Shadow Priest Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.1

Last updated on Jul 06, 2021 at 20:07 by Publik 32 comments
General Information

Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits are the most important character customization options in Shadowlands. They have a substantial impact on your toolkit and performance as Shadow Priest. This page's purpose is to help you pick the right options according to the content you intend to do in Shadowlands.

1.

Introduction: Prerequisites

This page assumes that you are already familiar with Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits. If that is not the case, we have a number of pages that can help you get up to speed:

  • Covenants Guide, which explains what Covenants are, what perks they bring, and how you can join one;
  • Priest Covenant Abilities, which lists all the abilities that Priests gain by joining each Covenant;
  • How To Change Covenant?, which tells you how you can switch Covenant (rejoining a former Covenant will require you to perform a number of tasks to regain their trusts);
  • General Soulbind Guide, which explains what Soulbinds are and how you can pledge yourself to them to open up their Soulbind tree;
  • Priest Conduits, which lists all of the Conduits available to Priests.
2.

Summary of the Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits

Focus Covenant Soulbind Advised Tree
Raiding Night Fae Niya Shadow Priest Niya Raiding tree
Mythic+ Night Fae Niya Shadow Priest Niya Mythic+ tree
Torghast Night Fae Korayn Shadow Priest Korayn Torghast tree

The current system is only about a ~2% DPS swing based on your Covenant choice at max Renown, do not feel pressured to pick a certain Covenant. Each one can perform to a high degree in all forms of content. The differences will swing wider on certain forms of content depending on what you want to optimize for, but know that you can make any of them competitive.

For progression, specifically when you are not Renown capped, Night Fae, Necrolord, and Kyrian are the preferred choice. Venthyr only starts to catch up with access to Theotar the Mad Duke's final trait, Party Favors Icon Party Favors, at Renown 54. In addition, Soulshape Icon Soulshape is a great progression tool for anyone focusing on raid content making Night Fae the preferred choice for raid progression. However, if you are looking to push single-target damage throughput, Necrolord with Pallid Command Icon Pallid Command can be a great option and even surpass Night Fae depending on fight design and duration. Picking either of these are still a good choice for progression, but many players will prefer the mobility and flexibility of Night Fae.

If you are more of a visual learner, you can watch the video guide version of this guide instead. I would suggest reading this side-by-side during the video to absorb the information the best. A full video will be published soon, but for now the survival guide gives you all the info you need for this patch.

For more information about Shadow Priest Covenants along with their various strengths and weaknesses, please see our Covenants and Soulbinds analysis section at the bottom of this page.

2.1.

Best Conduits for Shadow Priest

Conduits have three different types depending on the kind of effect they provide. The following lists will rank the best Conduits for each type based on the content you are doing. Please refer to our Priest Conduits list if you want to see all Priest Conduits.

It is generally best to slot in Haunting Apparitions Icon Haunting Apparitions as your first Potency Conduit slot, as you will typically swap out your path that has Dissonant Echoes Icon Dissonant Echoes for Mythic+ environments but keep that path while raiding. Early on when you do not have both Potency slots unlocked you should just leave Dissonant Echoes in the first slot as you always want to use this while raiding. The third slot should almost exclusively be used for Rabid Shadows Icon Rabid Shadows specifically due to synergies with Shadowflame Prism Icon Shadowflame Prism. You should swap this for Courageous Ascension Icon Courageous Ascension as a Kyrian specifically or if you choose to run Talbadar's Stratagem Icon Talbadar's Stratagem as a non-Kyrian you would use Mind Devourer Icon Mind Devourer.

3.

Shadow Priest Conduits

With current balancing, you will use the same Conduits regardless of your Covenant choice. The Conduits that augment Covenant abilities are extremely underpowered compared to the Shadow-specific ones, and should only be used if you have no other options. The only exception to this rule would be with Courageous Ascension Icon Courageous Ascension as a Kyrian Shadow Priest where you would use this as your 3rd Potency Conduit.

3.1.

Shadow Priest Potency Conduits

The Conduits available to Shadow Priest are not very impactful, but do have some synergies with our talent choices that change this up slightly.

3.1.1.

Shadow Priest Specific Potency Conduits

  1. Haunting Apparitions Icon Haunting Apparitions is typically our best Conduit, especially when using Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits. Keep in mind your Shadowy Apparitions have to reach the target to get this increase in damage!
  2. Dissonant Echoes Icon Dissonant Echoes is a must-have Conduit when using Hungering Void Icon Hungering Void, and fairly decent with other talents.
  3. Rabid Shadows Icon Rabid Shadows is a very niche Conduit, and has weird implications when upgrading its Rank. Since it just gives raw Haste to your pet, this means at certain ranks getting an upgrade actually is NOT a DPS increase as there are Haste breakpoints to getting more melee swings of the pet, making this strange. That being said, due to the increase in use of Shadowflame Prism Icon Shadowflame Prism and the additional Potency Conduit slot this is a natural choice to fill that third slot.
  4. Mind Devourer Icon Mind Devourer is unfortunately slightly behind the previous Conduits in most situations, as Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast just hardly is enough to warrant a top 1 or 2 spot. This does have some nice synergy with Talbadar's Stratagem Icon Talbadar's Stratagem, but only if you are not playing Kyrian would you slot this over Courageous Ascension Icon Courageous Ascension. The proc is fun to play with though.
3.1.2.

Covenant Ability Potency Conduits

  1. Courageous Ascension Icon Courageous Ascension makes Ascended Blast Icon Ascended Blast hit even harder than normal, which can provide some great benefit depending on your usage of Boon of the Ascended Icon Boon of the Ascended. With the increased ranks available in Patch 9.1 this makes your Boon of the Ascended deal up to 50% more damage, making it a great choice for your third Potency Conduit slot.
  2. Shattered Perceptions Icon Shattered Perceptions should only be used if you have no other Conduits available.
  3. Festering Transfusion Icon Festering Transfusion should only be used if you have no other Conduits available. Unholy Nova Icon Unholy Nova is already hard to squeeze in the full 15-second duration before targets die, this just makes that even harder.
  4. Fae Fermata Icon Fae Fermata should only be used if you have no other Conduits available.
3.2.

Shadow Priest Endurance Conduits

For the most part this tier will be personal preference, or very encounter specific. For newer players Light's Inspiration Icon Light's Inspiration is the easiest thing to slot in here, but for more experienced players getting good usage out of high ranks of Translucent Image Icon Translucent Image can be a great boon to your healers and your survivability if you get it right.

  1. Translucent Image Icon Translucent Image turns our aggro drop spell into a small defensive, up to 10.8% at the highest current rank. It can be extremely strong if used properly.
  2. Light's Inspiration Icon Light's Inspiration is a good default choice for an Endurance Conduit, as using Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer will be pretty common in PvE scenarios, so the passive healing increase is nice.
  3. Condensed Anima Sphere Icon Condensed Anima Sphere is a newer conduit for Patch 9.1 that can be some nice passive healing over the course of an encounter.
  4. Charitable Soul Icon Charitable Soul generally speaking has no use in PvE, but maybe there is a very specific case you would like to have this.
3.3.

Shadow Priest Finesse Conduits

This slot really will not impact your gameplay much, so take whatever makes sense for your playstyle. If you find yourself never casting Dispel then taking Clear Mind Icon Clear Mind will not matter, but for those that do then that slot can be a good benefit.

  1. Clear Mind Icon Clear Mind is great whenever you find yourself dispelling often, especially in Mythic+ environments.
  2. Mental Recovery Icon Mental Recovery can be a neat thing to have in Open World or Torghast environments, but that is the only time we have ever noticed the benefit of this Conduit.
  3. Move with Grace Icon Move with Grace could have some extremely niche value with a specific strategy, but for now we do not think this has any practical use.
  4. Power Unto Others Icon Power Unto Others has some synergy when using the Twins of the Sun Priestess Icon Twins of the Sun Priestess Legendary, but generally not worth desyncing the cooldowns of the person you are giving Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion to.
4.

In-depth Covenant Analysis

The following section is dedicated to going over the Covenant abilities for Shadow, and more importantly the Soulbinds behind each of these abilities that encompass your entire Covenant Choice. The discussion and information is going to assume you are at max Renown levels, as you need the full Renown to unlock all Soulbinds and all Soulbind paths. The ranking of which Soulbind will change based on your current Renown levels. We have a specific simulation that will be updated weekly if you wish to see what is currently the best path for the current level of Renown possible. Otherwise the below paths will be best at max Renown levels once you get there, or once you unlock the full tree.

For a video walkthrough of the Covenant Choice, check out my overview video below, where I go over each Covenant and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

5.

Kyrian Shadow Priest Deep Dive

Boon of the Ascended Icon Boon of the Ascended is an extremely odd and weird ability to use a Shadow Priest. And basically involves you to either stop pressing your Shadow spells altogether for 10 seconds, or try to weave in spells as possible. Every 3 minutes, you can morph into the Kyrian form, giving you access to Ascended Nova Icon Ascended Nova and replacing Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay with Ascended Blast Icon Ascended Blast. Each time you cast these new spells you gain stacks, which, based on how many you got, will explode for more damage at the end of the 10-second buff with Ascended Eruption Icon Ascended Eruption.

On single-target, you actually only use Ascended Blast Icon Ascended Blast and weave this into your rotation as much as possible. Only as you start to add targets is it worth to cast Ascended Nova Icon Ascended Nova (upwards of 2+). Because of this you typically only use this inside of Voidform Icon Voidform since using it outside would mean replacing your filler while you do not have as many buttons to press.

This ability will feel awkward and weird to press as Shadow; it is just strangely designed.

5.1.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Kyrian Shadow Priests

5.1.1.

Strengths

5.1.2.

Weaknesses

  • Awkward rotation to learn.
  • Lackluster AoE potential.
  • Certain Soulbind traits require a bit more movement to get full potential out of and are less passive.
  • Requires 2-3 Legendaries to cover all the bases of content (Shadowflame Prism Icon Shadowflame Prism, Talbadar's Stratagem Icon Talbadar's Stratagem, and Spheres' Harmony Icon Spheres' Harmony).
5.2.

Kyrian Shadow Priest Soulbinds

Pelagos is a great Soulbind to use for Raiding or other long form content and has a great starting trait that you get access to pretty early. If you venture into Mythic+, Forgelite Prime Mikanikos Hammer of Genesis Icon Hammer of Genesis trait feels fun to play with and is very strong. Depending on if you can game Kleia Pointed Courage Icon Pointed Courage effect it can also be strong in dungeons, but that takes a decent amount of setup to perfect.

5.2.1.

Shadow Priest Pelagos Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

5.2.2.

Shadow Priest Kleia Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

5.2.3.

Shadow Priest Forgelite Prime Mikanikos Soulbind

For Raiding, use the following path

If in Mythic+, use this path instead:

6.

Necrolord Shadow Priest Deep Dive

Unholy Nova Icon Unholy Nova is one of the most versatile Covenant abilities you can choose as a Shadow Priest, offering competitive single-target and good AoE DPS — as long as all the targets you cast it on will live for 15 seconds or longer. The spell is effectively an AoE DoT that explodes at your current target also dealing a quick burst of healing to those in range. The DoT itself actually scales depending on how many enemies you initially inflict with the DoT, scaling based on the square root of the number of targets you are fighting. Basically this means that if the spell ticks for 500 damage on single target, it would tick for ~353 per target if you hit 2 targets. So the damage is not always the same, and if a target dies, it does not recalculate this effect. So when you use it make sure all targets you cast it on will live the full 15 seconds if possible. One of the main reasons this ability can be so strong is that it actively scales with your current Haste. So coupling this with effects like Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion or Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust can be very powerful.

6.1.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Necrolord Shadow Priests

6.1.1.

Strengths

  • Top-of-the-line single-target damage with Pallid Command Icon Pallid Command
  • Versatile damage profile that also provides healing for allies.
  • Consistent playstyle that is easier to execute effectively with more passive Soulbind traits.
  • Access to the "cheat-death" Soulbind trait Forgeborne Reveries Icon Forgeborne Reveries.
6.1.2.

Weaknesses

  • Square root scaling can make the DoT effect harder to maximize.
  • Only has one excellent Soulbind option with Bonesmith Heirmir.
6.2.

Necrolord Shadow Priest Soulbinds

As a Necrolord you have access to three relatively useful Soulbinds, but they do vary depending on what you are doing specifically. Bonesmith Heirmir and Plague Deviser Marileth are some of the best soulbinds in Patch 9.1, offering the most damage traits without sacrificing Conduits. At low levels of renown using Bonesmith Heirmir or Emeni will typically give you the best results, but as soon as you get Kevin's Oozeling Icon Kevin's Oozeling Marileth becomes extremely powerful. In addition to Kevin, Marileth also gives you out a Mastery buff every time you use Volatile Solvent Icon Volatile Solvent making this soulbind even more competitive across covenants. Emeni gets an honorable mention with her Lead by Example Icon Lead by Example trait, due to the boost to group DPS. Unfortunately the new trait Enemi received in Patch 9.1 is typically not going to give you any damage as a ranged DPS, so this Soulbind significantly lags behind this patch.

6.2.1.

Shadow Priest Plague Deviser Marileth Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

6.2.2.

Shadow Priest Emeni Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

6.2.3.

Shadow Priest Bonesmith Heirmir Soulbind

For Raiding, use the following path

With Pallid Command Icon Pallid Command you typically want to sacrifice the extra Conduit to get access to the synergy with the Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone Icon Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone trait. So, if you are using Pallid Command or are in Mythic+, use this path instead:

7.

Night Fae Shadow Priest Deep Dive

Fae Guardians Icon Fae Guardians is extremely unique in what it does, and has several different aspects to it that also offer support benefits to your allies if you want to sacrifice your damage. Specifically, when you cast this ability you get access to 3 Faerie's: Wrathful, Guardian, and Benevolent.

  • The Wrathful Faerie is automatically applied to your current target — or nearest target if you cast Fae Guardians Icon Fae Guardians on an ally — and causes direct attacks against that target to restore 3 Insanity. You can move what target has the Wrathful Faerie active by casting Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain on that enemy.
  • The Guardian Faerie gives you or whoever you cast Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield on a 20% damage taken reduction.
  • Finally, the most important Faerie is the Benevolent Faerie. This Faerie causes your Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption cooldown to recover twice as fast for the duration of the buff (20 seconds baseline), effectively giving you a 20-second reduction. This makes it a 70-second cooldown, down from 90 seconds. By casting Fae Guardians Icon Fae Guardians on an ally, you will instead give them the cooldown reduction to start with. This can be moved later by casting Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend.

In practice, the only part of this spell that has noticeable DPS gains for the Shadow Priest is the Benevolent Faerie's cooldown recovery rate. With this, you still use Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption on cooldown and carry on as normal, getting slightly more Voidform Icon Voidform's out than you would otherwise. Make sure and line up Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion the best you can with this, as it will be slightly desynced.

The strength of this Covenant is highly variable on the content you are doing. Sometimes the fight timings do not benefit the Covenant much, but on other fights you can get massive gains with this ability. A good example from Castle Nathria is that on Shriekwing you are able to get 2 Voidform Icon Voidform casts in before she phases, and typically still have it up after the intermission as well. This is a great benefit, but highly dependent on fights like this to get full benefit out of. For similar reasons this ability is very strong in Mythic+ environments.

7.1.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Night Fae Shadow Priests

7.1.1.

Strengths

  • Having a cooldown-reduction-based ability makes this a great ability for progression bosses to fit in more cooldowns compared to what you could do otherwise.
  • Access to Soulshape Icon Soulshape to help fill the gap in our movement kit.
  • All three Soulbinds are useful in their own way, giving you lots of options for your damage patterns.
7.1.2.

Weaknesses

  • Can require meticulous planning of cooldowns to line things up perfectly rather than simply firing all abilities on cooldown.
7.2.

Night Fae Shadow Priest Soulbinds

Each Night Fae Soulbind has a distinct use-case, following different types of damage patterns you will encounter. Generally speaking you want to use Niya or Dreamweaver as your Raid Soulbind and Korayn for your Mythic+ Soulbind due to the strength of First Strike Icon First Strike. That being said, if you cannot effectively play around First Strike, using Niya for Mythic+ is still a great choice. The choice between Dreamweaver and Niya will come down to specifically how consistently you will be able to play around Field of Blossoms Icon Field of Blossoms or if you prefer the easier set-it-and-forget-it playstyle of Grove Invigoration Icon Grove Invigoration.

7.2.1.

Shadow Priest Niya Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

7.2.2.

Shadow Priest Dreamweaver Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

7.2.3.

Shadow Priest Korayn Soulbind

For Raiding, use the following path

If in Mythic+, use this path instead:

8.

Venthyr Shadow Priest Deep Dive

Mindgames Icon Mindgames is quite possibly the best ability we have in PvP environments, but unfortunately this strength does not translate into PvE quite as well. At its core, this is simply a hard hitting single-target ability that can give us Insanity if the target you cast it on does healing and/or damage over a short period after using the spell. You can think of this as essentially putting two absorb shield debuffs on your target, one for healing and another for damage. If that target does enough of either to break its respective shield, you gain 10 Insanity each. This can be fairly inconsistent, but in a Raiding environment you can generally expect a boss to break the damage shield quite easily. That being said, this ability does not actually have any target scaling whatsoever as it just does single-target damage; unfortunately that damage is actually less than even Unholy Nova Icon Unholy Nova on single-target. On the bright side, the damage of this ability does scale with our Mastery: Shadow Weaving Icon Mastery: Shadow Weaving, so make sure to only cast this when you have all three of your damage over time effects active or you are in Voidform Icon Voidform for maximum benefit.

8.1.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Venthyr Shadow Priests

8.1.1.

Strengths

  • Good priority-target damage on a lower cooldown with Mindgames Icon Mindgames.
  • Situational usefulness with the healing reversal from Mindgames Icon Mindgames.
  • Access to the Party Favors Icon Party Favors Soulbind trait which is incredibly powerful.
  • Door of Shadows Icon Door of Shadows is still nice to have, although generally considered weaker than Soulshape Icon Soulshape.
8.1.2.

Weaknesses

  • Lackluster AoE potential when compared to the other Covenants.
  • Without Party Favors Icon Party Favors this Covenant would be significantly behind the other options, leaving a bigger hole for potential nerfs to that trait causing a ripple effect.
8.2.

Venthyr Shadow Priest Soulbinds

Theotar the Mad Duke is generally speaking your best Raid Soulbind, although depending on the fight timings Nadjia the Mistblade will also be competitive or better. In addition, Theotar's Soothing Shade Icon Soothing Shade trait can be somewhat cumbersome to manage on certain fights; in those instances I will consider using Nadjia instead. That being said, due to Theotar's Party Favors Icon Party Favors trait, if you get the Haste buff it is just about breakeven to Nadjia if you do not stand in any Soothing Shade procs. This means that standing in just one Soothing Shade will tip the scales into Theotar's favor assuming you have the Haste buff from The Mad Duke's Tea. For dungeons Nadjia is almost always the better choice due to extra stacks of Thrill Seeker Icon Thrill Seeker from getting killing blows. That being said, these two Soulbinds are very close together in simulations so if you like to off-spec or multi-spec this is a great Covenant for you. Unfortunately, General Draven is significantly behind both of the other two options for damage output, so if you plan on off-spec healing he would be the optimal choice for that use-case. He is otherwise not used much for Shadow specifically unless you are looking for more utility.

8.2.1.

Shadow Priest Nadjia Soulbind

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

8.2.2.

Shadow Priest Theotar Soulbind

When it comes to Party Favors Icon Party Favors, your preference is for the following buffs:

  1. Haste;
  2. Intellect;
  3. Crit = Versatility.

For both Raiding and Mythic+, use the following path:

8.2.3.

Shadow Priest Draven Soulbind

For Raiding, use the following path

If in Mythic+, use this path instead:

9.

Changelog

  • 06 Jul. 2021: Updated video link.
  • 30 Jun. 2021: Clarified Covenant choice and Soulbind choice.
  • 21 Jun. 2021: Added more detail to strengths and weaknesses for each covenant, updated conduit suggestions, and updated soulbind paths for 9.1.
  • 09 Mar. 2021: Updated Covenant suggestions for 9.0.5 changes.
  • 11 Jan. 2021: Updated notes on a few Conduits.
  • 03 Jan. 2021: Added embedded video guide.
  • 03 Dec. 2020: Added link to video about Covenant Choice.
  • 20 Nov. 2020: Page added.
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