The first question you always ask yourself when youre starting to gear out is what spec am I playing? Duh. Well, youre going to be playing Assassination for the purposes of gearing out. Why you ask? Because Combat is god awful and subtlety values roughly the same stats and uses the same type of weapons as Assassination so youre going to hit two birds with one stone.
Assassination is the go-to spec for PvE due to its high single target damage and respectable AoE and Subtlety is the current powerhouse PvP spec for Rogues, so youll be served well by gearing these specs out.
Youll be using daggers. Theyre a great weapon type because no other class needs em so if they drop theyre likely to be yours. As youll note from our handy Rogue Guide, you will want to be using a 1.8 speed mainhand and a 1.4 speed offhand. The key is where to get them.
Dagger of Restless Nights Decently itemized dagger, comes from your factions Tol Barad vendor.
Elementium Shank This dagger is crafted and has great stats. The price on these sorts of things has dropped significantly since Cataclysm release and its a great option for someone who has money to spare.
Vicious Gladiators Shanker Yep, thats right. The PvP mainhand is not only easy to get, it is by far the most powerful pre-raid weapon. Pick this up if youre willing to do Arenas or Rated BGs for a bit!
Throat Slasher This offhand is available from the Justice Point vendor. Its well itemized and equivalent to the best non-PvP daggers available pre-raid.
Vicious Gladiators Shiv Again, if youre willing to spend the time to do a bit of PvP this is a great pickup. It is item level 359 and has higher DPS than any other offhand available pre-raid.
Fluid Death? Check. PvP Dagger? Check. There are some fabulous pieces of loot to be had pre-raid!
Agile Bio-Optic Killshades These Engineering-only glasses are extremely strong and are the best helm available well into tier 11. However, they're pricy and only available to Engineers so they're not for everyone.
Mask of Vines Available from the Justice Point vendor. This is a fairly well itemized piece of gear and has a meta socket in it which, surprisingly, a lot of pre-raid rares do not!
Helm of Numberless Shadows This piece drops from High Priestess Azil in the Stonecore Heroic. This is the best pre-raid piece other than the Killshades due to its high amount of hit rating (which you'll be starved for pre-raid).
Defias Brotherhood Vest Drops from the first boss in Heroic Deadmines. This piece is dead perfectly itemized for Assassination PvE with high amounts of haste, mastery and great socket colors. This is by far the best rare available.
Assassin's Chestplate This is the crafted leather chest. In my opinion it is absolutely not worth the money, but it does have slightly better stats as well as being higher item level if that's your thing. This piece is barely better than the Defias Brotherhood Vest.
Vancleef's Boots Itemized with haste and mastery, this piece drops from Vanessa Vancleef in Heroic Deadmines and is the best pair of boots available pre-raid.
Crafty's Gaiters Nearly identical to Vancleef's Boots but has a slightly worse socket color and bonus. These drop from Siamat in Heroic Tol'vir and are a great piece if you can't get the aforementioned boots.
Boots of the Predator Baron Ashbury in Heroic Shadowfang Keep also drops a pair of boots, these have hit and critical strike and a mediocre socket bonus. The only thing these boots have going for them is their 346 item level.
Beauty's Chew Toy The beastly "Beauty" in Heroic Blackrock Caverns drops the best pair of legs available pre-raid. Itemized with haste and a huge chunk of hit as well as great sockets, you can't go wrong with these.
Leggings of the Burrowing Mole This is more Justice Point gear. Mastery and expertise are great stats for Rogues, so these are a decent get. If you're not having any luck with the Chew Toy leggings then these are worth picking up.
Caridean Epaulettes These drop from Commander Ulthok in Heroic Throne of the Tides. Haste, mastery, and a red socket push these over the top as the best pre-raid shoulders.
Embrace of the Night As always, the Justice Point gear is worth taking a look at. This pair has hit and critical strike and would be number one without the latter stat. Critical strike is typically something you want to avoid as Assassination. This is a decent piece of gear though and worth getting if you're having no luck with the Caridean Epaulettes.
Belt of Nefarious Whispers This crafted epic belt is awesome. Hit, mastery, and a highly generous budget of agility as well as its high item level make this by far the best piece of pre-raid gear and in fact it's as good as anything that drops outside of heroic raid content. Downside? You have to pay for it!
Quicksand Belt If you're too cheap to buy the Belt of Nefarious Whispers then this belt can be bought for a lot less from the Ramkahen vendor in Uldum. You're going to be gaining reputation with Ramkahen in order to get your helm enchant anyway, so this should be readily available.
Poison Fang Bracers There are only really two bracer options pre-raid so if you can get your hands on either one then consider it a job well done. These are the better pair, dropping from Temple Guard Anhuur in the Halls of Origination. They have haste and hit rating which are always good to stack.
Double Dealing Bracers The other bracers drop from Lord Walden in Heroic Shadowfang Keep. This pair has critical strike and mastery which is slightly inferior to the Poison Fang Bracers but like I mentioned above either one is okay.
Signet of the Elder Council This is the only epic ring available pre-raid that won't cost you an arm and a leg on the auction house. It also has the added bonus of having haste and mastery which are the best stats! This ring is worth the grind to exalted with the Earthen Ring.
Nautilus Ring Neptulon's Cache (the chest after the Neptulon encounter in Throne of the Tides) drops this mediocre ring. Critical strike and haste aren't amazing, but item level 346 rings aren't easy to come by so this is as good as anything. You do need two rings after all.
Ring of Blinding Stars Isiset in Heroic Halls of Origination drops the best non-epic ring for Rogues. Haste and mastery seal the deal and if you can bring yourself to farm Halls of Origination for this piece then do so.
Ring of Dun Algaz Another mediocre piece. This one has hit and critical strike on it and drops from Forgemaster Throngus in Grim Batol.
Skullcracker Ring Why must they put critical strike on everything?!? This crit and mastery ring drops from Rom'ogg Bonecrusher, the first boss in Heroic Blackrock Caverns. Another half-assed item.
Acorn of the Daughter Tree This is the neck you can buy once you're revered with the Guardians of Hyjal faction. It has haste and mastery, need I say more? Get this neck, it is the best pre-raid neck and is also easy to get!
Mouth of the Earth This hit and expertise neckpiece is the runner up. It drops from Earthrager Ptah in Heroic Halls of Origination and is absolutely not worth your time since the Acorn is better and easier to get!
Cape of the Brotherhood This cloak drops from Captain Cookie in Heroic Deadmines. Hit and haste are always good and make this cloak the runner-up to best in slot pre-raid.
Kaleki Cloak A great cloak with a cool name. This one drops from General Husam in Heroic Tol'vir. Hit and mastery make this cloak edge out Cape of the Brotherhood as the best pre-raid cloak.
Tia's Grace Get this trinket because it'll last you for a long, long while. This one drops from Siamat in Heroic Tol'vir and has a big brick of mastery with a stacking agility buff. It is absolutely awesome and better than a lot of epic trinkets. You're going to have to fight every other agility user for this one though so roll high!
Fluid Death I haven't been mentioning Valor Point gear thusfar because it's kind of pseudo raid gear. However, this is the one piece worth mentioning because it's so powerful. Fluid Death is the Valor Point trinket and has a huge brick of hit rating and a stacking agility proc. This thing is the second best trinket in the game currently including Heroic raid trinkets. This should be the first piece of Valor Point gear that you buy, it's that good.
Key to the Endless Chamber This drops from the second boss in Heroic Stonecore and is just behind Tia's Grace in strength. It has a big chunk of hit rating and a strong agility proc.
Left Eye of Rajh Expertise and a big agility proc put this trinket solidly in fourth place for the pre-raid trinkets. This one drops from Rajh in Heroic Halls of Origination.
Picking and Choosing
Since we're talking about pre-raid gear the big assumption is that the point of picking up all this gear is so that we can raid in it, right? That being said make sure that you remember that these items are interchangable. Some item slots obviously have more or less options than others, but if you can manage to put yourself in a full set of item level 346 gear then you can consider it a job well done.
At this point an average item level of 346 is considered the bare minimum required to raid. Whether that's fair or not isn't up to me, it's up to the people you'll be trying to convince to bring you along! You can supplement your gear with pieces from Baradin Hold if you're lucky and with pieces that you buy with the Valor Points you'll earn from your daily heroic. You can also buy epic items from the auction house, but most of them are unfortunately junk other than the awesome belt that I mentioned earlier.
With your Valor Points you'll be wanting to invest in tier pieces. Those always impress potential raiding partners and have the added bonus of being incredibly good items. Some final advice I'll leave you with is that you should always be thinking about what loot you can realistically get and factor that into your Valor Point purchases. That means that you should be buying your tier chestpiece and Fluid Death first since the tier gloves and legs can drop from Baradin Hold. As for the rest, focus on learning your class mechanics and itemizing properly. Playing well is much more important than gearing well. Good luck!
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