Subtlety Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Shadowlands 9.0.2

Last updated on Jan 05, 2020 at 03:11 by Ashine 24 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Subtlety Rogue in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.2.

If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our Classic DPS Rogue rotation.

1.

Subtlety Rogue Rotation

1.1.

Easy Mode

If you are new to the spec and the information below seems too overwhelming, you can check out the Easy Mode page which simplifies the rotation with minimal DPS loss.

1.2.

PvP

This page only discusses Rogue rotation in PvE situations. If you are looking for information regarding PvP, we recommend you to check out the Rogue PvP page instead.

1.3.

Subtlety Rogue Single Target Ability Priority List

To find information on how to use your Covenant abilities, check the opener sequences and notes for each covenant.

If you are playing with Mark of the Master Assassin Icon Mark of the Master Assassin, use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades from stealth and do not cast Rupture Icon Rupture during the Critical strike buff. Cast your Vanish Icon Vanish with maximum Combo Points followed up by two Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrikes and another Eviscerate to maximize burst.

  1. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades on cooldown.
  2. Cast Vanish Icon Vanish on cooldown.
  3. Maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice. Aim to refresh it before Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance windows.
  4. Maintain Rupture Icon Rupture on your primary target. Aim to refresh it before Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance windows.
  5. Cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique (if talented) in combination with Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
    • Aim to be between 50 to 60 Energy when activating Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance if Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death is available to make sure you are entering Shadow Dance with as much Energy as possible without wasting any.
  6. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate to spend Combo Points with 4+ (5+ if talented into Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem).
  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).

As mentioned above, always combine Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance to ensure maximum burst possible. In single-target situations, only cast Shadow Dance without Symbols of Death if you are about to cap on charges. Never cast Symbols of Death without Shadow Dance.

1.4.

Subtlety Rogue Multiple Target (3+) Ability Priority List

  1. Maintain Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice. Stop casting on 6+ targets.
  2. Maintaining Rupture Icon Rupture does provide slightly more DPS to that target but less overall. Stop using Rupture on 5+ targets. Do not apply Rupture to targets that would die before the whole DoT runs out.
  3. Cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique (if talented) in combination with Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
    • In AoE situations you should cast Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique on cooldown with a Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance charge. Do not hold Secret Technique for Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death for more than 2-4 seconds.
    • Try to be between 50 to 60 Energy when activating Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance if Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death is available to make sure you are entering Shadow Dance with as much Energy as possible without wasting any.
  4. Use Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm during Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance instead of Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike, if there are 3+ targets.
  5. Cast Black Powder Icon Black Powder to spend Combo Points with 4+ (5+ if talented into Deeper Stratagem Icon Deeper Stratagem) instead of Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate if there are 3+ targets.
  6. Cast Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm to generate Combo Points.

While Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades still does decent damage on AoE, the value of extra Combo Points gained is diminished. Use Shadow Blades at your own discretion on multi-target or save it for a single-target situation.

Vanish has fairly low value on multi-target and is best used to extend the duration of Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness.

1.5.

Mythic+ Rotation

Opener sequence specifically can be different in Mythic+ with multiple targets, so check out the dedicated page below to find optimal openers for every situation.

2.

Opener Sequences for Subtlety Rogue

Always open while in Stealth Icon Stealth and make sure you have applied Instant Poison Icon Instant Poison.

You should activate any on-use trinkets you may have alongside Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death.

Always use two Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dances whenever Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades is up, for example in the opener.

Any Weaponmaster Icon Weaponmaster procs will alter your opener, thus making its impossible to make a definitive opener sequence as it will be changing from pull to pull. Make sure not to cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrikes when you are at 5+ Combo Points.

Cast Vanish Icon Vanish and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike after your first Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance if you end up around 3 Combo Points, so you can refresh your Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice. Otherwise use it after the second Shadow Dance.

Refresh Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice in-between your two Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dances in the opener with 5+ Combo Points.

2.1.

Kyrian

During your opener, do not worry about casting a finisher with the anima-charged Combo Point. It is better to make sure you get maximum amount of Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrikes.

2.1.1.

Without Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  3. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand.
  4. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Cast Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  10. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  11. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
2.1.2.

With Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand.
  3. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  4. Cast Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  6. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  7. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  8. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  9. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  10. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
2.2.

Necrolord

Necrolord assumes that you are using Emeni as your Soulbind and thus maximizing the uptime of Lead by Example Icon Lead by Example. You want to be using Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike 1 global before going into Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance. If you are getting a lot of resets, make sure to not overcap on charges, but always keep one charge for every Shadow Dance and Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death window.

2.2.1.

Without Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  3. Cast Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike.
  4. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
2.2.2.

With Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  3. Cast Serrated Bone Spike Icon Serrated Bone Spike.
  4. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
2.3.

Night Fae

2.3.1.

Without Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  3. Cast Sepsis Icon Sepsis.
  4. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  10. Cast Vanish Icon Vanish and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  11. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike (Sepsis will proc here to give you a free ability from stealth).
2.3.2.

With Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  3. Cast Sepsis Icon Sepsis.
  4. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  10. Cast Vanish Icon Vanish and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  11. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike (Sepsis will proc here to give you a free ability from stealth).
2.4.

Venthyr

Reactivate Flagellation Icon Flagellation when you reach 30 stacks.

2.4.1.

Without Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.
  3. Cast Flagellation Icon Flagellation.
  4. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  10. Cast Vanish Icon Vanish and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
2.4.2.

With Premeditation

  1. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  2. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  3. Cast Flagellation Icon Flagellation.
  4. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death, Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  5. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  6. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  7. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  8. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike twice.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
2.5.

Potion usage

Aim to use your Potion of Phantom Fire Icon Potion of Phantom Fire or Potion of Spectral Agility Icon Potion of Spectral Agility with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism and your other cooldowns, such as Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades. In most encounters, you will want to use it at start of the fight.

Keep in mind that the potions now have 5-minute cooldown, so if the encounter is longer than that, remember to use it again whenever the extra damage is useful.

3.

Important Notes for Subtlety Rogue

3.1.

Combo Points and Energy

As a Rogue, most of your abilities need Energy to be used. Your Energy bar has a capacity of 100 Energy and refills at a rate of 10 Energy per second. With Vigor Icon Vigor we have 150 Energy. Your Energy regeneration is increased by:

  • melee haste (Haste + Haste-enhancing buffs);
  • the Relentless Strikes Icon Relentless Strikes passive, which guarantees your finishers restore 6 Energy per Combo Point;
  • Shadow Techniques Icon Shadow Techniques, which awards 8 Energy every time it procs;
  • Vigor Icon Vigor, if chosen as your Tier 3 talent.

The faster you regenerate Energy, the smoother the rotation will begin to feel, as you will need to "pool" less. Faster Energy regeneration and proper management allow for more finishers, more damage contribution from your Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, and more burst damage.

Never let your Energy reach its maximum, as resource overflow is wasteful and results in lost damage.

You should also avoid capping Combo Points (i.e., reach 5 Combo Points) for more than 1 global cooldown so you do not waste a potential Shadow Techniques Icon Shadow Techniques proc.

3.1.1.

Pooling

You will often have to wait for resources in order to ensure optimal delivery of your burst. The time you spend waiting (simply auto attacking the target) is known as "pooling". This allows your Energy to regenerate in anticipation of a burst window.

During a fight, the DPS value of Energy and Combo Points fluctuates. For example, during Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, the DPS value of Energy is extraordinarily high. This is due to the short duration and limited availability of Shadow Dance (5 seconds, and 6 with Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge). If you do not have enough Energy, then you cannot get all your Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrikes off in that time. For this reason, it is incredibly important that you enter Shadow Dance with as close to maximum resources as possible. Playing with Shadow Focus Icon Shadow Focus does ease this by quite a bit.

Consider your "maximum" Energy as roughly 50 to 60 if your Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death) is ready. This is due to the fact that you always want to cast Symbols of Death (which gives 40 Energy) instantly when entering Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance to get the damage increase for your first global in Shadow Dance, which should be Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike).

Combo Points, on the other hand, have a higher value when the boss enters a period of increased damage taken, as pumping out as many finishers as possible during this time results in the highest overall damage yield. These examples should highlight the importance of pooling, and you will be doing it extremely often as Subtlety.

3.2.

Shadow Dance

Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is your "bread and butter" cooldown, and your damage output relies heavily on proper usage. Shadow Dance has 1 charge (or 2 when playing with Enveloping Shadows Icon Enveloping Shadows, each with a 1-minute recharge. The Deepening Shadows Icon Deepening Shadows passive, however, ensures that they will be available much more often than that. Each Combo Point spent will reduce the cooldown of Shadow dance by 1 second (or 1.5 when playing with Enveloping Shadows).

3.2.1.

Shadow Dance on Multi-Target

You should aim to cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death in combination with Shadow Dance. However, you should never cap on Shadow Dance charges. If you are about to cap on them, cast Shadow Dance without Symbols of Deaths.

3.3.

Defensive Utility

Rogues have the best defensive capabilities in the game, which makes them the best candidate for soaking required mechanics and dealing with heavy incoming damage.

  • Feint Icon Feint reduces AoE damage taken by 40% for 5 seconds for only 35 Energy. When talented into Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness it also reduces all other damage by 30%. This is one of the most overpowered abilities in the game and a huge asset on fights with heavy raid damage.
  • Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows removes all non-physical debuffs, followed by 5 seconds where all spells will miss. Cloak can be used for intercepting in boss fight mechanics or be used for damage gains, such as staying in and hitting the boss during an AoE that you would otherwise have to avoid.
  • Cheat Death Icon Cheat Death is a talent that allows you to escape lethal damage once every 6 minutes. The damage cannot exceed more than twice your maximum health. Cheat Death is great for soaking mechanics that pierce immunities and damage reductions as it guarantees your survival. It is also great for encounters with bursty damage that might take you by surprise, as you get a free get out of jail free card once every 6 minutes.
  • Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial provides a respectable amount of healing on a very short cooldown. Useful for an extra bit of healing if you are low on Health, or you are out of range of a healer.
3.4.

Pandemic

Some of your personal buffs benefit from Pandemic, a mechanic that allows you to refresh early without penalty as long as the buff has less than 30% of its maximum duration remaining. The current timer will be added to the newly refreshed full duration buff, allowing for a new buff longer than the maximum duration. Rupture can be safely refreshed at 8.4 seconds, and Slice and Dice at 12.6 seconds.

The Pandemic timing from Rupture Icon Rupture is based off of your current Combo Point value, rather than the duration of the original Rupture. So if you had a 2 Combo Point Rupture on the target, and refresh with a 5 Combo Point Rupture, the Pandemic value would be treated as a 5 Combo Point Rupture instead.

4.

Core Concepts for Subtlety Rogue

Ultimately, this is a specialization that rewards the initiated and informed, but can be incredibly punishing to new players. Learning to focus on what is important and mastering the core concepts of a specialization is what leads to strong overall performances on the damage charts. Subtlety features 3 major concepts that form the central trinity of optimizing for success:

  1. resource management;
  2. cooldown usage;
  3. personal initiative.
4.1.

Resource Management

As discussed in depth earlier in this section, pooling is one of the most important aspects of this specialization. When playing optimally, you will spend a lot of time doing nothing and just waiting for your Energy bar to fill before going into Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.

The 3 resources of Subtlety are Energy, Combo Points, and Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance charges. The main goal of resource management is to minimize overflow and wastage of these resources. Oftentimes these resources will be at odds with each other; aiming for perfect Combo Point management may result in Energy cap, immaculate Energy management may result in Shadow Dance charge overflow, and so on. Perfect resource management is impossible, and therefore becoming a seasoned Subtlety veteran is learning which compromises to make. Listed below is the priority of resources to help you minimize wastage:

  1. Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance charges;
  2. Combo Points;
  3. Energy.

It is very important that you never waste Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance charges.

4.2.

Cooldown Usage

Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is one of the least rigid cooldowns in the game currently, as it allows for a variety of different usages depending on player interpretation of the current situation. As mentioned earlier in the guide, it is imperative to pool Energy and ensure you are getting the maximum value out of your Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dances.

4.2.1.

Personal Initiative

Your personal experience and instincts will play a large role in your ability to fully maximize output. Try to keep track of all your cooldowns as a whole, rather than as individual abilities, as they interact together in ways that alter the rotation significantly. For example, Rupture Icon Rupture only lasts for 18 seconds, so if Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique is coming off cooldown at the same time Rupture is going to expire, you will want to refresh Rupture a little early and build up Combo Points so you are able to use Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique immediately. Understanding how these spells interact with each other is critical when lining up a burst window for Shadow Dance.

5.

Changelog

  • 05 Jan. 2021: Updates to openers and added some extra paragraphs.
  • 01 Jan. 2021: Fixed paragraph regarding Kyrian opener.
  • 26 Nov. 2020: Clarified usage of 2 Shadow Dances whenever Shadow Blades is up.
  • 23 Nov. 2020: Added openers for each covenant and updated page in general for Shadowlands.
  • 04 Nov. 2020: Removed potions from opener and added separate paragraph.
  • 22 Oct. 2020: Added mention of Essences in opener.
  • 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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