PVE Shadow Priest Guide

Posted Sun, Oct 27, 2013 by Messiah

Learn how to best play a PVE Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.


Current as of Patch 5.4


Role | Talents & Glyphs | Stat Priority | Reforging
Cooldowns | Single Target Healing | AOE Healing


This guide gives you all of the most critical information that you need to know so that you can play a Shadow Priest at level 90 in PVE content.  The guide covers talents, glyphs, stats, reforging, and rotations. 

This guide will assume that since you are level 90 you will be able to take the basic information and run with it, simple topics like addons, macros, targeting, and more are not covered.

The Role of a Shadow Priest

As a Shadow Priest your role in a group is to deal damage. While currently shadow priests fall at the low end of the DPS spectrum, they do provide a number of great buffs and cooldowns. Additionally they are fairly easy to play so make great second specs for when you are bored of healing. In the past they have been much higher up in the DPS lists and could be again when another major patch hits.

A Shadow Priest can provide several benefits and abilities to help out a group they are in besides being just another DPS player.

Priest
  • Provides the stamina raid buff - Power Word: Fortitude, boosting all players stamina by 10%.
  • Can boost mana regeneration to the raid with Hymn of Hope.
  • Can provide protection from fear with Fear Ward, which is very useful for some raid fights.
  • Can cleanse magic and disease effects from friendly players with Purify, or from a number of players at once with Mass Dispel.
  • Has a short term AOE CC with Psychic Scream and a single target fear with Psychic Horror.
  • Can provide an interrupt with their Silence ability.
  • Can pull friendly players out of danger with Leap of Faith.

Shadow Priest Talents and Glyphs

Shadow Priests can deal damage irregardless of the talents and glyphs they choose, however some can add to the damage output in meaningful ways. The best Shadow Priest talents to take are as follows:

Solace and Insanity (Tier 3 talent) - This talent significantly boosts the damage output of you Mind Flay while your target has your Devouring Plague DOT on them. For every shadow orb that was consumed to apply Devouring Plague your mind flay will deal an additional 33% damage, which means it can double the damage caused.

Power Infusion - (Tier 5 talent) - This talent gives you an amazing buff on a 2 minute cooldown that increases your haste by 20%, spell power by 5%, and reduces all of your mana costs by 20% for the 20 second duration. This is a huge increase to your throughput and healing and since the cooldown is 2 minutes and it lasts for 20 seconds, it can be active for 1/6th of every fight.

Halo (Tier 6 talent) - This talent grants you a new ability that does healing or damage depending on if the target is friendly or an enemy. It deals this damage and healing to everyone within 25 yards of you and is on a 40 second timer.

For Shadow Priests there are no major Glyphs that help out your DPS, however there are two that help you with utility and mobility. They are Glyph of Inner Sanctum which reduces the spell damage you take, and Glyph of Mind Flay which boosts your movement rate after a Mind Flay for a short while.

Shadow Priest Stat Priority

It is important to understand the stat priority for your class, so that you are able to make the most of your gear. If you collect the wrong stats, it can severely hurt your ability to perform your role. For a Shadow Priest the key stats are those that allow you to put out significant DPS over a long period of time.

The stat priority for a Shadow Priest is as follows:

Intellect > 15% Spell Hit ( Hit + Spirit) > Haste > Mastery = Crit

Important Notes:

  • Hit – Shadow Priests require 15% hit so that their spells will not miss a boss level enemy. However, they also require Spirit so that they will not run out of mana mid-fight. Luckily Spirit provides hit at the same level rate as hit does so you can accomplish both longevity and accuracy all at the same time. Once you reach 15% though there is no reason to go any higher. If you can not maintain your mana through a long fight, you should move some hit to spirit to increase your mana regeneration rate.
  • Haste– Haste is of massive benefit to Shadow Priests as it provides faster casting of spells and additional ticks to your DOTs, thereby dealing more damage. There are key points (called breakpoints) that you should aim for when fully raid buffed. The first is 8,085 and the second is 10,124. The first will grant you an extra tick to Vampiric Touch, and 2 to each of Shadow Word: Pain and Devouring Plague. The second higher break point gets you a second tick to Vampiric Touch. Haste continues to be important, no matter the rating, however those two points are key and after them you can look at crit and mastery.
  • Mastery - This in theory is a great stat for Shadow Priests, since it gives your DOTs a chance to deal damage twice with each tick. I say in theory since it is harder to get enough to boost the percentage chance for it to apply it than it would be to get the amount of haste required to provide the extra ticks that would grant the same damage anyway, pushing this stat below haste in importance.

Reforging as a Shadow Priest

When reforging simply follow the stat priority above for a Shadow Priest and move the lowest stat to the highest stat that the piece does not have on it. We will ignore Intellect and Stamina as every piece you get will also have those.

If you are under 15% hit and your gear has these two stats…

Reforge this stat…

… to this stat

Hit + Spirit

Do not reforge

Do not reforge

Hit + Haste

Haste

Spirit

Hit + Mastery

Mastery

Spirit

Hit + Crit

Crit

Spirit

Spirit + Haste

Haste

Hit

Spirit + Mastery

Mastery

Hit

Spirit + Crit Crit Hit
Haste + Mastery Mastery Spirit
Haste + Crit Crit Spirit
Mastery + Crit Crit Spirit

If you are already above 15% hit, can stay above it, and your gear has these two stats…

Reforge this stat…

… to this stat

Hit + Spirit

Hit

Haste

Hit + Haste

Hit

Mastery

Hit + Mastery

Hit

Haste

Hit + Crit

Hit

Haste

Spirit + Haste

Spirit

Mastery

Spirit + Mastery

Mastery

Haste

Spirit + Crit Spirit Haste
Haste + Mastery Do not reforge Do not reforge
Haste + Crit Do not reforge Do not reforge
Mastery + Crit Crit Haste

Shadow Priest Cooldowns

There are several cooldowns that you can use as a Shadow Priest that can play a big part in your DPS rotation.  Some of these are based on your talent choices made from the section above and are discussed there. The rest of the cooldowns you should use are as follows:

Vampiric Embrace - This is a great cooldown to use when the raid is suffering AOE damage to help out the healers. It allows your single target damage causing abilities to heal you and your allies for 50% of the damage dealt for the next 15 seconds, and is on a 3 minute cooldown.

Hymn of Hope – This is a really long cooldown at 6 minutes but does a lot. It restores 2% mana every 2 seconds for the 8 seconds that you can channel it for to up to 3 players (whomever has the lowest mana within range) as well as upping their maximum mana by 15% for 8 seconds. To get the most use of this ability you should use as soon as you bring out your shadowfiend.

Shadowfiend – This is a great mana regen ability on a 3 minute cooldown. It summons a pet that restores 3% mana every time it hits, and it lasts for 12 seconds. You should use this cooldown as often as you can as soon as you are below about 70% mana, so that you get it back for a second or third time during a boss fight.

Dispersion - Use this whenever you need to avoid incoming damage or to regenerate the significant mana it provides.

Shadow Priest Single Target DPS Rotation

As with most classes and specs DPS is not a true rotation any more but more a priority sequence. There are abilities that you need to use in the proper sequence to generate the highest DPS, however some of them will need to be used several times before you can actually use the next.

The priority sequence that provides the highest single target DPS is as follows:

1 - Shadowform - Kind of obvious... Make sure you are in your DPS form.

2 - Inner Fire– Keep this self buff active at all times to boost your armour and your spell power.

3 - Shadow Word: Pain - Keep this DOT active on your target at all times.

4 - Vampiric Touch - Keep this DOT active on your target at all times.

5 - Devouring Plague- Use as soon as you have 3 Shadow Orbs.

6 - Shadow Word: Death - Use as soon as the target is below 20% to deal damage and generate a shadow orb.

7 - Mind Blast - Use on cooldown to deal damage and to generate a shadow orb.

8 - Mind Flay - Use when your target is afflicted with your Devouring Plague for best effect.

9 - Halo - Use whenever available.

Shadow Priest AOE DPS Rotation

Shadow Priests have an extremely simple AOE rotation as soon as there are more than 4 enemies in the area. At 4 targets or less simply pick one to be your main target and continue your single target rotation against them while keeping your Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch active on the others.

1 - Shadowform - Kind of obvious... Make sure you are in your DPS form.

2 - Inner Fire– Keep this self buff active at all times to boost your armour and your spell power.

3 - Mind Sear - Pick a target and blast away repeatedly with Mind Sear.

Comments on Shadow Priests

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