Shadow Priest DPS Spec, Builds, Talents, and Glyphs (WoD 6.0.3)

Shadow Priest Art Image
General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent and glyph choices for Shadow Priests in World of Warcraft WoD 6.0.3. We detail what each of the talents and glyphs do and in which situations they should be taken.

The other pages of our Shadow Priest guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Twintop, one of the main Shadow Priest theorycrafters, who runs Shadow Orbs and Mind Spikes and works on How To Priest.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Priest Transition Guide!

1. Talent Choices↑top

Level Choices
15 Desperate Prayer Spectral Guise Angelic Bulwark
30 Body and Soul Angelic Feather Phantasm
45 Surge of Darkness Mindbender Insanity
60 Void Tendrils Psychic Scream Dominate Mind
75 Twist of Fate Power Infusion Shadowy Insight
90 Cascade Divine Star Halo
100 Clarity of Power Void Entropy Auspicious Spirits
+ show color blind markers - hide color blind markers
  • Performance-enhancing
  • Survival
  • Crowd Control
  • Movement
  • Utility
  • Situational

Talents can easily be changed, thanks to Tome of the Clear Mind Icon Tomes of the Clear Mind. You will frequently find yourself changing talents and glyphs between encounters, in order to adapt your play style to different mechanics. Therefore, it is important to understand what each of your talents does and how they affect your play style.

2. Tier 1 Talents↑top

Tier 1 talents offer you a choice between 3 abilities that improve your survivability.

  • Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer is an instant-cast self-heal that heals you for 22% of your maximum health, with a 2-minute cooldown.
  • Spectral Guise Icon Spectral Guise allows you to enter a pseudo-stealth state (you remain in combat), leaving behind an illusion of yourself. The effect lasts for 6 seconds, or until you receive 3 attacks.
  • Angelic Bulwark Icon Angelic Bulwark is a passive ability that grants you a 20-second damage absorption shield, for 15% of your maximum health, each time you drop below 30% health. The effect has an internal cooldown of 90 seconds.

Here, the choice comes down to either Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer or Angelic Bulwark Icon Angelic Bulwark. We prefer Desperate Prayer, because it can be used on-demand. Angelic Bulwark can be great when it procs, so it is useful for fights where you often drop below 30% health (progression content, most likely).

That said, Spectral Guise Icon Spectral Guise does have a few PvE applications, such as resetting boss encounters or mitigating some encounter mechanics, such as fixates.

3. Tier 2 Talents↑top

Tier 2 talents offer you a choice between 3 means of improving your mobility.

  • Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul increases the movement speed of the target of your Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield and Leap of Faith Icon Leap of Faith by 60% for 4 seconds.
  • Angelic Feather Icon Angelic Feather allows you to place up to 3 feathers on the ground. Collecting a feather (running through it) increases the player's movement speed by 60% for 6 seconds. This ability has a maximum of 3 charges, and a 10-second recharge time.
  • Phantasm Icon Phantasm causes your Fade Icon Fade to remove all movement-impairing effects from you. It also makes you unslowable for 5 seconds.

We recommend choosing Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul or Angelic Feather Icon Angelic Feather. Body and Soul is a bit better, because it offers an immediate movement-speed increase whenever someone needs it, as opposed to Angelic Feather, which takes more time since you need to spawn the feathers. The added time to set up Angelic Feathers will also result in a loss of DPS. Be wary, however, that the Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shields you cast to provide the Body and Soul buff will apply the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff on the target, so make sure not to inconvenience any Discipline Priests who are trying to do their job. Conversely, note that you cannot provide the boost if the player is already affected by Weakened Soul, so be on the look-out for that.

Angelic Feather is a close second to Body and Soul, though, so if you think you will need the extra 20% movement speed that Angelic Feather offers, or if you think the 6-second duration of the Body and Soul buff will not be enough, then you should go with Angelic Feather.

It is important to note that neither Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield nor Leap of Faith Icon Leap of Faith will take you out of Shadowform Icon Shadowform when you use them.

Phantasm Icon Phantasm is more of a PvP talent, with situational uses at best.

4. Tier 3 Talents↑top

Tier 3 talents offer you a choice between 3 performance-enhancing abilities.

  • Surge of Darkness Icon Surge of Darkness passively grants you a 10% chance, whenever your Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague deal damage, to cause your next Mind Spike Icon Mind Spike to not consume your DoTs, to be instant-cast, and to deal 50% additional damage. You can have a maximum of 3 charges of this buff at one time.
  • Mindbender Icon Mindbender is an improved version of Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend, which it replaces. The Mindbender has a lower cooldown, and provides you with Mana regeneration each time it attacks its target. It also deals more damage.
  • Insanity Icon Insanity transforms your Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay into Insanity Icon Insanity each time you consume a Shadow Orb, for a duration of 1.80 seconds per Shadow Orb consumed. Insanity deals 100% additional damage (as compared to Mind Flay).

In this tier, you will need to choose the talent based on the encounter, following the considerations presented below.

Surge of Darkness Icon Surge of Darkness is very useful for high movement encounters, or when you are applying Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch to many targets.

Mindbender Icon Mindbender is best used for timed damage bursts. It is also useful when there are many targets and spare global cooldowns to apply Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch. This is because in these cases, you will not have time to cast Mind Flay (so Insanity Icon Insanity would be under-utilised), and you would likely be capped at 3 Surge of Darkness charges and be unable to spend them all before more charges are triggered.

Insanity Icon Insanity is good on fights where you have predictable periods of time of 6-8 seconds, during which you can stand still and channel Insanity. If there are more targets in the encounter, this becomes more difficult because of competing priorities for refreshing DoTs. Sporadic movement makes this even more difficult because, for example, you may have just started to channel Insanity, but you are then forced to move, wasting the uptime on Insanity.

5. Tier 4 Talents↑top

Tier 4 talents offer you a choice between 3 crowd-control abilities.

  • Void Tendrils Icon Void Tendrils roots up to 5 enemies in place for up to 20 seconds. Killing the tendrils cancels the effects. The targets must be in the 8-yard proximity of the main target of the spell.
  • Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream causes 5 enemies within 8 yards of the main target to flee, being disoriented for 8 seconds. Damage done to these targets can cancel the effect.
  • Dominate Mind Icon Dominate Mind takes control of an enemy player or NPC for 30 seconds.

These talents have, at best, situational uses. They may be useful in some encounters, but most likely will only be used during trash and questing. Your choice will be largely irrelevant.

These talents do not influence your performance in any way, their uses being entirely situational. We advise that you choose the talent you prefer the most, or that one which applies best to the conditions of the encounter.

6. Tier 5 Talents↑top

Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between 3 performance-enhancing abilities.

  • Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate passively increases your damage and healing by 15% for 10 seconds, each time you damage a target that is below 35% health.
  • Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion is a 2-minute cooldown that increases your haste by 25%, and reduces the Mana cost of all your spells by 20%, for 20 seconds.
  • Shadowy Insight Icon Shadowy Insight passively grants you 5% chance, each time Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain deals periodic damage, or Mind Spike Icon Mind Spike deals damage, to reset the cooldown of Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast and cause your next Mind Blast (cast within 12 seconds) to be instant cast and cost no Mana.

Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate is best when you can maintain high uptime on the buff it provides throughout the encounter, such as when there are adds that spawn frequently, which you can damage when they are low on health.

Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion is a very powerful cooldown for timed damage bursts, and it makes for a solid default choice.

Shadowy Insight Icon Shadowy Insight is powerful when there are many long lived targets to cast DoT with Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain. Council fights are a good example of when to use this.

7. Tier 6 Talents↑top

Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between 3 abilities that deal damage to multiple targets.

  • Cascade Icon Cascade is a sort of chain lightning. It deals damage to an initial target (with the damage being greater the farther away that target is), and then bouncing to additional enemies up to 4 times. Each time it bounces, it splits into 2 "bolts" of damage. It can never damage the same target twice.
  • Divine Star Icon Divine Star resembles a yo-yo, in the sense that the ball of energy travels in a path away from you (in front of you), and after reaching a certain point (24 yards away), it returns. Both on the first, as well as on the second trip, it damages enemies in its path.
  • Halo Icon Halo causes an effect around you, which expands up to a 30-yard radius. Enemies who are inside it are damaged, and the highest amount of damage is done to enemies who are at the 25-yard mark.

Cascade Icon Cascade is most useful if targets are spread out and moving around, in and out of the area that a Halo Icon Halo would normally hit.

Halo deals the highest damage for general use, but you should watch out because it might may put extra, unwanted enemies in combat (though this is unlikely to happen in actual encounters).

Divine Star Icon Divine Star should only be used if there is a group of enemies that are always going to be at very close range, or, if there are many enemies that are grouped up and other enemies you do not wish to do damage to that are not grouped up, but that could still be hit by Halo. Divine Star deals roughly the same amount of damage per global cooldown as a cast of Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay, so using it against a single target is not recommended.

8. Tier 7 Talents↑top

Tier 7 talents give you a choice between 3 abilities that enhance your DPS performance.

It is important to note that the tier 7 talents essentially create sub-specs for Shadow Priests, each with their own playstyles and priorities.

While it is still premature to give value judgements for these talents, we will present you with a few considerations.

Clarity of Power Icon Clarity of Power will lead to a DoTless style of play. Your primary filler will be Mind Spike Icon Mind Spike instead of Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay. This talent will be primarily used on single target encounters.

It is interesting to note that it will still be valuable to cast your DoTs on secondary targets for extra cleave damage, and to possibly get procs of Surge of Darkness Icon Surge of Darkness or Shadowy Insight Icon Shadowy Insight.

Likewise, it is also interesting to note that there are trends for playstyles with Clarity of Purpose that are not entirely DoTless. In one such playstyle, termed CoP Lite, you play as you normally would and only use Clarity of Power for the improvements to Mind Blast. This yields best results in fights with many targets.

Void Entropy Icon Void Entropy can reliably be kept up on two targets, and even on three if you are using Shadowy Insight Icon Shadowy Insight, Glyph of Mind Harvest Icon Glyph of Mind Harvest, or you are in an execute phase. This is best used on long-living adds (that are alive for at least 40 seconds) or bosses.

Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits grants many additional Shadow Orbs that can be used to apply more Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plagues. This is a great talent for you need the increased self-healing (from Devouring Plague). It is best used in encounters with heavy movement, or with many targets on which to apply Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain. As the number of targets increases, the application of Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch becomes a filler ability instead of using Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay. With lots of targets, you may not cast Vampiric Touch at all.

9. Major Glyphs↑top

There are a few Major Glyphs you should consider, though none of them provide a DPS increase. Below, we group them together by category.

9.1. Healing

  • Glyph of Focused Mending Icon Glyph of Focused Mending causes your Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending to only bounce back and forth between yourself and your initial target. This makes Prayer of Mending an excellent survival ability, providing you with a nice amount of healing. Note that using Prayer of Mending takes you out of Shadowform Icon Shadowform.
  • Glyph of Prayer of Mending Icon Glyph of Prayer of Mending increases the initial heal of Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending, at the cost of one charge. This glyph is useful particularly for the times when you use Prayer of Mending as a self-healing ability. Note that using Prayer of Mending takes you out of Shadowform Icon Shadowform. This glyph is exclusive with Glyph of Focused Mending Icon Glyph of Focused Mending.
  • Glyph of Vampiric Embrace Icon Glyph of Vampiric Embrace increases the amount of healing provided by Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace by 10%, and reduces the duration of the heal by 5 seconds. This makes the heal from Vampiric Embrace more bursty.
  • Glyph of Power Word: Shield Icon Glyph of Power Word: Shield causes 20% of the absorb from Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield to be converted to healing. This glyph is useful given the reduction in off-healing in Warlords of Draenor. It works especially well while questing or doing dungeons, but it remains viable in raids as well (although watch out for conflicts with Discipline Priests).

9.2. Damage Reduction

  • Glyph of Delayed Coalescence Icon Glyph of Delayed Coalescence causes Dispersion Icon Dispersion to last 3 seconds longer, but when it has 2 seconds remaining, its damage reduction is reduced by 30% per second. This glyph can be useful, depending on the type of damage you are looking to mitigate during an encounter.
  • Glyph of Fade Icon Glyph of Fade reduces all damage taken by 10% while Fade Icon Fade is active. This can turn Fade into a useful minor survival cooldown in times of raid damage.

9.3. Utility

10. Minor Glyphs↑top

All Minor Glyphs are of purely cosmetic value, and they do not influence your gameplay at all.

11. Changelog↑top

  • 29 Nov. 2014: Fixed two typos in the discussion of tier 7 talents.