The most recent changes are in blue.
Information that is probably out of date is in maroon.
This thread is for playing Subtlety at max level. The initial post will contain answers to the most common questions, provide values and weights for helping you gear, rotational tips and more.
=Specs and Glyphs=
This is the recommended single target DPS spec. As you can see there's no filler talents used, and Initiative is not maxed out. There is no real wiggle room with the Sub spec for utility / filler talents, but it is viable to drop some talents (Initiative, Elusiveness, Premed, or Prep, in that order) for things like Enveloping Shadows if the fight calls for it.
8/2/31 - Valiona and Theralion
The generalized Valiona and Theralion spec for dealing with the twilight realm optimally. Though rarely used now, this is what your spec should be similar to stay in the twilight realm for significant periods of time. It focuses on damage mitigation and self heals. There is plenty of leniency, like Cheat Death can be slid around to Prep/Premed/Imp Ambush, not to mention how much out-gearing the encounter factors into your strategy.
One of the weaker utility talents, it has seen some use in fights like Valiona and Theralion when first progressing through it. But it is worthless if you wouldn't die from a mechanic, since you shouldn't be in the position where you would die, it therefore is usually skipped.
A strong utility talent on encounters with heavy AOE damage. This, coupled with the , Rogues take roughly 35% as much damage as most other raid members at the cost of just a GCD. It is rarely taken, but it has seen use on fights like Valiona and Theralion, Beth'tilac, and most recently Morchok.
Provides an important target debuff, but it should be redundant so long as your tanks are doing what they are supposed to. Not likely to ever be of use in a raid.
While a good talent for Combat and Assassination, it leads to noticeably more combo points than would be worthwhile for Subtlety. Definitely a DPS talent, but there are better ones.
Similar to Cheat Death, it's a weak utility talent that would require you to be in bad situations for the talent to be worthwhile. Since you should avoid situations like that, it gets skipped over. The mobility is nice, but with Shadowstep and Sprint it is never truly needed.
All glyphs are organized in order of largest benefit to the least benefit.
Glyph of Backstab and Glyph of Slice and Dice are considered mandatory.
Glyph of Hemorrhage is better than Eviscerate and Shadow Dance glyphs when Hemo is woven into the rotation for the 24s bleed. If you drop Hemorrhage from the rotation (not recommended) then you should pick either glyph of Eviscerate or Shadow Dance. Which of those two is better depends on your current gear, but they provide roughly the same increase in DPS.
The two most common major glyphs are Tricks of the Trade and Feint (when it is of any use). Sprint has some use on fights like Alysrazor, but with Shadowstep it isn't amazing.
Due to Sub's AOE inadequacies, Fan of Knives is rarely ever chosen. Although in certain scenarios, like when every raid member needs to AOE or you wipe, the glyph can help.
=Combat and Rotation=
Unlike most specs, practicing Sub on a target dummy plays significantly different than it does in a raid. Despite this, it's still helpful to practice on a dummy since it teaches you the patience needed to play Sub well, and gives you a better understanding of your ICDs and aura times. You will need to learn how, when, and the pros/cons of pooling. This carries over into working with Find Weakness, and managing your buffs and debuffs in a raid since you will have greater awareness of their uptime and management. It is entirely possible to maintain the Sub rotation on a target dummy solo when Hemo is glyphed and using "modern" gear levels.
Sub uses the same rules for poisons as Combat. The standard Instant Poison on your main hand, with Deadly Poison on your off hand, and Wound Poison on your thrown weapon when equipped.
If your strategy on a fight requires frequent target swaps, then using dual Wound Poison is better, but only if the swaps occur more than roughly every 30 seconds.
Starting in stealth is a big deal to Sub DPS, if a boss pulls you out of stealth on the pull, then either be the raid member to make the pull (if your guild permits) or make sure you have Premeditation up on the target before the pull.
It is also a big boost to Sub DPS to start off the fight with a 5 CP Slice and Dice. This requires you to ask your raid members to heal until you have 5 CP's before the fight, any player's crits will trigger the proc, no matter how much they crit for. If you just killed trash, Redirect can also help with this.
The opener sequence goes:
1) Slice and Dice (with whatever CP's you may have before the fight starts)
2) Prepot (note: breaks stealth, cast before entering stealth)
3) Tricks of the Trade*
4) Stealth (if not)
6) Shadowstep (the moment the fight begins)
8) Rupture (make sure you have 5CP's first, though you always should)
10) Backstab until you're at 4CP
11) Pool energy untill 5CP (so long as you don't cap)
12) Slice and Dice (or if you got a prefight Slice and Dice and it's still up for a bit, cast Recuperate)
*With 4p t12, saving TotT until you get a Haste proc from a trinket is a slight DPS increase so long as 4p has a 50% chance of being Haste. If you're pulling threat off the pull then continue to use TotT before the pull.
The core of the rotation is about trying to maximize Slice and Dice, Recuperate, and Find Weakness uptime without letting Rupture drop, while trying to prevent clipping and wasted CPs as much as possible. You accomplish it by working the CD priority whenever Find Weakness is down and you're 0 CPs. Otherwise executing the CP builder priority to typically 4 combo points (pool for the 5th so long as you won't cap). Once at 5CP, you then choose from the finisher priority.
- Shadow Dance > Vanish > Preparation
CP builder priority:
- Ambush > Hemorrhage bleed (from glyph) > Backstab > Hemorrhage
General finisher priority:
- Rupture (With Master of Subtlety, must be active for 20+ seconds) > Slice and Dice > Rupture (Without Master of Subtlety, must be active for 20+ seconds) > Recuperate > Eviscerate
It is important to remember that all finishers should be cast at 5 combo points. Failing to do so leads to cycle instability, lower energy for Backstab, and lower DPS. It should also be noted that a 5 CP Eviscerate that lands is guaranteed to refresh Rupture to it's original duration and damage. This means your finishers will typically be Slice and Dice, Recuperate and Eviscerate.
Clipping Recuperate and Slice and Dice if you anticipate prolonged downtime (in order to maintain a buffed Rupture) is viable depending on how much you would clip and your gear. Clipping in general is a slight mathematical DPS loss, but makes the rotation easier to manage for most. Casting Recuperate with less then 3 seconds left will not clip the last tick, it will merely add to the current duration which makes Recuperate more forgiving.
Cooldowns should be planned for. It is important to pool energy while trying to not waste any CP's before any CD. Time it such that you are high on energy, use a 5CP finisher, cast your cooldown (including Shadowstep, and Premed when applicable), and then resume your cycle. This allows you to shift more damage into Find Weakness, which gives higher DPS.
It is also helpful to plan your finishers such that you don't have to refresh Slice and Dice or Recuperate during Find Weakness, since Eviscerate gains more from being cast during Find Weakness than Slice and Dice or Recuperate. Do not lose a cast over this, just choose to refresh Slice and Dice over a buffed Rupture if both are ending soon and Vanish is about to come off CD (so you can then refresh rupture WITH Find Weakness).
Sub has one of the worst AOEs in the game. Unless there is an obscenely large number of adds near you, it is usually best to continue doing single target DPS.
Sub has no cleave. Not only is there no mechanism designed for cleaving, but trying to keep Rupture, poisons, etc on multiple targets is a DPS loss.
Subtlety has a couple of cooldowns, mostly revolving around keeping up Find Weakness.
A strong 30s CD that teleports the player behind their target, and increases the damage of the player's next Ambush by 30% for up to 10 seconds. On heavy movement fights it is usually used to get into, or stay in melee range of the player's target. On any other occasion though, it is used with Ambush out of stealth or your second Ambush during Shadow Dance for the added damage.
Sub, like Assassination, requires Vanish for good DPS. Vanish allows the player to get another Premed / Shadowstep / Ambush in, which generates 4 to 5 CPs for the following Eviscerate. It is important to try and pool energy before using, and get as close to 0 CP's as possible. This prevents wasting CP's and gives you more energy to use during Find Weakness. Master of Subtlety (triggered by going back into stealth) also stacks with Tricks of the Trade.
Primarily used to reset the CD on your Sprint, Vanish and Shadowstep, this allows you to get an additional Vanish in to increase your Find Weakness uptime. Glyph of Preparation resets the CD of Kick, Dismantle, and Smoke Bomb as well, but due to the lack of practical use the glyph isn't used..
A 6 second buff (before effects) that allows you to use stealth abilities outside of stealth, like Ambush, Premeditation and Cheap Shot. This ability should be used near max energy (without capping), and preferably with no combo points just like Vanish. As said previously, if Shadowstep is going to be used for damage then it is better DPS if it is used on the second Ambush.
=Stat Weights and Caps=
These are the BiS stats weights according to Shadowcraft (Dec 8th build), rounded to the nearest 0.05.
[table="head"]Stat | T11 EP | T12 EP | T13 EP (w/o Legendary)
Agility | 3.6 | 3.8 | 3.95
Yellow Hit Rating | 1.4 | 1.55 | 1.8
Haste Rating | 1.35 | 1.55 | 1.75
Expertise Rating | 1.15 | 1.3 | 1.55
Crit Rating | 1.1 | 1.45 | 1.5
Spell Hit Rating | 1.05 | 1.1 | 1.15
Mastery Rating | 0.9 | 0.9 | 0.95
White Hit Rating | 0.8 | 0.8 | 0.9
SimulationCraft (r10974) weights for t13, using the default BiS profiles for now. Rounded to the nearest 0.05, and normalized per DPS, not to AP.
[table="head"]Stat | w/o Legendary | w/Legendary
Agility | 5.40 | 5.65
Hit Rating | 3.00 | 3.20
Expertise Rating | 2.60 | 3.20
Haste Rating | 2.50 | 2.55
Crit Rating | 1.90 | 2.00
Mastery Rating | 1.40 | 1.85
Agility > Special Hit (8% physical) > Haste ~= Dodge Expertise (26) > Crit > Poison Hit (17% spell) > Mastery > White Hit (27% physical)
Agility is by far your strongest stat, it's better by leaps and bounds.
[table="head"]Hit Rating | 2/3 Precision
Special | 481 rating
Poison | 1332 rating
White | 2763 rating
Hit is a big deal to up to the special cap (8%, down to 4% with 2/3 Precision). Reaching 4% physical hit chance (481 hit rating) is very easy, and every rogue contemplating raiding should have more than enough. After this point, hit rating simply isn't worth it, as other stats scale your DPS significantly better.
Mastery is pretty worthless for Sub in sustained scenarios. Stacking this stat is not recommended. In burst scenarios like tendons on spine, the value of Mastery rises, but does not surpass, Crit.
A strong secondary stat. It increases swings speeds, which keeps poisons up better and increases white damage. It also increases your energy generation which generates more Backstabs and ultimately helps with cycle stability.
Crit is unusually good for Sub in comparison to Combat and Mutilate. Not only is most of Subtlety's DPS physical with 200% base crit damage, but the heavy crits from Lethality and energy generation from makes it a strong secondary stat.
[table="head"] | Expertise Cap (Dodge)
Gnomes | 691 rating
Other Races | 781 rating
Capping Expertise is questionable with 4p t12, but with t13 stats, and the loss of the 4p t12 set bonus makes it a solid stat once again. At the very high gear levels, you may even find yourself nearing the crit cap, expertise becomes a very good stat up to the dodge cap in the scenario that you are crit capped.
Subtlety predominantly uses daggers. While Hemorrhage does hit relatively hard with non-dagger weapons, Hemo spam is not recommended and is still behind daggers with Backstab in typical gearing scenarios. Therefore Sub tries to use a 1.8s main hand weapon (or slower), and a 1.4s offhand weapon (or faster). Weapon speed is a huge factor, and items like are exceptionally strong for their item level.
This may change in the future as we better understand the changes to EP weights due to the legendary daggers, and will be updated if any changes occur to Shadowcraft. Current data shows that SimC and Shadowcraft are in agreement about BiS.
Best in Slot Gear
[table="head"]Slot | Item
Ring 1 |
Ring 2 |
Trinket 1 |
Trinket 2 |
MH* - - If you aren't in line for the legendaries.
OH* - - If you aren't in line for the legendaries.
- [Jaws of Retribution] Your melee attacks have a chance to grant Suffering, increasing your Agility by 2, stacking up to 50 times.
- [Maw of Oblivion] Your melee attacks have a chance to grant Nightmare, increasing your Agility by 5, stacking up to 50 times.
- [Fangs of the Father] Your melee attacks have a chance to grant Shadows of the Destroyer, increasing your Agility by 17, stacking up to 50 times. Each application past 30 grants an increasing chance to trigger Fury of the Destroyer. When triggered, this consumes all applications of Shadows of the Destroyer, immediately granting 5 combo points and cause your finishing moves to generate 5 combo points. Lasts 6 sec.
These are the procs for the stage 1, 2, and 3 daggers. The stage 1 and 2 procs have no significant impact on your rotation.
When the wings unfurl on the stage 3 proc, it can be viable to spam Eviscerate at the expense of Slice and Dice, and Recuperate downtime. This only works under specific conditions, and you need to have a damage modifier on yourself, or the target that increases the damage done by your Eviscerate for a short period of time (Feedback on Hagara, for instance) for this to be a DPS gain. Several seconds of downtime on either aura is a DPS loss, so don't ignore them.
You will occasionally trigger Fury during Shadow Dance. Use the Fury proc so long as you don't cap energy, but make sure you get one last Ambush in before Shadow Dance ends to get the full duration of Find Weakness in. Do not cast Vanish or Shadow Dance in the middle, or the end of Fury of the Destroyer.
If you find that Fury procs as a target dies, target your next enemy and cast Slice and Dice or Recuperate. This is more efficient use of your GCD than transfering them via Redirect and continuing your rotation.
- [T13 2P] After triggering Tricks of the Trade, your abilities cost 20% less energy for 6 sec.
- [T13 4P] Increases the duration of Shadow Dance by 2 sec, Adrenaline Rush by 3 sec, and Vendetta by 9 sec.
- 2p is a proactive proc that makes Shadow Dance significantly easier to work with. It helps immensely to time the two together, which generates more DPS in Find Weakness, and helps fit more Ambushes into that brief window.
- 4p however is somewhat lackluster, passively increasing the duration of your Shadow Dance by just 2 seconds.
- [T12 2P] Your melee critical strikes deal 6% additional damage as Fire over 4 sec.
- [T12 4P] Your Tricks of the Trade ability also causes you to gain a 25% increase to one of your combat ratings at random for 30 sec.
- 2p passively boosts the value of Crit rating by giving all your melee attacks an ignite mechanic, rolling bonus damage from your crits through a DoT.
- 4p is a proactive proc from using Tricks of the Trade on CD, and it should be used on CD with this.
All EPs are calculated with t13 BiS values from Shadowcraft, as seen above. Additionally, normal mode and LFR versions of Vial of Shadows are slightly overrated since the proc scales with your stats, but should rank the same relative to their ilvl counterparts. For more personalized results, check with a tool like Shadowcraft.
[table="head"]Name | EP
Reforging reduces a stat of your choice by 40%, and converts it to another stat of your choice that's not already on the item. As a Sub Rogue, you will tend to reforge mastery and hit (until the special cap) to haste or crit.
There are many web tools to help figure out how get the most out of your reforging, including Shadowcraft, Ask Mr. Robot, and WoWReforge. There are some in game addons like ReforgeLite that can accomplish the same thing. Your mileage may vary with each service, and when in doubt, try multiple ones.
Due to the very high value of Agility, gems will almost always be /. Blue sockets will typically only be taken when they are the only non-red socket and the bonus is 20 agility or better. The same holds true for yellow sockets.
is the only meta gem you should try to use. It is very easy to meet the requirement of (3 red gems).
[table="head"]Slot | Enchant | Comments
Head | 60 Agi/35 Haste | (Revered with Ramkahen)
Cloak | 65 Crit | (Enchanting)
- | 22 Agi | (Enchanting)
Shoulder | 50 Agility/25 Mastery | (Exalted with Therazane)
Chest | 20 Stats | (Enchanting)
Bracers | 50 Agility | (Enchanting)
Gloves | 50 Haste | (Enchanting)
- | 20 Agility | (Enchanting)
Legs | 190 AP / 55 Crit | (Leatherworking)
Feet | 35 Agility | (Enchanting)
Belt | Extra Socket | (Blacksmithing)
MH | 1000 AP proc | (Enchanting)
OH | 1000 AP proc | (Enchanting)
Slots with two viable enchants are both listed, with the slightly better enchant listed on top. When first playing a rogue, it is reasonable to use dual Hurricane enchants on your weapons. However, Landslide is significantly better, and should be used over any other weapon enchant, especially with since many enchants are significantly cheaper now.
Previously one of the worst races for Sub, they are now very strong. With a slightly higher base agility, and the ability to Ambush out of Shadowmeld for added Find Weakness uptime, Night Elves are a very strong option when Shadowmeld can be reliably used.
A strong race for Sub, the 1% crit is nice, and a second sprint (Darkflight) is excellent utility that helps Sub to get wherever it wants to go. While Sub does have Shadowstep, an additional sprint can still be of use, and allows Sub to use Shadowstep for damage rather than mobility in some cases.
Not a bad race for Sub. The expertise is nice and makes it a little easier to reach that cap. It is about ~150 DPS behind a Worgen. The snare removal is also handy for some encounter mechanics, but not frequently used.
Humans are rather weak as a race for Sub. They have no significant DPS gain from racials. Every Man For Himself is a strong utility racial that can help immensely with certain boss mechanics, but it's only strong when it can be used.
Arguably the worst spec for Sub, Dwarves have very little going for them. They are limited to a short defensive CD that sees very little use in PvE content.
Slightly better then Goblin, Trolls have Berserking: a 20% haste for 10 seconds every 3 minutes which should be used off the pull and stacked with Shadow Dance after that. They also have the added advantage of 5% additional damage against beasts (like Chimaeron), and the potential to handle snares better. Both of these latter two are situational, but strong racials nonetheless.
A good race for Sub. Time is Money is a 1% attack speed buff that stacks multiplicatively. The added powers of the Rocket Jump and Rocket Barrage are also powerful enough, and give Sub added mobility and ranged damage.
Orcs are a decent alternative for the horde. They are slightly behind Goblins, with Blood Fury: a 15s 1170 AP buff (at 85) every 2 minutes. None of the other Orc racials have any real impact on Sub, however, and this is all that is worthwhile. This should be used on the start of the fight for a stronger Rupture, and with every other Shadow Dance that follows such that it lines up with Find Weakness.
Blood Elves have one real racial of value, Arcane Torrent which works as an AOE silence, and generates 15 energy and has a 2 minute CD. Arcane Torrent is the most helpful when used with every other Shadow Dance to maximize damage done during Find Weakness.
Forsaken Rogues are in the same group as Humans. They are rather weak options for Sub, as their greatest strength is Will of the Forsaken, which helps with the occasional encounter, but it rarely sees use.
There are some common macros out there that help simplify the Sub rotation. They allow the player to focus on other aspects of the encounter, which includes letting them focus on staying alive, watching other timers and events, and ultimately helping them do better DPS by simplifying repetitive actions like picking a target for Tricks of the Trade.
Never macro "/startattack" to "/cast Ambush".
/cast Shadow Dance
Both of these allow you to spam a single button to help you get the most out of your Vanish and Shadow Dance. They should be used separately or you will waste a CD. The stance modifiers are to reduce error spam, and aren't needed to function.
/cast [@target,noharm,exists][@focus,exists,nodead,noharm][@targettarget,exists]Tricks of the Trade[/TABLE]
If your target is friendly and exists, it casts it on them.
Otherwise if your focus exists, isn't dead and is friendly, then cast it on your focus.
Otherwise case it on your target's target if one exists.
- As long as Morchok doesn't have Furious, you can Feint the start of Black Blood of the Earth, Cloak off your stacks when Feint wears off, and then Feint again a couple seconds later. You will end this phase with low health if done right, but you should be able to survive it with 100% Recuperate uptime during it. Tell your healers beforehand and they can hot you up too. Dropping 1 point in Initiative for Enveloping Shadows helps significantly, going 3/3 Enveloping trivializes the debuff, but isn't needed.
--- If you don't want to eat the entire Black Blood of the Earth, make sure you get a 5CP Eviscerate off as soon as the pull+stun is over. Run with everyone for about 5 seconds and then Shadowstep back to keep Rupture flowing. Immediately get Recuperate up if it fell off (or is about to), then get Slice and Dice up last.
- Raid permitting, try and stay on Yor'sahj as much as possible to keep Rupture ticking. If the add is getting close, Eviscerate the boss to refresh Rupture, use Shadowstep to help out and Redirect+Sprint back.
- Try and keep Shadowstep up for black phase if you're on eye+flail duty. Don't bother with the claw unless your raid is desperately in need of it.
- During the ice phase, save Shadowstep for getting to Hagara. Additionally, keeping up Slice and Dice for when the phase ends is more important than the immediate value of Eviscerate due to Feedback.
--- On heroic, you might have to make several laps. Using Shadowstep can help with any errant Frostflakes, but should be avoided on the last 3 crystals (should give enough time to let Shadowstep go off CD).
- Feeback lasts 15 seconds, 45 seconds before Hagara gains Feedback you should stop using Vanish or Shadow Dance (preferably Vanish). This will depend on how well your raid group handles the ice and lightning phases.
- The encounter tip for this fight is to not be traditional Sub. Playing Combat with Sub reforges pulls better numbers.
--- If you're dead set on being Sub, spec like [URL"="http://www.wowhead.com/talent#fcuZ0hZMGccdubRGo:mkMor]this[/URL] to maximize Eviscerate damage and drop pointless Backstab talents. Ruthlessness is close to Precision in value if you can't get rid of enough hit or just don't want to. It has some nice synergy with the legendary daggers (generates Shadows of the Destroyer faster, and easier use of the proc), but is still behind properly performed Combat.
- Damage done to the amalgamations is not that important in comparison. Saving Vanish, Prep and Shadow Dance for the tendons lowers DPS, but helps secure a kill.
- Cast TotT(unglyphed) on a fellow high burst DPS as soon as the amalg dies (another Sub rogue or Arcane Mage ideally, which is better varies on your scenario). Then Vanish, and open up the burn with a target+Ambush macro, then Eviscerate with the 5CP. Immediately switch to a Shadow Dance macro and continue your burn. Do not use rupture.
--- (LFR) On the tendons, you are best off using Hemorrhage (with the glyph) to start, then Shadow Dance. Don't apply Rupture, just use Eviscerate at 5CP, and use Vanish/Prep (if either is up) before Find Weakness ends to open with another Ambush during FW.
- Before each tendon phase, Prioritize Slice and Dice, and Recuperate over Eviscerate on the amalgamation, you want both to be up for the full phase so you can focus on using Eviscerate during Find Weakness without worrying about dropping major self buffs.
- Dual Wound is higher DPS on the tendons, but the gain is very minor. If you are focusing on the amalgamation (not touching the bloods) before each tendon, typical IP/DP is still completely viable.
- You can Shadowstep to the tendon, but if you fail to move out from under the tendon quickly you will get teleported to the back of Deathwing's back. Try Shadowstep'ing to the amalgamation right before it blows up, and cloak the blast to get effective use out of Shadowstep if you're having issues fitting it into Shadow Dance.
- Don't Shadowstep to anything hanging over the edge of the platform, or partially on the platform since you will drop into the water and die. This includes Deathwing's hands on the middle two platforms, several mobs attached to Deathwing's hands & wings, or a newly spawned Elementium Bolt. Casting Shadowstep on the large Mutated Corruptions off the platform will toss you to a nearby platform if you don't die from it, but this is a DPS loss no matter how you cut it (just don't do it).
=Thread Change Log=
[Oct 3, 2011] Replaced the original thread.
[Oct 5, 2011] Cleaned up grammar, formatting, links, etc.
[Nov 30, 2011] Updated for 4.3, and fixed the Horde racial rankings.
[Dec 7, 2011] Added non-Legendary EP weights. Updated and cleaned up overall writing. Fixed the BiS list to reflect certain items that don't appear to be dropping in Dragon Soul. Update: BiS list now contains more t12.
[Dec 9, 2011] Added several trinket EPs, added info about t12 & t13, 2 more macros, as well as preliminary info about working with the legendary.
[Dec 18, 2011] Cleaned up wording to emphasize certain points, and fix grammar.
[Jan 3, 2012] Added Spine tips.
[Feb 6, 2012] Added SimC data, Shadowstep on the Corruptions on Madness, a couple more tips about the legendary. See this post for more information about what can still be done, and what is being done about keeping this thread helpful.
[Feb 23, 2012] Improved the SimC BiS list. Due to the nature of simulation, there's probably still room for improvement. If you think you have a better combination, send me the entire profile (with the build number) however you want and make sure it was done with at least 10k iterations (preferably 50k).