Luckily, combat has one of the simplest rotations around. I'm going to specifically be covering the Eviscerate-only cycle, since that will be the easiest one to get acquainted with. Your first priority as a combat rogue will be using Sinister Strike to generate combo points and then using those CP to activate Slice and Dice. Get this done as soon as possible, as SnD is very key to keeping up our DPS. You'll then want to refresh SnD any time it gets low.
My rule of thumb is about 12 seconds: If SnD has less than 12 seconds remaining, I need to start planning to use my next few CP to refresh it. After that, you'll basically be spamming Sinister Strike and using Eviscerate any time you get up to 5 or if you need to dump CP to begin working on refreshing Slice and Dice. That's really about it in terms of your major abilities: Sinister Strike, Slice and Dice and Eviscerate are really going to be your core DPS buttons.
Now, that's not to say there isn't plenty else to do. We'll want to time our CDs for the maximum benefit and focus on maximizing our uptime on the boss. I like to open with Adrenaline Rush so that I can quickly activate Slice and Dice, and then use Blade Flurry and Killing Spree right as Adrenaline Rush is fading. From then on, look for opportunities to use Blade Flurry to attack two targets, and use Adrenaline Rush any time you'll have a solid 15 seconds on the boss. Be sure to watch for secondary targets for your killing spree, as this can often be undesirable.
On the topic of weapons and poisons, combat has a few hard rules on how what to use. You need a slow weapon in your main hand, no matter what. You need a fast weapon in your off hand, no matter what. You need Instant Poison on your slow hand, which means your main hand. You need Deadly Poison on your fast hand, which means your off hand. So slow/fast and IP/DP becomes the optimal way to play your combat rogue, and there's really no variation or flexibility here.
- Keep SnD up at all times
- Eviscerate as often as possible
- Use all your cooldowns as often as possible
- Don't let your energy cap
Like I said in the Mutilate 101 column, spreadsheet it! Combat specs love pretty much every DPS stat, and based on your own values and your proximity to all the various caps and balances, you will need specialized advice. Armor penetration alone makes any sort of off-the-cuff evaluation impossible. Typically you'll be gemming for a DPS stat like attack power or agility, armor penetration if you already have a lot of it on your gear, or hit and expertise if you're below a particular important cap.
Use one Nightmare Tear to meet your meta requirement, preferably in a blue socket that will grant you the item's socket bonus. Choose the item with the biggest socket bonus but that only requires one blue gem. Speaking of the meta gem, you'll be sporting the Relentless Earthsiege Diamond (RED for short). It sports another 3% increased critical strike damage which stacks with the other critical strike damage modifiers that combat has.
As with any traditional rogue spec, we glyph the big three: our CP generator, our finisher and our 51-point talent. While your glyphs will vary based on your particular cycle, I will be covering the Eviscerate-only cycle glyphs here.
- Glyph of Eviscerate I bet you saw this one coming! A nice 10% boost to Eviscerate's critical strike chance means a 10% higher chance for big numbers on your screen.
- Glyph of Sinister Strike Nothing beats a Ruthlessness proc into double Glyph of Sinister Strike procs for a quick five-point Eviscerate. While the CP gain from this can be random, your buffed crit chance will ensure you see at least a few procs on any given fight.
- Glyph of Killing Spree By lowering the cooldown on KS, it opens it up for usage on many more targets per fight. I like using to ensure high priority mobs die first, like the slimes on the Professor Putricide encounter.
Enchants for the end game
- Weapon Berserking, or Mongoose based on gear levels
- Helm Arcanum of Torment
- Cloak Major Agility or Greater Speed (or engineering / tailoring alternative)
- Shoulders Greater Inscription of the Axe (or scribe alternative)
- Chest Powerful Stats
- Bracers Greater Assault (or leatherworking alternative)
- Gloves Crusher (or engineering alternative)
- Belt Eternal Belt Buckle
- Pants Icescale Leg Armor
- Boots Cat's Swiftness (or Icewalker)
- Rings Assault (enchanter only)
- Encrypted Text - WoW.com (of course!)
- Elitist Jerks rogue forums (lurk for a bit and read the rules before posting!)
- RogueDPS (I recommend the guide section: great info and cheat sheets of common numbers)
- ShadowPanther (my favorite site for drooling over new gear)