Shadow Priest PVE Guide (4.3 Updated)
Regarding this thread:
Welcome to the Shadow Priest PVE Guild for 4.3! Please note this is a work in progress, as time permits I will update this thread with all relevant information as it comes to light.
The information in this thread is relevant to Shadow Priest DPS in a PVE environment, specifically at end-game raiding levels. The information contained here is a compilation of contributions gleaned from various sources such as Elitist Jerks, Wowhead, and Shadowpriest.com as well as personal experience. All data presented will attempt to be empirical.
That said, I would like to take a moment to thank those who have helped compile this information by contributing experiences, data, and other invaluable resources through the various locations where Shadow Priests gather. I will attempt to be as concise as possible in my outline of the current discussion and theory-crafting surrounding the Shadow tree of the Priest class.
[top]Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is there a haste cap/plateau/threshold/etc?
A: Short answer, no. Shadow does not have any achievable haste caps at this time. More information about haste below.
Q: Should I reach the hit cap?
A: Simulations demonstrate that hit rating is a DPS increase until cap, however actually achieving the cap is a matter of preference. It is important to note that while hit is important, it is highly not recommended to actually gem or enchant for it.
Q: Should I use the Shadow Fiend on cool down?
A: Yes. Ultimately it is a DPS increase two fold, one by actually doing damage itself and two, by returning mana to the caster to allow for continued damage output.
Q: When do I refresh my DoTs?
A: The simplest answer is whenever they are about to expire or, if you happen to gain a buff (bloodlust, trinket proc, etc.) prior to them needing to be refreshed. Please see the DoT Refreshing section for further information.
Q: I changed my spec, and on a training dummy my new spec gives me more DPS!
A: What you do on a training dummy is irrelevant, not only is your sample data far too small to rule out RNG, you're also missing lots of buffs/target debuffs that will change the way certain talents perform.
Base Talent Spec: (8/0/31)+2
This leaves 2 points free to be used elsewhere. It is recommended to either finish out Mental Agility or pick up Inner Sanctum. Points could also be used to pick up some more utility spells such as Psychic Horror but these points are merely preference.
[top]Stats & Gearing
When considering your own stat weights it is recommended that you download SimulationCraft or similar tools and base your decisions around your individual character. However, the below order should be somewhat correct in most situations.
Please note that the latter three stats will be in constant flux as more and new gear becomes available.
How you reforge will be based on the following rules:
When to ignore the socket bonus:
Generally speaking, if a socket bonus is less than 20 Intellect (or 30 of any rating stat), then the consensus is that a Brilliant Inferno Ruby is far more beneficial than attempting to match a socket. However, it is highly recommended that you use SimulationCraft to determine your individual scale factors.
Regalia of Dying Light Flame
* Note on Engineering: All tinkers now stack with standard enchants.
[top]Spells & Rotation
As a Shadow Priest, your primary concern is managing the Empowered Shadow buff. That being said, how you manage that is for the most part up to you. Since, unlike other classes, Shadow Priests do not have to apply debuffs to function at their fullest potential, there really is no set rotation as it were.
While Shadow Word: Pain has a relitivly low DPET, since it is one of our main ways of continually spawning Shadow Orbs in conjunction with being refreshed via Mind Flay, it falls a bit higher on the priority list. Uptime for this spell should be as close to 100% as possible.
The key is getting your Empowered Shadow buff up as soon as possible through the generation of shadow orbs (via SW:P and MF). The amount of orbs generated prior to casting Mind Blast has no bearing on Empowered Shadow, so best case would be to cast a Mind Blast as soon as an orb is generated, reapply DoTs and continue with the rest of the spell priorities.
Since Mind Blast’s DPET increases with the number of shadow orbs available it is optimal to cast it when orbs are present, however, a Mind Blast with no shadow orbs still has a higher DPET than Mind Flay and should be used cool downs permitting.
While the Shadowfiend has a low DPET, it has the added benefit of returning mana to the caster thus enabling more damage throughput. It is wise to use it as often as possible (unless you find yourself struggling to manage your mana—mainly newer raiders whom may undergear certain content—then you would want to save it for times of need).
Shadow Word: Death is an interesting spell to consider in your DPS rotation. It functions in two ways; One, it is considered an execute phase spell—talented (Mind Melt)—when the target is <25% health (and with Glyph of Shadow Word: Death you can hit it twice); and two, it is a mana regeneration talent (Masochism) much in the same vein as a Warlocks Life Tap however SW:D has the added ability to cause damage while regenerating mana.
For the most part there really isn’t a “set-in-stone” opener for Shadow Priests. With Empowered Shadow in mind, you will want to cast the spells that are likely to generate shadow orbs on your target as quickly as possible. For the most part a “safe” opening rotation would be to follow (loosely) the spell priorities listed above, such as:
Then continue to follow the priority above. You would be forsaking some uptime on Empowered Shadow for the peace of mind of having all your DoTs rolling.
Alternatively, you could opt to attempt to force an orb proc by opening with:
Then continue to follow the priority above. Here you are holding off on higher DPET spells in favor of getting that first Shadow Orb prior to Mind Blast so that your DoTs benefit from Empowered Shadow as soon as they're cast.
As well, depending on the situation, it is possible to pre-cast Vampiric Touch (along with consuming a Volcanic Potion) just as your tank pulls (provided you have some prior warning). This allows you to have one of your most effective DoTs on your target as soon as battle starts (similar to some fire mages who pre-cast Pyroblast). You will want to refresh this once Empowered Shadow is rolling.
By the time you run thought either initial sequence (unless you are pristinely unlucky) you should have generated your next orb by the time Mind Blast is off cool down and thus can keep your Empowered Shadow rolling.
[top]AoE & Multiple Targets
Shadow Priest AoE damage (in the form of Mind Sear) has had a rollercoaster ride of effectiveness for the past few patches. Mind Sear has gone from extremely powerful, to beating a mob with a wet noodle, to being fairly decent compared to most other classes. Aside from a buff to damage, one new feature to this lovely spell is that it can now be cast on friendly targets (such as a tank or other melee) to allow for you to channel without interruption.
Multi-target encounters provide the ability to apply several of your main DoTs (mana providing) to each target thus gaining a substantial increase to overall damage output.
Haste has become a far more interesting and advanced stat than it had once been prior to 4.0. It was redesigned to benefit damage- and healing-over-time spells by allowing them to tick faster and thus reducing the overall duration of those spells. This is important because with enough haste your DoTs will tick with enough frequency to allow for additional ticks to occur. Below are a few examples of those points where we can gain an additional tick:
Shadow Word: Pain
A very interesting thing happens when you reach one of these extra tick points: the duration of your damage- or healing-over-time spells increases from its hastened duration back to its natural duration. This is important to note because while the ticks are still ticking at roughly the same frequency as they were prior to hitting one of these points, and thus doing roughly the same DPS, they are now doing it for a slightly longer time. That extra time allows for you to insert other damage-dealing abilites such as Mind Flay (which aside from being our nuke is also behaves as a DoT benefiting from haste).
There are several formulas which are important to note, one calculates cast speed and another calculates the haste rating required for additional ticks.
To calculate the hastened cast time of a spell, use the following formula:
New_Cast_Time = Normal_Cast_Time / ((1 + (Haste_Rating / 12805)) * Shadow_Form * Darkness)To calculate the haste required for additional DoT ticks, use the following formula:
Tick_Speed_Required = (Base_Frequency * Base_Tick_Speed) / (No_of_Ticks - 0.5)
Since 4.0 the basic rules for DoT behavior has changed. The basic rule of thumb to follow is:
So what does this mean? Basically, dots benefit by your buffs on a per cast basis; while benefiting from debuffs on your target on a per tick basis. This is true for all DoT classes.
So looking at the dots we cast—Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch, and Devouring Plague—there are several things to keep in mind. Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague function in virtually the same fashion. They benefit from buffs for their entire duration (unless refreshed); while Shadow Word: Pain is a little trickier. Since Shadow Word: Pain is continually refreshed by Mind Flay you will have points where it is not buffed and for the most part that's okay, you should never have to recast that spell.
So it is appropriate to recast both Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague once a buff is present—trinkets, enchants, bloodlust, etc. That said, our main concern is the Empowered Shadow buff. It should be present prior to dot casts at all times. If, however, you are unlucky and your Empowered Shadows falls off and you need to cast your dots, simply recast them once the buff is present again.
Shadow Priests have several tools at their disposal. The most common one is Shadowfiend, on a 4 minute cooldown if you have 2/2 Veiled Shadows. The talent Sin and Punishment reduces the cooldown of your Shadowfiend by 10 seconds each time Mind Flay crits, so in reality your cooldown may end being 3 minutes or even lower. Naturally in later tiers this will get even better as we crit more on Mind Flay, and the 2 piece T11 bonus is nice for this as well, increasing Mind Flay's crit chance by 5%.
The second obvious tool is Dark Archangel. Getting 25% of your total mana back instantly is a nice ability, and you can use this every 90 seconds.
The third obvious tool is Dispersion. This is 36% more of your total mana back over 6 seconds. The drawback is not being able to DPS during this time, but some fights have phase changes where you can use this, and other fights have mechanics that you can use Dispersion to almost completely nullify. Generally speaking however this should be lowest on the list when it comes to a mana cooldown due to the DPS hit you take.
The final tool, which isn't always obvious to the beginner, is Shadow Word: Death and how the new talent Masochism applies to it. In essence, this our version of Life Tap, except we even get to do DPS while casting it. If you're having mana issues on a fight, make sure you're casting SWD on cooldown. This gets even better sub 25% on a boss with the glyph of SW:D.
In addition, the Glyph of Spirit Tap can allow you to regen mana on fights with adds, if you can successfully snipe killing blows with SW:D.
Several macros for multi-target situations:
The following macros allow you to cast each spell on your target or your focus target. Shift is used as the modifier here, but can be changed depending on preferences.
[top]Tools & Addons
One of the best tools currently at our disposal is SimulationCraft:
In addition to that site there is also SimulationCraft.org which offers sample analysis generated by SimulationCraft. Basically giving easy access to simulation results of all classes and specs at various gear levels (and patches).
World of Logs
Another excelent tool for any raider is World of Logs (WoL).
There is a very brief "help" section (found here) on the site that will give you the basics of how to go from setting up your account to uploading your log and analyzing the data. As well as a forum available to ask any questions that may arise.
[top]Upcoming Patch Information
No current information.
1. There is way more spirit gear than it is hit gear, while the specs count that want hit gear is same as spirit (if you count shadowpriests as spirit users).
2. In most of our BiS setups we use spirit gear, not hit one.
For numbers on spirit gear vs hit gear count:
Spirit - 51 (Armor - Items - World of Warcraft)
Hit - 12 (Armor - Items - World of Warcraft)
Spirit - 26 (Armor - Items - World of Warcraft)
Hit - 10 (Armor - Items - World of Warcraft)
I don't agree with you.
There is in fact no spirit cloth gear in Firelands, and your difference in numbers stems from the fact that you have 14 T12 set pieces with spirit for priests.
There are some spirit neck / rings / offhands / etc., but there will be on high priority for healers, because they are the only pieces that a disc/holy priest can hope to get directly from raids with spirit, and healers will want spirit on most pieces if they can. I don't know how high priority mages and warlocks will put on hit pieces, given that they can regorge it and (likely) reach the cap with a few native pieces and this reforging.
But healers want more spirit than dps want hit. I know that with my (main) healing gear set, I'm hit over-capped by a large margin.
And don't forget that rings / back / necks are shared by all armor types. The competition is then between all healers and all magical dps: both numbers are close I would guess (3 healers in 10, with 5 dps, including likely two melees / hunts, and 6-7 healers in 25, for 15-16 dps, including about half magical).
While this is all very noble of you to leave gear for healers and other dps based on what OTHER people want, the fact remains, that spirit>hit for Spriests, Why have a stat that does one thing only, when you could have a stat that does the exact same thing AND regens your mana. OF course the benefit of the raid come into play when you are actually working a progression boss, but for the purpose of theory, spirit instead of hit rating. The only exception I could think of would be if a hit rating piece had more haste than a spirit piece.
Whether or not you pass spirit items to healers or hit items to non-spirit using classes is up to you and them, but for the purposes of min/maxing and gearing in raids, spirit = hit (unless you're a human and then it's 1:1.03) end of discussion.
Personally I prefer spirit items so I can use them to heal when needed, but generally I use whatever item is better.
http://elitistjerks.com/f77/t123944-...clysm_edition/ that topic explains how add little or heavy movement in simcraft.
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