Posted by: innerfire | November 12, 2006

Shadow Priests in Raids

I’ve noticed a few hits here and there of people searching for information (or porn for all I know) on shadow priests and raiding. I used to be a raiding shadow priest. You can be a perfectly good shadow healer, you just need gear to make up for those lost +mana pool/+healing talents. You can be DPS, and on Cenarion Circle resides one of the best shadow priests I’ve ever met, Niala. Go bug her. :D

Long ago and far away, there was a thread on the forums that discussed the role of shadow priests in raids, and how they could be useful. This was not from a shadow priest, or even a priest (as I remember) but just from a fellow who led raids. That thread is long gone, unfortunately. I wrote A Shadow Priest in Molten Core which dealt lightly with it, but I referenced a stickied thread that’s now gone. So, here we go.

There are three “modes” for a shadow priest, and you are going to need more gear than anyone else if you want to pull it off. A good shadow priest not only knows how to heal and how to damage, but when. Priests are healers. We really can’t help it, so you ultimately have to get used to it. You won’t be OMGDPS right away. Earn your stripes as a healer, and occasionally mention that it’d be useful to have vampiric embrace with the warlocks or OTs.You will almost always will be on raids that need them to heal, whether it’s part of the time or full time.

As a note, all the specs linked are just suggestions. Do what you will, but keep in mind some of the critical talents I try to keep.

The Gear:

+int : increases your mana pool and effectiveness of spells, as well as crit chance.
+damage (or +shadow) : increases damage done depending on the cast time of the spell.
+damage/healing : increases damage and healing by the same number, but likely for less than a raw piece of +damage OR +healing. Especially important for half-and-half healing/damage.
+healing : Your heals are smaller and cost more, so +healing is an effective way to make up for it without respeccing to healbot.
+mana/5 sec : Effectively increases your mana pool, as you’ll be regening while casting. Shadow healers don’t get “regen breaks”, so this is absolutely critical to your success. I suggest at least 40/5 sec along with a good number of potions, and Meditation (disc tree).
Full Healing: (shadow reach is good for tossing DoTs without getting close)

This is when you drag out as much +int and +mana/5 sec gear as you can humanly get. Add some +healing if you can as well, but the mana regen is what you’ll need most. Lacking some of the “healer only” gear and certain Disc talents, your mana pool is going to be small. Your heals are going to be smaller and cost more, so you need a large mana pool to make up for that. And unless you’re tri-spec, greater heal isn’t that useful to you. However, I highly suggest getting Improved Renew if nothing else in Holy, if you expect to be Full Healing or Half-and-Half most of the time. Renew is your mana conservative friend.

The key with full healing is, along with gear, to be pretty damn stingy with heals. You’re most likely going to be assigned to decursing or healing groups, rather than dealing with MTs and OTs, because your heals aren’t as good. Nothing wrong with that, but because the MT is holding aggro, you only really need to use renews to keep people up, and a flash heal/shield if they’re taking a harsh beating (ex: mages AOEing whelps in BWL suppression rooms). RENEW IS YOUR FRIEND.

Throw up rank one SW:P for Shadow Weaving, but otherwise don’t worry too much about DPS outside of boss fights.


You won’t be in shadowform, but you can throw DoTs and occasionally Mind Flay while still throwing renews. This is the most mana intensive, and it’ll take practice to keep from spending all your mana within the first few minutes of a fight. DoTs are priority (Shadow Word: Pain is the highest dps for the mana cost/time DoT in the game, for now) because those’ll keep damaging while you take care of squishy people. Swap your +healing for +damage/healing gear.

Silent Resolve is critical, because the damage/healing from Vampiric Embrace (damage done and healing given) stacks for your aggro, and combine that with renews and damage… you’re going to be popular with monsters.

Full Damage

What every shadowpriest dreams of. We’re not mages, and we’re not warlocks. We’re semi-burst, moderate sustained damage. If you don’t have threat reduction talents, all that sustained damage is going to catch up with you. Niala was able to top the charts in Molten Core raids, but she also pulled aggro like a mofo, and died multiple times each raid. The key is keeping that damage sustained and drawn out over periods of time. Renew draws out healing aggro over time; do the same for keeping a balance of aggro/damage.

+damage, +int gear is your friend here. If you still have to heal once in a while (lack of healers, etc) then get +damage/healing gear.

As a general rule for all these, fading fairly regularly will reduce aggro by about 700-800. Just keep an eye on your threat meters or use good judgement, because you may need that fade in a critical moment. It’s better to never pull aggro (as tanks have to chase a mob down) but it happens, and the faster you send it back to the tank, the happier the raid will be.

I’ll conclude with a quote from the forums by a priest named Erii:

Shadow priests are not mages, they don’t do the same thing as mages. While a mage of equal skill and gear will probably out dps a shadow priest, the shadow priest is not defined only by the dps he puts out. A shadow priest brings utility to a raid. VE, VT, spot healing and really good dps with the appropriate experience and gear. Shadow priests are the only class that can passively restore hp and mana (in the BC) while dpsing. With the better mana efficiency and raid versatility that shadow priests are recieving in the Burning Crusade, I don’t see why a raid wouldn’t want to have 1-2. As a raiding disc/holy priest, I’d be glad to have the extra regen from vt and it’d be nice seeing one less priest suffering from healing burnout.

And one last one, from a warlock named Aaryndon:

I lead a raid that runs 4 warlocks, generally.

Three of those locks are ALWAYS in the top 10 on the damage charts for the entire run. In fact, at least 2 of those 3 are usually in the top 5, and I personally am generally a contender for the number 1 slot, finishing second or third otherwise.

I use no consumables, either.

You guys need to get it out of your head that your warlocks are just a utility gruntwork class. Let us get a CoS up there and let us cut loose with DPS and we’ll smash face against evenly geared classes in all but a VERY few boss encounters in the game, and most all trash mobs.

Shadow Priests for the win.



  1. Now that the Burning Crusade patch has come out with it’s level 70 instance, people are realizing, “Hey! Shadow priests can’t heal these level 70 instances, even with 9k mana, 30 MP5, and +1000-1200 healing. All priest must spec Holy or Holy/Disc, NOW!”
    As a level 70 shadow priest [Char: Healthgiver(Ironic that I’m shadow… but think of vampiric embrace!) Server: Ner`Zhul] I have found and will agree, it is ‘almost’ impossible for a Shadow or Disc/Shadow priest to heal a level 70 instance such as Black Morass, Steamvaults, or Shadow Labyrinth.
    That fact has brought around a new very strong stereotype that all priest must be spec’d Holy or Disc/Holy. I have been able to lesson the straight-forward view of this stereotype by weeding my way as dps into several instance runs with Resto Shammies or Holy Priests as the main healers and at the every single run the Main Healer has said, “Oh-em-gee! I

  2. I, on the other hand, see a much greater demand for shadow priests on my server, Stonemaul. Shadow priests are almost always the top on damage meters, can throw a shield on a mate when he is critically low in health before the healers can catch up with a heal, and can switch to healing when other healbots are out of mana or dead. With holy paladins/resto shamans/druids doing just as a fine job in healing (and they last longer if they pulled aggro), my guild is abundant with shad priests but only 2 disc/holy. Everyday I see “LF Shad priest for heroic ___” on chat channels and I am glad that we are finally given the respect we deserve!

  3. As shadow priests our only problem in BC is our mana pool but with nice mp5 we can out DPS anyone both in PvE and with decent +dmg gear pwn anyone in PvP

  4. Занимаюсь дизайном и хочу попросить автора отправить шаьлончик на мой мыил) Готов заплатить…

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