Patch 4.3 Subtlety Rogue Quick-Start guide: talent spec, glyphs, gems and reforging, stats, changes, rotation and priorities.

So, we’ve got Deathwing himself sitting on Wyrmrest Temple, backward and forward time travel, and a black dragon offering us Legendary weapons? Brute force ain’t gonna get this thing done. What we need here is some… Subtlety. So, to get subtly stabbing things in the subtle back with a subtle great knife, here’s your guide to Sub talent specs, glyphs, gems and reforging, rotation, changes and more in Patch 4.3.

Updated Dec 19th, 2011, for Patch 4.3

Subtlety Rogue Changes in Patch 4.3

First up, all rogues NEED to be aware of the coolest damn thing for a while, and that’s the Rogue Legendary quest line . Not only does it lead to the best damn daggers ever at the end, but if you follow it only a bit through – easy enough to do if you raid at all- you’ll get your hands on some of the best weapons out there short of drops from Heroic Deathwing.

Aside from that, Rogues get the 10% melee attack power buff and nothing else. Sorry.

The Tier 13 set bonuses are pretty good, and the 2-piece does change our play slightly. If you have 2 pieces of T13, make sure to use Tricks of the Trade on cooldown.

Subtlety Rotation / Priorities

Like most DPS classes in Cataclysm, Subtlety Rogues don’t have a fixed rotation any more. Instead, we have a number of buffs and debuffs to keep running, and a couple of combo point generators to do so.

Make sure you’ve got Instant Poison on your mainhand weapon, Deadly Poison on your offhand, and Wound Poison on your throwing weapon.

Single Target: Open from stealth – start with Premeditation if possible, then use Ambush to break stealth, and start Slice and Dice. Backstab to 5 combo points and use Rupture. After that:

  • If Slice and Dice is about to go down and you have combo points – use Slice And Dice. If Rupture is down and you have combo points, use Rupture.
  • Put up Recuperate if it’s not running
  • If you have 5 combo points and Slice and Dice is not about to go down, use Eviscerate.
  • If none of the above apply, use Backstab if at all possible, and Haemhorrage if not – unless you are at low energy and have 3 or more Combo Points, in which case don’t do anything and let your Energy recharge.

Use Hemorrhage as needed to keep the debuff up on the boss (it has a minute’s duration, so you won’t need to use it often) unless you’re with a Feral Druid or Arms Warrior, in which case they’ll apply an identical debuff as part of their standard rotation.

Cooldowns: Use Shadow Dance whenever possible, ideally near full Energy, and switch to using Ambush rather than Backstab whilst in it. Also, use Vanish whenever possible, then Shadow Step followed by Ambush. For maximum burn DPS, use Vanish, then Shadow Dance once out of Stealth, then Preparation, then wait for Find Weakness to go down and Vanish again. Remember, you can use Shadow Step to get behind opponents for Backstab and Ambush, and it also boosts Ambush damage. Other than this, use Vanish on cooldown unless Find Weakness is currently up.

AOE: Use your single-target priorities unless there are at least 5 opponents, in which case spam Fan of Knives.


Subtlety Talent Spec

This is the standard Subtlety talent spec for 4.3

Stats, reforging and gemming for Subtlety

Agility is the most important stat for Subtlety by an insane margin – it’s nearly 3 times as valuable as the next most valuable stat. After that, it’s Hit to the Yellow Cap (481), then Haste. Expertise, Crit and Hit above yellow cap are all about the same, with Mastery the weakest stat for Sub rogues.

Reforging: Reforge to the yellow hit cap, then reforge to Haste. Reforge from Mastery first, then Crit, Hit above yellow cap, and Expertise.

Gems: Use a Delicate Inferno Ruby unless the socket bonus provides 20 or more Agi per gem. In that case, use Glinting Demonseye for blue sockets and Deft Ember Topaz for yellow sockets.

Subtlety Enchants

Do check if your professions offer a better enhancement – these are just general-purpose ones.

Head Arcanum of the Ramkahen
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal
Back Enchant Cloak – Major Agility
Chest Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Agility
Hands Enchant Gloves – Haste
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Dragonscale Leg Armor
Feet Enchant Boots – Major Agility
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Landslide on both


Prime: Backstab, Slice and Dice, and Shadow Dance if you want to increase your burst DPS, or Eviscerate to increase your all-the-time DPS.

Major: Tricks of the Trade, Feint, and whichever other one you prefer.

Minor: Safe Fall and your choice.

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