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Rogue Strategy

The first section includes tips for low level Rogues (lower than about level 15). Your playing style with such a fragile character will be different than a mid-level or high-level Rogue, but it will also teach you some of the basics that will serve you until your red hair turns grey.

When you begin, you have very little gold, 2 small health potions, a short bow and the clothes on your back. A rule that will serve you well until you have gained more than a dozen levels is to conserve your funds. Don't bother buying anything before you enter the dungeon. As a Rogue, you are better equipped to begin your journey than either of the other classes. The simple reason being that you have a nearly free ranged attacked.

The warrior must use health potions because he must go toe-to-toe with the darkspawn of the dungeons (i.e., he is going to take damage no matter how careful he is). A mage will use up staves and mana relatively quickly, since his physical attacks are, well, slow and puny. This means that the other classes will almost certainly have to spend a good deal of money on potions. As a Rogue, you may be able to clear the first two or three levels without buying a single potion. The potions you find in the dungeon and the "free" health you receive for gaining a level will almost certainly suffice. This means you can save hundreds of gold to buy equipment and spell books.

Use staves. If you find a staff with spells on it, use them up before selling the staff. You will still get the full price from Adrea even if there are no spells left on it. Two of the most effective staves you can find are staves of Healing and of Town portal. Use a staff of healing whenever you have lost more than half of your health (as long as you are not in combat). Conserve your potions for emergency situations (i.e., heat of battle). A staff of town portal can be a great find before you have learned the spell from the book. Hold onto it and recharge it at the witch when it is empty. It's cheaper than buying scrolls.

Don't visit the Butcher. The Butcher resides in a perfectly square room (with some impaled bodies that you can see) on level 2. He will make mince meat of you before you're about level 8-10, unless you use some tricks to kill him. If you absolutely must have the adrenalin rush of being in mortal danger, here are a couple of tricks you can use on him (be sure to clear all of level 2 before trying any of these):

  1. Shoot him through a grate. If you find a room that has both a metal grate you can shoot through and a door you can close (i.e., make sure it's not blocked), you can kill him. Lure him to that room, get in it before him and close the door behind you. He doesn't know how to open doors, so he's pretty much doomed now. Shoot him until he dies. Problems: If you don't manage to outrun him (it is easy to panic and make a misstep) you are almost certainly doomed. If you don't manage to get the door shut in time, you're doomed.
  2. Burn him in his own room. As mentioned in the point above, he can't open a door on his own. If you know the spell Fire Wall, you can try to barbecue him. Quickly open his door and cast Fire Wall right inside the doorway, then quickly close the door. He will usually walk back and forth in the fire right by the door. Problems: Low level fire walls don't last very long and may not kill him. Now when you open the door, you're going to have a very hot-under-the-collar Butcher coming after you. Also, if you don't manage to close the door in time, you're probably really hurting.
  3. Get him caught in the stairs. There's a bug in the game that will cause the butcher to trap himself in the stairs to the third level if you get him to chase you around them. Lead him to the stairs down and begin running around them in a clockwise direction. This also works with a set of U-shaped barrels. He'll chase you and eventually get stuck in the stairs. Stand back and use him as an oversized pincushion. Note: I've always found this approach a little, well, cheesey, since it takes advantage of basically a bug in the game (I doubt that Blizzard intended for him to get stuck). In my opinion, this is not legit, I used it long ago learning the game, use your own judgement Also, you can accidentally go down the stairs by a simple click of the mouse. When you come back up, he'll be waiting for you with cleaver in hand….

I have used all of these methods, and they are not difficult if you have been playing Diablo for a while and are just playing a new character. However, I recommend that a new player skip the Butcher and clear the next couple of levels. By the time you clear level 4 of the church, you will be in good shape to go back and avenge the townspeople's deaths! Just go back to level 2, open his room and fill him full of arrows. You'll probably be around level 8-10 by that point, and you will hit often enough and do enough damage with each shot that he will go down quickly.

Hail to the King, baby. (NOTE: This is for multi-player, single player Leoric is different.) King Leoric is a pain in the butt, no two ways about it. You'll find him somewhere on level 3, surrounded by his undead minions. Leoric moves fast, hits most of the time he swings at you and does a lot of damage with each swing. Worse, since he's a skeleton, your arrows will do only half damage against him! (The undead take half damage from sharp weapons, unfortunately.) It will take a lot of arrows to put him down. If you know Holy Bolt, that is fairly effective against him. You will use a lot of mana, however. There are no real tricks to killing Leoric like there are with the Butcher. He knows how to open doors and he doesn't get caught in the stairs.

You've got two options: Fight or flight. You can decide that discretion is the better part of valor and run away (try to clear level 4, then maybe go back and take him on). If you decide to slug it out with him, here are a few tips.

  1. Fire and maneuver. Leoric will occasionally pause while chasing after you. While he's standing still, shoot him. When he starts to chase, start moving away. Repeat until he goes down. You'll need to take out his minions before this can be effective, though.
  2. Stone 'em if you got 'em. If you have a scroll or two of stone curse, use them on Leoric. He'll go down pretty fast if you turn him to stone then nail him with arrows and/or Holy Bolt.
  3. Use Holy Bolt instead of arrows. It will do more damage, but it is also harder to hit him. (Holy Bolt is slow moving and he may move right after you cast the spell). Only shoot at him when he is standing still to conserve mana.

Distributing experience points. As a low level character (especially as a new player), it can be difficult to determine how to distribute your 5 "level up" points when you gain an experience level. Each attribute is listed below, to help make the decision as to how to distribute your points:

It should be pretty obvious that Dexterity is the attribute for Rogues to focus on. My strategy is usually to give 2 points to dexterity, and one point to each of the others. Occasionally, I will alternate 3 to dexterity, 0 to vitality and 2 to dexterity, 1 to vitality. Vitality is probably the least important as a Rogue, as you can usually avoid taking damage (at least from monsters with no ranged attack).

Deciding on the best combination of character classes is a very subjective area, and you will come to have your own preferences. Here are some of my feelings on the matter:

Playing with sorcerers is really a mixed bag. They are extremely powerful at high levels, which means that, unless they practice good control, you will be roasted and electrocuted far more often than you'd like.

Warriors, on the other hand, can be great allies: they liked to be swarmed and, if they stay on point, they will attract most of the enemies' unwanted attention. However, you must practice great control so that his back does not begin to resemble a peacock's tail due to the arrows adorning it.

It can be fun to play around with a sword and shield, but the bow is our forte. Warriors get a "critical strike" that doubles their damage on a proportion of attacks. Warriors swing a sword much faster than we do. We can withstand much less damage than warriors, so toe-to-toe fighting is a bad idea for us. Further, you can develop bad habits that will affect you when you switch back to a bow.

A few possible exceptions:

On easy levels or when playing with characters of lower levels than you are, you might be better off with a melee weapon (you don't have to worry about killing a friend in one shot). Also, bows seem more expensive to repair than melee weapons (depending on quality, of course), so it doesn't make sense to use a great bow against monsters you can kill by sneezing on them.

On levels that are dominated by knights and drakes, some Rogues prefer to switch to a sword and shield combination. This boosts your AC to an almost untouchable level. If you do this, the best combination is a Storm Shield (which allows you to block more quickly than a normal shield and has a good AC) and a King's Sword of Haste (bastard sword).

. Early on, things that you don't need to spend money to repair seem great. However, you give up valuable suffix slots by using items "of Ages." Rock of Ages is a great album. Plate of Ages is lousy armor. :)

Bows

In any public channel with Rogues, you're bound to hear the question: "What is the best bow?" Answering the question is a "chicken or egg/tree falls in the forest" experience. The "best" bow depends on entirely what you want from it. One very important thing to remember when judging between bows is to look at their base damage/weapon type. A long war bow does more damage (1-14; 7.5 on average) than a long battle bow (1-10; 5.5 on average). Looking at the average damage can be helpful, for example, when deciding between a bow that does 4-8 vs. a bow that does 1-10. Although the latter can do more damage, the former will do more on average; 6 vs. 5.5. This difference becomes more important when you add damage modifiers: a long war bow that does +100% damage does 15 on average points of damage on average and a long battle bow does 11 points on average. So, if you find a Merciless bow and a Massive bow, look at the bow type before immediately deciding to keep the Merciless. A Massive long war bow can do more damage than a Merciless long battle bow.

When deciding among bow prefixes, your character level is the most important factor in choosing a bow (i.e., if you are lucky enough to find good bows to choose between ;).

Levels 1 to 30. increasing your to hit or damage are both viable strategies. If at all possible, you want to have enough damage to stun monsters on every single hit. To do this, you have to do "monster level +3" points of damage (see Jarulf's Guide for monster level data and a description of stunning). Just as a quick overview, the values shown below is the minimum damage needed to stun the toughest creatures in the different areas of the game:

Location Normal Nightmare Hell
Church 13 28 43
Catacombs 19 34 49
Caves 28 43 58
Hell 33 48 63

You should try to get as close to these values as possible, as stunning your enemies is extremely important (if they're stunned, they can't walk toward you or attack you).

Besides stunning a monster, increasing your damage my mean that you need fewer shots to kill it. For example, a Hell/Hell Bloodknight has 800 hitpoints (which displays correctly now, thanks to the 1.07 patch). If you do 75 points of damage (on average), it will take 11 shots to kill that Bloodknight. If you do 100 points of damage per shot (on avergage), i twill take only 8 shots to kill the Bloodknight. This means that you can kill more monsters before they get close to you. (It also means less bow repair.)

Bows that increase your accuracy can be good, but your accuracy will eventually be quite high because of your Dexterity. Once you are level 30, your dexterity is high enough that you won't need added to-hit bonuses against monsters. Prior to that, you may want to use bows that increase your to-hit (e.g., Mithril).

Levels 31 to 40. Definitely focus on boosting your damage. Your to-hit should be very, very high (if you allocated most of your level up points to dexterity, as you should) and you will want the extra damage for stunning your opponents. A Rogue in this level range probably does between 40 and 70 points of damage, on average (i.e., a Rogue around level 31 does closer to 40, a Rogue around level 40 does close to 70) with a non-magical long war bow. Level 40 is close to the cut off where every monster can be stunned. Add items (e.g., jewelry) that increase dexterity and or strength, and a level 40 Rogue can stun anything that moves without even using a magical bow. Add a Merciless long battle bow of the Heavens, and she will definitely stun everything she hits.

Levels 41 to 50. A character in this level range needn't worry about increasing damage. SmokeNPan, at level 41, does about 105-118 points of damage (about 111 on average) with just a non-magical long war bow. Any monster a character between these levels hits will be stunned. So, will using a damage increasing bow help? Consider that even a merciless long war bow adds only about 14 points of damage/shot (on average). At most, this gain will save 1 arrow per monster, and only on some occasions. In other words, no help with stunning and very little help with damage.

Increasing accuracy would be, well, silly. A Rogue of this level will have to-hit in the area of 200% (not including the hidden 20% bonus Rogues are given when using a bow). In other words, you'll only miss at the "auto-miss" rate (5% of the time a character will miss even if their to hit is high enough that the monster be hit every time).

The only other kind of prefix for a bow is one that increases resistance . An emerald or obsidian bow will keep you from needing to use two pieces of jewelry for your resistance. An emerald bow and an obsidian ring can max your resistance to all forms of magical attacks. This means that you can use your remaining two pieces of jewelry for prefixes that add mana (e.g., "Dragon's"). If you are willing to give up the 11 or fewer points of damage yielded by a damage modifiier, you could gain up to 60 points of mana! Even adding 30 or so points of damage (with a "serpent's ring") would be a great trade off.   A merciless bow is very helpful to lower and even mid-range characters. For higher level characters, "merciless" is almost worthless.

The question is much more complicated when considering weapon suffixes. The bows most in demand seem to be ones that increase all statistics (e.g., heavens or stars) or bows that add additional damage (e.g., bows of Thunder or bows of Burning; possibly bows of Slaughter, though these seem rare). Since the 1.07 patch, bows of swiftness actually work, which means that you can increase your rate of fire (delivering more damage per second) by using one of these bows. The choice here is mainly one of personal taste, and here are some of the arguments:

  1. Bows that increase speed mean killing a monster faster, which has similar effects to increasing damage overall. That is, in both cases you are really increasing the amount of damage you can deliver per unit of time (e.g., per second).
  2. Bows that increase your character's statistics can have a very wide effect: you will have more hit points, a better AC, a better To Hit, more mana. You will also be able to wear heavier armor and will do more damage (though only slightly more).
  3. Bows that increase damage mean fewer shots per monster, so you will probably be hit less often, need less mana for healing, attack and defense, need fewer hit points and will probably not need the best armor.

I prefer a bow of Swiftness. Bows of Thunder and Lightning are less helpful when creatures are immune/resistance to their effects (i.e., you don't get the extra 1-20 damage from a bow of Thunder when the creature is immune to lightning). Also, on Hell difficulty, at least, creatures have so many hit points (sometimes more than 1000) that an extra 10 points (on average) per shot doesn't seem particularly helpful (see the discussion on damage in the "prefix" section). If you have a bow that increases all statistics by 10 (of Stars), you gain 15 more hit points, 15 more mana (hit points and mana increase by 1.5 points per point of Vitality and Magic, respectively), and a few more points to AC, To Hit and Damage. Having the strength to wear heavier armor is also a great boon.

If you have to choose between a bow that increases Dexterity, Magic, Vitality or Strength, choose Dexterity (assuming you don't need the Strength to wear a piece of armor). Increasing your Dexterity, as mentioned above, affects three very important attributes. Raising any one of the others has a much more limited effect. Magic is another good suffix (e.g., of wizardry) as the higher your magic statistic, the more mana you have for spells and mana shield, and the more accurate your targeted spells (e.g., fireball) will be.

Some people, including Blizzard's Technical support, will tell you that King's Bows exist. The "King's" prefix increases damage and accuracy, so such a bow would be incredible. However, they do not exist. No one I know and no one they know has ever found even a Champion's bow (slightly less powerful than a King's bow). Further, if such bows actually existed, dupes of them would be all over battle.net. You can easily find duplicates of every other good bow, but not a single King's bow to be found. Warriors is the best prefix that combines "to hit" and "damage" that can be found on a bow. This is a nice prefix for a young rogue, but a high-level rogue would be better served with a Merciless or Ruthless prefix.

As far as Unique bows go, only two (maybe three, since the 1.07 patch) are really worth having (for a high level Rogue): Eaglehorn and Windforce.

 

The lovely Eaglehorn : Damage 1-10, +100% Damage, +50% To Hit, +20 Dexterity, Indestructible.

Eaglehorn, for most people, is the better bow. It increases your To Hit, your damage and your dexterity and is also indestructible (repairing a Merciless Bow of the Heavens can get very expensive, as much as 10,000 gold per level on hell/hell). A very handy bow all around, but not a drastically high damage (11 points on average, before considering the dexterity bonus).

 

The "repulsive" Windforce   Damage 1-14, +200% Damage, +5 Strength, Knocks Opponent Back

Windforce, in my opinion, is a very good bow that many people hate (with a good reason). Windforce does more damage than Eaglehorn (22.5 points on average) and gives a probably insignificant increase to your Strength. The controversial benefit to the bow is that it knocks your target back. Aiming with Windforce can be very annoying until you become accustomed to it. Unless your target is coming toward you in a straight line (as opposed to moving toward you at an angle like Vipers and Balrogs tend to do), it's really no different than aiming a normal bow. With practice, however, most people can compensate. The benefit of the knock back attribute is incredibly helpful when facing Knights and some other beasts that want to do some hand to hand damage to you. You can hold off a half dozen Blood Knights easily once you know how to use the bow. It is, however, harder to stun witches and advocates with Windforce than with a "normal" bow. One of my Rogues loved the bow, the others avoid it. Go figure. ;)

 

Since the 1.07 patch, the Needler (a unique short bow that looks like a crossbow) has become an item in much demand. The Needler has the "fast attack" attribute, adds "to-hit" (inconsequential unless you are duelling) and does only 1-3 damage.

For low and mid-level characters, go for a bow prefix that increases your damage and a suffix that increases all statistics (for very low level characters, a suffix that increases damage is also very good). A Merciless/Ruthless bow of Heavens would be most excellent.

For high level characters, an Emerald/Obsidian bow of the Heavens would be tough to beat. Or Jade/Massive of Swiftness.

Belt

My strategy is this: I use mana shield, so I put BBBBBBYY in my belt. The yellows are for use whenever your mana shield drops, since you'll start losing hit points when that happens.

A couple of alternative approaches:

Spell Hotkeys

As a general rule your hotkeys should include,  a fire-based spell, a lightning based spell, stone curse and teleport. Low level characters can benefit by having Town Portal ready as a fast escape route. Teleport works extremely well in many situations (described in the spell section). Stone Curse is mana hungry but is extremely useful (also described in the spell section). My typical setup is:  Fireball, Chain Lightning, Teleport and Stone Curse (if you don't use mana shield, make sure you put healing in your hotkeys). One thing to remember: if you are on a level where all the creatures are immune to one type of magic (fire or lightning, that is), you can change one of your hotkeys to suit that situation (e.g., replace the lightning spell with another fire spell). IMPORTANT: If you time out and rejoin the game, remember to redo your Hotkeys. It is easy to forget to do this since you may have just set them before dropping from the game.

Into the Dungeon

Keep moving while you're fighting so the monsters don't get close to you. You should be able to reposition the cursor while you are still walking, so that you can stop and shoot at your new target.

A good tactic for Rogues is "teleport and shoot." Use this tactic when monsters try to get in your face (especially Lava Maws and Knights): shoot at the approaching horde until they get within 2 or 3 steps of you. Teleport away from the to the edge of the screen. Resume shooting until they get close to you again, and then teleport once more. Repeat this process until only one or two attackers are pursuing you, then clean them up. This basic tactic requires a fairly large cleared territory behind you. If such is not the case, modify the procedure by jumping over the opposition: when the opponents first approach, teleport back away from them, then shoot them. When the get close again, teleport to their rear, on the edge of the screen. Shoot some more arrows into them. When the approach again, just jump over them again. You can keep a large group befuddled and full of arrows using this technique. The important part of the strategy is to teleport a few seconds before they can hit you, since the spell takes a second to work.

Shift Key

The shift key is the main blessing/curse of the rogue. With your finger on the shift key, you remain in position, but your accuracy suffers greatly. With your finger off the shift key, your accuracy increases dramatically and there are fewer stray shots, but it is easier to accidently advance directly into the melee.

Holding down shift while you fire your arrows is usually the best approach since you won't accidentally run toward the monsters or step in the way of another player's attack. However, when you have a good bead on your opponent (e.g., when he's close enough for you to smell his breath), take your finger off of the shift key. You will then automatically track whatever you have the cursor on, hitting much more often. I've found that this is a very good approach when fighting critters that insist on "dodging" your shots (e.g., Balrogs and Goatmen). When they dance around you in circles, you will track them with arrows by keeping your cursor on them and your finger off the shift key.

Also holding the shift key and firing into a room, will draw out a few monsters at a time, for you to pick off in a kill zone.

Rogue Subclasses - from CAT
(still testing these styles)

Archer-Rogue Sword and Shield Rogue
The Archer-Rogue uses a bow as her main weapon and some magic attack spells. However, Archer-Rogues donīt focus on their spells as much as Mini-Mage-Rogues. The sword and shield Rogue uses a sword/shield combo as her main weapon. She uses similar to Archer-Rogues some magical attack spells to kill the monsters. Some s/s Rogues carry for all range attack monster levels a bow in their inventory.
Savage Long War Bow of the heavens Sword with +to hit and +damage of speed/haste
Awesome Full Plate Mail of anything Shield, most often a shield with fast block ability: Stormshield or Holy Defender
Royal Circlet (Mana Shield Rogue), Godly helm of the whale (non-Mana Shield Rogue) Savage LWB of the heavens
Obsidian amulet of anything Awesome Full Plate Mail of anything
Obsidian ring of anything or: diamond/ruby/sapphire ring of the heavens Royal Circlet (Mana Shield Rogue), Godly helm of the whale (non-Mana Shield Rogue)
Ring that gives either +all or +mana +all or +mana +magic Obsidian amulet of anything
Obsidian ring of anything or: diamond/ruby/sapphire ring of the heavens
Spell levels: 15 (important spells like Fireball) Ring that gives either +all or +mana +all or +mana +magic
Archer-Rogues donīt carry a sword/shield combo in their inventory Spell level: 15 (important spells like Fireball)
Some Archer-Rogues use Mana Shield some not. Using a Mana Shield as a Rogue is in my opinion even in Diablo v. 1.07 just a matter of personal playing style. Some s/s Rogues use Mana Shield some not. Using a Mana Shield as a Rogue is in my opinion even in Diablo v. 1.07 just a matter of personal playing style.
Vampire Rogue Archer-Mini-Mage-Rogue
A vampire Rogue uses a sword of vampire as her main weapon. She uses also magic attack spells. Furthermore, vampire-Rogues are most often Mana Shield Rogues, because the idea of the Mana Shield/sword of vampire combo is: the mana stealing ability of the sword is used to fill up the mana ball. This Rogues use magic attack spells as their main weapon and the bow for killing triples immunes and to finish monsters or to kill Stone Cursed monsters
Sword with + to hit +damage of vampire Obsidian/emerald LWB of the heavens
Shield, most often a shield with fast block ability: Stormshield or Holy Defender Awesome Full Plate Mail of anything (if possible of sorcery or stars), some use Najīs Light Plate
Savage LWB of the heavens Thinking Cap
Awesome Full Plate Mail of anything Obsidian/jade amulet of anything
Royal Circlet 2 Rings that gives either: +mana +magic or +mana +all
Obsidian amulet of anything Spell level: 17, 18 with Najīs Light Plate (important spells like Fireball)
Obsidian ring of anything or: diamond/ruby/sapphire ring of the heavens
Ring that gives either +all or +mana +all or +mana +magic Archer-Mini-Mage-Rogues use most often Mana Shield and donīt carry a s/s combo with them.
Spell level: 15 (important spells like Fireball)
Dreamflange Mini-Mage Rogue CAT-Rogue
Similar to Archer-Mini-Mages DF/s Rogues use magic attack spells to kill the monsters. They often carry a Civerbīs Cudgel or a +to hit +damage sword or a bow in their inventory to kill triples immunes. This Rogue should always use the weapon, that fits best to the situation. This means: a sword/shield combo in all melee levels and a bow in all range attacker levels. Kill about 40-50% of the monsters with sword and shield combo, 40-50% with magic attack spells and 10-15% with bow. However, this 10-15% kills are important kills.
Dreamflange Knightīs sword of haste
Either shield with fast block ability (Stormshield/Holy Defender) or obsidian/emerald shield of anything Shield, most often a shield with fast block ability: Stormshield or Holy Defender
CC or +to hit +damage sword or bow Savage LWB of the heavens
Awesome Full Plate Mail of anything (if possible of sorcery or stars) Awesome Full Plate Mail of anything
Thinking Cap Royal Circlet
Obsidian/jade amulet of anything Obsidian amulet of anything
Obsidian/jade ring of anything (Stormshield) or ring that gives either: +mana +magic or +mana +all (obsidian/emerald shield) Obsidian ring of anything or: diamond/ruby/sapphire ring of the heavens
Ring that gives either: +mana +magic or +mana +all Ring that gives either +all or +mana +all or +mana +magic
Spell level: 18 (important spells like Fireball) Sword and shield-Mini-Mage-Rogues use most often Mana Shield. Spell level: 15 (important spells like Fireball)