Boss specific recommendations and strategy:Raid Bosses
Tier 1 (15)
Weaponmaster: gives you a chance to proc another Shadowstrike or Backstab for free. It's very strong for single target damage because we love the extra resources. More combo points spent equals more cooldown reduction equals more strong builders, commonly referred to as a snowball effect. Incredibly strong for single target but does nothing in AoE.
Premeditation: The first Shadowstrike in Shadow Dance or Stealth gives you up to 10 seconds of Slice and Dice and two extra combo points if you already have Slice and Dice active. This is mainly used if you don't want to spend time casting Slice and Dice, but it does not remove the need to cast it completely, making the talent weaker than at first glance.
Raiding: Weaponmaster. For raiding, you will almost exclusively pick Weaponmaster. There are niche cases where you choose Premeditation, mainly on bosses with a lot of AoE situations. But even then, I prefer Weaponmaster for the added single target damage.
Mythic+: Premeditation / Weaponmaster. Premeditation is usually the go-to talent for Mythic+, simply because you will get more value out of it when you can Stealth frequently, and Shadow Dance has a higher uptime due to the increased cooldown reduction while doing your AoE/Funnel rotation. This changes once you have the tier set in patch 9.2 because you will gain more value from the 4 piece Shadowstrikes when playing Weaponmaster.
A Premeditation buffed Shadowstrike also gives you 4 combo points, so you do not lose a lot of resource value from not casting Shuriken Storm. You can use Shadowstrike on a priority target which gives it an 18 second Find Weakness debuff.
But with that said, you can also play Weaponmaster for the added boss damage if needed. despite not having the Soulblade 4p.
Tier 2 (25)
Nightstalker: Essentially, it just increases your damage by 12% whenever you are in Shadow Dance or Stealth. It can be used if you need more burst for either AoE or single target but is in most cases too much of a sustained damage loss. Nightstalker is the only way to snapshot Rupture. Nightstalker is a viable option for Mythic+. Nightstalker is a viable option for Mythic+.
Subterfuge: Grants you two more Stealth amplified abilities when opening from Stealth and increases the duration of Shadow Dance by one second. The main issue with this talent is that you do not have enough energy to use the extra second, making Subterfuge a pointless talent for PvE.
Shadow Focus: Reduces all energy costs while in Stealth or Shadow Dance by 20%. This is easily the best talent on this row because you gain more uses of Shadowstrike and thus more combo points, which gives you more Dance uptime.
Raiding: Shadow Focus is currently the only viable option in this row for both raiding and Mythic+. There is not much to say about it; Nightstalker and Subterfuge fail to provide any meaningful niche.
Tier 3 (30)
Vigor: Increases baseline energy and energy generation, lackluster talent with no practical use case scenario.
Deeper Stratagem: Increases maximum amount of combo points you can store from 5 to 6 and increases finisher damage by 5%. This talent has significant value in single target and AoE because it is more finisher damage per combo point.
Marked for Death: Low cooldown ability, which is off the GCD and instantly gives you 5 combo points. The cooldown resets if the target dies within 1 minute. This talent is never picked in PvE content.
Raiding: Deeper Stratagem is the preferred talent for both raiding and Mythic+. It is strong in single target and AoE situations and works well with the rest of our kit.
Mythic+: Deeper Stratagem.
Tier 4 (35)
Cheat Death: - Prevents you from dying and reduces your damage taken by 85% for three seconds if you take a deadly hit. This is an extremely useful talent that saves many rogues in both raid and Mythic+.
Elusiveness: - Makes Feint reduce your overall damage taken by 30%. It can be helpful if the encounter has a lot of single target damage over time effects or if you frequently need to soak a big single target hit.
Raiding: Cheat Death. In general, the default choice on this row is Cheat Death, but both Soothing Darkness and Elusiveness have their roles to play, and it all depends on the encounter. If you want a safe choice that works for almost everything, pick Cheat Death. But if you're going to be optimal, you should consider the other two talents as well.
Mythic+: Cheat Death. Higher Mythic+ keys are filled with sometimes unavoidable high damage hits, which makes Cheat Death a very compelling option and is my talent of choice for any key. Elusiveness has a role to play but requires almost perfect execution to be worth taking.
Tier 5 (40)
Shot in the Dark - Grants you a free Cheap Shot from Stealth or when entering Shadow Dance. This talent can be helpful in situations where you need the extra control; Mythic+ or raid encounters with adds.
Night Terrors - Shuriken Storm now also slows targets by 30%. Since the re-introduction of Crippling Poison, this talent has been almost entirely pointless. You can make a case for it when you want to use Numbing Poison, and you do not have any other AoE slow available.
Prey on the Weak - Kidney Shot and Cheap Shot now also increases the target's damage taken by 10% for 6 seconds. Suitable for situations where you are using your stuns to CC anyway, it is essential to note that anyone hitting the target benefits from the damage increase. So it has priority damage value in Mythic+ and during add encounters.
Raiding: Prey on the Weak. None of these talents have a significant impact on raiding, but both Prey on the Weak and Shot in the Dark can be useful on encounters with important adds. The same logic applies to Mythic+, Prey on the Weak is the more picked talent because of the potential for priority target damage increase.
Mythic+: Prey on the Weak. Some people choose Night Terrors, but the value from the 30% movement speed slow is quite low since it doesn’t stack with any other slow.
Tier 6 (45)
Dark Shadow: Increases the damage amplification of Shadow Dance from 15% to 30%. This talent is never picked in its current state. One charge Dance does not work with how Subtlety plays at the moment.
It can be used if there is ever a fight that supplies you with 5+ targets for 5 minutes straight; until then, it is a dead talent.
Alacrity: This talent gives you a 20% chance per combo point to grant you a stack of Alacrity, which increases your haste by 2% for 20 seconds, stacking to five. Alacrity is a 10% Haste buff with 99% uptime on most encounters. However, it suffers from the same issue as Dark Shadow (one dance).
Enveloping Shadows: Increases the Shadow Dance cooldown reduction (CDR) from the passive Deepening Shadows by 0.5 seconds per combo point spent, which brings the CDR from each combo point to a total of 1.5 seconds. The single biggest benefit of this talent is that it increases your Shadow Dance charges to 2.
Raiding: Enveloping Shadows. This talent row might as well just have been Enveloping Shadows as it currently stands. The Shadow Dance rework during Shadowlands beta brought it down to one charge and made it an 8-second duration instead of five seconds.
Subtlety gameplay revolves around synchronizing two cooldowns, Shadow Dance and Symbols of Death. This entire gameplay loop is ruined with only one charge because you either have to hold Dance or Symbols, which is terrible for both DPS and gameplay. This means that the only viable talent for any type of content is Enveloping Shadows, simply because it gives you another charge of Dance.
Mythic+: Enveloping Shadows.
Tier 7 (50)
Master of Shadows: Generates 25 energy over 3 seconds when you enter Shadow Dance. It reduces the need for pooling but it’s not very impactful for a last row talent. Master of Shadows is, however, the most useful talent on this row for single target and low target cleave encounters.
Secret Technique: This talent is an AoE finisher, which is split into two parts, one bigger hit followed by a second smaller hit. The Shadowlands' addition of the baseline AoE finisher Black Powder made this talent obsolete. Never picked for any content.
Shuriken Tornado: A one-minute cooldown that gives you four Shuriken Storms with one sec intervals after a short initial delay. This enables you to do four full combo point finishers in four seconds with 5+ targets nearby. Tornado also has some value on single target because of its efficient energy (15) per combo point. It can be used for Funnel and AoE damage and is situationally strong on fights with frequently spawning adds, such as Soulrender, Painsmith, and Fatescribe.
Mythic+: Shuriken Tornado has become the number one choice for Mythic+ in this row. Its flexibility in performing well in both Funnel and AoE has proved to be very useful in the two opening seasons of Shadowlands. Compared to Secret Technique which does no Funnel and less AoE damage. Master of Shadows is a valid option when used together with Nightstalker.