The author of the guide is teyka, a raider of the Exorsus Guild. Visit my Twitch channel, where you can find lots of interesting things, including the Rogue gameplay in the most difficult game mods.
Assassination Rogue mostly deals periodic type of damage both Physical and Nature. You will learn more about this spec in our guide.
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this specialization:
- Simple yet effective spec.
- High damage to single targets, strong multi-target cleave due to bleed and poisons.
- Great survivability, typical for this spec.
- High mobility.
- Main burst is focused on single targets.
- Poor AoE damage.
Basic information on the spec:
The Rogue is a lightly armored class that specializes in melee damage and has 2 main resources: Energy and Combo Points (CP). Accordingly, there are abilities that spend these resources, or, vice versa, allow you to gain them. The correct use of these abilities and wise rotations are your keys to success.
Ambush – requires Stealth, awards 2 CP, costs 50 Energy. Used after pull or after Vanish.
Mutilate – main CP generator, awards 2 CP, costs 50 Energy. When you critically strike with a melee attack that generates combo points, you gain an additional combo point per critical strike due to Seal Fate(passive).
Garrote – deals Bleed damage over 18 sec. Silences the target for 3 sec when used from Stealth. Costs 45 Energy and awards 1 CP. CD 6 sec.
Fan of Knives – AoE generator. Costs 35 Energy and grants 1 CP or more due to Seal Fate. Deals Physical damage and applies your active poisons at their normal rate. In Shadowlands its target cap equals 8.
Poisoned Knife – throws a poison-coated knife, dealing damage and applying your active Lethal and Non-Lethal Poisons. Can be useful when you need to refresh your poisons on a bleeding target, while you can’t do it with an auto attack. Costs 40 Energy.
Cheap Shot – isn’t often used in PvE, but we can’t fail to mention it. Requires Stealth, deals no damage, but stuns the target for 4 sec and awards 1 CP.
Slice and Dice – consumes combo points to increase attack speed by 50%. Lasts longer per combo point, up to 42 sec for 6 CP. Benefits from Pandemic and can be refreshed, providing a longer duration. Costs 25 Energy.
Rupture – tears open the target, dealing Bleed damage over time. Lasts longer per combo point, up to 28 sec for 6 CP. Damage per tick doesn’t change. Costs 25 Energy.
Envenom – your main finishing move that deals instant Poison damage. Damage is based on the amount of CP spent. Also, poison application chance increased by 30% (1 CP – 2 sec, 5 CP – 6 sec).
Kidney Shot – finishing move that stuns the target. Lasts longer per combo point. up to 7 sec for 6 CP. Costs 25 Energy.
Poisons are learned automatically as you level. A Rogue can only have one Non-Lethal and one Lethal type of poison at the same time. Poisons are applied in advance and last for 1 hour. At any moment, you can change or refresh poisons if you need to.
Assassination Rogue, unlike other specs, has a 20% increased chance to apply poisons, and a 100% chance to apply poisons with the first attack out of Stealth.
Deadly Poison – each strike has a 50% chance to poison the enemy for Nature damage over 12 sec. Subsequent poison applications will instantly deal Nature damage. Used by default.
Wound Poison – each strike has a 50% chance to poison the enemy, which instantly inflicts Nature damage and reduces all healing received by 8% for 12 sec, stacking up to 5 times. Mostly used in PvP.
Crippling Poison – your attacks have a 70% chance to poison the enemy, slowing movement speed by 30% for 12 sec.
Numbing Poison – each strike has a 70% chance of poisoning the enemy, clouding their mind and slowing their attack and casting speed by 15% for 10 sec.
Venomous Wounds – apart from passive regeneration, it’s the only way to constantly gain Energy. You regain 7 Energy each time you deal Bleed damage to a poisoned target. If an enemy dies while afflicted by your Rupture, you regain energy based on its remaining duration. This trick doesn’t work with Garrote, though.
Vendetta – marks an enemy for death for 20 sec, increasing the damage your abilities and auto attacks deal to the target by 30%, and making the target visible to you even through concealments such as stealth and invisibility. Generates 60 Energy over 3 sec. CD 2 min. It’s your main burst damage.
Shiv – deals some damage and applies a debuff on the target. Your Nature damage done against the target is increased by 20% for 9 sec. Costs 20 Energy, CD 25 sec.
Vanish – depending on your Talent in the second tier, can be used either to empower Garrote, if you have Subterfuge, or to cast Ambush on recharge, if you have other Talents. Besides, Vanish is combined with some Legendaries, namely Mark of the Master Assassin.
Seal Fate – an important passive ability. When you critically strike with a melee attack that generates combo points, you gain an additional combo point per critical strike.
Feint – performs an evasive maneuver, reducing damage taken from area-of-effect attacks by 40% for 5 sec. Costs 35 Energy, CD 15 sec. Since in raids and dungeons most of the damage you take is AoE, this is a Rogue’s iconic ability. It also allows you to simplify some raid mechanics, helping your raid.
Cloak of Shadows – another ace up your sleeve. Provides a moment of magic immunity, instantly removing all harmful spell effects. The cloak lingers, causing you to resist harmful spells for 5 sec. CD 2 min.
Crimson Vial – drink an alchemical concoction that heals you for 20% of your maximum health over 4 sec. CD 30 sec.
Evasion – increases your dodge chance by 100% for 10 sec. CD 2 min.
Shadowstep – step through the shadows to appear behind your target, friendly or enemy. 25 yd range. CD 30 sec.
Shroud of Concealment – massive Stealth for party and raid members within 15 yards. CD 6 min.
Sprint – increases your movement speed by 70% for 8 sec. CD 60 sec.
Distract – throws a distraction, attracting the attention of all nearby monsters for 10 seconds. CD 30 sec. Usable while stealthed.
Tricks of the Trade – redirects all threat you cause to the targeted party or raid member, beginning with your next damaging attack within the next 30 sec and lasting 6 sec.
Sap – incapacitates a target not in combat for 1 min. Only works on Humanoids, Beasts, Demons, and Dragonkin. Requires Stealth. Damage will revive the target.
Blind – blinds the target, causing it to wander disoriented for 1 min. Damage will interrupt the effect. CD 2 min.
Kick – a quick kick that interrupts spellcasting and prevents any spell in that school from being cast for 5 sec. CD 15 sec.
General information. On reaching several levels, you will open new Talent tiers. In each tier, you can choose one Talent at a time. Talents can affect your abilities in different ways: add new ones, replace old ones, passively modify various effects and spells. You can change Talents while you’re in Sanctums or in rest areas, but if there are no such places nearby, you can use Tome of the Tranquil Mind, which allows you to change Talents within a minute. Note that Talents can’t be changed in combat. Also, if a Talent selected in a certain tier is on CD, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge in order to change it.
Tier 1 Lvl 15 Talents that affect DPS.
Master Poisoner – increases the damage done by your weapon poisons by 30% and their non-damaging effects by 20%. This Talent deals low damage, but can be used in PvP or situationally, to empower your Non-Lethal poisons.
Elaborate Planning – your finishing moves grant 10% increased damage done for 4 sec.
It’s a very effective Talent, which works a bit worse on single targets. However, it grants a huge damage buff against several enemies. Use it in M+ and cleave fights.
Blindside – Mutilate has a 20% chance to make your next Ambush free and usable without Stealth. Chance increased to 40% if the target is under 35% health. This Talent has good mechanics and deals decent damage. It’s the best choice against single targets, but it’s weaker than Elaborate Planning in terms of AoE and cleave.
Tier 2 Lvl 25 DPS Talents that interact with Stealth.
Nightstalker – while Stealth is active, you move 20% faster and your abilities deal 50% more damage. Nice Talent if you want to enhance your movement speed and burst damage at the same time. Nevertheless, it’s inferior to other Talents in this tier.
Subterfuge – your abilities requiring Stealth can still be used for 3 sec after Stealth breaks. Also causes Garrote to deal 80% increased damage and have no cooldown when used from Stealth and for 3 sec after breaking Stealth. Silence effect is also applied. This is a very useful and effective Talent – depending on your gear, it may be slightly weaker on single targets, but in M+ and cleave fights it works just great.
Master Assassin – while Stealth is active and for 3 sec after breaking Stealth, your critical strike chance is increased by 50%. It’s kind of a nerfed Mark of the Master Assassin. Can be used on single targets.
Tier 3 Lvl 30 Talents that affect resources.
Vigor – increases your maximum Energy by 50 and your Energy regeneration by 10%. Standard Talent against single targets.
Deeper Stratagem – you may have a maximum of 6 combo points, and your finishing moves deal 5% increased damage. Good for long cleave fights. Bleed effects on several targets grant you regeneration from Venomous Wounds‘ passive, overall more regen than from Vigor.
Marked for Death – marks the target, instantly generating 5 combo points. CD 60 sec (dynamic), duration 60 sec. Cooldown reset if the target dies within 1 min. Use it only if you can implement it frequently and effectively, for example, in M+.
Tier 4 Lvl 35 Defensive abilities.
Leeching Poison – adds a Leeching Poison effect to your Deadly Poison and Wound Poison, granting you 10% Leech. Can be used for solo-content or sometimes in raids where all the damage is predictable and you lack healing. In all other situations, this is not the best Talent.
Cheat Death – fatal attacks instead reduce you to 7% of your maximum health. For 3 sec afterward, you take 85% reduced damage. Cannot trigger more often than once per 6 min. Always take this Talent, as there’s nothing better than a second life!
Elusiveness – Feint also reduces all damage you take from non-area-of-effect attacks by 30% for 5 sec. Keep in mind that Feint costs 35 Energy and lasts only 5 sec (CD 15 sec), so maintaining its high uptime is quite impossible, while frequent use negatively affects your damage. Questionable Talent, as it’s very specific.
Tier 5 Lvl 40 Control tier.
Internal Bleeding – Kidney Shot also deals Bleed damage over 6 sec, based on combo points spent. It’s mostly useful in PvP.
Iron Wire – increase the duration of Garrote‘s silence effect by 3 sec. Enemies silenced by Garrote deal 15% reduced damage for 8 sec. Take this Talent if you don’t need to stun anyone, it’s especially useful in M+.
Prey on the Weak – enemies disabled by one of your stuns take 10% increased damage from all sources for 6 sec. Sometimes it can be useful in raids.
Tier 6 lvl 45 Talents that affect DPS.
Venom Rush – Mutilate refunds 8 Energy when used against a poisoned target. Weak talent, never used.
Alacrity – your finishing moves have a 20+ % chance per combo point (up to 100% with 5 CP) to grant 2% Haste for 20 sec, stacking up to 5 times. It is the best choice in any situation, as 10% Haste is a very good buff.
Exsanguinate – twist your blades into the target’s wounds, causing your Bleed effects on them to bleed out 100% faster. At the moment, Alacrity is a better Talent, while Exsanguinate becomes relevant over time and requires some serious gear.
Tier 7 Lvl 50 Talents that affect DPS.
Poison Bomb – Envenom and Rupture have a 4% chance per combo point spent to smash a vial of poison at the target’s location, creating a pool of acidic death that deals Nature damage over 2 sec to all enemies within it. This Talent works passively and suits most situations.
Hidden Blades – every 2 sec, gain 20% increased damage for your next Fan of Knives, stacking up to 20 times. Grants average damage and can be used in M+ or AoE situations only if you have Potency Conduit Poisoned Katar of a high rank.
Crimson Tempest – finishing move that slashes at up to 8 enemies within 10 yards, dealing instant damage and causing victims to bleed for additional damage. Lasts longer per combo point. Costs 35 Energy.
Beneficial for long massive AoE. In M+ Poison Bomb is usually more effective, as it can be used on single targets. In general, this is a situational Talent.
Here are your common builds:
Master Assassin / Subterfuge
Marked for Death / Vigor
Poison Bomb / Hidden Blades (with Conduit Poisoned Katar, high rank) / Crimson Tempest (very specific, for huge AoE)
When you join a Covenant, you get 2 abilities: one of them directly affects your DPS, while another – grants either a defensive feature or increases your mobility.
Below you can learn more about the abilities these Covenants provide.
Echoing Reprimand – deal Arcane damage to an enemy, extracting their anima to Animacharge a combo point. Damaging finishing moves that consume the same number of combo points as your Animacharge deal damage as if they consume 7 combo points. Costs 30 Energy, CD 45 sec.
Sometimes hard to implement, but still grants a solid boost.
Summon Steward – call your steward to bring you a Phial of Serenity. CD 4 min.
It may seem useless, but don’t underestimate the extra heal. It also removes all Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed effects – very useful throughout the game.
Flagellation – lash the target 3 times, dealing Shadow damage and adding a stack of Flagellation for each lash. The target remains tormented for 20 sec, receiving an additional lash for each combo point you spend. Reactivating Flagellation cleanses their torment, increasing your Haste by 0.5% per stack, up to a maximum of 15% Haste for 20 sec. CD 1.5 min. Good DPS ability, but it can be fairly inconvenient when used against squishy targets.
Door of Shadows – castable blink.
Can be used to skip some enemies or shorten the distance, but overall a Rogue is mobile enough even without it.
The Night Fae
Sepsis – infect the target’s blood, dealing Nature damage over 10 sec. If the target survives its full duration, they suffer an additional damage and you Vanish from sight.
Cooldown reduced by 60 sec if Sepsis does not last its full duration.
This ability has a nice synergy with Mark of the Master Assassin, but since this Legendary isn’t your priority at the moment, it shouldn’t affect your choice.
Soulshape – turn into a Vulpin, teleporting 15 yards forward and increasing your movement speed by 50%. You may reactivate Soulshape every few sec to teleport again. Lasts 12 sec, or indefinitely while in a rest area. When Soulshape is active, you can’t cast spells.
It’s a useful ability both for mobility out of combat and for quick repositioning in fights.
Serrated Bone Spike – embed a bone spike in the target, dealing Bleed damage every 3 sec until they die. Deals damage and generates 1 Combo Point per active bone spike. Refunds 1 charge when the target dies or is healed to full. Costs 10 Energy, CD 30 sec.
Can be used on single or multiple targets.
Fleshcraft – form a shield of flesh and bone over 4 sec that absorbs damage equal to 20% of your maximum health for 2 min. Channeling near a corpse claims their essence to grow the shield, up to 50% of your maximum health. This is most effective against powerful enemies. Besides, the spell gives you a combat buff, depending on the race of the monster.
It’s a pretty good utility ability, but it’s channeled, so you can’t always use it in fights.
The Covenants that suit Assassination best are the following:
The Night Fae > The Kyrian > = the Necrolords > the Venthyr
In Assassination, we have the following Potency Conduits:
Well-Placed Steel – Shiv increases your Nature damage by 10%.
Lethal Poisons – increases the non-periodic damage of your lethal poisons by 10%.
Maim, Mangle – Garrote increases the damage of your Mutilate on the target by 9%.
Poisoned Katar – Fan of Knives damage increased by 7%, and has a 5% increased critical strike chance.
The current rating of Potency Conduits:
Well-Placed Steel > Lethal Poisons > Covenant Conduit > Maim, Mangle > Poisoned Katar
In M+, Poisoned Katar and Lethal Poisons are slightly buffed, but everything depends on specific instances and how preferable AoE damage is.
When upgrading your Soulbind, the most beneficial option is to take 2 slots for Potency Conduits and use the Conduits according to their rating above. However, in some situations, you can take 1 Potency Conduit, if a particular Soulbind has a strong DPS Talent that leads to a Conduit of another type.
The image below shows the optimal builds for the Soulbinds. The red border also indicates the best Soulbind out of three. The orange border indicates one of the possible options in M+.
Overall, the Assassination Rogue has 8 available Legendary Items: 4 general and 4 spec Powers.
Let’s have a look at the most useful of them:
For single targets:
Zoldyck Insignia >= Dashing Scoundrel >= Doomblade > Mark of the Master Assassin
Zoldyck Insignia > Mark of the Master Assassin
Pay attention that Zoldyck Insignia not only amplifies your damage but also enhances your execute, which can be very useful. This feature works great against bosses.
Also, the choice of Legendary Item Effects can be affected by your Covenants, Talents and equipment.
Use finishers at 4-5 CP, or at 5-6 if you have Deeper Stratagem. Try not to lose CP, don’t forget your passive Seal Fate.
- Maintain Slice and Dice on yourself 24/7.
- Maintain Garrote and Rupture on your target all the time.
- Use your main burst (Vendetta) on recharge.
- Use Vanish -> Garrote if you have Subterfuge, or Vanish -> Ambush if you have Master Assassin. On recharge, refresh regular Garrote with empowered one (due to Subterfuge) 5.4 sec before the effect goes off.
- Cast Shiv as often as possible, gain Energy in advance. Make sure that you don’t have to refresh Slice and Dice and Rupture while Shiv is active.
- Use Envenom as your main finisher considering your other priorities.
- Proc Blindside by pressing Ambush (if you have Blindside).
- In a standard situation collect CP with Mutilate.
In AoE situations, use Fan of Knives instead of Mutilate on 3+ targets.
Keep Rupture active on 3+ targets if they can live long enough. Next, you can spend CP on Envenom.
Use Garrote on additional targets that can last a greater part of its duration. There’s no point to DoT targets that will die in a few seconds.
Keep in mind that if an enemy dies while afflicted by your Rupture, you regain energy based on its remaining duration.
Covenant abilities and their impact on your priorities:
Echoing Reprimand – used on recharge. The buff itself lasts for 45 sec and has the same CD. It means that it can be easily implemented with other useful buffs, say, to enhance Envenom while Shiv is active.
Flagellation – used on recharge and recast at 30 stacks, or before the buff goes off. No point to synergize it with bursts, we just want to minimize its downtime.
The Night Fae
Sepsis – used on recharge. If the target survives its full duration, Vanish from sight and follow your standard rotation.
Serrated Bone Spike – minimize its downtime and if you have 3 Spike charges, embed at least one of them in any target.
When fighting single targets, just use Spike charges whenever you can, for example, to cap your CP.
In M+ or in cleave fights, keep this ability active on as many enemies as possible. Try to use Serrated Bone Spike on targets that are most likely to die first to gain some extra charges.
Choosing a race
For a Rogue, your race doesn’t really matter, as the damage boost you get does not exceed 1.5%. Nevertheless, here’s a chart:
Your basic stats priority is the following:
Finesse > Haste > Crit = Versatility = Mastery
In Assassination, your priority is Haste. The other stats are approximately equal. However, massive AoE reduces the significance of Haste due to a huge Energy flow.
To maximize your stats, use raidbots.com (-> Stat Weights) and import this information into the game with Pawn (addon) for further convenience.
Based on the above-mentioned characteristics and your own simulation results, let’s move on to Gems, Enchants and Consumables.
Quick Jewel Cluster (Haste)
Boots: Eternal Agility
Chest: Eternal Skirmish / Eternal Stats
Cloak: Soul Vitality / Fortified Leech
Ring: Tenet of Haste
Weapons: Celestial Guidance + Sinful Revelation / Lightless Force (AoE) x 2
Stones: Shaded Sharpening Stone
Flasks: Eternal Cauldron / Spectral Flask of Power
Potions: Potion of Spectral Agility / Potion of Phantom Fire / АоЕ: Potion of Empowered Exorcisms
Heal pots: Spiritual Healing Potion
Food: Feast of Gluttonous Hedonism (+20 Agility) / Tenebrous Crown Roast Aspic (+30 Haste)
Armor kits: Heavy Desolate Armor Kit
BiS Gear & Trinkets
Head – Sadist’s Sinister Mask – Sire Denathrius
Neck – Noble’s Birthstone Pendant – The Council of Blood
Shoulder – Wicked Flanker’s Gorget – General Kaal
Cloak – Crest of the Legionnaire General – General Kaal
Chest – Corset of the Deft Duelist – The Council of Blood
Wrist – Precisely Calibrated Chronometer – Artificer Xy’mox
Hands – Bleakwing Assassin’s Grips – Kael’thas Sunstrider
Waist- Spell-Woven Tourniquet – Huntsman Altimor
Legs – Chiropteran Leggings – Shriekwing
Feet – Enchanted Toe-Tappers – The Council of Blood
Ring #1 – Hyperlight Band – Lady Inerva Venaoscura
Ring #2 – Most Regal Signet of Sire Denathrius – Sire Denathrius
Trinket #1 – Nathria Trinket – The Council of Blood
Trinket #2 – Stone Legion Heraldry – Stone Legion Generals
Weapon #1 – Zenith Anima Spherule – Sire Denathrius
Weapon #2 – Zenith Anima Spherule – Sire Denathrius
Top list of trinkets in Shadowlands:
Tricks of the Trade multi-macros
/cast [@mouseover, help, exists] Tricks of the Trade
/cast [@focus, help, exists] Tricks of the Trade
/cast [@targettarget, help, exists] Tricks of the Trade
Tricks of the Trade macros for M+ (pull to the leader, usually a tank)
/cast [@party1] Tricks of the Trade
Kick on your focus or current target
/cast [@focus , exists, harm] Kick;Kick
Marked for Death at the cursor position (mouseover macro)
/cast [@mouseover] Marked for Death
Shadowstep at the cursor position (mouseover macro)
/cast [@mouseover] Shadowstep
WeakAuras is probably the most important addon in modern WoW. It allows you to customize almost anything, and on wago.io you can find hundreds of useful auras and import them to your game in a few clicks. You can also find a full pack of auras for any spec, for example, check out this link.
BigWigs/Deadly Boss Mods – addons with timers and announcements for bosses in raids and M+, choose either of these. It’s also super useful in PvE. For BigWigs, the instance module, LittleWigs, must be installed separately.
nugComboBar – an addon for displaying combo points in an aesthetic form.
ElvUI is an all-in-one global build for fans of a neat and concise interface. Replaces several addons at once. On wago.io you can find a large number of different customized profiles for ElvUI.
Details! Damage Meter is the most up-to-date and advanced damage meter at the moment.
Plater Nameplates – an addon from the author of Details that changes enemy nameplates. Fully customizable design and a huge number of available features, as well as the ability to import profiles and mods from wago.io – what else do you need?
Dominos is a customizable panel addon.
Basic Chat Mods – addon for chat customization.
Deja Character stats – adds more information about the character.
Shadowed unit frames – an alternative to ElvUI for unit frames.
- Assassination isn’t the hardest spec. You will deal decent DPS if you follow basic priorities without focusing on something specific. Refresh DoT’s and Slice and Dice in time; avoid losing CP by using finishers at 4-5 CP, or at 5-6 CP if you have Deeper Stratagem.
- Another important point – utilize your cooldowns. Don’t keep your Shiv to generate Energy – it can be profitable only if Vendetta is about to recharge. In other cases, gain Energy in advance. In the end, a more frequent use of burst abilities gives a greater increase than effective but rare casts.
- If you find yourself in M+, try to keep up Alacrity between pack pulls, stacking combo points for the kills, for example, to refresh Slice and Dice. You can also use Marked for Death on this purpose.
That’s it, guys! We hope you have no more questions and are ready to get down to practice. Thanks for tuning in! Best of luck in the world of Azeroth!