Shadow Priest in Shadowlands - DPS Strengths, Best Covenants, Soulbinds and Legendaries
Shadowlands launches on November 23rd / 24th and all classes will be getting new toys to play with -- from Covenant abilities, to Conduits and returning Legendary effects! This article, written by Djriff, will provide details on the current state of Shadow Priest in Shadowlands, to help you to prepare for the upcoming expansion!
Shadow is the only damage specialization available to Priests. Shadow received a rework in Legion, which introduced
and completely changed the flow of shadow. Battle for Azeroth iterated on that concept even more. With Shadowlands, Shadow received another large rework. Our specialization identity is a bit confusing as we still use void abilities, but we have ties to our older plague/vampiric roots. Below is our collective feedback and opinions on the current state of shadow that is set to go live when Shadowlands launches next week.
About the Authors
This article has been written by the Shadow Team of
, the Priest Class Discord. The team is formed by
Ellipsis - Ice Bear
Check out all our Shadowlands Launch Opinion articles by our Class Writers and members of the community! Click on any of the colored specs below to see what articles we've released so far.
These guides were meant to give you a preview of what's to come in the expansion, but don't worry -- our full Shadowlands Class Guides will be updated soon!
Blood Death Knight
Frost Death Knight
Unholy Death Knight
Havoc Demon Hunter
Vengeance Demon Hunter
Beast Mastery Hunter
The Big Rework
Shadow received a substantial rework in Shadowlands.
is now a cooldown we use, rather than a buff we try to maintain at all times. Some players already miss the heart pounding pace as you reach higher stacks of
drains faster and faster. While that was a fun playstyle, it was very easy to mess up and the new incarnation of Shadow, which is similar to Shadow prior to Warlords of Draenor, is easier to pick up and still maintains a good skill ceiling.
generation has been reduced across the board slightly and instead we have
and the talent
. We’ve also gained a new passive,
, which gives us more incentive to have
active on the target we are using
no longer being tied to
and acting as a true cooldown has been great for the spec. For several expansions, the only cooldown we had, if you can even call it that, was
. We did have access to
, but that just served to fuel high stack
s and was short lived. Now, when we enter
, we feel an instant increase in power. We get 2 charges of
and access to
, which essentially lets you not worry about managing
for the duration as you’ll automatically extend them with each
cast, letting you focus on upfront damage dealing abilities. Additionally, you still get the cool
As mentioned in the big rework section, Shadow now has a slightly different playstyle than before. While we still make use of our core spells, the spec does feel slower than it did with ramping haste and
has made a return to Shadow. It’s gone through a few changes on Beta, and is now one of our hardest hitting abilities. A new mechanic of
is that it functions similar to Ignite. Any time you cast
on the same target the damage from your previous
will be rolled into the new one. This is great for single target fights or fights where you need to funnel damage into one target while dotting many targets.
has also made a return, this time baseline instead of a talent, however there are some potential issues with the current implementation. While the ability hits hard on targets below 20% health, it doesn’t integrate well into the rotation and the reflected damage could be detrimental should we encounter fights where our maximum health is reduced or targets take additional damage.
is now a baseline ability for all Priest specializations. You can cast it on ally, but generally you’ll use it on yourself. With a 2 minute cooldown, it feels a little weird as it doesn’t line up with the cooldown of
, but overall it feels like a good button to press. Additionally, it’s off the global cooldown.
is now available to all Priest specializations.
, a spell that's generally seen as extremely niche has also returned.
With the rework of
, we need to manually recast our dots much more often. While this is how Shadow played before Legion, it does feel a bit strange going back to it after the past two expansions. Thankfully, we have a few talents like
that can help make this easier.
, has changed this expansion. It is now based on Shadow’s dots being on the target rather than passively adding damage to spells. This synergizes well with one of our passive procs,
. Additionally, during
, all targets will receive the maximum benefit, making
standout as a true cooldown for Shadow.
were changed to spawn on targets afflicted by
are cast, rather than triggering from a critical tick of
. That’s left
feeling a bit lackluster in what it brings to the table. Meanwhile,
now has everything going for it. Targets that have
on them will contribute to the number of
spawned, it can apply
when talented into
, be buffed using
, adds damage to targets when casting
while talented into
, and also heals us passively per tick. We would love to see
synergize with our toolkit beyond
Talents are honestly in the best balance they have been in any expansion. While sims do say certain talents are better in a given scenario, and that will always be the case, some talents are viable in multiple situations. That being said, there are some competing synergies and some weak talents that still need to be addressed in tuning.
This row feels mostly balanced.
definitely feels like a raiding talent, mainly because it doesn’t buff the damage of
, which is what you’ll be using as your filler in Mythic+.
is our bread and butter in Mythic+, which feels great.
is the PvP talent for this row, due to its synergy with
replaced Dark Void with a better spell. It's our only other
spender and it does a fantastic amount of damage.
is still useful in fights that are spread out where
cannot affect sufficient multiple targets or you just want to spend fewer casts on dots. Additionally,
is better than
at lower target counts.
is only slightly ahead of
in terms of DPS on pure single target encounters.
Current sims have
as our best talent, providing you hit all targets with it every cast.
is better on spread encounters and generally more consistent.
just doesn’t do enough damage and has counter synergy when talented into
This row feels weird.
works well in PvP, or when you need to instantly get your dots on a target.
is a short CD single target nuke with a fixed channel time. It's best to have your dots on the target prior to casting it to get the full Mastery benefit, but it hits hard nonetheless.
is your press and forget button for passive
generation, which is great for Mythic+ when you’re hard pressed for GCDs. Generally speaking
will be the go-to talent for most PvE scenarios, it just hits very hard and looks awesome.
is by far our best talent in this row. The initial critical strike gain of Ancient Madness is nice for burst packs, but
will give you a longer
, resulting in more damage over the course of a fight, be that short or long.
is great when you can successfully kill a target marked within its debuff window, granting you additional
is the go-to pick for Mythic+.
is available at level 52. This is a fairly niche spell.
has very few use cases, as it's limited to Humanoid and Dragonkin targets. You should use it to avoid aggroing mobs when you just want to skirt by. If the target resists it, they'll aggro to you. Additionally if you use it on an enemy player, it will cause guards of neutral cities to aggro you.
gains a rank 2 passive ability,
at level 54, which increases the amount of damage a target can take before breaking out of your fear. This doesn't really have an impact on how you would use
gains a rank 2 passive ability,
which increases it's range by 10 yards. This finally puts us on even footing terms of range of an interrupt with other caster classes.
is available at level 58 and you'll want to use it on cooldown, even outside of
. It'll make burning some hard to kill targets easier for you.
You can use the cleansing effect from
if needed, but we have our own tools for cleansing yourself through
(which also benefits our allies). .
When it comes to the actual covenant ability,
is absolutely bonkers. You'll want to use it with
, an Intellect Potion, and any on use trinkets you may have to boost it's damage. One special note about it is that
has a 1s global cooldown, which is hasted, it will feel a bit awkward as the rest of our spells trigger a 1.5s global cooldown, also hasted. It's worth waiting for it to be back up rather than missing a cast.
does not grant insanity, which will feel a little weird.
When it comes to the other soulbinds, they just don't measure up, Pelagos is too strong by comparison. even after the nerfs.
can be buffed using the
conduit, which increases the damage
will deal 1% more damage per stack of
. It adds a decent amount of damage value to
, but it's more noticeable in Mythic+.
Your covenant ability with the Venthyr covenant is
. The spell doesn't really require any thought or special handling, just cast it on cooldown. You can technically minmax it with periods where you know a mob will be dealing damage, for example a warrior using
against you. Additionally you have access to
which can be a niche utility to go from A to B quickly. This covenant serves as a good choice if you're going to be playing a healer, as the soulbinds are quite close in value. Additionally if you plan on seriously playing PvP, this is the best covenant to do so.
As far as soubinds go, Theotar and Nadjia are fairly close to each other, assuming specific pathing. Draven isn't too far behind (literally 1%), so you can go with whichever soulbind you want in this case and have it only minimally impact your potential DPS.
can be buffed by using the
conduit. This causes
to last 2 additional seconds, deal more initial damage, and causes more damage or healing to be reversed. It's not really worth taking in any scenario.
Going Night Fae gives you access to
as a Shadow Priest.
is semi useless for us as majority of the time you'll be talented into
. One upside to it is that you'll have a much longer duration inside of rested areas. which makes navigating cities that don't allow mounts in certain areas slightly faster.
When it comes to DPS,
is interesting. Casting it provides your spells with 3 additional effects.
follows whichever target you've recently cast
on. Note, this does not include
inflicted when casting
while talented into
provides your target to take 10% reduced damage, useful to place on your tank unless someone else needs it. That is triggered by casting
onto a target. Lastly
increases the cooldown rate of a major ability by 100%. For Shadow Priests this currently uses
to reduce it's cooldown to roughly 70 seconds.
For soulbinds, all three soulbinds are fairly close (within 1% of each other) with proper pathing and conduits.
can be buffed using the
conduit, which causes any of the Faeries to leave a reduced power version of their benefit on the target for a short while. We won't be moving around our buffs as often as some classes, so we gain very little benefit from this conduit.
Shadow Priests get access to
is hardly worth casting, except in a pinch where you'll need the extra survivability.
does surprisingly well on lower target counts thanks to it's square root scaling. Basically, it's stronger on lower target counts, but weaker with higher target counts. You'll want to use
when you know targets will live as close to the full duration of
as possible. Unlike Kyrian's Ascended Nova, you do not need to be in melee range to use this covenant's ability and it will instead spread to targets within 15yds of it's impact zone. There is a caveat though,
behaves a lot like shadow crash. You can target an enemy and cast
, however it will lock it's landing location based on where the target was standing at the time you cast it.
For soulbinds, you'll want to go with Emeni, as they're a bit ahead DPS wise in all scenarios.
can be buffed using the
conduit, which extends it duration by 2 seconds and increases its damage. The added damage this provides is negligible.
already has some issues where the targets need to live the full duration to get value out of it, meaning adding more time to that is giving you a bigger window to miss out on damage. Provided you get the full duration of
, it's not bad, but we have better options.
Most of our covenant choices are really close. You can really pick whichever covenant you want and still do comparable DPS. For PvP, you’ll want to pick Venthr, as
is the best covenant ability we have access to in those situations.
Which would I choose if Shadowlands came out tomorrow?
With the rapid fire changes that are currently happening on beta as we approach closer to release, the small gap between covenants is getting smaller. If I had to choose right now, personally I would go with Necrolord. The main reason for that is I enjoy running dungeons and it's one of Shadow's best covenants for dungeons. It also performs decently on single target encounters, even beating out
Given my above choice of a covenant, this is the pathing I would take for Emeni, my chosen covenant.
Emeni provides a couple of interesting nodes:
, the initial trait in the tree, functions as group utility. Your party members are granted them 2% primary stat, and you gain up to 8% primary stat yourself.
allows you to get some extra health, really we only want this for the potency conduit.
allows you to cast
while moving, This isn't worth taking in most situations as we lose a potency conduit.
provides stacking haste when defeating mobs. This comes at a cost of an extra potency conduit and is fairly weak in comparison.
My second soulbind would be Plague Deviser Marileth, mainly so I could get access to
which is useful in Mythic+ for burning down priority targets.
Overall, we only have a handful of potentially good potency conduits. Since we're limited to at max 2 potency conduits for any given soulbind, that vastly limits our choices. Additionally, there are a couple cases where you'll only want to grab 1 potency conduit as the alternative path will buff the damage of that soulbind our the class ability enough to outweigh the gain of the potency conduit.
That being said, you'll never want to pick a covenant specific potency conduit as the shadow priest potency conduits are stronger.
are our best potency conduits.
should be slotted in first if you're talented into
should be slotted first if you're talented into
Here's an example of when to take the other Potency Conduits
is slightly behind the above 2 conduits, it's better than
is better than nothing in raids.
can essentially be thought of as a dot you cast and forget. While this conduit does increase the attack speed of your summoned guardian, it does not benefit from a partial attack. So if your guardian does 15.6 attacks per cast with this conduit, you'll only benefit from 15 attacks, leaving that extra 0.6 useless to you. That said, it's more valuable in Mythic + as majority of the time you'll be running
not not have
up on targets to generate
is slightly behind
, but better than
, this is likely to do with the long cooldown of
and not syncing up with
should never be used.
The majority of the legendaries available to us are terrible. Our best legendary,
, will not be available to us until the raid comes out. Three of the four Shadow specific legendaries are ok but have their own issues.
is a good secondary legendary as you’ll have more control over it than
, and get to use
on another ally while still benefiting from it yourself.
That said, here's the rest of the legendaries that are available to us:
: It seems attractive for burst reasons, but it's just not worth it.
: This provides no DPS output, Shadow already brings tools to the table to help offheal, making this an even worse option.
: Provides no real DPS output, you can either use a covenant ability to move quickly,
, or just be in a better placed spot.
: It seems attractive for burst reasons, but it's just not worth it.
: Isn't terrible, but it's worth saving up for
which will drop in the raid.
: It's decent in M+, but
still outperforms it.
: Just doesn't bring enough DPS to the table to choose to use it.
: A cool concept, but doesn't do enough damage and requires specific positioning to maximize the value of it.
: Most groups of mobs should die around the same time in dungeons. The delay makes this an even worse choice. For raids, it just doesn't do enough damage. That said, the damage reduction component could be fairly niche, but you'll be better off killing something faster.
: This is a bit of a training wheels legendary. If you're just swapping to a ranged DPS class for the first time after playing melee or a beast mastery hunter, this may help you get used to having to plant your feet to deal damage. Once you get used to that, the value of this legendary drops dramatically and it's better to just learn to play a caster properly than gimp your DPS by choosing the wrong legendary.
: The stat proc is nice. Back in Legion, the ring version of this was our best in slot. However, it just doesn't give us the oomph that it used to. This could change as the expansion goes on.
: This provides no DPS to us.
: This just doesn't provide enough oomph to be competitive.
: This may be decent in open world content or pvp, but generally you want to avoid taking damage when possible.
Shadow feels quite strong going into Shadowlands. We're not reliant on any borrowed power of the covenant system. Shadow's framework feels very solid and you'll have options to carve out needs for your raid. Shadow brings decent sustained single target damage, excellent spread target damage, decent stacked AoE damage, and off healing. Shadow does lack in the mobility department, the loss of stutter step casting with
will require Shadow Priests to plan ahead of where they need to be and will result in less damage on big moves. That said, we're not completely powerless as we do have several instant cast spells we can use on the move. These are
. Overall, Shadow has come out performing well with the rework and looks very promising regardless of content you'll be participating in.
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