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Shadow Priest -- Cataclysm


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#1 Snowy

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:49 PM

This is still a work in progress

Welcome to the EJ Shadow Priest compendium. While my name may be the first one listed here, this is really a collective effort over the years of many posters here -- all I've done is pull information together into one place. In addition, I'd be remiss not to mention shadowpriest.com which has been extremely useful over the years for stat weighing and SimulationCraft.

Cataclysm has brought many changes for Shadow Priests. Talent trees have been slimmed down. A new stat -- Mastery -- is on gear. We have several new things to track, including Shadow Orbs, Empowered Shadow, and Archangel. Spirit can convert into Hit rating, and so on.

It is the intent of this guide to be as brief as possible with the answers, with detailed explanations following afterwards for those who are interested in the explanations. Please, take the time to read everything if you're going to post questions in the thread. Posting questions that are already answered in the guide wastes everyone's time. If you see something in the guide that very obviously needs corrected, just send me a PM and point it out and I'll be happy to change it. If it's something you *think* should be changed but it's not definitive, post it in the thread instead to open discussion on it.

The following items are intended to be just a basic overview, and a more advanced discussion can be found further down the guide under "Advanced Topics"

Base Talent Spec: Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft (8/0/31)

This leaves 2 points for whatever you want. Personally I finished up 3/3 Mental Agility, which can be a minor DPS increase if you're ever short on mana and Psychic Horror for some disarm utility.

An alternative is to instead drop 2 points in Improved Mind Blast and switch them to Improved Psychic Scream. This allows you to pick up Silence with one of the floater points. Technically this could be a very small DPS loss if you're lucky enough to generate 3 Shadow Orbs within 6 seconds, but the odds are very slim. Silence's utility can come in handy at times.

Glyphs:

Prime: Mind Flay, Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Word: Death. These are set in stone.
Major: Spirit Tap is the only one that's strongly recommended. Otherwise, your choice for whatever you find most useful/needed.
Minor: Your choice.

Stat Weighting on gear

Per the latest SimulationCraft ouput here -- Simulationcraft Results -- the following normalized weightings were derived. Many thanks to Althor for his work on this.

Int: 1.0000
SP: 0.7841
Haste: 0.5844
Crit: 0.4480
Mastery: 0.4366
Hit: 0.3930
Spirit: 0.3923 (Just consider Spirit = Hit)

Note that this is with T11 ilvl 372 BiS gear. Your weightings are going to differ with your own gear level, and it can't be stressed enough that you should run SimulationCraft with your own character profile to determine your own stat weightings. Weightings are fluid -- as you get more of one stat, its value starts to decline relative to others. If you're already having mana issues, stacking haste only means you'll run out of mana faster. The one take home message you can take from this though is that being hit capped is no longer as crucial as it used to be.

(The change with the Feb 8 2011 patch means that Crit and Mastery are roughly equal.)

I'm lazy. What's my BiS gear and/or is Item X better than Item Y?

First off, don't ask that question here. Secondly, I use this thread as an additional resource for gear selection: shadowpriest.com • View topic - Shadow Priest BiS list (Updated 03/03/2011)

What is the hit cap and should I reach it?

1742 hit rating (as a non-Draenei) results in a 17.00% chance to hit which is the cap. The character sheet tells you exactly what the chance of missing vs a boss is now, so it's easy to confirm how close you are.

As for reaching it, this is more of a matter of personal opinion. However, there are certain decisions that are clear cut -- you should never gem or enchant for spirit/hit if an INT gem/enchant is available in the same spot. INT is by far our strongest stat, and we should stack that over anything else.

Beyond that, the value of being hit capped relates to how quickly you can react and realize that you missed the spell. Missing a SWD doesn't change your casting in any appreciable way. If you miss a DP/VT cast, you have to recognize that and recast it.

Since gear comes with more than one or two stats on it, it's pretty obvious that you should have haste as one of those stats if possible, but it's only a very minor dps loss if you choose spirit/hit over crit and mastery. This can play into reforging decisions as well, covered later.

And again, PLEASE be sure to run SimulationCraft for your current gear! You may get different weightings!

Spirit Gear

I feel it's important to mention this -- just because you CAN use spirit gear, doesn't necessarily mean that you SHOULD. Keep in mind that gear with spirit on it is primarily directed at healers of all classes. If you are only shadow in raids, then you may want to stick to hit gear instead, and leave the spirit to the healers. If you find yourself healing in a raid environment as well then getting spirit gear is an excellent way to cover both gear sets at the same time, especially early in an expansion when gear is still at a premium.

Gemming

Red:

Yellow: if the socket bonus is +10 int or better, as a rule of thumb. Use your own stat weightings to be sure of this though. The question you need to answer is this: Would +30 int and +20 haste be better than +40 int? If haste is at least half as good as int, then the answer is yes. If it's worth less than half of int, then the answer is no.

Blue: if you're trying to reach hit cap. If you're not, or don't care, ignore socket bonus unless it's really good and use For example Mercurial Vestment is worth matching colors for because the bonus is +20 intellect.

Meta:

Enchants

Head: Arcanum of Hyjal -- Revered, Guardians of Hyjal
Shoulder: Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone -- Exalted, Therazane
Back: Enchant Cloak - Greater Intellect
Chest: Enchant Chest - Peerless Stats (very expensive currently) or Enchant Chest - Mighty Stats (cheaper)
Bracer: Enchant Bracer - Mighty Intellect
Gloves: Enchant Gloves - Haste
Belt: Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs: Powerful Ghostly Spellthread
Boots: Enchant Boots - Haste (if you don't need run speed) or Enchant Boots - Lavawalker (if you want run speed, expensive) or Enchant Boots - Earthen Vitality (run speed, cheap)
Rings: Enchant Ring - Intellect (enchanters only)
Weapon: Enchant Weapon - Power Torrent (VERY expensive) or Enchant Weapon - Hurricane (reasonable for now)
Offhand: Enchant Off-Hand - Superior Intellect (Note this pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for staves)

I left out profession-specific perks outside of the ring enchants. If you have a profession specific enchant/modification, you know what you have.

Consumables

As one might expect, the best consumables are those that increase your intellect.

Flask:
Food: (if your raid doesn't have feasts, or if they're only +60 and you want to min/max.)
Combat Pot:

Removed elixir choices because the flask is such a huge boost that if you're using an elixir it's either because you're cheap and bad or it's complete farm content in which case who cares?

Reforging

Reforging allows you to take 40% of the value of a stat on an item and turn it into the equivalent value of another stat that is not currently on the item. The stats that we are allowed to reforge into/out of are the following:

Spirit
Hit
Haste
Crit
Mastery

Not all items need to be reforged. If you have an item that has haste/crit on it, you probably don't even want to touch it. Reforging is great if you won an item that has crit/mastery on it -- turn the bigger of the stats into Haste! Or if you want/need to get hit capped, this is another way of doing it. If for some reason you find yourself over the hit cap, reforge out of spirit/hit to the best stat available. Finally remember you can revert the item to its original distribution at the reforger.

Mastery

Currently Mastery is still a somewhat weak stat for us -- but it's not a complete waste either. The description for our Mastery, Shadow Orb Power is the following: Increases the damage done by your Shadow Orbs. Each point of Mastery increases damage by an additional 1.5%. Shadow Orbs do 2 things. The first one is increasing the damage done by Mind Blast/Mind Spike if you cast it while you have Shadow Orbs up. They stack to 3.

The second one, and the one that will keep you busy tracking it, is Empowered Shadow. When you cast Mind Blast with Shadow Orbs up, you gain a buff called Empowered Shadow. Empowered Shadow increases the damage done by your periodic shadow effects by 22%, for 15 seconds. Each additional point of Mastery beyond the base 8 that you have increases that buff by 1.5%. So if you have 12 mastery, the Empowered Shadow buff is worth 28%. (Does it round up like the tooltip says?) Needless to say, 28% increased damage on your DoT's is pretty important to keep up.

DoT clipping

This has changed. You can no longer clip dots -- if you cast VT with a VT already on the mob, it simply extends the duration of your current VT back to the maximum, while the ticking continues. In other words, it behaves just like SWP does when it gets refreshed via Mind Flay. You no longer lose ticks.

What this means is you want to refresh your dots as close to their expiration as possible, but you want it to land just before it expires, instead of right after it expires. Refreshing them excessively early is still a DPS loss, because you're wasting a GCD that could have been spent on something else.

Mind Flay

Mind Flay behaves as a DoT now, even though you still channel the spell. Whenever you see something in a tooltip that refers to "periodic shadow damage", it not only refers to VT/DP/SWP, but it also includes Mind Flay.

Empowered Shadow

As noted above in the Mastery section, this is a self buff that you must be aware of at all times. If you have a Shadow Orb available, and it's about to fall off, you need to cast Mind Blast to refresh it.

At low levels of gear, this can occasionally be frustrating since Shadow Orb generation is erratic at times. You may go longer than 15 seconds without generating a single Shadow Orb. There's nothing you can do in this case except keep your MB off cooldown and cast it when you finally generate an Orb.

Dark Evangelism and Dark Archangel

Dark Evangelism should always be stacked to 5 -- it increases your periodic shadow damage by 10%, and this includes Mind Flay as noted above in the Mind Flay section. Since we cast Mind Flay a lot, keeping this stacked isn't a problem.

Dark Archangel consumes this 5 stack (and you should only use it with a 5 stack) to grant 20% extra damage on Mind Flay/Mind Blast/Mind Spike/Shadow Word Death for 18 seconds, and also grants you 25% of your total mana. So not only is this a nice DPS talent, it's a good tool for mana regeneration.

More talk about proper use of DA is found below.

Shadowfiend

Shadowfiend is a non-trvial DPS increase, as over the course of a fight it can add several hundred DPS. Proper usage of shadowfiend is important for both maximizing your DPS and sustaining your mana.

Learning to recognize if you need your shadowfiend for mana in a fight is important, because if you don't you can cast shadowfiend very early in a fight, in hopes of getting an extra use of it toward the end of the fight. If you *do* need the shadowfiend for mana, then you have to hold off using it for the first time until you're at least down to 70% mana or so, that way you don't waste the mana recovery.

Dispersion

This is still very useful for avoiding mechanics that might otherwise one shot you or severely injure you. Having a macro that casts Dispersion and then /cancelaura Dispersion is a tool that every Shadow Priest should have, as all you need to do is avoid the damage for a brief moment and if you don't need the mana, there is no sense in sitting there silenced for the remainder of it.

Mind Spike

This hits hard, but has a large drawback -- it strips your DoTs off the target. As such, this spell is used for adds that don't have a lot of health, so you can front load damage more effectively. However, if the adds have enough HP, multi-dotting becomes better, if your mana pool can support it.

It also sees use in PvP.

Advanced Topics

Mana Management

We have several tools at our disposal. The most common one is Shadowfiend, on a 4 minute cooldown if you have 2/2 Veiled Shadows. The talent Sin and Punishment reduces the cooldown of your Shadowfiend by 10 seconds each time Mind Flay crits, so in reality your cooldown may end being 3 minutes or even lower. Naturally in later tiers this will get even better as we crit more on Mind Flay, and the 2 piece T11 bonus is nice for this as well, increasing Mind Flay's crit chance by 5%.

The second obvious tool is Dark Archangel. Getting 25% of your total mana back instantly is a nice ability, and you can use this every 90 seconds.

The third obvious tool is Dispersion. This is 36% more of your total mana back over 6 seconds. The drawback is not being able to DPS during this time, but some fights have phase changes where you can use this, and other fights have mechanics that you can use Dispersion to almost completely nullify. Generally speaking however this should be lowest on the list when it comes to a mana cooldown due to the DPS hit you take.

The final tool, which isn't always obvious to the beginner, is Shadow Word: Death and how the new talent Masochism - Spell - World of Warcraft applies to it. In essence, this our version of Life Tap, except we even get to do DPS while casting it. If you're having mana issues on a fight, make sure you're casting SWD on cooldown. This gets even better sub 25% on a boss with the glyph of SWD.

In addition, the Glyph of Spirit Tap can allow you to regen mana on fights with adds, if you can successfully snipe killing blows with SWD.

Proper Opening Sequence

Coming Soon™

Spell Priority/Casting Order

Coming Soon™

Proper Use of Dark Archangel

Coming Soon™

Trinkets and Why is Theralion's Mirror so good for us?
Trinkets will be covered here, since it's often a popular question of what's best for us. From the shadowpriest.com thread that I referenced earlier, you can see that the 372 version of is BiS for us, and the 2nd best is still

If you don't want to spend the money on DMCV, then the other 372 trinkets line up as Heart of Ignacious from Heroic Ascendent Council and then Bell of Enraging Resonance from Heroic Atramades. (They are reasonably close so if you don't like clickys, Bell is perfectly fine.)

Theralion's becomes BiS for us simply due to the fact that we can extend the value of the proc via careful timing of refreshing Empowered Shadows. You should definitely have your UI set up some way so that you're aware when Theralion's proc is gained. (It's called Revelation) You want to immediately refresh Empowered Shadow if you have a Shadow Orb up, and then refresh Empowered Shadow just before you lose the Revelation buff.

You also want to refresh VT/DP as soon as you have gained a Theralion's Empowered Shadow, and you'll have to force a refresh of SWP as well for it to benefit.

Finally, you may want to refresh VT/DP before your last Theralion's Empowered Shadow falls off, depending on the current duration on them.

Dark Intent
We're the best DPS target for this buff, and as such Warlocks should be giving it to you.

Change Log
04/02/11: Removed Elixir choices, updated wrist enchant.
04/03/11: Added Trinkets/Theralion section, added Dark Intent blurb.
04/04/11: Updated Meta Gem.

#2 Snowy

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:54 PM

First off, if I missed anything obvious or you see corrections to be made, shoot me a PM and I'll be glad to do it. I'm sure I missed something in there, but just wanted to get this up while I had some time to finish it.

There are several items of discussion to be had still -- basically, see the end of this guide for what still needs to be finalized.

Tedv noted in his excellent post here -- http://elitistjerks....p8/#post1815116 -- that we need a simulator to handle most of these questions, so I'm not really sure if we can build a consensus or really where to start.

#3 Balkoth

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:13 AM

I'd add in something about how you can cast SW:D or Devouring Plague when you need to move in order to keep doing damage. DP, however, has a small internal cooldown that prevents you from casting it a second time until it has ticked once as far as I can tell. This means you can pull something like DP -> SW:D -> DP if you need to move for a few seconds...but repeatedly casting DP will drain mana quickly.

Ideally SW:D should never be used when standing still above 25% unless you have severe mana problems, save it for when you need to move for something.
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#4 Haakon

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 01:06 AM

If you want to get "Silence", there is also the possibility to drop "Improved Mind blast". The talent basically only reduces the cool down, and the untalented cool down (8 seconds) is not longer than you can keep up "Empowered Shadow" anyway. The only drawback is that if you are so lucky as to stack 3 orbs within 6 seconds of you previous "Mind blast", you would have to wait 2 seconds more to get the next "Mind blast" off. Further, as you also stated, we often even struggle to get one orb within the 15 second duration of "Empowered Shadow".

#5 wazzu

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 02:25 AM

If you want to get "Silence", there is also the possibility to drop "Improved Mind blast". The talent basically only reduces the cool down, and the untalented cool down (8 seconds) is not longer than you can keep up "Empowered Shadow" anyway. The only drawback is that if you are so lucky as to stack 3 orbs within 6 seconds of you previous "Mind blast", you would have to wait 2 seconds more to get the next "Mind blast" off. Further, as you also stated, we often even struggle to get one orb within the 15 second duration of "Empowered Shadow".



I honestly don't see any reason to not have both Silence and Psychic Horror in our PvE specs. I've had both since the start of the expansion and there are uses for at least one of the two on nearly every fight. Silence in particular makes you so much more valuable to a raid given that you can fill in on interrupts, or stop an MC on Cho'gall, just to name a couple examples. Imp MB is really just unnecessary.

#6 meero

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 02:35 AM

Assuming empowering shadows falls off while dots are still ticking (and it was up when dots were applied) do DP and VT keep ticking at same rate? Which leads into the next question, would it be better to MB as soon as get an orb in this scenario or wait until close to reapplying dots again.

If don't MB until need to, if mind flay refreshes SWP it would be at the lower rate which would be a DPS loss for ~10-20 secs. But if wait as long as possible more likely will get a 3 orb blast in, and depending on how long left on DP it's also more likely for empowering shadows to be up (assuming a no orb run of luck again) when you would want to reapply.

#7 Snowy

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 02:50 AM

Actually that's a good point re: dropping Imp MB for Silence instead. I'll list that as an alternative.

#8 Keetchaz

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 05:33 AM

Regarding the original post: I'm puzzled as to how SimCraft would rank Spirit lower than Hit. At worst, wouldn't Spirit be equal to Hit? What am I missing?

#9 Snowy

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 05:45 AM

I'm not sure. It's an extremely small difference so for all intents and purposes I'd consider them equivalent and would always take spirit over hit due to being able to help you if you have to heal, etc.

#10 Lucina

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:17 AM

Being that Spirit is more versatile and has an equal budget cost with Hit, it seems to me that Spirit would always be preferable. Spirit also benefits from a 3% bonus for Human characters.

#11 Nimiks

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 09:57 AM

I guess the lower value of spirit is because only the spirit on items is converted into hit, and not your total spirit (as simcraft substracts an amount of hit/spirit off the total to calculate the stat value, your base spirit not being taken in account I suppose, and therefore the totals not being the same)

#12 Keetchaz

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 11:35 AM

I guess the lower value of spirit is because only the spirit on items is converted into hit, and not your total spirit (as simcraft substracts an amount of hit/spirit off the total to calculate the stat value, your base spirit not being taken in account I suppose, and therefore the totals not being the same)


Ah, good call.

And thank you, Snowy, for compiling this!

#13 Guest_Amonra_*

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:11 PM

Regarding the original post: I'm puzzled as to how SimCraft would rank Spirit lower than Hit. At worst, wouldn't Spirit be equal to Hit? What am I missing?



It's actually due to SimCraft just not being that accurate. Running scaling factors with 10k iterations will only be accurate to within about 2 decimal places. If you run exactly the same simulation again you will get slightly different scaling factors.

For all practical purposes there is no reason to need anything beyond 2 decimal places of accuracy And to be honest, even using that is overly optimistic because your personal casting style, latency and fight mechanics will never exactly match those used by SimCraft.

#14 tedv

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 06:39 PM

I tried 2/3 Inner Sanctum for a while, given that it gives 14% runspeed on Inner Will and 4% damage reduction for Inner Fire. In the end though, I don't think it's practical for us to use Inner Will in raiding that much. Losing 538 spell power from Inner Fire is the equivalent of losing TEN red gems in our gear. I'm also not convinced the third point in Mental Agility is that useful, as running out of mana seems to be influenced much more by whether you need to save Dark Archangel and Shadowfiend for a specific burn phase or not.

Has anyone had experience dropping Masochism? I find that with proper cooldown management, I don't run out of mana too often. In theory this could let us take Phantasm, or maybe 1 point in Improved Mind Blast (which has the best returns, since it reduces the cooldown by 1 second). Or you could take a full PvP spec complete with Paralysis without any real loss in raid utility.

#15 Turrin

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:05 PM

Possibly add a section on Dark Intent. It appears shadow priests are the preferred target for this awesome warlock buff. If a lock has given you this tasty buff, make sure you never, ever use Mind Spike over Mind Flay, else you may find the buff on one of your druids instead!
Hurrah! Holy Smite DPS viability thread is closed!
Time to delete your , oh wait..

#16 Guest_aeonsmaycry_*

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:06 PM

Hi, fairly new to the forum. What's the most effective way to max out damage using shadowy apparition? It seems to me you need to be constantly moving in order for it to proc often but it's hard to get into the habit of moving while dpsing. Also how would you rate the tier 11 Spriest set? Is it worth the valor pts? The 4 piece set bonus doesn't seem to wow me in any way. Maybe I'm missing something here.

As for combat rotation, I've been casting MB whenever possible. However is it better for me to wait for at least an orb before casting MB? I tend to cast it whenever it'd cd's up because of the chance of orb not procing, and that seems like a loss of dps for me.

Nice guide, btw.

#17 Raiek

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:25 PM

As for combat rotation, I've been casting MB whenever possible. However is it better for me to wait for at least an orb before casting MB? I tend to cast it whenever it'd cd's up because of the chance of orb not procing, and that seems like a loss of dps for me.


The general consensus seems to be that you never want to hit MB unless you have an orb up. MB doesn't do that much damage anymore without a few orbs, and the potential of losing a few seconds of Empowered Shadows is a far larger DPS loss than failing to MB every cooldown. It's not even recommended to wait for a full three orbs before casting MB either. If you get it, great, but the primary goal is to maintain maximum uptime on your Empowered Shadows. It's already been discussed in this thread that it may be preferable to drop Improved Mind Blast in favor of getting Silence instead. That should give you a good idea of the lower priority of mind blasting every cooldown.

#18 Inu

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:39 PM

Regarding the simulation craft results.

I see that in the priority list, that the casting rules refresh DP and VT at 0.5 Remaining.
I think this largely skews realistic stats weights (and expectations.)

I've yet to figure out how to edit and manage my own simcraft results successfully. But im willing to bet that Crit being as close as to haste already, is probably closer to being equivalent, or better than haste. Not to mention boss battles where its not possible to refresh in this manner at all.

Another thing i've noticed recently is that i often have 4 Shadowy Apparitions active. Being at long range and with a 4 limit on this ability i've noticed minor gains in DPS in being within 20 yards of my target if possible. This varies largely on the situation.

#19 Balkoth

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 08:38 PM

I'm also not convinced the third point in Mental Agility is that useful, as running out of mana seems to be influenced much more by whether you need to save Dark Archangel and Shadowfiend for a specific burn phase or not.

Has anyone had experience dropping Masochism? I find that with proper cooldown management, I don't run out of mana too often


I agree on the Mental Agility, but I did take 2 points in Sanctum merely for the 4% spell damage reduction for now. You certainly don't need all three points.

Masochism is very useful when you need to multi-DOT at a minimum...and keep in mind the mana return is only half of the effect. Reducing the damage taken from SW:D by 50% is substantial during execute phases. Get double 18kish crit (for 72k damage total) and you take 72k damage instead of 36k. Even taking 18k instead of 36k (assuming neither crits) can be important on fights with heavy raid damage.
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#20 Haakon

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:28 PM

Do you mind sharing why you think the casting rules skew stats weights?, and why you are willing to bet that crit is as good (possibly even better) than haste?

I'm not saying your not right, but I miss some reasoning to support your statements.




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