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Rogue Talents, Part Three

James Wood Posted:
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World of WarCraft: Rogue Talents, Part Three

MMORPG.com World of Warcraft Correspondent James Wood writes this third part in hos overview of Rogue talents in the popular Blizzard game.


The Subtlety tree favors Dagger Rogues the most, but that’s not what the Subtlety tree is about. This tree favors Rogues that want to kill their targets in the first few seconds of combat through talents that boost your stealth skills and mostly anything that has to d

with stealth. The Dagger is just a required medium.  

The Subtlety Rogue never leaves his daggers at home

Tier 0

Relentless Strikes            

Ranks: 5

Effect Your finishing moves have a (4%/8%/12%/16%/20%) chance per combo point to restore 25 energy.  

Though expensive to maximize, its place as a Tier 0 talent gives it a little worth with that little bit of energy to get you started on your next combo. Sink points into this if you can’t think of any other talents to take.              

Master of Deception                        

Ranks: 3

Effect Reduces chance enemies have to detect you while in Stealth mode. Effect increases per rank.  

If you’re focused on Subtlety, a point or two in this talent wouldn’t hurt to lower the enemy’s detection, but don’t go too far with this. This can be useful in getting through dungeons or past crowds to sap them for crowd control. Stick with the other talents if you’re more focused against players, though.              


Ranks: 2

Effect Increases damage dealt with Backstab, Mutilate, Garrote, and Ambush by (10%/20%).  

Mix this talent with a few others to maximize the damage of Mutilate and Backstab, but only use this as a point sink if you can’t find anything else to take you further into Subtlety.              

Tier 1

Sleight of Hand                        

Ranks: 2

Effect Reduces chance of receiving a critical hit by (1%/2%). Increases threat reduction of Feint by (10%/20%).  

Two points is cheap, but choosing between this and Dirty Tricks depends on whether you want to improve your stunlock or survive longer in combat. I wouldn’t count on the threat reduction if you know how to control how much you generate.              

Dirty Tricks                        

Ranks: 2

Effect Increases range of Blind and Sap by (2/5) yards. Reduces Blind and Sap’s energy cost by (25%/50%).  

Blind and Sap have some hefty energy costs for their effects, but I would get this talent for Sap’s boosts. The energy cost reduction from Sap with his talent alone gives it the energy efficiency it’s desperately needed.              


Ranks: 3

Effect Increases speed while stealthed by (5%/10%/15%). Reduces Stealth’s cooldown by (2/4/6) seconds.  

If you’re going to go down the Subtlety path, take this talent. If you’re not doing it for the movement speed boost, do it for the reduced stealth cooldown. The sooner you can enter stealth, the sooner you can bring out another opening move.  

It’s moments like these that make you glad to be a Rogue. Personally, I’d rather use a cardboard box for sneaking.


Tier 2


Ranks: 2

Effect Reduces cooldown of Vanish and Blind by (30/60) seconds. Reduces cooldown of Cloak of Shadows by (15/30) seconds.  

Save this skill as a talent point sink if you can’t find anything else. While Cloak of Shadows will save you from tons of spells, Blind will buy you time and Vanish can give you a second opening shot or the chance to run away, all three skills shouldn’t be heavily relied on in such a way that you wait a few minutes before using them again in the same fight.              

Ghostly Strike                        

Ranks: 1

Effect Deals 125% weapon damage. Increases chance to dodge by 15%.

Energy Required: 40                        

Dodge Duration: 7 seconds                        

Cooldown: 20 seconds                        

Requirement: Melee weapon  

Gaining a skill for just one point isn’t so bad. When combined with Evasion, that’s a maximum of 65% added to your dodge, possibly raising your total dodge to 100%. The combo is excellent against other melee-reliant classes and monsters but take care against skills that can activate with a dodge.

Serrated Blades                        

Ranks: 3

Effect Your attacks ignore ((2.67/5.34/8) * your level)) armor. Damage dealt by Rupture is increased by (10%/20%/30%).  

Against players with higher-tiered armor, there won’t be much of a damage difference with the armor reduction. The Rupture bonus is decent, but the only reason you should put points into this is if you’re going for Hemorrhage.              

Tier 3


Ranks: 3

Effect (33%/66%/100%) chance to add a combo point to the target after dodging their attack or resisting their spells. Cannot occur more than once per second.  

Dodges come naturally to Rogues and 3 points into this is adding an offensive aspect to your dodging. With a dodge rate of 30%, that’s a dodge for every three hits and with most classes, one hit takes more than a second unless they fancy haste, so the limit isn’t much to worry about. This makes it great against melee classes, though against hard-hitting spellcasters and other ranged classes, you’re better off stopping them from casting unless you want to know how lucky you are.              



Effect (33%/66%/100%) chance to add a combo point to the target when using Ambush, Garrote, or Cheap Shot.  

2 points of Ambush/Garrote or 3 points of Cheap Shot? Combine this with Premeditation and you have 4-5 combo points in the first second of battle. A must-have when you reach this tier.              

Improved Ambush                        

Ranks: 2                        

Effect Increases critical strike chance of Ambush by (25%/50%).  

If you use daggers, you might want to consider this for the considerable amount of damage an Ambush critical could do to a poorly protected target. Otherwise, skip this and look at the other two talents in this tier.              

Tier 4

Heightened Senses                        

Ranks: 2

Effect Increases Stealth detection. Reduces chance to be hit by spells and ranged attacks by (2%/4%). Stealth detection increases per rank.  

This is great if you’re fighting another Rogue or a Druid, but I’d rather put points into this for the protection against spells and ranged attacks. Still, the reduction might not be worth the 2 points put into this. Keep this in mind as a talent point sink for the next tier.              


Ranks: 1

Effect Finishes cooldown on Evasion, Sprint, Vanish, Cold Blood and Shadowstep.

Cooldown: 10 minutes  

This is your second chance to use those skills before their cooldowns are done… and this also happens to be a prerequisite for two skills. Put a point into this without a second thought.              

Dirty Deeds                        

Ranks: 2

Effect Reduces energy cost of Cheap Shot and Garrote by (10/20). Special abilities deal (10%/20%) more damage against targets below 35% health.              

Cheap Shot gets cheaper. It’s already one reason to get this talent if you use Cheap Shot as your opening skill.              


Prerequisite Talent: 3 points in Serrated Blades                        

Ranks: 1

Effect Deals 110% weapon damage. Causes target to hemorrhage, increasing physical damage dealt to it by 75. Awards 1 combo point.                        

Energy Required: 35                        

Skill Duration: 10 physical hits or 15 seconds                         This skill is at its maximum trainable level.  

This is the cheapest bread-and-butter attack to use for combo points. It might take a little while to get to, but if you’re going for PvP, this is a much more preferable skill to have compared to Sinister Strike.              

Tier 5

Master of Subtlety                        

Ranks: 3

Effect Attacks made while stealthed and after breaking stealth cause an additional (4%/7%/10%) damage.

Talent Duration: Stealth and 6 seconds after.  

6 seconds is how long Kidney Shot lasts. 4 seconds is how long Cheap Shot lasts. That’s 10 seconds in all if you get Kidney Shot out before the enemy has a chance to react. With 3 points in this talent, that’s 110% damage dealt against an opponent that can react.  

The Subtlety Rogue must know how to blend in with his environment. Here, we find a Subtlety Rogue waiting to be shipped to the next zone.


Ranks: 5                        

Effect Increases attack power by (2%/4%/6%/8%/10%).  

Remember that 14 points of attack power equals 1 extra damage. The higher your attack power is, the more effective this talent becomes.              

Tier 6

Enveloping Shadows                        

Ranks: 3                        

Effect Reduces damage taken by area of effect attacks by (5%/10%/15%).  

This is great for fighting mages that like to jump into battle with enough AoEs to wipe out an entire party, but useless against anyone without an AoE. Opting for this will specialize you against select classes, so if you’d rather kill mages, warlocks, paladins, hunters and a few Holy priests, feel free to dump points into this. But really, it’s more of a sink.              


Prerequisite Talent: 1 point in Preparation                        

Ranks: 1

Effect Adds 2 combo points to target. You must add to or use those combo points within 20 seconds or the combo points will be lost.

Skill Duration: 20 seconds

Cooldown: 20 seconds  

If you put a point into Preparation, don’t wait another second to put a point into Premeditation. Start your combat with two extra combo points now!

Cheat Death                        

Ranks: 3

Effect (33%/66%/100%) chance that an attack that would kill you will instead reduce you to 10% of your maximum health. All damage taken will be reduced by up to 90% (modified by resilience). This cannot occur more than once per minute.

Talent Duration: 3 seconds  

A survivability talent more suited for PvP unless you bring resilience gear for monster killing.  

The multiplier for the damage reduction is 4, but don’t count on 20 or so resilience to save you. The full formula is (4 x resilience damage reduction). At 442 resilience, that’s 22.5% damage reduction, the resilience cap.  

If you don’t have resilience, stay away from this skill until you can completely utilize it. There seems to be little benefit from this talent if you have no resilience to begin with.              

Tier 7

Sinister Calling                        

Prerequisite Talent: 1 point in Premeditation                        

Ranks: 5

Effect Increases total Agility by (3%/6%/9%/12%/15%). Increases damage bonus of Backstab and Hemorrhage by (1%/2%/3%/4%/5%).  

For Rogues, 1 point in Agility equals approximately 1.4 points in Attack Power, .053% dodge and 0.027% critical. Added damage to Hemorrhage and Backstab already hurts, but 15% more agility? Hope you have good gear, because when you put 5 points into this, you’ll really feel the difference.  


Ranks: 2

Effect Ambush critical hits have a (50%/100%) chance to reduce the target’s melee and ranged attack speed by 20% and movement speed by 70%.

Talent Duration: 8 seconds  

Crippling Poison, minus the attack speed reduction, does the same job as Waylay. It costs you a weapon enchantment slot, but it’s a lot cheaper to replace than a full talent reset and it can happen per melee hit. And this talent is limited to daggers, but if you’re this far down the tree, you probably are using them.  

With a build that uses Shadow Dance, you might want to hang on to this. If your Ambush is a critical, then 8 seconds is long enough for you to add other stealth skills to your combo.              

Tier 8

Honor Among Thieves                        

Ranks: 3

Effect Whenever anyone in the group critically hits with damage, healing spells, or abilities, you have a (33%/66%/100%) chance to gain a combo point on your current target. Cannot occur more than once every second.  

Subtlety has been more about PvP, but this skill gives it viability in PvE. There have been threads stating that your own normal critical attacks will generate one combo point. If this isn’t edited negatively before WotLK is released, then put your points into this skill.              


Ranks: 1

Effect Teleport behind your enemy. Movement speed is increased. Damage of next ability is increased by 20% and threat caused is reduced by 50%.

Energy Required: 10

Range: 25 yards                         Speed Bonus Duration: 3 seconds                         Damage and Threat Bonus Duration: 10 seconds                        

Cooldown: 30 seconds  

With a low cooldown, cheap energy cost, thread reduction and good boost to any offensive ability, Shadowstep is an excellent option for PvE, but it’s in PvP where the skill shines. Enemies that get too far away don’t stay that far for very long and it’s easy to compensate for any extra movement they make with the speed bonus.              

Filthy Tricks                        

Ranks: 2

Effect Reduces cooldown of Tricks of the Trade and Distract by (5/10) seconds. Reduces cooldown of Preparation by (2.5/5) minutes.  

Preparation’s cooldown is terrible, but like the other time-reducing talents, think of this just as a point sink to reach the next tier.  

If you can’t control your threat (because you lack the necessary addons) and you need every skill in the book to win, then by all means, put points into this talent.              

Tier 9

Slaughter from the Shadows                        

Ranks: 5

Effect Reduces energy cost of Backstab and Ambush by (3/6/9/12/15). Reduces energy cost of Hemorrhage by (1/2/3/4/5).  

Backstab and Ambush at 45 energy, Hemorrhage at 30 energy. Without Vigor, that’s 2 shots of Backstab and Ambush (with Shadow Dance) or 3 shots of Hemorrhage. There are no other talents to think about at this tier and there might not be many others to think about in the previous trees, so bank 5 points into this and quickly get to Shadow Dance to maximize this talent’s function.              

Tier 10      

Shadow Dance                     

Ranks: 1

Effect Enter the Shadow Dance, allowing the use of Sap, Garrote, Ambush, Cheap Shot, Premeditation, Pickpocket and Disarm Trap regardless of being stealthed. Each ability gains a cooldown of 2 seconds. Duration: 10 seconds

Cooldown: 2 minutes  

There’s not a lot of energy around to cover Shadow Dance, but if you get to this part of the tree, don’t skip it if you’ve spent points into boosting your stealth skills.  

Every 3 seconds, you enter stealth. In that time, with the right talents, you can bring out one of the stealth skills of your choosing with the energy you have. Just be sure to keep at least 40 energy before you use this skill.


James Wood