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Shadow priest PvP guide

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This is a fairly extensive guide on PvPing as a Shadow Priest. Hopefully, people who are new to PvPing with a shadow priest will learn a thing or two. This guide is for priests with at least 31 points talent in the shadow tree for Shadowform (requires level 40+).

Overview Edit

PVP Edit

First of all, is PvP the thing for you? PvP can be a huge adrenaline rush, but the learning curve (lots of dying) can be off-putting. 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 Shadow Priest? Edit

Shadow priests, arguably, had been one of the most powerful PvP characters overall, although less so as of present. Priest 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 two or more powerful DoT spells (up to 3), some limited healing/mitigation through Vampiric Embrace and Power Word: Shield, some 2-3 different CC techniques, such as an AoE Fear and Silence, great buffs, two or more powerful blasts, and optionally the most mana-efficient-per-damage channeling spell in the game. A Priest becomes a Shadow priest at level 40, when Shadowform becomes available, which increases damage output by 15%, decreases all damage taken by 15%, and grants your Dots the ability to crit; later talents improve shadowform even more. At the moment, Shadow is less suited to the majority of arena 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)
  • Very difficult to snare a fully talented Shadow priest, with a 15 second cooldown on Fade (glyphed and talented)


Cons:

  • While in Shadowform (vast majority of the time), it is not possible to cast any holy spells, such as heals
  • Somewhat susceptible to pushback/interrupt, with some important spells having a cast time.
  • Priests are often targeted early in PvP situations, due to limited escape mechanisms
  • Shadow Priests, and priests in general, are very buff dependent, leaving a purged shadow priest vulnerable (and rebuffing costs are...costly)
  • If silenced (counterspelled) in Shadowform, Shadow priests have very few useful spells

SlangEdit

Some terms you may hear as a priest/Shadow priest.

Slang Means
Fort, PW:F, PWF, Stam, or even just "Buff" Power Word: Fortitude
Fearbomb, Fear, PS Psychic Scream
Rez, Res Resurrection
SWP, SW:P, Pain, Shadow Word: Pain
Face Melting, Flay Mind Flay (shadow talent)
Shadow Prot Shadow Protection
VE Vampiric Embrace
HoT Healing over Time, mostly Renew (Lightwell is only situationally useful)
VT Vampiric Touch
DP Devouring Plague]
IF Inner Fire (important armor buff)

Talents Edit

Get to Shadowform ASAP. Refer to the pages on priest talent builds for more detailed information.

Spells Edit

The following figures for damage are at level 80, unbuffed, untalented, and undressed. Only spells specifically mentioned have cast times.


Devouring Plague: 25% base mana - 30 yards - "Afflicts the target with a disease that causes 1376 Shadow damage over 24 sec. 15% of damage caused by the Devouring Plague heals the caster." Toned down from the once overpowered Forsaken racial, but a vital part of a PvP shadow priest's arsenal of spells. Use whenever possible.

Dispersion: 2 min cd. "You disperse into pure Shadow energy, reducing all damage taken by 90%. You are unable to attack or cast spells, but you regenerate 6% mana every 1 sec for 6 sec. Dispersion can be cast while stunned, feared or silenced and clears all snare and movement impairing effects when cast, and makes you immune to them while dispersed." This ability can be used to avoid being focused on, to remove all snares, or to regen 30% of your mana. This is the pinnacle of the Shadow tree.

Fade: 15% base mana - 30 sec cd. The tooltip has no application for PvP, but when properly talented + glyphed, Fade is on a 15 sec cd, and immediately clears all movement impairing effects from the priest. This is like Escape Artist on crack.

Fear Ward: 3% base mana - 30 yards - 3 min - 3 min cd. "Wards the friendly target against Fear. The next Fear effect used against the target will fail, using up the ward. Lasts 3 min." Absorbs one Fear effect on the caster. Difficult to use properly. Ideally it should be cast just before the Fear effect is used, to reduce the risk that it will simply be dispelled or devoured, but this isn't always easy to predict.

Inner Fire: 14% base mana. "A burst of Holy energy fills the caster, increasing armor by 1800 and spell power by 95. Each melee or ranged damage hit against the priest will remove one charge. Lasts 30 min or until 20 charges are used." Only the later ranks provide the additional spellpower bonus. Changed in 3.0.9 to be undispellable. Very important buff to keep up, especially for the extra armor.

Mind Blast: 17% base mana - 30 yards - 1.5 sec cast - 8 sec cd. "Blasts the target for 992 to 1048 Shadow damage." This will be one of your most frequently used spells, has a cast time of 1.5 secs (quite fast), and high damage. Cooldown can be reduced to 5.5 sec with talents.

Mind Control: 12% base mana - 20 yards - 3 sec cast. "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 control a level 42. Very 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: 9% base mana - 20 yards - channeled. "Assault the target's mind with Shadow energy, causing 588 Shadow damage over 3 sec and slowing their movement speed by 50%." Your bread and butter attack, a highly mana-efficient channeled spell that does a moderate amount of damage over 3 seconds. Has NO cooldown, so it can be chain-cast indefinitely.

Mind Sear: 28% base mana - 30 yards - channeled. "Causes an explosion of shadow magic around the enemy target, causing 212 to 228 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 5 sec to all enemies within 10 yards around the target." This is a Shadow priest's AoE. Not really applicable to PvP, except for maybe keeping a flag from being capped. Does not do any damage to the target, only those around him.

Power Word: Fortitude: 27% base mana - 30 yards. "Power infuses the target, increasing their Stamina by 165 for 30 min." Needless to say, keep this on at all times.

Power Word: Shield: 26% base mana - 40 yards - 4 sec cd. "Draws on the soul of the party member to shield them, absorbing 763 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." Good idea to always throw this up if you have mana and expect to take damage.

Psychic Scream: 15% base mana - 30 sec cd. "The caster lets out a psychic scream, causing 5 enemies within 8 yards to flee for 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect." This can be reduced to a 26 second cd with the Improved Psychic Scream talent. Casting this at the right time, especially in an arena match, is the most important thing a shadowpriest can do.

Shadow Protection: 31% base mana - 30 yards. "Increases the target's resistance to Shadow spells by 130 for 10 min." Useful when fighting Warlocks and other shadow priests.

Shadow Word: Death: 12% base mana - 30 yards - 12 sec cd. "A word of dark binding that inflicts 750 to 870 Shadow damage to the target. If the target is not killed by Shadow Word: Death, the caster takes damage equal to the damage inflicted upon the target." Available to all priests at Level 62, Shadow Word: Death does less damage than MB, for less mana. The major downside to this spell, other than the 12-second cd, 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. This spell can also crit, so a Shadow priest must watch his own health bar as well, and does increased crit damage through talents. You will also want to use this as a polymorph removing spell if polymorph is casted on yourselve, instead of wasting your silence on it (or even worse trinket).

Shadow Word: Pain: 25% base mana - 30 yards. "A word of darkness that causes 768 Shadow damage over 18 sec." A very mana-efficient spell that does high amounts of damage over 18 secs. No cd, instant cast. Considered the second best instant DoT in the game,perhaps after Unstable Affliction. When talented, this spell is refreshed by casting Mind Flay on the afflicted target.

Shadowfiend: 6% base mana - 30 yards - 5 min cd. "Creates a shadowy fiend to attack the target. Caster receives mana when the Shadowfiend deals damage. Lasts 15 sec." This nifty little spell summons a Shadowfiend minion. 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 something. This is available at level 66.

Shadowform: 32% base mana - 1.5 sec cd. "Assume a Shadowform, increasing your Shadow damage by 15%, reducing all damage done to you by 15% and threat generated by 30%. However, you may not cast Holy spells while in this form except Cure Disease and Abolish Disease. Grants the periodic damage from your Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, and Vampiric Touch spells the ability to critically hit." This is the definitive spell in the whole tree, probably one of the best individual talents in the game. You should never leave this form, unless by yourself to heal up (unless you're talented quite far into discipline).

Silence 30 yards - 45 sec cd. "Silences the target, preventing them from casting spells for 5 sec." Another 21-point Shadow Talent, which requires two points in Improved Psychic Scream. A must in PvP, to interrupt healers and to stop Mages from sheeping, Warlocks from fearing, etc. Just dont use this on Mages polymorph if its casted on yourselve, use SW:D instead.

Vampiric Embrace: 30 yards. "Afflicts your target with Shadow energy that causes you to be healed for 15% and other party members to be healed for 3% of any Shadow spell damage you deal for 5 min." A 21-point Shadow Talent, also a prerequisite of Shadowform. This heals you for 15% (25% when talented) and others for 3% (5% when talented) of all Shadow damage you cause. Absolutely great in both PvP and PvE as you can't cast other healing spells in Shadowform.

Must Haves Edit

Macros Edit

Items Edit

  • PvP trinket (Insignia/Medallion of the Horde/Alliance). Use: Dispels all movement impairing effects and all effects that cause loss of control of your character. The more expensive version also gives some bonus resilience. This can be purchased from the quartermasters in Stormwind/Orgrimmar.

AddOns Edit

  • Decursive is useful in PvP, as it provides micro-unit frames (MUFs), or little translucent squares, for your group/raid members that show color-coded status ailments. For example, a sheeped or charmed unit has a red square which, when clicked, casts Dispel Magic on the unit to clear the ailment. Also works with Abolish Disease, which show up as blue squares.
  • AutoShoutOut provides chat and voice emotes at specified low mana/health levels, soulstone fades, etc. Saves having to manually type "oom", and lets your teammates know that you're just about baked.

Skills Edit

  • First Aid: Saves you having to shift in and out of shadowform to heal, which saves quite a bit of mana (gheal + shadowform = 64% base mana). Any damage taken cancels the effect.
  • Mining, Skinning, and Herbalism also grant bonuses based on skill level(extra health/extra crit/instant HoT, respectively). Most crafting professions also have one or more unique bonuses that may/may not be applicable to PvPing.

Gear Edit

  • Look at +Stamina/+resilience, +X to spellpower, with intellect as a distant third. For arena/BG PvP, stamina and resilience are a must. Drop all other stats (including +spellpower) for these 2 as they are key to survival. In short, just buy the available PvP gear aimed at Shadow priests. You will want to get pvp hit and spell penetration capped also. Missing fear will make you lose arenas.

PvP Tactics Edit

  • Disclaimer: This strategy is largely for 1 vs. 1, to familiarize a Shadow priest with another class' abilities. This is not arena/BG strategy!

As a Priest (as well as any class), to be a good player in PvP, you must be able to change your strategy depending on what your enemy is doing, as well as a whole bunch of other variables, such as terrain (you can't run up a cliff), mobs around where you're fighting, and their build/gear. So it is impossible to write a guide which encompasses all the variables. However, below is a list of possible strategies you can use against different classes:

Note that against some classes (like other casters/their teammates) it is often advisable during the start of a fight to cast dispel once or twice on an opponent (more in an arena setting, less in BGs), you can easily wipe off a lot of buffs/health with a minimum of mana. Such spells include Arcane Intellect, Power Word: Fortitude, Mark of the Wild, potion effects, Blessings, Shadow Protection and many more. It is also important to have a macro keybound for dispel that also works on yourself, to avoid having to switch targets, or to make a mouse-over macro.

Melee classes may cause a problem by running around/through you, thus making it hard to hit them with Mind Blast. In that case, Mind Flay checks its LoS when first casting the spell, and will track the target wherever they go, resulting in constant damage. If you manage to fear them or they are otherwise CCed, keep them from you as long as possible using Mind Flay/running away casting instants. This may be worth a lot more than getting some extra damage with Mind Blast/VT at the cost of damage received.

The key with priests (and all classes in pvp) is key bindings! If you have to look at your button bars to see where your Fear is, or use the mouse to click Shadow Word: Death, you're not going to be as effective. Ensure all keys are bound (including trinkets, pots, etc), and don't forget to use shift/alt/ctrl to consolidate your bindings close to your left hand (i,e, you can have "1" bound to Shadow Word: Pain and "Shift + 1" bound to Devouring Plague). Other useful tips are using shift space for Fear/PvP trinket. Quick reaction time for most spells, especially CC and shields are key to countering opponents. See also: Priest PvP guide

Death Knights Edit

Against a DK (and a warlock) don't forget to use the mostly ignored spell Shackle Undead on minions/pets. This can even be used on the 51-point Unholy DK's Gargoyle.

Always begin with Power Word: Shield, and have your finger on Abolish Disease/Stoneform. They'll likely just run up to you first, saving Death Grip (25/35 sec cd) for after fear. Dot them up, but beware of casting Vampiric Touch in melee range due to Mind Freeze (interrupt and lockout for 4 secs, similar to a warrior's pummel) being on a 10 sec cd. DKs also have Strangulate, which is on a 2-min cd, and works similar to your own Silence. Fear, and dps/shield for 8 secs or less. Dispelling a death knights diseases is a major reduction in his dps; if you find yourself doing this often, you may want to spec into the fourth tier of discipline for the mana reduction talents. You'll be death gripped back into melee range when the fear ends, and probably Chains of Iceed. This can be dispelled (Glyph of Dispel Magic ftw), or faded. You should also be aware of Anti-Magic Shell, which reduces magic damage by 75%, and prevents you from applying magic effects, i.e. dots. This, or when Summon Gargoyle (unholy), or Dancing Rune Weapon (blood) are active would be a good time to use Dispersion. Also keep in mind that DKs specced frost are capable of extreme burst at full runic power.

Death knights also have quite a few defensive cooldowns, between Icebound Fortitude, Lichborne (early frost), Unbreakable Armor (deep frost), and Bone Shield (unholy). Try to time your burst accordingly. One thing to note is that DKs are immune to fear while lichborne is active, but since they're classified as undead, they can be Shackled. Finally, as with all melee classes, Psychic Horror is quite powerful, especially to counter burst.

Druids Edit

The Druid probably is the most versatile and complex class. There are so many different specs, that it's hard to give a basic guide on how to fight them. Balance druids will be a mix of dps and healing, while resto druids won't likely cause you much defensive worry except for CC and maybe Insect Swarm, but they usually need to be CCed themselves. Feral druids should be treated much like a rogue, only with perhaps a little less CC. The Shadow priest's lack of potent burst damage gives druids an advantage. Try to dispel them whenever possible (within reason, constantly dispelling Lifebloom works in their favor, unless you're not completely clearing the stack, which causes it to "bloom"). They have very potent HoTs and Innervate. Preventing those strongly limits their survivability.

Druids in cat form are similar to rogues, and therefore dangerous. If they stealth, shield immediately. You will no doubt eat a Pounce + Maim initially. Then fear (check for Berserk buff, which clears fear and makes them immune to it), and apply DoTs while running away. They'll likely Feral Charge behind you, which dazes you. You should have shielded again while they were feared. At this point, life sucks until you can fear again. You can use Dispersion to reduce damage, and make sure Inner Fire stays active. Use Fade if you see an opportunity for escaping melee range (which you should be trying to do). Keep away from using spells with a cast time, as ferals also have Bash, which interrupts spell casting and stuns the caster. Dwarfs have a real advantage against feral druids, since they can Stoneform out of a druid's bleeds. At some point, if you manage to do enough damage, the druid might shift out and heal. If at all possible, a trinket + silence/dispel would turn the tables. Use PS as soon as possible again, and use this time to deal as much damage as possible.

Druids in caster or moonkin form are a little easier. Just use Silence judiciously (for example, STOP THEM FROM HEALING), and mana-burn/dps normally. This fight will involve some dispelling (make sure when you're dispelling that you won't run out of mana first; this will take some experimenting). Always dispel Innervate and Nature's Swiftness (Nature's Swiftness is usually macroed, so you probably won't catch this) whenever you see them. Stay out of melee range, except perhaps when fearing, to avoid getting Typhooned. This is usually your fight to win, if you play it right.

Well-played restoration druids are very hard for a shadowpriest to kill. Their mana pool is larger than yours, and they will have higher regen and very efficient heals. You will have to apply a large amount of pressure (lots of CC, which you don't really have, and avoiding being CCed yourself) and a high amount of dps to win. Again, dispel Innervate. Remember, druids can't dispel magic effects, so keep your DoTs up constantly. Another alternative is to mana burn the druid down before dpsing (make sure you have the talented Mana Burn before attempting). Although it might be difficult to take them down, they won't likely have the firepower to burn you down very quickly either.

Hunters Edit

Hunters can be quite difficult, due to Viper Sting, which is a poison effect that drains your mana. Dwarfs should burn their Stoneform here. Try to avoid Hunter's traps by learning what the animation looks like when they set them, and avoid running straight towards them if you think they've set one, as this is where it will be 90% of the time. Basically, the key to victory is a dps race, as their Viper Sting will drain 2% of your maximum mana per second. This race is not in your favor (Ghostcrawler). When fighting a hunter, keep in mind that they can use their ranged weapons on anyone 5+ yards from them, which eliminates the once famous "dead zone." You must be 5 yards or closer to get in melee range, where they will do less damage. Don't bother attacking the pet, as it has too much health to defeat quickly (the hunter will tear you up meanwhile anyway); try to CC it.

Load up the hunter with VE, instant DoTs, shield yourself, etc. Do not stop to cast spells with casting times yet, as the combined interrupt of the pet's melee and the hunter's attacks make this difficult. Instead, as you cast the above spells (instant cast), make your way towards the Hunter. When you are within fearing range, fear both the Hunter and his pet. Beware of Scatter Shot (early Survival), which lots of PvP hunters will have, and Silencing Shot (deep marksmanship), as well as Intimidation (early beast mastery; pet stun) as far as active CC is concerned. Don't forget your trinket, and Fade to remove snares/daze.

Beast Mastery hunters are very difficult to beat 1 vs 1. This is because they have Bestial Wrath and The Beast Within, which makes them and their pet immune to CC for 18 sec every 2 mins. While you should still fear them before if possible, you'll have to ride out the storm using Dispersion, keeping Inner Fire and Power Word: Shield up, and use mostly instants. If you can stay alive, the second fear will at least send the pet running for a while, giving you an advantage over the hunter (who will trinket the fear). If the hunter runs low on mana, throw a talented Mana Burn his way (ONLY if talented). Survival hunters will also have the talent Lock and Load, which will cause them to have significant burst after one of their Frost traps are sprung.

In general, this fight can only be won by out dpsing the hunter, which can only happen if he is more CCed than you are, since his dps is higher.

Mages Edit

Mages are one class that possesses the necessary amount of burst to simply blow up a Shadow priest. This is countered by keeping them CCed at all times. Once you start that up, simply dps as you would any other class with an interrupt. Use your shield as often as possible (every 15 secs), and possibly cast Mana Burn if the mage isn't focusing you.

The most dangerous thing is to let them Polymorph or Counterspell. Polymorph will give them the first shot, making it pretty difficult to survive (unless you have your PvP trinket). Take care if trinketing a polymorph, as it is spammable; you might want to Silence after trinketing. Note that polymorph can be countered using SW: Death if used a split second before polymorph is finished casting. Counterspell can completely lock out a spell school for 10 seconds if they cast it while you're casting, which would be absolutely devastating. For this reason, unless the mage has already counterspelled, try to cast instant, or near-instant spells, to reduce the likelihood of being locked out. One option is to cast Mana Burn, which a mage might counterspell, allowing you to cast freely in the Shadow school. If you are counterspelled while using a shadow spell, you still have the option of using Mana Burn, Power Word: Shield, or Dispelling buffs/debuffs.

Mages also have Invisibility, which is a 3 second cast (instant when talented) which makes them disappear until they take damage/20 seconds pass. Keep your DoTs on them, and they'll pop back into view or not use it at all. Mirror Image is a 30 seconds spell where the mage switches place with 3 low-dps copies of themselves. Don't try to Tab-target here, you'll waste time. Just stay on task/run away/use Dispersion. If possible, also dispel Presence of Mind and Arcane Power as soon as the mage uses them.

Also consider that a common PvP spec for mages is frost, and that they can activate Iceblock, making them immune to your spells, and removing any current debuffs. In addition they can spec into a talent called Cold Snap, which will reset their cooldowns on all frost spells e.g Frost Nova, Ice Block, Cone of Cold,Summon Water Elemental. Use your fear to keep the pet controlled, and if you need to remove the iceblock you can use Mass Dispel. Dispel Ice Barrier right away, as it will hinder your damage significantly. In addition, do not waste mana on self-dispelling winter chill stacks as they are replaced too quickly.

Paladins Edit

In general, there are two different types of Paladin fights: those with Ret pallys, and those with Holy pallys. Since WotLK, Paladin's endurance mana-wise has increased, and Mana Burn has become a % burn, which makes it very effective on holy specs, and much less effective on ret specs. However, as with all mana dependent classes, if their mana is low, Mana Burn becomes more useful. Keep in mind the paladin can refill all their health with Lay on Hands on a 20 minutes cd, which also restores some mana. This is not usable in arenas. While DoTs are an integral part of Shadow priest dps, all paladins can remove one magic effect at a time with Cleanse. Finally, if a paladin uses Hand of Protection, indicated by giant golden wings, they are immune to physical damage, but NOT spell damage. This only needs to be dispelled if there are physical classes attacking with you (or if you're Shadowfiend is out).

Retribution pallys are mostly an auto-attack class, with lots of survivability and a surprising amount of burst, mostly through talents rather than abilities. The key is to survive the ret pally's burst, as it's better than a Shadow priest's. They have two methods of CC, Hammer of Justice, and Repentance. The former last 6 seconds, and will likely be on a 40 seconds cd. This would be a good time to use your trinket. Repentence is about the same as a rogue's Sap, only it can be used at any time. Since they can't touch you during its duration, trinketing depends on what's going on around you. Divine Shield is the other signature paladin ability, which clears all debuffs, and makes them immune to damage for 12 secs. During this time, they only deal 50% damage. If you feel the need, Mass Dispel will clear this, allowing you to Silence attempted heals/attack bandaging/get back to dpsing. Note that Silence will also stop Paladins from using Judgements, Exorcism or Flash Heal, but not their melee attacks. To survive, use PW:S as often as possible, dispel Judgements from yourself if you can spare the GCD, use your CC as often as possible, and get out of melee range.

Holy paladins, like holy priests, heal. They are also capable of some good burst, when specced as a Shockadin. One method of fighting a holy pally is with Mana Burn. Use this often, and try to keep the Paladin at almost zero mana (very difficult). Don't forget to dispel Divine Plea WHENEVER it appears, to negate a holy paladin's longevity. If you can put enough pressure on a holy pally so that they have to spend their time healing, by all means DoT them up and burn them down, throwing in the odd mana burn for good measure. However, Cleanse is a cheap spell (only 6% base mana) and the pally will outlast you if you can't keep enough pressure. Don't forget that you have Silence, which is deadly against any healer. Also, a holy paladin's only CC will be a 1 minute cd HoJ, since they likely won't have it talented, which means you should try to stay close to them for fearing purposes. As with most healer fights, you won't be taking a lot of damage, but you'll need to avoid being CCed and cause an inordinate amout of pressure in order to bring them down.

Priests Edit

Shadow priests have an advantage over Holy/Discipline priests with Silence and more dps. Mana Burn will be used on you, and you should do likewise. If you expect a lot of priest vs priest fights, Improved Mana Burn (talent) will be useful. The main advantage other than damage capability or mana burning goes to the priest who can best counter fear effects, with WotF, trinkets, Unbreakable Will, and Fear Ward. Even Shadow Protection helps against fear, as well as mana burn, and any other Shadow effects. When fighting against another priest, getting the first long duration fear off essentially wins the fight.

As a guide for Shadow priests, this section is pretty short. You know what CC capabilities your class has. Trinket fear, apply pressure, stay calm. Don't try to dispel Pain Suppression.

Rogues Edit

From the Rogue: Priest PvP guide page:

If you catch a priest without his shields up, the fight is already yours. Stunlock him and kill him.

For most Rogue fights, just try to stay alive at the beginning by using your shield. This will not always be possible with the amount of cooldowns rogues currently have to work with. Always have Inner Fire on, as well as Fortitude (this is true all the time, not just against rogues). Use Psychic Scream as soon as possible.

Rogues will likely open with Cheap Shot (4 sec stun), and possibly Garrote (3 sec silence + bleed). Stoneform out of garrote as a dwarf. After this, you'll likely see a Kidney Shot. If you're going to use your trinket, do it here, rather than after cheap shot, since you'll have to eat the kidney shot anyway. Check for pre-emptive WotF, then fear. This will give you a couple of seconds to do some damage and shield up again. Chances are, once you apply your dots/fear, the rogue will break the fear (trinket or WotF), Cloak of Shadows (removes all debuffs, i.e. DoTs) and Vanish/Blind. Do NOT bother attacking the rogue while cloak of shadows is active (looks kind of like shadowform) as it reduces spell hit chance by 90%. Once the rogue vanishes, bandage + shield up, because the fight starts all over again. If you break a stunlock, use Fade clear poisons and run away casting instants.

It's important you shield up whenever possible, to avoid huge Ambushes or Mutilate sequences while you're stunned. Keep your DoTs up if you get a chance, and use Dispersion to avoid some of the damage while stunned. Hopefully by this time your fear is off cd again. This time, if the rogue isn't undead, they'll have to eat a full duration fear, having used the trinket the first time. Keep all DoTs on the Rogue, along with VE, and they will be unable to Vanish until the 1 min timer is up for CloS.

Other abilities to note are Kick (interrupts spellcasting, and locks the school you were casting for 5 sec, very deadly), Gouge (instant incapacitate, can only be used if you're facing the rogue), and Sap, which can only be used OOC. DO NOT trinket sap, gouge, or blind (maybe blind, but only if it's going to give you a huge 1-up), since the rogue has other, more potent, CC waiting for you, like kidney shot.

Shaman Edit

Shaman come in three flavors: Elemental (caster), Enhancement (melee), and Resto (healer). Each shaman has access to a number of totems, with which you should be somewhat familiar (list of totems). The most important three for a PvP Shadow priest are the Grounding, Tremor, and Earthbind totems. Grounding totem redirects the next harmful spell to itself, so it can absorb your silence or fear or mind blast, even a shadowfiend attack (hint, hint). This is the most important totem to watch for, and is on a 15 sec cd. Tremor totem pulses every 3 seconds and removes any charm/fear/sleep effects on the shaman's party within 30 yards. You must destroy it before fearing, if you want it to last more than a couple of seconds. Since most totems only have 5 health, a wand/staff hit/SWD, or any damaging spell is enough to destroy it. Earthbind isn't really dangerous, but can hinder you when approaching for a fear. Also, shamans have Purge, and offensive dispel which is quite cheap, and Cure Toxins, which will remove your devouring plague. The key is to keep up enough pressure to distract the shaman from using these spells. Shaman have a form of CC called Hex, which has a 1.5 sec cast on a 45 second cd. This should be interrupted with silence (unless you're saving it for a heal) or trinketed. It doesn't break immediately on damage. Also, when a shaman shifts to Ghost Wolf form, you can dispel it.

Elemental shaman will mostly be casting Lightning or Chain Lightning, Lava Burst, and various Shocks, with a little healing and totem damage thrown in. The first three spells have long cast times, so you can silence easily. Shaman shocks include Earth Shock (damage and INTERRUPT), Frost Shock (damages and slows movement by 50%), and Flame Shock (damage and DoT; amplifies lava burst). Each of these are on a 5-6 second cd depending on talents. If you get earth shocked while casting, it locks out the school you were using for 2 secs, or about 1.5 GCDs. Use this time to cast mana burn/shield/dispel, then use the remaining 2-3 seconds to cast a shadow spell with a cast time. When trying to fear an elemental, remember that Thunderstorm has a slightly larger range than psychic scream, so use caution.

Enhancement shaman are trouble for a Shadow priest. They have a large burst potential, with Flurry, Windfury, and a high critical chance. They will purge and earth shock liberally, so instants are better, unless you can put some distance between you and them (use fade to escape frost shock; dispersion to temper Flurry, which looks like a little tornado). They also have the ability to summon to summon to Spirit Wolves for 45 sec every 3 min, which can increase their movement speed, and heal based on the wolves' attacks. This is a good time to fear, hopefully, both the shaman and his pets. Although shaman have an offensive purge, they cannot dispel themselves, so DoT them up as much as possible. Keeping shields and VE up is extremely important against enhancement, as is a well timed mana burn.

Restoration shaman have 4 spells you need to worry about besides totems: Chain Heal, Earth Shield, Lesser Healing Wave and Riptide. They also have Healing Wave, but it's a long cast, so they won't likely use it very much in PvP. For chain heal and less healing wave, you should use silence as CC as often as advantageous. Earth shield can be dispelled for about the same amount of mana as it costs, which is probably less than advantageous for your smaller mana pool. Instead, wait for when the shaman applies riptide, then dispel them both at the same time.

Warlocks Edit

It is near impossible to beat a warlock who has a Felhunter out (interrupts spells and devours magic effects). Just be thankful that you're Shadow, not Holy. Warlocks come in three flavors as well: Affliction (DoTs and drains), Demonology (mixed bag, strong pet), and Destruction (like a fire mage). Warlocks have several different types of CC themselves, plus whatever their minion can do (see below). First, Fear; this is a spammable 1.5 second cast spell that lasts 10 seconds max, the effect of which is similar to psychic scream. This spell calls for a silence/breaking LoS/running through the warlock. They also have Howl of Terror on a 40 second cd. Affliction will likely have this instant cast, but otherwise it's a 1.5 second cast. Note that the effect isn't fear, but horror, but is still on diminishing returns with fear. Third, they have Death Coil, which is on a separate DR. Fortunately, this is on a 2 minute cooldown. Destruction warlocks will also have Shadowfury, which is like an expensive War Stomp on a 20 sec cd that does some damage. When you add a warlock's natural magic resistance, and extra shadow resistance, this is a very difficult fight for a priest.

For affliction warlocks, you have the choice of dispelling boatloads of debuffs/dots off yourself and minimizing damage, or being extremely offensive and going all out. Both tactics work about the same. They will probably dot you up with Corruption, Unstable Affliction, Haunt, Curse of Agony, and maybe even Seed of Corruption, although this is very rare as it locks out Corruption, which is both a major damage dealer and a self heal mechanism due to Siphon Life. Be aware of Unstable Affliction when using Dispel on yourself or others. The damage you take after dispelling scales with the Warlock's spellpower and it's base damage is twice the DoT's base damage. It is also capable of a critical strike and it silences you for 5 seconds. Even with all other DoTs on you as well, it is still often not worth the risk of accidentally dispelling Unstable Affliction. However, you probably should dispel Seed of Corruption if you're playing on a team. They'll likely also Drain Life, and fear in the meantime. Just use your trinket to get out of the most dangerous CC, shield up, fear whenever possible, and try to maximize your damage/minimize theirs. Use the break you get from silencing them wisely.

Destruction is a lot more DD type spells. They'll still use the same CC, but you'll see spells like Immolate, Chaos Bolt, Incinerate, Searing Pain, Shadowflame and Shadowbolt. Destruction has a talent called Nether Protection, which occasionally (3/10 spells) reduces damage by 30% from that spell school. This is a good time to shield/mana burn (mana burn quite effective against warlocks if you can cast it safely). Fortunately, most destruction spells have cast times, so use silence to negate a dangerous cast and give yourself some breathing room. In this fight, go all out dps, without bothering to self-dispel. If you are fast though, dispelling the Immolate/Shadowflame effect is quite valuable as it makes the warlock incapable of casting Conflagrate, an instant DD with high crit chance due to Fire and Brimstone when the Immolate has 5 or less seconds remaining, the haste effect of Backdraft for his next 3 spells, and also wastes time for a lock who tries to Conflagrate an enemy who is not Immolated, and having to use another 1.5 sec cast to put another Immolate up, it being a relatively weak DD, and yet another chance for the priest to dispel it in a timely fashion.

Warlocks deep in demonology have access to Metamorphosis, which just means you should stay right on them or 25+ yards from them, as they gain Demon Charge, a 3 second stun. Dispersion serves well during metamorphosis.

  • Felhunter: It is near impossible to beat a warlock who has a Felhunter out (interrupts spells and devours magic effects). Try to use Psychic Scream on them both early and have your Insignia of the Alliance/Horde ready, along with WotF for Undead. 5 points in Unbreakable Will will help you through the Fear and Spell Lock. Make sure you Power Word: Shield AFTER the felhunter devours your buffs so it will last long enough for you to absorb some damage. It's often a good idea to give yourself all possible buffs before combat (except if you want to time a fear ward to avoid Fear) so that the Felhunter Devours some of the more useless ones (if you're lucky). It is likely useless to try and kill an enemy felhunter by yourself, since they have huge innate magic resistance, as well as inheriting some of their master's resistance. If you have a melee friend, let them go to town. Also, devouring plague is a disease and can't be devoured off the warlock by the felhunter.
  • Felguard: The Felguard will do extremely heavy damage if ignored so try to fear it asap. Having shield and Inner Fire up is essential. Treat him like an oversized hunter's pet.
  • Succubus: The common succubus spell is Seduce, which is a charm-type spell. If you don't break it, you'll probably eat a Soul Fire, but you'll need your trinket a lot here. Always check if you accidentally have a DoT on you when you are being seduced, as it might be a waste of trinket. Also, charm and fear are on the same diminsh return counter, so it is probably used as an opener, or to interrupt a spell when the warlock is unable to do it himself.
  • Imp: Not usually out, but the best choice is usually to kill the imp immediately, since it has very low health, and can do significant damage/interruption, not to mention giving the warlock a stamina buff, improvable by talents, as well as extra crit chance when the imp crits with the Empowered Imp talent, and with the Tier 3 Demonology talent Demonic Power this just turns an imp into a minigun. An Imp is almost useless once its mana is used up, but the tier 6 Demonology talent Mana Feed makes it recover mana when the warlock does through Life Tap or Drain Mana. You still won't see it much in arena due to his small mana pool, but expect to see some in battlegrounds.

Warriors Edit

Warriors are one of the classes that Shadow priests can consistently do decently against. The number one thing to remember against a warrior is to keep your PW:S up as much as possible. Its effect is not reduced by Mortal Strike, and it starves a warrior of rage (not anymore). As with all melee types, Psychic Horror is your best friend.

Beware trying to cast spells with cast times, as a warrior has access to Pummel (4 sec interrupt on a 10 sec cd), and especially if the warrior has a shield equipped (Shield Bash; 6 sec interrupt on a 10 sec cd, and Spell Reflection; reflects the next spell within 5 sec). Warriors with shields should generally be avoided, since they are usually specced protection, making them deadly for you (see Concussion Blow, Devastate, Shield Slam, Shockwave, and Gag Order). They can essentially keep you stunned and silenced around 50% of the time. As well, be aware of Intercept, which can only be used in berserker stance. This works like Shadowstep, except that it stuns for 3 sec. Finally, Intimidating Shout is the warrior equivalent of Fear. Trinketing here is a good option.

You'll likely get pulled into combat with a warrior by Charge, which can now normally be used in combat (talents in Arms/Protection). If they don't have the talents, try to throw up an instant (VE, SW:P) to put them in combat first. It's best to use your fear as soon as possible, to get the cd running. Don't forget that warriors now have Berserker Rage available to them in all stances, which makes them immune to/breaks fear for 10 sec on a 30 sec cd. You should check for this ability, which looks like this [1] or [2]. You will be Hamstrung, which can be removed with Fade, and Rend can be removed with Stoneform. Mortal Strike doesn't affect you too much, except for reduce the amount of VE healing by 50%. Last, warriors have Shield Wall on a 5 min cd, which reduces the amount of damage taken by 60% for 12 seconds.\

Get out of Bladestorm.

Conclusion Edit

The key stats in order are:

  • Stamina (can never have enough)
  • Resilience (goal in season 5: about 900 resilience rating)
  • Intellect. Forget spirit or regen for pvp.

In organized PvP, priests are often the first target, and we need the stats to survive the initial burst. Especially in arena, it is important to time CC well for a Shadow priest to survive.

As a finishing note, I strongly advise all shadow priests to watch a few rank 13/14 shadow priests (or post 2.0.1 equivalents) in action to see how they adapt to different situations and the tactics they use. A lot can be learned from watching people more skilled than yourself.

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