Tag Archives: Shadow

Priest Leveling: 30-49 Shadow

My Shadow Priest reached level 51 last night, so the time has come to implement the second part of the Shadow Priest leveling guide. If you’re just getting started on a Shadow Priest of your own, or considering one, then I suggest you take a look at the previous guide, Priest Leveling: 1-29 Shadow.

Playing a Shadow Priest
As I said in the 1-29 guide, while the Shadow Priest shares similarities to other classes such as the Affliction Warlock, playing a Shadow Priest is really only like playing a Shadow Priest. At least, that’s what it’s like if you keep it to game terms. If you broaden your mind a bit though, it’s actually a lot like playing a Sith Lord. “Hello, I am Darth Psynister, and I’m here to flay your mind! /cast !Mind Flay”

You want to talk about Jedi mind tricks? Then you better go roll yourself a Shadow Priest, because you’ve got some minds to start controlling. Granted, we can’t wield cool looking lightsabers, but who needs a 3 foot sword that can cut through anything when you’ve got a 40 yard Mind Flay that can cut through brains? We might not be able to jump fifty feet into the air with a triple front flip, but we can walk on air and hover over water with nothing but the sheer power of our minds (and levitate spell).

Shadow Priests do an excellent job of combining spells that deal damage, restore health, and hinder opponents into a very appealing package wrapped in shadowy goodness.

Shadow-Specific Tips
The first thing to know is that if you’ve been having mana problems then today is a day of rejoicing. Well, it is if you’re in this level range at least. During this span of 20 levels you get three tools that help you keep your mana topped off during and after every fight.

Up to this point playing a Shadow Priest is all about maximizing damage while minimizing mana costs. Now that we have the means to control our mana replenishment it’s time to fully embrace the shadow and start doing what we do best – melt faces.

The most important tip I can give you about playing a Shadow Priest is to learn how to ninja kills. If you’re playing solo then you don’t have to worry about the ninja’ing part so much, but if you’re in a group then you should get as much practice as you can at stealing the killing blow on every target possible. Shadow Word: Death is the key to keeping your mana high. In this level range you’ll have both a glyph and a talent that allow SW:Death to restore your mana on use.

The reason why mana is so important is because now you can also start to cast your DoT spells much more frequently. You’ll see an increase in your kill speed as well as how fast you can burn through kill quests by spreading DoT’s across several mobs at a time. By getting spells and abilities that also grant you and your party healing based on the damage you deal you’re also able to stay alive in situations that most other cloth-wearing casters would have a trip to the spirit healer.

Shadow Priests aren’t designed to burn things down with massive bursts of damage, instead they’re meant to overwhelm their targets with so much damage from so many different sources at once that they can’t even get to you before they’re dead. And when a Shadow Priest tells someone to die, they list.

Important Spells & Abilities
There aren’t all that many new spells that get introduced in this level range. The spells that do get introduced though, are a pretty big deal.

  • Shackle Undead: Shackles the target undead enemy for up to 50 sec. The shackled unit is unable to move, attack or cast spells. Any damage caused will release the target. Only one target can be shackled at a time.
  • Shadow Word: Death: A word of dark binding that inflicts Shadow damage to the target. Deals three times as much damage to targets below 25% health. If the target is not killed by Shadow Word: Death, the caster takes damage equal to the damage inflicted upon the target.
  • Levitate: Allows the friendly party or raid target to levitate, floating a few feet above the ground. While levitating, the target will fall at a reduced speed and travel over water. Any damage will cancel the effect. Lasts 2 min.
  • Mind Vision: Allows the caster to see through the target’s eyes for 1 min. Will not work if the target is in another instance or on another continent.
  • Mind Control: Controls a humanoid mind up to level 41, but increases the time between its attacks by 25%. Lasts up to 30 sec.

While you won’t use Shackle Undead on a frequent basis at all, it’s important to be aware of what forms of Crowd Control you have available in your class. This spell effectively removes one undead target from the fight for 50 seconds, or until damaged. As Discipline spell you can cast it in Shadowform safely.

Shadow Word: Death is the most important spell for you to get familiar with in this bracket. A lot of people get a little freaked out by the part where it deals damage to you too if you don’t kill the target with it, but that’s why you’re going to practice using it on every mob you face. You’ll lessen the damage you take with talent points, though it’s not anything to worry about in the first place, really.

Levitate is one of those spells that’s just plain useful. In relation to combat about the only time I use it is when I’ve got some great terrain I can take advantage of where I can DoT the mobs and have them chase me up a cliff and then I can just off and Levitate down slowly while they continue to chase me and my DoT’s kill them off without me ever getting hit. Otherwise it’s useful in getting around pre-flying mount and for fishing if you like to fish on the water where mobs won’t (usually) attack you.

Normally I wouldn’t even bother mentioning Mind Vision, but its usefulness in PvP is worth mentioning. You can follow people just about everywhere with this spell so you can either use it on your own teammates to be an extra scout for them or you can cast it on the enemy flag carrier to know exactly where he’s hiding or the path he’s taking if he’s running away. It’s a sweet spell to have in PvP even if it’s usefulness in dungeons or solo questing is pretty limited. If you’re trying to find a special mob that you can’t see though, you do have the option of using a “/target MobName” to target them and then using this to see where they actually are.

Mind Control is the reason I got interested in Priests in the first place. Being able to take control of your target and make them do what you want is a lot of fun, especially in PvP. The only thing I like more than knocking people off of cliffs is making them jump off “voluntarily”. It’s especially fun when the target is in PvP and knows the effect and what’s about to happen, and then the spell breaks because of damage and they don’t take control back immediately because they expected to die, and then you grab them again just as they find hope and fling them off the cliff anyway. I love this spell.

Leveling a Shadow Priest

  • Questing Single Mob: Vampiric Touch, Shadow Word:Pain, Mind Flay, Shadow Word:Death
  • This is my rotation right now for killing single targets. Prior to level 49 when you actually learn Vampiric Touch, just substitute it with a Mind Blast instead. The point here is to start the damage on the target with the DoT’s/MindBlast, use the Mind Flay to help speed the drop the target to 25% Health or less and then finish them off with a SW:Death cast.

    If the target isn’t at 25% by the time Mind Flay finishes you need to make a judgement call. Either you Mind Flay them again because they’re way over 25% health, or you just sit there and wait a few seconds for your DoT’s to get them there, and then you finish them with SW:Death.

    If my target isn’t high enough for another Mind Flay I usually just go grab another target and start doing the same thing to it while I wait for the previous target to get within SW:Death range, then I’ll switch target to them, SW:Death, and then back to my current target. I suggest you use a Name Plates addon if you’re not using one already. My addon of choice for this is called TidyPlates/ThreatPlates because it also makes the nameplates show agro so I know when I need to back off to let my tank get agro back.

  • Questing Multi-Mob: Vampiric Touch, Devouring Plague (first target) – Vampiric Touch, SW:Pain (second target) – SW:Death to finish targets
  • The way this one works doesn’t necessarily come out in listing the spells, so here’s the deal. Pick a target and cast Vampiric Touch followed by an immediate Devouring Plague. Remember, you can only have Devouring Plague on one target at a time, but having all three of your DoT’s on a non-boss is typically overkill. So the first target gets Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague and then your additional targets get Vampiric Touch and SW:Pain.

    Whenever you see one of the mobs getting close enough that SW:Death can finish them off, use it. Once your Devouring Plague target dies, use it in place of SW:Pain on the next mob you pull. Two DoT’s should be all you need to kill the mobs, or at least get them close enough that SW:Death can finish them off. If you find that you aren’t doing enough to kill them with that go ahead and add in Mind Blast first (because it will trigger Replenishment from Vampiric Touch to restore 10% of your mana) and Mind Flay when Mind Blast is on cooldown.

    I also suggest you go ahead and bubble yourself after pulling the first or second target just to on the safe side. Kill off all the targets you can with SW:Death to trigger its mana regeneration as well, and don’t worry if it doesn’t kill them since Masochism will kick in at that point to reward you with 10% of your mana anyway. Just be sure to keep an eye on your health when pulling several mobs and using SW:Death because it does have the chance to be deadly if overused when you’re already taking heavy damage.

  • LFG Trash Rotation: Shadow Word: Pain (all targets), Vampiric Touch (one target), Mind Blast/Mind Flay (as needed), SW:Death when possible
  • For LFG trash I like to go ahead and spread SW:Pain around to all of the mobs first because it’s an instant cast. After all of them have their DoT’s I’ll go ahead and Vampiric Touch one of them just to trigger Replenishment with my next Mind Blast, and then I’ll just switch between Mind Blast and Mind Flay to finish everything off.

    The point is to get some damage rolling on all of the mobs from your DoT and then burn them down one at a time with your direct damage spells (Blast/Flay), using SW:Death to kill them off whenever possible.

    Remember, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, if you get the chance to kill something with SW:Death – do it. Priests and Warriors are the only classes that I know of that have a special ability that triggers off of landing killing blows that’s actually significant. For Priests it’s mana regen via the Spirit Tap glyph and for Warriors it’s additional damage and healing via Victory Rush (I love that spell). Stealing killing blows from other Priests and Warriors is kind of mean, so at least consider whether or not you’re sure you want to steal a kill from one of them, but for all other classes just remember – you’re a Sith Lord, not some code-following Jedi.

  • LFG Boss Rotations: Vampiric Touch, Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, Mind Blast, SW:Death, Mind Flay x2, Mind Blast
  • This is the rotation I prefer to use with a boss fight. You start it off by applying all three of your DoT’s, then a Mind Blast to trigger the replenishment effect for your party. SW:Death comes next to deal some instant damage and also give you back 10% of your mana form the Masochism talent followed by Mind Flay casts until Mind Flay comes off of cooldown.

    Refresh your DoT’s as needed and cast Mind Blast when it’s not on cooldown both for the damage and for the replenishment effect. SW:Death will help you keep your own mana topped off, but feel free to skip casting it if you feel like you’re dealing too much damage to yourself to justify casting it. Sniping a boss kill with SW:Death is a lot harder than normal mobs because so many different people will be hitting it at the same time that you’ll usually end up casting it too early or the boss is dead before you get the cast off.

    Talent Spec: 49 Shadow Priest

    • Improved Mind Blast (+2) 3/3: Reduces the cooldown of your Mind Blast spell by 2 sec., and while in Shadowform your Mind Blast also has a 100% chance to reduce all healing done to the target by 10% for 10 sec.
    • Improved Psychic Scream 2/2: Reduces the cooldown of your Psychic Scream spell by 4 sec.
    • Vampiric Embrace 1/1: Fills you with the embrace of Shadow energy, causing you to be healed for 6% and other party members to be healed for 3% of any single-target Shadow spell damage you deal for 30 min.
    • Masochism 2/2: When you take a damaging attack equal to or greater than 10% of your total health or damage yourself with your Shadow Word: Death, you instantly gain 10% of your total mana.
    • Silence 1/1: Silences the target, preventing them from casting spells for 5 sec. Non-player victim spellcasting is also interrupted for 3 sec.
    • Mind Melt 1/2:
      Increases the damage done with your Shadow Word: Death by 15% on targets at or below 25% health, and when you deal damage with Mind Spike, the cast time of your next Mind Blast is reduced by 25% lasting 6 sec. Mind Melt can stack up to 2 times.
    • Vampiric Touch 1/1: Causes 540 Shadow damage over 15 sec to your target and causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain 1% of their maximum mana per 10 sec when you deal damage from Mind Blast.

    The first thing on the list here is to finish off Improved Mind Blast so that we can get that cooldown reduced and use it more often. If you already spent points here then I suggest you put those two points into Twisted Faith instead so that you can turn your Spirit into Hit Rating.

    Improved Psychic Scream by itself isn’t all that great unless you’re really using Scream a lot, but the reason we’re taking it is to open up access to Silence further down the tree. If you don’t want either of these two talents, which I know some of you will not, then I suggest putting 2 points into Harnessed Shadows to increase your Shadow Orb generation and move the point in Silence over to Mind Melt to max it.

    Vampiric Embrace is an excellent buff that causes your direct damage spells to heal you and your party for a percentage of the damage that you do. You want to keep this buff active at all times.

    Masochism is the moon to our mana pool’s sun, otherwise known as Shadow Word: Death. It causes you to restore 10% of your Total Mana any time a single attack hits you for at least 10% of your health or when you damage yourself with SW:Death. So if you cast SW:Death and it doesn’t kill them, then this talent restores 10% of your mana, but if it does kill them then the Glyph of Spirit Tap will restore 12% of your total mana. It’s a win-win situation.

    Silence is an excellent tool. If you’re just solo questing then you can probably skip this one because casters aren’t going to be a huge threat to you. If you’re doing LFG or PvP though, then you want to be able to use this. The main reason I took it was to get the casters to close into melee range on the ignorant tanks I was running with who didn’t know to pull melee mobs onto the casters so they would stop trying to kill our healers.

    Mind Melt has a couple of really cool effects, though we only benefit from one of them in this level bracket. Increasing the damage that SW:Death deals to targets below 25% health helps to ensure that you get your 12% mana returns from the Glyph of Spirit Tap when you kill targets with SW: Death. I only have one point in it for now, but the next talent point we get outside of this bracket I placed here to increase it further.

    Vampiric Touch is the final touch we were waiting for to solidify the end of our mana issues. This spell is a DoT with a cast time, but we can put it on any number of targets. It also has the added benefit of causing a Replenishment effect on up to 10 raid/party members in your group when you cast Mind Blast. Replenishment causes the targets to restore 10% of their maximum mana over 10 seconds. Once you get this spell it becomes the one you’ll use to pull from here on.


    Prime Glyhphs

    Even though mana issues melt away in this level range and you can more freely use your DoT’s, I still think that Mind Flay is the best choice here because of how often you’ll end up casting it, especially on boss fights. Using SW:Pain will increase your DPS on trash in LFG if you’re spreading your DoT’s around, but you’ll have to decide how important that is to you. I would freely support the use of either one, though.

    Major Glyphs

    • Glyph of Spirit Tap: When you kill a target with your Shadow Word: Death and yield experience or honor, you instantly receive 12% of your total mana over 12 sec.
    • Glyph of Fade: Reduces the cooldown of your Fade spell by 9 sec.
    • Glyph of Psychic Scream: Targets of your Psychic Scream spell now tremble in place instead of fleeing in fear, but the cooldown of Psychic Scream is increased by 3 sec.

    Without a doubt, your major glyph of choice is Spirit Tap. This glyph is what causes you to stop having mana issues. I’ve recently found that I’m pulling threat like crazy, so I’m pushing Fade up a bit in the priority list. Psychic Scream is a decent option, especially if you’re going to run LFG, but I generally cast this when soloing or in PvP where I would prefer the targets flee.

    Minor Glyphs

    I don’t find Levitate to be nearly as useful as a Mage’s Slowfall spell, but it’s not a bad substitute so I like to be able to cast it without having to worry about a reagent. Fortitude is a great option if you like to chain LFG runs for quick and easy experience as it will cut down on your mana consumption. You shouldn’t have problems with mana, but there’s no reason to waste it, right? Fading isn’t bad, especially if you find yourself pushing your tank’s threat a lot. Where Fortitude reduces your mana spending outside of combat, Fading does so during combat so you might find it more useful.

    Gearing Up Your Priest
    At this level range you should have enough of your mana returning spells and effects that Spirit isn’t quite so important now as far as mana is concerned. Spirit is still a good stat to have, especially with points in Twisted Faith turning it into Hit Rating, but at this point I wouldn’t bother stacking it above other stats that are more important to your DPS.

    Stat Priority: Intellect > Haste > Crit > Spirit

    So I’ve changed up the priority list just a little bit, dropping Spirit down a couple of notches because it’s not as important anymore. Intellect is always the top priority for DPS casters as it provides mana, spellpower, and spell crit. I have Haste ranked next because it can increase your DPS in multiple ways, but it’s especially good for classes that make use of DoT’s. I bumbed Crit up in the list mostly because of the drop in Spirit’s importance, but also because watching all of your DoT’s crit and taking a target from 85% down to 14% is a wonderful sight to see, and makes excellent SW:Death fodder for refilling your mana pool.


    Posted by on January 28, 2011 in Caster, Class, Guide, Leveling, Priest


    Tags: ,

    Addressing Mana Issues: Shadow Priest 1-45

    Of all the searches that I get on my blog in relation to the Priest class there are two questions that come up more than any other. The first is simply how to level one, which I’ve already started writing the guides for. The second is the topic of today’s post: how to deal with shadow priest mana issues.

    After writing my 4.0.1 guide for leveling Shadow Priests I started to get a lot of emails from readers about the mana issues. I could tell we had some mana issues here and there, but overall it wasn’t all that bad for me. I started sending out advice, and in some cases it really helped while in others it didn’t seem to help much at all and I even had to suggest that some of them switch to a different spec for a while until mana issues were addressed by Blizzard.

    A couple of months went by and with the Cataclysm release there was so much to do, so many toons to level, and so much gold to spend/make on the AH that I set the priest aside for a bit. Priests are now the second-most searched for topic on my blog right now, right behind Druids, and that prompted me to stop slacking on the priests and get back to finding out what’s going on with all of these mana issues.

    But in order to figure out mana issues at all of the low levels I had to start over so I deleted the Human Priest and rerolled a new one, this time a female Dwarf for the sake of having some twirly braids of doom.

    Research Plan
    So in order to figure out what mana issues the Shadow Priest really has, I had to reroll a new Priest and look at how it performed at every level. So I took part in all different aspects of the game to find out not only what the performance was, but also to find out where I spent the most mana.

    Knowing that the mana issues do exist I made a special effort to monitor and control the number of times I sat to drink in order to restore my mana. Every time I reached a level ending in 5 I would sell all of the drinks that I had in my inventory and purchase two full stacks of the new type of drink that had just become available, and then monitor their usage.

    Activities: I had to look at it from the perspective of questing, running dungeons, and also PvP so that I knew where we spent the most mana, and why. Do we spend more mana when we’re alone or when we’re in a group?

    Rotations: How important is rotation? Are some spells to be avoided, or some to be focused on?

    Regeneration: I also needed to see how much mana I could regenerate on my own, both during combat and after. This includes regeneration from spells or effects that increase regeneration as well.

    Consumption: Consumption refers to both the consumable drinks that restore mana outside of combat, as well as various types of mana potions.

    Performance: Finally, I had to pay special attention to my performance to know whether or not it was possible to be effective at playing the class and spec while also being conservative with my mana. Do I lose DPS by not casting spells with the highest mana cost? How does spamming my cheapest spell(s) impact my performance?

    Once I had my plan in place it was time to execute it.

    Level Range: 1-15
    Consumables: Ice Cold Milk 437 Mana, Minor Mana Potion 140-180 Mana, Lesser Mana Potion 280-360 Mana

    During this level range I didn’t even bother buying drinks because the passive mana regeneration outside of combat is significantly increased by Blizzard to make low level playing easier for new players. You can empty your entire mana bar and it will refill itself in a matter of seconds during this level range so there’s no point at all in buying drinks. The only time I used a mana potion during this range was when I was participating in PvP, and even then I used a total of two Lesser Mana Potions.

    The only time I really had mana issues was when I was either spamming Shadow Word: Pain on multiple targets (mostly PvP), or when I was forced to do a lot of healing via Flash Heal (mostly PvP).

    As far as Rotations went, spamming Smite from 1-10 and Mind Flay from 10-15 were the cheapest options, and both very effective for killing single mobs. Using SW:Pain was often a waste of mana if I were fighting a single mob at a time. Casting SW:Pain on multiple mobs at once sped up the leveling process by killing more mobs in the same amount of time, though occasionally it could lead to “wasting” even more mana to cast a heal if the bubble wasn’t enough to keep me up on its own.

    Level Range: 15-25
    Consumables: Melon Juice 835 Mana, Lesser Mana Potion 280-360 Mana, Mana Potion 455-585 Mana

    This level range was pretty similar to the previous one. You lose the increased regen outside of combat at level 15, but they do a good job of scaling it back as you level so it’s not like you’re suddenly constantly running out of mana and wondering what in the world is going on. I did buy my two stacks of Melon Juice as soon as I hit level 15, and I started to add the LFG to my leveling process since it had just opened up as well.

    Of the two stacks of Melon Juice I hit level 25 after using 8 of them. I didn’t use any potions outside of PvP, save for single boss fight in which the Warrior Tank thought that his healer saying “OOM” meant that he should charge the boss and point his AoE at the rest of the group. Stupid Tanks + SFK = Suck.

    I did have some mana issues starting out in LFG as I tried to find a decent rotation to use. It’s hard to set any one specific rotation that’s good for LFG because it’s going to vary in every group that you get into. If we had good DPS then DoT’s were a complete waste and I would cast nothing by Mind Blast and Mind Flay, but if the DPS was low then I would spam SW:Pain across all of the mobs and then Mind Flay to finish them off one at a time.

    The only other time I had problems with mana were in certain instances (Shadowfang Keep) where I had to stop DPS and switch over to healing to make up for extra damage that people were taking from doing stupid crap like standing in AoE’s. I did run into some mana problems in PvP here as well, but not quite so much as I was before. I don’t think the PvP experience was changed so much because anything had changed in my class, I think it was simply the makeup of the teams and how the matches played out.

    Performance definitely didn’t slacken by conserving mana here as I never dropped below #2 on the PvP charts and the only people that beat me in LFG were tanks with their low level AoE.

    Level Range: 25-35
    Consumables: Sweet Nectar 1,345 Mana, Mana Potion 455-585 Mana, Greater Mana Potion 700-900 Mana

    This level range was one of the big tests on mana. You get some great new spells in this range and some good talents to go along with them. You also get access to glyphs, finally, which gives us one of our best forms of mana regen I’ve come across so far.

    Of the two stacks of Sweet Nectar I hit level 35 after using 22 of them. I used 5 Mana Potions outside of PvP (where I used my left over Lesser Mana Pots just because I had them), typically during boss fights.

    The numbers on the Sweet Nectar are going to be slightly skewed because I did end up healing two instances in this level range with my Disc offspec. I used 6 of them during those two runs, but with 16 used in the Shadow spec I’m sure at least some of those 6 would have been used with the Shadow spec as well.

    Part of the increased mana usage in this range is that we get access to Devouring Plague which is our highest cost DPS spell that we have, matching Flash Heal for mana cost. The spell is very powerful and it has a healing effect while it deals damage which makes it extra appealing.

    When it comes to boss fights in LFG I don’t hold back, I unless everything I’ve got. So rolling both DoT’s (our too most costly spells), Mind Blast on cooldown, and spamming Mind Flay in between cooldowns, I was burning through mana pretty quick. I never ran out of mana in any situation, including PvP, but there were two boss fights that I possibly would have ran out of mana had I not used a potion when I saw myself get to around 25-30%.

    The Glyph of Spirit Tap was without a doubt the best decision I made concerning mana. It took me a while to get used to sniping kills with Shadow Word: Death, but as I got to the end of this level range I had it down pretty good. You trigger the glyph by using SW:Death to deliver the killing blow to a target. At first I was trying to conserve my mana by never interrupting another spell or a Mind Flay channel to cast SW:D, but I found through testing that it was worth it to cancel whatever I was doing to get it off.

    As for performance, the only person who beat me on DPS was a Hunter in one of my PvP matches. In LFG I did have some tanks that pulled ahead of me a couple of times, and one Warlock could top me on trash packs with his AoE.

    Level Range: 35-45
    Consumables: Moonberry Juice 1,995 Mana, Greater Mana Potion 700-900 Mana, Superior Mana Potion 900-1,500

    This is the level bracket where I kissed my mana problems goodbye. The most important lesson I learned was when to time my SW:Death casts to trigger that Glyph of Spirit Tap. Once I had the timing down in LFG, the only time I ever dropped below 65% mana was during boss fights, and even then only when one of the DPS was slacking or dead, causing the boss fight to take longer than normal.

    I did so some more healing in instances with my Disc spec, and as Disc I used over 30 of my Moonberry Juice, mostly because I had a string of dungeons where my tanks were mostly Druids and a couple of Warriors. Druid tanks seem to take an insane amount of damage to where I’m casting Flash Heal frequently just to keep them alive. The Warrior tanks seem to share a common goal of pulling more mobs than they can effectively tank. I used two potions during those healing instances as well.

    As for the Shadow spec, I used a total of 5 Moonberry Juice and all of those after boss fights. When the boss doesn’t have any adds, there’s nothing that you can use your SW:Death on to generate additional mana, so until you get towards the top end of this level range you tend to burn through a lot of mana during boss fights. Again, rolling two DoT’s at all times, Mind Blast on cooldown, and spamming Mind Flay in between adds up over time. The only time I used a potion as Shadow was when I needed to drink after a boss fight and the impatient tank decided it would be a good idea to pull the next trash pack, so I downed a potion instead and then went back to fighting.

    We also get access to a talent called Masochism at the high end of the level range. This talent (rank 2) gives us 10% of our mana back anytime we deal damage to ourselves with SW:Death (meaning the target didn’t die, so the Glyph of Spirit Tap isn’t triggered) or when an attack hits us for more than 10% of our total health. SW:Death costs 12% of our Base Mana and casting it is either going to refund us 10% of our Total Mana if it doesn’t kill them, or 12% of our Total Mana if it does kill the target. So now you’re basically in a win-win situation with casting SW:Death whenever it’s not on cooldown. Once you’ve spent points in this talent your mana issues on boss fights ease up a lot as well, allowing you to get 10% back any time SW:Death is on cooldown.

    At this point I had pretty well given up on pulling more than 2-3 mobs at a time while questing. A lot of times I would just take them on 1v1 and burn them down before moving on to the next target. Occasionally I would pull up to five targets at once when I had quests to kill 10-20 of a certain mob just to make it go by quicker, but otherwise I used a simple rotation of Mind Blast, Mind Flay, SW:Death or Mind Blast, SW:Pain, Mind Flay, SW:Death if the mobs had too much health for the previous rotation to finish them off.

    As for performance, I really started to get outdone when it came to PvP in this bracket, but I think I only ran three battlegrounds in this range because the experience in LFG was just too good to pass up. In LFG I continued to dominate the charts until I started running into Arcane Mages. Low level Arcane has some crazy burst damage and all the Arcane Mages I saw were very good at playing the class and spec. I don’t care if they only have to push 2-3 buttons to deal their damage, they do it well. As I got closer to 45 I also found a couple of Balance Druids who were able to beat me on the charts.

    Note that me mentioning topping the charts here isn’t me boasting of my greatness here, it’s to point out that you can perform well while paying attention to your mana. You don’t need to worry about throwing DoT’s on everything that moves, but at the same time you can still do that and stay comfortable with your mana levels so long as you’re taking advantage of opportunities to get your mana back with good use of your spells.

    So what I found out overall was that the key to mana management with a Shadow Priest is closely tied to your level due to the abilities you have available to you. At early levels the best way to conserve your mana is to only cast your DoT’s when you have to; otherwise focus on Mind Blast and Mind Flay as they’re your cheapest DPS options.

    Once you gain access to Shadow Word: Death the best thing you can do is to start watching your target’s health to get a feel for how quickly the mobs are dying. Once you know about how fast the mobs are dying you’ll be able to judge your SW:Death casts to ninja all of the killing blows you can. If you end one fight with less than full mana and you start another one, throw in an early SW:Death cast to trigger Masochism (once you have it) to get an early mana restore, and then try to snipe a mob with another cast once it’s off cooldown for more mana.

    Once you’re comfortable with stealing kills with SW:Death you can feel much more secure in spreading your DoT’s around to multiple targets without having to worry about running out of mana. If you do this while solo questing a good way to get your mana back after fighting a large group is to fight a single target. Pull them with SW:Death, follow that with SW:Pain and then channel Mind Flay. If you’re worried about the mob hitting you then kite them around while you wait for your DoT’s to get them below 25% of their health and then cast SW:Death again to finish them off. Doing this will restore a total of 22% of your total mana, and you can repeat that as many times as you need until you reach a comfortable level. I used that method a few times in my upper 30’s just to see how easy it would be to top myself back off after a big pull. The answer: very.

    There are two other things I want to point out real quick since they don’t really fit in anywhere in particular. First is that the Twisted Faith talent grants you Hit Rating equal to your Spirit. By stacking Spirit on your gear you increase your chance to hit with all of your spells while also increasing the amount of mana that you regenerate. I don’t stack Spirit above Intellect or Haste, but I do pick it up whenever I get the chance for the regen. The other is a very simple, fairly minor thing, but it’s called a Basic Camp Fire. If you purchase the Cooking skill then you can create a camp fire any time you’re out of combat that gives you a dinky little buff of +4 Spirit for 1 minute. I dropped a camp fire before every boss fight during the levels that I had mana issues. It’s nothing special, that 4 Spirit isn’t going to make a big difference, but every little bit counts if you’re having real problems.

    If you’ve had trouble with mana on your Shadow Priest, see if some of the things I’ve said here can help you out. If you find that you’re still having problems, let me know what level you’re at and what kind of problems you’re seeing and I’ll be happy to help you find a solution.

    If you’ve found some good ways to fight the mana problems yourself that I didn’t cover, please share those with us in the comments so that we can spread the good word.


    Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Caster, Guide, Priest


    Tags: , ,

    Priest Leveling 4.0.1: Shadow 1-29

    Outdated Content: There will be a New Guide very soon.

    How many fools seek shelter in the “Light”. How many of those same fools were sent to the grave with vain whispers of, “may the Light embrace you.” The numbers are too high to count, and only a greater fool would attempt to do so. The Holy Light. The salvation of fools.

    I was a fool, once… I had placed my faith in the Light. But all of that changed when my life was consumed by darkness. When those I had looked to for teaching and knowledge of the Light called to the Light and used it as a weapon against me for things I did not do, for events in which I took no part. I remember well their champion as he sought to kill others like me shouting is warcry, “Light, give me strength!”

    In that darkness we found our answers. It was never knowledge that we gained from the Light, only a blindness and shortness of sight. They told us that the shadow must flee and hide when the Light draws near, but they failed to see it for what it truly is; and illusion. For once the Light is removed only Shadow remains. It is not the Light casting Shadow aside, destroying it as it goes, it is merely a blanket illusion hiding the darkness that sits in unseen in plain sight.

    Playing a Shadow Priest
    Shadow Priests play similar, in some ways, to Affliction Warlocks. They deal a lot of their damage by using DoT’s, spells that deal their damage over a period of time rather rather that dealing it all directly after the cast. They have other similar tools at their disposal as well, like causing their enemies to run away in fear or healing themselves by inflicting pain on others.

    But that’s not all that a Shadow Priest has to offer, as rather than focusing on dealing damage to the body as a Warlock does, Shadow Priests assault the mind instead. They can take control of your mind if they wish, and with it your body. With a single word they can cause you continuous pain, or they can simply tell your mind to die, and it will obey.

    Shadow Priests excel in all aspects of the game, whether it be questing, running dungeons, or facing off against other players. With the changes brought to us in 4.0.1 the Shadow Priest has become one of my favorite classes. From consecutive pulls of over 30 mobs to soloing the Ragefire Chasm instance at level 17, it’s been one of the most pleasant leveling experiences I’ve had in a while.

    Shadow-Specific Tips
    Shadow Priests work off of two types of DPS; direct damage spells (nukes), and damage over time spells (DoT). Knowing how those work and how/when to use them determines how effective you are at playing the class. The most important thing to do early on is to learn your spells. I’m not talking about going to a class trainer to be able to cast them, I’m talking about you learning what your character’s spells actually do.

    When you get a new spell, look at the amount of damage that it deals, how long its cast time is, and how long the cooldown for that spell is (if it has one). It’s especially important on your DoT’s, notably Shadow Word: Pain (SW:P). Pay attention to how much damage it deals each time you level (since spells scale with level now), and when you’re going to attack a mob note whether SW:P is enough to kill the mob by itself or if you’re going to need to cast another spell to finish them off. If you need more damage then pull them with one of your direct damage spells first, and then follow it up with SW:P.

    Before you get Shadowform at level 29 you have all of the spells in your book at your disposal, including your heals and bubbles, but when you are using Shadowform you can’t use any Holy spells or they’ll cancel your form, so once you get to level 29 you want to stick to Shadow spells as much as possible. So be familiar with which spells fall under which categories. Generally speaking, if it’s not on the Shadow tab of your spellbook, then it’s not castable in Shadowform.

    Important Spells & Abilities
    Priests have a fair number of spells and abilities at their disposal, so it’s always good to know which ones you have available to you. I’m not going to list every spell that you get here, I’m just going to point out the ones that you’ll use at least fairly often while leveling. Number in parenthesis after spell names indicate the level at which you can train the spell.

    Level 1-10

    • Smite (1): Smite an enemy for 33 to 35 Holy damage.
    • Shadow Word: Pain (4): A word of darkness that causes 66 Shadow damage over 18 sec.
    • Power Word: Shield (6): Draws on the soul of the friendly target to shield them, absorbing 177 damage. Lasts 30 sec. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage.
    • Inner Fire (7): A burst of Holy energy fills the caster, increasing the armor value from items by 60% and spell power by ??. Lasts 30 min.
    • Mind Blast (10): Blasts the target for 50 to 52 Shadow damage.
    • Mind Flay (10-Shadow Spec): Assault the target’s mind with Shadow energy, causing Shadow damage over 3 sec and slowing their movement speed by 50%.

    Smite is your starting spell, and your primary nuke for your first 10 levels. Typical Priest leveling involves Smite-spam where you just cast this over and over until things are dead (2-3 casts in most cases). I would tell you not to get used to casting it since this is the only guide you’ll see it in, but you really don’t have any choice at this level. At level 4 you get Shadow Word: Pain which is your bread and butter DoT (damage over time) spell. You’ll use this one for the rest of your shadowy career, so get used to it.

    Power Word: Shield is your “bubble” spell, absorbing damage for you so that you don’t actually take damage. It’s a great spell while you’re leveling in this bracket or when you need to act as a healer. You’ll use it quite a bit while leveling, especially when you’re doing it solo.

    Mind Blast is your first shadow nuke, dealing decent damage with a fairly short cast time. The 8 second cooldown on it prevents you from spamming it, but you’ll likely be dealing enough damage with other spells that the cooldown won’t really matter.

    For choosing to become a Shadow Priest at level 10 you’re awarded use of the Mind Flay spell. Mind Flay is a channeled spell that deals a lot of damage over 3 seconds and also slows the target by 50% while it’s being channeled. Combine this with either SW:Pain and/or Mind Blast and you basically have yourself a dead target.

    Level 11-20

  • Power Word: Fortitude (14): Power infuses all party and raid members, increasing their Stamina for 1 hour. If the target is in your party or raid, all party and raid members will be affected.
  • Psychic Scream (14): The caster lets out a psychic scream, causing 5 enemies within 8 yards to flee for 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
  • Holy Fire (20): Consumes the enemy in Holy flames that cause 45 to 55 Holy damage and an additional 14 Holy damage over 7 sec.
  • At level 12 we get Inner Fire which has changed in 4.x. It now provides a 60% armor bonus as well as a bonus to Spellpower. You always want to be sure this buff is active. Power Word: Fortitude is another buff that you want up at all times, which will increase your party’s Stamina for 1 hour.

    Psychic Scream is your version of crowd control and/or emergency button. It causes up to 5 targets around you to run away for 8 seconds or until damaged. I like to use it while questing by casting SW:Pain on several targets to draw them to me and then using Scream to send them running away where I’ll pick them all off with either spells or my wand (assuming SW:P isn’t enough to kill them by itself).

    I list Holy Fire here only because it’s a good spell to use in this leveling range when you’re pulling a boss or an elite mob with a lot of health. It does good damage and has a longer cast time than all of your Shadow nukes, and it also has a DoT effect for extra damage. You won’t use it anymore once you get Shadowform at 29, but until then it’s a decent damaging spell.

    Level 21-29

    • Fade (24): Fade out, temporarily reducing all your threat for 10 sec.
    • Dispel Magic (26): Dispels magic on the target, removing 2 harmful spell from a friend or 2 beneficial spell from an enemy.
    • Devouring Plague (28): Afflicts the target with a disease that causes 88 Shadow damage over 24 sec. 15% of damage caused by the Devouring Plague heals the caster. This spell can only affect one target at a time.

    At level 24 you get Fade, to reduce your threat generated. If you’re solo questing then it doesn’t do much of anything for you. It has some small amount of value in PvP against player pets if used properly, but it really shines in dungeons so that you don’t draw agro. Dispel Magic is how you’ll get rid of debuffs that hit you, or how you remove buffs from enemy targets. You’ll probably use that one more for PvP in this level range, but it’s good to know you have it.

    Last up we have our other Shadow DoT for this level range, Devouring Plague. The great thing about this one is that it also heals you for 15% of the damage that it deals. While that might not be a huge amount of healing by itself, when you combine that with the 15% damage reduction from being in Shadowform and the ability to bubble and/or heal yourself you can really start to see just how powerful a Shadow Priest can really be.

    Leveling a Shadow Priest

  • Questing Rotation 1: Shadow Word: Pain, (Devouring Plague), Mind Blast, Mind Flay
  • Questing Rotation 2: Holy Fire/Smite, Mind Blast, Mind Flay
  • Heirlooms Rotations: Shadow Word: Pain, afk bio
  • LFG Trash Rotation: Shadow Word: Pain (all targets), Mind Blast/Mind Flay (as needed)
  • LFG Boss Rotations: Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, Mind Blast, Mind Flay
  • I’ve got a few different rotations here so that you can find one that fits your play style. The rotation I don’t mention is the one you use prior to level 10, which is simply spamming Smite until everything is dead. Once you get to level 10 these options start to open up for you.

    Questing Rotation 1 is your typical rotation if you just started up a brand new priest on a brand new server, meaning that you’re in questing gear rather than heirlooms. Start off with a SW:Pain to get the damage ticking, follow it up with Mind Blast for a fast nuke, and then finish them off with Mind Flay. In some cases you can skip the Mind Flay because SW:Pain will deal enough damage to finish off what Mind Blast doesn’t cover, but Mind Flay gives you that extra damage at the end to seal the deal. I’ve included (Devouring Plague) in parenthesis because you don’t learn it until level 28, making it unusable for most of this guide, and because you can only have it cast on one target at a time. So if you’re fighting multiple targets then you will cast it on the first target, but not again until the first target is dead or it has worn off.

    Questing Rotation 2 is for those of you who are used to firing off your spells until the target is dead. If you’re not too big on the whole damage over time (DoT) thing yet and want to be more in control of when things die, then this is the rotation you’ll use. Once you get Shadowform at level 29 this one goes away because you can’t cast holy spells in Shadowform, but if you’re trying to ease into it then this is how you do so. Start off with Holy Fire or Smite since they have longer cast times, follow it up with Mind Blast for more direct damage, and then finish the mob with Mind Fly. Like I said, this one goes away so don’t get too used to it.

    The Heirlooms Rotation is for those of you who have Heirlooms, especially those who have also enchanted said heirlooms. This patch brought some big buffs to low level damage just from spells and talents alone, but when you add in good gear with excellent enchants it becomes quite nearly insane. Once you’ve reached level 4 to get Shadow Word: Pain you can cast that spell alone and kill basically every mob up through level 13 or so with just a single SW:P cast and nothing else.

    Talent Spec: 29 Shadow Priest

    • Improved Shadow Word: Pain 2/2: Increases the damage of your Shadow Word: Pain spell by 6%.
    • Darkness 3/3: Spell haste increased by 3%.
    • Twisted Faith 2/2: Increases your shadow spell damage by 2%, and grants you spell hit rating equal to 100% of any Spirit gained from items or effects.
    • Improved Mind Blast 1/3: Reduces the cooldown of your Mind Blast spell by 0.5 sec., and while in Shadowform your Mind Blast also has a 33% chance to reduce all healing done to the target by 25% for 10 sec.
    • Improved Devouring Plague 2/2: Your Devouring Plague instantly deals damage equal to 30% of its total periodic effect.
    • Shadowform: [Instant cast] Assume a Shadowform, increasing your Shadow damage by 15%, reducing all damage done to you by 15%, and increasing all party and raid members spell haste by 5%. However, you may not cast Holy spells while in this form.

    Shadow Word: Pain is a big contributor to our damage, so our first priority is increasing that damage. Finishing off the first tier we’re going to grab some haste from Darkness to further increase our damage output and the speed.

    From there I suggest going Twisted Faith first to improve our hit chance. I used to not worry about Hit very much at all while leveling, but after leveling my Rogue I’ve seen the real value in hit while leveling, so I suggest you go ahead and pick this up now. Improved Mind Blast shortens the cooldowns for one of our nukes, and has a PvP’ish benefit to reduce healing as well. If you don’t like Twisted Fate, feel free to move it’s points over to this for now and then fill TF in at later levels where the hit will be more important. You’ll want 3/3 here eventually anyway so that choice is yours.

    Improved Devouring Plague won’t help you much when you first start putting points into it, because you won’t actually get the spell until level 28 though I’m suggesting you take the points in this talent at 25 and 27. Even though those points get “wasted” for a few levels it will pay off once you get the spell. And at level 29 we get the signature Shadow Priest ability, Shadowform with a 15% damage increase and 5% haste.


    For Prime glyphs I suggest either of the above. My preference is SW: Pain because when you’re fully equipped with enchanted heirloom gear SW:P kills just about every mob you’ll face while questing by itself. If you’re not using heirlooms, then I suggest you take Mind Flay instead. You’ll want both of them eventually, so you really can’t go wrong with either one.

    • Glyph of Psychic Scream: Targets of your Psychic Scream spell now tremble in place instead of fleeing in fear, but the cooldown of Psychic Scream is increased by 3 sec.
    • Glyph of Fade: Reduces the cooldown of your Fade spell by 9 sec.

    I have two options for your Major glyphs as well. I’m going to rank Psychic Scream above Fade here strictly because Fade has no use (at this level) while soloing. If you’re a solo quester, go for the Scream. If you’re going to do a lot of dungeon runs or if you like to PvP a lot, then I suggest you go with Fade first instead. Again, you’ll end up using both of them eventually, so you can’t really go wrong here.

    Two options for Minor glyphs too. Since you’ll use PW:Fortitude both soloing and in groups, it’s the clear winner for me. Fading will only be used when you’re in a group. Just from the frequency of casting them I’d go Fortitude over Fading, but either one will work. Minor glyphs are just that, minor, so don’t worry about screwing this one up as neither one really provides any significant benefit.


    Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Caster, Class, Guide, Leveling, Play Styles, Priest


    Tags: ,

    %d bloggers like this: