Subtlety Rogue Review - Battle for Azeroth Class Community Opinions
Throughout the pre-patch, we'll be launching a community opinions article for every class and spec. We're continuing our Pre-Patch State of the Class and in this post, we'll be taking a look at the state of Subtlety Rogue!
We reached out to the Subletly Rogue community to give their thoughts and opinions on the changes and current state of Subletly Rogue in the pre-patch.
If this spec appeals to you after reading this article, check out our
Battle for Azeroth Subtlety Rogue Guide
Ravenholdt is the online community for rogues. From social to guides, to theorycrafting, we do rogue.
- Theorycrafter, guide writer and moderator in the Ravenholdt discord.
- Loktark is a prominent member and moderator in the Ravenholdt discord community. He is the current writer of the Ravenholdt Outlaw guide, having mained Outlaw for all of Legion. He has high hopes for his spec moving into Battle for Azeroth.
- Mystler is a Rogue Theorycrafter in the Ravenholdt community who also works on SimulationCraft, Hero Damage and more. While he spends time with theorycraft on all specs, his favorite spec and the one he usually plays is Subtlety. Follow him on
- Paryah runs the Ravenholdt website, is an admin on the Ravenholdt Discord, and is responsible for the weekly Fans of Knives rogue news blog. She plays all three specs, but is currently raiding on Subtlety. Follow her on
- wEak raids in Memento. He aids the rogue team with TC related stuff and works on the Ravenholdt spec guides. Follow him on
Subtlety is the highly mobile, burst damage member of the rogue family. In Legion, it enjoyed a lot of popularity in dungeons and during Tomb of Sargeras. Battle for Azeroth sees a slow down in the pacing of the spec and a leaning toward single target damage.
Compared to the state of the Subtlety Rogue in Legion, the most noticeable system changes are the loss of the artifact traits and the loss of the Death from Above playstyle. You will likely feel a difference in pacing as well.
gave us some kind of steady energy income. Without it, the spec slows down a bit and pooling will become a bit more relevant again.
) are gone as well. While it was an additional ability helping to get some more resources and boost regeneration of
charges, the loss does not have a high impact - besides,
often led to overcapping on energy.
has also been removed. It added an additional layer of complexity to the spec and opened some space for finisher optimization but it was also a bit confusing for new players. Losing
will also not have a very high impact. The energy gain on
from the trait
was made baseline. Other than that, you may also notice the loss of
. Subtlety Rogues, be prepared to take falling damage again.
There were further changes to our toolkit of offensive abilities. The duration of
has been increased from 4 to 5 seconds, making it equal to
on live servers. With Battle for Azeroth,
further increases the duration to 6 seconds. Pooling and optimizing your GCD usage during
will become a bit more important. In terms of AoE situations, Subtlety also takes quite a hit. The damage bonus on
was reduced from 100% to 50%, with
having a slightly higher amount of base damage. In addition, the passive
damage by 8% instead of 10% per stack. These changes significantly reduce our AoE burst potential as well as our conversion of AoE situations into damage on the main target. Sustained AoE is slightly buffed, but with Subtlety having been mostly about burst and focus target conversion, these changes (in addition to the loss of the artifact trait Shadow Nova) seem to be hitting quite hard and it is not very clear how Subtlety is supposed to perform in AoE.
, similar to Bleeds and Poisons, also scales with Haste now, which will finally add some more value to the stat that has been quite unwelcome so far. Though the hasted dot is a welcome change,
still seems overloaded, being both a damage amplifier and a DoT effect with a very short duration.
adds a ramp up time to the spec and has to be refreshed very often. Despite the damage amplification originally being introduced to fight multi-dotting, cycling targets has still been an increase throughout Legion.
continues to be our main cooldown. In addition to granting an additional combo point, it now also converts 50% of our builder damage to shadow damage for 20 seconds.
also triggers the global cooldown now. While this fixes a lot of issues with the cooldown, the cooldown duration remains relatively high for the impact. Vanish for Subtlety is also back at its original 2 minute cooldown, making it have less impact as an offensive cooldown, considering we will not have
Our defensive toolkit got some changes as well.
now has a 15 seconds cooldown and reduces AoE damage taken by 40% instead of 50%. While this is a noticeable nerf,
is still very strong, you simply cannot spam it anymore and have to put some more thought into using it.
cooldown was increased to 2 minutes.
has been changed to be a single target talent. Instead of a 6% chance for all abilities to hit twice, it is now a 15% chance on Backstab and Shadowstrike. Master of Subtlety was replaced by
, which adds an armor penetration debuff to the target when using Shadowstrike or Cheap Shot. While this allows for some interesting builds about maximizing
uptime, the bypass effect also adds some discrepancy with
turning your main single target generators into Shadowstrike damage (and thus bypass armor already).
With Battle for Azeroth, Shadow Focus appears to be one of the best talents to compensate for the slower pacing and resolve energy issues. This makes it a favorable option over the other two, currently.
’s increase to 6 seconds of
comes with some issues. It is difficult not to waste that additional global because of energy issues. Besides, the additional global will often be a finisher and partially negate the benefit of stealth. This makes
less potent than it was in Legion.
Anticipation has been replaced by
. This change fits the theme very well and makes the whole tier much more competitive. At the same time, it opens up the bottom tier of our talent tree for new directions and ideas.
got a slight nerf from 30% to 25% increased damage during Shadow Dance. This was likely done in order to make the choice between stronger dances with
and more dances with
more competitive. Alacrity (
) is staying on this row unchanged. It is a rather boring talent and easily overshadowed by the other two.
Death from Above has been replaced by
). The ability turns out to be extremely potent in any multi target scenario and eliminates positional issues of Death from Above that had frustrated many players. However, while the cooldown reduction component adds some depth to the talent it fails to be as versatile as the talent it replaces because the possibility of using Symbols of Death and
before or during the flight of Death from Above allowed us to emphasize on different parts of the spell and adapt to the situation.
is also a new talent in this tier. It schedules four automatic
s and thus allows the use of four consequential
s in AoE situations. The ability is a niche talent and might not see a lot of use outside of very specific scenarios.
is unchanged in this tier but currently seems to be the best talent for single target situations by far.
Considering the loss of artifact traits, current tier bonuses, and legendaries, Subtlety’s pacing is noticeably slower in Battle for Azeroth. There are some energy management issues, that can be addressed with a couple of talent selections. The major point for improvement is likely
. The effect overload mentioned earlier and its short duration could be addressed to make gameplay more smooth.
s, while working out well in multi target situations, also seems to be a less interactive ability then Death from Above. Adding a slight delay to the spell to recreate the DfA playstyle from Legion would help to give the spell more identity while solving the issues DfA has had.
The general theme of converting AoE situations into more single target damage with
combo points and
is pretty cool and makes Sub somewhat special. In situations where some real AoE damage is necessary, the Subtlety toolkit is rather lacking, however. What made Subtlety fun in AoE-heavy situations in Legion is the burst damage that stemmed mostly from the shoulder and cloak legendaries. The changes to
and the new talent
fit well into the burst AoE theme. A lower cooldown on
(maybe 2 minutes instead of 3) would be a welcome change.
There is one more thing worth mentioning. Assassination and Subtlety are the only two specs in the game who will be able to loot agility daggers in Battle for Azeroth. With personal loot being enforced, this may lead to some gearing issues because these two specs have way less trading options than other melees and they need two daggers. Also note that, even though technically possible, Subtlety rogues will not use slow off-hand weapons because
only scales with weapon speed and thus favors CP and energy generation for daggers. As a small step, a suggestion would be to unify agility and intellect daggers, so more specs can loot and trade them.
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