Shadow Offensive Skill Changes (and a Probable Casting Priority Order)

A lot of things have changed for Shadow Priests in the Mists of Pandaria Beta. I’ve been playing around with target dummies for a while now and have a good idea of what these changes for our skills and Mastery really are:

  • Shadow OrbsMind Blast no longer consumes orbs for a damage buff, but other abilities do consume them for various uses (Shadowy Apparitions and Psychic Horror). Shadow Orbs are no longer generated by Shadow Word: Pain or Mind Flay ticks; however, three new sources have been added: casting Mind Blast yields 1 Shadow Orb (even if it misses), the on-hit component of Shadow Word: Pain yields 1 Shadow Orb (but *NOT* if it misses, unlike Mind Blast), and using Shadowy Apparition gives you a percent chance to keep an orb per Shadowy Apparition spawned (more below). Shadow Orbs do not have a timer on them — you keep them until you die.
  • Shadow Orb Power – Our mastery changed heavily with the beta, though the underlying concept did not. It still increases our DoT damage, however, you do not need to cast anything to trigger the increase: it is a flat damage increase! Additionally, Shadow Orbs aren’t consumed by Mind Blast anymore (more on that later). When the ability Shadowy Apparition is used, it consumes all of the Shadow Orbs you have and spawns an equal number of Shadowy Apparition. For each Shadowy Apparition spawned, there is a chance (equal to your Mastery’s bonus percent) that you won’t consume the orb it took to spawn that Shadowy Apparition.
  • Mind Flay – Not much has changed with this ability. Right now it does not refresh Shadow Word: Pain’s duration on the target because it lacks an appropriate glyph. Hopefully this will change.
  • Shadow Word: Pain – Gained the on-hit damage component from Devouring Plague (same damage as 1 tick). Can still be placed on multiple targets.
  • Vampiric Touch – The effects of Devouring Plague have been rolled in to Vampiric Touch (sans the on hit binary damage that Devouring Plague had). Vampiric Touch gives a flat 15% health back for any damage that it causes. If you get the Tier 3 talent From Darkness, Comes Light, Vampiric Touch has the added effect of a 20% chance per tick of making your next Mind Spike instant cast *and* not remove DoTs on your target. Can still be placed on multiple targets.
  • Mind Spike – No changes. Mind Melt is available via a glyph (no changes to it, either). As mentioned above, the Tier 3 talent From Darkness, Comes Light, causes Mind Spike to become instant cast and not remove DoTs on your target.
  • Mind Blast – No longer consumes Shadow Orbs, but instead generates 1 Shadow Orb per cast. This has become an ‘enabler’ spell in our rotation to allow us to use secondary abilities and summon Shadowy Apparitions.
  • Shadowy Apparitions – These are no longer spawned from moving around or from Shadow Word: Pain ticks. Shadowy Apparitions is now a skill that has no cooldown (just GCD) and consumes all Shadow Orbs you have (with a chance to not consume the orb, based on mastery, as described above). Each Shadowy Apparition moves towards the target and does damage (just as before).
  • Shadow Word: Death – This spell’s mechanics are largely unchanged, except that the old Shadow Word: Death glyph’s two mechanics have been folded in to the base ability: if you don’t kill your target the cooldown is reset if your target is below 20% health (once per 6 sec), and, Shadow Word: Death does 4 times the damage if against a target that is under 20% (glyph was under 25%). Additionally, if you get the Tier 5 talent Divine Insight, Mind Blast has a 40% chance on hit to give a proc that makes the next Shadow Word: Death behave as if the target is below 20% health.
  • Shadowfiend – No real changes.
  • Mind Sear – No real changes.
  • Vampiric Embrace – No longer a buff for us, now an on-use ability on a decent cooldown (3 min). When activated it will heal all allies for 50% of the damage done on your next spell cast. From my testing, only the first tick of Mind Flay counts to the total healed.
  • Psychic Horror – Consumes all Shadow Orbs and causes Horror effect for 1 – 4 seconds (1+#orbs).
  • Silence – Core ability now. Shadow Priests are officially on interrupt backup duty (45sec CD).
  • Dispersion – No real changes.


Now that you know what the changes are (and how they play together), here area  few things I’ve noticed:

  • Every 2nd Mind Blast guarantees that you will have 3 Shadow Orbs because of Shadow Word: Pain also giving you 1 Shadow Orb. After your 2nd Mind Blast (r recast of Shadow Word: Pain) you should queue up Shadowy Apparitions so that you don’t stay orb-capped for any longer than you need to. This means that, at most, you should be using Shadowy Apparitions once every 17.5 seconds, usually shorter.
  • Because Shadowy Apparitions don’t always consume all of your Shadow Orbs when summoned, it is very likely that you will restart this ‘2 Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Pain’ sequence with one or more Shadow Orbs.
  • You have to recast Shadow Word: Pain AND Vampiric Touch right now. Because of the on-hit for Shadow Word: Pain giving a Shadow Orb, I suspect that SWP will not have a glyph added to be refreshed by Mind Flay.
  • Depending on what Talents you take, your rotation can fairly straight forward or very dynamic thanks to procs and Shadow Orbs.


Based upon this, I’m suspecting a priority casting system of something like this, assuming you have Divine Insight and From Darkness, Comes Light, and, the Mind Melt and (TBA) SWP/MF glyphs:

Vampiric Touch, Shadow Word: Pain, Shadowfiend
Shadowfiend (if off CD)
Shadow Word: Death (sub 20% OR with Divine Insight proc)
Shadowy Apparitions (3 Shadow Orbs)
Shadow Word: Pain IF 2 Shadow Orbs AND more than 2 GCD CD on Mind Blast
{Dark Archangel / Power Infusion, if you took them instead of From Darkness, Comes Light / Divine Light}
Shadow Word: Pain (recast)
Vampiric Touch (recast)
Mind Blast (with Mind Melt)
Mind Spike (with From Darkness, Comes Light proc)
Mind Blast (normal)
Mind Flay


Next post I’ll deal with some math behind all of the new spells, including proc probabilities.

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