Shadow Priest Essences — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.3
On this page, we go over the Essence system in Patch 8.3 of World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth, and we tell you which are the best essences to use as Shadow Priest, both for minor and major powers. Please refer to our Patch 8.3 Essence Guide for more information about the new essences introduced in Patch 8.3 and to our Essence guide for more general information about the Essence system and where Essences can be obtained from.
Azerite Essences for Shadow Priests
Introduced in Patch 8.2, Essences are unique items that drop from various forms of content. They are activated through your Heart of Azeroth, and they buff your character in various ways, depending on the Essences that are currently active.
For more information about essences, please check out the following:
- our Essence Guide, with all the essences and how to get them;
- our article on the new essences from Patch 8.3;
- our list of Patch 8.3 essence changes.
What follows on this page will relate directly to how Essences affect this spec, since generic information is beyond the scope of this guide.
Azerite Essences for Shadow Priests
The best essences for Shadow Priest are generally pretty straightforward, and typically do not change much throughout the different pieces of content.
You can find a general Essence guide with all of their descriptions, power explanations and how to acquire them at our Essence Guide.
All major powers directly or indirectly provide an active ability, while all minor powers provide a passive ability. A mandatory Essence is one you absolutely want to have at your disposal, while a situational Essence may be worth acquiring, but will generally be relegated to niche uses. Everything else is mostly forgettable.
All the essence tooltips below will be linked at Rank 3.
Default Choice of Essences
The default essences for Shadow Priest are as follows:
These essences should be acquired and ranked up where possible, as they are most commonly used in both dungeons and raids.
Memory of Lucid Dreams
Obtained through Nazjatar content, Memory of Lucid Dreams is an essence focused around Insanity regeneration.
Major: Memory of Lucid Dreams — at Rank 3,i this major power grants you an ability that increases your Insanity generation rate by an incredible amount for a period of time. This essence is our best major essence, just be sure to use it later in Voidform to get full benefit. You should use this between 20-25 stacks of a typical Voidform and 25-30 stacks if you have Time Warp active. These ranges are meant to be a guideline of the usage, once you get used to the flow you should try to use it at the perfect time to extend your Voidform to the maximum stacks (50+).
Minor: Lucid Dreams — this minor power has a chance to refund Insanity drained by 1 second of Voidform and increase your Versatility. The main strength from this essence is the minor power, this is more or less consistent generation of Insanity and baseline increases the average Voidform duration.
Blood of the Enemy
Obtained through PvP Island Expeditions / Battlegrounds, Blood of the Enemy is another PvP-focused essence, however the minor essence is extremely strong in PvE environments for Shadow Priests.
Major: Blood of the Enemy — at Rank 3, this major power grants you an on use ability that deals damage to enemies within melee range of you and also increases your critical strike change against those targets by 25%. In addition, you also gain 25% critical hit damage for 5 seconds. This ability has some interesting use cases, however the fact that it requires you to be in melee range to use is frankly not worth the risk of using in most environments.
Minor: Blood-Soaked — at Rank 3, this minor power grants you a stacking buff on your character that increases your critical strike as it stacks up to 40. Upon reaching these stacks you get a haste buff for a short period of time, which occasionally only consumes 30 stacks instead of 40. This minor essence is a dream for Shadow Priests, periodically granting us one of our two best stats. This is the ideal choice for a minor essence, especially once you grind enough honor for Rank 3.
Essence of the Focusing Iris
Obtained through Mythic+ dungeons, Essence of the Focusing Iris is an essence giving you a giant on-use beam that hits everything in front of you, which is great for Mythic+ situations. The minor gives you a stacking haste buff, making it an ideal pickup for a minor essence, and generally used in all content.
Major: Focused Azerite Beam — at Rank 3, this major power creates a giant beam of fire damage in a direct line in front of you, which you can cast while moving. This is easily one of our best essences for Mythic+ usage, and can have small niche uses in raids if you need burst AoE.
Minor: Focused Energy — at Rank 3, this minor power grants you a stacking haste buff after casting damaging spells on a single target. This can be difficult to maintain in multi-target situations, especially spread target encounters, however if you maintain this it can be a large DPS increase and easily our best minor essence for nearly all types of content. Getting this at Rank 3 makes it even easier to maintain, as the deterrent of swapping targets is diminished slightly. For the most part you can set it and forget it on this essence, and enjoy the extra haste.
Breath of the Dying
Breath of the Dying is one of the newer essences added to the game in Patch 8.3, and with it brings a large amount of DPS while also helping out with our overall Corruption. This essence is obtained through introduction Quest Content, Assaults, and the new Reputation in Patch 8.3, Uldum Accord. This essence is fairly simple to use as either a Major or Minor Essence, as you essentially use it identically to Concentrated Flame. In addition to doing fantastic damage, this power also gives you +10 Corruption Resistance when used (starting at the minor power). Note: This bonus to Corruption Resistance is unique and does not stack if you are running any of the other new Essences from Patch 8.3.
Major: Reaping Flames — at Rank 3, this major power grants you an on-use bolt of fire damage that cools down faster if the target is below 20% health or above 80% health. This essence is essentially neck and neck with others in terms of Single-Target damage, but falls slightly short on anything with more than one target, being carried by the incredibly powerful Minor power.
Minor: Lethal Strikes — at Rank 3, this is one of our strongest essences to use in a Minor power, and warrants use in every scenario. Not only is the damage from the minor power better than some Major essences, but getting the increased Corruption Resistence from this makes it a must-use.
The following essences all have some use, and you will occasionally see them in raids or dungeon content.
The Crucible of Flame
Obtained through Heart of Azeroth levels, The Crucible of Flame is an essence that can supplement both damage and healing with both the major and minor powers. This essence is arguably one of the easiest to obtain, and for that reason it can be used over others that you might only have at Rank 2. Be sure to not use both charges at the same time, as they do not stack/overlap. Only cast the second charge of the essence when the first debuff falls off.
Major: Concentrated Flame — at Rank 3, this major power has a short 30-second recharge, with 2 charges. This ability puts a damage over time effect on your current target. Successive uses of Concentrated Flame increase the potency of future casts, resetting every third cast. Due to this mechanic, you get the most burst potential from this essence by having 2 charges available while having 1 stack of the potency buff.
Minor: Ancient Flame — at Rank 3, this minor power gives your spells a chance to either leave a DoT on the target when dealing damage, or a HoT on the target while healing. This can stack up to 3 times and is a decent minor contender if you do not have other options at Rank 3.
Obtained through reputation with the Mechagon faction (Rustbolt Resistance), Purification Protocol is similar to Essence of the Focusing Iris in that it is another giant beam, although this time with some flavor items added in exchange for a slightly weaker damage beam.
Major: Purifying Blast — at Rank 3, this major power is a large beam that is called down at a targeted location. In addition to dealing damage over 6 seconds, it also has a low chance of instantly killing targets hit, while giving you a 10% damage increase buff after each enemy dies. While decently powerful, numbers wise this is generally inferior to Focused Azerite Beam.
Minor: Purification Protocol — at Rank 3, this major power occasionally procs a blast of Azerite to hit your target and those around it for fire damage. This effect is increased by 50% to Aberration targets, which is quite useful for a few encounters in Ny'alotha.
Obtained through The Eternal Palace raid, Condensed Life-Force is a strong raid essence providing large single-target damage which is generally consistent damage wise.
Major: Guardian of Azeroth — at Rank 3, this major power spawns an Azerite Guardian that starts attacking your current target, doing some cleave damage to those around that target. Each time the guardian casts a spell you gain 2% haste, stacking up to 5 times. This essence is incredibly versatile and a great choice for players that are newer to Shadow Priest, or find that Memory of Lucid Dreams does not work well as a major essence for your current fight. You should aim to use this essence just before your Shadowfiend (or Mindbender if talented) usage, typically around 15 stacks of Voidform.
Minor: Condensed Life-Force — at Rank 3, this minor power grants you a chance on damaging abilities to impale your current target, causing fire damage. In addition, each time this deals damage all damage you deal to that target is increased by 5% for 6 seconds. This is another set it and forget it essence, there is not a great way to play around this, so enjoy the damage increase when you get a proc.
These are essences that might have niche use cases, or be usable if you have them at higher ranks than others, but generally not used in PvE scenarios.
Ripple in Space
Obtained through Nazjatar World PvP, Ripple in Space is very much a PvP-focused essence and will see little use in PvE content, as it centers heavily around movement which should be avoided at all possible for maximum dps.
Major: Ripple in Space — at Rank 3, this major power is a relocation ability on a 1-minute cooldown which, when cast, leaves a beacon on the ground and 4 seconds later teleports you to that beacon.
Minor: Reality Shift — at Rank 3, this minor power gives you a slight movement speed boost, and upon moving 24 yards grants you a 20-second Intellect buff. While interesting, this is not something we would take compared to other minor essences.
Obtained through Island Expeditions, Worldvein revolves around both the major and minor creating Lifeblood Shards that appear near you for a period of time, increasing your primary stat. Due to how this works, you can also be buffed by shards spawned by other players making it especially potent when many people have the essence.
Major: Worldvein Resonance — at Rank 3, this major power provides on-demand Shards which does not look attractive for any content over some of the better major options. Theoretically, if you have a lot of people stacking this could work, but in practice its not worth using.
Minor: Lifeblood — at Rank 3, this minor power spawns shards more frequently and for a longer duration, potentially spawning multiple shards at once. The minor here is the real strength of this essence, as you can obtain the buff from up to 4 shards at once, and other players' shards can buff you. This means the more people in your group with this essence, the higher uptime you will all have on its potent Intellect bonus. That being said, in practice you are not stacking very often, especially with others using the same trait so this is not typically used.
The Unbound Force
Obtained through reputation with Nazjatar's faction (Nazjatar faction), The Unbound Force is a critical strike focused essence, which revolves around you getting critical strikes or increasing your critical strike rating. This is generally unreliable and not used for any PvE content for Shadow Priests.
Major: The Unbound Force — at Rank 3, this major power strikes your target with Fire damage, and deals 300% more damage if it critically strikes. As a Shadow Priest, we value critical strike, but even with having a decent amount of critical strike rating, this does not seem to make a large difference and therefore this essence is not used often.
Minor: Reckless Force — at Rank 3, this minor power grants you a buff that increases critical strike rating up to 20 stacks, each time you have an ability that fails to critically strike. This is the crux of the problem with this essence, in that due to the interaction with Shadow Priests and Chorus of Insanity you will often hit 100% critical strike, and therefore significantly devalue this trait.
Vision of Perfection
Obtained through the Operation: Mechagon dungeon, Vision of Perfection is a great sounding essence on paper but in reality falls short of those expectations with both the major and minor effects.
Major: Vision of Perfection — at Rank 3, this major power has a chance to spawn a Shadowfiend (or Mindbender if talented), and grants some haste to yourself nearby allies at Rank 3. In practice this has no use for Shadow Priests, as the damage from this cooldown is neglibible in the long run, and we only really value the insanity gain. The problem is getting a random surge of Insanity does not help us sustain higher Voidform stacks, it just disrupts our current play.
Minor: Strive for Perfection — at Rank 3, this minor power reduces the cooldown of Shadowfiend (or Mindbender if talented) by 19.8% and heals you for 2% of your maximum health. Similarly to the major essence, this is not the type of change we need in our toolkit, as our cooldowns are scripted in place to give us consistent Voidform stacks. In practice this just desyncs your Memory of Lucid Dreams usage with Shadowfiend (or Mindbender if talented) making it not helpful.
Conflict and Strife
Obtained through Rated PvP, Conflict and Strife is again another PvP-focused essence, this time focused around surviving incoming crowd-control abilities.
Major: Conflict — at Rank 3, this major power grants us our PvP trait Void Shift, which swaps health with a targeted party member while increasing the lower of the two health pools by 25%. This has no use cases in PvE scenarios.
Minor: Strife — at Rank 3, this minor power gives your spells a chance to grant a small Versatility buff that lasts 14-seconds and can stack up to 8 times. This minor is not the best in the world, but certainly flat Versatility is a flat damage increase nonetheless. This is not something to target but if you have it at Rank 3 over others it can find some uses.
Spark of Inspiration
Obtained through //www.icy-veins.com/wow/horrific-visions-of-n-zoth-guides, this Essence has the potential to be used as a minor power but is pending some more testing. The major power for this is more use-case specific than anything, and is not something we would recommend running in any normal situation.
Major: Moment of Glory — at Rank 3, this major power increases the damage done by other allies major essence. This major power has no direct DPS benefit to the user of the essence, and will typically not be worth using unless your raid strategy depends on it.
Minor: Unified Strength — at Rank 3, this minor power gives your spells a chance to grant you some Haste while also reducing the cooldown of your major Essence slightly. Due to the way that Shadow Priest works, getting this cooldown reduction is not going to be useful for us when running the typical raid build, but depending on tuning it could see some use cases.
Obtained through defeating bosses in Ny'alotha, this is an extremely odd essence power that will likely not be used in any scenario for Shadow Priests in PvE content.
Major: Replica of Knowledge — at Rank 3, this major power copes the power of another ally and gives you access to it for a short period of time. This is such a strange power that likely will not be used in any scenario for Shadow Priests.
Minor: Symbiotic Presence — at Rank 3, this minor power grants you Intellect when others use their Azerite Powers. Due to the way Shadow scales and prefers Secondary Stats over Intellect, this essence will never be used. Every other essence available to us provides more benefit to us as a minor power.
Essence Rankings for Shadow Priest
For a nice chart for what to go with on single target sim situations, you can reference the below charts. Just remember that patchwerk simulations are not always accurate for raiding scenarios, so you will not necesarrilly see things match top parses.
- 14 Jan. 2020: Added the new essences from Patch 8.3.
- 09 Oct. 2019: Add detailed descriptions for each essence for Shadow Priests.
- 05 Oct. 2019: Updated Memory of Lucid Dreams description.
- 25 Jun. 2019: Page added.
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