Shadow Priest DPS Easy Mode — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, we explain how to easily play Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1, using the simplest rotation, talent tree, stat priority, gear setup, etc., without sacrificing performance.
This section is intended for players who are new to the game or class, have no intentions of raiding Mythic difficulty, or simply want a more straightforward way to play their specialization without being overwhelmed by the numerous priorities and active abilities that need to be taken into consideration for optimal play.
The Basics of Shadow Priest
Shadow Priest has evolved into a more modern builder spender spec that specializes in damage over time (DoT) effects. At a high level the spec mostly revolves around keeping your DoT effects up on as many targets as possible while also building Insanity to spend on spells that cost Insanity. The rest of this page is dedicated in getting you to that goal in the easiest way possible to reduce the demands of the specialization at the top end of play without causing a large drop in numerical output.
If you are completely new to Shadow and need more information on the abilities available to you, you can check out our Spell Summary page. There were a lot of changes to Shadow Priest going into Shadowlands, so it might be helpful to read that page just to see what all is different!
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.
Talent Choice for Shadow Priest
These choices are optimized for ease of use. Although some talents might offer marginally higher gains when played perfectly, these same talents often result in damage losses when utilized by many players. The talents recommended here aim to present the best setup that has very little punishment for unfamiliarity or mistakes.
- Level 15: Fortress of the Mind
- Level 25: Body and Soul
- Level 30: Misery
- Level 35: Last Word
- Level 40: Auspicious Spirits
- Level 45: Mindbender
- Level 50: Hungering Void
If you are looking for the absolute best talents for Shadow, which do not compromise on performance for ease of use, you can find a more in-depth analysis on our full talents page below.
Note that, in Dungeon content it is recommended that you swap Misery for Searing Nightmare, as Searing Nightmare excels in that environment for larger pulls in dungeons. For all other types of content we suggest you use Misery as you are starting out.
Stat Choice for Shadow Priest
Currently, you will want to prioritize stats as follows:
- Haste = Mastery;
- Critical Strike;
Typically, you will be looking for Haste/Mastery pieces, but because of the strength of Intellect, having Haste with anything at a high item level will be a good place to start.
While the stat priority for classes is normally the same for both the Easy Mode page and our full guide, subtle differences can still occur. If you want to see the full explanation of the stat priority, as well as the absolute top choices for the priority, head to our full stats page below.
Basic Rotation for Shadow Priest
- Keep Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch applied on all targets. Note that with Misery, you should always use Vampiric Touch to refresh either of these DoTs, unless you are moving.
- Spend Insanity on Devouring Plague.
- Cast Mind Blast whenever available to generate Insanity, or use while channeling Mind Flay if you have a Dark Thoughts proc.
- Cast Shadow Word: Death if the target is below 20% HP, or if you are on the move.
- Cast Mind Flay to generate Insanity if there is only 1 target, or swap to Mind Sear if there are 2 or more targets.
- Cast Shadowfiend/ Mindbender right before entering Voidform.
- Cast Void Eruption to get into Voidform with at least 35 insanity to begin your 15s of burst damage.
- When in Voidform
- Activate Power Infusion to gain a burst of Haste; generally speaking, you should use this on cooldown.
- Spend Insanity on Devouring Plague. Your goal here is to make sure you do not waste Insanity by going over 100, so cast this often.
- Cast Void Bolt whenever available.
- Cast Mind Blast whenever available and when Void Bolt is on cooldown.
- Cast Mind Flay when there is nothing else to cast, cancelling it whenever there is a higher priority spell available.
For a more in-depth priority list and all the edge cases for the rotation, check out the full guide to fully master the rotation.
Covenant Choice for Shadow Priest
As a Shadow Priest you have lots of freedom in your Covenant choice compared to other specs in the game. From a PvE perspective any Covenant you pick can easily clear all content competitively. As such, as an introduction to the spec you should feel open to picking the Covenant of your choice based on things that you prefer gameplay-wise. Most high-end players will lean toward Night Fae for the increased mobility with Soulshape and the cooldown flexibility with Fae Guardians. For something still very competitive in damage you could also choose Necrolord, which is easier to play while still performing well or even better than Night Fae on certain fights. Kyrian and Venthyr are also good choices for PvE, just a bit less popular. The full Covenants page goes into specific strengths and weaknesses of each Covenant if you want more detail.
Night Fae for Shadow Priest
Night Fae Shadow Priests get a unique jack-of-all-trades ability with Fae Guardians. This gives you cooldown reduction for Void Eruption, extra resource generation, and damage mitigation. Each one of these is controllable by a specific ability, so you can move each one of the Faeries to an ally or different enemy. Generally speaking, from a DPS perspective we primarily care about the cooldown reduction faerie to get better cooldown flexibility.
Possibly the best part about choosing the Night Fae Covenant is getting access to their covenant ability Soulshape. This is a fantastic movement ability that will have lots of good use cases in PvE environments.
Due to getting increased Voidform uptime you naturally see great results with the Shadowflame Prism playstyle as a Night Fae. This playstyle is a bit more involved, but can be quite fun once you get used to it.
Recommended Night Fae Soulbind
Generally speaking, Niya will be your suggested Soulbind for most PvE content. At higher levels of Renown you could swap to Dreamweaver but you will need to be careful about moving too much during your cooldown phase.
Necrolord for Shadow Priest
- Class Ability: Unholy Nova
- Covenant Ability: Fleshcraft
- Preferred Legendary: Pallid Command for single-target and Shadowflame Prism for other fight types
Necrolord Shadow Priests get access to Unholy Nova, an AoE DoT spell that spreads to enemies around the location of your current target. This also heals allies around that area for a burst of healing. Furthermore any damage you or your allies does to an enemy affected by the DoT get some healing back as well. Overall this is a very versatile ability that, paired with the square root scaling of the DoT damage, makes it useful in almost any PvE scenario.
Although certainly not as strong as Soulshape, the Necrolord Covenant ability Fleshcraft can be a great defensive in case of emergencies or even as a pre-pull shield to help out the healers. The other benefit is that while channeling this shield you get a 20% damage reduction aura, meaning you can use this to mitigate a big mechanic if DPS is not important.
With Patch 9.1 the Necrolord covenant got a strong single-target Legendary in the form of Pallid Command. This Legendary does not require any additional playstyle changes, but simply does monstrous single-target damage in group settings. The more allies you have attacking targets affected by the Unholy Nova debuff, the more stacks the add it summons gains. Typically on anything more than 1 target you will use Shadowflame Prism as normal.
Recommended Necrolord Soulbind
Due to the amount of traits that Bonesmith Heirmir has, in addition to the synergy of Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone with Pallid Command this Soulbind will be your default choice for most PvE content. Note that Plague Deviser Marileth can also be a decent choice depending on the situation, especially now that Volatile Solvent will always give you a Mastery buff even with no nearby corpses.
You can read more about all of the Covenants and their strengths and weaknesses on the dedicated Covenant page.
Conduit Choice for Shadow Priest
Conduits as a Shadow Priest are generally pretty straightforward, with the main decision being on your 3rd Potency Conduit slot choice. Endurance and Finesse conduits are fairly lackluster aside from Translucent Image so you should feel free to use what you prefer.
Note that you should follow the Soulbind pathing described above, or the full paths in the dedicated guide for each Soulbind rather than just the rankings by themselves.
Best Potency Conduits for Shadow Priest
As mentioned in the list below, Haunting Apparitions and Dissonant Echoes are the required conduits you want to use in all situations specifically due to synergies with Auspicious Spirits and Haunting Apparitions, respectively. After that the third choice comes down to your Legendary and Covenant choice. Anytime you use Shadowflame Prism you should use Rabid Shadows. The other cases to be aware of are as Kyrian you should use Courageous Ascension as your third choice, and all other cases will use Mind Devourer.
- Haunting Apparitions
- Dissonant Echoes
- Rabid Shadows with Shadowflame Prism
- Courageous Ascension as Kyrian
- Mind Devourer otherwise
Best Endurance Conduits for Shadow Priest
For our Endurance or defensive conduits, you typically will only use one or two of these depending on the suggested Soulbind pathing. Translucent Image is the main one you want to aim for, turning Fade into a small defensive. After that feel free to use whichever you think you will get the most use out of.
Best Finesse Conduits for Shadow Priest
Finesse conduits as a Shadow Priest are fairly lackluster, and you should feel free to select whichever of these you would like. Generally the only one you will get much of any value will be Clear Mind anytime you actually go about dispelling (typically mythic+).
For more detail on conduit slotting and where to put them in each Soulbind you can read the dedicated Covenant page.
Legendary Choice for Shadow Priest
In the below table the slot in bold indicates the preferred item slot to craft that Legendary in. Each Legendary should be crafted with Haste/Mastery secondary stats.
|Raiding Single-Target — Kyrian||Talbadar's Stratagem||Legs or Waist||Torghast (The Upper Reaches, Layer 3+)|
|Raiding Single-Target — Night Fae or Venthyr||Shadowflame Prism||Head or Gloves||Mueh'zala in De Other Side|
|Raiding Single-Target — Necrolord||Pallid Command||Feet or Finger||Renown Level 48|
|Raiding Multi-Target||Shadowflame Prism||Head or Gloves||Mueh'zala in De Other Side|
|Mythic+||Shadowflame Prism||Head or Gloves||Mueh'zala in De Other Side|
|Torghast and Open World||Shadowflame Prism||Head or Gloves||Mueh'zala in De Other Side|
You can read more about all of the Legendaries and alternate recommendations for each style of content on the Legendaries page.
- 06 Jul. 2021: Added video link.
- 29 Jun. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.1; no changes are needed.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Page reviewed for 9.0.5 and no changes were needed.
- 10 Feb. 2021: Updated rotation to be more clear when selecting certain talents.
- 11 Jan. 2021: Updated stat priority.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands Launch by removing Azerite/Essences, updating default Talents, and adding Power Infusion to the rotation.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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