Shadow Priest Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, and ability priorities

by on August 28, 2012

Faces! They still exist in Mists of Pandaria, and they still need melting. Particularly Garrosh’s. So, as a Shadow Priest, let us get you up to speed on your talents, glyphs, gems, reforging, stats, and rotation – which have all changed this patch – with no walls of text required – just quick, simple get-started-now instructions for MoP and WoW Patch 5.4. After all, those faces are not going to melt themselves…

Updated 17th September 2013 to World of Warcraft 5.4

Shadow Priest changes in WoW Patch 5.4

Some changes to recommended talents and stats.

Shadow Priest “Rotation” and Priorities

Our rotation hasn’t massively changed from Cataclysm, but there are some twists and tweaks to it.

The guides below assume you’re using our standard talent build.

Single-target DPS

Note for old-school Shadow Priests: DoTs are no longer your top priority!

  • Top Priority: If you have three Shadow Orbs, cast Devouring Plague. If not, if Mind Blast is available, cast it.
  • Second Priority: If the target is below 20% health and it’s available, use Shadow Word Death. If Devouring Plague is up, cast Mind Flay.
  • Third Priority: If Shadow Word Pain or Vampiric Touch aren’t ticking on the target, cast them. Otherwise, use Mind Flay.


Simply attempt to get DoTs (Shadow Word Pain and Vampiric Touch) up on as many enemies as possible. Then use Mind Flay when Devouring Plague is up, use Devouring Plague when you have 3 Shadow Orbs, and Mind Blast on CD otherwise. Finally, try to use Shadow Word Death on targets below 20% health, and use Mind Flay if you need a filler.


  • Use Mindbender or Shadowfiend whenever it’s available.
  • Use Dispersion if you’re about to take damage or as a last resort if you need mana.
  • Void Shift can be used to save others or yourself: it swaps percentages of health.
  • Vampiric Embrace will heal nearby allies whilst you DPS.
  • Use Hymn Of Hope, which restores raid member mana, when your raid leader tells you to.


Remember to cast Power Word Fortitude and Inner Fire.

Also, remember to be in Shadowform.

Shadow Priest Talent Choices

MoP talents are very situational, and the theorycrafters are still deciding on the best ones to use. However, here’s a good general-purpose Shadow Priest talent build:

  • Tier 1: Void Tendrils
  • Tier 2: Angelic Feather – allows you to offer fellow players a movement buff.
  • Tier 3: Solace And Insanity
  • Tier 4: Desperate Prayer – powerful self-heal.
  • Tier 5: Twist of Fate
  • Tier 6: Halo – use on cooldown.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Shadow Priest

Intellect is king, followed by Hit/Spirit to the 15% Spell Hit Cap (5100 rating), then Haste to 18,215 Haste Rating, then Crit.

Reforging: Reforge to Crit and Mastery to Haste where you can until you have 18,215 Haste Rating or you can’t reforge to Haste any more. Then reforge remaining Crit and Mastery, plus Haste over 8085, to Hit up to the cap, then Crit.
Gems: Red slots: Reckless gems. Yellow slots: Quick gems. Blue slots: Quick gems.
Meta Gem: Burning meta gems.

Note – see the How2Priest guide below for more detail on Haste and Haste breakpoints.

Spriest Glyphs

Glyph choices for Shadow Priests are still very much up in the air, but here are some good options:

Major: Glyph of Inner Sanctum, Glyph of Mind Flay (Improves movement speed) and Glyph of Vampiric Embrace.
Minor: Whatever you like.

Shadow Priest enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulders – Greater Crane Wing Inscription
  • Back – 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
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit
  • Off-Hand Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Major Intellect


There’s a couple of excellent Shadow Priest guides out there:

  • How To Priest has a great Shadow Priest guide for Mists, although it is a bit densely written.
  • Icy Veins, as always, has a great guide to Shadow Priesting
  • Finally, as a WoW player, you should really check out the latest and greatest from the blogosphere on World of Warcraft, here at the Melting Pot.

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Anexxia August 29, 2012 at 2:56 am
Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

Updated – thanks!


Axerayah August 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Isn’t Glyph of Mind Spike better than glyph of Mind Blast for raids?


Hugh Hancock August 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm

With From Darkness Comes Light there’s a strong case for this, yes. I’d certainly advise you to try it out, and I’m considering changing the guide’s recommendation to be FDCL / Glyph of Mind Spike.


Cawper August 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I was just wondering if Glyph of Mind Flay was really a good option because it does give the movement buff at the cost of the slow movement on the target. I personally would rather have the target slowed. Thoughts?


Bhisaj August 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

Bosses can’t be slowed, so to get from point A to B with less time between locations is more effective DPS in the end. Though keeping the slow on for PVP is still good imo, it’s just what you prefer in the end :)


Eliyahu Grossman September 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Here is an interesting tidbit. I have dual-talents: holy and shadow. I normally do holy for dungeons/raids, and shadow for questing. In holy, my hit rating is 16.2%. Without reforging gear, but switching to shadow, my hit rating is 26.7% with 0% misses indicated for everyone! Prior to the last patch, by switching to Shadow, I was lucky to get more than 11k of DPS (according to recount). This time, it’s over 20k! Obviously, a lot of the inner working have changed, but with my high INT/SPIRIT/HASTE/MASTERY (in that order) gear (iLvl 383) that I use for healing, I am wiping the floor with those dwarfs in Twilight Highlands (dailies).


Hugh Hancock September 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Yep, that’s as you’d expect – Holy is lacking the Spiritual Precision ability which Shadow Priests get, which converts all Spirit on their gear to also give Hit.

Do you have any +hit on your gear? If so, I’d recommend reforging some of it away – you’re considerably over the required hit cap in Shadow, and Holy doesn’t use Hit.


carl November 15, 2012 at 4:18 am

ok you said to have 8085 to haste i have a percent not a hole number


Balkoth November 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Put your cursor over the percent and it will tell you the rating.


Balkoth November 28, 2012 at 11:04 pm

“Yellow slots: Quick gems. Blue slots: Sparkling gems.”

Er, no. You want Reckless (Int/Haste) in yellow slots and Purified (Int/Spirit) in blue slots. You should never use a pure yellow or pure blue (technically there is a case where pure yellow might be better, but it’s very specific and way beyond the basics covered in this guide.”

“If the targets won’t live more than 10 seconds just do your single-target rotation instead.”

If your contribution is needed, it’s still worth using Mind Sear with Mind Blasts thrown in. Mind Sear also beats multi-dotting at something like 5-6 targets, though you should still Mind Blast up until like 7-8 targets.


Hugh Hancock November 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Can you expand a bit on why you’d recommend against pure-colour gems?


Balkoth November 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Sure, but let me ask this first:

“Gems: Use a Brilliant Inferno Ruby in Red sockets. in Blue sockets, use Purified gems (Int/Spirit) and use Potent gems (Int/Crit) in Yellow sockets.”

“Gems: Use Brilliant (Intellect) gems in all slots, unless the socket bonus is +10 Int or more, in which case use Potent (Int/Crit) gems in yellow sockets and Veiled (Int/Hit) gems in blue sockets.”

“Gems: For Red slots, Brilliant (Intellect) gems. For Yellow slots, Artful (Int/Mastery) or Reckless (Int/Haste), and for Blue slots, Purified (Int/Spirit) or Veiled (Int/Hit).”

Those are three I randomly picked, I’m assuming the rest are similar. Why are those recommending Orange gems for Yellow sockets and Purple gems for Blue sockets but the guide for Shadow Priests is not?


Hugh Hancock November 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

My understanding was that the stat weights for Shadow Priests were significantly different across most common iLevel ranges. In particular, Haste has an unusually high value for SPriests, I believe.


Balkoth November 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm


Well, it’s…complicated.

The short version is that most players should ignore the 8085 haste cap and just assume Int >> Haste > Crit > Mastery.

However, technically speaking, if you’re close enough to the Haste Breakpoint, it can be worth giving up some Int to hit the 8085.

So, standard gems are

Red Socket: 160 Int
Yellow Socket: 80 Int/160 Haste
Blue Socket: 80 Int/160 Spirit

But…if you’re close enough to the breakpoint, you can do

Red Socket: 80 int/160 Haste
Yellow Socket: 320 Haste
Blue Socket: 160 Haste/160 Spirit

So that you’re trading 80 int for 160 Haste to hit the breakpoint.

Note that you’re now using Orange, Yellow, and Green gems. You’ll never use a pure Blue gem.

According to Twintop’s sims, general stat weights are something like

Int: 1
Haste: 0.44
Crit: 0.42
Mastery: 0.4

But if you are close enough to the breakpoint *that you can reach it by regemming,* Haste becomes worth something like 0.7. But any Haste over the breakpoint is back to 0.44 and if you can’t hit the breakpoint it’s 0.44.

So the quick and dirty rule is Int >> Haste > Crit > Mastery.

If players want to be advanced, they can gem for Haste once they’re very close to the 8085 mark, but they need to make sure that if they go over it by 160 or more they swap their gems back to include Int again.


Hugh Hancock November 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Aha! Interesting.

I seem to have somewhere gotten the idea that if Int is 1, Haste value was generally above .5, making Quick gems more valuable. (This happens elsewhere with non-casters – Fury warriors, for example, value Crit gems more than Str gems).

I can’t find the stat weights I was using two months ago, though, so I suspect they’re badly outdated.

Updating the guide with your recommendation – thanks!


Balkoth November 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Gotcha. That said, if Haste was generally above 0.5, you’d use

Red Socket: Int/Haste
Yellow Socket: Haste
Blue Socket: Haste/Spirit

at all times. There’s never a situation where you use more than one “pure” gem (red/blue/yellow).

Fire Mages get to the point where Crit is over 0.5 as well with enough gear, I believe. I also know some healers go (or at least did at the start of the expansion)

Red Socket: Int/Spirit
Yellow Socket: Mastery/Spirit (or potentially Crit or Haste instead of Mastery)
Blue Socket: Spirit

and again you see that there’s only one pure gem that’s used.

If red is the dominant gem, you use red/orange/purple.

If yellow is the dominant gem, you use yellow/orange/green.

If blue is the dominant gem, you use blue/purple/green.


Balkoth November 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm

By the way, this is still incorrect:

“Reforging: Reforge to Crit and Mastery to Haste where you can until you have 8085 Haste Rating or you can’t reforge to Haste any more. Then reforge remaining Crit and Mastery, plus Haste over 8085, to Hit.”

Haste, before and after the 8085 stat weight, appears to be our best stat according to most sims (crit can be better in some cases depending on the fight and talent choices).

You want to reforge all Mastery/Crit/Spirit/Hit to Haste first. Then, reforge any mastery that’s not reforged to spirit (which is hit). Then, since you’ll likely be short of the hit cap, reforge crit to spirit to get hit capped.

There’s no reason to ever take hit over spirit on reforging, and for humans spirit is 3% better.


AAbs December 4, 2012 at 5:10 am

On the subject of talents in tier 3 wouldn’t Power word Solace be better?
This allows you to do a burst dps that will consume shadow word pain when under 5 seconds and also acts as a timer if you apply both Shadow word pain and Vampiric touch at the same time. Vampiric touch should supply you with enough mana for most fights and you can use Shadow fiend to supplement it. I also use Hymn of Hope if I am next to a healer if both of us are getting low.


Balkoth December 4, 2012 at 7:14 am


Shadow Word: Insanity not only offers less DPS than the other two, but it’s harder to use and scales backwards. By that I mean you have less of a window to use it as you get more haste, since ticks come faster. It’s an interesting idea but a terrible talent.


Purrell December 9, 2012 at 8:16 am

AoE Rotation is outdated – Mind Sear is now viable for 5+ targets.


Balkoth December 9, 2012 at 9:50 am
Balkoth April 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Probably worth noting that once you’re at about 505 ilvl, you want to swap from

Int in red sockets
Int/Haste in yellow sockets
Int/Spirit in blue sockets


Int/Haste in red sockets
Haste in yellow sockets
Haste/Spirit in blue sockets


Hugh Hancock April 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Thanks! I don’t generally cover the changes as you move up in iLevel, so advice like this is much appreciated!


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