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Assassination Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.0.3)

Last updated on Oct 07, 2016 at 08:47 by Furty 254 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Assassination Rogue core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.0.3. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing an Assassination Rogue.

The other pages of our Assassination Rogue guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Furty who raids in Serenity, one of the top World of Warcraft guilds. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

1. Ability Priority List

This assumes you are using the raid focused talent build in our Talents page.

  1. Maintain Rupture Icon Rupture on primary and secondary targets (up to 3 targets).
  2. Activate Vendetta Icon Vendetta on the primary target when it is off cooldown.
  3. Activate Vanish Icon Vanish if it is off cooldown and you have 6 Combo Points, then use Rupture Icon Rupture (if you are talented into Nightstalker Icon Nightstalker, otherwise use Mutilate Icon Mutilate).
  4. Maintain Garrote Icon Garrote on the primary target.
  5. Cast Kingsbane Icon Kingsbane when it is off cooldown.
  6. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom to spend extra Combo Points.
  7. Cast Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives on 3+ targets to apply and maintain Agonizing Poison Icon Agonizing Poison and generate Combo Points.
  8. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate to generate Combo Points.

There is some debate whether casting finishers at "only 6" Combo Points is more damage than using finishers at "5-6" Combo Points (to avoid Combo Point overflow). Sims have confirmed that the damage difference is very negligible, so you do not have to stress over it too much. That said, there is a very slight damage advantage to instead using your finishers at 5-6 Combo Points.

For more information on your opening sequence, please refer to our dedicated section.

2. Poisons

Your Lethal Poison should always be Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison, unless you are talented into Agonizing Poison Icon Agonizing Poison. If you are using Agonizing Poison Icon Agonizing Poison, you should always use it over Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison.

Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison is your only default Non-Lethal poison and you should use it, unless you choose Leeching Poison Icon Leeching Poison as a Tier 3 talent or unless the adds should not be slowed.

3. Important Notes

3.1. The Interaction Between Combo Points and Energy

As an Assassination Rogue, most of your abilities need Energy to be used. Your Energy bar has a capacity of 120 Energy (170 with Vigor Icon Vigor chosen as your Tier 3 talent) and refills at a rate of 10 Energy per second. Your Energy regeneration is increased by:

  • current Haste rating (Haste + haste-enhancing buffs);
  • your Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds passive;
  • Venom Rush Icon Venom Rush, if chosen as your Tier 7 talent.

The faster you regenerate Energy, the more Combo Points you generate, and the more max Combo Point finishers you can fit in your rotation. This also allows for a higher uptime on Elaborate Planning Icon Elaborate Planning, which will award much higher DPS on an extended encounter.

Never let yourself Energy cap (i.e., never let your Energy reach its maximum). If you find yourself at your maximum Energy, then you are losing DPS, because any Energy you generate is wasted. Pooling higher levels of Energy to unleash for high burst windows, however, can be extremely beneficial and will be discussed later in this guide. In a similar fashion to Energy, you should never waste Combo Points by forgetting to spend them when you are at the maximum.

Combo Point generation is increased by Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate, which causes your critical hits with Mutilate Icon Mutilate to add an additional Combo Point on your target per critical.

Combo Point and Energy overflow is assuaged somewhat by the Tier 3 (Level 45) talents, Vigor Icon Vigor, Anticipation Icon Anticipation, and Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem. Deeper Stratagem and Anticipation both allow for additional Combo Point flexibility to avoid overflow while Vigor expands your Energy bar considerably.

3.2. Pooling Energy and Combo Points

It can be very beneficial to "pool" your Energy and Combo Points, which involves auto-attacking while your Energy regenerates. The advantage this provides is variable, meaning that pooling does not always result in damage gained. Situations where pooling Energy and Combo Points is beneficial include:

  • before Vendetta Icon Vendetta comes off of cooldown, so you can fit as many abilities as possible into your cooldowns;
  • before an important add spawns, so you can apply as much instant pressure as possible;
  • to ensure a higher uptime on Elaborate Planning Icon Elaborate Planning;
  • to assist with Envenom Icon Envenom uptime, by chaining two Envenom Icon Envenoms so that the buff does not drop;
  • an encounter specific buff or damage phase is imminent;
  • when Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate (if talented )is coming off cooldown, as you will have to immediately reapply fresh bleeds following the usage of this ability.

Pooling Energy is not a magical DPS gain by itself. It allows you to slightly adjust the timing of your abilities so that you fit more attacks during periods of increased damage (provided you can properly identify when such periods are going to come).

3.2.1. Pooling with Elaborate Planning

If Rupture Icon Rupture is not in pandemic range and you are sitting at 5-6 Combo Points, it is not always beneficial to immediately Envenom Icon Envenom. If Elaborate Planning Icon Elaborate Planning still has some seconds remaining, it is best to wait as long as possible before casting Envenom Icon Envenom to ensure a higher total uptime on Elaborate Planning Icon Elaborate Planning. Once you are nearing Energy cap you should always immediately dump your Combo Points to avoid resource munching.

3.3. Rupture

Rupture is your highest priority as it deals strong damage. The 50% damage buff from the Nightstalker Icon Nightstalker is applied to Rupture Icon Rupture, so it is best to use your Vanish Icon Vanish only when you have 6 Combo Points and can apply a fresh Rupture Icon Rupture. Rupture Icon Rupture should always be applied to secondary targets for the increased energy generation from Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds. This results in both a single target increase as well as a noticeable gain to overall damage.

If you are playing with Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate, you should try to overlap your Nightstalker Icon Nightstalker buffed Rupture Icon Rupture with the Exsanguinate cooldown whenever possible.

3.3.1. Pandemic and Rupture Refresh

When you refresh Rupture Icon Rupture before it expires, the duration that was left is added to the new Rupture Icon Rupture DoT, up to a maximum of 30% of the original duration. You can safely refresh a 5 Combo Point Rupture Icon Rupture when it has 7.2 seconds or less remaining. Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem allows for 6 Combo Point Rupture Icon Ruptures which last 28 seconds. 6 Combo Point Rupture Icon Ruptures can be refreshed safely when they have 8.4 seconds or less remaining.

Safe Pandemic refresh timing is based off the current number of combo points you have and not the original length of the Rupture Icon Rupture. Therefore, a 1 Combo Point Rupture Icon Rupture can benefit from full Pandemic if it is refreshed by a 5-6 Combo Point Rupture Icon Rupture. This is taken advantage of in the opening sequence later in the guide.

If you are talented into Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate, you should refresh your bleed effects before and after Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate casts for maximum efficacy.

3.4. Vendetta Usage

Vendetta Icon Vendetta is your main DPS cooldown. It has a 2-minute cooldown, and is a debuff applied to a single target, rather than a buff that increases all your damage to all targets. Vendetta is best applied to your primary target, and during this period you should focus all of your damage into single target onto that marked enemy. If secondary targets are present, refresh your bleed effects (especially Rupture Icon Rupture for Energy regeneration) before activating your Vendetta. You should aim to go into Vendetta with all your bleed effects fully refreshed when possible, along with high Energy and Combo Points. You should also try and ensure Agonizing Poison Icon Agonizing Poison is fully stacked when possible.

3.5. Kingsbane

Kingsbane Icon Kingsbane is a fairly weak cooldown available once your Artifact is obtained. There is no special trick or usage to this ability and it should be used whenever available, providing it does not interfere with higher priority tasks (like applying and maintaining Rupture Icon Ruptures).

3.6. Defensive Utility

All Rogues come ready made with a dizzying phalanx of defensive cooldowns, which make them the best candidate for soaking required mechanics and dealing with heavy incoming damage.

  • Feint Icon Feint reduces AoE damage taken by 50% for 5 seconds for only 20 Energy. When talented into Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness it also reduces all other damage by 30%. This is one of the most overpowered abilities in the game and a huge asset on fights with heavy raid damage. Do not forget about this button!
  • Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows provides magic immunity for a second, followed by 5 seconds where all spells will miss. This spell is mostly used for clearing debuffs that might otherwise force you out of melee range, like Fel Surge on Xhul'horac. Cloak of Shadows is also a fantastic tool for soaking abilities that do not pierce immunities.
  • Evasion Icon Evasion increases your Dodge chance by 100% for 10 seconds. This can be useful if you have to tank some adds or the boss for a few seconds.
  • Cheat Death Icon Cheat Death is a talent that allows you to escape lethal damage once every 2 minutes. The damage cannot exceed more than twice your maximum health. Cheat Death Icon Cheat Death is great for soaking mechanics that pierce immunities and damage reductions as it guarantees your survival. It is also great for encounters with bursty damage that might take you by surprise, as you get a free get out of jail free card once every 2 minutes.
  • Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial provides a respectable amount of healing on a very short cooldown. Use this often in boss encounters.

Do not forget about this defensive toolkit, as it can be a huge asset for your mortality and your raid!

4. Core Concepts

Assassination Rogue has received a number of changes in Legion, particularly with the introduction of Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate. Much of the optimization comes from the interaction between your current debuff timers and your cooldowns, and understanding how and when to properly burst. Like most Rogue specializations, this specialization requires fast fingers during cooldown periods as there are a significant number of keybinds to hit in a short period of time (compared to most specializations). Learning to focus on what is important and master the core concepts of a specialization is what leads to strong overall performances on the damage charts. Assassination features 3 major concepts that form the central trinity of optimizing for success:

  1. ability uptimes;
  2. cooldown usage;
  3. resource management.

4.1. Ability Uptimes

Paying close attention to the uptime of your bleeds is key. In particular, ensure that your bleeds are always fully refreshed for Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate. During cleave scenarios, keep close track of your bleeds on multiple targets. Use the additional energy from Rupture Icon Rupture ticks to dump extra damage into the primary target. Aura tracking is recommended to help you keep track of your bleeds. Remember that Rupture can be refreshed in accordance with Pandemic (30% of maximum duration remaining) and it will be added to the new Rupture duration.

4.2. Cooldown Usage

As mentioned above, it is imperative you keep a careful watch on your cooldowns and understand how they interact with each other. On the opener, all your cooldowns overlap, so check the opening sequence for an idea of how to execute in that situation. Make good use of your Vanish Icon Vanish for larger bleeds and ensure all your effects are fully refreshed before entering a cooldown window, so you do not waste any global cooldowns.

4.3. Resource Management

Remember the importance of pooling Energy for burst and pay close attention to your Combo Points, as it can be easy to overcap with Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate. Plan your damage in accordance with the boss timers to maximize output. Remember not to immediately spend your Combo Points on Envenom Icon Envenom if you are not in danger of Energy capping to extend your Elaborate Planning Icon Elaborate Planning uptime.

4.4. Opening Sequence

Always start the pull from Stealth Icon Stealth.

  1. Use Potion of the Old War Icon Potion of the Old War.
  2. Apply Garrote Icon Garrote.
  3. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate.
  4. Apply Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Activate Vendetta Icon Vendetta on the primary target.
  6. Use any active racials, such as Berserking Icon Berserking.
  7. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate until CP cap.
  8. Activate Vanish Icon Vanish and apply Rupture Icon Rupture.
  9. Cast Exsanguinate Icon Exsanguinate (if talented).
  10. Cast Kingsbane Icon Kingsbane.
  11. Continue with the normal rotation.

5. ChangeLog

  • 07 Oct. 2016: Adjusted page to be further in line with the Agonizing Poison build.
  • 05 Oct. 2016: Updated opener.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 29 Jul. 2016: Updated Opening Sequence & added note about 5-6 CP vs. 6 CP finisher usage.
  • 19 Jul. 2016: Added a mention about safe Pandemic refresh for Rupture.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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