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Assassination Guide for Cata [12/01/2011]

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#1 ieatpaperbag


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Posted 01 December 2010 - 11:37 PM

Last Revised: 12/01/2011

The most recent changes are in blue.

Information that is probably out of date is in maroon.

This guide is specifically written for raiding Assassination rogues to provide answers to the most common questions regarding how to play the Assassination spec, properly gear and spec yourself, and questions that come up when making a character.

I would like to thank Consider for letting me use his very well written DK guides as a guide to write this guide. I also thank everyone who put in the time and effort testing, calculating, and theorizing to provide the information that is present in this guide. I would also like to thank Aldriana specifically for trudging through this guide for correctness and clarity.

[TABLE="head"]Abbreviation | Meaning
Agi | Agility
AoE | Area of Effect
AP | Attack Power
Capping | Hitting Max Energy
CoS | Cloak of Shadows
CP | Combo Point
CR | Combat Readiness
DP | Deadly Poison
EP | Equivalence Point
FoK | Fan of Knives
GCD | Global Cooldown
MH | Main Hand/Main Hand Weapon
MS | Mortal Strike Effect (referring to all 25% reduce healing debuffs)
ICD | Internal Cooldown
IP | Instant Poison
OH | Off Hand/Off Hand Weapon
SnD | Slice and Dice
TotT | Tricks of the Trade
WP | Wound Poison[/TABLE]


=Specs and Glyphs=

31/2/8 or 31/3/7
The above are links to the two recommended specs for an Assassination rogue with one free point to place as you see fit (this is the point in Deadly Brew in the link). Currently 31/3/7 is very slightly behind 31/2/8, in a test set of gear it was 40 DPS behind out of 24000 DPS.

Deadly Brew
This is one of the two highly recommended optional talents to take. While one point in this talent only gives a 50% chance to proc a crippling poison, you will be procing IP often enough that 2 points in this would be unnecessary even if you had 2 points available. Clearly, this talent is only of use where a slow is going to be beneficial (most bosses can not be slowed). Assassination rogues are one of the better sources of a slow since they sacrifice nothing to provide it and can easily provide an AoE slow with FoK and Vile Poisons.

Deadened Nerves
Healer mana is much more tight in Cata than it was in WotLK and taking the least amount of damage possible is a much more important goal (it’s always been pretty important) making this the other highly recommended talent. While rogues have a number of tricks to avoid/reduce damage (CR, Feint, CoS, etc) reduced damage is saved healer mana and more survivability.

Deadly Momentum
This is another feasible option to take though unlikely to yield as much benefit. During AoE, it could help maintain a SnD since during AoE rogues are generally not generating combo points. However, this is will only happen for 50% of the killing blows you manage to get making this talent a very hit or miss in terms of value.

Improved Expose Armor
Generally, this is not a recommended talent as this particular debuff is easily provided by two tank classes and 50% chance can lead to disruptions in your rotation and DPS. Additionally, it is not a personal DPS gain for an Assassination rogue to maintain Expose Armor with or without this talent.

These 2 points are technically optional points but should almost always be taken over other choices. Increased movement speed will of course be valuable for any movement fight whether you need to move to DPS or to avoid boss mechanics. This unfortunately will not stack with Sprint but does allow you to take a straight DPS enchant on your boots instead of a lesser-DPS movement speed alternative. Again as mentioned earlier, healers are more strained for mana and more often then not this will translate into less casted heals and not more overhealing.

Improved Ambush and Nightstalker
Technically the 2 points in Nightstalker are also your choice though; Ambush is not considered a viable option to open with as Assassination. It is instead best to open a fight with Garrote if you can do so without delaying the start of your attacks by more than a second or two, otherwise just open with Mutilate. This means Improved Ambush is completely useless compared to Nightstalker which will allow you to open from stealth more often than you normally are able to by increasing your movement speed in stealth which stacks multiplicatively with Quickening or Sprint.

2 points in Elusiveness reduces the cooldown of Vanish to 2 minutes allowing you to gain the Overkill buff and Garrote more often. To spec into this, you must sacrifice points from either Precision or Opportunity, both of which are vastly superior to Elusiveness. In the extreme cast were Precision only gives you white hit rating, points in Precision are still better than in Elusiveness. Both Precision and Opportunity will always be better than Elusiveness by a huge margin.


  • [Individual's Choice]
  • [Individual's Choice]
  • [Individual's Choice]

Just to acknowledge (mouseover it), this glyph basically adds another 6 seconds to your Vendetta debuff which works out to be 1% more overall sustained DPS. Currently, as long as you are even using the other 3 glyphs aka Mutilating, Backstabbing, and putting Rupture up (which you will be for the majority of encounters) they come out significantly ahead of the Vendetta glyph such that it will almost never be worth swapping per encounter. Other things to keep in mind are that for some encounters you will not have the chance to stick to the same target for 36 seconds (because you need to run away or change to a different target) every 2 minutes (phase changes is the common example), further diminishing the value of the Vendetta glyph.

The Tricks of the Trade glyph is a raid DPS increase regardless if you have another rogue to trade tricks with or not and is additionally a personal DPS increase if you are using T12 4pc or T13 2pc; it's recommended that you always have this glyph. A glyphed TotT will provide your target with 2% more overall DPS (3% unglyphed at the cost of 30 energy per minute).

The FoK glyph will obviously be useful for most encounters were you will need to AoE.

Feint is a tremendously valuable ability for reducing damage taken from AoE abilities which increases your survivability and saves precious healer mana. For any encounter were you use Feint regularly, it is worth glyphing (refer to the Cataclysm 4.3.x Raid Mechanics for various places Feint will work, older encounters are linked in the below resource section).

Glyph of Sprint allows you to move at ground mount speed (100%) with Sprint up which can be helpful for target swaps where you need to move to get in range and for various boss mechanics. In short, carry around and chose your major glyphs per encounter.

None of the minor glyphs directly impact your DPS and can be chosen to your preference. will increase your survivability for some encounters.


=Combat and Rotation=

You will always want to put IP on your MH and DP on your OH. For most fights where you need to use FoK, you will want DP on your throwing (you cannot poison other ranged weapons or use FoK with them). If a slow is needed, consider specing into Deadly Brew (explained above) instead of actually putting Crippling Poison on your weapon. It is very detrimental to an Assassination rogue’s DPS to provide MS with WP and is provided by several specs at no sacrifice (Shadow Priests for example). Remember, Anesthetic Poison no longer exists and is baked into your Shiv.


You will always want to open from stealth such that you use as much of your 20 seconds of Overkill as possible. It is better to open a fight with Garrote rather than Mutilate if you can do so without delaying the start of your attacks by more than a second or two. This may not always be possible either due to unpredictable movement of the boss in the first few seconds of the fight or to a stealth-breaking pulse at the start of the encounter - but when its possible, its worth doing. Once in combat, there are various sequences of abilities that work but ultimately you will want to get Rupture and SnD both up as quickly as possible, neither has to be a lot of combo points at the start.

100% to 35% target HP
The priority of finishers is as follows.

SnD > Rupture > Envenom

At this point, you will use Mutilate as your combo point generator and maximize your Rupture uptime then maximize your Envenom uptime. Your rotation will be 1+ Rupture and 4+ Envenom; meaning if your Rupture is falling off, put whatever combo points you have into a new one otherwise do 4 or 5 combo point Envenoms. When possible, you want pool ~90 energy (less with haste or if you are consistently overlapping your Envenom buff) just before using Envenom such that when you Mutilate after, you have an increased chance to proc your poisons. To maximize your Envenom uptime, you should try to not overlap the Envenom buff when possible but never do this at the expense of capping out or wasting combo points while waiting for your Envenom buff to expire. Below is a table of the damage lost for various actions.

[table="head"]Action | Estimated Damage Loss
Wasting all CPs from 1 Mutilate | 19289
Wasting all CPs from 1 Backstab | 12500
Capping for 1 second | 8985
Leaving Rupture down for 1 second | 3375
Using a 1 CP Rupture instead of a perfect 5 | 1871
Clipping 1 second of Evenom | 1368
Using a 2 CP Rupture instead of a perfect 5 | 1301
Using a 3 CP Rupture instead of a perfect 5 | 846
Using a 4 CP Rupture instead of a perfect 5 | 425

Ideally none of these situations would come up, but you will often find yourself in a situation of either or. We can see clearly from this table that there is a heavy penalty for capping out or using Mutilate/Backstab as an energy dump (at 4-5 combo points) and that it is instead just better to clip an Envenom. We also see that it is better use an undersized Rupture or to clip a second (up to 2.47 seconds) of Envenom instead of letting Rupture fall off for a GCD. This is the reason why there is a heavy emphasis on maintaining a high Rupture uptime.

35% or less target HP
Once your target reaches 35% HP, you will stop using Mutilate and instead use Backstab to generate combo points. You will want to do 1+ Rupture and 5 Envenom instead and still follow the same priority order; maximize your Rupture uptime and then Envenom’s and pool before using Envenom. If you are struggling to prevent yourself from capping out (because of bloodlust for example), you should use Mutilate instead until you can stabilize your energy.


Of the three rogue specs, Assassination is capable of providing the most AoE damage using FoK. Keep in mind that FoK it self hardly does any damage; it’s the poisons that are easily applied from your throwing and melee weapons (via Vile Poisons) that do all the damage. This means that it does take several FoKs before your DP stacks up to 5 so that you can proc substantial IP damage from your MH and that, most of an Assassination rogues’ AoE damage “bypass” the AoE damage cap. Just to note, it is not yet know how many targets need to be in your vicinity for FoK to be worth using.


Assassination rogues have three DPS cooldowns.

You will want to use Vendetta when it is available and when you have a 30 second window (36 seconds glyphed) to deal uninterrupted damage and if possible when trinket and weapons procs, bloodlust, a potion, and/or Overkill are up. Keep in mind that Vendetta is a debuff that is placed on your target so if you swap targets you will lose the benefit of the debuff and used in an AoE situation, you are really only increasing your AoE damage on one target.

Cold Blood
Cold Blood is also something you want use as soon as you can match it up with your hardest hitting ability, Envenom. If you use it on Envenom, use it for a 5 combo point one and keep in mind that it generates 25 energy when used so if you are pooling before using Envenom, pool less energy so you do not cap out. Coldblood can also be used with Mutilate or Backstab to generate a guaranteed extra combo point (via Seal Fate). Coldblood is generally not worth using to increase FoK damage since the direct FoK damage is quite insignificant as mentioned earlier.

Vanish / Overkill
Vanish is a DPS cooldown because it allows you to gain Overkill again during an encounter. Similar to Vendetta, you will want to use Vanish in combination (just before if possible) with other DPS enhancements. You will want to avoid using Vanish while you have an Envenom buff and reopen with Garrote in less then 4 to 5 seconds.


=Stats and Gearing=
Stat Weights

Below are the current estimated EP values for stats in heroic gear and full raid buffs (1 EP = 1 AP). As a special note for T12 stats, mastery, haste, and crit are somewhat higher with 4pc then without, it is best to check with Shadowcraft. The T13 EP values have not been finalized but nextormento has provided some preliminary number for us to work with. The value of yellow hit, mastery, and expertise will go up for rogues using the legendary daggers which will could make capping expertise worthwhile.

[table="head"]Stat | T11 EP | T12 EP | T13 EP
Agility | 2.6 | 2.7 | 2.75
Yellow Hit Rating | 1.75 | 2.0 | 2.24
Spell Hit Rating | 1.4 | 1.6 | 1.72
Mastery Rating | 1.3 | 1.4 | 1.62
Haste Rating | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.40
Expertise Rating | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.40
Crit Rating | 0.9 | 1.2 | 1.21
White Hit Rating | 0.75 | 0.82 | 0.87
MH DPS | 3.36 | 3.32 | 3.15
OH DPS | 1.04 | 1.04 | 0.97

Agility is by far your strongest stat simply because each point provides 2 AP and some crit and because you get an extra 5% more Agility for wearing leather via the rogue version of Leather Specialization.

[table="head"] | Yellow | Spell | White
3/3 Precision | 241 (2%) | 1127 (11%) | 2523 (21%)
2/3 Precision | 481 (4%) | 1332 (13%) | 2763 (23%)

The above table gives the amount of hit rating required to reach yellow (specials like Mutilate, Rupture, Envenom, etc.), spell (your poisons), and white (autoattacks) hit cap raid bosses. As you add hit rating to your gear, you reduce the chance to miss yellow, spell, and white attacks until you reach the yellow hit cap of 8% at which point you can no longer miss specials on raid bosses. If you are looking at your character sheet in-game, this is found under “Melee”, hit rating converts to melee and spell hit chance at different rates (remember 4/6% comes from Precision). Additional hit rating will only reduce your chance to miss spells and white attacks until you reach the spell hit cap of 17% (under “Spell” on your character sheet) where your poisons will no longer miss raid bosses. From here, hit rating will only reduce your chance to miss white attacks until you reach 27% (under “Melee” on your character sheet).

Assassination rogues do predominately poison damage (spell) and generally will reforge to hit rating until spell hit cap. From there hit rating will only worth 0.75 EP, the weakest of all secondary stats.

[table="head"] | Expertise Cap
Gnomes | 691 (23)
Everyone else | 781 (26)

The table above gives the amount of expertise rating required to reach the expertise cap for dodges. Despite what your character sheet displays, expertise is not truncated and each point of expertise rating reduces your chance to be dodged until you reach cap. When a combo point generating ability (Mutilate, Backstab, etc.) or a finisher is dodged you are refunded 80% of the cost. When Envenom is dodged, you still get the Envenom buff but depending on how much time you have left on your SnD, your SnD may fall off and have to directly refresh your SnD. These mechanics play a part in expertise's relative poor value and it is likely most Assassination rogues will not gear for expertise cap unless they have cycle stability issues. The expertise cap for Gnomes is given because they are the only race that has dagger expertise, playing an Assassination rogues with non-daggers is ineffective.

Mastery is your most valuable secondary stat after spell hit cap and acts on well over 50% of your damage composition (IP, DP, Envenom, and Venomous Wounds) by increasing the bonus you get from Potent Poisons. Baseline Potent Poisons increases your poison damage by 28% and 3.5% for every point of mastery you have (179.28 rating). Similar to expertise, mastery is also not truncated and each point of mastery rating will increase your poison damage.

Haste in addition to reducing your weapon swing timers, increases the rate at which you regenerate energy (baseline is 10 energy per second). The value of haste does not pass mastery with full BiS T12 as mentioned early in the 4.2 patch and it will be best to reforge full mastery after achieving spell hit cap.

Crit is a relatively poor stat for Assassination rogues because a large part of our damage is from spell damage that crits with a 150% multiplier instead of the typical 200% for physical attacks. Using T12 2pc will certainly increase the value of crit slightly however it will remain one of your worst secondary stats.

Set Bonuses

This section is for covering the relative value of set bonuses and to discuss changes in play style if they produce any.

  • [Jaws of Retribution] Your melee attacks have a chance to grant Suffering, increasing your Agility by 2, stacking up to 50 times.
  • [Maw of Oblivion] Your melee attacks have a chance to grant Nightmare, increasing your Agility by 5, stacking up to 50 times.
  • [Fangs of the Father] Your melee attacks have a chance to grant Shadows of the Destroyer, increasing your Agility by 17, stacking up to 50 times. Each application past 30 grants an increasing chance to trigger Fury of the Destroyer. When triggered, this consumes all applications of Shadows of the Destroyer, immediately granting 5 combo points and cause your finishing moves to generate 5 combo points. Lasts 6 sec.

This is the progression of the set bonuses provided by the daggers leading up to the legendary dagger set completed in T13. The stacking Agility buff is pretty straight forward and lasts 30 seconds. In the case of Assassination, during Fury of the Destroyer you absolutely want to perform six finishers; do not worry about clipping Envenom and it is ok if you refresh Rupture during the proc (Envenoms and Ruptures done during the buff are not any more special than ones without the buff).

  • [T13 2P] After triggering Tricks of the Trade, your abilities cost 20% less energy for 6 sec. (711 EP)
  • [T13 4P] Increases the duration of Shadow Dance by 2 sec, Adrenaline Rush by 3 sec, and Vendetta by 9 sec. (388 EP)

The 2pc will make using TotT on cooldown necessary to maximize your personal DPS similar to the T12 4pc. Keep in mind that during execute phase you may have trouble with capping and may need to weave in Mutilates in place of Backstab. The 4pc is fairly straight forward and extends your Vendetta to a 39 second duration, you may have trouble getting the full benefit of this for some encounters were you cannot attack the same target for 39 seconds.

  • [T12 2P] Your melee critical strikes deal 6% additional damage as Fire over 4 sec. (400 EP)
  • [T12 4P] Your Tricks of the Trade ability also causes you to gain a 25% increase to one of your combat ratings at random for 30 sec. (400 EP)

As mentioned above, 2pc will certainly increase the value of crit slightly however it will remain one of your worst secondary stats. The debuff applied works very similar to Ignite in that an existing DoT will update and add in new crits and decrease as old crits expire; in short all of your crits will get their full DoT damage in. The 4pc will pick either Mastery, Haste, or Crit and will never pick the same one twice in a row. You will of course want to use TotT on cooldown to get the full benefit of this set bonus and you should continue to gear normally.

  • [T11 2P] Increases the critical strike chance of your Backstab Mutilate, and Sinister Strike abilities by 5%. (300 EP)
  • [T11 4P] Each of your melee autoattacks has a 1% chance to activate Deadly Scheme for 15 sec, increasing the critical strike chance on your next Eviscerate or Envenom by 100%. (200 EP)

Both of these set bonuses are quite passive in that you will play the same way you would without them. While you generally don’t have to think about it, there is a limited duration on the 4 piece bonus and you will want to get an Envenom off before it expires. An additional note, while the 2 piece T10 bonus is very good, you will not want to sacrifice two pieces of current gear to retain this bonus in the same way we did with T6 during the first tier of WotLK.


A note about dagger choice, it will always be best to have a slow MH (1.8 speed) and a fast OH (1.4 speed). This is because Assassination rogues no longer have Focused Attacks or Dual-Wield Specialization. It may be plausible to use a different set up because of unfortunately drops but the ideal case remains overwhelmingly the same. Below is an incomplete and estimated BiS list of gear based on T12 EP values and will be completed later.

Best in Slot Gear
[table="head"]Slot | Item | Gems | Reforge
Helm | | | NYI
Neck | NYI | NYI | NYI
Shoulders | | | NYI
Back | NYI | NYI | NYI
Chest | | | NYI
Wrists | | | NYI
Gloves | | | NYI
Belt | | | NYI
Legs | | | NYI
Boots | | | NYI
Ring 1 | | | NYI
Ring 2 | | | NYI
Trinket 1 | | None | None
Trinket 2 | | None | None
MH | * | | NYI
OH | * | | NYI
Ranged | | None | NYI
*If you only have the first stage of the legendary daggers, use for a MH and in your OH

[table="head"]Name | EP
| 2678.65
| 2464.12
| 2452.01

* | 2187.75
| 2182.9
| 2169.98
| 1954.51
* | 1937.92
| 1934.37
| 1779.88
| 1731.77
* | 1717.44
| 1686.83
| 1577.81
| 1574.84
| 1562.72
| 1509.11
| 1464.53
| 1409.28
| 1397.23
| 1259.41
| 1262.15
| 1249.03
| 1206.90
| 1189.50
| 1180.97
| 1159.72
| 1158.19
| 1125.70
| 1098.31
* Modeled with an unconfirmed 115 second ICD

These trinkets vary in value at different rates over time since some of them are on use, procs, or provide a stacking buff. Yurifel created an Average EP vs. Time graph (out of date, uses T11 EP values) which you may use to get an idea of how different types of trinkets change in value over the duration of an encounter.


=Reforging, Gemming, and Enchanting=

Reforging is used to reduce a secondary stat by 40% (always round down) and add that amount as another stat that is not already on that piece of gear. This makes it possible to tune your gear to focus on your best stats and avoid "wasting" stats by exceeding caps.

As a general strategy, you'll want to reduce the weakest stat and add more of a better stat that isn't already present on that piece of gear. Using as an example, between crit and haste, crit is the weakest of the two. If you are below the spell hit cap, you will want to add hit and if you are above it, you will want to add mastery rating instead.

Yellow hit cap should be quite easy to reach, the next most valuable and reforgable stat is still hit again but for spell hit cap. You basically want to first go to your pieces of gear that have crit (your least valuable stat) and do no have hit on them and reforge crit into hit. Since spell hit has a cap, you may want to reforge different pieces of gear until you get as close to the cap as possible without going too far over. Once at the spell hit cap, you want to reforge weaker stats into mastery rating (the next best stat).


Below are some of the gems an Assassination rogue may consider for their gear (some are there for reference and are generally not recommended). Epic-quality gems are always superior to their blue-quality counterparts however, since the epic-quality gems are not readily available the blue-quality ones are listed. The EP values are based on BiS heroic T12 gear.

Red Sockets
[table="head"]Name | Stats | EP
| 50 Agility | 137.5
| 40 Agility | 110.0
| 70 Expertise Rating | 60.0
| 40 Expertise Rating | 56.0

Yellow Sockets
[table="head"]Name | Stats | EP
| 25 Agility/25 Mastery Rating | 109.3
| 25 Agility/25 Haste Rating | 103.8
| 20 Agility/20 Mastery Rating | 100.0
| 20 Agility/20 Haste Rating | 83.0

Blue Sockets
[table="head"]Name | Stats | EP
| 25 Agility/25 Hit Rating | 111.8*
| 25 Agility/25 Hit Rating | 90.5**
| 20 Agility/20 Hit Rating | 89.4*
| 20 Agility/20 Hit Rating | 72.4**
*below spell hit cap
**above spell hit cap

You generally will want to match all of your Agility bonuses ( in yellow sockets and in blue sockets) and put all into sockets for non-Agility bonuses or gear with no red sockets. To be sure, you may want to calculate the EP value yourself. Using as an example, there is a yellow and blue socket for a 20 Agility bonus. Putting a and in gives a total of 25+25+20=70 Agility, 25 Mastery Rating, and 25 Hit Rating. Below the spell hit cap, the total EP value is calculated as follows.

[TABLE]Matching Sockets
70(2.75) + 25(1.62) + 25(1.72) = 276.0 EP[/TABLE]

What if we decided to put in two instead? This gives a total of 50+50=100 Agility (no socket bonus).

[TABLE]Straight Agility
100(2.7) = 275.0 EP[/TABLE]

So in this case, it is slightly better to use two Agility gems which agrees with the earlier statement that we should put all Agility gems in for gear with no red sockets. Using the same piece of gear with blue-quality gems gives 231.8 EP compared to 220.0 EP meaning it would be better to match your socket bonuses.


is the preferred meta-gem and requires three red gems to be equipped in your gear (this counts your orange and purple gems in addition to your red gems).


[table="head"]Slot | Enchant | Comments
Head | 60 Agi/35 Haste | (Revered with Ramkahen)
Cape | 65 Crit | (From Enchanting) With T12 4pc this comes out better than check with Shadowcraft without the 4pc.
Shoulder | 50 Agility/25 Mastery | (Exalted with Therazane)
Chest | 20 Stats | (From Enchanting)
Bracers | 50 Agility | (From Enchanting)
Gloves | 65 Mastery | (From Enchanting)
Legs | 190 AP / 55 Crit | (From Leatherworking)
Feet | 35 Agility | (From Enchanting) You will not need a run speed enchant since you’ll be speced into Quickening.
Belt | Extra Socket | (From Blacksmithing), put a in the socket
MH | 1000 AP proc | (From Enchanting)*
OH | 1000 AP proc | (From Enchanting)*
*Since is currently quite expensive; a reasonable alternative is to use double . Very close behind is Hurricane on the MH and on the OH, further behind are those two enchants in reverse. Double Avalanche is significantly further behind double Hurricane.


These are generally the consumables you will use in a raid.

Food: / /

The new feast now give you exactly the same benefit Agility food does (90 Agility) instead of general AP so, you can enjoy someone else’s hard work now.

One note about Potion of Tol’vir (and most current potions) is that they last 25 seconds instead of 15 seconds. You will want to consider if you have a 25 second window to DPS to use the full duration of the buff in addition to stacking it with procs and other various DPS enhancements.

For those that are not familiar, prepotting is using a potion just before you enter combat such that you are able to use two for an encounter. Keep in mind that you want to do this as close to when you enter combat as possible not only to maximize the buff of your first potion but also because potting takes you out of stealth and starts your overkill timer.


=Races and Professions=


The newest race to the alliance also has the strongest racial bonus for Alliance Assassination rogues. Visciousness gives 1% crit (216.9 EP) which is overall the weakest stat for Assassination but still is more EP than 3 expertise (126.1 EP) from Gnomes and the zero direct benefits of other races. Given that rogues are a melee class, Darkflight (40% speed sprint every 2 minutes that stacks with Quickening but unlike Sprint, does not stack with Nightstalker) provides some utility though; rogues already come with a 70% (100% glyphed) speed boost every 1 minute that does not stack with Darkflight.

Gnomes have stepped up to be a decent Alliance race for Assassination rogues. Shortblade Specialization gives you 3 expertise (126.1 EP) for using daggers which isn't exactly stellar since expertise has a relatively low value. However, daggers are the only weapon you will ever use as an Assassination rogue so you will always have the benefit of the racial. Gnomes also have Escape Artist which will remove any snares and/or roots every 90 seconds which can be useful for encounters involving those types of debuffs.

Night Elf
Night Elves have the highest base Agility which at level 85 is of minimal effect. Shadowmeld will put you into stealth and allow you to use an opener which in the case of Assassination, generally should be Garrote; Shadowmeld will not give you the Overkill buff. Shadowmeld also drops you off the threat table until you break stealth however, between TotT, Vanish, and even Feint, threat is very unlikely to be an issue. Quickness will of course give you some survivability though most of the time, nothing life threatening should be swinging at you.

Human racials have no direct impact on an Assassination rogue’s DPS. Every Man for Himself is a 2 minute PvP trinket and it is conceivable that for certain boss encounters it will allow you to dish out more damage or trivialize a boss mechanic.

Dwarven racials, similar to humans have no direct impact on an Assassiantion rogue’s DPS. Stoneform removes poison, disease, and/or bleeds and reduces all damage taken by 10% every two minutes which won't do more than increase your survivability trivialize some boss mechanics.


Trolls are the strongest races for Horde Assassination rogues with Berserking which provides 20% attack speed and energy regen (haste) every 3 minutes which can be used in conjunction with every Vanish. Trolls also have reduced snare/root duration from Da Voodoo Shuffle which could help if a boss had these mechanics. For bosses classified as beasts, such as Beth'tilac and Chimaeron, Trolls are the clear dominate race for DPS because of Beast Slaying.

Goblins, the new Horde race, have a passive 1% increased attack speed (this is not the same as haste which would include increased energy regen) from Time is Money. Additionally Goblins have a shared cooldown ability that will either deal some fire damage to a target (Rocket Barrage) or launch you forward (Rocket Jump) which can be quite useful as a melee class since some encounters require some movement to avoid boss mechanics or change targets.

Orcs, a good Horde race for Assassination rogues, have Blood Fury, a relatively strong DPS cooldown providing 1170 AP (at 85) every 2 minutes which can be used in conjunction with every Vendetta and/or Coldblood. Unfortunately, the other racials that are relatively strong for other classes are completely useless for Assassination rogues.

Blood Elf
Blood Elves have a DPS cooldown as well, Arcane Torrent, which generates 15 energy every 2 mins. and does an AoE silence (also interrupts non-player targets). Blood Elves’ small increase in survivability with Magic Resistance was changed to Arcane resistance only and is much less useful.

Forsaken racials do not have a direct impact on DPS and are overall the weakest Horde race for Assassination rogues. Will of the Forsaken breaks fear, charm, and/or sleep effects every 2 minutes which similar to humans, could allow you to deal some extra damage or trivialize a mechanic for some bosses.


Blacksmithing gains you two additional sockets (Socket Bracers and Socket Gloves) which you should put two in for 100 more Agility, 20 more Agility than the rest of the craft professions.

Leatherworking replaces the 50 Agility to bracers enchant with Draconic Embossment - Agility which provides 80 more Agility. Leatherworkers can additionally use Dragonbone Leg Reinforcements on their legs instead of for exactly the same stats for much cheaper materials.

Engineers are able to enchant their gloves with Synapse Springs which provides 480 Agility on use every minute (averaging 80 Agility), this does not overwrite your standard glove enchant. The which fires bolts similar to bombs every 2 minutes at a targeted area also resets your swing timer making it a DPS loss to use in melee range for single target. Engineers can choose a utility enchant for their belt, the two that stand out are Nitro Boosts which gives you increased movement speed every 3 minutes and Ground Plasma Shield, which absorbs a respectable amount of damage every 5 minutes. Both have a reasonable chance to fail in a raid now (nitro boosts can blast you into the air or cause Rocket Fuel Leak and the plasma shield can AoE taunt via Painful Shock); this should be considered for critical boss mechanics. Engineers are also able to make and place two cogwheel gems into them which puts the helm on par itemization-wise with any ilvl 359 helm and obsolete once you can complete higher content.

Alchemists have a passive Mixology buff which will increase the effect of by 80 Agility. Additionally, the buff will double the duration of flasks potentially saving you a good deal of gold. For content where you do not flask, alchemists are able to create a which gives you 80 Agility and has an unlimited number of uses.

Enchanters are able to enchant their rings which are normally not enchanted with Enchant Ring – Agility which gives a total of 80 Agility.

Scribes are able to put Swiftsteel Inscription on their shoulders which is exactly 80 more Agility than . This also makes raising your reputation with Therazane to exalted not necessary but ultimately Scribes are on par with most craft professions.

Tailors are able to enchant their cloaks with Swordguard Embroidery which works similar to a typical trinket in that it procs a 15 second long buff (1000 AP) that has a tested 55 second ICD (26.3% uptime considering its 15% proc chance). Overall, this gives an average of 263 AP. This however does not stack with a typical cloak enchant (65 crit in our case) and comes out closer to 201 AP which is about the value of 73.1 Agility.

Allows you to replace three with three which nets you 51 Agility, 29 less Agility than the rest of the craft professions (excluding blacksmithing).

Herbalists have Lifeblood which in addition to a heal over time, will grant you 480 haste rating (increased attack speed and energy regen) which is about 80 haste rating on average. This is clearly the best among the three gathering profession for Assassination rogues but inferior to all of the crafting professions.

Skinners gain Master of Anatomy which gives a passive 80 crit rating, again crit is one of the weakest stats for Assassination rogues making skinning a very weak profession.

Miners have 120 stamina from Toughness which provides no DPS gain other than additional survivability.


=Basic Combat Mechanics=

  • Partial resists no longer occur against bosses.
  • Glancing blows happen when white attacking equal or higher level NPCs and deal 25% reduced damage. For bosses this has a 24% chance to happen for all of your white attacks.
  • When attacking a NPC target from behind you cannot be parried but can still be dodged.
  • All melee classes suffer a 4.8% crit suppression vs bosses when using melee attacks.
  • All spell attacks have a 2.1% crit suppression vs bosses.


You will want to macro /startattack to the melee abilities you use most which will ensure you are autoattacking your target even if you do not have the energy to perform an ability that would normally start your autoattack. A couple of examples.

/cast Mutilate[/TABLE]

/cast Backstab[/TABLE]

Almost all rogues find it easier to use a TotT macro instead of targeting someone to use it such that you can keep attacking your target.

/cast [@focus] Tricks of the Trade[/TABLE]
This lets you hit your focus target with TotT.

/cast [@targettarget] Tricks of the Trade[/TABLE]
This lets you hit your target's target with TotT (hopefully a tank, though bosses often target other players for their abilities).

/cast [@<player's name>] Tricks of the Trade[/TABLE]
This will let you hit a specific player with TotT.

/cast [@mouseover,help,nodead][@target,help,nodead][@focus,help,nodead][@targettarget,help,nodead]Tricks of the Trade[/TABLE]
This macro will let you TotT your mouseover, your target (if friendly) if you do not have a mouseover, your focus if you do not have either, and your target's target if you do not have any of the former.

FoK requires a throwing weapon to be equipped however rogues are still able to use other ranged weapons and may have a ranged weapon that is better for single target DPS than their throwing weapon. In this case, it may be convenient to make a macro to swap weapons depending on if you need to AoE or deal single-target DPS. Just as a warning, these macros invoke a GCD and can cause you to cap out and they reset your swing timer (delayed/lost auto attacks). FYI, you can Shift + Right Click on items in your bag to automatically enter the name of your weapon when making these macros.

[TABLE]#showtooltip Fan of Knives
/equip <name of your throwing weapon>
/cast Fan of Knives[/TABLE]

[TABLE]#showtooltip Mutilate
/equip <name of your better ranged weapon>
/cast Mutilate[/TABLE]


This is a webapp designed by several rogues (notably Aldriana and Adrine) that can download your gear from the Armory and make suggestions about gearing, gemming, and reforging. The tool will also allow you to see the effect of changing talents, buffs/debuffs, rotation priorities, etc. It is recommended you use an updated browser, preferably Chrome or Safari 5. Further discussion can be found here.

Cataclysm 4.3.x Raid Mechanics
This is a discussion on T13 encounters focused on the numerous places in boss encounters where your non-DPS abilities such as Feint, CoS, Dismantle, racials, engineering tinkers, etc. excel along with some suggestions about how you should approach various boss mechanics.

Cataclysm 4.2.x Raid Mechanics
This is a discussion maintained by Fnar that also discusses how to use your non-DPS abilities but for T12 bosses.

Cataclysm 4.0.3 Raid Mechanics
This discussion maintained by Zulkeir, is similar to the ones above except it is for T11 bosses.


=Thread Change Log=
[12/01/2010] Thread Created
[12/15/2010] Swordguard Embroidery updated
[12/16/2010] T11 and relevant heroics trinket EP values added
[12/27/2010] T11 heroic BiS List
[12/30/2010] Alternative weapon enchants
[01/05/2011] Opening with Garrote
[01/12/2011] Elusiveness is worse, stop talking about it
[01/24/2011] Yurifel's graph and Rupture methodology
[01/27/2011] Maximizing Envenom uptime
[02/08/2011] Patch 4.0.6 (a few links will be broken or link to the wrong items until wowhead updates)
[03/24/2011] Added rotation data and updated the Shadowcraft Link
[04/26/2011] Patch 4.1.0
[05/04/2011] Update to BiS list with new Al'akir gear
[05/18/2011] Update to BiS list with a ranged weapon instead of a lower ilvl thrown
[05/19/2011] More detail about hit rating
[06/28/2011] Patch 4.2.0 (I'll update the BiS and Trinkets once the armory updates and syncs with Shadowcraft)
[07/02/2011] Trinket and Haste EP value updates
[10/24/2011] Updated Shadowmeld and corrected belt BiS (sorry)
[11/07/2011] Corrected Berserking and Time is Money to include energy regen
[11/29/2011] Patch 4.3.0 (sorry, a lot of broken links until wowhead updates)
[12/01/2011] Corrected minor errors and updated trinket EP values

Most rogues are unaware of the fact that when they cast killing spree, they are an eligible victim of the killing spree.

#2 Luckyspoon


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 12:25 AM

Head 60 Agi/30 Haste [Arcanum of the Ramkahen] (Revered with Ramkahen)

Just a heads up, the Arcanum is 35 haste, not 30.

please delete when fixed

#3 lubricious


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:08 AM

You will always want to open from stealth such that you use a much of your 20 seconds of Overkill.

Should read:
You will always want to open from stealth such that you use as much of your 20 seconds of Overkill as possible.

Just to note, it not yet know how many targets need to be in your vicinity for FoK to be worth using.

Should read:
Just to note, it's not yet known how many targets need to be in your vicinity for FoK to be worth using.

Please delete this post after correcting.

#4 Aldriana


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:14 AM

Moderator's note: please don't make "delete after fixing" posts. Either make a post that's reasonable to keep around in the long term, or PM your comments to the guide author. Every time you make a "delete after fixing" post its more work for me.

#5 opt1knerv3


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 03:34 AM

Unless im reading wrong, are Leatherworking and Tailoring then the top two DPS professions for assassination, with tailoring being greater than Jewelcrafting (92 > 81)?

#6 Aldriana


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 03:58 AM

I don't think we have any definitive information about the proc rate of the tailoring enchant. Once someone gets it and figures out the ICD, we'll be able to assess it precisely - it might turn out to be optimal; it might now.

#7 sp00n


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 10:19 AM

What I would like to see is information (it's a guide after all) if it's actually worthwile to chase the different caps like expertise and spell hit, besides their relative low EP values.
While for spell hit it's not that of a mystery since it is (then) the second highest stat EP wise (but still close to mastery), is it worth to cap out on expertise or are you best advised to simply ignore it?
The discussion on expertise has been there since like forever, regarding cycle stability etc., but how is it in Catacylsm?

Other things I've noticed:
  • Maybe add a tip when to use Cold Blood: as soon as it's ready with an Envenonm, as soon as you have a 5pt Envenom, etc.
  • It is now a 5pt. Backstab cycle instead of a 4+? Interesting, I think I remember that it wasn't clear yet, if it is now, good to know.
  • You could replace "Dodge Cap" with "Expertise Cap". I first thought you were really talking about the dodge (rating) cap, which made no sense to me. It's cleared up in the text below that this is only targetting the chance to be dodged, and I think "Expertise Cap" would be the correct term.
  • You could add the Leatherworking bracers enchant to the enchanting list. It's mentioned later on, but I think it makes sense to add it there (also the other profession ernchants).
  • Glancing Blows do appear on mobs that are not bosses (or level 88 for that matter) as well, just at a reduced rate. A bit unclear formulated.
  • Maybe add the TotT "supermacro": /cast [@mouseover,help,nodead][@target,help,nodead][@focus,help,nodead][@targettarget,help,nodead]Tricks of the Trade

Otherwise, I'm very happy to see such a guide in the rogue forums, I always liked the DK ones.
Good luck on keeping it up to date though, once it's grown, searching through hundreds of pages of for information is no fun. ;)

Stopped Playing

#8 ieatpaperbag


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:21 PM

[*] You could add the Leatherworking bracers enchant to the enchanting list. It's mentioned later on, but I think it makes sense to add it there (also the other profession ernchants).

Thanks for the suggestions. At the moment, I really prefer to keep that enchant table simple and for the default enchants instead of an either more complex table or table aimed at someone with all of the professions in the game. I worded the profession section in hopes that it would be clear that you use their perks to upgrade/replace what you see in the default table.

#9 Sculduggery


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:31 PM

You will always want to open from stealth such that you use a much of your 20 seconds of Overkill as possible. It is not yet known if it is better to open with Garrote or Mutilate yet (again it probably is better to use Mutilate).

Since Venomous Wounds affects Garrote, opening with Garrote is going to result in more damage and energy return than opening Mutilate when it is viable. There are going to be situations where it is not possible to pre-pot + re-enter stealth then Garrote, but in situations where it is viable (Saurfang/LK), you will want to use Garrote.

The question isn't whether is more DPS to chose to open with either Garrote or Mutilate. The question is whether it's more DPS to open pre-pot or Garrote.

Depending on your micromanagement skills, using Vanish for the Overkill during combat should always be broken with Garrote now; the reasons being the same. I assume you could macro something like this:

/cast [nostealth] Vanish, [stealth] Garrote

#10 Sakuru


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:55 PM

You will always want to open from stealth such that you use a much of your 20 seconds of Overkill as possible. It is not yet known if it is better to open with Garrote or Mutilate yet (again it probably is better to use Mutilate). Once in combat, your first priority will be to put your first combo points into SnD.

Just a comment on opening with Garrote compared to Mutilate, Based on current live patch 4.0.3.

I have been using Garrote as my opener for a while, and the following is my experience with it.

Even though it awards you 1 CP compared to a critted mutilate that yields 3, you will always (more or less) end up using this to get your SnD going. The issue with a 1 CP SnD is that you will have to get off an envenom within a shorter time than with the 3 CP's spent if you mutilate, if you don't want to manualy reaply it.

As I have been using garrote, i have not yet had any troubles getting off a 1CP snd, than a 4+ CP rupture before i envenom.

In terms of damage, 6 crittical ticks will result in a ballpark figure of about 18-20k dmg (near BiS icc gear)
compared to a critted mutilate that yields ≈ 6-8k dmg.

reference for the damage values is from my latest raid logg:

When taking into account the energy regen from Venomous Wound, personaly i feel i get more burst in form of more emergy, even if this means that i occationly need to clip my envenom not to cap out on energy (especially when prepotting, as well as using my Hyperspeed accelarators and got overkill up).

However this is not tested in a scientific kind of way. This is only ment as a sidenote on the question of opening with mutilate or garrote, so if any of this incorrect, please disregard it.

#11 Sculduggery


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:58 PM

In terms of damage, 6 crittical ticks will result in a ballpark figure of about 18-20k dmg (near BiS icc gear)
compared to a critted mutilate that yields ≈ 6-8k dmg.

Please not also that using Mutilate this early in the fight could potentially not include the 20% damage increase because the target is not yet poisoned.

#12 Jentry


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 03:11 PM

35% or less target HP
Once your target reaches 35% HP, you will stop using Mutilate and instead use Backstab to generate combo points. You will still follow the same priority order and maximize your Rupture uptime and then Envenom’s and pool before using Envenom. You will however want to use 5 combo point ruptures and Envenoms.

Is waiting until 5 CP's confirmed on best DPS for both rupture and envenom, over the 4+ cycle <35%?

#13 ieatpaperbag


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 03:22 PM

Is waiting until 5 CP's confirmed on best DPS for both rupture and envenom, over the 4+ cycle <35%?

This was written in the Cataclysm Raiding FAQ thread, 5 CP finishers for < 35% is "slightly superior for most gear sets" to 4+. Generally, if anything is not confirmed, it will be indicated.

#14 Zulkeir


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 03:41 PM

The Tricks of the Trade glyph is a raid DPS increase regardless if you have another rogue to trade tricks with and it's recommended that you always have this. A glyphed TotT will provide your target with 2% more overall DPS (3% unglyphed at the cost of 30 energy per minute).

Please explain this comment. As of the glyph overhaul I now see TotT glyph as having the side effect of reducing rDPS yet I still see it referred to as if it were the same as the old glyph, often being recommended as a rDPS increase.

Removes the energy cost of your Tricks of the Trade ability but reduces the recipient's damage bonus by 5%.

(6/30)*15% = 3% overall (base)
(10/30)*15% = 5% overall (old glyph)
(6/30)*10% = 2% overall (new glyph)

Is there a change that I am ignorant of?

#15 Sculduggery


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 03:48 PM

(6/30)*15% = 3% overall (base)
(10/30)*15% = 5% overall (old glyph)
(6/30)*10% = 2% overall (new glyph)

Is there a change that I am ignorant of?

Energy cost. Unglyphed it's 15; glyphed it's 0. Is 1% of your target's DPS worth 30 energy every 60 second? The DPS is probably more than half a Mutliate/minute. I would not recommend the new ToTT glyph.

Also, Glyph of Cloak of Shadows has situations where it's more viable than ToTT or FoK.

#16 Zulkeir


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 05:07 PM

Edit: misread previous post.

Still, that half mutilate would have to be equal to 1% of someone's DPS just to break even. I didn't include the energy into my first post, as I was arguing the rDPS of TotT, and I would differenciate that energy cost as personal DPS gain.

Edit: I made an edit concerning Garrote vs Mutilate, but Aldriana pretty much answered it all, and then some, in 2 sentences.

#17 Minifridge


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 05:33 PM

The question is whether it's more DPS to open pre-pot or Garrote.

Wouldn't the following macro accomplish both?

#showtooltip Garrote
/use Potion of the Tol'vir
/cast Garrote

Unless I missed that they put pots on the gcd.
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#18 Aldriana


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 05:34 PM

Re: Tricks. In the test gear set (which is near BIS T11) that I used to generate the EP values for this post, one does 24321 DPS without Glyph of Tricks, and 24765 with it; hence, the energy is worth 444 DPS and the glyph is a raid dps boost when applied to anyone doing less than 44k DPS. Which is to say, "everyone".

Re: Envenom size vs Rupture size. This is something we don't have numbers on yet. Currently I'm only modeling the case where all finishers are the same size. I intend to additionally model the case at some point where you handle rupture like you do SnD - i.e., refresh it with whatever combo points you have available when the previous one drops - given that the vast majority of rupture DPS comes from Venomous Wounds and not the Rupture itself, I think it is quite possible that this will prove superior; however, I have had no opportunity to run the numbers on this, and thus no recommendation can be made.

Re: Garrote out of Vanish. Sort of the same answer here. I think it is likely that its worth giving up a second's worth of autoattacks to Garrote following a vanish - but I haven't done the numbers yet so can't say for sure. I don't anticipate it will be a *large* DPS benefit either way, but it is something that will need to be assessed at some point.

#19 Sculduggery


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 05:55 PM

Wouldn't the following macro accomplish both?

#showtooltip Garrote
/use Potion of the Tol'vir
/cast Garrote

Unless I missed that they put pots on the gcd.

The mechanics of many existing boss encounters (e.i. all of them where you don't make the first hit) will put you into combat before you can use such a macro, eliminating the purpose of pre-potting. Some of those encounters, however, give you the opportunity to enter the fight with either stealth so that you may open with Garrote or a partial overkill and partial potion buff. Those are the situations I am questioning.

#20 Grimwolf


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 09:39 PM

#showtooltip Garrote
/use Potion of the Tol'vir
/cast Garrote

As Sculduggery said, you'd be in combat before you were in position to use that macro almost every time, and therefore, unable to pot again during the fight. You might try this macro instead just before the fight starts.

#showtooltip Potion of the Tol'vir
/use Potion of the Tol'vir
/cast Stealth

This way you get the full benefit from Overkill, you can open with Garrote, and you only lose a second or 2 of your prepot. Be sure you're not in stealth when you cast it as that would defeat the purpose.

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