rift soul breakdown – rogue – tier 1, melee

Call me old fashioned, but when I play a rogue in an mmo, I have a hard time taking ranged damage seriously. Sure, I love a good archer build. There is significant documented evidence of this. But the word rogue (we used to call them “thieves” but apparently political correctness happened or something) really implies backstab and poisons and dodge tanking and all the rest.

Rift has two stealth spec choices and one toe-to-toe melee dps soul to choose from. I’ve spent a lot of time playing an assassin and hope to get a chance to look at the other options more seriously now.


Each point spent in Assassin increases damage dealt by 1%.

Ssasswots are the classic stealth rogue. They get all of the iconic abilities and are an absolute joy to play. One thing that Rift does with stealth that you don’t see very often is limit its duration by default. So even though Assassins and Nightblades both get stealth at level 4, it only lasts for 30 seconds. This eliminates a lot of the classic mmorpg stealth gameplay… unless you’re a level 21+ assassin, then your stealth lasts forever, which thing is awesome 🙂

For zero points, assassins get their weakest poison, which just does damage. They also gain Savage Strike, their basic builder.

By default, assassins can apply up to 2 different poison effects from the several choices they collect. These are implemented as regular buffs, not as equipment enchants – so no need to dig through your inventory and choose which poison goes on which weapon. Poisons generally do water damage and have a 30% chance on weapon ability attacks to apply their effect.

Tier 1 Talents

  • 5 points – +5% crit
  • 5 points – +10% physical damage

This makes dropping a few points into assassin an easy way to augment any crit build.

2 points in the root earns you the assassin’s basic finisher, Final Blow. At this level, it just does damage, the synergies all come later.

4 points in the root unlocks Stealth (with a capital “S”). While stealthed, you move at 70% normal speed, and you can’t stealth during combat. Once you leave stealth, there is a 10s cooldown before you can hide again. Typical mmorpg restrictions here. But like I mentioned, there is a 30s duration limit to be aware of.

At 4 points, they also give you Assassinate, which must be used while stealthed behind the target. It deals heavy damage and ignores armor – and awards two combo points.


Each point spent in Bladedancer increases damage dealt by 1%.

Bladedancer is your basic toe-to-toe melee type. Their abilities chain together to make the rotation more of a rotation – certain abilities unlock others. The chains aren’t that deep, but the mechanic is there from the tutorial zone and unfortunately doesn’t mix incredibly well with other soul abilities – since none of them are part of the chains. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t mix – just that you have to think about it a bit more than some of the more obvious pairings.

That said, at zero points in bladedancer, you get Keen Strike, an otherwise basic melee builder that starts the chain and a panic button cooldown that increases your dodge by 50% for 15s. It is on a whopping 2 minute cooldown, which I believe can be reduced to 1.5 minutes later on.

Tier 1 Talents

  • 5 points – +5% dodge, +5% melee attack power and weapon damage
  • 5 points – +10% dexterity

2 points unlocks Deadly Strike. This is a basic finisher, but it comes along with Deadly Dance, a passive ability that causes all bladedancer finishers to increase the damage of your subsequent melee builder by 3% per combo point spent. Deadly Dance eventually upgrades to 3 attacks by as much as 45% damage.

4 points unlocks Quick Strike, a high damage builder that must follow a Keen Strike. It needn’t follow immediately, you have about 10 seconds to do something else after your Keen Strike before Quick Strike is disabled again. You can even leave combat and attack another target in that time.

So at this point, you have a rotation that looks like: Keen, Quick, Keen, Quick, Keen, Deadly, Quick +15%.

And thus the class lock-in begins – this is why I have never had the motivation to dive very deep into the class. Of course, one man’s lock-in is another’s synergy. Bladedancer plays more like a dual wielding warrior type than a rogue – it is very active and aggressive. It’s actually a whole lot of fun whirling between targets – I just can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of playing a bladedancer at low level for some reason, but once you can put 20-30 points into this class, it really starts to shine.


Each point spent in Nightblade increases damage dealt by 1%.

Nightblade is the other stealth class. They are more high fantasy than typical rogues, dealing in elemental damage rather than poisons. They also have some medium-ranged attacks that allow them to start building before they get close enough to fire off a finisher, or continue to attack while moving out of range of AoE or something, etc…

At zero points, you actually get two builders. One is Primal Strike, a basic melee builder that deals death damage. The other is Fiery Spike, which has a 20m range and applies a fire DoT on the target. This can be stacked up to 3 times.

Tier 1 Talents

  • 5 points – +10% attack power and weapon damage (for both melee and ranged attacks)
  • 5 points – +10% builder damage

I’ve traditionally cherry-picked this on something like a bard build to increase healing output from my Cadence.

2 points in the root unlocks Blazing Strike, a standard melee range finisher that deals fire damage.

4 points in the root unlocks stealth (with a lowercase “S”). The ability is called Conceal and is generally identical to an assassin’s Stealth. To break stealth, you get Ebon Terror, which deals heavy death damage, confuses the target for 2 seconds, and awards you with two combo points.

And there you have the starting melee options for rogues. Next time, we’ll do the support souls plus Riftstalker.

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