Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide

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This Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE guide is specifically written to provide answers to the most common questions regarding how to play the Assassination spec, properly gear and spec yourself, and questions that come up when making a character.

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide

Abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning 
AgiAgility
AoEArea of Effect
APAttack Power
CoSCloak of Shadows
CRCombat Readiness
DPDeadly Poison
EPEquivalence Point
FoKFan of Knives
GCDGlobal Cooldown
MHMain Hand/Main Hand Weapon
MSMortal Strike Effect (referring to all 10% reduce healing debuffs)
ICDInternal Cooldown
IPInstant Poison
OHOff Hand/Off Hand Weapon
SnDSlice and Dice
TotTTricks of the Trade
WPWound Poison

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Talents and Glyphs

Talents:

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Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Glyphs

Prime:

Major:

Minor:

Just to acknowledge [Glyph of Vendetta], this glyph basically adds another 6 seconds to your Vendetta debuff which works out to be 1% more overall sustained DPS. Currently, as long as you are even using the other 3 glyphs aka Mutilating, Backstabbing, and putting Rupture up (which you will be for the majority of encounters) they come out significantly ahead of the Vendetta glyph such that it will almost never be worth swapping per encounter. Other things to keep in mind are that for some encounters you will not have the chance to stick to the same target for 36 seconds (because you need to run away or change to a different target) every 2 minutes (phase changes is the common example), further diminishing the value of the Vendetta glyph.

The [Tricks of the Trade] glyph is a raid DPS increase regardless if you have another rogue to trade tricks with and it’s recommended that you always have this. A glyphed TotT will provide your target with 2% more overall DPS (3% unglyphed at the cost of 30 energy per minute).

The FoK glyph will obviously be useful for most encounters were you will need to AoE.

Feint is a tremendously valuable ability for reducing damage taken from AoE abilities which increases your survivability and saves precious healer mana. For any encounter were you use Feint regularly, it is worth glyphing.

Glyph of Sprint allows you to move at ground mount speed (100%) with sprint up which can be helpful for target swaps were you need to move to get in range and for various boss mechanics. In short, carry [Dust of Disappearance] around and chose your major glyphs per encounter.

None of the minor glyphs directly impact your DPS and can be chosen to your preference. [Glyph of Safe Fall] will increase your survivability for some encounters.

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Combat and Rotation

Poisons

You will always want to put IP on your MH and DP on your OH. For most fights where you need to use FoK, you will want DP on your throwing (you cannot poison other ranged weapons or use FoK with them). If a slow is needed, consider specing into Deadly Brew (explained above) instead of actually putting Crippling Poison on your weapon. It is very detrimental to an Assassination rogue’s DPS to provide MS with WP and is provided by several specs at no sacrifice (Shadow Priests for example). Remember, Anesthetic Poison no longer exists and is baked into your Shiv.

Single-Target

Opening

You will always want to open from stealth such that you use as much of your 20 seconds of Overkill as possible. It is better to open a fight with Garrote rather than Mutilate if you can do so without delaying the start of your attacks by more than a second or two. This may not always be possible either due to unpredictable movement of the boss in the first few seconds of the fight or to a stealth-breaking pulse at the start of the encounter – but when its possible, its worth doing. Once in combat, there are various sequences of abilities that work but ultimately you will want to get Rupture and SnD both up as quickly as possible, neither has to be a lot of combo points at the start.

100% to 35% target HP

The priority of finishers is as follows: SnD > Rupture > Envenom

At this point, you will use Mutilate as your combo point generator and maximize your rupture uptime then maximize your Envenom uptime. To maximize your Envenom uptime, you should try not to overlap the Envenom buff when possible. However, you should overlap the Envenom buff instead of capping out or using Mutilate as an energy dump and wasting combo points. When possible, you want pool ~90 energy (less with haste or if you are consistently overlapping your Envenom buff) just before using Envenom such that when you Mutilate after, you have an increased chance to proc your poisons. Your rotation will be 1+ Rupture and 4+ Envenom; meaning if your Rupture is falling off, put whatever combo points you have into a new one otherwisee do 4 or 5 combo point Envenoms.

35% or less target HP

Once your target reaches 35% HP, you will stop using Mutilate and instead use Backstab to generate combo points. You will still follow the same priority order and maximize your Rupture uptime and then Envenom’s and pool before using Envenom. You will want to do 1+ Rupture and 5 Envenom instead.

Multi-Target

Of the three rogue specs, Assassination is capable of providing the most AoE damage using FoK. Keep in mind that FoK it self hardly does any damage; it’s the poisons that are easily applied from your throwing and melee weapons (via Vile Poisons) that do all the damage. This means that it does take several FoKs before your DP stacks up to 5 so that you can proc substantial IP damage from your MH and that, most of an Assassination rogues’ AoE damage “bypass” the AoE damage cap. Just to note, it is not yet know how many targets need to be in your vicinity for FoK to be worth using.

Cooldowns

Assassination rogues have three DPS cooldowns:

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Stats and Gearing

Stat Weights

Below are the current estimated EP values for stats in heroic T11 gear (1 EP = 1 AP).

Stat EP 
Agility2.6
Yellow Hit Rating1.75
Spell Hit Rating1.4
Mastery Rating1.3
Haste Rating1.2
Expertise Rating1.1
Crit Rating0.9
White Hit Rating0.75
MH DPS3.36
OH DPS1.04

Agility is by far your strongest stat simply because each point provides 2 AP and some crit and because you get an extra 5% more Agility for wearing leather via the rogue version of Leather Specialization.

 Yellow Spell White 
3/3 Precision241 (2%)1127 (11%)2523 (21%)
2/3 Precision481 (4%)1332 (13%)2763 (23%)

The above table gives the amount of hit rating required to reach yellow, spell, and white hit cap for the first tier of bosses. These caps will increase as we progress to higher tiers of content. While Assassination rogues do predominately poison spell damage, given that spell hit’s value is close to mastery’s and both are well behind Agility, it is conceivable that we won’t get to spell hit cap but is currently recommended for most.

 Expertise Cap 
Gnomes691 (23)
Everyone else781 (26)

The table above gives the amount of expertise rating required to reach the expertise cap for dodges. Despite what your character sheet displays, expertise is not truncated and each point of expertise rating reduces your chance to be dodged until you hit cap. When a combo point generating ability (Mutilate, Backstab, etc.) or a finisher is dodged you are refunded 80% of the cost. When Envenom is dodged, you still get the Envenom buff but depending on how much time you have left on your SnD, your SnD may fall off and have to directly refresh your SnD. These mechanics play a part in expertise’s relative poor value and it is likely most Assassination rogues will not gear for expertise cap unless they have cycle stability issues. The expertise cap for Gnomes is given because they are the only race that has dagger expertise, playing an Assassination rogues with non-daggers is ineffective.

Mastery is your most valuable secondary stat after poison hit cap and acts on well over 50% of your damage composition (IP, DP, Envenom, and Venomous Wounds) by increasing the bonus you get from Potent Poisons. Baseline Potent Poisons increases your poison damage by 28% and 3.5% for every point of mastery you have (179.28 rating). Similar to expertise, mastery is also not truncated and each point of mastery rating will increase your poison damage.

Haste in addition to reducing your weapon swing timers, increases the rate at which you regenerate energy (baseline is 10 energy per second).

Crit is a relatively poor stat for Assassination rogues because a large part of our damage is from spell damage that crits with a 150% multiplier instead of the typical 200% for physical attacks.

Set Bonuses

This section is for covering the relative value of set bonuses and to discuss changes in play style if they produce any.

Both of these set bonuses are quite passive in that you will play the same way you would without them. While you generally don’t have to think about it, there is a limited duration on the 4 piece bonus and you will want to get an Envenom off before it expires. An additional note, while the 2 piece T10 bonus is very good, you will not want to sacrifice two pieces of current gear to retain this bonus in the same way we did with T6 during the first tier of WotLK.

Gear

A note about dagger choice, it will always be best to have a slow MH (1.8 speed) and a fast OH (1.4 speed). This is because Assassination rogues no longer have Focused Attacks or Dual-Wield Specialization. It may be plausible to use a different set up because of unfortunately drops but the ideal case remains overwhelmingly the same.

Best in Slot Gear

Slot Item Gems Reforge 
Helm[Wind Dancer’s Helmet][Agile Shadowspirit Diamond] [Glinting Demonseye]Crit to Mastery (102)
Neck[Necklace of Strife]NoneNone
Shoulders[Wind Dancer’s Spaulders][Glinting Demonseye]Crit to Mastery (68)
Back[Cloak of Biting Chill]NoneCrit to Hit (57)
Chest[Wind Dancer’s Tunic][Delicate Inferno Ruby] [Glinting Demonseye]Expertise to Hit (86)
Wrists[Parasitic Bands]NoneCrit to Hit (57)
Gloves[Wind Dancer’s Gloves][Delicate Inferno Ruby]Haste to Mastery (76)
Belt[Belt of the Fallen Brood][Delicate Inferno Ruby] [Glinting Demonseye]Crit to Hit (81)
Legs[Wind Stalker Leggings] (of the Zephyr)*[Delicate Inferno Ruby] [Glinting Demonseye]None
Boots[Storm Rider’s Boots][Delicate Inferno Ruby]None
Ring 1[Lightning Conductor Band]NoneCrit to Mastery (57)
Ring 2[Mistral Circle] (of the Zephyr)NoneNone
Trinket 1[Prestor’s Talisman of Machination]NoneNone
Trinket 2[Fluid Death]NoneNone
MH[Organic Lifeform Inverter]NoneExpertise to Hit (44)
OH[Uhn’agh Fash, the Darkest Betrayal]NoneCrit to Hit (44)
Ranged[Dragonwreck Throwing Axe]NoneHaste to Hit (28)

*The next best offset is to use [Poison Protocol Pauldrons] and [Wind Dancer’s Legguards] if you cannot get [Wind Stalker Leggings] (of the Zephyr).

T11 and Heroics Trinkets

Name EP 
[Prestor’s Talisman of Machination]1426.25
[Fluid Death]1387.76
[Essence of the Cyclone]1311.53
[Prestor’s Talisman of Machination]1262.15
[Tia’s Grace]1249.03
[Key to the Endless Chamber]1206.90
[Unheeded Warning]1189.50
[Darkmoon Card: Hurricane]1180.97
[Essence of the Cyclone]1159.72
[Left Eye of Rajh]1158.19
[Quicksilver Alchemist Stone]1125.70
[Unsolvable Riddle]1098.31

These trinkets vary in value at different rates over time since some of them are on use, procs, or provide a stacking buff.

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Cata Classic Assassination Rogue: Reforging, Gemming, and Enchanting

Reforging

Reforging is used to reduce a secondary stat by 40% (always round down) and add that amount as another stat that is not already on that piece of gear. This makes it possible to tune your gear to focus on your best stats and avoid “wasting” stats by exceeding caps.

As a general strategy, you’ll want to reduce the weakest stat and add more of a better stat that isn’t already present on that piece of gear. Using [Wind Dancer’s Spaulders] as an example, between crit and haste, crit is the weakest of the two. If you are below the spell hit cap, you will want to add hit and if you are above it, you will want to add mastery rating instead.

Yellow hit cap should be quite easy to reach, the next most valuable and reforgable stat is still hit again but for spell hit cap. You basically want to first go to your pieces of gear that have crit (your least valuable stat) and do no have hit on them and reforge crit into hit. Since spell hit has a cap, you may want to reforge different pieces of gear until you get as close to the cap as possible without going too far over. Once at the spell hit cap, you want to reforge weaker stats into mastery rating (the next best stat).

Gemming

Below are some of the gems an Assassination rogue may consider for their gear (some are there for reference and are generally not recommended). The EP values are based on heroic T11 gear.

Red Sockets

Name Stats EP 
[Delicate Inferno Ruby]40 Agility104
[Precise Inferno Ruby]40 Expertise Rating44

Yellow Sockets

Name Stats EP 
[Adept Ember Topaz]20 Agility/20 Mastery Rating78
[Deft Ember Topaz]20 Agility/20 Haste Rating76

Blue Sockets

Name Stats EP 
[Glinting Demonseye]20 Agility/20 Hit Rating80*
[Glinting Demonseye]20 Agility/20 Hit Rating67**

*below spell hit cap
**above spell hit cap

You generally will want to match all of your Agility bonuses ([Adept Ember Topaz] in yellow sockets and [Glinting Demonseye] in blue sockets) and put all [Delicate Inferno Ruby] into sockets for non-Agility bonuses. To be sure, you may want to calculate the EP value yourself. Using [Wind Dancer’s Legguards] as an example, there is a yellow and blue socket for a 20 Agility bonus. Putting a [Adept Ember Topaz] and [Glinting Demonseye] in gives a total of 20+20+20=60 Agility, 20 Mastery Rating, and 20 Hit Rating. Below the spell hit cap, the total EP value is calculated as follows.

Matching Sockets
60(2.6) + 20(1.3) + 20(1.4) = 210 EP

What if we decided to put in two [Delicate Inferno Ruby] instead? This gives a total of 40+40=80 Agility (no socket bonus).

Straight Agility
80(2.61) = 208 EP

So in this case below spell hit cap, it is better to match the sockets. If we recalculate for a situation where you are above the spell hit cap, matching the socket bonuses would only give 197 EP, less than just putting all [Delicate Inferno Ruby] in. Again, you may want to just check to be sure.

Meta-Gems

[Agile Shadowspirit Diamond] is the preferred meta-gem and requires three red gems to be equipped in your gear (this counts your orange and purple gems in addition to your red gems).

Enchants

Slot Enchant Comments 
Head60 Agi/35 Haste[Arcanum of the Ramkahen] (Revered with Ramkahen)
Cape65 Crit[Enchant Cloak – Greater Critical Strike] (Enchanting) With the current estimated EP values this crit enchant comes out just a hair better than [Scroll of Enchant Cloak – Major Agility] and which is better is likely to change as the EP estimates change.
Shoulder50 Agility/25 Mastery[Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal] (Exalted with Therazane)
Chest20 Stats[Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats] (From Enchanting)
Bracers50 Agility[Enchant Bracer – Agility] (From Enchanting)
Gloves65 Mastery[Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery] (From Enchanting)
Legs190 AP / 55 Crit[Dragonscale Leg Armor] (From Leatherworking)
Feet35 Agility[Enchant Boots – Major Agility] (From Enchanting) You will not need a run speed enchant since you’ll be speced into Quickening.
BeltExtra Socket[Ebonsteel Belt Buckle] (From Blacksmithing), put a [Delicate Inferno Ruby] in the socket
MH1000 AP proc[Formula: Enchant Weapon – Landslide] (From Enchanting)*
OH1000 AP proc[Formula: Enchant Weapon – Landslide] (From Enchanting)*

*Since [Formula: Enchant Weapon – Landslide] is currently quite expensive; a reasonable alternative is to use double [Enchant Weapon – Hurricane]. Very close behind is Hurricane on the MH and [Enchant Weapon – Avalanche] on the OH, further behind are those two enchants in reverse. Double Avalanche is significantly further behind double Hurricane.

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Consumables

These are generally the consumables you will use in a raid:

The new feast now give you exactly the same benefit Agility food does (90 Agility) instead of general AP so, you can enjoy someone else’s hard work now.

One note about Potion of Tol’vir (and most current potions) is that they last 25 seconds instead of 15 seconds. You will want to consider if you have a 25 second window to DPS to use the full duration of the buff in addition to stacking it with procs and other various DPS enhancements.

For those that are not familiar, prepotting is using a potion just before you enter combat such that you are able to use two for an encounter. Keep in mind that you want to do this as close to when you enter combat as possible not only to maximize the buff of your first potion but also because potting takes you out of stealth and starts your overkill timer.

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Races and Professions

Races

Alliance

Worgen
The newest race to the alliance also has the strongest racial bonus for Alliance Assassination rogues. Viciousness gives 1% crit (161.35 EP) which is overall the weakest stat for Assassination but still is more EP than 3 expertise (99.09 EP) from Gnomes and the zero direct benefits of other races. Given that rogues are a melee class, Darkflight (40% speed sprint every 2 minutes that stacks with Quickening) provides some utility though; rogues already come with a 70% (100% glyphed) speed boost every 1 minute that does not stack with Darkflight.

Gnome
Gnomes have stepped up to be a decent Alliance race for Assassination rogues. Shortblade Specialization gives you 3 expertise (99.09 EP) for using daggers which isn’t exactly stellar since expertise has a relatively low value. However, daggers are the only weapon you will ever use as an Assassination rogue so you will always have the benefit of the racial. Gnomes also have Escape Artist which will remove any snares and/or roots every 90 seconds which can be useful for encounters involving those types of debuffs.

Night Elf
Apart from having the highest base Agility, night elves do not have much going for them in the way of racials for an Assassination rogue. Shadowmeld will drop you off the threat table until you break stealth however, between TotT, Vanish, and even Feint, threat is very unlikely to be an issue. Quickness will of course give you some survivability though most of the time, nothing life threatening should be swinging at you.

Human
Human racials have no direct impact on an Assassination rogue’s DPS. Every Man for Himself is a 2 minute PvP trinket and it is conceivable that for certain boss encounters it will allow you to dish out more damage or trivialize a boss mechanic.

Dwarf
Dwarven racials, similar to humans have no direct impact on an Assassiantion rogue’s DPS. Stoneform removes poison, disease, and/or bleeds and reduces all damage taken by 10% every two minutes which won’t do more than increase your survivability trivialize some boss mechanics.

Horde

Goblin
Goblins, the new Horde race, are one of the two better races for Horde. Passively, Goblins have a relatively ok 1% increased attack speed from Time is Money (not haste which would give you more energy regen). Additionally Goblins have a shared cooldown ability that will either deal some fire damage to a target (Rocket Barrage) or launch you forward (Rocket Jump) which can be quite useful as a melee class since some encounters require some movement to avoid boss mechanics or change targets.

Orc
Orcs, the other strong race for Horde Assassiantion rogues, have Blood Fury, a relatively strong DPS cooldown providing 1170 AP (at 85) every 2 minutes which can be used in conjunction with every Vendetta and/or Coldblood. Unfortunately, the other racials that are relatively strong for other classes are completely useless for Assassination rogues.

Troll
Trolls also come with a decent DPS cooldown, Berserking, providing 20% attack speed (again not haste which would give you more energy regen) every 3 minutes which can be used in conjunction with every Vanish. Trolls also have reduced snare/root duration from Da Voodoo Shuffle which could help if a boss had these mechanics. For bosses classified as beasts, such as Chimaeron, Trolls are the clear dominate race for DPS because of Beast Slaying.

Blood Elf
Blood Elves have a DPS cooldown as well, Arcane Torrent, which generates 15 energy every 2 mins. and does an AoE silence (also interrupts non-player targets). Blood Elves’ small increase in survivability with Magic Resistance was changed to Arcane resistance only and is much less useful.

Forsaken
Forsaken racials do not have a direct impact on DPS and are overall the weakest Horde race for Assassination rogues. Will of the Forsaken breaks fear, charm, and/or sleep effects every 2 minutes which similar to humans, could allow you to deal some extra damage or trivialize a mechanic for some bosses.

Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide: Professions

Jewelcrafting
Allows you to replace three [Delicate Inferno Ruby] with three [Delicate Chimera’s Eye] which nets you 81 Agility, 1 more Agility than the rest of the craft professions.

Leatherworking
Leatherworking replaces the 50 Agility to bracers enchant with Draconic Embossment – Agility which provides 80 more Agility. Leatherworkers can additionally use Dragonbone Leg Reinforcements on their legs instead of [Dragonscale Leg Armor] for exactly the same stats for much cheaper materials.

Engineering
Engineers are able to enchant their gloves with Synapse Springs which provides 480 Agility on use every minute (averaging 80 Agility), this does not overwrite your standard glove enchant. The [High-Powered Bolt Gun] which fires bolts similar to bombs every 2 minutes at a targeted area also resets your swing timer making it a DPS loss to use in melee range for single target. Engineers can choose a utility enchant for their belt, the two that stand out are Nitro Boosts which gives you increased movement speed every 3 minutes and Ground Plasma Shield, which absorbs a respectable amount of damage every 5 minutes. Both have a reasonable chance to fail in a raid now (nitro boosts can blast you into the air or cause Rocket Fuel Leak and the plasma shield can AoE taunt via Painful Shock); this should be considered for critical boss mechanics. Engineers are also able to make [Agile Bio-Optic Killshades] and place two cogwheel gems into them which puts the helm on par itemization-wise with any ilvl 359 helm and makes it obsolete when heroic gear becomes available us.

Blacksmithing
Blacksmithing gains you two additional sockets (Socket Bracers and Socket Gloves) which you should put [Delicate Inferno Ruby] in for 80 more Agility, right on par with the rest of the craft professions.

Alchemy
Alchemists have a passive Mixology buff which will increase the effect of [Flask of the Winds] by 80 Agility. Additionally, the buff will double the duration of flasks potentially saving you a good deal of gold. For content where you do not flask, alchemists are able to create a [Flask of Enhancement] which gives you 80 Agility and has an unlimited number of uses.

Enchanting
Enchanters are able to enchant their rings which are normally not enchanted with Enchant Ring – Agility which gives a total of 80 Agility.

Inscription
Scribes are able to put Swiftsteel Inscription on their shoulders which is exactly 80 more Agility than [Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal]. This also makes raising your reputation with Therazane to exalted not necessary but ultimately Scribes are on par with most craft professions.

Tailoring
Tailors are able to enchant their cloaks with Swordguard Embroidery which works similar to a typical trinket in that it procs a 15 second long buff (1000 AP) that has a tested 55 second ICD (26.3% uptime considering its 15% proc chance). Overall, this gives an average of 263 AP. This however does not stack with a typical cloak enchant (65 crit in our case) and comes out closer to 201 AP which is about the value of 78.65 Agility.

Herbalism
Herbalists have Lifeblood which in addition to a heal over time, will grant you 480 haste rating (increased attack speed and energy regen) which is about 80 haste rating on average. This is clearly the best gathering profession for Assassination rogues.

Skinning
Skinners gain Master of Anatomy which gives a passive 80 crit rating, again crit is the weakest stat for Assassination rogues making skinning a very weak profession.

Mining
Miners have 120 stamina from Toughness which provides no DPS gain other than additional survivability.

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Basic Combat Mechanics:

Macros

You will want to macro /startattack to the melee abilities you use most which will ensure you are autoattacking your target even if you do not have the energy to perform an ability that would normally start your autoattack. A couple of examples.

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Mutilate

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Backstab

Almost all rogues find it easier to use a TotT macro instead of targeting someone to use it such that you can keep attacking your target.

#showtooltip
/cast [@focus] Tricks of the Trade

This lets you hit your focus target with TotT.

#showtooltip
/cast [@targettarget] Tricks of the Trade

This lets you hit your target’s target with TotT (hopefully a tank, though bosses often target other players for their abilities).

#showtooltip
/cast [@<player's name>] Tricks of the Trade

This will let you hit a specific player with TotT.

#showtooltip
/cast [@mouseover,help,nodead][@target,help,nodead][@focus,help,nodead][@targettarget,help,nodead]Tricks of the Trade

This macro will let you TotT your mouseover, your target (if friendly) if you do not have a mouseover, your focus if you do not have either, and your target’s target if you do not have any of the former.

FoK requires a throwing weapon to be equipped however rogues are still able to use other ranged weapons and may have a ranged weapon that is better for single target DPS than their throwing weapon. In this case, it may be convenient to make a macro to swap weapons depending on if you need to AoE or deal single-target DPS. Just as a warning, these macros invoke a GCD and can cause you to cap out and they reset your swing timer (delayed/lost auto attacks). FYI, you can Shift + Right Click on items in your bag to automatically enter the name of your weapon when making these macros.

#showtooltip Fan of Knives
/startattack
/equip <name of your throwing weapon>
/cast Fan of Knives

#showtooltip Mutilate
/startattack
/equip <name of your better ranged weapon>
/cast Mutilate

Conclusion

I hope that this Cataclysm Classic Assassination Rogue PvE Guide has provided valuable insights into your specialization and addressed some of your queries on effective gameplay.

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