Subtlety Rogue PvP Guide for TBC Classic

Last updated on Aug 02, 2021 at 21:38 by Sellin 5 comments

Welcome to our PvP Subtlety Rogue guide for TBC Classic. Here you will learn all you need to know to properly play as a Subtlety Rogue in PvP scenarios.


Subtlety Rogue PvP Overview

Subtlety is the go-to spec for Rogues in TBC Classic. Subtlety excels at having high survivability, high burst windows, as well as high mobility. It is an all-around amazing specialization for PvP in TBC Classic.


Talent Builds

There are two builds that are commonly used in Arena, Battlegrounds, or the open world when it comes to PvP as a Subtlety Rogue. The primary difference revolves around whether or not the Improved Expose Armor IconImproved Expose Armor is selected, as demonstrated below:


Subtlety PvP Spec without Improved Expose Armor


Subtlety PvP Spec with Improved Expose Armor

Both these specs are extremely strong and it comes down to personal preference as to which you will play. The Improved Expose Armor IconImproved Expose Armor build allows for stronger Physical damage synergy between classes such as Feral Druids, Hunters, and more. If you want to have the option for a stronger Expose Armor IconExpose Armor on the target, then talenting into Improved Expose Armor is the choice to go with.


Key Talents

  • Preparation IconPreparation is an ability that resets the cooldown on your Evasion IconEvasion, Sprint IconSprint, Vanish IconVanish, Shadowstep IconShadowstep, and Premeditation IconPremeditation abilities. This is an extremely strong tool to get a second Vanish on a short fight or gap-close with another Sprint or Shadowstep.
  • Dirty Tricks IconDirty Tricks is one of the best talents in this build. Having extra range on Sap IconSap at a reduced cost will allow you to safely secure openers or CC on targets.
  • Premeditation IconPremeditation is a straightforward ability that allows you to build 2 Combo Points onto your target while in stealth. This will allow you to safely chain a full Kidney Shot IconKidney Shot out of your opener.
  • Shadowstep IconShadowstep is your signature move in TBC Classic. This ability puts you behind the target and grants you a movement speed bonus in addition to a damage bonus on your next ability. There are many applications and uses of this such as juking players off bridges, ensuring you attack from behind to not get dodged or parried, or simply just to gap-close.
  • Hemorrhage IconHemorrhage is your basic Combo Point builder as a Subtlety Rogue and can do a lot of damage.

Energy Pooling and Ability Usage

Combo Points and Energy are a precious resource in PvP scenarios. Make sure to always pool Energy for interrupts, stuns or Shiv IconShivs for applying Poisons. One of the worst feelings is when you simply cannot Kick IconKick a heal on a target due to having no Energy. One of the most common mistakes people have playing Rogue in PvP is spending their Energy as soon as they get it. So long as you do not stay at the Energy cap, you are okay.

The bulk of your damage comes from white swings as a Rogue. Although it is very beneficial to use Slice and Dice IconSlice and Dice, you will not always have the opportunity to keep it up as every finishing move is very valuable.

Choosing the correct opener and finishing moves is very important as a Rogue. Generally on most targets you will open up with a Cheap Shot IconCheap Shot into a Kidney Shot IconKidney Shot for a stunlock. The exceptions to this are usually Warriors and Mages. Mages can Blink IconBlink out of stuns and Warriors are healed by Second Wind IconSecond Wind when stunned. Usually you will want to use Garrote IconGarrote and Rupture IconRupture on Warriors as bleed damage is not mitigated by Armor. Mages you generally want to avoid stunning unless you are trying to bait out a Blink or if their Blink is on cooldown. If you are playing a double Physical DPS composition in Arena or are sitting on a Cloth or Leather armor target for a long time then consider using Expose Armor IconExpose Armor. Also consider using Slice and Dice IconSlice and Dice if you are swapping targets and if you do not want to waste any Combo Points.

Deadly Throw IconDeadly Throw is a very powerful ability. With Gladiator's Leather Gloves Icon Gladiator's Leather Gloves, Deadly Throw IconDeadly Throw now becomes an interrupt which locks out the enemy for 3 seconds from that school. This is extremely powerful against healers or casters when your Kick IconKick might be on cooldown or you are simply out of range for whatever reason.


Diminishing Returns

When playing with different classes it is very important to know what types of crowd control share diminishing returns together. If you are unfamiliar with diminishing returns it is a core game mechanic where abilities and spells become less effective when used against other player-controlled characters within a short period of time. The effect first diminishes by 50%, then 75%, then the target becomes immune. The timer is anywhere between 15 to 20 seconds to reset for diminishing returns as the server checks every 5 seconds to see if the last spell of that category was cast within 15 seconds. Below are a list of Rogue abilities and the diminishing returns shared with other abilities:

  • Incapacitates — Sap IconSap and Gouge IconGouge share diminishing returns with Polymorph IconPolymorph, Freezing Trap IconFreezing Trap, Wyvern Sting IconWyvern Sting, and Repentance IconRepentance. Make sure to be careful with your Gouges when playing with any of these classes in Arena.
  • Disorients — Blind IconBlind shares a diminishing return timer with Cyclone IconCyclone so it is important to have good communication with any Druids you play with.
  • Cheap Shot — Cheap Shot IconCheap Shot shares diminishing returns with almost every other stun in the game. Bash IconBash, Pounce IconPounce, and War Stomp IconWar Stomp.
  • Kidney Shot — Kidney Shot IconKidney Shot is in its own special category for stuns and does not diminish with anything except itself. Kidney Shot is on a 20-second cooldown so you will never diminish your own.

Weapons and Poisons



It is important to have a slow Mainhand weapon as a Rogue with as fast of an Off-hand as possible. Generally players will go for a Mainhand weapon that has at least 2.6+ Attack Speed and an off-hand of 1.4 to 1.5 Attack Speed. Off-hand speed is important to have as fast as possible due to Shiv IconShiv costing less Energy on faster weapons as well as having a higher chance to proc Poisons on your target. A slow Mainhand will result in harder-hitting Hemorrhage IconHemorrhages on your target. Make sure to save Off-hands because you will need to get used to swapping Off-hands very often!



Generally you will use Wound Poison IconWound Poison on your Mainhand while keeping Crippling Poison IconCrippling Poison as your default on your off-hand. However, it is very important to have at least 2 other off-hands ready with Mind-numbing Poison IconMind-numbing Poison and Wound Poison. Even though you may have Wound Poison on your Mainhand weapon already sometimes its stacks could fall off so Shiv IconShiving a refresh on the Poison is absolutely worth it. Deadly Poison IconDeadly Poison is generally not very great as it takes too long to stack and it can break important CC such as Blind IconBlind. Instant Poison IconInstant Poison is not a great choice either as it provides no utility.



Shiv IconShiv is at its core one of the strongest abilities for a rogue in PvP. Proper usage of this ability will make-or-break how you play in Arena. There are many applications of this from re-applying your 5-stack Wound Poison IconWound Poison on your target to using a clever Shiv on a target that walks by you with Crippling Poison IconCrippling Poison to give your partner time to move away from them. Get comfortable using Shiv IconShiv with weapon swaps to take your Rogue gameplay to the next level!



There are two professions with strong PvP benefits in TBC Classic: Engineering and Jewelcrafting. All other professions that are recommended for Rogues outside of PvP can be found in our PvE guide for Rogues in TBC Classic:

Engineering is the best PvP profession hands down. From world PvP to utility in Arena with items such as Nigh Invulnerability Belt Icon Nigh Invulnerability Belt can save you from dying and turn the tides of a fight. Deathblow X11 Goggles Icon Deathblow X11 Goggles, when they are implemented in Phase 2, will be your most important offpiece as it will give you a small advantage in stealth vs stealth play.

Here is a list of some of the great nifty tools to use with engineering in open PvP:

  • Parachute Cloak Icon Parachute Cloak — reduces your fall speed for 10 seconds. This can come in handy when jumping off clifs or high ledges!
  • Fel Iron Bomb Icon Fel Iron Bomb — This incapacitates targets for 4 seconds in an area and inflicts Fire Damage.
  • Arcane Bomb Icon Arcane Bomb — This bomb drains Mana from the target and silences targets for 5 seconds. This can also be useful in PvE against caster mobs in raids.
  • Frost Grenade Icon Frost Grenade — Roots all enemies for 5 seconds and deals minor frost damage. It is a great tool to help kite.
  • Gnomish Poultryizer Icon Gnomish Poultryizer — Requires Gnomish Engineer IconGnomish Engineer — Turns the target into a chicken for 15 seconds.
  • Rocket Boots Xtreme Icon Rocket Boots Xtreme — Increases movement speed by 300% for 3 seconds. This is a great tool for escaping or running down targets!
  • Nigh Invulnerability Belt Icon Nigh Invulnerability Belt — Requires Gnomish Engineer IconGnomish Engineer — Protects you with a shield that stops 4000 damage for 8 seconds. This is usable in Arenas which makes it extremely popular. The chance of failure is quite low but this is an extremely useful tool that can help turn the tide in Arenas, especially when playing double DPS in 2v2.
  • Super Sapper Charge Icon Super Sapper Charge — Requires Goblin Engineer IconGoblin Engineer — Explodes instantly dealing heavy Fire damage to all enemies around you while dealing self-damage as well. This is a great option for PvE as well but can win Rogue vs Rogue fights in the open world, Battlegrounds, or duels! Its most important use will be when other Rogues Vanish IconVanish so you can instantly break them out.

Jewelcrafting is another very strong choice for PvP with epic unique improved gems as well as Figurine - Nightseye Panther Icon Figurine - Nightseye Panther's ability to give you the edge in stealth vs stealth combat!



In Arena there are no consumables you can use, but you are free to use Flasks, Elixirs, Potions, and more in any Battleground or world PvP! If you are planning to do a long session of Battlegrounds it may be beneficial to use something like Flask of Relentless Assault Icon Flask of Relentless Assault. Some other potions like Free Action Potion Icon Free Action Potion can have strong utility as well!


Macros and Addons

Addons and Macros are powerful ways to really improve how you play as a Rogue by providing you with more information and allowing you to potentially combine multiple actions into a single keypress. Check out our Rogue Addons and Macros pages to enhance your gameplay even further!



If you would like to know what pieces of gear to chase as you optimize for PvP success, please consult our guide below:


Subtlety Rogue Arena Teams and Compositions

When it comes to evaluating Subtlety Rogue's place within the Arena, we have created a number of guides devoted to listing a variety of popular team compositions which you can find below.



  • 02 Aug. 2021: Guide created.
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