When 4th edition first came out, I'll be honest: The three things I was most excited about were playing a 4th ed Wizard, a 4th Cleric, and (Though I had to wait for it), a 4th ed bard.
That said, time, wisdom, and sheer boredom has allowed me to do what I never did when I was in 4th edition: Branch out from my comfort zone classes and see what else was out there. And after much hobbling about, this past year I discovered I liked the ROGUE.
So, let's talk about the rogue. What makes a rogue special? They're the sneakiest of classes. Their utility powers, if chosen properly, allow them to move around any environment unseen, unheard. The bread of the butter of the class, their Sneak Attack feature, can be supported so that barring detrimental effects, you're sneak attacking your foes every turn.
But how can we build a rogue that awesome? How? Simple. Through a combination of Race and at-will power selections.
So let's talk about the build that's won me the role as my party's ultimate damage-dealer...
The Gnome Rogue, Warryn Shortwhack
The saying is, "Once you go gnome, you never go home." Oh, how true that is. Gnomes are perhaps the best race for rogue builds. Now, I know what you're thinking: Gnomes don't get a bonus to DEX like some of the other races out there! They get a bonus to CHA and INT. You can toss the bulk of your Ability Score points into DEX to make it to that precious 18, but those racial Ability Bonuses do help you out more than you know. As you could probably guess, a gnome rogue is built to be Charismatic.
At level 1, my gnome rogue looks like this: STR 8, CON 13, DEX 18, INT 12, WIS 10, CHA 15.
-The bulk of what a rogue is asked to do, skillwise, is dependent upon his DEX score, so we're covered there. Warryn's a nimble little fellow.
Skill Trainings: Minus Stealth and Thievery, which he started with, we also gave him Streetwise, Bluff, Acrobatics, and Perception. Warryn's turning into a regular old cat burglar, and after having done a few "Infiltration and steal" missions, how well I see that work. His racial bonuses to stealth and arcana make him sneakier than the average rogue by a fair margin.
Basic Items: Long story short, once you've gotten some gold in your purse, I highly recommend you spend it on a pair of footpads and a camouflaged cloak. Each gives you a +1 to Stealth checks (Albeit one when you're moving and one when you're standing still), so you get a +1 to your stealth that never goes away.
Power Selection: Let's talk about your At-wills. As a gnome rogue, you get two. So make them count. Movement's never going to be as much of a problem for a gnome rogue, and since I wanted to be more than just another pretty face, I wanted to be following up on my role as much as possible. A rogue is a striker, and a gnome rogue is a terribly vicious one with sneak attack.
Power 1: Clever Strike. This was an easy pick. If you're building a rogue who likes to get into the thick of a fight, Clever Strike is your winning ticket. Just gang up on an enemy that one of your comrades has targeted in melee, and WHAM! You get Combat Advantage for this attack. Which means you'll be in Sneak Attack heaven. Clever Strike makes it so a rogue never goes without his bread and butter.
Power 2: Duelist's Flurry. And then there was this one. Boy, how amazed I was when I saw this one come out in Dragon 381. This was the power MADE for rogues! Every so often, you'll find yourself in the midst of a fight where you just can't target somebody that your buddies are up on. When that happens, when you're backed into a corner, you go with the flurry. Hit, and sure, you don't get your weapon damage...but when you're dealing Sneak Attack damage regardless of CA, WHO CARES?!
Fighting as a Gnome Rogue
Gnome rogues have two racial powers that are absolutely phenomenal for either starting an encounter or mixing it up in the middle of one.
Ghost Sound: There's nothing quite like being able to go, "Hey, look over there!" When Ben Kenobi made the Stormtroopers look away in SW: A New Hope, he was doing this. And it works. There's nothing quite like distracting your enemies long enough to get in close and shank 'em. It's an incredibly satisfying feeling.
Fade Away: "Owww, I got hit! POOF! I'm gone!" And then they all say, "Hey, where did he go?" Right before you reappear behind 'em and stab 'em in the back.
With careful use of these openers, you can mix it up in every fight you're in. Sure, I didn't touch on Encounters or Dailies, but why would I want to? At this point, it's more personal choice.
With these tips and pointers (Oh, one more: BACKSTABBER. It's a Feat. Get it!) you will be well on your way to conquering whatever madness and mayhem gets thrown at you.
In 3rd edition, there were a lot of things not vulnerable to critical hits (And thus, immune to sneak attacks).
I'm glad that in 4th, the optimization of the rogue, and their backstabbityness, has finally been given its full due.
When I get my hands on the "Essentials Rogue", I'll let you know what I think about it. In the meantime, try out the gnome rogue build.
I think you'll like it. Gnome rogues are the best rogues.
And that's the Iowa Perspective.