In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Shadow Priest rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Shadow Priest Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Shadow Word: Insanity or Mindbender (they are mutually exclusive Tier 3 talents). Shadow Word: Insanity allows you to consume your Shadow Word: Pain, if there are 6 or fewer seconds left on its duration, dealing damage to the target. Mindbender replaces Shadowfiend, its lower cooldown making it more efficient both at dealing damage as well as at regenerating mana. They both increase your DPS but it is premature to determine which of the two is a greater increase.
- Void Shift is a spell that swaps your health percentage with the health percentage of the targeted raid member. If one you has a health percentage of less than 25%, then it is increased to 25%. This is a cooldown that enables you to save raid members who reach very low health (and are still taking damage). You can use Dispersion immediately afterwards, in order to give your healers enough time to heal you.
- Power Infusion, which increases your casting speed by 20% and reduces the mana cost of your spells by 20%. This spell was previously only available to Discipline Priests. It can be cast on players other than the Priest. It is a talent (Tier 5), the alternatives to which are Twist of Fate and Divine Insight. It is unclear which of these three talents will provide the greatest DPS gain, but Power Infusion certainly has the added benefit of being able to be cast on other players.
- One of Cascade, Divine Star, or Halo. Again, it is unclear which one will be the most beneficial, but as they are all multiple target spells, they are unlikely to affect the single target rotation very much.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Shadow Orbs are generated each time you deal damage with Mind Blast or Shadow Word: Death. Shadow Word: Death generates 2 Shadow Orbs if it turns out to be a killing blow on the target. Shadow Orbs are used for casting Devouring Plague (see below).
- Devouring Plague has been redesigned. It now costs Shadow Orbs instead of mana. It deals Shadow damage over time and also heals you over time. Its damage (and healing) is based on the amount of Shadow Orbs you have when casting it. Casting it consumes all of your Shadow Orbs.
- The new Mastery, Mastery: Shadowy Recall, gives each tick of your DoTs a chance to deal its damage twice.
- Inner Fire now increases your spell power by 10%, instead of by a fixed value.
- Mind Blast has an 8 second cooldown and generates a Shadow Orb each time it is cast.
- Shadowform increases Shadow damage by 20% (up from 15%).
- Mind Flay no longer refreshes Shadow Word: Pain.
Removed AbilitiesNone of the abilities that were part of the Shadow Priest rotation in Cataclysm have been removed, although some have been changed (see above), such as the Shadow Orb/Empowered Shadows mechanics.
With this mind, the Shadow Priest rotation remains similar to its Cataclysm version. Below, we list what we think the Shadow Priest rotation will be, approximately. A great deal of testing is still required, and many abilities are subject to change.
Single Target Rotation
- Keep up Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch.
- Use Mind Blast on cooldown.
- Use your Shadow Orbs on Devouring Plague. Devouring Plague deals a fixed damage per Shadow Orb, so it makes no difference if you use it with 1, 2, or 3 Shadow Orbs. Ideally, you should use it with 3 orbs, though, in order to conserve global cooldowns.
- Use Mind Flay whenever Mind Blast is on cooldown and your DoTs do not need to be refreshed.
- Use Shadow Word: Death on cooldown when the target is below 20% health.
- Shadowfiend (or Mindbender) should be used on cooldown.
- Power Infusion, in case you choose it as a talent, should be used as many times as possible during the fight. Ideally, you should cast it on the caster (healer or DPS) who will benefit your raid the most thanks to it. This is to say, you should cast it on the caster DPS who does the most damage (or benefits most from increased casting speed) or on one of the healers, if your progression is being halted by healing probelm.
- Shadow Word: Insanity, in case you choose it as a talent, should be used when your Shadow Word: Pain is about to expire on the target.
Multiple Target Rotation
When facing 2 or 3 enemies, you should apply and keep up your Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch on all of the targets, while performing a single target rotation on one of them.
When facing 4 or more enemies, you should simply channel Mind Sear on one of the targets (or the tank, if he is in melee range of all of them).
TalentsTier 1 is a choice between three crowd control talents. It appears that it will have little impact on the actual DPS performance. The talents are: Leap of Faith (a Holy spell), takes you out of Shadowform. Moreover, even though casting Power Word: Shield (on yourself or another player) does not remove Shadowform, using Power Word: Shield, as a Shadow Priest, can cause problems for your raid, since your Weakened Soul could prevent Discipline Priests from casting their more powerful Power Word: Shields (or having Weakened Soul on you already could prevent you from gaining the movement speed boost when you most desire it). Therefore, we feel that Body and Soul is not very desirable. Phantasm looks like it will have more PvP applicability, leaving Angelic Feather as being the most useful talent in this tier, which can also benefit other raid members.
Tier 3 gives you a choice between three DPS-increasing abilities. We discussed Mindbender and Shadow Word: Insanity at the start of this article.
The third talent choice is From Darkness, Comes Light, which gives you a chance to gain a mana-free, instant cast Mind Spike that does not consume your DoTs on the target. Coupled with the Glyph of Mind Spike (see below), this could prove an excellent talent.
Tier 4 gives you a choice between self-healing and survival talents. The usefulness of Spectral Guise seems more suited to PvP. The choice between Desperate Prayer and Angelic Bulwark will likely be based on your own preference and the encounter mechanics. We would just note that, unless it happens regularly that you are brought below 30% health, and continue taking damage after that, Angelic Bulwark will not be very useful. We would recommend Desperate Prayer, because it offers you a lot more control.
Tier 5 gives you a choice between the following talents, as mentioned at the start of the article:
Tier 6 gives you a choice between three multiple target DPS talents:
GlyphsThere is only one glyph that has any chance of influencing your DPS. This is Glyph of Mind Spike, which causes your Mind Spike to reduce the cast time of your next Mind Blast (within 6 seconds) by 50%, stacking twice (thus, making your Mind Blast instant cast).
We hope you have enjoyed our article and that you find it useful. As always, we are eagerly awaiting your feedback!