Subtlety Multistrike Mechanic

This post is my analysis of Subtlety’s new multistrike mechanic that is currently slated for delivery in 6.o, Warlords of Draenor.  Because this post is primarily for theorycrafters, I will be assuming a fair bit more familiarity with math and class mechanics than I usually do.  This post will be broken up into n sections.  In the first, I will describe the mechanic.  In the second, I will list some of the questions theorycrafters have been asking regarding the mechanic.  In this third, I will dump the raw data for work that I have done.  Finally, in the fourth section I will do some analysis.  If you are considering reading this because you are wondering if I will stop sounding like an automaton, then I suggest you instead play some Warcraft.


The Mechanic

Subtlety’s multistrike mechanic, which for now on we will call SC as it is attached to the Sinister Calling passive, reads “When you multistrike with Backstab or Ambush, you also twist the blade, causing all of your Bleed effects to instantly tick an additional time.”  What this translates to is simply, “Your bleeds make Backstab stronger.”

At this point I should mention that making Backstab stronger is quite important for Subtlety, as without this mechanic Backstab does less damage than Hemorrhage on Beta.



  1. How should Hemorrhage be woven into the rotation?  This is the main question.  Since Hemorrhage without multistrike deals more damage than Backstab, it is reasonable to assume that at normal levels of multistrike Hemorrhage might deal more damage than Backstab still, until the Hemo bleed increases Backstab’s potency to the point where it is more powerful.
  2. How should Crimson Tempest be woven into the rotation?  Although Crimson Tempest does much less damage than Eviscerate, it applies a bleed which could lead to Backstab picking up the slack.
  3. How should Garrote be woven into the rotation?  Same deal as the others, though it is important to compare Garrote coming out of Vanish (with MoS and compared to a 60 energy Ambush) and in Shadow Dance (no MoS and 40 energy Ambush).
  4. How do questions 1 and 2 change during during Find Weakness?  Because the Hemorrhage and Crimson Tempest bleeds are based on the damage of the initial hit, the bleed snapshots, making these abilities more potent during Find Weakness compared to their alternatives (Backstab and Eviscerate).
  5. How do questions 1-3 change with gear?  Higher actions per minute and more multistrike are likely to impact the rotation, perhaps substantially.
  6. At low levels of multistrike, how does our rotation change, and is it reasonable to fully forsake the stat until we get enough?  If you are using gear with 0 multistrike on it (so 5% base MS), Backstab may never be worth it, making a full Hemo build optimal and potentially encouraging pulling stats farther away from multistrike, similar to how armor penetration worked in Wrath where it was bad until a specific breakpoint.
  7. Procs.  What the heck do we do about temporary power gains?  This is especially relevant given that our weapon enchant will likely give a multistrike buff.
  8. If we find that at a certain gear set weaving on average n Hemorrhages at a given time is optimal, how far away from optimal is that rotation?  Basically, the point where you want to stop using Hemo and start using Backstab is when the extra tick damage gets high enough.  This means that if on average we are to weave 3 Hemorrhages before using Backstab but the first two crit and double mulstistrike, then our bleed damage will be high enough that it would be optimal to use Backstab.  If this damage difference across a whole fight is large enough, then it could cause people to seek the help of addons, trivializing the rotation.  In many ways, this is the main concern with this mechanic.




With the help of Fierydemise’s APM calculations, I made a spreadsheet that crudely models the damage of Backstab and Hemorrhage and tries to answer question 1.  It has limited support for stats, but you can change the numbers for amount of bleeds on the target.  It makes the false assumption that Hemorrhage and Backstab both cost 35 energy, which means among other things that it will be slightly biased towards Backstab.  The purpose of this spreadsheet is not to be accurate, as much as it is to determine around where the breakpoints for the stats are.  I have enabled editing on this so that people can play with the numbers of bleeds, APM, and multistrike, but I would request that after playing with it you return it to the format you found it in.  The numbers that are there at the moment are accurate as of a few builds ago.

Feel free to change the haste, mulstistrike, crit, and bleed amounts.  Also when you change the haste rating make sure to verify that the APM number actually changed, because I added those later and think there may be some jankiness with it.  Worth noting, the stats I took were me gearing specifically for multistrike using the PvP gear you can purchase, which is to say it is probably a bit more biased than is realistic.  Oh, and I should mention that the Hemo_nC where n is 0/1/2 is how I represent how many ticks have been spent on each Hemo since the last time it refreshed.  That is, if you use Hemo once, then you have hemo_0C set to 1 and the rest set to 0.  If you used Hemo 3 times in a row, then that is using Hemo twice, letting a tick go, and then using it the final time, so you have Hemo_0C set to 1, Hemo_1C set to 2, and Hemo_2C set to 0.

Link to spreadsheet:  (link)

Copy of spreadsheet that you can’t edit (for reference):  (link)

Dummy Testing

Unfortunately the computer I’m on doesn’t have the text file that I saved the data on, but I tested some simple rotation on Beta against the Mythic Test Dummies in Shattrath on Beta.  The rotation was simplified, I was using no cooldowns, and for my relevant talents Anticipation (duh) and Lemon Zest.

Each trial lasted over 5 minutes and most were done with a multistrike heavy gearset.  Some later on were done with substantially less multistrike in order to test question 5, but the primary questions being tested were 1 and 2.

Raid Testing

Thanks to Ninjablaze and the kind folks at <Victory of Whatever> I was able to try out Subtlety during Tuesday’s heroic raid testing.  WOO!  During the tests I kept logs on Skada and have some findings that may be worthwhile but are probably so corrupted by RNG as to be meaningless.  At the very least though I got some interesting findings on questions 6.




Due to the faulty assumptions, the major finding of the spreadsheet is that on some level it makes sense to weave some number of Hemorrhages and Backstabs.  It is also reasonable to guess that the number of Hemorrhages woven should be reasonable high, in the 4-6 range.  In practice, it is difficult to weave more than 5 Hemorrhages due to the amount of energy pooling required and the fact that you have to fit a finisher in there too, but we’ll talk about that a bit more later.  As for the stat weights, the spreadsheet mostly indicates that the number of Hemorrhages woven is reasonable dynamic, such that if this mechanic makes it to live we will probably have to support variable numbers of Hemorrhages in our rotation.

Dummy Testing

First, keep in mind there is an implicit “under the testing conditions” qualifier for all of this.  Also keep in mind that while I did not use anything that provided temporary power gains besides the weapon enchants, there is RNG in these.

When testing Full Hemo and Full Backstab rotations, Full Hemo came out ahead.  This is in-line with the data I had available but verifying it is always nice.  The practical applications are that if you want to be lazy and just use one generator out of stealth, have it be Hemorrhage.

DPS peaked weaving 4-5 Hemorrhages depending on gear, and showed a fairly substantial difference between the low-Hemo rotations, indicating that we might have issues with proper weaving being too important – we’ll see.  At any rate, I would say it definitely makes sense to add support for multiple levels of Hemo weaving into ShadowCraft.

I did not attempt weaving 6 Hemos, as that would have been a great deal of pooling, and required using a finisher in the middle.  Long story short, I don’t think it will be practical, however I could very well be wrong.

Even without using any Hemorrhages, Crimson tempest was not worth it.  It remains to be seen whether better gear (higher APM, more Mastery) will change this.

Raid Testing

First of all, Subtlety appears to be the best spec for kicking hunter BUTT in DPS, so good thing I was there!

For the first boss I was using a premade character with 0 mulstistrike on gear, though was fully enchanted, fooded, and flasked for multistrike.  I started out with a 4-Hemorrhage rotation and had some success, though on that fight it is difficult to measure success as magical damage does not show up on meters.  Later I switched to full mastery enchants/food/flask and a full Hemo rotation and saw an increase in my DPS, although that was only for a few attempts so it may well have been RNG.  That said, forsaking multistrike and going full Hemo if moderate-high levels of multistrike are unattainable is worth looking into.

For the two other tests I used a level 100 premade with high-multistrike gear and a 4-Hemo rotation for all attempts.  All I can say is the pacing and feel of the spec is pretty good with that rotation.


Thhhhhhhat’s all folks!

If you have questions or anything to add, please feel free to join the discussion on the Subtlety multistrike mechanic at the theorycrafting forum!



3 thoughts on “Subtlety Multistrike Mechanic

  1. thebackstabi says:

    The mechanic flat out does not work in PvP.

    So much of your damage gets backloaded that your opener is practically meaningless (outside of getting up a FW for more powerful Hemos); dropping a Shadow Dance on your opener leaves you with no power cooldowns for a minute while you flop around trying to balance burst with sustained, and is liable to not do anything because of not having any (good) bleeds up.

    OK, so you’ve got Rupture up, a solid 6-10 stack Hemo rolling, and… Feared. Stunned. Polymorph. Good job, go do it all again. It’s a mini Bandits Guile that only has ~10 seconds of providing decent burst, and that’s if you get good RNG and don’t get peeled.

    Combat has more powerful, more reliable, and just as frequent burst that isn’t tied down by RNG, and Assass has slightly less frequent burst with sustained that doesn’t have a 10-second ramp up (and isn’t half mitigated by armor).

  2. Haileaus says:

    Interesting, I wonder if Shadow Dance will be used more for control than it is now, or if people won’t just start playing Combat/Assassination. That said, Combat’s lack of AoE will definitely hurt it in PvP.

  3. Hi Haileaus,

    I have a question about the new sub rotation and abilities, and since I don’t have beta access I am a little confused about the changes to the spec.

    1) About Hemo and BS…
    Hemo deals 118% physical dmg and 100% of the initial damage done will be dealt in a period of 24s while BS deals 156% physical dmg and gives the chance to extend our bleed dots an extra tick.

    For the sake of simplicity, lets assume that no other modifiers are there, say trinket procs, and that no additional abilities (CT, rupture, garrote) are used. Lets not be concerned about what to do with CPs generated since it is not about an efficient rotation but more about curiosity between these two abilities and how to maximize numbers.

    So if I use hemo x 1 on my target, do nothing else, and wait 24s, obviously the final numbers will indicate that hemo does more dmg than doing the same with BS x 1 (118% + 118%/24s >> 156% flat).

    How often will the hemo dot tick? once every 3s?
    If that is the case, by the 3rd tick the damage between the single hemo and the single backstab would be equal.

    Hemo initial = 118%
    after that 16.9% per tick until reaching the 100% of the initial dmg =
    118+16.9% (@1st tick) -> 118+33.7% (@ 2nd tick) (roughly equal here)-> 118+50.6% (@ 3rd tick). I include here the initial plus the total dmg done based on the assumed ticking frequency.

    Is this correct?

    Now, if during the same test period (24s), I use hemo as an opener and spam it would it give me a higher dmg output than using a single hemo (to gain SV buff) and then spamming backstab?

    ” Hemorrhage’s periodic damage now has rolling periodic behavior, meaning that remaining damage from the previous application is added into the newly-applied periodic-damage effect.”

    Now, lets say I use Hemo x 1 in the target (118%dmg), wait for 1 tick (118+16.9%) and then use hemo again….
    I will still have (101.1% of my hemo dot dmg left) how will the new hemo dot interact with the old one?
    Will it be added, meaning that the newer dot will be (16.9% + 16.9% each tick)?
    Will it be extended meaning that a new dot cycle starts anew?
    Will it be both, meaning that the new hemo dot will tick harder and for a longer period?

    Is this rolling periodic dmg the same as pandemic for warlocks

    Pandemic: When refreshing your periodic damage effects, duration remaining on the previous effect is added to the new one, up to a maximum of 50% the base duration.

    I guess the key word here is duration….

    Does the rolling periodic behaviour for rogues have a limit or does it stop at a certain point and how much will this “new” mechanic affect the aforementioned comparison between Hemo and BS?

    Lets say that the hemo dot cannot be extended beyond 50% more than its initial duration, which implies that unless refreshed it will tick for a total of 36 s, same as pandemic for warlocks on the current MoP build.

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