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The Best Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build for WoW Classic

The Best Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build for WoW Classic

Complete guide on becoming a viable Priest DPS by descending into the Shadow's Specialization Tree

Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build
Odealo's Pocket Guide

Priest

You can find all our Pocket Guides for other WoW Classic Classes builds right here: Best WoW Classic Builds

If you have just started leveling your Priest, you may want to check out our Priest leveling Guide first

 

Overview

According to the Warcraft lore, Undead who were Priests in life became the first Shadow Priests in death. They woke up to the new life-after-death only to discover that the power of Light, that they've devoted their lives to, now burns them and causes agonizing pain. These first Shadow Priests did not have much choice, they had to forsake the Light to survive. The "new" Shadow Priests have the choice, however, and only the most dedicated will remain loyal to the ways of Shadow, while most of them will end up as sad Holy Healers.

Shadow Priests have a unique ability that allows them to leech the life force out of their enemies and mend their group members with it. They are also in possession of one of the most powerful Spells of Classic - the Mind Blast. Moreover, they can Shield their group members or leave their Shadow Form and support their Raid with Healing if needed. However, PvE Shadow Priests have a multitude of problems that overweigh their benefits, the largest of them being low damage output and severe sustain issues. This is why most guilds force aspiring Spriests to respec Holy. However, one lucky follower of the Shadow is often allowed to not forsake his ways and provide Raid's Warlocks with the Shadow Weaving buff that considerably increases their DPS.

 Pros  Cons
 The "Cool" priest  Low Sustain
 Provides powerful Shadow Weaving debuff  Low overall DPS
 Can passively Heal his group members thanks to the Vampiric Embrace ability  Competes for gear with a class that is better at dealing damage - Warlocks
 Great at PvP  Usually, there is only a single spot for a Shadow Priest in a 40-man Raid
 More resistant to Physical Damage than other casters  Constantly asked to respec Holy


The Best Race Choice

Race choice is more impactful for Priests than for other Classes because Priests get a race-specific "Priest Racials" in addition to the standard set of Racial traits.

Note: Here, we will point you only towards the best PvE DPS Shadow Priest Race. If you'd like to know more about other race picks, please check our WoW Classic Beginners Guide, where we dive deep into all available Mage's race choices for both factions.

Alliance
Alliance

The Dwarf is a clear winner here as He receives a set of very powerful tools that affect Shadow Priest's gameplay. Firstly, he gets Fear Ward that is essential for encounters like Onyxia, where it allows the Priest to shield a Tank from Fear mechanics present in the fight and is also incredibly powerful in PvP. Secondly, he receives the Stoneform that considerably increases his survivability, and for emergencies, he gets access to the Desperate Prayer. On top of that, Dwarf is also the best choice for PvP.

Horde
Horde
Because of the debuff slot limits, Troll comes out on top as the best PvE Horde Shadow Priest Race. His Berserking has a direct impact on DPS and it does not take up a valuable debuff slot. Moreover, Troll is also the best for Healing. However, if you'd like to do some PvPing you'll be better off picking Undead (the power of the Will of the Forsaken should not be underestimated).

The Best Professions Choice

Sadly, Truefaith Vestments, the BoP Priest-specific Chest made by Tailoring is not suited for Shadow Priest gameplay at all (it gives Healing power and not Spell Power). This leaves just one profession that makes a real impact in Raids - Engineering (Alchemy is also a decent option, but you can buy Flasks, Elixirs, and Potions from other players, which makes it much less impactful). It gives you access to powerful explosives that increase your AoE and Single-Target DPS. Moreover, Engineering gadgets come in handy in many back-to-the-wall situations. The fact that Engineering is also considered the best PvP profession is an added benefit to its power in a PvE environment.

At the start, you should pick Mining to supplement your Engineering Skill, you can always switch it to another profession of your liking later on.

Note: If you want to know more about all available professions and secondary skills, please check our detailed WoW Classic Professions Guide.

Statistics Priority

  1. Spell Hit Chance -  Increases your chance to hit with all your offensive Spells. You need a total of 16% Hit Rating. Shadow Focus Talent provides you with 10% Spell Hit Chance, which means that all you need from Gear is additional 6%. Getting Hit-Capped should be your top priority while gearing up for Raids.
  1. Spell Damage/Shadow Damage - Increases your Damage/Shadow Damage done with Spells. The damage bonus from Spell Damage is calculated differently for different Spells and their Ranks, but in general, this is one of the best statistics for Shadow Priests.
  1. Mp5 (Mana per 5 seconds) - Regenerates X mana every 5 seconds. This effect continues while casting, which makes it much better than Spirit when it comes to the sustain that it provides.
  1. Intellect - Increases your total Mana Pool and provides you with additional Spell Critical Chance (59,2 Int = 1% Spell Critical Strike Chance).
  1. Spell Critical Chance - Gives you a chance to do additional (Critical) Damage with your offensive Spells.
  1. Spirit -  Increases your mana regeneration while not casting (5-second rule). Priests benefit from Spirit while in combat thanks to the Meditation Talent.

Statistic Priority for a Shadow Priest:

Spell Hit Cap ⇒ Spell Damage/Shadow Damage Mp5 ⇒ Intellect ⇒ Spell Critical Chance  Spirit

 

The Best Talent Builds

Proper Talent allocation is essential for maximizing Damage output. Here, we will describe the most optimal spec and lead you through the Talent Trees level-by-level to explain some choices.

Shadow Priest's Talent Build should depend on his current Gear. Raid-ready Spriest should go for the more aggressive setup, while beginner should aim for Talents that will allow him to stay useful when he inevitably runs out of mana:

  • Entry-level Shadow Priest Build - Shadow Priests are famous for running out of Mana incredibly quickly, especially when they are undergeared. This build tries to offset that fact by securing Talents, like Spirit Tap and Wand Specialization. These create a solid backup plan for situations when Priest's mana runs out - finish off a trash mob, pull out a Wand, and Shoot Targets while your mana regenerates. While solid in 5-man Dungeons, this strategy will not work too well in Raids, which means that this version of the Build should only be used to farm pre-Raid BiS items (this is why it closely resembles a leveling build). As soon as you build-up enough Spell Power and high enough mana pool, you should switch to the Build featured below (Spell Power makes Wanding obsolete and high mana pool allows you to maximize your Mind Blast usage which considerably increases your DPS).
  • Raid-ready Shadow Priest Build - This version of the Shadow Priest build forgoes utility and sustain-related Talents, and instead focuses on maximizing DPS. To use it effectively, you'll need at least pre-Raid BiS gear and a hefty stock of consumables (Mana Potions, Runes, Mana Regen Food, etc.). In the Raid environment, you will not be required to support healers with Shields and the only instant-cast spell you'll be using in your rotation is Shadow Word: Pain, which means that Improved Power Word: Shield and Mental Agility Talents are completely redundant. This means that 8 Talent Points can be spent elsewhere: Thanks to 4/5 Improved Mind Blast Spriest's rotation becomes much smoother - 6 seconds (the new Mind Blast's cooldown length) is enough to cast two Mind Flays which allows you to use Mind Blast Mind FlayMind Flay ⇒ Mind Blast sequence without clipping into Mind Blast's cooldown (which would happen if you used 5/5 Improved Mind Blast). However, using Mind Blast more often creates a Threat problem. This is why 4 remaining points were used for 5/5 Silent Resolve which should minimize the problem.

Entry-level Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build
Talent allocation for Entry-level Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build

Discipline Tree:

  • 5/5 Wand Specialization - Your Wand now deals 25% more DPS. This Talent makes a big difference if you don't have Spell Power/Shadow Damage gear equipped - when you are gearing up, in other words.
  • 1/5 Silent Resolve - With this version of the build, you will not be using Mind Blast too often which means that Threat should not be a problem.
  • 2/2 Improved Power Word: Fortitude - In a build designed for High-Level 5-man Dungeons, this Talent is necessary (there might not be a second priest in the group, so you will te the one buffing people).
  • 3/3 Improved Power Word: Shield - PW: Shield does not scale with gear almost at all, which means that this Talent is the only way of improving it. The shield is incredibly useful in 5-mans and for solo content, so skipping this Talent is not recommended. Sadly, Shield can be used on Group members only, which limits its viability in Raids and other mass content.
  • 1/1 Inner Focus - Great for casting a free, hard-hitting Mind Blast, although you should try to save this Cooldown for an emergency.
  • 3/3 Meditation - Makes Spirit a bit more valuable and slightly improves your sustain.
  • 5/5 Mental Agility - In 5-mans, you will constantly be using spells like Power Word: Shield, Shadow Word: Pain, and even Renew, which means that this Talent will generate a lot of value over time.

Shadow Tree:

  • 5/5 Spirit Tap - Considerably improves your mana regeneration after you deal a killing blow. For the best effect, you should try to snipe trash mobs with your Wand. This Talent will keep you going during trash pulls but is useless in most Boss encounters.
  • 3/3 Shadow Affinity - This should take care of Threat spikes caused by occasional Mind Blast crits.
  • 2/2 Improved Shadow Word: Pain - SW: Pain now lasts for 24 seconds, which makes it much more efficient.
  • 5/5 Shadow Focus - Makes you much more effective at dealing with enemies that are resistant to Shadow Damage.
  • 1/1 Mind Flay - One of Shadow Priest's signature abilities. It has a Slow effect attached but at the cost of a short, 20yd range.
  • 3/3 Shadow Reach - 20% extra range on Shadow Spells gives you some much-needed breathing room when it comes to staying within the Mind Flay range.
  • 5/5 Shadow Weaving - Your Shadow Spells now cause your Target to take increased Shadow Damage. This Talent makes Shadow Priests borderline Raid-viable - a single Shadow Priest boosts DPS of all Warlocks present in the Raid.
  • 1/1 Vampiric Embrace - Gives your spells life-leech effect when applied to a Target. This effect heals your whole group which gives some breathing room to a healer.
  • 5/5 Darkness - Makes you 10% better at dealing Shadow Damage.
  • 1/1 Shadow Form - The reason why one becomes a Shadow Priest. Makes your Shadow Spells deal 15% more damage and increases your physical damage resistance by 15%, but prevents you from casting Holy Spells.

Raid-ready Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build
Talent allocation for Raid-ready Shadow Priest PvE DPS Build

Discipline Tree:

  • 5/5 Unbreakable Will - Makes you randomly resist Raid mechanics, which is nice. Just don't count on it occurring too often.
  • 5/5 Silent Resolve - This should reduce Threat problems caused by hard-hitting Mind Blasts.
  • 2/2 Improved Power Word: Fortitude.
  • 1/1 Inner Focus - Great for casting a free, hard-hitting Mind Blast. Remember not to use it immediately after combat starts as it will most likely result in pulling Aggro.
  • 3/3 Meditation.

Shadow Tree:

  • 5/5 Spirit Tap
  • 3/3 Shadow Affinity. 
  • 2/2 Improved Shadow Word: Pain
  • 5/5 Shadow Focus
  • 4/5 Improved Mind Blast - Lowers Mind Blast's cooldown to 6 seconds, which is enough to squeeze 2 Mind Flays between its casts.
  • 1/1 Mind Flay. 
  • 3/3 Shadow Reach. 
  • 5/5 Shadow Weaving. 
  • 1/1 Vampiric Embrace. 
  • 5/5 Darkness. 
  • 1/1 Shadow Form

 

Where to get Pre-Raid/Raid BiS Gear

In order to maximize your DPS, you should aim to assemble the best possible Gear. This applies to both Pre-Raid and each of the Raid Tiers/Phases.

Note1: The list will be updated with new items concurrently with the introduction of new Raids/Phases, so remember to visit this page after a new Raid opens for an update on what current best Shadow Priest items in each lot are.

The Best Shadow Priest Items
Main Hand
  • Pre-Raid - Scepter of the Unholy (Drop from Baron Rivendare, Stratcholme) / Witchblade (Drop from Darkmaster Gandling, Scholomance)
  • Phase 1 - Anathema (Quest Reward from "HordeAllianceThe Balance of Light and Shadow", Priest Class Quest)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Off-Hand
  • Pre-Raid - Drakestone of Shadow Wrath (Drop from Weaver, Dreamscythe, and Hazzas, Sunken Temple; note: The item has a Random Enchantment) / Spirit of Aquementas (Quest Reward from "HordeAllianceIt's Dangerous to Go Alone", Un'Goro Crater)
  • Phase 1 - none (Anathema takes up both hands)
    Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ranged
  • Pre-Raid - Skul's Ghastly Touch (Drop from Skul, Stratcholme) / Lunar Wand of Shadow Wrath (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Skul's Ghastly Touch / Bonescreeper Stylus (Drop from Darkmaster Gandling, Scholomance)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Trinket 1
  • Pre-Raid - Mindtap Talisman  (Drop from Magister Kalendris, Dire Maul) / Burst of Knowledge (Drop from Ambassador Flamelash, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Talisman of Ephemeral Power (drop from Baron Geddon, Gaar, Golemagg the Incinerator, and Magmadar, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Trinket 2
  • Pre-Raid - Briarwood Reed (Drop from Jed Runewatcher, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Briarwood Reed
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Neck
  • Pre-Raid - Dark Advidor's Pendant (Drop from Vectus, Scholomance) / Star of Mystaria (Drop from Balnazzar, Stratcholme)
  • Phase 1 - Choker of the Fire Lord (drop from Ragnaros, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ring 1
  • Pre-Raid - Songstone of Ironforge (Quest Reward from "AllianceThe Princess's Surprise", Blackrock Depths) / Eye of Orgrimmar (Quest Reward from "HordeThe Princess Saved?", Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Ring of Spell Power (drop from Shazzrah, Lucifron, Gehennas, and Sulfuron Harbinger, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Ring 2
  • Pre-Raid - Maiden's Circle (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH) / Underworld Band (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH)
  • Phase 1 - Maiden's Circle / Ring of Spell Power (not Unique, you can equip two)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Head
  • Pre-Raid - Green Lens of Shadow Wrath (Engineering recipe, requires 245 Engi to use; it has a Random Enchantment) / The Postmaster's Band (Drop from Postmaster Malown, Stratcholme)
  • Phase 1 - Green Lens of Shadow Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Chest
  • Pre-Raid -  Robe of Winter Night (Created by Tailoring, the Recipe drops from Cobalt Mageweaver NPC found in Winterspring)
  • Phase 1 - Robe of Winter Night / Robe of Volatile Power (drop from Lucifron, Shazzrah, Sulfuron Harbinger, and Gehennas, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Legs
  • Pre-Raid - Skyshroud Leggings (drop from Highlord Omokk, Lower Blackrock Spire) / Spiritshroud Leggings (Drop from The Beast, Upper Blackrock Spire)
  • Phase 1 - Skyshroud Leggings
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Gloves
  • Pre-Raid - Hands of Power (drop from Quartermaster Zigris, Lower Blackrock Spire) / Dreamweave Gloves (Created by Tailoring, Base Recipe taught by a Trainer)
  • Phase 1 - Hands of Power / Atal'ai Gloves of Shadow Wrath (Drop from Atal'ai Defenders, Sunken Temple; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Boots
  • Pre-Raid - Maleki's Footwraps (Drop from Maleki the Pallid, Stratcholme) / Omnicast Boots (drop from Golem Lord Ardelmach, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Maleki's Footwraps
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Shoulders
  • Pre-Raid - Felcloth Shoulders  (Created by Tailoring, Recipe is a random World Drop) / Elder Wizard's Mantle (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH)
  • Phase 1 - Felcloth Shoulders / Elder Wizard's Mantle
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Wrists
  • Pre-Raid - Flameweave Cuffs of Shadow Wrath (drop from Lord Incendius, Blackrock Depths; note: The item has a Random Enchantment) / Tearfall Bracers of Shadow Wrath (Drop from The Unforgiven, Stratcholme; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Flameweave Cuffs of Shadow Wrath
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Belt
  • Pre-Raid - Ban'thok Sash (drop from Ok'thor the Breaker, Blackrock Depths)
  • Phase 1 - Sash of Whispered Secrets (Contained in Cache of the Firelord, Molten Core)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA
Back
  • Pre-Raid - Archivist Cape of Shadow Wrath (drop from Archivist Galford, Stratcholme; note: The item has a Random Enchantment) / Master's Cloak of Shadow Wrath  (BoE World Drop; can be purchased on AH; note: The item has a Random Enchantment)
  • Phase 1 - Archivist Cape of Shadow Wrath / Sapphiron Drape (drop from Onyxia, Onyxia's Lair)
  • Phase 2 - TBA
  • Phase 3 - TBA
  • Phase 4 - TBA
  • Phase 5 - TBA
  • Phase 6 - TBA

 

The Best Enchants and Consumables

Proper enchants and consumables will greatly increase your Damage output. While getting enchants is a one-time-deal, farming consumables might be a real chore, but it is still worth it as numbers clearly show.

The Best Enchants
Weapon (1H) Enchant Weapon - Spell Power (+ 30 Spell Damage)
Weapon (TH) Enchant Weapon - Spell Power (+ 30 Spell Damage)
Head Lesser Arcanum of Voracity (+8 Intellect, available from Libram of Voracity Quest in Burning Steppes)
Chest Enchant Chest - Greater Stats (+4 to all stats)
Legs Lesser Arcanum of Voracity (+8 Intellect, available from Libram of Voracity Quest in Burning Steppes)
Hands Enchant Gloves - Riding Skill (Minor Raiding Speed Increase)
Feet Enchant Boots - Minor Speed (+8% Run Speed)
Shoulders Chromatic Mantle of the Dawn (+5 to all Resistances)
Wrists Enchant Bracer - Mana Regeneration (+4 Mana per 5 seconds)
Back Enchant Cloak - Greater Resistance  (+5 to all Resistances)

The Best Consumables
Flask of Distilled Wisdom
Flask of Distilled Wisdom
+2000 maximum Mana for 2 hours; effect persists through death. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be dropped from Balnazzar, Stratcholme. 
Major Mana Potion
Major Mana Potion
Restores 1350 to 2250 Mana. Created by Alchemy. Recipe drops from various high-level mobs, elites, and Bosses.
Greater Arcane Elixir
Greater Arcane Elixir
+35 Spell Damage for 1 hour. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be dropped from Fireguard Destroyers in Blackrock Depths and Scareshield Raiders in Blackrock Spire.
Elixir of Shadow Power
Elixir of Shadow Power
+40 Shadow Damage for 30 minutes. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be bought from Alchemy Supplies Vendors in Stormwind and Undercity
Demonic Rune
Demonic Rune
Restores 1356 mana at the cost of 862 life. Drop from Demons in Azshara, Felwood, and Blasted Lands (Satyrs and Fel Guards).
Mageblood Potion
Mageblood Potion
+12 Mp5 for 1 hour. Created by Alchemy. The recipe can be bought from Rin'wosho the Trader, located in north Stranglethorn Vale
Cerebral Cortex Compound
Cerebral Cortex Compound
+25 Intellect for 1 hour. Obtained from "Infallible Mind" repeatable Quest, Blasted Lands
Nightfin Soup
Nightfin Soup
It provides 8 mana per 5 seconds for 10 minutes. Created by Cooking.
Brilliant Mana Oil
Brilliant Mana Oil
+12 Mp5 and +25 Healing Power for 30 minutes. Created by Enchanting. This is applied to a Weapon.

 

Rotations

In Classic, Shadow Priest's Rotation revolves around applying and maintaining 5 stacks of the Shadow Weaving debuff while trying not to prematurely run out of mana.

Note1: Avoid using Vampiric Embrace and Devouring Plague in Raids. These spells take a valuable debuff slot and provide very little in return.

Note2: Consumables that restore mana are Shadow Priest's best friends, always have a hefty amount of them in your bags.

Please use the following Priority List for sustained Single-Target Damage output:

  1. Maintain Shadow Word: Pain
Shadow Word: Pain
  1. Mindblast on Cooldown
Mindblast
  1. Mind Flay twice when Mindblast is recharging
Mind Flay ⇒ Mind Flay
  1. Rank 1 Shadow Word: Pain to maintain Shadow Weaving when you are low on mana
Shadow Word: Pain
  1. Spam Shoot (Wand Attack) when out of mana and without mana regen consumables to pop
Shoot

 

Tips and Tricks for aspiring Shadow Priest Raiders

  1. Stack Consumables and always have Mana Potions and Runes on you. This will allow you to deal more damage more reliably. Spending some additional Gold or a few extra hours grinding might secure you a spot in a Raid, as Raid leaders prefer dedicated and well-prepared players.
  1. Downrank your Spells if needed. Downranking is the key to proper mana management as a Shadow Priest.
  1. Always try to improve. Get an addon that tracks your performance and try to optimize your equipment and rotation.

 

END NOTE

This Guide should help you to prepare yourself for that legendary Vanilla  Raiding Experience and allow you to progress through Raid Tiers efficiently and with a good amount of fun.

We hope that you have found this guide useful and informative.  If we have missed a piece of information that is important to you, please let us know! 

Please do note that this is an early version of our guide, and we will be happy to receive constructive criticism, that will help us improve it, so leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

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