Ironically, the first thing I think future Rogues should do is roll a healer or tank high enough to run a few instances like Shadowfang Keep, Razor Fen Downs or Scarlet Monastery. No need to level to 70, just the high 30s. I think this is solid advice for not just Rogues, but all the pure DPS classes (Warlock, Mage, Rogue, and even Hunter). The hybrids who have healing or tanking capability should give them both a try as well. Why? Because the healer and the tank are the GLUE that hold a group together. They are the ones keeping us DPS types alive long enough to unleash our wrath on the poor little mobs in our quest for blues and purples.
The basics of the relationship between a Healer and his Tank are pretty simple. The Tank holds aggro and soaks up damage. The Healer keeps him alive. Even the most moronic DPS type can understand that is the basis for every group. But as simple as that seems, we DPS types keep doing our best to screw up that relationship by pulling aggo, not avoiding AoE damage, not bandaging, not focus firing, or breaking CC. Alternately, maybe we don’t do our best in terms of CC to contribute to the equation.
Playing a Tank or Healer and learning the frustration that comes when other people make your job unnecessarily harder will increase your “Group IQ” by several orders of magnitude. Let me provide a few examples:
- Run to the Tank, not away from him. - If you do happen to pull aggro and you run away, then the Tank needs to chase the mob. To do it safely, he has to back away from the other mobs he is tanking so that he can continue to Parry/Block and not get Dazed. This is slower than you can run. It also makes holding aggro more difficult since some abilities aren’t available on the move. The correct thing to do is bring the mob into melee range of the Tank. I do suggest you still move a little bit (while staying in melee range to tank) to make it obvious that you DO have aggro. Also, hit ESC to clear your target and stop attacking.
- Sap Often. - OK – Yes, you can Sap humanoids. Get good at it. Learn to use Distract to setup your Sap on Humanoids. Even rogues without Improved Sap can easily sap any non-stealth seeing mob by effectively using Distract. This is a staple of the Rogue class and you probably already got good at this when leveling. Get FAST at it and make sure your group lets you Sap. Oh – and after you sap, sneak all the way back to where the Tank is fighting before using your opener. Don’t be the idiot who fights the mob all by himself.
- Stuns as Crowd Control. - But you have more crowd control than just Sap. First, you have stuns. Stuns can be used as both spell interrupts and secondly as a form of crowd control to mitigate tank damage. An encounter that is “tough to heal” because of how hard a particular mob hits can be rendered easy because you keep them stunned. Likewise, a mob with a particularly annoying ability like Mind Control or Fear can be controlled through stuns. All rogues can do 3 in rapid order: Cheap Shot, Kidney Shot, Vanish-Cheap Shot
- Are you Blind? Then why don’t you use it! - Blind is popular in PvP and seems non-existent in groups. It’s on a 2 minute cooldown, but if you are using it more often than that then your group has bigger issues. It’s superior to Gouge in that it a) lasts longer and b) doesn’t require you and your target are facing each other. If your Sap breaks and your group isn’t ready for it, then Blind it quickly. See a mob running for the healer? Blind it and give your Tank time to grab it. Did you get aggro with vanish down and you don’t have a Stun ready? Blind. Tip: /cast [target=mouseover] Blind
- Learn the power of Distract. - We already established that this is useful on Sap, but even on non-humanoids, you can use Distract to freeze a patrol. This is useful for skipping a pesky pat without your slowpokes getting aggro. But it can also be used as a weird type of crowd control. Ever been in the middle of a fight and you see a patrol coming? A quick Vanish, followed by a Distract can freeze it in place long enough for the group to get out of the way or finish your current fight.
- Vanish and Feint - This should be obvious, but there is no reason why you should EVER have aggro. Our attacks deal 30% less threat and we have an aggro clear and a threat reducer. Arguably, no other class can manage threat as well as a Rogue with the possible exception of Hunters.
- Bandage. - If you are doing your job correctly, then the only time you need a heal is when you are taking some type of AoE damage. In most cases, this can be either avoided by using Sprint to move in/out of range OR if it’s spell damage you can mitigate or resist it with a well timed Cloak of Shadows. Remember – Every heal you receive is a heal that the Tank did not receive. Still – you are going to take damage in these types of fights and that makes it important important to keep an eye on your Tank’s health and your Healer’s mana. If you see big spikes or low health or mana, then the Tank is getting hit HARD and the Healer is not going to have any spare heals for you. A lot of wipes are caused here because the Healer tosses a heal on someone who is not the Tank and then can’t catch up on the Tank fast enough to keep him alive. You can help by getting out of AoE range and Bandaging yourself. Even if you can’t Bandage, sometimes it’s smarter to get out of AoE range and not die until the Healer does get a chance for a spare heal.