Friday, September 21, 2012

[MoP] Shadow DPS Guide - Basics

So, I'm sure you were all expecting this post a month ago when 5.0 hit. Well, better late than never. Here's a Shadow basics post, updated for patch 5.0.
  • Freshly updated for level 90!

In patch 5.0, at level 90, shadow priests desire the following stats:
  1. Intellect
  2. Spellpower
  3. Hit, Expertise or Spirit until cap - 15% for raids, 12% for heroic 5mans, 6% for PvP.
  4. Haste*
  5. Crit
  6. Mastery
A common question regarding shadow priest gear is "do we take hit cloth or spirit cloth?" The answer is both. Hit and spirit are equally valuable for shadow, so treat them just the same when you decide whether to take an item or not. Additionally, in rare circumstances, we may take gear (or enchants) with expertise on them, as expertise now converts to hit rating for all spellcasters.

* Regarding haste breakpoints, there is a well-known haste breakpoint at approximately 8000 haste rating. While this is probably impossible to reach right now, if you do get close, it makes haste temporarily more valuable than even intellect. I'll have more info on this in a few weeks when it becomes more of a reachable goal.

You'll want to enchant your gear before heading into a raid. Use the following enchants, unless your profession gives you a better one:
  • Shoulders: Crane Wing Inscription. Made by scribes.
  • Cloak: Accuracy - Made by enchanters.
  • Chest: Glorious Stats - Made by enchanters. This can be pretty expensive, Mighty Spirit is a cheaper alternative, and better if you can't reach hit cap without it.
  • Wrist: Mastery - Made by enchanters. Super Intellect will become available in a week or two when people have rep.
  • Hands: Greater Haste - Made by enchanters. Super Expertise is better if you can't reach hit cap without it; expertise converts to hit for spellcasters now.
  • Belt: Living Steel Belt Buckle - Made by blacksmiths. Be sure to fill the socket. (See gems, below.)
  • Legs: Pearlescent Spellthread - Made by tailors. There is a crit variant, but this is as good or better in nearly all cases.
  • Boots: Greater Haste - Made by enchanters. Greater Precision is better if you can't reach hit cap without it. Pandaren's Step can be better if you don't utilize movement boosting glyphs or talents. (For now, trust me that the movement speed makes Pandaren's Step better if you're not already moving at boosted speeds.)
  • Weapon: Windsong*- Made by enchanters. Jade Spirit will become available in a week or two when people have rep.
  • Off-Hand: Major Intellect - Made by enchanters.
New, more powerful enchants will become available in the coming weeks as people gain access to the Honored and Revered reputation vendors for more factions.

* Some players have claimed that Windsong is not proccing off many of Shadow's spells. While my own World of Logs data has me getting 1 PPM, exactly as I should, I may simply be lucky. Check that it is actually proccing for you. If it's not working, use Power Torrent until Blizzard fixes it, or until Jade Spirit obsoletes it.
Be sure to fill your sockets. If you can't afford rare gems, buy cheaper uncommon gems instead. Beware that there are now two varieties of the "same" rare gem, and they may vary wildly in price. In general, the lower-quality gems you're using, the more important it is to match the socket color. (Socketed items come with a Socket Bonus, some bonus stats you get for filling the sockets with gems of the same color. You are not required to socket gems that match the color; sometimes filling in with red gems is better.)
  • Meta: Always use Burning Primal Diamond.
  • Red: Always use Brilliant* gems. (Rare, uncommon.)
  • Yellow: Use Reckless* if the socket bonus is at least 28 Int. (Rare, uncommon.) Use a red gem otherwise.
  • Blue: Use Purified if the socket bonus is at least 32 Int. (Rare, uncommon.) Use a red gem otherwise.
If you can't afford the recommended gem for a given slot, you can use Reckless in red sockets, or use Reckless/Purified in Yellow/Blue sockets even when the socket bonus is small.

* As mentioned above in Gearing, we may prefer haste over Intellect at very specific amounts of haste. In that case, we use Reckless gems in red sockets, and Quick gems in yellow sockets.

The new glyph design means most glyphs are both situational and do not effect DPS directly. See my full article on Shadow glyphs. I currently use Dark Binding, Mind Flay and a third glyph that I swap out on a per-fight basis.

Similarly to glyphs, many talents are non-functional in raids, do not effect DPS, or are situational.
  • Level 15 - Irrelevant for raiding.
  • Level 30 - Situational/playstyle dependent. I personally like Body and Soul, as I was already in the habit of shielding myself during movement.
  • Level 45 - This is a DPS tier.
    • Mindbender gives the most single-target damage, and is easier to use optimally than FDCL.
    • From Darkness, Comes Light is arguably better for 2-3 target fights, but on larger AoE fights, the procced Mind Spikes' DpET is not high enough to cast; you're better served by throwing more DoTs or channelling Mind Sear. Because of this, you're better off speccing back into Mindbender for AoE fights. It is also hard to use. Notably, this is the only talent of the three with good haste and mastery scaling.
    • Shadow Word: Insanity is simply bad right now, and is also very hard to use. It was recently buffed a lot, but its problems remain.
  • Level 60 - Situational/playstyle dependent. Desperate Prayer is stronger, but Angelic Bulwark doesn't consume a GCD and, being automatic, might react faster than you. I personally use Angelic Bulwark.
  • Level 75 - This is the other DPS tier.
    • Divine Insight is godly-amazing for multi-DoT fights. It is also competitive for straight-up single target burn ("Patchwerk"). I personally dislike the randomness it inserts into the rotation, but there's no denying its use for any sort of multi-target DPS.
    • Twist of Fate is godly-amazing for any fight with low-HP adds, or if the boss spends a lot of time at low HP (think Murmur from TBC.) Due to the 10-second duration, this tends to have extremely high uptime on fights that play to this talent's strengths.
    • Power Infusion is a burst DPS cooldown that is good for any fight needing burst DPS at about 2 minute intervals. Unfortunately, it doesn't stack with Heroism. ...and it's the weakest talent for single-target fights with no gimmick.
  • Level 90 - This is a cooldown spell tier. Be aware that you can also use these talents to great effect on healing your raid, if the healers are struggling.
    • Halo is a 28-yard instant cast AoE, centered on yourself. The spell is mechanically a mess, and very hard to use optimally. The tooltip is incorrect; it peaks in damage at 27 yards, and misses anything farther than 28. It's by far the best spell of the lot. The damage is amazing, I've had individual Halo casts exceed 2M damage. Even for single-target, the high DpET makes it the best option of the three.
    • Cascade is a 7-target heal or damage spell that works best on targets that are scattered 30-40 yards apart. It works great on two individual groups of players or mobs at those distances, but it's still outpreformed by Halo if you can line it up right. Only use if Halo can't be used. Do not cast on a single target.
    • Divine Star is a frontal ~30-yard line AoE. It's theoretically the best talent of the three for sustained 5+ target AoE when all the targets are stacked up. In practice, I've never had a long fight where continuous AoE was needed for 50 seconds or more. If such a fight exists, this will be good for it, otherwise, Halo is better. Do not cast on a single target.
Commonly, I get asked by new shadow priests what the rotation is. My answer is, invariably, it depends. Use the following priority list for boss fights:
  1. Devouring Plague (with 3 orbs)
  2. Halo / Cascade / Divine Star (AoE)
  3. Shadow Word: Death (when target below 20% HP - see Macros below)
  4. Mind Blast
  5. Shadow Word: Pain
  6. Vampiric Touch
  7. Mindbender / Shadowfiend
  8. Halo (single-target)
  9. Mind Spike (with Surge of Darkness, if talented.)
  10. Mind Flay
Try to re-cast DoTs only when they have less than 3 seconds remaining.

For trash, use Mind Sear if it is likely to all die within a few seconds, or if there are 4+ foes. Beware, this can break crowd control spells. If you need to avoid breaking CC, or if the foes are spread out too much, you can't use Mind Sear. If you can't use Mind Sear for trash, you have two options. In both cases, use Shadow Word: Death to finish off low-HP foes.
  • If the trash is likely to live for at least 15 seconds still use your boss rotation. Try to keep Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain active on everything.
  • If the trash will probably all die faster than that, use Mind Spike 3 times, then cast Mind Blast. Repeat until everything dies.
The new Shadow Word: Death cannot be cast unless the game thinks your target is below 20% HP. Unfortunately, it's not very responsive, and can sometimes be delayed as much as a few seconds. The following macro can force the game to re-check the target's HP immediately.

#showtooltip Shadow Word: Death
/target [@player]
/cast Shadow Word: Death

Make sure you have the following buffs on you. These are all buffs you can supply to yourself.
Well Fed now comes in three strengths, a cheap one giving 250 Int, a medium one giving 275 Int, and an expensive one, giving 300 Int. Use whatever you can afford; the expensive ones are really expensive. I personally use 275 for raids and challenge modes, and 250 for anything else.

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