As you may recall from last week, I'm leaning towards a Subtlety/Assassination spec for leveling my rogue when Wrath hits. It's unquestionable that this build would offer much more utility and survivability than a Combat leveling build. But would I be gimping myself so hard in damage that my leveling would be slowed? Rather than leaving it up to luck, I decided to test it out a bit and see how things shook out in the real world. So I found a group of level 70 mobs, and tried both specs.
All tests were made using the same mobs for roughly 15-20 minutes each. I did not change my glyphs (SS and SnD) at any point.
First, I made a more leveling-focused version of my Combat spec: 5/51/5
The playstyle for this build was to run from mob to mob without stealthing. Upon reaching the target, I would hit Sinister Strike once, then activate Slice and Dice. Then I would either SS them to death, or use an Eviscerate if the time seemed right (the evis would kill them and I had 3 or more combo points). If evis was not worth it, I might use the CPs for SnD instead, so I wouldn't have to reactivate it for a while. I used most of my cooldowns, except I forgot to use Adrenaline Rush. I had Wound Poison on both hands (as it beats IP for Combat builds currently).
905 DPS is pretty respectable while solo and unbuffed. You'll notice none of my SSs were dodged or parried, due to the expertise bonus for Combat spec supplementing my expertise gear.
Caveats: I did not use cooldowns to the maximum effectiveness. I neglected Adrenaline Rush and also neglected to gather up 2 or more foes on every Blade Flurry cooldown to take advantage of the double damage. A better-played session would probably have yielded higher DPS. So let's assume this one actually does around 1000 dps while grinding solo.
Next I tested out a Subtlety/Assassination build (20/0/41) using the same technique: I run from mob to mob unstealthed, spamming Hemo and eviscerate when appropriate. However, I don't use SnD with this build. I'm relying on yellow damage rather than white.
Hm. 782. Only about 100 less, but still a significant decrease in DPS. I was disappointed, so I gave it more though. Even with the Eviscerate Glyph (10% more crit), I wouldn't make up the difference. But I really want the utility of this build. While leveling I'll be competing for the tag on a lot of mobs, and Shadowstep is really my only good tagging tool.
So I thought on it some more, and looking over the talents I realized that I wasn't playing to my strengths. This build had many buffs to stealth, and I could increase my damage coming out of stealth. Cheap Shot was an extremely good investment with it's reduced cost and extra combo point return. If I stealthed, I'd also be safer more of the time from unexpected ambushes, be able to pickpocket, and be able to use premeditiation. I devised a new strategy, which intended to kill all targets during the 6-second window of increased damage provided by Master of Subtlety.
I got back to killing the same mobs, stealthing between each kill. Premed only has a 20 second cooldown, so it was up at least every other mob, if not more often. I could mitigate the slowdown of stealth via shadowstep every other mob, and Cheap Shot kept me from taking much damage at all. Premed followed by CS gave me 5 CPs for an immediate Evis, with energy left for a Hemo. If any of that crit, the mob would die immediately. I found my DPS varied wildly from fight to fight: I'd either do 1100 dps and drop the target within the CS, or I'd do about 850 dps because I had to wait for another Hemo or two. I ended up with a 940 average, which compares favorably to Combat. Keep in mind this was without the Glyph of Evis.
So I did a little bit less average damage than Combat. But I found myself running out of spawns with this new technique...I was moving between mobs so much faster, never having to pause to bandage, that they weren't respawning fast enough to keep up with me now. On top of that, I took almost no damage, could tag more easily, could pickpocket naturally, and piles of survivability via prep.
So happily, with a playstyle adjustment, Hemo comes out the clear winner.