Subtlety Rogue PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Dragonflight 10.2.7)

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 11:20 by Shadenox 32 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

Subtlety Rogues have two roles in PvP: control the enemy team with Sap Icon Sap, Blind Icon Blind, Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot, Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot and Dismantle Icon Dismantle, and burst down stunned enemies very quickly. Subtlety Rogues lack sustained damage, but they make up for it by controlling the game's pace. You should partner with a class with extreme single-target damage and follow-up crowd control for your stuns, such as Mages, Hunters, or Priests.

1.1.

Before Gates Open

Discuss with your team to have a game plan. Subtlety Rogue is a specialization that is exclusively played in setup comps. That means you and your team must agree on who to control and who to kill before the game begins. You need to know who will use their offensive cooldowns first. Wasting an entire go because you did not plan and broke each other's crowd control can make you lose the game.

Apply Wound Poison Icon Wound Poison and Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison. Press Stealth Icon Stealth and you are good to go!

1.2.

Crowd Control

The ability to control the enemy team makes Subtlety Rogues so deadly. To lock down a team, you will aim to push in and initiate crowd control chains on the healer (Sap Icon Sap if they are not in combat, Blind Icon Blind and Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot/Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot). Most of the time, your teammates will follow up as long as you stun the DPS so they cannot stop your team. You also have the option to use Dismantle Icon Dismantle to stop an enemy melee DPS in between your setups.

2.

Offensive Rotation

2.1.

Generating and Spending Combo Points

Rogues have two resources to manage. The first, Energy, is relatively straightforward. Using a spell costs Energy, and it regenerates over time. The second resource is Combo Points. Some abilities generate Combo Points, and powerful skills called Finishing Moves consume them. To maximize your damage output and your Energy regeneration, you must use your Combo Points efficiently. You have several ways to generate Combo Points.

  • From Stealth Icon Stealth, Subterfuge Icon Subterfuge, or when Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance is active, there are two main ways to generate Combo Points:
    • Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot stuns the target and generates 1 Combo Point.
    • 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 essential to have this debuff on any target you want to use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate on.
  • When not in Stealth, you generate Combo Points with the following:
    • Goremaw's Bite Icon Goremaw's Bite deals good damage and generates 3 Combo Point. While this ability does not require Stealth, you will always use it during Shadow Dance during a kill attempt, as the damage is significant.
    • Backstab Icon Backstab deals little damage and generates 1 Combo Point. If you hit from behind, it will deal 20% increased damage. Critical Strikes will apply Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness for 6s.
    • Shiv Icon Shiv generates 1 Combo Point. If you have Crippling Poison Icon Crippling Poison on, it will slow the target by 70% for 4 seconds.
    • Shuriken Storm Icon Shuriken Storm is an AoE ability and will generate 1 Combo Point for each target hit. Weirdly enough, in PvP, this does not work on pets, only players. You can use this when two players or more are stacked, and you need to generate Combo Points. Be careful not to break crown control, such as Polymorph when using this ability.
    • 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 but are about to overcap Energy.

Now that you know how to generate Combo Points, learning how to spend them is even more critical. As a Subtlety Rogue, you have a passive called Relentless Strikes Icon Relentless Strikes that grants you Energy for every Combo Point you spend on a Finishing Move. It makes it essential to use the Finishing Moves with 5 Combo Points. 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 set up crowd control on the enemy healer or kill target.
  • Rupture Icon Rupture is a bleed that lasts longer based on how many Combo Points you use. Only use this ability when you are not bursting a target.
  • Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice increases your attack speed. Slice and Dice should almost have 100% uptime during an arena match. Only manually use it when you are not bursting a target.
  • Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate is your primary damaging ability. This will deal more damage based on the Combo Points used for it. It also deals additional shadow damage to targets with Find Weakness Icon Find Weakness on them.
  • Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique is a powerful finisher with great damage but has a cooldown. This will deal more damage based on the amount of Combo Points used for it. It will only be used alongside offensive cooldowns to go for a kill.
2.2.

The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening CC chain and damage done as soon as you exit the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer or your kill target uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble.

The opener is a key part of the game as Rogue. Stealth Icon Stealth gives you the advantage as you choose how the fight begins. Because people will not be in combat right after the gates open, you will be able to Sap Icon Sap a target, already providing your team with numerical superiority. If you manage to get stuns on the other enemies, you can create a situation where your kill target is stunned for you and your team to deal damage without any external help.

If you forced a trinket in the opener, you are on the right track to winning the game. If the enemy healer used their trinket, you could go with a Blind Icon Blind on them, followed by a Sap Icon Sap while you kill the or a Gouge Icon Gouge enemy DPS. If the enemy DPS uses their trinket, you will be able to do a go on them with a Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot followed by a Smoke Bomb Icon Smoke Bomb to prevent the healer from helping and hopefully kill the DPS in that stun.

There are multiple openers as a Subtlety Rogue. Whether you want to use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades or not will completely change the rotation. Below is an example of a standard opener without Shadow Blades.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer, or the enemy DPS if you open on the healer.
  2. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on your kill target.
  3. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death. With the talent The First Dance Icon The First Dance, you now have 5 to 6 Combo Points.
  4. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  5. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  6. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  7. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  8. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  9. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  10. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.

And below is an example of an opener with Shadow Blades. With Shadow Blades every Combo Point builder grants 7 Combo Points.

  1. Sap Icon Sap the enemy healer, or the enemy DPS if you open on the healer.
  2. Use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades.
  3. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on your kill target.
  4. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea.
  5. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  6. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis.
  7. Use Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique.
  8. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  9. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  10. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  11. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.

As you can see, Shadow Blades allows for way more damage because every second global is a finishing move.

Sometimes, the enemy you want to attack will have abilities that they can use in between your Sap on the healer and your stun on your target. To prevent that you can instead Sap the target you want to kill, Cheap Shot or Gouge the healer, and then go for your target. Below is what it looks like.

  1. Use Sap Icon Sap on your target.
  2. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot or Gouge Icon Gouge on the enemy healer, depending on the kind of CC your team can follow up with.
  3. Use Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice. It is important if you do such an opener without Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades because it will allow you to gain extra Combo Points with the talent Premeditation Icon Premeditation.
  4. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance and Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death. With the talent The First Dance Icon The First Dance, you now have 4 Combo Points.
  5. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on your kill target while they are still in a Sap.
  6. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  7. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  8. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  9. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  10. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  11. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  12. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
2.3.

Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage. With the current build, the burst rotation is exactly the same as the opener with Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades, only you will use Blind Icon Blind, Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot, or Gouge Icon Gouge on the target you want to control instead of Sap Icon Sap.

  1. Use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades.
  2. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea.
  3. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot on your kill target.
  4. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  5. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis.
  6. Use Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique.
  7. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  8. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  9. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  10. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.

You may also perform your burst rotation with a Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot on your kill target for a longer stun if your team is able to control the rest of the enemy team without you, or if you use Blind Icon Blind.

  1. Use Shadow Blades Icon Shadow Blades.
  2. Use Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot.
  3. Use Shadow Dance Icon Shadow Dance, Symbols of Death Icon Symbols of Death and Thistle Tea Icon Thistle Tea.
  4. Use Sepsis Icon Sepsis.
  5. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  6. Use Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike.
  7. Use Secret Technique Icon Secret Technique.
  8. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  9. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.
  10. Use Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.
  11. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate.

If you do not immediately need to run away once your stuns expire, you can keep attacking the target with Shadowstrike Icon Shadowstrike to build Combo Points and Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate to spend them.

2.4.

Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available and when your enemies cannot be crowd-controlled because of diminishing returns. Because Subtlety Rogues have weak sustained damage, they spend their sustained damage windows trying to re-Stealth if possible to prepare the next setup, or, if they cannot, they apply their bleed to the enemy, their maintenance buff to themselves and gather Combo Points for the next setup.

  1. Try to re-Stealth if possible.
  2. Use Rupture Icon Rupture with 5 Combo Points.
  3. Use Slice and Dice Icon Slice and Dice with 5 Combo Points. Having this buff up lets you auto-attack faster, which leads to more Shadow Techniques Icon Shadow Techniques procs. That means more Energy and more Combo Points, which in turn leads to getting Shadow Dance back faster.
  4. Use Eviscerate Icon Eviscerate with 5 Combo Points and do not need to refresh Rupture Icon Rupture.
  5. Use Backstab Icon Backstab to generate Combo Points.
3.

Defensive Techniques

Vanish Icon Vanish is one of your main defensive cooldowns. Use Vanish to avoid damage and get away from the enemy team. It can also be used to land crowd control with Sap Icon Sapand Cheap Shot Icon Cheap Shot.

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 safety. You can also use it to mitigate incoming magic crowd control abilities, such as Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil or Hammer of Justice Icon Hammer of Justice. Note that with the honor talent Veil of Midnight Icon Veil of Midnight you can use Cloak of Shadows to get rid of physical debuffs and to dodge attacks.

Evasion Icon Evasion is a strong defensive cooldown when playing against melees and Hunters. Use this when the enemy team is using offensive cooldowns on you. You can also use it to dodge incoming physical crowd control abilities such as Kidney Shot Icon Kidney Shot or Mighty Bash Icon Mighty Bash.

Feint Icon Feint (with the Elusiveness Icon Elusiveness talent) is the trickiest but most useful defensive ability a Rogue has. It grants you a flat 20% damage reduction from everything for 6 seconds on a 15-second cooldown. This is a potent tool to mitigate incoming damage. A Rogue is weak against stuns, so preemptively using Feint when a stun is coming your way greatly increases your chance of surviving heavy damage from the enemy team. Of course, it can be used when the enemy team is using cooldowns on you, even if there is no stun.

Crimson Vial Icon Crimson Vial is a minor healing over time effect. It can be used the same way as Feint, either when you are about to get stunned or when the enemy is using cooldowns on you, and your healer needs extra help.

4.

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.

5.

Changelog

  • 07 May 2024: Reviewed for 10.2.7.
  • 22 Apr. 2024: Updqted for Dragonflight Season 4.
  • 18 Mar. 2024: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.2.6.
  • 15 Jan. 2024: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.2.5.
  • 06 Nov. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.2.
  • 04 Sep. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.7.
  • 10 Jul. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.5.
  • 30 Apr. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.1.
  • 21 Mar. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.0.7.
  • 25 Jan. 2023: Updated for Dragonflight Patch 10.0.5.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight Season 1.
  • 22 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
  • 28 Jul. 2022: Reviewed for Shadowlands Season 4.
  • 31 May 2022: Reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 24 Feb. 2022: Updated for Patch 9.2.
  • 10 Nov. 2021: Already up to date with Patch 9.1.5.
  • 04 Jul. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
  • 28 Mar. 2021: Rewritten by Shadenox and updated for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 18 Mar. 2020: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 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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