Introduction

Shadow Priest in Patch 8.2 plays just as you have come to expect in Battle For Azeroth, but with a couple of new tricks up its sleeve in the form of the new essence system.

You’ll find below a growing collection of miscellaneous tips and discussion points based on my own gameplay and experience that I’ve put together around optimizing gameplay in the current meta. If you have any other questions, suggestions, or feel like something written is misleading, definitely reach out at any of the places listed below.

Contents

About Me

Discord: Jereico#4379
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/Coffeeandsteve
Raider.io: https://raider.io/characters/us/stonemaul/Elb

Openers

I want to preface the below by saying that while the opener can be make-or-break for some specs, the optimal Shadow opener is relatively insignificant, and at best only serves to accelerate our ramp by a couple of GCDs. The “Pre-Erupt Opener” is also especially notorious, as an awkward mechanic resulting in a missed cast can actually result in a shorter than usual Voidform. This is usually the last thing that we look to optimize as Shadow Priest players.

Pre-Erupt Opener

The “Pre-Erupt Opener” is the ideal opening cast sequence for Shadow, but requires some careful timing, and a larger amount of insanity before the pull begins. It requires you to pool up to 60 insanity by casting your out-of-combat insanity-generating skills (mostly Power Word: Shield), and pre-cast Void Eruption such that the cast completes before the boss is pulled. When combat begins, your insanity is immediately set to 25, which is substantially lower than the typical 60-100, and if not paired with Bloodlust, can actually result in a shorter-than-usual Voidform if not careful. Timings below assume a full 40-yard range from the boss, closer ranges should consider waiting slightly longer as needed.

Normal Opener

This is the cast sequence that Shadow falls back on if pre-erupt is either failed or not possible. In summary, we get to 25 insanity, Pre-Pot and pre-cast Shadow Word: Void, while aiming to get our dots online and into Voidform as soon as possible.

Rotation, Movement, and You

The Two-Filler Rotation

Arguably the most critical aspect of playing Shadow Priest in its current state is maximizing Voidform length, while also minimizing the amount of time spent outside of Voidform. The key to optimizing your insanity generation and maintaining strong Voidform uptime in fights lies in the two-filler rotation. 

The two-filler rotation is a Shadow Priest’s bread and butter, the most fundamental guiding principle.

Put simply:

  1. Always cast Void Bolt on cooldown. 
  2. Always cast two GCDs between Void Bolt casts. 

Only at exceptionally high levels of haste (140% or more) do we ever deviate from this cycle in favour of a one-filler rotation (one GCD between Void Bolt casts), which typically requires Bloodlust combined with another significant source of haste in order to be achieved. The vast majority of your fights must be spent performing and perfecting the two-filler rotation. 

Void Bolt is our single most important tool for achieving our goal of maximizing Voidform uptime while both dealing damage and handling raid mechanics. Void Bolt generates a whopping 20 insanity, deals considerable damage, extends DoTs on all stacked targets, and most importantly, is an instant cast spell available once every 3 GCDs. It should come as no surprise that casting Void Bolt is the highest priority spell in our core rotation, and the two-filler “one two Void Bolt” waltz of a playstyle is the defining cadence behind consistent Shadow gameplay. 

“Stutter-Stepping” (Moving with Void Bolt)

So what does this really mean for how we play the spec on the whole? The value of instant cast spells in particular is the ability to move while casting, and Void Bolt directly affords us with free movement once every three GCDs as part of our core toolkit. This means that Shadow actually excels at expected mechanics involving planned movement, simply by way of moving only on Void Bolt casts; we call this type of movement “stutter-stepping”. 

Stutter-stepping is our key to handling all expected, repetitive mechanics as we aim to inch our way around the room one GCD out of every three. This idea is applicable in absolutely every encounter, and is especially relevant for stepping out of mechanics like Ashvane’s Upsurge, or moving preemptively towards a stack location. 

Other Instant Casts

The game often demands that we play reactively, however, and we find ourselves having to move longer distances in a short amount of time, perhaps to help soak a pool or to cut coral in a heroic fashion. In these situations, it is critical that we continue to follow the two-filler rotation, but we clearly cannot stop to cast spells like Shadow Word: Void or Mind Flay.

The way that we continue to generate insanity in these spots is to cast our other instant cast abilities between Void Bolt casts as needed, continuing to maintain our three-spell rhythm. Spells like Power Word: Shield (generates 6 insanity, absorbs damage, and provides the target with movement speed via Body and Soul) and Shadow Word: Pain (generates 4 insanity, and applies the DoT or refreshes duration on the target) are generally your best options to achieve this goal. Finally, Dispersion is available as a last resort, completely halting your insanity drain and providing you movement speed for up to 6 seconds, allowing you time to regain your bearings and resume your rotation as usual without dropping Voidform

Cast Your Spells

So we now have a game plan for planned mechanical movement in stutter-stepping, as well as a plan for when we need to move quickly. The rest of the time, the only thing left to do is sit still and cast our spells. Our next most damaging spells like Shadow Word: Void, Vampiric Touch, and Mind Flay all require you to simply plant your feet and cast, and it’s critical that we don’t miss these important casts by moving unnecessarily. 

DoT Management

One last point of note is regarding DoT management. Reapplying DoTs to bosses, and applying DoTs to fresh adds are important in terms of overall damage, but should never come at the expense of delaying Voidform, or deviating from our core two-filler rotation.

Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain can be reapplied at any point during the last 30% of their base durations without losing any value, as the remaining duration will be extended by the full base duration of the DoT; this mechanic is often referred to as “Pandemic”. The windows of time for Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain are 6.3 seconds and 4.8 seconds remaining respectively.

When applying dots, always return to the basic spell priority, and weave your casts of Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain in between your casts of Void Bolt (when off cooldown), and Shadow Word: Void (so as to not cap on charges). Waiting a couple of GCDs to apply dots in order to maintain the core rotation may feel off at times, but is absolutely key to maintaining composure and strong overall Voidform uptime.

Summary

In summary, always plan your movement wherever possible, and use your Void Bolt casts to get you there without sacrificing any dps. When needed, leverage your instant cast abilities to continue to generate insanity on the go. The rest of the time, keep calm, plant your feet, and cast your spells. 

Essences and Cooldowns

As with many classes’ cooldowns, the rule of thumb with Shadow Priest cooldowns in 8.2, be it an essence, trinket, or Shadowfiend, is that we aim to maximize uses, unless fight requirements strictly dictate otherwise. Most strong Shadow cooldowns interact with our Voidform and insanity generation in some way, and using these in the first minute of the fight to accelerate and enhance our ramp is key to a strong performance.

Shadowfiend

Despite the long three-minute cooldown, Shadowfiend is not a strong dps cooldown, and should not be thought of in the same way as other classes’ dps cooldowns. In 8.2, Shadow spends as much as the first entire minute of the fight ramping up to its full damage potential, where it roughly sustains its damage from that point through the rest of the fight. The true value of Shadowfiend lies in its insanity generation, allowing us to smooth our Pre-Erupt opener, and push higher stacks of Voidform.

In a Pre-Erupt opener without Bloodlust, Shadowfiend can be used as early as 10 stacks, and ideally no later than 20. This timing can be delayed slightly with Bloodlust, but there is little value to be gained by delaying Shadowfiend past 25 stacks, such that we fully benefit from the effect of Bloodlust.

Cast this ability on one of your filler GCDs; do not cast this instead of Void Bolt when Void Bolt is off cooldown.

Memory of Lucid Dreams

The goal around optimal Memory Of Lucid Dreams Major usage for Shadow Priest in Patch 8.2 is simply to extend your Voidform as long as possible. Lucid Major should be used on the first Voidform of the fight, and then every subsequent Voidform for which it comes off cooldown. Current Voidform timings permit two shorter Voidforms between long Lucid Voidforms, such that we observe a long-short-short rhythm on a two-minute cycle.

Given the wide range of external effects which impact insanity generation (Lucid Minor, Whispers of the Damned, Bloodlust, and any haste proc to a lesser degree), there is no set number of stacks at which it is optimal to use Lucid Major. Simply aim to use Lucid as late as possible during your Voidform without falling out. A general guideline might have you start thinking about using it around 25 stacks of Voidform without Bloodlust, or in the mid-30s with Bloodlust.

Understand that Lucid Major itself does not generate insanity, and must be followed up by a strong insanity-generating spell in order to safely remain in Voidform. This typically means either Void Bolt, or Shadow Crash, as the cast time and lower base insanity on Shadow Word: Void cause it to be less reliable.

Unless Shadow Crash is available, we have an opportunity to push Lucid once every three GCDs without deviating from our two-GCD base rotation. Optimal usage recognizes this fact, and assesses whether we can safely continue our rotation as normal, or if we must use Lucid Major to remain in Voidform. A rough guideline to consider is to use Lucid Major immediately before Void Bolt if you find yourself struggling to remain above 50% insanity. This can be improved with practice and experience.

In my experience on Mythic Ashvane, using Shadowfiend with movement around 10 stacks of Voidform allows me to safely reach 27 stacks of Voidform before using Lucid Major, if I am able to cast my rotation uninterrupted. Lucky procs of Lucid Minor, WotD, or Bloodlust can push this out considerably.

Strong minor choices for Lucid include Iris (all-around pick), Crucible (strong single-target), BotE (strong dot-cleave), and Worldvein (conditions permitting).

Condensed Life-Force

Condensed Life Force Major is interesting in our toolkit, largely because it can be thought of simply as a better Shadowfiend. It provides us with a strong damage pet that also scales with haste and crit, and while also providing us with considerable additional haste, enabling even more spell casts and longer Voidforms.

CLF Major should be used before Shadowfiend, roughly 15-20 stacks into Voidform on any non-Void Bolt GCD. Because CLF is on a three-minute cooldown, it should generally always be paired with Shadowfiend.

CLF is currently our strongest single-target burst option, and unlike Lucid, does give us some additional flexibility in terms of burst damage. If using on a fight such as M Ashvane or M Zaqul for single-target burst, uses after the initial usage on the first Voidform of the fight can be delayed as needed to ensure priority damage in a specific damage window or phase; just consider that the ability has a 30-second duration, and does take a few seconds to reach its full potential in the form of stacking haste.

Strong minor choices for CLF major include Lucid (all-around pick), Crucible (strong single-target), and Worldvein (conditions permitting).

Lucid or CLF?

At the time of writing, most well-geared Shadow Priests will find that CLF Major Rank 3 outperforms Lucid Major Rank 3 in the default five-minute Patchwerk simulation. This is insightful as it demonstrates that CLF Major is a strong pick for pure single-target damage, but there are some considerations that allow Lucid to remain the preferred pick for most progression encounters.

The first consideration is that Lucid inherently scales better on any fight that is not purely single-target, given that it enhances Voidform length instead of directly damaging a specific target. As a number of later encounters in the Eternal Palace feature multiple significant targets, Lucid remains the preferred pick for these encounters all things considered.

The second point to note is that while the simc Shadow APL is somewhat aggressive in its Lucid Major usage, a top-performing human player with practice will be able to recognize where they can get away with delaying Lucid further, and can in general consistently outperform an average iteration of the simulated results. While this is not going to be applicable to the average player, any player seeking to reach the absolute highest level of damage possible for the spec will note that this higher skill-cap exists with Lucid, where it generally does not with CLF.

Finally, fight length remains an important consideration all else held equal. The value of Lucid stems primarily from the minute of strong damage following a long period of ramp, and thus requires much longer fight lengths in order to justify over CLF. CLF represents a typical three-minute cooldown, performs best on short to medium length fights, and can even overtake Lucid on longer fights where an additional usage can be squeezed in near the end.

In conclusion, Lucid Major is still going to be the preferred pick by top players on most progression encounters for the foreseeable future, but any fight with poor Lucid timings, or where priority single target damage is required, may find a strong alternative pick in CLF. CLF scales directly with Heart of Azeroth level, and will likely see more play overall as kill times continue to shorten. 

Trinkets

Compendium

Highborne Compendium of Storms is cheap, it’s strong, it has high uptime, and it’s useful in nearly all content. Every Shadow Priest character should have one of these, as it is likely to outperform all but the highest ilvl trinket drops in terms of overall effectiveness. 

PSCD

The Cyclotronic Blast red punchcard has seen a lot of play in raid early in the tier, and remains an interesting and valuable addition to the Shadow toolkit. The trinket provides Shadow Priests with a strong single-target burst option on a short two-minute cooldown, and sees strong synergy when paired with the enormous amount of crit and haste available following Lucid Major Voidforms

With the ilvl of the red punchcard locked at 415, Mythic raiders will likely look to replace this trinket with alternatives found early in the raid. That said, when paired with a strong yellow punchcard, it remains relevant in both Mythic Eternal Palace and M+ content as an invaluable means of dealing burst damage to priority targets. 

The active ability is best paired with the stacks of Chorus of Insanity and Lingering Insanity available following Voidform, and should always follow Lucid Major Voidforms when that major essence is chosen. Cast this right after your first Void Bolt immediately after reentering Voidform to maximize  your Voidform uptime.

Cyclotronic Blast is also highly effective in M+ content, particularly with the Season 3 affix Beguiling. Use this trinket to dispatch dangerous Tides and Void emissaries, while continuing to deal strong single-target damage during boss encounters. This trinket can and should be used early in M+ (as in, without CoI/LI stacks) when needed in order to eliminate dangerous enemies or to maximize overall uses. 

Shiver Venom Relic

Shiver Venom Relic is a very strong single-target option this tier. While Lure will likely outperform in pure single-target, Shiver does offer an opportunity to outplay with its active ability. This trinket excels in situations where you are able to build stacks on a primary target, and detonate the stacks on a group of low-health adds stacked on the primary target (think well-positioned Briny Bubbles on Ashvane). 

When not able to use for cleaving adds, ideal usage involves building to 5 stacks on the primary target, and proceeding to detonate on cooldown, generally assuming that you are able to build back to 5 stacks before the next use. This strategy is not especially punishing, but also offers minimal dps benefit over completely passive play. For an additional, albeit very small edge, consider delaying the last detonation for right before the boss dies, assuming that you are aware of boss timers and will not miss a usage as a result.

For M+, given that stacks apply somewhat evenly to all active targets, it can be difficult to find a high stack target to detonate in an M+ scenario. I personally prefer to run Cyclo over Shiver, but your own results certainly may vary. 

Leviathan's Lure

I have very little to say on Leviathan’s Lure as it is a purely passive trinket. This will likely be your primary choice for most content at a Mythic ilvl, and is one of our strongest options for single-target encounters where reliable burst damage is not needed. 

Azerite

With this combination of pieces you will end up with 3x Chorus of Insanity, 2x Spiteful Apparitions, 1x Whispers of the Damned, along with 2x Overwhelming Power, an exceedingly strong third ring trait. While substitutions can be made in general, including potentially running a 3x Spiteful 2x Chorus setup for fights involving significant add damage, the sheer strength of Overwhelming Power ensures that this as the strongest single setup for all raid content this tier. 

Benthic

Socketed Benthic gear accounts for a significant portion of power level in the Eternal Palace raid, and can easily make up anywhere from 2-3k dps on simple single-target encounters.

Roll for the below items, and keep any of the below which happen to roll with a socket. Do not spend pearls upgrading pieces which do not contain a socket.

The below priority is a matter of personal opinion, and actual gains will depend on your specific character. Both bracers are listed as first priority, but stick with the first one that you get; you can roll for the other one at the very end if you so desire.

All Benthic effects above except for Akana’s Reefstrider Soles and Shirakess Cinch scale with ilvl; as a result, I would recommend prioritizing spending pearls to upgrade these two items last, after the other pieces have been upgraded.

A typical strategy involves upgrading all pieces which you have at roughly the same time, to best use available pearls (ie. upgrade all to 420, then upgrade all to 425).

Mythic+

Mythic dungeons continue to represent an interesting challenge for Shadow Priest players with respect to both gearing and overall playstyle. I want to lead with the notion that M+ is a highly flexible format, and the “best” setup for any given situation depends heavily on keystone level, group composition, weekly affixes, group skill, and of course, the dungeon itself. 

In the following sections I will outline possible gear choices, talents, essences and some thoughts on overall playstyle based on my experiences to date in Season 3. 

Trait Setups

As far as trait setups are concerned, we can classify most common popular M+ builds as falling into one of two categories: momentum-focused builds (also called raid builds) and sear-focused builds (based on buffing Mind Sear). 

Momentum (Raid Build)

Momentum builds represent the typical Shadow Priest raid playstyle, in which we experience a painfully long ramp, but are rewarded for our patience with incredibly strong scaling afforded by Chorus of Insanity traits and the Lingering Insanity talent. Any set running two or more CoI traits is likely to fall into this category. 

A typical gear set worn by raiders in the Eternal Palace will feature 3x Chorus of Insanity, 2x Spiteful Apparitions, and 1x Whispers of the Damned, as well as 2x Overwhelming Power

While previous seasons have considered substituting WotD for an alternative such as another SA, the fact that the chest from Za’qul features OP as a third ring trait means that this exact setup is likely to dominate in this space for raiders with access to high ilvl versions of these pieces. 

As you might expect from a build that is used for endgame raiding, this trait build provides us with our best single-target damage available, which is especially apparent in longer encounters like M+ bosses. The build will feature a playstyle familiar to most raiders, focused on maximizing our Voidform uptime, and weaving our dots and filler spells (like Mind Flay and Mind Sear) between our single-target abilities on priority targets, 

While this build dominates on boss encounters, and can absolutely achieve competitive trash damage under the best of circumstances, in practice there are a number of factors which can heavily punish this build and associated playstyle in terms of overall damage achievable. Like a fully-loaded freight train, this trait build requires a considerable amount of ramp before achieving peak damage, and will suffer in any environment where we are not able to maintain our momentum carried from our initial ramp. This build naturally suffers when played against low health enemies, or when experiencing a long time spent between pulls, both of which happen to be hallmarks of low level keys run by less experienced groups, which is something to consider when choosing your build. 

Strengths
  • Strong single-target damage (bosses, priority enemies like emissaries) 
  • Strong high ilvl pieces with OP available as raid drops
  • Familiar playstyle for existing raiders
  • Excels in high level keys with high mob health and low time between pulls
Weaknesses
  • Longer initial ramp time (stats from CoI/LI are not immediately available) 
  • CoI/LI lose considerable value with increased downtime between pulls 

Sear (Mind Sear Build)

Sear builds typically forsake the usual Shadow Priest trademark of backloaded sustained damage in favour of a much more immediate damage pattern featuring strong AoE damage afforded by a buffed Mind Sear. It is not unusual when running this build to see as much as 30-40% or more of the priest’s damage come directly from Mind Sear, and the build clearly dominates the exact space where the Momentum build struggles most. 

A typical trait setup for the Sear build will always feature 1x Thought Harvester and 3x Searing Dialogue, and thus justifies prioritizing Mind Sear highly in the rotation. The other two outer ring trait choices are generally not considered build-defining, and can be chosen based on availability and preferences. Common choices for these two traits typically include some combination of Death Throes and Spiteful Apparitions

Rotationally this build plays somewhat similarly to the Momentum build, as it also seeks to immediately enter Voidform and cast dots opportunistically between Void Bolt casts, but does feature some key differences involving the priority of Mind Sear. With 3x SD traits, Mind Sear takes priority over Shadow Word: Void at just two or more targets. Additionally, a full cast of Mind Sear with a Thought Harvester proc represents your highest damage potential possible with this build, and should be prioritized whenever the proc is available. Finally, Mind Flay all but leaves the rotation completely with a 3x SD setup, and is really only useful for its higher insanity generation on two or fewer targets. 

The Sear build is the ultimate complement to the Momentum build, and excels where the Momentum build otherwise falls short. A strong focus on Mind Sear means that this build is exceptional at strong sustained AoE from the moment you enter Voidform. Thought Harvester only requires a single active Vampiric Touch in order to gain full value from the proc effect, which gives you enormous flexibility when deciding whether to apply Vampiric Touch to additional mobs or to continue casting Mind Sear. Given the faster ramp time, the Sear build is likely to dominate in terms of overall damage in your average key, especially in lower level keys with less experienced teams. In higher keys where mobs are living longer, some of this marginal value is lost as the Momentum build becomes more viable. 

Strengths
  • Strong AoE damage (M+ trash pulls) 
  • Little ramp up time required to reach full potential
  • Low hp mobs and long downtime between pulls are less punishing
  • When in doubt, sear
Weaknesses
  • Lags Momentum build on boss encounters
  • Existing raiders require a second set of gear
  • Slightly different rotation and spell priority from raid

Talent Choices

Body and Soul or San'layn?

Body and Soul should probably be considered the default choice for all content, and is almost always provided good value for moving quickly around dungeons and navigating tricky positional mechanics with ease.

That said, San’layn should also be considered a very strong choice, particularly when paired with the single target focus of the Momentum build. Consider San’layn a viable alternative to Body and Soul for keys with high healing requirements (the Grievous affix comes to mind), and as an additional safety net for your team at the sole expense of some personal mobility. I often find myself choosing San’layn for both challenging high-level keys, as well as when playing in a pug with an unfamiliar team.

Dark Void or Misery?

While both Dark Void and Misery represent strong add-focused options and will both serve you well in M+ content, the decision of which to choose in a given situation is somewhat nuanced, and should include a few key considerations.

Dark Void is an ability that brings so much to the table on a short 30-second cooldown, and is often my default choice for tackling high keys. The skill is undoubtedly strong for overcoming large packs of otherwise annoying enemies (think slimes in King’s Rest), but Dark Void still provides considerable value on even your average trash pull.

Dark Void grants an unparalleled 30 insanity on cast, and when coupled with Shadow Crash, allows you to enter Voidform easily within two GCDs of approaching a pre-grouped pack. The ability deals immediate damage to all targets, and applies Shadow Word: Pain, allowing you to immediately gain value from Shadowy Apparitions. Additionally, as bonus damage from the Spiteful Apparitions trait is only calculated once spirits reach their target, weaving Vampiric Touch on subsequent casts beginning with priority targets is also likely to maintain value here, especially for Momentum builds (Sear builds may wish to stop at one Vampiric Touch cast in favour of additional casts of Mind Sear, depending on expected fight length). Lastly, the damage and insanity gain allow Dark Void to provide some value even on single-target boss encounters, where Misery provides very little in the way of value. Under the right conditions, Dark Void is an absolute powerhouse, accelerating your ramp and bringing your damage online significantly faster than is otherwise possible.

So where exactly does Dark Void fall short? While Dark Void can perform incredibly well in the right situations, it can feel absolutely punishing in others. The 30-second cooldown is fairly generous for high-level Fortified keys, especially with certain group compositions, but the skill loses considerable value if not available at the start of every pull. The 10 yard radius of the effect is also a strong limiting factor, as the skill is only useful if able to hit most or all mobs early in a given pull. Certain styles of tanking/pulling mobs, particularly where you find yourself frequently chain-pulling small groups of additional targets, inherently favour Misery . Additionally, certain encounters featuring a high number of spread targets, such as the last boss of Temple of Sethralis, undoubtedly favour Misery , as Dark Void provides little value beyond its initial insanity gain. Misery quite literally saves you a GCD every time Vampiric Touch is cast on a target that would not otherwise already have Shadow Word: Pain, and can be considered the clear winner any time your key does not allow you to get full value from Dark Void .

In summary, I consider Dark Void to be an incredibly strong contender for most high-level Fortified keys with both Momentum and Sear builds. Consider choosing Misery instead when trash kill times are short (well under 30 seconds), when pull strategy calls for it (frequent chain-pulling of a couple of enemies at a time), and when enemies are frequently spread (think Temple of Sethralis).

Psychic Horror or Last Word?

Psychic Horror is almost certainly the default pick for M+ content in Patch 8.2, particularly with how valuable single target stuns can be for handling both Enchanted and Tides emissaries. A stun can often be used as a second interrupt skill, and is quite useful for handling enemies which fixate (think bats in Underrot).

Last Word should be considered when necessary for a team to handle interrupt rotations for otherwise difficult boss encounters, particularly if the team is primarily comprised of ranged dps characters. Shrine of the Storm includes two such boss encounters as well as difficult caster trash mobs, and will often warrant taking Last Word depending on team composition.

Auspicious Spirits or Shadow Crash?

Shadow Crash should be considered the default pick when running the Momentum build in M+ content for a number of reasons. Shadow Crash does decent AoE damage on a short 20-second cooldown, and synergizes particularly well with Dark Void to quickly propel you into Voidform at the start of pulls. Due to hidden ability scaling, with 2x Spiteful Apparitions traits Shadowy Apparitions will deal about the same damage as if we had chosen Auspicious Spirits, but with an immediate 20 insanity rather than the steady stream provided by Auspicious Spirits procs on multiple targets. Shadow Crash is undeniably the superior choice on single-target boss encounters with 2x Spiteful Apparitions traits, and there are not enough spread AoE encounters in any dungeon to justify losing the utility afforded by Shadow Crash.

The Sear build does have a little more leeway with respect to this decision, as Mind Sear will actually overtake Shadow Crash in cast priority on multiple targets. Additionally, if running 1x or less Spiteful Apparition traits, Shadowy Apparitions damage will be stronger with Auspicious Spirits than with Shadow Crash. That said, the insanity gain from Shadow Crash is still meaningful, and some players may choose to take Shadow Crash in order to get into Voidform faster, especially if they expect pulls to only last between 20-30 seconds in length. That said, Auspicious Spirits should be considered the overall superior option in general for players using the Sear build.

Legacy of the Void or Dark Ascension?

As a quick refresher, Legacy of the Void provides you with a lower insanity threshold for casting Void Eruption, a lower cast time on Void Eruption, and a flat 5% damage multiplier. Dark Ascension on the other hand, allows you to instantly enter Voidform on a one-minute cooldown at the expense of said benefits afforded to Legacy of the Void.

In general, I consider this a no-contest choice in favour of Legacy of the Void for all content, in all scenarios, in the current patch. It is far too easy in my opinion to enter Voidform by leveraging skills like Dark Void and Shadow Crash for the Momentum build to justify an instant Void Eruption once every other pull, meanwhile the opportunity cost of taking Dark Ascension is simply enormous, particularly with respect to the overall damage multiplier and any hard-cast Void Eruption that you may need to cast the rest of the time.

Both builds are similarly punished by the skill’s long cooldown, and at best Dark Ascension provides you with earlier Void Eruption damage at the expense of damage towards the tail-end of your Voidforms. Any pull where Dark Ascension is not available and off cooldown will go in favour of Legacy of the Void. Dark Ascension isn’t necessarily a terrible talent, and does have value when it is able to be utilized well, but as a marginal benefit at best I have not yet seen a compelling argument in favour of using the talent. Choose Legacy of the Void over Dark Ascension for all content this patch.

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