Assassination Rogue PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Dragonflight 10.2.7)

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 11:20 by Shadenox 14 comments

PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as an Assassination Rogue, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.

This page is part of our Assassination Rogue PvP Guide.

1.

Playstyle for Assassination Rogues

Assassination Rogue has two roles in PvP: controlling the enemy team with Sap Icon Sap, Blind Icon Blind, Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot, Garrote Icon Garrote, Dismantle Icon Dismantle and Poisoned Knife Icon Poisoned Knife, and dealing extremely high damage to the kill target while locking them down with Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot. Assassination Rogues may lack extended control options, other Rogue specializations offer, but they make up for it by being very disruptive to their kill target with Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot, Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison, Numbing Poison Icon Numbing Poison and high sustained and burst damage alongside a powerful AoE healing reduction in the form of Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison. You should look to partner with a class that has a lot of crowd control, such as Mages or Priests.

1.1.

Before Gates Open

Discuss with your team to have a game plan. Assassination Rogue is a specialization often played in setup comps, which means you and your team need to agree on who to control and who to kill before the game begins. You need to know who will use their offensive cooldowns first. Wasting an entire go because you did not plan and broke each other's crowd control can make you lose the game.

Apply your poisons. Press Stealth Icon Stealth, and you are good to go!

1.2.

Crowd Control

While Assassination Rogues lack control compared to other Rogue specializations, they still have access to powerful control abilities. In the opener, since you have access to your Stealth-based abilities, you will aim to push in and initiate crowd control chains on the healer (Sap Icon Sap if they are not in combat, Blind Icon Blind, Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot, and Gouge Icon Gouge). You will also Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot, Garrote Icon Garrote or Gouge Icon Gouge, the DPS you do not want to kill to allow your team to follow-up on your crowd control, and then you will move onto your kill target with a Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot. During the game, unless you use Vanish Icon Vanish, you will not be able to help with crowd control aside from the Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on the kill target. However, you have the ability Poisoned Knife Icon Poisoned Knife. Be sure to abuse this ability to slow an enemy from a distance to allow your team to close in on them and get crowd control for you. You also have the ability Dismantle Icon Dismantle, which counts as a form of crowd control, albeit a defensive one in most cases. Making good use of it can negate an enemy kill attempt. It can also be used offensively sometimes, for example, against an Arms Warrior, as it prevents them from using parry, or against a Death Knight, as it prevents them from using Death Strike to heal.

2.

Offensive Rotation

2.1.

Generating and Spending Combo Points

Rogues have two resources to manage. The first, Energy, is quite straightforward. Using a spell costs Energy, and it regenerates over time. The second resource is Combo Points. Some abilities generate Combo Points, and powerful abilities called Finishing Moves consume them. To maximize your damage output and your Energy regeneration, you must use your Combo Points efficiently. You have several ways to generate Combo Points. Be aware that if you have the passive Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate, it will award you additional Combo Points when you critically strike with a Combo Point builder.

  • From Stealth Icon Stealth or when Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge is active, there are 3 ways to generate Combo Points:
    • Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot stuns the target and generates 1 Combo Point.
    • Ambush Icon Ambush can only be used in Stealth or with a Blindside Icon Blindside proc. It deals good damage and generates 2 Combo Points.
    • Garrote Icon Garrote silences the target and generates 1 Combo Point (3 if you have the talent Shrouded Suffocation Icon Shrouded Suffocation.
  • When not in Stealth, you generate Combo Points with the following:
    • Mutilate Icon Mutilate deals moderate damage and generates 2 Combo Points. It can critically strike with only one hand or with both. That means this ability can generate up to 4 Combo Points with Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate, one additional Combo Point per hand that critically strikes.
    • Garrote Icon Garrote generates 1 Combo Point.
    • Shiv Icon Shiv generates 1 Combo Point. It will also increase your Nature damage done to the target.
    • Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives is an AoE ability and will generate 1 Combo Point plus 1 Combo Point per critical hit with Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate. It can be used when multiple enemies, including pets, are around you if you want to generate multiple Combo Points. However, it will usually be better to Mutilate Icon Mutilate your main target if they are in range. Be careful not to break crown control, such as Polymorph, when using this ability.
    • Poisoned Knife Icon Poisoned Knife does very little damage but generates 1 Combo Point and applies all your active poisons to the target. This should be used if you are slowed/rooted and cannot reach your target but are about to overcap Energy or if an enemy at range needs to be slowed.

Now that you know how to generate Combo Points, learning how to spend them is even more critical. As an Assassination Rogue, you do not have a passive that makes it better to use your finishers with 5 Combo Points. Still, you should try to do it regardless, as they deal more damage that way. That being said, if you are on 4 Combo Points, you will want to use Rupture Icon Rupture or Envenom Icon Envenom instead of Mutilate Icon Mutilate as over-capping Combo Points is a damage loss. Here are the abilities you will be spending Combo Points on and what situations you will use them in:

  • Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot is your stun to set up a kill on your target.
  • Rupture Icon Rupture is a bleed that lasts longer based on how many Combo Points you use. Use this ability whenever it is not active or about to fade unless using Envenom Icon Envenom would kill the target.
  • Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice increases your attack speed. Slice and Dice should almost have 100% uptime during an arena match. You shouldn't use this ability too much if you picked Cut to the Chase Icon Cut to the Chase as it will refresh itself when you use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  • Envenom Icon Envenom is your primary damaging ability. This will deal more damage based on the Combo Points used for it.
2.2.

The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening CC chain and damage done as soon as you exit the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer or your kill target uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble.

The opener is a key part of the game as Rogue. Stealth Icon Stealth gives you the advantage as you choose how the fight begins. Because people will not be in combat right after the gates open, you will be able to Sap Icon Sap a target, already providing your team with numerical superiority. If you manage to get stuns or silences on the other enemies, you can create a situation where your kill target is stunned for you and your team to deal damage without any external help.

If you forced a trinket in the opener, you are on the right track to winning the game. If the enemy healer used their trinket, you could go with a Blind Icon Blind on them, followed by a Sap Icon Sap or a Gouge Icon Gouge while you kill the enemy DPS. If the enemy DPS uses their trinket, you will be able to do a go on them with a Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot followed by a Smoke Bomb Icon Smoke Bomb to prevent the healer from helping and hopefully kill the DPS in that stun.

There are a few different openers as Assassination Rogue depending on whether the enemy can use spells while silenced. Below is an example of a very basic opener on a target that can use abilities while silenced and thus needs to be stunned with your first GCD.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.
  2. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on your kill target.
  3. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  4. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  5. Use Rupture Icon Rupture.
  6. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have this ability, or Ambush Icon Ambush if you have a Blindside Icon Blindside proc until 5 Combo Points or more.
  7. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  8. Repeat the last two steps.

Rogues no longer have a way to instantly generate 5 Combo Points, so if you need a stun in the opener, it forces you to use Cheap Shot. You will then either keep your Kidney Shot for the next go on your target, or use it on another target that you also want to attack (as a reminder, Assassination is at its best when attacking multiple targets).

Below is an example of an opener on a target that cannot use any ability while silenced, such as a Mage. Such a target allows you to apply bleeds before using a stun.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.
  2. Use Garrote Icon Garrote on your kill target.
  3. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  4. Use Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike (or Mutilate Icon Mutilate if you decided not to talent into Serrated Bone Spike).
  5. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  6. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have this ability, or Ambush Icon Ambush if you have a Blindside Icon Blindside proc until 5 Combo Points or more.
  7. Use Rupture Icon Rupture.
  8. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have this ability, or Ambush Icon Ambush if you have a Blindside Icon Blindside proc until 5 Combo Points or more.
  9. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  10. Repeat the last two steps.

Both of these openers aren't extremely bursty, and using burst cooldowns during them would be a mistake. Assassination requires a few moments to apply its bleeds on the target before dealing damage. You can open differently to generate more pressure and even create a scenario in which you can burst the enemy down. Below is an example of such an opener.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.
  2. Use Garrote Icon Garrote on your kill target.
  3. Use Rupture Icon Rupture with 3 Combo Points.
  4. Use Garrote Icon Garrote on your kill target again, while you still have the Improved Garrote Icon Improved Garrote buff.
  5. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate.
  6. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  7. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  8. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have this ability, or Ambush Icon Ambush if you have a Blindside Icon Blindside proc until 5 Combo Points or more.
  9. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  10. Repeat the last two steps.

Performing a spell sequence like this one guarantees that your first Kidney Shot will pressure the enemy team, because the target will already have all your bleeds on them, and you will be able to focus on dealing damage with Envenom. Note that it gives someone in the enemy team time to react between the moment you leave stealth, and the moment you secure crowd-control on the last target, so players who are aware and play the right comp will be able to try and break your opener.

2.3.

Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage. As Assassination, there are a number of requirements you need to meet in order to perform the ideal burst rotation. In the examples below, it is assumed that you already have your Garrote Icon Garrote and Rupture Icon Rupture active on the target, with a timer long enough that you will not need to waste time reapplying them right in the middle of your burst.

  1. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target.
  2. Use Deathmark Icon Deathmark.
  3. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  4. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea, and Kingsbane Icon Kingsbane together.
  5. Use Ambush Icon Ambush.
  6. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  7. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  8. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  9. Use Garrote Icon Garrote to have an Improved Garrote Icon Improved Garrote on your target.
  10. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  11. Use your second charge of Shiv Icon Shiv as the first runs out. That way your Deathmark and your Kingsbane will be empowered for their entire duration if the target is still alive.
  12. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have this ability, or Ambush Icon Ambush if you have a Blindside Icon Blindside proc until either a blue Combo Point, or 5 Combo Points or more.
  13. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  14. Repeat the last two steps.

Sometimes you will have to burst your target with only Shadow Dance. You can then perform the following burst rotation to deal a lot of damage while keeping your target stunned.

  1. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, and Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea together.
  2. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  3. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  4. Use Kingsbane Icon Kingsbane.
  5. Use Garrote Icon Garrote to have an Improved Garrote Icon Improved Garrote on your target.
  6. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  7. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.

Of course, sometimes you will need to use a few globals to CC other targets during Shadow Dance. This will offset your rotation a bit, but as long as you keep your target stunned, and use Kingsbane during Shadow Dance with a Shiv active on the target, it is perfect.

2.4.

Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available and when your enemies cannot be crowd-controlled because of diminishing returns. Assassination Rogues have powerful sustained damage, so unless you need to retreat because you are under pressure or because you know the enemy is about to set up a kill of their own, you will want to keep doing damage to ensure the kill target is low on health before your next Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot. The spells you will use during your sustained damage window must follow the priority list below.

  1. Use Rupture Icon Rupture if you have 4 Combo Points or more and it is about to fade.
  2. Use Garrote Icon Garrote if it is about to fade.
  3. Use Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice with 2 or 3 Combo Points. You do not want to spend too many Combo Points on this ability, as your next Envenom will extend it with Cut to the Chase Icon Cut to the Chase.
  4. Use Envenom Icon Envenom with 4 Combo Points or more.
  5. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate or Ambush Icon Ambush if you have a Blindside Icon Blindside proc to generate Combo Points.

Try to always keep one charge of Shiv Icon Shiv for your Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot windows unless are certain to force an important cooldown with a Shiv in between your stuns. If you are playing some 2v2 match-ups, or if you are playing a rot comp in 3v3, then you will want to apply your bleeds to secondary targets before using Envenom. Regarding Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike, it is best to use it only if you need to reapply the bleed or if you are going to get your third charge back. Otherwise, you may want to keep it for your Kidney Shot windows, as it deals more damage than your other Combo Point builders.

You may wonder, where does Fan of Knives Icon Fan of Knives fit in all of this ? The answer is simple. If there are at least two targets you want to cleave, and you will not break any CC, then Fan of Knives is more valuable than Mutilate. It deals more damage, costs less Energy, and thanks to the passive Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate it can fill your Combo Point bar if you hit enough enemies.

3.

Defensive Techniques

Vanish Icon Vanish is one of your main defensive cooldowns. Use Vanish to avoid damage and get away from the enemy team. It can also be used offensively to land crowd control with Sap Icon Sap, Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot, and Garrote Icon Garrote in order to close a game.

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 safety. You can also use it to mitigate incoming magic crowd control abilities, such as Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil or Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice. Note that with the honor talent Veil of Midnight Icon Veil of Midnight you can use Cloak of Shadows to get rid of physical debuffs and to dodge attacks.

Evasion Icon Evasion is a strong defensive cooldown when playing against melees and Hunters. Use this when the enemy team is using offensive cooldowns on you. You can also use it to dodge incoming physical crowd-control abilities, such as Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot or Mighty Bash Icon Mighty Bash.

Feint Icon Feint (with the Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness talent) is the trickiest but most useful defensive ability a Rogue has. It grants you a flat 20% damage reduction from everything for 6 seconds on a 15-second cooldown. This is a potent tool to mitigate incoming damage. A Rogue is weak against stuns, so preemptively using Feint when a stun is coming your way greatly increases your chance of surviving heavy damage from the enemy team. Of course, it can be used when the enemy team is using cooldowns on you, even if there is no stun.

Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial is a minor healing over time effect. It can be used the same way as Feint, either when you are about to get stunned or when the enemy is using cooldowns on you, and your healer needs extra help.

4.

Macros

It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.

5.

Changelog

  • 07 May 2024: Reviewed for 10.2.7.
  • 22 Apr. 2024: Updqted for Dragonflight Season 4.
  • 18 Mar. 2024: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.2.6.
  • 15 Jan. 2024: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.2.5.
  • 06 Nov. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.2.
  • 04 Sep. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.7.
  • 10 Jul. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.5.
  • 30 Apr. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.
  • 21 Mar. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.0.7.
  • 25 Jan. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.0.5.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight Season 1.
  • 22 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
  • 28 Jul. 2022: Reviewed for Shadowlands Season 4.
  • 31 May 2022: Reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 05 Apr. 2022: Updated he burst rotation for Patch 9.2.
  • 21 Feb. 2022: Updated for Patch 9.2.
  • 10 Nov. 2021: Already up to date with Patch 9.1.5.
  • 21 Jul. 2021: Updated the Poison of choice.
  • 03 Jul. 2021: Updated the rotation slightly for Patch 9.1.
  • 28 Apr. 2021: Added Serrated Bone Spike to the rotation.
  • 06 Apr. 2021: Rewritten by Shadenox and further updated for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 08 Mar. 2021: No Updates needed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 17 Dec. 2020: Updated Opening and Burst damage rotations.
  • 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Rotations to include Covenant Ability.
  • 29 Nov. 2020: Removed outdated Traits and Essences.
  • 14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.
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