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, 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. Mind Bomb is never worth taking.

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

This is a complicated row. First off, when in dungeons, crash is the default pick. For raids, AS is best when you are at or over 18% crit. If the fight is single target and you are below 18% crit, Death is the best pick. You are going to see a lot of use for these talents, so play around and see what works best for a fight.

Note that even on raid fights, grouped adds can make crash stronger.

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.

Meanwhile, check out this post to keep updated.

Rotation/Priority

Because our class is separated by the VF mechanic, we have two separate priority lists depending on VF. Dark Ascension has some specials notes in both this section and the advanced section, so please check those out.

Out of VF
  1. Cast Void Eruption
  2. Cast SWD (if 2 charges)
  3. Cast Dark Void
  4. Cast Fiend / Bender
  5. Cast SWD
  6. Cast Crash
  7. Cast Blast
  8. Keep up Pain and Touch
  9. Use filler
In VF
  1. Cast Bolt
  2. Cast SWD
  3. Cast Dark Void (if adds not about to spawn)
  4. Cast Fiend / Bender
  5. Cast Crash
  6. Cast Blast
  7. Cast Void Torrent
  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: Dark Ascension has several niche uses, but in general, you’ll want to use it near the end of a voidform. This will allow you to remove the downtime between voidforms. You can also use it at the beginning of a fight for the exact same reason. For more detailed talk about DA, check out the advanced section.

 

Dungeons

For dungeons, your general talent set up is the following:

  • T15 — Shadow Word: Void
  • T30 — Body and Soul
  • T45 — Dark Void
  • T60 — Depends on dungeon
  • T75 — Shadow Crash
  • T90 — Mindbender
  • T100 — Dark Ascension

A few notes. Dark Void is generally your go-to talent, but Misery can see use in dungeons where creatures live much longer and can have VT applied. Your T60 talent depends on if your group needs an interrupt or a single target stun.

When it comes to your dungeon rotation, a large part of this is going to be about figuring out what your group can and cannot do. Remember that everyone popping their cooldowns on the same pack is not beneficial to the group unless the pack demands it.

Remember that shadow has a huge amount of front-loaded burst. With Crash, DV, VoiER, and DA, you can unleash hell within a few gcds on a pack. Make sure to keep using Bolt though, so that your DoTs do not fall off.

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.

Keep updated on trinket values and uses with this post.

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

Dark Ascenion: Remember that DA is not only a Voidform activator but also an extra VoiER. In general play, you are going to just want to use DA on cooldown. It is best, in my experience, to use it at the end of your Voidform so as to minimize your downtime.

That being said, an on-use VoiER is a powerful tool. You can always hold this spell in order to burst a pack of adds on a boss. Additionally, DA is very powerful to use immediately following a VoiER while in dungeons. This will enable you to double-erupt, allowing you to throw out a huge burst of damage in two GCDs.

Remember, taking DA makes time between voidforms longer. Because of this, if you do the double VoiER strat, be aware of the fact that this couldcause you problems for the next pack. Proper DA timing is something that takes practice. You will need to see how much damage your group does and where the dungeon requires higher damage.

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
  • 1 Sept 2018 – Changed AS crit threshold from 20% to 18%
  • 29 Aug 2018 – Updated t75 talents. Updated voidform rotation
  • 20 Aug 2018 – Updated rotation with more up-to-date info + added SWD. Added dungeon section and updated DA info
  • 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