Shadow Priest PvE Guide (Talents, Gear, Rotation, etc...)

  • About

    Hi, my name is Caperfin and welcome to my guide! I am know in the community for pushing WoW to its absolute breaking point during my +6 years of playing it and have redefined what classes can do. Today, we will be exploring the dark side of the priest class or better known as a shadow priest. If a subject is not addressed or poorly please bring it to my attention. I expect the same amount of scrutiny from readers as I have put into writing this guide, so don't hold back.

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    Before continuing, its important to remember you are not only going a certain route but also playing a class that demands a great deal of effort for players to recognise. A shadow priest in a raid has the ability to not only provide a decent amount of personal damage but also the capability of supporting other teammates. They are most known in the community for their ability to apply Shadow Weaving on a target which is highly sought after by other shadow damage dealing classes.


    Races play a big part as we are grasping for any amount of extra efficiency possible. Priest are available to five races: Undead and Troll on the Horde. And Night Elf, Dwarf, Human on the Alliance. This section will talk about the most popular and efficient race for our goals. As previously mentioned, we are gifted with six possible races, but sadly Night Elf and Human have no discernible advantages.


    • Throwing/Bow Specialization: Skill with Throwing/Bow Weapons increased by 5.
    • Regeneration: Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue...
    • Beast Slaying: Damage dealt versus Beasts increased by 5%.
    • Berserking: Increase casting and attack speed by 10% to 25%. At full health the speed increase is 10% with...
    • Shadowguard: When a spell, melee or ranged attack hits you, the attacker will receive 116 Shadow damage...
    • Hex of Weakness: Weakens the target enemy, reducing damage caused by 20 and reducing...

    What does this mean?: Going Troll is the optimal race within the Horde for dealing as much damage as possible on a target, they especially excel on bosses categorised as beasts. There are rare occasions of Shadowguard being triggered by boss abilities.


    • Shadow Resistance: Shadow Resistance increased by 10.
    • Underwater Breathing: Underwater breath lasts 300% longer than normal.
    • Cannibalize: When activated, regenerates 7% of total health every 2 sec for 10 sec.
    • Will of the Forsaken: Provides immunity to Charm, Fear and Sleep while active...
    • Touch of Weakness: Next melee attack on the caster deals 64 Shadow damage & reduce...
    • Devouring Plague: Deals 712 Shadow damage over 24 sec. Its damage will heal the caster.

    What does this mean?: Technically, Undead will out damage every other single race but this will hinge on if the Raid Leader allows you to apply Devouring Plague on the boss. Most of the time this is not the case.


    • Gun Specialization: Guns skill increased by 5.
    • Frost Resistance: Frost Resistance increased by 10.
    • Find Treasure: Allows the dwarf to sense nearby treasure, making it appear on the minimap.
    • Desperate Prayer: Instantly heals the caster for 1324 to 1563.
    • Stoneform: While active, grants immunity to Bleed, Poison, and Disease effects. In addition, Armor....

    What does this mean?: Dwarf can be advantageous to get into a guild or raid quickly because of Fear Ward. This translates into getting more gold and gear quicker whether it be healing gear or damage dealing gear, this is a great way to get your foot in the door for you eventual transition into a full time damage dealer later on.

    Other Races

    If you are dead set on going another race or faction. This isn't to say you should be forced to play a certain race, rather that you should be aware of the differences and make the according decision that aligns with your preferences.


    During the harsh and lengthy process of leveling, select Herbalism and Alchemy. A valid case can be made for also having a lvl 5 alt stationed permanently in a major city to disenchant unwanted items through mail and store items at a bank for later use. Back to the subject at hand, herbalism contributes convenient reagents for alchemy and a strong source of revenue for our eventual endgame professions. It also prevents players from spending an exorbitant portion of time pestering strangers in a major city to craft potions. The objective is straightforward, gather a substantial supply of gold and a bank chock-full of fruitful potions the raid might need. Next, I advise dropping Herbalism once the quantity of gold in one’s bags is overflowing and adopt the late game profession: engineering to scoop up a few useful tools, such as: Goblin Sapper Charge Finally, for secondary professions, I urge grabbing all of them as they all provide valuable assets. In terms of fishing, you can farm those elusive Stonescale Eels that are highly contested after for Flask of the Titans and make a great profit. First aid grants bandages for healing that don't require any mana to use and Cooking provides you with Runn Tum Tuber Surprise.


    As you probably know a character can have a theoretical cap of 32 beneficial buffs. The limit may differ from server to server or what is acknowledged as a buff. Also, some buffs are unobtainable due to certain patch restrictions or unable to stack with others. On a side note, I suggest installing NirkBuffRemover/NBR and Buffalo to help with overall buff management and ease of mind. Down below is a table of relevant buffs, separated into sub groups to better highlight their usefulness. Although, there is no strict order, you should still prioritize getting world buffs before obtaining other buffs.

    Mind Control Buffs

    I wouldn't be thorough if I didn't mention the wonderful world of Mind Control buffing. It may not be for everyone but consider it if you are looking to increase your damage. Refer to my video to learn more about Mind Control Buffing:
    Learn more about Mind Control Buffs (also Dark Whispers Increases the Shadow damage dealt by an ally by 35 for 10 min from Vile Tutor in the Eastern Plague Lands)

    Special Event Buffs

    On an ending note for buffs, we can also get buffs from special events/holidays. Learn more about Special Event Buffs

    In conclusion, let's compile all of the buffs we have seen.
    Here is a screenshot of the best buffs, we can get for our means:
    Here is a screenshot of realistic buffs, we can get for our means:


    Having as many debuffs on the boss as possible is of paramount importance to dealing damage. Therefore, our interests are heavily tied to the release of patch 1.7, due to its extra 8 debuff slots introduction totaling to 16 debuffs. All debuffs on the list below benefit us in damage and are assumed to be at their maximum rank/talent improvement.

    • Improved Shadow Bolt (Warlock): Shadow Bolt critical strikes bolsters Shadow damage done to the target by 20%...
    • Curse of Shadow: Reduce Shadow & Arcane resistance by 75 & bolsters Shadow & Arcane damage taken by 10%.
    • Shadow Weaving: Shadow damage spells have a 100% chance to cause the target to be vulnerable to Shadow...
    • Gift of Arthas: If the user is hit, the attacker has a 30% chance of being inflicted with disease that increases...
    • Nightfall: Spell damage taken by target increased by 15% for 5 sec.


    When Shadow Priests are talked about, they are often associated with going out of mana quickly. However, this is an outdated notion involving a lack of information or commitment from players to rectify. This isn't to say they never run out of mana, but rather that it is greatly exaggerated. Of course, the shorter a boss fight the better. Below is a list of mana regenerative items, you should look to acquire.

    In order of granted mana:

    As you familiarize yourself with a fight and the limits of your raiding partners, it will come intuitively what is the best to use. Its worth mentioning some items don't share a cooldown, thus can follow each other in quick succession.

    Here are the two different cooldown categories:
    My personal recommendation is to have a diverse pool of the items featured in this section to cater to any situation that might arise. Not only are there items that can help with mana but also Buffs that we previously looked at.


    Unfortunately, the gear we desire is also desired by other casters. Therefore, I suggest acquiring this type of gear while assuming the role of a healing priest in the raid. The interesting part about gearing is that the necessary 16% spell hit for us as a caster is somewhat resolved with our Shadow Focus, which gives 10%. Down below is a url to a spreadsheet with a plethora of options for proper gearing.

    Gearing Spreadsheet


    For the sake of generality and simplicity these talents setups assume a server between patch 1.9 - 1.12 and taking part in a serious guild who are confidently clearing raids.

    alt text
    The typical talent setup for a shadow priest. In the rare scenario, you are generating too much threat consider withdrawing two points from Mental Agility and deposit them in Shadow Affinity.

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    Although, it's not entirely a part of the shadow priest playstyle and falls more under a healing priest, I figured I would mention it for players looking to speed run raids later on. Basically, it provides a damage boost Power Infusion to other spell damage users all the while capable of healing other raid members and applying Shadow Weaving.

    • Note: I need to point out a reoccurring fallacy. Many people will state the main purpose of a shadow priest is to apply Shadow Weaving and a shadow priest should only grab ced talent and remain within the holy/discipline talent tree healing others to remain efficient regardless of speed running or not. Basically, the notion is a healing priest can perform the necessary "responsibility" of applying the debuff without consuming a player raid spot of where the shadow priest would be. However, this notion slowly falls apart if the damage dealing shadow priest is putting extra effort to maximise their damage.


    The following rotation will assume a simple tank-spank raid boss with very minimal movement allowing our shadowy friend to freely cause havoc unhindered. The following rotation is split into several sections to better highlight the course of action. Naturally, if you are unable to accomplish certain aspects of the rotation, simply weed out what you can.

    • Pulling: Activate your trinket. Optimally, we would want to cast Shadow Word: Pain but it will depend on the Raid Leader decision. Next, cast Mind Flay, activate Inner Focus, cast Mind Blast, Mind Flay twice and Mind Blast. Make sure to reapply SW:P if you have the permission to use it.

    • BUT: on long fights (+2min): Cast Rank1 Shadow Word: Pain 4 times, activate trinket, cast max rank Shadow Word Pain, Mind Blast, Mind Flay twice and finally Mind Blast. As stated in the short boss fight above, reapply Shadow Word Pain if you have the permission to use it.

    • Situational: If you are generating too much threat (install addon KTM Threat) and about to pull aggro use a Limited Invulnerability Potion. In the situation gold is not your best friend, resort to cast a Mind Flay instead of Mind Blast.