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Rogue talents are divided into the three trees: Assassination, Combat, and Subtlety. While rogues are always high burst DPSers, the talents for them allow them to choose their own path to DPS. Assassination allows combo points to be gained fast and high burst damage, combat focuses on normal damage every second, and subtlety allows sneak attacks for high amounts of damage.

With World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Mists of Pandaria, rogues can begin choosing their talents beginning at level fifteen. Players may choose a new talent from the same group of three talents at periodic levels (15, 30, 45, etc.).

Current Talents

Level Abilities (choose one)
15 Assassination Master Poisoner
Outlaw Ghostly Strike
Subtlety Master of Subtlety
Assassination Elaborate Planning
Outlaw Swordmaster
Subtlety Weaponmaster (rogue talent)
Assassination Hemorrhage
Outlaw Quick Draw
Subtlety Gloomblade
30 AssassinationSubtlety Nightstalker
Outlaw Grappling Hook
AssassinationSubtlety Subterfuge
Outlaw Acrobatic Strikes
AssassinationSubtlety Shadow Focus (rogue talent)
Outlaw Hit and Run
45 Deeper Stratagem Anticipation (rogue talent) Vigor
60 Assassination Leeching Poison
Outlaw Iron Stomach
Subtlety Soothing Darkness
Elusiveness (rogue talent) Cheat Death (rogue talent)
75 Assassination Thuggee
Outlaw Parley
Subtlety Strike from the Shadows
Prey on the Weak Assassination Internal Bleeding
Outlaw Dirty Tricks
Subtlety Tangled Shadow
90 Assassination Agonizing Poison
Outlaw Cannonball Barrage
Subtlety Premeditation
Alacrity Assassination Exsanguinate
Outlaw Killing Spree
Subtlety Enveloping Shadows
100 Assassination Venom Rush
Outlaw Slice and Dice
Subtlety Master of Shadows
Marked for Death (rogue talent) Death from Above

Pre-Mists of Pandaria

This is a tree based on large amounts of burst damage, in contrast to the sustained DPS found in the combat tree. It makes your poisons less resistible and enables you to rack up more combo points in combat, allowing you to unleash more finishing moves. It's very effective end game in both instances and PvP due to larger, more frequent crits and more effective poison applications.

Talent Requirements Ranks Description
Improved Eviscerate None 3 Increases the damage caused by your Eviscerate ability by 7/14/20%.
Remorseless Attacks None 2 After killing an opponent that yields experience or honor, gives you a 20/40% increased critical strike chance on your next Sinister Strike, Hemorrhage, Backstab, Mutilate, Ambush, or Ghostly Strike. Lasts 20 sec.
Malice None 5 Increases your critical strike chance by 1/2/3/4/5%.
Ruthlessness Assassination 5 3 Gives your melee finishing moves a 20/40/60% chance to add a combo point to your target.
Blood Splatter Assassination 5 2 Increases the damage done by your Garrote and Rupture abilities by 15/30%.
Puncturing Wounds Assassination 5 3 Increases the critical strike chance of your Backstab ability by 10/20/30% and the critical strike chance of your Mutilate ability by 5/10/15%.
Vigor Assassination 10 1 Increases your maximum Energy by 10.
Improved Expose Armor Assassination 10 2 Reduces the energy cost of your Expose Armor ability by 5/10.
Lethality Assassination 10
Malice 5
5 Increases the critical strike damage bonus of all combo moves that do not require stealth by 6/12/18/24/30%.
Vile Poisons Assassination 15 3 Increases the damage dealt by your poisons and Envenom ability by 7/14/20% and gives your damage over time poisons an additional 10/20/30% chance to resist dispel effects.
Improved Poisons Assassination 15 5 Increases the chance to apply Instant and Deadly Poison to your target by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Fleet Footed Assassination 20 2 Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15/30% and increases your movement speed by 8/15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.
Cold Blood Assassination 20 1 (Active) When activated, increases the critical strike chance of your next offensive ability by 100%.
Improved Kidney Shot Assassination 20 3 While affected by your Kidney Shot ability, the target receives an additional 3/6/9% damage from all sources.
Quick Recovery Assassination 25 2 All healing effects on you are increased by 10/20%. In addition, your finishing moves cost 40/80% less Energy when they fail to hit.
Seal Fate Assassination 25
Cold Blood 1
5 Your critical strikes from abilities that add combo points have a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to add an additional combo point.
Murder Assassination 25 2 Increases all damage caused against Humanoid, Giant, Beast, and Dragonkin targets by 2/4%.
Deadly Brew Assassination 30 2 When you apply Instant, Wound, or Mind-Numbing poison to a target, you have a 50/100% chance to apply Crippling poison.
Overkill Assassination 30 1 Abilities used while stealthed and for 6 seconds after breaking stealth cost 10 less energy.
Deadened Nerves Assassination 30 3 Reduces all damage taken by 2/4/6%.
Focused Attacks Assassination 35 3 Your melee critical strikes have a 33/66/100% chance to give you 2 energy.
Find Weakness Assassination 35 3 Offensive ability damage increased by 2/4/6%.
Master Poisoner Assassination 40 3 Increases the critical hit chance of all attacks made against any target you have poisoned by 1/2/3% and reduces the duration of all Poison effects applied to you by 17/34/50%.
Mutilate Assassination 40
Overkill 1
1 (Active) Instantly attacks with both weapons for an additional 44 for each weapon. Damage is increased by 20% against poisoned targets. Awards 2 combo points.
Turn the Tables Assassination 40 3 Whenever anyone in your party blocks, dodges, or parries an attack your chance to critically hit with all combo moves is increased by 2/4/6% for 8 sec.
Cut to the Chase Assassination 45 5 Your Eviscerate and Envenom abilities have a 20/40/60/80/100% to refresh your Slice and Dice duration to its 5 combo point maximum.
Hunger for Blood Assassination 50 1 (Active) Enrages you, increasing all damage caused by 5%. Requires a bleed effect to be active on the target. Lasts 1 min.

Whereas the other two trees tend to focus on openers and high burst damage, the combat tree focuses on consistent white (auto-attack) damage to provide sustained DPS. Rather than requiring stealth and relying on powerful openers, you can simply run up to most targets and quickly hack away at them. As such, combat tends to be the best tree for fast leveling, since you can move quickly from one enemy to the next with very little downtime instead of trying to sneak up on enemies.

It also features a great number of early skills such as Riposte, Deflection, and Lightning Reflexes that can complement other builds. No rogue should go without 5 points in the first-tier Dual Wield Specialization in order to increase their DPS. In addition, while the two other trees are often limited to use daggers because of their dagger-requiring abilities, combat rogues may also utilize axes, maces and swords in good favor. Finally, because of the abilities Adrenaline Rush, Blade Flurry and Killing Spree, Combat is the best tree for producing AoE-damage and attacking multiple enemies at the same time.

Talent Prereqs Ranks Description
Improved Gouge None 3 Increases the effect duration of your Gouge ability by 0.5/1/1.5 seconds.
Improved Sinister Strike None 2 Reduces the Energy cost of your Sinister Strike ability by 3/5.
Dual Wield Specialization None 5 Increases the damage done by your offhand weapon by 10/20/30/40/50%.
Improved Slice and Dice Combat 5 2 Increases the duration of your Slice and Dice ability by 25/50%.
Deflection Combat 5 3 Increases your Parry chance by 2/4/6%.
Precision Combat 5 5 Increases your chance to hit with weapon and poison attacks by 1/2/3/4/5%.
Endurance Combat 10 2 Reduces the cooldown of your Sprint and Evasion abilities by 30/60 sec and increases your total Stamina by 2/4%.
Riposte Combat 10
Deflection 3
1 (Active) A strike that becomes active after parrying an opponent's attack. This attack deals 150% weapon damage and slows their melee attack speed by 20% for 30 sec. Awards 1 combo point.
Close Quarters Combat Combat 10
Dual Wield Specialization 5
5 Increases your chance to get a critical strike with Daggers and Fist Weapons by 1/2/3/4/5%.
Improved Kick Combat 15 2 Gives your Kick ability a 50/100% chance to silence the target for 2 sec.
Improved Sprint Combat 15 2 Gives a 50/100% chance to remove all Movement Impairing effects when you activate your Sprint ability.
Lightning Reflexes Combat 15 5 Increases your Dodge chance by 1/2/3/4/5%.
Aggression Combat 15 5 Increases the damage of your Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate abilities by 3/6/9/12/15%.
Mace Specialization Combat 20 5 Your attacks with maces ignore up to 3/6/9/12/15% of your opponent's armor.
Blade Flurry Combat 20 1 (Active) Increases your attack speed by 20%. In addition, attacks strike an additional nearby opponent. Lasts 15 sec.
Sword Specialization Combat 20 5 Gives you a 1/2/3/4/5% chance to get an extra attack on the same target after hitting your target with your Sword.
Weapon Expertise Combat 25
Blade Flurry 1
2 Increases your Expertise by 5/10.
Blade Twisting Combat 25 2 Increases the damage dealt by Sinister Strike and Backstab by 5/10%, and your damaging melee attacks have a 10% chance to Daze the target for 4/8 sec.
Vitality Combat 30 3 Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 8/16/25%.
Adrenaline Rush Combat 30 1 (Active) Increases your Energy regeneration rate by 100% for 15 seconds.
Nerves of Steel Combat 30 2 Reduces damage taken while affected by Stun and Fear effects by 15/30%.
Throwing Specialization Combat 35 2 Increases the range of Throw and Deadly Throw by 2/4 yards and gives your Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives abilities a 50/100% chance to interrupt the target for 3 sec. 5/10%.
Combat Potency Combat 35 5 Gives your successful off-hand melee autoattacks a 20% chance to generate 3/6/9/12/15 Energy.
Unfair Advantage Combat 40 2 Whenever you dodge an attack you gain an Unfair Advantage, striking back for 50/100% of your main hand weapon's damage. This cannot occur more than once per second.
Surprise Attacks Combat 40
Adrenaline Rush 1
1 Your finishing moves can no longer be dodged, and the damage dealt by your Sinister Strike, Backstab, Shiv, Hemorrhage, and Gouge abilities is increased by 10%.
Savage Combat Combat 40 2 Increases your total attack power by 2/4% and all physical damage caused to enemies you have poisoned is increased by 1/2%.
Prey on the Weak Combat 45 5 Your critical strike damage is increased by 4/8/12/16/20% when the target has less health than you (as a percentage of total health).
Killing Spree Combat 50 1 (Active) Step through the shadows from enemy to enemy within 10 yards, attacking an enemy every .5 secs with both weapons until 5 attacks are made. Can hit the same target multiple times. Cannot hit invisible or stealthed targets.

The subtlety tree complements rogues who like to stay in the shadows. The tree is based on moving fast and staying hidden while racking up as many combo points in the opening move as possible, and providing more options for escape when things go wrong. With Initiative and Premeditation you can open combat with 4 or 5 combo points racked up, giving you an excellent edge at the start of a fight. Patch 1.12 greatly improved the appeal of the subtlety tree with the addition of Serrated Blades and Deadliness, and the pre-expansion patch 2.01 introduced Shadowstep as a high level talent.

The subtlety tree is generally regarded as the optimal PvP and battleground spec for rogues, with many talents designed for sneaking up on players and stacking high opening burst damage to dispatch them before they have a chance to react. However, with the addition of Honor Among Thieves in 3.0, Subtlety has also become a desirable spec for DPS in dungeons and end-game raids. Subtlety also compliments burst damage. For example if you are doing all weapon attacks and no special abilities you drop about 2k dps. Sinister Strike is the starting attack that build up to Shiv. Shiv is a new ability that replaces Sinister Strike. However, Shiv requires that you put your weapon that does the most damage in your off-hand. This drops about 1k dps when in Assassination and Combat specs. Subtlety lets you make up this damage and gives you even more than you need. A starting lvl 80 could easily top 3k dps in a dungeon. Most damage that comes from this spec is a Main -Handed Fist Weapon and an Off-Handed Dagger.

Talent Prereqs Ranks Description
Relentless Strikes None 5 Your finishing moves have a 4/8/12/16/20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy.
Master of Deception None 3 Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while in Stealth mode. Master of Deception (Rank 3) improves your Stealth to that of a character three levels higher.
Opportunity None 2 Increases the damage with your Backstab, Mutilate, Garrote, and Ambush abilities by 10/20%.
Sleight of Hand Subtlety 5 2 Reduces the chance you are critically hit by melee and ranged attacks by 1/2% and increases the threat reduced by your Feint ability by 10/20%.
Dirty Tricks Subtlety 5 2 Increases the range of your Blind and Sap abilities by 2/5 yards and reduces the energy cost of your Blind and Sap abilities by 25/50%.
Camouflage Subtlety 5 3 Increases your speed while stealthed by 5/10/15% and reduces the cooldown of your Stealth ability by 2/4/6 sec.
Elusiveness Subtlety 10 2 Reduces the cooldown of your Vanish and Blind abilities by 30/60 sec and your Cloak of Shadows ability by 15/30 sec.
Ghostly Strike Subtlety 10 1 (Active) A strike that deals 125% weapon damage and increases your chance to dodge by 15% for 7 sec. Awards 1 combo point.
Serrated Blades Subtlety 10 3 Causes your attacks to ignore 90/5.34 per level/8 per level of your target's Armor and increases the damage dealt by your Rupture ability by 10/20/30%. The amount of Armor reduced increases with your level.
Setup Subtlety 15 3 Gives you a 33/66/100% chance to add a combo point to your target after dodging their attack or fully resisting one of their spells. This cannot happen more than once per second.
Initiative Subtlety 15 3 Gives you a 33/66/100% chance to add an additional combo point to your target when using your Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot ability.
Improved Ambush Subtlety 15 2 Increases the critical strike chance of your Ambush ability by 25/50%.
Heightened Senses Subtlety 20 2 Increases your Stealth detection and reduces the chance you are hit by spells and ranged attacks by 2/4%.
Preparation Subtlety 20 1 (Active) When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on your Evasion, Sprint, Vanish, Cold Blood, and Shadowstep abilities.
Dirty Deeds Subtlety 20 2 Reduces the Energy Cost of your Cheap Shot and Garrote abilities by 10/20. Additionally, your special abilities cause 10/20% more damage against targets below 35% health.
Hemorrhage Subtlety 20
Serrated Blades 3
1 (Active) An instant strike that deals 110% weapon damage and causes the target to hemorrhage, increasing any Physical damage dealt to the target by up to 13. Lasts 10 charges or 15 sec. Awards 1 combo point.
Master of Subtlety Subtlety 25 3 Attacks made while stealthed and for 6 seconds after breaking stealth cause an additional 4/7/10% damage.
Deadliness Subtlety 25 5 Increases your Attack Power by 2/4/6/8/10%.
Enveloping Shadows Subtlety 30 3 Reduces the damage taken by area of effect attacks by 10/20/30%.
Premeditation Subtlety 30
Preparation 1
1 (Active) When used, adds 2 combo points to your target. You must add to or use those combo points within 20 seconds or the combo points are lost.
Cheat Death Subtlety 30 3 You have a 33/66/100% chance that an attack which would otherwise kill you will instead reduce your health to 10% of your maximum health. In addition, all damage taken will be reduced by up to 90% for 3 sec (modified by resilience). This cannot occur more than once per minute.
Sinister Calling Subtlety 35
Premeditation 1
5 Increases your total Agility by 3/6/9/12/15% and increases the percentage damage bonus of Backstab and Hemorrhage by an additional 1/2/3/4/5%.
Waylay Subtlety 35 2 Your Ambush critical hits have a 50/100% chance to reduce the target's melee and ranged attack speed by 20%, movement speed by 70% for 8 sec.
Honor Among Thieves Subtlety 40 3 When anyone in your group critically hits with a damage or healing spell or ability, you have a 33/66/100% chance to gain a combo point on your current target. This effect cannot occur more than once per second.
Shadowstep Subtlety 40 1 (Active) Attempts to step through the shadows and reappear behind your enemy and increases movement speed by 70% for 3 sec. The damage of your next ability is increased by 20% and the threat caused is reduced by 50%. Lasts 10 sec.
Filthy Tricks Subtlety 40 2 Reduces the cooldown of your Tricks of the Trade and Distract abilities by 5/10 secs and Preparation by 2.5/5 min.
Slaughter from the Shadows Subtlety 45 5 Reduces the energy cost of your Backstab and Ambush abilities by 3/6/9/12/15 and the energy cost of your Hemorrhage by 1/2/3/4/5.
Shadow Dance Subtlety 50 1 (Active) Enter the Shadow Dance, allowing the use of Sap, Garrote, Ambush, Cheap Shot, Premeditation, Pick Pocket, and Disarm Trap regardless of being stealthed.

Often it is asked which Rogue Spec provides the highest sustained DPS? This argument can be boiled down to a rather simple explanation of the functions of Mutilate and Combat rogues. The real goal is to cause as much damage as possible over a long period of time. In order to maximize sustained damage, any rogue should equip the heaviest weapons they can utilize effectively.

This being said, combat would appear to be the best tree, but not necessarily. The beauty of mutilate is that it allows for the rogue to supplement a lack of weight in the weapon by multiplying its damage. Let’s assume I am a rogue with two daggers and a mutilate spec. The daggers each have an average strike power of 200. Let’s also assume that I have spec’d with the build linked here, which is one of the most popular builds in the game [1]. Let’s also assume that I have Glyph of Hunger for Blood giving me a 3% boost. With Dual Wield Specialization, and assuming both daggers with strike for 200 damage, I will do baseline 350 damage. Taking into account my critical hit chance of 33% plus the 33% bonus because of my talents, I can safely assume that 2/3 of all Mutilates will be critical strikes. This bumps the damage up to 700. Now I begin to factor in the talent bonuses for damage at 80. What I get is this:

((((((200 + 150) (2) (1.2) + 228) 1.2) 1.3) 1.04) 1.06) 1.08) = 1983.62 damage

That isn’t a lot for a rogue because the weapon is weak, but what if I apply the same formula to someone equipped with 2 Heaven's Fall, Kryss of a Thousand Lies (heroic) with a damage range of 381 – 572? I get this:

((((((572 + 286) (2) (1.2) + 228) 1.2) 1.3) 1.04) 1.06) 1.08) = 4248.07 damage

That is currently the maximum unbuffed potential of Mutilate. This also is entirely independent from the damage caused by poisons and by other moves. This is simply a demonstration of Mutilate’s potential

Key talents

This section outlines talents to really look out for. You won't be able to get them all.

  • Master of Deception and Camouflage reduce the detection range and increase the movement speed for Stealth.
  • Malice increases your critical strike chance, good in combination with Seal Fate.
  • Seal Fate gives you an additional combo point on critical strikes from abilities that give combo points.
  • Cold Blood guarantees a critical strike on the next offensive ability.
  • Blade Flurry increases attack speed by 20% and allows attacks to strike an additional nearby opponent. Lasts 15 seconds.
  • Preparation resets most ability timers; eg. enabling the use of Vanish two times in a single fight.
  • Puncturing Wounds increases the chance of critical backstabs and mutilates.
  • Improved Sinister Strike decreases the energy cost of Sinister Strike.
  • Dirty Tricks increases the range of sap and blind and decreases the energy cost.
  • Improved Slice and Dice increases the duration of slice and dice, allowing rogues to maintain slice and dice at all times.
  • Mutilate, a dagger ability that deals heavy damage against poisoned targets and awards 2-3 combo points.
  • Shadowstep, in which you attempt to step through the shadows and reappear behind your enemy, as well as increase the damage of your next ability. Has many useful tactical applications.
  • Improved Ambush, at max, this gives you an extremely useful +50% crit chance on Ambush.
  • Vitality, a talent that increases your energy regeneration rate by 25% at max. If mixed with Hemorrhage, you will have an extremely fast attack rate with it.

Talent discussion

  • Factual information on specific talents should be added to the specific talent page*
  • Discussion on Strengths and Weaknesses should be saved for the talk page

External links