Assassination Rogue Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.1
Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits are the most important character customization options in Shadowlands. They have a substantial impact on your toolkit and performance as Assassination Rogue. This page's purpose is to help you pick the right options according to the content you intend to do in Shadowlands.
This page assumes that you are already familiar with Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits. If that is not the case, we have a number of pages that can help you get up to speed:
- Covenants Guide, which explains what Covenants are, what perks they bring, and how you can join one;
- Rogue Covenant Abilities, which lists all the abilities that Rogues gain by joining each Covenant;
- How To Change Covenant?, which tells you how you can switch Covenant (rejoining a former Covenant will require you to perform a number of tasks to regain their trusts);
- General Soulbind Guide, which explains what Soulbinds are and how you can pledge yourself to them to open up their Soulbind tree;
- Rogue Conduits, which lists all of the Conduits available to Rogues.
Shadowlands Patch 9.1 Disclaimer
After the changes in 9.0.5 that buffed both the Venthyr and Necrolord Covenant, 9.1 brings no specific buffs or nerfs to any Covenant. Instead, each soulbind will receive a few new Conduits and soulbind abilities. They are well balanced to the point where Assassination Rogues can still comfortably pick any Covenant without having to worry too much about falling behind other choices for their raw DPS output.
As Venthyr and Necrolord have been slightly ahead for single-target for a few weeks now, this guide will no longer recommend Night Fae for new Assassination Rogues. This does not mean that Night Fae is no longer a viable Covenant, but it currently is the "worst" Covenant choice.
If you are purely interested in single-target damage and do not care at all about Mythic+, Venthyr is the strongest option with Necrolord being ~2% worse. On multi-target fights and in Mythic+ simulations, Necrolord is slightly stronger than Venthyr. Kyrian and Night Fae are behind either of these choices by about 3-4% in both single-target and AoE.
Since all three Rogue specs are viable specs and do very similar DPS, you might intend to switch specs more frequently. The strongest Covenant choices for Outlaw and Subtlety are Necrolord and Venthyr, respectively, so depending on your desire to switch specializations frequently, you might want to pick your Covenant accordingly.
The combined powers of your Covenant's class ability, its specific Soulbinds, as well as the Conduits you use in combination with your Soulbinds, allows for a lot of customization. All of these choices ultimately add to your core class-kit in the form of DPS boosts, increased utility, survivability, or better mobility.
This guide will highlight the individual strengths of each Covenant, explain which Conduits are the most powerful for each Conduit-type and detail the best Soulbind setup for each Covenant.
If you have already decided on a Covenant that you would like to play, you can click any of these links to jump to the sections detailing the recommended Soulbinds and tips and tricks on how to optimally play around your Covenant Ability. Simply follow these links for the Night Fae, Necrolord, Kyrian, or Venthyr Covenant.
Recommended Assassination Rogue Covenant: Venthyr
The Venthyr Covenant offers a variety of Soulbinds and abilities that make it a very good choice regardless of whether you want to excel in Raids, Mythic+ or are mainly focusing on solo content like Torghast. It is a very flexible Covenant for Assassination Rogue and synergizes well with our class and specialization toolkit.
The main reason why Venthyr is a very solid choice is due its high DPS performance, while offering lots of flexibility with multiple viable Soulbinds that can be customized for specific playstyles or situations. It is not uncommon to use each Soulbind for a different content-type.
Its class ability, Flagellation, also works well with our Spec. It applies a debuff that deals extra damage whenever we spend Combo Points, and increases our Haste as well, which is our best secondary stat. It greatly boosts our single-target burst and also offers strong priority target damage in AoE situations while boosting all our Damage over Time due to the higher Haste level.
Venthyr also happens to be a very good choice for Subtlety, and even Outlaw can benefit from the strong Covenant Legendary.
For more information on why the Venthyr Covenant is a very good all-around choice for Assassination Rogue, as well as information on how to set up your Soulbinds and Conduits as you gain more Renown with the Venthyr Covenant, you can check out our Venthyr Deep Dive section.
Best Conduits for Assassination Rogue
Below, you will find a selection of our best Conduits, sorted by type. If you are interested in the full details, continue reading through the next section of the guide. Please refer to our Rogue Conduits list if you want to see all Rogue Conduits.
- Best Potency Conduits: Well-Placed Steel, Lethal Poisons and Sudden Fractures, Reverberation or Lashing Scars depending on Covenant choice.
- Best Finesse Conduits: Quick Decisions for raid encounters or Fade to Nothing when focusing on non-raid content.
- Best Endurance Conduits: Recuperator when taking sustained damage or Nimble Fingers when taking bursts of damage. Cloaked in Shadows replaces Nimble Fingers in Mythic+.
Assassination Rogue Conduits
Regardless of which Covenant you pick, you will be able to gather and use the same Conduits, with the notable exception of the Potency Conduit that enhances your Covenant Class Ability.
Out of all the Conduit types, Potency Conduits are the only ones actively improving the throughput of your damaging abilities. You will oftentimes be forced to decide between either a Potency Conduit and a utility Soulbind, or a Finesse/Endurance Conduit and a DPS Soulbind. Most Potency Conduits will not improve your DPS as much as these DPS Soulbinds until you hit rank 7 or higher, so if your Conduits are still at low ranks, you should pick the non-Potency pathway as soon as you unlock the subsequent DPS Soulbind.
We will be listing the Conduits you can obtain below, ordered by perceived power and accompanied by an explanation on their place in the list.
Assassination Rogue Potency Conduits
Two of these can (and generally should) be chosen once you unlock their slots at your chosen Soulbind. By order of preference:
- Well-Placed Steel is our best single-target Conduit, increasing the damage bonus to Nature damage while Shiv is active. This allows for stronger burst windows during Shiv.
- Lethal Poisons is our second best choice, providing a significant boost to your weapon poison damage. This bonus is entirely passive, but still ranks second compared to all other Conduits.
- Maim, Mangle is the worst of the single-target Conduits, offering a minor damage increase to Mutilate as long as your target is affected by Garrote. The damage bonus simply is not high enough to compete with the other Conduits however.
- Poisoned Katar is our best AoE Conduit and provides no boost to single-target whatsoever. If you want to run two Potency Conduits for AoE, this replaces Well-Placed Steel.
- Our Covenant Conduits: Reverberation and Septic Shock are worse than both Well--Placed Steel, as well as Lethal Poisons, in single-target.
- Lashing Scars for the Venthyr Covenant is by far the best choice as your Potency Conduit. Sudden Fractures is a solid pick for Necrolord on single-target, and the best AoE Conduit.
Assassination Rogue Endurance Conduits
Our Endurance Conduits all excel against a certain type of damage, so, depending on the situation, each one of these could be best suited to counteract some of the damage you take.
- Recuperator provides some passive healing while Slice and Dice is active, which it should be at all times. It is the best all-around choice.
- Nimble Fingers reduces the Energy cost of both Feint and Crimson Vial. On encounters where these abilities are used regularly to counteract large bursts of damage, you will save some Energy with this Conduit. Sadly, the DPS gained from this Energy cost reduction is very insignificant.
- Cloaked in Shadows provides an absorb shield every time you enter stealth. Since Vanish is used as a DPS cooldown, you will not be able to use it on-demand to benefit from this Conduit. It is however very powerful in Mythic+ and solo content like Torghast, where you will be able to stealth much more frequently.
- Condensed Anima Sphere will heal you after taking damage, with an internal cooldown of 10 seconds. This heal can be quite potent on encounters that deal constant ticking damage, and is newly available in 9.1.
Assassination Rogue Finesse Conduits
- Quick Decisions reduces the cooldown of your Shadowstep and also increases its range. This is your go-to Finesse Conduit.
- Fade to Nothing increases your movement speed when entering stealth, shrouding, and after using Vanish for 10 seconds. It is most useful when getting around while you are not engaged in any kind of combat, but it is simply inferior to Quick Decisions when it comes to in-combat mobility.
- Prepared for All provides a strong cooldown reduction to your Evasion, especially when tanking multiple enemies at once. This Conduit is very useful for pulling large amounts of enemies, in particular when you are progressing through the halls of Torghast. The cooldown reduction to Cloak of Shadows after successfully interrupting a spell is negligible.
- Rushed Setup reduces the energy cost of your disruptive abilities. It will not see use in any PvE scenario but might be a solid pick for PvP.
Covenant Deep Dives, Soulbinds, and Progression
In this section, we will go into deeper detail about each individual Covenant, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as which Soulbinds you should choose to optimize your DPS potential. Many of the Soulbinds have multiple paths that you can take, forcing you to choose between taking an additional Potency Conduit or a Soulbind Ability. Which pathway is the most optimal for your character might differ based on your gear, talents or the ranks of your Conduits, and therefore we highly recommend simming your own character and comparing these options by using Raidbots.
Night Fae Assassination Rogue Deep Dive
Sepsis is a 90-second cooldown damaging ability that applies a powerful damage over time effect. If your target dies before this DoT has run its full duration, its cooldown is reduced. If the target survives the full 10 second DoT, you will be able to use an ability once that requires stealth once. This proc switches your main hotkey-bar to a new one that is different than your stealth bar, similarly to how Shadow Dance works for Subtlety Rogues. This can be a bit disorienting at times, so it is recommended to track the duration of the Sepsis debuff so you know when you will be able to use your stealth ability.
This one-time use of a stealth ability does not benefit from any stealth-based bonuses, whether they are talents like Subterfuge or Nightstalker or legendary effects like Mark of the Master Assassin. You will never use it as an Assassination Rogue.
Sepsis is a powerful cooldown and its damage scales with other cooldowns that increase all damage dealt like Vendetta. Since Sepsis deals Nature damage it also benefits from the additional Nature damage taken debuff that Shiv provides, making this a very thematic choice as well.
Soulshape is a nice addition to a class that is already very mobile. Next to Sprint and Shadowstep, this ability also allows to you teleport towards a specific direction, skipping any ground effects you blink over and not requiring a hostile or friendly target to Shadowstep to. It can be used to stick to your target a little bit longer before running away with a dangerous ability that might damage people around you, or can be used to teleport away in an instant if some you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a damaging ground effect.
Night Fae Soulbinds
All three Night Fae Soulbind choices have their place and are powerful at specific points in time. As you gain more Renown, you will find yourself switching between all three Soulbinds to best use the Passives and Conduits they provide.
- Niya is a great starting Soulbind and offers early access to your first Potency Conduit. For DPS, this is one of the best early Soulbinds across all four Covenants.
- Dreamweaver is your second Soulbind and replaces Niya once you get more Renown. At 13 Renown, Dreamweaver gains access to a second Potency Conduit slot, which you should utilize once your Conduits reach higher ranks. Dreamweaver also grants access to a defensive ability that is very similar to Cheat Death. You can opt to pick a second Endurance Conduit and use Social Butterfly instead of a second Potency Conduit, sacrificing some damage to gain survivability. This flexibility will come in very handy during progression raiding or when pushing deeper into Torghast.
- Once you finish the Night Fae Covenant campaign, you will unlock Korayn. Korayn is best used on encounters that require heavy up-front damage, and once you hit 31 Renown, it will also be your best choice for Mythic+ as you unlock First Strike.
Once you have fully unlocked all Soulbind trees your best choice for single-target is Dreamweaver. You will want to use this Soulbind tree:
For Mythic+ you will want to use Niya instead with this Soulbind tree:
Necrolord Assassination Rogue Deep Dive
Serrated Bone Spike is the Rogue class ability for the Necrolord Covenant. It is a 30-second cooldown Combo Point generator that has up to 3 charges and applies a damage over time effect on your target that remains until your target dies. Out of all the Covenants, it is the only Class ability that can affect multiple targets at once and, due to its high cast range, it can quickly be applied to additional enemies even if they are far away from you. While this damage over time effect is considered a bleed, it does not interact with most of our bleed-related specialization mechanics like Exsanguinate or Venomous Wounds. Our Mastery, as well as the Zoldyck Insignia and Doomblade legendary power, do synergize with it.
Serrated Bone Spike is very powerful on any encounter with multiple targets present. You regain one charge every 30 seconds, and whenever any target afflicted by it dies. With its unlimited duration, it is a very Energy efficient ability to use on any target that lives longer than 10-15 seconds, and it is particularly useful in Mythic+ content. It synergizes well with one of Necrolords Soulbinds, Emeni, and its ability Lead by Example.
Fleshcraft is the signature ability of the Necrolord Covenant and adds some useful survivability to an already very durable melee class. Due to the long downtimes the Assassination single-target rotation has, there is plenty of time to weave in a fully-channeled Fleshcraft mid-fight without losing more than just a couple of DPS. With most of our Conduits and self-healing capabilities being direct healing, having an additional absorb to prevent taking damage altogether further cements Assassination Rogues as one of the most sturdy melee DPS specs. It also provides a 20% damage reduction while you are channeling, which can be timed with any instant damage by channeling for a fraction of a second as you get hit.
Necrolord Assassination Rogue Soulbinds
Necrolord have two very powerful Soulbind choices, with both Emeni and Bonesmith Heirmir offering strong DPS bonuses. Emeni is your only good choice after joining the Necrolord Covenant. It will take some time to gain the required Renown and finish the Necrolord Covenant campaign before you unlock the third Necrolord Soulbind, Bonesmith Heirmir.
What makes Emeni so powerful is her very first ability, Lead by Example. This ability procs every time you use your Serrated Bone Spike and buffs you with up to 13% additional Agility, as well as providing a smaller bonus to up to 4 nearby players in your raid or party. While this buff only lasts for 5 seconds, it is still very potent. Thanks to the low cooldown of Serrated Bone Spike and it having up to 3 charges to use, you can either use Serrated Bone Spike every 5 seconds to maintain the buff for quite some time, or hold on to additional charges to line them up with every single Shiv instead.
Where this Soulbind really shines, however, is in Mythic+, as well as on raid encounters that have frequent add spawns. Since you are recharging one use of Serrated Bone Spike every time an enemy dies, you can gain much higher uptime and not only boost your own damage this way, but also buff a few players in your raid or party for a short period of time whenever you re-cast it. In Mythic+, you will start each pull with 3 charges, allowing you to buff yourself and nearby players for up to 15 seconds on every single pull. Keep in mind that any encounter that requires melee to be spread or a Mythic+ group that mostly consists of ranged DPS and a ranged healer might lower the benefits that both you and the group will receive, due to Lead by Example only affecting players within a 15-yard range.
This is the recommended Soulbind pathing and Conduit placement for Emeni:
Bonesmith Heirmir, once unlocked, increases your Agility by 3% as long as three of your equipped armor items have an enchantment on them. This is a very strong bonus as it is always active as long as you ensure your gear is enchanted correctly. Due to the limitations of Emeni in small groups that do not have a lot of people close by, Heirmir becomes the go-to choice for Mythic+ once unlocked. As you gain access to Heirmir's final Soulbind at Renown 31, she is also a better choice for single-target. Whether you choose the Marrowed Gemstone Soulbind or instead pick a second Potency Conduit is up to you and your gear, so we recommend simming yourself if you are unsure about which one might be best for you.
This is the pathing and Conduit placement we recommend for Bonesmith Heirmir:
Kyrian Assassination Rogue Deep Dive
Echoing Reprimand is the Kyrian Rogue class ability. It is a 45-second cooldown ability that deals a decent amount of arcane damage immediately, generates 2 Combo Points, and Anima-charges one of your Combo Points. What this means is that the next time you use a damaging ability with the exact amount of Combo Points as your Animacharge, you will significantly enhance that finishers efficacy. The finisher will be used as if you had cast it with 7 Combo Points, boosting either its damage, duration or both:
- Rupture will last 32 seconds. This can still pandemic, for a maximum duration of 41.6 seconds. The damage per tick will remain the same.
- Envenom will deal more damage and the poison application chance buff will last 8 seconds. This can still pandemic, for a maximum duration of 10.4 seconds.
- Crimson Tempest, if talented, will deal additional instant damage and last 16 seconds. This can still pandemic, for a maximum duration of 20.8 seconds. The damage per tick will remain the same.
There is one caveat to Echoing Reprimand, however, and that is the exact way the Animacharge effect works with Assassination Rogues CP generation. Only your second, third or fourth Combo Point can become animacharged. Since Assassination relies heavily on critical strikes to generate extra Combo Points via Seal Fate, hitting the exact amount of Combo Points you need might not be as simple as initially thought. More often than not, you will plan on getting a 7 Combo Point Envenom during one of your Shiv burst windows, but a streak of unfortunate critical strikes (or lack thereof) makes it impossible to hit exact number of Combo Points that you need. This is one of the major downsides with the Kyrian Covenant class ability, and ultimately leads to you just using Echoing Reprimand on cooldown and not playing around its secondary mechanic on purpose.
Kyrian is still a powerful choice, and its signature ability in particular is very potent. Every 5 minutes you can use Summon Steward to receive a Phial of Serenity. This Phial has 3 uses and is very similar in function to a Healthstone, but does not share a cooldown with it. It has its own separate 3-minute cooldown, and can be used multiple times over an encounter. This offers a large chunk of on-demand self healing which goes hand in hand with Assassination Rogues strong survivability kit.
Kyrian Assassination Rogue Soulbinds
All three Kyrian Soulbinds are close to each other in performance. Most of Kleia's entire strength is linked to one of the final Soulbinds you can unlock with her, Pointed Courage. Until you do, Pelagos is the only worthwhile choice for Kyrian Aspirants. The third Soulbind Forgelite Prime Mikanikos has a similarly powerful ability, Hammer of Genesis. This could potentially become very strong in Mythic+, but the short duration of the buff limits this Soulbind's power to situations that have somewhat frequent spawns of additional enemies or require chain-pulling in Mythic+ to maintain the buff.
9.1 also buffed Mikanikos' summon, Bron, that deals a decent amount of damage and spawns more frequently now. Due to the buffs to Bron and the new Soulglow Spectrometer, Mikanikos is the best Soulbind for both single-target and Mythic+.
This is the tree you will want to use for Mikanikos:
Venthyr Assassination Rogue Deep Dive
Flagellation is the Venthyr Rogue class ability. It is a 90-second cooldown ability that applies a debuff to the target that lasts 12 seconds. Any Combo Point spent during this time will deal additional damage to the target and increase your Haste by 1%. After the debuff expires, you will continue to benefit from the Haste buff for another 12 seconds.
Flagellation is the strongest Covenant Class Ability, and with Haste being our most important secondary stat, this ability helps out a lot with our fairly low Energy generation. The amount of Haste gained scales with the amount of Combo Points you can generate during its duration. This means the more Combo Points you are able to generate thanks to Seal Fate, the stronger the buff will be. It also deals a fairly decent amount of damage to the target you cast it on. Due to the higher Combo Point generation when hitting multiple opponents with Fan of Knives it is still a fairly potent ability for AoE, even if the damage only applies to a single target. Its Potency Conduit, Lashing Scars, immediately generates 5 stacks when using the ability and further boosts the damage it deals. It is by far the best Potency Conduit you can use as a Venthyr Assassination Rogue.
Door of Shadows is the Venthyr signature ability. It allows you to teleport to a target location within range after casting this ability for 1.5 seconds. This helps out our already strong mobility toolkit by providing an ability that lets us teleport to a specific location, whereas Sprint requires you to run through potentially hazardous ground effects and Shadowstep requires a hostile or friendly target to step to.
Venthyr Assassination Rogue Soulbinds
All three Venthyr Soulbinds offer multiple DPS bonuses. Nadjia the Mistblade is the most powerful of the three for raw damage output, edging out the other Soulbinds on both single-target as well as AoE.
Nadjia's first ability, Thrill Seeker is a stacking buff that consumes all stacks every ~80 seconds to provide a powerful 20% Haste buff for 10 seconds. Lining this proc up with your major cooldowns can offer some incredible potential for single-target burst, but with all the different cooldowns it might be difficult to line up Thrill Seeker with your Flagellation buff as well as your Vendetta. Even without all these cooldowns overlapping it is still a very significant DPS boost, and having adds in an encounter allows you to gain this buff much more frequently. This synergizes very well with the already high potential for priority damage that Flagellation offers and further specializes this Covenant and Soulbind towards this specific style of DPS.
The new final ability, Fatal Flaw will also grant an additional 20% crit or versatility, depending on which stat you currently have more of. This should always grant critical strike as we prioritize it over versatility on our gear. It will help us on both single-target and AoE to generate extra CP and deal more damage, and is a very strong DPS improvement, cementing Nadjia as the best DPS Soulbind.
This pathing and Conduit placement is the recommended one for Nadjia the Mistblade:
- 07 Jul. 2021: Added disclaimer for Obedience Legendary.
- 28 Jun. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Added Shadowlands Patch 9.0.5 disclaimer; updated Venthyr and Necrolord descriptions.
- 20 Nov. 2020: Guide added.
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