The assassin is the classic dual dagger wielding stealth class found in nearly every MMO, able to dish out a great amount of damage while not bringing attention to themselves before melting silently into the shadows. The assassin of Age of Conan has markedly less crowd control than its counterparts found in other MMOs only wielding a fear, knock back and short stun when talent points are put toward it. This means that an assassin focuses on nothing but damage and avoiding aggro in any fight, whether it be PvP or PvE.
As of the new 1.05 patch: The Gangs of Tarantia, the assassin, like many other classes, has seen some significant changes. Now with more hit points and better armor returns the assassin can take a little more punishment as well as take advantage of the now improved lotus feat tree that allows for more flexibility against casters.
Light armor and a big stamina pool means that the assassin is the fastest class in the game when it comes to combat. They can deal massive amounts of damage in rapid succession, as opposed to the stun and "one shot" kill their barbarian counterparts have. Along with hard hitting combos, the assassin has a variety of debuffs such as snares, damage reducers and damage modifiers that are useful in both PvP and PvE. Assassins are very mobile in combat, the best ones able to dodge attacks while quickly landing their own until a much stronger enemy is whittled down to death.
Cloth armor and no damage mitigation buffs that other cloth wearers enjoy means assassins are the weakest class in the game when it comes to taking raw damage. Limited to daggers and crossbows only as offensive weapons, this offers very little variety in game play but in a raid setting the daggers will go to an assassin above any other class and the cloth armor specialized toward assassins not only looks better but wont be rolled on by all cloth wearers. Daggers also offer the smallest hit box in the game meaning it is very difficult to keep a target in your range of attack, especially if they move before your combo finishers. Many argue that in PvP the assassin is outclassed in every aspect by the Barbarian who has heavier armor, more crowd control and similar damage output. The assassin is considered one of the harder classes in AoC and is not recommended for new players. Keep in mind that an assassin no matter what buffs or talents he/she has is still a cloth wearer and will be targeted to be killed quickly in massive PvP fights.
Leveling and PvE: Leveling an assassin solo is not the quickest or easiest task but all around the assassin is not as hard to level as say, the soldier class. The assassin stays at a steady leveling speed until 70 where the solo leveling is made easier with the amazing feat skills offered in both assassin trees. Compared to other melee non-AoE classes, the assassin is fast and furious with fights lasting only seconds (whether you win or lose). My biggest tip for leveling an assassin solo is to know when to run and when to fight. If you don't have any cool downs and have a few mobs running at you go ahead and run around a corner to regain some health first instead of going to what is surely death. For six man instances and raiding assassins are the bread and butter of melee DPS, usually able to be on any mob the second a tank picks it up as when in the presence of a good soldier the assassin will not pull agro no matter how hard he hits. Because they have a low agro/high damage output and relativity limited loot tables assassins are welcomed in any group, usually sitting around the top of the damage done charts.
Keeping a moving player in your extremely small hit box while dodging around so that you are not one shotted in your cloth armor is just business as usual for the assassin. If you are caught out of stealth it is certain the enemy will target you first for the fast kill. Many people believe the assassin should be picking off healers or squishy targets in the backfield, but for Age of Conan this does not always hold true. In big fights it is nearly impossible for the assassin to stealth after the initial attack because someone in the group is most likely still fighting making stealth impossible, so nearly all of the assassin's time in PvP will be assisting other melee targets rather than picking off healers 1v1. Most other melee classes do not have the snares that the assassins possess, making them important in slowing down slippery targets. Likewise the assassin can use the more heavily armored allies as shields when all eyes are on them. Playing an assassin in PvP involves some of the most intense moving and attacking skills from the player, so be well practiced before stepping foot onto the field of battle. Also remember to run away when necessary. There's no reason to stick around when targeted by a group because even a high evade chance won't stop a rabid group of mages and soldiers from tearing you limb from limb. Don't worry about being called a coward though; one, assassins are hard to catch by nature and two, anyone who goes into a fray of heavily armed combatants in nothing but thin cloth and small daggers can't rightfully be called a coward.
Lotus: The poison tree, offers up a healing castable, some crowd control and some very nice damage modifiers this tree enhances the assassins poison stance while creating even stronger DoTs and debuffs. The bottom of the tree offers an AoE fear and berserker effect. Lotus is considered the "leveling" build by many as it is abandoned around level 70 for the corruption tree. Do not be fooled however because in the right hands a lotus assassin with some points in general is a force to be reckoned with especially after the lotus tree received some upgrades as of 1.05.
Corruption: The heavy damage tree, has feats that increase off hand hit chance, critical strike chance and over all damage but also offers some health leaches and a very handy charge/stun and single target fear at the bottom. This tree makes use of soul shards for many of its abilities which are gained through landing attacks, this means you must hit the opponent a few times in corruption stance to pull off some of your more powerful moves. One can become extremely deadly with this spec with very little effort on their part making it one of the stronger feat trees in the game.
If you like the feel of a more over powered or naturally stacked class then the assassin may be nothing but a waste of space that dies too much in PvE. It is notoriously one of the roughest classes for PvP or PvE and should not be rolled lightly which is why I will not recommend it for any players completely new to MMOs or to those who are extremely unfamiliar with the AoC combat system. However an assassin in the hands of a skilled player is a force to be feared, to some even hearing a rumor that a deadly assassin is close by will cause them to look over their shoulders constantly while sweating bullets at the slightest hint of someone breaking out of stealth. So if you are looking for a challenging, fast paced and highly respected/feared end game class the tried and true assassin is the way to go.