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, but Subtlety is more
fun and more flexible. And Assassination doesn't have Shadowstep.
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.
Basically, you pick your targets, pop in and murderlize them for a
few seconds, blind and get out of there. Long fights aren't
really your forte, though you can manage well enough.
Buffs and Nerfs
After any big patch or expansion there's always a period where class
balance is all over the place and Rogues are no exception. Especially
with the 4.0 patch. Right after the patch the Rogue was about the same
as before, but some of the other classes wre buffed big time. People
complained and the melee classes got buffs and the casters some nerfs
and Druids became unstoppable. For a time.
The point is that after these patches there's a "flavor of the minute"
taste to class balance. Class A becomes godlike and B becomes the doormat.
Then it bounces back and forth for awhile. The builds and pointers
on these pages will assume some sort of class balance and will skip
the "Flavor of the Minute" game.
If you like this guide how about sharing it, using the bar at the bottom
of the page?
Quick Notes for the Subtlety Rogue
Best role: PvP, though Sub. can do well in PvE.
Best Race: Orc for the Blood Fury ability, Human for
the Escape ability.
Subtlety Stats: For all roles: Agility way before everything
Mastery is the weakest stat. More stats
Note: If you're going to switch specs and want to keep only one
set of gear, then Haste is the best stat after 8% Hit.
PvP: Wpn DPS > Agility > Resilience > 5% melee hit > Crit > Haste.
Expertise and Mastery aren't so hot.
(Spell Penetration is useful for Assassination, not Sub.)
PvP Reforge: Reforge weakest stats (Master) into hit (until
you have 5%) and Crit.
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
or get yoiu Pwned in PvP, though you might be punted from the MinMax
All the professions, except Blacksmithing, provide some kind of self-only
craft that averages out to about 80 Agility. Blacksmithing might actually
be the best if you
can afford the new epic gems, since the profession allows you two slot
two of them giving you a total +100 Agility bonus instead of +80 from
the other profs.
Best for cash, but still being useful? Herbalism and Skinning or mining.
If you don't PvP then mining has less utility since you won't need
the Stam as much (and you probably won't be Sub. if you're not PvPing,
Self only gems, such as
Delicate Chimera's Eye (+67 Ag,) can replace the Delicate Inferno
Ruby (+40 Ag.) You can use three of these which gains a total
of 81 net Agility.
Note: with the introduction of the epic gems
in patch 4.3 those three +67 gems only give you a +51 total Ag.
bonus over someone equiping the new +50 Ag gems. Of course, you
could probably level your JC from 1-525 for the cost of a couple
of those gems...
Two additional sockets (Socket Bracers and Socket Gloves,) each
of which will take a Delicate Inferno Ruby, for a total of
80 more Agility.
Patch 4.3 introduced the epic gems. If you can afford the Delicate
Queen's Garnet then
you can slot two of those instead, for a total +100 Ag bonus.
This bonus is better than any of the other profs at this time.
passive Mixology buff increases the effect of Flask of the Winds
by 80 Agility. It also increases the benefit you get from any of
your own potions. Additionally,
the buff doubles the duration of your flasks.
Alchemists are also
able to create a Flask of Enhancement for +80 Agility.
Lifeblood provides a heal over time and
which also grants you 480 haste rating for a short time, which
is about 80 haste rating averaged out over a long fight. This is
clearly the best gathering profession for Subtlety rogues, though
the buff isn't on par with the crafting professions.
With Cataclysm, through 4.3, Rogues are looking pretty
good. They haven't receved any major changed to mechanics, unlike Paladins,
so the playstyle is pretty much the same. They'll receive a major overhaul
of Pandaria, like all the other classes.
Mastery - This is trainable at level 80 and basically
buffs once aspect of your builds. For Sub. Rogues it boosts your Finishing
Strike damage. So now your Ambush > 5pt Eviscerate hits even
harder. See below for the value of Mastery.
Recuperate - This is a nice ability, gained at level
12, which, with a full Sub build, is actually pretty sweet as a talent
allows it to recover Energy as
well as health. You can start getting that talent as early as level
29. Keep recuperate up as much as possible. Energetic
recovery is a big DPS gain.
Depending on the fight (and recommended for leveling) your opener
will be something like:
Shadowstep > Ambush (5 cps generated) > recuperate > the rest of
At 81+ you may even find yourself using Recuperate to the
excusion of Redirection as the combo points are better spent
on Energy regeneration.
At level 10, when you gain access to your talents, you will pick the
one tree and then be locked into that tree until you've spent 31 points
in it. So the days of half subtlety, half assassination are dead. After
31 points you can move out.
Here's what you get for picking Subtlety:
Shadowstep is your level 10 ability. Appear behind your
opponents in position for a brutal Ambush.
Calling - 30% more Agility and 40% more bonus damage
from Backstab and Hemorrhage. Sweet.
Executioner - Increases damage from finishing
strikes, and the effectiveness of Slice and Dice. Additional Mastery
Cataclysm Subtlety Rogue PvP build
Practice makes perfect. Grab one of the targeting
dummies, in any of the big cities, and practice your routine, including
stuns, kicks, etc. They won't add to your DPS, but hitting the Kick key
should be automatic in PvP, right?
Nightstalker - Rank 1/2 -
Increases your speed while stealthed by 5% and reduces the cooldown
of your Stealth ability by 2 sec.
Improved Ambush - Rank
Increases the critical strike chance of your Ambush ability
by 60% and its damage by 15%.
Relentless Strikes - Rank
Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point
to restore 25 Energy.
Elusiveness - Rank 2/2 -
Reduces the cooldown of your Vanish and Blind abilities by
60 sec, and your Cloak of Shadows and Combat Readiness abilities
by 30 sec.
Waylay - Rank 2/2 -
Your Ambush and Backstab hits have a 100% chance to unbalance
a target, increasing the time between their melee and ranged
attacks by 20%, and reducing movement speed by 50% for 8
Opportunity - Rank 3/3 -
Increases the damage dealt with your Backstab, Mutilate, Garrote
and Ambush abilities by 30%.
Energetic Recovery - Rank 3/3 -
Empowers your Recuperate ability, causing its periodic effect
to also restore 12 Energy.
Find Weakness - Rank 2/2 -
Your Ambush, Garrote, and Cheap Shot abilities reveal a flaw
in your target's defenses, causing all your attacks to bypass
70% of that enemy's armor for 10 sec.
Hemorrhage - Rank 1/1 -
An instant strike that deals 155% weapon damage ((155 * 1.45)%
if a dagger is equipped) and causes the target to take 30%
additional damage from Bleed effects for 1 min. Awards 1
Honor Among Thieves - Rank 3/3 -
Increases the critical strike chance of all party and raid
members by 5%. When any player in your party or raid critically
hits with a spell or ability, you have a 100% chance to gain
a combo point on your current target. This effect cannot
occur more than once every 2 seconds.
Premeditation - Rank
When used, adds 2 combo points to your target. You must add
to or use those combo points within 20 sec or the combo points
Preparation - Rank 1/1 -
When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown
on your Sprint, Vanish, and Shadowstep abilities.
Vein - Rank 2/2 -
Increases your damage dealt to targets with a Bleed effect
on them by 16% and gives your Bleed effects a 100% chance
to not break your Gouge.
Slaughter from the Shadows - Rank
Reduces the Energy cost of your Backstab and Ambush abilities
by 20, and the Energy cost of your Hemorrhage and Fan of
Knives abilities by 6.
Shadow Dance - Rank 1/1 -
Enter the Shadow Dance for 6 sec, allowing the use of Sap,
Garrote, Ambush, Cheap Shot, Premeditation, Pick Pocket,
and Disarm Trap regardless of being stealthed.
Assassination (10 Points)
Coup de Grace - Rank 2/3 -
Increases the damage done by your Eviscerate and Envenom abilities by 14%.
Lethality - Rank 3/3 -
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Backstab, Mutilate
and Hemorrhage abilities by 30%.
Quickening - Rank 2/2 -
All healing effects on you are increased by 20% and your movement speed is increased
by 15%. This does not stack with most other movement speed increasing effects.
Puncturing Wounds - Rank 3/3 -
Increases the critical strike chance of your Backstab ability
by 30%, and the critical strike chance of your Mutilate ability
Combat (0 Points) None
This is an offensive build. See the
end of this build for notes on increasing survivability.
Glyph of Shadow Dance - Increases the
duration of Shadow Dance by 2 sec.
Pick two of the next three:
Glyph of Slice and Dice - Increases the duration of
Slice and Dice by 6 sec.
Glyph of Hemorrhage - Your Hemorrhage
ability also causes the target to bleed, dealing 40% of the
direct strike's damage over 24 sec.
- and/or -
Glyph of Backstab - Your Backstab critical
strikes grant you 5 energy.
Glyph of Garrote - Increases the duration
of your Garrote ability's silence effect by 1.5 sec.
Glyph of Preparation - Your Preparation
ability also instantly resets the cooldown of Kick, Dismantle,
and Smoke Bomb.
Glyph of Blind - Your Blind ability
also removes all damage over time effects from the target.
Glyph of Safe Fall (Minor Glyph) - Increases the
distance your Safe Fall ability allows you to fall without
Glyph of Poisons (Minor Glyph) - You apply poisons
to your weapons 50% faster.
Glyph of Distract (Minor Glyph) - Increases the range
of your Distract ability by 5 yards.
Three points in Honor Among Thieves, which is great solo
(and in 2s) and even better if you're grouping (BGs, 5s)
Zero points in Serrated Blades
Takes Waylay for the control
With Improved Recuperate and Quickening the healing
should be pretty good.
Weapons: Slow main-hand, fast off-hand.
Poisons: Wound and crippling
Backstab requires daggers, Ambush does not, but
does hit harder with them. No other strikes requires daggers and
they also hit harder with slower weapons. Backstab also has a positional
requirement which can make using it difficult.
an excellent opener, especially if glyphed,
for the silence effect. Ambush is better in lower level PvP since opponents
don't have all the resilience. At top level Garrote is just as good,
and is better in certain situations.
Hemorrhage Vs. Backstab and Daggers Vs Anything Else
Hemo and Ambush add bonus damage if you use daggers and you have to
use a main hand dagger if you're going to backstab. If your fighting
style does not backstab and you Garrote instead of Ambush, there's
less call for daggers. Swords and such DO hit harder than dagger and
almost make up for the dagger bonus. All things being equal (such as
available weapons) daggers do a little more damage overall.
Hemo does less damage than Backstab, but costs less energy and does
not have a position requirement. It also adds a useful "more
damage from bleeds" effect than can be useful in group situations.
So pick whichever works for you and the weapons you have available.
Naturally looks count. If Weapon A is a bit better, but is just ugly,
then go with B. ;)
If you're in position and can use Backstab then insert it where
Subtlety probably isn't the optimal damage spec, giving up ground
to Combat and Assassination, but it can still do respectable DPS. The
issue isn't so much the damage, but a more complicated rotation.
Slow man hand weapon, fast off-hand (which means a fast dagger.)
Hemo seems to be a DPS loss over backstab, but this assumes that
you're able to keep yourself behind the target reliably. This is much
easier in PvE than PvP.
Backstab is your main combo point builder, which means
a dagger in the main hand. Since you want a fast off-hand weapon
you'll be using two daggers.
Subtlety (31 Points)
Improved Ambush - Rank 3/3 - Increases the critical
strike chance of your Ambush ability by 60% and its damage
Relentless Strikes - Rank 3/3 - Your finishing moves
have a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25 energy.
Elusiveness - Rank 2/2 - Reduces the cooldown of
your Vanish and Blind abilities by 60 sec and your Cloak of
Shadows ability by 30 sec.
Opportunity - Rank 3/3 - Increases the damage dealt
with your Backstab, Mutilate, Garrote and Ambush abilities
Initiative - Rank 1/2 - Gives you a 50% chance to
add an additional combo point to your target when using your
Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot ability.
Energetic Recovery - Rank 3/3 - Empowers your Recuperate
ability, causing its periodic effect to also restore 12 Energy.
Find Weakness - Rank 2/2 - Your Ambush, Garrote,
and Cheap Shot abilities reveal a flaw in your target's defenses,
causing all your attacks to bypass 50% of that enemy's armor
for 10 sec.
Hemorrhage - Rank 1/1 - An instant strike that deals
110% weapon damage ((
110 * 1.45)% if a dagger is equipped) and causes the target to take 30% additional
damage from bleed effects for 1 min. Awards 1 combo point.
Honor Among Thieves - Rank 3/3 - Increases the critical
strike chance of all party and raid members by 5%. When any
player in your party or raid critically hits with a spell or
ability, you have a 100% chance to gain a combo point on your
current target. This effect cannot occur more than once every
Premeditation - Rank 1/1
When used, adds 2 combo points to your target. You must add to or use those combo
points within 20 sec or the combo points are lost.
Preparation - Rank 1/1 - When activated, this ability
immediately finishes the cooldown on your Evasion, Sprint,
Vanish, and Shadowstep abilities.
Sanguinary Vein - Rank 2/2
Increases your damage dealt to targets who are afflicted with a Bleed effect
Slaughter from the Shadows - Rank 3/3 - Reduces the
energy cost of your Backstab and Ambush abilities by 20, and
the energy cost of your Hemorrhage and Fan of Knives abilities
Serrated Blades - Rank 2/2 - Your Eviscerate has
a 20% chance per combo point to refresh your Rupture on the
target to its original duration.
Shadow Dance - Rank 1/1
Enter the Shadow Dance for 6 sec, allowing the use of Sap, Garrote, Ambush, Cheap
Shot, Premeditation, Pickpocket and Disarm Trap regardless of being stealthed.
Assassination (8 Points)
Coup de Grace - Rank 2/3 - Increases the damage done
by your Eviscerate and Envenom abilities by 14%.
Lethality - Rank 3/3 - Increases the critical strike
damage bonus of your Sinister Strike, Backstab, Mutilate and
Hemorrhage abilities by 30%.
Puncturing Wounds - Rank 3/3 - Increases the critical
strike chance of your Backstab ability by 30%, and the critical
strike chance of your Mutilate ability by 15%.
Combat (2 Points)
Precision - Rank 2/3 - Increases your chance to hit
with weapon and poison attacks by 4%.
Glyph of Backstab - Your Backstab critical
strikes grant you 5 energy.
Glyph of Slice and Dice - Increases the
duration of Slice and Dice by 6 sec.
Pick from ...
Glyph of Eviscerate or
Glyph of Hemorrhage or
Glyph of Shadow Dance
Glyph of Tricks of the Trade - Removes
the energy cost of your Tricks of the Trade ability but reduces
the recipient's damage bonus by 5%.
Glyph of Feint - Reduces the energy cost
of Feint by 20.
Either Glyph of Sprint or
Glyph of Fan of Knives
Minor Glyphs - Nothing really interesting here.
Take what fits your game.
Glyph of Safe Fall - Increases the distance
your Safe Fall ability allows you to fall without taking damage.
Glyph of Pick Lock - Reduces the cast
time of your Pick Lock ability by 100%.
Glyph of Poisons - You apply poisons
to your weapons 50% faster.
For extended period in the Twilight Shadowrealms...
Consider focusing on damage reduction and self-heals. Here are some
Leveling with Subtlety is nice, especially with the
Cataclysm changes, and it gets faster as you level. Leveling with a
PvP build works well enough, especially once you're up a few levels.
Supplementing your questing with some PvP leveling can be interesting
and this way you don't have to switch builds. Now, check out our recommended
leveling guide if you need to level as fast as possible.
Gear, Gems, Numbers, Tips, Etc
NOTE: The below section is nearly identical for all three
specializations of rogue, this is due to the usage of almost entirely
the same stats for any rogue no matter the attack rotation and/or talent
At level 60 you can get a full set of PvP honor gear, for not much
At level 70 get your full set of arena gear from the legacy arena
At level 77-80, assuming that you're leveling, you should buy the
Cataclysm greens off the Auction House. They're much better
than the level 80 honor gear.
Keep in mind that with Sinister CallingSubtlety will
get more out of any Agility gear, including
socket and set bonuses, than the other Rogue specs. PvP
gear also has Agility set bonuses.
If your stats are not perfectly optimized don't worry about it.
Small discrepancies are just that, small. Your skill at using
the right ability at the right time is far more valuable than a few
points in any one stat.
enough gold? Here's stuff to spend it on: Epic gems, high end
enchants, weapons and gear, leveling profesisons, mounts and pets,
really big bags, etc.
Quick and dirty gem advice: It's the best to go for
Delicate gems (Agility) almost everywhere (remember that you get 30%
Agility through Sub. Specialization and 5% Agility through Leather
Ignore socket bonuses unless they are for socketing all red gems or
high (figure 20 Agil per gem slot.)
You can constantly mash Sap with this and it will target
the nearest enemy
and sap it. If you target something first then it will remove that
target and apply it to the nearest player.
For PvE the above macro gets a bit weird, so just
/cast Pick Pocket
1-85 Rogue Leveling Guide
Sneaking... that's what we do best, isn't it? Oh yeah, and slaughtering
from the shadows. Especially with a well place Ambush. Now
you have to get to 85 ASAP and do a bazillion quests to get there.
How to do it, with never a question as to what to do next? Our
suggestion is to go with a full blown Rogue leveling
Guide is our choice. Zygor's automates the whole
questing experience. You just pick your starting point and
the guide automatically updates and advances as you complete
quests, sets waypoint arrows automatically, and includes all
of the important quest info.
Even if you gain a few or a bunch of levels in PvP or the dungeons
Zygor's guides will figure out where you are and where you need
to go, automatically, and even clean up your obsolete quests!
100% Cataclysm 4.3 ready and regularly updated, it's never obsolete.
Zygor's even helps you with your talent builds with a slick Talent
Advisor function and will help you to earn the Loremaster achievement!
You will probably never need to look at your quest log again,
much less browse some website. We highly recommend Zygor's Guides.
Grab your copy here or read