Shadow Priest Talents Guide

Patch 10.2.5 Last Updated: 26th Jan, 2024
Jaerv Shadow Priest Author

Class Talents

This is the “cookie-cutter” class tree build you are going to see from most people.

shadow priest class tree

I have circled the Always Take talents with Green and the most of the time take talents with Yellow.

Green (Always Take):

  • Shadowfiend: Default for Shadow Priests. Summons a Shadowy fiend to attack the target for 15s. Generates 3 Insanity each time it attacks.
  • Shadow Word: Death: Default for Shadow Priest. Your execute ability,  it deals increased damage on targets at or below 20% health.
  • Death and Madness: Makes your Shadow Word: Death reset once if used on targets at or below 20% health
  • Tithe Evasion: Reduces the damage Shadow Word: Death deals back to you
  • Power Infusion: Increases the haste of the target by 25%
  • Twins of the Sun Priestess: Also grants YOU 100% of its effect when used on an ally.
  • Twist of Fate: Damaging or healing a target below 35% health you deal 10% more damage for 8 sec.
  • Halo/Divine Star: Choice node between Halo or Divine star that brings some added AoE damage and off-healing. Close enough in value that you could play whichever you prefer but TECHNICALLY Divine Star is slightly better in most situations.
  • Translucent Image: Fade reduces damage you take by 10%
  • Vampiric Embrace / Sanguine Teachings: Choice node between VE and Sanguine Teachings. Most of the time you will take Vampiric Embrace to help out with healing for the raid/group. But with the continuous nerfs to it does give Sanguine Teachings some added value on fights where you need more personal healing.
  • San’Layn: Increases the effectiveness of Vampiric Touch or Sanguine Teachings.
  • Death Throes: Shadow Word: Pain deals increased damage and gives you insanity when targets who are affected by the dot dies. Not really Always Take because of it’s strength, but because it’s used to get down to Mindgames

Yellow (Take most of the time):

  • Angelic Feather: Increases your Movement Speed by 40% for 5 sec, 3 charges.
  • Body and Soul: Increases your Movement Speed by 40% for 3 sec. Tied to Power Word: Shield
  • Protective Light: Casting Flash Heal on yourself reduces all damage you take by 10% for 10 sec.
  • Spell Warding: Reduces all magic damage taken by 3%.
  • Mindgames: Single Target nuke that reverses the perception of the target. Any healing they do during it will instead deal damage, and any damage the deal will instead heal. Is mostly just used for its instant damage in PvE content.
  • Manipulation: Mind Blast and Mind Spike reduces the cooldown of Mindgames
  • Shattered Perceptions: Mindgames lasts 2 seconds longer, deals more damage, and reverses more damage or healing. 

Outside of these points you have a lot of floater points that you pick based on the situation.

Some points that are used in niche scenarios and can be moved around depending on what YOU need:

  • Shackle Undead: If you need crowd control on undead mobs
  • Void Tendrils: If you need a “mass-root” crowd control on up to 5 targets
  • Purify Disease: If you need Disease dispel
  • Move with Grace: If you need your Leap of Faith up more often
  • Phantasm: Causes your Fade to remove slow effects.
  • Dominate Mind: Turns your Mind Control target into your pet for 30s instead but also has a 30s cooldown. Very very good in certain dungeons
  • Power Word: Life: With the new connection between Light’s Inspiration and PW:L, it is now a competitive option in dungeon content where a short CD, on demand heal, is very strong.
  • Psychic Voice: Mostly used as a travel point but can have some niche value if you need Psychic Scream up more often.
  • Void Shift: Swaps health percentages with your target. Can be very good on Necrotic Weeks to save the tank since it works through healing reductions. Has a very long cooldown though so is not something you always pick.
  • Crystalline Reflection: A niche way to give you slightly more damage on fights where you often use Power Word: Shield for movement but does not need any of the other points for survivability. 
  • Essence Devourer: Slightly undertuned, but it is competitive against Angelic Bulwark where you can just move the one point over. The biggest issue is that you have to take 2x Points in Improved Fade to get down to it. Which is currently one of the talent we use to take points out of to get more important things. Has its niche uses but nothing game breaking.

As you can see you have very few points that are deemed “mandatory” and you have a lot of options to customize the upper and middle tree to suit your needs. You might even go so far as picking up Renew and Prayer of Mending in situations where you need a lot of off-healing but less DPS.

The only section you generally want to avoid apart from the nodes leading up to Power Word: Life is the left side. It is filled with nodes that only buff spells for Holy/Disc and will do nothing for you as a Shadow Priest.

Talent Builds

Some frequently asked questions

Do I have to play Dark Ascension with the most recent changes?

With the 10.2 changes, there is almost no reason to play Voidform anymore. Outside of some very niche, high-key, big pull situations, Dark Ascension just does everything better than Voidform does.

So yes, unless you are in that very niche situation, you kinda have to play Dark Ascension now.

Do I have to play the Mindbender builds?

With how the new Tier Set is designed, it just highlights everything that Mindbender builds does. The increased value of Shadow Word: Death and Deathspeaker just feeds into Inescapable Torment and Dark Ascension.

We are also losing the T30 Tier Set’s Shadowy Apparition value which kinda kills Apparition/Yogg’Saron builds. So yes, every build currently in 10.2 is Mindbender focused, even those that pick up Void Eruption/Voidform.

Why is so many people playing with Mind Flay in Mythic+

Mind Spike and Mind Melt are suggested over Mind Flay in almost every scenario. Mind Spike is a shorter cast and is easier to fit into windows where the rotation is busy and less punishing if you have to cancel a Surge of Insanity proc mid-way through. Canceling Mind Flay: Insanity means the proc is wasted, but Mind Spike: Insanity is not consumed until the cast is finished. For this reason it is suggested you take Mind Spike if you are looking for overall damage. If you really hate spike that much, you can drop these two points for Voidtouched and another flex point, all sims and data shows this is worse, but not by a crazy amount (usually 1-4% range).

You might see folks that push keys run Mind Flay builds, but there is no evidence that points towards dropping Mind Spike ever making sense for overall damage. Anyone that claims that it's better has not provided evidence as to why it is, and all of our testing points against Mind Flay in every scenario. At the end of the day, you can time 25+ keys with almost any build as Shadow, anyone that chooses Mind Flay is just taking a 1-4% DPS loss.

Some people might say “it's because they need to get Mental Fortitude and can use the flex point in Dark Evangelism to do it”. But, you have those flex points with Mind Spike as well, you would just move 1 point out of Maddening Touch to get it instead. At the end of the day, we have not found any proof that Mind Flay is ever MORE damage, but it is also not far enough behind to where it's worth arguing about it.

How do I sim my Shadow Priest for Mythic+? Is DungeonSlice good?

The answer to if DungeonSlice is good, is… it’s functional, but it's not good. It is way too generic, and is based on way too low of a key for most people to get accurate data from it. So either, you do a lot of different sims on different target counts, and different fight lengths and see how things behave when you change certain settings, such as:

  • “What gains value when I increase targets?”
  • “What loses value when I decrease the fight length?”
  • “What about with and without Bloodlust?”

Or, you can use DungeonRoute sims. You can find how to do that in this link

Single Target (Dark Ascension Yshaarj/C'thun)


This is the main Single Target build for 10.2.5, very Similar to the Dark Ascension build we used for raid in Patch 10.1 and 10.2.

The 1 point in Dark Evangelism is a float and can be moved to Voidtouched or Mind Devourer if you prefer that.

Single Target (Dark Ascension Yshaarj/C’thun/Flay)


If you prefer Flay over Mind Spike, you can play these talents. Sims very similar to the Mind Spike version.

Single Target + Shadow Crash (Dark Ascension Yshaarj/C’thun)


If you ever need Shadow Crash for the fight you should go with this. It’s very similar and you basically just move the 2 points in Maddening Touch over to Shadow Crash. And then go 2 points in Mind Devourer instead of Phantasmal Patogen just so you can get down to Deathspeaker.

3 Target Council (Dark Ascension Yshaarj/C’thun)


This build is specifically for 3 target Council fights, in particular, the Council of Dreams boss in the raid.

Dungeon (Dark Ascension Nzoth/C’thun)


Can play Mind’s Eye instead of Distorted Reality by simply swapping that one point if you really wanted to.

Can play Mind Flay instead of Mind Spike by dropping Mind Spike and Mind Melt for Voidtouched and a 2nd point in Dark Evangelism.

The 2 points in Mastermind can be moved over to Screams of the Void for some extra AoE damage.

Dungeon (Voidform Nzoth/C’Thun)


Can play Mind’s Eye instead of Distorted Reality by simply swapping that one point if you really wanted to.

If you decide to play Mind’s Eye you should also move over the 2 points in Mind Devourer to Maddening Touch.

If you want to play Mind Spike with this build you drop the point in Void Touched and 1 point in Mind Devourer for Mind Spike and Mind Melt.

Dungeon (Voidform Apparitions Build)


Experimental build that should only be played in high keys, in coordinated groups, where you pull big and around 2 minute cooldowns.

The build is significantly worse in Single Target (about 7%) but can make up for it if your group pulls big enough. Most people will see better results on average with the other builds.