PVE Assassination Rogue Guide

PVE Assassination Rogue DPS Guide WotLK 3.3.5a

Assassination Rogues are fast-hitting murderers, utilizing their low damage but ultra instinct-like super speed melee attacks and poisons to disable their enemies. Their gameplay uses very few elements of stealth, choosing instead to venture headfirst directly into the battlefield, rapidly attacking enemies in a killing spree.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about playing an Assassination Rogue in PvE content, with a focus on raiding. We will cover everything from talents and equipment, to ability rotations and macros. By the time you’re done reading this guide, you will be topping DPS meters and collecting epic loot!

Assassination Rogue Strengths & Weaknesses


  • Top-tier single-target damage
    Assassination Rogues have arguably the best single-target damage in the game during Phase 1 and beyond. Our Combat brothers overtake us in subsequent phases, but we remain incredibly competitive throughout all of WotLK.
  • Top-tier AoE damage
    Like most other melee, Rogues traditionally fared poorly on AoE damage (meaning 5+ targets), which was instead typically the domain of Warlocks and Mages. This is no longer the case: the addition of Fan of Knives propels Rogues to the top of the meters in AoE-heavy fights, right alongside casters, and way above most other melee specs — which typically are still limited to cleaving 3-4 targets at a time.
  • Low loot competition
    Melee DPS experience fierce competition for weapon upgrades as they all share the same best-in-slot weapons. Thankfully, this is not a problem for Assassination Rogues — we are the only melee DPS spec to use double Daggers, so for the most part you’ll be getting those for free when they drop.
  • Easy rotation, simple to get into
    Assassination Rogues have a simple play style, with a focus on the basics: generating and using combo points, staying in melee range, etc. There are no complicated gimmicks here, making them a great class for new players to get into.


  • No cleave damage
    Assassination Rogues have exceptional single-target and AoE damage, but unfortunately are completely lacking in the cleave damage department. We don’t have Blade Flurry, and building up poison stacks for Envenom takes time, which sadly disincentivizes us from switching targets, or cleaving them down.
  • Poor scaling
    Assassination Rogues deal primarily bleed and nature damage, which ignores armor — one of our biggest strengths as a melee class is that we do not require Armor Penetration to do good damage. Since this stat is not highly available in Phases 1 and 2, this is a significant advantage. However, this does mean that we get very little benefit from the armor penetration stat when it does become more widely available, so DPS specs that do get a benefit from the growth of this stat will start to overtake us in DPS later on.

Assassination Rogue Utility

  • Tricks of the Trade
    This ability offers completely unique utility that only Rogues have. The threat transfer component is incredibly powerful on its own, evidenced by Hunters and their Misdirection throughout TBC, but the damage increase component coupled with the relatively low cooldown makes this ability truly amazing. Use it on your strongest damage dealer on cooldown, particularly during Heroism / Bloodlust, your raid’s DPS will increase very noticeably. More importantly, your target will absolutely love you for life, which is more than what most other classes can brag about!
  • 3% increased crit chance debuff (does not stack)Master Poisoner
    In WotLK, Assassination Rogues get access to this talent, which applies the same 3% crit chance debuff as Retribution Paladins (Heart of the Crusader) and Elemental Shamans (Totem of Wrath). This debuff is an absolute must-bring, but nearly every raid will have one of these specs, meaning you only really end up needing to be the one applying this debuff in 10-man raids, which is unfortunate.
  • 20% armor reduction (does not stack)Expose Armor
    In Wrath, the Improved Expose Armor talent is reworked, meaning that we, unfortunately, offer the same 20% armor reduction as Warriors do with their Sunder Armor. Given that it is a lot more costly for us to apply Expose Armor due to its combo point cost, this means that in practice we lose this debuff entirely. The only use for it is if your Warriors all happen to die, or cannot attend a raid — the debuff is a must-have, we’re just worse at applying it.
  • 30% cast speed slow (does not stack)Mind-numbing Poison
    Just like the Warlock equivalent (Curse of Tongues), our cast speed slow spell has seen a significant nerf, going from a 70% cast speed slow to 30%. It’s still very useful in specific boss fights, however, such as Sindragosa and her Blistering Cold. Having said that, Warlocks will typically be better at applying this debuff thanks to their 30-yard range, but it’s good that we can step up and offer it ourselves if necessary.
  • 50% healing reduction debuff (does not stack)Wound Poison
    This debuff is very valuable on specific bosses. However, Rogues unfortunately have to give up one of their DPS poisons to use it, or have a separate dagger just for Wound Poison, both cases being a substantial DPS loss, while MM Hunters and Arms Warriors apply it automatically as part of their rotation. Still, it’s good that we can provide this debuff when needed, particularly in 10-man raids.
  • Enrage dispelAnesthetic Poison
    During certain boss fights, the boss will enrage, and your raid will have to dispel the enrage quickly to prevent a tank death. Rogues can fill that role with Anesthetic Poison, but similarly to Wound Poison, we have to give up one of our DPS poisons to do so, so this will usually be a task best left to Hunters and their Tranquilizing Shot. Still, it’s good that we can help with this if needed.


We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if PvE Assassination Rogue is the class / spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems, etc., to get more information on how to improve your performance as an Assassination Rogue in WotLK!


About the Author


Classic WoW is my jam, with a passion for PvP. Most know me as Baranor, the ret paladin guy, but I'm secretly a druid main, don't tell anyone. In my free time I play Switch games, particularly JRPGs. Some day I'll be making my own games and I humbly hope you play those too!
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1 year ago

I was always under the impression that assassination rogues wanted two 1.8 daggers and not a fast offhand. Has this been proven otherwise, or should this guide be corrected?

Reply to  Hidestyle
1 year ago

Slower offhand only boosts mutilate damage a bit.
Faster offhand applies more poisons and other procs (Focused Attacks talent).

Reply to  Totalnub
1 year ago

I tried a lot of different weapons for assa, and I have come to the conclusion that poison will be your top damage in early expansion. What I did to not be useless in first raids like Naxx, I bought 2x 1.30speed daggers and use them both as main and offhand and the dmg output is really really good when you’re low geared. I recommend you to try it out

Reply to  Bahamasching
1 year ago

what daggers? can you tell? im fresh 80

Reply to  Danny
1 year ago

Librarian’s Paper Cutter

Reply to  Totalnub
1 year ago

“by a bit”? it has a much greater instant poison proc chance.

a 1.4 vs 1.8 speed for focused attack assuming Slice and Dice Windfury swift retri and 24 haste we have an as of:

0.76 vs 0.97. 3min boss fight at 35% crit gives 166.28 energy on a 1.4 vs 213.73 energy on a 1.8.

diff of 47 energy over a 3min fight. Less than one mutilate that “little bit” damage on mutilate (from a higher IP proc and more phys damage) adds up much more.

Now we get to Phase 1 daggers, slow dagger is much more powerful than the fast dagger, going fast/fast is stupid.

Phase 2 changes it up because slow and fast are the same dps, there’s a few percent in it but fast/slow is better by a few %.

TL;DR you need 1 fast mainhand, deadly poison has a flat 30% proc chance, it outweighs the phys damage, the fish has higher dps than ICC slow deadly poison weapon, dps matters more for the other dagger (99% of the time will be offhand), if you happen to get the option you want fast mainhand for the flat proc of DP and slow offhand for the increased percent chance on each mutilate.

Math available using the wayback machine to go to the ElitestJerks forums

Last edited 1 year ago by Pinkbunnyman
Reply to  Totalnub
1 year ago

You are 100% incorrect about applying more poisons, IP proc chance uses the APPM system, meaning it’s the exact same poison procs for autos, and less for mutilate

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