MoP PvE Combat Guide

Purpose: In the next few weeks a lot of us are going to be doing our pre-raid gearing and starting to raid. So far I haven’t seen a good comprehensive MoP combat guide so I’m creating one. I will make an effort to keep this guide updated with the latest in rogue theorycraft however if you want to make sure you have the most up to date theorycraft make sure to read Elitist Jerks.

The information in this guide is based on the most recent shadowcraft commit (1fc613bead) at time of writing and the most recent release version of SimulationCraft (505-1). These tools are both in active development and the reccomendations may not be completely accurate.

Organization: To goal of this thread is to make a useful guide for both min-maxers and players who want to play combat competently without worrying about wringing out every last ounce of dps. In this guide where applicable each section will have two sub-sections, basic and advanced. Following the recommendations of the basic section should give yield about 90% of optimal performance given proper play. The advanced section will discuss more complex dps optimizations and the rationale for many of the recommendations.
The MoP talent system is designed with fight to fight talent swapping in mind. The talents recommended in the basic section are the recommendations for a generic fight. The advanced section discusses when other talent choices may be viable and gives fight specific recommendations.


Talent Recomendation:!2.11.2

First Tier (Level 15): Shadow Focus. A free Sinister Strike every 3 minutes with vanish is the greatest dps increase from tier. It should be noted that the overall dps increase of using vanish for free sinister strikes is <1% and may be considered an advanced dps optimization.

Second Tier (Level 30): This tier intentionally left blank. All three talents on this tier are highly situationational so selecting one for a generic boss fight is impossible. The talents on this tier may be useful on specific fights, see the advanced section for more details, but no there is no general recommendation.

Third Tier (Level 45): Leeching Poison. The amount of healing from Leeching Poison is quite substantial and will reduce healer load on many fights even though some of the Leeching Poison heals will be overhealing.

Fourth Tier (Level 60): Shadowstep. Due to the first tier talents Preparation is a theoretical dps increase of <0.5% however on all but the most stationary fights the uptime gained by one use of shadowstep will overtake that.

Fifth Tier (Level 75): This tier intentionally left blank. All three talents on this tier are highly situationational so selecting one for a generic boss fight is impossible. The talents on this tier may be useful on specific fights, see the advanced section for more details, but no there is no general recommendation.

Sixth Tier (Level 90): Anticipation. Unlike the other talents on this tier anticipation is a dps increase on most fights. Many of the uses of anticipation fall into the catagory of advanced dps optimizations however the combo point spillover granted by anticipation is useful for all combat rogues.


Unlike WotLK and Cataclysm glyphs are no longer always dps increases so there is a fair degree of latitude in Major Glyph selection. As with talents glyphs can be changed encounter to encounter as needed the recommendations are again for a generic boss fight.
Recommended Glyphs:
Major: Glyph of Adrenaline Rush
Glyph of Sprint
Glyph of Expose Armor
Minor: Glyph of Killing Spree

Glyph of Adrenaline Rush is a dps increasing glyph and should be used at all times.

Glyph of Sprint is recommended because extra mobility is useful on most fights, with the shortened sprint cooldown from Restless Blades and Shadowstep combat is one of the most mobile melee specs in the game.

Glyph of Expose Armor makes a rogue one of the best options for putting up the Weakened Armor debuff since it applies all 3 stacks at once. Once up warriors or druids can maintain the debuff at lower cost but for initial application and target swapping the Glyph of Expose Armor is very strong.

Glyph of Killing Spree is recommended because it will prevent Killing Spree from teleporting you to an unrecoverable death on some encounters, it will not however prevent all Killing Spree deaths so caution is needed.

Glyph of Tricks of the Trade should NOT be used since it is a raid dps decrease.
Equivalence Points:
Equivalent Points (EP Values) are a measure of dps increase normalized to a set dps increase. In the rogue community EP values are generally normalized to the dps gain of 1 point of attack power. For example if adding 1 attack power to your gear gives a dps gain of 3 dps and agility has an EP value of 2.6 then adding point of agility to your gear will give a dps increase of 7.8 dps.

The EP values below are for a pre-raid gear set of 5 man heroic gear and should be reasonably accurate for pre-raid and Mogushan Vaults gearing. These values may not be completely accurate, they are the best available information at this time however further development of Shadowcraft and SimulationCraft may change these values. To indicate this uncertainty these values are provided with only one digit of precision so as not to overstate the accuracy of these values.

Agi 2.8
Yellow Hit 2.2
Expertise 2.0
Haste 1.5
Mastery 1.2
Crit 1.0
White Hit 0.9

Expertise: Expertise reduces the chance of mobs to dodge and parry attacks. Unlike players NPCs can dodge from behind and a minimum value of expertise is required to prevent this. Heroic dungeon bosses have a 6% chance to dodge from behind and raid bosses have a 7.5% chance to dodge. NPCs also have a 6 or 7.5% chance to parry if attacked from the front. Since you should be attacking from behind the EP value of expertise past 7.5% is considered 0 even though it does reduce parry chance if you do attack from the front.
Expertise Caps:
Dodge Parry
Heroic 5 Mans 2040 4080
Raids 2550 5100

Hit: Hit reduces the chance for spells and abilities against an enemy to miss. There are two different hit caps, the “yellow cap” and the “white cap.” The yellow cap or special cap is the point where no abilities cap miss, this includes avilities used, Sinister Strike for example, poisons and procs from abilities or auto attacks, Main Gauche for example. The Yellow hit cap is 6% against heroic dungeon bosses and 7.5% against raid bosses. The white cap applies to auto attacks only, it is ???? against heroic dungeon bosses and 26.5% against raid bosses.
Hit Caps:
Yellow White
Heroic 5 Man 2040 ????
Raid 2550 9010

Rating Conversions (Level 90):
Rating needed to gain 1% of a stat.
Crit: 600 rating
Hit: 340 rating.
Expertise: 340 rating.
Haste: 425 rating.
Mastery: 600 rating.

Weapon Selection: Unlike in previous expansions combat rogues can now use slow weapons in the off hand. Slow non-dagger off hands are, all things being equal, slightly superior to dagger off hands. However this advantage is quite small, <.5% and in practice your primary consideration for off hand weapons should be weapon dps and weapon stats.

Tier Sets:

The rotation info is based on the best available information but may not entirely accurate. These recommendations may change based on updates to theorycrafting tools.
Single Target:
The basic combat rogue priority list is
1) Keep Slice and Dice up
2) Keep Revealing Strike up on the target
3) Eviscerate at 5 combo points
4) Sinister Strike

1) Keep Slice and Dice up
2) Keep Revealing Strike up on the target*
3) Keep Rupture up up on the target**
4) Eviscerate at 5 combo points***
5) Sinister Stike

The advanced combat rotation looks very similar to the basic rotation however points 2, 3 and 4 have important additional considerations for the advanced player.

* RvS Pooling: When RvS falls off the boss you should not use RvS immediately, rather you should delay RvS and pool energy up to a safe margin, 70-80 assuming you aren’t under the effects of Bloodlust, Adrenaline Rush or other energy regen increasing buffs. This is important because RvS only gives a bonus to finishers and Sinister Strike. If you use RvS immediately at 40 energy then it takes an additional 3 seconds to gain the energy to use SS those 3 seconds of debuff have been wasted. Proper RvS pooling is an approximately 1% dps increase in pre-raid gear.

** Rupture Usage: Rupture, used properly is approximately a 2% dps increase. Rupture has three important tests that need to be checked before Rupture is used, failing to do these checks may make Rupture a dps loss.
1) Rupture should not be used in a high energy situation such as Adrenaline Rush or Bloodlust. Rupture’s primary advantage over Eviscerate is Damage per Energy so in a high energy situation when using Rupture would cause you to energy cap Eviscerate should be used instead.
2) Rupture should not be used if a damage modifier would make an Eviscerate do more damage. For example if a target will be taking 50% increased damage for 8 seconds an Eviscerate will do all its damage while that modifier is active but a Rupture will not making the Eviscerate superior. This applies only to debuffs, rupture will "lock in" damage based on buffs when applied so using a Rupture during deep insight will mean the Rupture is doing deep insight damage even after you go to no insight.
3) Rupture should not be used when cleaving. Rupture damage is not mirrored over Blade Flurry but Eviscerate damage is so while cleaving Eviscerate is superior.

*** Combo Point Pooling (Anticipation Only): Since anticipation allows a rogue to gain up to 10 combo points with anticipation, which is strongly recommended for the majority of boss fights. This interacts very powerfully with Bandit’s Guile, instead of using a finisher exactly at 5 combo points you should continue building combo points to approximately 8 before you use a finisher. This will often allow you to use finishers during higher insight phases then you would have if you’d used the finisher immediately. For obvious reasons this does not apply to deep insight, finishers should be used immediately during deep insight.

Two Targets: Rejoice, this is what combat was made for cleaving. Put up Blade Flurry and replace Rupture with Eviscerate.
Three to Five Targets: Replace damaging finishers (Rupture and Eviscerate) with Crimson Tempest. Blade Flurry should be up.
Six or More Targets: Replace Sinister Strike and Revealing Strike with Fan of Knives. Blade Flurry should be up.

Advanced multi-target priority is the same as basic with one important change.
Three to Five Targets: Replace damaging finishers (Rupture and Eviscerate) with Crimson Tempest. If currently in deep insight replace replace Sinister Strike and Revealing strike with Fan of Knives. Blade Flurry should be up.

Combat rogues have a large number of cooldowns at their disposal. Using them intelligently is a very important part of combat dps.
Killing Spree: Killing Spree attacks an enemy with both weapons every .5 seconds for 3.5 seconds. During these 3.5 seconds you do not have control of your character and all damage, including auto attack and poison damage is increased by 50%. It is important when using Killing Spree to watch boss timers so you do not Killing Spree just before boss does a large aoe ability that you cannot move out of. Additionally try to avoid using Killing Spree when there are multiple targets close to each other as this can cause Killing Spree to bug out and do significantly less damage. Killing Spree should be used as close to on cooldown as is safe.

Adrenaline Rush: Adrenaline Rush doubles passive energy regen and increases hast by 20% for 15 seconds. Adrenaline Rush is your most powerful cooldown and should be used when you can guarantee 15 seconds of uninterrupted dps time on a target. With Restless Blades Adrenaline Rush can substantially reduce the cooldown of your dps cooldowns, including itself. For this reason you should try to avoid using Adrenaline Rush if Killing Spree is available as well so you don't miss the cooldown reduction on Killing Spree.

Shadow Blades: Shadow Blades is the new dps cooldown for MoP, it makes auto attacks, not special abilities, shadow damage and combo builders generate an extra combo point for 12 seconds. Shadow Blades synergizes very well with Adrenaline Rush for maximum cooldown reduction through Restless Blades. Unless you specifically need Shadow Blades for a separate burst phase it should be used with Adrenaline Rush.

Tricks of the Trade: Tricks of the Trade grants another player in your raid a 15% dps increase for 6 seconds as well as transferring some of your threat to that player. With tank threat how it is Tricks should generally be given to a dps however on the pull or if you see a tank struggling with threat give Tricks to them instead. Tricks of the Trade should be used on cooldown, to simplify this a macro to Tricks a specific target can be very useful.
#show Tricks of the Trade
/cast [target=Kirjath] Tricks of the Trade

Replace Kirajth with the name of your target.

Vanish: With the first tier (level 15) talents Vanish is a minor dps cooldown that allows a free Sinister Strike every 3 minutes. The dps loss of not using Vanish as a dps cooldown is quite small, ~1% so you can use vanish as a threat drop is needed at a minor dps penalty. Vanish should be used close to on cooldown however it is a lower priority then other cooldowns and should not be used in high energy situations because the energy free Sinister Strike may lead to energy capping.

Gemming for socket bonuses is not always recommended, in many cases it can be a dps downgrade to do so. To check this sum the EP value of the best gems you would use ignoring socket bonuses and compare that to the EP value of following socket bonuses plus the EP value of the socket bonus.

Note that unlike in Cataclysm secondary stat gems now provide double of the itemization of primary stat gems. For this reason your optimal gem is a yellow pure haste gem rather then a reg pure agi gem.

For all recommendations items are presented best to worst.
Meta: Agile Primal Diamond

Red: Deft Vermilion Onyx
Perfect Deft Tiger Opal
Deft Tiger Opal

Yellow: Quick Sun's Radiance
Perfect Quick Sunstone
Quick Sunstone

Blue: Lightning Wild Jade
Perfect Lightning Alexandrite
Lightning Alexandrite

Profession specific enchants are not included. For all recommendations items are presented best to worst.
Shoulder: Greater Tiger Claw Inscription
Tiger Claw Inscription

Cloak: Enchant Cloak - Superior Critical Strike
Enchant Cloak - Accuracy [1]

Chest: Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats

Bracer: Enchant Bracer - Greater Agility
Enchant Bracer - Mastery

Gloves: Enchant Gloves - Greater Haste
Enchant Gloves - Superior Mastery

Belt: Living Steel Belt Buckle

Legs: Shadowleather Leg Armor
Sha-Touched Leg Armor

Boots: Enchant Boots - Blurred Speed [2]
Enchant Boots - Greater Haste

Weapon: Enchant Weapon - Dancing Steel
Enchant Weapon - Windsong

[1] Better if you cannot reach yellow hit cap through reforging.
[2] This does not stack with rogues passive runspeed however it is still the strongest enchant.

Unlike WotLK and Cataclysm feasts no longer provide the best food. The highest stat feast is +275 whereas the highest agility food is +300.
Food: Sea Mist Rice Noodles
Valley Stir Fry

Flask: Flask of Spring Blossoms

Potion: Virmen's Bite
Pre-Raid Gear:
This list includes reputation and crafted items but does not include any gear from a raid instance, including LFR gear. The gear is sorted by EP values without regard to hit or expertise caps, this may not represent the optimal choice depending on your current gear setup.

Helm: Agile Retinal Armor [1]
Soulburner Crown
Windblast Helm
Dreadful Gladiator's Leather Helm

Neck: Scorched Scarlet Key
Don Guerrero's Glorious Choker [2]
Dreadful Gladiator's Necklace of Proficiency
Dreadful Gladiator's Necklace of Prowess

Shoulder: Doubtridden Shoulderguards
Dreadful Gladiator's Leather Spaulders
Fizzy Spaulders

Cloak: Dory's Pageantry [2]
Dreadful Gladiator's Cape of Prowess
Aerial Bombardment Cloak
Dreadful Gladiator's Cape of Cruelty
Wind-Soaked Drape

Chest: Greyshadow Chestguard [3]
Dreadful Gladiator's Leather Tunic
Korloff's Raiment
Nimbletoe Chestguard

Bracer: Saboteur's Stabilizing Bracers
Dreadful Gladiator's Armwraps of Accuracy
Dreadful Gladiator's Armwraps of Alacrity

Gloves: Dreadful Gladiator's Leather Gloves
Greyshadow Gloves[3]
Tombstone Gauntlets
Hound Trainer's Gloves

Belt: Dreadful Gladiator's Waistband of Accuracy
Belt of Brazen Inebriation
Dreadful Gladiator's Waistband of Cruelty
Icewrath Belt

Legs: Dreadful Gladiator's Leather Legguards
Wall-Breaker Legguards
Ghostwoven Legguards

Boots: Boots of Plummeting Death
Dreadful Gladiator's Boots of Alacrity
Dashing Strike Treads
Dreadful Gladiator's Boots of Cruelty

Ring: Dreadful Gladiator's Ring of Accuracy
Seal of Hateful Meditation
Signet of Dancing Jade
Dreadful Gladiator's Ring of Cruelty


Main Hand Weapon: Krol Scimitar
Ka'eng, Breath of the Shadow
Ner'onok's Razor Katar
Siege-Captain's Scimitar
Gao's Keg Tapper
Crescent of Ichor
Claws of Gekkan

Off Hand Weapon: Tolakesh, Horn of the Black Ox
Koegler's Ritual Knife
Amber Slicer of Klaxxi'vess
Mantid Trochanter
Masterwork Ghost Shard [4]
All Main Hand weapons can be used as off hands.

[1] Engineer Only
[2] World Drop
[3] Leatherworking
[4] Blacksmithing
Alright I'm done now. Feel free to post.

I'm well aware this isn't as pretty as Verelyse's wonderful assassination thread. Right now this is a a dump from a google doc. I'll be updating adding content and formatting/prettification over the next couple hours.

Let me know if there is missing content you'd like to see or things that are poorly explained and whatnot.
Looks good so far, thanks.

At the risk of being hilariously cliche, a preraid gear guide would be great.
Slow non-dagger off hands are, all things being equal, slightly superior to dagger off hands. However this advantage is quite small, <.5% and in practice your primary consideration for off hand weapons should be weapon dps and weapon stats.
This is wrong. All things being equal dagger offhands are slightly superior to slow offhands.

2) Rupture should not be used if a damage modifier would make an Eviscerate do more damage. The most common example of this rule is in terms of Bandit’s Guile, a Rupture used during deep insight will not deal its full damage during deep insight while an Eviscerate will. During deep insight you should use Eviscerate only not rupture.
This is also mistaken. Rupture (and other dots) is (and was throughout all of cata) locked in based on your buffs/debuffs when you applied it. For example if you ruptured during landslide then the entire rupture would benefit from the increased attack power regardless of whether the landslide buff expired during rupture's duration. Dots/bleeds are only dynamically updated based on buffs and debuffs on the target, not the caster.

Bandit's Guile WAS an exception to this, as it was treated more like a debuff on the target even though it was displayed as a buff on us. However, this has changed for MoP. Now that BG is no longer tied to our target (ie we keep our current insight level when we change targets, even without redirect) it's treated like a true buff, and rupture will be locked in to the insight level when we cast it. So if you use Rupture during Deep Insight it will continue to tick for 30% increased damage even after Deep Insight expires (on the flip side, it also means that using rupture during shallow insight will not automatically get stronger when our insight level increases during the duration).

This means that buffs/debuffs on us will have no impact at all on our choice of Rupture vs Evisc because they'll both get the same benefits (ie if Rupture > Evisc then (1.3 * Rupture) > (1.3 * Evisc).

Buffs/Debuffs on the target can be a factor in deciding which to use, but that will mainly be along the lines of if a boss is in a vulnerable phase where they take more damage and that phase will end before rupture then Evisc may be more valuable since it'll get all of its damage in before the phase ends (or likewise if a boss has a defensive phase that reduces damage and that phase is coming up then rupture will be less valuable for the same reason). I have seen 1 claim that most dots/bleeds are now supposed to dynamically update based on the caster's buffs/debuffs as well now, though I haven't tested it myself, though even if true that same person who said this also said that rogue bleeds were apparently an exception and are still only updated based on target buffs/debuffs, so even if true it wouldn't matter in this regard anyways.

And the other factor that you left out is cleaving. When cleaving/AoE we do not want to use Rupture at all. And while on the subject of cleaving/AoE, it only takes 2 targets for Crimson Tempest to beat Eviscerate, because the initial hit of CT (on both targets) will cleave, which is enough to bridge the (rather small) gap between Evisc and CT. (at least this is true at 85, I'm not sure if scaling at 90 will increase this gap to make CT with 2 targets not enough).

Though it'd be important to keep clipping in mind when using CT, especially with only 2 targets, as clipping a tick or 2 off of the bleed (on all targets) will be a loss of a nice chunk of damage. Now with several targets it'll probably still be worth it to clip instead of using evisc (ie even with the lost ticks it'd still be more damage than evisc), but with just 2 targets it may be better to use evisc over CT to avoid clipping since they are so close in damage with only 2 targets.

I'm also curious as to where you got those EP values from (along with some of your other numbers). Shadowcraft isn't fully updated yet. Unless you're running the engine locally without the website front-end. But even then I wasn't aware that the rotation models were far enough along for worthwhile numbers yet (granted it's been a while since nextormento commented on how the models were progressing).
Numbers: My numbers are coming from the Shadowcraft back end. I debated only providing 1 sig fig on the EP values to indicate there is some uncertainty from the models not being perfect. The ep values from shadowcraft mostly jive with the values from simcraft giving me a fair degree of confidence in those values.

Weapon Selection: The shadowcraft backend indicates that a slow weapon is very slightly superior to a fast weapon at level 90.
oh_2.6_axe: 1
oh_1.8_dagger: 0.997295951306

Rupture, CT: Knew I forgot something on the rupture conditions for use section. I haven't seen anything indicating that rupture now behaves differently with respect to BG I'll go test that now. CT I'm not certain on scaling either, I uninstalled beta last night so I can't check right now but I'll check when I get to 90 probably tomorrow night.
EDIT: Ok you are correct on that.
09/24/2012 10:12 AMPosted by Fierydemise
My numbers are coming from the Shadowcraft back end.

What back end are you referring to? The one that's now in development for level 90, or the existing one that hasn't been updated since Patch 4.3?

Cross-referencing SC EPs with SimCraft EPs doesn't necessarily mean much if both sets are outdated. The care you've put into crafting this guide is evident, and I'm impressed by its organization and clarity, but it still feels early to be offering these calculations if they're being based on values that aren't necessarily accurate for level 90. As far as I knew we were still a ways from having such values in anything resembling a reliable state.
The in development 90 backend, as I said at the top I am using the 1fc613bead commit of shadowcraft from github. . Both simcraft-rogue and shadowcraft have been updated to some extent for level 90. While neither is necessarily completely accurate having two tools developed somewhat independently converge on similar values gives me a fair degree of confidence in their accuracy.

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