If you’re serious about sneaking up behind opponents and blowing them away with your Ambush, then you’re looking to be a Subtlety Rouge. With various talents designed around immediate burst damage along with the ultimate ninja technique, Shadowstep, the Sub Rogue will spawn in and deal real damage very quickly.

When you choose the Subtlety spec, at level 10, you open up certain abilities that are unique to you:

1 – Shadowstep: A short range teleport that puts you right behind your opponent.
2 – “Master of Subtlety” gives you a little extra damage when you come out of stealth, which means your Ambush hits a lot harder.
3 – “Sinister Calling” adds 30% to your agility and increases Backstab damage by 40%. This adds a large amount of damage to all of your attacks.
4 – “Mastery: Executioner” increases the effectiveness of all your “final attacks”, including Slice and Dice.

Weapons are an interesting topic here. Your Backstab ability requires daggers and Ambush works best with daggers (but doesn’t). Your other damaging abilities do more damage with a mace, ax, or sword (slow mace, ax, or sword). So if I Backstab and you’re behind your opponent long enough to use it a lot, then make sure you have a dagger in your main hand. If not, then use the most damaging one-handed weapon you can find. The “off hand” weapon must always be a swift dagger (the speed number in the dagger stat must be 1.4 or less).

Speaking of poisons… while leveling up, just put “Instant Poison” or both weapons. For PvP you should have “Paralysis Poison” on your off hand weapon and “Wound Poison” on your main hand weapon. For dungeons or raids, put “Deadly Poison in the left hand” and “Instant Poison” in the main hand.

Leveling up as a Subtlety Rogue is quick and easy. Your general routine when attacking creatures will be Shadow Step behind them, then Ambush, hit once, then Eviscerate. The ambush hits hard enough that you often “shoot” the creature. For those who survive, well, they usually don’t get past that Eviscerate. Longer fights and/or multiple opponents are tougher and Rogue Subtlety is much better at picking her fights instead of just jumping in and attacking like a Warrior would.

This is even more the case in Player versus Player (PvP) combat. The Sub Rogue is at its best when it can start from Shadowstep and then use Ambush for immediate damage, Garrote for its Silence effect, and Damage Over Time (DoT) or Cheap Shot for the immediate stun. Combo Points (CP) are accumulated using Bleed, and then spent on another burst of damage (Eviscerate) or another stun (Kidney Shot) or another bleed (Rupture) depending on the situation.

In battlegrounds, the “Honor Among Thieves” talent gives the Sub Rogue extra CP to use, with those CP coming from critical hits made by the other party members. In solo combat of any kind, this talent is useless, as there is no group that will give you that CP.

The “Find Weakness” talent, improved in WoW 4.06, allows you to ignore most of your opponent’s armor for a few seconds. So not only do you sneak attack with certain perks (like Master of Subtlety), but you get a huge damage boost just by being able to ignore his armor for a while.

For long fights, the damage the Subtlety Rogue does decreases rapidly once the “stealth attack” buffs wear off. Using Vanish and then attacking again will refresh them. Shadowdance, an awesome ability, will also refresh Find Weakness, resulting in some brutal damage. Wait until your energy is at 100%, then Shadowdance to Cheap Shot (upgrades Find Weakness) to Eviscerate (now move behind the opponent) to Ambush, Backstab (if you’re using daggers, Hemorrhage if you’re not) for 5 CP then Eviscerate again (or injection into the kidney). That’s a lot of damage. At that point, against a player, you can disappear and start over.

In a dungeon you can use the same technique, which is easier since the creature will usually have its back to you (and to the “Tank”). Substitute Cudgel for Cheap Shot and voila. Be careful not to deal too much damage though, otherwise the creature is likely to move away from the tank and eat your instead.

The Subtlety Rogue will generally do less damage than Assassination or Combat Rogue, but it also has some good tools to work with and a very different playstyle. It’s a bit more challenging, maybe, but it can be a lot of fun and that’s what a lot of us think is really important.

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