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talents Assassination Rogue: Mists of Pandaria Rotation Changes, Talents, and Glyphs (Patch 5.0.4)

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This article is no longer being updated. Please check our Assassination Rogue guide, which is fully compatible with Mists of Pandaria, and is being constantly updated. Thank you.

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 Changes

Assassination 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, ability_rogue_stayofexecution.jpgSeal 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: inv_knife_1h_grimbatolraid_d_03.jpgShadow 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: ability_rogue_slaughterfromtheshadows.jpAnticipation. 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 ability_rogue_disembowel.jpgEnvenom, you will be left with 3 Combo Points.

The second main change will concern AoE damage. Previously, AoE damage for Assassination consisted in spamming ability_rogue_fanofknives.jpgFan 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 inv_knife_1h_cataclysm_c_05.jpgCrimson Tempest.

New Abilities

As mentioned above, inv_knife_1h_grimbatolraid_d_03.jpgShadow Blades is a new DPS cooldown that increases Combo Point generation and inv_knife_1h_cataclysm_c_05.jpgCrimson Tempest is a new AoE ability that you will use to consume the Combo Points built by ability_rogue_fanofknives.jpgFan of Knives. In addition, you gain the following new abilities:
  • ability_rogue_shroudofconcealment.jpgShroud of Concealment is a raid-wide Stealth. It works just like Illidan's concealment aura in the Well of Eternity dungeon.
  • ability_rogue_envelopingshadows.jpgShadow Walk temporarily increases the efficiency of Stealth.
  • ability_rogue_disembowel.jpgSwiftblade's Cunning is a passive ability that grants your party and raid members +10% melee and ranged attack speed.
  • ability_backstab.jpgDispatch is a new ability that replaces Backstab. It can only be used on targets below 35% health or when ability_rogue_focusedattacks.jpgBlindside procs (see below).
  • ability_rogue_focusedattacks.jpgBlindside is a new self-buff that has a 30% chance to proc every time you use ability_rogue_shadowstrikes.jpgMutilate. This self-buff grants you a single use of ability_backstab.jpgDispatch with no Energy cost and regardless of the target's health.

Removed Abilities

spell_shadow_ritualofsacrifice.jpgSinister Strike, ability_rogue_eviscerate.jpgEviscerate, and ability_backstab.jpgBackstab are no longer accessible to Assassination Rogues.

In addition, spell_ice_lament.jpgCold Blood, one of your DPS cooldowns, has been removed.

Finally, several core mechanics have been removed: ability_druid_disembowel.jpgRuthlessness, ability_rogue_feigndeath.jpgVile Poisons, and ability_hunter_rapidkilling.jpgOverkill.

Changed Abilities and Mechanics

As we mentioned in the introduction, ability_rogue_fanofknives.jpgFan of Knives now generates a Combo Point every time it is used. In addition to this, you will notice the following important changes.
  • ability_rogue_slicedice.jpgSlice and Dice now has a built-in duration of 36 seconds, which is 15 seconds longer than what you had in Cataclysm.
  • ability_rogue_rupture.jpgRupture now lasts 24 seconds (up from 20, with inv_glyph_primerogue.jpgGlyph of Rupture), which makes it easier to maintain.
  • ability_creature_poison_06.jpgMaster 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%).
  • ability_rogue_deadliness.jpgVendetta 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 Changes

Poisons 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.

ability_rogue_dualweild.jpgDeadly Poison and inv_misc_herb_16.jpgWound Poison are your Lethal Poisons. ability_poisons.jpgInstant 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 inv_throwingknife_04.jpgShiv when a Non-Lethal Poison is active on a target will apply a concentrated version of the poison effect.


With the addition of ability_rogue_focusedattacks.jpgBlindside and ability_backstab.jpgDispatch, your rotation changes slightly.

To build Combo Points, use the priority list below.

To spend Combo Points, use the priority list below.Note that you should still start the fight in Stealth and use ability_rogue_garrote.jpgGarrote to break it, so as to benefit from ability_rogue_venomouswounds.jpgVenomous Wounds as early in the fight as possible.


The removal of ability_hunter_rapidkilling.jpgOverkill means that Stealth no longer plays a role in your play style. As a result, ability_vanish.jpgVanish is no longer considered a DPS cooldown for Assassination Rogues.

spell_ice_lament.jpgCold Blood has not made it to Mists of Pandaria, so the only DPS cooldown that you get to keep is ability_rogue_deadliness.jpgVendetta, which should be used exactly as it was in Cataclysm.

In addition, you gain inv_knife_1h_grimbatolraid_d_03.jpgShadow 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 Rotation

Just as in Cataclysm, AoE damage for Assassination Rogues will consist in spamming ability_rogue_fanofknives.jpgFan of Knives. Since this ability now generates Combo Points on your Combo Point target, you will have to weave in inv_knife_1h_cataclysm_c_05.jpgCrimson 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.


Tier 1 talents improve Stealth, which is no longer useful to Assassination Rogues. You have the choice between:
  • ability_stealth.jpgNightstalker, which increases your damage by 25% while stealthed;
  • rogue_subterfuge.jpgSubterfuge, which makes your Stealth break 3 seconds after taking or dealing damage;
  • rogue_shadowfocus.jpgShadow Focus, which removes the Energy cost of your abilities while you are in Stealth.
Shadow Focus seems to be the best choice here, as it removes the Energy cost of ability_rogue_garrote.jpgGarrote when you use it to get early uptime on ability_rogue_venomouswounds.jpgVenomous Wounds.

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 inv_throwingknife_06.jpgDeadly Throw (interrupts and slows movement), rogue_nerve-_strike.jpgNerve Strike (damage reduction), and ability_rogue_combatreadiness.jpgCombat 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.

  • ability_rogue_cheatdeath.jpgCheat 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.
  • rogue_leeching_poison.jpgLeeching 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.
  • ability_rogue_turnthetables.jpgElusiveness grants ability_rogue_feint.jpgFeint a 30% damage reduction, which can be very useful if you often need to mitigate the damage you take.
Tier 4 talents provide you with survival and mobility abilities.
  • ability_rogue_preparation.jpgPreparation 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.
  • ability_rogue_shadowstep.jpgShadowstep 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.
  • rogue_burstofspeed.jpgBurst 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 5 talents give various boosts to your poisons (mostly to the Non-Lethal Poisons) and will have almost no implication in PvE. You have the choice between ability_rogue_deadlybrew.jpgDeadly Brew, rogue_paralytic_poison.jpgParalytic Poison, and ability_rogue_dirtydeeds.jpgDirty Tricks.

Tier 6 talents deal with Combo Point management. ability_rogue_slaughterfromtheshadows.jpAnticipation 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. ability_rogue_versatility.jpgVersatility, which removes the cooldown of ability_rogue_redirect.jpgRedirect, and inv_throwingknife_07.jpgShuriken Toss, which allows you to generate Combo Points on a remote target, might be useful, but that will depend on encounter mechanics.


The only major glyph that has an incidence on your DPS will be inv_glyph_primerogue.jpgGlyph of Vendetta, which increases the duration of ability_rogue_deadliness.jpgVendetta 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:

Regarding minor glyphs, it is worth noting that inv_glyph_majorrogue.jpgGlyph of Tricks of the Trade has been changed. While this glyph still removes the Energy cost of Tricks of the Trade, it also causes your ability_rogue_tricksofthetrade.jpgTricks of the Trade ability to no longer increase the damage of your target. Therefore, you will usually not use this glyph, meaning that using Tricks of the Trade on a fellow raid member will have a much higher penalty than before on the Rogue's DPS.

Other than that, we believe that the two following minor glyphs will be used by almost everyone: inv_glyph_minorrogue.jpgGlyph of Safe Fall and inv_glyph_minorrogue.jpgGlyph of Poisons.

Finally, inv_glyph_minorrogue.jpgGlyph 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!

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Wow, Assassination is looking super easy. I always enjoyed Assass better than Combat, well, until Tier 13.

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This is regarding the suggestion to use 5 combo points on Slice and Dice. When on my rogue, from stealth I would open with garrote with a slice and dice right after. The reason being is 5 combo points can be generated fast enough for Envenom to refresh slice and dice with the Cut to the Chase, as mentioned in this guide, before the original duration of Slice and Dice falls off. This also gets Envenom up faster as well as Rupture and so forth. Even when changing targets, Slice and Dice can likely be refreshed yet again with some fast combo points. Therefore, it is likely we will only need one combo point to initiate and maintain Slice and Dice.

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This is regarding the suggestion to use 5 combo points on Slice and Dice. When on my rogue, from stealth I would open with garrote with a slice and dice right after. The reason being is 5 combo points can be generated fast enough for Envenom to refresh slice and dice with the Cut to the Chase, as mentioned in this guide, before the original duration of Slice and Dice falls off. This also gets Envenom up faster as well as Rupture and so forth. Even when changing targets, Slice and Dice can likely be refreshed yet again with some fast combo points. Therefore, it is likely we will only need one combo point to initiate and maintain Slice and Dice.

Thank you for this suggestion. You can be sure that it will be included in our Mists of Pandaria guide for Assassination Rogues. This is just a preview, so we tried to keep things simple ;)

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You state that Eviscerate is not available for Assassination rogues, then recommend Glyph of Debilitation (which buffs Eviscerate). I assume this was just left in because of your Combat preview.

Which spec comes out on top for rogues in MOP in your view (raiding)?

Edited by lobesforit

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it should say envenom and not eviscerate. still a viable option just linked wrong spell for the reasoning

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Which spec comes out on top for rogues in MOP in your view (raiding)?


This changes with every build, but it is a good early estimate. Of course these were done with the level of player skill at maximum efficiency. Even though sub is ahead of assass, I think the sub rotation will prove to be too volatile as it has been in the past for PvE. My opinion is that Assassination will be the way to go for the first tier of MoP. I have no access to the beta, so I have nothing other than what I have read here on IV and a few simcraft models.

Edited by kodjin

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You state that Eviscerate is not available for Assassination rogues, then recommend Glyph of Debilitation (which buffs Eviscerate). I assume this was just left in because of your Combat preview.

Which spec comes out on top for rogues in MOP in your view (raiding)?

As Ethren pointed out, there was an error in the link. The glyph you are mentioning also works with ability_rogue_disembowel.jpgEnvenom, so the text should have read Envenom and not Eviscerate. This has been corrected :)

As kodjin said, you can find early simulation results at At the moment, simulation tools are the best way of figuring out stat priorities and the respective DPS numbers for all classes. We, testers, can't afford to spend hours in front of the new dummies when everything changes with every new beta build.

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      Tier 4: Crashing Waves for the best synergy with Undulation
      Tier 5: Earthen Shield Totem or Ancestral Vigor.
      I personally prefer AV because M+ are all about fast moving forward so may find the group constantly run out of your shield but for +10 with certain affixes you may need EST mitigation as well.
      Tier 6:: Echo of the Elements.
      Tier 7: Ascendance
      These are generally preferred talents, though there are fights where some tweaking would give a better performance especially when progressing.
      Tier 1: Torrent (increases your instant heal)
      You may want to use Unleash Life paired with Chain Heals on Ursoc or Undulation on Dragons. 
      Tier 2: Wind Rush Totem or Graceful Spirit. Take WRT if a raid speed boost is needed during the encounter, otherwise GS. Frankly, I didn't find WRT any particular use in raids except of fast moving out from Ambush in Elerethe encounter.
      Tier 3: Lightning Surge Totem is pretty useful on trash.
      Tier 4: Crashing Waves or Ancestral Guidance.
      Crashing Waves if you go with Undulation in Tier 1, otherwise AG - its synergy with CBT is just awesome.
      Tier 5:  Ancestral Vigor for most of the fights because people tend to move a lot and constantly leave your Earthen Shield Totem area.
      Earthen Shield Totem may be worth considering on fights like Ursoc or Dragons where at least half of the raid stacked during high damage.
      Ancestral Protection Totem - I didn't find it useful on any fight so far.
      Tier 6: Cloudburst Totem. Not really debatable best talent in this tier for most of fights - saves a lot of mana accumulating not only your healing but overhealing too and releasing the stored power to actually injured targets.
      Bottomless Depths are useless because 1) Resurgence returns a miserable amount of mana and 2) Proccing Resurgence is our very last concern when raid drops below 60%.
      Echo of the Elements should be considered for the fights with constant movement where it's hard to maintain full amount of CBT and charge the totem properly.
      Tier 7: High Tide for most fights.
      The concerns we had before Legion went live about mana management are gone - resto shamans are in a really good place right now mana wise. There's no particular problem with spamming CH when needed so High Tide is still a good to go talent.
      Ascendance may be nice for fights where you can't make a good use of CH (heavy ST damage) or when you raid is short of healing CDs.
      Wellspring underperforms in raids. It just does less healing than High Tide or Ascendance.
      What trinkets are our BiS?
      It's hard to say really because of this new implemented system where every item may be upgraded to somewhat between 840-895 ilvl and to have (or not) a socket.
      A more or less general agreement for now (Emerald Nightmare) is that Vial of Nightmare Fog and Heightened Senses are very good. 
      Chrono Shard and An'she's Infusion of Light with Mastery are worth considering same as Unstable Arcanocrystal. Horn of Cenarius is considered a bad choice and it's better not to use Cocoon of Enforced Solitude if you have something with good secondaries.
      Crafted trinkets (both with mana saving and crit) are worth considering if you don't mind the price and didn't have any luck with raid drops.
    • By Cirrem
      Hey All, 
      I was blessed the bracer drop early on and have been wondering if its ever a good idea to spec Epidemic. My thoughts are in most cases PP comes close in AOE especially if you can have DnD up on most pulls.
      Has anyone done testing on how many units you need for an epidemic to be more damage vs X number of wounds with BS. When does that change when you put DnD in the mix? Does value change based on rune usage (for example the time wasted building stacks, though that must be done in all pulls that lasts longer than 3 epidemics) and how much does PP and IC do to fix that?
      Any thoughts or evidence would be greatly appreciated. 
      P.S. does anyone bring epidemic to il'gynoth to inflate those numbers? I want to bring that and DA next week to see if I can do any better.