Subtlety Rogue DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Dragonflight 10.2.7

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 11:20 by Oxi 66 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 — Dragonflight 10.2.7.

If you were looking for WotLK Classic content, please refer to our WotLK Classic Subtlety Rogue rotation.

1.

Subtlety Rogue Rotation

1.1.

Beginner Subtlety Rogues

If you are new to the spec and the information below seems too overwhelming, you can check out the Easy Mode page, which has all relevant info in condensed form.

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

Note that 10.2 has brought a lot of changes to Subtlety. Thus, we are looking at a rotation that will seem closer to Shadowlands than it does to what we're used to in Dragonflight.

  1. Try to always begin while in Stealth Icon Stealth.
  2. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades on cooldown, paired with Flagellation Icon Flagellation as often as possible.
  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 and any targets that live over 12 seconds. Rupture Icon Rupture should be applied before Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance windows and reapplied outside of Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
  5. Cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death on cooldown or with less than 3 seconds remaining on the buff granted by the 10.1 tier set.
  6. Cast Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance with low combo points during Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death or when about to cap on charges.
  7. Cast Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea if at 3 charges in combination with Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and after that, use it when you are running out of Energy.
  8. Cast Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique with Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood on cooldown to spend Combo Points when reaching 6 or more and 5 or more during Shadow Dance after you have gained some Danse Macabre Icon Danse Macabre stacks.
  9. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate to spend Combo Points when reaching 6 or more and 5 or more during Shadow Dance.
  10. Cast Vanish Icon Vanish on cooldown when out of Stealth Icon Stealth/Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and low on combo points to get an extra Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  11. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike to generate Combo Points if Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active. Otherwise, use Backstab Icon Backstab/Gloomblade Icon Gloomblade (from behind the target if possible to gain 20% extra damage on it).
  12. Use Flagellation Icon Flagellation with enough combo points to finish after and if Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades is up or has less than 12 seconds remaining on its cooldown.

As mentioned above, try to combine and sync your offensive cooldowns together to deal maximum damage.

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 on any target that lives at least 12 seconds is a DPS gain, however this can sometimes be hard to estimate.
  3. Cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death on cooldown.
  4. Cast Shuriken Tornado Icon Shuriken Tornado/Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea on cooldown in combination with Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
  5. Cast Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique with Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood to spend Combo Points when reaching 6 or more and 5 or more during Shadow Dance after you have gained some Danse Macabre Icon Danse Macabre stacks.
  6. Cast Black Powder Icon Black Powder to spend Combo Points when reaching 6 or more and 5 or more during Shadow Dance instead of Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate if there are 3+ targets.
  7. Use Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm during Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance instead of Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike, if there are 3+ targets.
  8. Cast Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm to generate Combo Points.
  9. Cast Backstab Icon Backstab during Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades if you haven't used it to generate a Danse Macabre Icon Danse Macabre stack with 3 or less targets.

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 and Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice.

1.5.

Mythic+

To learn more about how to play Subtlety Rogue in Mythic+, check our dedicated page below:

2.

General tips for Subtlety Rogues

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.

Refreshing Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice is recommended in-between your Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance windows.

3.

Subtlety Rogue Opener Sequence

The opener below assumes you are playing with the recommended single-target talent build.

  1. Try to start while in Stealth Icon Stealth.
  2. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  3. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  4. Cast Flagellation Icon Flagellation.
  5. Cast Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
  6. Cast Rupture Icon Rupture.
  7. Use Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea.
  8. Cast Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death
  9. Cast Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades.
  10. Cast Backstab Icon Backstab.
  11. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  12. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  13. Cast Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood and Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique.
  14. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  15. Cast Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  16. Cast Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
3.1.

Potion usage

Aim to use your Elemental Potion of Ultimate Power Icon Elemental Potion of Ultimate Power 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 the 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.

4.

Important Notes for Subtlety Rogue

4.1.

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 200 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 4 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.

4.1.1.

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.

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.

4.2.

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 talented into Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, 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 0.5 seconds when talented into Deepening Shadows Icon Deepening Shadows.

4.2.1.

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.

4.3.

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 6 seconds for only 35 Energy. When talented into Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness, it also reduces all other damage by 20%. 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.
4.4.

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.

5.

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.
5.1.

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.

5.2.

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.

5.2.1.

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. To maximize your damage output, you would benefit greatly from being able to learn timings for boss fights so you can plan your cooldowns accordingly.

6.

Changelog

  • 07 May 2024: Reviewed for 10.2.7.
  • 22 Apr. 2024: Reviewed for Season 4
  • 20 Mar. 2024: Reviewed for Patch 10.2.6.
  • 15 Jan. 2024: Reviewed for Patch 10.2.5.
  • 06 Nov. 2023: Reviewed and Updated for patch 10.2.
  • 04 Sep. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.7
  • 10 Jul. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.5.
  • 01 May 2023: Page reviewed and updated for Patch 10.1.
  • 20 Mar. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.7.
  • 24 Jan. 2023: Page updated and reviewed for Patch 10.0.5.
  • 17 Dec. 2022: Small updates to ability priority list.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Added mention of Cold Blood usage.
  • 28 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight launch.
  • 31 Oct. 2022: Page updated with Venthyr build opener.
  • 25 Oct. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
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