Shadow Priest max dps, again

I’m still seeing a problem in many, many blogs and reports.  I’m going to repeat, reworded, a previous message.  Actually, I’m going to repeat only a small portion of the earlier post.

How to select your rotation for maximum DPS.  In a word, don’t.

We shadowpriests have four basic damage spells, plus two “always useful” spells.  Our rotations are basically made up of SW:P, SW:D, MB, and MF, and we always seem to have to add VE and VT.  (If you’re a NElf, you had better also be including starshards as a fifth, but I digress.)  Here is how to build for absolute, maximum dps from these spells.

Select six buttons on your bar, all in a row.  (Seven for the Nelf).

Determine which of SW:D and MB have the highest DPS.

Put VE on button 1.  VT on button 2.  SW:P on button 3.  If you’ve got SS, put it on button 4, otherwise put your higher of SW:D and MB there.  Put the other next to it, and finish with MF.

IF you are purely burning, press button 3, then 4, 5, 6 (and 7 if applicable).  Now every time your cast stops, press the leftmost button that’s ready.

If you’re providing sustenance – VE or VT – start with them.  Same rule then applies – press the left-most button that’s ready, regardless of what it may be.

Oh, if you’re REALLY wanting to crank, you can probably get a bit more dps (at horrible dpm) by ignoring VE/VT, and clicking the leftmost button that is lit REGARDLESS of your casting state.  Yes, you’ll clip MF pretty much all the time.  A surprisingly high proportion of time, you’ll actually do more dps – more damage from the ‘blast’ than you got from the ‘tick’.  Rarely, you’re sacrificing two ticks — and you’ll be back there soon enough.  You will run out of mana.

Are there variations and caveats?  Sure.  But…  This beats a rigid spellsequence as it optimizes your spell order based on damage and cooldown opportunity.  Slipping in a manaburn or a shackle or…  that’s advanced.  This is the basics.  Master it first.  THEN add the extras.  You’ll be pleased at the result, I think.

Have fun.

~ by Kirk on February 13, 2008.

19 Responses to “Shadow Priest max dps, again”

  1. An update from my continued investigation on spell haste (most reading from

    Current spell haste numbers
    1 damage = 1 dps
    1 spell haste = .5 dps

    2.4 spell haste numbers
    1 damge = 1 dps
    1 spell haste = 1 dps

    Capped spell haste = 785!!! lmao
    point where u can fit 2 mind flays between 5/5 imp mind blast = 144 spell haste.

    confirm / deny from your own studies anyone?

  2. From my own playing, at level 49 what I’m doing is pulling with Mind blast, backing up and popping a Shadow Word: Pain, backing up and hitting MF until in my face, then pop my bubble and Mind blast again. If he aint dead, which he usually is, then I hit wand for a couple seconds.

    I keep playing with different sthings, but I like pulling with my long cast Mind Blast. The cooldown on it is up as soon as I’m done Mind Flaying.

    I can’t imagine what things look like at higher levels yet.

  3. @Meltfacer – I’ll have to check on that. A point off hand, though – don’t forget to account for lag (grin).

    @BBB – one of the classic reasons for dropping a SW:P in there is that its dps is cumulative with the DPS from your direct damage spells. My two cents – as I’ve said before – is that until you’re facing mobs that take forever to kill I think Improved SW:P is a bit of a waste for talent. Two extra ticks after the mob’s already dead are, well, worthless. Two extra ticks that finish off the mob who just kept coming, otoh, are priceless. Take your flavor and run with your choice.

  4. Prioritized casting is the way to go.

    Also consider that a Spriest is not in the group to do the most damage. They are there for the utility. VT is always #1, mana efficiency is dependant on this spell as well. Maybe Spriests shouldn’t have anything to do with max DPS, but should be all about max utility.

    VT+VE is utility. Both are damage output based. Both require you to be alive, with enough mana to sustain that damage. As your gear gets better, you will have less opportunity to use SW:D, because critting yourself for 3-4.5k isnt an option where bosses revel in randomly targeted damage. As bosses randomness gets crazier, the threat generated from VE goes through the roof, so you will find yourself threat capped much of the time (even with a well geared tank, and hunters with a misdirect rotation going).

    To sum up:
    Survival > Utility > DPS

  5. Once you start raiding shadow priests do have a hard time managing aggro. Also from my very brief experience in Zul’Aman, the boss fights are MUCH longer than the ones in Karazhan and I couldn’t keep SWD and MB up without running out of mana. Using VE, VT, MF I had to drink 3 potions on the first boss.

    I’ve never considered *not* casting VE unless the mob has about a SWD amount of life left.

  6. Survival > Utility > DPS

    I agree with this, but our utility stems directly from our dps, hence this post 🙂

    @RaydenUni – For sure VE is amazing and in most situations should be kept up but there are exceptions. I rarely put it up against Tidewalker anymore, due to getting beat down by 15 murlocks on the few occasions i’ve tried.. even some well timed fades didn’t help. Another fight to be careful on is Vashj, I do use it on Vashj but not until the striders are under control and I do not recast it before a new strider spawns.

    These are rare cases but i’m sure there’s more

  7. “I’ve never considered *not* casting VE unless the mob has about a SWD amount of life left.”

    I meant to say VT. I never consider not casting VT unless the mob is going to die before it does any good.

    VE I often don’t cast. If it’s a quick trash mob I don’t feel it’s worth the GCD time it takes to cast it. Or on fights where I am severely threat limited I also don’t cast it. Or fights where the healing simply doesn’t matter I don’t cast it. In all other cases it costs practically no mana, lasts forever, and will counter the damage I’m doing from SWD. Obviously a large number of trash when you aren’t using a paladin tank can cause threat problems from it, but then VT will do that too. There are of course the really rare fights where VE should not be used in any case. I forget the boss, but one of the pairs in Mech or Arc or over in that region does something bad (heals himself?) anytime someone gets healed. So VE means invincible boss. Other than that it’s just a threat issue.

    VT is different, if you aren’t going to cast VT then the group would be better off with a mage or a warlock.

  8. On starshards: wrong. NE shadow priest here. Starshards (generally) does too little DPS compared to your shadow spells for you to worry about, and most shadow priests rolling along in 3/3 FSW, will have better returns from shadow spells (which provide mana back to their group via VE) than starshards. Starshards should never be used in lieu of another shadow spell, but it is good to use to fill in gaps when all your cooldowns are down (MB, SW:D), all your dots are up, and say you have a 1.5 second gap before you need to refresh an instant dot or use SW:D.

    My spell priority is as follows:
    1. VT
    2. SW:P
    3. VE (unless extremely aggro sensitive or trash fight)
    4. SW:D
    5. MB
    6. MF
    7. Starshards (which I rarely use)

  9. When I shadow priested, I increased my DPS by about 75 overall when I included starshards. It’s a dot, so is cumulative with other damage – it’s the warlock trick of “not a single dot, but all dots.”

    It doesn’t get a boost from shadow-damage bonuses (but does get from spelldamage), and it doesn’t feed back mana or health (but doesn’t cost mana either).

    Your mileage may vary, of course.

  10. Well, yes and no, in my case, raid buffed, starshards does about 300-400 damage a tick, whereas SW:P does 800-1000 damage a tick, as does my Mind Flay, so I tend to prioritise those over Starshards, and only fit it in if I have a 1.5sec gap before I need to refresh an instant dot or SW:D. I experimented a little with starshards on Dr. Boom, and I was consistently doing more DPS without it than with it. Though now that I’m replacing FSW with T6, I guess I should go back and see if that idea still holds.

  11. First, wow, I’m glad to see this post. I’ve never discussed WoW with those that might know more about it then I! Nor have I done much research on how to play my SP for best effect. I’m about to hit 70; it’s nice to see I don’t work that much differently then others. Not that’s it’s not good to be original, but I digress.

    I have on my top-most bar, in no particular order:
    SW:D, MB, MF, VT, VE, SW:P and various others I always forget about. PS? Oh yeah, useful occasionally.

    At any rate, I cast in the following order, at maximum range:

    VT (Because it takes the longest to cast, I’m not yet in combat)
    SW:D (but only if it actually will kill)
    Oh, and I bubble just before they get to me, and whenever I need it.

    Star shards? Haven’t used that since the earlier levels. Never seemed to fit or do much damage! I’m a NE so are you saying it’s worth it? Can you expand?

  12. @Mapstra: Using downgraded PS before starting on your VT will save you a GCD whilst in combat. Something to consider if mobs keep reaching u before they die.

    @Lauchis: What kind of gear/bonus dmg are we looking at to get that kind of dmg? -Is it full 25-man raid buffs, food, flasks, weapon oil etc? Or solo grinding? Asking as a healer who’s guild just has hit ZA and trying out Shadow again for the first time in a very long time..

  13. Just throwing my 22 cents in from raiding experience:

    So far, my guild downs raids like Mag’s Lair and Gruul’s with grim efficiency and more often than not, the healers of the guild prefer that I actually *not* cast SW:D most of the time. With Tier 4 or better (+ enchants, gems, etc.) it does enough damage back to me that it puts excess stress on healers that should be spending their attention on the tanks. Plus, laying off SW:D saves me a good deal of threat generation so I don’t have to get tangled in the GCD as often from Fade. Not to mention (though I will anyway), abstaining from SW:D helps keep my mana in check. There are a few times that I will use it like spawns or shields that need to be killed ASAP, but other than that, I don’t touch that spell in raids.

    Just a few thoughts from my war journal.

  14. Seeing as I’m one of the better geared people in the guild, I start off by casting SWP rank1 x3, VT, pop my dmg boost trinket SWP (proper rank this time). Then I hit MF a few times to give the tank-s a bit more time to build up threat. After that, it’s the usual:
    VE is rarely used due to threat issues.

  15. why is it i never see a rotation including Devouring Plague

    • First, because when I wrote this DP was still an undead-priest only spell, and I tried to avoid adding those sorts of things. Second, because I’ve not played WoW since early November of 2008.

  16. I have a major problem , my stats are spell power: 2413
    hit rating : 375
    crit chance: 19.27
    haste rating: 194
    mana regen : 400
    my gear score is almost 14.000, im lvl 80
    my spell rotation: VT-SWP-DP-MB-MF-SWD and my dps is only 2000 (2K).

  17. Gem your gear with haste & crit, Haste cap is arround 785 and your haste ratings way low, Your crits good and hits good anyway like I said gem your gear with haste & crit or int. Also do faction grind like Hodir for epic shoulder enhancment and thers also faction grinds for head and cape enchantments. Regem your gear Nicoleta HASTE= faster rotations, Also learn to use your TAB buton…tab dot tab dot tab dot

    • Perhaps you missed the fact the post to which you’re replying was written in February of 2008. Yep, tremendous advice were it not for two points: I’d changed since then, and I’ve not played at all for over a year now.

      Just a small point when offering corrections. Make sure what you’re correcting is timely.

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