Shadow Priest DPS Guide — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5

Last updated on Apr 16, 2019 at 15:43 by Isentropy 29 comments

Welcome to our Shadow Priest guide for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5. Here, you will learn how to play as a Shadow Priest in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons: from the very beginning to maximizing your DPS.

1. Shadow Priest Overview

Shadow is currently on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to single-target damage, but what it lacks in single-target it compensates for with its high multi-target damage due to its DoTs and talents that increase its burst AoE. While the spell priority system may seem simple at first glance, the true mastery of your Shadow Priest comes from how well you can perform your rotation whilst also respecting mechanics. Optimizing Insanity generation is key and it is this Voidform Icon Voidform and Insanity management that allow for a fun and fairly fast-paced playstyle, when done correctly.

2. Patch 8.1 Changes for Shadow Priest

  • The Insanity drain per second has been reduced by 15% (this is a buff). It now drains starting at 6 Insanity per second, and increases by an additional 0.68 Insanity every second.
  • The spell damage bonus Voidform Icon Voidform grants is now 20%, up from 10%.
  • Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt now generates 20 Insanity per cast, up from 16 Insanity.
  • Dispersion Icon Dispersion now reduces all the damage you take by 75%, up from 60%. Dispersion now also grants you a 50% movement speed boost while it is active.
  • Mania has been removed.
  • Intangibility Icon Intangibility is a new talent that has taken the place of Mania Icon Mania in the talent tree. Intangibility reduces the cooldown of Dispersion by 30 seconds and causes Dispersion to heal you for 50% of your maximum health over its duration.
  • Shadowform Icon Shadowform no longer reduces your physical damage taken by 10%. Instead, Shadow is getting Focused Will Icon Focused Will as a baseline passive ability, which causes melee abilities and attacks to reduce all damage you take by 15% for 8 seconds.
  • Hallucinations Icon Hallucinations is a new baseline passive ability that grants you 6 Insanity on successful Dispel Magic Icon Dispel Magic, Mass Dispel Icon Mass Dispel, Purify Disease Icon Purify Disease, Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace, and Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield casts.
  • Lingering Insanity Icon Lingering Insanity now fades every 3 seconds, up from every 2 seconds.
  • The cooldown on Surrender to Madness Icon Surrender to Madness has been reduced to 3 minutes, and the penalty that stops you from generating any Insanity has been reduced to 15 seconds down from 30 seconds.
  • Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent now generates 30 Insanity over its duration, and it no longer requires Voidform Icon Voidform in order to cast it. Its damage has also been increased by 20%.
  • Mind Bomb Icon Mind Bomb and Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream now take 40% longer to break from damage.
  • Legacy of the Void Icon Legacy of the Void now also increases the spell damage bonus of Voidform Icon Voidform by an additional 5%.
  • The damage of Mind Sear Icon Mind Sear has been increased by 20%.

3. Shadow Priest Strengths

  • Good sustained multiple target damage
  • Option to provide valuable execute damage if you take the talents for it
  • Decent self-healing through Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch, scaling well with additional targets
  • Situationally good group utility in the form of Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace
  • Fairly strong burst AoE if you take the talents for it

4. Shadow Priest Weaknesses

  • DoT management requires a lot of focus and can take away a lot of globals when facing a couple of targets
  • Lack of good DPS cooldowns means that Shadow has low burst potential
  • Weak single target damage
  • Voidform Icon Voidform is prone to mistakes and can punish the player quite harshly when you mess up

5. Shadow Priest Viability in the Current Patch

With 8.1, Shadow has received the changes it was promised during the Battle for Azeroth Beta. While the changes do not necessarily fix much of the underlying problems Shadow has, they are still welcome improvements for the spec. The numerical performance of Shadow is in a very good spot right now. The spec is performing excellently in Battle of Dazar'alor, and is also capable of doing well in dungeons when using certain Azerite trait combinations.

6. Changelog

  • 16 Apr. 2019 (gear page): Elaborated on the strength of Crucible of Storms gear.
  • 16 Apr. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Fixed some mistakes in the Viable Azerite Builds paragraph.
  • 16 Apr. 2019 (rotation page): Reformatted the page slightly.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (easy mode page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (mythic+ page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (FAQ page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (simulations page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (this page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (gear page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (addons page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (enchants page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (talents page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (stats page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (spells page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (rotation page): Updated for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (how to improve page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 14 Apr. 2019 (Crucible of Storms page): Guide added.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Added some additional nuance to how Searing Dialogue and Thought Harvester affect the rotation.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (talents page): Updated several talent descriptions to be more accurate.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (FAQ page): Added a new section and updated several already existing ones.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (mythic+ page): Updated to be more in line with the current dungeon meta.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (easy mode page): Updated the Stat Choice section.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Updated several talent suggestions and playstyle tips.
  • 26 Feb. 2019 (rotation page): Updated the Legacy of the Void opener and updated the Searing Dialogue/Thought Harvester section.
  • 08 Feb. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Added a section explaining the two current best Azerite builds.
  • 08 Feb. 2019 (gear page): Added a Best in Slot list for Battle of Dazar'alor loot.
  • 29 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added the remaining talent advice and boss tips.
  • 28 Jan. 2019 (talents page): Updated to be more in line with current talent preferences.
  • 28 Jan. 2019 (this page): Updated for Battle of Dazar'alor.
  • 28 Jan. 2019 (rotation page): Added explanation regarding how Searing Dialogue/Thought Harvester affect the rotation.
  • 28 Jan. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Added explanation regarding how Searing Dialogue/Thought Harvester affect the rotation.
  • 24 Jan. 2019 (stats page): Swapped around Intellect and Haste/Crit in the stat priority.
  • 24 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Filled in most of the talent advice and boss tips.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added boss tips for Shadow Priest in Battle of Dazar'alor.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (this page): Slightly updated the paragraph about Shadow's viability in the current patch.
  • 22 Jan. 2019 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Season 2.
  • 17 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): Added several new sections to the page.
  • 17 Dec. 2018 (this page): Slightly expanded the paragraph about Shadow's viability in the current patch.
  • 16 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated with more accurate talent and Azerite trait advice.
  • 16 Dec. 2018 (easy mode page): Made it clearer how best to use Mind Flay.
  • 16 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Added some notes on optimal Mind Flay/Mind Sear usage.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Updated talent recommendations.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated some of the talent recommendations and fight tips.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Made a separate chart for Middle Ring traits and updated trait descriptions.
  • 12 Dec. 2018 (this page): Added the change to Legacy of the Void to the 8.1 changes list.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (how to improve page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (simulations page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (gear page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (this page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (stats page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (spells page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (addons page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated now that proper conclusions can be drawn based on data.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (talents page): Updated Legacy of the Void description.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (rotation page): Added opener rotations and slightly changed the section regarding Dark Ascension.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (gear page): Added a section regarding Mythic+.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (enchants page): Updated Potion of Rising Death description based on recent hotfixes.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Restructured the Azerite page.
  • 20 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated based on recent Simcraft fixes and in game hotfixes.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Updated after seeing data from the first week of Uldir.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (this page): Updated for Uldir launch.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (enchants page): Updated outdated information.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (talents page): Updated several talent descriptions to be more accurate.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Restructured playstyle advice and updated talent suggestions.
  • 04 Sep. 2018 (Uldir page): Preliminary updated for Uldir launch.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Changed stat priority.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated links to Azerite charts.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Removed the suggestion of Spiteful Apparitions for dungeons.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Added Deadly Navigation as possible weapon enchant.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added a section about Mind Flay.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated cheat sheet and elaborated on Auspicious Spirits.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Elaborated on how to best use Dark Void.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (spells page): Added a section regarding baseline utility Shadow has.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Changed talent advice.
  • 20 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for the latest hotfixes.
  • 16 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated links to Azerite charts.
  • 15 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated talent cheat sheets.
  • 15 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated links to Bloodmallet's sims.
  • 15 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated rankings to the most recent data.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (how to improve page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Reformatted Azerite page.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Added Mythic+ page.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added generic traits and rankings.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (Uldir page): Removed Legion info and added a placeholder for Uldir.
  • 03 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Overhauled the Multiple Target Rotation section.
  • 02 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added Shadow Priest FAQ page.
  • 29 Jul. 2018 (simulations page): Added Magicsim as an additional simming tool.
  • 29 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Slightly adjusted Mindbender timings and adjusted Dark Ascension opener.
  • 29 Jul. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated existing info and added trait rankings.
  • 27 Jul. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added Azerite page.
  • 23 Jul. 2018 (easy mode page): Adjusted talent advice.
  • 19 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Description of Anund's Seared Shackles updated.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (talents page): Updated talent recommendations.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Made several updates.
    • Added additional explanation regarding Dark Ascension.
    • Updated rotation section to reflect the pre-patch better.
    • Made it so that Shadowfiend disappears from the rotation when Mindbender is selected.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Updated to include recommended legendaries.
  • 17 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for BfA pre-patch.
  • 22 Jan. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Season 2.
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