A little bit about myself...
I have been playing since the game was first released and ever since I hit 60 I've spent the vast majority of my time dueling other people, sometimes 5 hours straight. With all that time invested I have learned a lot about my class, and how to play it more effectively. In this guide I will list some of my many strategies in hopes of teaching newer players how to lay down the hurt on people.
There are quite a few Rogue builds out there, everyone has their own tastes. Some of the more common ones are 30/8/13, 31/8/12, 21/8/22, 15/31/5.
This build is used by the majority of dagger rogues. This is a great PvP build because it has Seal Fate and Cold Blood. Those 2 talents are where a rogue really shines. With a decent crit chance (around 20%) you'll be getting extra combo points like crazy using Seal Fate. On top of that you have Cold Blood to finish them off with a 5 point Eviscerate. You also get some really nice talents that boost your crit chance with Backstab and Ambush by a huge amount, as well as talents that increase the damage dealt by those attacks. Here is the 30/8/13 build...
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This build is VERY similar to the 30/8/13 build and should only be used by those people who have at least 5 pieces of nightslayer. The reason for getting vigor while you have that 5 piece nightslayer bonus that gives 10 energy is so that you can do instant Ambush/Backstab combos in PvP/Duels. 10 energy ain't worth giving up 15% chance to crit by not getting that last point in Improved Ambush.
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This build is great for instances as well as large scale PvP where you feel like you're going to burn a lot of cooldowns. It's main talents are Cold Blood, Preparation, and Improved Sap. See an opponent riding down the middle of the battleground on his mount and can't catch him in stealth? Improved Sap takes care of that scenario. Just hit your sap button and the guy will stop dead in his tracks, then you nail him with an Ambush, or Cheap Shot backstab (Stun used only to buy time to apply poisons so he can't run away after your initial attack).
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Now its time for some Combat Rogue love... 15/31/5 Build
This build is the one I currently use to whip major ass. Many people say, "Swords suck for ganking" But those people obviously don't know how to play a Combat spec'd Rogue effectively. Combat Rogues are great for killing every single kind of class with their ability to dish out some UBER damage and keep the opponent stunned using various tactics (I will go into this in more detail later on). The major talents in this build are Riposite, Adrenaline Rush, and Blade Fury.
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Choosing the Right Weapon
Weapons are a very important part of our class. The thing that matters most is the speed of the weapon itself. The slower the weapon the harder it will hit with a single blow. Typically a good combat rogue main hand is 2.8 speed while the ideal main hand dagger is 1.8-2.0 speed. Your backstab, ambush, and sinister strike attacks all use weapon speed when determining how hard the weapon will actually hit. Too many times do I see Rogues with a Heartseeker in their main hand. A Heartseeker is a kick ass offhand, but don't use it for main hand, use a Barman Shanker. A Heartseeker is .3 seconds faster than the Barman Shanker with the same top end damage. This means that you are gimping yourself by putting it in your main hand. When equipping a weapon look at the damage on your character display screen (the one that shows your armor and stats). It is that damage stat that you want to pay attention to because its used for backstab, ambush, and sinister strike.
Attack power is a VERY important Rogue stat. You are an assassin so you want to maximize your damage output within the shortest possible time. The more attack power you have the harder your attacks will hit. You can have a Perdition's Blade with crappy attack power and a Rogue with a Barman Shanker and high attack power can out damage you. The ideal gank using daggers on cloth should be 2 hits, Ambush > Backstab.
PvP Server Ganking 101
The rogue is the most feared class on a PvP server because we can choose when we attack based on how vulnerable our target is. All of the other classes, excluding druids in cat form, must constantly be out in the open where everyone can see them clear as day. Use this fear to your advantage and observe your opponent. Your main targets should be Priests, Mages, and Warlocks. All of these classes will generally sit down to have a little drink once in a while to restore mana. When players are sitting that means the next attack on them is a free crit. I generally wait for a Mage to burn all of his mana on mobs then sneak up behind him while he's drinking and hit him with an Ambush/Backstab combo (My PvP server Rogue is dagger spec'd).
PvP Server Ganking (Fighting 2 Players at Once)
There are quite a few times you'll be fighting someone and then his friend will stroll up and begin helping. While you're trying to take down your main target you must keep your eyes on the area around you as well. If you see someone else come up check your debuffs for DoT's or Bleed Effects and vanish. Sprint over to the person who just showed up and sap his ass, level don't matter because sap has an extremely high chance to hit even on level 60's. Go back to your main target and begin killing him again using everything you got in your arsenal of attacks. I have a mod called StunWatch so I can see how much time I got left before my opponent is out of sap. Sap only works if your opponent is out of combat so keep that in mind as well. You might have to wait a few seconds from the point you vanished to be sure he's out of combat before sapping. If you were good enough to take down your main target, kick ass, now get the hell outta there and restealth to regenerate health because its time to kill that guy who tried to double team you. If you're hurting and got a potion on you, use it before restealthing and make your way over to your opponent. If this opponent is a plate wearer or druid in bear form, just leave them alone. Afterall, you still killed the first guy and thats all you were going for anyway.
Dueling Tactics for Various Classes
Target Dropping: Unclicking the person you're fighting to get out of combat and restealth. Mouse Looking: Holding down your right mouse button so you can run towards your opponent and do a fast 180 to hit them with an ambush/backstab.
**Always use crippling poison while dueling, it helps you control the fight and allows you to back off and regain energy when needed**
Proper energy management is what seperates a good rogue from a bad one. After your first initial attacks its best to back off against melee classes to regain some juice.
Dueling a Mage
Mages aren't really that hard, you just have to learn how to ruin their chances to land abilities on you. Think about the various scenarios that can happen in a duel against a Mage and how you can counter them. When you get your opening hit on a Mage they will usually always blink to try and sheep you. When a mage uses that first blink, hit your vanish button and get to him ASAP to get another opener. Using vanish completely kills his chance of polymorphing you because he can't poly what he can't see :). Be ready for this blink when you open on a mage, it will happen. After you get your next opener on a mage they will usually use their AoE root on you. When they do that hit them with a blind and unclick your target to get out of combat and restealth. Their root does not last as long as blind so you will have plenty of time to do this. Get yet another opener on the Mage, he should be hurting at this point. If you find that you're having trouble getting the opener on Mages because of their AoE practice your timing or try your best to at least hit them with a sinister strike when you get hit out of stealth. Try to position yourself so that if you do get hit out of stealth you can still gouge him. Mages cannot blink out of gouge. If you're going up against a mage who uses his Ice Block position yourself behind him and keep spamming backstab/sinister strike as fast as possible. If you are high enough in rank to get the PvP trinket use that to your advantage if he is able to land a poly on you. You should be pwning mages as a rogue, if you can't you need to practice your strategies and think about what you'll do for different situations.
Dueling a Priest
A good shadow priest is a real pain in the ass, at least for non-undead Rogues. My main is a Night Elf so I will describe some of the ways I kill these guys. The most important part of getting a good opener on a Priest has to do with timing. The shield they cast on themselves to absorb damage cannot be cast whenever they want. When they cast a shield on themselves they are given a debuff that doesn't allow them to shield for a certain period of time depending on their talent spec. Generally it is 20-30 seconds before they can shield again. Sit there in stealth and count steadily to about 15 then sap them. Drop your target so you can restealth and hit them with an opener when their shield wears off. After you land that first opener hit them with a blind right away then drop your target again and hit them with another opener after restealthing. If the priest is still alive they will probably use their AoE fear on you so have your PvP trinket handy just in case this happens. When you get out of fear gouge them ASAP, they may have another shield up by now. Let your energy recharge then hit them with a Kidney Shot and give them some Backstab/Sinister Strike love. If they are nearly dead and you have Cold Blood pop that and hit them with an Evis for the kill.
Dueling a Rogue
You should already know how to duel a rogue because...you play one. For those using the 15/31/5 combat spec I posted above you are gonna love this combo I thought up. Using my "Uber Takedown Combo" I can drop most any Rogue without them being able to move once the entire duel (I did this to a Rogue on my server wearing full epic PvP gear..loads of stamina..and he had like 10% health left.) You can use this combo anytime because you do not need to get a first hit to use it. If you don't get the first hit Vanish and begin the combo listed below. I will keep track of combo points by listing them in parenthesis next to the attack.
Cheap Shot (2 combo points)
Sinister Strike (3 combo points)
Blind ASAP, smash the damn button
Drop your target and restealth
Cheap shot (5 combo points)
Pop Adrenaline Rush and hit Kidney shot really fast (0 combo points)
Give your opponent 3 Sinister Strikes (3 combo points, or 4 depending on if you ditched Murder for 2 points in Ruthlessness.
Hit them with a Gouge (4 or 5 combo points)
Eviscerate (0 combo points)
As you can see...that hurts a lot and your opponent won't be able to do a damn thing about it. I use this on Shadow Spec'd priests and Warlocks when I feel like it as well.
Dueling a Paladin
Paladins can be a real pain in the ass depending on how they're spec'd. The most important thing to remember when fighting a paladin is that they only have two ranged attacks that stun you Hammer of Justice and Repetence. HoJ is just a plain stun which they usually use to heal themselves, Repetence is more like a disorient where if they do any damage you get knocked out of it. Your main strategy when fighting these guys is to wear down their mana. Constantly drop your target and restealth to hit them with another opening attack. Remember that they have trouble doing much of anything involving range so running away from them to restealth is not that hard. When they shield run away to restealth. If you are low on health and don't see anything wrong with using bandages, walk to an area that they aren't by and begin bandaging yourself. With good paladins you don't want to fight them dead on because some of them can dish out some crazy damage, I've been hit for over 1400 dmg by a paladin in my guild using Seal of Command and an arcanite reaper. The main idea here is to dish out damage while forcing them to chase you around all over the place. One last great tip, after the paladin uses his HoJ pop evasion. You don't want to use evasion before he does it because you waste a portion of your increased dodge chance and HoJ cannot be dodged. As of patch 1.7 paladins received a new ability called Hammer of Wrath which is only usable when you have 20% or less health, it would be smart to look out for that as well and keep your health up by either using the Darkmoon Card: Heroism or bandaging when the paladin uses his shields. (Thanks Jux)
Dueling a Shaman
These guys are pretty cut and dry. I've been playing alliance for so long my dueling experience against Shaman isn't too high. The times I have dueled them I win a lot. When the duel starts I usually observe them for about 10 seconds and see what they're gonna do. At that point I move in very fast and Sap them and kill all of their totems. Then I restealth and start laying it down on them. If they toss up a poison cleansing totem and an earthbind totem to slow me down I hit my sprint button. Remember to pop evasion to avoid damage from their melee attacks. No matter what stay on them as much as possible.
Dueling a Warlock
I duel a warlock similar to the way I duel a mage or priest. I try to keep them near me as much as possible and always have my PvP trinket on incase they try to use their succubus pet and seduce me. There is one kind of warlock spec that should be a rogue's biggest fear though. Warlocks that are spec'd to have Soul Link will be pretty hard to take down most times (At least the ones in my guild with like full felheart and tons of stamina) Using Soul Link a warlock splits the damage he takes with his pet. Most of these guys will have their voidwalker out (the big blue elemental) because he has tons of HP and does not die easily. Using this talent warlocks can literally DOUBLE their health. Your best bet is to go all out on these guys and burn everything you possibly got because a good Soul Link warlock is a real bitch for a rogue. You can tell they're using soul link because you'll see rings go around themselves and their pet when they cast Soul Link, then you know ahead of time. If they aren't using soul link fight them very similar to a shadow priest.
Dueling a Druid
A good druid can be a pain sometimes. If a druid starts off in a duel as a cat...rape them. If they start off in caster form...rape them. If they start off in bear form, look out because this could take a while. Druids can absorb tons of damage using this form so its best to pop evasion early and get your hits in before they get low on health and try to stun you and run away to heal. Whenever you see a druid out of bear form and within 10 yards of you, blind them right away. Either hit them with a backstab/sinister strike, or if you have the combo points use a kidney shot and dish out some more damage on them. They key here is timing your stuns so that you can hit them with it when they are nearby and in caster form. Rogues rape druids in this form, plain and simple.
Dueling a Warrior
Warriors can be very hard for a rogue, especially 2H ones. When you fight a warrior you won't win if you can't manage your energy effectively and stay within 8 yards whenever possible. The point on staying within 8 yards is that when you are within 8-30 yards they can charge you. I'll describe how I fight one using my combat spec. At first I cheap shot them then hit them with 2 sinister strikes. After that last sinister strike hits my crippling poison should be on them by that time. I back up and stay within the range I listed above until I have 60 energy. At that point I charge straight at them and hit them with a gouge and run off to restealth. I watch their rage because the last thing I want is them to AoE me out of stealth. The main thing is that you have 5 combo points on their ass now. I'll hit them with a cheap shot then pop adrenaline rush and hit kidney shot right away. I then beat on them with sinister strike a few times and hit them with a blind before they come out of stun. I restealth again and open up with another cheap shot (just for combo points, dimishing returns probably destroyed the stun effect by now) then hit them with an eviscerate. At this point the warrior is hurting pretty badly and you should be in pretty good shape to finish them off. Using the sequence of attacks above you can probably modify it for dagger rogues using proper energy management. Remember, you aren't a tank so don't try to tank the damn warrior and stay within 8 yards if he isn't disoriented and able to move.
Dueling a Hunter
Hunters are very hard fights for Rogues sometimes, other times they can be easy. When the duel starts find a good hiding spot where you can observe the hunter and turn on your detect traps. We will not be disarming the traps because hunters usually always flare their feet and wait for the rogue to come to them. Keep a close eye on the hunter trap and count when you see it placed. Lets say you counted to 20 seconds. The trap will disappear and a new one will be put in its place, begin counting again. When you get to about 15 seconds hit the hunter with a blind. Blind has a 10 yard range, his traps can't reach that far. Wait for the trap to disappear and begin beating some hunter ass. You won't be able to restealth because you'll have a flare effect on you probably. Hit the hunter with a backstab/sinister strike and use evasion so he can't Wing Clip you. The idea here is to keep the hunter as close as possible so he cannot use any of his ranged damage attacks. Use crippling poison at all times. I have seen quite a few guides that tell you to sap the hunter and kill his pet. That makes me laugh. Ignore his damn pet and go for the main guy. If the hunter has a good pet you won't be able to kill it in time before he comes out of sap.
As you can see dueling as a Rogue can be a complex task at times. In order to play effectively you must think ahead of time about what you're going to do in specific situations. The thing that seperates a good rogue from a bad one is not only their reaction time, but lack of knowing how to use their skills effectively and when to use them. I hope with this guide I at least pointed you in the right direction towards success in dueling and PvP as well as taught you some things you might not had known already.
Server: Malygos (Alliance)
Character Name: Tony
Server: Burning Legion (Horde)
Character Name: Hyperkill