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Priest Raid Class Spec Lead (Shadow) Discussion
#1
Greetings Shadow Priests!

Your RCSL is Denul, which is me. If you need to get ahold of me ingame, the alts I'm often around on are: Bendon, Logros, and Dromand.

So, please feel free to use this thread to discuss the spec, as it relates to raiding, or to ask and answer questions. As GI Joe wisely proclaimed throughout my youth - "Knowing is half the battle."

Table of Contents
1. Shadow Priest Basics
2. Talents
3. Gear choices
4. Profession Choices
5. Enchants + Gem Choices
6. Your Role in Karazhan
7. Your Role in Gruul's Lair
8. Mods + Macros
9. Links

***************************************************************************

1. Shadow Priest Basics

I'm going to cover the basics before talents/gear for this guide, because a lot of the SP abilities are somewhat complicated, and your strategy will dictate your talent choices, rather than the other way around.

Essentially, a SP comes down to cast rotation and cooldown management. Once you've learned those, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of melting faces in PvE. Also, just as fair warning now: Expect to go through Mana Potions every 2 minutes on every boss fight. A SP is a -very- mana-intensive casting class, and your primary obstacle for DPS will be keeping up mana.

Now, here's why Shadow Priests are among the most popular characters in the game - with VT going, 25% of your damage is returned as mana. 5% to each of your 5 group-mates (including yourself). Be sure to remind Druids of that when they're choosing who to Innervate Big Grin

Your casting rotation is going to be heavily dependent on your gear level. In early stages (pre-T5), you're going to mostly be using a simple cast rotation for sustained DPS:
Vampiric Touch, Shadow Word Pain, Mind Flay, (Repeat Mind Flay until VT or SWTongue need to be reapplied)

You're going to be interspersing Vampiric Embrace in there as well, keeping that up for most fights. During times when you need to burn through a certain phase quickly (such as Curator evocate or Prince Phase2), you'll add in Mind Blast and Shadow Word Death. Be very, very careful with Shadow Word Death. The reason for sticking with your DOTs and Mind Flay is simply mana efficiency. Using those three attack spells, you'll still go out of mana without using potions, but it won't be near-immediate.

Once your gear gets better, and you're able to do more damage, and thus keep your mana higher through VT, add in Mind Blast and the occasional SWBig Grin to your cast rotation. Neither is terribly mana-efficient, but it'll up your damage. The trick is finding the ideal medium where you're low on mana at the end of a fight, and have kept DPS steady.

When looking at gear, you need to consider Spell Haste very carefully. Since most of your damage comes from DoTs which receive no benefit from Spell Haste, the primary advantage of Spell Haste comes from improving your Mind Flay cast time. However, unless other classes that spam one or two spells all the time, and thus receive a straight benefit from SH, you need to consider rotation. If spell haste doesn't reduce the cast time of your MF and Mind Blast enough that you can get an extra Flay into your rotation, then it's not really helping you - you're just going to be standing around waiting that half-second or second so you can re-apply VT or SWP. If using SH means you can get 3 Mind Flays into a rotation instead of 2, then it's a big help. That process is mostly trial-and-error, unfortunately.

***************************************************************************

2. Talents

Shadow Priests are one of the few specs that get a considerable amount of leeway in their talent-point expenditures. As such, I'm going to suggest one spec, but provide talent-by-talent comments to help make the choice for your individual playstyle.

Suggested Raid Build: Link 20/0/41

This build is what I'd recommend for purely-raiding effectiveness. If you're going to be doing raiding + 5-mans + soloing, then you'll likely want to move a few points around, and most likely go with something more like this: Link.

Like I said, there's a lot of room for leeway.

Discipline

Tier 1:
Unbreakable Will: (5/5) Better than the alternative.
Wand Spec: (0/5) Worse than the alternative

Tier 2:
Silent Resolve: (0/5) Not useful to a SP
Imp PW:F: (2/2) +30% to an already-powerful buff is fantastic
Imp PW:S: (3/3) Frankly, not fantastic, but again, better than the alternatives
Martyrdom: (0/2) Useless in raiding

Tier 3:
Absolution: (0/3) Not worthwhile, you won't be using these often enough for their mana cost to significantly impact your performance
Inner Focus: (1/1) Fantastic talent. Used with Mind Blast most often, but I'll sometimes use it with Devouring Plague (since it's such a high-cost spell)
Meditation: (3/3) Mana is going to be your biggest enemy, and 30% of regen while casting is fantastic

Tier 4:
Imp Inner Fire: (0/3) Terrible talent.
Mental Agility: (5/5) If you're going this far into Disc, it's for this talent. A decent increase in your mana efficiency, helping mostly with SWTongue, but also helping with PW:S, SWBig Grin, and Devouring Plague (if you're Forsaken)
Imp Mana Burn: (0/2) Strictly PvP talent


Holy

Nothing here. Skip this whole tree as a SP.


Shadow

Tier 1:
Spirit Tap: (5/5) Fantastic talent, yes, for raiding. In many fights, there's a chance to finish off an add, and doing so will up your mana regen tremendously. SWBig Grin is perfect for this. If you're outside of a raiding situation (5-man or soloing), this talent is invaluable.
Blackout: (0/5) In a raid, this talent isn't terribly useful. Most things are immune to stuns, and if they're not, odds are they're not really a big threat, and it's very unlikely you'll be attacking them.

Tier 2:
Shadow Affinity: (0/3) In a raid, you're not going to have aggro issues. If you're doing a lot of 5-mans, this talent is a must-have, or you'll never be able to use VE with a non-Paladin tank without pulling aggro like crazy.
Imp SWTongue: (2/2) A staple spell, this increases it's usefulness by improving mana efficiency, and more important, not needing as many casts to keep the spell up (You'll always be juggling your global cooldown).
Shadow Focus: (5/5) Tailor this talent to your gear level. Remember that you need 16% +hit to be capped for bosses, and anything past that is not helping you.

Tier 3:
Improved Psychic Scream: (0/2) Crappy talent, but necessary to get Silence. In a raid, I wouldn't bother going down this tree, for the same reasons I don't like Blackout.
Improved Mind Blast: (5/5) Another staple spell, when something needs to die fast, MB is the best DPS spell you've got.
Mind Flay: (1/1) Dur.

Tier 4:
Improved Fade: (0/2) Garbage.
Shadow Reach: (2/2) This is a must-have. Mind-Flay has a terrible range, and anything to help that for raid encounters is a big help.
Shadow Weaving: (3/5) Feel free to take this up to 5/5, if you can. It won't matter much in the end, but it'll lead to maxing the stacks of it faster, which will help your damage by a very small amount, as well as that of warlocks using shadow.

Tier 5:
Silence: (0/1) If you've taken IPS, it's to get this talent. Great for 5-mans or soloing, but a poor raid choice.
Vampiric Embrace: (1/1) Dur.
Improved Vampiric Embrace: (2/2) Increases health % return from 15% to 25%. A very large bonus for only 2 talent points.
Focused Mind: (3/3) Improved mana efficiency? Yes please.

Tier 6:
Shadow Resilience: (0/2) Strictly PvP
Darkness: (5/5) Dur

Tier 7:
Shadowform: (1/1) Dur
Shadow Power: (0/5) This is a talent you might start to put points into as your gear level increases and you can afford to start casting MB and SWD, but for a starting SP, avoid it. Later in life, it can be a great talent.

Tier 8:
Misery: (5/5) Dur

Tier 9:
Vampiric Touch: (1/1) Durrrrr

***************************************************************************

3. Gear Choices

Gear choices for a shadow priest are a bit more complicated than most classes face.

First, you have to consider +hit. Until you reach 16% +hit along with Shadow Focus, then that's your #1 priority.
Second, you want to go for +damage. +damage improves your damage as well as your mana-return, both of which are critical for a SP.
Third, you want mp5. Because you're going to be casting constantly, spirit gets you a smaller return for regen (even with 30% of it happening while casting thanks to Meditation.

After that, you want +spirit (10% of your Spirit in +damage from a priest with Imp Divine Spirit, as well as regen), spell haste (see Basics above), and +crit. Crit does very little for you, even at high gear levels. Typically, the valuation of damage to crit is between 1:6 and 1:9, depending on how much you're using MB and SWD (if you are at all!). +int helps a small amount by providing a larger initial mana pool.

Now, the tricky part is that most gear that has +damage has +crit (boo!) or +hit (which you quickly cap).

The good news is that three pieces of gear are a no-brainer for every shadow priest: the Frozen Shadoweave tailoring set. Simply put, every SP should be using that until they get better gear, which will take a very long time.

I've stolen the below list directly from Elitist Jerks, and agree with it 100%
Elitist Jerks Forum Wrote:Helm = [Spellstrike Hood]
Neck = [Natasha's Arcane Filament] or [Natasha's Ember Necklace] or [Vindicator's Pendant of Dominance]
Shoulders = [Frozen Shadoweave Shoulders]
Cloak = [Cloak of the Black Void] or [Cloak of Woven Energy]
Chest = [Frozen Shadoweave Robe]
Bracers = [Bracers of Havok] or [Vindicator's Dreadweave Cuffs]
Gloves = [Studious Wraps] if you're doing heroics. [Tempest's Touch] or [Jaedenfire Gloves of Annihilation] if not.
Belt = [Girdle of Ruination] or [Akama's Sash]
Leggings = [Spellstrike Pants]
Boots = [Frozen Shadoweave Boots]
Rings = [Signet of the Violet Tower], [Seal of the Exorcist], [Seer's Signet], [Evoker's Mark of the Redemption], [Manastorm Band], [Cobalt Band of Tyrigosa], [Khorium Band of Shadows]
Trinkets = [Darkmoon Card: Crusade] and [Icon of the Silver Crescent], although [Mark of Defiance] or [Item 'get in-game item linkquagmirran's eye' not found!] also works until you get those.
Weapons = [Gavel of Unearthed Secrets] or a blue dagger/mace with +120ish damage
Offhand = [Orb of the Soul-Eater] (or [Tome of Shadow Force] until then)
Wand = [Carved Witch Doctor's Stick] is the best wand in game for a shadow priest. [Wand of the Netherwing], [Illidari Rod of Discipline] (requires an epic flying mount), or a wand of Shadow Wrath also work pre-heroics.

For a by-slot guide to the best gear available, check here for a 2.4 guide to the best gear available per slot. You might be surprised by how much of that is available to a Kara-level raider.

Some values taken from the link above for gear stat-weights are provided here:
Quote:5.57 crit rating = 1 dmg (with SWBig Grin in rotation)
* 1 haste = 1 dmg (presuming ~1400 dmg)
* 10 spirit = 1.1 dmg (1 dmg without kings with imp DS)
* 80 int = 1 crit% = ~4.36 dmg (3.97 dmg without kings)
* 1 hit = 1.364 dmg (when not hit-capped)

Keep in mind 10 spirit only gives damage if someone in your raid has Imp Divine Spirit, and that the crit rating there is assuming you're using SWBig Grin as often as possible. It's also not factoring in mana-efficiency, so you may need to make sacrifices to damage output in order to sustain mana.

***************************************************************************

4. Profession Choices

Profession #1: Tailoring

If you don't have tailoring as a SP, at least to start, then I question your ability to make rational choices. The Frozen Shadoweave set is simply fantastic, and won't be replaced until ZA/t5 gear (and even then, it's competitive). It's also something you can get right at 70, with preparation, and is reasonably inexpensive. There's a variety of other good tailoring items available as well: [item]Belt of Blasting[/item], [item]Girdle of Ruination[/item], [item]Spellstrike Hood[/item], [item]Spellstrike Pants[/item], [item]Battlecast Hood[/item], [item]Battlecast Pants[/item], and [item]Mantle of Nimble Thought[/item]. Spellstrike hood/pants are the most likely to be obtainable to a relatively new 70 SP, but take a look at the other items as well.

Profession #2a: Alchemy

I'm fond of alchemy for three reasons:
1) [item]Sorcerer's Alchemist Stone[/item] (Link)
2) [item]Mad Alchemist's Potion[/item] (Link)
3) [item]Flask of Pure Death[/item] (Link)

Having Alchemy will make getting the Flasks cheaper if you're elixir spec, and the Stone and potions are only usable if you're an alchemist. Note that going this route means you'll have to buy your herbs.

Profession #2b: Engineering

Engineering is fantastic for the [item]Destruction Holo-Gogs[/item] (Link). You also get bombs, a transporter, a zap-throttle mote extractor, and various fun gizmos.

Profession #2c: Jewelcrafting

To be honest, not really a good option. Prior to 2.4, the epic gems were special, but now gems that are nearly comparable will be fairly common. None of the trinkets available are particularly impressive, although [item]Figurine - Seaspray Albatross[/item] (Link) isn't too bad. There's far better available though.

Profession #2d: Enchanting

Meh. Very, very meh. I can't in good conscience recommend this, since other people will have the enchants you want to have done, and there's no particular advantage to having Enchanting yourself. The ring enchants are minor, and the cost to get to them is extremely high. Just remember to generously tip those who do have enchanting Smile

Profession #2e: Gathering

If you want a source of income, herbalism and mining are useful. Personally, I don't take gathering professions because I prefer to max out my effectiveness, and the epic gear available from professions helps me do that. It's certainly not required though.

***************************************************************************

5. Enchants + Gem Choices

Enchant Choices:

Back: Greater Shadow Resistance (+15 SR), Subtlety (-2% threat)
Chest: Restore Mana Prime (+6mp5), Exceptional Stats (+6 all), Major Spirit (+15)
Feet: Vitality (+4 mp5, +4 hp5)
Gloves: Major Spellpower (+20 spell damage)
Head: Glyph of Power (+22 sdmg, +14 spell hit)
Legs: Runic Spellthread (+35 sdmg, +20 stam), Mystic Spellthread (+25 spdmg, +15 stam)
Main Hand: Soulfrost (+54 shadow damage), Major Spellpower (+40 spdamage), Spellsurge (Restore mana to group)
Shoulder: Aldor/Scryer enchant token
Wrist: Restore Mana Prime (+6mp5)

A few comments about my choices. Shadow Resist is simply most useful in raids, and there's no caster-centric enchant available. In a raid, you should almost never be threat-capped, so Subtlety isn't as useful. For chest enchants, any of the three work well - after a certain point in gear, +15 spirit will give you more than +6mp5. Weapon enchant is mostly up to your budget (Soulfrost or MS), or whether you want to be more group-buff focused and using Spellsurge. For the wrist enchant, you can get Spellpower (+15 sdamage), but it's 6 lps, 6 primal fire, and 6 primal water, and I can't recommend someone dump that kind of money on +15 sdamage, when +6mp5 is dirt cheap and very comparable.

Gem Choices:

First, I want to mention gemming for +spell hit. As a spriest, it's very viable to do. To max you +sphit, you need 16% between talents and gear. We can use talent points for 10% hit, leaving only 6% for gear (76 Spell Hit), which is relatively easy to get. Past this cap (which should be your absolute first gearing priority), you can choose to exceed the cap and remove points from Shadow Focus, or you can just hit cap, and gear for +spdamage.

Player Craftable:
Blue: [item]Glowing Nightseye[/item]
Red: [item]Runed Living Ruby[/item], [item]Reckless Noble Topaz[/item], [item]Veiled Noble Topaz[/item]
Yellow: [item]Reckless Noble Topaz[/item], [item]Veiled Noble Topaz[/item], [item]Great Dawnstone[/item]

Heroic Gems:
Blue: [item]Fluorescent Tanzanite[/item] (Blood Furnace), [item]Glowing Tanzanite[/item] (Black Morass), [item]Lambent Chrysoprase[/item] (Underbog)
Red: [item]Shining Fire Opal[/item] (Mechanar)
Yellow: [item]Shining Fire Opal[/item] (Mechanar)


***************************************************************************

6. Your Role In Karazhan

You're a fantastic addition to any Kara raid - a well geared shadow priest can compete for top damage, and provide a tremendous group-benefit and buffs at the same time. Beyond standard buffs (Fort, SProt), you can be used to shackle undead targets with Shackle Undead and Fear Ward the tanks for Attumen trash and Nightbane. Never underestimate the utility of those two spells in Kara, they'll be raid-savers. Also remember that a paladin tank rarely minds a PW:S, so throw that around when damage is going to be high.

The biggest hurdle you'll have here is that there's a lot of AoE fights, and you'll quickly go OOM trying to DoT all the targets available, and your DoTs won't get to do a lot of damage anyways. It's often best to VT and blast a single target, providing mana for your group, allowing those with better AoE abilities to nuke the enemy. Once you get enough +spell damage, DoTing up a bunch of targets can be effective, but keep an eye out for threat.

For many fights, there'll only be a few targets to cast on. Make sure to keep DoTs up on all targets, as long as your tanks can handle the multi-tanking. Remember that you can only have VE up on one target, so pick one that you'll be focusing on with Mind Flay/MB/SWD. And remember that VE increases your threat by a ton, so don't get yourself killed.

Attumen: Shackle trash as directed.
Moroes: Shackle one of the adds, keep DoTs up on active targets.
Maiden: Keep up DoTs and VE, as the healing here will help a lot. Use Dispel Magic to remove holy fires from raid members.
Opera: Standard DPS here. If it's Oz, try to keep DoTs up on all active targets.
Curator: You'll mostly DPS curator, but try to help out with adds when you can.
Shade of Aran: DPS, don't get yourself killed.
Terestian: DPS. Be very careful with aggro here if you're using VE, since you could easily pull imps en-masse off the imp-tank.
Netherspite: You're a fantastic candidate for the blue beam if you don't have two warlocks. Just don't SWBig Grineath Wink
Nightbane: Fear Ward the tank, and conserve mana, as this is a very long fight.
Prince: Be very careful about using Mind Flay, as it's range is shorter than that of Shadow Nova. Careful using SWBig Grin, as you'll kill yourself if he Enfeebles you. Keep PW:S up on the tank during P2, as most wipes will occur then from the tank taking too much damage from a flurry.


***************************************************************************

7. Your Role in Gruul's Lair

Pewpew dps. You won't have any special tasks here, other than providing healers with lots of mana. During Gruul, you may be placed with healers to ensure they're in range of your VE and VT. Be VERY careful not to blow them up. Try to get Innervates from druids for Gruul, as it's a long fight, and you can keep up healer mana effectively as long as your mana stays high.


***************************************************************************

8. Mods + Macros

Other than standard raid mods, there's not a lot of mods that will make a big difference for a Shadow Priest. Something to tell you when a target is affected by a magical debuff is required, so you can Dispel Magic.

Clique is very useful for click-casting (I use it for buffs, and use keyboard binds for offensive spells).

Quartz is handy for showing cast-times and the GCD, which you'll be monitoring very closely to keep your attack rotation going smoothly.


***************************************************************************

9. Links

Elitist Jerks Shadow Priest Guide
[Image: 2270166Iryxy.png]
Dromand (70 Tank/Healing Paladin), Logros (70 Enhancement Shaman), Denul (70 Shadow Priest), Bendon (70 AH-Mule Rogue)
Reply
#2
Although I am not a Shadow priest, I am looking forward to seeing what the stat/gear requirements are whenever you get around to it.
Reply
#3
as a sp who will be hitting 70 sometimes this week I'd appreciate some minimums for starting raids Smile (and some example gear)
Reply
#4
Basics, talents, and gear up. Will try to finish the rest this weekend.
[Image: 2270166Iryxy.png]
Dromand (70 Tank/Healing Paladin), Logros (70 Enhancement Shaman), Denul (70 Shadow Priest), Bendon (70 AH-Mule Rogue)
Reply
#5
Done, at long last.
[Image: 2270166Iryxy.png]
Dromand (70 Tank/Healing Paladin), Logros (70 Enhancement Shaman), Denul (70 Shadow Priest), Bendon (70 AH-Mule Rogue)
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