Hello everyone and welcome to the Shadowlands Shadow guide! My name is Melgane, one of the many staff members of I've been raiding as a priest since AQ and been playing shadow for every tier except ICC.

This guide is meant to teach you the fundamentals of shadow and help you succeed in clearing the content you want to clear. I welcome feedback and discussion.

Please feel free to reach out to me or any of the team here at WCP. My btag and twitter can be found at the end of this guide. Additionally, feel free to join further discussions in our Discord channel! Warcraft Priests is one of the largest Discord servers in the world and is constantly growing every day. Feel free to join by clicking this link:

What Changed in Shadowlands?

Shadow has received an extensive list of changes in Shadowlands.

Here is a quick list of major changes Shadow has received:

  • Voidform is now a 90 second cooldown and we no longer use the voidform cycle
  • Insanity has been reworked into a spender resource, with Devouring Plague being the baseline spender
  • Power Infusion has returned as a base ability
  • Our Mastery has changed to increase our damage by X% per DoT on the target
  • We have a new passive ability, Dark Thoughts, which is a proc that lets us cast Mind Blast during Flay/Sear
  • Shadow Apparitions has received a fairly major design change

For a more detailed list of new changes, click below:

  • Desperate Prayer has been returned to Shadow, allowing us to have an on-demand instant heal that does not share a cooldown with potions or stones.
  • Mastery has been changed to provide an additive % increase to damage for every DoT you have on a target. This won't fundamentally change your rotation, but might be gameable on fights with increased damage taken phases.
  • Shadow Word: Death has returned as a base ability. Be careful though, it damages you back!
  • Voidform has been completely overhauled. You cast Void Eruption to activate it, unleashing an AoE centered on your target. You then gain a few benefits, outlined in more detail in the Voidform section.
  • Dark Thoughts is a new passive that gives your Flay and Sear a 3% chance per DoT on each tick to give you an instant Blast that can be cast during Flay and Sear.
  • Devouring Plague has returned and is our primary spender of Insanity. 
  • Shadowy Apparitions are no longer tied to crit chance. Now, whenever you cast Blast, Bolt, or Plague, a spirit will travel to every target with your Vampiric Touch. If the trigger spell crits, you will spawn two spirits instead of one.
  • There are various new talents that you can explore at your leisure. The most important one to note is Searing Nightmare. This is an AoE insanity spender that can only be cast while using Mind Sear. Casting it applies Pain to all targets hit and if the target already has Pain, it deals double damage.


Shadow actually has some choice in talents! You will find the various combinations below, as well as some basic explanations for each.

Single Target

For single target fights, the setup is rather simple. You can use Misery instead of ToF if you'd like with a minimal loss in DPS.

Multi Target

Once secondary targets are involved, things get tricky.

For the level 15 row, DnM picks up when you can reliably snipe adds with it. For longer lived targets, Fortress will likely still be the best choice.

If the adds are shortlived, you may find ToF outperforms Misery.

For the level 40 row, this will depend on if the targets are spread out or stacked. For spread targets, take AS. For stacked targets, take Crash.

For the level 45 row, both Bender and Torrent are strong contenders. The same goes for Hungering and Surrender in the level 50 row. You will need to play around with the combinations on a fight to figure out what works best in that scenario.

Quick note for the level 50 row: AM is stronger at low crit levels and StM can be strong depending on how it could be used in the fight. HV is the go-to pick once you have a decent crit setup though.


For the level 45 tier, you can use either Mindbender or Void Torrent. Bender is more oriented to overall trash damage while Torrent is better suited towards single target damage.

For the level 50 tier, the same mention as in multi-target applies. AM sees a lot of strength at low gear levels, especially if you are able to spam Nightmare in Voidform. Remember that StM will kill you if the creature you cast it on doesn't die in time!


Our rotation has simplified heavily in this expansion, thanks to the removal of the Voidform cycle. Our basic rotations can be found below:


Outside of Voidform

  1. Use all of your cooldowns when they come up: Fiend/Bender, Power Infusion, Voidform, etc.
  2. Cast Devouring Plague to prevent overcapping Insanity
  3. Keep up Pain and Touch
  4. Use Shadow Word: Death if the target is under 20% health
  5. Cast Blast ideally with all three DoTs up
  6. Use Dark Thoughts procs ONLY during Flay/Sear
  7. Cast Flay or Sear as filler

Inside Voidform

  1. Use Void Eruption to enter Voidform
  2. Cast Bolt
  3. Cast Devouring Plague, never letting your insanity cap
  4. Use Shadow Word: Death if the target is under 20% health
  5. Cast Blast
  6. Cast Sear or Flay as filler

Dungeons with Misery

  1. Use cooldowns appropriately for the dungeon
  2. Cast Devouring Plague to prevent overcapping Insanity
  3. Use Misery to keep up both Pain and VT on as many targets as possible
  4. Use Shadowfiend
  5. Cast Devouring Plague
  6. Use Shadow Word: Death if the target is under 20% health
  7. Cast Blast. If more than 4 targets, only cast with Dark Thoughts
  8. Cast Sear or Flay

Dungeons with Searing

Remember to be using cooldowns as appropriate for the dungeon. The way we handle the rotation is dependent on how many targets there are.

For 1-2 targets

  1. Still use Devouring Plague to spend insanity and continue your generic rotation

For 3 targets

  1. Cast Searing Nightmare outside of Voidform
  2. Cast Devouring Plague in Voidform
  3. Maintain generic rotation

For 4 or more targets

  1. Only spend insanity on Searing Nightmare
  2. Only cast Blast with DT procs
  3. If using Hungering Void, use Bolt unless there are more than 6 targets
  4. If there are less than 7 targets, cast Touch only when you do not have the insanity for Searing and you have no DT procs

Now let's look at what our openers would be:


  1. Precast Touch
  2. Cast Shadow Crash
  3. Cast Pain
  4. Cast Void Torrent
  5. Cast Blast
  6. Cast Fiend
  7. Cast Plague
  8. Cast PI
  9. Cast Void Eruption
  10. Cast Bolt


  1. Cast Touch as the tank is pulling mobs
  2. Cast Blast
  3. Cast Fiend
  4. Cast PI
  5. Cast Void Eruption

Let's take note of a few things now.

Devouring Plague: DP is our only baseline spender for Insanity.

It is important to note that our mastery if not fully active unless we are in Voidform or if we have all three DoTs on target. Because of this, you are going to want to try to maintain as high an uptime of DP as possible. Pay attention to the debuff timer and do your best to not overlap DPs too much.

However, this spell has a built in rollover function. This means that if you cast DP on a target already afflicted by the DoT, all the damage from the first DP will carry over into the new one. Because of this, don't worry if you have to cast DP on a target that already has the debuff.

Do make note though, you should pay attention to how fast the target is dying. You don't want to lose damage!

AoE: Shadow's aoe kit has a few factors to consider. First, Sear only replaces Flay when you have three or more stacked targets. This is both because of damage and Dark Thoughts procs.

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!


Our primary cooldown does deserve a bit of explanation on its own. When Voidform is activated, you will immediately gain three benefits:

  • Your Void Eruption spell will transform into Void Bolt
  • You will reset your Mind Blast and also gain a second charge of Blast
  • You will cap out your mastery value against all targets for the duration of Voidform

Now what does all of this mean?

Void Bolt is simply a spell that you want to be casting every third global in Voidform. This is the only time that you have access to the spell, so make sure you are pressing that button on cooldown!

Blast having a second charge is mostly a quality of life change since we can have so much happening during Voidform. Just make sure you aren't letting both stacks sit unused!

Because our mastery caps out, this means that every target will take maximum damage from your abilities, regardless of whether or not they have DoTs. This means that Voidform can be activated and you can target swap without any repurcussion or setup to do maximum damage.


Please, please go and use simcraft to help you figure out what you want for your character. To do this easily, go to Raidbots and run the sims for your character.

Our generic stat priority is as follows:

Int > Haste > Mastery > Crit > Vers

Make sure to sim your gear to see your relationship between mastery and crit. They are very close to one another.

An important thing to remember is that secondary stats have been nerfed going into Shadowlands. Because of this, secondary stats reach soft caps at 30% of their value. This does not mean that stats are useless after that value, simply that they begin diminishing in value.

There is one small caveat to this statement: mastery. For mastery, the soft cap is actually 19%.


Covenants are Blizzard's new system for this expansion. The absolute truth here is that all covenants are extremely close in value. Because of this, I truly suggest that you look at the covenants and decide if there is one that sounds more fun for you based on playstyle, performance across other specs, or even aesthetics.

Now let's get into the covenants!


When taking the Kyrian covenant, you receive Boon of the Ascended ability. Wtih this ability, your Mind Flay gets replaced and we gain another AoE button.

On ST fights, you are simply going to activate this during Voidform and replacing all of your Flay casts. There is nothing that needs to be done with Nova on ST fights.

Once a second target is brought in, you can begin to use Nova as your filler button during Voidform.

In all honesty, this ability is fairly awkward for Shadow and it will take some time to adjust.


When taking the Venthy covenant, you receive Mindgames.

This is actually a very simple thing, just use the spell either in voidform or with all three DoTs on the target.

Night Fae

When taking the Night Fae covenant, you receive Fae Guardians.

For this covenant, simply cast Guardians right before you enter Voidform.

Now it is important to note that this is going to make your cooldowns do some weird things. The rule of thumb is that you are always going to be using Voidform on cooldown. Your second PI in a fight is going to be slightly delayed for Voidform. You'll adjust to this timing as you play around with it more.


When taking the Necrolord covenant, you receive Unholy Nova.

Just use this ability on cooldown, ideally with all three DoTs on the target.


For soulbinds, you are going to want to go down paths that let you take two offensive options: Dissonant Echoes and Haunting Apparitions.

For more involved details, you can look at our github page located in the section below. The github shows a path for both what is best on launch and what is best once we have had time to invest.


For trinkets and legendaries, look no further than our lovely github page located here. The shadow team puts a lot of work into this, so make sure to give them the credit they deserve!

Remember, if you are ever doubting something, just make sure to use Simcraft to help answer your questions!


"Follow your heart" – Hygeia, 2016

Racials are still close in SL, though we are starting to see a tiny edge case from best to worst. That being said, the difference is only a few %, so play the race that you want or focus on other things, such as Rocket Jump, Arcane Torrent, or Will to Survive.


Remember that your phanthom fire potion only gets max use if the oil is applied!

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.

My btag is Melgane#1380 and my twitter is @Melganewow


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  • 14 Jan 2021 - Generic updates and cleanings.
  • 30 Nov 2020 - Updated talents section
  • 22 Nov 2020 - Updated to Shadowlands.
  • 13 Oct 2020 - Forgot to include Bolt in ST rotation, sorry about that! Also we got trinket stuff done, woohoo
  • 12 Oct 2020 - Posted for SL prepatch