There's a couple of exciting changes to the Subtlety tree (and other Rogue abilities) coming in Patch 2.3 -- from the Test Realm Patch Notes, we can see that Blind will no longer require a reagent, Cheat Death has been massively improved, Dirty Deeds will be increasing special attack damage against targets below 35% health, and perhaps the largest change to the Subtlety tree: Hemorrhage (Hemo) has been updated. It now deals 125% weapon damage instead of regular weapon damage, and as a result its damage modifier has been normalized, just like all other Rogue attacks. What does this mean? Well, theorycrafting tests have shown that it's doing a lot more average damage, and you no longer have to struggle to find the slowest weapon around (long time Hemo users will remember the search for weapons with speeds slower than 2.7), so you now only have to worry about finding the best weapon you can.
Also changing in the latest patch is Shadowstep, which has received a couple of improvements: range has been increased to 25 yards (from 20), it now increases the damage of any special Rogue attack by 20%, and it can be used out of stealth as well. The cooldown has been increased to 30 seconds, but I definitely think this will help rogues mobility issues somewhat. The big news here is that it can be used out of stealth and affects all Rogue damaging abilities, not just Ambush, Backstab and Garrote. Due to these changes, I'm going to examine the next build I want to try with my Rogue -- 16/3/42, as a potential replacement PvP spec.
Assassination (16 points)
- Malice (5/5) - For that extra critty goodness.
- Ruthlessness (3/3) - It no longer works on deadly throw (as of 2.3), but it's still great for all your other finishers.
- Murder (2/2) - Works on humanoids, which makes it viable for PvP, but feel free to shift these 2 points around to suit your needs.
- Relentless Strike (1/1) - Anything that helps you regenerate energy is great in my book.
- Lethality (5/5) - An extra 30% critical damage bonus on a newly buffed Hemo? Fantastic.
Combat (3 points)
- Improved Gouge (3/3) - To help keep that stunlock going.
Subtlety (42 points)
- Master of Deception (5/5) - The longer you can avoid being seen, the better.
- Camouflage (5/5) - This brings your stealth speed up to 85% run speed (from 70% base), but the real gem here is the reduced cooldown on stealth. If you have something against Camo, stick the 5 points in Opportunity.
- Dirty Tricks (2/2) - Sap uses a fair amount of your energy, and this talent halves the cost (of Blind, too), in addition to letting you use it from further away.
- Initiative (3/3) - Subtlety is all about control, and to control your opponent you need combo points. This talent will (most of the time) give you 1 extra point on your openers.
- Elusiveness (2/2) - Decreases the cooldown on Vanish and Blind. This talent, especially when combined with Preparation, means you can use these skills more than any other Rogue.
- Serrated Blades (3/3) - Armor Penetration is the hot new stat for Season 3 Rogue gear, and this talent gives you an additional 560 armor penetration, in addition to increasing the damage from Rupture.
- Dirty Deeds (2/2) - As of 2.3, this talent will increase the damage of all your special attacks against targets with less than 35% health. It will also continue to reduce the energy cost of Cheap Shot and Garrote.
- Preparation (1/1) - Instantly ends the cooldowns on many of your abilities, essentially allowing you to use all your best abilities twice in one fight.
- Hemorrhage (1/1) - Receiving some nice buffs in 2.3: it will now deal 125% weapon damage, and increases the damage of the next 10 physical attacks by 30 (instead of increasing the next 30 charges by 10, as it is currently -- the total damage from the debuff is actually the same, just done in less time)
- Deadliness (5/5) - Increases attack power by 10%. AP is very important to Hemo builds, so this just gives you more of what you need.
- Premeditation (1/1) - Adds 2 combo points to your target before you even hit them with anything. Great for starting off a long stunlock.
- Cheat Death (3/3) - Another talent that's getting improved in 2.3. The new version of Cheat Death will save you from an attack that would've killed you, and gives you 90% damage reduction for 3 seconds afterwards. The downside? This can only happen once a minute.
- Sinister Calling (5/5) - Increases your Agility by 15%. Rogues get AP, crit, dodge and additional armor from Agility, so this one is worth picking up if you're going this deep into the tree.
- Shadowstep (1/1) - Receiving a huge buff in 2.3. It will be usable out of stealth against any target within 25 yards, and will increase the damage of your next special attack by 20% (in addition to the current threat reduction). I'm hoping that this provides some much needed mobility for my Rogue.
The 3 extra points I placed into Master of Subtlety (for the extra damage coming out of stealth) and Sleight of Hand (for some free resilience), but shift these points wherever you like.
Obviously, a good chunk of this build is based on things as they currently are on the test realms, but if things stay as they are it means some nice buffs for rogues that are already Hemo spec, and might provide some incentive for others to try out the Subtlety tree. I want to give it a shot once the patch goes live, as it certainly seems viable now, but time will tell.