de Grace (Required) You will be spamming Eviscerates often and you have another 20% to Evi damage from Combat talents. Take this talent and get your Evi damage upgraded by 44% (1.2*1.2)

Lethality (Optional) An extra 30% SS damage and a way into the next tier of the Combat tree.

Quickening (Optional) Another synergy – this time with Improved
Recuperate. At the moment you can be healed upto 7k per tick. Besides, there is a nice speed upgrade which allows you to run almost that fast in stealth as unstealthed enemies with no speed buffs. However I mark it as optional – you may want to spend more than 31 points in Combat tree.


Improved Recuperate (Required) No brainer. Our only self heal, one of the best survival tools.

Improved Sinister Strike (Required) Another no brainer. No comments why.

Improved Slice and Dice Just as with Precision I would like to take it but I am short of points. I would take the SnD glyph instead of spending talent points here.

Improved Sprint (Required) Sprint becomes a light version of PvP trinket. We can remove snares more often with shortened cooldown of Sprint in Cata and the effect of Restless Blades. Frost mages beware.

Aggression (Required) Another no brainer.

Improved Kick (Optional) Wonderful talent. And in Cata it is even sexier than before – it is not 50%/100% chance of 3 sec silence, it is guaranteed in Cata with 1.5/3 sec duration. Excellent talent for locking down classes with multiple schools of magic.

Lightning Reflexes (Required) A good talent – haste means faster energy refreshment, faster attacks, more mastery procs, more Combat Potency procs, and more damage afterall.

Revealing Strike (Required) Nice new ability. Damage is weaker than SS but the beauty of it is in its upgrade to Evi damage. If you remember our Evi damage is at 144% level already. Let’s add another 20% – 1.44*1.2=1.73. 73% increase to your Evi damage – how do you like it? With the changes coming in 4.0.6 it’s looking like this will give a devastating 9 second Kidney Shot as well.

Reinforced Leather Do not take this – it will not turn you into a tank, plus spells still ignore armor. Focus on Resilience instead.

Improved Gouge (Required) Hell yeah… Another Kick – glyphed and talented it can interrupt a cast for just 15 energy and without any positioning requirements. Excellent way to replenish energy, run away, or use bandages while waiting for recuperate procs.

Combat Potency (Required) It gives you (s)wings! (c)

Blade Twisting (Optional) While this used to be a poor alternative to crippling poison, it appears that it is now proccing a lot more than before.

Throwing Specialization (Required) Do you remember the effect PvP gloves had in the old times? It has gone so deep into my instincts that even today I often hit Deadly Throw when caster starts casting a spell 🙂 Definitely a no brainer for me.

Adrenaline Rush (Required) The fact that it unlocks Killing Spree relieves me from building further wall of text 🙂

Savage Combat (Optional) Well… It is the least required talent in my opinion. So if you are short of points anywhere else – take a point from here. However, bearing in mind the amount of damage synergies we already have this talent would be a welcome addition as it will be more than just 4% – in case of upgraded Evi damage (173% as shown above) extra 4% will drive it further up to 180%. There are plenty of synergies with this talent so skipping it completely will not be wise.

Bandit’s Guile (Required) Recall what I said in the Relentless Strikes part that there would be moments when we should slow down spamming SS. Well, this is it – stop mashing SS every time when you have a full stack of BG buffs and enjoy. Do you remember my words on Precision and the need for chance-to-hit? This is the moment when no miss should be allowed. Alas, this is a dream… Anyway – stack this buff prior to hitting Evi and Killing Spree. However there is a problem – the tooltip is different from how talent works. One would expect a buff to stack after every SS/RS, in fact the buff proc rate is somewhere around 20%. I do not know if it is a system glitch or error in the tooltip, I made a ticket and got a confirmation that they would see into it. Good luck & fingers crossed it won’t take long. The bright side of it is that you can continue spamming SS even when you have 3 stacks of the buff. The buff resets when changing targets as per tooltip.

Restless Blades (Required) Another reason why we need Evi damage buffs – because we are going to spam it often if we want more Sprints, KS’s and Blade Flurries. It really, really helps.

Killing Spree (Required) Our cherry on top. Some still believe that slow OH is needed but this is wrong – you will harm your OH poison proc rate and energy refreshment rate. Besides Blizz have already mentioned that they do not want Combat rogues to use slow OHs and work on something to leave no doubts lingering your minds about it. Do not waste your precious Conquest points on slow a OH.

Passives and Masteries

It is worthless to discuss in depth Blade Flurry, Dual Wield Specialization, and Vitality – you get them in any event.
Blade Flurry is good against multiple enemies but hampers energy regen. This can be reduced by glyphing it but I do not recommend it – there are far more useful glyphs. DWS is as plain as it is and may tempt you to use slow OHs. But do not be fooled by it – DPS would be the same and KS damage benefit would not overweight the drawbacks just mentioned above. Vitality may look like a good reason to stack a bit of haste but do not put a big stake on it. 10% of haste is 1 extra energy per second. Marginal effect of going from 34% to 35% will be lower than going from 10% to 11% and you will lose in other stats.

Main Gauche – this is an interesting mastery. With plenty of this stat you can effectively have a proc on every third swing. Extra swings are yellow attacks this reduces our dependancy on hit. Everything that concerns Main Gauche should not be taken as “put into stone” as Blizz has been tweaking it aggressively. So I am sure we will see more changes to it as to % values and to whether proccing attacks are white or yellow attacks, MH or OH attacks.


Options are limited here. OH may need Crippling poison on it if Blade Twisting turns out to be less reliable than the PTR is indicating. MH should be Wound Poison – with a 2.6 weapon it has 93% proc rate (1.4 proc rate is 50%). A good and reliable addition to MH damage not to mention the MS effect. Ranged weapon should have Crippling poison too I guess. But you may experiment with Mind-Numbling poison. Personally I prefer CP because I can spam FoK when trying to chase someone and in the thick of a tussle when I am surrounded by several enemies who are going to fry my soft bottom part.

Major changes to playstyle

If you switch from Sub to Combat then expect to forget about Rupture, Shadowstep, Preparation, Shadow Dance, and positioning of your main attack. All other abilities either have substitutes or are of passive nature so you won’t not notice if you hit for 2000 or 2100.

If you switch from Assa to Combat then expect to forget about Rupture, Vendetta, and fat poisons numbers. Forget about long downtimes between your main attacks – SS is waaay cheaper.

Learn to SnD 24/7, RS, KS and AR. Get whole new Gouge and use it often. Pre-WotLK DT is coming back 🙂

Weapon Enchants.

I purposely do not cover armor enchants because we do not have 5 useful enchants for each slot to choose from. You should be able to identify proper ones by yourselves at 85 level. However weapon enchants are trickier.

OK, easy part first – OH enchant. One of the weapon enchants must be a weapon chain as it will halve the time you are
disarmed. Being disarmed is the same as being silenced for caster.

MH enchant – we have a choise of Avalanche (proc for roughly 500 Nature damage), Hurricane (450 haste for 12 sec), and Landslide (1000AP for 12 sec). What they do apart from possessing terrifying names:


Everything or nearly everything that concerns melee weapon procs is PPM (proc per minute). There is no official statement on what the enchant’s PPM is. What I found on Wowhead: – according to a few testers data, I come to following proc rate – 11% for 1.4 speed, 15% for 1.8, and 21% for 2.6
– it also procs from special attacks,
– it has no internal cooldown
– its damage can be amplified by buffs/debuffs, its crit rate cannot
– average base damage is about 500
– damage ignores armor.
Applying this knowledge to Combat rogue:
– it will proc on every 5th SS. On average basic this means about extra 100 damage as if it would proc on every SS and MH autoattacks. For OH (more hits and less procs) and would grant around 50 extra as if it would proc on every OH autoattack. UNMITIGATED. I ignore trivial number of procs from OH during KS.


Again this is PPM-based, and again there is no official data on it. What Wowhead tells us: – proc rate is between 10-15% but it is irrelevant as it has internal cooldown of 45 sec and therefore the only thing proc determines is how fast you get this buff
– it procs from special attacks, can dual-proc from weapon attack and poison application. Dual-procs stack. So to be prudent we should double the effect – 450 haste rating for 24 seconds.
Applying this knowledge to Combat rogue:
– 450 haste rating means 3.5% of haste. This gives about the same %% to your DPS, and 0.1 per second energy regeneration and other benefits mentioned in the description of Lightning Reflexes talent.


Again this is PPM-based, and again there is no official data on it.
What Wowhead tells us:
– testers say they got just 1 proc per minute with weapon of every speed so proc rate is irrelevant as it has internal cooldown of 45 sec plus another few seconds to trigger the effect. Treat it as 1 proc per minute and you will not be wrong by much.
– it procs from special attacks, not from spells, dual-procs from both hands refresh its duration
– damage does not ignore armor.
Applying this knowledge to Combat rogue:
– 1000 AP is 1000/14=71.4 extra DPS, or 185.7 extra MH white damage
per hit, 75 OH white damage per hit (2.6 and 1.4 speeds) and 171.4 extra SS damage per hit.
If you are interested to know the effect as if enchant effect would be a permanent buff, then assuming that enchant is in force for 20% of the time (each 12 seconds out of 60), we have to divide above extra damage figures by five – 37.1/15/34.3 to MH/OH/SS damage.
I will not consider effect on other abilities because whites+SS damage make more than 60% of total damage and I do not want to overload you with further maths while effect would be marginal. It is not my intention to calculate total effect (it won’t be reliable – too many assumptions) rather to give you an idea of what is worthy to use in PvP.

I will not be going for Landslide for PvP. It is a PvE enchant – it affects all the abilities by a small margin and Avalanche affects hits only but with a greater magnitude. In PvP we do not have opportunity to use all our abilities simulteneously during most part of the fight so part of the Landslide buff will always be wasted. Also, it will be wasted if I am CC’d/kited or my target is sapped/blinded/gouged. I will not go Hurricane for the same reason – avalanche is my choice for now.

These are my thoughts of Combat tree. Enjoy a new kind of PvP rogue and have fun 🙂

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.