UPDATED FOR 4.3.2.
A commonly used Subtlety PVP tree can be found here. Before you use this and complain when smashing your face on the keys doesn't work, please read the rest of this guide, especially the spec breakdown at the bottom. Subtlety's tree is very customizable for PVP. A spec that works fine for someone else may not work for you, and vice versa. A good habit to get into is to ask other rogues why they do what they do, and nicely point them on their way if they seem not to understand something. I've made friends across servers that have found me after and thanked me for giving them tips. My name is Batymen on Durotan US (horde side). If you see a subtlety rogue with a sword, ask them why. Chances are, they just haven't read this guide yet. Don't be a jerk about it. It's just for Cataclysm any future expansion this guide will be its out-dated.
In Catacylsm-era PvP, control is the most important tool a Rogue has. Controlling the tempo of a fight is the main utility of a rogue with modern levels of resilience and health. The "Glass Cannon" paradigm is no longer the mantra of the class. A geared and skilled rogue can still put out some impressive numbers, but that's not the primary function of the class any longer.
Many of Blizzard's central design paradigms were challenged in 4.0, one of them being the rotation system. In its place stands the priority system, which is more rewarding to effective critical thinking and gut calls than repeating a single pattern. While this has had more profound ramifications to PVE, it has also changed how PVP works. In this guide, you will not find a single chain of abilities that, when used against other players, will result in their death. There are still class-by-class sections, yes, some of which go into details about specs, but they merely list priorities and situations to be aware of.
In general, ranged classes will most likely try to kite you, mages and hunters are the most notorious for it. Melee classes will either try to shut you down or burn you down. In a competitive PVP setting, anyone that's trying to kill you and failing is doing exactly what you want them to. As a modern rogue, you must be intimately aware of almost every one of your abilities and cooldowns.
For anyone that may have missed a few patches (or expansions), here's some mechanical changes you may not be fully aware of:
- All hard CC effects (polymorph, sap, fear, etc.) have an 8-second duration on players, baseline.
- Diminishing Returns (DR's) have been streamlined. All of your stuns, all of your slows, all of your silences all share their respective DR timers. The first stun on the same target lasts for 100% of its intended duration, the second one on the same target within 15 seconds of the last lasts for 66% of its normal duration, the third, 33%, and the target will be immune to the fourth. Interpret this as: Blizzard has finally broken stunlocking. However, let's say you've gotten your stun DR to 100%, and you use a silence. Provided you haven't used any others in the past 15 seconds (likely, as a rogue), it will run to full duration. That is why is often used in place of against casters; unless you have Improved Kick, Garrote is the only silence effect available to a rogue.
- Diminishing Returns are set relative to you and each target. Your stuns may not be working against the Shaman you've been beating on, but a fresh rogue's will work just fine. On that same note, you may not be able to stun the Shaman anymore, but your stuns will work just fine on his Druid buddy.
- Within each category of CC, there are sometimes abilities that seem to have identical effects, but they operate off the DR for that category. This isn't a bug, there are certain spells and abilities that have nearly unique spell texts. Death Coil (warlock ability), for example, has a "Horrify" effect. The only other spell to share that specific text (as opposed to the more common "Fear" effect) is Psychic Scream. More relevant to you, Sap is an "Incapacitate" effect, not a stun; the only other spell that comes to mind that shares this is Repentance. Blind is a "Disorient" effect, which is only shared with Scatter Shot. This means that each of them will always work to full duration, unless damage or trinkets are involved. Neither Sap nor Blind will affect or be affected by the status of your Stun DR vs your target.
- Resilience no longer reduces the chance you'll be crit by enemies, or whatever it was in older iterations. Resilience is a defensive stat that reduces the damage you're dealt by enemy players and their minions by a pure percentage. It does technically scale down, but only to compensate for the stat's inherent tendency to compound its effect. There is no soft or hard cap; more resilience will always provide a meaningful amount of resistance. As of patch 4.3, with common player resilience levels around 4k, a 40% reduction in damage should be assumed. For more details on how the stat stacks up, refer to this thread.
- Healers have been balanced to be almost completely self-sustaining against a single enemy. A skilled rogue that's on his game has a shot at killing a healer that isn't on theirs, but you're still not likely to kill one by yourself. However, what you can (and should do) is stun, interrupt, and silence them to the point where they're ineffective and your team can take down the damage-dealers.
- Vengeance no longer stacks on players in PVP combat. Prior to this change, it was suggested that rogues Shiv the buff off tanks after a burst phase, but this is no longer necessary.
- In Cataclysm, was retuned, and it now increases your move speed by 70% for 8 seconds, on a one-minute cooldown. Restless Blades in Combat also reduces its cooldown during fights, and there's a major glyph for sprint that increases its buff to a full 100% speed increase.
Knowing what other classes do and how each spec works is a critical part of learning to be effective in PVP, and some of that is what this page covers with its class-by-class priority guides. I strongly encourage you to roam through other class guides and learn their toolkits and strategies.
As has always been true, the stealth game is still a very important part of a rogue's skillset. Positioning, surprise, and timing are critical to separating a great rogue from a good one. Along with those other three things, stealth provides survivability, damage output, and control options. Following is a list of methods for a rogue to get back into stealth during combat.
- . Using the vanish ability on a 3-minute cooldown untalented.
- , run out of combat (breaking line of sight is important)
- , with on the off-hand weapon.
- , run out of combat.
Unfortunately, bandaging is no longer as viable a heal as it once was. outdoes it by a landslide, and is applicable from stealth. If you can find cover, eating conjured food will quickly bring your health bar up, but it will remove you from stealth. While eating conjured food, it is possible and recommended that a rogue re-enter stealth. You will keep healing. You will not keep healing if you attempt to re-enter stealth while eating buff food.
Every melee class deals primarily physical damage. Unholy death knights, paladins, enhancement shamans, and assassination rogues apply a great deal of magical damage, but a well-timed disarm is still a great loss to them(Dismantle was removed in WoD). The only melee class that isn't greatly hindered by is a feral druid.
However, that's far from the only control you have over them. You still have
You have at least four stuns, with , , , , and your disorient spell, . Stuns and slows are of the greatest detriment to melee characters, but they're incredibly useful against all enemies. Also, if you can stack it enough, the level 75 talent will stun for 4 sec(removed in WoD).
Melee characters generally have much higher avoidance stats and armor levels. You can circumvent block and parry by positioning yourself behind an enemy, but armor and dodge will remain the same. Since almost all of the rogue's moves are melee-based, this can easily throw off your timing if your stuns start being mitigated.
Against melee characters wielding a slow weapon, stuns are even more important. A carefully timed Kidney Shot/Gouge can mean avoiding an ugly chunk of . The best time to stun them is right before they swing. The worst time to stun is right after a swing. Just think of as a big spell with a 3.50 casting time. You want to interrupt it as late as possible.
Against pure casters (and even paladins and other classes like Elemental shamans which rely heavily on spells), consider opening with a . Since Garrote silences the opponent for three seconds unglyphed, (completely shutting down mages, priests, shamans, caster druids, and warlocks,) you can think of it as a three second Cheap Shot that costs 10 less energy and leaves a bleed on the opponent, as well as not interfering with your stun DR.
With Blizzard's newfound love of class homogenization, other classes are likely to have stuns that rival yours. Not as many, surely, but enough that it can be a problem. Gone are the days when you can just shadowstep to a mage and two-shot them. In geared PVP, extended duels happen between skilled players that are both on their game. is a godsend. With the effect on all PVP set gloves since WOTLK, Kick costs a marginal amount of energy (see ) and is usable at almost all times. However, your enemies are also aware of this. They may try to game your interrupts and bait you into interrupting a spell they don't care about. For example, let's pretend you're fighting a frost mage. They want to cast , but they know you're ready to interrupt it. What they may do instead is begin casting , since your kick will only lock them out of the fire tree (unless you're combat). With your on cooldown, they're free to cast whatever they'd like.
Keep in mind a few things:
- has been fixed to prevent all spell damage for 5 seconds after it's cast. Nowhere in its tooltip will you find the phrase "90%".
- Keep in mind this is only spell damage. There is a glyph available to reduce physical damage taken as well, but speaking of the baseline, your cloak won't do anything against a warrior.
- breaks line of sight through both sides. You can sit in it to isolate someone from enemy healers, but you can also use it defensively to put a wall between yourself and enemy ranged players. Be mindful of its effect on friendly healers and ranged characters.
- Spell pushback has been put on the diminishing return system! You can't just sit autoattacking a mage and expect them to be locked down. After the fourth hit, they'll be immune to pushback until you stop attacking for 15 seconds. RIP Broken Tooth.
In the past, rogues have been unstoppable killing machines that have only needed a few buttons to be greatly effective. The idea of what a rogue is has changed since then. A rogue used to be considered "good" if they could win a duel without popping a cooldown; today, that simply isn't possible against a similarly geared player with a base in their class. As I said before, control is the most used and the most unique application of the class. Subtlety is the best fit for this role, but both other specs borrow tricks from its playbook.
Obviously, objective is king. While you may think you're being helpful by joining the team fight in the middle of Warsong Gulch, you're more effective putting pressure on the EFC or reducing pressure on your own. With the honor gained from winning a battleground, you're almost guaranteed to get much more honor for your effort as well. However, sometimes a team fight is the objective, like in arenas. As I keep mentioning, you should focus more on setting up situations for a win condition, rather than smashing your face against the keyboard to get a kill. As Reckful shows in his video (linked below), in any kind of serious PVP, going for the throat isn't always the answer.
Subtlety is the maestro of the arena, deciding who gets to fight who. A skilled sub rogue can essentially act as a tank, neutralizing and redirecting his enemies' attacks from his more crucial teammates.
Assassination is the mindless tunneler, dealing much damage through poisons. However, there's great mobility issues and they have a smaller toolbox.
Combat plays exactly like you'd expect it to: brawling out of stealth, playing like a warrior. I have no experience with this spec in PVP, so there is little information on it here. If you want to learn how to PVP as combat, sorry.
Taking on this unique role is the closest WoW has come to having a Mesmer class. In other games, Mesmers control their opponents by using a wide toolbox of psychic spells to confuse their opponents and trick them into hurting themselves and their teammates. While there are no literal mind games in the rogue's pocket, and certainly no friendly fire mechanic in the game, there are some very advanced maneuvers that rogues can use to frustrate and neutralize their opponents without killing them outright. Subtlety is typically the spec used for this role, and while it has the most options, the other specs can do a pretty good job of it as well. Because of this reliance on the effect of your abilities rather than the damage output, this spec can be considered "viable" at competitive levels even without great gear. One rogue did very well for himself in 4.0.6-era arenas using the original level 70 Warglaives of Azzinoth.
Keep in mind, just because one is controlling a fight doesn't mean they shouldn't be dealing damage. As Reckful explains in his video below, damage is important, just not as important as keeping your opponents suppressed. As Subtlety, rogues can throw out impressive burst through Ambush and Backstab.
Another role the Cataclysm-era rogue can take on is that of the straight-forward damage dealer. With the current model of PVP you'll still regularly be borrowing some tactics from the controller by necessity, but with more serious, consistent damage output. Primarily, you'll see those taking on this role choosing to play Assassination. This spec provides a great deal of damage through its poisons, bypassing enemy armor. While this damage can be mitigated through nature resistance, it typically isn't. As a result, this spec is just as good against characters in plate as it is against characters wearing cloth.
As Assassination rogue, as opposed to Subtlety, there are certain things you have to give up in terms of mobility and defensive cooldowns. , cooldown reductions through Elusiveness (depending on how you spec), and are the main ones. While you are guaranteed 15% movement speed through Quickening, you're more susceptible to kiting. The cooldowns you gain via Assassination are and , which are both damage cooldowns on two-minute timers.You gain a certain form of control through Deadly Brew, which is almost guaranteed to apply within the first few seconds of a fight (even though other specs can use with minimal drawback).
PvP Trinkets Edit
As of Patch 2.1.2,
- "Insignia of the Alliance, Insignia of the Horde, Medallion of the Alliance, and Medallion of the Horde have all been redesigned. The trinkets for all classes now have the same effect: Dispels all movement impairing effects and all effects that cause loss of control of your character."
This means that Kidney Shot and Cheap Shot, but also the Deadly Throw debuff, poisons, Sap, Blind and Gouge can be removed by any class at any time. Daze (from Blade Twisting) is surprisingly also affected - this misconception exists because there is in fact a difference between player Daze and mob Daze. Mob Daze is in fact only removable by complete immunity effects (paladin bubble, Ice Block), while player Daze is treated as any other movement-impairing effect. Players are most likely to trinket out of your Kidney Shot and your Blind, for obvious reasons.
This also means that the 3 second silence from Garrote is more important than ever, completely shutting down casters without the threat of being removed.
You can expect anyone that has dipped their toes in PVP to have this ability. Every Human player has this ability as a racial, through , with an identical cooldown to the trinket (two minutes). Undead players have a watered-down version of this in , which only removes certain types of CC. It is highly recommended that the trinket is your first PVP purchase if you're any race other than Human.
Even if you have an old-world trinket, buy one of the new ones first. They have a ton of resilience.
When fighting another rogue, it is important to get the first hit. Obviously, both of you are playing with similar hands, and you must do your best to make sure you play yours first. A good move to get the other person out of stealth is to use to remove them without removing yourself. Many players use a macro to accomplish this. As an Incapacitate effect, this doesn't affect your Stun DR. While there are certain situations where it may be worth it to kite an enemy rogue through a certain cooldown (, ), don't forget that their energy is pooling and their Recuperate is ticking too. During those abilities would also be a good time to use your . As far as defensive cooldowns go, is likely to be a better shot than , and obviously is your best friend.
Remember that rogues can cloak any kind of DOT except a bleed, so it may be worth it to drop a cheap or (glyphed) if your opponent looks like they're getting ready to run. Ticks every two seconds means you will quickly be able to locate them should they try to vanish away from you.
The archetypal melee class, Warriors are especially weak to , as all of their damage comes through their weapon. They have a few defensive cooldowns that make it hard to manage them, but for the most part all of your control options will remain the same as any other melee attacker. Slows, disarms, and maybe even if you're feeling like you're not doing enough damage.
One method that is very successful against warriors is to employ all the DoTs available to you, and then kiting him with Crippling Poison, dive-bombing occasionally to either incur large damage or go for the killing blow. Warriors have abilities which feed off of their opponents dodging, so be careful of using Evasion against them. Be mindful of and the warrior's other charges when doing this, because they can close the gap.
Shadow priests are similar to warlocks in practice, with the notable exception of , as it's essentially a bubble. Their reliance on DOTS makes cloaking an easy way to clear the way for a kill. Interrupting almost any of their spells means they're completely unable to do damage, as all of their harmful spells are in the same tree.
Discipline and Holy priests are indistinguishable to us, and are fought the same way as every other healer: interrupt, stun, annoy. The more you get them to focus on you, the less they can focus on keeping their teammates up. It's unlikely you'll actually kill a healer by yourself (presuming you're both geared and awake), but when the opportunity arises you should do your best to take it. However, more often than not, you just want to neutralize an enemy healer rather than kill them. Remember and that stuns interrupt heals.
Many beginning players overlook the defensive abilities of the mage because it wears a dress. Any seasoned gladiator knows from experience that Frost mages are one of the most feared opponents one can encounter because of their nearly endless snares, slows, and stuns. However, the rogue has many abilities at his or her disposal that can used to defeat all types of mages, if used correctly.
Frost mages are the most common, and the most annoying spec of mage to fight. Frost mages have a passive chance to freeze melee attackers, combined with legions of roots and snares and freezes. Frost mages gain a huge damage buff against frozen enemies, so avoid this the best you can. With the fixes to Diminishing Returns, if you can survive the first 15 seconds of a fight, it's likely that you'll overtake them and kill them.
The Fire mage's primary defense is his offense. These mages can produce an insane amount of damage very quickly, but they lack many of the key defensive cooldowns used by Frost mages. With the talent Blazing Speed can be choose on level 10, you'll often see them running far faster than you, doing much more damage than you can hope to counter at range. Slows and stuns are your friends, as always, along with a Smoke Bomb if you find yourself backed in a corner. They don't kite by making you slower, they kite by making themselves faster. Crippling poison is a great answer to this.
Arcane mages are a rare breed these days, and they usually have little to offer in the realm of defensive spells. What they do have is a broken mastery and insane throughput. There's nothing you can do about how much mana is in their bar, but you can interrupt key spells to lock them down. Making them waste Arcane Missiles is a big blow to their damage, but interrupting any of their other arcane spells is just as good. Luckily, locking them out of damage also prevents them from sheeping you. They still have their frost control, but it's nothing compared to their icy counterparts.
Druids will almost always fight in one of their forms: moonkin, cat, bear, or caster (sometimes using tree as well). When fighting a druid in Cat Form, treat them as another rogue. When fighting a druid in Bear Form, treat them as a warrior. When fighting a druid in caster form, make sure to go into full suppression mode and try to prevent the most healing possible. When fighting a druid in moonkin form, fight them like you would an elemental shaman. Any druid worth his salt will most likely shift forms during combat; that's the strength of the class. In this case, try to catch them in Cat or caster form where they are weakest. Expect every druid to use Nature's Grasp, which will afflict you with Entangling Roots on hit.
No longer can druids shapeshift to remove roots. Snares will go away with changing form, but they're not as bad as they used to be. Frankly, in PVP, Cat druids are the obvious Rogue counterpart, but with far fewer cooldowns, but having DoT, Heals and HoT. Their threat is their sheer damage and mobility in the battlefield. You can't disarm them, but you can still use Evasion to neutralize their damage and take them down with the greatest of ease. Bear druids have a high dodge chance and massive health pool, which you can't really do much about, but they often lack in throughput. Boomkin have a knockback (with talent on level 45), but little else. Left to their devices they can put down some serious damage, but they're much easier to control than most other casters. If you see a druid in tree form, do your best to control them by interrupting, stunning (let your run to its full duration if you can) and by putting a Smoke Bomb over the people they're trying to heal. Again, neutralizing a healer is much more important than banging on your keys, trying to burn down a paladin that's being healed.
Once considered the hard counter to rogues, hunters are a pale shadow of the doom they used to spell for those with daggers. A skilled hunter is still a serious serious threat, but if you get them off their guard there's little they can do. Hunters are known for their defensive cooldowns, (which is often combined with a parachute effect to extend the distance) and , which is essentially a bubble to those of us not casting spells. is no longer as potent as it used to be, as it doesn't prevent you from entering stealth anymore. Now, it increases the hunter's stealth detection against you, and marks you on the minimap when you're visible to them.
When you see a pet turn red and attack you, use a defensive cooldown. It's possible to an enraged pet like this, but it's a big cooldown that is almost never worth burning for that. Most of what you want to do is keep a hunter at arm's length. and the ten-yard range on can help close the gap if shadowstep is on cooldown. As a Subtlety rogue, it's best to save that for Disengage.
A common maneuver used by hunters is to place a flare, then put all their traps in the center and wait for you to make your move. If you're quick enough and lag isn't an issue, you can disarm the traps from outside the radius of the flare (your arm is 20y long as opposed to flare's 15y), shadowstep and open on the hunter before the debuff from flare can remove you from stealth.
Warlocks are possibly the easiest fight for a rogue post-TBC and the addition of Cloak of Shadows. The only things you need to worry about in particular are demon form and stay out of the purple circle they leave on the ground. They have the ability to set up an instant teleport during a fight, but it's not much different than a mage blinking. You'll likely lose line of sight, but at that point you've successfully repelled your enemy and it may not be worth pursuit in a battleground.
Fighting a paladin is very similar to fighting warriors, except they can heal themselves. As a melee class, they're affected by Dismantle, and Evasion can prevent a good amount of damage. The best time to use Evasion or Combat Readiness (you probably won't need to cloak anything) is when their guardian is out. Protection paladins have multitudes of cooldowns that heal them or reduce their damage taken, so try to line yourself up for one big shot at them. Save your big nukes for right after they've popped their bubble, and then try to get the most damage in as you can before they can heal it back. Holy paladins are the same as other healers, just with no knockbacks and only one stun.
The infamous is still widely used, and it is equatable to a rogue's kidney shot in its timing. It's either cast in preparation of a big attack, or used to cover one's tracks whilst running away. Treat it as such.
Because of how the spec is built, you're likely to find either incredibly skilled players of this spec or completely unskilled, with very little in between. They're weak to disarms, and they can lay down a flurry of damage if left alone. They're rare to find in battlegrounds, but they can be potent. Their heals are weak, compared to either of the other shaman specs, so they're not something to worry about. Instant ghost wolf can make them hard to catch, but Deadly Throw/Sprint/Shadowstep makes it easy to catch up.
Typically an easy fight, but they can sometimes go wrong. Their knockback is usable while stunned, and the cooldown is just as long as Shadowstep's; A preferred strategy is to simply run up and Garrote rather than shadowstepping and ambushing. Many inexperienced players are confused when they are suddenly silenced, are effectively stunned as well. Hybrid classes are especially weak to a well-timed Kick, their good spells being mostly from the same tree.
Shamans are very mobile healers, and keeping them slowed isn't enough to render them helpless by a long shot. Stuns are your top priority, with interrupts as a very close second. If your teammates are competent they'll try to LOS your shaman's team, so they'll do the work for you.
Death knights in general can be pretty difficult for a rogue, but if you keep them managed, there's little they can do to you. DK spec roles have been tossed around since their creation, but since Cataclysm dropped there's been little shift. Blood is tank, Frost and Unholy are DPS specs.
Blood is the most common spec, but Frost looks to be on its way up, especially with the impending removal of Vengeance. Typically, a Blood DK will deal some serious vampiric damage with , often healing themselves for upwards of 20k and getting an absorption shield for more than that. Combined with their high armor and health levels, that can be a serious pain in the ass. They also have an average amount of control with Chains of Ice and Death Grip. For defensive cooldowns, they have , which makes them immune to stuns as well as reducing their damage taken for the duration.
Frost is a pure DPS spec with AOE elements built right into its rotation. Their ability to slow an entire enemy team at once is formidable, and their damage output is just as impressive. They also have IBF, so don't rely too heavily on stuns. The only way you're going to get them down is through straight damage and disarms.
Unholy, once the favored PVP spec of DK's, seems to have fallen out of favor. They have a constant pet out, and it has abilities similar to that of a hunter's. It has a charge, a short stun, and it can be transformed into a bigger, meaner ghoul. That, Death Coil, and diseases are where a lot of the DK's damage is going to be coming from, so pop evasion when the big pet comes out and focus the caster to topple him over. Similar to a rogue, much of this spec's appeal is in its utility rather than damage, so it can be effective at surprisingly low gear levels.
As a sub rogue, not all specs are built equal. One thing Blizzard was successful with in Cataclysm was loosening up the trees to allow some subjectivity in most specs. this is one of them. Subtlety
My spec as of 4.3.2 Firstly, the most important choice I made was the spec. I enjoy the role of the controller, so Subtlety was my first pick.
Nightstalker is a great boon to most rogues, because you want to be in stealth as much as possible, and that makes it much easier. Improved Ambush helps because it's my preferred opener. Against someone with no resilience it's been known to crit for upwards of 40k. With full honor gear and buffs, I have over 100% chance to crit with Ambush. Relentless Strikes helps keep momentum during combat, and it makes Recuperate net you only -5 energy. Given the combo points from HAT, you should be able to keep up Recuperate all the time.
Elusiveness adds a great deal of utility to my build, for obvious reasons. I've used Waylay off and on all expansion, trading it for Crippling. Currently, I'm using it for the guaranteed slow the second the fight starts. The attack speed reduction is also a godsend versus warriors, who I've been having trouble with recently. Opportunity, again, is a straight throughput increase. It helps. I didn't take Initiative because I already have enough combo points. That is never my problem.
Energetic Recovery is an absolute must-have for any Subtlety player, PVE or PVP. It's the most potent energy regen available, and it's baked into an effect you should always have up anyway. Find Weakness lets me take Remove Armor off my bar. Hemorrhage is an obvious choice. Honor Among Thieves is a shoe-in. I see many rogues take Premeditation, but I choose not to because HAT gives me enough that I can count on sitting outside of stealth long enough to bank up points on a target before opening. I didn't take points in Enveloping Shadows because I don't run into AOE damage enough for it to be worth it.
I've forgone taking points in Cheat Death because if I'm cutting it that close, it usually means I'm screwed anyway. Preparation is an obvious "yes". Many rogues forgo points in Sanguinary Vein because they don't use Gouge often or because they don't think their targets live long enough for it to be useful. However, with the glyph of hemo, you gain another 16% damage added to the target with no change to your opening, and you can freely use gouge.
Slaughter from the Shadows is necessary for Subtlety to be a viable damage-dealing spec. I didn't take points in Serrated Blades because I don't use Rupture for more than the 16 seconds or so that it lasts.
I commonly see rogues taking points in Improved Recuperate. It essentially provides 6% resilience while recuperate is active, as well as adding a small increase to its effectiveness. This is very helpful to those without good gear, but less essential for me now that I'm comfortable with my levels of resilience.
Assassination has a couple good options for PVP, and I took full Lethality and partial Coup de Grace. Lethality offers throughput in abilities I use constantly, and Coup de Grace is just better than Ruthless Momentum; it only counts killing blows, so it's especially hard to rely on in PVP.
Quickening makes your recuperate tick harder along with the obvious speed increase (bringing you up to 126% run speed while stealthed), and Puncturing Wounds makes my Backstab crit over 50% of the time, activating the glyph and refunding energy, as well as dealing ~35k damage. When every backstab deals similar damage to an eviscerate, it makes it less punitive to spread the pain amongst several targets.
For prime glyphs, I chose Glyph of Backstab, Glyph of Shadow Dance, and Glyph of Hemorrhage. Glyph of Ambush, Glyph of Garrote, and Glyph of Preparation fill out my majors, and the minors are all subjective.
While I'm sure there's better ways to set up my UI, I keep mine fairly rough. I've gotten used to it, but it may not be for you. My UI is a simple configuration of Bartender, Shadowed Unit Frames, TitanPanel, Recount, and every serious player's essential mod, Sexymap. I also use Gladius for arenas, DeadlyPVPMods for battlegrounds and arenas, and Kong UI Hider for aesthetics. I only use a few macros, those being a mount macro (easily moddable, I know) and a Recup/SnD macro. My keybinds are sloppy, I'm sure, but I'm a casual PVP player.
Obviously, everything is kept on the left side of the keyboard. Clutch spells (Kick, Kidney Shot) are kept right under my hand at all times, while more situational spells are further out (Cloak, Evasion). My offensive cooldowns, I admit, are out of the way somewhat, but I don't find it limits my gameplay. I never use Expose Armor, that's something that's evaded my cleanings.
When you're setting up your own UI, don't be afraid to put things on letter keys. While it does make it difficult to find a push-to-talk key for vent, you may be wasting important keys.
Another thing to consider is that the placement of your spells has an effect on how aggressively you use them. When I was getting into PVP, I found I wasn't using Dismantle as often as I should. I put it next to Shadowstep, and now I use it more than I should, if anything. There's a balance to be struck, and you shouldn't be afraid to put your thumb on the scale.