Shadow Raiding Guide - Current for 5.4

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This guide is intended to cover the basics needed to get you set up and raiding with moderate success. For more in depth information than what is covered in this guide, please refer to Other Resources. If you have any feedback or suggestions or if you spot any errors, feel free to let me know.

Current for 5.4.8

Table of Contents
1. Talents and Glyphs -
2. Stats, Reforging, Gems, and Enchants -
3. Priority List and General Strategies -
4. Macros and Addons -
5. Other Resources -
6. FAQ -

Before we get to the guide proper, here is a short list of common abbreviations used when discussing Shadow.

DI - Divine Insight
DoT or dot - Damage over Time effect
DP - Devouring Plague, rarely Desperate Prayer
FDCL - From Darkness, Comes Light
MB - Mind Blast, sometimes Mindbender
MF - Mind Flay
MFI - Insanity
MS - Mind Sear or Mind Spike
MSp - Mind Spike
PI - Power Infusion
PP - Pseudo Power (Stat values normalized against intellect)
SP - Spell Power, rarely Shadow priest
SW:D - Shadow Word: Death
SW:P - Shadow Word: Pain
VE - Vampiric Embrace
VT - Vampiric Touch
1. Talents and Glyphs


Blizzard has been saying they want all talents to be viable, but at the same time it never truly happens.

DPS Talents:
Tier 3 – Use FDCL for movement intense fights or fights with many adds, but Insanity if you can stand still.
Tier 5 – Generally speaking, use Twist of Fate. Use DI for multitarget fights.
Tier 6 – Halo is the best single target as long as you can maintain the approximate ideal distance. Cascade is primarily used a handful of fights where there are many adds that are often spread out.
Divine Star is rarely the best damage option, but can give you a little more mobility and does ridiculous amounts of healing if your raid is stacked.

Non DPS Talents:
Tier 1 – It basically doesn’t matter. You’ll rarely have to truly choose since typically no more than one of the talents will work or be useful on a particular encounter and even then it’s rare that any of them are useful in raids.
Tier 2 – Angelic Feather is the best talent generally speaking. It has a 6 second duration and can have much higher uptime as well as being divided among multiple people. It’s just much more versatile than Body and Soul. The only time I would recommend Body and Soul over it is if you need your movement speed increase while you are stacked with the raid, such as Durumu’s maze or H Lei Shi. If you’re not comfortable with the targeting reticule, taking Body and Soul is not going to gimp you.
Tier 4 – The decision for raiding is basically between Angelic Bulwark and Desperate Prayer. Both are off the GCD and neither drop Shadowform. AB can trigger even while you are stunned or otherwise incapable of casting, but may also be triggered when you aren’t truly in danger and are just low due to fight mechanics. DP is controlled, but has a longer CD and requires you to be in control of your character. Ultimately, just take the one you feel best about using. Neither choice will make or break you.


Similar to talents, Blizzard wanted to get rid of the idea of glyphs that are mandatory or significantly better than others. For the most part they did a pretty good job. Glyphs are situational and up to your discretion. The glyphs below are those that are most likely to be useful to you.

Glyph of Dispersion
Glyph of Fade
Glyph of Inner Fire
Glyph of Inner Sanctum
Glyph of Mind Flay
Glyph of Vampiric Embrace
Glyph of Weakened Soul

A good default setup would be MF/VE/Inner Sanctum. Mind Flay is a very good glyph and the movement speed buff will see high uptime as well as covering most of your smaller movement needs. VE increases both the total healing and the HPS of Vampiric Embrace, increasing its effectiveness on your raid. Inner Sanctum is just a good third glyph because most fights include random unavoidable spell damage.
2. Stats, Reforging, Gems, and Enchants

Stats and Reforging

Spirit still converts to hit at a 1:1 ratio. For raiding you need 15% hit. Humans have a 3% bonus to their spirit making spirit better than hit for them. Draenei, humans or dwarves using maces, and gnomes using daggers have an innate 1% hit thanks to their racial abilities. Hit caps at level 90 are as follow with draenei/weapon racial hit caps in parenthesis:

Your level – 6% 2,040 (1,700)
Your level + 1 – 9% 3,060 (2,720)
Your level + 2 – 12% 4,080 (3,740)
Your level + 3 – 15% 5,100 (4,760)

Crit gives your spells a chance to deal double their normal damage. 600 critical strike rating gives 1% crit.

Haste makes you cast faster and your dots tick more often. 425 haste rating gives 1% haste.

Our mastery is Shadowy Recall. Shadowy Recall “Gives your periodic shadow damage spells a 14% chance to deal damage twice, each time they deal damage.” The mastery procs are true clones of the dot and can proc FDCL or DI just like a normal dot tick. Roughly 333.5 mastery rating gives 1% mastery.

+2 Ticks +3 Ticks
% Normal Goblin % Normal Goblin
Devouring Plague |24.92% | 8,064 | 7,564 |41.74% |14,873 |14,305 |
Shadow Word: Pain |24.97% | 8,085 | 7,584 |41.68% |14,846 |14,278 |
Vampiric Touch |30.01% |10,124 | 9,603 |49.96% |18,200 |17,599 |

These are a few basic breakpoints that people may find relevant. Breakpoints are the amount of haste needed to add an extra tick to your dot. 8,085 is a pretty important one to hit, though you no longer reforge haste into crit once you’ve obtained it, regardless of gear level. There are a ton of breakpoints of potential interest that I will not bother listing here, both because it would just make the table very bloated and because most of them will only be obtainable once you have enough gear to just stack haste to the sky anyways, making it unlikely you’ll be able to do much more to obtain them.

Reforging really hasn’t changed much. You’ll want to reforge what you need for hit cap and try to get as much haste out of your gear as possible. This means that you should try to avoid reforging out of haste and try to reforge into haste on pieces that don’t have haste to begin with. A great tool for helping you with this is ReforgeLite, which I’ve provided a link to in the addon section.

Basic stat priority is
Hit Cap > Haste to GCD cap > Mastery > Crit > Haste

If you have 2pc T16 it becomes
Hit Cap > Haste to GCD cap > 1:1 ratio of Mastery and Crit rating > Haste

Gems and Enchanting


If your average ilvl is below ~505:
Red sockets: Brilliant Primordial Ruby
Yellow sockets: Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Blue sockets: Purified Imperial Amethyst

If your average ilvl is 505-550:
Red sockets: Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Yellow sockets: Quick Sun's Radiance
Blue sockets: Energized Wild Jade

If your average ilvl is 550+:
Red sockets: Wicked Vermilion Onyx
Yellow sockets: Quick Sun's Radiance
Blue sockets: Energized Wild Jade

Unless you have UVLS and do not have 2pc, then it is:
Red sockets: Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Yellow sockets: Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Blue sockets: Energized Wild Jade

In either case your meta gem will be Burning Primal Diamond or Sinister Primal Diamond if you have access to it.

Shoulders: Greater Crane Wing Inscription
Cloak: Enchant Cloak - Superior Intellect
Chest: Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats
Wrist: Enchant Bracer - Super Intellect
Hands: Enchant Gloves - Greater Haste
Belt: Living Steel Belt Buckle
Legs: Greater Cerulean Spellthread or Greater Pearlescent Spellthread depending on hit needs
Feet: Enchant Boots - Greater Haste
Weapon: Enchant Weapon - Jade Spirit
Off-hand: Enchant Off-Hand - Major Intellect

Use profession specific enchantments and item modifications as available.
3. Priority List and General Strategies

Priority List
Your priority list is the order of importance in selecting spells. Abilities higher up the list take precedence over abilities lower down the list.

Devouring Plague w/ 3 orbs
Mind Blast
Shadow Word: Death x2
Shadow Word: Pain
Vampiric Touch
FDCL Mind Spike procs
Level 90 talent
Mind Flay

The gist of it is that Devouring Plague hits so hard that it’s your most important ability. Mind Blast and execute SW:D generate the orbs that allow you to cast DP more often, so they’re equally high on the list. You’ll note that dots actually fall below them. This doesn’t mean you should let them fall off, you should be aiming for 90% or more uptime on VT and SW:P, but try to refresh your dots around MB and SW:D. If you know you’re going to have to cast one in the next three seconds and your dot is about to fall off, refresh it a little early so you don’t delay MB. The same goes for Insanity. Also note that while channeling Insanity, always double tap SW:D. Just use the single hit that gives you an orb. Interrupt Mind Flay after the next tick for any higher priority spell.

General Strategies
There’s nothing to say really about how to handle single target fights with little to no movement, here’s the general idea of how to handle other situations.

Cross dotting – This is pretty straightforward. If you have two targets, just set the secondary target as your focus and use focus dot macros to keep your dots up. Your primary target should always be the thing receiving all of your single target spells like DP, MB, etc. For three targets or more, still make use of a focus, but I’d also suggest using mouseover dot macros and boss frames to maintain dots on everything.

Moving – It goes without saying, but you should continue using all of your instant cast spells while moving. Try to move as little as possible, using both the shortest safe distance to get from point A to point B and also planning ahead with your positioning so that you may avoid moving later. Another important thing to learn is the stutter step. If you don’t have to immediately get somewhere, but will predictably have to move there, work your way there during the GCDs of your instant casts. Also important for a predictable period of movement is refreshing your VT before you move if it will fall off before you stop.

Bloodlust or other strong buffs – Refresh your dots once you get them. Dots will not benefit from buffs on you if they occur after it was casted. They will update for debuffs on the target though, so you don’t have to worry about that. Try to line up your other cooldowns if at all possible, as well as your potion.

Note: Shadowfiend/Mindbender need to be casted after Bloodlust starts to benefit from it.

AOE – Mind Sear becomes useful once it will hit 4+ targets. Prior to that you should be cross dotting. It’s generally best to target Mind Sear on a friendly target, rather than on adds to prevent it from ending prematurely.
4. Macros and Addons


There aren’t a whole lot of macros that are too important for spriests. Here are a few I’d recommend.

/cancelaura Dispersion
/cast Dispersion
Allows you to cast and cancel Dispersion in one easy button.

/cast Silence
This is a simple stop casting macro to help you interrupt more quickly.

Focus Shadow Word: Pain:
/cast [@focus] Shadow Word: Pain
Casts SW:P on your focus.

Focus Vampiric Touch:
/cast [@focus] Vampiric Touch
Casts VT on your focus.

Mouseover Shadow Word: Pain:
/cast [@mouseover] Shadow Word: Pain
Casts SW:P on your mouseover target.

Mouseover Vampiric Touch:
/cast [@mouseover] Vampiric Touch
Casts VT on your mouseover target.

Mouseover Void Shift:
/cast [@mouseover] Void Shift
Making a mouseover macro for Void Shift is really the only way to effectively use it in clutch situations.

Power Word: Fortitude
/cast [@YOURNAMEHERE] Power Word: Fortitude
Casts Fort on yourself, which will buff the entire group. Useful for buffing people in the middle of a fight.

This is an encounter specific macro used for several fights in Throne of Thunder
/target Direhorn Spirit
/target Venomous Head
/target Humming Crystal
/cast Shadow Word: Pain
This gives you an easy way to manage your Direhorn Spirit, Crystal Shell, and swap between heads on Megaera.


As far as addons go, they’re largely a personal choice and you need to choose what’s best for you. However, not all addons were created equal and these are some that I would highly recommend.

DoT Timers:
Raven -
ForteXorcist –
DoTimer –

Cast Bars:
Gnosis –
Quartz –

Boss Mods:
Deadly Boss Mods –

Priest specific:
HaloPro –
Priest AffDots –
(Requires AffDots –

ReforgeLite –
5. Other Resources

Real briefly, here’s a list of other resources that may be helpful. - The premier priest theorycrafting community and the source of most of the information in this guide. More in depth and detailed discussions regarding Shadow theorycrafting can be found here as well as an entire forum dedicated to discussing talent selection and encounter strategies. - SimulationCraft is a tool that will simulate your character to give you projected DPS on a particular type of encounter. You can use this to test different talent and gearing choices, as well as find out a theoretical maximum. - Not specifically a Shadow site or even a priest site, this website is an incredibly helpful tool for people who aren’t necessarily macro literate.
6. FAQ

1. What is the best race for DPS?

Alliance: Pandaren
Horde: Troll

2. What are the best professions?

Blacksmithing - Socket Gloves and Socket Bracers - 352 PP
Engineering - Synapse Springs - 320 PP

Tailoring - Lightweave Embroidery - 320 PP

The rest:
Leatherworking - Fur Lining - 320 PP
Enchanting - Enchant Ring - Intellect x2 - 320 PP
Jewelcrafting - Brilliant Serpent's Eyex2 - 320 PP
Inscription - Secret Crane Wing Inscription - 320 PP
Alchemy - Mixology - 320 PP
Herbalism - Lifeblood - 264 PP
Skinning - Master of Anatomy - 197 PP
Mining - Toughness - 0 PP

Blacksmithing allows you to gem more haste and Synapse Springs are a controlled cooldown which allows you to pair them with other CDs to increase their effective benefit.

3. What are the best consumables to use?

Potion: Potion of the Jade Serpent
Flask: Flask of the Warm Sun
Food: Mogu Fish Stew (Way of the Pot)

About PW:Fort...what about if there's a warlock in the raid. Should you not overwrite their buff?

e: k thanks, it just looks like the lock buff disappears when Fort is cast. As long as it works cuz most of us just buff knee-jerk-automatically.

Nice work Nixxe! (Sticky requested)
It doesn't overwrite it, they'll just have both buffs simultaneously. Besides, warlocks have a penchant for uselessness.
Do you know of a good addon besides Shadow Dotimer that shows the buffs that the current dots are receiving? I currently use that addon, and it does show you with small numbers, what strength the current dot is ticking at, and what buffs are up, so you compare the numbers and decide if you need to refresh or not.

I also use Tell Me When to notify myself audible and visually, when I have a trinket proc, a dps cool down, Jade Spirit, etc, either ready for use or procced. However, sometimes when a new trinket procs, or just Jade Spirit, or something, the current dot strength is higher than it would be if you just blindly refreshed with a new proc, even if all others have fallen off, and that would normally cause a dps loss. The little numbers on the Shadow DoTimer shows you, but its small. Wondering if there is something a bit flashier and more noticable that you use?
Currently I'm using both DotHaste and a version of AffDots that a H2P user modified to work for Shadow. You don't need to run both, they're both standalone, I'm just trying to figure out which I like better quickly. The modified AffDots still seems to need some work, but in the end will probably prove far superior.
/target Direhorn Spirit
/target Venomous Head
/target Humming Crystal
/cast Shadow Word: Pain

Add this to the macro list please
/target Direhorn Spirit
/target Venomous Head
/target Humming Crystal
/cast Shadow Word: Pain

Add this to the macro list please

I can't believe I didn't think to put all of mine in the same macro. :|

I'll add it.
I approve this message.
Teaching is best done without shoes.

Requested for Sticky.
Wow that was fast.
Basic stat priority is
Haste > Crit > Mastery

If you have the legendary meta gem it becomes
Haste > Mastery > Crit

Nope, UVLS

BS > Engineering >= Tailoring > Rest

SimulationCraft is a tool that will simulate your character to give you stat weights


Unlike in previous expansions you can't easily run yourself through Simcraft to get customized stat weights. This is because there are simply too many variables that come into play with analyzing stat priorities / weights / breakpoints. There's the 9 combinations of talents, different fight types and two kinds of secondary stat analyses that all need to be taken into account. With a dedicated machine (aka the Blowtorch) it takes around ~24 hours of simulations to produce the stat weights.

Shadowfiend/Mindbender AFTER BL/Hero

Angelic Feather is nigh unusable on self in raids, Unless you're 10 man, then toss up.

Glyph of Weakened Soul


For more in depth information than what is covered in this guide, please refer to Other Resources

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