Talents and Talent Builds

Talents are, by design, the most personal choices you have for your character.  Most people look for cookie-cutter builds online and follow what someone else has done before.  I’m sure others have crunched the numbers and found the perfect build for the highest DPS, but there are a lot of possibilities in the three Talent Trees for taking advantage of the abilities of the Rogue. 

I’m going to analyze each tree for you and give you some ideas for builds.  However, I hope you explore all the talents in all the trees and find something that is right for your style of play.


The Assassination tree focuses on finishing moves and Poisons.  It is heavy on critical strikes.  When using this tree look at the key talents: Lethality, Vile Poisons, Cold Blood and Seal Fate.  This all culminates in the 41 point talent (called so, because it requires a minimum of 41 points) Mutilate.  Mutilate takes advantage of both Dual Wield and Poisons to do massive finishing damage.  Often overlooked talents include all the Poison talents (I wonder why people underestimate the usefulness of poisons) and the CP generating talent Relentless Strikes.


This is probably the most popular tree and, true to my personality, my least favorite.  It focuses on damage and, duh, combat.  You’ll find bonuses to hit and to damage.  Key talents in this tree are: Riposte, Blade Flurry, all of the Specializations, and Aggression.  This tree builds up to Surprise Attacks.  Surprise Attacks takes the “to hit” idea to the next level.  Your finishing moves cannot be dodged.  Of course, you can still miss or be parried.  It also increases your damage.  I recommend only taking one of the specializations if you go up this tree.  Pick a weapon and stick to it.  This is what is meant when someone says “I’m Combat Swords” They are Combat spec with the Sword specialization.  It is thought that Combat Spec is the highest DPS spec.  If anyone has hard numbers to back that up, I’d love to see it.


Most people consider this tree a PvP tree, but I see it’s potential in survivability, which is a Rogue weakness.  This tree specializes in damage avoidance and burst damage.  This means Stealth and opening moves.  This tree also has the most CP generating talents, so it helps in finishing moves as well.  Key talents are: Master of Deception, Camouflage, Ghostly Strike, Hemorrhage, Premeditation and Preparation.  There is also a significant agility boost just before the 41 point talent Shadowstep.  Shadowstep works like a targeted Blink spell.  You vanish from in front of an enemy and appear behind him, giving you a damage bonus to your next attack.

Crossing Trees

You could spend all your points in one tree, but certain combinations of talents in different trees are useful.  When you choose which tree you want to follow, take a look at the other trees and see if there is a first, second or third tier talent that could contribute to your total build. 
Here are some examples:
            – Setup in the Subtlety tree is boosted by Lightning Reflexes in the Combat tree.
            – Seal Fate in the Assassination tree is boosted by Opportunity in the Subtlety tree.
            – Improved Gouge in Combat goes well with Improved Backstab in Assassination.
Take a good look at the talent description.  See if the talent affects an ability from another tree.
            – Lethality (Hemorrhage and Ghostly Strike)
            – Opportunity (Mutilate)
            – Remorseless Attacks (Ghostly Strike)


Here are some ideas for builds.  Take a look at exactly which talents have been chosen.  I’ve worked on these builds for some time and have chosen and ignored talents for specific reasons.  When applicable, I’ll try to explain those reasons, but feel free to experiment by swapping out talents.  See if you can improve on the build.  If you can, send the link to me and I’ll evaluate it and include the changes in this guide.  If you have your own build that has been especially good for you and I’ve not included it, send me the link!

Burst Damage Builds (Combo Points):

Seal Fate/Premeditation Build

This is an Assassination/Subtlety hybrid build, with Seal Fate as the pinnacle of the Assassination side and Premeditation on the Subtlety side.  It concentrates on Crits in order to build CP with Seal Fate. This build sacrifices 5 percent dodge (and the corresponding CP from Setup) in order to get the 2CP of Premeditation.  This can be mitigated with +dodge or +agi gear.

Shadowstep Build

This is CP generation without Seal Fate.  I find that the CP generated with this build is sufficient.

Steady DPS Builds (Hits and Crits):

Mutilate Build (Crits)

This is the Assassination build to get the 41 point talent Mutilate.  I’ve tried my best to get talents that work off each other or see an immediate benefit while leveling.  The 5 points in Opportunity are there to give Mutilate a little bit more of a boost.  Not a good build for 60+ PvP taking Resilience into account.

Surprise Attacks Build (Hits)

This is the 41 point Combat build ending in Surprise Attacks.  This build has the Mace specialization and should be great for PvP, but you can choose any specialization you like, or put the five points elsewhere.

Venomblood Build (Poisons)

Assassination Build focusing on Poisons and Crits

Experimental DPS Build

I tried to pick all the +damage talents and took into account talent coordination between trees.  Someone try it and see how you do or if you can improve it.

Build your own
            – If you are going to group a lot, I recommend the Subtlety tree.  If not the whole tree, then at least Master of Deception and Camouflage.
            – Remember that Rogues are fragile.  Try to get avoidance abilities like Lightning Reflexes.
            – Combine talents to work off each other.  I don’t know about the other classes, but Rogue talents blend nicely, both within each tree and among all three trees. 

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

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Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.


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