Shadow Priest talents guide

Patch 10.0 Last Updated: 16th Nov, 2022
Jaerv Shadow Priest Author
Jaerv

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.
  • 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. 

Yellow (Take most of the time):

  • Twist of Fate: (This should probably be in Always Take, but I can see very very few niche scenarios where you do not need it.) Damaging or healing a target below 35% health you deal 10% more damage for 8 sec.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Throes of Pain: Increases the damage done by Shadow Word: Pain and also causes it to generate insanity if the target dies while afflicted by it.
  • Translucent Image: Fade reduces damage you take by 10%

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: Dropping most of the middle section of the bottom tree and going the route over to Power Word: Life will often be very worth it. It's a very strong heal if used on targets under 35% health. Basically a Lay on Hands light on a very short cooldown.
  • 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. 

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

Note for Cleave: There is not much Cleave outside of Mythic+ (see builds below), but there are some fights with add spawns, so we need to pickup Mind Sear somehow.

Single Target (Dark Ascension / Y'shaarj / Yogg-Saron / Void Torrent)

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Your standard Dark Ascension Single Target build with Mind Flay: Insanity, Void Torrent, Inescapable Torment, Idol of Y’Shaarj and Idol of Yogg-Saron.

Focus on consistent damage with 1 and 2 minute burst windows.

Single Target (Dark Ascension / Y’shaarj / C’Thun)

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Very similar to the other Dark Ascension build but instead of going for Void Torrent and Yogg-Sarron, we go Mental Decay, Screams of the Void and Idol of C’thun.

It has an almost identical damage pattern to the previous build but puts less value into Mind Spike and more into Mind Flay. Idol of C’thun also helps to make the spec flow better by increasing your Insanity Generation outside of cooldown. 

Difference in DPS between the builds is very very small and will most likely come down to personal preference or fight design. #1 has a bit more punch to it with Void Torrent and Mind Spike, where as #2 has more flow and sustain with increased insanity generation and more value in Mind Flay.

ST Hybrid (Cleave)

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This is basically just the normal DA ST build, but we drop Silence for Mind Sear to have damage on Adds on bosses like Erranog, Dathea, Raszageth. You can do the same with the C'thun version of the Single Target build.

Kurog Cleave (Only on Mythic)

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Raid AoE (Council/Brood full AoE etc.)

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Mythic+ AoE (Big Pull Dungeons)

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Mythic+ Cleave (Mid/Small pull Dungeons)

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Mythic+ Overall (Experimental Build that works everywhere)

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In the #2 build (M+ AoE) you can drop Mind Flay: Insanity for 2/2 in Inescapable Torment if you don't think you need boss damage.

In #3 (Mythic+ Cleave) and #4 (Mythic+ Overall) you swap Void Eruption for Dark Ascension in dungeons where you either pull fairly small, or the tank goes 1 pack at a time. This is because it's hard to maximize the value of Voidform if packs don't live for a fairly long time.

Most of Shadow’s AoE in Dragonflight comes from Mind Sear and Psychic Link, and therefore we want to focus on any talents that will increase the damage it deals or the amount of times we can cast it.

Mind Devourer is close to mandatory currently for AoE, as Shadow has big issues with insanity generation outside of cooldowns. Especially on AoE since we have no source of target scaling insanity generation, outside of Auspicious Spirits and Maddening Touch.

Frequently Asked Questions:

“Why do you not take Idol of N’zoth?”

So earlier in Beta Idol of N’zoth used to be picked all the time and by reading it, you would think it would be a no-brainer to pick this on anything AoE.

But Blizzard nerfed it very hard. They reduced the spell damage % from 25% to 10%.

They capped the amount of targets that can have the debuff to 4 and made it deal reduced damage beyond 5 targets. 

All of these nerfs together with its very awkward placement on the tree, forcing you into 2 points in Insidious Ire, which is just a dead node in AoE, makes it just not worth taking it anymore.

“What about Deathspeaker and Pain of Death?”

These points have a few issues. The main one being that Shadow Word: Death just doesn't deal enough damage to be your main source of AoE damage. The other being that Deathspeaker’s proc rate (1.5 rppm) is way way too low to be reliable.

“I don't like Mind Sear, can I play without it?”

You can do whatever you want, it's just a game. But no. If you want to be viable, there is no alternative options to AoE

“Do I have to play Mind Spike?”

You don’t have to do anything, but it is a DPS increase in almost every situation. If you are fine with losing 3-5% DPS you can play most of the builds without Mind Spike and Surge of Darkness

“Why do you not have Mental Decay while playing Screams of the Void”

Screams of the Void is currently bugged if you also have Mental Decay. It will not make Shadow Word: Pain tick faster while channeling Mind Flay, therefore we drop Mental Decay in Single Target situations.