You have access to information on how to be a better shadow priest all over the internet. Some shadow priests do not know where to turn to get information on how to prepare for raiding. Why not be able to access it all in one place? Be prepared and be successful when you start raiding by knowing how to gear, spec and play.
A good raiding spec is the first step into getting prepared for raiding. The most common spec is 8/0/31, which leaves two points for you to insert where ever. I, personally, maxed out Mental Agility and took one point in Inner Sanctum. With fights where area of effect (AoE) spell damage may occur, taking the reduced spell damage while using “Inner Fire” is helpful. All of the other points allow you to get your main spells like Dark Archangel, Vampiric Touch, Shadowy Apparitions, etc.
Useful glyphs are also very important. As with a lot of classes, you have glyphs that are must haves, and ones where you can choose which ever one you want.
All of these are must haves and directly impact your damage per second (DPS).
Major glyphs are more of your choice. The glyphs above are what I chose. The Spirit Tap glyph may help on multi-target fights and the Fade glyph will help keep your aggro down. I chose the last one for dungeons, but if you feel like you are dispelling often, Glyph of Mass Dispel or Glyph of Dispel Magic may be better for you.
The first two are must haves, and the last one is up to you. I chose Levitate so it is easier to simply jump off cliffs without having to worry. In a raid setting, because of battle resurrections, and if you are the only priest, the Glyph of Fortitude may be better.
Spell casting certainly has become more confusing in Cataclysm. It's not just keep damage over time (DoT) spells up and Mind Flay. You have to know when the appropriate time to cast Mind Blast is, and know when to use Dark Archangel.
Basically, you only want to cast Mind Blast after getting one stack of Shadow Orbs. After you first get the Harness Shadows buff, recast Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague. From that point on, Harness Shadows should always be up. If you lose the Harness Shadows buff, you will have to recast Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague after getting it again. On the topic of Dark Archangel, use the buff (it is highlighted at five stacks automatically in the Blizzard user interface) after you are affected by Harness Shadows. Also, use your Shadowfiend on cooldown because it does not return as much mana as it used to and provides a nice DPS increase.
You will hear different suggestions, but this is what I usually do when starting a boss:
- Shadow Word: Pain
- Devouring Plague
- Vampiric Touch
- Mind Flay until one Shadow Orb
- Mind Blast
- Recast Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague
- Dark Archangel at 5 stacks of Evangelism
Continue to keep up DoTs and Harness Shadows buff, use Dark Archangel and Shadowfiend at cooldown, and use Shadow Word: Death on cooldown when the boss is under 25% health.
Intellect is always going to be your main stat. It provides mana, spell power and critical chance. Behind Intellect is Haste. Haste now increases the amount of DoT ticks you can potentially fit in while a DoT is active. After Haste is Spirit and Hit. Crit and Mastery are about equal in value.
In order of importance:
- Intellect (Intellect is always going to be your main stat. It provides mana, spell power and critical chance.)
- Haste (Haste now increases the amount of DoT ticks you can potentially fit in while a DoT is active. "Mind Flay" is a DoT as well.)
Hit is a topic of continued debate. A lot of shadow priests will tell you to get hit capped, but according to Simcraft numbers (a program that calculates DPS and stat priorities based off of running dummy fight tests) you can safely drop 5% under hit cap without it affecting your DPS. It is a personal preference, I do not like to go the full 5% under, I stay hovering around 14% to 15% hit.
Enchants, Gems, Reforging
At least get revered with Guardians of Hyjal for your helm enchant (Arcanum of Hyjal) and exalted with Therazane for your shoulder enchant (Greater Inscription of the Charged Lodestone); these are both very important for raiders. Always use the Powerful Ghostly Spellthread for your legging thread, as well (Ghostly Spellthread is a cheaper substitute).
- Chest: Peerless Stats – Cheaper sub: Mighty Stats
- Cloak: Greater Intellect
- Bracers: Mighty Intellect – Cheaper sub: Greater Speed
- Gloves: Greater Mastery or Haste
- Boots: Haste
- Weapon: Power Torrent – Cheaper sub: Hurricane
- Off Hand (if applicable): Superior Intellect
When you gem, use the red Intellect gems in all red slots and for any slot that does not have a a useful bonus like +20 Intellect.
- Meta Gem: Burning Shadowspirit Diamond You should be able to get the requirements for easily with how many red gems you will use.
- Red Slot: Brilliant Inferno Ruby
- Yellow Slot: Reckless Ember Topaz
- Blue Slot: Purified Demonseye
Reforging for shadow priests is fairly straight forward. If the item does not have Haste, reforge the weakest stat to Haste. If you need to raise your Hit, reforge your weakest stat to Spirit.
Ideally, you want to try and have at least all item level (ilvl) 346 gear before you start raiding. Of course, you do not want to go by ilvl alone, something of a lower ilvl may be better than something of a higher ilvl. You have plenty of gear options from heroic dungeons, reputation vendors, the Justice Point vendor, the Valor Point vendor (if you save enough from your daily heroic dungeon before you start raiding), and buying bind on equip (BoE) items.
If you are able to afford it, you can purchase some BoE epic gear like Je'tze's Sparkling Tiara, Belt of the Depths (crafted, so you can save the mats for this) and Woundsplicer Handwraps. All three will likely last you through the end of the first tier of normal raids.
For those that do not have access to that much gold can continue to run heroics for items and Justice Points, while at the same time wearing tabards that will raise your reputation with factions.
Faction Items for Shadow Priests
- Flamebloom Gloves from the Earthen Ring
- Desert Walker Sandals from Ramkahen
- Yellow Smoke Pendant/Lightning Flash Pendant from Dragonmaw Clan/Wildhammer Clan
- Cord of the Raven Queen from the Guardians of Hyjal
Other than the reputation items, you can use Justice Points to purchase ilvl 346 gear from the Justice Point vendor. This gear is equal to items you would get in heroic dungeons. Choose your gear based on the stat priorities. You will see at the Justice Point vendor that you can choose from gear that has spirit or no Spirit. Remember that spirit is Hit for shadow priests, so if you are very low on Hit, consider getting the Spirit piece over the piece without it.
Overall, gearing as a shadow priest in Cataclysm is not difficult after the streamlining of stats. After gathering enough gear and honing your skills (I suggest practice on a target dummy), you will be ready for raiding in no time.