Introduction

Hello everyone and welcome to the Battle for Azeroth Shadow guide! My name is Melgane, one of the many Staff members of WarcraftPriests.com. I’ve been raiding as a priest since AQ and been playing shadow for every tier except ICC.

This guide will cover everything from the fundamentals of playing shadow priest to the advanced playstyles, theorycrafting, and personal experiences that are needed to compete at the highest level. I welcome feedback and discussion.

Please feel free to message me here on WCP if you do not feel comfortable asking your question publicly. My btag and twitter can be found in my signature down below. Additionally, feel free to join further discussions in our Discord channel! Warcraft Priests
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Acronyms

MB – Mind BlastVoiEr – Void EruptionVoiT – Void TorrentToF – Twist of Fate
MF – Mind FlayLI – Lingering InsanityDA – Dark AscensionFotM – Fortress of the Mind
VT – Vampiric TouchVF – VoidformSW:V – Shadow Word: VoidSW:D – Shadow Word: Death
VE – Vampiric EmbraceVB – Void BoltLotV – Legacy of the VoidStM – Surrender to Madness

What Changed in Battle for Azeroth?

Patch 8.0.1

  • Voidform now gives less haste
  • Drain has been increased
  • Leap of Faith and Mind Sear have returned
  • Mass Dispel now has a 45 second cooldown
  • Void Torrent is now a talent
  • Various talent changes. Please read the talents section below
  • Voidform can now be activated at 90 insanity, down from 100

Talents

Green means it the default talent.

Blue means the choice has merit, but for a specific case.

Red means do not take this talent.

T15

  • Fortress of the Mind– Flay and Blast deal 10% more damage and generate 20% more Insanity
  • Shadowy Insight– Shadow Word: Pain’s periodic damage has a chance to reset the cooldown on Mind Blast and make your next Blast instant. 3 rppm
  • Shadow Word: Void– 1.5 sec cast, 2 charges, 9 second cd that deals 130% spell power and generates 15 Insanity. Replaces Mind Blast.

SW: Void and FotM are both strong picks. Remember that consistent movement favors Void.

T30

  • Body and Soul– Shield gives you a 40% movement speed for 3 seconds
  • San’layn–Reduces the cooldown of Vampiric Embrace by 45 seconds and increase its healing by 25%
  • Mania– You move faster based on your Insanity, up to 35% faster

Being a utility row, all of these talents have different niches in which they can be used. Pick the ones that are best for the fight. Body and Soul, for example, being more useful than Mania on fights where you need more burst mobility. Meanwhile San’layn can be powerful on fights with tight healing requirements.

T45

  • Twist of Fate– After damaging a target below 35% health, you deal 10% more damage and healing for 8 seconds
  • Misery– Casting Vampiric Touch also applies Shadow Word: Pain
  • Dark Void– 2 second aoe cast that deals 100% spell damage and applies Pain to all targets within 10 yds. 30 second cooldown, generates 30 insanity

This is a powerful row with a lot of different uses. What talent you use here is very fight dependent. ToF is likely the strongest choice on single target fights, with the other two picking up on aoe/spread dot fights.

T60

  • Last Word– Reduces the cooldown of Silence by 15 seconds
  • Mind Bomb– Leaves a 2 second debuff on the target that disorients all enemies within an 8 yd radius for 5 seconds. 30 second cooldown, replaces Psychic Scream
  • Psychic Horror– Stuns the target for 4 seconds. 45 second cooldown

Similar to the T30 tier, all of these talents have situations where they are useful. Last Word being useful on fights with interrupt rotations while Psychic Horror is more general purpose utility that gives us additional crowd control. On this tier, I’d argue Mind Bomb is the weakest choice since damage will rapidly pull enemies out of stun, heavily limiting its usefulness.

T75

  • Auspicious Spirits– – Your Shadow Apparitions now deal 100% more damage and generate 2 Insanity
  • Shadow Word: Death– Spell that deals 187.5% spell damage to a target. Only usable on targets 20% or less health. 2 charges, 9 second cooldown. Generates 15 insanity. If the target dies within one second of casting, generates an extra 15 insanity.
  • Shadow Crash– Hurls a shadow projectile that deals 125% spell damage and generates 20 insanity on cast. 20 second cd

Crash is the strongest overall pick of the row. The other two can see uses on spread targets and execute-centric fights, however.

T90

  • Lingering Insanity– When Voidform ends, its haste bonus fades by 2% every second, instead of ending immediately
  • Mindbender– Summons an improved Shadowfiend for 15 seconds that attacks the target and generates 6 Insanity every time the pet attacks. 1 minute cooldown
  • Void Torrent– 4 second channel that pauses insanity drain and deals 300% spell damage over the duration. 45 second cooldown, only usable in Voidform

Bender simply smashes the competition in this tier. Fire and forget this spell.

T100

  • Legacy of the Void– Reduces cast time of VoiEr by 40% and reduces activation point to 60 insanity
  • Dark Ascension– Immediately activates a new voidform. Casts VoiEr and generates 50 insanity. Resets your current voidform if used during voidform. 1 minute cooldown
  • Surrender to Madness– All your spells generate 100 insanity and you can cast while moving for 1 minute. After 1 minute, you take 90% of your maximum health in damage and cannot generate insanity for 30 seconds

Both LotV and Dark Ascension are strong. LotV will provide more frequent voidform patterns, but DA will provide a useful burst. Play around with both to see what works better for you or for the fight.

Azerite

There has been a very recent set of changes to the azerite traits. This section will be updated as sims are compiled for these recent changes.

It does appear that both Dagger in the Back and Thunderous Blast are strong traits, based on what is simmed so far.

Rotation/Priority

Because our class is separated by the VF mechanic, we have two separate priority lists depending on VF.

Out of VF
  1. Cast Dark Ascension
  2. Cast Fiend/Bender
  3. Cast Crash
  4. Cast Dark Void
  5. Cast Blast
  6. Keep up Pain and Touch
  7. Use filler
In VF
  1. Cast Dark Ascension
  2. Cast Crash
  3. Cast Fiend/Bender
  4. Cast Void Torrent
  5. Cast Dark Void
  6. Cast Bolt
  7. Cast Blast
  8. DoT new targets/maintain DoTs
  9. Use filler

Let’s take note of a few things now.

General Rotation: The general priority of our spells is Bolt > Blast > Flay.

Mind Sear: As with any aoe spell, it is important to figure out when your aoe overtakes your single target spells. Sear replaces these spells at this number of targets:

DoTs: Assuming that the mob is going to live for certain periods of time, it is worth it to place DoTs up. If the mob lives for at least five seconds, cast Pain. If it lives at least seven seconds, cast VT. The ideal time to cast DoTs is when it would be replacing Flay, but you can substitute Blast if the mob will live longer. Make sure to cast Bolt on cd though!

Dark Ascension: It appears that the best way to use Dark Ascension is simply on cooldown. However, do remember that this spell does give you a strong on-use aoe burst. Don’t be afraid to hold it if your group needs the extra boost!

Voidform

Voidform is the main mechanic of our class. We start with zero Insanity and can fill it to 100. Once at 90 insanity (60 with LotV) we can activate VF with the spell Void Eruption. VF generates a stacking buff. We gain one stack of VF for every second that we spend in the form and each stack grants 0.5% haste. This maxes out at 100 stacks.

VF is not permanent. Our Insanity bar depletes naturally over the course of the VF according to this equation:

d = 6 + 0.8*x
where d = total drain of Insanity over 1 second 
x = # of “Insanity Drain Stacks”, which is NOT the same as Voidform stacks

Once we reach a value of zero Insanity, we leave VF. We then have to fill back up our Insanity.

When we leave VF, we lose all bonus haste unless we have taken the Lingering Insanity talent. In that case, we lose 1% of the bonus haste every two seconds. This haste buff is not removed when entering the next Voidform.

Now that we understand what VF is, how do we generate Insanity? With our spells of course! Below I will list all the spells that generate Insanity and how much they make:

  • Blast – 12 Insanity
  • Pain– 4 Insanity on the application of the debuff
  • VT– 6 Insanity on the application of the debuff
  • MF– 3 Insanity per tick, 6 Insanity per gcd, 12 Insanity per full cast
  • Sear– 1 Insanity per target hit
  • Fiend – 3 insanity per hit
  • Shadowy Apparitions – 2 insanity per spirit if talented into Auspicious Spirits
  • SW: Void(Talent) – 15 insanity
  • Dark Void(Talent) – 30 insanity
  • Death (Talent) – 15 Insanity always, 15 more Insanity if the target dies within 1 second of the cast
  • Shadow Crash (Talent) – 20 Insanity
  • Bender (Talent) – 6 Insanity per swing
  • Dark Ascension (Talent) – 50 insanity

Once we generate the appropriate amount of insanity, we have to activate VF using Void Eruption. This is a 2-second casted spell that deals 160% spell power damage to all targets within 10 yds of your target. This spell is replaced by Bolt during VF.

Additionally, there is a spell we gain only during VF called Void Bolt. This is an instant-cast, projectile spell that generates 16 Insanity. This projectile extends your DoTs on the target and all enemies within 8 yards once it hits the target and has a 4.5-second cooldown, modified by haste.

So with this knowledge, the basic idea is to use everything on cd to get into VF, then use the general rotation of:

VB > MB > Filler > VB > Filler > Filler

It is also important to note that Dispersion halts Insanity drain. However, it does halt stack generation. This means that spell will keep you at your insanity level, preventing decay, but will also not allow you to generate stacks of Voidform. This essentially acts as a 6-second pause on your Voidform.

Stats and Gear

For BFA, the stat priority appears to be:
Intellect > Haste/Crit > Mastery > Vers

Therefore, choose pieces that are haste/crit and choose higher ilvl. Try to avoid mastery and vers when you can.

For leveling, use Chest and Sephuz legendaries.

Because of some last minute changes and the sheer amount of sims that need to be done, trinket evaluations are not yet complete.

Racials

"Follow your heart" – Hygeia, 2016

Racials are extraordinarily close to one another in BFA, comprising less than a 1% difference. That being said, it may be useful to look at things like Arcane Torrent, Rocket Jump, and Darkflight. Otherwise, just go for whatever race you enjoy playing.

Consumables/Enchants

Advanced Play/Discussion

This will be updated as new things are discovered in BFA. Make sure to stay tuned!

Credits and Thanks

A big thank you to the WCP community. This would not be possible without any of you, especially our theorycrafting team!

And a huge thank you to everyone reading, commenting, and supporting this! We all appreciate you all the most since you are the people that we do this for.

Changelog

click to show
  • 12 Aug 2018 – Updated azerite and trinkets with links to Publik’s pages. Updated weapon enchant and potion.
  • 10 Aug 2018 – Updated for BFA.
  • 2 Aug 2018 – Fixed DA cooldown. Added DoTs in VF rotation. Added SW:V/t21 note. Updated gem.
  • 17 July 2018 – Guide made public with 8.0 release.