Updated for 4.0.
This guide basically details how I play, and soon I will stick it on a page so that I can keep it updated. I hope it helps.
Basically, you want to go for this 9/0/32 build. There are 2 spare points which I’ve put into Mental Agility and Psychic Horror, which I have found to be a very useful talent in heroics. It’s not the best CC in the world by any means, but it’s very nice if the tank’s struggling with a few mobs at once, it can even be glyphed to remove the cooldown by a minute. Feel free to move them around if you can see something more useful to you.
The best three prime glyphs to use at the moment are:
Though, if you’d rather take something else, Glyph of Dispersion can occasionally come in useful if you find yourself needing the extra survivability.
The major glyphs are really down to personal opinion. None give any DPS increase, so it’s down to what you’ll find most useful for whatever you’re doing. Personally, I think these are the best 3 at the moment pre-raids:
However, when you start raiding, it might be worth replacing Glyph of Spirit Tap with one of the following, probably Fade or Dispel Magic. It’s situational.
Minors are also down to you as they always have been really. I like to use Glyph of Levitate and Glyph of Fading because it’s always nice to not have to worry about carrying Light Feathers around, and the reduced mana cost on Fade is reasonably nice too if you ever find yourself using it.
For normal and heroic instances, you don’t need too much hit, just take whatever you get your hands on. For raids, you will need to aim for the hit cap, but you’re pretty safe to be 4-5% under, if you notice too many misses, however, that’s when you need to get a little more hit. If you haven’t picked up enough hit/spirit gear, it will be best to reforge your least useful stat into spirit. Remember that with the Twisted Faith talent, 1 spirit = 1 hit.
The stat priorities, not including hit/spirit (which when capped becomes useless), are: Intellect > Spell Power > Haste > Crit/Mastery. Of course, it will always be best if you run your own armory profile through SimulationCraft (see this post) to work out your stat priorities, but that is generally what you’ll be looking at with Crit being ranked only a tiny, tiny bit higher than Mastery which isn’t as useful to us as it is to other classes/specs.
I have compiled a couple of gear lists. My gear list for normal levelling gear, which you need to gather a little before you can enter heroics, is here, and this is my pre-raid gear list for heroic and reputation drops primarily. The main thing about gear, as it always has been, is knowing which stats are best for you. Once you know that it’s pretty easy to work out what is and isn’t an upgrade just by looking at the item. If you’d like to easily see how much better an item is, you can always use the Rating Buster mod which lists the stats on the item and how much better/worse it might be than the item you currently have equipped. I’ve found currently that it’s not listing haste, but I’m sure that will be fixed soon.
As for weapons, I would strongly recommend a main hand/offhand combination at the moment. I haven’t seen an enchant specifically for 2handers that we can use on staves, and I have had a thorough look at enchants, so we’ll be using the same enchant on staves as we do on our main hand weapons, and we also now benefit from offhand enchants which give us 100 intellect, so the staff would have to make up for that bonus to be better than a main hand/offhand, which usually it won’t.
I have compiled a BiS pre-raid list, which you’re more than welcome to use, on the Wowhead profiler based on SimulationCraft stat weightings. I didn’t include epic BoEs purely because they’re obviously better than the other items and depend on how much gold you have, how much you’re willing to spend, and whether or not they come up for sale on the auction house or in trade. If you want to do the same easily, when you run your character through SimulationCraft, you will see an option to check gear on Wowhead, click it, it will open up in the program and you can copy and paste the link at the bottom into your browser then go back to your imported log. It’s a very nice option, and if you want to check the list based on the stat weightings they’re using at ShadowPriest.com, you can click here.
I think the biggest question for a lot of people is how to properly use Mind Spike. The idea behind Mind Spike is to give Shadow Priests a spell to cast on shorter living mobs – namely, trash in instances or adds on bosses. Using Mind Spike will eat any DoTs on the target but if you’re finding yourself using Mind Spike, you won’t be needing to DoT anyway. It also gives you a buff that stacks upto 3 that increases the crit strike chance of your next Mind Blast, and the Mind Melt talent gives your next Mind Blast a 50% chance to be an instant cast. You shouldn’t be using Mind Spike on targets that live long enough to take a fair bit of damage from a proper rotation.
For longer living mobs and bosses, you’ll want to be doing a full rotation, starting with DoTs, Arcane Torrent if you happen to be a Blood Elf, Mind Flay until you get a shadow orb, then Mind Blast. DoTs no longer suffer from clipping, so make sure you refresh them with a few seconds left or when you get the Empowered Shadows buff (only Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plage, Shadow Word: Pain will be refreshed through Mind Flay). Try to keep up replenishment too as much as you can. You might also notice that Pain and Suffering only has a 60% chance for Mind Flay to refresh the duration of your Shadow Word: Pain now, so do keep an eye on that, I didn’t realise for the first couple of instances.
You should be using Shadow Word: Death in your rotation. Not only is it a nice bursty spell, but it grants mana back from the damage backlash, so make sure you aren’t shielded when you cast it if you need the mana. It’s even better after 25% now that it’s become an execute move – it will do more damage at that point in the fight, and if you have it glyphed, which you should do, you’ll be able to cast 2 in a row before it goes back on cooldown. Do watch out for your own health, though we have a cushion in the form of Pain and Suffering, if there’s a lot of group damage and the healer isn’t able to focus on healing you up, or the fight gives you a massive damage increase, you might end up killing yourself with it – so be smart, but do make good use of it.
Also remember to use Shadowfiend fairly early on in the fight, if the fight won’t last longer than 4 minutes, hold off until a Blood Lust or until you need a bit of mana back, if it will last longer than 4 minutes, use it after you’ve dotted up. Dark Archangel is also very worth using once you get 5 stacks of Evangelism, it increases your damage a little and gives you back 5% of your mana pool. Plus it looks awesome.
You will notice an increase in mana problems this expansion, similar to back in TBC, but if you manage your mana using the methods I mentioned above, you will be absolutely fine, might even finish some 5 man fights on full mana.
Currently, Ember Shadowspirit Diamond and Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond seem to be reasonably similar in DPS terms for us, it really depends on what you’re willing to do for meta requirements until Blizzard change the requirements for Chaotic (which they have said they will and hopefully quite soon). If you’re a Jewelcrafter for starters you’ll be best to use the Ember Shadowspirit Diamond because the Brilliant Chimera’s Eyes will more than make up for it. If you aren’t, it has been suggested that Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond, using more Purified’s than Brilliants or Recklesses, and one Lightning Dream Emerald to get the meta requirement may be slightly better than using an Ember Shadowspirit Diamond, but it’s so close that it might be best (easier/less fiddly) to go with Ember which only requires 2 yellow gems.
As for the other gems, you will still be prioritising pure intellect gems, Brilliant, unless you have a 10 intellect or more socket bonus requiring a red or blue gem. For yellows you’ll want to use Reckless, intellect and haste, and for blues you’ll want to use Purified, intellect and spirit.
- Helm – Arcanum of Hyjal
- Shoulder – Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone or Felfire Inscription (Inscriptors).
- Chest – Peerless Stats
- Cloak – Greater Intellect or Lightweave Embroidery (Tailors).
- Wrist – Greater Speed or Draconic Embossment – Intellect (Leatherworkers).
- Weapons – Power Torrent or the cheaper option, Hurricane.
- Offhand – Superior Intellect
- Gloves – Haste
- Belt – Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
- Legs – Powerful Ghostly Spellthread
- Boots – Lavawalker
- Ring – 40 intellect (Enchanters).
You’re going to want to be using Flask of the Draconic Mind in raids which gives you 300 intellect for an hour.
If you’re looking for an elixir to use instead I’d recommend Elixir of Mighty Speed. There are also battle elixirs to increase your crit, mastery, hit, and spirit.
As for potions, Volcanic Potion is phenomenal.
Severed Sagefish Head is the 90 intellect food, to make it you need Deepsea Sagefish which can only be fished from open water. I’ve found the best place to be in Twilight Highlands, though Uldum isn’t bad either. Pickled Guppy only gives 60 intellect, but the fish required, Highland Guppy, can be fished from pools inland in Twilight Highlands, so it may be worth getting a few of those for heroics. If those don’t really appeal to you, you could try Fortune Cookies which give you a random buff based on your stats, I personally don’t like this kind of food for raiding, I’d rather know that I’m getting the right buff, but they might be useful to you perhaps.