Leveling a Rogue: Leveling Assassination 10-80

***  Now updated for 3.3***

Today I’ll discuss using the Assassination tree to level.  Assassination has more of a Rogue feel than Combat, but less than Subtlety.  While not as easy quick and efficient as Combat is for leveling, Assassination is quite fun to play.  If you’re looking to enjoy the scenery while you level up, but still get to level 80 in a timely manner, Assassination might be for you:

–  Leveling Assassination:  10-80  –


Please note that there are differing viewpoints on the “best” spec to use for leveling; this one is mine.  As always, I’d recommend that you find more than one source of information and decide what’s “best” for you.


This build relies heavily on poison and the use of daggers.  Non-hybrid Assassination specs are built around the abilities Mutilate and Ambush.  We won’t be able to pick Mutilate until level 50, but Ambush is available at 18.  Until you get Mutilate, Sinister Strike and Backstab will be your main sources of combo points and damage.  Backstab gets some nice bonuses with this spec; I’d recommend working on using stuns to get behind your target  so you can use it.  Alternavely, you can use non dagger weapons and Sinister Strike until you hit level 50; admittedly, this is probably the easier way to go.

While you can get away with other weapons until you’ve reached level 50, daggers will be your weapon of choice for the remainder of the game.  You’ll drop the use of  Sinister Strike and Backstab entirely at this point as well.  Likewise, Envenom will replace Eviscerate when you recive it at level 62.   Unlike our Combat leveling Spec, we’ll be using talent points for raw damage, not survivability.  Assassination depends more heavily on Stealth and stuns to survive.  Let’s begin:

Level 10 – 14 – Malice

Serious Rogue builds  don’t skip Malice.  The benefit of leveling Assassination is that you can afford to grab this 5% chance to crit early on, instead of waiting until your 60’s.

New Skills at level 10: Sap, Slice and Dice and Sprint.  Sap allows you to incapacitate an humanoid from stealth; later levels will allow for Sapping other mob types.  Slice and Dice is a Finisher that increases attack speed; the duration of the buff depends on the number of combo points.  Sprint is a handy tool for increasing your movement speed for 15 seconds.

New Skill at Level 12:  Kick.  Kick is the Rogue’s Interrupt ability.  This, with your other stuns, such as gouge should make killing casters much easier.

New Skills at Level 14:  Expose Armor, Garrote.  Expose armor is a Finisher that reduces the target’s armor (90 per combo point) for 30 seconds.  Garrote is our first real Opener, and it does two things.  First, it applies a bleed effect on the target, which is our first DoT (Damage over Time) ability, and in a higher rank also has a silence effect.

Level 15 – 17:  Ruthlessness

Unlike the Combat tree, which builds Energy quickly, the Assassination tree builds combo points quickly.  The faster you can build them the better.  3 points here gives you a 60% chance to gain a combo point from your Finishers.

New Skill at level 16:  Feint.  Feint, which lowers your threat, has no use in solo play, but this is slated to change in 3.1.  If it does, I’ll make note of it here.

Level 18 – 19:  Puncturing Wounds

This will really help when we get Mutilate at 50.  Until then, the extra crit 20% chance on Backstab is nice.  We’ll finish this later.

New Skill at Level 18:  Ambush.  This is a great Opener for an Assassination Rogue, and it awards 2 combo points.  It’s really a choice in playstyle whether you use this or your soon to be acquired Cheap Shot as your Opener of choice.  I use both, depending on the situation.

Level 20 – 24: Lethality

When fully talented this is going to give you a 30% bonus to your critical damage of every combo move you have, like Backstab (which if you remember we just gave an extra 20% chance to crit with Puncturing Wounds).

New Skills at level 20:  Dismantle and Rupture.  Dismantle will allow you to disarm your opponents, thereby lowering their damage.  Rupture is a new Finisher that puts a bleed DoT on the target, the damage and length increase per combo point.

New Skills at Level 22: Distract and Vanish.  Distract makes using moves in Stealth much easier, as you can use it to both freeze mobs in place, and face away with you.  Vanish is your best survival tool.  If you bite off more than you can chew, you simply Vanish, and combat resets.

New Skill at Level 24:  Detect Traps.  This will allow you to see traps that Hunters drop.  Very few mobs in the game drop traps, so it’s real use is PvP.

Level 25 – 27:  Vile Poisons

A nice flat 20% buff to our poison damage, and eventually our Envenom ability.  Poison and Envenom can do 40% or more of an Assassination Rogue’s total damage, so this talent is crucial to an Assassination build.

New Skill at Level 26:  Cheap Shot.  This stun can help you knock off a good chunk of your enemies health before they can even react.  I personally like to macro it with Pick Pocket, so that anything I Cheap Shot will have it’s pockets picked, if able:

Edit:  This will only work if you enable the autoloot option.  Thanks to Jentlek for catching this.

/cast Pick Pocket


/Cast Cheap Shot

If you’re a purist and you don’t like to macro things, then don’t.  If you don’t care, using this macro will make leveling lockpicking a joke from all the junkboxes you’ll pick up.

Level 28 & 29:  Improved Poisons

We’ll be visiting this talent a few times to put points into.  It doesn’t directly increase the damage of our poisons, but it does increase the chance they will land.  We’ll start with 2 points.

Level 30:  Cold Blood

Can I get a guaranteed crit button?  As a matter of fact you can.  Use this for 5 combo point finishers, Ambushes or Backstabs to inflict serious damage.

New Skills at Level 30:  Disarm Trap and Kidney Shot.  Again, like the Detect Trap ability, Disarm Trap’s main use is in PvP.  Kidney Shot is another Stun like Cheap Shot.  It’s possible with those two abilities and gouge to kill a mob without them ever being able to attack.  It just requires efficient use of the cooldowns.

Level 31 -33:  Improved Kidney Shot

You should be using Kidney Shot on mobs to keep them stunned.  The 9% buff in damage will help you kill things faster while stunned, and it applies to anyone in your  party/raid as well.

Level 34:  Improved Poisons

Add another point. 

New Skills at Level 34:  Blind.  You can use Blind to “stun” an enemy for 10 seconds.  Note that any damage dealt to the target will break the effect.  This is more useful for a second target than your main target, as you’ll be using Deadly Poison at all times.

Level 35 – 39:  Seal Fate

When fully talented, everyCombo Move Crit will produce and additional combo point.  Again, fast combo point generation is a necessity for Assassination Rouges.

Level 40:  Overkill

An Assassination Rogue should be attacking from Stealth whenever possible.  If you were needing more incentive to attack from Stealth, the extra energy generation for 20 seconds after breaking stealth should cover that.

New Skill at Level 40:  Safe Fall.  You can now fall from higher ledges and survive; It’s not Slow Fall though, so don’t overdo it.

Level 41 – 42:  Murder

A flat 4% damage increase to all of your damage as long as you’re attacking a mob type listed in the talent. 

Level 43:  Improved Poisons

Yet another point.

Level 44:  Puncturing Wounds

Finish it up, in preparation for Mutilate, coming up in six short levels.

Level 45 – 47:  Find Weakness

No explanation here, just another flat 6% total damage buff. 

Level 48 & 49:  Focused Attacks

A 66% chance to generate 2 energy for our melee critical strikes.  We’ll make it 100% in a bit, but first…

Level 50:  Mutilate

It only took 50 levels, but we finally have our main combo point generator.  At 60 Energy it’s expensive, but hits like a truck, and generates 2 combo points.  If you open with an Ambush, followed with a Mutilate crit, you’ll have 5 combo points in under 2 seconds.  As I’ve mentioned before, this requires the use of daggers, so if you don’t have two daggers yet, find a way to get them before you continue any serious leveling.

Level 51 – 53:  Master Poisoner

A 3% crit buff to all targets you have poisoned.  This buff applies to anyone in your Party/Raid as well.  In about 10 levels this will also keep your Deadly Poison from being consumed by an Envenom.

Level 54:  Focused Attacks

Finish it for a 100% chance to gain 2 energy on your Melee Crits. 

Level 55 – 59:  Cut to the chase

This is the reason main reason I decided to switch to Assassination.  If you use Envenom or Eviscerate, and you have an active Slice and Dice, it will refresh your SnD to its full 5 combo point length.  This effect works this way even whether you use a 1 point Env/Evisc or a 5 point.  If you’re efficient enough, it’s possible to chain mobs without ever letting Slice and Dice drop.  That will really speed up your leveling.

Level 60:  Hunger for Blood

This will boost your damage an additional 5% (8% with the glyph).  The best way to get this buff applied is to open with a Garotte and then use Hunger for Blood.  Along with Slice and Dice, keeping this active is important to your DPS, especially while instancing. 

Level 61 – 62:  Opportunity

Time for a brief dip into the Subtlety Tree.  Of interest to us from this talent is the 20% buff to Mutilate and Ambush.

New Skill at Level 62:  Envenom.  This ability consumes combo points and Deadly Poison stacks on your target to deal massive damage.  It also increases the chance that your poisons will land after the ability.  You should replace Eviscerate on your bar with this, but move it somewhere you can still use it.  Sometimes you’ll need to use it to refresh Slice and Dice because you’ve had bad luck with your Deadly Poison procs.

Level 63 – 67:  Dual Wield Specialization

A Combat tree buff to our off hand white damage.  We’re taking this because we need it for Close Quarters Combat, and it’s our best use of 5 points at this tier for our DPS.

New Skill at Level 64:  Deadly Throw.  This Finisher deals high amounts of  Thrown weapon damage and slows the target for 6 sec.

New Skill at Level 66:  Cloak of Shadows.  Using this ability will make you near Immune to magic and poisons.  If used while either are affecting you, it will remove them. 

Level 68 – 72:  Precision

One of the real tragedies of leveling Assassination and Subtlety is that you’re in your late 60’s before you can really afford to get this talent.  This talent increases your hit chance by 5% and it’s desperately needed.  It would be worth getting this far in Combat from levels 10-19, except that you would be level 60 before you got Mutilate.

New Skill at Level 70:  Shiv.  This is a physical attack that applies your off hand poison on the target.  Very useful in PvP, but Blizzard has stated that they don’t want it to be widely used in PvE.   You can use this to guarantee that you have a deadly poison stack on your target, but I personally find that tactic to be a waste of Energy, as you will usually have at least 1 stack of Deadly Poison on your target within a few seconds.

Level 73 – 77:  Relentless Strikes

Back to Subtlety, we’re going to take this for the extra Energy it can produce.  You’re probably doing instances / group quests in Northrend that have mobs that will live long enough to use full rotations, which would imply 4 and 5 point Finishers.  This talent would give you at least an 80% chance to generate 25 energy when you use those moves.

New Skill at Level 75:  Tricks of the Trade.  This is the Rogue version of Misdirect.  I personally think it’s more useful than Misdirect, and you can read about its many uses here.

Level 78 & 80:  Close Quarters Combat

You’re going to be using 2 Daggers as long as you’re Assassination Spec, so you should at least benefit from the 3% extra crit you can get with your last 3 points.

New Skill at Level 80:  Fan of Knives.  A true AoE ability for the Rogue that has great synergy with Tricks of the Trade.  If you want to see Big numbers, use Cold Blood with this when you’ve got about 10 mobs.  Do that with TotT, and your tank will love you.


Congratulations!  You’ve reached level 80!  I hope you’ve enjoyed leveling Assassination.  The good news is that an Assassination raid spec isn’t terribly different than a leveling spec, and basically plays the same way.  However, if you want to respec Combat, try something like this.  Enjoy the endgame; you’ve earned it.

– Sam

72 Responses to Leveling a Rogue: Leveling Assassination 10-80

  1. Jentlek (Khadgar) says:

    Does the Pick Pocket macro assume that autoloot is on or does the “stopcasting” put a pause in the process?

    /cast Pick Pocket
    /Cast Cheap Shot

  2. samueltempus says:

    Yes, for this macro to work, you need autoloot enabled. Thanks for catching that; I’ll make a note of it in the post.

    – Sam

  3. Vertinog says:

    Thanks for the guide Sam. I haven’t started leveling my rogue past 70 yet but was looking for something to get me interested again. I plan on speccing him assassination as soon as I get a few daggers for him.

    Keep up the awesome work on the blog!

  4. Nave says:

    First off, thank you so much for this guide and your site. It has become my first stop whenever I need to learn about my rogue. I just started WoW about a month ago, and the solo leveling/grinding as combat swords was getting a little stale. When I hit 50 (yesterday lol) i re-speced following your assassination guide and now am having a great time; I love crits!
    I do have a couple of questions (I’m level 51, using Darkmoon Dirk MH, and Satyr’s Lash OH)

    1) for leveling/questing/grinding, what poisons should I be using and where? I’m tried researching this on my own, but it’s hard to sort out what info is correct and current.

    2) are my daggers level-appropriate or is there something better for me (that doesn’t cost 500g)?

    3) when I’m fighting a mob and accidentally pull a second mob, there seems to be a delay between when I finish off the first guy and begin attacking the second, even when my energy is a-ok. Is this normal, or am I doing something wrong? Along the same lines, any advice for fighting multiple mobs ?

    Thanks again!

  5. samueltempus says:


    I’m glad you’re finding the information helpful and useful. Let’s see what I can do about your questions:

    1.) Until you get Envenom at 62, you can stick with Instant on both weapons. When you hit 62, put deadly on your offhand, and start using Envenom instead of Eviscerate.

    2.) As for weapons, yours are fine, but if you want to upgrade, some dungeon drops around your level include:

    Dire Nail (LV50), Shade of Eranikus; Tempe of Atal’Hakkar
    Hookfang Shanker (LV54), Hedrum the Creeper; Blackrock Depths

    If you can make it to 58 before upgrading:

    Hellfire Skiver, Fel Orc Savengers (A), Bonechewer Blood (H); HFP
    Screaming Dagger, The Path of Anquish (A), Felspark Ravine (H); HFP
    Wolfrider’s Dagger, Administering the Salve (H); HFP

    You shouldn’t have any trouble finding daggers after that. If you have a Blacksmith friend, a pair of Adamantite Daggers at 65, or Saronite Shivs at 76 are not a bad investment. Otherwise, there are plenty of upgrades you’ll find questing / instancing.

    3.) Since Mutilate requires 60 energy, If I’m fighting two mobs, I make sure to start auto attack before anything else. Other than that the only advice I can give is to pull one mob at a time whenever possible. If you do pull two, you can use sap / blind to keep the other mob incapacitated while you fight the first one.

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you need anything else 🙂

    – Sam

  6. Celawyn says:

    Hey Sam,

    I just started playing rogue just a bit ago, and I’ve been going with a HAT spec, as it seems to be praised for raid utility. I enjoy the stealthy bit of being a rogue, and love the macro. Honestly though, (and I’m sure it’s obvious), I’m a newb when it comes to rogues. I am also a guild leader, and I am looking for the build that will most help my guild mates out. Our tanks currently are either DK or Warrior Prot. Our healers are priest and druid.

    Ofcourse being guild leader, I’m garaunteed a spot, but I want to be sure that I am actually a boon to the guild, and not being dragged along because of my rank. As well, I’m interested mostly in PvE, but I would like to be able to hold my ground in PvP. (PvP is not essential or a must, simply a desire, PvE on the other hand is a must.)

    With this said, what build do you think I should follow? I’m rather at a loss, looking over all three builds you show here, as to which one will net the most (respect I guess?).

    Also, what would you say is the best way to handle a BM hunter?



  7. samueltempus says:


    As far as a build to follow, each tree has a viable raid spec, so picking a tree is really decided by what you consider to gain respect and help out your team.

    If maximum single target DPS is your thing Assassination spec is the way to go, but you’ll need a good pair of daggers. A good alternative to that would be Combat Swords (or Fist/Sword). If you enjoy playing Subtlety, and you’re pulling good damage (ie. 2000+) on single target boss encounters, you could just stay Sub.

    As far as a BM hunter goes, Rogues don’t stack up well with them. The combination of Bestial Wrath and a PvP Trinket is pretty deadly against a class that relies on stuns; add that to thier abilitiy to trap slow and burn us from range and the situation looks pretty grim. Blizzard has stated on many an occasion that it doesn’t balance around 1 v 1 pvp, so I wouldn’t expect this to change.

    All that being said, if you do find yourself in combat with a BM hunter, keep an eye out for traps, and save your cooldowns to get yourself out of a jam. If you can survive the first Bestial Wrath, it is possible to Sap the Hunter, kill the pet, and put the hunter at a slight disadvantage. Even then, with disengage and concussive shot, it’s not difficult for the Hunter to get the Pet back quickly.

    It’s not hopeless, but I play a BM hunter as an alt, and I can’t recall a time that I lost to a Rogue of the same level, if Beastial wrath was up. If the Hunter has any level of competancy in PvP, you’re not likely to win.

    – Sam

  8. Celawyn says:

    Thanks for the advice and the tips! I have decided to go ahead and go with your Assassination build, as I think the greatest way I’ll be able to help out my tank, and the rest of the group, is to insure the mob, or boss, drops fast.

    Makes me glad my questing partner is a Hunter BM! LoL. Again thank you. You seem so far like the most competent source on the class.

  9. Celawyn says:


    New question of the day…. for me at least, and if you’ve covered this, just point the way please. I’m curious how important weapon speed on daggers are for assassins. Do I want high or low, and if I happen to use Pawn, what scale would I give weapon speed?

    Thank you,


  10. samueltempus says:

    Generally, the a faster dagger is best for your main hand. That’s why the Librarian’s Paper Cutter, a blue BoE dagger is the third best MH dagger in the game right now, as it is a 1.3 speed dagger. The only two daggers that are better for Mutilate are Murder (1.5 epic) and Webbed Death (1.4) epic.

    If you want to look at the ranking of all daggers for mutilate, go to shadowpanther.net. If you’re looking to use Pawn, there’s a page there specifically for that purpose.

    – Sam

  11. Celawyn says:

    Thank you for the info. My weight scales are from shadowpanther.net. I noticed though that a level 56 dagger actually rated worse than my level 25 daggers, by about 100 points. The new dagger has better agility, better dps, but it’s speed is 1.7, where my current daggers are 1.3. I noticed what was making the difference was the speed. when I took the wheight out on speed, the 1.7 rated better, hince the question.

    It would seem then that the scale is accurate.

    Thank you again,


  12. samueltempus says:

    The top list at Shadowpanther only calculates for main hand damage, so you might want to try that dagger in the OH (there’s a list of OH ranks at the bottom of the page). It should give you a boost in DPS. I’m fairly certain the reason that fast daggers cause more damage is the increase in Instant Poison Procs. They’re usually my #2 on damage, followed by Mutilate. That newer dagger of yours should increase your Mutilate and white damage in the offhand.

    – Sam

  13. Nave says:

    Hi and welcome back!
    Quick question. I followed your guide and am loving Assassination. Now that I have some nice daggers, I can really play like a rogue: sneak in and destroy people.
    My question: am I missing a point in Improved Poisons? I (think) have been following your guide to the letter, but at level 68, I only have 4 out of 5 Imp Poisons. Did I miss something?

  14. samueltempus says:

    I don’t think you missed anything. 🙂 I think when I wrote this (re write soon) that I determined the point was better spend elsewhere. Glad to hear you’re having fun.

    – Sam

  15. Hunter says:

    I know nothing about rogues so I’m kind of curious, why no vigor? 10 extra energy for 1 talent point seems well worth it

  16. samueltempus says:


    You bring up a good point about vigor. If you have downtime between mobs long enough for your energy to max out it’s not a bad idea. Here’s my reasoning behind not using it though:

    Rogue energy regenerates at a rate of 1 energy per .1 seconds, or 10 energy a second. In any given fight, your goal is to use abilities as soon as they become available, and the most expensive abilities cost 60 energy; becuase of this, your energy should never top out. A good example of this would be your pet’s focus. If your pet is attacking a mob and you have a focus dump (no cooldown) ability on, its focus should never top out.

    Essentially, Vigor can help with initial burst, but in any other situation, the point is better spent elsewhere.

    I think I’ll spend some time playing my hunter today. Thanks for the inspiration.

    – Sam

  17. Hunter says:

    Ah, I see. Was a bit confused there, but I will follow your advice and your assassination spec. With the steelseries 15 button keybind mouse and my base knowledge of general game mechanics, hopefully I’ll eventually be as good as you :p Glad I found this blog, will keep up with it.

    And glad I could be of help with that, lol. My main has been my hunter for 2 and a half years, probably always will be

    But I digress. Thanks again, take care.

  18. samueltempus says:

    I’m known for digression.

    Make no mistake, Moghann, my Hunter may not be my main, but he and his arsenal of pets cause some serious pain. I have the late BRK to thank for that. That being said, as of late I’ve been spending more of my playing time on my Rogue, so at least spending those 71 unused talent points will get accomplished tonight. Maybe I’ll run a 5 man or two. 🙂

    I’m sure you’ll do just fine as a rogue. Keep me posted on the progress 🙂

    – Sam

  19. Celawyn says:

    Wait…..Late BRK?! Since when? I’m at work alot, so if Wowinsider covered something about this….I’ve probably missed it..

  20. Celawyn says:

    So I found a few other blogs about BRK leaving WoW. Bum deal. Makes me glad my wife is a gamer as well. Balance is key, but WoW. He’ll definetly be missed. My first toon was a hunter, and I too searched out BRK’s wisdom in making that toon. Sad news, but if it’s what’s best for him, then it’s what’s best for him.

    On a side note, LoL, I thought you meant he had died!

  21. samueltempus says:

    Nope, he’s not dead, and I hope that for the first time in a while he’s really “living.”

    – Sam

  22. Benjamin says:

    Hello. Thanks for the really good guide sam, probably the most detailed I could find. I was just wondering, what is the best rotation for leveling at the moment for a 55 rogue?


  23. samueltempus says:


    At level 55 a good rotation for you would be:

    Ambush -> Mutilate -> Eviscerate

    Another Mutilate or two should finish off your mob easily.

    Once you hit 60 and have access to Hunger for Blood, I’d substitute a Garrote every 3-4 mobs as your opener so that you can get Hunger for Blood started.

    Hope that helps,

    – Sam

  24. Benjamin says:

    Hi again. My rotation for now is Ambush -> Mutilate -> Kidney shot -> Backstab -> Mutilate if needed or eviscerate. I’m thinking that the kidney shot should spare me some down time during leveling. Is it an efficient way to level?

  25. samueltempus says:

    I personally wouldn’t use that rotation, but if it works for you, more power to you. The rotation you’re using won’t kill as quickly as the one I suggested, but I figure you’re using the stun for another reason.

    So, let me ask you a question:

    Why use backstab, and why stun?

    I’m seriously asking too. I hope everyone plays in a manner that they enjoy. That being said, if you’re using a rotation, you should be able to explain why you’re using it.

    Just a thought,

    – Sam

  26. Benjamin says:

    Well basically, I use the kidney shot to reduce the amount of hitpoints i lose so i can kill mobs for a longer period of time without bandaging/eating. Making use of Improved Kidney shot and the 30% crit increase from Puncturing Wounds, I figured backstab would have a crit damage higher than mutilate, moreover at a more consistent rate.

  27. samueltempus says:

    A very sound argument. I like it. Those are very valid points, and to help you answer your own question, it is in fact an efficient way to level.

    The real question is, is the use of 4 combo points on a kidney shot as effiecient as 4 points on an Envenom or Eviscerate? Clearly using the 4 points for effective damage is a faster way to kill something, but does the incoming damage neccessitate excessive eating or bandaging. My answer in your case, I don’t know. There are too many variables invovled for me to give you an accurate answer.

    What I would say is, if you’re going to use stuns as part of your rotation, you could consider opening with a Cheap Shot, using lower combo point kidney shots and plenty of Mutilates. Use backstab if you want, but remember you’re trading damage for combo points by using it. I’m going to take another look at the math though, so thanks for the insightful comments, they really did make me sit back and think. 🙂

    – Sam

  28. Benjamin says:

    Ahhh.. Thanks alot for your help Sam. Much appreciated. 🙂

  29. Julez says:

    Sam, I think my rotation may be better for Benjamin, Sorry if this offends you or anything but I agree with him, aside from the backstab, because at 60 energy for both BS and Mutilate, and if BS crits -> 2CP while if Mut crits -> 3CP, it is more efficient to use Mutilate. You shouldn’t use lower combo pt. KSes because it stuns for less and there is still a 20s cooldown. So maybe he should start with:

    Cheap shot or a DoT to get Hunger -> Mutilate(If it crits thats 5CP) ->KS when CS is about to run out -> mut ->mut ->Eviscerate

    With the Kidney shot I always try to get 5 CP, for the 6 seconds, if you pull it off at the right time, then you have a 10s stun in which to do all the damage, poisons and all. If the Mutilate doesn’t crit i put a gouge in to keep from being hit, gaining a combo point and giving a chance to run behind the mob and attack from the back.

    This works pretty good for me as I take about 200 – 300 damage per fight if done correctly, assuming that my KS is not parried/blocked/dodged, And also, if the KS is avoided the 5 CP are still there, so you can evis instead while the cooldown ticks away.

    I find it pretty fun to play, even if it’s better suited for PVP, It makes leveling quite easy and fun because you can kill a mob taking little to no damage, and run onto the next mob without having to eat/bandage

    That being said, this rotation is more useful for SINGLE TARGETS, as you cannot AoE stun and damage more than one mob at once, it is useful to blind the one you aggro and deal with the initial mob, using evasion if necessary.

  30. samueltempus says:

    No offense taken Julez.

    There’s really nothing wrong with playing the Stun Assassin. And if I’m taking excessive amounts of damage from a particular set of mobs, it’s the route I take.

    I personally like to kill things as quickly as possible, and that rarely includes using energy on stuns. I’ll give an example (the numbers are conservative estimates):

    Let’s say that in one minute I can kill 4 mobs without using stuns, or a mob every 15 seconds. If I take the time to stun each mob, I take about 20 seconds per mob, or a minute to take down 3 mobs. The obvious tradeoff is that without stuns I take more damage, and have to take 8-15 seconds to bandage or eat. This essentially makes the two leveling speeds even. It really depends on preference, and if you mind bandaging or eating.

    I’m further spoiled, as I have lifebloom from herbalism, which makes it even easier to level without stuns. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a heal over time spell that you get from Herbalism.

    On a slightly related note, I highly reccomend double gathering on toons leveling up. On a rogue, I’d take Herbalism / Skinning. Sell everything leveling, and you’ll have a boatload of money when you hit 80. Then you can drop one of the professions for Leatherworking, Alchemy or Inscription.

    – Sam

  31. Benjamin says:

    =) Hi again. Just wanna ask when do i use envenom?

  32. samueltempus says:

    You’ll get it at 62. I’d use it immediately.

    – Sam

  33. Arzoc says:

    Hey Sam, I am new to leveling a rogue and am only level 16 right now, but I was just wondering about what to use in the main hand and off-hand. Do I just use my best dagger in my main and then move the replaced dagger to the off or is there a better way to do that? Thanks

  34. samueltempus says:

    Put your highest damage dagger in your main hand. This will increase your base melee (white) damage, and increase the damage of your special abilities.

    – Sam

  35. Arzoc says:

    Cool, thanks a bunch 🙂

  36. Benjamin says:

    Hello sam.

    I’ve just gotten Wastewalker Shiv: 69-130dmg 55.3dps speed 1.80 |
    Stalker’s Fangs: 71-133dmg 56.7dps speed 1.80 |

    Is it better to get a fast weapon offhand to apply deadly poison faster, or should I just stick with what I have now?

  37. Meijnrr says:

    Hey sam.
    I’m just wondering what your rotation is for this spec?

  38. Kukri says:

    Hey I started leveling a Assassination rogue and when I was looking through your point layout, I was wondering why not pick up Fleet Footed?

  39. samueltempus says:

    I’ve never felt the need for it, but if you want to take two points out of another talent for the speed increase, more power to you. I certainly wouldn’t think any less of you, as it’s a very logical talent to take
    for leveling.

    – Sam

  40. footpad says:

    I’ve leveled combat till 66 and I’m thinking about switching to assassination… no experience with mutilate yet but I think it’ll be a blast. Any more roguish.
    I’m a little skeptical of Focused Attacks… I haven’t done the math but I’m considering replacing with fleet footed and vigor for leveling. Thoughts?
    PS Sam thanks for an excellent site and great guides!

  41. Sarbiton says:

    Hallo! This seems a very promising guide. I’m curious though, why do you not have Remorseless Attacks?

  42. Samueltempus says:

    You can easily pick up Remorseless attacks if you want to. There’s nothing wrong with having it, and it will make your opening damage move crit 20% more often.

    I’ve never had any trouble taking mobs down fast as Assassination without it, so I didn’t include it in the build. If you want to throw it in there, it’s not a bad choice. Be careful though. Almost all of the talents in this build buff either combo point generation or ability damage.

    – Sam

  43. Sarbiton says:

    Thank you sam. At higher levels no doubt I’ll respec but at my current level, my heirloom daggers love the 40% backstab bonus. With puncturing wounds it’s really brutal! Once again, thank you for the advice.

  44. Jerry says:

    First thanks for creating such a great series of articles for rogue leveling. I’ve followed Combat for two of my rogues, but wanted to try leveling Assassination from 10-80. I’m currently level 18 and far, far away from getting Mutilate.

    So my question is what sort of rotation should I follow until lvl 50? Currently I will stealth in, Ambush, SS, Eviscerate, and if I get a combo point I’ll hit SnD. But mostly I don’t have enough energy to do much after Eviscerate.

    If I’m not stealthed, I’ll Gouge, Backstab, SS, and Eviscerate.

    The rotation works, but I’m wondering if there’s a better rotation or a more efficient one for a low level Assassination build. Thanks!

  45. Peetie says:

    I can only echo what everyone is saying about your blog and leveling guides. Very very appreciated!

    I’ve been leveling as Combat (lvl 28 atm) but I’m thinking of switching to Assassination because it sounds so much more “rogueish” to me. However, is it really a good idea to spec out of Precision? I know that’s 10 points in Combat, but man, I saw a huge difference in my damage after getting 5 points in it. I hate the thought of giving that up, since hit on low-level gear is pretty rare.

  46. Peetie says:

    Also, what glyphs do you recommend for Assassination while leveling? Sorry if I missed that, but didn’t see it mentioned.


  47. crushyernuts says:

    I am level 33 and am respeccing to this build. But I am unsure why put points in kidney shot. It seems like you do not have it in your rotation at all.

  48. crushyernuts says:

    Current Rotation, please advise, this is an alt i run mostly in groups where MT allows for BS without stuns. Sometime I draw aggro on trash mobs and use stuns though:

    Ambush->SnD->BS -> BS -> BS -> Evis (the number of BS depends on how fast the mob is burnt down)

    It seems like the points would be better spent in improved Evis for me?

  49. samueltempus says:

    The build doesn’t really take off until you get Mutilate. If you’re with someone, then your rotation is fine. Kidney shot is for when you don’t have a tank, or you’re trying to burn something down that’s elite / high HP.

    Also, Improved Evisc is nice if you’re not going to use Envenom. You could always spec that way and respec when you hit Envenom; no one would think less of you for doing so (at least they shouldn’t).

    – Sam

  50. Tony says:

    Hey Sam nce guide

    ATM I’m a lvl 69 troll rogue assassination spec. I’m new to wow and s bit nub. I’m using a dagger and sword and use deadly poison for both weapons. I do leatherworking and skinning. I don’t know any rotations can u pls help. I usually just spam sinister strike til I get 5 cp them either envenom or ss. Can u please tell me a good rotation for pvp and especially pve

  51. samueltempus says:


    Being a nub is fine; I was one once myself. It’s the people that aren’t willing to find out how to play better that are an annoyance. Clearly you’re not that type if you’re here though. Let’s get started…

    If you’re assassination spec, you should be using two daggers and Mutilate as your main attack. If you want to use Sinister Strike, grab another sword, or fist or mace.

    If you decide to respec Combat, your rotation should remain about the same. If you stay Assassination, your rotation is going to be two Mutilates, Envenom, repeat. Also, you want to keep Hunger for Blood up, so if it’s down, open with a Garrote instead of an Ambush.

    As far as poisons go, if you’re Combat, Wound / Deadly will give you the most sustained DPS. I’m a fan of Double Wound for killing things (like quest mobs) quickly. If you’re Assassination, Instant / Deadly is pretty much the only combo you should be using.

    PvP isn’t so much about rotations as it is using all of your abilities at the right time. Without getting into too much detail, using your combo points and abilities to keep a caster from doing anything, or using things like Expose Armor on a Plate wearer make the difference in fights. It takes time to hone those skills, and no guide unfortunately is going to truly prepare you for it.

    Hope you can use some of this wall o’ text,

    – Sam

  52. Tony says:

    Wow sweet nice and quick reply. Do u suggest respeccing to combat? And do u find it annoying after u kill 1 mob u have to eat food again to get ur up up. And quite frankly I’m hitting quite low xps I think around high 200″s can u have a look at my character and look at specs and glyphs and items etc. It will b appreciated. My character name is rëd realm saurfang once again Ty.

  53. RJK says:

    I have been using for rotation: Level 61

    Stealth, Pick Pocket, Garrotte, SnD, Hunger, Mutilate, Eviserate, then whatever is off cooldown. Maybe some stuns etc.

    Am I over thinking or over playing at this point?



  54. samueltempus says:

    I don’t think you’re over thinking it. If things are dying quickly, you’re doing fine. I would suggest using a macro to combine Pickpocket and Garrote into 1 keypress, and to streamline your current rotation as follows:

    PP & Gar / Hunger, Slice, Mutilate x2, Evis

    I swapped Hunger and Slice’s order, as Hunger’s duration is longer. Plus, you’re about to get Envenom. Replace Eviscerate with it when you do. If Slice is still active when you use it, it will refresh it to a 5 combo point length. Becuase of this, it’s completely possible to move from mob to mob without either Slice or Hunger dropping.

    – Sam

  55. Carberus says:

    Hi sam 🙂 I started thinking on start leveling my rogue again, haven’t been playing on that char for months! And i will respecc to Ass so my question is : What rotation should i use as Assassination in level 45 ? Thank you for a good guide! 🙂

  56. Stabbedyou says:

    I am also a level 45 rogue. I was assassination but i found that with assassination there was a lot of downtime is there anyway I could maybe fix the “Lack of Energy” I encounter with this spec?


  57. Rumi says:

    Followed this guide for Combat and have switched to Assassination at level 61. It’s quite different from Combat! One on my biggest problems is that following the rotation and the build here, I’m taking massive amounts of damage each fight. The downtime is tremendous. All that chain pulling potential of keeping up SnD is not realistic, because I’m 30% life after a fight.

    Am I doing something wrong? The build works great in dungeons, but is a nightmare to solo. Any thoughts would be appreciated, as I really want to make this work. I don’t want to level Combat yet again!

  58. Trey says:

    Hello Sam PERFECT guide!

    Im a level 18 Rogue, and i have followed your guide to the “T”, but i have a small question.

    I have been to a few sites, and the say you want a faster OH dagger OR a fist weapon for assassination until you get Mut. (50 i think), because due to the high speed, the poison will have a higher chance to “proc” (what does proc even mean BTW?) So i was just wondering if this was a smart strategy till Mutilate?

  59. samueltempus says:

    Your offhand should always be a fast weapon. The faster the better in fact! As for using a fist weapon to 50, that makes perfect sense as you’ll be using Sinister Strike until that point. SS will hit much harder with a slow Sword/Axe/Mace/Fist, so by all means go for it.

    – Sam

  60. ninjaface says:

    thanks its a real good guide 🙂 although i have a few questions.

    1 = what poisons should i be using? i’m level 47 and soon to get mutilate, and i see mutilate does extra damage when posions are active.

    2 = what should my rotation be? atm i’m using ambush>>kidney shot>>backstab>>whatever else, i use this because of the improved kidneyshot talent.

    thanks again 😀
    – ninja

  61. rogueintheshadows says:

    hey im lvl 45 and right now my rotation is ambush SnD rupture sinister strike sinister strike and repeat. Is this good and what is a good macro?

  62. PapaVanish says:

    How well does this work for instances, etc.?
    After 50 of course.

  63. PapaVanish says:

    hey im lvl 45 and right now my rotation is ambush SnD rupture sinister strike sinister strike and repeat. Is this good and what is a good macro?

    So you open with ambush, 2 CP, SnD, which uses them..
    then rupture..? with what CPs?

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  65. QuietRogue says:

    Okay, so as a quick update to your pickpocket / cheapshot macro, I would like to add this:

    /script SetCVar(“AutoLootDefault”, 1)
    /cast Pick Pocket
    /in 1 /script SetCVar(“AutoLootDefault”, 0)
    /cast Cheap Shot

    This macro turns auto-looting on, pickpockets, turns auto looting off, and then casts cheap shot.

  66. raymond says:

    i think this is the best thing i ever seen somebody built about rogues,im a new rogue,not with a lot of knolege about it but in the few pratice i already own i can say this is very true,im lvl 61 today but when u be able to read this i will be maybe in 70s.thanks so much

  67. Arloche says:

    Leveling 62. Just respecced to your style assassination, and I’m finding i’m struggling with downtime. How can I minimise health lost?

  68. Anonymous says:

    whats the best glyphs too this specc?

  69. Bursie says:

    hey sam

    i just wonder why u spend 3 points in improved kidney shot. i think it would be better to maximize improved poisons and the other 2 in quick recovery or fleet footed.

    and thanks for a great guide

  70. Alex says:

    Hi Sam
    thank you for this guide. I Love my rogue now (lvl 15).
    What glyphes are you using in which order ?

    Thanky you

  71. Raybeez says:

    Just wanted to say nice guide but it seems a bit outdated as of the patch.I’m guessing sometime in the near future there will be a replacement guide.I had a 80 rogue and I loved the Assassination tree.But I had to put him to the delete bin.I was getting hacked way to many times and was growing tired of my rogue being targeted every few days or weeks.So now I have cleaned the HDD and installed a bunch of software for protection against these lame asses that do stuff like that.So off I go a level a brand new rogue.But have noticed the talents are now revamped as one would say.So I ask you for the favor that you will make an interesting guide for the new rogues that started as of patch 4.0.1 or w/e the current one is.Again thanks for your hard work on keeping the rogues alive.

    p.s. RogueRogue was the site I used to go to but that is a thing in the past.

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