Assassination Rogue PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Shadowlands / 9.1)

Last updated on Jul 21, 2021 at 08:27 by Shadenox 13 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 have 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 the 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, and high sustained and burst damage alongside powerful healing reduction tools in the form of Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison and Hemotoxin Icon Hemotoxin. 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 that is often played in setup comps and that means you and your team need to agree on who to control and who to kill before the game begins, and 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 Deadly Poison Icon Deadly Poison (Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison is still a viable option although you miss out on a lot of damage) and Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison. Both Deadly Poison and Wound Poison will be removed after every arena match, so do not forget to reapply them every time you enter a new match.

Press Stealth Icon Stealth and you are good to go!

1.2.

Crowd Control

While Assassination Rogues lack control compared to other Rogue specialization 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 and Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot). You will also Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot or Garrote Icon Garrote 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 a lot 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 of this ability as you can use it 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 use 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. In order to maximize your damage output as well as your Energy regeneration you need to use your Combo Points efficiently. You have several ways to generate Combo Points. Be aware that you have the passive Seal Fate Icon Seal Fate that will award you an 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 as well. It deals damage and generates 2 Combo Points.
    • Garrote Icon Garrote silences the target and generates 1 Combo Point.
  • When not in Stealth, you generate Combo Points with the following:
    • Mutilate Icon Mutilate deals moderate damage and generates 2 Combo Point. 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. It can be used when multipe enemies, including pets, are around you if you want to generate multiple Combo Points, although it will usually be better to simply 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.
    • Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death instantly generates 5 Combo Points. This can be used for Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot to setup crowd control, or for an additional Envenom Icon Envenom during a kill attempt. It should never be used to deal damage in between two setups.

Now that you know how to generate Combo Points, knowing how to spend them is even more important. As an Assassination Rogue you do not have a passive that makes it better to use your finishers with 5 Combo Points, but 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 setup 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's not active or when it is 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 a 100% uptime during an arena match. You shouldn't be using this ability too much as Cut to the Chase Icon Cut to the Chase will refresh it for you when you use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  • Envenom Icon Envenom is your primary damaging ability. This will deal more damage based on the amount of 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 get out of 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 get to 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. You will also benefit from Mark of the Master Assassin Icon Mark of the Master Assassin if you play it, even though it does not matter that much if you need to apply your bleeds to your target while it lasts.

If you forced a trinket in the opener you are on the right track to win the game. If the enemy healer used their trinket then you will be able to do a go with a Blind Icon Blind on them, followed by a Sap Icon Sap 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 or not. Below is an example of the opener on a target that can use abilties while silenced and thus needs to be stunned with your first GCD. The burst is included in this example, but if you wish to open without using your burst cooldown you can perform the exact same opener without using Vendetta Icon Vendetta and either Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand depending on your Covenant.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.
  2. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  3. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target.
  4. Use Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  5. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  6. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you have these abilities.
  7. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  8. Use Rupture Icon Rupture.
  9. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate until 4 Combo Points or more. You may use Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike as well if you have this ability, as it is cheaper than Mutilate, applies a bleed, and deals more damage.
  10. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  11. Repeat the last two steps.

Below is an example of the opener on a target that cannot use any ability while silenced, such as a Mage. Again, the burst is included but if you wish to open without using your burst cooldown you can perform the exact same opener without using Vendetta Icon Vendetta and either Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand depending on your Covenant.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.
  2. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  3. Use Ambush Icon Ambush if you do not play Mark of the Master Assassin Icon Mark of the Master Assassin. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate if you do to get 4 Combo Points.
  4. Use Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  6. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  7. Use Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  8. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you have these abilities.
  9. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  10. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more.
  11. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  12. Repeat the last two steps.

Sometimes you will want to get crowd control on the enemy DPS to prevent them from preemptively using a defensive ability when you land crowd control on their healer. And sometimes, the enemy team will enter combat before you can use Sap Icon Sap. For both of these scenarios an alternate opener exists.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy DPS, or do not Sap if the enemy team is in combat.
  2. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on the enemy healer so that your team can land more crowd control.
  3. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  4. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target.
  5. Use Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  6. Use Garrote Icon Garrote.
  7. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you have these abilities.
  8. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  9. Use Rupture Icon Rupture
  10. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more.
  11. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  12. Repeat the last two steps.

If the kill target is a caster that cannot do anything while in a silence you can use Garrote Icon Garrote and Rupture Icon Rupture before using Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death and Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.

2.3.

Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage. Of course, unless you are in the opener, you will need to have both Garrote Icon Garrote and Rupture Icon Rupture on your target before using your burst rotation. It is assumed in the following burst rotation that you did apply your bleeds before pulling the trigger.

  1. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target.
  2. Use Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  3. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you have these abilities.
  4. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  5. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more.
  6. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  7. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  8. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  9. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more, use Envenom Icon Envenom and repeat.

If you are using the Legendary Mark of the Master Assassin Icon Mark of the Master Assassin you will include Vanish Icon Vanish in your rotation in order to gain the 100% Critical Strike chance buff. The burst rotation will then be as follows.

  1. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target.
  2. Use Vendetta Icon Vendetta.
  3. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis, Flagellation Icon Flagellation or Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you have these abilities.
  4. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  5. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more.
  6. Use Vanish Icon Vanish.
  7. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  8. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  9. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  10. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate to gain 4 Combo Points since you still have 100% Critical Strike chance.
  11. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.

Players often react to Vendetta Icon Vendetta with powerful defensive cooldowns. Something you can do if the target you use Vendetta on still has trinket, or if their healer has trinket, is hold onto Vendetta up until the first Envenom Icon Envenom is ready. That way the target will not react to your Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot and will let you apply your Covenant ability and Shiv Icon Shiv without reacting. Then, when you have enough Combo Points, you can press Vendetta, Vanish if you play Mark of the Master Assassin, and Envenom at the same time to guarantee that this first Envenom hits your target before any defensive ability is used. If the target is slow you will also get your Marked for Death Envenom before they use anything, and this is very often a kill.

As Assassination Rogue you can have some measure of burst every Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot, even if you do not have your major burst cooldowns. Since Shiv Icon Shiv and Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death have a cooldown similar to the stun diminishing returns that you have to wait for to use Kidney Shot again, you will have them ready every Kidney Shot. Therefore you can still burst your target down without Vendetta Icon Vendetta and your Covenant ability with the following spell sequence.

  1. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target.
  2. Use Shiv Icon Shiv.
  3. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more.
  4. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  5. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  6. Use Envenom Icon Envenom.
  7. Use Mutilate Icon Mutilate, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it, until 4 Combo Points or more, use Envenom Icon Envenom and repeat.
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 setup a kill of their own you will want to keep doing damage to make sure 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 need to follow the priority list set 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 to generate Combo Points, or Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike if you have it.

Never use Shiv Icon Shiv or Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death outside of a Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot window. 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.

3.

Defensive Techniques

Vanish Icon Vanish is one of your main defensive cooldowns. Use Vanish when you want to avoid damage and get away from the enemy team. With the Legendary Mark of the Master Assassin Icon Mark of the Master Assassin it can also be used offensively. It can also be used to land crowd control with Sap Icon Sap, Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot and Garrote Icon Garrote.

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.

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 30% damage reduction from everything for 6 seconds on a 15-second cooldown. This is a very powerful tool to mitigate incoming damage. A Rogue is very 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 small 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 to 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

  • 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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