Shadow Talent Guide

This shadow talent guide goes over each of the talents in the Priest's shadow talent tree. This is the tree that most priests focus on while leveling since it allows you to do significant amounts of damage quickly. While many players find leveling a holy priest slow and painful, few players complain about "melting faces" as a shadow priest. Once at the end game though, few players choose to stay shadow though other than those that mainly solo, pvp or are needed in raids, Shadow Priests are still viable at end game in all situations, but most players look at priests as healers, not damage dealers and you will have a harder time finding groups.

Tier 1

Tier 1 is available at level ten, when your first talents open up.

  • Spirit Tap - Max 3 points, provides up to a 100% chance to gain a 100% bonus to your spirit for 15 seconds after killing a target that yields experience. You also continue to regenerate mana at 50% rate while casting.
    • Amazing base level ability as it allows you to grind and level much faster.
    • Requires you to land the killing blow, if someone else kills the target you do not get the buff.
    • Strongly Recommended
  • Improved Spirit Tap - Max 2 points,
    your Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death critical strikes increase your total Spirit by 10%. For the duration, your mana will regenerate at a 20% rate while casting. Lasts 8 sec.
    • A great addition to the base Spirit Tap ability that allows even more mana regen, but this time while in combat and still fighting, before you kill your target.
    • Allows you to deal damage for longer than normal.
    • Recommended
  • Blackout - Max 5 points, provides up to a 10% chance to stun your target for 3 seconds when hit by one of your shadow damage spells
    • This works even on DOTs, although it only happens on the application of the DOT not at each tick.
    • Amazing for PvP players as any stun helps, good for PvE while soloing, less useful in a group
    • Recommended for leveling and PvP

Tier 2

Tier 2 talents are available as soon as you have 5 points in that talent tree.

  • Shadow Affinity - Max 3 points, reduces the threat you generate from shadow spells by up to 25%
    • This is a must for Shadow Priests in groups and raids so that you will not draw aggro as often, useless for PvP and Soloing.
    • Shadow spells generate a significant amount of threat and without this in a raid situation you will be forced to lay off damage dealing for periods of time in many fights.
    • Recommended for Raiding or Group Shadow Priests
  • Improved Shadow Word: Pain - Max 2 points,
    increases the damage of your Shadow Word: Pain by up to 6%.
    • Since SW: Pain is one of your most used spells any boost you can get must be considered. Here you get 6% for a simple 2 talent points.
    • SW: Pain should be up on all targets at all times, therefore it probably grants you about 2% extra total damage, making it well worth the points.
    • Strongly Recommended
  • Shadow Focus - Max 3 points, increases your chance to hit with your Shadow spells by up to 3%, and reduces the mana cost of your Shadow spells by up to 6%."
    • This talent combines two great benefits. The first being of key concern to all raid players. Being hit capped greatly increases your damage output and removing 3% off of the required 17% at level 80 is a significant amount.
    • The 6% cost reduction of mana for your spells greatly increases your longevity in a fight.
    • Must have talent

Tier 3

Tier 3 talents are available as soon as you have 10 points in that talent tree.

  • Improved Psychic Scream - Max 2 points, reduces the cooldown of your Psychic Scream by up to 4 seconds.
    • Useful in many situations such as multiple MOB fights and PvP. The 4 second reduction is only a 14% reduction, but every little bit helps.
    • Required to access Silence which you will want for PvP fights.
    • Recommended for PVP
  • Improved Mind Blast - Max 5 points, reduces the cooldown of your Mind Blast spell by up to 2.5 seconds.
    • This cuts the cooldown time down to less than 6 seconds, which allows a much better rotation with Mind Flay.
    • Great for PvP where speed of damage counts for a lot more.
    • If used to much in PvE in a group it is very easy to pull aggro.
    • Recommended

  • Mind Flay - 1 point skill, that grants you a channelled spell that causes over damage over time and slows the target to 50% movement speed.
    • The definitive Shadow spell. It both damages the target and slows them down, what more could you want?
    • As a shadow priest you will be spamming this spell.
    • Must have for Shadow Priests

Tier 4

Tier 4 talents are available as soon as you have 15 points in that talent tree.

  • Veiled Shadows - Max 2 points,
    decreases the cooldown of your Fade ability by 6 sec.
    • While fade is a nice quick threat reduction ability, it only temporarily reduces your threat. Meaning if you do not adjust your threat rate you will just pull them right back as soon as fade stops.
    • Generally skipped as normal fade is good enough.

  • Shadow Reach - Max 2 points, increases the range of your shadow spells by 20%
    • A very good talent for almost any situation, but especially with the movement slowing ability of Mind Flay.
    • Allows you to strike first in PvP and avoid some additional AoE effects in PvE.
    • Recommended
  • Shadow Weaving - Max 3 points, provides up to a 100% chance to cause your target to become vulnerable to shadow damage. When vulnerable shadow damage done is increased by 2% for 15 seconds, and can stack up to 5 times.
    • Great boost to the damage you cause as a shadow priest.
    • If there is a Warlock in your group they will love you as it boosts there damage as well.
    • A must have for at least one Shadow Priest in ever raid.
    • Must have for Shadow Priest

Tier 5

Tier 5 talents are available as soon as you have 20 points in that talent tree.

  • Silence - 1 point skill, silences the target preventing them from casting anything for 5 seconds.
    • Works very well when pulling casters in PvE encounters so that they come away from other dangerous MOBs.
    • Really shines in PvP where you can interrupt and shut down enemy casters for a short period of time.
    • Recommended and a must for PvP
  • Vampiric Embrace - 1 point skill that allows you to afflict your target with Shadow energy that causes you to be healed by 15% and other party members to be healed for 3% of any Shadow spell damage you deal for 1 min.
    • A staple Shadow talent and a must have for all players this deep into the tree.
    • Scales as you increase damage you increase healing and is often the only healing needed on trash pulls in instances and raids.
    • Great for soloing as well as it allows you to be healed in combat as you damage your opponent.
    • Must have for a Shadow Priest

  • Improved Vampiric Embrace - Max 2 points, Increases the healing received from Vampiric Embrace by up to 67%.
    • Brings the healing that Vampiric Embrace provides up a significant amount.
    • Simply a must have since it provides so much additional healing for only 2 points.
    • Must have for a Shadow Priest

  • Focused Mind - Max 3 points, reduces the mana cost of your Mind Blast, Mind Control, Mind Sear and Mind Flay spells by up to 15%.
    • This ability improves the mana efficiency of your 2 most used spells (Mind Blast and Mind Flay) by 15%, and allows you to last much longer in group or solo combat.
    • Must have for a Shadow Priest

Tier 6

Tier 6 talents are available as soon as you have 25 points in that talent tree.

  • Mind Melt - Max 2 points,
    Increases the critical strike chance of your Mind Blast, Mind Flay, and Mind Sear spells by up to 4%.
    • This grants a nice increase in your key damage dealing abilities chance to critically hit.
    • For only 2 points, it is worth it for the increase, but only if you can spare the points, which can be tough.

  • Darkness - Max 5 points, provides up to a 10% boost to all your shadow spell damage
    • An across the board 10% boost to all your shadow damage! You should not even consider not taking this ability, if you don't take it you should go respec as a healer.
    • Must have for a Shadow Priest

Tier 7

Tier 7 talents are available as soon as you have 30 points in that talent tree.

  • Shadow Form - 1 point skill, allows you to enter shadow form causing 15% additional shadow damage and reducing all physical damage you take by 15%. While in shadow form you can not cast any holy spells.
    . Your Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, and Vampiric Touch abilities deal increased percentage damage equal to your spell critical strike chance.
    • The talent you are aiming for as a Shadow Priest. 15% damage increase for one single point!
    • While you can not heal in this form, that's why you have Vampiric Embrace and Power Word: Shield, between those two you have more than enough healing and damage prevention to last through any encounter.
    • If really pushed you can drop out of shadow form and start healing.
    • Must have for a Shadow Priest
  • Shadow Power - Max 5 points, increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Mind Blast, Mind Flay and Shadow Word: Death spells by up to 100%.
    • A huge increase to your critical strike damage with these spells.
    • Highly recommended since Mind Blast is one of your main damage spells, however care must be taken as multiple criticals can easily pull aggro from almost any tank
    • Strongly Recommended

Tier 8

Tier 8 talents are available as soon as you have 35 points in that talent tree.

  • Improved Shadowform - Max 2 points,
    your Fade ability now has up to a 100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects when used while in Shadowform, and reduces casting or channeling time lost when damaged by up to 70% when casting any Shadow spell while in Shadowform.
    • Two great bonuses in one talent!
    • Fade removing movement impairing abilities is directed towards helping shadow priests survive in PvP and makes this mandatory for PvP players.
    • The reduced casting time pushback and channeled time lost makes this extremely useful for leveling, soloing, and any other situation where you may be hit.
    • Strongly Recommended

  • Misery - Max 3 points that grants your Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Flay and Vampiric Touch spell an increase to the chance for harmful spells to hit by up to 3% lasting 24 sec, and increases the damage of your Mind Blast, Mind Flay and Mind Sear spells by an amount equal to up to 15% of your spell power.
    • A very nice raid buff that allows players to save points towards hit capping their gear. Can be a big deal if players know for and can plan for it as they can redirect some +hit to +spell power.
    • Also a very nice boost to the damage on some of your key damage spells.
    • Recommended

Tier 9

Tier 10 talents are available as soon as you have 40 points in that talent tree.

  • Psychic Horror - Max 2 points,
    causes your Psychic Scream ability to inflict Psychic Horror on the target when the fear effect ends. Psychic Horror reduces all damage done by the target by 30% for 6 sec.
    • This talent is meant for PvP players to further hamper their opponents even after they come out of fear.
    • Since many players come out of fear and immediately try to counter with a big attack it can be very effective.
    • Not very useful in PvE as fearing in a group is rare.
    • Strongly recommended for PvP

  • Vampiric Touch - 1 point skill, a shadow damage dot that at max level does damage over 15 seconds and causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain up to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second when you deal damage with mind blast.
    • The spell that really solidified Shadow Priests position in raids. Allows you to act as a mana battery for all players in your group.
    • While the mana is not enough to keep you going forever, it does add up and become significant over a fight.
    • Must have for Raids
  • Pain and Suffering - Max 3 points,
    your Mind Flay has a 100% chance to refresh the duration of your Shadow Word: Pain on the target, and reduces the damage you take from your own Shadow Word: Death by 30%
    • The ability to refresh your PW: Pain by using another of your normal damage spells is a huge bonus as it allows you to not have to recast it on a target almost ever.
    • The reduction to the damage you take from your SW: Death is also a huge boost as it allows you to cast Death almost with impunity since you will be healing yourself with Vampiric Embrace.

Tier 10

Tier 10 talents are available as soon as you have 45 points in that talent tree.

  • Twisted Faith - Max 5 points.
    Increases your spell power by 10% of your total Spirit, and your damage done by your Mind Flay and Mind Blast is increased by 10% if your target is afflicted by your Shadow Word: Pain.
    • This talent provides a large boost in damage since a lot of your gear will have Spirit on it anyway, and it scales extremely well with your gear as you gear up.
    • Since you will almost always have SW: Pain on a target you can count this as a 10% boost to two of your main damage dealing abilities.
    • Strongly Recommended

Tier 11

Tier 11 is the top tier talent and is available as soon as you have 50 points in that talent tree.

  • Dispersion - 1 point skill that allows you to disperse into pure Shadow energy, reducing all damage taken by 90%. You are unable to attack or cast spells, but you regenerate 6% mana every 1 sec for 6 sec. Dispersion can be cast while stunned, feared or silenced.
    • This is a great save your backside ability that allows you to take time out from a fight and or when under attack and get a significant amount of mana back.
    • In PvP it allows you to survive when enemies use their damage boosting abilities or trinkets.
    • Recommended

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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