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Shadow Priest PvP Guide

PVP

First of all, is PvP the thing for you? If you choose to play on a PvP server, be prepared to be killed by other people at times you don't want to be killed. Be prepared to be embarrassed. Be prepared to spend a lot more time doing the quests that you wanted to. Be prepared to be killed on your way to popular instances or in neutral towns. In short, be prepared to be very frustrated from time to time.

Otherwise, PvP can be very fun. In battlegrounds, arena, and other pvp, it is a great test of skill and often a challenge. However, it requires a different mindset than PvE.

Why Priest?

Priests are a somewhat versatile class in the game if specced Holy/Disc, as they can heal and do reasonable dps. However, they can also be a potent offensive class in PvP, thanks to the Shadow Tree. Shadow priests can usually be distinguished by their purplish colour, thanks to Shadowform.

Why Shadow Priest?

Priests, arguably, had been one of the most powerful PvP characters overall, although less so as of present. Priests specced Shadow (most talents assigned in the Shadow tree) can do impressive amounts of damage in a short period of time, but have some survivability problems. They have one or more powerful DoT spells (up to 3), various healing spells (while out of Shadowform), including an instant HoT spell, a shield, some limited crowd control (along with an instant cast AoE fear spell), great buffs, two or more powerful blasts, and optionally the most mana-efficient-per-damage channeling spell in the game. They also have Shadowform, which increases damage output by 15% and decreases physical damage taken by 15%. At the moment, Shadow is less suited to the arena in the majority of lineups than disc/holy.

Pros and Cons of being a shadow priest:

Pros:

High damage, which is sustainable over moderately long periods of time
No lengthy cooldowns, highest being Silence which is 45 seconds (excluding racial/talented abilities)
Decent passive healing thanks to Vampiric Embrace, available through talents.
Can Silence opponents
High melee reduction, around 35%, which is almost as good as mail armor (using Shadowform and Inner Fire)
Possible to dispel many beneficial spells from enemies and harmful spells from yourself and team members
AoE fear on a relatively short cooldown (26 secs with talents)
Can slow enemy's movement speed with Mind Flay

Cons:

Whilst in Shadowform (vast majority of the time), it is not possible to cast any holy spells, such as heals.

Very susceptible to pushback, most spells having a cast time.
Priests are often targeted early in PvP situations.

Shadow Priests are deprived of any form of damaging AOE which hampers their use as a mage replacement.

Shadow Priests, and priests in general, are very buff dependent, leaving a purged shadow priest vulnerable (and rebuffing costs are massive).

Whilst in shadow form, a priest spell class silenced (counter spell), has nothing else to do but wand & wait.

Spells

The following figures for damage are at level 70, unbuffed, not in shadowform, without the Darkness and Shadow Weaving talents and without +damage gear (i.e., casting while naked without buffs and talents). Expect to see figures 25-50% higher than these in practice, it is not unreasonable to see Mind Blast crits for 2000+ with sufficient damage gear and talents.

Fear Ward: Absorbs one Fear effect on the caster. Instant cast, 3 minute duration, 3 minute cooldown. Difficult to use properly. Ideally it should be cast just before the Fear effect is used on you, to reduce the risk that it will simply be dispelled or Devoured, but this isn't always easy to predict. Available in Shadowform post Patch 2.4.

Inner Focus: An 11-point Discipline talent that many Shadow Priests have, it gives your next spell +25% chance to crit and reduces the mana cost to 0. Has a three minute cooldown. Often macroed to Devouring Plague (Undead).

Mind Blast: This will be one of your most frequently used spells, has a cast time of 1.5 secs (quite fast), and high damage (711–752). On 8-sec cooldown (without talents) or 5.5 sec (with talents).

Mind Control: "Controls a humanoid mind up to level X, but slows its attack speed by 25%. Lasts up to 1 min." Note that "X" is usually 'your own level + 2'. -I.e.- a lvl 40 should be able to mindcontrol a lvl 42. Situational in PvP, but can be useful and fun. For example throwing people into the lava at BRM or off the cliff in AB, or Mind Control one mob to fight with another, control a mob to get his buff, etc. Patch 2.2 has reduced the control time to 10 seconds in PvP situations.

Mind Flay: Your bread and butter attack, a highly mana-efficient channeled spell that does a high amount of damage over 3 seconds. Also slows the target's speed to 50%. Has NO cooldown, and can be chain-cast indefinitely.

Mind Vision: "Allows the caster to see through the target's eyes for 1 min. Will not work if the target is in another instance or on another continent." Rank 1 of this spell has a 120-yard range and a line-of-sight requirement. Rank 2 has neither of these restrictions; it is possible to chain-cast this spell on progressively father targets to see quite a tremendously long way away, as long as you can find something to cast it on. Can be cast on any mob, hostile, friendly, neutral, critter. It can be resisted but you will NOT draw the aggro of mobs from the resist. Note that this spell cannot be used in Arenas as of 2.4.

Power Word: Fortitude: A great stamina buff, 79 stamina without talents. Needless to say, keep this on at all times.

Power Word: Shield: An instant-cast spell that, according to the toolip, "Draws on the soul of the party member to shield them, absorbing 1315 damage. Lasts 30 sec. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. Once shielded, the target cannot be shielded again for 15 sec".

Psychic Scream: "The caster lets out a psychic scream, causing 5 enemies within 8 yards to flee for 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect". Instant cast on a 30 second cooldown, can be reduced to 26 seconds with the Improved Psychic Scream talent, and even down to 23 seconds with Season 3 PvP Gloves.

Shadow Protection: Increases the target's resistance to Shadow spells by 70 for 10 min. Useful when fighting Warlocks and other shadow priests.

Shadow Word: Death: available to all priests at Level 62, this is an instant cast spell that does shadow damage almost equal to Mind Blast. The mana cost is also almost the same as Mind Blast. The major downside to this spell, other than the 12-second cooldown, is that if the spell does not kill the target, it does the same damage to the priest. (Power Word: Shield does absorb the damage as usual) The crit chance of SW:D can be increased in Shadow talents.

Shadow Word: Pain : A very mana-efficient spell that does high amounts of damage over 18 secs (improved to 24 secs with talents, which results in a 33% increase in damage). No cooldown, instant cast. Considered the second best instant DoT in the game (perhaps after Unstable Affliction).

Shadowfiend: This nifty little spell summons a Shadowfiend that fights for you for 15 seconds. Not very long, but it does give a hunter's pet or a warlock's minion something else to swing at while you lay the smack down on their owner, and will regenerate your mana every time it hits. This is available at level 66.

Shadowform: The 31-point Shadow tree talent which basically defines the Shadow Priest. Grants +15% to shadow spell damage, reduces physical damage taken by 15%, but locks out all Holy spells. It is worth noting that only spells that appear on the "Holy" tab of your spellbook will be locked out; Discipline spells such as PW: fort, inner fire, and PW: Shield will still be usable.

Silence: Another 21-point Shadow Talent (requires two points in Improved Psychic Scream), makes the opponent unable to cast any spells for 5 seconds. 45 sec cooldown. A must in PvP, to interrupt healers and to stop Mages from sheeping, Warlocks from fearing, etc.

Vampiric Embrace: A 21-point Shadow Talent, also a prerequisite of Shadowform. This heals you (and nearby group members) for 15% (25% with Improved Vampiric Embrace) of Shadow damage you cause, absolutely great in both PvP and PvE as you can't cast other healing spells in Shadowform.