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Build Shop: Rogue 41/20/0

Chris Jahosky

It's Tuesday, which means that talent junkies everywhere get their fix (well, part of it, anyway) -- welcome to Build Shop! Last time we talked rogues in this column it was all about the Subtlety tree. Well, this time we're going into a heavy Assassination / Combat build, known to some as "Combat Mutilate."

Unlike builds that incorporate talents from the Subtlety tree to go along with Mutilate, this build is aimed at rogues who want a competitive PvE build that doesn't suck the fun (and the life) out of you like some other PvE-centric builds.

Since Mutilate is an attack that must be made from behind, like Backstab or Ambush, it has a positional requirement. And yes, for it to do the maximum amount of damage, your target must be poisoned. And yes, there are several other things you can do if you want to buff up your damage even further. It's the price you pay for a build that's fun to play, with quick combo point generation and the potential for a lot of damage.

When Burning Crusade came out, I shelled out the gold to respec to Mutilate, and my Rogue has been using it ever since. This is one build where you really have to pay attention in combat if you want to maximize your damage. Like many builds that utilize the Combat tree, Slice and Dice is your best friend, and should be up as long as you're in combat. The key to this build is not just generating combo points, but knowing when to use them to get the most effect out of Find Weakness (more on that later).

The other consideration is Mutilate itself -- it requires daggers in both hands, and for you to be behind your target. In an instance, with a tank, this is not that difficult; however, when you're by yourself it can be a bit of a pain. In addition, the damage Mutilate does is increased by 50% if your target is poisoned. Since Mutilate's damage is somewhat lackluster without a poisoned target, you'll always want to have poison on your blades. Of note is that it doesn't have to be your poison for you to gain the increased damage -- any "poison" debuff on the target will do (like a Hunter's Serpent Sting).

You'll generally want to have Find Weakness up when using Mutilate. The best way to do this is build your combo points and wait for your energy bar to fill back up almost completely, use a finisher to proc Find Weakness, then let your target have it. If you're watching your energy ticks (easier to do with an addon), you should easily be able to use Mutilate twice before FW fades.

Now that you've got the basics, let's jump in and examine these talents, shall we?

Assassination (41 points)

  • Malice (5/5) - Increases crit chance by 5%. Pretty much a staple in any rogue build. Since Mutilate doesn't have any talents that increases its chance to crit (unlike Backstab and Ambush), a solid crit rating helps out a lot.
  • Ruthlessness (3/3) - Combo point generation is one of the strengths of this build, and this often helps rebuild your CP after you've used them.
  • Murder (2/2) - A pretty solid damage increase to 4 common enemy groups.
  • Lethality (5/5) - Increases the critical strike damage of your Mutilate (and many other abilities) by 30%. Definitely pick this one up.
  • Relentless Strikes (1/1) - On a full 5 point combo, you'll get 25 energy back when you use a finisher. Excellent for helping you build up more CP right away.
  • Vile Poisons (5/5) - Increases the damage done by your poisons and Envenom by 20%. You'll be using poisons a lot, and if you're looking to use a burst damage finisher with this build you should be using Envenom anyway, so this isn't a bad way to spend 5 points.
  • Cold Blood (1/1) - An oldie but a goodie. When that next attack just has to crit, use this.
  • Improved Kidney Shot (3/3) - Better in instances than in raids, but an extra 9% damage from everyone who's hitting your target is nothing to laugh at.
  • Quick Recovery (2/2) - You'll take 20% more healing from everything, including potions and bandages as well as spells. Additionally, if you miss a finisher you don't lose much energy, which makes this a solid talent.
  • Fleet Footed (2/2) - Since mobility is a pretty big part of this build, increased resistance to snares isn't a bad thing. You'll also run 15% faster on foot, which can be handy.
  • Seal Fate (5/5) - One of my favorite talents ever. When you crit an ability that grants a combo point, you get 1 additional combo point. It's important to note that even though Mutilate grants 2 combo points, you'll only get 1 extra combo point on a crit, not 2. This is still a fantastic talent, and can generate CP very quickly.
  • Vigor (1/1) - 10 extra energy. Use it wisely.
  • Find Weakness (5/5) - Increases the damage of all your offensive abilities by 10% for 10 seconds any time you use a finishing move. Try to save your energy to make the most of these 10 seconds whenever possible.
  • Mutilate (1/1) - This is the whole reason we're here. Attack instantly with both of your daggers for an additional 101 damage, giving you 2 combo points for 60 energy. With this attack, either dagger can crit, both can crit, or they can both do regular damage. With double crits under the right conditions, you can pump out Ambush-style damage without stealth very quickly.

Combat (20 points)
  • Improved Gouge (3/3) & Improved Sinister Strike (2/2) - Kind of filler in this build. You'll use Gouge to help extend your stunlocks in solo play, but you shouldn't ever use Sinister Strike with this build. Feel free to shift some points into Lightning Reflexes to increase your Dodge instead.
  • Improved Slice and Dice (3/3) - You should generally have Slice and Dice up as much as possible with this build, and this talent increases its duration by 45%, freeing you up to use other finishers more often.
  • Precision (5/5) - Like many PvE Combat builds, it's a good idea to have a lot of hit rating to help maximize your white damage. This gives you an additional 5% hit, making it a very solid talent.
  • Endurance (2/2) OR Improved Sprint (2/2) - I'm taking Endurance because I like the cooldown reduction, but take Improved Sprint if you so desire.
  • Dual Wield Specialization (5/5) - Increases the damage done by your offhand weapon by 50%. This is a big one, because it also applies to your Mutilate in addition to increasing your white damage.

So there you have it -- Combat Mutilate. It's one of the most fun builds I've ever played, and if you can master the positioning, poisoning, and timing, your reward is some incredible combo point generation and great damage. It's definitely viable for raiding, though your damage will take a hit on any fight where the target can't be poisoned. If you're bored with your current build I'd definitely give this a try! You won't be disappointed.

That wraps up this edition of Build Shop, but I'll be back again next week! What do you want to see on Build Shop? Send me an email with your questions or comments, and we'll talk shop.

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