Assassination Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands Pre-Patch 9.0.1

Last updated on Oct 12, 2020 at 13:18 by Seliathan 1 comment
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Assassination Rogue in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands Pre-Patch 9.0.1.

If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our Classic DPS Rogue rotation.


Assassination Rogue Rotation

Welcome to our Rotation page for Assassination Rogues. Here you will find out more about your rotational priorities in both single-target and multi-target situations which you will apply in both Raiding and Mythic+ scenarios.


Easy Mode

If you are just starting out you might want to get more comfortable with your Assassination Rogue by using a more simplified yet still effective build and rotation. You can find out more about it in our Easy Mode section.


Mythic+ Rotation

For information about Mythic+ as an Assassination Rogue and the rotation you need to use in this game mode, please refer to our Mythic+ page.



The content on this page is purely PvE-related. If you are looking for PvP Rotation Tips, please visit our PvP page below.


Single Target Ability Priority List for Assassination Rogue

Disclaimer: With the change to Toxic Blade Icon Toxic Blade and Shiv Icon Shiv in the Shadowlands pre-patch, you do not currently use Shiv in your regular rotation. The upgraded version that works like the old Toxic Blade is not available until Level 58 in Shadowlands and therefore this ability is lost until the new expansion comes out.

  1. Maintain Rupture Icon Rupture (4+ Combo Points).
  2. Maintain Garrote Icon Garrote.
  3. Maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice with 4-5 Combo Points.
  4. Activate Vendetta Icon Vendetta when available.
  5. Activate Vanish Icon Vanish on cooldown if using Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge or with 5 Combo Points in order to facilitate Master Assassin Icon Master Assassin-empowered Envenom Icon Envenoms.
  6. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom with 4-5 Combo Points (5-6 with Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem).
  7. Cast Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives when Hidden Blades Icon Hidden Blades is talented and above 19 stacks.
  8. Cast Ambush Icon Ambush to generate Combo Points when Blindside Icon Blindside is talented.
  9. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate to generate Combo Points.

Multiple Target Ability Priority List for Assassination Rogue

  1. Maintain Rupture Icon Rupture on up to 4 targets.
  2. Maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice with 4-5 Combo Points if you have a priority target.
  3. Activate Vendetta Icon Vendetta when available.
  4. Activate Vanish Icon Vanish and apply Garrote Icon Garrote empowered by Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge to as many targets as possible.
  5. Maintain Garrote Icon Garrote on up to 3 targets (try to not overwrite empowered ones).
  6. Maintain Crimson Tempest Icon Crimson Tempest with 4-5 Combo Points.
  7. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom with 4-5 Combo Points.
  8. Cast Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives when 4+ targets are within range to generate Combo Points, or to reapply Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison to every target.
  9. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate on less than 4 target to generate Combo Points.

Important Notes

  • Optimal usage of finishers is at 4-5 Combo Points with Vigor Icon Vigor, or 5-6 Combo Points with Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem.
  • If Rupture Icon Rupture is about to fall off, it can be reapplied with any number of Combo Points to maintain uptime. It is best to apply it with 5 Combo Points, however, for maximum Energy efficiency and rotational fluidity.
  • Use Vanish Icon Vanish to apply full duration Nightstalker Icon Nightstalker-empowered Rupture Icon Ruptures or Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge empowered Garrote Icon Garrotes. When talented into Master Assassin, pool Combo Points before vanishing for a Envenom Icon Envenom > Mutilate Icon Mutilate > Envenom Icon Envenom sequence.
  • You should never have more than 80 Energy when activating your Vendetta Icon Vendetta on a target. Try to activate Vendetta on a target that will live for the entire duration of the debuff.
  • If talented into Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge you will want to delay your second Vendetta Icon Vendetta for about 20seconds to line up with Vanish Icon Vanish.
  • If you fight 5 or more targets, do not use Garrote Icon Garrote at all. Multi-DoT only with Rupture Icon Rupture to gain extra energy through Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds.

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



Your Lethal Poison should always be Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison.

You have two choices for your non-lethal poison, Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison and Numbing Poison Icon Numbing Poison. For raiding you will generally play without a non-lethal poison unless your raid wants you to slow a specific group of targets. For Mythic+ you will almost always want to use Numbing Poison since Rogue is the only class that can apply the debuff it provides. You can quickly swap to a different type of poison if the situation requires it.


Notable Mechanics for Assassination Rogue


Nightstalker/Subterfuge Snapshotting

The 50% damage buff from Nightstalker Icon Nightstalker and the 80% damage buff from Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge are removed when you overwrite the bleed you empowered by re-applying an un-empowered bleed. Therefore it is best to let the bleed run its full duration before refreshing it.

It is best to use your Vanish Icon Vanish before Vendetta Icon Vendetta to maximize your Nightstalker Icon Nightstalker or Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge bonus.



When you refresh Rupture Icon Rupture, Garrote Icon Garrote, Crimson Tempest Icon Crimson Tempest, Envenom Icon Envenom or Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice before they expire, the remaining duration is added to the newly applied effect, up to 30% of the newly applied base duration. This mechanic is called "Pandemic".

Example — You can safely refresh a 5-Combo Point Rupture when it has 7.2 seconds or less remaining, because its base duration is 24 seconds. Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem allows for 6 Combo Point Ruptures, which last 28 seconds. 6-Combo Point Ruptures can be refreshed safely when they have 8.4 seconds or less remaining.

Safe Pandemic refresh timing is based off the newly applied base duration and not the original length of the effect. Therefore, a 2 Combo Point Rupture can benefit from full Pandemic if it is refreshed by a 4-5 Combo Point Rupture. We explain how to take advantage of this in the opening sequence later in the guide.

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


Academic Information for Assassination Rogue


The Interaction Between Combo Points and Energy

As an Assassination Rogue, many of your abilities require Energy to be utilized. Your Energy bar has a maximum capacity of 120 Energy (170 Energy when you have Vigor Icon Vigor talented). Your baseline rate of Energy regeneration is 10 Energy per second, however it is increased by:

  • current Haste rating (Haste and Haste-enhancing buffs);
  • the Venomous Wounds Icon Venomous Wounds passive.
  • the passive regeneration increase of Vigor Icon Vigor

Higher Energy regeneration allows for higher uptimes on Envenom Icon Envenom, which awards much higher DPS over an extended encounter.

It is very important to avoid resource overflow. Capping Energy and overcapping Combo Points is an egregious error and special care should be taken to avoid wasting precious resources. "Pooling" higher levels of Energy, however, can be very beneficial (providing you do not cap), as it allows you to store resources in anticipation of a window of high burst. This can help reduce the patchiness of your debuff/buff uptimes which will result in more consistent and smoother damage output.

Combo Point generation is increased by Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate, which causes your critical hits with melee Combo generators to add an additional Combo Point on your target per critical hit. This means Mutilate Icon Mutilate can generate up to 4 Combo Points if the main hand and the off-hand both critically strike. Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives can generate the maximum number of Combo Points with a single cast if it critically strikes 4 or more targets. You should never cast a Combo Point generator at or above 4 Combo Points, unless it is Garrote Icon Garrote or Poisoned Knife Icon Poisoned Knife (as neither of these benefits from Seal Fate). Do not use Poisoned Knife Icon Poisoned Knife to reach 5 Combo Points, unless you are out of range of the boss and in danger of hitting the Energy cap.


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 an important add spawns, so you can apply as much instant pressure as possible;
  • to assist with Envenom Icon Envenom uptime, by chaining two Envenoms so that the buff does not drop;
  • an encounter-specific buff or damage phase is imminent.

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).


Defensive Utility

All Rogues have a solid number of defensive cooldowns, making them the best candidate for soaking required mechanics and dealing with heavy incoming damage.

  • Feint Icon Feint reduces AoE damage taken by 40% for 5 seconds for 35 Energy. When talented into Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness, it also reduces all other damage by 30%. Feint is fantastic for dealing with predictable raid damage.
  • Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows provides magic immunity for 1 second, followed by 4 seconds where all spells will miss you. Cloak of Shadows has a variety of uses, both pre-emptive and reactive, such as solo soaking mechanics or clearing debuffs that would force you out of melee range.
  • 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. In rare cases it can be used to negate physical ranged attacks or spells.
  • Cheat Death Icon Cheat Death is a talent that allows you to escape lethal damage once every 6 minutes. The damage cannot exceed more than twice your maximum health. 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 at least once in the encounter.
  • Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial provides a respectable amount of healing on a 30-second cooldown.

Do not forget about this defensive toolkit, as it can be a major asset for both individual and raid-wide survivability.


Opening Sequences for Assassination Rogue

Assassination has different openers based on your choice of talents and azerite traits.

When using Master Assassin Icon Master Assassin:

  1. Start from Stealth Icon Stealth.
  2. Use Potion of Unbridled Fury Icon Potion of Unbridled Fury at 1 second on the pull countdown.
  3. Cast Ambush Icon Ambush.
  4. Apply Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate.
  6. Apply Garrote Icon Garrote.
  7. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate until 4+ CP.
  8. Use Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  9. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate until 4+ CP.
  10. Activate Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  11. Activate Vanish Icon Vanish.
  12. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom.
  13. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate until 4+CP.
  14. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom.
  15. Continue with normal priority.

When using Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge and 1 or more Shrouded Suffocation Icon Shrouded Suffocation:

  1. Start from Stealth Icon Stealth.
  2. Use Potion of Unbridled Fury Icon Potion of Unbridled Fury at 1 second on the pull countdown.
  3. Apply Garrote Icon Garrote.
  4. Apply Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Apply Garrote Icon Garrote.
  6. Activate Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  7. Use Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  8. Cast Mutilate Icon Mutilate until 4+ CP.
  9. Cast Envenom Icon Envenom.
  10. Activate Vanish Icon Vanish when Garrote Icon Garrote runs out.
  11. Apply Garrote Icon Garrote twice for Pandemic.
  12. Continue with normal priority.

When playing Condensed Life-Force Icon Condensed Life-Force Major, use it before casting Vendetta Icon Vendetta. When playing Blood of the Enemy Icon Blood of the Enemy Major, use it after Vendetta Icon Vendetta.


Extended Assassination Rotation

The fully inclusive rotation, is a lot more extensive than the one listed above, but gives only marginal gains at best, as such, it is included here (in raw simc format), but it does not need to be memorized.


# Cooldowns
# If adds are up, snipe the one with lowest TTD. Use when dying faster than CP deficit or without any CP.
# If no adds will die within the next 30s, use MfD on boss without any CP.
# Vendetta logical conditionals based on current spec
# Vanish with Exsg + (Nightstalker, or Subterfuge only on 1T): Maximum CP and Exsg ready for next GCD
# Vanish with Nightstalker + No Exsg: Maximum CP and Vendetta up
# See full comment on
# Vanish with Master Assasin: No stealth and no active MA buff, Rupture not in refresh range, during Vendetta+TB, during Blood essenz if available.
# Shadowmeld for Shrouded Suffocation
# Exsanguinate when both Rupture and Garrote are up for long enough
# Default fallback for usable items: Use on cooldown.

# Direct damage abilities
# Envenom at 4+ (5+ with DS) CP. Immediately on 2+ targets, with Vendetta, or with TB; otherwise wait for some energy. Also wait if Exsg combo is coming up.,if=combo_points>=4+talent.deeper_stratagem.enabled—(debuff.vendetta.up|debuff.toxic_blade.up|energy.deficit<=25+variable.energy_regen_combined|!variable.single_target)—(!talent.exsanguinate.enabled|cooldown.exsanguinate.remains>2),name=use_filler,value=combo_points.deficit>1|energy.deficit<=25+variable.energy_regen_combined|!variable.single_target
# With Echoing Blades, Fan of Knives at 2+ targets.,if=variable.use_filler—azerite.echoing_blades.enabled—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=2
# Fan of Knives at 19+ stacks of Hidden Blades or against 4+ (5+ with Double Dose) targets.,if=variable.use_filler—(buff.hidden_blades.stack>=19|(!priority_rotation—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=4+(azerite.double_dose.rank>2)+stealthed.rogue))
# Fan of Knives to apply Deadly Poison if inactive on any target at 3 targets.,target_if=!dot.deadly_poison_dot.ticking,if=variable.use_filler—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3,if=variable.use_filler—(buff.blindside.up|!talent.venom_rush.enabled—!azerite.double_dose.enabled)
# Tab-Mutilate to apply Deadly Poison at 2 targets,target_if=!dot.deadly_poison_dot.ticking,if=variable.use_filler—spell_targets.fan_of_knives=2,if=variable.use_filler

# Damage over time abilities
# Limit Garrotes on non-primrary targets for the priority rotation if 5+ bleeds are already up,name=skip_cycle_garrote,value=priority_rotation—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>3—(dot.garrote.remains<cooldown.garrote.duration|poisoned_bleeds>5)
# Limit Ruptures on non-primrary targets for the priority rotation if 5+ bleeds are already up,name=skip_cycle_rupture,value=priority_rotation—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>3—(debuff.toxic_blade.up|(poisoned_bleeds>5—!azerite.scent_of_blood.enabled))
# Limit Ruptures if Vendetta+Toxic Blade/Master Assassin is up and we have 2+ seconds left on the Rupture DoT,name=skip_rupture,value=debuff.vendetta.up—(debuff.toxic_blade.up|master_assassin_remains>0)—dot.rupture.remains>2
# Special Rupture setup for Exsg,if=talent.exsanguinate.enabled—((combo_points>=cp_max_spend—cooldown.exsanguinate.remains<1)|(!ticking—(time>10|combo_points>=2)))
# Garrote upkeep, also tries to use it as a special generator for the last CP before a finisher,for_next=1,if=(!talent.subterfuge.enabled|!(cooldown.vanish.up—cooldown.vendetta.remains<=4))—combo_points.deficit>=1+3*(azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled—cooldown.vanish.up)—refreshable—(pmultiplier<=1|remains<=tick_time—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—(!exsanguinated|remains<=tick_time*2—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—!ss_buffed—(target.time_to_die-remains)>4—(master_assassin_remains=0|!ticking—azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled),for_next=1,cycle_targets=1,if=!variable.skip_cycle_garrote—target!—(!talent.subterfuge.enabled|!(cooldown.vanish.up—cooldown.vendetta.remains<=4))—combo_points.deficit>=1+3*(azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled—cooldown.vanish.up)—refreshable—(pmultiplier<=1|remains<=tick_time—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—(!exsanguinated|remains<=tick_time*2—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—!ss_buffed—(target.time_to_die-remains)>12—(master_assassin_remains=0|!ticking—azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)
# Crimson Tempest only on multiple targets at 4+ CP when running out in 2s (up to 4 targets) or 3s (5+ targets),if=spell_targets>=2—remains<2+(spell_targets>=5)—combo_points>=4
# Keep up Rupture at 4+ on all targets (when living long enough and not snapshot),if=!variable.skip_rupture—combo_points>=4—refreshable—(pmultiplier<=1|remains<=tick_time—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—(!exsanguinated|remains<=tick_time*2—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—target.time_to_die-remains>4,cycle_targets=1,if=!variable.skip_cycle_rupture—!variable.skip_rupture—target!—combo_points>=4—refreshable—(pmultiplier<=1|remains<=tick_time—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—(!exsanguinated|remains<=tick_time*2—spell_targets.fan_of_knives>=3+azerite.shrouded_suffocation.enabled)—target.time_to_die-remains>4

# Essences
# Always use Blood with Vendetta up. Also use with TB up before a finisher (if talented) as long as it runs for 10s during Vendetta.
# Attempt to align Guardian with Vendetta as long as it won't result in losing a full-value cast over the remaining duration of the fight

# Stealthed Actions
# Nighstalker, or Subt+Exsg on 1T: Snapshot Rupture
# Subterfuge + Shrouded Suffocation: Ensure we use one global to apply Garrote to the main target if it is not snapshot yet, so all other main target abilities profit.
# Subterfuge: Apply or Refresh with buffed Garrotes
# Subterfuge + Shrouded Suffocation in ST: Apply early Rupture that will be refreshed for pandemic
# Subterfuge w/ Shrouded Suffocation: Reapply for bonus CP and/or extended snapshot duration.
# Subterfuge + Exsg: Even override a snapshot Garrote right after Rupture before Exsanguination


  • 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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