Assassination is the New Combat

Posted 1 year, 5 months ago at 12:03 pm. 21 comments

So, it’s official.  Blizzards really, really, really, really wants Rogues to focus on Daggers and Poisons.

Ghostcrawler announced the end of Combat’s dominance on raid DPS charts today.  In his post on Upcoming boss armor change, he gave us a clear indication how Blizzard intends for our talent trees to perform:

As I have posted a couple of times recently, we decided to raise the armor of level 83 raid bosses by 10% to correct for some DPS difference between casters and melee + hunters. I wanted to address the issue head on with the rogues.

We have done a lot of testing recently, and concluded that even with this change, Assassination rogues are likely the top dps spec in the game against single bosses that don’t move around a lot (like Patchwerk). This isn’t a bad place for them to be. They pay a small price both for being melee (where more damage tends to occur) and for lacking the ability to respec into a non-damage build. We don’t think they will be as far above hybrids as they have been before — as I’ve posted before, it’s very important that hybrid classes do higher DPS now that their buffs do not stack.

Combat builds, especially swords, is competitive but probably behind Assassination. This is something we’d like to address, especially if it turns out to be a major difference between the specs. Additional armor does hurt Combat, but also remember it’s just raid bosses and not other players (or trash or heroic bosses).

Subtlety, sadly, is just much harder to test since so much of their damage relies on other players. Our preliminary evidence is that they generate plenty of combo points from Honor Among Thieves, but this might mean their personal DPS when not in a group suffers. This is something we’re still testing.

I will add that some players have wondered if Honor Among Thieves is bugged since the cp can occur more often than 1 sec. In this case, the tooltip is just unclear. When Jimmy the Shaman crits, he cannot “send you” a combo point more often than 1 per sec. But if you have lots of players critting all the time, you can build them up quickly. So Honor is (here it comes) working as intended.

I’d hate to be in Ghostcrawler’s position.  Everything he says is dissected and analyzed.  Blizzard should pick up on this.  We want more information.  We want more access to developers and information.

When I first read this, I was pretty dismayed.  IMO, Combat has always been the first and only choice to achieve top-end DPS for Rogues in raids.  I’m sure Ghostcrawler didn’t mean it this way, but I felt like he just said that Combat Swords Rogues are going to be grouped with Feral Druids, DPS Warriors and Hunter pets.  His paragraph about Assassination makes me think that he thinks only Assassination pays a price for being in melee and lack the ability to repec into a non-damage build.  But all Rogues suffer from this; every Rogue attempts to move behind the opponent, if their abilities require it or not.

I’m getting the impression, however, that Combat builds will still excel on trash and heroics bosses.  This is small consolation as the real prize in raids is dropping raid bosses for their epics.

With the new changes to Threat dynamics, Combat rogues will have it easier with their less-spiky-than-Assassination damage.  I suspect there will be a lot of Combat Rogues who switch to Assassination that are going to end up dead.  With Cold Blood, lots of crits from Puncturing Wounds, Malice, Master Poisoner, and Turn the Tables, Assassination Rogues are going to see a lot of big numbers.  Time to remap your Feint.

I feel like I’m going to miss the speed I feel with Combat.  I’ve got fast swords and I know main-hand Daggers are about 70% the speed of main-hand swords.  But I’m worried about my other attacks.  Sinister Strike requires only 40 energy vs Mutilate’s 60.  Even if the Energy regeneration rate of both trees were equal, wouldn’t that imply 50% slower primary Combo Point building attacks?  Will Assassination’s Vigor and Focused Attacks make up for Combat’s Vitality, Combat Potency and Adrenaline Rush? I can’t see how they could.

I’ve always considered Assassination to be the tree for Combo Points and Combat the tree for Energy.  I’m almost curious what Assassination is going to spend its Combat Points on?  Cut to the Chase is going to save Combo Points going towards Slice and Dice.  Assassination will likely be spending their Combo Points on Rupture and Envenom.  It’s going to be a completely different playstyle in my opinion.

So, with Assassination becoming the new top-end raid boss damage tree and so much defensive abilities in Combat, did Rogue’s Combat tree just become our Survival tree ala Hunters?  If we wanted three distinct trees, I think we might finally have them: Assassination for Raids, Combat for Soloing and Subtlety for PvP.

I’m going to try Assassination 54/7/0, er, this 54/7/0 tonight.  I’m not sure where I’m going to find some daggers.  I’m sure I have a pair lying around somewhere.


21 Replies

  1. I’m very interested to hear about the results!

  2. As a dagger rogue purist, I am happy to hear any news that sounds like daggers stay viable.

    I was an assassination rogue prior to the patch, but I was so underwhelmed by the 51 point assassination talent, Hunger For Blood. Talk about boring.

    Do you see a viable build for assassination that stops at mutilate? It’s what I am going to experiment with next so I’m curious if others have found success there.

    Thanks for the great post, and good news.

  3. @Seri: =) Good to see you. Happy to see your blog coming along.

    @Shawn: I would have to admit that Hunger for Blood seems weak for a 51-point talent. I like the stacking concept. I like the Bleed effect portion, but it seems to me like you’d have to concentrate on maintaining it too much and it would ruin the use of your primary attack: Mutilate.

    However, I don’t think I could stop at Mutilate. I really like Cut to the Chase to save on spending Combo Points on Slice and Dice.

    I think I’d go like this: if I didn’t want to pick up Hunger for Blood.

  4. Interesting spec for muti. I’m a convert from good old Combat sword so the adjustment was quite different. I went 51/5/5 instead for the relentless and opportunity points in the sub tree. With the garrote glyph, I like the extra increased dot damage.

    What I am concerned with is: Will blizz be now forcing daggers on us? Even though combat sword is now admittedly weaker in terms of dps than muti spec, I wonder if the difference is noticeable or if the change is just an increment difference.

  5. I raided SSC last weekend in a full Assassination spec (51/5/5), in the raid with a combat sword rogue. My gear is better, but not dramatically so.

    He was able to out-damage me on trash pulls due to Blade Flurry, but I was way out in front on boss fights. Since there is more total damage done on the boss fights than all the trash combined, in the end I led the damage meter by a fair margin.

    Interestingly, the Recount report also indicated that I had greater Energy Gained than he did. We were both surprised by that. Sure, I have Focused Attacks giving me energy, but we were impressed at how effective it was. Perhaps he didn’t use his Adrenaline Rush when it was up.

    Don’t overlook Hunger for Blood. Once you get a good rotation going, its not hard to keep at least a one or two stack up on a boss fight. Plus, it doesn’t break stealth to use it so you can stack it before your opener and get an easy +9% for the first 30 seconds.

    Yes, I did a lot of damage. But tank threat is way, way up so I didn’t have to worry about aggro.

  6. I spec’d Mutilate once the patch came out, since I saw that it no longer required you to be behind your opponent. The burst damage is amazing from what I’m used to seeing. I tried using Hunger for Blood in a ZA run, and I kept having to choose if I wanted to renew Slice & Dice, Rupture, or Hunger for Blood. I’m gonna see how I do without it.

    I think the spec I’m gonna try out is 50/4/7. I find that most of the time you will have at least 4 combo points, if not 5, so relentless strikes is almost a guaranteed go at 5 points, and I’m also taking improved evicerate, since I’ll be using it to renew SnD.

    If only I had like 10 more talent points! lol

  7. This will probably be my lvl 80 spec:

    Why only 4/5 Cut to the chase… because it wont take you 33 seconds to use Envenom twice even… so even if it doesnt proc the first time, you will probably get it off atleast once more before SND runs out.

    Also then gives you 40% chance to get 25 energy on finisher and 13% extra crit against mobs with daggers. I think thats good enough to keep your combo points up quite easy.

    both weapons with deadly poison and you will be getting the charges up quicker then combo points for optimal no armor hits

  8. Honest question: why does it matter which tree does the most dps? They’re close enough that you could happily raid with any of them if you’re not a min-maxer, and if you are a min-maxer you’ll just be playing whatever gives the best results.

    It sounds like you’re reacting to GC’s comments without looking at the numbers; since the recent(ish) talent changes that improve sinister strike further, combat is still very competitive and in fact higher in certain situations such as multi-mob trash or non-murderable bosses.

    Hunger for blood is definitely a worthwhile investment! It’s only 30 energy a second to keep the stack rolling and the damage increase it provides is huge. I think you’re also underestimating murder and relentless strikes, although I admit it’s hard to fit everything in at 70.

    If nothing else, at least you don’t have to share weapon drops with anybody except hunters.

    (definitely definitely do not put feint back on your hotbar, I hope you were kidding about this!)

  9. I’m not that impressed of Assassination build damages. This branch definitely deserved more attention from designers.

    For the moment Assassination leads top-dps builds for some reasons (which I personally didn’t clearly evidence in my raids on Illidan). We’ve to consider the new talents were designed for level 80.

    Right now 51/5/5 or anything else within Assassination tree still suffers from energy regeneration and 2 temporary buffs less (Adrenaline rush and Blade flurry).

  10. One thing that I didn’t have when I was trying out Hunger for Blood is imp SnD. the extended time on that would probably have made it easier to juggle rupture, Hunger for Blood, and Eviscerate. 10 more talent points & I’d be able to pick that & precision, which would help out my dps.

  11. You honestly don’t need improved SnD. With the SnD glyph, that should be enough uptime to get in a rupture and still pull off a 4-5 point envenom to renew SnD through cut to the chase while still finding a place to renew Hunger for Blood. Although, there can be occasions where the energy gains from focused attacks and the CP proc from ruthlessness just aren’t happening so a 3 CP envenom might happen once in a while.

  12. I couldn’t go through all the comments, but I’d say to put 2 points in opportunity instead of precision. If you are really lacking on hit, than I suppose it’s ok.

    I love to my talent build and have been assassination since beta. The new changes are amazing. I love hunger of blood, although it’s annoying to keep it up all the time.

    Cut to the chase is absolutely amazing. Check out my build.

    With the remainder of the points to lvl 80, I am putting 5 in precision and 5 in close quarters combat. I am switchin those points to camo and elusiveness for arena. Thats it.

  13. Thanks Valenna, I’ve been lurking here for a while because I have a rogue alt that is close to my heart. :)

    I was Subtlety for a long time because I mostly PvP’d, but when my interests shifted and I started playing her more for 10-mans I swapped to Combat/Swords (and stuck with it after 3.0, 5/51/5). I miss Subtlety but I have to admit Killing Spree is fun.

    I wouldn’t mind giving Assassination a try before I decide which spec to use for leveling to 80, but I’m not sure where to start when it comes to rotations. I have some good daggers in the bank, though I would need to enchant them.

  14. subtlety actually hasn’t suffered from what i can tell as far as soloing goes. maybe people just dont manage to hint the right buttons? still not as high on the damage output as my hunter though, having trouble deciding which one to lvl first in wrath

  15. @Tyson: I eventually went with 54/5/2, but I’ll probably end up going 54/2/5 as I miss the energy from Relentless.

    @Dinaer: My daggers are way sub-par to the swords I had with Combat Swords. And I felt like I had similar results against a Combat Fists Rogue in Mount Hyjal. However, all the ranged classes far out damaged all of us with their AoE attacks.

    I did use Hunger for Blood, but found it very difficult to keep up HfB, Rupture and SnD (through Envenom).

    @Dyera: Yeah, I can’t wait for 10 more talent points. I haven’t done the math, but I thought the Envenom would do a lot better than Eviscerate.

    @TJ: 33 seconds with Slice and Dice? Hmm. I didn’t think we could make it last that long.

    @chronic: ^_^ The point is to interpret GC’s comments as they are and then to see if it comes out in play.

    I found that at the beginning of fights, Feint wasn’t a bad idea, but after a while, I just used Vanish to reset my aggro and I never caught up to the tank after that.

    @Traq: I did perform okay with Assassination, but I didn’t have a post-3.0.2 Combat Swords meter to compare it to. I am guessing that my gear is not quite up to the build.

    @Dyera: It would be hard to juggle the points for Improved Slice and Dice and Hunger for Blood. But something to try in the expansion.

    @Cory: I totally agree.

    @Pawan: Yeah, Opportunity and Relentless Strikes are looking to be essential to an Assassination build.

    @Seri: Until 3.0.2 I was still Subtelty for PvP, then I switched to Combat Swords. I found Killing Spree to not seem to matter as much as it seem to on the Beta servers.

    As for rotations, I think we’ll see that soon as soon as Blizzard stops messing around with the abilities. Because of the way Assassination works (Combo Points at odd times because of talents, etc), I’d be surprised to see rotations that work. Rather, I’d just focus on keeping Hunger for Blood, Slice and Dice and Rupture up as much as possible.

    @Jesus aka Simplefreak/Abagoo. I ignored this the first time you did it. Did you feel like you had to come back until I responded? That sounds like harassment. It’s pathetic enough that you feel like you have to insult me or my readers, but you’re also cowardly enough to use anonymity to try to hide your identity?

  16. Pernox Oct 28th 2008 Gravatar

    I’m sad that Subtlety is always written off as a raid spec. It works, you just have to be smart about it, and like all classes and specs, hinges on playstyle, your ability to multi-task, and the fine dance of combo vs energy vs cool downs. I raid 11/5/43, and my DPS is only 50 or so lower than the 10/51/0 combat build I tried. I haven’t tried an Assassination build as I’ve only just picked up a pair of decent daggers (and still need to enchant them). Honor Among Thieves in a 25 man raid instance is impressive, you never have to worry about combo point generation, which helps with the energy starved nature of the Sub tree. I glyph’d with the +3s to SnD to make up a little (tho not greatly) for the loss of Improved SnD (I spent the points on full HAT). Things that Sub give you for raiding that are overlooked besides Hemo; +10% Attack Power boost poison damage now, and +15% Agility increases AP, Crit, Dodge, Armor and stack nicely with raid and group buffs. As Sub I’ve seen 1000 damage instant poison crits (in Mount Hyjal/BT), 6k Evenoms, 2.2k Hemo crits, 1.5k normal Hemo hits. Raid buffed my agil is around 949 and AP is around 3367 (pre-mongoose procs).

    Yes, Sub is at a disadvantage, you won’t have the expertise or hit combat has, nor the amazing crit or poison talents of Assassination. But it can hold its own. In our 25 man raid we have two rogues, myself (Sub) and another (Combat Swords). I’m generally above the Combat Swords rogue (similar gear) in overall damage (tho not in dps) b/c Cheat Death lets me live a bit longer than him in some fights.

    But we’re both way below Hunters since the patch, their new volley ability in fights like Hyjal blow everyone away (and our Warlocks are now very very sad).

    My usual rotation (HAT gives usually 2-3 combo points before opener):

    garrote->5/5 SnD->Hemo/HAT to 5/5 Rupture->Hemo/HAT to 5/5 Evis->repeat as needed

    Sub damage ramps up a bit once the boss is under 20% health.

  17. I think the general angst is more to the point of people LIKING one build over another and very little effort being put in by Blizzard to just let us play without being bent over by the parsers.

    I like Combat (swords).
    I don’t enjoy Mutiliate or really daggers of any kind.
    My only job in a raid is to do maximal DPS on a single (boss) target.

    Where does that leave me? Anything higher than a 2-3% delta between builds is enough to seriously push someone into the higher build. Because that gap is what it is right now choosing one vs the other, even with optimal PLAY, lumps you into a mediocre pile.

    So I can either play the spec I don’t enjoy and do my job, or I can have fun and effectively failboat my expected role. Not really much of a choice.

  18. Dosequis Nov 10th 2008 Gravatar

    I agree with the statements about Sub. While sure, I don’t think my damage will ever match an mutilate spec- I am not worried about it, I can either play a talent tree I don’t like, mainly because I don’t like how the rotations are, and I hate having to respec to go pvp, or I can simply learn to play my class in the talent tree I like.. As a sub rouge, to be in the tops of the DPS charts, I hope people realize how much work really goes into that, it’s not easy, and its really about knowing your class and how to play your class, while I am VERY disappointed in the changes that Sub got, nothing good other than honor among thieves…Shadow dance is cool, however blizzard seems to think that a sub rouge isn’t viable for raiding and only pvp. I was really hoping for energy regeneration talent somewhere in the sub tree, and how about something that let me do a little AOE? Combat got that gay little shadow step dance thing, while I’ve tried it, and I don’t like that talent at all, I am confused why that ended in the combat tree instead of the sub tree? Im not sure what combat should have gotten but I don’t think it was that…

    With the latest patch, I am starting off with 2-3 combo points… Premeditation (2) – then (paly shield crit hitting)(1) – so that’s 3 points – then coming out of stealth with garrote, (5) we are talking pretty much instantly.. If we are on trash, depending on targets health, I will either pop SnD or Evis – if its a boss, I typical drop rupture, and build my combo points back with Sinister strike / Hemo – keep in mind I typical only have to build 1 or 2 myself, as I gain so many combo points on any one in my parties crit hit. So as a sub – I’d say raw burst damage is what is giving me my DPS, being able to pop so many evis’s so quickly, because I am not really having to build combo points, and or dropping a rupture.. I’m just waiting for energy – my starved state!

  19. Averaen Nov 15th 2008 Gravatar

    Is the build of choice for assassination from elitistjerks last time I slogged through the rogue thread.

    The point I want to make though is that assassination is now a fun, challenging and rewarding build to play. It takes a lot of concentration to keep rupture/SnD/HfB up without missing one.

    90% of players are going to switch to assassination from combat swords, find it a harder build to play without a significant dps increase and switch back. The 10% that stick with it and bleed out every last point of dps will see an ultimately higher overall dps than combat swords can reach. It will be a lot of work to attain it though. To me that is exciting and fun, and something I wish WoW had more of.

  20. if you all wannasee the spec to be for raiding armory joshj of staghelm u s pve server (my rogue) hes lvl 78 atm on trash i do around 1.5k dps and on boses 2.3k dps in 5 mans ill update it when my guild does 25 man and 10 man naxx yah and umm i dont use feint if im at like 95% of tanks agroe thow a tricks of the trade up on the main tank and go to town and as for my rotatio i open with garrote)snd)mute)mute)eviscerate and rinse and repeat take away the garrote and keep ur hfb up as much as u can

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