Subtlety Rogue Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, and ability priorities

The few, the proud, the Subtlety Rogue PvE players. You’ll be glad to hear that after our rocky ride through Cataclysm, Subtlety is looking to come into WoW Patch [patchnumber] very strong! So, whether you’re a stubborn old-school Sub player or you’ve decided to try respeccing, here’s a guide to getting up to speed fast with your ability rotation, talents, glyphs, stat priorities, reforging and gems, so you can go out there and stab things. Subtly.

Updated [guideupdated] to World of Warcraft Patch [patchnumber]

Subtlety Rogue changes in Patch [patchnumber]

Not a lot of changes.

Subtlety “Rotation” and Priorities

Sadly, we’re the only Rogue spec that still needs to be behind its target.

Single-target DPS

Open from Stealth. Use Premeditation, then Ambush as many times as possible, then go into your rotation:

  • 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.
  • If you have 5 combo points and Slice and Dice or Rupture is not about to go down, use Eviscerate.
  • If none of the above apply, Hemorrhage if the Hemorrhage debuff is about to or has gone down, use Backstab if at all possible otherwise, and Hemorrhage if not.

There are more complexities than this, but this will get you going and doing decent DPS. Also – remember, you have Kick (interrupt) and Feint (AOE protection). Do use these! A dead rogue can’t do DPS.


Use your single-target rotation. If fighting more than 6 enemies, attempt to keep the Crimson Tempest debuff up on them by sometimes using Crimson Tempest instead of Eviscerate. If you’re using Crimson Tempest, don’t bother with Rupture.


  • Shadow Dance Use whenever possible, and spam Ambush through it.
  • Shadow Blades Use as often as possible.
  • Vanish and Premeditation: A reasonably powerful DPS cooldown combo. Use Vanish, then Premeditation, then as many Ambushes as possible for a DPS and combo point boost. Start on 0 combo points, but otherwise use as often as possible.
  • Cloak of Shadows Powerful magic damage reduction cooldown – particularly useful for getting rid of dangerous effects. Now works 100% of the time!
  • Dismantle – Don’t forget about it! Any time a monster or boss can be disarmed, this is very powerful.
  • Tricks of the Trade – Boosts damage and transfers threat. Use it on the tank at the pull, and whenever it’s available.
  • Redirect – Remember to use this to move combo points when target-swapping.

You can also “Tricks Swap” with another rogue to boost both your DPS – but don’t do that without discussing it with your tank and raid leader first.


Use Deadly Poison on your weapon and the non-lethal poison of your choice for the encounter.

Subtlety Rogue Talent Choices

Tier 1 and 4 are basically locked in for Sub rogues. Feel free to experiment with the other tiers for your personal preference. Here’s a good general build:

  • Tier 1: Subterfuge
  • Tier 2: Combat Readiness – gives you another powerful defensive cooldown.
  • Tier 3: Cheat Death
  • Tier 4: Shadowstep – get behind your foe quicker!
  • Tier 5: Paralytic Poison
  • Tier 6: Anticipation

Stats, reforging and gemming for Subtlety Rogue

Other than getting to Hit and Expertise caps (and not above them) your stat weights are not hugely different, so it’s not too vital to get Reforging perfect. Priorities: Agility > Expertise and Hit to the caps (7.5% / 2550 rating) > Haste > Mastery > Critical Strike

Reforging: Reforge for Expertise and Hit to the caps, then Haste after that. Reforge from excess Hit and Expertise first, then Crit, then Mastery.

Gems: Delicate (Agility) gems in red sockets and other gem sockets with a less than 60 Agi bonus. Adept (Mastery/Agi) in yellow sockets and Glinting (Hit/Agi) in blue sockets otherwise.

Meta Gem: Agile meta gem.

Subtlety Glyphs

Here’s a good standard setup:

Major: Glyph of Redirect, Glyph of Feint, Glyph of Cloak of Shadows

Minor: Several fun Minor Glyphs (I like Blurred Speed) but no must-haves.

Subtlety Rogue enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulder – Greater Tiger Claw Inscription
  • Cloak – Accuracy or Superior Critical Strike, depending on if you’re at hit cap.
  • Chest – Glorious Stats
  • Wrist – Greater Agility
  • Hands – Superior Expertise
  • Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Shadowleather Leg Armor
  • Feet – Blurred Speed
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Dancing Steel

A few guides for more detail:

If you’ve found this article useful, please consider sharing it using the buttons below!

Read more →

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.

You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we look for the best articles about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you. Check out the latest articles.

If you found this article useful, please consider sharing it! You can find Twitter, Facebook and Google+ buttons below.


Read more →