Subtlety Rogue PvP Talents and Builds (Shadowlands / 9.2.5)
Choosing the right PvP and PvE talents is a prerequisite to proper performance in PvP. This guide goes through the various talent choices available to you as a Subtlety Rogue and gives you the best combinations you can take.
This page is part of our Subtlety Rogue PvP Guide.
Regular Talents for Subtlety Rogues
|15||✘ Weaponmaster||✔ Premeditation||✘ Gloomblade|
|25||✔ Nightstalker||? Subterfuge||? Shadow Focus|
|30||✘ Vigor||✔ Deeper Stratagem||✔ Marked for Death|
|35||? Soothing Darkness||? Cheat Death||✔ Elusiveness|
|40||✘ Shot in the Dark||✘ Night Terrors||✔ Prey on the Weak|
|45||✘ Dark Shadow||✘ Alacrity||✔ Enveloping Shadows|
|50||✔ Master of Shadows||✘ Secret Technique||✘ Shuriken Tornado|
While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.
Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents
Premeditation is the best choice in this tier. This will give you more time to do more damage, rather than having to spend Combo Points on Slice and Dice. Also, if you already have Slice and Dice at the beginning of a go, you will get 4 Combo Points from your first Shadowstrike. This will allow you to use Eviscerate sooner.
Tier 2 (Level 25) Talents
Nightstalker is the best choice in this tier. This talent will give you 8% more damage during your burst windows (this talent is nerfed in PvP and grants 8% more damage instead of 12%) which is great since Subtlety is a spec that only ever kills during short burst windows with Shadow Dance active.
Shadow Focus is a decent talent in some scenarios. It can be worth picking if you play Rogue/Mage, or any other similar comp, in 2v2. If your kill target is not tanky you may not need the extra damage from Nightstalker. In that case Shadow Focus will ensure that you have enough Energy during your Shadow Dance to use every global.
Subterfuge is a good talent although in the current state of the game Nightstalker will almost always be a better option as the meta is extremely bursty, and the way Subtlety is played at the moment does not let you take advantage of the added utility Subterfuge brings.
Tier 3 (Level 30) Talents
Marked for Death is the best choice in this tier if you play a comp that requires a Kidney Shot from stealth, such as Rogue Mage. It is also a good talent if you play with a healer, although it is not the best in that scenario. This can be used in two different ways. You can use Marked For Death and get a full Kidney Shot on a target you need to crowd control when you do not have time to generate Combo Points. You can also use it aggressively for Eviscerate during your burst window.
Deeper Stratagem is the best option if you play in 2v2 with a healer, or in most 3v3 match-ups. Not only will your Eviscerate will deal more damage, but your Kidney Shot will also last up to 7s, making it much easier to Sap as it ends if you use it to crowd control or making it a lot more lethal if you use it to stun and kill your target. It will also help you when facing Orcs as you will have more GCDs to deal damage instead of having to stun again very early.
Tier 4 (Level 35) Talents
Elusiveness is the best choice in this tier if you are playing with a healer and are not facing a comp that will only ever kill you with a super high burst. Rogues do not have a lot of damage mitigation, so this spell is essential to your survival. You want to time this ability right before being hit by a powerful spell such as Chaos Bolt or Divine Toll. Also, you want to try and time it before being stunned. Pre-Feinting a Lightning Lasso, a Kidney Shot, or a Storm Bolt often makes the difference between living and dying.
Soothing Darkness if great if you are playing in 2v2 with another DPS. Since your gameplay will be hit-and-run, this will provide you with passive healing when you have gone away from the fight and are waiting for the diminishing returns to fall off.
Cheat Death is a good pick against Rogue/Mage in 2v2 or in RMP mirrors in 3vs3 as you will often be CC'ed before they stun you to kill you, making Elusiveness close to useless since you will not be able to Feint the damage. Instead Cheat Death can buy you a couple seconds, and that can make the difference.
Tier 5 (Level 40) Talents
Prey on the Weak is the best choice in this tier. This is a damage increase to you and your teammates. Because your kill target will most likely be stunned, this is an important damage increase to have when securing a kill.
Tier 6 (Level 45) Talents
Enveloping Shadows is the best choice in this tier. This makes it so you can not only reduce the cooldown of Shadow Dance faster, but you get a second charge of it as well. This is crucial to maximizing your control and damage throughout an arena match, as you will be able to have a Shadow Dance ready every time the stun diminishing returns have fallen off.
Tier 7 (Level 50) Talents
Master of Shadows is the best choice in this tier. This will allow you to regenerate Energy quicker while you are in Stealth or while Shadow Dance is activated, increasing your sustained damage.
PvP Talents for Subtlety Rogues
You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each of them has their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others. The top three choices are the most useful, but can be replaced with other PvP talents depending on your team's goal.
Mandatory PvP Talents
Smoke Bomb creates a smoke cloud around you. Enemy players who are outside the cloud will not be able to target anyone inside of it. This talent is mandatory for multiple reasons. Firstly, it can help you land a kill by stunning a target when they have no trinket. By using Smoke Bomb right after the stun you will prevent the healer from saving their teammate. Secondly, you can use it defensively to save yourself or an ally from a lethal cast that is about to go off, such as Greater Pyroblast. And lastly, you can use it to prevent incoming crowd control on you or your team if such crowd control would result in you losing a game, such as a Polymorph or Repentance on your healer when they have no trinket and you are low on health. As you can see, this talent is helpful in many different situations, which is why it is so powerful. Also it received a buff for Subtlety only with Patch 9.1 lowering its cooldown by one minute. Thus as a Subtlety Rogue your Smoke Bomb only has a 2min cooldown, making it even more powerful.
Shadowy Duel places you and the enemy you cast this on in a duel. Both of you can only interact with each other and no one else for 5 seconds. This talent is extremely powerful. You can use it on an enemy at low health to prevent the enemy healer from saving them while you finish them off. If you do not have the damage to do so you, can instead use it on the enemy healer to give time to your teammates to finish off your kill target. You can also use it on an enemy who is killing one of your teammates. Since they will be locked in the Duel with you, they can no longer attack your allies. You can also use it on an enemy who is casting an important spell on one of your allies. Since you will phase them in the Duel with you the spell will never be cast. One thing worth knowing is that inside a Shadowy Duel everyone has Truesight, which means that both you and your enemy will see through Stealth or other invisibility spells. The consequence is that if you try to Duel an enemy to save an ally, and then Vanish to be safe yourself, the enemy will still be able to see you, and kill you. In the same way, if you Duel a Rogue and he uses Vanish, you will be able to see him, Sap him, or kill him.
Situational PvP Talents
Thief's Bargain is a PvP talent with a lot of potential. Lowering the cooldown of Shadow Blades will allow you to have more frequent setups. Lowering the cooldown of Vanish will allow you to both survive more easily and land more CC. Lowering the cooldown of Feint is a nice bonus to survivability as well. But where this Honor Talent could truly shine would be with the Legendary Invigorating Shadowdust. The lower cooldown on Vanish given by this talent will drastically amplify the value of the Legendary and will allow you to have many important cooldowns such as Blind or Smoke Bomb ready a lot sooner than the enemy team can handle.
Dismantle is a strong PvP talent that allows you to disarm an enemy for 6s every 45s. It is a great pick against Warriors, Retribution Paladins and Rogues. Disarming an enemy can delay their next kill attempt or stop it entirely if they have already pulled the trigger.
Maneuverability is a very strong PvP talent versus teams with multiple slows. This can be taken so you can maximize your uptime on your target. It also removes any root on you when you use it so you may escape a Frost Nova or a Steel Trap with it as well.
Thick as Thieves is a strong PvP talent when playing a setup comp with an ally who has very high burst. With this you can further amplify their burst damage by 15% for 6s which can be the reason why the target dies.
- 28 Jul. 2022: Reviewed for Shadowlands Season 4.
- 31 May 2022: Reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
- 23 Feb. 2022: Updated for Patch 9.2.
- 10 Nov. 2021: Updated Tier 2 Talent.
- 06 Oct. 2021: Updated Tier 3 Talent.
- 21 Jul. 2021: Updated Tier 3 Talent.
- 04 Jul. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
- 28 Mar. 2021: Rewritten by Shadenox and updated for Patch 9.0.5.
- 18 Mar. 2021: No Updates Made for Patch 9.0.5
- 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Talent Table.
- Updated Tier 6 Regular Talent.
- 27 Oct. 2020: Updated Talent Table.
- Updated Tier 2 Regular Talent.
- 14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.
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