Wound or Deadly Poison?

One of the biggest rogue changes in Mists of Pandaria is how poisons are handled. Gone are the days of weapon switching to apply mind numbing onto a healer or […]

One of the biggest rogue changes in Mists of Pandaria is how poisons are handled. Gone are the days of weapon switching to apply mind numbing onto a healer or running double offensive poisons – Blizzard seems to think we’re easier to balance if they take away the flexibility we once had. So which lethal poison should you use in PVP? As always with rogue questions, the answer is ‘it depends’.

Instant poison has been taken out of the game, limiting us to Deadly Poison (DP) or Wound Poison (WP). According to a night of watching Recount, DP (with its DoT) does around 33% more damage than WP, though the latter applies a 25% healing debuff.

Lethal Poison Choices

The first consideration you need to make is whether the classes you’re with are also applying healing debuffs. Windwalker monks and warriors will be using Mortal Strike and Rising Sun Kick in their rotations and hunters can take Wyvern Sting instead of Silencing Shot. A Demonology Warlock’s Felguard pet and a Hunter’s Devilsaur also apply a 25% healing debuff – if you have any of these abilities on your team, you can stop reading here as DP is the poison to take. If your teammate is killed, you can always switch to WP if needed.

The next consideration is the rogue spec you’re playing in. If you’re playing as Assassination, your poisons will contribute a large part of your overall damage. For Combat and Subtlety they hit for a lot less so there is no real sustained pressure from them. If you’re Combat or Subtlety spec (without a healing debuff on your team), take WP – you won’t be putting out enough pressure through your poisons to warrant losing the healing debuff.

Assassination Poisons

If you’re still reading, you’re playing Assassination and are the only team member with the potential to take a healing debuff. The last consideration is the team you’re facing. A 25% healing debuff on your target sounds great, but if the other team has a Discipline Priest or Holy Paladin as a healer, it’s not really a 25% debuff. Both of these healers mix direct heals with absorbs – a priest’s PW:Shield and Divine Aegis will count for between 30-40% of their healing done and are unaffected by healing debuffs. A paladin’s absorbs make up a similar proportion of their healing, which is why these two classes are more vulnerable to a Death Knight’s Necrotic Strikes than other healers.

When you face discs and hpalas, your WP is only debuffing overall healing by roughly 16%. However, taking DP instead of WP as an Assassination rogue increases your sustained damage on a training dummy by over 10%. In a PVP situation you won’t have 100% uptime on a target, so deadly poison will make up a larger percentage of your damage due to DoT ticks – I’ve had about five kills since 5.3 where a target has been kiting me on low health but died from DP ticks.

Additionally, as obvious as it sounds, people die in PVP when their healers are CC’d. If your target isn’t receiving heals and isn’t HoTed to full, the healing debuff from WP is wasted (likewise any overheals from crits are also wasting the healing debuff). Many classes can self heal, but 25k crits from DP ticks can easily score kills through second wind and recuperate.

Wall of text alert!

HoT Healers and Direct Heals

Against resto druids and shamans, DP isn’t as strong. What we’ve found to be quite effective is switching back and forth from WP to DP while using the minor Glyph of Poisons. The debuff from WP isn’t overwritten by the DP one, so you benefit from 15seconds of WP with the extra damage from DP. If you know you can line up a good CC chain on the healer with your burst, spend a GCD swapping from WP to DP (I use alt+mousewheel up for DP, alt+mousewheel down for WP). The only problem doing this is it can pre-warn the other team you’re about to go HaaM, but if you do it at the same time your team starts their CC rotation there won’t be a problem. If you score a kill, great. If not, switch back to WP (you’ll be energy starved so it won’t even waste a GCD).

As a side note, it’s quite funny how many players try and interrupt your poison swap. I’ve eaten countless kicks and mindfreezes this week and even had a Gladiator warrior both shield pummel and shockwave me to try and stop me. It takes about 2 seconds to swap poisons with a melee class hitting you – far from game breaking.

Dirty Boomkins and Other 2v2 Teams

In 2v2 arenas there are several hybrid DPS classes which have become high utility healers with crazy burst potential. The most frustrating are Balance Druids. Typical double-dps boomkin tactics seems to be ‘tunnel damage and control then root+displacer beast behind a pillar at 30% health and heal to full’. Surprisingly, we found it more effective to try and kill a boomkin with DP than WP. It gives more pressure upfront, meaning they have to spend more time playing defensively and recovering from the burst.


If you’re a Combat/Subtlety rogue without a healing-debuff partner, wound poison is the way to go. If you’re playing as Assassination you’ll really have to play it by ear but don’t assume that you automatically need a healing debuff just because the other team has a healer. If you’re not convinced that DP is the poison to take as Assassination, try experimenting with poison switching in BGs (or arena matches you’re certain to win). The difference in pressure will surprise you.

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.