Initial Testing: Combat vs. Assassination

After fixing my problem from the other night a.k.a /facepalm and grabbing a couple of Titanium Weapon Chains for my Combat weaponry, I got to work with some initial tests between Combat and Assassination DPS.  As far as the gear used for the test, I’ve got 200 iLevel gear (one 213 piece), gemmed and enchanted reasonably.  That should give you an idea of how your gear compares to mine.  I suspect that many of you have better gear, as I spend a good deal of my raiding time playing my Paladin as a tank or healer.

Anyway, here’s some information about the tests:

  1. Other than weapons, I used the same gear for both tests.  Please note that my gear is tuned for Assassination, which means I’m way over the expertise cap for Combat when I switch specs.
  2. All tests were 10 minutes long.  I did go a second or two over in some tests to allow finish part of a rotation, but never more than five seconds over.
  3. The tests were conducted against a level ?? (83) boss Combat Dummy.
  4. I used Instant Poison on my main hand, and Deadly on my off hand for each test.
  5. The DPS meter I use is Recount.  If you are not familiar with it, it’s definitely worth the download. 

–  3.1 Assassination  –

Spec:  51 / 13 / 7

Glyphs:  Slice and Dice, Rupture, Empty (Hunger for Blood glyph not available to me yet)


I switched my Fleshshaper to my main hand and my Librarians Paper Cutter to my off-hand.  I’ve got a wide variety of other daggers to test as an off hand, but based on what I’ve seen so far, Blizzard seems to have fixed the speed > damage for the main hand. 

This is a hundred DPS or so better than my pre patch tests (If I had given it thought, I would have saved some data from then…).  2200 DPS in 200 iLevel gear with no buffs is not bad at all; with the HfB glyph, it would be closer to 2300 DPS.  In a party or raid, depending on buffs, and the mobility of a Boss, that should translate into 3500+ DPS. 

Better gear than me, but not getting the same results?  Here’s the rotation I used:

Start:Garrotte -> HfB -> SnD -> Mut -> Env

Main Rotation:  Mut to 4/5cp -> Rupt;  Mut to 4/5cp -> Env

I easily kept Hunger for Blood up; Rupture should be up close to 100% of the time.  Just remember to refresh it when it gets below 10 seconds.

 –  3.1 Combat  –

Spec:  7 / 51 / 13 (I used Close Quarters Combat; you  should use the weapon specialization to match your weaponry)

Glyphs:  Slice and Dice, Rupture, Sinister Strike

Rotation 1:


Rotation 2:


Yes, I used two rotations, and with a 28.2 DPS difference (about 1%) they’re pretty even.  The difference is likely luck based on the Random Number Generator.  Anyway, Combat is back!  I can’t give a definite answer that it’s better or worse than Assassination though, as my Assassination tests show that with the right glyphs I’d have about the same amount of DPS for both specs.

The first rotation was something I decided to try last night, and it surprisingly worked well:

SS -> SnD; SS to 5cp -> Rup;  SS -> SnD; SS to 5 cp -> Env

Slice and Dice never went down and Rupture was up long enough for me to Envenom every time.  Compared to the 2nd rotation, the trade off is more Envenoms for less Sinister Strikes.

Rotation 2 is a fairly standard rotation, but I hit a problem called “not enough energy.”  This rotation is to use 5 combo points for all 3 moves and looks like this:

SS to 5cp -> SnD; SS to 5cp -> Rup; SS to 5cp -> Env

Again my issue here was that I wasn’t generating energy fast enough, which means I couldn’t generate combo points fast enough to use Envenom every time.  I often needed those 5 points to refresh a then gone or a soon to be gone (2 seconds or less left) Rupture.  You may not  have this issue if you have enough haste and/or Sword Spec.


Combat is in great shape, though I’m not yet convinced that is necessarily better or worse than Assassination.  It will take some more tests to determine that.  It’s certainly much more viable for raiding now.  In either case, both specs are raid viable and if you’re more skilled/prefer one over the other, you’ll likely do fine. 

Another point that was made by another Rogue in my guild, “you should probably go with whatever spec you have the better weapons for.”  That’s a very valid point.  If you have really great daggers, and really terrible swords/fists, Assassination is probably going to give you better DPS, and vice versa.

– Sam


14 Responses to Initial Testing: Combat vs. Assassination

  1. Aeltyr says:

    The thing is though, that for Combat, Wound Poison is a better choice than Instant Poison: it has a better procrate and deals more damage than Instant Poison because you can’t pick up Improved Poisons. So you would’ve gotten a bit more poison damage in there, but it still would have been fairly equal I suspect.

    I’m also not sure if using Envenom is better than Eviscerate (though the first is not mitigated by armor so that is a plus).

    But your guildie makes a very good point, just spec for whatever weapons you have. You can always switch if you get a nice drop … just don’t forget to level weaponskill when you do :p !

  2. Felkadar says:

    Funny I have just Duel specced in these exact 2 ways (bar my combat is in sowrds). I will have a play with the rotations tonight and see what I come up with.

  3. Boo says:

    I notice that mutilate made up 19.6% of your total damage according to the meter using only SnD and Rupture glyphs.

    Having done some testing myself this time using the Glyph of Mutilate in addition to SnD and Rupture there was a nice increase in dps.

    Yes, in order to compare like with like I suppose you were right to just keep SnD and Rupture for both tests. However, to optimize the dps I think Mutilate will continue to out-do Combat with Mutilate and HfB glyphs on Bosses (and keeping Rupture).

    I’m not sure what the best glyph would be for Combat; probably Rupture, SnD, and Adrenaline Rush or SS?

  4. Crytz says:

    Well I’ll put my 2 cents in. I’ve been combat ever since I started raiding naxx, about 3 months ago. I have CG main hand, and Hand of nerub off, last night I did Ulduar 10 man with the guild and in the x3000 or w/e boss fight I was pulling about 4k average dps and I was always on the top of dmg meters.

    I even peaked at around 4950dps which for me/combat spec pre 3.1 that would have never happened, I dont even have the new glyph for killing spree, I think with that glyph my dps will go even higher.

    They have definitely made combat viable now, so far I’m really enjoying it and cant wait to see what my dps will be like in 25 mans!

  5. samueltempus says:


    Thanks for your comments, I really enjoy the fact that people take the time to put their thoughts into the discussion. It’s really helpful to everyone that stops by, including myself.


    Interesting point about Wound Poison. I’ll give it a test when I get home. I would think that it would need to proc a good bit more than IP, as it only has about 60% of the base damage of IP.


    I’ll give the Mutilate Glyph a try when I get home. I want to get my hands on the Hunger for Blood glyph as well. I’m fairly certain that you’ve hit the nail on the head glyph wise. To answer your question about Combat glyphs, I’m currently using Rupture, Slice and Dice, and Sinister Strike. I’ve considered dropping SnD for another glyph with that new (1SnD 5Rup 1SnD 5Env) rotation I’m working with.


    Nice damage. I myself am rocking Greed MH and the fist of Flame Leviathan 10 for my combat build, so it’s likely that I might be pulling better dps than I did for this test, and even better in a 10 / 25 man. Combat is definately an serious option again. Keep me posted on the 25 DPS.

    Thanks again everyone,


  6. scruff says:

    i’ve been spec for combat for about 4 yrs now..tried other specs but they just didnt work for me. i have a 5/61/5 spec, deep combat, with dags. i have the glyphs ss, adrenline rush, blade furry. not sure what other glyphs are out there havent looked in a while. i have titansteel shanker mh, and rolfsons ripper oh, and very my range/throw weapon..was in nax 10 last night with guild, and only ones above me on recounts dmg done was mage, dk and ret pally 😉

  7. A rogue says:

    What enchanting are we talking about here ?
    i wanna try 2 * Lib Cutter with +26 agi
    but i dont know if it wont be better then Fleshshaper and Titan Shanker(both +26agi)
    ill try mongoose when i have Webbed Death or Sin or murder.
    my question here is
    2*lib cutter with +26agi or +50dmg?
    and where should the weapons be ? Hi-dmg/Slow = MH: Mid-dmg/fast =OH?

    (Assassination spec 51/13/7)

  8. A rogue says:

    7 / 51 / 13 … 13 on subtlety? is that really necessary to have Master of Deception and Dirty Tricks?

    wouldn’t it be better to add ruthlessness,lethality,and vile poisons instead?

    (2 daggers with deadly poisons and rotation with Envenom)

  9. samueltempus says:

    A Rogue,

    First comment (about mutilate I assume):

    Because of the redesign to Instant Poison, your best weapon combo is Fleshshaper MH and Lib Cutter OH. As for enchants, 50 AP and 26 agility perform about the same, with agility being slightly (and I mean barely) better.

    Second comment (about Combat):

    Master of Deception and Dirty Tricks are a means to an end. As nice as all of the poison buffs in Assassination are, Poisons are going to be less than half our damage, whereas physical (Melee, Sinister Strike) and Rupture are more than half our DPS. Serrated Blades is going to let us ignore 640 Armor and buff our Rupture damage by 30%. That’s why we’re so Deep in Subtlety.

    As far as poisons go: Wound in the MH, and Deadly in the OH. You won’t have any issues procing enough deadly to get a 5 stack in between Envenoms.

    – Sam

  10. a rogue says:

    Master Poisoner vs Find weakness

  11. thisrogue says:

    Who the f*** uses envenom as main finishing move?

    – Edited by Sam

  12. samueltempus says:

    Who the f*** uses envenom as main finishing move?

    I doubt whoever wrote this will be back to see this, but Profanity isn’t acceptable in comments here. However, I’ll be glad explain why Envenom is a great main finishing move. Look for that tomorrow.


  13. anotherrogue says:

    Best talent spec right now is 51/18/2.

  14. samueltempus says:

    agreed. Armory me, and you’ll see that I use that build. This post is nearing a year old, and is more than two patches old. I’d expect it to be out of date. 🙂

    – Sam

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