Subtlety Rogue Covenants, Soulbinds, Legendaries & Gear guide

Patch 9.2.5 Last Updated: 6th Aug, 2022
Pushnoir Subtlety Rogue Author
Pushnoir

Covenants

The four rogue covenants started somewhat even at the beginning of Shadowlands, but that changed in patch 9.0.5 when Blizzard decided to buff Necrolord and Venthyr and even more so in patch 9.1 when they introduced new soulbind traits and covenant legendaries. The tier sets added in 9.2, and the ability to use two legendaries have put Kyrian even further ahead in single target damage.

This guide will mainly focus on two covenants, Venthyr and Kyrian, as they are by far our strongest covenants and the best options for PvE content.

Kyrian is by some distance the best single target spec. Venthyr is the best covenant for AoE, funnel and Mythic+.

Venthyr

Venthyr is typically the mythic+ covenant for a subtlety rogue. Flagellation is a spell that rewards high combo point output through its ramping mechanic, more combo points spent equals more damage, more haste, and more versatility.

Venthyr also provides a decent single target burst on a low cooldown, usually a desired damage profile in raids.

It has good use in Mythic+ because it adds a lot of priority/Funnel damage.

Venthyr and Flagellation is a solid choice and fits us well on top of being mechanically interesting to play. It has some downsides in that it requires you to have melee uptime during the 12 ramping seconds to get the full value.

The covenant ability Door of Shadows has a few niche usage areas, but overall, most of that can be covered by Shadowstep. But it’s good in cases where there is no target to Shadowstep and you need to move quickly.

Kyrian

Kyrian is the single target/cleave/raid covenant for Subtlety rogues. It gives you an ability called Echoing Reprimand, and its primary value might not be evident unless you know a few things about the spec.

I am going to give a brief explanation. It charges a combo point between 2-5, and let us assume that you end up on 3. If you then use a finisher with 3 combo points, it will deal damage as if it was using 7 combo points.

In short, this means that Eviscerate will deal more damage, return more energy because of Relentless Strikes and give you more cooldown reduction because of Deepening Shadows.

This gameplay is not for everyone because it means you have to pay a lot more attention to your combo points, often referred to as “the minigame,” but it is fun and engaging when you can consistently pull it off.

Kyrian is decent in mythic+ keys where there is a lot of focus on single target damage like Upper Karazhan and Mechagon Workshop.

There is also a new experimental build with Kyrian that uses Pelagos with Premeditation, Nightstalker and Master of Shadows. But this build is very heavily focusing on AoE damage, if you want to keep the strong single target, you should just play the raid setup with Mikanikos.

The bottom line is that Kyrian is a good choice when you want to play a more Shadow Dance oriented build that focuses more on sustained DPS than one-minute windows of burst.

Phial of Serenity is quite bad since you are going to be playing Mikanikos and forced to take a trait that automatically uses it when you drop below 35% hp, which is not ideal.

Here is a small guide on how to hit the 4 different charged combo points.

  • The basics are: Don't try to force them within Dance. You have to make sure you consume all of them to get the full benefit of Echoing Reprimand
  • Anima CP 2 - Wait for Shadow Techniques and then Backstab if you get a Weaponmaster proc, build to 5 combo points, finish and do it again.
  • Anima CP 3 - Can be hit quite easily in Dance. Just keep an eye on your combo points after your first Shadowstrike. But do not try to force it in Dance, because that can become a bigger DPS loss than the potential gain from the 15% extra dmg
  • Anima CP 4 - If you have 4 and 5 available, Shadowstrike two times into a finisher, no matter what
  • Anima CP 5 - The same principle as with Anima CP 4, both 4 and 5 are straightforward to hit in Dance without making your gameplay suffer

Necrolord and Night Fae

Neither of these covenants are picked for a Subtlety rogue at the moment.

Serrated Bonespike does not work well with the Subtlety because you do not want to use it during your cooldowns, making it a pretty weak ability.

Sepsis is incredibly underwhelming and needs a significant buff to be competitive.

Soulbinds and Conduits

Conduits

Potency

Subtlety has four decent conduits with no extreme outlier, all of which have some use in PvE content.

The main ones are Deeper Daggers, Perforated Vein, Stiletto Staccato, and Lashing Scars if you play Venthyr. Planned Execution is a niche pick and generally won't be played outside of Mythic+.

Deeper Daggers

Eviscerate, and Black Powder gives you an 8-second buff that increases the shadow damage of your abilities. Decent conduit that got a quite big nerf in 9.2.5, still the 3rd best choice and still very powerful in mythic+.

Perforated Veins

Shadowstrike grants you a buff that increases Backstab damage done, stacking up to 6. If played correctly, you will use Shadowstrike 5-6 times (depending on Weaponmaster procs) in one Shadow Dance window. Perforated Veins basically makes your next Backstab do one instance of burst damage after after reaching 5-6 stacks.

In patch 9.2, Perforated Veins saw some bug fixes that made it work with Akaari procs. This basically means that you will have to Backstab in Shadow Dance to avoid wasting too many Perforated procs.

This is the second-best conduit on single target.

Stiletto Staccato

Shadow Technique procs reduce your Shadow Blades cooldown, simple enough. This conduit requires you to have high melee uptime to get full benefit which becomes more lenient the more ranks you get. This is one of the better conduits for single target and also gets played a lot in Mythic+. However, opinions may differ on its Mythic+ value.

Planned Execution

Symbols of Death also give you a Critical strike chance increase for the duration of Symbols. Crit is very good for both single target and AoE, which makes this conduit a strong option for both, and can be used instead of Stiletto Staccato when there is a lot of melee downtime. Planned Execution is the second-best conduit in AoE, funnel and Mythic+.

Lashing Scars (Venthyr specific)

When you use Flagellation, this conduit gives you 4 more lashes (up to 5 in total) and increases all Flagellation damage done by a significant amount. This helps a lot with the ramping part of the ability and makes it do a lot of damage. This is the best conduit for both single target, funnel and AoE when playing Venthyr.

Finesse

Quick Decisions

Increases the range and reduces the cooldown of Shadowstep. Overall, an excellent and neat conduit that improves mobility which has been borderline required on some fights in Shadowlands.

Rushed Setup

Reduces the energy cost of our control abilities Cheap ShotKidney ShotSap, and Distract. Primarily useful for Mythic+ content and is not taken for raid content unless you have to play with two finesse conduits.

Endurance

Recuperator

It makes your Slice and Dice heal you for a small amount of hp every second, just a solid option, nothing special about it.

Nimble Fingers

Reduces the energy cost of Feint and Crimson Vial. This conduit is the only DPS increasing endurance conduit, but only if you frequently use Feint and Vial.

Condensed Anima Sphere

It heals you when you get hit by any damage on a 10-second cooldown, also nothing special but adds sustainability and is a solid third choice.

Soulbinds

Venthyr

Theotar is the best Venthyr soulbind, mainly due to Party Favors, which is a strong and flexible trait. It's good on single target and AoE.

Party Favors gives baseline 3% Crit, Versatility or Haste. Agility is slightly different because it is calculated as 1.03 x your Agility. Versatility is by some distance the best buff to get from this trait.

Theotars other traits have a relatively low impact, so using three potency conduits is preferred.

However, there is a situation where you run very high Mythic+ keys and want to have more of a supportive role and run Wasteland Propriety, sharing Versatility buffs with your group.

Venthyr ST (Perforated Veins):

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/embed/venthyr/theotar-the-mad-duke/rogue/AwC-5b4BBTYbCBMFNT4IFTYtCCU2PwgiFTVACDU1Pwg

Venthyr ST (Stiletto Staccato):

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/embed/venthyr/theotar-the-mad-duke/rogue/AwC-5b4BBTYbCBMFNT4IFTYtCCU2NwgiFTVACDU1Pwg

Venthyr AoE/Mythic+:

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/embed/venthyr/theotar-the-mad-duke/rogue/AwC-5b4BBTYbCBMFNT4IFTYtCCU2NwgiFTVACDU1Pwg

Venthyr AoE/Mythic+ Group buff:

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/embed/venthyr/theotar-the-mad-duke/rogue/AwC-774CBTYbCBU2HggSBTU-CCU2LQgiFTVACDU1Pwg

Kyrian soulbinds:

Mikanikos is the strongest single-target soulbind by far because he gets a free DPS increasing trait. What I mean by that is that you do not have to choose between potency and DPS traits. Mikanikos is, therefore, one of the main reasons why Kyrian is a strong option for Subtlety.

Bron does damage and heals a bit, nothing significant, and you do not play around with it. The same goes for Soulglow Spectrometer; it just increases the damage done to any target you hit.

Effusive Anima Accelerator is a bit different; it reduces the cooldown of Echoing Reprimand by three seconds per target hit up to 15. You can somewhat play around this by using Echoing Reprimand whenever there are more targets nearby, even if it means holding the ability for a few seconds.

Kyrian ST:

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/embed/kyrian/forgelite-prime-mikanikos/rogue/AwCW5ZYBBTYbCBMFNi0IFTY3CCU2PwgiFTVACDU1Pwg

Kyrian AoE/Mythic+:

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/kyrian/forgelite-prime-mikanikos/rogue/AwCWZZYBBTYbCBMFNi0IFTY3CCU2NAgjFXYACCU1QAg1NT8I

Kyrian Pelagos pure AoE/funnel:

https://www.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/kyrian/pelagos/rogue/AwCWZpYBBTYbCBMFNi0KFTY3CiU2NAojFXYACiU1QAo1NT8K

Legendaries

Subtlety has three good legendaries, and they are unfortunately all tied to a covenant, Obedience (Venthyr), Resounding Clarity (Kyrian), and Toxic Onslaught (Night Fae).

In a 1 legendary situation, you will still use the covenant legendaries for Venthyr, Kyrian, and Night Fae. Nothing changes for that in 9.2.
The frequent question is, “what slot will I put my legendaries on in 9.2?” and the answer to that is not as easy as most people would think. It is mostly based upon whatever items you have at the moment. So you basically just want to adapt your legendary slots to your worst items when possible.

When you can equip 2 legendaries, you will add Akaari for raiding and single target. Finality for AoE, funnel, and Mythic+.
In short:

Single target - Covenant legendary (Unity) with Akaari

AoE, funnel, and Mythic+ - Covenant legendary (Unity) with Finality

Obedience

This is overall a very strong legendary that works well for all content in the game. It provides a lot of single-target damage, priority-target damage and works incredibly well in situations where you build and spend a lot of combo points (AoE).

What it does is that for each combo point you spend during the ramping part of Flagellation, it reduces the cooldown by 1 second, so for a 5-6 combo point finisher, you reduce Flagellation cooldown by 5-6 seconds. On top of that, it also gives you 0.5% Versatility per combo point spent capped at 30 stacks. So if played correctly, you should gain about 25 seconds of CDR and 14-15% Versatility.

In AoE, you are building and finishing at 6 combo points every other second, which means that you can reduce the cooldown of Flagellation by more than just 25 seconds making it very appealing for priority damage in Mythic+.

Optimal slot: When you have unlocked the second legendary recipe, you will put this on whatever is your weakest item at the time.

Stats: Crit/Vers

Resounding Clarity

A very good single target legendary which unfortunately also has some obvious drawbacks due to how Echoing Reprimand works in AoE situations.

Resounding Clarity is mechanically very interesting because it makes Echoing Reprimand charge 2-3-4-5 at the same time, basically you get 4 finishers that behave as if you spent 7 combo points instead of just the 1 with baseline Echoing Reprimand.

This legendary gives you Shadow Dance cooldown reduction through Deepening Shadows. It makes the uptime on Dance increase to approximately 55% in single-target. This is also why the damage profile of Kyrian is very linear, you are constantly doing high amounts of damage.

Optimal slot: When you have unlocked the second legendary recipe, you will put this on whatever is your weakest item at the time.

Stats: Crit/Vers

Finality

This is consistently a strong legendary which does the job in all kinds of content, be it single target, low target cleave, or AoE.

Briefly explained, the legendary rotate damage buffs to your finishers. So if you use Rupture and then use it again, it will be buffed by 25%. The same logic applies to both Eviscerate and Black Powder. You do not play around with the Finality buffs except when it comes to buffed Ruptures, and that is simply; refresh it as late as possible.

Finality is the best legendary option for AoE, funnel and Mythic+.

Optimal slot: Back

Stats: Crit/Vers

Toxic Onslaught

Toxic Onslaught is a Night Fae covenant legendary, which got buffed in 9.1.5. It now gives you Adrenaline Rush and Vendetta for 10 seconds when Sepsis ends. This legendary is strong for burst scenarios and is up there next to Resounding Clarity and Obedience. Night Fae is still a very niche option for raiding and should not be played unless you really want to play Night Fae.

Optimal slot: When you have unlocked the second legendary recipe, you will put this on whatever is your weakest item at the time.

Stats: Crit/Vers

Akaari’s Soul Fragment

After using Shadowstrike or Cheap Shot, your target suffers a Shadowstrike from the shadows 2 sec later, at 25% effectiveness.

“Akaari” used to be the best single target legendary for us during early Shadowlands. It’s a completely passive damage proc that happens when you Shadowstrike your target. It has some interaction with Shadow Blades in the way that the damage it deals is also replicated through Shadow Blades, adding 50% damage when active.

This is also the main reason why it’s our best non covenant single target legendary for 9.2 and onward. Shadow Blades uptime is more than doubled because of the tier set, which benefits Akaari. We are also casting way more Shadowstrikes through the tier set.

This legendary also changes how you use Backstab, and this is quite an unwanted consequence of making Perforated Veins work with Akaari, Weaponmaster, and the 4-set Shadowstrikes. You will gain more Perforated procs in 9.2 and reach the stack cap (6) mid Dance. This has created a new rule for how you use Backstab. If you have 5 or 6 stacks and more than 3 seconds left on Dance and Blades is active, you want to Backstab, even if it’s in Dance. However, please remember that if you can’t use this Backstab in time (+3 sec remaining), it’s a DPS loss to use it during Dance. So if you’re unsure about how this works or not confident enough to hit it, then just don’t. It’s a small DPS gain with very strict conditions.

Optimal slot: Neck

Stats: Crit/Vers

Gear

Weapons

In season 4 you can buy Edge of Night from a vendor for a “Puzzling Cartel Dinar” which is a quest reward from killing 30 unique “Fated” bosses, which is this season's raid affix system. You also get upgrade tokens from killing bosses that you can use to make these items into the highest item level (311 for the Edge of Night daggers).

These 2 weapons are a must-have when playing subtlety, so make sure you use your 2 first coins to buy them unless you loot them from Sylvanas herself when it’s the Fated Sanctum of Domination week.

Tier Set

Patch 9.2 brought back tier sets,, typically a tier set used to change how you play the spec, but for subtlety in 9.2, this is not the case. 

A brief explanation of what the Soulblade tier set is;

2-set: Immortal Technique - Shadowstrike has a 15% chance to grant Shadow Blades for 5 sec.

4-set: Immortal Technique - Your finishing moves have a 3% chance per combo point to cast Shadowstrike at up to 5 enemies within 15 yards.

My personal impression of the set is that it’s heavily RNG and not too interesting playstyle-wise. It can feel very good to play when you get a lot of procs, but the set can also literally do nothing during low proc moments.

Some interesting interactions;

  • 4-set Shadowstrikes can proc the 2-set Shadow Blades. This is particularly strong in AoE, where it can give you up to 25 seconds of Shadow Blades from one 4-set proc
  • 4-set Shadowstrikes proc Akaari in both single target and AoE
  • 4-set Shadowstrikes spreads Find Weakness to all targets hit
  • 4-set gets amplified by Echoing Reprimand charged combo points, which means charged finishers have a 21% chance to proc Shadowstrike instead of 15-18%

As mentioned above, subtlety largely remains the same with and without the set. You will, however, have to react more to random 4-set Shadowstrikes and the added combo points from higher Shadow Blades uptime. But the general gameplay rules remain the same.

There are small differences based on what covenant you play. Kyrian subtlety rogues will be using Shadow Dance on cooldown unless Symbols of Death is very close to being ready. The reason for this is that you are less cooldown-oriented when playing Kyrian. You don’t really need to line up two Shadow Dances for something like Flagellation and Sepsis. This is quite complex, but I will try to explain it in a short summary.

  • Dancing more aggressively (on cooldown) means you have a larger chance of getting Blades uptime which in itself feeds into more Dance uptime
  • Holding Dance is mostly an opportunity loss. You might not get a Blades proc during that Dance, but if you do, you will have more Dance more often

Trinkets

Chains of Domination

3 minute on-use trinket which does a bunch of damage at first and then adds 25% (up to a cap of between 8000-12000) of your damage to a pool of damage that activates when you move 15 yards away from the center of a boss hitbox. The second part is in shadow damage which gets boosted by our Deeper Daggers conduit and is currently also uncapped AoE damage. One of our best trinkets, quite hard to get since it’s from the last boss, but still something to look out for.

Drops from: The Jailer

Eye of Command

Secondary stat stick trinket that stacks critical strike rating up to 10 stacks which falls off whenever you swap targets. Solid trinket for both raid and mythic+. Keep in mind that you lose your stacks whenever you swap targets which might make it worse in some situations.

Drops from: Upper Karazhan

Skulker’s Wing

Gives you speed when used and then makes you jump to the closest target and deal a bunch of physical damage. Very good trinket for subtlety because the damage it does is amplified by Find Weakness (30% armor penetration).

Drops from: Shriekwing

Dreadfire Vessel

Simple on-use trinket that does a bunch of damage when used. Not much else to it.

Drops from: Sire Denathrius

Kihra’s Adrenaline Injector

This trinket is basically only good for mythic+. It gives you a huge amount of mastery rating when used which buffs our finishers a lot, good for both AoE and funnel.

Drops from: Iron Docks

Salvaged Fusion Amplifier

Basic on-use trinket that does a bunch of damage on single target. Best in slot for Venthyr, not as good for Kyrian, but still a solid choice.

Drops from: Guardian of the First Ones

Cache of Acquired Treasures

This is an interesting but also quite annoying trinket. However, it’s powerful in some specific scenarios.

The trinket will rotate between 3 different buffs, changing every 12 seconds.

  • Sword buff is always first (which is a large amount of haste per stack up to 10 stacks)
  • Axe buff is always second (a bleed that applies on crits, affected by crit, haste, and vers)
  • Wand buff is the last and third buff (one-time high damage, very good if it crits)

The sword buff is completely useless for subtlety, do not press this trinket when the sword buff is active. Both axe and the wand buff are good choices for us, and we can gain insane value from the axe in aoe because of the baseline 15% extra crit chance on Shuriken Storm. 

The wand buff is the best single target option if you play Kyrian. 

When playing Venthyr, you want the axe buff for both single target and AoE.

I mentioned that this trinket could be annoying, and here’s a quick explanation of why:

  • The rotation of the buffs can be random on pull, it jumps to new buffs randomly within 12 seconds, so you have to be careful
  • When playing with this trinket in Mythic+, sometimes you simply don’t get the right buff for a big pull, which is extremely frustrating

Drops from: Artificer Xy’mox

Earthbreaker’s Impact

Quite simple trinket, it does AoE damage on-use and spawns a bunch of small earth-animation looking orbs that does another chunk of AoE damage when you run over them. 

Make sure to run over as many of these small earth orbs as possible. Earthbreaker is good for both single target and AoE.

Drops from: Halondrus the Reclaimer