21 April 2008

A shadow priest raiding spec

So you made it as far as level 70 and have won yourself a spot in a Karazhan raid. Or maybe you're starting to run heroics and want to max your dps. Some talents are absolutely essential; others are liability. Here's one way to navigate the minefield.

This is a fairly pragmatic build. While it includes the defining talents of any shadow priest build, it might elicit a few grumbles from elitists over my placement of peripheral talents. I make no apology for this. If I have to choose between two talents that do nothing to improve my raid performance, I'm going to choose the one that make my life easier every time. Wouldn't you do the same?

Disciple (14 points)

5/5 wand specialisation
There was a time in Karazhan when I had potted, blown my shadowfiend and still found myself out of mana with Moroes on 3%. This is the only time I have ever had to use a wand in an instance and shows you how much use this talent is for a raid build. But I still love it. The alternative is unbreakable will, which reduces your resistance to fear, stun and silence effects by 15%. It's not like those effects are rife either, and there are a few instances where actually resisting a fear will get you killed. Ultimately, this choice comes down to how you spend your time outside of instances. I use my wand a lot while grinding and like the extra kick.

2/2 improved power word: fortitude
It's nice to have this talent, especially if you find yourself in the unlikely position of being the only priest in a group. Most shadow priests take this talent.

3/3 improved power word: shield
This is one of those lacklustre talents that elitist priests will grumble about. They are right that it's useless but wrong if they thing the alternatives are any better. The best alternative would be unbreakable will, where 3 points will get you a 9% increased resistance to stuns, silence and fear. Silent resolve will reduce the threat of your holy and discipline spells, but you don't cast any. Martyrdom provides a buff that prevents spell pushback after you take a critical hit, but in heroics and raids one crit will probably kill you outright. I like a bubble when I'm grinding so I choose this talent over the others. If you find yourself off-healing a lot silent resolve would be better.

1/1 inner focus
A free spell every three minutes. Macro it to shadow word: pain and forget it.

3/3 meditation
30% mana regeneration while casting. You'll never be out of the 5-second rule in combat and your gear has little if no mp5 on it, so this is the best you can hope for. Given the naturally low spirit of shadow priests, I've often wondered if I would notice not having this talent. Maybe one day I'll give it a go.

Shadow (47 points)

5/5 spirit tap
Don't let the elitists bully you out of this. Spirit tap may not proc reliably in instances, but it does a lot more for you than the alternative, blackout. Warriors and druids don't like stunned mobs and bosses are immune anyway.

3/3 shadow affinity
Reduces the threat from your shadow spells by 25%. Do not step foot in an instance without this talent. With vampiric touch and vampiric embrace you are a threat machine, and shadow affinity enables you to do 25% more damage without pulling agro.

2/2 improve shadow word: pain
Two free ticks? Yes please!

5/5 shadow focus
Reduces your target's chance to resist your spells by 10%, effectively reducing your target spell hit from 202 to 76. As your gear improves and spell hit rises, you can take points out of this talent for use elsewhere.

2/2 improved psychic scream
1/1 silence
Another talent that will earn guffaws from the experts. Silence, and its prerequisite talent improved psychic scream, are pretty shoddy and the experts will generally put the points into improved mind blast and shadow power instead. I wouldn't blame you if you followed their lead but I've found silence useful in heroics for moving caster trash out of patrol range and interrupting heals.

3/5 improved mind blast
Reduces the cooldown on your mind blast, giving you almost the right time to get two mind flays off in-between. It's a bit of a lame talent but it comes in handy when you need some burst damage.

2/2 shadow reach
Nice for the ordinarily short mind flay and essential if you are to have any hope of outranging some aoe effects.

4/5 shadow weaving
With an 80% chance of applying the shadow weaving debuff, you should have no problems getting and keeping a full stack on bosses.

1/1 vampiric embrace
This is a key talent and nice for smoothing out some of the rough edges of aoe healing, particularly for paladins and shaman. Don't forget though, the healing from this spell generates the same threat as any other, which is the main reason why we don't want the improved version of this spell.

3/3 focused mind
Cheaper mind blasts and mind flays.

5/5 darkness
Flat 10% increase to shadow spell damage.

1/1 shadow form
Shimmery purple goodness. Nuff said.

5/5 misery
Your target takes an additional 5% spell damage. This debuff affects magical damage from all sources. Your raid will thank you for this.

3/5 shadow power
Improves the critical strike chance of your mind blast and shadow word: death spells by 9%. You should have a naturally low spell crit so these points are a useful increase to your dps. But you don't rely on crits for damage, and your crits only do 50% extra damage anyway (other casts have talents to improve the bonus; you don't). It's easy to see why a purist build would max this talent out, but I can't quite bring myself to give silence up.

1/1 vampiric touch
This is your reason for living. Stick it up, keep it up, and watch the mana flow. Don't worry if rogues and warriors don't get it; everyone else will scramble to have you in their group.

After all that, your spec should look like this.

As I mentioned before, there are a few controversial talents in here but nothing that is going to affect your performance significantly. Choosing shadow power over silence/improved psychic scream will give you a small increase in dps, but I think the utility of silence is worth the trade-off. Still, let me know if you disagree.


MD said...

I had similar spec with you except for the Imp. Psychic Scream/Silence point, which I distributed into Imp. MB (1 pt) and Imp. VE (2pt).

I remember that several days after I specced out Silence that I kept being asked to silence pull casters :( I missed the talent a lot and wished that it didn't have the requirement of speccing Imp. PS. to get to it.

I have been wanting to drop off the points from Imp. VE but our GL/RL/MT insisted that me capping on threat only means that he needs to be a better tank - except that my problem is not being the 2nd on the threat meter when I need to be at most on the 3rd.

Merlot said...

I think that's the main reason I hold on to silence - for the times when I 'might' need it. I'm not good enough at managing my threat to get imp VE, but maybe I should tell my tanks to go talk to yours. I like their attitude!

grayhammer said...

That spec is pretty much me, though I have imp VE by taking a point from shadowweaving and another from imp mind blast. I'm still running BGs for gear so silence and more screams are very important. Your justification for silence in PVE is strong, too.