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World of Warcraft: Legion: Shadow Priest guide (7.1)

Our ultimate guide to levelling and playing a Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft: Legion.

The Shadow Priest is radically different from the hero's other specs, as he does not worship nor use the Holy Light, and is not a healing specialisation. Instead, the Shadow Priest serves the Old Gods in exchange for the ability to wield the powers of the Void, and constantly descends into madness while doing so. In this Shadow Priest guide, we’ll help you master this approach to combat, minus the descending into madness bit - you can figure that out on your own...

Throughout theisguide, we’re going to get you up to speed regarding the new mechanics and nuances of each aspect of the specialisation, while helping you pick a levelling build that will get you through the new questing areas nice and quickly. We’ll also detail the best way to actually play it, of course, offering both single and multiple target rotations.

The latest expansion, WOW Legion, brought with it a much-needed revamp to the Shadow Priest specialisation, adding a new resource - Insanity - which is used to activate a powerful Voidform ability that increases the Priest’s damage exponentially for its duration. Managing your Insanity so that you make the most out of this ability is now a key part of playing the Shadow Priest properly.

Over the course of time, we’re going to regularly update this guide to reflect the latest changes to the game, and add sections regarding alternate talent builds, as well as stat and gear recommendations.

Editor’s note: Update #1 - Patch 7.1 - While the new patch added a key ability to the Shadow Priest’s arsenal - the previously-removed Shadowform, which now co-exists with the insanity-fuelled Voidform - the specialisation’s spells and abilities were rebalanced to account for this. As a result, our recommended rotations remain unchanged, with the small caveat that you must now turn on Shadowform after every death. The rotation section has been updated accordingly.

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Shadow Priest talent build

These are the talent choices we recommend when levelling up as a Shadow Priest, and the ones upon which we will base our rotation.

Level Talent Reason
15 Twist of Fate - Passively grants you a 10-second 20% damage and healing buff each time you damage a target whose health is below 35%. This does not stack. As many of the mobs you'll meet during the levelling process will have moderate to small HP pools, you are likely to be able to maintain a good amount of up-time on this buff.
30 Mania - Increases your movement speed by 1% for every 5 Insanity you have. A passive, variable speed increase that you don't need to think about and will give you increased quality-of-life while questing. Pick Shadow Mend instead if you feel you lack survivability.
45 Dominant Mind - Upgrades Mind Control, making the target act as a Hunter / Warlock pet would (with extra action bar etc) while allowing you to keep control of your character. Mind Control can no longer be used against players, and is now on a 120 second cooldown. A very useful ability, this will let you periodically grab a mob to help you out while reducing the number of enemies attacking you when facing groups.
60 Reaper of Souls - Upgrades Shadow Word: Death, making it usable on targets below 35% health (up from 20%), and always generate 30 Insanity. The other two talents in this tier are too slow to get going in a levelling context. This one will maximize the time you get to spend on Voidform.
75 San'layn - Upgrades Vampiric Touch and Vampiric Embrace, increasing their effects by 20%. You will be using Vampiric Touch often with our levelling rotation, while the other talents from this tier are more useful in prolonged fights.
90 Mindbender - Upgrades Shadowfiend, reducing its cooldown to 1 minute and causing each of its attacks to generate 4 Insanity. The constant damage output and Insanity generation makes this the top pick here.
100 Legacy of the Void - Reduces the cost of activating Voidform to 70 Insanity. Since our goal while levelling is to spend about half the time in Voidform, this is the most helpful talent of the three.

Shadow Priest rotation

The Shadow Priest rotation might feel complex at first, but it's mostly a matter of timing. There are not a lot of abilities that you should worry about when levelling and learning the class, and our suggested talents make it especially friendly for newcomers.

Your focus here should be on timing. What you need to care about the most is maximising your Voidform time by extending it via Insanity-generating abilities. Some abilities are only available to use during Voidform, or should only be used when in Voidform, and they are duly noted as such.

In Patch 7.1, Shadowform was reintroduced as an ability you can toggle on and off. While you can’t access your Holy spells while it is on, it does also boost the damage of your Shadow spells, and as such you should keep it on. This should prove simple enough, as it costs no resources to do so and will play nice with Voidform once you've activated that. You merely have to reactivate it after each death.

Treat the following as a priority list. Use the topmost ability when available and the conditions described in the second column are met, and you will master things quite fast.

Shadow Priest - Single target rotation

This is your single-target rotation, which will also be worth using when fighting two enemies.

Action Conditions / Further Instructions
1 Mind Blast If less than 70 Insanity orin Voidform.
2 Void Eruption If 70 Insanity or more, to enter Void Form.
3 Shadow Word: Pain Do not bother refreshing against weak targets.
4 Vampiric Touch Do not bother refreshing against weak targets.
5 Void Torrent (ability provided at lvl 100 with your Artifact Weapon) In Voidform, against tougher enemies (expected to last over 30 seconds).
6 Void Bolt In Voidform.
7 Mindbender In Voidform.
8 Shadow Word: Death If target is at less than 35% health and you have two charges.
9 Mind Flay If nothing else is available.
10 Restart from 1 / 2

More WOW class guides:

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Unholy Death Knight guide-Guardian Druid guide
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Protection Paladin guideDiscipline Priest guideOutlaw Rogue guide
Retribution Paladin guideShadow Priest guideSubtlety Rogue guide
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Enhancement Shaman guideDemonology Warlock guideFury Warrior guide
Restoration Shaman guideDestruction Warlock guideProtection Warrior guide

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Shadow Priest - Multiple target rotation

Use this rotation when facing 3 or more opponents. The one significant change here is that we dropped Shadow Word: Pain from the rotation, simply because you won't have time to cast both this spell and Vampiric Touch on all targets - our talent choices favour the later. Apart from that, Mind Sear is now your go-to filler ability.

Action Conditions / Further Instructions
1 Mind Blast If less than 70 Insanity or in Voidform.
2 Void Form If 70 Insanity or more.
3 Vampiric Touch Do not bother refreshing against weak targets. Cast on as many targets as possible.
4 Void Bolt In Voidform.
5 Mindbender In Voidform.
6 Shadow Word: Death If target is at less than 35% health and you have two charges.
7 Mind Sear If nothing else is available.
8 Restart from 1 / 2

That’s it for this initial version of our Shadow Priest guide. Look forward to more specific strategies and tools to make the most of your Shadow Priest in the near future - including a guide for levelling your Artifact Weapon.

In the meantime, please take to the comments below and let us know what you would like to see next!

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