Shadow Priest DPS Spec, Builds, and Talents in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated on Oct 04, 2018 at 14:17 by Isentropy 25 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we present the viable talent choices for Shadow Priests in World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth 8.0.1. We detail what each of the talents do and in which situations they should be taken.

The other pages of our Shadow Priest guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Isentropy, top Shadow Priest and one of the main theorycrafters of the spec over at Warcraft Priests. He currently raids in Echoes.

1. Talent Choices for Shadow Priest

Level Choices
15 Fortress of the Mind Fortress of the Mind Shadowy Insight Shadowy Insight Shadow Word: Void Shadow Word: Void
30 Body and Soul Body and Soul San'layn ? San'layn Mania Mania
45 Twist of Fate Twist of Fate Misery Misery Dark Void Dark Void
60 Last Word Last Word Mind Bomb ? Mind Bomb Psychic Horror Psychic Horror
75 Auspicious Spirits Auspicious Spirits Shadow Word: Death Shadow Word: Death Shadow Crash Shadow Crash
90 Lingering Insanity Lingering Insanity Mindbender Mindbender Void Torrent Void Torrent
100 Legacy of the Void ? Legacy of the Void Dark Ascension Dark Ascension 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

2.1.1. Single Target

2.1.2. Cleave

2.1.3. Mythic+

2.2. For General Use

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

3. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Shadow Priest

Fortress of the Mind Fortress of the Mind Shadowy Insight Shadowy Insight Shadow Word: Void Shadow Word: Void

Shadow Word: Void Icon Shadow Word: Void tends to be the default choice, as it is the only talent on the row that does not have any limitations at all. It also makes the spec feel nicer to play, as without Shadow Word: Void Icon Shadow Word: Void, Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt and Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast often come off cooldown at the same time. This clash is removed by picking Shadow Word: Void because the additional charge means you do not lose casts by delaying it in favour of, for example, Void Bolt. That being said, Fortress of the Mind Icon Fortress of the Mind is competitive in most situations as well.

Fortress of the Mind Icon Fortress of the Mind loses a bit of value in situations where there is a lot of movement or AoE/cleave going on, as this has a significant impact on your amount of Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay casts. However, it is still currently performing quite well in most situations compared to Shadow Word: Void Icon Shadow Word: Void, which makes it a completely viable pick despite the downsides it has.

Shadowy Insight Icon Shadowy Insight is in a poor spot because you tend to have a lot of globals to use as Shadow as is. Adding more in the form of a random proc that just allows you to cast an instant version of a spell we cast so often anyway (without even empowering it in any other way) makes it lackluster. Without access to an effect that increases our Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast charges Shadowy Insight just fundamentally does not work well with the spec.

4. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents for Shadow Priest

Body and Soul Body and Soul San'layn ? San'layn Mania Mania
  • Mania Icon Mania passively increases your movement speed based on your Insanity. It scales at 0.35% increased movement speed per Insanity you have, so for example if you are at 50 Insanity you are looking at a 17.5% increase in movement speed.
  • 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.

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.

Mania Icon Mania does not give us a consistent enough movement speed increase to be worth picking most of the time.

5. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents for Shadow Priest

Twist of Fate Twist of Fate Misery Misery Dark Void Dark Void
  • Twist of Fate Icon Twist of Fate gives us an 8 second buff upon damaging a target below 35% health, increasing our damage and healing by 10%. This buff refreshes itself as long as you are hitting a target below 35% health and it does not stack.
  • Misery Icon Misery makes it so that casting Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch on a target also applies Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain at the same time.
  • Dark Void Icon Dark Void is a 2-second cast (reduced by Haste) that deals a moderate amount of damage to and around your target, in addition to also applying Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain to all targets hit.

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.

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 5 targets even if they are stacked.

Dark Void Icon Dark Void is solid for stacked AoE and the high amount of Insanity it generates makes it an attractive choice for dungeons, as it significantly reduces the ramp up towards going into Voidform Icon Voidform.

All three of these talents are completely viable in their own right, with the right choice depending on the situation. They are fairly equal in value on a single target and so 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. Dark Void Icon Dark Void 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 and Dark Void if helping you apply your DoTs to multiple targets is more important.

6. Tier 4 (Level 60) 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 75) Talents for Shadow Priest

Auspicious Spirits Auspicious Spirits Shadow Word: Death Shadow Word: Death Shadow Crash Shadow Crash
  • Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits cause your Shadowy Apparitions Icon Shadowy Apparitions to deal 100% increased damage and generate 2 Insanity when they deal damage.
  • Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death deals damage to a single target and generates 15 Insanity, or 30 Insanity if the target dies within a second. This spell can only be used on targets that are below 20% health.
  • 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 20 Insanity.

Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits is a good talent, but does not beat the other options on the row until you have around 18% Critical Strike chance. Once you reach that point, Auspicious Spirits will become better for single-target than Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash and Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death. However, Shadow Crash and Shadow Word: Death still have their frequent uses depending on the fight design.

Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death is a more contextual choice. It gives Shadow some execute damage and is useful in situations where you get to use it on single adds frequently. Despite being behind in a number of situations in theory, in practice the fact that it gives you execute damage makes it worth picking quite frequently anyway. For more detailed information as to when you might want to pick this talent in raids, check out the Boss by Boss Strategies section of this guide.

Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash is the all-around best choice on this row, as it does well in every situation and becomes better than the other choices in AoE situations. If you are not sure when to pick Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death or Auspicious Spirits Icon Auspicious Spirits, then Shadow Crash is always going to be a safe pick.

8. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents for Shadow Priest

Lingering Insanity Lingering Insanity Mindbender Mindbender Void Torrent Void Torrent
  • Lingering Insanity Icon Lingering Insanity makes it so that the Haste you got from Voidform Icon Voidform depletes slowly over time, rather than instantly disappearing as soon as you drop out of Voidform Icon Voidform.
  • Mindbender Icon Mindbender replaces Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend and summons a Mindbender that is available more often than Shadowfiend in addition to generating more Insanity on hit.
  • Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent is a flat 4-second channel time, during which you deal damage to your target which scales with haste. Void Torrent also stops your Insanity from draining for its duration.

Lingering Insanity Icon Lingering Insanity is a poor choice because our Voidforms are not long enough for it to really shine.

Mindbender Icon Mindbender is the best choice for all situations. It allows you to extend your Voidforms and also does good damage on its own.

Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent is almost available as often as Mindbender Icon Mindbender but has a lot more limitations that make it not worth picking over Mindbender.

9. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents for Shadow Priest

Legacy of the Void ? Legacy of the Void Dark Ascension Dark Ascension Surrender to Madness Surrender to Madness
  • Legacy of the Void Icon Legacy of the Void allows you to activate Voidform Icon Voidform when you have 60 or more Insanity and also reduces the cast time of Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption by 40%.
  • Dark Ascension Icon Dark Ascension immediately activates a new Voidform Icon Voidform and generates 50 Insanity. Also deals damage to all enemies within 10 yards of your target.
  • Surrender to Madness Icon Surrender to Madness is a 4-minute cooldown that increases your Insanity generation by 100% for 1 minute, with the downside of taking 90% of your health in damage and not being able to generate Insanity for 30 seconds.

Legacy of the Void Icon Legacy of the Void will serve you well in any situation as a passive option and is the easier to play mostly viable alternative to Dark Ascension Icon Dark Ascension. It is recommended to learn the Dark Ascension playstyle as this has the highest damage potential, however.

Dark Ascension Icon Dark Ascension has the added flexibility of being able to enter Voidform Icon Voidform whenever you want, allowing you to use the burst AoE it provides. This talent is a bit trickier to utilize optimally, which is further explained in the Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities section of the guide. Dark Ascension has more potential than Legacy of the Void Icon Legacy of the Void in practice and will often end up being the preferred choice.

Surrender to Madness Icon Surrender to Madness is currently not worth considering. Its usefulness seems limited to situations where you really need one singular strong Voidform Icon Voidform during a burn phase for example, but a longer Voidform is not as valuable as it used to be. Its upsides do not weigh up to the downsides it has.

10. PvP Talents (War Mode) for Shadow Priest

In Battle for Azeroth, there will be 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 both General PvP Talents and Shadow Priest-specific PvE talents.

10.1.1. General PvP Talents

  • Relentless Icon Relentless passively reduces the duration of crowd control on you.
  • Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is an on-use ability that removes all movement impairing effects and all loss of control effects.
  • Adaptation Icon Adaptation is the easiest choice to use here as it automatically removes any loss of control effects over 5 seconds. This is the recommended talent to use here.

10.1.2. Shadow Priest PvP Talents

  • Psyfiend Icon Psyfiend summons a guardian that deals 1% health of a target every second. Also slows the target by 50% and reduces their healing received by 50%. Very good for fighting strong elite mobs and helps kite mobs.
  • Psychic Link Icon Psychic Link makes Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast deal 20% of its damage to all targets that have your Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch on them within 40 yards. Adds some extra free cleave which is nice for leveling.
  • Void Origins Icon Void Origins makes your Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption an instant cast which is a tremendous quality of life improvement.

The rest of Shadow's PvP talents are all fairly mediocre and do not do much for us in a PvE setting. The only other option besides the three I list above is Driven to Madness Icon Driven to Madness, as this helps to decrease the time between Voidform Icon Voidform, the primary benefit being that you get to cast Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption more. This is useful if you plan on gathering mobs and AoEing them down.

For survivability, Void Shield Icon Void Shield is a good choice if you need it. It is recommended you change out Psychic Link Icon Psychic Link or Psyfiend Icon Psyfiend instead of it, should you feel the need to spec into more survivability.

11. Changelog

  • 04 Oct. 2018: Updated Legacy of the Void description.
  • 11 Sep. 2018: Updated several talent descriptions to be more accurate.
  • 30 Aug. 2018: Updated cheat sheet and elaborated on Auspicious Spirits.
  • 15 Aug. 2018: Updated talent cheat sheets.
  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 18 Jul. 2018: Updated talent recommendations.
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