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Assassination Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW 4.3.4)

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Contents


Assassination Rogue Art Image

In this article, we list your Assassination Rogue (WoW 4.3) core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation). We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that playing an Assassination Rogue will face you with. The other articles of our Assassination Rogue guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the left.

1. Basic Single Target Rotation↑top

  • Combo Point builders
    • Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, between 100% and 35% of target's health.
    • Use Backstab Icon Backstab, below 35% of target's health
      • if you generate so much Energy that you cannot spend it, weave in a few Mutilate Icon Mutilates.
  • Finishing Moves (by order of priority)
    • Apply and maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice
    • Apply and maintain Rupture Icon Rupture
      • use whatever amount of Combo Points you have when Rupture is about to expire.
    • Use Envenom Icon Envenom (with 3, 4, or 5 Combo Points).

For more information about the optimal opening sequence, refer to our dedicated section.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

When there are 5 or more enemies in a small area, you should abandon your single-target rotation and spam Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives instead.

3. Poisons↑top

As a rule, always use Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison on your Main-hand weapon and Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Off-hand weapon.

If you are using Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives for doing AoE damage, then use Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Thrown Weapon.

Refer to our Poisons and Weapons section for detailed explanations about poisons and the way they influence your choices of weapons.

4. Cooldowns↑top

You have three DPS cooldowns:

  • Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood should always be used before a 5 Combo Point Envenom Icon Envenom.
  • Vanish Icon Vanish should be used on cooldown. It enables you to benefit from a 20-second Overkill Icon Overkill. To break out of Stealth, use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  • Vendetta Icon Vendetta should be used on cooldown, provided that you can attack your target for 30 seconds without interruption.

As the cooldown on these abilities is high, it is viable to delay using them for periods when the boss takes increased damage.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Assassination Rogue↑top

The Assassination specialisation is rather easy to play. The information given above will yield good results. However, being aware of the few subtleties that we detail in the rest of this page will enable you to play your Assassination Rogue to its full potential.

In particular, poisons do most of the damage of an Assassination Rogue, therefore it is important to understand the synergy they have with your various abilities.

5.1. Combo Points and Energy

As a rogue, most of your abilities need Energy to be used. Your Energy bar has a capacity of 120 Energy (thanks to Assassin's Resolve Icon Assassin's Resolve, your Assassination Rogue proficiency) and refills at a rate of 10 Energy per second. Your energy regeneration is increased by:

  • your melee haste (Haste Rating + haste-enhancing buffs);
  • your normal hits with Backstab Icon Backstab, which restore 30 Energy (thanks to Murderous Intent Icon Murderous Intent);
  • your critical hits with Backstab Icon Backstab, which restore 5 Energy (thanks to Glyph of Backstab);
  • your Relentless Strikes Icon Relentless Strikes talent, which grants your Finishing Moves a 20% chance per Combo Point to restore 25 Energy;
  • your Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood cooldown, which restores 25 Energy;
  • the Overkill Icon Overkill effect (after breaking out of Stealth), which increases your Energy regeneration by 30% for 20 seconds;
  • your Rupture Icon Rupture and Garrote Icon Garrote periodic damage ticks, which have a 60% chance to restore 10 Energy (thanks to Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds).

The faster you regenerate Energy, the more casts of Envenom Icon Envenom you can fit in your rotation.

Some abilities add one or several Combo Points on your target, up to a maximum of 5 Combo Points. Other abilities, called Finishing Moves, consume the Combo Points on your target. The more Combo Points a Finishing Move consumes, the more powerful its effect is. Your Combo Point generation is increased by:

  • Ruthlessness Icon Ruthlessness (if talented), which grants your Finishing Moves a chance to add a Combo Point on your target;
  • Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate, which causes your critical hits with Mutilate Icon Mutilate and Backstab Icon Backstab to add an additional Combo Point on your target.

5.2. Poisons and Weapons

As an Assassnation Rogue, you will only use Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison and Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison, as you have numerous talents that boost them. Unlike Combat and Subtlety Rogues, you have no use for Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison. In this section, we will explain how these poisons are applied and how they influence your weapons of choice.

5.2.1. Poison Application

While the tooltip for Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison clearly mentions how often the poison is applied, the tooltip for Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison does not. For this poison, the number of applications per minute is fixed (between 9 and 10).

This number never changes, regardless of your weapon speed, your melee haste, and the various haste buffs from which you are benefiting. For example, if you can perform 30 normal melee attacks in a minute with an Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison imbued weapon, then each of the attacks will have a 33% chance (approximately) to apply the poison. If you can only perform 20 normal melee attacks, then each attack will have a 50% chance (approximately) to apply the poison.

The one thing to remember is that a slow weapon is associated a higher chance to apply Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison than a faster weapon. This is important because the per minute limit only affects poison applications from normal melee attacks. It does not affect poison applications from special melee attacks, which have a chance to apply the poison equal to the chance associated with their corresponding weapon.

For example, the slower your Main-hand Weapon, the higher the chance that Mutilate Icon Mutilate will apply Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison.

Understanding this is important, as it determines (partly) your choice of poison for your weapons as well as your choice of weapons.

5.2.2. Why Instant Poison and Deadly Poison on Melee Weapons

As an Assassination Rogue, you should always have Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison on your Main-hand Weapon and Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Off-hand Weapon.

Thanks to Improved Poisons Icon Improved Poisons, your Assassination Rogue proficiency, Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison is applied more often and deals more damage than Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison. Furthermore, the buff that Envenom Icon Envenom provides increases even more your chances to apply Instant Poison.

Therefore, it is crystal clear that Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison is your best instant-damage poison (it is not so clear for other Rogue specialisations). It must be applied on your slowest weapon, so that the chances to apply it with your special melee attacks are maximised.

Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison is your most potent poison. Thanks to Improved Poisons Icon Improved Poisons, each strike with an imbued weapon has a 50% chance to apply this poison. It deals a sizeable amount of damage by stacking a DoT on your target, up to 5 stacks. Once at 5 stacks, each new application refreshes the DoT and applies, with a 100% chance, Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison.

Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison must be applied on your fastest weapon, so that you maximise the number of applications of Deadly Poison. The benefits are two-fold:

  • the chances that the DoT will drop (no application within 12 seconds) are minimised;
  • the chances that you will get additional applications of your other weapon's poison are increased.

5.2.3. Why Deadly Poison on Thrown Weapon

Because of Vile Poisons Icon Vile Poisons, you will always want to use Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Thrown Weapon. This causes your Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives to behave as follows.

  • Between 0 and 4 stacks of Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison, each strike of Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives has
    • from Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison on your Main-hand Weapon: a 35-45% chance to apply Instant Poison (depend on your melee haste);
    • from Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Off-hand Weapon: a 50% chance to apply a new Stack of Deadly Poison;
    • from Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Thrown Weapon: a 50% chance to apply a new Stack of Deadly Poison.
  • At 5 stacks of Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison, each strike of Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives has
    • from Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison on your Main-hand Weapon: a 35-45% chance to apply Instant Poison (depend on your melee haste);
    • from Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Off-hand Weapon: a 50% chance to refresh Deadly Poison and apply Instant Poison;
    • from Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison on your Thrown Weapon: a 50% chance to refresh Deadly Poison and apply Instant Poison.

Also, when the boss is not in melee range (for example, when you need to move away from Morchok), you can use Throw Icon Throw to maintain your stacks of Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison.

5.2.4. Weapon Choice

Your choices of weapons are influenced by several constraints. First of all, your poisons dictate that:

  • one of your weapons should be as slow as possible, so that your special melee attacks have an increased chance to apply Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison.
  • one of your weapons should be as fast as possible, so that you get as much benefit as possible from Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison;

Your abilities dictate that your Main-hand Weapon should be as slow as possible, in order to increase the damage done by each cast of Backstab Icon Backstab and Mutilate Icon Mutilate, both of which require you to be using Daggers (in addition to your Assassin's Resolve Icon Assassin's Resolve proficiency). Therefore, you should equip:

  • a 1.8 Agility Dagger (the slowest type of agility weapons you can equip) as your Main-hand Weapon and imbue it with Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison;
  • a 1.4 Agility Dagger (the fastest type of agility weapons available) as your Off-hand Weapon and imbue it with Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison.

Note that Direbrew's Bloodied Shanker is a very rare 2.0 Agility Dagger. This very particular speed makes this weapon more desirable than many 1.8 Agility Daggers of higher item level.

5.3. Single Target Rotation Subtleties

5.3.1. Envenom, Poisons, and Energy Pooling

Envenom Icon Envenom is your hardest hitting ability. Despite what the tooltip says, it does not consume your Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison, thanks to the Master Poisoner Icon Master Poisoner talent.

In addition to hitting very hard, Envenom Icon Envenom gives you a temporary buff that increases the chances that Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison and Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison will be applied. The duration of this buff depends on the number of Combo Points you used Envenom with. It will usually be between 4 and 6 seconds, because you should always use Envenom with 3 to 5 Combo Points. The idea is that Mutilate Icon Mutilate adds 2 or 3 Combo Points on your target, thanks to Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate, meaning that if you are at 3 Combo Points and cast Mutilate, you run the risk of wasting a Combo Point.

Below 35% of your target's health, you will mostly be using Backstab Icon Backstab so you should use Envenom Icon Envenom with 4 to 5 Combo Points.

To benefit from the Envenom Icon Envenom buff as much as possible, you will want to pool Energy before casting Envenom Icon Envenom, when you are above 35% of your target's health. The idea is to be able to cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate at least twice while the buff is active. The buff is applied on you before Envenom deals its damage, therefore Envenom will always benefit from it.

You should not pool Energy during times of high Energy regeneration. This happens mostly when the target is below 35% health (because of the increased Energy regeneration provided by Backstab Icon Backstab) and when you benefit from Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Heroism Icon Heroism, or Time Warp Icon Time Warp.

5.3.2. Rupture, Garrote, and Venomous Wounds

The Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds talent is the reason why you want to maintain Rupture Icon Rupture on your target and why you want to use Garrote Icon Garrote to break out of Stealth (at the beginning of the fight or after using Vanish Icon Vanish).

The DoTs left by these two abilities do not deal much damage by themselves, but, thanks to Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds, each tick has a 60% chance to deal additional Nature damage (shown as Venomous Wounds in your combat logs) and to make you regain 10 Energy.

5.3.3. Backstab

When your target is below 35% health, Backstab Icon Backstab replaces Mutilate Icon Mutilate as your Combo Point builder. The reason for this is the Murderous Intent Icon Murderous Intent talent, which restores 30 Energy every time you use Backstab on a target below 35% health.

As a result of Murderous Intent, your Energy regeneration is much increased on targets below 35% health and you will find yourself casting Envenom Icon Envenom a lot more often than during the rest of the fight.

Note that Mutilate Icon Mutilate is more damaging than Backstab Icon Backstab, even though it costs slightly less Energy to cast. If you find yourself in a situation where the extra Energy regeneration provided by Backstab Icon Backstab (through Murderous Intent Icon Murderous Intent) is not beneficial, then you should stick to using Mutilate Icon Mutilate as your main Combo Point builder. This happens when Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Heroism Icon Heroism, or Time Warp Icon Time Warp is active.

5.3.4. Applying and refreshing Slice and Dice

Whenever you have to apply Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice, do not bother doing it with 5 Combo Points. Indeed, thanks to Cut to the Chase Icon Cut to the Chase, Envenom Icon Envenom will always refresh your Slice and Dice to a 5 Combo Point duration. This is true regardless of how many Combo Points you had applied Slice and Dice with in the first place and regardless of how many Combo Points you use on Envenom.

On fights with long periods of movement or downtime on the boss, you can find yourself with only a few seconds remaining on Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice. In this case, you can simply use Shiv Icon Shiv (instead of Mutilate Icon Mutilate) to add a Combo Point on the target and immediately use Envenom Icon Envenom to refresh Slice and Dice to a 5 Combo Point duration.

Using Shiv instead of Mutilate saves you from spending 60 Energy to build 2 Combo Points that will be used for the sole purpose of refreshing Slice and Dice. It is better to save this Energy to prepare a subsequent 5 Combo Point Envenom Icon Envenom. Shiv Icon Shiv is guaranteed to apply your Off-hand Weapon poison (Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison); this partially makes up for its low damage.

5.3.5. Opening Sequence

  1. Enter Stealth — if you are pre-potting, it will get you out of Stealth, so pre-pot before entering Stealth.
  2. Use Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade on your Tricks of the Trade target (see next section).
  3. When the fight begins, you need to break out of stealth (to benefit from Overkill Icon Overkill):
    • Use Garrote Icon Garrote if you can rapidly position yourself behind the boss.
    • Otherwise, cancel Stealth and use Mutilate Icon Mutilate (or break out of Stealth with Mutilate Icon Mutilate).
  4. Apply Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate.
  6. Apply Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  7. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate.
  8. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom to refresh Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice to a 5 Combo Point duration.
  9. Start your rotation.

5.3.6. Bosses That Cannot Be Attacked From Behind

On bosses that cannot be attacked from behind, you cannot Backstab Icon Backstab when the boss is under 35% health. Therefore, you need to use Mutilate Icon Mutilate as your Combo Point builder for the entire duration of the fight.

Also, you cannot use Garrote Icon Garrote for breaking out of Stealth. At the start of the fight and whenever you use Vanish Icon Vanish, simply cancel Stealth and use Mutilate Icon Mutilate (or use Mutilate Icon Mutilate to break out of Stealth).

Finally, you should replace Glyph of Backstab, which becomes useless, with Glyph of Vendetta.

5.4. Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade was originally designed to be cast on tanks in order to help them keep aggro. With the changes that threat generation has undergone in WOTLK and Cataclysm, it is now more beneficial to your raid if you use Tricks of the Trade on one of the best DPS players in order to increase their damage done.

Note that you can (and most often should) cast Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade on the tank at the pull, before switching to a different target when refreshing it.

Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade costs you a Global Cooldown to cast (but no Energy, thanks to Glyph of Tricks of the Trade). The best time to refresh it is when you are pooling for Energy before casting Envenom Icon Envenom.

Please refer to our Macros and Addons page for a Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade macro.

Note that with the Rogue Tier 13 Set 2-piece Bonus, you get a temporary DPS boost whenever you use Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade.

5.5. Using Redirect

Redirect Icon Redirect is a very convenient ability for Rogues.

This ability transfers your existing Combo Points to your current target. Note that when you kill an enemy, your unused Combo Points remain on it, which means that they can be transferred through Redirect Icon Redirect. Moreover, your Combo Points on a dead enemy are removed when another enemy dies with unused Combo Points.

Redirect Icon Redirect is very useful in two situations:

  • when you switch target and want to start on your new target with the Combo Points you had on your previous target;
  • when you engage a boss and you want to start with as many Combo Points as possible (by transferring the Combo Points of the last trash mob that died).

If you also play the Combat specialisation, you might expect Redirect Icon Redirect to transfer your Vendetta Icon Vendetta from your previous target to your new target, as it does with Bandit's Guile Icon Bandit's Guile for Combat Rogues. Unfortunately, Redirect does not transfer Vendetta.

5.6. More on Cooldown Usage

Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood should be used with a 5 Combo Point Envenom during periods of increased damage dealt to the boss (for example, when Enchant Weapon - Landslide procs). If you prefer, you can add it to an Envenom macro to turn it into a passive proc.

For Vanish Icon Vanish and Vendetta Icon Vendetta, it is imperative that you use them when you can benefit from them for their entire duration without being interrupted. The 20 second Overkill Icon Overkill effect that you get from Vanish Icon Vanish (after breaking out of Stealth) and the 36 second buff from Vendetta Icon Vendetta can (and should) be stacked for increased effect.




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