WotLK Classic Subtlety Rogue Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities

Last updated on Sep 24, 2023 at 12:00 by Simonize and Sellin 1 comment

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Subtlety Rogue in both single-target and multiple-target PvE situations in WotLK Classic. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS.


Overview of Subtlety Rogue Rotation

If you have not already, please read the Spell Summary page. Knowing how each spell and ability works in detail will greatly increase your understanding of the topics discussed on this page.

Given the lower output of Subtlety compared to the other two Rogue specializations, it is normally chosen as the Expose Armor IconExpose Armor user when no Warrior is present. You do not generally have enough need to warrant using the Combo Points elsewhere and they can instead be used on maintaining the debuff, given the surplus you will likely have.


Single-Target Rotations for Subtlety Rogue

Your first priority will be to maintain Expose Armor IconExpose Armor, followed by Slice and Dice IconSlice and Dice and Rupture IconRupture. You should use Shadowstep IconShadowstep prior to each cast of Rupture IconRupture to get the 20% bonus damage on your strongest ability. You should spend your Combo Points on maintaining these and, if you have any extra, you can use them on Eviscerate IconEviscerate.

Most of your combo points will come from the Honor Among Thieves IconHonor Among Thieves talent. Having group members like Enhancement Shamans, Frost Death Knights, and Survival Hunters can contribute a massive amount of combo points with this talent. Usually you will use only 0-1 casts of Hemorrhage per finishing move, however, it will be the primary way that you spend your energy; Ghostly Strike IconGhostly Strike should be used on cooldown but otherwise you should be casting Hemorrhage IconHemorrhage if you do not have a combo point spending ability to use.

Aim to use your Combo Point spenders at either 4 or 5 Combo Points.


Multi-Target (AoE) Rotations for Subtlety Rogues

Multi-target combat for Subtlety is fairly simple — you will, for the most part, just spam Fan of Knives IconFan of Knives during any mass-AoE phases (6+ targets). Below 6 targets, you will just continue doing your single-target rotation.


Opener for Subtlety Rogues

The opener for Subtlety is fairly straightforward, with the only variance coming with the proc chance on extra Combo Points.

  1. Hemorrhage IconHemorrhage
  2. Expose Armor IconExpose Armor
    • If you do not get a Combo Point from this, use Hemorrhage IconHemorrhage
  3. Slice and Dice IconSlice and Dice
  4. Hemorrhage IconHemorrhage
    • Continue using Hemorrhage IconHemorrhage until you have 4 or 5 Combo Points
  5. Rupture IconRupture

Cooldowns for Subtlety Rogues

The main cooldown for Subtlety Rogues is Shadow Dance IconShadow Dance, which allows you to use abilities that would normally require Stealth IconStealth to be active.

You should always make sure to prepare before going into Shadow Dance IconShadow Dance to best use the short window it allows. You should have enough Energy, for example, before using Vanish IconVanish, which will grant you the Master of Subtlety IconMaster of Subtlety buff for your Shadow Dance.

Once inside Shadow Dance IconShadow Dance, you will want to follow this priority:

  1. Garrote IconGarrote
  2. Ambush IconAmbush
  3. Refresh any debuffs as necessary
  4. Eviscerate IconEviscerate if all buffs do not need refreshing and you have 4-5 Combo Points

You should aim to use any trinkets, racials, etc. with your Shadow Dance IconShadow Dance.



  • 09 Sep. 2023: Updated for Phase 4
  • 18 Jan. 2023: Reviewed for Phase 2 release ahead of Ulduar raid release.
  • 22 Sep. 2022: Page added.
Show more
Show less