Subtlety Rogue Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.0.2
Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits are the most important character customization options in Shadowlands. They have a substantial impact on your toolkit and performance as Subtlety Rogue. This page's purpose is to help you pick the right options according to the content you intend to do in Shadowlands.
This page assumes that you are already familiar with Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits. If that is not the case, we have a number of pages that can help you get up to speed:
- Covenants Guide, which explains what Covenants are, what perks they bring, and how you can join one;
- Rogue Covenant Abilities, which lists all the abilities that Rogues gain by joining each Covenant;
- How To Change Covenant?, which tells you how you can switch Covenant (rejoining a former Covenant will require you to perform a number of tasks to regain their trusts);
- General Soulbind Guide, which explains what Soulbinds are and how you can pledge yourself to them to open up their Soulbind tree;
- Rogue Conduits, which lists all of the Conduits available to Rogues.
Recommended Covenant for Subtlety Rogues
All of the Covenant abilities are so close to each other that ultimately it does not matter much which one you pick. The relative power of them will also depend on your Renown level, which means that Covenants that are Best in Slot early on might fall off as the expansion goes on which in turn means that you might have to swap your Covenant later on.
Our recommended Covenant for Subtlety Rogues is Night Fae as it is a solid choice on all Renown levels, meaning that you will not have to shuffle between Covenants if you do not want to.
While Night Fae is a good all around pick, some Rogue players are likely start off by selecting Necrolord or Kyrian and swapping to Night Fae when Renown reaches high enough levels to unlock powerful traits later in the Soulbind trees.
After recent optimizations to simulations, Kyrian is now showing a small lead at lower Renown levels.
Necrolord's Serrated Bone Spike usage with Emenis Lead by Example is practically impossible to simulate in situations where you get resets from adds dying and on top of that, they do not account for the raid DPS gain which makes it often the better choice for overall raid DPS in quite a few of the Castle Nathria fights.
For more specific information about Subtlety Rogue Covenants, make sure to check out our Covenants and Soulbinds analysis section at the end of this page.
Best Conduits for Subtlety Rogues
We will list below a summary of our best Conduits, by type. If you are interested in the full details, continue reading through the next section of the guide. Please refer to our Rogue Conduits list if you want to see all Rogue Conduits.
- Best Potency Conduits: Planned Execution, Stiletto Staccato (situationally very strong, if it gives you extra casts of Shadow Blades), Perforated Veins, and Deeper Daggers (solid choice in situations where you have multiple targets to accelerate your Combo Point generation).
- Best Finesse Conduits: Quick Decisions is the only Finesse Conduit that provides benefits for raid encounters. Fade to Nothing is a good pick for solo-content such as Torghast.
- Best Endurance Conduits: Recuperator is going to be the default choice for most situations as the sustain it offers is fairly solid. Nimble Fingers is the only DPS increasing Endurance Conduit especially on encounters where you are constantly using Feint.
All Subtlety Rogue Conduits
Regardless of which Covenant you pick, you will be able to gather and use the same Conduits, with the notable exception of the Potency Conduit that enhances your Covenant class ability.
The Conduits will be listed in order from best to worst, with an explanation if certain Conduits are better for specific situations.
Subtlety Rogue Potency Conduits
- Planned Execution is our best Conduit for every situation, although it does not scale as well as other Conduits with item level.
- Stiletto Staccato reduces the cooldown of Shadow Blades every time you proc Shadow Techniques, which means that it will be situational and requires evaluation for each specific encounter whether it is worth using or not.
- Deeper Daggers excels in situations where you have multiple targets to help with Combo Point generation such as Mythic+ and some Raiding encounters. It also gets slightly better when using the Finality Legendary which is the best Legendary overall.
- Perforated Veins is good in single-target situations, but as soon as you start casting Shuriken Storm, it falls off heavily.
- Reverberation is a solid option for Kyrian Rogues, however it is quite hard to get it as a high enough Conduit rank.
- Septic Shock is a solid option for Night Fae Rogues, however it is quite hard to get it as a high enough Conduit rank.
- The remaining Covenant specific Conduits; Sudden Fractures and Lashing Scars are weaker than the other options and thus not worth using.
Subtlety Rogue Endurance Conduits
The best Endurance Conduit depends quite a bit on the situation and thus ranking them by power is quite difficult.
- Recuperator gives us extra sustain which is especially helpful in solo content.
- Nimble Fingers reduces the Energy cost of Feint and Crimson Vial which effectively means that it is the only DPS increase Endurance Conduit, especially on encounters where you are frequently using Feint.
- Cloaked in Shadows is worse than the other two and it does not work with Shadow Dance.
Subtlety Rogue Finesse Conduits
Finesse Conduits are also very situational much like Endurance Conduits, making them hard to rank by power.
- Quick Decisions reduces cooldown and increases the range of Shadowstep making it the default choice for group content such as Raids and Mythic+.
- Fade to Nothing gives us a small movement speed buff when casting Stealth, Vanish or Shroud of Concealment. This Conduit is nice for solo content such as Torghast if you wish to get through it as fast as possible.
- Rushed Setup reduces the energy cost of Kidney Shot, Cheap Shot, Sap and Distract. These abilities are not often used in Raid scenarios, but are quite useful in Mythic+. Reduced Energy on Cheap Shot and Kidney Shot equals a small DPS boost.
- Prepared for All causes your successful dodges to reduce the cooldown of Evasion and successful interrupts with Kick reduce the cooldown of Cloak of Shadows. This Conduit is ranked the lowest as it is incredibly niche, however it has potential in scenarios where you are using Kick often and need the cooldown reduction on Cloak of Shadows.
In-depth Covenant Analysis
Like stated earlier on this page, all four Covenants are incredibly close to each other for Subtlety Rogues in terms of power. To gain a better understanding of why we are recommending Night Fae and mentioning Necrolord in the opening paragraph, make sure to read the deep dive sections for each Covenant.
Night Fae Rogue Covenant Abilities
Sepsis is a 90-second cooldown damaging ability that applies damage over time effect. If your target dies while still being affected by the DoT, its cooldown is reduced by 30-seconds. If the target is still alive when the DoT finishes ticking, you will be able to use a single ability that requires Stealth. As a Subtlety Rogue, you should use Shadowstrike. It is important to know that when the Sepsis DoT ends, your action bar will switch from the normal one, similarly to how Shadow Dance works, thus it is recommended to track the duration of the Sepsis DoT so you will know when the swap is happening.
Soulshape is one of the best signature Covenant abilities. It turns you into a Vulpin, teleports you 15 yards forward and increases your movement speed by 50%. While transformed, you can not cast any other spells than Flicker, which is a 4-second cooldown spell that teleports you forward again. Soulshape can be quite significant DPS increase depending on the situation, as it can allow you to have more uptime on your target or you can simply use it to blink across a dangerous void zone on the ground.
Night Fae Subtlety Rogue Soulbinds
One of the major reasons for Night Fae being the recommended Covenant, is that all three Soulbinds excel in different scenarios, meaning that you will be actively swapping between all three of them depending on the content you are doing.
- Niya should be the first Soulbind you choose.
- Dreamweaver unlocks his second Potency Conduit at Renown 13, which makes him very comparable to Niya in terms of DPS with the added benefit of Podtender which can be really good defensively.
- After you reach 25 Renown, Niya will unlock her second Potency Conduit which will make her better than Dreamweaver in terms of DPS numbers. However, Dreamweaver's Podtender can be incredibly valuable, so it is up to you if you want to sacrifice a little bit of DPS for a second Cheat Death.
- At 30 Renown, Niya unlocks Niya's Tools: Burrs which is very strong for single-target and Niya's Tools: Poison which does a lot of damage if you are able to use Kick to interrupt casts often.
- At 31 Renown, Korayn will be fully unlocked. First Strike is very powerful in Mythic+ and Raid encounters where you have constant flow of adds that allows you to get higher uptime on the buff.
Subtlety Rogue Niya Soulbind Tree
We suggest following this Soulbind tree and Conduit choice:
Subtlety Rogue Dreamweaver Soulbind
This is our recommended tree and choice of Conduits:
Subtlety Rogue Korayn Soulbind
Korayn is locked behind the Night Fae campaign, which means that he will not be available for quite some time. After reaching Renown 31 and unlocking First Strike, he becomes the default choice for Mythic+ and any Raid encounters where you have constant flow of adds to allow for higher uptime on First Strike.
Below is our recommended Soulbind tree and Conduit choice:
Necrolord Rogue Covenant Abilities
Serrated Bone Spike is a 30-second cooldown Combo Point generator that has up to 3 charges and applies a DoT on your target that remains until your target dies or gets healed to full Health. When a target that was affected by Serrated Bone Spike dies, it refunds one charge.
Fleshcraft is the signature ability for Necrolords It is a 4-second channeled cast that grants you a shield for 20% (or 50% if channeled near a powerful enemy's corpse) of your maximum Health. It has a 2-minute cooldown and the buff also lasts for that long if not consumed. Subtlety Rogues have some gaps in their rotation, especially at lower Haste levels which means that you can often channel this without it being a DPS loss.
Necrolord Subtlety Rogue Soulbinds
Necrolords have two good Soulbinds, which are Emeni and Bonesmith Heirmir. Emeni is slightly better for raid DPS gain due to Lead by Example buffing your raid members whilst Heirmir is the better option for solo and smaller group content. Plague Deviser Marileth is worse than the other two in every PvE scenario.
Subtlety Rogue Emeni Soulbind
Emeni's first Soulbind trait that you unlock instantly is Lead by Example. Every time you cast Serrated Bone Spike, it grants you 5% increased primary stat and up to 4 nearby allies 2% increased primary stat. You gain 2% additional primary stat for each ally affected. For Rogues, the duration of the buff is only 5-seconds but it is still incredibly strong.
Lead by Example works very well with the Rogue Necrolord ability Serrated Bone Spike due to its flexibility. In Mythic+ and Raid encounters with adds, casting Serrated Bone Spike on them and getting the charge refunded when they die means that you will have significantly higher uptime on the Lead by Example buff than what simulations show.
For this reason, many of the Rogues in high end raiding guilds will be choosing Necrolord as their first Covenant and changing their Covenant later on.
We recommend the following Soulbind tree and Conduits:
Subtlety Rogue Heirmir Soulbind
Bonesmith Heirmir, once unlocked fully will be the best option for solo and small group content. Below is our recommended Soulbind tree and Conduit choice for Heirmir:
Venthyr Rogue Covenant Abilities
Flagellation is a 90-second cooldown ability that applies a debuff to the target that lasts 20 seconds. Any Combo Point spent during this time will deal additional damage to the target and increase the Torment stacks this ability leaves behind. After 20 seconds,, the debuff will be consumed to buff yourself with 0.5% haste for each stack (or each Combo Point you used during its duration), up to 15% Haste. The Haste buff then lasts another 20 seconds.
Flagellation is one of the best Covenant abilities for Subtlety Rogues. During Shadow Blades and in AoE situations in general, we generate more Combo Points with Shuriken Storm, making it quite easy to reach maximum stacks. However, the damage of Flagellation is purely single-target and Haste is the worst stat for Subtlety Rogues, making the ability fairly one dimensional.
Flagellation whilst being a strong ability for single-target, is being held back by weak Venthyr Soulbinds, especially before 30 Renown. If these get buffed, Venthyr will become quite a bit better choice.
Door of Shadows is the Venthyr signature ability. It allows you to teleport to a target location within range after casting this ability for 1.5 seconds. Much like the Night Fae signature ability Soulshape, it allows us to get over dangerous void zones which can mean significantly more DPS uptime.
Venthyr Subtlety Rogue Soulbinds
Venthyr has two main Soulbinds that you will want to be using: Nadjia the Mistblade, which has quite single-target focused traits, and Theotar the Mad Duke that has better traits for AoE situations, such as Mythic+. General Draven is the third Soulbind, but his traits are not that great for Rogues as they are tad bit too inconsistent or niche.
Subtlety Rogue Nadjia Soulbind
Nadjia's first ability is Thrill Seeker. It is a stacking buff that stacks every 2 seconds and when you reach 40 stacks, it consumes all of them to grant you 20% Haste for 10 seconds. You also gain additional stacks for killing enemies with accelerates it on Raid encounters that has adds. Unfortunately the stacks decay rapidly outside of combat, which makes it quite a bit worse for Mythic+. Regardless of Haste being the worst stat for Subtlety Rogues and the Haste buff being hard to line up with cooldowns, Thrill Seeker is still an okay Soulbind trait.
After reaching 30 Renown, you will get to choose between Dauntless Duelist, Exacting Preparation or a Potency Conduit. Dauntless Duelist is going to be the best choice until our Conduits reach high enough ranks. After you apply the debuff, it can only be reapplied after the target you applied it to dies. This means that in Raid encounters it is going to be quite awkward as you will not be able to re apply it to important adds.
Below we have the recommended path for this Soulbind along with Conduit choices:
Subtlety Rogue Theotar Soulbind
The first trait Theotar unlocks is Soothing Shade. It grants your spells and abilities chance to give you Mastery for 12 seconds as long as you are standing in the shaded area. Because of how the trait works, it can be completely wasted if you need to move out of it making it significantly worse.
At 34 Renown, you unlock one of the following: Exacting Preparation, Wasteland Propriety or a Potency Conduit. The exact relative power of these three is quite hard to simulate as it largely depends on who you are buffing with Wasteland Propriety. If you can give it to 4 other DPS, it will be the best one in terms of raw DPS but might not be consistent. Exacting Preparation can be very useful for some Raid encounters as it gives you more on demand damage for parts where you need it. The Potency Conduit will be the safe choice, but make sure to simulate your own character before making this choice.
We recommend the following Soulbind tree and Conduits:
Subtlety Rogue Draven Soulbind
Draven is not recommended over Nadjia or Theotar in any scenario as it has lackluster traits for DPS and Built for War not being reliable enough on raid encounters.
Kyrian Rogue Covenant Abilities
Echoing Reprimand is a 45-second cooldown ability that deals arcane damage, generates 2 Combo Points and Animacharges one of your Combo Points. Only the second, third, or fourth Combo Point can become Animacharged, which means that sometimes because of our Shadow Techniques passive, it requires a bit more planning to hit the exact amount of Combo Points. When you cast a finisher with the exact amount of Combo Points as the Animacharge, it will be a 7 Combo Point finisher, boosting its damage or duration in the case of Rupture.
Due to Pelagos's Combat Meditation having a 1-minute cooldown, in AoE situations you should hold Echoing Reprimand for 15 seconds after it becomes ready. On single-target, use Echoing Reprimand instantly when it comes off cooldown.
Kyrian's signature ability is Summon Steward whom you can talk to receive a Phial of Serenity. The phial has 3 uses and its own 3-minute cooldown, which is not shared with Healthstone. This is one of the strongest signature abilities as the Phial removes all diseases, poisons, curses and bleeds affecting you as well as restoring 20% of your Health.
Kyrian Subtlety Rogue Soulbinds
Pelagos is the strongest DPS option for Kyrians. After reaching 34 Renown and unlocking Kleia's Pointed Courage, she becomes almost as good as Pelagos in terms of raw numbers, but an advantage that Kleia has over Pelagos is that Valiant Strikes has a defensive benefit. Forgelite Prime Mikanikos is weaker than the other two options in every scenario, although his trait Hammer of Genesis could have a niche use in some situations where you are able to keep the buff up.
Subtlety Rogue Pelagos Soulbind
Pelagos starts off with unlocking Combat Meditation as the first trait. It grants you increased Mastery for 7.5 seconds whenever you cast your Echoing Reprimand. It expels sorrowful memories on the ground which you can pick up to increase the duration of Combat Meditation.
Pelagos unlocks the second Potency Conduit relatively early, at 21 followed by either an Endurance or Finesse Conduit at 25. For Rogues, we recommend Endurance Conduits over Finesse.
At 30 Renown you unlock Let Go of the Past which grants you 1% magic damage reduction for each spell that is not a repeat of the previous ability, stacking up to 3 times. This is not something you should worry about as the damage reduction is quite minor.
We recommend the following Soulbind tree and Conduits:
Subtlety Rogue Kleia Soulbind
After reaching 34 Renown, Kleia unlocks Pointed Courage which makes her very comparable to Pelagos in terms of DPS when you are doing group content.
We recommend the following Soulbind tree and Conduits:
- 15 Jan. 2021: Small updates to Necrolord soulbinds.
- 05 Jan. 2021: Mostly wording updates.
- 07 Dec. 2020: Updated Niyas optimal Soulbind tree and paragraph regarding spec-specific conduits.
- 04 Dec. 2020: Updated Combat Meditation description and highlighted that Kyrian is slightly ahead in DPS at lower Renown levels.
- 03 Dec. 2020: Updated paragraph regarding Night Fae Soulbinds.
- 01 Dec. 2020: Added paragraph talking about simulations for Kyrian and Necrolord.
- 21 Nov. 2020: Page added.
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