Three Neglected Rogue Abilties

While a lot of non-rogues consider our class to need few bindings (around three or four if you read MMO-Champion and the official forums), my rogue has more PVP keybindings...

While a lot of non-rogues consider our class to need few bindings (around three or four if you read MMO-Champion and the official forums), my rogue has more PVP keybindings than my warrior, DK, feral and windwalker. As rogues have to deal with so many abilities, it’s tempting to not assign keybindings to ones which don’t seem massively useful. Today I’ll be looking at the three which, judging from conversation/screenshots/streams, appear to be neglected the most – Crimson Tempest, Distract and Expose Armor.

Distract Distract

DistractI’m not expecting many rogues to be missing this from their stealth bar, but from watching streams and screenshots it appears many don’t have it bound on their normal action bar. I started my rogue after the opening of AQ40, but I didn’t realise I could use distract out of stealth until running dungeons during Wrath of the Lich King – a guildie I was grouped with asked why I was vanishing to use distract on approaching mobs when I could use it in combat out of stealth. At the time distract was a very useful PVE talent since body-pulling mobs usually meant a wipe, but it still has several important uses in PVP.

Firstly, Distract is great for interrupting healers from drinking in arenas – it’s typical for a healer to duck behind a pillar and start drinking, stopping you from interrupting them with /throw, Shadow Step or Shuriken Toss. By breaking line-of-sight you would typically have to run around the pillar to interrupt the drink, but you can use Distract around corners since it’s a targeted AoE ability. It doesn’t put the target into combat, but it interrupts the mana gain and forces them to re-click their drink and wait for the mana to start ticking again. Hopefully by this time you’ll have reached the target and either forced them into combat or sapped them.

The other main reason to use distract is as a gap closer when your target is running away but not in combat. There is however a third trick which is very situational – I only get it to work once or twice a season but it always makes me smile when I manage it. If a caster starts to cast on you, they don’t enter combat until the castbar completes. If they’re too far away to kick but somehow not yet in combat (maybe they’ve come out of a CC chain) you can drop a Distract behind them to spin them around and cause the spell to fail. They need to be out of combat however (along with any pets they have), so don’t expect to be able to do this every game!

Crimson Tempest Crimson Tempest

Crimson TempestCrimson Tempest is predominantly a PVE talent – the bleed DoT is pretty weak so you don’t want to be using it for DPS purposes. Currently it’s a useful spell for Subtlety rogues since the passive Sanguinary Vein talent sees it as a valid bleed effect to trigger the 20% damage buff. In RBGs you can sometimes use it to get a bleed effect on a target you’re going to switch onto, but it can also be used as a finisher if you desperately need a bleed effect on a target that may shortly die.

A one-combo point rupture lasts 8 seconds, whilst a 1CP CT lasts 12. You can even use it with spare CPs instead of rupture – depending on the situation you might find it better to spend two globals/CPs on two 12-second CTs than one global and five CPs on a 24second rupture. It does a lot less damage than rupture but when you only have short kill opportunities, sustained damage isn’t as important as extra burst.

All of the above will be redundant when patch 5.4 arrives since a glyphed hemorrhage bleed will qualify for the Sanguinary Veins bleed buff and any ruptures you use will be purely for damage. It’s worth pointing out Crimson Tempest offers no benefit to Assassination rogues as it doesn’t trigger Venomous Wounds.

Expose Armor Expose Armor

Expose ArmorThe last often-ignored rogue talent is Expose Armor. Reducing your targets armor by 12% appears to give a 2%-4% damage increase for Subtlety rogues which isn’t too bad for a low-energy combo builder. At 25 energy it’s cheaper to spam than hemo, so if you need to generate CPs fast (maybe to stun the warrior who is frothing at the mouth while tunnelling your healer) it can be useful.

Sadly it doesn’t stack with Find Weakness and this slightly reduces its effectiveness for burst specs such as Subtlety – it’s of limited use to Assassination rogues also since they rely so little on phyiscal damage.

One spec it shines with is Combat, since the vast majority of the damage comes from melee hits. You’re not nerfing yourself too badly by ignoring Expose Armor on the other two specs, but for Combat you might want to find an unused keybinding for it.

When talking about a 2% damage increases it’s easy to dismiss it as being too insignificant a number to bother with. What you should remember though is upgrading a Malevolent necklace to a Tyrannical necklace will give you half of that bonus. On it’s own it’s not a lot, but every damage increase you can get does help. Additionally, Expose Armor isn’t just a buff to your damage like Find Weakness is, it’s a buff to all the physical damage that comes from your team. The debuff doesn’t stack with the following spells, so don’t bother using it alongside them.

Weakened Armor Sources

Druid – Faerie Fire
Hunter – Dust Cloud or Tear Armor pet abilities
Warrior – Sunder Armor


If you have any other tricks for these three abilities, post a comment below! This week’s banner image is from the awesome Dark Legacy Comics – no matter how neglected some spells seem (or even classes), they’re not as neglected as some legacy content :)

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.