Shadowlands Alpha is here and along with it Blizzard is sharing information on what we can expect to see in the next expansion. We have gathered a few rogues here to talk about their thoughts on what we are learning. Remember, this is Alpha, nothing is set in stone so don’t be surprised if some of these details change.
Part Four: Subtlety Updates
Blizzard announced these in this post: Shadowlands Class Updates.
For reference, Wowhead’s datamining is here: New Class Abilities and Class Changes – Shadowlands Alpha Build 126.96.36.199978.
Always looking for an advantage in combat, all Subtlety Rogues have mastered the art of Find Weakness (previously a Talent). Attacking from stealth and other abilities allow the Rogue to bypass their target’s armor, but also causes additional Shadow damage when they are struck by an Eviscerate. Find Weakness can also mark a large number of targets when needed to setup for their new area-of-effect finisher, Shadow Vault, which also assaults targets with their Find Weakness for additional Shadow damage.
Shadow Dance gains the power of Dark Shadow (previously a Talent) to increase all damage active, at the cost of less frequent dancing. Rupture returns as Subtlety’s damage-over-time bleed finishing move, instead of the shadowy Nightblade—however, they’ll still have access to movement speed reduction and healing reduction through Wound and Crippling Poisons.
Mystler’s got this covered!
Playing around with [Find Weakness] has always been interesting. Subtlety used to be very focused on short but frequent periods of burst. The [Find Weakness] and [Dark Shadows] as baseline indicates they want to move back towards this direction. It’s a good move in my opinion and a good niche to have access to.
[Shadow Vault] however is a whole other beast for me to analyze. On one hand the idea of setting up debuffs on several targets and then reaping the reward by using [Shadow Vault] feels really, really cool. On the other hand, I think it’s a mistake to move further away from the even cooler AoE niche that Subtlety had, namely being able to scale amount of targets into single target DPS. I do not think that it being extremely powerful on a very limited subset of fights is restricting design space.
The return of [Rupture] replacing [Nightblade] again seems a bit unnecessary. They both function basically the same, unless Subtlety gets some new interaction with [Rupture] then I wonder why this decision was made.
I was a big fan of sub in Uldir, for more reasons than just Zul, but haven’t really touched it since due to how bad the spec feels both rotationally being a full shadowstrike spam spec, and just how weak it feels when compared to the other rogue specs.
Find weakness reminds me a lot of poisons, it’s a pretty pointless thing rotationally, but it adds a lot of flavor, and is pretty iconic, so it’s great to see it back again.
The removal of nightblade I think is fantastic, it was way too bloated of an ability with way too short of a duration that just never felt right rotationally. It was a low duration bleed that also gave you a damage buff, the removal of the shadow assassin flavor is a bummer but as long as it means a better rotation I’m all for it.
I can’t really comment on how Shadow Dance at 1 charge, with 8 seconds will play out, I never played rogue much in WoD. All I can really say on it is that hopefully this will distance us far enough away from the spam shadowstrike rotation that sub rogue is all about now, and will let us go dark shadow for massive shadow dance burst windows which is what I’ve always loved about the spec in Legion.
Everybody was VERY excited for shadow vault but I just dislike it honestly. I think this just leads to pretty big homogenization across the specs. Sub is no longer the “funnel aoe to ST” aoe spec, it’s now going to be just like all the other specs which is just aoe damage. But at the same time this might lead to more interesting choices to make in a dungeon for example. “Do I want more focused ST on a priority target, or am I just going to maximize AOE damage? The animation also super sucks, it’s just a whirling dragon punch but with a shuriken storm at the top, it’s hopefully a WIP, but please just give us a faster DFA animation.
The talents are also super weird, hopefully super WIP, you can stack find weakness for like 80% armor pen or something silly, dark shadow still exists but I thought that was supposed to be just baked into ShD, stuff like Secret Technique just feel out of place when you already have “a baseline aoe finisher” especially when it just adds to the laundry list of finishers. Slice & Dice, Evis, Rupture, Vault, AND Secret Technique is 5 finishers, that’s way too much.
Find Weakness is now baseline, applied from any stealth ability or generator crits, and lasts 18 seconds, meaning it will be a core part of the rotation now. The previously passive 50% increase on Eviscerate rank 2 is now tied to Find Weakness being up. I don’t expect a lot of impact on gameplay from these numbers but I also think it’s nice to see this iconic debuff part of the spec return.
Nightblade is gone and Rupture is back. While this is a rollback on the shadow fantasy in this aspect I am still positive on it. Rupture means our maintenance DoT is back to a longer duration, something I’ve been hoping for a long time now. The loss of the healing reduction is no issue since this can once again be covered by poisons. (I am surprised Shadow’s Grasp still exists but expect that to change as well for the same reason.) Together with Slice and Dice, upkeep is mostly back to Warlords of Draenor, which is probably a very good thing concerning the spec will get a bit slower due to the following.
Shadow Dance is back to one charge, lasts 8 seconds, and recovers slower. It has a baseline damage amp reminiscent of Dark Shadow now too. All of this sounds like it will put gameplay back to WoD burst levels with more potent but less frequent windows every minute. Currently, Dark Shadow still exists and simply increases the damage amp further while Enveloping Shadows should bring frequency to the levels we have with Dark Shadow on Live. I welcome the idea of these changes but I also would like to give it a spin to see how well gameplay timings work with Symbols of Death now.
Subtlety Rogue may see a noticeable change for their AoE capabilities as we finally get a baseline AoE finisher: Shadow Vault. This was a positive surprise for me. As much as the idea of AoE to ST conversion was nice, it always turned out to be too narrow of a niche for Sub to fit in. While Storm still generates CP per hit and the niche is not gone, I am happy to see some option to just go for AoE that is not tied to picking Secret Technique as a talent or praying for Noodle Storm to beat any trinket or corruption on a meter. As far as the name is concerned, I think the Shadow name theme got pretty old and I’d hope for a more unique name. The animation also must be a placeholder on the Alpha, for now. I am expecting some cool Blade Dance style animation for it later on. 🙏
The talent tree currently looks like a work in progress so I don’t want to comment much about it yet. Most notably Find Weakness is still in the tree, which I doubt is intended. Also, I am sad to see Alacrity still being a thing (for any spec) and it doesn’t really fit the spot between Dark Shadow and Enveloping Shadows.
|Find weakness||now passive, additional shadow damage when attacking||The change to apply it with all builders makes it 100% uptime. This means the spec has now 3 maintenance spells (snd, rupture, fw). The change allows vanish to be used more freely but also de emphasizes strategic gameplay for maximizing uptime. Storm applying FW with crits seems like an interesting way to interact with symbols on aoe.|
|Shadowdance||1 min cd, 1 charge +15% damage, lower cdr from finisher||The change is a step back towards WoD iteration. It allows a higher burst at a lower rate but has the potential to create a bad synchronization between symbols and shadowdance.|
|Nightblade||Replaced by Rupture||This finally allows Nightblade to have a normal duration, the majority of the overloading of the spell is now moved to poisons.|
|Shadow Vault||new AoE Finisher||Has the potential to allow subtlety to be competitive on aoe. The interaction with Fw seems interesting.|
|Symbol of death||Next builder after use critical strikes||Does allow an easy spread of FW in aoe or allows a slightly stronger first ability in dance/stealth|
|Shadowblades||no change||The GCD on this spell still feels terrible.|
|Dark shadow||15% damage amp (30% if added to baseline)||Overall a nerf to the ability that might make alacrity/ES the better talent in the row.|
The spec def. seems to target WoD iteration. A lot of changes help with issues of the current iteration. The new Finisher compensates for the lack of AoE and the Shadowdance changes aim for a slower more burst heavy gameplay.
I loved Subtlety in WoD and many of the moves back in that direction make me hopeful that we’ll be back on top. But whatever the changes, the only thing I really care about is making Sub competitive again.