Shadow Priest DPS Guide — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1

Last updated Today at 16:18 by Isentropy 26 comments

Welcome to our Shadow Priest guide for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. 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.
  • The damage of Mind Sear Icon Mind Sear has been increased by 20%.

3. Patch 8.0.1 Changes for Shadow Priest

  • Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death is no longer baseline but instead a talent on the level 75 row.
  • Mind Sear Icon Mind Sear is back as an active ability.
  • All Artifact traits are gone from the spec, apart from our Artifact ability Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent which is now a talent on the level 90 row.
  • Voidform Icon Voidform now only increases Haste by 0.5% per stack rather than 1% Haste per stack.
  • The duration of Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain has been reduced to 16 seconds instead of 18 seconds.
  • The duration of Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch has been reduced to 21 seconds instead of 24 seconds.
  • The Insanity drain now starts at 6 Insanity per second and increases by an additional 0.8 Insanity every second instead of starting at 6 Insanity and increasing by an additional 0.66 every second.
  • Shadow Word: Void Icon Shadow Word: Void now replaces Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast and has 2 charges if you take this talent.
  • San'layn Icon San'layn now reduces the cooldown for Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace and increases its healing. It no longer boosts Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch damage.
  • Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption is now a regular targeted AoE ability and no longer relies on your targets having DoTs on them.
  • Dark Void Icon Dark Void is a new talent that deals damage to your target and all additional enemies within 10 yards, in addition to applying Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain to all enemies hit.
  • Dark Ascension Icon Dark Ascension is a new talent that allows you to immediately enter Voidform Icon Voidform at any point, as well as dealing damage to all enemies within 10 yards of your target.
  • Surrender to Madness Icon Surrender to Madness is now a 4-minute cooldown and still boosts your Insanity generation, but now no longer kills you at the end of the effect. Instead, after 1 minute it deals 90% of your maximum health and stops you from generating any Insanity for 30 seconds.
  • Mastery: Madness Icon Mastery: Madness has been redesigned to increase the damage of most of our baseline damage sources, rather than just our DoTs and Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt.
  • Mind Bomb Icon Mind Bomb no longer stuns but disorients targets instead.
  • Psychic Horror Icon Psychic Horror is a new talent that stuns your target for 4 seconds.
  • Last Word Icon Last Word is a new talent that reduces the cooldown of Silence Icon Silence by 15 seconds.
  • Several talents have moved places within the talent tree.

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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 going into the next tier. We are still a ways off from the next raid, so accurate predictions in regards to numerical performance will have to wait until a later date.

7. Changelog

  • 10 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (simulations 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 (this page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (gear page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (addons 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 (enchants page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (stats page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (spells page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (bosses 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.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (rotation page): Added opener rotations and slightly changed the section regarding Dark Ascension.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (talents page): Updated Legacy of the Void description.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Restructured the Azerite page.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (enchants page): Updated Potion of Rising Death description based on recent hotfixes.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (gear page): Added a section regarding Mythic+.
  • 04 Oct. 2018 (bosses page): Updated now that proper conclusions can be drawn based on data.
  • 20 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated based on recent Simcraft fixes and in game hotfixes.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (bosses page): Updated after seeing data from the first week of Uldir.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (talents page): Updated several talent descriptions to be more accurate.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (this page): Updated for Uldir launch.
  • 11 Sep. 2018 (enchants page): Updated outdated information.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (bosses page): Restructured playstyle advice and updated talent suggestions.
  • 04 Sep. 2018 (bosses page): Preliminary updated for Uldir launch.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added a section about Mind Flay.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Changed talent advice.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Added Deadly Navigation as possible weapon enchant.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Changed stat priority.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Removed the suggestion of Spiteful Apparitions for dungeons.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Elaborated on how to best use Dark Void.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated cheat sheet and elaborated on Auspicious Spirits.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated links to Azerite charts.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (spells page): Added a section regarding baseline utility Shadow has.
  • 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 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated rankings to the most recent data.
  • 15 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated links to Bloodmallet's sims.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (how to improve page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Reformatted Azerite page.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (bosses page): Removed Legion info and added a placeholder for Uldir.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Added Mythic+ page.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added generic traits and rankings.
  • 03 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Overhauled the Multiple Target Rotation section.
  • 02 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added Shadow Priest FAQ page.
  • 29 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): Slightly adjusted Mindbender timings and adjusted Dark Ascension opener.
  • 29 Jul. 2018 (simulations page): Added Magicsim as an additional simming tool.
  • 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 (gear page): Updated to include recommended legendaries.
  • 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.
  • 17 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for BfA pre-patch.
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