HowToPriest Shadow Guide (Melgane)

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      HowToPriest Shadow Guide for Legion
      I personally have a hard time viewing the guide on because it crashes on my iPad Pro constantly. The site is also blocked by my work’s firewall. So i’m reposting it here in case others have the same issues.

      Table of Contents


      Hello everyone and welcome to the Legion Shadow guide! My name is Melgane and I’ve been raiding as a priest since AQ. This guide will cover everything from the fundamentals of shadow to the advanced playstyles, theorycrafting, and personal experiences that are needed to compete at the highest level.

      I welcome feedback and discussion. I fully expect the comments section of this guide to act as a place for talk and improvement, although this thread is NOT a place to link logs and profiles to ask for help. All of that can be done in the Logs section of HowToPriest, which can be found here.

      Please feel free to message me here on H2P if you do not feel comfortable asking your question publicly. My btag, twitter, and my stream (Soon™) can be found in my signature down below.


      MB – Mind Blast VoiEr – Void Eruption VoiT – Void Torrent ToF – Twist of Fate
      MF – Mind Flay LI – Lingering Insanity MH – Mass Hysteria FotM – Fortress of the Mind
      VT – Vampiric Touch VF – Voidform SoI – Sphere of Insanity RoS – Reaper of Souls
      VE – Vampiric Embrace VB – Void Bolt TB – Tentacle Bro/Call to the Void StM – Surrender to Madness

      What changed in Legion?

      Patch 7.0

      • Shadow Orbs replaced by Insanity.
      • Ability Pruning
        • Leap of Faith
        • Flash Heal
        • Psychic Horror
        • Prayer of Mending
        • Devouring Plague
        • Halo/Divine Star/Cascade
        • Fear WardVoid Eruption

      New Spells

      • Void Bolt
      • Shadow Mend
      • Void Torrent
      • Purify Disease
      • Our mastery is now Mastery: Madness.
      • VT now heals for 50% of all damage done and has been increased to an 18 second duration.
      • Pain has been reduced to a 14 second duration.
      • Death now has two charges and a 9 second cooldown.
      • VE now heals one person for 40% of all single-target damage done, instead of being a raid-wide healing cd.
      • Dispersion has been reduced to a 60% damage reduction.
      • Power Word: Shield no longer applies Weakened Soul, but does have a 7.5 second cooldown modified by haste.
      • Mind Control is now baseline.




      • Twist of Fate — After damaging a target below 35% health, you deal 20% more damage and healing for 10 seconds
      • Fortress of the Mind — Flay and Blast deal 10% more damage and generate 20% more Insanity
      • Shadow Word: Void — 1.5 sec cast, 3 charges, 30 second cd that deals 220% of spell power and generates 25 Insanity

      ToF is currently the default choice.


      • Mania — You move 1% faster for every 5 Insanity, maxing at 20% bonus movespeed
      • Body and Soul — Shield gives you a 40% movement speed for 3 seconds
      • Masochism — Shadow Mend’s debuff now heals you instead of damaging you


      • Mind Bomb — Leaves a 2 second debuff on the target that stuns the target and all enemies within an 8 yd radius for 4 seconds. 30 second cooldown, replaces Psychic Scream
      • Psychic Voice — Reduces the cooldown of Psychic Scream by 30 seconds
      • Dominant Mind — Turns your Mind Control target into a controllable pet, 30 second duration, 3 minute cooldown


      • Void Lord — Lingering Insanity lasts for up to 8 seconds after you enter Void Form
      • Reaper of Souls — Shadow Word: Death is now usable at 35% and always generates 30 Insanity
      • Void Ray — Each time you damage with Spike, Flay, or Sear, it leaves a buff that increases the damage of all three spells by 10% for 6 seconds, stacking up to 5 times

      Void Lord is a solid all-around choice. RoS is better when you can get consistent usage of Death. RoS is also mandatory when taking StM.


      • San’layn — Increases the damage of Vampiric Touch by 20% and the healing of Vampiric Embrace by 20%
      • Auspicious Spirits — Your Shadow Apparitions now deal 100% more damage and generate 4 Insanity
      • Shadowy Insight — Shadow Word: Pain’s periodic damage has a 10% chance to reset the cooldown on Mind Blast and make your next Blast instant

      AS is the best choice in multitarget and is better for ST once you reach around 20% crit. If you do not have that level of crit, use SI for a ST fight.


      • Power Infusion — Increases haste and Insanity generation by 25% for 20 seconds. 2 minute cooldown
      • Shadow Crash — Hurls an 8 yard targeted aoe that damages all targets in the area for 640% spellpower and generates 15 Insanity. 30 second cooldown
      • Mindbender — Summons an improved Shadowfiend for 15 seconds that attacks the target and generates 4 Insanity every time the pet attacks. 1 minute cooldown.

      PI and Bender are both solid choices, although PI tends to eek out to be a little better. Crash is discussed here.


      • Legacy of the Void — Voidform may now be activated at 70 Insanity
      • Mind Spike — Replaces Mind Flay. 1.5 second cast that deals 35% of spell power and leaves a spike in the target for 10 seconds, stacking up to 10 times. Mind Blast will detonate these spikes, dealing 200% of their original damage to the main target and 100% to all nearby targets. Generates 4 Insanity
      • Surrender to Madness — Activate to make your next Voidform empowered. During this active, all your Insanity generating abilities make 150% additional Insanity and you are able to fully cast on the move. Once you leave this activated Voidform, you will die, horribly. 10 minute cooldown.

      Legacy is the default option for doing nothing new. Mind Spike is higher dps than legacy on ST. StM is the best choice and is discussed here.


      Voidform is the largest change to our toolkit. Shadow Orbs have been replaced with Insanity.

      We start with zero Insanity and can fill it to 100. Once filled, we can activate VF with the spell Void Eruption. VF grants us 20% bonus damage and generates a stacking buff. We gain one stack of VF for every second that we spend in the form and each stack grants 1% haste. This maxes out at 100 stacks.

      VF is not permanent. Our Insanity bar depletes naturally over the course of the VF according to this equation:

      d = 9 + [(x – 1)/2]
      where d = total drain of Insanity over 1 second
      x = # of “Insanity Drain Stacks”, which is NOT the same as Voidform stacks

      Now, if you would prefer a visual description, we can graph the equation to show how much Insanity is lost per second in Voidform:

      What this graph shows is that as we stay longer and longer in VF, our Insanity will drain faster and faster. We can spend a maximum of 180 seconds in VF, but this is only obtainable by using Surrender to Madness.

      Once we reach a value of zero Insanity, we leave VF. We then have to fill back up our Insanity.

      When we leave VF, we gain a buff called Lingering Insanity. This buff lasts for one minute and gives the same amount of haste that we had while in VF. Once we enter our next VF, this buff is lost, and the cycle begins anew.

      Now that we understand what VF is, how do we generate Insanity? With our spells of course! Below I will list all the spells that generate Insanity and how much they make:

      • MB – 12 Insanity
      • Death – 10 Insanity always, 20 more Insanity if the target dies within 1 second of the cast
      • Pain – 3 Insanity on the application of the debuff
      • VT – 4 Insanity on the application of the debuff
      • MF – 2 Insanity per tick, 4 Insanity per gcd, 8 Insanity per full cast
      • Sear – 1 Insanity per tick per target hit, 6 Insanity per full cast per target hit
      • Shadow Crash (Talent) – 15 Insanity
      • Bender (Talent) – 4 Insanity per hit
      • Spike (Talent) – 4 Insanity
      • Shadow Word: Void – 25 insanity

      Once we generate the appropriate amount of insanity, we have to activate VF using the spell Void Eruption. This is a 2 second casted spell that deals 150% spell power damage per dot to all targets with your DoTs on them. This spell is replaced by Void Bolt during VF.

      Additionally, there is a spell we gain only during VF called Void Bolt. This is an instant-cast, projectile spell that generates 16 Insanity. This projectile refreshes your DoTs once it hits the target and has a 4.5 second cooldown, modified by haste.

      So with this knowledge, the basic idea is to use everything on cd to get into VF, then use the general rotation of:

      VB > MB > Filler > VB > Filler > Filler


      This is a more simple rotation of what we will do in VF. Fillers will be used in this priority:

      1 Target: Death > Flay
      2 Targets: Death > Flay or Sear
      3+ Targets: Death > Sear


      It is also important to note that Dispersion halts Insanity drain and ALSO HALTS THE INCREASE OF THE DRAIN. However, it does not halt stack generation. This means that during a full Dispersion, you will stay at your insanity level, generate 6 stacks, and keep whatever insanity drain you had when you started.

      • For example, if you went into Dispersion draining 15 insanity/sec, you would leave Dispersion at 15 insanity/sec but still have 6 more stacks of VF.

      This does not hold true for other loss of control effects. If you are cc’ed, your Insanity will continue to decay, so pay attention to mechanics!


      Artifacts are the new weapons we will be using for the entire expansion. At level 100, you will go on a quest to obtain your first artifact. Our artifact is Xal’atath, Blade of the Black Empire.

      Once we have our artifact, we begin upgrading. This is done with Artifact Power (AP) which is acquired by dungeons, world quests, leveling, etc. With enough AP, you gain a rank that can be spent on a skill in the artifact.

      All artifacts have an equipped ability, three Golden traits which modify your kit in unique ways, a host of small traits that improve your spells, and 3 relic slots. Relics are acquired items that add ilvl to your weapon and give you bonus ranks to their designated traits. You start with two open relic slots and obtain your third by finishing your Class Hall campaign.

      So now, let’s look at the tree and talk about how we plan to fill it out.
      The golden node in the center is our new ability: Void Torrent. This is a channeled spell that deals ticking damage. It has a 1 minute cooldown, can only be used in VF, and affects insanity in the same way that Dispersion does.

      Now let’s talk about pathing. There are essentially three ways you can build your artifact in the first few weeks of Legion. A couple notes:

      • These paths are based on this spreadsheet
      • Using this sheet places us at 21 traits on the day mythic unlocks
      • A couple of these paths are designed to go lower in case you don’t think you are capable of getting the full 21

      So now, let’s get to the paths:

      1. Orange > Blue > Yellow > MH. Artifact rank 19. This is focused on getting you TB and MH with the least ranks. Rushes solo content damage. Note that going to MH through yellow is worse than going via green.
      2. Yellow > MH > Orange > Blue. Artifact rank 19. Same end result as path 1, but rushes group content damage.
      3. Orange > Blue > Green. Artifact rank 23. Goes for TB and then the good path to MH. Rushes solo content damage.
      4. Green > Orange > Blue. Artifact rank 23. Same end result as path 3, but rushes group content damage.

      I personally will be going along path 4 and working to get two extra ranks over what the spreadsheet outlines. Regardless of the path you follow in the first few weeks, you will finish out by going Red > Yellow > Purple or Red > Purple > Yellow.

      In addition to AP, our artifact is also modified by relics. Relics are obtained from quests, world quests, dungeons, professions, raids, and mythic+ dungeons. These items are locked into one of the three spots at the top of your artifact and increase the ilvl of the weapon while also adding an extra rank to a trait. Because of this, it is possible to actually end up with 6/6 ranks in a trait.

      • For example, if you obtain three 40 ilvl relics that all have ranks in To the Pain, you will be able to increase the ilvl of your artifact by 120 ilvl and you will gain three extra ranks in To the Pain, for a total of 36% bonus damage to Pain.

      Our artifact uses two shadow relics and one blood relic. Currently, but subject to change, you want to go for highest ilvl relics with the preferred traits Unleash the Shadows, To the Pain, and Touch of Darkness.


      Because our class is now separated by the VF mechanic, we have two separate priority lists depending on VF.

      Out of VF

      1. Use Bender
      2. Cast MB
      3. Use one charge of Death
      4. Keep up both of your DoTs
      5. Use filler

      In VF

      1. Use PI
      2. Use VoiT
      3. VB
      4. MB
      5. Use Bender
      6. Death
      7. DoT new targets
      8. Use fiend when above 10 stacks of Voidform
      9. Use filler

      As mentioned in the VF section, there are only two spells in between every VB, so make sure to follow this priority list with that in mind. Multitargetting is simply rotating your VB’s on up to 3 targets in order to keep DoTs up.

      Stat Priority

      Heroic Emerald Nightmare Statweights (as of 2016-08-23) … 8cfa070490

      Surrender to Madness
      Int = 1.00
      Crit = 1.26
      Haste = 1.78
      Mast = 1.07
      Vers = 0.94

      Legacy of the Void / Mind Spike
      Int = 1.00
      Crit = 1.25
      Haste = 1.20
      Mast = 1.03
      Vers = 0.94

      Int = 1.00
      Crit = 1.25
      Haste = 1.39
      Mast = 1.05
      Vers = 0.94

      BiS List

      Twintop’s amazing fantabulous BiS lists can be found through this link!

      I highly suggest using the addon Pawn while in-game to help you decide if something is better. Additionally, with the advent of Titanforged, if you seriously are considering whether a piece of gear is better, I suggest using Beotorch, a simulation tool designed by Twintop.


      “Follow your heart” — Hygeia, 2016

      Racials are extraordinarily close to one another in Legion, comprising less than a 1% difference. That being said, it may be useful to look at things like Arcane Torrent, Rocket Jump, and Darkflight. Otherwise, just go for whatever race you enjoy playing.

      Surrender to Madness

      It’s now time to talk about my single favorite spell in the entire game: Surrender to Madness. Once activated, this gives us a 3 minute buff that increases our insanity generation by 150%, a 3 minute debuff that prevents us from being battle-rezzed, and complete cast on the move. Once you enter your next Voidform, you will be kept in that Voidform until your insanity runs out. Once it runs out, you die, horribly. This is technically the best talent to use, assuming that the mechanics of the fight allow it.

      So, with this cd, you have a potential of up to a 180 second VF that ends in you dying. Because of this, using this cooldown will require very intense understanding of the mechanics of the fight, the health of the boss, and your personal abilities. It is important to remember that Voidform stacks up to 100 stacks but the insanity drain continues after that, meaning that you will either be unable to keep up with the insanity drain or you will simply time-out the buff. Either of these options will lead to your death.

      An important note here is that Mass Hysteria is required in order to play StM. Surrender is the only way for you to reach 100 stacks of VF, meaning that you will benefit from the full 200% increased DoT damage.

      So what do we do with this cooldown? Well, you are essentially going to become a machine gun of spells. You are going to quickly reach the 0.75s gcd cap and going to reach a point where every spell gives you a heart attack for fear that you will simply die at the end of it. So with this idea, let’s talk about talents.

      RoS is mandatory with StM, as it will allow us to have a spell that generates a whopping 75 insanity in one gcd. Use this spell as needed, but do remember that charges do not return independently. If you double tap your charges, you are going to be without both for 18 seconds. You should not start needing RoS until roughly the 55 stack mark, so you can feel free to cast it on cd before that, assuming you will have it ready to go for when you start actually needing it.

      While RoS is key to StM, so is using Dispersion. That’s right, you need to actually use Dispersion as a dps cooldown in addition to VoiT. Essentially the method of playing StM goes something like this:

      Enter Voidform > Void Bolt > Use Dispersion > Use VoiT


      This is to maximize keeping you at the lower insanity drain early on. Note that VoiT and Disp can be switched.

      The ideal StM will have two uses of PI and three uses of Bender. Because of the duration of StM, the ideal StM will have a use of PI at the beginning and then another use later on. For Bender, you should use it on CD, but don’t pair it with dispersion or VoiT.

      The intense haste that we reach in StM also causes us to change our rotation up a bit! Once you reach approximately 120% haste, you’ll start to notice that the cd of VB does not sync up how it used to. Once you reach this point, your rotation will change to this:

      VB > MB > VB > Filler


      This means that you are going to be spamming those VB’s, so be prepared to be able to refresh all your dots constantly! This is also the part where your reaction times are going to get very important.

      Using this cd is going to take a lot of practice and patience. Don’t rag on yourself if you aren’t able to properly use it the first time you take it. Something to remember is that Dispersion is a dps cd, not a personal cd. As such, you have to pay attention to mechanics more than usual. While this is augmented by your full cast on move, please make sure to pay attention when using this spell. Later on, even one second of downtime will kill you.


      Legion brings us various legendaries that can be obtained from world bosses, emissary quests, dungeons, mythic+, etc. You start with the ability to wear one of these legendaries and can wear a second once you have finished the final research of your class hall.

      There are two primary legendaries you want to obtain.

      • Mangaza’s Madness – Waist slot. Increases the maximum number of charges of MB by 2.
      • Mother Shahraz’s Seduction – Shoulder slot. When you enter VF, every 7 sec of remaining duration on LI grants you a stack of VF.Ideally, you will use the belt first and then the shoulders once you get the chance to equip a second legendary. The shoulders could possibly be a better choice in a multitarget scenario, but the belt greatly helps StM and alleviates the inherent munching that comes from MB.

      The rest of the legendaries are minor. They certainly are not bad to have, but ideally these are not the legendaries you use. We will likely use the wrists when we get the option to equip a third legendary.

      • Zenk’aram, Iridi’s Anadem– Head slot. Healing from your VE is increased by 250% while in VF.
      • Prydaz, Xavaric’s Magnum Opus – Neck slot. After not taking damage for 5 sec, you gain an absorb shield for 25% of your maximum health for 30 sec. This effect may occur once every 30 sec.
      • Norgannon’s Foresight – Feet slot. Your instant cast spells have a chance to trigger Foresight, making your next cast time spell castable while moving.
      • Anund’s Seared Shackles – Wrist slot. Each time your Pain and VT deal damage, your next VB gains 2% increased damage, stacking up to 100 times.
      • The Twins’ Painful Touch – Finger slot. Your first Sear cast after entering VF spreads your DoTs to 3 enemies within 10 yards of your target.
      • Sephuz’s Secret– Finger slot. Successfully applying a loss of control effect to an enemy grants you 70% increased movement speed and 15% haste for 10 seconds. This effect may occur once every 30 sec.

      Advanced Play/Discussion

      This section is mostly devoted to talking about some of the harder stuff that I or someone else finds. As I find something, I’ll add preliminary notes on it and then ask around in the community for people’s experiences and opinions. The main goal of this section to make sure that some of the more high end play done by experienced shadows can be shared.

      • Popping Voidform at 70 insanity
          While Legacy may be the default talent of that row, it does not necessarily mean that you use VoiEr as soon as you hit 70 insanity. Currently, sims are showing a noticeable dps increase when popping Voidform at 85 insanity instead of 70 insanity. That being said, if you need to pop Voidform for a mechanic, don’t use 15 insanity as an excuse to not handle a mechanic.
      • AoE
          As it stands, Shadow’s AoE is absolute garbage. Sear hits like a wet noodle and is honestly more useful for the insanity generation than the actual damage. That being said, we are able to refresh DoTs on 3 targets with VB. Put DoTs on as many targets as possible and then use sear as your filler for aoe.
          Shadow Crash essentially becomes equal to PI/Bender at 3 targets. Once you reach 4 targets, Crash becomes the default choice.
      • Getting an extra VoiT
          If you notice that your VoiT has about 6 seconds left on the cooldown and you are nearing the end of your Voidform, pay attention to your insanity drain. If you think that you are going to leave Voidform before you would get this VoiT, use Dispersion. As soon as Dispersion is over, use Bolt and immediately use VoiT.
          This will enable you to get a higher haste VoiT than you would otherwise and possible more VoiTs over the course of a fight.
      • Mythic+
          Shadow is not terribly great in mythic+ overall. Our lack of strong, meaningful aoe means that for a lot of packs, there are issues with bringing shadow. Our boss damage is very good and you should expect a shadow to cut some time off of the bosses. You will likely want to take Shadow Crash in dungeons, dot things up asap, and do your best to keep your VF running as long as possible.
        It is likely you’ll want to take RoS also, regardless of StM. RoS performs extremely well when you can get consistent usage out of it, so constantly using it on trash will make the talent strong.
        The legendary ring actually serves a decent usage in mythic+ to help you apply your dots faster to trash packs, but is certainly not mandatory to doing them.
        All in all, you have to work hard in mythic+ to be a value to your group. We are not a spec that can just pop cds and lolburst trash. Work hard and make your group happy that they brought you.
      • Legendary belt
          A built-in flaw with the class is that the cooldown of VB and MB come up at the same time. This is referred to as munching. This means that your MB cooldown loses one gcd to casting VB and one to casting MB. The belt actually removes this issue, meaning that you effectively gain two gcds on your MB cooldown every cycle.
          Because our full cycle occurs so frequently, you actually gain an extra blast every 3rd cycle. This means we have to change our rotation a little bit when we have the belt. Basically you are going to cast more blasts during VF. You will be better off holding one charge of blast for most of your VF, until you reach the end. Near the end of your VF, you will be better off dumping all of your charges so as to extend your VF as long as possible.

      Credits and Thanks
      A massive thank you to the ever wonderful Twintop. He puts up with me getting confused about SimC and bugging him about what happens when something doesn’t seem to work. He also provided good notes on the guide, some good advice about writing it, and is also responsible for Beotorch!

      A huge thank you to all of the people who read over this guide and helped to create it, namely:


      Thanks also have to be given to people who helped to give ideas about rotations, talents, etc:

      • Qwerty: For figuring out that Lich King is basically the perfect StM dummy
      • Racialz: For helping test some stuff, bouncing around some ideas, and being the titanforged god
      • Pb: MC shenanigans and being a springboard for ideas
      • Koire: The first person to bring up the idea of using VoiT and then Bender instead of pairing them
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