Evaluating Your Raid Team: Assassination & Combat Rogues

Rogues are pure damage-dealing beasts, capable of rocking the charts with their swords, daggers, axes and maces.  Specs for many rogues are heavily reliant on their current weapon of choice…so your favorite combat rogue may be a sneaky assassin next week.

While the abilities stay the same, the rotations are a touch different between the two trees. While, for completeness, I would have liked to take a look at a subtlety specced rogue, to the best of my knowledge it’s not viable for raiding, and the lack of players I could find seems to bear this out.

For earlier evaluations, see Restoration Shaman and Holy Paladin.

Assassination Rogues

The assassination rotation looks something like this:


  • Garrote
  • Hunger for Blood (refresh every 50-60 seconds)
  • Slice and Dice (refresh as needed)
  • Mutilate x1
  • Envenom


  • Mutilate x 2
  • Envenom

The assassination report we’re looking at today is a XT-002 (25-man) fight lasting 4:13:

Melee will commonly be the first damage source for any melee character, and this is no exception for rogues.  Just a couple of things to watch for on this line:

Glances is the number of blows that did not do full white damage to the target–on a raid boss, up to 24% of hits should be glancing blows–if your favorite melee character has more than that, discuss weapon skills. (Glancing blows biggest implications have to do with critical strike stacking, but I’m not getting into that).

Misses shows how many attacks your character missed.  While not as important for white damage, this column is extremely important when viewing yellow damage, or any non-melee attack.  If your player is missing yellow attacks, they are not hit-capped!  While it is possible to drop misses from the white table as well, it is usually not a priority due to the negligible damage increases vs. other stats.

Assassination rogues should be using Instant Poison on their main-hand weapon and Deadly Poison in their off-hand.  It’s hard to tell by the application, especially since Deadly Poison is a “chance to apply” ability even with Improved Poisons, but it looks right.

Mutilate is easy to evaluate thanks to the dot the debuff applies when used.  As we can see here, the dot uptime was 3:50, with a total of 39 strikes, indicating that the rotation up-time was correct.

Envenom is the finishing move that the rogue uses for burst damage.  For assassination rogues, envenom does not consume deadly poison, and has the added bonus of refreshing their slice and dice. So here, our rogue cast 39 Mutilates–he should have ~19 envenom attacks; however, our rogue has 27, meaning that he was not fully stacking 4 combo points before releasing envenom every time.  While this may be an anomaly of the fight (XT target, switching to Heart target and back to XT target) it bears scrutiny on other encounters.

Just a note If your assassination rogue is still using rupture: Assuming 4 combo points (x2 mutilate), with an attack power of 3857, Rupture does marginally more dps (2318.67) than Envenom (2248).  However, this does not take into account the damage provided by a full stack instant poison + deadly poison proc.  I would highly suggest dropping rupture in favor of pure mutilate/envenom.

The next area to evaluate is buff up-time.

Slice and Dice up-time is vital for assassination rogues, and should be maintained at all times.  92.1% is acceptable, but we’d really like to see it as close to 100% as possible.

Likewise, Hunger for Blood should always be up.  There are some provisions for Hunger: there must be a bleed effect on the target for it to be cast, it requires 15 energy, and it lasts 60 seconds.  Here, the rogue cast the ability 5 times, which is more than enough for a 4 minute fight.

The last buff we want to check for assassination is Cold Blood, a 3-minute cool-down ability.  We can see that the rogue cast it twice during the battle, which is right on the mark.

The last area that you want to look at is damage taken.

As you can see, all the damage taken was not preventable.

Overall, our rogue is doing a good job on this fight.  Proper buffs are being used, extraneous damage is being avoided, and their rotation is acceptable; however, I’d definitely want to keep an eye on mutilate stacks vs. envenom use to make sure the best damage is being done on every fight.

Combat Rogues

The combat rotation looks like this:

  • Sinister Strike x 5
  • Slice and Dice
  • Sinister Strike x 5
  • Eviscerate
  • Cycle Slice and Dice in as needed to refresh

So let’s take a look at what abilities our rogue used on Lord Marrowgar (25-man) fight lasting 8:58:

The first thing you’ll notice is that our combat rogue is not hitting as often as our assassination rogue.  However, while higher, it is still within acceptable range.  Since the rogue is over the hit cap (469 hit) then we can assume that he did some damage while not behind the boss.

Sinister Strike use looks good–all you’re really checking here is to make sure that its high on the damage list, and another combo-builder is not being used.

Next up is poisons.  Combat and assassination rogues will use the same poisons, Instant and Deadly; since 3.3, your rogue should not be switching out their main-hand weapon to apply a different poison type.

Eviscerate is the combat rogues’ finishing move, and we should see approximately 13 judging by the number of Sinister Strikes that the rogue expended; however, only 7 eviscerates were executed.  Before we talk to our rogue, we should consider boss movement.  Since Marrowgar becomes unavailable as a target to melee during Bone Storm, the rogue is unable to stack and refresh Slice and Dice which is his first priority.  Taken in this context, the application of eviscerate falls into line.

Impale is mislabeled in this report and should be ignored (boss effect that was improperly loaded).  Also discount Blade Twisting–it is a talent that has a chance to stun a target when using Sinister Strike; however, the boss is immune.

Next up, let’s see how our combat rogue did on buff up-time:

Slice and Dice should be as close 100% as possible, and on this attempt, we can see it only has 75% up-time.  Some of the down-time may be attributable to boss-movement; however, even taking that into consideration, there is room for improvement.

Blade Flurry and Adrenaline Rush are often used in conjunction despite the differences in their cool-down (2 minutes for BF and 3 minutes for AR).  In a 9 minute fight, we’d expect to see at least 2 uses of each; however, each was cast only once.

Last up, we’ll want to look at the damage taken:

Impales and Bone Storms the rogue likely can’t minimize; however, impale up-time is useful when compiled for the night to talk to your raid team about the importance of getting people down!

Coldflame damage is preventable–almost 100%–and our rogue spent almost a full minute of the fight standing in flames… ouch!

Overall, our combat rogue is solid–he keeps his rotations flying smoothly and uses his buffs; however, his buff up-time could use some improvement, and maybe a *blue flame is bad* reminder wouldn’t hurt either!


2 thoughts on “Evaluating Your Raid Team: Assassination & Combat Rogues

  1. Just wanted to clarify the white hit cap for rogues is actually higher – a nutty 722 if you have 5/5 Precision, which most raiding rogues should. Also on some fights it is more convenient for an Assassination rogue to use 3+ combo pts per Enevenom as opposed to 4+; it's a slight drop in damage but useful if there's a lot of target switching going on. Nice guide, regardless! :>

    • Thank you for clarifying. I don't know many rogues (and I never did personally) who reach the white hit cap, but yes, 400's is definitely not it! I am sorry if it read like that–after awhile all the lines just start making sense whether they actually DO or not 🙂

      I agree that there is seldom a "perfect" rotation for any fight because WoW is not all about fighting Patchwerk; however, at least for me, it's much easier to say "this is the ideal, but this is why we didn't meet it" than "these multiple factors resulted in this being the best for this fight."

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