Shadow Priest Guide for The War Within

Last updated on Jul 07, 2024 at 15:13 by Publik 53 comments

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Shadow Priest changes in World of Warcraft's latest expansion, "The War Within." This page is designed to help you navigate the new changes, optimize your gameplay, and get the most out of your Shadow Priest in PvE environments.

In this guide, you'll find detailed breakdowns of the new Hero Talent Trees for Shadow Priest. We'll explore the most significant updates, and offer insights into how these changes will impact your overall playstyle. Whether you're a veteran Shadow Priest or new to the class, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to excel in "The War Within."


Shadow Priest: The War Within Expansion Preview

Welcome to our War Within expansion guide for Shadow Priest. Ahead of launch, this page will contain everything you need to know about the Shadow Priest spec in the forthcoming The War Within expansion, including changes, Hero Talent Trees, and some light predictions on the state of the spec going into the expansion.

This page is a constantly evolving work in progress, with regular changes expected as updates hit the War Within beta. This is not meant to be a launch guide for Shadow Priest, but instead serves as a resource for you to keep up to date with how the spec is evolving on Beta, and what you can expect from its playstyle and feel on launch.


The War Within Changes for Shadow Priest


Core Changes

Shadow Priest has received relatively minimal changes going into War Within, where most of the changes are focused on the new Hero Talents (see below). There were however a few key additions to our class and spec talent trees.


Class Talent Changes

The big change to the class talent tree is the removal of Mindgames Icon Mindgames and its associated talents. Mindgames itself was moved to a PvP talent and we got three new class talent points to replace those nodes.

  • Void Tendrils Icon Void Tendrils now lasts for 15 seconds (was 20 seconds).
  • New talent: Cauterizing Shadows Icon Cauterizing Shadows - When your Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain expires, is refreshed with less than 5 seconds remaining, or the target with it active dies, a nearby ally within 40 yards is healed.
  • New talent: Manipulation Icon Manipulation - Now causes you to take 1%/2% less damage from targets affected by Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain. This is a 2 point talent so you get 1% for each point invested.
  • New talent: Phantom Reach Icon Phantom Reach - Increases the range of most spells by 15% (40 yards -> 46 yards). Note that this currently does NOT affect: Halo Icon Halo, Divine Star Icon Divine Star, Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream, or Psychic Horror Icon Psychic Horror.
  • Halo Icon Halo is now a 1-minute cooldown to be better aligned with our cooldowns. This is particularly relevant for the Archon Hero Tree.

Spec Talent Changes

The spec tree itself is relatively unchanged, with the big highlight being a new Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash choice node which allows you to select between two different ways of how it works.

  • Mind Flay: Insanity Icon Mind Flay: Insanity now deals damage every 0.5 seconds for 2 seconds (was every 0.75 seconds for 3 seconds). It also generates 12 Insanity over the duration (was 16).
  • Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent damage increased by 30%.
  • New talent: Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash - Choice node with Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash that is instead targeted at a particular enemy (it will follow them if they move). All other interactions are identical with Shadow Crash (including the 8 yard radius).

Systems Changes

In addition to the changes to Shadow Priest core kit, The War Within also has major implications for all specs thanks to the Hero Talent Tree system, new tier sets, and the natural reduction in secondary stats when entering a new expansion.

Shadow Priest gets to choose between the Archon and Voidweaver Hero Talent Trees. In sections below, we will talk more deeply about the implications of these Hero Talent Trees for the spec, and some thoughts on their strengths and weaknesses.


Hero Talent Trees for Shadow Priest in The War Within


Archon Hero Talents for Shadow Priest

The Archon Hero Tree Talents are based around using Halo Icon Halo to deal increased damage and also empowering our cooldown spells like Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion, Dark Ascension Icon Dark Ascension, or Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption to be more effective.

From a gameplay perspective, Archon is extremely simple, you press Halo Icon Halo at the start of your cooldowns and enjoy the extra damage. Halo now has a 1-minute cooldown, making it easy to line up and play around the Archon tree.

Power-wise, Archon is a bit flat in terms of value early on in the expansion. With lower base damage at the start of the expansion we will likely invest into buffing our Halo Icon Halo more with Energy Compression Icon Energy Compression rather than getting longer cooldowns with the other choice in that node, Sustained Potency Icon Sustained Potency. Towards the end of the first season or later on in the expansion, we could see better scaling with this tree.

The utility value of Archon cannot be ignored, as it has several strong benefits. Firstly, centering the damage around Halo Icon Halo brings with it significant off-healing for the group if there is damage going out around the 1-minute timer of the spell. Since the spell is rotational, we probably would not hold it specifically for more healing, but on certain encounters, this could be a significant increase to the group's survivability. In addition to the healing capability, you also get access to Incessant Screams Icon Incessant Screams, which can help layer on even more AoE CC in Mythic+.

Defensively, Archon also brings with it Word of Supremacy Icon Word of Supremacy which gives you 5% more stamina from Power Word: Fortitude Icon Power Word: Fortitude. While this does nothing for your group, it does make for a good personal defensive benefit.


Voidweaver Hero Talents for Shadow Priest

The Voidweaver Hero Tree Talents strongly deliver on theme and gameplay changes, summing a black hole like Entropic Rift Icon Entropic Rift that deals massive amounts of damage. This is spawned from casting Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent, and with certain talents, we can extend the duration and expand the size of the rift over time. Furthermore, while the rift itself is active, we deal increased damage and transform our Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast into Void Blast Icon Void Blast.

From a gameplay perspective, Voidweaver builds on existing cycles with Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent and provide a bit more emphasis on casting your transformed Void Blast Icon Void Blast casts to deal massive damage. These casts of Void Blast can extend the duration of the rift when using Darkening Horizon Icon Darkening Horizon and casts of Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague make the rift larger and deal more damage when it expires with Collapsing Void Icon Collapsing Void. In addition, you also have access to either Depth of Shadows Icon Depth of Shadows or Voidwraith Icon Voidwraith, which plays off of existing pet gameplay of Mindbender Icon Mindbender and Inescapable Torment Icon Inescapable Torment.

Power-wise, Voidweaver has a lot of potential, particularly in Mythic+ with your short burst windows every 30 seconds from Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent and Malediction Icon Malediction. At lower key levels, you should have enough pacing to get a Rift for each and every pack you are facing, while higher keys can get 2 or more per pack. This also has some more single-target potential when taking Darkening Horizon Icon Darkening Horizon to get even bigger rifts for extended encounters.

Voidweaver also offers several great utility and defensive nodes that make the spec extremely appealing. For utility you have access to No Escape Icon No Escape or Dark Energy Icon Dark Energy. Getting cast while moving to Void Torrent Icon Void Torrent makes the spec a bit more mobile as well, which feels great. On the defensive side, you get access to Void Leech Icon Void Leech or Embrace the Shadow Icon Embrace the Shadow, both of which are great options depending on the incoming damage type. Embrace the Shadow does also count the self-damage from Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death so any builds that end up using that a lot get more value from this.


Shadow Priest Tier Set in The War Within

Below are the Tier Set Bonuses for Shadow Priest in The War Within. After the wording of the bonus, you will find a brief note/commentary that is italicized.

  • Priest Shadow 11.0 Class Set 2pc Icon Priest Shadow 11.0 Class Set 2pc — The duration of Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague is increased by 1 second. This will make the spec feel considerably better to play at lower haste levels in season one, and might even allow us to run less haste than usual.
  • Priest Shadow 11.0 Class Set 4pc Icon Priest Shadow 11.0 Class Set 4pcDevouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague increases your damage done by 2% for 10 seconds; multiple applications may overlap While this will not strictly have gameplay implications, it will just reward playing the spec properly since it should have near full uptime.

Both set bonuses are completely passive and are not expected to have any gameplay impact.


How Good is the Shadow Priest Tier Bonus in The War Within?

The first season tier set bonuses are intentionally made to be somewhat on the weaker side across the board, but will still be used even if it seems small.

Currently our set bonus is certainly on the weaker side, being about 1% damage for the 2-set bonus and another 2% or so for the 4-set bonus. When combined together, you can expect between 3-4% total value from getting this tier set.


Shadow Priest Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths icon Strengths
  • +Plenty of damage opportunities with new windows at 30s or 1-minute depending on your Hero Talents.
  • +Less button bloat compared to Dragonflight with the removal of Mindgames.
  • +More off-healing capabilities in addition to new defensive talents.
  • +Void Crash makes DoTing more approachable for some players in AoE.
Weaknesses icon Weaknesses
  • -Build diversity still remains quite low, if not a bit worse compared to last expansion.
  • -Cooldown identity is still lacking.
  • -Lacking clarity for when to use certain builds or talents.


  • 07 Jul. 2024: Update from the rename of Void Crash.
  • 01 Jul. 2024: Update videos.
  • 16 Jun. 2024: Page added.
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