Updated for Mists of Pandaria patch 5.2.
Also see our
Table of Contents
- Intro to Subtlty Rogue PvP
- Builds and MoP patch notes
- Sneaking tips
- Subtlety Macros
- Our other Rogue guides
- Get leveled fast
Subtlety rogues present a combination of DPS and utility allowing them to do well in both PvP and PvE. In the DPS race an Assassination or Combat build might pump out more overall damage, due to easier rotations, but Subtlety is more fun and more flexible.
Note: Some aspects of this guide may not apply to your Sub. Rogue until higher level. If you are interested in getting your character to max level quickly, take a look at this leveling guide.
Cataclysm brought to Subtlety Rogues a brutal opener and solid DPS capabilities. New talents and abilities give this build more functionality that it’s had in quite some time. Skill is skill, though. With it, other players in the PvP game will worry about you. Without it, you’re just another doormat.
Mists of Pandaria brings a brand new, simpler talent system and has rolled a lot of the old talents into various abilities. All specs (of any class) now have a large set of “core abilities,” rather than the various talents to differentiate their roles. Play with the new stuff for a bit and you’ll be ganking just like before.
Subtlety PvP Talent Builds
The 5.2 Rogue patch notes (for all Rogues.)
Notes for 5.2 Sub:
- Smoke Bomb now reduces damage taken by allies in the area of effect by 20%, in addition to current effects. Originally no damage reduction was provided. This will be a useful buff.
- Blind now has a cooldown of 2 minutes (was 1.5 minutes).
- Cloak of Shadows now has a cooldown of 1 minute (was 2 minutes).
- Sanguinary Vein now increases the damage the target takes by 20%, up from the original 16%.
Tier 1 talents:
- Deadly Throw can now interrupt spellcasting when used at 3, 4 and 5 combo points, and upon interrupt prevents any spell in that school from being cast for 4, 5 and 6 seconds respectively. The old version was 5 combo points and 6 seconds. This makes this ability significantly more useful, especially with the new Tier 6 Talent Marked for Death, which puts an instant 5 CPs on a target.
- Shadow Focus now reduces ability energy costs by 75% while stealthed, down from the original 100%.
Tier 2 talents:
- Nerve Strike now reduces the effectiveness of healing provided by the target by 10% in addition to the damage reduction. Originally no healing debuff was provided.
Tier 4 talents:
- Moved: Preparation is now a baseline ability learned at level 68. Prep also no longer resets the cooldown on Cloak of Shadows.
- New Talent: Cloak and Dagger - Ambush, Garrote, and Cheap Shot now have a 30-yard range, and will cause the Rogue to teleport behind the target.
- Burst of Speed now costs 30 Energy (down from 50 Energy), can be used in Stealth, and always grants increased movement speed in addition to breaking snare effects, but no longer breaks root effects. This makes it more flexible and still gives us interesting flag-carrier possibilities, especially with fast energy regen, but you’ll have to trinket the roots.
Tier 6 talents:
- Removed: Versatility. Perhaps because no one was taking it? This is replaced with a
- New: Marked for Death – This marks a target and instantly generates 5 combo points. When that target dies, Marked for Death’s cooldown is reset. This talent has a 1-minute cooldown. So you could open with Cheap Shot and a 5 pt Rupture (yes, wasting CPs) or start a fight with a 5pt Slice and Dice or open with Kidney Shot or whatever.
- M for D combined with Deadly Throw will make for a nice ranged Interrupt/Silence.
- Shuriken Toss now causes the Rogue to throw ranged shurikens coated in Lethal Poison and auto-attack at 75% damage (was 80%) for up to 10 seconds if the enemy is farther than 10 yards away. Looks like a pretty nice improvement to this talent.
- PvP set bonuses have been changed:
- Vigor is now the 4-piece set bonus (used to be the 2 piece bonus) and increases maximum energy by 30, up from 10.
- Deadly Brew is now the 2-piece set bonus (used to be the 4 piece bonus) and its effects remain unchanged.
Mists of Pandaria Expansion notes:
- Prime Glyphs have gone away.
- Talents as we know them have also gone away. Some were removed, others were rolled into the new talents or abilities.
- All Rogues will now have access to the same pool of talents. You will get to pick one talent from each of six tiers (gained at 15, 30, 45, 60,75, and 90.) One of those “talents” is Shadowstep, and yes, that means that Combat Rogues will have Shadowstep (if they want it) and Sub. Rogues might not (if they choose not to take it.)
- There are no more points to be spent in talents, you pick them up like abilities. No more 1-3 points in each, it’s all or nothing for each pick.
- Each spec will have around ten core abilities, plus the abilities shared by all Rogues, plus the six “talents.”
- See more here:
Subtlety Rogue abilities.
These are the abilities specific to Subtlety Rogues. Each spec gets it’s own unique set of abilities in addition to all of the common Rogue abilities. Slice and Dice becomes your energy recovery when you pick up Energetic Recovery at 70. Shadowstep used to be a level 10 core ability for Sub., now it’s a level 60 talent.
|10||Hemorrhage - adds a bleed, replaces Sinister Strike.||50||Honor Among Thieves - Gain combo points from the crits of party members.|
|10||Master of Subtlety - more damage when attacking from stealth.||60||Sanguinary Vein - Improves Rupture and all bleeds.|
|10||Sinister Calling - increases total agility by 30%.||70||Energetic Recovery - Slice and Dice for faster energy recovery.|
|20||Find Weakness - openers bypass 70% off opponent armor.||80||Mastery: Executioner - Increases damage done by finishing strikes|
|30||Premeditation - adds 2 combo points to target before attack.||80||Shadow Dance - now 8 seconds, allows use of abilities out of stealth.|
|40||Backstab - requires man hand dagger, must be behind target.|
Subtlety Talent Notes and Build
Talents can be swapped just like glyphs and for the same cost, so experiment a bit. This build proves utility, survivability, and mobility. None of the talents are bad, though they may be situational, and some choices are a bit tough, such as in row 4.
Keep in mind that you can switch talents of the fly, all you need is a Tome of the Clear Mind (if 86+) from your reagents vendor. Your trainer, of course, can wipe the who set for you. You can also see this build on wowhead.
- Preparation (was a level 60 talent) is now a level 68 ability available to all Rogues.
- Cloak and Dagger is the new level 60 talent.
- Versatility, the level 90 talent, is dead and gone.
- Marked for Death replaced it.
Glyphs (below the talents) are chosen to be most generally useful, though certain others might have situational use.
Tier 1 – the stealth talents
|Nightstalker||Faster stealth, which is always nice, and more damage coming out of stealth. Has it’s uses, but likely better for leveling.|
|Subterfuge||Stealth doesn’t break immediately. (This allows the use of two openers when attacking. ) Also makes it a lot less likely to be popped out of stealth right before your attack. Can also cheap shot the paladin, switch to the healer and garrote him. Or visa versa.|
|Shadow Focus||Abilities cost much less Energy while you are stealthed, allowing Sap to Opener at zero energy cost. Sap to Cheap Shot to Vanish to Ambush at very low energy cost.|
Tier 2 – debuffing the opposition
|Deadly Throw||Reduces opponent movement speed and interrupts and silences if you have 3+ combo points on the target.|
|Nerve Strike||Opponent does less damage when coming out of Cheap Shot or Kidney Shot. Definitely useful.|
|Combat Readiness||Take less damage as fight gets longer. Great talent if someone is about to blow all his stuff on you. Add to Elusiveness below and you get a lot of damage reduction.|
Tier 3 – survival
|Cheat Death||Avoid fatal attacks and “one shot” every 90 seconds. Better for those situations where you’re not being focused, otherwise it just delays death for a coupe of seconds.|
|Leeching Poison||Your strikes heal you. It’s a far cry from the Recuperate healing, but it’s constant (as long as you’re fighitng, and keeps your HP just that much higher. It prevents you from using Mind Numbing or other utility poisons. Better for leveling than PvP.|
|Elusiveness||Your Feint reduces all damage, not just A of E, for a few seconds. A good choice when large incoming damage is predictable, especially since Feint has no cooldown.|
Tier 4 – movement
|Cloak and Dagger||Ambush, Garrote, and Cheap Shot now have a 30-yard range, and will cause the Rogue to teleport behind the target. Longer range and no cooldown makes this a good choice over Shadowstep. Must be stealthed and cannot ‘port to friendly targets.|
|Shadowstep||Teleport to any target, enemy or not, brief speed increase but no damage increase. No energy cost. The ability to instantly blip over to runners or blinkers is very nice. A solid choice, but it depends on your game. 24 second cooldown makes it a tough choice over Cloak and Dagger.|
|Burst of Speed||Break free from CC OR run faster if not CCed.Not both. High energy cost will benefit from Haste gear (for faster energy return) and having Slice and Dice up (more energy.) This talent will make you tough to kite and a better flag carrier. Not nearly as “generally useful” as the other two, but it has occasional use.|
Tier 5 – opponent control
|Prey on the Weak||When you disable an enemy with your stuns they suffer increased damage from all sources for the duration of the effect. That’s significantly more damage if several of you are focusing on one target, eg: the healer.|
|Paralytic Poison||Your poisons can stun. Depending on who’s on your team and what you’re doing this might be a good pick.|
|Dirty Tricks||Gouge and Blind cost no energy and don’t break from your bleeds or poisons. Does not wipe the other guy’s bleeds. Might have use if you do a lot of 1 on 1 fights. Glyph of Blind is better for removing DoTs, though and you’ll be taking it anyway, to this talent is redundant.|
Tier 6 – Combo Points
|Shuriken Toss||Ranged attack, adds 1 combo point. Replaces throw, but unlike throw allows ranged poison application. Can still get Combo points while rooted or while being kited. Then you use your Shadowstep of C&D to close the gap and spend those 5 points.|
|Marked for Death||This marks a target and instantly generates 5 combo points. When that target dies, Marked for Death’s cooldown is reset. This talent has a 1-minute cooldown.|
|Anticipation||Stores excess CPs on target and applies them after a finishing strike. No more wasted CPs and potentially more energy from your Relentless Strikes ability.|
|Glyph of Blind||About as mandatory as any Rogue glyph. Your blind removes all Damage over Time effects from the target, even those left by your team. Make Blind a lot more reliable.|
|Glyph of Cheap Shot||Increases CS duration by 1 second for that much more control, works well with your Prey on the Weak and Nerve Strike talents.|
|Glyph of Garrote||Increases the silence duration by 1.5 seconds.|
|Glyph of Shiv||Reduces the cooldown, for more Shivs.|
|Glyph of Poisons||Change poisons faster|
|Glyph of Safe Fall||Increases falling distance|
|Glyph of Blurred Speed||Running on water has some occasional use.|
|Glyph of Decoy||Might make your Vanish a bit more interesting.|
PvP Power is a straight up damage add, like Attack Power.
- Primary: 3% Hit > Resilience > PvP Power > Agility
- Secondary: 3% Expertise > Crit > Mastery
- Weaker: Haste, Hit over 3%, Expertise over 3%
Spell Penetration has been changed to PvP Power and that stat is second only to Agility on a point for point basis. Keep in mind that PvP Power gems have twice the value of Ag gems, so they’re better, even after factoring in Sub’s Agility bonuses.
Reforge weakest stats into Hit (until you have 5%) and then everything else into Crit.
Weapons & Gear
- DPS > PvP Power or Agility
- Weapons are no longer fast or slow. You should be able to put any dagger in either hand.
- If you’re leveling:
- At 77+ get the Cataclysm green weapons.
- At 80+ you might be able to find Mists of Pandaria blue weapons on the Auction House. They will start at item level 415 (about the same as Cataclysm heroic raid weapons.)
- at 90 get the Contender’s Leather (crafted) set. That’ll give you a nice starting point. If it’s too expensive either earn more gold or talk to a leatherworker and buy her the mats.
Mists of Pandaria has changed poison use somewhat. You no longer have to visit anyone of do any quests to learn your poisons.
You can one use one lethal poison and one non-lethal poison at any one time. Instant poison is dead.
Your talents give you the choice of picking up Leeching poison (heals) or Paralytic Poison (stuns.)
- Poisons now work exactly like buffs. Activate them and they last for an hour. You do not need to apply them directly to your weapons any more and you do not need to stock them in your bags. They last through death.
- Other than Crippling the poisons aren’t a big damage thing for Sub., though it’s still free damage and some utility and control.
- Lethal: Wound or Deadly, depending on who you’re fighting.
- Deadly for Rogues and Ferals, Wound for Healers or those getting healed.
- Non-lethal: Crippling for general use.
- Leeching (talent) will heal you. The harder you hit the more it heals. Your Recuperate heals for far more, but every little bit helps.
- Mind slows down casting times.
- Paralytic (talent) needs to stack up 5 times, then it stuns the opponent.
Subtlety Rogue Gems
Note that Mists of Pandaria gems have different value for different stats, secondary stats are double those for primary stats, that is you get 160 Ag for a red gem and 320 Haste of PvP power from other gems.
If you can’t afford to buy the best gems then dropping down one level is not a huge issue, but you should get the better gems as soon as you can.
PvP Power (blue gems) is a stat that adds damage just like Attack Power, but only Vs players. It has no value outside of PvP, so consider a second gear set if you’re also raiding.
Green gems match yellow or blue sockets, orange gems match yellow or red, purple gems match up with red or blue.
|Gem Priorities for Subtlety|
|Meta||Agile Primal Diamond: +216 Agil & 3% Increased Crit Effect|
|Red||Delicate Primordial Ruby: 160 Agility|
|Yellow||Mystic Sun’s Radiance: 320 Resilience|
|Blue||Stormy River’s Heart: +320 PvP power|
|Orange||Lucent Vermilion Onyx: 80 Agility, 160 Resilience|
|Purple||Assassin’s Imperial Amethyst: +80 Ag, +160 PvP Power|
|Green||Vivid Wild Jade: +160 Res, +160 PvP Power|
|Prismatic||Delicate Primordial Ruby: 160 Agility|
|Cogwheel||Smooth Tinker’s Gear: 600 Crit – requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: 600 Haste
Enchants for Subtlety Rogue PvP
Mists of Pandaria enchants should target Agility and Haste. There is only one Resilience enchant (chest) and none for PvP power. Unlike the gems, enchants with secondary stats do now have 2x the value of those with primary stats, so go for the Agility where you can. If you need more cash to be able to buy these things then check our Tycoon review.
Head enchants no longer exist, all shoulder enchants come from the Inscription profession.
|Weapon||Enchant Weapon – Dancing Steel: Sometimes add 1,650 Ag when striking. Expensive.
Enchant Weapon: Colossus: Sometimes puts up an Absorb shield. Dancing Steel is better, but Colossus is Much cheaper.
Off-hand: Living Steel Weapon Chain- Reduces duration of disarm effects, +200 Expertise.
|Shoulders||Secret Tiger Claw Inscription +520 Ag, 100 Crit, requires Inscription 575
Greater Tiger Claw Inscription: +200 Agility, +100 Crit
|Cloak||Swordguard Embroidery: Sometimes pops 4k AP for 15 sec. Requires Tailoring.
Enchant Cloak – Superior Critical Strike: +180 Crit rating
|Chest||Enchant Chest – Super Resilience: +200 Resilience|
|Bracers||Fur Lining, Agility: +500 Agility, requires Leatherworking.
Enchant Bracer – Greater Agility: +180 Agility
Socket Bracer: Self only, Blacksmithing, pop in a nice Agility gem.
|Gloves||Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste: +170 Haste
Socket Gloves – Self only, Blacksmithing, pop in a nice gem.
|Belt||Living Steel Belt Buckle: put a nice gem into this slot.|
|Leggings||Shadowleather Leg Armor: +285 Agility & 165 Crit rating|
|Boots||Enchant Boots – Blurred Speed: +140 Agility and Slight run speed increase.|
|Rings||Enchant Ring – Greater Agility: +160 Agility, Requires Enchanting 550|
Note: Dancing Steel procs from separate weapons do stack with each other. Back to back procs from the same weapon do not stack.
Sub. Rogue Professions
Certain professions provide self-only buffs/enchants. Some of these are of more use than others, but none are wildly better. A few points of Crit (skinning) instead of Ag (leatherworking) won’t ruin the raid, though you might be punted from the MinMax club.
All the professions provide some kind of self-only craft that averages out to about 320 Agility in M of P. Blacksmithing might actually be the best if you can afford the best available gems, since gems with secondary stats have twice the value of those with primary stats. This means that Blacksmithing lets you socket 640 PvP power Vs 320 Agility. If you need the cash to level Blacksmithing or any other profession then see our gold guide.
Best for cash, but still being useful? Herbalism (really nice Haste buff) and mining (stam) or skinning (crit.) Basically the buffs from the gathering profs aren’t nearly as cool as those from the crafting profs.
Professions for Subtlety
|Tailoring||Cloak enchant sometimes adds 4k Attack Power for 15 seconds.|
|Leatherworking||Bracer enchant adds 500 Ag.|
|Jewelcrafting||Make nicer gems for your own use.|
|Enchanting||Enchant both rings, for a total +320 Ag gain.|
|Inscription||Shoulder enchant adds 520 Ag and 100 crit.|
|Alchemy||More effect from your own potions. Adds 320 Ag and an extra hour to your main flask.|
|Engineering||has lots of interesting toys, some of which have situational use, and Synapse Springs, which increases Ag by 1940 for a short time. If you take this use a macro to activate it along with other short term buffs.|
|Blacksmithing||gives two extra gems slots. Since gems with secondary stats have twice the value of gems with primary stats Blacksmithing might be a very valuable profession. For example, you’ll be able to socket he two gems for 640 PvP Power instead of 320 Ag.|
|Skinning||provides 480 crit rating|
|Herbalism||Small heal and 2880 Haste for 20 seconds|
Tips for Sneaking and Striking
Know how to re-stealth
If you can’t re-stealth in combat, you are drastically reducing your survivability. The main techniques for acheiving this are:
- blind, move away, and wait to leave combat
- gouge/kidney shot your opponent and run out (if you KS make sure you stop your attack as you leave combat.)
- get your opponent crippled, sprint away, break line of sight.
- Note: When running away (to re-stealth) it helps if you can break “line of sight” with a convenient building or object.
Don’t blow all your energy
If you sit on a person and spam your main strike, you won’t have enough energy for legitamite burst.
- for example, get 5 combo points, wait for full energy, then KS (Kidney Shot) and you will be able to strike at least twice then eviserate.
- It’s more efficient burst than if you were to KS with 25 energy and maybe get 1 Hemo and some auto attacks in.
In Mists of Pandaria Shadowstep is be a talent than any Rogue can pick up and does not have the damage buff that it did in Cataclysm. It’s still a sweet short range teleport. It can also be used on teammates, friendly/allied targets, critters, almost anything.
You can use S’step to get up onto ledges and attack otherwise inaccessible players and mobs. Try saving your S’step when you engage the enemy. That way when they break away (blink, disengage, etc.) you can catch up to them.
In M of P this lasts 8 seconds and lets you use your stealth abilities (Cheap shot, etc.) out of stealth. It really helps to practice using Shadow Dance on the target dummies, to get some kind of routine down. Also you will want to master your energy pooling skills and quickly moving behind a target.
Know the different playstyles and adapt
You don’t try and beat a warrior the same way you beat a priest do you? There are unique ways of handling each class. Generally though, the two main styles a rogue can play are burst and control.
- Burst: When you do a lot of damage in a short period of time. This usually involves getting back into stealth again multiple times to get max damage possible.
- Control: When you use all CC (Crowd Control) methods available to control an opponent and take them out of the game, so to speak. This means you have to always leave enough energy to gouge and be ready to kick the right school magic. Also blinding into a sap can be a game breaker when speaking in terms of arena.
- Defensive: A rogue who needs to be”defensive” would simply try and avoid as much damage as possible. This would include moves like evasion, vanish, blind, dismantle, gouge, and trying to re-stealth.
Like a Warrior – if you have a pocket healer then you will lay waste. Without one you will have to be somewhat careful about picking and choosing. Otherwise, obviously, the best pvp build depends on who’s in your team, if you have one, and who the other guy is.
Healing – have Recuperate up at all times. It will greatly increase your longevity. In M of P you can grab the Leeching Poison talent, which will also heal you.
Sub Rogues with HAT (lev 50 ability) running in groups (BGs) will often have 5 CPs to put into Recup, even before the fight starts. (You should always have an opponent targeted, even if not fighting.)
Subtlety PvP Macros
Once you have your macro, put it on the action bar and bind it to a key. Practice with it so you know exactly how it works. The order of commands can be important. For example, using some trinkets will break stealth, so you should place them after then attacks in your macros.
You can enter trinkets or items by name or by trinket slot (slots 13 and 14.) Here’s an example:
This uses the “on use” trinket in your second trinket slot and uses it right after you attack so that it doesn’t break stealth. You can copy and use the same basic macro for your Garrote or Cheap Shot. The pick pocket is for your leveling or grinding and won’t affect players.
/cast Pick Pocket
/cast Combat Readiness
This allows you to start (auto)attacking your opponent, even if you’re out of energy.
Great for just mashing as you sneak along looking for hidden targets (rogues, ferals, concealed hunters. )
/cast Pick Pocket
Focus and Mousevers
Three macros. The first will cast your Blind on an arena target. Make two of these, the only change being a 1 and 2 for the X. Now you just have to mash the key and it will autotarget arena enemy #1 (or 2) and blind him. The second will blind your focus target without losing your primary target. The last blinds your mouseover target without losing your main target.
- /cast [@arenaX] Blind
- /cast [@focus] Blind
- /cast [@mouseover] Blind
Without Stealth/Vanish/Shadow Dance [stance:0]
Shadow Dance [stance:3]
This macro avoids the annoying barlag.
/cast [stance:1/2/3] Premeditation
/cast [stance:0] Hemorrhage
/cast [stance:1/2] Cheap Shot
/cast [stance:3] Ambush
Rogue leveling, the fast way
Once you have decided on the right build for your Rogue consider an in-game Rogue Leveling Guide for the most effective (fastest) leveling. Why? With thousands of quests and a million mobs to grind the trip to or 90 can take a while. A long while. An in-game leveling guide will (almost) automate the whole leveling path for your Rogue, making it faster and easier.
Start from any level and use Dugi’s to blast to the finish. Heck, you can even grab a few levels in the dungeons and battleground PvP. Dugi’s guide will figure out your new level and the best spot to continue your questing.
Pick your starting point and the guide will show you where to go and what to do. It automatically updates and advances as you complete tasks and quests, sets a waypoint arrow automatically (always showing you where to go next,) and includes all the important quest info. You will probably never need to look at your quest log again, much less stop mid-play to browse some website.
Note: Dugi’s is always quickly updated to the latest patches and expansions, whether it’s Mists of Pandaria or whatever comes after that. Grab your copy now and hit that level cap ASAP.
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