In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Assassination Rogue rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Assassination Rogue Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
Main ChangesAssassination Rogues will notice two important changes in Mists of Pandaria. Both of them apply to all three Rogue specializations.
The first main change is related to Combo Point management. The three Rogue specialisations have mechanics that cause Combo Point generating abilities to sometimes generate an extra Combo Point. In the case of Assassination Rogues, Seal Fate will generate an additional Combo Point every time you critically strike with a single-target Combo Point generating ability. Also, Rogues get a new DPS cooldown: Shadow Blades, which temporarily causes your Combo Point generating abilities to generate an extra Combo Point. To prevent you from wasting Combo Points, Blizzard introduced a new, nigh-mandatory Tier 6 talent: Anticipation. This talent enables you to have up to 10 Combo Points on a target. When you use a Finishing Move, it will consume up to 5 Combo Points. This means that if you have 8 Combo Points and cast Envenom, you will be left with 3 Combo Points.
The second main change will concern AoE damage. Previously, AoE damage for Assassination consisted in spamming Fan of Knives. In Mists of Pandaria, Fan of Knives generates a Combo Point on your current target if it strikes it. To spend these Combo Points, you are given a new AoE ability called Crimson Tempest.
New AbilitiesAs mentioned above, Shadow Blades is a new DPS cooldown that increases Combo Point generation and Crimson Tempest is a new AoE ability that you will use to consume the Combo Points built by Fan of Knives. In addition, you gain the following new abilities:
- Shroud of Concealment is a raid-wide Stealth. It works just like Illidan's concealment aura in the Well of Eternity dungeon.
- Shadow Walk temporarily increases the efficiency of Stealth.
- Swiftblade's Cunning is a passive ability that grants your party and raid members +10% melee and ranged attack speed.
- Dispatch is a new ability that replaces Backstab. It can only be used on targets below 35% health or when Blindside procs (see below).
- Blindside is a new self-buff that has a 30% chance to proc every time you use Mutilate. This self-buff grants you a single use of Dispatch with no Energy cost and regardless of the target's health.
Removed AbilitiesSinister Strike, Eviscerate, and Backstab are no longer accessible to Assassination Rogues.
In addition, Cold Blood, one of your DPS cooldowns, has been removed.
Finally, several core mechanics have been removed: Ruthlessness, Vile Poisons, and Overkill.
Changed Abilities and MechanicsAs we mentioned in the introduction, Fan of Knives now generates a Combo Point every time it is used. In addition to this, you will notice the following important changes.
- Slice and Dice now has a built-in duration of 36 seconds, which is 15 seconds longer than what you had in Cataclysm.
- Rupture now lasts 24 seconds (up from 20, with Glyph of Rupture), which makes it easier to maintain.
- Master Poisoner causes targets afflicted by your poisons to take +5% increased spell damage (down from 8%). The other effects have been removed (
causes your Envenom ability to no longer consume Deadly Poison, and reduces the duration of all Poison effects applied to you by 50%).
- Vendetta now increases the damage you do on your target by 30% (up from 20%), but it only lasts 20 seconds (down from 30 seconds).
Poison ChangesPoisons are now spells so you no longer need to buy reagents from vendors. Also, a poison is always applied to both your weapons, so you can no longer have different poisons on your two weapons. Finally, all your poisons now have a set chance to be applied by each strike of your weapon; this means that slower weapons will have a smaller chance of applying poisons than faster weapons.
Poisons are now either Lethal or Non-Lethal. Lethal Poisons are your damaging poisons while Non-Lethal Poisons provide crowd control and utility.
Deadly Poison and Wound Poison are your Lethal Poisons. Instant Poison has been removed from the game, so the slightly redesigned Deadly Poison will be your poison of choice. Wound Poison will only be used when you need the healing reduction that it provides.
Your Non-Lethal Poisons are listed below. Using Shiv when a Non-Lethal Poison is active on a target will apply a concentrated version of the poison effect.
- Crippling Poison reduces your enemy's movement speed.
- Mind-numbing Poison reduces your enemy's casting speed.
- Leeching Poison (Tier 3 talent) heals you for 10% of the damage dealt.
- Paralytic Poison (Tier 5 talent) stuns your enemy.
RotationWith the addition of Blindside and Dispatch, your rotation changes slightly.
To build Combo Points, use the priority list below.
- Cast Dispatch when the target is below 35% health or when Blindside procs.
- Cast Mutilate when you cannot cast Dispatch.
- Apply and refresh Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Points. It should be done only once, as Envenom will refresh it (thanks to Cut to the Chase).
- Apply and refresh Rupture with 5 Combo Points.
- Cast Envenom with 5 Combo Points.
CooldownsThe removal of Overkill means that Stealth no longer plays a role in your play style. As a result, Vanish is no longer considered a DPS cooldown for Assassination Rogues.
Cold Blood has not made it to Mists of Pandaria, so the only DPS cooldown that you get to keep is Vendetta, which should be used exactly as it was in Cataclysm.
In addition, you gain Shadow Blades, which increases your Combo Point regeneration and should be on cooldown. When Shadow Blades and Vendetta are both off cooldowns, do not hesitate to combine them. This will rarely happen, as these two abilities have different cooldowns.
Multiple-Target RotationJust as in Cataclysm, AoE damage for Assassination Rogues will consist in spamming Fan of Knives. Since this ability now generates Combo Points on your Combo Point target, you will have to weave in Crimson Tempest, your new AoE ability, in order to consume the Combo Point built by Fan of Knives.
Preliminary tests show that you will be able to give up on your single-target DPS when there are 7-8 enemies or more.
TalentsTier 1 talents improve Stealth, which is no longer useful to Assassination Rogues. You have the choice between:
- Nightstalker, which increases your damage by 25% while stealthed;
- Subterfuge, which makes your Stealth break 3 seconds after taking or dealing damage;
- Shadow Focus, which removes the Energy cost of your abilities while you are in Stealth.
Tier 2 talents provide you with survival and crowd control abilities. Whichever you take should make very little difference on your performance as a raider. You have the choice between Deadly Throw (interrupts and slows movement), Nerve Strike (damage reduction), and Combat Readiness. Deadly Throw will be largely useless in PvE while the other two can be useful in fights where you take direct damage from an add.
Tier 3 talents provide you with powerful survival abilities.
- Cheat Death, which used to be only accessible to Subtlety Rogues, works in a similar way as it did in Cataclysm. We believe that this will be the preferred choice.
- Leeching Poison provides you with a self-healing poison that will be useful in situations such as the Twilight Realm against Valiona and Theralion in Bastion of Twilight.
- Elusiveness grants Feint a 30% damage reduction, which can be very useful if you often need to mitigate the damage you take.
- Preparation is an improvement over the old ability of the same name that was previously only available to Subtlety Rogues. It resets the cooldown of several survival and defensive abilities. This will most likely be the default choice for every specialisation.
- Shadowstep used to be a Subtlety-only ability. It teleports you behind your target and can be useful on fights where you often have to move away from the boss.
- Burst of Speed is a very powerful movement-speed-increasing ability that has a 4-second duration. While active, It also removes movement-impairing effects and prevents their re-application. It has no cooldown and costs 60 Energy to cast. We believe that this talent will be extremely powerful in PvP and while questing. It might also be punctually useful in raids, but that will depend on encounter mechanics.
Tier 6 talents deal with Combo Point management. Anticipation is so appealing that it will be nigh-mandatory for raiding. It basically allows you to store extra Combo Points so they don't go to waste if you happen to generate more than 5. Versatility, which removes the cooldown of Redirect, and Shuriken Toss, which allows you to generate Combo Points on a remote target, might be useful, but that will depend on encounter mechanics.
GlyphsThe only major glyph that has an incidence on your DPS will be Glyph of Vendetta, which increases the duration of Vendetta by 10 seconds and only reduces its damage bonus by 5%.
All the other major glyphs provide either utility, more survival, or more mobility, and your choice of glyph will largely depend on the encounter. Those that will come in handy are:
- Glyph of Feint, which increases the duration of Feint by 2 seconds;
- Glyph of Evasion, which increases the duration of Evasion by 5 seconds;
- Glyph of Debilitation, which gives your Envenom ability a 50% chance to reduce the target's movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds;
- Glyph of Sprint, which increases your movement speed during Sprint by 30%.
Other than that, we believe that the two following minor glyphs will be used by almost everyone: Glyph of Safe Fall and Glyph of Poisons.
Finally, Glyph of Blurred Speed can be useful for dealing with particular encounter mechanics.
This concludes our Assassination Rogue preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!