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I. PTR and Patch Notes
Patch 5.3.0 (Pending):

  • Nothing yet to report.

Patch 5.2.0 (Pending):

  • Nothing yet to report.

Patch 5.1.0 (Pending):

  • Nothing yet to report.

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II. The Basics

            The talent system experienced a complete overhaul in patch 5.0.4; it's now comprised of 18 talents divided into 6 tiers of 3, unlocked at levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90. Only one talent can be active per tier, and you can switch between them on a fight-by-fight basis using Tome of the Clear Mind.

            1st Tier (available at level 15): The default talent for this tier is Shadow Focus, which negates the energy cost of our first ability used from stealth. If ambush turns out to be a stronger opener than mutilate, we may take Subterfuge instead. And Nightstalker may be useful for Blade Lord Ta'yak.

            2nd Tier (available at level 30): This tier is situational. Nerve Strike and Combat Readiness may be useful on fights where DPS are fixated by adds (Will of the Emperor, Grand Empress Shek'zeer). Deadly Throw could come into play as a ranged interrupt/slow with Redirect or Shuriken Toss.

            3rd Tier (available at level 45): The default talent for this tier is Leeching Poison, which heals you for a portion of your damage dealt. Elusiveness causes Feint to also reduce all damage taken by 30% (the AoE component is multiplicative), and Cheat Death may be useful to "cheat" some mechanics.

            4th Tier (available at level 60): The default talent for this tier is Shadowstep for higher mobility and increased time on target. Preparation (which resets Claok of Shadows, Dismantle, Evasion, Sprint, and Vanish) may be useful for specific encounters. Burst of Speed is not recommended.

            5th Tier (available at level 75): This tier is situational (and mostly useless). Prey on the Weak increases damage taken by stunned targets, Paralytic Poison can be used with Shiv to apply a 4 second root, and Dirty Tricks stops your poisons or bleeds from breaking Gouge or Blind.

            6th Tier (available at level 90): The default talent for this tier is Anticipation so we can use 5 combo-point finishers without wasting any combo-points. Shuriken Toss is a ranged combo-point builder which synergizes well with Deadly Throw, and Versatility removes Redirect's cooldown.



            In terms of DPS, herbalism, mining, and skinning should be avoided. All the other professions are roughly identical in terms of raw agility or an equally viable amount of attack power. Also be aware that Engineering's Synapse Springs cannot be used at the same time as an on-use trinket.

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III. Stats
Equivalence Points:

            Equivalence Points (or "EP values") convert the value of each stat into an approximate amount of attack power. For example, if a point of agility has an EP value of 2.6, it's worth approximately 2.6 points of attack power. This way we can compare the worth of all our stats using a common base.

            Agility: 2.70
            Hit to 7.5%: 1.85 (6.0% before raids).
            Mastery: 1.30
            Expertise: 1.15
            Haste: 1.05
            Crit: 1.00
            White Hit: 0.65

            The priority list for raiding is as follows:

            Agility > 7.5% hit (2550 rating) > Mastery > 7.5% expertise (2550 rating) > Haste > Crit > Hit

Expertise and Hit:

            Expertise: This stat reduces the chance for your attacks to be dodged or parried. NPCs can only parry attacks in a 180-degree frontal arc, so DPS only have to worry about the dodge cap. NPCs also can't dodge while casting, and dodged attacks refund 80% of their energy cost for Assassination.

                      Before Patch 5.0.4, Assassination would only aim for the Expertise cap after obtaining the legendaries so as not to waste the Fury of the Destroyer proc. Whether this is still true in 5.0.4 or at level 90 has yet to be determined, so obtaining the dodge cap is recommended for now.

                      Expertise Caps:
                      Dodge: w/ Racial:
                      Heroic Dungeons: 2040 (6.0%) 1700 (5.0%) Gnomes get a racial
                      Raid Bosses: 2550 (7.5%) 2210 (6.5%) bonus with daggers.

            Hit: This stat reduces the chance for your attacks to miss. The hit cap for auto attacks is much higher than that for special attacks, and hit rating above the special attacks hit cap isn't a very strong stat. Poisons also now use the special attack spell hit cap instead of the spell hit cap.

                      Hit Caps:
                      Special: Hard Cap:
                      Heroic Dungeons: 2040 (6.0%) Unknown.
                      Raid Bosses: 2550 (7.5%) 9010 (26.5%).

Rating Conversions (level 90):

            1% Crit: 600 rating.
            1% Hit: 340 rating.
            1% Expertise: 340 rating.
            1% Haste: 425 rating.
            1% Mastery: Not yet known.

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IV. Gear
Weapons and Poisons:

            Assassination dual-wields daggers and uses Deadly Poison for a lethal poison. The default non-lethal poison to use is Leeching Poison, which heals you for a portion of your damage dealt. Each non-lethal poison has an additional ability when paired with Shiv.

                      Crippling Poison: 50% chance to slow your target by 50% for 12 seconds on application of Crippling Poison. Shiv applies a 70% slow for 12 seconds. This poison is ineffective on bosses.

                      Leeching Poison: Heals you for 10% of your weapon damage dealt to a target afflicted by Leeching Poison. When you use Shiv you are immediately healed for 5% of your total health.

                      Mind-Numbing Poison: 50% chance to reduce the target's casting speed by 50% for 10 seconds. Shiv increases the next spell's cast time by 100%. This poison is ineffective on bosses.

                      Paralytic Poison (5th Tier Talent): 20% proc chance, stacks to 5 stacks and then stuns the target for 4 seconds. Shiv roots your target in place for 4 seconds. This poison is ineffective on bosses.

Tier Sets:

            2pc-t14: Increases venomous wounds damage by 20% for assassination rogues.
            4pc-t14: Increases the duration of shadow blades by 12 seconds (to 24 seconds).


            Fundamentally, rogues use two kinds of trinkets: on-use or proc trinkets, that then have a cooldown, such as Darkmoon Card: Hurricane, and trinkets which stack a constant buff with no cooldown, such as Fluid Death. The graph linked below (from EJ) illustrates how they vary in DPS.


            Trinkets with an on-use or proc effect have significant DPS at the start, and then fall gradually as the encounter unfolds. Stacking trinkets start lower, and build up to their full potential. While optimizing these mechanics is irrelevant to most gameplay, it's worth understanding, at least.

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V. Rotation

            Opening: Begin the fight with mutilate, and get rupture and slice and dice up as quickly as possible before building up to 4-5 combo-point envenoms. Ambush (paired with the subterfuge talent) may come out ahead of mutilate (paired with the shadow focus talent), but this has yet to be decided.

            Mutilate > Rupture > Mutilate > Slice and Dice > Etc.
            The underlined mutilate should be replaced by dispatch if your first mutilate results in a blindside proc. At this moment, this is the most efficient opening known for assassination rogues, both in terms of energy, damage, and GCDs. After this, the rotation becomes a simple priority system.

                      Pre-Potting: This term refers to the practice of using a potion ( Virmen's Bite ) immediately before a boss pull, triggering the potion cooldown before entering combat. This allows you to benefit from two potions during a boss encounter. This can be paired with a stealth macro:

                      /use virmen's bite
                      /cast stealth

            Mutilate Phase: from 100-35% health, mutilate is your combo-point builder. Use envenom at 4-5 combo-points, and rupture at 1-5. Higher combo-point ruptures are better, per se, but even a second of downtime negates that value, so use whatever you have to keep it up.

                      Blindside Procs: Each mutilate has a 30% chance of proccing Blindside, which allows you to use dispatch once in the next eight seconds. This dispatch will also not have an energy cost, and should be used before your next mutilate when you are at 4 combo-points or less.

            Dispatch Phase: At 35% health, dispatch replaces mutilate as your combo-point builder. You will also aim for 5 combo-point envenoms when using dispatch, but you can still use mutilate if you're having energy capping issues. 4-5 combo-point ruptures help with rotation stability during this phase.

                      Clipping Envenom: Try to avoid clipping (overlapping) the buff from two envenoms. You CAN do this if you're in danger of energy capping, but envenom timing is an important element in maximizing your assassination DPS. This is something to keep in mind all the time.

            In review, open with mutilate and get rupture and slice and dice up as quickly as possible; keep both up constantly. Slice and dice is simple since it's automatically refreshed by envenom, but rupture will require your attention. You can also overlap ruptures by 1-2 seconds without losing a damage tick.

            Lastly, be VERY aware of your energy bar – NEVER let it become completely full ("energy capping"). If you're ready to use a finisher but will energy cap before rupture is ready to be refreshed, cast envenom. Then rupture as quickly as you can with whatever you have available.


            An optimal AoE rotation for assassination hasn't yet been identified, but the basics are simple: target a nearby enemy and spam fan of knives until you reach 5 combo-points, and then use crimson tempest. It is possible although unconfirmed that maintaining rupture would also be ideal.

            AoE rotation without Rupture:
            Fan of Knives to 5 combo-points > Crimson Tempest
            AoE rotation with Rupture:
            Fan of Knives > Rupture > Fan of Knives to 5 combo-points > Crimson Tempest


            Shadow Blades: "Auto-attacks hit for shadow damage and combo-point generating abilities generate an extra combo-point for 12 seconds." Our new toy in Mists of Pandaria; use it with vendetta when you can, but the cooldowns don't line up very well. Use early and often unless saving for a burn phase.

            Tricks of the Trade: "Increases the target's damage by 15% for 6 seconds, and transfers your threat as well." This ability is a DPS cooldown when not required for threat control; transferred threat also decays rapidly after the effect ends. DO NOT USE THE GLYPH FOR THIS ABILITY.

            Vanish: "Allows the rogue to enter stealth while in combat." While vanish can be a minor DPS increase when paired with one of our First Tier talents (nightstalker, subterfuge, or shadow focus), its primary strength in Mists should be in utility (dropping threat, quick cheapshots, etc.).

            Vendetta: "Increases your damage on the marked target by 30% for 20 seconds (25% for 30 seconds if glyphed)." Timing is everything with this cooldown; you want to use it as often as possible, but also only when you'll have uninterrupted time on target to make use of it. Ideal use is fight-dependent.

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09/24/2012 03:49 AMPosted by Midvale
coo guide

May you be damned to the depths of Deepholm for posting early sir.

Alright, you can post now. All constructive criticism is welcome, there'll be a to-do list here in a few.
09/24/2012 03:54 AMPosted by Newkie
why are the stat values like expertise for level 85? you going to change em after tomorrow i imagine?

Yes, that's at the top of the to-do list.

Which I may as well put here. :)

  • Remove all references to ShadowCraft until further notice (done).
  • Update hit/expertise caps and stat conversions to 90 (done).
  • Add sections for:
    • Reforging.
    • Symbiosis.
    • Ideal classes to cast tricks of the trade on.
  • List pertinent passive talents somewhere.
  • Touch up these sections:
    • The intro (I'm not longer alliance; derp).
    • Trinkets.
    • Consumables paragraph.

After all that is done I'll put in a report to replace the current sticky with this thread for the new expansion.

I'm also planning to break the rotation post into two posts to make it easier to digest.
Dispatch should only be used to get the 5th combo point sub 35%, due to the lack of crit bonus that would of normally given us an additional CP when using backstab sub 35%. Instead it's optimal to continue normal rotation sub 35% using mutilate, but when you reach 4 CPs, it's best to use dispatch to the 5th.

Otherwise sub 35, with only using dispatch you will not be able to get max uptime on the envenom buff and CP generation will be drastically slow.

To counter this, I advise possibly lining up shadow blades sub 35% to make the rotation more smooth.

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