Subtlety is where the biggest changes have taken place. Sub has long been the forgotten stepchild of rogues. It used to be the PvP spec, but in Wrath the Mut/Sub spec took over that place, leaving sub as the spec no one wanted. Even though its fun to play, its mediocre dps left it as the “utility” spec that had no real place (except the short-lived HaT craze).
In Cataclysm, Blizzard hopes to get it on par with the other specs. Lets see whats coming.
There are changes right off the bat in the first tier of talents. Master of Deception is gone, because stealth levels are being removed. Everyone will have good stealth – equal to what Master of Deception gave us. Instead, Camouflage has been moved down to tier 1, and so was Improved Ambush. Opportunity has been moved up a level, making it a bigger point investment for Mut and Combat rogues that want that talent.
A big change was made to Hemorrhage. Its been moved earlier in the tree, and changed to
Hemorrhage (1/1) – An instant strike that deals 110% wepaon damage (160% if a dagger is equipped) and causes the target to take 30% additional damage from bleed effects for 15 seconds. Awards 1 combo point.
This skill, which is the basic combo-point builder for Sub, sets this tree up as the bleed tree. It loses its raid utility, though, unless you have a lot of bleeds in your raid from druids and warriors.
Sub picked up a Dagger Specialization talent, which makes sense. The next new one is…
Energetic Recovery (3/3) – Empowers your Recuperate ability, causing its periodic effect to also restore 1 energy.
So this is like the Subtlety version of Combat Potentcy. This will make Recuperate a part of the Sub rotation, which isn’t great news but we’ll have to see how it plays out.
Ghostly Strike is gone, and Serrated Blades has been moved way up high in the tree. In the 20-point tier Subtlety picks up Blood Spatter, which used to be an Assassination talent. It fits with the bleed theme.
In the 40-point tier there is another talent that fits in with the rest…
Sanguinary Vein (3/3) – Increases your damage dealt to targets with a Bleed effect on them by 2/4/6%.
That fits nicely with the other new stuff.
Serrated Blades has been moved all the way up to the 45-point tier, and changed…
Serrated Blades (3/3) – Your Eviscerate has a 4/8/12% chance per combo point to refresh your Rupture on the target to its original duration.
So if you do a 5-point Eviscerate you have a 60% chance (fully talented) to refresh your Rupture.
The Sub spec will be very DoT heavy. It also looks like the rotation will be very reactive. You won’t be able to just memorize a series of keybinds. You’ll need to get SnD going, get Rupture going, use Recuperate to regain energy. Then you’ll use Eviscerate to refresh your Rupture (60% of the time). If all goes well you’ll be switching between SnD and Evis, but you’ll need to throw in a Rupture when Serrated Blades doesn’t proc, and Recuperate when you need more energy. That’s pretty complicated.
For all that, you’ll get 30% increase bleed damage from Hemo, another 30% bleed damage from Blood Spatter, and 6% overall damage increase from Sanguinary Vein. Honor Among Thieves should keep the combo points rolling in to refresh SnD and hit Evisc when needed. Remember that the Sub Mastery bonus is harder hitting finishers, also. Energy might be a problem though, if you can’t easily work Recuperate into the rotation.
I think we’ll see a lot more tweaking to this as the expansion approaches. It seems like making Sub playable is a big priority for Blizzard these days.