Assassination Rogue PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.0.1)

Last updated on Oct 08, 2018 at 05:26 by Mysticall 3 comments

Table of Contents


This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play an Assassination Rogue in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

About The Author

This guide has been written by Mysticall, a seasoned PvP player who has repeatedly achieved Arena Master and 2500 rating. You can watch his stream on Twitch, and you can also check out his YouTube channel.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Assassination Rogues

Assassination Rogues have the strongest consistent damage out of all three Rogue specializations. With an emphasis on poisons and using them for sustained damage, they are a threat to all classes. This strong sustained damage in combination with stuns, Blind Icon Blind, and countless other forms of crowd control means the Assassination Rogue has some of the best control a spec can have.

1.1. Strengths of Assassination Rogues

  • Great control
  • Decent mobility
  • Strong burst damage

1.2. Weaknesses of Assassination Rogues

  • Weak to teams with two melee on it
  • Predictable burst damage
  • Very few defensive cooldowns

The stat priority for Assassination Rogues in PvP is as follows:

  1. Agility;
  2. Haste;
  3. Mastery;
  4. Critical Strike;
  5. Versatility.

Agility is the best stat in all situations. Haste is the strongest secondary stat at all times due to it reducing the Global Cooldown on abilities and increasing your attack speed.

2. Azerite Traits for Assassination Rogues

Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.

2.1. Outer Ring

Below are the best Outer Ring traits.

  1. Shrouded Suffocation Icon Shrouded Suffocation
  2. Scent of Blood Icon Scent of Blood
  3. Twist the Knife Icon Twist the Knife
  4. Double Dose Icon Double Dose
  5. Fan of Blades Icon Fan of Blades

Assassination Rogues do not depend on one single trait to increase their damage. Instead, they want a mix of the above traits. It is crucial to have Shrouded Suffocation Icon Shrouded Suffocation in at least one piece of Azerite gear. This gives you an additional Combo Point and Garrote Icon Garrote will deal additional damage when used from Stealth Icon Stealth. Scent of Blood Icon Scent of Blood, Twist the Knife Icon Twist the Knife, and Double Dose Icon Double Dose all increase your overall single target damage. Fan of Blades Icon Fan of Blades is great versus teams that will be stacked or have pets.

2.2. Middle Ring

Below are the best Middle Ring traits.

  1. Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power
  2. Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call
  3. Earthlink Icon Earthlink
  4. Elemental Whirl Icon Elemental Whirl

The Middle and Inner rings are important for additional damage. Elemental Whirl Icon Elemental Whirl, Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power, and Earthlink Icon Earthlink give an increase to your stats. These are minor stat boosts, but still increase your damage. Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call will help increase your single target pressure.

2.3. Inner Ring

Below are the best Inner Ring traits.

  1. Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection
  2. Impassive Visage Icon Impassive Visage
  3. Shrouded Mantle Icon Shrouded Mantle
  4. Azerite Fortification Icon Azerite Fortification

All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.

3. Regular Talents for Assassination Rogues

Level Choices
15 Master Poisoner Master Poisoner Elaborate Planning Elaborate Planning Blindside Blindside
30 Nightstalker Nightstalker Subterfuge Subterfuge Master Assassin Master Assassin
45 Vigor Vigor Deeper Stratagem Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death Marked for Death
60 Leeching Poison Leeching Poison Cheat Death Cheat Death Elusiveness Elusiveness
75 Internal Bleeding Internal Bleeding Iron Wire Iron Wire Prey on the Weak Prey on the Weak
90 Venom Rush Venom Rush Toxic Blade Toxic Blade Exsanguinate Exsanguinate
100 Poison Bomb Poison Bomb Hidden Blades Hidden Blades Crimson Tempest Crimson Tempest

While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.

3.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Elaborate Planning Icon Elaborate Planning is the best choice in this tier. This is an overall increase to your sustained damage output.

3.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge is the best choice in this tier. This talent gives you more control when you leave Stealth Icon Stealth. You can use multiple Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shots or Garrote Icon Garrotes on enemy teams. Garrote Icon Garrote will not have a cooldown and an 80% increase in damage.

3.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Vigor Icon Vigor is the best choice in this tier. This gives your less downtime when trying to pool Energy, increasing your damage and your uptime on enemy teams.

3.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness is an all-around solid choice, and the best talent in this tier. Just make sure to use Feint Icon Feint before you think you are about to get stunned or when the enemy team uses their burst cooldowns.

3.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

Internal Bleeding Icon Internal Bleeding is the best choice in this tier. This gives you an additional Bleed and makes Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot a very crucial stun to use on your main target.

3.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Toxic Blade Icon Toxic Blade is the best choice in this tier. This increases your overall sustained damage dramatically and is very strong when using offensive cooldowns.

3.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Poison Bomb Icon Poison Bomb is the best choice in this tier. Although you cannot control the proc from this talent, you will be using Envenom Icon Envenom and Rupture Icon Rupture often and will see it often. This is a solid talent to increase your sustained and burst damage.

4. PvP Talents for Assassination Rogues

You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each of them has their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others. The top three choices are the most useful, but can be replaced with other PvP talents, depending on your team's goal.

Deadly Brew Icon Deadly Brew also applies Minor Wound Poison to the target for 8 seconds, reducing healing received by 15%. Being able to reduce the healing done to a target by 15% makes this a mandatory talent versus every team. This will make it harder for the enemy healer to keep their team alive and easier for your team to get a kill.

System Shock Icon System Shock makes casting Envenom Icon Envenom with at least 5 Combo Points on a target afflicted by your Garrote Icon Garrote, Rupture Icon Rupture, and lethal poison deal Nature damage and reduce their movement speed by 90% for 2 seconds. This talent is great to keep your main target slowed. This is great for when an enemy is out of position and you keep them slowed out of line of sight of their healer.

Creeping Venom Icon Creeping Venom makes your Envenom Icon Envenom apply Creeping Venom Icon Creeping Venom, dealing Nature damage over 4 seconds. Creeping Venom's duration is refreshed when the target moves. This is a great talent versus classes that have high mobility. Feral Druids, Monks, Rogues, Hunters are examples of classes you should take this talent against.

Maneuverability Icon Maneuverability makes Sprint Icon Sprint suppress all movement-impairing effects for 4 seconds when used. This is a great talent versus teams with multiple slows. You should take this versus classes like Mages and Death Knights. You can replace Creeping Venom Icon Creeping Venom with this PvP talent.

5. Racial Bonuses

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

5.1. Horde

The passive Orc racial bonus (Hardiness Icon Hardiness) is also great if you find yourself being stunned a lot and having a hard time against melee classes.

5.2. Alliance

The Human racial bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to get out of stuns. This helps with survivability and when kiting away from players.

The Dark Iron Dwarf racial bonus (Fireblood Icon Fireblood) is a great defensive and can also increase your burst damage. You also have a passive physical damage reduction in the form of Forged in Flames Icon Forged in Flames.

6. Playstyle for Assassination Rogues

The Assassination Rogue has two roles in PvP: shutting down casters/healers with relentless mobility and crowd control and having strong sustained damage outside of burst cooldowns. With high damage, high control and great sustained damage, this is one of the top PvP specs for Rogues.

To lock down healers, you will aim to push in and get crowd control on the healer (Sap Icon Sap, Blind Icon Blind when they do not have trinket, Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot or Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot).

The ability to deal sustained damage is what makes Assassination Rogues so deadly. They have the ability to damage an enemy down to below 50% without using a single cooldown. It is at this point that they can stun you and use their burst rotation.

6.1. Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Rogue crowd control is powerful, but dealing any damage to the target and will break and waste it. Also, remember to enter Stealth Icon Stealth and apply your Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison and Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison.

6.2. Offensive Rotation

6.2.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns.

If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. Blind Icon Blind is one of the most devastating crowd control abilities in the game, with very few ways of getting out of it without having a trinket. Save Blind Icon Blind for when the enemy healer does not have their trinket. You can follow this up with a Vanish Icon Vanish to Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.

If an enemy DPS uses their trinket, you can crowd control the healer and stun the DPS without a trinket. This means they can be burst down in a stun and possibly killed.

When opening, always try to Sap Icon Sap the enemy DPS player who is trying to bring you out of Stealth Icon Stealth,then Sap Icon Sap the healer. Then, use your burst rotation. After you are done with your burst rotation, perform your sustained damage rotation until your burst abilities are available again.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game. This opener stuns your target and applies your bleeds.

  1. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  2. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  3. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate if you do not have 5 Combo Points.
  4. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  5. use Mutilate Icon Mutilate if you do not have 5 Combo Points.
  6. Use Rupture Icon Rupture.
  7. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate until you have 5 Combo Points.
  8. Use Envenom Icon Envenom

After this the rotation is a priority list of things you should be doing. Make sure you are maintaining your Rupture Icon Rupture and Garrote Icon Garrote on your main target. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate to generate Combo Points for these abilities. If your main target has these Bleeds already and they can be stunned, use your Toxic Blade Icon Toxic Blade and Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot your main target. You can then generate Combo Points to use Envenom Icon Envenom.

6.2.2. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.

  1. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  2. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate until you have 5 Combo Points.
  3. Use Rupture Icon Rupture.
  4. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate until you have 5 Combo Points.
  5. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot. This will apply Internal Bleeding Icon Internal Bleeding.
  6. Use Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  7. Use Toxic Blade Icon Toxic Blade (if you have taken this talent).
  8. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate until you have 5 Combo Points.
  9. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  10. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.

6.2.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate to generate Combo Points.
  2. Maintain your Rupture Icon Rupture on multiple enemies. If you cannot keep it on multiple enemies, at least keep it on your main target.
  3. Maintain your Garrote Icon Garrote on multiple enemies. If you cannot keep it on multiple enemies, at least keep it on your main target.
  4. Use Envenom Icon Envenom at 5+ Combo Points when you do not have to refresh Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Use Toxic Blade Icon Toxic Blade right before you put your target in a full Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot. This will deal a large amount of damage and might make the enemy player panic and use defensive cooldowns.
  6. If the enemy team has pets nearby or is stacked, use Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives to generate Combo Points quickly.
  7. Use Poisoned Knife Icon Poisoned Knife if your target is far away or to apply your poisons to a target that you cannot reach.

6.3. Defensive Techniques

Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows is a strong defensive cooldown when playing against casters. Use this when in trouble against caster teams and run to your healer or re-enter Stealth Icon Stealth.

Evasion Icon Evasion is a strong defensive when playing against melee. This grants you 100% Dodge chance. Use this when the enemy team has melee and is focusing you.

Vanish Icon Vanish is a very versatile ability. You can use this offensively, to use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shots and Garrote Icon Garrotes on enemies, or defensively. If you are overextended or need to get away quickly, use Vanish Icon Vanish to get away from the enemy team.

Feint Icon Feint (with the Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness talent) grants you a flat 30% damage reduction from everything. This is a buff that should be active on you at all times. A Rogue is very weak against stuns, so having Feint up when stunned greatly increases your chance of surviving heavy damage from the enemy team.

Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial is the trickiest, but most useful defensive ability a Rogue has. If you feel a hard swap onto you or you are about to be stunned, use Crimson Vial. Using this efficiently can enable you and your teammates to save your other cooldowns.

7. Best Team Compositions for Assassination Rogues

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the Arena with your team. Assassination Rogues want to stay aggressive and get a kill on an enemy without a trinket using Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot and Vendetta Icon Vendetta.

7.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena you will be focusing on single target damage. Depending on what healer you are playing with, use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on the enemy healer to setup crowd control. For example, if you are playing with a Discipline Priest, you should use Cheap Shot on the enemy healer so your Priest can get close enough to use Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Assassination Rogue + Discipline Priest
  • Assassination Rogue + Restoration Druid
  • Assassination Rogue + Arcane/Frost Mage

7.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. You will likely be focusing on maximizing your single target damage. If you are playing against a healer that is not mobile (Discipline Priest, Holy Paladin, or Restoration Shaman), you can open on them and try to force a trinket or major defensive. If the enemy healer trinkets, you can use Blind Icon Blind with your next setup. Your overall goal is to focus an enemy without a trinket. When you and your teammate have damage, use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on the enemy healer. After this, use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target and continue with your burst rotation. It is important to note that Rogues are very easy to kill in 3v3 Arena. Make sure you are maintaining your Feint Icon Feint buff and play defensively when your team does not have much damage.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • RMP (Assassination Rogue + Arcane Mage + Holy Paladin/Discipline Priest)
  • RLS (Assassination Rogue + Destruction/Affliction Warlock + Restoration Shaman)
  • Assassination Rogue + Retribution Paladin + Restoration Druid

8. Useful Macros for Assassination Rogues

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Assassination Rogues can benefit from.

8.1. Shadowstep + Kick Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Polymorph
  • /cast [target=focus] Shadowstep
  • /cast [target=focus] Kick

Using this macro will use Shadowstep Icon Shadowstep on your focus enemy. If you press this macro again, it will use Kick Icon Kick on your focus target. This makes it easier to interrupt an enemy while staying focused on your target.

8.2. Blind Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Blind
  • /cast [target=focus] Blind

Put an enemy on focus and this macro will use Blind Icon Blind on that player while you are still focused on your target.

8.3. Kidney Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Kidney Shot
  • /cast [target=focus] Kidney Shot

Put an enemy on focus and this macro will use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on that player while you are still focused on your target.

8.4. Sap Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Sap
  • /cast [target=focus] Sap

Put an enemy on focus and this macro will use Sap Icon Sap on that player while you are still focused on your target.

8.5. Stealth Macro

  • #showtooltip Stealth
  • /cast !stealth

This makes it so when you use Stealth Icon Stealth it will not cancel if you click it a second time.

9. Changelog

  • 08 Oct. 2018: Added Azerite traits section and talent table.
  • 02 Oct. 2018: Removed PvP Gear and War Mode sections.
  • 02 Sep. 2018: Updated guide for patch 8.0.1.
    • Updated Introduction and spec overview.
    • Added Stat priority.
    • Updated tier 1, 2, 5, and 7 regular talent sections.
    • Added PvP (War Mode) talents and gear sections for the new BfA system.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses section.
    • Updated Burst Damage and Sustained Damage sections.
    • Updated Macros section.
    • Removed Gear section.
    • Updated Artifact Traits and Relics sections.
  • 13 Jun. 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 24 Apr. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
  • 07 Feb. 2018: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.5.
  • 24 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.2.
  • 09 Sep. 2017: Removed Artifact Trait descriptions and changed recommended tier 6 honor talents.
  • 21 Jun. 2017: Updated guide for Patch 7.2.5.
    • Changed recommended talent for Tier 6 regular talents.
    • Changed recommended talent for Tier 3 regular talents.
    • Made adjustments to "Burst Rotation".
  • 10 May 2017: Guide created.
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