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The Best Shadow Priest PvE DPS build

The Best Shadow Priest PvE DPS build

Shadow is the Priest's DPS spec with great team utility in Raids

Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build
Odealo's Pocket Guide
Updated for Patch 8.1.5

You can find all our Pocket Guides for other World of Warcraft classes right here: Best WoW Builds

Spec Overview

Shadow Priests have abandoned the path of the Holy Light, and now balance dangerously close to the Void. Their spells attack not only their enemies bodies their minds as well, which results in terrible despair and suffering. SPriest's are strong AoE and priority Target Damage dealers with a lot of self-healing potential. They also excel in the execution phases of engagements.

 Pros  Cons
 Strong self-healing capabilities, especially in a multi-target scenario  Burst AoE and Execute Damage are Talent choice dependant
 Strong sustained AoE and Priority Target Damage  Poor Single Target Damage
 Good AoE Burst damage  Low Single-Target Burst Damage potential
 High Execute Damage  Multi-Target DoT management can get tricky
 Some good group utility spells  Spec Mechanics (Voidform) are quite punishing when used incorrectly


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Statistics Priority

  1. Intellect - This is Shadow Priest's primary statistic. It provides a boost to your Spell Power, increasing all Spell Damage and Healing done.
  1. Haste - Increases the Tick-rate of your Damage over Time effects, and reduces spell casting times.
  1. Critical Strike - Gives your Spells and Abilities a chance to do Extra (Critical) Damage/Healing.
  1. Mastery - Shadow Priest's Mastery: Madness increases the damage dealt by your Void Eruption, Mind Sear, Mind Flay, Mind Blast, Void Bolt, Vampiric Touch, and Shadow Word: Pain
  1. Versatility - Increases all Healing and Damage done while also reducing all Damage Received.

 

The Best Talent Choices

Following Talent Build is designed to optimize the Single-Target Damage output, please read Talent descriptions below for more detailed info about which choices would be better for Higher Sustained and Burst AoE Damage and some specific situations.


Level 15: 
Recommended choice - Shadow Word: Void
Shadow Word: Void - is an active ability that replaces Mind Blast, it has 2 charges and deals higher Damage while generating more Insanity than Mind blast, but has slightly longer Cooldown. Shadow Word: Void will help to smooth out your rotation, thanks to its 2 possible charges that will prevent you from losing casts when both Shadow Word: Void and the Void Bolt come back up at the same time.
Fortress of the Mind increases damage dealt by your Mind Blast and Mind Flay by 10% and makes them generate 20% more Insanity. This is a very competitive choice as well, but it loses a lot of value in dynamic encounters with lots of movement. Shadowy Insight gives your Shadow Word: Pain ticks a chance to reset the remaining Mind Blast Cooldown, and make it an instant Cast. Casting Shadow Word: Pain on multiple Targets will not increase the proc chance. This is generally a poor choice, because your Rotation is already clogged up, and adding extra casts to it will just make you delay more important spells, it also has RNG element to it, as it may proc when Mind Blast is already off Cooldown, thereby losing value.

Level 30: 
Recommended choice - Body and Soul
Body and Soul - Casting the Power Word: Shield on a friendly Target will now also increase its movement speed by 40% for 3 seconds. This gives you a nice mobility buff that could also be used to aid other Raid/Party members if needed.
San'Layn improves your Vampiric Embrace by decreasing its Cooldown by 45 seconds and increasing its healing effect by 25%. This gives your Vampiric Embrace some more utility making it a great Group-wide emergency cooldown in Dungeons, its impact in Raids is quite negligible, however. Intangibility makes your Dispersion also heal you for 50% of your max Health while it is active, and reduces its Cooldown by 30 seconds. This is a great choice for Incoming-Damage heavy, low mobility fights and should be swapped with Body and Soul when needed.

Level 45: 
Recommended choice - Twist of Fate
Twist of Fate - Your Damage and Healing are increased by 10% for 8 seconds after Damaging a Target that is below 35% Health. This effect does not stack but refreshes as long as you are attacking a wounded (<35% HP) target. This gives you a nice boost in the execute phases and is at its best in fights without too many adds.

Misery makes your Vampiric Touch also apply a Shadow Word: Pain on the same Target. This works best in Fights against spread out Targets and in the low enemy count (up to 4) AoE engagements. Dark Void is an active ability that deals moderate Damage to your Primary Target and all Targets around it, all Targets hit get afflicted with the Shadow Word: Pain. This is a great choice for AoE heavy engagements, it shines especially in Dungeons.

Please note that all three of the above-mentioned Talents are great and viable in their own right, and choosing the best one for the given situation is up to the Player.


Level 60: 
Recommended choice - Last Word
Last Word - Reduces the Cooldown of your Silence ability by 15 seconds. This largely improves your interrupting capabilities which are indispensable in Raids and Dungeons alike.
Mind Bomb is a replacement for Psychic Scream that applies a 2-second debuff, which upon ending, disorients all Targets in 8yd radius for 5 seconds. This acts mainly as a soft AoE stun and interrupt, with its 30yd range being the only benefit over the Psychic Scream in Raids and Dungeons. Psychic Horror is a 4-second Single Target stun with a 30yd Range and 45-second Cooldown. Pick this over the Last Word if more frequent Interrupts are not needed in the upcoming engagement.

Level 75: 
Recommended choice - Auspicious Spirits
Auspicious Spirits - Increases Damage dealt by your Shadowy Apparitions by 100% and you gain 2 Insanity every time they hit a Target. This is the best choice for Single-target DPS, as long as you have at least 18% Critical Strike chance, and a default pick at the present Gear levels.
Shadow Word: Death deals high amounts of Damage to targets below 20% Health, and generates 15 Insanity (or 30 if the Target dies within 1 second). This Talent boosts your Execute phase Damage by a significant amount but generates no value for most of the Engagements duration, unless there are adds to execute. Pick this if a Fight ends with the Hard DPS check. The Shadow Crash fires shadow energy to the pointed direction, dealing AoE damage to all Targets within the 8yd radius and generating 20 Insanity. This is the best choice for AoE Heavy engagements or for when you are still gearing up.

Level 90: 
Recommended choice - Lingering Insanity
Lingering Insanity - Haste gained from entering the Voidform fades slowly over time instead of immediately disappearing at the end of it. This is the default choice for Raiding thanks to quite low Voidform Downtimes during Boss fights.
Mindbender is a replacement for the Shadowfiend, that generates more Insanity and has lower Cooldown than its counterpart. This is a good alternative choice for Dungeons and the Mythic+, as it extends the duration of your Voidform, the Lingering Insanity provides more value in Raids, however. Void Torrent is a 4-second channeled ability that deals high amounts of Damage, and stops you from losing Insanity during the channeling time; it generates 30 Insanity. Picking This ability is not recommended as it lowers your mobility and loses a lot of value when interrupted.

Level 100: 
Recommended choice - Legacy of the Void
Legacy of the Void - Reduces the Cast Time of your Void Eruption by 40% and increases the Spell Damage bonus granted by Voidform by further 5%. This gives you the highest Consistent Damage boost with an added benefit of being a passive ability.
Dark Ascension deals damage to all enemies within 10yd of your primary Target, and then activates your Voidform,  immediately granting you 50 Insanity; it has 60-second Cooldown. This gives you a strong Burst AoE Cooldown on demand which is preferred, over the Consistent Damage provided by the Legacy of the Void, during the Mythic+ progression and some Raid Encounters. Surrender to Madness doubles your Insanity generation for 60 seconds, after that time you lose 90% of your total HP, and can't generate Insanity for the next 15 seconds; it has 4-minute Cooldown. This potentially gives you a great edge during execute phases, as it lets you stay in Voidform for a considerably longer time, but gets overshadowed by the other two choices in reality.

 

The Basic Rotation

The main goal of the Shadow Priest's rotation is to build up Insanity in order to cast Void Eruption to enter Voidform and then sustain it by generating even more Insanity.

Use the following Priority list in order to optimize Single Target Damage output:

  1. Mind Sear with Thought Harvester proc
 ⇒ 
  1. Void Eruption
  1. Void Bolt
  1. Shadowfiend on Cooldown
  1. Maintain Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain at all times
 + 
  1. Shadow Word: Void
  1. Mind Flay to avoid Downtime
Use the following priority when fighting Multiple Targets:
  1. Shadowfiend on Cooldown
  1. Void Eruption if available
  1. Void Bolt on Cooldown
  1. Vampiric Touch should be maintained on up to 5 Targets unless they are about to die
  1. Shadow Word: Pain should be maintained on up to 5 Targets unless they are about to die
  1. Mind Sear to avoid Downtime

 

Tips and Tricks for Improving your Gameplay

  1. Try to maximize your Voidform's uptime at all times.
  1. Avoid Downtime! (even if it means mashing buttons in order to save hundredths of a second on each cast)
  1. Learn Encounters and position yourself in a way that lets you stay stationary for as long as possible - moving around lowers your Damage output significantly.
  1. Always analyze your mistakes and try to improve upon them!


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END NOTE

This is an early version of our guide, we plan to upgrade upon it, and add further sections. So please leave your suggestions in the comments section below. We would also like to state that this is meant as a pocket guide and therefore we will not go into too much detail.

Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment Inc.