Shadow Priest DPS Spell Summary — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, we present you with all spells and procs that you need to understand as a Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1.
If you were looking for TBC Classic content, please refer to our TBC Classic Shadow Priest spells.
Shadow Priest Spell Summary
If you are new to Shadow, this is a great place to start to get an understanding of how the spec works. On this page we will discuss what abilities you have, what they are used for within the specialisation, how they interact with each other and also with important cooldowns. If you already have experience with Shadow and are comfortable with it in the current expansion, it is recommended you skip this section and move on to the rest of the guide.
Main Resource for Shadow Priest
Insanity is your primary resource as a Shadow Priest. All of our offensive abilities generate Insanity. The goal is to generate insanity and then spend it on either Devouring Plague (50 insanity) or Searing Nightmare (30 insanity) if talented. It is very important to use these spender abilities before you cap on insanity, otherwise you will be wasting damage. It is okay to refresh Devouring Plague while it is already active, it adds the damage from the existing DoT to the new DoT whenever you refresh it!
Mana is your secondary resource as a Shadow Priest. Most of our utility spells cost Mana to use, though managing Mana attentively is generally not required.
Note that this page simply lists all the different abilities, assuming you are at max level. If you are leveling, check out our dedicated Priest Leveling page, which has detailed information on when you unlock all of these abilities.
Basic Abilities for Shadow Priest
These are your core skills that are available regardless of talents, and form the core gameplay of the specialization.
Void Bolt is an ability that replaces Void Eruption while Voidform is active. It is instant cast and it deals damage to the target, adding 3 seconds to the existing durations of Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch to the target and all nearby targets, on top of also generating Insanity. This is generally one of the more important spells for Shadow when in Voidform and is ideally cast on cooldown, but make sure you do not overcap on insanity with this ability.
Shadow Word: Pain is one of your two DoTs. It deals Shadow damage to the target over time, and generates Insanity on application.
Vampiric Touch is one of your two DoTs. It deals Shadow damage to the target over time, heals you for 50% of the damage dealt, and generates Insanity on application.
Mind Blast deals damage to a single target, which has a 7.5-second cooldown, affected by Haste, and which generates a high amount of Insanity. It is generally one of your highest priority spells. You also gain an extra charge of this ability when you have Voidform active.
Mind Flay is a channeled spell that deals Shadow damage to the target and slows their movement speed by 50%. It generates Insanity, has no cooldown, and is used as a filler throughout your rotation.
Mind Sear is a channeled spell that deals Shadow damage to your target and all other targets within 10 yards. It generates Insanity per target hit and serves as the replacement of Mind Flay in the rotation if there are 2 or more targets. It is also our only baseline on demand AoE spell.
Shadow Word: Death is our baseline execute ability, that deals a moderate amount of damage, and even more damage if used on a target with less than 20% health. This should generally only be used in that execute window, but is also great to use as an instant cast ability while on the move. Just be careful about using it, it does deal a reasonable chunk of your health when used, especially if it critically strikes!
Shadowform is our default form that you will always want to have active as its just a simple 10% damage buff. It is important to note that when in Voidform this goes away, but will come back after you exit Voidform.
Devouring Plague deals an extremely large amount of damage and is our only insanity spender that we have baseline. The entire spec basically revolves around building up insanity and then spending it on Devouring Plague. Due to our Mastery we want to make sure we keep this DoT up as long as possible, but we also do not want to cap insanity. Because of this problem, Blizzard has changed the spell to actually roll damage over. This means that if you cast Devouring Plague while you already have Devouring Plague ticking, it will carry the old damage over as a modifier to the new Devouring Plague's ticks so you do not lose damage. So you should play the same since nothing snapshots, but if you are overcapping insanity make sure you keep casting Devouring Plague, you will not lose any damage doing so!
For more information on how to use these abilities together in your rotation, please read our rotation page.
Passive Abilities for Shadow Priest
Shadowy Apparitions works directly with casts of Mind Blast, Devouring Plague, or Void Bolt to spawn a Shadowy Apparition that float towards any targets that have Vampiric Touch currently ticking. In addition, if any of those three abilities critically strikes you spawn two apparitions instead of just one, giving us a small synergy with gaining critical strike rating.
Dark Thoughts is another baseline passive added to the spec, that when activated gives you a free cast of Mind Blast to cast, even while channeling Mind Flay or Mind Sear. To get a proc you have to channel either Mind Flay or Mind Sear, and for every target that has a DoT active, you have a 3% chance to proc Dark Thoughts. So if you use Mind Flay on a target with Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch active you have a 6% chance to proc Dark Thoughts per tick of Mind Flay. Just a note that right now Mind Sear's proc rate seems to be cut in half, at only 1.5% per DoT per target.
Mastery: Shadow Weaving is our new Mastery added in Shadowlands that emphasizes having DoTs up on as many targets as possible. Depending on your Mastery rating, you deal (4.0% + gear rating) increased damage to targets for each of your three DoTs active. So if you have 0 mastery rating from gear, you will do 4% increase damage per DoT on the target, so all three DoTs would be a 12% increase to your damage. This is calculated per target, so spreading DoTs is very valuable, but only works with Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch, and Devouring Plague for the DoT increase check. As of now they seem to be actively tuning things, as it currently does not affect pet spells or any non-priest spells.
Hallucinations is a passive ability that grants you 6 Insanity on successful Dispel Magic, Mass Dispel, Purify Disease, Vampiric Embrace, and Power Word: Shield casts. This reduces the penalty of having to spend globals on utility spells, as you do not lose any Insanity generation in the process.
Focused Will is a passive ability, which causes melee abilities and attacks to reduce all damage you take by 15% for 8 seconds. This gives you some passive defense which is very welcome.
DPS Cooldowns for Shadow Priest
Shadowfiend has a 3-minute cooldown which summons a shadowy fiend that attacks your target for 10 seconds. It is an offensive cooldown that is not particularly strong. Ideally, it should be paired with high Haste buffs or right before Voidform as getting more Haste means more melees so more insanity gained.
Power Infusion is an old spell that has been given back to all Priests that allows you to give an ally (or yourself) a 25% Haste buff for 20 seconds. From a Shadow Perspective you will almost always want to cast this on yourself, but the option is there to cast on an ally if you would like to sacrifice your DPS for theirs. Note that this spell is not available until you are level 58.
Void Eruption has a 2.5-second cast time (reduced by Haste), at the end of which you enter Voidform. This effectively gives your Voidform a 1.5m cooldown, rather than it being something you had up all the time. Void Eruption also deals a big burst of damage to all enemies within 10 yards of your target. To make Voidform act and feel like a real cooldown it now also gives 20% increase to damage (which is a 10% gain after you factor in losing Shadowform) and grants you an extra charge of Mind Blast while also resetting its cooldown. This effect now lasts a fixed 15 seconds rather than until your insanity drains to 0, so use this like you would a more traditional DPS cooldown.
Utility Spells for Shadow Priest
Power Word: Fortitude is a group buff available to all Priests that gives everyone in your party 5% Stamina for 1 hour. This is now an exclusive buffs just to Priests, there are no more scrolls from Inscription to give you this buff, so this is actually a very strong piece of utility we bring to groups.
Mind Vision is a pretty simple spell with very limited use, but it can be occasionally helpful to see far ahead if you know the name of a mob you want to target.
Mind Soothe gives the player the ability to cast this on several mobs at a time and in the right circumstances can allow yourself or your group enough room to skip past mobs. This has great potential to be helpful in certain Mythic+ environments if you can sneak past packs that are particularly dangerous.
Desperate Prayer is a self-heal + defensive that provides a good chunk of on-demand healing on a 1.5 minute cooldown. Adding this to our defensive toolkit makes us one of the best defensive ranged specs out there.
Fade is a powerful aggro-drop ability that can come in handy if you accidentally pull threat on something, and once you get the rank 2 version also gives you reduced aggro radius. When paired up with Mind Soothe in solo content you can walk past almost any mob in the game without causing them to aggro you.
Vampiric Embrace heals allies based on 85% of the single-target damage you do for 15 seconds, on a 2-minute cooldown. This is particularly useful in solo or up to 5-man content, but can also be useful for raids when used at the right time.
Mass Dispel removes all harmful Magic effects on up to 5 allies, and 1 beneficial Magic effect on up to 5 enemies on a 45-second cooldown. This is situationally very useful, particularly in dungeons. It does cost a lot of mana and has a fairly lengthy cooldown, however. It can also dispel certain types of Magic that are normally not dispellable.
Purify Disease removes all Disease effects from friendly targets. This is generally niche in its use, but sees use in dungeons from time to time which still makes it a valuable addition.
Shadow Mend allows you to heal a friendly target. Mostly useful to sustain yourself when needed, but can also be used when off-healing is needed. The DoT it leaves behind on targets is negligible.
Power Word: Shield allows you to shield a friendly target. This is primarily used on yourself when you need to mitigate damage, but can also be used on other friendly targets.
Dispersion is your only baseline defensive spell as Shadow, reducing all damage taken by 75% but also preventing you from casting any spells for its so increases your movement speed by 50% and makes you immune to movement-impairing effects.
Silence allows you to prevent a target from casting for 4 seconds on a 45-second cooldown. If the target is immune to silence effects, it also works as a standard interrupt if you use it on a target while it is casting.
Psychic Scream fears up to 5 enemies within 8 yards for 8 seconds on a 1-minute cooldown. Primarily useful to get enemies off you when you are alone.
Leap of Faith pulls a friendly party or raid member toward you. It has a 1.5-minute cooldown.
Mind Control allows you to take control of an enemy target for 30 seconds. This does not work on Demonic, Mechanical or Undead targets.
Shackle Undead allows you to prevent an Undead target from taking any actions for 50 seconds. This effect breaks upon any damage.
- 29 Jun. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.1; no changes are needed.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Reviewed for Shadowlands launch and fixed some typos.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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