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Subtlety Rogue Guide 4.0.3+

Posted on: Nov 28, 2010 | Author: Garona

Subtlety Rogue Guide 4.0.3

The Subtlety rogue has not always been considered in the past as a viable PVE talent build for rogues and usually only used in PVP situations where it is exceptionally strong. However, since patch 4.0.1 more and more rogues have been testing out Subtlety builds in PV situations and reporting great success. Since the 4.0.1 combat scare many combat rogues switched builds to subtlety too, so this guide should help you on your feet in this relatively new world of PVE DPS for rogues.

Talent Build

First of all you will need a talent build to get you started. At level 80 your talent build should look like this:

Subtlety Talent Build Level 80

If you are looking for level 85 talent builds these have not yet been decided upon but many rogues are leaning towards a Sub/Combat mix for level 85. A good place to start for a level 85 talent build is this:

Subtlety Talent Build Level 85


The rotation for Subtlety is often seen by many rogues are the most complex rotation of all three builds. However, once mastered it is very powerful in PVE and particularly excels at single target “tank and spank” fights (i.e. Saurfang ICC).

1. premed/shadow step/ambush =  5 CP
2. SnD
3. hemo/backstab to 5 CP
5. rupture
6. shadow dance/premed/shadowstep/ambush
7. recuperate
8. ambush/backstab to 5 CP
9. eviscerate

It is thought you may want to leave Hemo out entirely except when target switching if you prefer. This is entirely up to you at the moment with the Subtlety rotation.

As you can see from the basic structure of this rotation the idea is to use your ShS/ShD/Ambush where ever possible and fill the remaining time with backstabs to generate combo points. In terms of finishers Subtlety rogues need to keep three main finishers up at all times:

  • Slice and Dice
  • Rupture
  • Recuperate

You may find the inclusion of Recuperate odd as a non damage dealing buff, however coupled with the talent [Energetic Recovery] every time your recuperate ticks you will gain extra energy making recuperate highly valuable. It may seem like a lot to keep up at first but Subtlety rogues also have the talent point [Serrated Blades] which refreshes your rupture every time you use eviscerate.

Therefore once you have all three finishers active you can keep them going by rotating Slice and Dice, Eviscerate and Recuperate finishers. This can be tricky at first so it’s recommended you get as much practice in as possible on a target dummy and in dungeons beforehand.


Glyphs for a subtlety rogue can be tricky to decide upon especially with the major glyphs. Make sure you have a good stock of all the glyphs your sub rogue could use as you may find them very situationally handy.

Major Glyphs

[Glyph of Backstab]

[Glyph of Slice and Dice]

Then one of the following:

[Glyph of Hemorrhage] – Remember that Hemo is worthless without this glyph.
[Glyph of Rupture] – If not using Hemo this will help keep your rotation smooth.

Major Glyphs

[Glyph of Sprint] (Improves Damage Uptime).

Then any other two major glyphs. Good examples are:
[Glyph of Premeditation]
[Glyph of Ambush]

Minor Glyphs

[Glyph of Poisons] (Optional)

[Glyph of Safe Fall] (Highly Recommended)

Then any one other minor glyph.


Subtlety Weapon choices are at the moment the same as Mutilate rogues. Sub rogues need to use daggers in order to use Backstab in their rotation and the preferred weapon speed type is 1.8 in the main hand and 1.4 in the off hand.

Stats Priorities

This is the order of priority you should place your stats in when considering reforging and gemming. It is essentially the same as a Combat rogue which mean reforging crit for mastery when poison hit capped is not a good idea in general.

Agility >> Expertise > Spell Hit = Haste > Crit >> White Hit > Mastery > AP.

This means when considering other aspects of Subtlety rogues such as Consumables, Enchants and Reforging looking at combat rogue choices is a good place to start. You can find more information on these here:

Gemming for Rogues

Reforging for Rogues

Enchants and Consumables

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