Shadow Priest DPS Spec, Builds, and Talents — Shadowlands 9.0.2

Last updated on Nov 23, 2020 at 22:39 by Publik 6 comments
General Information

On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.2. We also have default talent lists for various types of content, such as raiding or Mythic+. If you play with Warmode on, we have your PvP talents covered as well.

If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our Classic Shadow Priest DPS talents.

1.

Talent Choices for Shadow Priest

Level Choices
15 Fortress of the Mind Fortress of the Mind Death and Madness Death and Madness Unfurling Darkness ? Unfurling Darkness
25 Body and Soul Body and Soul San'layn ? San'layn Intangibility ? Intangibility
30 Twist of Fate Twist of Fate Misery Misery Searing Nightmare Searing Nightmare
35 Last Word Last Word Mind Bomb ? Mind Bomb Psychic Horror Psychic Horror
40 Auspicious Spirits Auspicious Spirits Psychic Link Psychic Link Shadow Crash Shadow Crash
45 Damnation ? Damnation Mindbender Mindbender Void Torrent Void Torrent
50 Ancient Madness ? Ancient Madness Hungering Void Hungering Void Surrender to Madness Surrender to Madness

Talents can be freely changed when out of combat and in a rested XP area (such as an inn or a capital city). Moreover, Tome of the Tranquil Mind Icon Tome of the Tranquil Mind and Codex of the Tranquil Mind Icon Codex of the Tranquil Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.

2.

Talent Cheat Sheets for Shadow Priest

While optimizing talents on a contextual basis is the highly recommended method of setting up your build, the talent builds listed below work great for specific purposes.

2.1.

Raid Encounters

The builds suggested below are generally good for most content, but if you want specific boss recommendations for the current tier check out the dedicated page below.

2.1.1.

Single Target

2.1.2.

Composite Raid Encounters

Composite in this case refers to a general build to handle a number of situations like adds, additional targets, and movement scenarios.

Usage on the level 50 row is highly dependent on the fight scenario, see the below section for detailed suggestions.

2.1.3.

Mythic+/AoE/Cleave

Mythic+ talents can vary widely based on the affixes of the week and the type of damage your group needs. If you want specific advice for Mythic+ check out the dedicated page below.

2.2.

Open World Content and General Use

This build is an excellent starting point for questing and general purpose usage.

Several of our talents actively change your rotation, or specifically your priority in given situations. You can find out more in the rotation section below.

3.

Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Shadow Priest

Fortress of the Mind Fortress of the Mind Death and Madness Death and Madness Unfurling Darkness ? Unfurling Darkness
  • Fortress of the Mind Icon Fortress of the Mind makes Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay and Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast deal 10% more damage in addition to generating 20% more Insanity.
  • Death and Madness Icon Death and Madness greatly empowers our Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death ability to reset if the target we use it on dies within a few seconds. On top of that you also get a VERY large chunk of Insanity for doing this successfully.
  • Unfurling Darkness Icon Unfurling Darkness gives your chained Vampiric Touch casts a large boost in power on the initial hit on a relatively short cooldown while also making it instant cast.

This row is a fairly balanced row, with Fortress of the Mind Icon Fortress of the Mind and Death and Madness Icon Death and Madness both providing strong use cases, whereas Unfurling Darkness Icon Unfurling Darkness is generally behind.

Usually Fortress of the Mind Icon Fortress of the Mind will be your default Single Target option, unless the fight is very movement intensive in which you start casting less and less Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay which can really hurt the value of this talent.

Any scenario outside of Single Target where you have adds that die on a relatively often basis will give tremendous value when sniping that add with Death and Madness Icon Death and Madness, just be careful about the backlash damage on Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death.

That leaves Unfurling Darkness Icon Unfurling Darkness as the general option to use if you find yourself in a situation that has either enough movement to make Fortress of the Mind Icon Fortress of the Mind suffer, or adds that just simply live a long time or do not spawn often. In practice, this will not be used often.

4.

Tier 2 (Level 25) Talents for Shadow Priest

Body and Soul Body and Soul San'layn ? San'layn Intangibility ? Intangibility
  • Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul causes Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield to increase your target's movement speed by 40% for 3 seconds.
  • San'layn Icon San'layn amplifies Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace, making it heal for 20% more in addition to drastically reducing its cooldown, lowering it down to 1 minute and 15 seconds.
  • Intangibility Icon Intangibility causes your Dispersion Icon Dispersion to heal you for 50% of your maximum health during its effects. It also reduces the cooldown of Dispersion by 30 seconds.

Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul is our only on-demand movement speed increase, which makes it the default pick for most cases.

San'layn Icon San'layn turns Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace into a much more potent utility spell, which is especially relevant for dungeon content. If you can get away with not needing the movement from Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul then the extra utility San'layn gives you can be very useful.

Intangibility Icon Intangibility is interesting as it increases the usefulness of our defensive, Dispersion Icon Dispersion, and makes it available more often. In the case that you do not need the mobility from Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul very much but instead need better defensive capabilities, Intangibility is a great option.

5.

Tier 3 (Level 30) Talents for Shadow Priest

Twist of Fate Twist of Fate Misery Misery Searing Nightmare Searing Nightmare

Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate gives us a bit of execute damage and is also useful on fights where there are not a lot of additional targets to DoT. Due to Hungering Void Icon Hungering Void increasing the amount of Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt casts we get off, this talent starts to surpass Misery Icon Misery even in multi-target scenarios assuming mobs are stacked to get the Void Bolt DoT refresh.

Misery Icon Misery is a very good choice for situations where targets are spread out, but also generally a good choice any time there are less than 4 targets even if they are stacked. Generally this shares a lot of overlap with Searing Nightmare Icon Searing Nightmare, but excels anytime you have spread targets. In addition, this actually deals very similar damage to Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate on Single Target due to increased time we spend refreshing DoTs over the course of a fight. So depending on your playstyle this might be the easier option for you.

Searing Nightmare Icon Searing Nightmare is a great hard-hitting burst AoE ability for the Shadow Priest toolkit. Not only does it spread a DoT to all targets, helping us get that easy Mastery bonus, but also does a lot of damage to targets on subsequent casts. Anytime you have more than 3 targets stacked up you will see great results with this talent.

All three of these talents are completely viable in their own right, with the right choice depending on the situation. Your choice will have to depend on the type of adds that spawn (if they spawn at all), or in what part of the fight you really need damage the most. Searing Nightmare Icon Searing Nightmare and Misery Icon Misery excel whenever there are a bunch of targets (dungeons, as an example) and Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate is good for its execute property. As a rule of thumb, use Twist of Fate if there are few to no adds in a fight or if having more execute damage is particularly useful, and pick between Misery Icon Misery and Searing Nightmare Icon Searing Nightmare if helping you apply your DoTs to multiple targets is more important.

6.

Tier 4 (Level 35) Talents for Shadow Priest

Last Word Last Word Mind Bomb ? Mind Bomb Psychic Horror Psychic Horror
  • Last Word Icon Last Word reduces the cooldown of Silence Icon Silence by 15 seconds.
  • Mind Bomb Icon Mind Bomb replaces Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream and applies a debuff that lasts 2 seconds, which causes all enemies within 8 yards of your target to be disoriented for 5 seconds after 2 seconds of casting this spell.
  • Psychic Horror Icon Psychic Horror stuns your target for 4 seconds.

Last Word Icon Last Word is good because it brings our interrupt down to a cooldown that is more in line with interrupts of other casters. Solid passive option that is very useful for some dungeons or raid bosses.

Mind Bomb Icon Mind Bomb mostly serves as a brief AoE interrupt, as the disorient will be quickly broken if you use it on a pack your group is currently fighting. Generally not worth picking because Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream can perform the same job, except it requires you to be in melee instead.

Psychic Horror Icon Psychic Horror is a solid single target stun. You will usually be picking between this or Last Word Icon Last Word depending on whether you need the additional crowd control more, or whether you need more frequent interrupts.

7.

Tier 5 (Level 40) Talents for Shadow Priest

Auspicious Spirits Auspicious Spirits Psychic Link Psychic Link Shadow Crash Shadow Crash
  • Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits cause your Shadowy Apparitions Icon Shadowy Apparitions to deal 15% increased damage and generate 2 Insanity when they deal damage.
  • Psychic Link Icon Psychic Link causes your Mind Blasts to deal 50% of its damage to any target that currently has Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch active.
  • Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash fires a projectile at where you aim your mouse cursor, dealing damage to all targets within 8 yards and granting you 15 Insanity. The cooldown is 30 seconds baseline, but is affected by Haste.

Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits is a decent "set it and forget it" talent that will have more consistent damage throughput then the other two options. There is basically no downsides with this talent, and it is extremely versatile. When using the Haunting Apparitions Icon Haunting Apparitions conduit, you will generally favor using this talent over Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash.

Psychic Link Icon Psychic Link brings a very cool theme of traditional Shadow Priest skill set to the table in the form of Spread Cleave damage. Unfortunately with the current tuning this actually mimics the strength set directly with Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits, while being completely inferior in almost every way. There could be some niche scenarios where Psychic Link Icon Psychic Link makes sense on the fight, but generally will not be used much.

Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash is a very strong option for any and all content that you can reliably land Shadow Crash on all current targets. This talent is basically equal to Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits in composite raid encounters, and ever so slightly winning in pure single-target. This is typically the default setup for Mythic+, where your spirits do not often reach targets if they are short lived enemies.

8.

Tier 6 (Level 45) Talents for Shadow Priest

Damnation ? Damnation Mindbender Mindbender Void Torrent Void Torrent
  • Damnation Icon Damnation gives you a single button on a 45 second cooldown that casts all three of your DoTs on the target, free of cost.
  • Mindbender Icon Mindbender replaces Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend and summons a Mindbender that is available more often (and longer) than Shadowfiend in addition to generating more Insanity on hit.
  • Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent is a flat 3-second channel time, during which you deal damage to your target which scales with Haste. Over the duration, you generate a total of 60 Insanity.

Damnation Icon Damnation is a great option for open world content where you just want to kill something quickly, and can be used to chain Devouring Plague's together to get a massive 3 "stack" Devouring Plague rolled together. This typically does not matter in most PvE scenarios, but is great anytime you need that on-demand burst.

Mindbender Icon Mindbender has been hit with a few changes lately that make it a good "set it and forget it" choice if you do not want another button, but generally loses to Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent in raiding encounters. Mindbender is more ideal as a passive increase to Insanity generation when you cannot fit in a Void Torrent channel due to how many targets are present.

Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent is the clear champion of this row for almost every PvE scenario, due to how hard it hits and how easy it is to fit into the rotation. You will likely use this for all PvE content where you have spare globals to cast it, basically only choosing to pass on this for Mindbender Icon Mindbender in a Mythic+ scenario, where you want to favor trash damage.

9.

Tier 7 (Level 50) Talents for Shadow Priest

Ancient Madness ? Ancient Madness Hungering Void Hungering Void Surrender to Madness Surrender to Madness
  • Ancient Madness Icon Ancient Madness augments your Voidform Icon Voidform to give decaying critical strike rating for the duration of the buff.
  • Hungering Void Icon Hungering Void causes your Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt casts to debuff your current target with a debuff that increases all damage dealt to that target by 10%. On top of that, any subsequent Void Bolt's to targets that are debuffed also extend your current Voidform Icon Voidform by 1 second on normal hits, and 2 seconds on critical strikes of Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt.
  • Surrender to Madness Icon Surrender to Madness instantly puts you into Voidform Icon Voidform and causes all your Insanity generating abilities to generate 100% more Insanity. However, if the target you cast this on is still living after 25 seconds, you die. Horribly.

Ancient Madness Icon Ancient Madness is a great option anytime you want burstier Voidform Icon Voidforms with that increased Critical Strike adding on top of the damage increase of base Voidform Icon Voidform. You should use this talent anytime the other two options in the row do not really make sense. In the current patch, this pretty much has no place in PvE content.

Hungering Void Icon Hungering Void is the clear winner for priority or single target situations where you specifically are trying to kill a single enemy. The Voidform Icon Voidform extension mechanic is slightly reminiscent of old Voidform Icon Voidform Shadow while giving Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt and Critical Strike greater importance to the rotation. If you want to learn more about Hungering Void you can check out Publik's YouTube Video going over the talent. This talent is extremely strong and can be taken for virtually every scenario.

Surrender to Madness Icon Surrender to Madness provides a couple benefits, the main one being access to another Voidform Icon Voidform. Instead of only getting a single Voidform Icon Voidform every 1.5 minutes, you can use this to get one every 45s on average. The main advantage of the talent is this extra Voidform Icon Voidform, because casting this on a target that is about to die still lets you keep that Voidform Icon Voidform it generated and you just lose the extra Insanity generation. Any fights with consistent adds that spawn around the 45s mark make this a great option, especially in Mythic+ Environments where it is easy to control. If you want to learn more about Surrender to Madness you can check out Publik's YouTube Video going over the talent.

10.

PvP Talents (War Mode) for Shadow Priest

In the open world, you get the option to go into "War Mode". Enabling War Mode provides the following benefits:

  • PvP talents enabled in the outdoor world.
  • 10%+ increase in World Quest rewards at maximum level.
  • 10%+ more experience gained while leveling.
  • Earn Conquest Points which can reward gear every week.

With the benefits of enabling War Mode for leveling and PvE content, it is recommended to enable the feature to maximize your leveling and rewards at maximum level. However, you will make yourself available for open world PvP, and the possibility to be "ganked" while leveling or doing World Quests exists.

10.1.

Shadow Priest War Mode Talents

In this section we will rank the PvP talents best for leveling and doing solo / small group PvE content. Below is a ranking of Shadow Priest-specific PvE talents.

10.1.1.

Shadow Priest PvP Talents

  • Lasting Plague Icon Lasting Plague is a showstopper talent due to the way Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague rolls over damage. This increase duration directly gets added to refreshed casts of Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague, making this talent incredibly strong for burst.
  • Void Origins Icon Void Origins makes your Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption an instant cast which is a tremendous quality of life improvement.
  • Greater Fade Icon Greater Fade is incredible to play with in the open world, with a versatile speed boost to help make leveling quicker, as well as a solid defensive in the case that you do get ganked or overpull.

If you are doing content solo, Driven to Madness Icon Driven to Madness is a great option. Especially if you find yourself struggling to kite mobs, the Voidform Icon Voidform reduction can be very powerful.

11.

Changelog

  • 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands 9.0.2 Launch
  • 26 Oct. 2020: Updated suggestions for Mindbender and Ancient Madness post pre-patch tuning.
  • 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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