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Subtlety Rogue in Battle for Azeroth (BfA)

Last updated on May 29, 2018 at 15:48 by Ashine 382 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, you will find information on how to play your Subtlety Rogue in Battle for Azeroth. Because the new expansion is still in beta, this guide is simply here to help you perform better in the beta or to give you a sneak peek into what the new expansion has in store for your class.

The other pages of our Subtlety Rogue guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Ashine, European Champion of the second Mythic Dungeon Invitational and a member of two top 60 guilds, Wiping as Intended and Group Therapy. He is regarded as one of the top Subtlety Rogues in the world and contributes a fair bit to the spec's theorycrafting. You can watch him play on Twitch.

1. Foreword

This page is going to be an introduction to the Subtlety spec in Battle for Azeroth, going over the abilities, mechanics and baseline rotation. The primary goal is to help players decide on which spec to choose in Battle for Azeroth, and offering the uninitiated a peek into the spec to see if they will find it interesting. Everything written in this guide is an early draft and is subject to change the closer we get to the Battle for Azeroth expansion, so there is plenty of room for feedback and optimizing.

In Battle for Azeroth, Subtlety remains mostly the same but the playstyle will be vastly different because Death from Above Icon Death from Above has been changed to a PvP only talent.

2. Basic Mechanics Changes for Subtlety Rogue

  • Backstab Icon Backstab and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike now slow your target by 30%.
  • Nightblade Icon Nightblade no longer slows your target. Instead, it reduces the effectiveness of healing on the target by 15%.

3. Baseline Abilities & Changes for Subtlety Rogue

In Battle for Azeroth, Subtlety has not received any baseline ability changes with the exception of small differences in defensive and offensive cooldowns.

  • Feint Icon Feint now has a 15-second cooldown and reduces damage taken from area-of-effect attacks by 40% (was 50%).
  • Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows now has 2-minute cooldown (was 1.5 minutes).
  • Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades is partially redesigned. Now causes your Combo Point generating abilities to deal 75% additional damage as Shadow instead of causing auto attacks to deal Shadow damage. In addition to this, Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades is now on global cooldown in Battle for Azeroth.

4. The BfA Subtlety Rogue Talent Tree

BFA Sub Talent Tree

Subtlety does not receive huge changes to the talent tree but there are quite a few interesting new talents. This list will only contain ones that are either new or changed from Legion.

4.1. Level 15

4.2. Level 30

All three talents remain the same.

4.3. Level 45

  • Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death is now a Level 45 talent instead of Level 100. Cooldown is also reduced to 30 seconds (was 40).

4.4. Level 60

All three talents remain the same.

4.5. Level 75

4.6. Level 90

  • Dark Shadow Icon Dark Shadow increases your damage done while Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active by 25% (was 30%).
  • Alacrity Icon Alacrity gives your finishing moves a 20% chance per Combo Point spent to grant 3% haste for 20 seconds. It stacks up to 5 times. In Legion, it was 2% per Combo Point and stacked up to 10 times.

4.7. Level 100

5. Azerite Traits for Subtlety Rugye

Legion Artifact traits have been replaced in Battle for Azeroth by the Azerite system. These bonuses can be unlocked on certain armor slots, and grant a mix of utility, defensive, and damaging effects. Typically you will have a choice of four traits, one specific to each Rogue spec and a generic one that works for all three specs. In many cases you will choose the trait that is Subtlety specific but sometimes the generic trait can be better. The full list of traits has yet to be revealed, but so far only few of the traits have a significant impact on gameplay.

6. The Base Rotation for Subtlety Rogue in BfA

In Battle for Azeroth, the key to success as a Subtlety Rogue will be the same as it has been in the past, which is resource management. You will want to avoid wasting Energy and Combo Points as possible to get the most out of your spec.

  1. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades on cooldown.
  2. Maintain Nightblade Icon Nightblade on your primary target.
  3. Cast Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance if you have maximum amount of charges or close to getting your last charge (2 Charges and 20 seconds if Dark Shadow Icon Dark Shadow talented and 3 charges and 30 seconds if Enveloping Shadows Icon Enveloping Shadows talented).
    • Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance should be used when you are as close to Energy cap as possible.
  4. Cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death on cooldown. Make sure you have at least one Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance charge every time it is ready.
  5. Cast Vanish Icon Vanish on cooldown and use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike or alternatively use it to maximize your Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness debuff uptime if talented.
  6. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate before capping on Combo Points.
  7. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike to generate Combo Points if Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active. Otherwise use Backstab Icon Backstab (from behind the target if possible to gain 20 % extra damage on it).

Beyond this, there are a few important rules to keep in mind when trying to play the spec optimally. Following these guidelines will also help make the spec feel easier when learning and practicing.

  1. Subtlety rogue revolves around bursting your targets down and we achieve this by combining Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death every 30 seconds.
  2. Avoid having to refresh Nightblade Icon Nightblade during your burst windows. You can refresh Nightblade Icon Nightblade with roughly 5 seconds remaining on the debuff.
  3. Subtlety is a fairly slow paced spec and the amount of actions you can do solely depends on your Energy. You should always make sure you have plenty of Energy when you are using Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance to maximize your damage output during it.

7. Multi-Target Rotation for Subtlety Rogue in BfA

When fighting multiple targets (2+), you will replace Backstab Icon Backstab in your rotation with Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm which will allow you to do massive single target damage because of accelerated Combo Point gain and Shuriken Combo Icon Shuriken Combo.

If you have more than 3 targets, you should replace Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike with Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm during your Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.

8. Leveling in Battle for Azeroth as Subtlety Rogue

BFA Sub lvling Talent Tree

We recommend the following talents for leveling. This talent setup has good burst capabilities without sacrificing too much sustained damage. It utilises Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness in order to be able to stealth in between mobs to gain high uptime and it gains more Combo Points with clever Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death usage, which in turn gives you more Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance charges because of Deepening Shadows Icon Deepening Shadows.

9. ChangeLog

  • 29 May 2018: Page added.
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