Subtlety Rogue PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Shadowlands / 9.0.2)

Last updated on Dec 02, 2020 at 01:15 by Mysticall 23 comments

PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as a Subtlety Rogue, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.

This page is part of our Subtlety Rogue PvP Guide.

1.

Playstyle for Subtlety Rogues

The Subtlety Rogue has two roles in PvP: control the enemy team with relentless mobility and crowd control and having strong sustained damage outside of burst cooldowns. Although Subtlety Rogues lack offensive cooldowns, they make up for it with the strongest control in the game.

To lock down healers, you will aim to push in and get crowd control on the healer (Sap Icon Sap, Blind Icon Blind when they do not have trinket, and Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot or Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot).

The ability to control the enemy team is what makes Subtlety Rogues so deadly. You should look to partner with a class that has very strong single-target damage, such as Mages, Fury Warriors, Survival Hunters or Balance Druids.

2.

Offensive Rotation

2.1.

Generating and Spending Combo Points

Understanding how to generate and spend Combo points is crucial for maximizing damage as a Subtlety Rogue. This section will talk about how to do both, starting with how to get Combo Points.

  • From Stealth Icon Stealth or when Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active, there are 2 ways to generate Combo Points:
    • Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot stuns the target and will generate 1 Combo Point. This will be used to setup crowd control on the enemy healer or peal for your teammates if they are in trouble.
    • Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike can only be used in Stealth as well. It deals damage and generates 2 Combo Points.
    • Note: both of these abilities put the Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness debuff on your target. It is extremely important to use these abilities when you are trying to kill an enemy.
  • When not in Stealth, you generate Combo Points with the following:
    • Backstab Icon Backstab is the primary way to generate Combo Points. When used from behind your target or if it crits, it will apply the Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness debuff. This generates 1 Combo Point.
    • If you have Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison on, Shiv Icon Shiv will slow the target for 70% and generate 1 Combo Point.
    • Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm is an AoE ability and will generate 1 Combo Point for each target hit by it. This is effective when playing against teams that are stacked or have multiple pets.
    • Shuriken Toss Icon Shuriken Toss does very little damage, but generates 1 Combo Point. This should be used if you are slowed/rooted and cannot reach your target.
    • Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death instantly generates 5 Combo Points. This should be used for Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on the enemy healer to setup crowd control on them.

Now that you know how to generate Combo Points, knowing how to spend them is even more important. Here are the abilities you will be spending Combo Points on and what situations you will use them in:

  • Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot is your primary stun to setup crowd control on the enemy healer or kill target. This will primarily be used in combination with Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  • Rupture Icon Rupture is a bleed that more damage based on how many Combo Points you use. You want to make sure to use this at 5 Combo Points.
  • Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice increases your attack speed. Slice and Dice should almost have a 100% uptime during an arena match.
  • Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate is your primary damaging ability. This will deal more damage based on the amount of Combo Points used for it. It also deals additional damage to targets with Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness on them.
2.2.

Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Rogue crowd control is powerful, but dealing any damage to the target will break and waste it. Also, remember to enter Stealth Icon Stealth.

Also, make sure to use the correct poisons. The poisons you want to use are Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison and Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison.

2.3.

The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns.

If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. Blind Icon Blind, with a follow up Sap Icon Sap, is one of the most devastating crowd control combinations in the game, with very few ways of getting out of it without having a trinket. Save Blind for when the enemy healer does not have their trinket.

If an enemy DPS uses their trinket, you can crowd control the healer and stun the DPS without a trinket. This means they can be burst down in a stun and possibly killed. This would be the best time to use Smoke Bomb Icon Smoke Bomb.

When opening, always try to Sap Icon Sap the enemy DPS player who is trying to bring you out of Stealth Icon Stealth, then Sap the healer. Then, use your burst rotation. After you are done with your burst rotation, perform your sustained damage rotation until your burst abilities are available again.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game that will maximize your opening damage. You will want to use as many 5 Combo Point Eviscerate Icon Eviscerates as you can, while using Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot to control your target. This opener will allow you to use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death and Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot as crowd control on the enemy healer.

Here is a simple rotation that will lock down the enemy team with stuns, give yourself Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice and do maximum damage to your target.

  1. Enter Stealth Icon Stealth.
  2. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer.
  3. Use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades.
  4. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on your main target.
  5. Use Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death.
  6. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
  7. Use Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood.
  8. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  9. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  10. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  11. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  12. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  13. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  14. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
3.

Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.

  1. Use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades if you have it.
  2. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  3. Use Smoke Bomb Icon Smoke Bomb.
    • You should only use this if your target does not have a trinket. Otherwise, they can easily trinket and use a defensive cooldown.
  4. Use Shiv Icon Shiv to slow your target in the Smoke Bomb.
  5. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance.
  6. Use Cold Blood Icon Cold Blood.
  7. Apply Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death to yourself.
  8. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  9. Use Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you are Kyrian to generate 2 Combo Points.
  10. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate at 5 Combo Points.
  11. Use Marked for Death Icon Marked for Death.
  12. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  13. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  14. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  15. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate at 5 Combo Points.
4.

Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Use Backstab Icon Backstab to generate Combo Points.
  2. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike if you need to generate Combo Points while stealthed or Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active.
    • Do not use Backstab Icon Backstab to generate Combo Points when Shadow Dance is active. Use Shadowstrike to generate them.
  3. Use Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death to generate 40 Energy and increase your damage.
  4. Use Rupture Icon Rupture when you have 5 Combo Points.
  5. Use Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm if the enemy team is stacked to generate multiple Combo Points quickly.
  6. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate when you have 5 Combo Points and do not need to refresh Rupture Icon Rupture.
  7. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot for Combo Points and controlling the enemy team while stealthed or Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active.
  8. Use Echoing Reprimand Icon Echoing Reprimand if you are Kyrian to generate 2 Combo Points.
  9. Use Shuriken Toss Icon Shuriken Toss if you are slowed or rooted and want to generate Combo Points.

Note: Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice is important to maintain as well. However, you will not have to spending Combo Points on it thanks to the regular talent Premeditation Icon Premeditation. Most of your kills will happen when Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active. Premeditation gives you Slice and Dice for free after using a Shadowstrike when entering stealth/Shadow Dance.

5.

Defensive Techniques

Vanish Icon Vanish is one of your main defensive cooldowns. Use Vanish when you want to avoid damage and get away from the enemy team.

Cloak of Shadows Icon Cloak of Shadows is a strong defensive cooldown when playing against casters. Use this when in trouble against caster teams and run to your healer or re-enter Stealth Icon Stealth.

Feint Icon Feint (with the Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness talent) grants you a flat 30% damage reduction from everything. This is a buff that should be active on you at all times. A Rogue is very weak against stuns, so having Feint up when stunned greatly increases your chance of surviving heavy damage from the enemy team.

Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial is the trickiest, but most useful defensive ability a Rogue has. If you feel a hard swap onto you or you are about to be stunned, use Crimson Vial. Using this efficiently can enable you and your teammates to save your other cooldowns.

6.

Macros

It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.

7.

Changelog

  • 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Rotations to include Covenant Ability.
  • 02 Dec. 2020: Updated Burst Damage rotation.
  • 01 Dec. 2020: Updated Opening and Burst rotations.
  • 29 Nov. 2020: Removed outdated Traits and Essences.
  • 10 Nov. 2020: Updated Opening Rotation.
  • 14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.
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