The sorrow of the shadow priest, redeux

In The sorrow of the shadow priest I compared my shadow priest to my warlock and it was a depressing experience.

I’m going to repeat things, but this time I’ll be looking at level 90 in the beta.

I’ll cover the level 100 experience in another post.

tl;dr: Shadowpriests at level 90 in 6.0.2 perform as badly as they do today on live. Warlocks are still OP.

Also, expect to do ~900-1000 DPS at the start of Warlords. We’ve been reset to roughly the start of T5 in The Burning Crusade for damage.

The conditions of the test

  • 10 minutes on a raider’s training dummy
  • Pre-pot and in-combat Potion of the Jade Serpent used
  • Using Flask of the Warm Sun
  • Using Pandaren Treasure Noodle Soup
  • Both are the same race to remove the impact of any racial abilities
  • Both are tailors so their cloaks have lightweave on them
  • The shadow priest is an alchemist so has a better flask at 1,320 intellect compared to the usual 1000 intellect. However the warlock is an enchanter so has a +160 intellect enchant on each ring – the bonus to intellect ends up being the same
  • If different talent builds are used the best will be compared
  • No use of execute range abilities as they don’t seem to work correctly on target dummies – thus no shadowburn for the warlock and the priest can’t use Shadow Word: Death or the Twist of Fate talent
  • Both have the legendary cloak & meta gem equipped
  • No external buffs – so no hero, etc
  • The warlock is allowed to use the Doomguard and the shadow priest is allowed to use the shadowfiend – both off cooldown. This means the warlock can use the Doomguard once and the shadow priest can use the shadowfiend 4 times
  • Both are optimized for live as per Ask Mr Robot. The shadow priest is using the adjusted stat weights from HowToPriest which have a 50% haste cap
  • On live dot snapshotting is done using the AffDots addon with the AffDotsPriest extension
  • Skada was used to record DPS
  • No resource banking – at the start the warlock had one ember and the shadow priest had no shadow orbs

Shadow priest

First up, my priest. ilvl at the time of testing was 582. Part of the fun here is the talent choices – we have a range to choose from! The choices are at level 45 and level 75

spriest-live-SWI-PISolace and Insanity / Power Infusion

The best performing one by a nose, but it isn’t one I’d actually use in a raid except for very specific circumstances.

The problem is that Power Infusion gives you 20% haste along with the 5% damage boost. Add in the 30% haste from the legendary meta gem and you end up with a bit too much haste! Throw in heroism – which you will have in a raid – and you’ve got far too much haste. You’ll have dead spots whilst you’re waiting for the GCD.

The only time I’ve used Power Infusion in SoO is when doing the belt on Heroic Blackfuse – shadowpriests are well suited to the belt as levitate allows you to float over it & ignore its movement. Combined with Mindbender, the routine there would be:

  • Belt 1: Hero + pre-pot + mindbender
  • Belt 3: Mindbender + power infusion
  • Belt 5: Mindbender + potion
  • Belt 7: Mindbender + power infusion

Naturally, this was when we didn’t have two hunters doing every single belt via disengage.

When haste levels drop – eg the start of Warlords – Power Infusion will come back into its own again. Especially since the legendary meta gem will not work at level 100.

spriest-live-SWI-DISolace and Insanity / Divine Insight

Very close to the performance of SaI and PI – the extra mindblasts you get from DI procs mean that you cast devouring plague more often and thus have a higher SW:I uptime.

The only downside to this build is that you’re likely to loose DI procs – there is the question of interrupting a SW:I channel or uptime with Devouring plague to use a DI proc. Normally you want to maximize SW:I uptime so that means leaving the DI proc until Devouring plague is over.

From Darkness, Comes Light / Divine Insight

This is a build I’ve used on Thok before as it is very procy – with Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain both having a proc to give you free & instant Mind Spikes and Mind Blasts respectively. With the continual interrupts on Thok you need all the help you can get!

On Thok Heroic ToF pulls ahead thanks to the trick of PoM healing people below 30% health – a trick which Warlords is removing for both DPS and healing.

In a lot of ways this build is rather nice if you like proc after proc after… feels a bit like playing a frost mage at times!

spriest-live-MB-DIMindbender / Divine Insight

Mindbender and Divine Insight – not a combo I’d actually use for single target fights, although the Mindbender does a good amount of damage. The problem is it feels like you’re wasting all of those extra devouring plagues you’re casting which you could be making use of SW:I with!

spriest-live-SWI-ToFSolace and Insanity / Twist of Fate

Here for completeness, the SaI and ToF build which I tend to use most in raids since ToF can actually work!

Unsurprisingly, it comes bottom of the pack here since ToF can’t proc. Any fight where you have adds which die during the encounter – or a boss who drops to 0% multiple times like Garrosh – is an ideal one for ToF.

Shadowpriest performance

Shadowpriest DPS in 5.2 and beyond has been quite poor; apparently we are a pain to balance at the moment – the impact of multiple targets with DoTs means that if Blizzard make our DoTs too strong we end up doing excessive damage when sufficent targets are up long enough for our DoTs to run to full duration. This was best illustrated by the 25% damage buff to SW:P which was quickly reverted when Shadowpriests had a bit too much fun with the adds on Heroic Horridon!

Plus, our current mastery is based around multi-strike which amplifies the impact DoTs have. Go haste and mastery heavy and DoTs start to really impact large numbers of targets.

Multistrike something all classes will be getting via a new secondary stat – hopefully this will level the playing field a bit. And if there are issues with it, the scaling of multi-strike rating to percentage can be tweaked.

spriest-live-multi-targetSolace and Insanity / Divine Insight

This was done against three target dummies for 10 minutes and shows how much damage keeping up Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain on three targets, with mind blast used off cooldown and mind flay / SW:I as a filler can do.

Having three targets to DoT up increased the DPS by ~50%

spriest-live-protectorsSolace and Insanity / Twist of Fate

However this is a better example. It comes from a recent heroic protectors kill. Firstly there are quite a few adds in this fight – each of the six desperate measures brings at least one add to kill. This means that Twist of Fate really pulls ahead.

I went into this using SW:I as I had done previously, but looking at the output it gave me I have to wonder if the mindbender would be more useful at the levels of haste I have. If nothing else having it NomNomNom on the adds from the desperate measures would be nice.

Plus, its DPS is very much “fire and forget” – you just have to pick the target correctly so it doesn’t waste its time running after things if it’s current target dies whilst it is up.


Now for my warlock; she is 13 ilvls below my shadow priest at 569. A major difference is she only has the flexible version of Kardris’ Toxic Totem and Purified Bindings of Immerseus. And whilst they have been fully upgraded to be ilvl 556, they don’t really compare with the ilvl 582 fully upgraded heroic versions my shadowpriest has!

The only real difference with talents between what I’d use in raids and this test is using Archimonde’s Darkness to give Dark Soul two charges instead of using Kil’jaeden’s Cunning to be able to cast incinerate on the move.

In a raid being able to cast on the move is incredibly powerful, which is why talents like Kil’jaeden’s Cunning are being significantly pulled back – in Warlords it is being changed to being able to cast any Warlock spell on the move. For 8 seconds. With a one minute cooldown. That it is a short duration ability you have to activate does balance it nicely.

That my Warlock was able to get in the same ballpark as my shadowpriest without having to worry about talents and the like whilst also having inferior gear – she is in a mixture of normal, flexible and warforged gear from Ordos compared with the mostly heroic gear my shadowpriest has – shows where shadowpriest DPS is on live.

… watching the warlock from my raid team easily pull 1 million DPS during heroism on the Protectors of the Vale fight in SoO shows that Warlock DPS is somewhat excessive right now!

What about Warlords – level 90?

This is where things get interesting – shadow priests have been changed a bit on the beta and we also have the item squish to take into account.

This is looking at level 90 characters who’ve been copied across to the beta leveling server – mostly so I can get a feel for how they perform when 6.0.2 hits.

I’ll do another post about level 100 in Warlords using template characters – its a different ballgame there as the talents and spells are really balanced around what you’ll do at level 100. As you level you gain bonuses to abilities instead of new spells. eg mind flay dealing damage a third faster.

Class Live Beta
Shadow priest spriest-live-stats spriest-beta-stats
Haste 50.11% 47.26% -2.85%
Mastery 44.05% 79.46% +35.41%
Crit strike 29.75% 23.09% -6.66%
Multistrike 12.21%
Warlock warlock-live-stats warlock-beta-stats
Haste 15.94% 20.40% +4.46%
Mastery 109.62% 113.61% +3.99%
Crit strike 27.91% 29.48% +1.57%
Multistrike 5.64%

I’ve not included the change in spell power – the item squish means that it has been greatly reduced. Thus my shadowpriest has gone from having 50,719 spell power to having 2,069 – which is ~4.1% of the pre-squish stat. My warlock has gone from 46,566 spell power down to 1,925. Which is also ~4.1% of the pre-squish stat.

This is interesting to know – it could mean we should expect to do ~4.1% of the damage we did previously. We show that conversion below.

The multistrike proc from Kardris’ Toxic Totem has been converted to the new multistrike secondary stat and that damage appears to be rolled into the specific spells which proc it so disappears from the damage seen.

All of the testing below had to be done against the level 90 training dummies at the Shrine in the Vale – the raider training dummies in Stormwind appear to be set to be level 100 bosses. The lower level training dummies in Stormwind have the damage boost buff on them from the damage I was seeing.


One of the questions here is what talents to actually use given the results above from live. The key is the change to mastery, which will increase the damage done by mind blast, mind spike and mind flay by ~80% for my shadow priest.

As a result I’ve done one or two tests with different talents. I’ve used the Mists names for the talents.

Solance and Insanity + Divine Insight
Source Live 4% of live Beta Beta
Total 159,880K
264K DPS
1082 DPS
940 DPS
I think the summary of this is “They changed our mastery, didn’t they” – the damage from Mind Blast is around twice I’d have expected with a reduction to 4% of live. The DoTs have taken a real hit as well; makes me wonder if the procy build I’ve got next will do better.
Mind flay 33,350K 1,367K 886K
Mind flay: insanity 23,220K 952K 650K
Devouring Plague 21,800K 893K 545K
Vampiric Touch 19,220K 788K 715K
Mind Blast 18,610K 763K 1,440K
Shadow Word: Pain 17,570K 720K 687K
Cloak 7,750K 317K 545K
Apparition 6,280K 257K 126K
Shadowfiend 3,970K 162K 108K
From Darkness Comes Light + Divine Insight
Source Live 4% of live Beta Beta
Total 158,880K
262K DPS
1072 DPS
1016 DPS
Note: headline numbers adjusted to remove Halo

The procs aren’t too fast – mostly since FDCL only has a 10% chance of procing, but it can proc from Devouring plague as well now.

Very playable build and was peaking to 2000 DPS at the start when all trinkets + potion was in use. The reduced rate of FDCL procs made it less spammy and it may even make it’s use viable for multi-boss fights.

Mind flay 30,570K 1,253K 895K
Devouring Plague 25,130K 1030K 770K
Vampiric Touch 20,730K 849K 723K
Mind Blast 19,520K 800K 1,480K
Shadow Word: Pain 17,820K 730K 722K
Mind Spike 17,010K 697K 545K
Cloak 8,880K 364K 633K
Apparition 6,080K 249K 160K
Shadowfiend 3,900K 159K 164K


Source Live 4% of live Beta Beta
Total 146,630K
243K DPS
996 DPS
910 DPS
Chaos Bolt 54,390K 2,229K 1,970K
Incinerate 46,580K 1,909K 1,730K
Immolate 20,140K 825K 668K
Conflagrate 12,210K 500K 500K
Cloak 6,060K 248K 537K
Doomguard 1,740K 71K 50K

That ~900 DPS number will probably look rather familiar to players who were raiding at the end of vanilla and the start of The Burning Crusade – you were around that number in Naxxramas gear in vanilla or when you started tier 5 in TBC.


Both specs have a reduction below the ~4% mark. Which means that shadow priests will perform at lvl 60 in 6.0.2 at the same level as they do now.


I’m very much hoping that level 100 will see a change.

This entry was posted in Mists of Pandaria, Shadow priest, Uncategorized, Warlock, Warlords of Draenor. Bookmark the permalink.

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