How to play a Priest in WoW dungeons – Shadow spec

Having some problems? Are your teammates upset with you for some reason? No worries – here’s a quick list of things that will help you figure out how to play a priest in WoW:

I keep dying!

Don’t use too much AoE.

Generally speaking, the mobs should be hitting the tank, not you. If they’re hitting you, you may have accidentally caused too much threat. Make sure not to use too many AoE abilities. In particular, don’t use Mind Sear if you’re likely to catch mobs that the tank does not yet have under control.

Don’t stand too close to the boss

A Shadow Priest is a ranged damage-dealer. That means that, for most fights, you should be standing some distance away from the boss, hitting him at range. If you’re too close to the boss, you’re in danger of receiving damage from the boss’s close-combat abilities.

Some bosses require you to stand close to the boss. See our quick start dungeon guides to find out when that is.

Here are a few other more general reasons why you might be dying

My teammates say I am a “ninja”

Don’t roll need on armor or weapons that are not suitable for Shadow priests

Priests can only use cloth armor, so you shouldn’t roll need on any other type of armor.

Even if the armor is cloth, it may not suitable for you. Your most important stats are Intellect and Spellpower. If an item doesn’t provide a significant bonus to at least one of these stats and it’s not a trinket, don’t roll need on it. If it’s a trinket, it should probably mention spells or spellpower for you to need on it – if in doubt ask your party.

If a weapon does not have Intellect or Spellpower on it, don’t roll need on it. If it’s not a one-handed mace, staff, dagger or wand, don’t roll need on it.

There are some other reasons why people might call you a ninja if that reason doesn’t seem to be it.

My tank is annoyed with me / other people say I am tanking

Don’t attack before the tank

The tank should start each fight, and will attack the mobs first. Don’t attack first – even if the tank is already running towards the mobs, be sure you don’t start casting an ability which will land before she gets there.

Don’t use Psychic Scream

Psychic Scream is a useful spell, but it’s use in dungeons and raids is very situational. There will rarely be an occasion when it’s correct to use Psychic Scream. The Glyph of Psychic Scream causes the spell to make your opponents cower in fear rather than run away, making it safer to use, but it’s still not an ability you should be using regularly. If you don’t have the glyph, don’t ever use Psychic Scream in dungeons.

If those aren’t the reason, here are a few more reasons it could seem that you’re pulling or trying to tank

My teammates say my damage sucks

Make sure you’ve spent all of your talent points

Talent Points are additional powers you get as you level up. To see them, press “N”. You should ensure that you’ve spent all the talent points you have available. If you’re stuck, you can get a good idea for places to put your talent points by reading our guide to Shadow Priest stats and talent spec.

Make sure you have the correct glyphs

You can find Glyphs from the bottom of your Talent window (press “N” and look for the Glyphs tab at the bottom). Most glyphs are not that important, but you need to have the following Prime glyphs – fill up as many Prime Glyph slots as you currently have:

  • Glyph of Mind Flay
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Death
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain

You buy glyphs from the Auction House. Some may be very expensive – it’s worth saving up for them (see our guide to making enough money to buy things on the Auction House) . You, or a guildmate, may be able to make the glyphs you need if you have the Inscription profession.

Make sure you’re using the right abilities

Not all of your spells are alike, and not all of them are best to use in any situation. Most WoW players will use a “priority system”, worked out by expert players, to do the most damage.

Here’s a very simple priority system that should allow you to do decent damage as a Shadow Priest. You should work your way down the list from the top to the bottom, using the first ability that’s available each time.

If you are not high enough level to have some of those abilities: Ignore the abilities you don’t have yet and just use the others.

  • Casts Vampiric Touch, Devouring Plague and Shadow Word: Pain on your target. Cast them again if you notice they’re not on the target any more.
  • Cast Mind Blast if it’s available.
  • Cast Mind Flay.

This is a very simplified priority system, which won’t get the most out of your abilities but which should enable you to reach acceptable levels of damage-dealing. Once you’ve mastered the simple system, you can move on to the more complex priority systems detailed in our Shadow Priest stats, gems, glyphs, reforging and rotation guide.

My teammates say my gear is bad

Don’t use gear with the wrong stats

Priests can only use cloth armor, but even if the armor is cloth it may not be suitable for you. Your most important stats are Intellect and Spellpower. If an item doesn’t provide a significant bonus to at least one of these stats, you probably shouldn’t be wearing on it.

There are a bunch of other reasons that people could think your gear is bad that might be worth checking, too.

My teammates don’t want me healing – but I have healing spells!

Don’t use your healing spells unless it’s an emergency

Your healing spells are useful for soloing, but in a group you’re better focusing on doing ranged spell damage, and letting the healer do the healing.

It might seem like you’re helping the healer out by healing yourself, but in actual fact, by taking yourself away from doing damage, you’re making her job harder.


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