Shadowpriest FAQs, Vol. 1

shadow priest at a portal into the Emerald Nightmare

I’m not one to make a soup-to-nuts guide to shadow priesting — I wasn’t keeping a blog or journal going 3 years ago when I leveled either of my two shadow priests (one Horde, one Alliance), and plenty of other folks have done a great job of that already.

But that said, I do often get questions from new shadow priests, or most often, from healing priests looking to get crib notes for their shadow off-spec. Hence, some FAQs. If you have a question I haven’t answered here, leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it in Volume 2. A big THANK YOU to my tweeps who suggested some of the questions.


Q: Which is better, spirit or crit? And should I choose haste over spellpower?

A: I go with the stat weightings provided by

  • Int = 0.22
  • Spi = 0.59
  • Crit = 0.76
  • Haste = 0.98
  • SP = 1.00 (stat weights are normalized to SP)
  • Hit = 1.88

What this means is haste and spellpower are weighted almost the same, and hit is rated as more valuable right up until you reach your hit cap. Spirit and Int are your least valued stats, and better suited, perhaps, for your healing set. Crit is still tasty, but not as much as haste.

Q: What hit cap should I be targeting?

This gives me the leeway to wear primarily haste/sellpower gear, with a few pieces that are bulked up on hit (I used a hit trinket forever which meant I only had to wear 3 other hit pieces.) Here’s the breakdown:

  • 263 hit cap with 6 points in Shadow Focus and Misery plus a Draenei in your group
  • 289 hit cap with 6 points in Shadow Focus and Misery
  • 315 hit cap with 5 points in Shadow Focus and Misery
  • 341 hit cap with 4 points in Shadow Focus and Misery
  • 368 hit cap with 3 points in Shadow Focus and Misery
  • 394 hit cap with 2 points in Shadow Focus and Misery
  • 394 hit cap with 2 points in Shadow Focus and Misery
  • 420 hit cap with 1 point in either Shadow Focus or Misery
  • 446 hit without any points in Shadow Focus or Misery

Q: How about tips for the disc priest that only pretends to be shadow on those pesky low healer fights?!

A:The most important thing I can say to you is to invest in a DoT timer and resist the urge to clip your Vampiric Touch. Don’t put up your Shadow Word: Pain until you have 5 stacks of shadow weaving plus any other spellpower buff from trinkets, etc. Mind Flay is your all-purpose fill-in sell when Mind Blast isn’t up and it’s not time to refresh your DoTs. And finally, 4 or more targets are optimal for Mind Sear. Less than that and you are better off DoTing 2 and focus firing the other.

Q: How do you prioritize and balance haste/crit/sp, etc as you gear up?

A: Haste didn’t make it onto the scene until I was level 70 if I recall. So I can only answer from the 70-80 sphere. Spellpower is the end all be all stat, in my mind, as you level. Haste becomes attractive once you have better gear that gives you a solid mana pool. I didn’t start truly noticing haste’s discrete effect on my DPS output until it got up to about 19%. That is also the point at which I started using haste pots, rather than Wild Magic Pots, on boss fights. You should get the incidental crit you want/need as you go along as a secondary stat.

Q: Meteor Chaser’s Raiment or the T10 chest?

A: They both cost the same in badges, but unless you are doing hard modes and can get the max upgrade to the T10 chest, the Meteor Chaser’s Raiment is your best buy. For more details on the T10 versus the other emblem gear, see my Frost Emblem post.


Q: Shadow Word Death: Will this get me chewed out by the healers and kicked out of a group? 

A: If you have a healer who is not used to shadow priests, an ill-timed SW:D is likely to result in a tongue lashing. Because it’s rarely the case it’s used as the death blow for a mob, which means you, dear caster, get it back in your face in damage. And it’s rarely your best use of a GCD these days in bang for your buck, so it’s typically not part of a rotation, except for those folks who like to include it in their initial ramp up for their 5 stacks of shadow weaving. So, use it sparingly, and when it makes sense. Don’t use it when the entire team is taking AOE damage or you may die. Do use it when you are having to run around or being tossed up in the air to sneak in a little damage.

Q: What’s your rotation?

A: It varies depending upon the situation. In 5-mans, I tend to DoT the primary target then mind sear because everything dies too fast to make single targeting them down feasible (too often there’s not enough time for the DoTs to tick.) In raids, my boss rotation typically starts with a VT, then DP, MB, MF, MF then SW:P. That second go of MF is so my trinket’s 10 stacks of extra spell damage is up before I cast SW:P.

Q: What shadow priest mods do you use?

A: Apparently there are a few Shadow Priest-specific DPS and buff mods I have never heard of, because folks often ask me if I use them. I keep it simple: Quartz Castbar to see when I should start queuing up my next spell, and Need to Know which allows me to track my DoTs. Omen and DBM for raiding. Auctionator and Lil’Sparky’s Workshop for crafting, though the latter is giving me LUA errors now.

More soon. If you have a question, leave it below.

9 thoughts on “Shadowpriest FAQs, Vol. 1”

  1. Excellent by the numbers post. Definitely getting tucked away into my shadowpriest bookmarks.
    Secondary inquiry: ForteXorcist (primarily warlock addon) has done wonders for my wife’s DPS (she’s a warlock) as it provides a very easy way to keep track of all your buffs/debuffs/DoT Timers/Cooldowns. I was wondering if you had any experience with it? I haven’t played with Need to Know much yet, but I was impressed w/ ForteXorcist’s lack of setup time.

  2. Good post; I’ll be recommending it to fellow spriests.
    As to raid rotation, I used to start with VT, but I found my overall damage and DPS went up significantly by starting with MF for 3 stacks of Shadow Weaving, MB for the 4th, VT for the 5th (also takes advantage of the first 4), then dots SWP and DP. Yes, you lose the mana regen from VT+MB on the first rotation, but that opening VT takes advantage of 4 stacks of Shadow Weaving. Then simply keep a priority of VT, MB, DP (if they drop for any reason, get them them back up in that order), and fill with MF.
    So opening rotation is MF MB VT SWP DP MF MB, then alternate two MF’s and MB whenever you’re not refreshing VT or DP.
    Hope that helps.

  3. Meteor Chaser’s Raiment over the T4 set bonus??
    If you have the crafted pants or the one dropped.
    I dont think Meteor Chaser’s Raiment will be better than even the normal t10 chest. when you count in the set bonus.
    im not expert in this but ,, i was reading that the t4 set bonus is really good to have,, And since the crafted pants is far better than even the upgraded version of the t10 pants.
    There is not need to buy Meteor Chaser’s Raiment for breaking the set bonus. .. there is thou some other alternatives. but,, its important to explain those.

  4. The comment about the Meteor Chaser’s Raiment is comparing each item, by themselves, in a void. It’s better than the purchased from the vendor T10 chest, unless you are able to upgrade that chest with the heroic mark. Whenever I discuss gear, especially in a comparison, I don’t take into account set bonuses you could have if this was item number X of Y. Because that is irrelevant on a piece-by-piece basis. Hope that clarifies for you.
    Personally, I’m getting my T10 4-piece with the 4 other T10 items, and planned on buying the Meteor Chaser’s Raiment. Then I got the chestpiece from the Blood Princes, and decided to just sit on the badges for a bit. The T10 pants are amazing, but quite frankly, overpriced in this marketplace unless you are getting free or cut price saronites from your guild, which will start to happen eventually most likely.

  5. I think we all have our favorite ways to get our 5 stacks of shadow weaving up, and our 10 charges on our trinkets (if applicable) before DoTing. I am a big fan of following up a spell with a cast time with one that activates the GCD. It feels like more bang for my buck. I tried the 3 MF in a row approach in my Saturday night ICC 10 after reading your comment, but it felt like too long of a ramp up before getting down to business for me, even with the significant haste I have on hand. It’s nice we can walk multiple paths with our spell rotations and still get to the same place. At the point that a shadow priest can play with a one button macro, I’d be out of here.

  6. How do you know when you have 5 stacks of Shadow Weaving? I’ve Shadowed my way in Heroics to a GS of 4400 but still haven’t been able to figure out how to tell.

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