If I update case assignment rules are there any locking or differences such as query delays that I should consider?
The documentation does not specifically list update assignment rule considerations in regards to performance.
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Ownerid. This is a DML operation. Triggers will re-execute, if any, on the Case object
If there is any contention, it would be from other transactions on the Case object running concurrently that, perhaps are locking a common resource such as a parent Account or Contact. There is nothing per se special about assignment rules versus workflow field updates or Process Builder record updates