Shadow Priest talents guide

Patch 10.1 Last Updated: 27th May, 2023
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.
  • 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

Notes: With 10.1, our Spec Tree has gone through a full revamp, not only with new talents and removed talents, but also swapping the position of existing talents. So, a lot of the builds might look very different from what you are used to.

Notes Single Target:

If you want Deathspeaker, you can drop Screams of the Void for a 2% damage loss to get a bit more movement. If you want to play Dark Ascension, you can pick the 2nd build recommended under Single Target for a small loss in overall damage, about 2-3% behind Void Eruption currently in sims, but might have value on certain fights where 1 minute CD windows line up better with mechanics and/or add spawns.

Notes Dungeon Builds:

Dungeon builds are still very up in the air and will depend, as always, on the dungeon you run and what YOUR group needs for that specific dungeon. But here are 2 options that currently perform very well in simulations and testing.

Single Target (Voidform Yogg/C'thun)


The main Single Target build currently for patch 10.1 is Voidform, Idol of Yogg-Saron and Idol of C’thun.

The 1 point in Psychic Link can be moved to Mental Fortitude on any fight that does not have any adds or cleave.

Single Target (Dark Ascension Yogg/C’thun)


Almost identical to the Voidform version, but we move the 1 point from Voidtouched to Dark Evangelism.

This is mostly because Dark Ascension does not generate as much insanity during the cooldown windows, so having that extra 50 insanity to play with is not as important.

2 Target (Voidform Nzoth/Yogg/Cthun)


Our 2 target build is brand new. With the shuffling of talent nodes in the tree, it gave us the possibility to pick up 3 different Idol nodes.

You will notice that the 2 target build is very similar to the 4 target+ build, but we focus a little bit more on Single Target with Mind Spike and Mind Melt. We also utilize the brand new talent called Distorted Reality, which increases the duration of Devouring Plague for an increase in Insanity Cost. The value of this talent in cleave is its synergy with the talent right next to it, Phantasmal Pathogen, which increases the damage our Shadowy Apparitions deals to targets that are affected by Devouring Plague. Meaning that we can spread Devouring Plagues in AoE to increase the damage of our Apparitions. While this is possible even without Distorted Reality, the increase in duration makes it a lot more manageable while still maintaining full Mastery value on all other spells without having to constantly swap targets.

4 Target+ (Voidform Nzoth/Yogg/Cthun)


As mentioned, it is very similar to the 2 target build, but we drop a bit of the Single Target focus to pick up Shadow Crash. When you start getting to 3, 4, 5 targets and above, you really need Shadow Crash to be able to maintain your DoTs on all targets.

Voidform N’zoth/Yogg/C’Thun


The AoE focused build of the 2 is very similar to the 2 and 4 target build, but with even more focus on AoE damage from Maddening Touch, and moving some Single Target back in the form of Mind Spike and Mind Melt to balance out the value between trash packs and bosses.

Dark Ascension N’Zoth/C’Thun


While not necessarily a significant increase in Single Target damage, Dark Ascension can still be used in Dungeons where it is hard to get full value out of the long cooldown windows of Voidform, or if you need damage roughly every 1 minute instead of every 2.

You can swap the 1 point in Distorted Reality for Mind’s Eye for a small increase in Single Target, and you can swap one of the points in Mastermind over to Screams of the Void.