**A majority of my information came from numerous posts on Elitist Jerks, Shadowpriest.com, comment feedback and personal experience raiding as a Shadowpriest in WOTLK. I encourage feedback and suggestions via comments so I can edit the post and correct errors, etc.**
EDIT – I am currently Discipline on my Priest in 3.1 as I’ve switched mains over to my Warlock. Unfortunately this puts a damper on my Shadow Priest updates. Things may change later but at this moment in time, updating this guide isn’t very high on my priority list.
What is my stat priority?
Hit (11%), Spellpower, Crit, Haste, Spirit, Intellect (IMO)
Why is Crit so important now?
-Glyph of Shadow gives a boost to spellpower on crit by an amount equal to 10% of your spirit.
-Improved Spirit Tap increases your spirit when you crit to synergize with Glyph of Shadow.
-Shadowform increases the damage of your DoTs by a % equal to your crit %. 1% crit = 1% more damage. (Remember that Blizzard rounds down, so if you have 14.99% crit, you really only have 14%)
-Mind Flay now has the ability to crit and is your #1 spell.
-The talent Shadow Power give our crits 100% bonus damage.
What is our hit cap?
All casters have to hit 17% hit cap in one way or another, either by talents, gems, gear, etc..
You get 3% from the Shadow Focus talent, taking our goal down to 14% but you can also look at Misery at another 3%. Yes, you actually have to HIT with the spell to proc Misery but once it’s up it stays up. Personally, I count Misery in my Spell Hit total and only gear for 11% but if you’re uncomfortable with that, gear for 14%. Just keep in mind that once Misery is up, you’re 3% over cap when you could be gearing for more Spellpower or Crit.
If you are in a party with a Draenei, their racial aura will increase your hit by 1%. This aura is not raid wide so they’ll need to be in your party.
Elemental Shaman provide Totem of Wrath which will increase your hit by 3%.
If you are always with one or both of these, feel free to add them to your hit total and gear for the appropriate amount, but I suggest keeping some +hit gear pieces in your bag just in case they cannot make a raid, etc.
- 1 – Chaotic Skyflare Diamond – +21 Crit Rating and 3% additional crit damage. Requires at least 2 blue gems.
- 2 – Ember Skyflare Diamond – +25 Spellpower and +2% Intellect. Requires at least 3 red gems.
Ember Skyflare Diamond shouldn’t even be considered after evaluating how important crit is now for Shadow Priests. Do your best to shoot for the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond.
Also worth noting for Jewelcrafters – Your JC-only Prismatic +32 Spellpower gems count toward your meta sock requirement. Since you can use up to 3 Prismatic gems, after socketing two of them you no longer need to socket 2 blues gems for the CSD meta.
For gear, unless the socket bonus is a must have, Runed Scarlet Ruby (+spellpower) is what you want to shoot for if you’re at hit cap. If you’re just trying to gem blue quality gear, Runed Bloodstone will do but try to get perfect cuts if you can.
If you’re still trying to reach hit cap, Veiled Monarch Topaz (+spellpower/+spell hit) for epics and Veiled Huge Citrine for blues. There are raw yellow +hit gems that you can use as well, but the names escape me at this time.
To make our best meta gem work, you’ll need to put at least 2 blue gems in your gear somewhere. Purified Twilight Opal/Shadow Crystal (+spellpower/+spirit) is my top choice but if you’re below hit cap or prefer crit there are some other choices out there.
If you’re not at hit cap yet, Shining Forest Emerald/Dark Jade (hit/spirit) should be your 2 blue gems of choice. If you’re hit capped but prefer to gem for crit, Misty Forest Emerald/Dark Jade (crit/spirit) would be more up your alley even though spellpower rates higher in your DPS. Finally, as a last possible choice, Intricate Forest Emerald/Dark Jade (haste/spirit) can work since you’ll benefit from both stats still.
Again, spellpower outweighs everything else when it comes to damage and you should only be using 2 of these gems. Purified Twilight Opal should be the #1 choice unless you aren’t hit capped. In that case, use Shining Forest Emerald.
- 1 – Glyph of Shadow – While in Shadowform, spell critical strikes increase your spellpower by 10% of your spirit for 10 seconds.
- 2 – Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain – Increases the damage of Mind Flay by 10% while Shadow Word: Pain is active.
- 3 – Glyph of Mind Flay – Increases the range of your Mind Flay spell by 10 yards but reduces the slowing effect to 10%.
- 4 – Glyph of Shadow Word: Death – Targets below 35% health take an additional 10% damage from your Shadow Word: Death spell.
- 1 – Glyph of Shadowfiend – Receive 5% of your maximum mana if your Shadowfiend dies from damage.
- 2 – Glyph of Shadow Protection – Increases the duration of your Shadow Protection and Prayer of Shadow Protection by 10 minutes.
- 3 – Glyph of Fading – Reduces the mana cost of Fade by 30%.
- 4 – Glyph of Levitate – Your Levitate spell no longer costs a reagent.
There are generally 2 glyphs that are must haves with the final glyph being a matter of choice.
For Majors, my final glyph choice was Glyph of Mind Flay. I liked the damage boost of the Shadow Word: Death glyph but I found it more annoying to adjust my range from mobs/bosses to accomodate the horrible range for Mind Flay. Most raiding Shadow Priests tend to leave SW:D out of their rotations now since the Shadow Weaving bug was fixed anyway. Again, it’s personal choice.
For minors, I prefer Glyph of Levitate. I don’t Fade often at all in PVE but with the new ability to apply Levitate to other players, it helps a little bit more in raids like Naxx (people having issues making the jump on Thaddius) or Malygos (to save yourself from taking Vortex fall damage) and not having to worry about running out of reagents.
What is the BEST spec?
There is never a “best” spec, just the best talents. You’ll always end up with a few leftover points to put wherever you’d like. It ends up to being personal preference.
This is the spec I use. It comes down to having 6 points left over and I chose to get Improved Shadowform, Veiled Shadows and Improved Vampiric Embrace.
Why Improved Shadowform?
The interruption mechanic sucks IMHO. If Mind flay is even 0.1 second interrupted then you lose your final tick and you’ll be channeling for nothing. The only spell that would really get the benefit from this would be Mind Sear seeing as how Mind Blast and Vampiric Touch have faster cast times. I took this talent for the ability to negate any movement imparing effect with Fade. It’s situational, yeah, but it’s nice to know it’s there and there really isn’t another good place to put 2 points. It works nice on fights like Sapphiron (Blizzard chill effect on the way to an Ice Block) where it’s do or die.
Why Improved Vampiric Embrace?
On boss encounters VE will always be up so you might as well have it heal more. The tooltip is a tad misleading as it increases the amount healed by 67% more than it would be healing using an unimproved VE. It doesn’t heal for 67% of your damage. The boost is pretty minimal and even with 2100 spellpower I can barely get it to tick for much, but every little bit counts in boss encounters.
Why Veiled Shadows?
Not so much the cooldown reduction for Fade but for Shadowfiend. Some of the raid encounters last long enough to use it twice with this talent. For longer encounters like Kel’Thuzad, it’s priceless.
Why not the other Shadow talents?
Tanks have zero problems generating threat now so 3 points in Shadow Affinity is worthless, especially since Shadowform comes with a passive 30% threat reduction. Blackout doesn’t proc on raid bosses (but works on the Sparks in Malygos if your guild doesn’t have a DK). It’s a trash-only talent but there are better places for 5 points. Improved Psychic Scream, Psychic Horror and Silence are PVP talents IMO (Silence is ok for 5-mans/heroics but that really makes it a 3 point talent since Imp Psychic Scream is still worthless in PVE and is required to obtain it.).
Shadowpriests don’t have a rotation, perse. Certain spells have a higher priority and you’ll spend your time watching your DoT timer and refreshing them accordingly.
On a raid boss -
MB, VE, DP, VT, MF (you will be at 5 Shadow Weaving at this point), SW:P
Mind Blast every cooldown. Use it first to start the cooldown early.
Use Mind Flay as filler when you aren’t refreshing DoTs.
Mind Flay applies 2 Shadow Weaving buffs and you want 5 up BEFORE you cast SW:P. Merlot over @ Misery: A Shadowpriest Blog suggests starting off with MF x3 to get a full Shadow Weaving stack and then going in to your rotation.
With Pain & Suffering talented, you’ll only cast SW:P once the entire encounter and you want the full boost in damage before you put it up. Waiting to cast it also allows other damage increasing debuffs to hit the boss thus increasing it’s damage for the entire duration since the damage coefficient will never change due to refreshing the duration. It’s win/win.
As Tedv mentioned on Elitist Jerks, wait for these:
- Shadow Weaving 5: +10%
Earth and Moon (Moonkin): 13%
-or- Curse of Elements (Affliction Warlock w/ Malediction): +13%
-or- Ebon Plaguebringer (Unholy Death Knight): +13%
Improved Scorch or Winters Chill (Mage): +10%
Elemental Oath: +3%
- “I also want to stress the importance of waiting for the full set of crit increasing debuffs before casting Shadow Word: Pain. While the spell damage modifying pain will change with your spell damage (like lifebloom does now), the crit modifier and shadow weaving stack are locked in (like lifebloom used to work). This works out to 40.8% more damage on your shadow word pain. Or inversely (1 / 1.408), your pain will deal 71% of the damage it could be dealing. If pain accounts for even 20% of your total DPS, you’ve taken a overall 6% DPS loss by casting Shadow Word: Pain initially. It’s well worth waiting even 10 seconds just to make sure your Shadow Word: Pain gets all the buffs applied.”
Where can I find a list of the best pre-Naxx gear?
I wont beat a dead horse and compose a giant list, but here is a really good post over at Shadowpriest.com. The same link also covers the best-in-slot enchants.
What food buff is best?
Firecracker Salmon or Tender Shoveltusk Steak – same boosts of +46 spellpower/stam.
What flask should I be using?
Flask of the Frost Wyrm – +125 spellpower for 2 hours. 4 hours if you’re an Alchemist.
Flasks are ESSPENSIVE!! What pots/elixirs?
For pots I recommend Potion of Wild Magic to get a +180 spellpower and +60 crit rating for 15 seconds but honestly pots are a waste.
For elixir, the only guardian elixir for casters is the Elixir of Mighty Mageblood for pretty unstellar 24 MP5. For Battle, I’d go for the Spellpower Elixir for +58 spellpower. Elixir of Deadly Strikes for +45 crit rating is a good 2nd alternative.
**This post will be continously edited as the information will change depending on how future patches effect us as a class. Due to a majority of the big sites being restricted from my work computer, anything left blank or unlinked will eventually be fixed from home.**