Evaluating Assassination Rogues with World of Logs

About a year ago, over at Cannot Be Tamed, Jasyla wrote an extensive guide on “Evaluating Healers with World of Logs.” She suggested I write one covering what people could look for on World of Logs to evaluate a rogue’s performance. Sounds like a great idea to me! For this post, I’ll look specifically at the Assassination spec.

One thing to note, as in any evaluation, is context matters. For some fights, performance will vary greatly based on the role they’re playing. From this tier (T12), Alysrazor is a clear example. If a rogue is on the air team, their ideal parse is going to look radically different from one on the ground team. Luckily, this tier provides a few fights that are more reasonable to look at for clues to a rogue’s effectiveness. My favorite fight to use for this purpose is Majordomo, since:

  1. Assassination rogues don’t vary in role on this fight (although a few may go combat in order to help cleave adds).
  2. There’s a decent amount of movement and positioning is important, so staying in rotation can be challenging. That challenge helps provide some separation in performance from top to bottom.
  3. You can tell which rogues are actively avoiding damage and which aren’t.

For the examples below, my examples will be from 25 man Majordomo attempts on normal mode, although I will attempt to keep this guide general enough that it can be used for other fights as well.


Take a look at Damage Done (in yellow). Peaks and valleys are absolutely to be expected, but pay special attention to how low those valleys go. Those can be natural lulls in the fight (Majordomo freezes everyone for a few seconds when seeds come out, for instance), or they can be signs of not keeping DoTs up appropriately. Also, there should be a reasonable upcurve in damage at 35% boss health, so look for sustained damage late in the fight if the mechanics include an execute phase.


Damage by Spell
While rogues are often asked to perform utility roles in a raid (more on that later), we’re primarily there to deal damage. By looking at the details on a rogue’s damage by spell tab, we can get an idea of some of the basics. Let’s go through the spells you’re likely to see at the top of the list and a bit more about each.

Instant Poison: This should be at the top of the list. If a rogue is executing effectively on his rotation, this will top the charts. On a rare occasion, an assassination rogue won’t use Instant/Deadly; some rogues choose Instant/Instant (or even Wound/Wound) for higher burst on Rhyolith to help steering, for example. But those instances are rare and fairly well-documented. When in doubt, look at the rest of the fights in the log, and look for other issues in the logs.

Melee: Second is common here. If this drops to third, it likely means the rogue moved out of range for a short period of time, while poisons continued to tick.

Deadly Poison: This gets procced on a chance basis, and will usually end up near but not at the top. Uptime is important to keep an eye on here, and should be in the very high 90′s.

Envenom: Typically high middle of the pack on a good parse. This is one of Assassinations’s primary finishers. Note: this finishing move gives the rogue a buff also named “Envenom.” The uptime of this buff is important, but can’t be viewed directly from the Damage by spell page. We’ll review that later under “Buffs Cast.”

Mutilate: Assassination’s primary combo-builder. This is a middle-of-the-pack damage dealer.

Venomous Wound: This is from a passive talent; it has a chance to deal additional damage when Rupture and/or Garrote ticks. If they don’t have this, it means either they aren’t using Rupture or Garrote, or don’t have it specced. Either is a clear warning sign. Since it’s a 60% proc at best, there’s a reasonable amount of variance with this talent, but if its damage is quite low, take a closer look at Rupture uptime.

Backstab: This is Assassination’s primary combo-builder when the target’s health is below 35% (because of the Murderous Intent talent. As a result, this is usually near the bottom-middle, but its relative damage is directly related to the length of the execute phase. Again, if it doesn’t appear on a parse of a kill, the rogue has some… opportunities for improvement.

Mutilate Off-Hand: See Mutilate. Not much to see here; should be fairly low.

Rupture: One of those abilities that keeps leaving and entering rogue rotations. Right now, because of Venomous Wounds, it’s definitely in. This should appear, but should be low because it doesn’t do a ton of direct damage. Uptime should be as high as possible, although with fights that have a lot of movement, this could drop significantly.

A few others of note:

Burning Wounds: Will only exist if 2 piece tier 12 is used. Then it’s a passive on melee crits.

Garrote: Should be used to open and after every Vanish (more on Vanish later), but also needs to be applied from behind. As a result, this will occasionally not appear, but if it does, it’s a good sign your rogue knows the fight well enough to position himself appropriately.

Fan of Knives: On fights with adds that require DPS’ing, Fan of Knives is what Assassination rogues will use.


Abilities that should rarely if ever show up in an assassination rogue log:
Ambush, Eviscerate, Sinister Strike: These are abilities used by other specs, and are not part of an assassination rogue’s rotation.


Damage Taken
On most fights, rogues should appear near the bottom of the list in damage taken. Between their threat transference and their survivability cooldowns (Feint, Cloak of Shadows to name two), good rogues can take a burden off their healers. More on this under Buffs Cast, but if a rogue is repeatedly high on the damage taken list, that’s a sign there’s something going on worth investigating.


Buffs Cast

Slice and Dice: Keeping this buff rolling is an important part of rogue damage, and uptime should be as high as possible, ideally in the high 90′s.

Envenom: Another buff where high uptime is important. Unlike some of the other abilities, it’s near impossible to get this very high, but having the skill to manage this uptime separates the good from the great. Typically, the way to get this higher is avoiding clipping, energy pooling, and good timing of abilities. As an example of what is possible, the top Assassination rogue parse on heroic Domo shows an Envenom uptime of 61.8%.

Overkill: The primary reason Vanish is a DPS cooldown for Assassination rogues, this buff should show up multiple times. Vanish is on a 3 minute cooldown, so this won’t appear a lot on most fights, but if it doesn’t appear, the rogue isn’t maximizing his DPS.

Tricks of the Trade: This is a net damage increase for the raid, and also a person DPS boost if they have 4 piece tier. it should be used on cooldown. Also, take a look if you can at the targets (who gets the other side of the buff). This can be toguh with multiple rogues in the raid, but if a rogue is casting it on the tank after the initial one for help with early threat, it’s losing a lot of its benefit.

Cold Blood: A minor DPS cooldown that also returns energy. This should show up frequently in the logs; it’s on a 2 minute cooldown.

Sprint: Sprint is helpful in most fights, and critical in a few. Appropriate use of this spell is fight dependent, but can be an indicator of a rogue who is situationally aware.

Cloak of Shadows: An ability that’s useless on some fights and overpowered on others. Since it provides momentary immunity from certain effects, it is possible to trivialize certain mechanics. A good example of that in this tier is Searing Seeds on Majordomo. While you need to get to a clear spot since you can’t avoid doing damage to others, a well-timed cloak will prevent you from taking any damage from your seed. This is particularly amazing in Heroic, where it’s possible to go the whole fight without taking any damage and therefore keep the legendary concentration buff the entire duration.

Feint: Appropriate use of the AOE damage reduction component to this spell is mandatory to being a good raiding rogue. I’ll be writing a post on feint usage with more details, but for now, with a 10 second cooldown and 6 second duration, this should be used liberally whenever there is AOE damage going out. A quick example: on our last Heroic Beth’tilac kill, I used Feint 16 times. That’s 96 seconds of 50% less AOE damage..

Tol’vir Agility: The buff from the DPS potion of choice for rogues.

Recuperate: On occasion, this will show up in a rogue’s logs. If this shows up every once in a while, it’s a sign the rogue thinks on his feet. If it shows up on the same boss over multiple attempts or kills, it’s probably a strategy decision (for instance, keeping Recuperate up on Chimaeron during Feud phases was part of our strategy). If it shows up often across different fights, it’s a sign the rogue doesn’t trust his healers and/or stands in a lot of bad. The rogue is spending combo points on healing when he should be doing damage.

Landslide: Raiding rogues should be using this enchant on both MH and OH. Uptime % will be lower than for most other classes that use it (in the 30′s), but it is still the most effective enchant.

Magnetic Fireball: This is the buff from an on-use trinket, with a 2 minute cooldown. It should be cast as often as possible. This is the second best trinket available to rogues without raiding (Fluid Death being the best).

Ancient Petrified Seed: This is the buff from an on-use trinket, with a 1 minute cooldown. It should be cast as often as possible. This is available from Avengers of Hyjal rep and should be paired with Fluid Death if the rogue hasn’t won any T12 or heroic T11 trinkets.


Vendetta: A major DPS talent that is on a 2 minute cooldown. Should be cast as often as possible.

Rupture: Ignore Amount and focus on Uptime. See note under Damage by Spell.

Garrote: See note under Damage by Spell.

Deadly Poison: Uptime should be high here.


Power Gains:
Backstab/Murderous Intent: Below 35%, rogues should be backstabbing to build combo points. The primary reasons are the Murderous Intent talent and Backstab glyph, which turn a rogue into a little energy factory, slicing through his foes with abandon. On fights with a reasonably long execute phase, the power gains listed on these two lines should be considerable.

Venomous Vim: The energy gained from rupture/garrote procs, so this will have a direct correlation with rupture uptime.

Relentless Strikes: If the energy gained from this is low, they’re likely not getting enough finishers off or more likely, using finishers with a small number of combo points. If you don’t see this line at all, it means they’re not specced into Relentless Strikes. At that point, cry.


Putting It into Action

Let’s take a look at a parse of mine from Normal Mode 25-man Majordomo and contrast it to one I found on WoL  – I’ll call this rogue Bob (identities of the not-so-innocent will be protected; no offense to any rogue named Bob out there!). A quick note for reference: the duration of the kill in the other parse was 6:28. The duration of our kill was 4:47, 2/3 the length.


Graph: The Y-Axis on these is different, so look carefully. What do we see here?

Bob Graph

Bob Graph

Me Graph

Me Graph

Bob: Very low valleys, dropping below 5k on four separate occasions.
Me: One low valley below 10k (I’m running the seed out at that point).

Execute Phase Damage:
Bob: No real increase in damage late.
Me: Backstab keeps damage at 30k or so sustained (peaking higher with finishers) near the end of the fight.


Damage by Spell:

Bob - Damage by Spell

Bob - Damage by Spell

Me - Damage by Spell

Me - Damage by Spell

Bob: Backstab is nowhere to be seen. Explains the lack of sustained late DPS seen in the graph.
Me: Backstab is in the middle of the pack as far as damage goes.

Venomous Wound:
Bob: Venomous Wound damage is low, relatively.
Me: I’m getting over twice the Venomous Wound DPS than Bob, because…

Bob: Rupture uptime is 32.4%. He’s not getting the procs he needs.
Me: Rupture uptime is 90.3%. This could be higher still, and is something for me to improve.


Damage Taken:

Bob - Damage Taken

Bob - Damage Taken

Me - Damage Taken

Me - Damage Taken

Flame Scythe Damage:
Bob: Under Damage Taken, Bob takes 1.2M damage from Flame Scythe.
Me: I took .5M damage from Flame Scythe. While some of this is because he took more scythes (22 vs. 14), the rest of the discrepancy is directly related to the Feints I used on cooldown in Scorpion phases. We’ll see that under Buffs Cast.

Searing Seed Damage:
Bob: Also under Damage Taken, Bob takes 35K from Searing Seed. Bob ran out, but didn’t use Cloak of Shadows to avoid taking damage. Not a huge deal, but the little things matter, particularly in progression fights.
Me: I was able to cloak mine away, take zero damage, and avoid damaging anyone else.


Buffs Cast


Bob - Buffs

Bob - Buffs

Me - Buffs

Me - Buffs

Slice and Dice:
Bob: Slice and Dice uptime was 90.8%. Not horrible, but could be higher.
Me: Slice and Dice uptime was 95.1%. Reasonable, but room to improve.

Bob: Envenom uptime was 43.6%. Same as Slice and Dice – needs to work on avoiding clipping via energy pooling.
Me: 47.7% for me. I could use some work here as well.

Bob: Probably could have fit another Vanish in to kick in an additional Overkill buff, but that’s fairly minor.
Me: Max possible Overkill buffs.

Tricks of the Trade:
Bob: Tricks of the Trade was used once or max twice if one was before the pull. Bob could be doing more to help his raid’s overall DPS.
Me: 9 times, pretty close to max for the fight (I do tricks before the pull, so it’s really 10).

Cold Blood:
Bob: Cold Blood use looks reasonable here.
Me: Ditto.

Bob: Sprint was never used. He could have taken advantage of this for dropping Seeds off and/or getting back after doing so.
Me: I used Sprint once, for the seeds.

Cloak of Shadows:
Bob: As noted under Damage Taken, no Cloak of Shadows was used.
Me: Cloak immuned the seed.

Bob: Bob ate a lot of Flame Scythe damage he didn’t have to, since he never used Feint. Rogues – Help your healers out!
Me: I used Feint 9 times on the fight. On later Flame Scythes, you can’t get every one with a feint, but you can get most of them.

Tol’vir Agility:
Bob: Bob never used a potion. Execute phase FTW!
Me: Used one potion. I should probably pre-pot, but I generally don’t. I know, I know.



Bob -Debuffs

Bob -Debuffs

Me - Debuffs

Me - Debuffs

Deadly Poison:
Bob: Deadly Poison uptime should have been higher; it should be as close to 100% as possible.
Me: Solid DP uptime.

Bob: As noted earlier, Bob’s Rupture uptime was really low. This is probably his second biggest “opportunity.” (I’ll point out the first in a second).
Me: Could do a bit better on Rupture uptime, but I’ll take it.

Bob: Vendetta debuff looks good.
Me: Ditto.

Bob: Garrote was used as an opener and after every Vanish. Solid.
Me: Ditto.


Power Gains:

Bob - Power Gains

Bob - Power Gains

Me - Power Gains

Me - Power Gains


Relentless Strikes:
Bob: Relentless Strikes gave Bob substantially less energy back, although we used approximately the same number of finishers. Some of the difference could be random, but a more likely explanation is that Bob was using finishers with fewer combo points on average.
Me: Relentless Strikes paid off for me with more energy gains.

Murderous Intent/Backstab:
Bob: Backstab and Murderous Intent were missing from the power gains; this was the number one issue Bob had in this fight. I’m guessing that a good part of the execute phase, Domo was in Scorpion form and Bob didn’t think he could backstab. There is, however, a sweet spot that allows you to take a scythe and still be “behind” the boss. It’s important to do your research and know these things, or you’re not getting the most out of your character.
Me: As a contrast, I gain 1135 energy back from those two talents alone, which makes a huge difference in my execute phase DP output.

Venomous Vim:
Bob: Because of low Rupture uptime, energy gains via Venomous Vim are also low.
Me: Again, I got a bunch of energy back from Venomous Vim.

All told, I gained back 3073 energy from the abilities listed under Power Gains. Bob gained back 1463 in a longer fight. Bob leaves a lot of DPS on the table just from that.


The point of this post is not to show that I’m a great rogue. After all, I could use some improvement in areas I listed above (notably, Envenom and Rupture uptime). But I hope this gives you a list of things to look for if you’re reviewing rogue applicants to your guild, or if you’re a rogue looking to get better at your craft.


Your turn! Is there anything else you look for in your rogues? Anything I’ve listed above that seems wrong to you or that you want more information on? Leave your feedback; I’d love to hear it!

About Tikari

I'm a rogue who likes to raid, guilded with Apotheosis on Eldre'Thalas. If you think I may have pumpkin headed you, it was actually @kurnmogh.
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7 Responses to Evaluating Assassination Rogues with World of Logs

  1. Great post, with a lot of good info for Assassination Rogues. Not just how to read the logs, but how to actually play and optimize their rotation. That being said… Y U NO GO COMBAT FOR DIS!? Especially on 25m, the adds won’t die as fast like on 10m and you will see your DPS skyrocket with bladeflurry.
    Side note: I tried to sneak in as Assassination on our last H Domo kill just to see what sort of numbers I could put up since I’m on the outside not taking any cleaves and the adds get killed before Domo returns to the tank so I get very little bladeflurry action anyway… but the raid lead made me stick as combat for the raid buff. FML.

    • Tikari says:

      Thanks, and great question. I considered switching to combat for Heroic Domo, but with our fulltime combat rogue and warriors in the raid, the adds melted. Also, I try to FoK as adds come out to spread the Master Poisoner debuff, so having me as Assassination provides a side benefit that way.

  2. Josef says:

    I switched to muti because heroic feeding frenzy dropped for me, and I wanted to spec for my weapons. As an out and out combat fan, it has been a tough transition. Following your twitter and now reading this has helped a lot!
    Quick q regarding pre potting – is it worth losing the overkill buff at the start of the fight?

  3. Tikari says:

    Josef – glad I could help!

    As far as pre-potting, you won’t lose the Overkill buff if timed right. Ideally, you’d pot and then stealth right before the pull. You’ll lose a few seconds off the potion, but you should get at least 20 seconds of benefit. A macro can help out here.

    /use potion of the tol’vir
    /cast stealth

    You can also add Tricks of the Trades at the beginning and some folks add Sprint at the end to engage more quickly, although that can be fight dependent.

    If there’s anything else I can help out with, drop me a line.

  4. anon says:

    After reading your article I went through my logs over last 1 month , I have found that my Deadly poison up-time has varied a bit ranging from 93 to 97.6%(on domo/baleroc) . Is it possible to hit 100% uptime on it ? if not then how to achieve uptime as close to 100% as possible ?

    • Tikari says:

      100% is only possible if you pull (and proc DP). You don’t want to do that, but 99+% is possible. Remember, though, that you don’t directly determine length of fight; you only control the absolute time DP is down. As your group gets more efficient and bosses die more quickly, your percent will go slightly down, all other things being equal. What you personally want to work on if uptime is low is engaging and reengaging more quickly (Sprint can help) and doing what you can to keep DP rolling when you are off the boss (via Throw or Fan of Knives).

  5. Pingback: Evaluating Healers with World of Logs – Updated | Cannot be Tamed

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