How To Improve As Shadow Priest — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will find out how you can improve at playing Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1. We list the common mistakes that you should try to avoid and the small details that can greatly improve your performance.
Pressing Buttons Faster
This might seem like a bit of a silly mistake to point that people might be making, but it is something seen fairly often. It is especially important fo Shadow because you always have something to cast, and you operate at high Haste levels than most specs in the game do. This means that it is easier t miss a cast here or there and over the course of a fight this can really ad up. Try to always be mashing the next button you want to cast while you ar casting your current spell to make sure you cast it as fast as possible.
Dealing with Movement Properly
Perhaps the biggest learning curve as a Shadow Priest is learning how to deal with movement during a fight. Shadow does not have any baseline mobility (aside from Dispersion being active) and can only get movement speed boosts from our talent tree, so Shadow has to be a bit more creative when it comes to movement. The punishment for messing up isn't that extreme outside of your cooldown windows, but having to make large movements during Voidform can really hurt your DPS. It is important to master the following two guidelines:
First of all, it is important to understand the concept of something we call 'stutter-stepping'. Stutter-stepping essentially means that you are moving small distances in between your globals and fitting in any instant spells you may have to make sure you do not actually lose any casts. Luckily for Shadow, during Voidform you get access to Void Bolt which is instant and available every two globals. Outside of Voidform you can use Shadow Word: Death, Devouring Plague, or Dark Thoughts procs. This means that you can move a few yards after every instant cast ability you cast if you wanted to. Playing around this is key to optimizing your damage, as you can sometimes move into position ahead of time if you know a mechanic will force you to move soon. You are slowly moving to your destination over a period of time but you will lose no casts in the process is the goal here. Using instant casts to cover your movement is the ideal scenario, but sometimes that is not enough. In the first place because you may not actually be in Voidform when movement happens, in the second place because certain fight mechanics do not give you the time to do this properly.
Secondly, you must learn to use Shadow Word: Pain in cases of movement. When doing the rotation normally, Mind Flay is your filler spell. If there is movement where the above explained stutterstepping does not cover it entirely, the second most ideal way to deal with movement is to use Shadow Word: Pain instead of Mind Flay. This is only a net loss of a few Insanity, but does come at the cost of reducing potential Dark Thoughts procs, so only use this as a last resort. It is also ideal if the cooldown of Mind Blast is recharging or when in Voidform is not sitting on 2 stacks so that you do not lose any casts over the course of a fight. As an alternative to Shadow Word: Pain, you can also opt to use Power Word: Shield instead. This generates 6 Insanity and has the added benefit of giving you a bit of extra defense. If you take Body and Soul as a talent, then it also provides you with a movement speed boost, making it easier to move to a better position afterwards.
Knowing How To Sim Yourself
When simming your character it is important to sim for types of things that your character is actually dealing with. If you just sim for simple Patchwerk 1 target, then that is all your character will be optimized for. I recommend simming a few times when determining if something is an upgrade, across a range of fight types. For the sims we do internally we use the following different settings: [Patchwerk, Light Movement, Heavy Movement] X [1 target, 2 target] X [No add, 3 small adds, 1 big add]. If you are new to Simulating your character make sure you check out the Simulations page to learn more, or check out the SimC Wiki.
To see full sims out there for Shadow Priests check the GitHub Sim Charts Site. This site contains sims for just about everything you could need for getting started on your Priest, or if you are just looking for some direction when gearing your character. These sims are all run using Composite sim types, which take some of the scenarios described above and weight them into a composite number based on how often that type of mechanic shows up in the current raid tier.
- 29 Jun. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.1; no changes are needed.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Page reviewed for Shadowlands launch and no changes needed.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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