The Rogue — A Highly Versatile Creature
Recently, there have been several different discussions about how a rogue can be played? Opinions varied between high ac and low ac; choices of weapons; to use magic as protectiv
e supports or as offensive weapons etc… All these stems from the fact that the rogue is easily the most versatile character class in Diablo Classic (IMO at least). Play her as a mini-mage, a warrior or an archer. It makes little difference as she can be just as effective and powerful no matter which style you play.
How should one play a rogue? To answer this, you might want to consider the following questions:
- Would you prefer the “safer” high-ac approach, or the “more delicate” low-ac approach?
- For your weapons, would you rather use the “traditional” weapon (ie. the bow), or maximize the use of your high dex by using sword(or club)/shield?
- With regards to magic, would you prefer using magic as a means of defense and transportation, or as a primary means of attack as well?
- Are you content to play the rogue as it is, or would you want to try out more challenging variants?
This guide serves to provide a little bit of insight about the various ways you can play a rogue. It is divided into the following sections: (I) High AC vs Low AC (II) Ranged Attack vs Melee (III) Magic Usage (IV) Stealth Play (V) Equipment (VI) Playing Styles (VII) Rogue Variants (VIII) Excellent Links
High AC vs Low AC
“Having a high ac means that enemies will miss you most of the time, allowing you to massacre them more easily as you will not have to go through hit recovery or blocking. Naturally, you will not get stunlocked as well…”
- you will very seldom get hit by enemies and can thus survive more easily against mobs.
- ac gives NO protection, IIRC, against any form of magical attack such as spit, bloodstars n fireballs,# lose the possibility of having a beneficial prefix on your armour (good suffix are hard to come by on awesome plates too),
- IMO, it really is quite difficult to obtain a good high-ac armor with a good suffix.
- Awesome/Saintly Fullplates of Sorcery/Stars/Precision etc…
“Since high ac is much safer and allows for more careless play, why play low ac? Obviously, both have their advantages…”
- have a beneficial prefix such as +resist on the armour, thus freeing up a jewelry slot for +mana,
- good low-ac armour are easier to come by since any base item type will do,
- most good combinations (such as obsidian/stars) are purchasable at griswold.
- if not careful, will get torn apart vs melee creatures as they have autohit against you.
- Naj’s Plate/Sacvenger’s carapace
- Obsidian (or other +resist) shirt of Stars/Sorcery/Precision/Giants etc…
Essentially the difference lies in the ease at which the enemies can hit you. For high ac, you sacrifice one prefix slot for a greater comfort zone as the enemies will have much difficulties hitting you. For low ac, though the advantage of the added prefix can be great, the danger and thrill of low ac cannot be underestimated. All in all, it would depend on the way you play (whether you are careful or reckless).
For less experienced gamers, i would certainly recommend high ac as it allows for a greater degree of carelessness and improves your chances of survival in the dungeons.
Ranged Attack vs Melee
“The starting weapon of a rogue and the area where she is really VERY proficient in, no class can match the rogue in using the bow as a weapon…”
- very fast rate of fire, the only weapon a rogue can stun an advocate with,
- bows usually tends to deal more damage per unit time than melee weapons (except CC) for rogues,
- very high to-hit considering the amount of dex the rogue possesses,
- kills the enemies before the enemies reaches you, thus greater safety.
- no shield, thus no blocking and the loss of a prefix and suffix,
- durability goes down quite fast (small point since gold is abundant),
- does less damage than certain melee weapons.
- Savage bow of heavens: high damage bow with +all
- Emerald bow of heavens: resist bow with +all
- Jade/Massive bow of swiftness: fast bow with great potential
“With high dex, a rogue has high to-hit, perfect blocking and high ac. With decent magic, a rogue has rather high virtual hitpoints as well, making her a lean mean fighting machine…”
- blocking, thus allowing less hits to go through, hence less damage taken,
- additional slots for a good prefix/suffix,
- tends to have a higher ac than when using bows,
- certain setups provides a much faster rate of kill (think CC).
- ranged attackers may be a problem until telekill is mastered,
- much slower swing rate than bows, thus some monsters cannot be stunlocked,
- damage is low in general.
- Kings Sword of Haste: hasted weapons.
- Kings Sword of Vamps: vampiric weapons.
- Civerb’s Cudgel: the fastest killing weapon (IMO) for rogues.
- Dreamflange: ideal for mini-maging.
Difference here again lies in personal preference and styles. Both melee and bows have their advantages but luck with equipment/drops do affect how you play sometimes too. Eg, you’ll never be able to play sword/shield well if you can’t find a decent sword and a decent shield, likewise you can hardly be a good archer if all the bows you find are pathetic.
For less experienced gamers, i would recommend bows. Arrows are unlimited and bows should be enough for you to survive well enough to learn the game and develop your own style.
Magic is a very powerful “thing” and can be an extremely useful allies if used well. Below are some of the most widely used (???) spells for a rogues:
- Heal (mainly for non-manashield rogues)
- Mana shield — the rogue has pretty decent magic and mana, so why not make use of it?
- Stone Curse — very helpful for keeping enemies at bay and reducing the number of enemies you have to face.
Offence (F-Fire, L-Lightning, M-Magic)
- Fireball (F) — the highest damage fire spell (and perhaps overall as well)
- Guardian (F) — – useful for attracting the enemies bit by bit.
- Chain Lightning (L) — can be potentially VERY damaging (ie. kill a pack of balrogs in hell/hell with one cast?)
- Charged Bolts (L)
- Bone Spirit (M) — can be used to attract enemies from around corners, otherwise useless.
- Flash (M) — teleflash kills non-magic immune creatures very quickly.
- Golem — this supernatural being can be used both in offence and defence. Beware of bloodstars though.
- Town Portal
Depending on the individual, there may be other good scouting spells such as flame wave and elemental. Lightning is also a good substitute for chain lightning in certain situation and before you really mastered the intricate ways of chain lightning.
Magic is useful but it is up to the individual whether he/she wants to use magic as a primary weapon. Magic can usually do more damage per unit time than melee/bows but is often restricted in higher difficulty levels as the enemies get immune/resistant to magic.
A very often neglected aspect of gameplay is stealth. The darkness is a very powerful weapon which can easily by used to your fullest advantage. Why would you want to go stealth in the first place?
One scenario where stealth comes in very useful is during item recovery. If you have just lost your equipment to monsters, it may be rather difficult at times to go in there and get your equipment back. After all, if the enemies are strong enough to kill you while you are wearing your best equipment, they must surely be capable of killing you without your best equipment. By going stealth, you can either activate one enemy at a time, thus making them easier prey; or you can use infravision or some lighted projectile (e.g. firebolt, bloodstar, lightning arrow etc) to locate the enemies and avoid them altogether. That way, item recovery becomes much easier, especially if telekinesis is used.
Stealth can also be a playing style as well. Town portal or guardian spells can be used to light up the environment (just the dungeon, NOT the monsters) for an extended period of time so that you will know where to go. Elemental arrows (i.e. from bows of lightning/thunder/burning etc), and other magical projectiles such as bloodstar can be used to locate monsters. Firing arrows or projectiles into the darkness beyond your light radius (and even off the screen) enables the rogue to kill many enemies without even seeing them.
Some typical gear would include nightscape, gotterdamerung.
In my opinion, there are really only three good headgears for rogues:
- Royal Circlet (ac40, +10% light, +10 to all, +40 mana) — No matter how you play your rogue, the royal circlet has only benefits and is a good helm in all cases.
- Thinking Cap (ac 2-4, +20% resist all, +1 slvl, +30 mana) — more for mini-mages, the thinking cap provides spell levels and some resistance.
- Obsidian <heagear> of Sorcery (+31-40% resist all, +16-20 magic) — again more for mini-mages, this headgear provides up to 20 magic and frees up a jewelry slot for +mana.
Another possible helm is the Gotterdamerung (ac60, -40% light, +20 to all, NO resist). The major drawback here is the lack of resistance, which can really hurt. One way out is to leave it unidentified and use it for the 60 ac it provides (which IMO is not all that great for a rogue which already has lots of ac due to high dex.
Yet another possible but “not-so-all-round” helm is the Helm of Sprits (ac6-8, 5% lifesteal). Drawback here is the lack of ac and the lack of other benefits. The lifesteal effect can be rather useful when using the CC setup but not as good otherwise (as rogue’s melee damage is rather pathetic).
(1) High AC
Essentially, this means high-end awesome or saintly full plates (ac70-75) provided up to 187 ac. Good suffix can vary from giants (for wearing the plate), sorcery (providing magic for spell-casting) and stars (for good +all).
(2) Low AC
a) Non-unique armour will typically have a good +resist (obsidian, ruby, diamond, sapphire depending on needs and availability) as prefix, and precision, sorcery or stars as suffix.
b) Uniques would include naj’s light plate and the scavenger’s carapace.
- The naj’s is an good mini-mage equipment, providing magic, resistance, spell level.
- The sc gives -15 dfe as well as lightning resist, thus reducing chance of being stunned.
Basically, there are only two good types prefixes: +mana and +resist. My suggestion would be to try to reduce the number of +resist jewels to 2 or less, so that more +mana jewels can be used.
IMO, there are two types of good suffix types: +all and +mag. Magic allows greater efficiency and effectiveness of a rogue’s spell capabilities while + all gives good damage, magic (and thus overall advantages).
Notes: Essentially, the jewelry setups usually depends not on what you want but more on what you have. Good jewels are VERY hard to come by, so you likely have to make do with what you have at hand.
Most highly prized is perhaps the Savage LWB of Heavens as merciless/ruthless cannot be generated together with heavens. The +all effect has good all-round effects and adds significant damage for a rogue. Bows along this lines are useful for low-mid level rogues but start to lose their shine as the rogue progresses in levels (thus gaining significantly large character damage).
Though its category is a bit dubious as elemental bows are also high damage bows, they are really in a league of their own. Versus creatures not immune to the element, these bows can deal spectacular damage (due to a bug perhaps), MANY times over with one arrow compared to non-elemental bows. Examples are merciless lwb of thunder (for lightning) or burning (for fire).
At higher levels, the damage bonus from a damage prefix has makes much less difference. On the other hand, a resist bow helps to provide resistance, freeing up a possible jewel slot for +mana. Good for mid-high level rogues whose character damage starts to weigh a lot more than weapon damage.
Though damage may be less at first, at higher levels, swiftness bows can do more damage than the typical “damage bows”. It has the added advantage of being able to keep several monsters in stunlock at the same time (in particular knights and witches). This keeps you from being mobbed. Again, good for mid-high level rogues whose character damage starts to get significant.
The Gnat Sting (HELLFIRE only)
A highly underrated bow, the gnat sting gives the rogue the ability to fire three arrows with one click (thus doing 300+ damage possibly). This gives the advantage of keeping up to three enemies (usually witches and knights); or enables the rapid massacre of one single enemy. Good position and firing angles have to be practised before the benefits of this bow can be optimised. In general, if you want three arrows from this bow, you will have to fire slower, at around once per 0.50 seconds (compared to 0.35 seconds for normal bows). This means that certain enemies (ie advocates) will escape if you fire three arrows, so you would have to go for rapid fire (only one arrow) in certain cases. But still, the offer of triple damage is too great for me to resist.
Note: Unique bows and knockback bows are deliberately left out as they pale in comparison to the bows listed above and have very limited benefits.
Mainly to speed up attack rate and thus damage per unit time. Preferably with a prefix that adds damage (such as kings or merciless series).
Economical, especially a rogue that uses manashield. Preferably with a prefix that adds damage (such as kings or merciless series).
The fastest weapon for killing enemies in hell. x3 TOTAL damage vs demons is no joke and cannot be underestimated.
+30 magic, +50mana, +1 slvl, +50% resist magic. Need i say more? A typical mini-mage weapon.
In particular, Stormshield and Holy Defender. Fast block really helps a lot in the ability of a rogue to melee multiple enemies at one time.
High AC Shields
Awesome, Holy shields are usually used and good suffixes may be +hitpoints or of ages. Actually there are few good suffixes to speak of but +hitpoints and of ages are probably the best there are IMO.
Obsidian/Emerald shields provide some resistance, freeing up some slots for jewels.
Playing styles greatly depend on the individual and there is no fixed style or best style to play a rogue due to her versatility. Some sample styles and setups are (but not restricted to):
Archer possible setup: (in this case low ac)
- Royal Circlet (RC)
- Obsidian Shirt of Stars
- Savage Bow of Heavens
- Dragon/Zod x2
Archer Mini-mage possible setup: (in this case high ac)
- Thinking Cap (TC)
- Awesome Plate of Sorcery
- Emerald Bow of Heavens
- Dragon/Zod x3
Sword/Shield possible setup: (in this case high ac)
- Awesome Plate of Stars
- Stormshield (SS)
- Obs/Zod x2
Sword/Shield Mini-Mage possible setup: (in this case low ac)
- Obsidian Shirt of Sorcery
- KSOV (or KSOH)
- Obsidian Shield of Tiger
- Dragon/Zod x3
CC/Shield possible setup: (in this case high ac)
- Awesome Plate of Precision
- Civerbs Cudgel
- Obs/Zod x2
Mini-Mage possible setup: (in this case low ac)
- Naj’s Plate (or Scavenger’s Carapace)
- Emerald Shield of Ages
- Dragon/Zod x3
Mini-Mage possible setup 2: (in this case high ac)
- Awesome Plate
- Obs/Zod x2
As can be seen, there are so many different styles to play a rogue with vastly different equipment setups.
Which is the best setup? Which is the most effective for you? The only way to find out is to try them out yourself and see which suits you best… For all you know, none of these styles may suit you; or more than one style maybe comfortable for you and you might want to play a combined style (eg melee rogue with various weapons); or vary your style depending on monster mix (eg CAT-rogue)
How I Play My Rogue
Having played all sorts of styles and variants of rogues, i have now ended up with very few setups that have maintained my interest. One of them is my first rogue, the other being my first amazon (a triple class one):
Icewynd (AMZ): lvl 40+ (one setup)
- Ruby Crown of Sorcery (60%)
- Ruby Armour of the Tiger (60%)
- Ruby Sword of Speed (60%)
- Ruby Shield of Ages (56%)
- Ruby Amulet of Zod (54%)
- Ruby Ring (60%)
- Ruby Ring of Wizardry (58%)
A purely obsessive setup with a total of 408% resist fire (out of a max of 420). Is it efficient? Nope. Is it an overkill on resist fire? Yes. Do i have difficulty playing this character? Yes. But was it fun? Yes (for me at least).
Myriam lvl 44
- Thinking Cap
- Ruby Shirt of Stars (??/11)
- Emerald Bow of Heavens (50/15)
- Dragon/Zod (56/16)
- Drake/Zod (47/20)
- Drake/Wiz (45/28)
Emerald Shield of Ages (50)
Lack of a fastblock shield really hurts at times causing a total lack of efficiency sometimes but again, the most important thing of all is to have FUN!?! Isn’t it?