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Rogue Talents, Part One: The Assassination Tree

By James Wood on November 12, 2008 | Guides | Comments

Rogue Talents, Part One: The Assassination Tree
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Rogue talents are divided into three trees: Assassination, Combat, and Subtlety. You don’t get your first talent point until level 10 and once you’re at 80, that’s 71 talent points to spend across the trees. This keeps Rogue builds unique and diverse, though your options could mean becoming a mace, dagger, sword, or fist weapon user. But don’t spend talents for two weapon specialization talents. It’s a waste of talent points.
 
            All talent trees are tiered. To access each, you need to have spent the (tier number x 5) talent points to access that. Tier 4? 20 talent points, at least. And each tree has talents that have prerequisite talents before they become available, denoted by the arrow from the prerequisite talent pointing to the succeeding talent.
 
            The talent trees from WotLK have undergone some serious changes. Mace Rogues will feel the most transitional pain as their 3-second weapon stun has been replaced by armor reduction. Dagger Rogues can look forward to more talents that focus on their weapon specialty. Swords and Fists won’t feel very much, though the former can benefit from the last talent in the Combat tree. More on that later.
 
            As an Assassination Rogue, you WILL be more about poisons than anyone else. You’ll see your poisons applied more often, do more damage passively and actively, and may even have 3 poisons on one target at the same time. And if you’ve stuck with Daggers for Assassination, you’ll find that some talents support your dagger-requiring abilities with ridiculously painful Effects.
 
Tier 0
            Improved Eviscerate
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Increases the damage done by Eviscerate by (7%/14%/20%).
 
Eviscerate is your bread-and-butter finisher. It’s great for monsters, but if you’re going to fight people with this, be sure that each Eviscerate counts.
 
            Remorseless Attacks
                        Ranks: 2
Effect: After killing an experience or honor-yielding opponent, your next Sinister Strike, Hemorrhage, Backstab, Mutilate, Ambush, or Ghostly Strike gets its critical strike chance increased by (20%/40%).
                        Talent Duration: 20 seconds
 
Why? The points spent in this talent could be utilized better in other talents. The increase in critical chance is significant, but it’s only for twenty seconds and only one shot. Apart from that, having that buff might tempt you into getting into another fight before making sure you’re prepared.
 
            Malice
                        Ranks: 5
                        Effect: Increases critical strike chance by (1%/2%/3%/4%/5%).
 
Rogues are about sneaking and killing quickly. 5 more points in critical chance can go a long way.
 
Tier 1
            Ruthlessness
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Gives your melee finishing moves a (20%/40%/60%) chance of adding a combo point to your target.
 
It might not be 100%, but when this activates, that’s only 4 combo points to create. But only spend less than all the talent points in this talent if you don’t know where else to sink them. Full Ranks or not, this talent can make a difference in your execution.
 
            Blood Spatter
                        Ranks: 2
                        Effect: Increases damage of Garrote and Rupture by (15%/30%).
 
I usually prefer to start my game with Cheap Shot, but if you prefer to deal damage-over-time over stunlocks, be my guest. Bleed Effects will be more Effective against heavily-armored targets, so if you like to teach mail and plate users about why they should stop bothering you; this is one part of your lesson plan.
 
            Puncturing Wounds
                        Ranks: 3
Effect: Increases critical strike chance of Backstab by (10%/20%/30%) and critical strike chance of Mutilate by (5%/10%/15%).
 
Dagger Rogues should put this up as a must-have if they’re not going for Mutilate. This talent is available early in the tree and the critical chance of Backstab alone gives this talent significance.
 
Tier 2
            Vigor
                        Ranks: 1
                        Effect: Increases maximum energy by 10.
 
After being moved up several tiers, only Rogues who delve completely into other tiers should pass up this talent. Certain armor sets can give an extra 10 energy. That 120 energy could be 3 Improved Sinister Strikes, 2 Mutilates or other skill combos that can be fired off with that much energy in one go.
 
            Improved Expose Armor
                        Ranks: 2
                        Effect: Reduces energy cost of Expose Armor by (5/10).
 
Even with the energy cost reduction, Expose Armor is still the last on the list of talents and skills that should be given a glance when compared to the other finishes and skills that those 2 talent points could be spent on.
 
Lethality
            Prerequisite Talent: 5 points in Malice
            Ranks: 5
            Effect: Increases critical strike damage bonus of all combo moves by (6%/12%/18%/24%/30%).
 
What does this equal? Pain, pain, pain. With the 5% critical chance increase from Malice, you stand a very good chance of really hurting something with the critical damage increase. Get it if you’re going to go this far into the Assassination tree.
 
Tier 3
            Vile Poisons                                                                    
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Increases damage dealt by poisons and Envenom by (7%/14%/20%). Your poisons have an additional (10%/20%/30%)           chance to resist dispel Effects.
 
Assassination relies on poisons to get the job done. This talent increases the damage your poisons do. That’s power in Deadly, Instant and other damage-dealing poisons and less chance that someone’s heal could take off your 5-high Deadly Poison stack before you use Envenom.
 
            Improved Poisons
                        Ranks: 5
                        Effect: Increases chance to apply Instant and Deadly poisons to target by (2%/4%/6%/8%/10%).
 
The little bits never seem like much until you actually use them in combat. With 10% higher application rate, you could have a 5-high Deadly Poison stack on someone in a matter of seconds. With slower weapons, you want to be sure that your poison gets there. Shiv does help get the poisons there, but it would be a waste of energy to use that all the time instead of waiting for your melee hits with the increased application rate.
 
Tier 4
            Fleet Footed
                        Ranks: 2
                        Effect: Reduces duration of movement-impairing Effects by (15%/30%) and increases movement speed by (8%/15%). This Effect does not stack with other movement speed increasing Effects.
 
Yeah, you go zoom, zoom, zoom with this, but if you go further down this tree, you’ll find that there’s a talent that automatically applies Crippling Poison. The maximum gain for movement speed from items is 8%, so you’re moving faster by just 7% and no more, but Crippling Poison wipes out 50% or 70% of their movement speed. Catching up to someone shouldn’t be a problem.
 
One of the few applications for this would be a combo with Camouflage. The 15% reduction from that and the 15% gain from this would leave you with 100% movement speed even while stealthed. It’s great for getting into position and striking before they know you’re there and maybe even for chasing if you happen to be very close to your target when the running starts.
 
And stuns don’t count as movement-impairing effects, so you can stop imagining about one less second of Repentance or any other stun on you.
 
            Cold Blood
                        Ranks: 1
                        Effect: Increases critical strike chance of next offensive ability by 100%.
                        Cooldown: 3 minutes
 
Must-get. With Cold Blood, your Eviscerate can kill with that guaranteed crit. Just be careful not to press your combo point generator after you use it.
 
            Improved Kidney Shot
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: While affected by Kidney Shot, the target receives (3%/6%/9%) more damage from all sources.
 
Against monsters or players, if you like to lock someone down with stuns, get this, get behind the enemy, then get to smacking. With the highest Kidney Shot, that’s 6 seconds to deal 9% more damage with your poisons, skills and melee hits… and anyone helping you gets to deal that much more damage too.
 
            Quick Recovery
                        Ranks: 2
                        Effect: All healing Effects on you are increased by (10%/20%). Finishing moves that fail to hit cost (40%/80%) less energy.
 
I would get this for healing, but the energy refund doesn’t seem like too much unless this happens to be the only energy conservation talent you’ve spent on. This does stack with other healing Effects, so potions, bandages, and all those other things that keep you from falling down can get some significant boosts.
 
Tier 5
            Seal Fate
                        Prerequisite Talent: 1 point in Cold Blood
                        Ranks: 5
                        Effect: Critical strikes from abilities that add combo points have a (20%/40%/60%/80%/100%) chance to add an additional combo point.
 
OMFGAWESOMESAUCE. Yes, AWESOMESAUCE. Get this if you can and max it out. While you might burn a lot of energy with point-generating skills, you’ll get 5 in less time with Seal Fate
 
            Murder                                                                     
                        Ranks: 2
                        Effect: Increases damage against Humanoid, Giant, Beast and Dragonkin targets by (2%/4%).
 
It’s a little more damage, but if you stack this with other damage-increasing talents, you’ll really feel the difference. At any other time, treat it only as a point sink.
 
Tier 6
            Deadly Brew
                        Ranks: 2
                        Effect: When you apply Instant, Wound, or Mind-Numbing poison to a target, you have a (50%/100%) chance to apply Crippling Poison.
 
And this is the end of Crippling Poison Application. That means one more slot in your backpack for items and another poison can take Crippling Poison’s place… as long as it’s one of the three poisons mentioned.
 
Don’t even think about skipping this… unless you think poisons are for the weak. Then you should have been a Warrior.
 
            Overkill
                        Ranks: 1
                        Effect: Abilities used while stealthed and after it cost 10 less energy.
                        Talent Duration: During and 6 seconds after stealth.
 
It’s only one talent point for a cost-reducing talent, but 10 less energy could mean an Ambush-Mutilate combo for starters.
 
            Deadened Nerves
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Reduces all damage taken by (2%/4%/6%).
 
Rogues don’t have a lot of armor and a fair amount of HP. If you don’t have Cheat Death, take this into your selection to save you from those nasty two-handed weapons and fireballs.
 

WoW Screenshot

Deadened Nerves: So the only pain you really feel is emotional.

 
Tier 7
            Focused Attacks
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Your melee critical strikes have a (33%/66%/100%) chance to give you 2 energy.
 
I keep thinking of this as the little brother of Combat Potency… and the black sheep of the family. If WotLK doesn’t give Rogues the chance to hit 50% critical rating, I wouldn’t count on this to do the job that well. You will need to score at least 3 critical hits plus the usual energy regeneration for the lowest non-conditional skill, Kick.
 
            Find Weakness
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Offensive ability damage increased by (2%/4%/6%).
 
The more damage you do, the sooner the enemy falls down. Enough said.
 
            Tier 8
            Master Poisoner
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Increases critical hit chance of all attacks against targets you poisoned by (1%/2%/3%). Reduces duration of all Poison Effects on you by (17%/34%/50%).
 
Good and double-good. Even if it might rely on the target to be poisoned before it works offensively, the defensive aspect is just as great. Many bosses and classes use poisons as part of their offensive retinue. Cutting that duration means healers in your party can worry about other people who take the full Effects of those poisons.
 
            Mutilate
Prerequisite Talent: 1 point in Overkill
                        Ranks: 1
                        Effect: Instantly attack with both weapons for 181 damage with each weapon. Damage is increased by 50% against poisoned targets. Awards 2 combo points.
                       Energy Required: 60
                       Requirement: Daggers
This skill is at its maximum trainable level.
 
If you can get this and you do use daggers, do it. Though Backstab does a significant amount of damage, you still need to get behind the enemy to do it. Mutilate no longer needs that in WotLK and that means very frequent use in combat against poisoned targets. That’s a lot of hurt with one button press… or two with Vigor and a set bonus.

WoW Screenshot

What this game needs is more gory Effects. Then Mutilate would be really satisfying.

            Turn the Tables
                        Ranks: 3
                        Effect: Whenever anyone in your party or raid blocks, dodges, or parries an attack, your critical hit chance with all combo moves is increased by (2%/4%/6%).
                        Talent Duration: 8 seconds
 
There’s only one way this skill would be acceptable and that would be if it could also be activated by you out of a party or raid group. Of course, if there are more people in the group, there are more chances for this to activate and give you greater damage potential. If it does and if you dodge attacks as fast as a kung-fu master, then 3 points in this might not be so bad.

WoW Screenshot

Teamwork leads to phat lewt. Phat lewt leads to power. Power leads to the Pwnage.

Tier 9
            Cut to the Chase
                        Ranks: 5
                        Effect: Your Eviscerate and Envenom abilities have a (20%/40%/60%/80%/100%) chance to refresh your Slice and Dice duration to its 5 combo point maximum.
 
A must-have for Haste Rogues. All three skills involved in this talent need combo points and this talent makes using Slice and Dice redundant. That’s two finishers for the price of one, even if Kidney Shot’s not a trigger.
 
Tier 10
            Hunger for Blood
                        Ranks: 1
                        Effect: Increases all damage you cause by 3%. If used while a Bleed Effect is afflicting you, it will attempt to remove it and refund 15 energy. This Effect can be stacked 3 times.
                       Energy Required: 30
                       Skill Duration: 30 seconds
 
Don’t look to this just for its extra stackable damage alone. Bleed Effects are one of the worst things a non-dwarf Rogue can have. It can break stealth and Bleed Effects just plain suck when they rip huge chunks off your HP bar when you’re already taking tons of damage from lucky melee shots or spells. Pop Hunger for Blood and you get rid of that Bleed and get 15 energy to spend as you please.

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