PvE Assassination Rogue Rotation & Cooldowns

wotlk classic pve assassination rogue rotation & cooldowns

Assassination rogues are rather notorious for their simple rotation. While most of the rotation is fairly simple, the goal is to constantly juggle at least 3 buffs at any given time, namely Slice and Dice, Hunger for Blood, and Envenom. There are some small interactions that can make you shine above others, but most of it is really just keeping up these buffs.

Single Target Rotation

Your opener aims to get Slice and Dice, Hunger for Blood, and Envenom up as soon as possible, as they are the largest part of your damage. This is done in one of two ways, depending on your group composition.

The main consideration is if you have a Bleed spec in your raid, such as Feral Druid or Arms Warrior. These two classes naturally apply the bleeds you will need to activate Hunger for Blood. Without them, you will need to apply the bleeds yourself, which shifts your priorities a little.

Opener Without Rupture

  1. Cast Mutilate
  2. Cast Slice and Dice to apply the buff
  3. Cast Hunger for Blood to apply the buff
  4. Cast Mutilate until you have 4-5 Combo Points
  5. Cast Envenom to apply the buff

Opener With Rupture

  1. Cast Mutilate
  2. Cast Slice and Dice to apply the buff
  3. Cast Mutilate if you have 0 Combo Points
  4. Cast Rupture
  5. Cast Hunger for Blood
  6. Cast Mutilate until you have 4-5 Combo Points
  7. Cast Envenom to apply the buff

For your opener you typically will ignore Stealth, because, unlike other Rogue specs, you move slower in Stealth, costing you valuable seconds of uptime on bosses. None of your Stealth openers deal enough damage for it to be worth it either, as the majority of your damage comes from Poisons. It can be worth quickly hopping in and out of Stealth before a boss pull, to get the Overkill buff.

Once you have all of your buffs up, you simply keep them up, recasting Hunger for Blood every minute while using Mutilate to build combo points and Envenom at 4-5 Combo Points as soon as the buff falls off.

Area of Effect Rotation

On packs of 5 or fewer enemies, you are very limited on AoE potential and you likely will not gain DPS using Fan of Knives, because it is heavily based on your weapon damage. Instead, you should simply use your single-target rotation.

On packs of 6 or more enemies, you can begin spamming Fan of Knives, making sure to maintain Slice and Dice as you do.


Assassination Rogues don’t have any major cooldowns unlike Combat Rogues, but there are still some things you can do to take advantage of burst phases.

Offensive Cooldowns

  • Overkill is a powerful buff that you can trigger with Vanish mid-fight, just remember to break Stealth ASAP
  • Cold Blood is a weird ability for Assassination, as most of our damage is done by poisons, but using this on a 5 Combo Point Envenom is still a decent damage increase
  • Orc and Troll Rogues will have racial abilities they can use as DPS cooldowns
  • Potion of Speed is a great boost, used pre-pull and once during the fight
  • Tricks of the Trade isn’t a DPS gain for the Rogue until they have T10, but it is always a DPS gain for the raid.

Ability Overview

Offensive Abilities

  • Mutilate is a direct damage ability that generates multiple combo points but does not pack a big punch. This is considered our “Filler” ability, as it is not our main priority, it is however the way to get to our priority
  • Envenom is a finishing move that deals direct damage to the target, depending on the number of combo points used. This also applies a buff to the Rogue, causing their Deadly Poison and Instant Poison to have a massively increased chance to proc. This ability will be used to spend most of our combo points and is our main concern for DPS.
  • Slice and Dice is a finishing move that increases our attack speed for a small period of time, increased by the number of combo points used. This ability is a key component for all Rogue gameplay. The buff refreshes automatically to its max duration when you use Envenom combined with Cut to the Chase.
  • Hunger for Blood is a 1-minute self-buff, increasing all damage you deal by 5%. This requires a bleed effect on the target, but as long as the target is bleeding this can easily have 100% uptime
  • Expose Armor is a finishing move that reduces the target’s armor by 20%. This ability is usually situational and only used when you do not have a warrior in your raid, as it does not stack with Sunder Armor. It’s worth noting that it’s a big DPS decrease for you personally to keep this debuff up, but it is a massive boost for the rest of your raid.
  • Vanish can be seen as an offensive ability because it triggers overkill once you leave Stealth. This in turn increases our energy regen for 20 seconds
  • Shiv is an ability that can be used to guarantee that your off-hand weapon applies a stack of poison. However, we hit so fast that this should not be a concern at any moment (we’ll apply it fast enough regardless).

Defensive abilities

  • Vanish is an ability that allows you to enter stealth mid-combat. This ability can be used as an escape while getting chased by mobs or as a threat reduction reset.
  • Feint is also a threat reduction ability, however, it also lets you take 50% less damage taken from AoE effects making it very effective on some AoE heavy bosses like Sapphiron.
  • Evasion is a defensive ability that massively increases your chance to dodge, on top of your already relatively high dodge rate. This can easily make you dodge several attacks in a row, potentially even making you able to tank a boss temporarily.
  • Cloak of Shadows removes all harmful debuffs from you and gives you a 90% chance to resist any future spells for the duration. This can effectively give you a 90% chance to fully ignore certain raid mechanics.

Utility abilities

  • Cheap Shot is an ability that can be used in order to stun a target for up to 4 seconds. This ability requires you to be in Stealth. While you would not normally use this ability, it can be used to temporarily stun a dangerous enemy and offer the group more time to deal with it.
  • Kidney Shot is a finishing move that can be used in order to stun a target for a maximum of 6 seconds, you can use this ability to crowd control a dangerous target.
  • Blind is an ability that can be used to disorient an enemy for 10 seconds, making them wander around harmlessly. However, any damage dealt to the enemy will break the effect. This ability can be used in conjunction with other crowd control abilities in order to perform a CC chain on dangerous foes.
  • Gouge is an ability that incapacitates the target for 4 seconds with the requirement that the target is facing you. Any damage will break Gouge. This ability is useful as a temporary makeshift escape if there is one mob that suddenly attacks you and the tank does not have aggro on it.
  • Dismantle is an ability that can be used to disarm an opponent for up to 10 seconds, removing any shield, equipment, and all weapons that the foe might possess. This ability is rarely useable in PvE, but if it is you should make sure to take advantage of it.
  • Disarm Trap is an ability that can be used in order to remove any potential traps in dungeons, raids, and the open world. This ability has very little use now, but it is still a neat piece of flavor
  • Distract is an ability that can be used in order to change the direction in which mobs are facing. You can use this ability to force enemies to turn their back to your group, or to stop a patrol dead in its tracks, allowing for more deliberate positioning and planning
  • Sap is a Stealth ability that can be used in order to incapacitate an enemy for 1 minute. This ability is great for pulling groups of mobs as it can separate them and provide easier targets for the entire group.
  • Garrote is an ability that can be used in order to silence an enemy caster for 3 seconds. This ability is great for initiation against dangerous caster mobs as it can open up the way for further crowd control while entirely mitigating their damage. it adds a bleed effect which can be used to apply hunger for blood if you don’t already have someone applying a bleed.


About the Author


I played this expansion hardcore for 10 years
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1 year ago

How can I vote up this guide??  🔥 

1 year ago

Is Expose Armor worth keeping up if you’re the only melee DPS in a 10man raid?

1 year ago

The offensive abilities section lists Sinister Strike as the primary builder. Should be Mutilate, I think?  🙂 

Reply to  Jamielolx
1 year ago

Guide still not corrected and misonforming.

Reply to  Jamielolx
1 year ago

It looks like it was a simple issue where the tooltip link was incorrect and overwriting the link to the mutilate spell from when you were writing the guide, we’ve gotten it updated!

<a href="https://wotlkdb.com/?spell=48638">https://www.wotlkdb.com/?spell=34413</a>
Kiki Too
Kiki Too
1 year ago

Is wep swapping worth it for FOK?

Reply to  Kiki Too
1 year ago

If you have a slow weapon available to you it absolutely can be, but you still generally always want to be using Daggers. Using a 1.8 Speed Dagger instead of a 1.6 Speed Dagger is absolutely worth considering, but make sure they’re generally close to each other in item levels.

1 year ago

is worth start with garrote, then hunger for blood and slice and dice? using the only one combo point to spam more envenom and take advantage of cut to the chase talent ?

Reply to  Jamielolx
1 year ago

I don’t agree with it either because overkill is just too op to ignore. You can cast sprint/engi boots pre-pull to somewhat overcome the low speed of stealth

1 year ago

does having the 2 set of tier change the rotation? is it worth using rupture with 4 points when you still have time to get up to 5 for another envenom without slice and dice dropping off?

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