Home World of Warcraft Classes Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Subtlety Rogue in Shadowlands

Subtlety Rogue mostly relies on abilities cast while Stealth or Shadow Dance is active, combining high Physical damage, armor penetration effects and Shadow magic. You will learn more about this spec in our guide.

The Rogue is a lightly armored class that specializes in melee damage and has 2 main resources: Energy and Combo Points (CP). Accordingly, there are abilities that spend these resources, or, vice versa, allow you to gain them. The correct use of these abilities and wise rotations are your keys to success.


  • High damage to single targets due to frequent bursts, such as Shadow Dance and Symbols of Death.
  • The ability to provide these bursts in the right place at the right time.
  • Great survivability, typical for this spec.
  • High mobility.


  • Low damage, apart from bursts.
  • Average AoE potential.

The Author

The author of the guide is teyka, a raider of the Exorsus Guild. Visit my Twitch channel, where you can find lots of interesting things, including the Rogue gameplay in the most difficult game mods.

Main Abilities


General information. On reaching several levels, you will open new Talent tiers. In each tier, you can choose one Talent at a time. Talents can affect your abilities in different ways: add new ones, replace old ones, passively modify various effects and spells. You can change Talents while you’re in Sanctums or in rest areas, but if there are no such places nearby, you can use Tome of the Tranquil Mind, which allows you to change Talents within a minute. Note that Talents can’t be changed in combat. Also, if a Talent selected in a certain tier is on CD, you’ll have to wait for it to recharge in order to change it. 

Tier 1 Lvl 15 Talents that affect DPS.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

WeaponmasterShadowstrike and Backstab have a 15% chance to hit the target twice each time they deal damage. Nice Talent, especially against single targets.

Premeditation – after entering Stealth, your next Shadowstrike grants up to 10 sec of Slice and Dice, and generates 2 additional combo points if Slice and Dice is active. This Talent works better when additional targets appear, so it’s mostly used in M+, cleave combats and raids. Though, if you have Finality (Legendary), you can use it on single targets.

Gloomblade – replaces Backstab. It’s a non-target spell, which deals Shadow damage. It’s stronger than Backstab, but compared to the other two Talents, grants less DPS, as your primary damage is based on other abilities.

Tier 2 Lvl 25 DPS Talents that interact with Stealth.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Nightstalker – while Stealth is active, you move 20% faster and your abilities deal 12% more damage. Works with Shadow Dance. At the moment, its potential is very limited, the Talent is only useful for heavy AoE with 5+ targets.

Subterfuge – your abilities requiring Stealth can still be used for 3 sec after Stealth breaks. Also increases the duration of Shadow Dance by 1 sec The weakest choice at the moment.

Shadow Focus – abilities cost 20% less Energy while Stealth or Shadow Dance is active The best option in this tier, both for single targets and M+. Shadow Dance provides a greater part of our damage, so consuming less Energy during bursts is just what you need.

Tier 3 Lvl 30 Talents that affect resources.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Vigor – increases your maximum Energy by 50 and your Energy regeneration by 10%.

Deeper Stratagem – you may have a maximum of 6 combo points, and your finishing moves deal 5% increased damage. In Subtlety, it’s your default Talent in any situation, as it grants a nice boost and prevents CP overcap issues.

Marked for Death – marks the target, instantly generating 5 combo points. CD 60 sec (dynamic), duration 60 sec.  Cooldown reset if the target dies within 1 min.

Tier 4 Lvl 35 Defensive abilities.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Soothing Darkness – you heal 3% of your maximum health every 1 sec while Stealth or Shadow Dance is active. Can be used for solo-content or in the open World, but almost useless in raids.

Cheat Death – fatal attacks instead reduce you to 7% of your maximum health. For 3 sec afterward, you take 85% reduced damage. Cannot trigger more often than once per 6 min. Always take this Talent, as there’s nothing better than a second life!

ElusivenessFeint also reduces all damage you take from non-area-of-effect attacks by 30% for 5 sec. Keep in mind that Feint costs 35 Energy and lasts only 5 sec (CD 15 sec), so maintaining its high uptime is quite impossible, while frequent use negatively affects your damage. Questionable Talent, as it’s very specific.

Tier 5 Lvl 40 Control tier.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Shot in the Dark – after entering Stealth or Shadow Dance, your next Cheap Shot is free. Useful in PvP and in the open World.

Night TerrorsShuriken Storm reduces enemies’ movement speed by 30% for 8 sec. Say, you can use it for additional passive slow in M+.

Prey on the Weak – enemies disabled by one of your stuns take 10% increased damage from all sources for 6 sec. Sometimes it can be useful in raids.

Tier 6 lvl 45 Talents that affect DPS.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Dark ShadowShadow Dance now increases damage by 30%. Significantly increases our burst damage, but overall grants a smaller boost than the other Talents. Can be used in rare situations, when rapid burst is more important than DPS.

Alacrity – your finishing moves have a 20+ % chance per combo point (up to 100% with 5 CP) to grant 2% Haste for 20 sec, stacking up to 5 times. This is a good Talent, but the next one is better.

Enveloping ShadowsDeepening Shadows reduces the remaining cooldown of Shadow Dance by an additional 0.5 sec per combo point spent. Shadow Dance gains 1 additional charge. Makes gameplay more comfortable, letting you use Shadow Dance when it’s more profitable. You can combine Shadow Dance with Symbols of Death more effectively or simply keep it for a certain moment in combat. At the moment, this Talent is the best choice.

Tier 7 Lvl 50 Talents that affect DPS.Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Master of Shadows – gain 25 Energy over 3 sec when you enter Stealth or activate Shadow Dance. Great Talent against single targets.

Secret Technique – finishing move that creates shadow clones of yourself. You and your shadow clones each perform a piercing attack on up to 6 enemies near your target, dealing Physical damage to the primary target and reduced damage to other targets. CD 45 sec. It’s a standard choice for cleave-fights and M+.

Shuriken Tornado – focus intently, then release a Shuriken Storm every sec for the next 4 sec. Costs 60 Energy, CD 1 min. This is a very niche Talent and it’s rarely used.

Here are your common builds:

Single Target:



Shadow Focus

Deeper Stratagem

Cheat Death

Prey on the Weak

Enveloping Shadows 

Master of Shadows

M+ / Cleave:



Shadow Focus

Deeper Stratagem

Cheat Death

Prey on the Weak

Enveloping Shadows 

Secret Technique

only AoE:




Deeper Stratagem

Cheat Death

Prey on the Weak

Enveloping Shadows 

Secret Technique


When you join a Covenant, you get 2 abilities: one of them directly affects your DPS, while another – grants either a defensive feature or increases your mobility.

Below you can learn more about the abilities these Covenants provide.

The Kyrian

Echoing Reprimand – deal Arcane damage to an enemy, extracting their anima to Animacharge a combo point. Damaging finishing moves that consume the same number of combo points as your Animacharge deal damage as if they consume 7 combo points. Costs 30 Energy, CD 45 sec.

Sometimes hard to implement, but still grants a solid boost.

Summon Steward – call your steward to bring you a Phial of Serenity. CD 4 min.

It may seem useless, but don’t underestimate the extra heal. It also removes all Curse, Disease, Poison, and Bleed effects – very useful throughout the game.

The Venthyr 

Flagellation – lash the target 3 times, dealing Shadow damage and adding a stack of Flagellation for each lash. The target remains tormented for 20 sec, receiving an additional lash for each combo point you spend. Reactivating Flagellation cleanses their torment, increasing your Haste by 0.5% per stack, up to a maximum of 15% Haste for 20 sec. CD 1.5 min. Good DPS ability, but it can be fairly inconvenient when used against squishy targets.

Door of Shadows – castable blink.

Can be used to skip some enemies or shorten the distance, but overall this class is mobile enough even without it.

The Night Fae 

Sepsis – infect the target’s blood, dealing Nature damage over 10 sec. If the target survives its full duration, they suffer an additional damage and you Vanish from sight. 

Cooldown reduced by 60 sec if Sepsis does not last its full duration.

This ability has a nice synergy with Mark of the Master Assassin, but since this Legendary isn’t your priority at the moment, it shouldn’t affect your choice.

Soulshape – turn into a Vulpin, teleporting 15 yards forward and increasing your movement speed by 50%. You may reactivate Soulshape every few sec to teleport again. Lasts 12 sec, or indefinitely while in a rest area. When Soulshape is active, you can’t cast spells.

It’s a useful ability both for mobility out of combat and for quick repositioning in fights.

The Necrolords

Serrated Bone Spike – embed a bone spike in the target, dealing Bleed damage every 3 sec until they die. Deals damage and generates 1 Combo Point per active bone spike. Refunds 1 charge when target dies or is healed to full. Costs 10 Energy, CD 30 sec.

Can be used on single or multiple targets.

Fleshcraft – form a shield of flesh and bone over 4 sec that absorbs damage equal to 20% of your maximum health for 2 min. Channeling near a corpse claims their essence to grow the shield, up to 50% of your maximum health. This is most effective against powerful enemies. Besides, the spell gives you a combat buff, depending on the race of the monster. 

It’s a pretty good utility ability, but it’s channeled, so you can’t always use it in fights.

The Covenants that suit Subtlety best are the following:

the Kyrian > the Venthyr >= the Night Fae >= the Necrolords


In Subtlety, we have the following Potency Conduits:.

Planned ExecutionSymbols of Death increases your critical strike chance by 4%.

Stiletto StaccatoShadow Techniques now also reduces the remaining cooldown of Shadow Blades by 1 sec.

Perforated VeinsShadowstrike increases the damage of your next Backstab by 18%, stacking up to 6 times.

Deeper DaggersEviscerate and Black Powder increase your Shadow damage dealt by 8% for 8 sec

The current rating of Potency Conduits:

Planned Execution > Stiletto Staccato >= Perforated Veins >= Deeper Daggers >= Covenant Conduit


When upgrading your Soulbind, the most beneficial option is to take 2 slots for Potency Conduits and use the Conduits according to their rating above. However, in some situations, you can take 1 Potency Conduit, if a particular Soulbind has a strong DPS Talent that leads to a Conduit of another type.

The image below shows the optimal builds for the Soulbinds. The red border also indicates the best Soulbind out of three. The orange border indicates one of the possible options in M+.
Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

LegendariesSubtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide

Overall, the Subtlety Rogue has 8 available Legendary Items: 4 general and 4 spec Powers.

Let’s have a look at the most useful of them:

For single targets:

Akaari’s Soul Fragment >= Finality > Mark of the Master Assassin

For Mythic+:

Mark of the Master Assassin > Finality > Essence of Bloodfang

Also, the choice of Legendary Item Effects can be affected by your Covenants, Talents and equipment.


Key priorities:

Try to use finishing moves at 5-6 CP, avoiding overcap, including Shadow Techniques procs.

  1. Keep Slice and Dice active throughout the whole fight, trying to refresh the buff without Symbols of Death and Shadow Dance.
  2. Maintain Rupture on your target, refreshing it between bursts.
  3. Use Shadow Blades on recharge.
  4. Shadow Dance is used with Symbols of Death once the latter is up, or if the number of Shadow Dance stacks is close to 2.
  5. Use Vanish on recharge, combine it with Shadowstrike, but not with Shadow Dance.
  6. (if you have Secret Technique) use Secret Technique on recharge, or with AoE / Symbols of Death if necessary.
  7. Eviscerate is your main finisher at 5-6 CP.
  8. Use Shadowstrike to gain CP in Stealth or during Shadow Dance.
  9. Out of Shadow Dance, use Backstab to generate CP only if you’re close to Energy overcap, and save Energy before bursts.

AoE priorities:

In AoE situations, use Shuriken Storm on 2+ targets, and if Shadow Dance is active – on 3+.

Black Powder is used on 3+ enemies.

Rupture can be active on all targets that can survive most of its duration, but don’t use it for short-term AoE. Besides, don’t use Rupture on 6+ targets, just like Slice and Dice – better go for Shuriken Storm -> Black Powder

Covenant abilities and their impact on your priorities:

The Kyrian

Echoing Reprimand – used on recharge. The buff itself lasts for 45 sec and has the same CD. It means that it can be easily implemented with other useful buffs, say, to enhance Eviscerate during Shadow Dance, while Symbols of Death is active.

The Venthyr

Flagellation – used on recharge and recast at 30 stacks, or before the buff goes off. No point to synergize it with bursts, we just want to minimize its downtime.

The Night Fae

Sepsis – used on recharge. If the target survives its full duration, Vanish from sight and follow your standard rotation.

The Necrolords

Serrated Bone Spike – minimize its downtime and if you have 3 Spike charges, embed at least one of them in any target.

When fighting single targets, just use Spike charges whenever you can, for example, to cap your CP.

In M+ or in cleave fights, keep this ability active on as many enemies as possible. Try to use Serrated Bone Spike on targets that are most likely to die first to gain some extra charges.

Choosing a race

For a Rogue, your race doesn’t really matter, as the damage boost you get does not exceed 1.5%. Nevertheless, here’s a chart:Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide


Your basic stats priority is the following:

Finesse > Crit = Versatility > Mastery > Haste

Versatility and Crit are your main priorities. Mastery is a bit more important for AoE, while Haste loses its significance in this case.

To maximize your stats, use raidbots.com (-> Stat Weights) and import this information to the game with Pawn (addon) for further convenience.

Based on the above-mentioned characteristics and your own simulation results, let’s move on to Gems, Enchants and Consumables.


Deadly Jewel Cluster (Crit) / Versatile Jewel Cluster (Versatility)


Boots: Eternal Agility

Chest: Eternal Skirmish / Eternal Stats

Cloak: Soul Vitality / Fortified Leech

Rings: Tenet of Critical Strike/ Tenet of Versatility

Weapons: Celestial Guidance + Sinful Revelation / Lightless Force (AoE) x 2


Stones: Shaded Sharpening Stone

Flasks: Eternal Cauldron / Spectral Flask of Power

Potions: Potion of Spectral Agility / Potion of Phantom Fire / АоЕ: Potion of Empowered Exorcisms

Heal pots: Spiritual Healing Potion

Food: Feast of Gluttonous Hedonism (+20 Finesse) / Phantasmal Souffle and Fries (+30 Crit) / Steak a la Mode (+30 Versatility)

Armor kits: Heavy Desolate Armor Kit

BiS Gear & Trinkets

Head – Sadist’s Sinister Mask – Sire Denathrius

Neck – Noble’s Birthstone Pendant – The Council of Blood

Shoulder – Wicked Flanker’s Gorget – General Kaal

Cloak – Crest of the Legionnaire General – General Kaal

Chest – Corset of the Deft Duelist – The Council of Blood

Wrist – Precisely Calibrated Chronometer – Artificer Xy’mox

Hands – Bleakwing Assassin’s Grips – Kael’thas Sunstrider

Waist- Spell-Woven Tourniquet –  Huntsman Altimor

Legs – Chiropteran Leggings – Shriekwing

Feet – Enchanted Toe-Tappers – The Council of Blood

Ring #1 – Hyperlight Band – Lady Inerva Venaoscura

Ring #2 – Most Regal Signet of Sire Denathrius – Sire Denathrius

Trinket #1 – Nathria Trinket – The Council of Blood

Trinket #2 – Stone Legion Heraldry – Stone Legion Generals

Weapon #1 – Zenith Anima Spherule – Sire Denathrius

Weapon #2 – Zenith Anima Spherule – Sire Denathrius

Top list of trinkets in Shadowlands:Subtlety Rogue 9.0.5 Guide


Tricks of the Trade multi-macros


/cast [@mouseover, help, exists] Tricks of the Trade

/cast [@focus, help, exists] Tricks of the Trade

/cast [@targettarget, help, exists] Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade macros for M+ (pull to the leader, usually a tank)


/cast [@party1] Tricks of the Trade

Kick on your focus or current target


/cast [@focus , exists, harm] Kick;Kick

Secret Technique / Shuriken Tornado, depending on the Talent taken


/cast [talent:7/2] Secret Technique;Shuriken Tornado

Marked for Death at the cursor position (mouseover macro)


/cast [@mouseover] Marked for Death

Shadowstep at the cursor position (mouseover macro)


/cast [@mouseover] Shadowstep


WeakAuras is probably the most important addon in modern WoW. It allows you to customize almost anything, and on wago.io you can find hundreds of useful auras and import them to your game in a few clicks. You can also find a full pack of auras for any spec, for example, check out this link!

BigWigs/Deadly Boss Mods – addons with timers and announcements for bosses in raids and M+, choose either of these. It’s also super useful in PvE. For BigWigs, the instance module, LittleWigs, must be installed separately.

nugComboBar – an addon for displaying combo points in an aesthetic form.

ElvUI is an all-in-one global build for fans of a neat and concise interface. Replaces several addons at once. On wago.io you can find a large number of different customized profiles for ElvUI.

Details! Damage Meter is the most up-to-date and advanced damage meter at the moment.

Plater Nameplates – an addon from the author of Details that changes enemy nameplates. Fully customizable design and a huge number of available features, as well as the ability to import profiles and mods from wago.io – what else do you need?

Dominos is a customizable panel addon.

Basic Chat Mods – addon for chat customization.

Deja Character stats – adds more information about the character.

Shadowed unit frames – an alternative to ElvUI for unit frames.

PRO Tips

Use this WeakAura to avoid losing combo points when proccing Shadow Techniques. It provides an option to display the CP proc timer as a number (1-5) or as text.


That’s it, guys! We hope you have no more questions and are ready to get down to practice. Thanks for reading! Best of luck in the world of Azeroth!

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