Shadow Priest Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits — Shadowlands 9.0.5
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.
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.
Summary of the Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits
|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, 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 more information about Shadow Priest Covenants, please scroll down to our Covenants and Soulbinds analysis section at the bottom of this page.
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.
- Best Potency Conduits: Dissonant Echoes and Haunting Apparitions
- Best Finesse Conduits: None of these are really anything more than preference. Mental Recovery can be nice in solo content though.
- Best Endurance Conduits: Light's Inspiration and Translucent Image are both great Conduits to slot in. Just a matter of preference if you want to have more healing or a mini-defensive.
It is generally best to slot in Haunting Apparitions as your first Conduit slot, as you will typically swap out your path that has 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.
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 experimenting with Courageous Ascension as a Kyrian Shadow Priest inside of Mythic+ environments, but your mileage will vary.
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. However, due to current balancing it is almost never worthwhile slotting in Mind Devourer or Rabid Shadows as these just don't provide enough value to ever make sense.
Shadow Priest Specific Potency Conduits
- Dissonant Echoes is a must have Conduit when using Hungering Void, and fairly decent with other talents.
- Haunting Apparitions is typically our second best Conduit, but usually overtakes Dissonant Echoes if you are not talented in Hungering Void. This talent does gain a bit more benefit when using Auspicious Spirits, but nothing extremely noticeable. Keep in mind your Shadowy Apparitions have to reach the target to get this increase in damage!
- Mind Devourer unfortunately is slightly behind the previous two Conduits in most situations, as Mind Blast just hardly is enough to warrant a top 1 or 2 spot. This does have some nice synergy with Talbadar's Stratagem, but not enough to use. The proc is fun to play with though.
- Rabid Shadows is a very niche Conduit, and has weird implications when upgrading. 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 extremely underpowered. That being said as you get into higher Mythic+ levels you can use this with Mindbender and Shadowflame Prism to gain some potentially extra passive Insanity, but that is extremely niche and may not be the kind of damage pattern you are looking for.
Covenant Ability Potency Conduits
- Courageous Ascension makes Ascended Blast hit even harder than normal, which can provide some great benefit depending on your usage of Boon of the Ascended. Generally this is only ever worth considering in Mythic+ environments, and even then it is iffy.
- Shattered Perceptions should only be used if you have no other Conduits available.
- Festering Transfusion should only be used if you have no other Conduits available. Unholy Nova is already hard to squeeze in the full 15-second duration before targets die, this just makes that even harder.
- Fae Fermata should only be used if you have no other Conduits available.
Shadow Priest Endurance Conduits
For the most part this tier will be personal preference, or very encounter specific. For newer players 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 can be a great boon to your healers and your survivability if you get it right.
- Charitable Soul generally speaking has no use in PvE, but maybe there is a very specific case you'd like to have this.
- Light's Inspiration is a good default choice for an Endurance Conduit, as using Desperate Prayer will be pretty common in PvE scenarios, so the passive healing increase is nice.
- Translucent Image turns our aggro drop spell into a small defensive, up to 14.4% at the highest current rank. Can be extremely strong if used properly.
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 will not matter, but for those that do then that slot can be a good benefit.
- Clear Mind is great whenever you find yourself dispelling often, especially in Mythic+ environments.
- 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.
- 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.
- Power Unto Others has some synergy when using the Twins of the Sun Priestess Legendary, but generally not worth desyncing the cooldowns of the person you are giving Power Infusion to.
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.
- Kyrian gives you Boon of the Ascended.
- Venthyr is a single-target priority nuke with Mindgames.
- Night Fae is a very unique ability with Fae Guardians that provides some Insanity generation and cooldown reduction on Void Eruption.
- Necrolord combines an AoE heal with an AoE DoT application that scales based on how many targets you hit with Unholy Nova.
Kyrian Shadow Priest Deep Dive
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 and replacing Mind Flay with 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.
On single target, you actually only use 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 (upwards of 2+). Because of this you typically only use this inside of 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.
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 trait feels fun to play with and is very strong. Depending on if you can game Kleia Pointed Courage effect it can also be strong in dungeons, but that takes a decent amount of setup to perfect.
Shadow Priest Pelagos Soulbind
Raiding and Mythic+ Path:
Shadow Priest Kleia Soulbind
Raiding and Mythic+ Path:
Shadow Priest Mikanikos Soulbind
Necrolord Shadow Priest Deep Dive
Unholy Nova is by far the most versatile Covenant ability 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 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 or Bloodlust can be very powerful.
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. Emeni has overall great strength with her Lead by Example trait, especially since you get this early on, making this a great choice for any PvE content. Once you get to higher renown levels Bonesmith Heirmir gives you the best trait in the game with Forgeborne Reveries and another great Mythic+ trait with Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone. Once you get access to Bonesmith you should use him for basically everything. Plague Deviser Marileth becomes somewhat niche inside of various Mythic+ Dungeons with Volatile Solvent but this ability is hard to gauge actual value and has almost no benefit inside of raiding.
Shadow Priest Marileth Soulbind
Shadow Priest Emeni Soulbind
Shadow Priest Bonesmith Soulbind
Night Fae Shadow Priest Deep Dive
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 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 on that enemy.
- The Guardian Faerie gives you or whoever you cast Power Word: Shield on a 20% damage taken reduction.
- Finally, the most important Faerie is the Benevolent Faerie. This Faerie causes your 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 on an ally, you will instead give them the cooldown reduction to start with. This can be moved later by casting 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 on cooldown and carry on as normal, getting slightly more Voidform's out than you would otherwise. Make sure and line up 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 casts in before he 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.
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 as your raid Soulbind and Korayn for your Mythic+ Soulbind due to the strength of First Strike. That being said, if you cannot effectively play around First Strike, using Niya for Mythic+ is still a great choice. At lower Renown, Dreamweaver is very strong due to the early access of double Potency Conduit slots.
Shadow Priest Niya Soulbind
Raiding and Mythic+ Path:
Shadow Priest Dreamweaver Soulbind
Raiding and Mythic+ Path:
Shadow Priest Korayn Soulbind
Venthyr Shadow Priest Deep Dive
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 so it just does single target damage; unfortunately that damage is actually less than even Unholy Nova on single target. On the bright side, the damage of this ability does scale with our 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 for maximum benefit.
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 trait can be somewhat cumbersome to manage on certain fights, where I will typically opt to use Nadjia instead. For dungeons Nadjia is almost always the better choice. That being said, all three Soulbinds are very close together in simulations so if you like to off-spec or multi-spec this is a great Covenant for you.
Shadow Priest Nadjia Soulbind
Raiding and Mythic+ Path:
Shadow Priest Theotar Soulbind
Raiding and Mythic+ Path:
Shadow Priest Draven Soulbind
- 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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