Assassination Rogue rotation – getting the most out of your rogue’s priority system

As an Assassination Rogue, rotation is everything. More precisely, priorities are everything, since rogues no longer use strict rotation systems. After mastering the two most crucial aspects of your chosen class and role – how many S’s are in ‘assassination’ and how to spell ‘rogue’ – you’ll want to maximize your DPS and your raid usefulness by trimming your priority system into a lean, mean, dirty-fighting machine. Here’s our quick and easy guide to the Assassination Rogue priority system in Cataclysm.

Start as you mean to go on

You’ll start the fight with a pretty simple rotation, but after that you’ll be working on a priority system. Your rotation for the start of a fight is, in order:

  1. Make sure that you’re in Stealth.
  2. Make sure that you’ve applied poisons to all of your weapons. Your main hand weapon should have Instant Poison, and your off-hand weapon should have Deadly Poison.
  3. Make sure you’ve used Tricks of the Trade on the tank.
  4. Use Garotte, but only if you can get into position quickly.
  5. Use Mutilate if you can’t get into position for Garotte.
  6. Immediately burn your 1 combo point from Garotte (or your 2 points from Mutilate) on Slice and Dice.
  7. Move to your priority system.

Get your priorities right

Your priority system for a standard boss fight is reasonably simple, being formed around maintaining buffs and DoTs, and making decisions based on the number of combo points you have available.

In order, from highest priority to lowest, here’s what you should be doing:

  • Mutilate takes top priority, but only if you have no combo points. Exchange this for Backstab once the boss gets below 35% health.
  • Envenom – hit Envenom (burning through whatever combo points you have) if Slice and Dice is close to expiry. It’s critical to keep Slice and Dice active at all times, and if you have the talent Cut To The Chase (which you should do if you’re planning to play Assassination), the duration of Slice and Dice will be refreshed by a successful Envenom strike. Envenom only holds as high a priority as this when Slice and Dice needs to be refreshed.
  • Rupture – as with Envenom, this only enters the priority system if it’s associated buff needs to be refreshed. In this case, it’s the Rupture debuff itself. It’s a bigger DPS loss to have Rupture down for even a second than to use a lower-powered Rupture, so hit another Rupture whenever the debuff is close to expiry, no matter how many combo points you have.
  • Mutilate – If nothing needs refreshing, Mutilate is your go-to ability; however, you shouldn’t use Mutilate if you have more than 3 combo points.
  • If you have 4 or 5 combo points (and your energy isn’t at maximum), use Envenom rather than Mutilate.



The normal priority system doesn’t take account of long cooldowns (the sort of thing that you normally only get out once or twice per fight). Generally speaking, you’ll want to use these whenever they’re available, and they’ll take priority over everything except for maintaining Slice and Dice. Your major cooldowns actually complement each other very well, so you’ll probably want to string them together whenever you can.

  • Vanish, perhaps surprisingly, is a DPS cooldown, if only indirectly. It’ll allow you to get off another Garotte, first of all, but it will also proc the Overkill talent if you’ve specced for it. Follow it up with a Vendetta whenever you can.
  • Vendetta – increases your damage by 20% for 30 seconds. It’s on a relatively short 2 minute cooldown, so there’s no reason not to pop this whenever you can.
  • Cold Blood – gives 25 instant energy, and makes your next strike hit harder. Pop this immediately after Vendetta for maximum effect. The cooldown is the same – 2 minutes.

Remember that Garotte also silences, so in an emergency it can be used as a spell interrupt, albeit a rather cumbersome one.

For absolute maximum DPS, use a Potion of the Tol’Vir as another “cooldown”, preferably with Bloodlust.

Frequent mistakes that might be lowering your DPS

Not doing as much DPS as you think you should be? Here are a few tips:

  • Are you using Rupture or Garotte when they’re not going to run their full duration? In Heroics, it’s often more effective to skip your DoTs on any target that’s going to die in the next 15 seconds or so – just skip straight to Envenoms.
  • Are you using Fan of Knives on too few targets? FoK only really comes into its own on 3 targets minimum, preferably 4 or more.
  • Are you remembering to Backstab below 35%? This is a very, very easy thing to forget, and it’ll have a major effect on your DPS.
  • Are you letting Rupture drop off? You should never let Rupture go down for even a second if you can avoid it.
  • Are you using Envenom when Rupture’s about to drop? You’re better putting a four- or five-point Rupture on than getting an extra Envenom, provided you don’t cap Energy or lose CPs to do that.
  • Are you clipping Envenom? Envenom also gives you a buff, and if you use Envenoms too often, you’ll reduce your DPS by “clipping” the buff. This is not a huge loss, but it matters.

It’s also worth checking your spec, gems, glyphs and so on. Take a look at our 4.2 Guide for Assassination Rogue stats, rotation, reforging and glyphs for more information on getting the most out of your rogue.

Are you using a different priority system? Do you have any tips for Assassination Rogues? Let us know in the comments.

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Patch 4.3 Mutilate / Assassination Rogue Quick-Start Guide: Stats, Build, Rotation, Changes, Reforging And Glyphs

It’s Patch 4.3, and everyone in melee just got a buff – including Assassination Rogues. Hurrah! But how to best make use of our newfound powers? Well, here’s our quick guide to the best way to stat, spec your talent build, reforge, gem, glyph, and perform your rotation to top the meters and hopefully not stand in too much fire in the process.

Updated Nov 29th, 2011, for Patch 4.3

Assassination Rogue Changes in Patch 4.3

This patch isn’t too exciting for rogues as far as mechanics changes go. We get a 10% buff along with every other melee class, a slight (PvP-focussed) change to Wound Poison, and… that’s it.

However, there’s one massive thing all rogues need to be aware of in Patch 4.3, and that’s the Rogue Legendary quest line . Not only does it lead to the best damn daggers ever at the end, but you can just do the first few quests – requiring you to get to the fourth boss in Dragon Soul on Normal – in order to get your hands on the best daggers outside Heroic mode. Seriously, this is VERY worth doing.

The Tier 13 Set bonuses are worth a mention. If you have 2 pieces of T13, make sure to use Tricks of the Trade on cooldown.

Assassination/mutilation rogue rotation

Assassination Rogue rotation, priorities, stats, and spec

Make sure you’ve got poisons on! Instant Poison on your Main Hand weapon, and Deadly Poison on your offhand and thrown weapons.

Always open the fight from stealth. Open with Garotte if you can do so QUICKLY – but if it’ll take even 2 seconds to get into position, use Mutilate instead. Immediately use those combo points on Slice and Dice.

From here:

  • If you don’t have any combo points: Use Mutilate unless the boss is below 35%, in which case use Backstab.
  • If you have 1, 2 or 3 combo points: In priority order: if Slice and Dice is about to run out, use Envenom to refresh it. If Rupture is about to run out, use Rupture. Otherwise, use Mutilate or Backstab as above.
  • If you have 4 or 5 combo points: In priority order: if Slice and Dice is about to run out, use Envenom. If Rupture is about to run out, use Rupture. Otherwise, use Envenom.
  • NEVER Mutilate when you have 4 or more combo points or allow your Energy to hit 100 (always use an ability before then).

For more advanced tips, see our more in-depth Assassination Rogue rotation guide

Cooldowns: You have 3 Cooldowns – Cold Blood, Vendetta and Vanish (yes, it’s a DPS cooldown). Use Cold Blood whenever it’s up, with a 5 point Envenom. Use Vanish whenever it’s up and you’ll get a solid 15 sec of DPS. Use Vendetta whenever it’s up and you’ll get at least 30 sec of uninterrupted DPS. Vendetta and Vanish work very well with Bloodlust, so try to coordinate that where possible.

Your multi-target AOE rotation is pretty simple: Fan Of Knives. Repeat. If there are 3 or more enemies and no pressing reason to only DPS one, use this rotation instead. Make sure you’re ALSO attacking something in melee at the same time, and still open from stealth.


Assassination talent spec


Gem: Agility is your most important stat. Always gem for Agility unless it isn’t available or there is a Agility socket bonus of more than 10. In the second case, use [Adept Ember Topaz] in yellow sockets and [Glinting Demonseye] in blue sockets.

Reforging: Reforge for Hit until you pass the Spell Hit Cap (1332 Hit Rating). After that, reforge for Mastery. Once you’re past Spell Hit Cap, reforge excess Hit first. If you’re not there yet, reforge Crit first, then Expertise, then Haste, then Mastery.

Note: The above notes for Hit Rating assume you have 23 Precision in your talent tree, as the advised tree above does.

Assassination Rogue Enchants

Remember, your profession may provide a better enhancement option- check the stat priorities above!

Head Arcanum of the Ramkahen
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal
Back Enchant Cloak – Major Agility
Chest Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Agility
Hands Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery or Enchant Gloves – Expertise if you are under expertise cap.
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Dragonscale Leg Armor
Feet Enchant Boots – Major Agility
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Landslide on both


Primes: Glyph of MutilateGlyph of BackstabGlyph of Rupture

Major: Glyph of Tricks of the TradeGlyph of FeintGlyph of Sprint.

Minor: Glyph of Safe Fall and whatever else catches your fancy.

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Assassination Mutilate Rogue Stats, Rotation And Glyphs In Patch 4.0.1+

This post is outdated! Go to our assassination / mutilate stats, rotation and glyphs for Patch 4.2 guide instead to get the latest info! 

Are you looking to rebuild your rogue after patch 4.0.1 before Cataclysm arrives? Don’t know where to start, or don’t have time to search for information? Let us help you with the patch 4.0.1 assassination/mutilate rogue basics so that you’re up and running stabbing things before the next earthquake hits.

Assassination/mutilation rogue rotation:

Stealth > Garrote > Mutilate once > Slice n Dice > Mutilate twice > Rupture >

If target above 35% health, mutilate twice


If below 35%, backstab five times

Rupture if it’s about to run out, if not, envenom > repeat from 35% health check

Assassination talent spec:

Standard talent build for level 80 assassination / mutilate rogue


Agility > Expertise > Haste >Mastery > white hits > critical strike rating

You need to be hit capped before any of that – that is 289 hit rating, if you also have 33 in precision talent (combat tree).


Primes: Glyph of MutilateGlyph of BackstabGlyph of Rupture

Major: Glyph of Fan of KnivesGlyph of FeintGlyph of Sprint

Minor: Glyph of Safe Fall


Did you find this guide useful? Want to read cool stuff about WoW daily? Then check out our main World of Warcraft page, and get the best posts from the Internet’s WoW blogs, every day.

(Well, every day except Sunday. We’re not religious, but we are sometimes hung over.)




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