Shadowpriest stat priorities

In the old days, out DoTs could not crit, Haste only reduced our Global Cooldown and thus Spelldamage reigned supreme. Many things changed, and all spellcasting classes have become much more egalitarian. Our DoTs benefit normally from Haste and Crit, issues with recasting DoTs when you get a spellpower buff have been fixed and even our Mastery now is useful.

1) Spell Hit (Until Hit Cap)

In a raiding situation, your DPS does not matter if you cannot reliably hit your target. Because of this, we need the Spell Hit stat, which reduces the chance for bosses to resist our spells. You need 15% Hit to have no spells be missed on a boss (= Hit Capped). Experienced Shadowpriests should be able to go with 13% Hit and not worry about it.

Shadowpriests gain an amount of Hit rating equal to their Spirit. Draenei priests have a 1% bonus to Spell Hit due to their Heroic Presence. Expertise on items also gives Hit, but usually these items are more Hunter- or Melee-related. Humans, Dwarves and Trolls get a 1% Expertise bonus on some weapons (maces, swords, wands) and this bonus translates into a Hit bonus for spells. So these races only need 12-14% Hit on gear to be comfortably hitting their raid targets.

Your Shadowfiend or Mindbender has the same Hit bonus as you do, meaning that if you are hitcapped, your pet will not miss either.

2) Intellect

Damage is king, and despite everything else, Spellpower is still a very efficient way to increase your overall damage. Spellpower does not affect all your spells equally however; some spells only add part of your Spellpower to their damage (or damage per tick), which we refer to as the Spell Coefficient. Since patch 4.0.1, Spellpower has been removed from most items, and you gain Spellpower directly from your Intellect rating.

Intellect in Mists of Pandaria will no longer give Mana, meaning its use is lessened and needs to be evaluated compared to secondary stats when going for enchants or gems. With gems usually having double the secondary stat as before, Int/Haste and Int/Hit or Int/Spi gems become a little more useful.

3) Haste

Haste and Crit are values that you want to have a certain balance to. It may seem a bit mystical, but I’d say that having a 2:1 ratio would be ideal. Haste makes us cast our spells faster, so we go out of mana faster. It also allows us more “checks for whether we crit or not” per time frame.

As an aside, Haste does not work like most people think; it does not reduce the cast time by X%, it simply dictates the speed at which spells are being cast. So 100% haste will reduce the casting time by half. Imagine this:

  • We cast 1-second spells, 25% crit chance, 0 haste, 1000 damage on a normal hit.
  • In 12 seconds we cast 12 spells, 3 of which crit for 2000, 9 deal 1000 damage.
  • Total damage done = 15k over 12 seconds (1250 DPS)
  • We cast 1 second spells, 25% crit chance, 100% haste, 1000 damage on a normal hit.
  • In 12 seconds we cast 24 spells, 6 of which crit for 2000, 18 deal 1000 damage.
  • Total damage done = 30k over 12 seconds (2500 DPS)

As you can see, the benefits of Crit are obvious. However, Haste allows you more crit chances over the same period of time, as well as more spells cast (and thus damage done) in that same time frame. This is why Haste increases your DPS more than straight Crit does. A balance between Haste and Crit of about 1:2 will ensure a comfortable damage curve with enough crits for your Shadowfiend cooldown.

Haste is currently one of our best stats, and you should seek it out over Crit and Mastery. Haste and Mastery also have a positive relationship, meaning that having more of the one will make the other more valuable.

4) Crit/Mastery

Crit and Mastery have about equal values at the moment. Mastery and Crit both simply deal double damage effectively. As they are cumulative (a double hit and a crit) this means that even though Crit benefits the cooldown on Shadowfiend, you still want to balance them out. This allows you maximum damage without hitting the diminishin returns too hard.

Edit 18/1/2013: From my own experiences this expansion, I have to conclude that while Haste is top priority, Crit and Mastery change the way we deal our damage. Crit will increase the value of all our spells, but by a margin less than Mastery does – this makes Crit a superb stat for single-target fights. It also synergizes well this way with Mindbender, allowing us to use it frequently. As for Mastery, it will increase our DoTs – but also Mind Flay and Mind Sear. This makes this stat the go-to for heavy AoE fights and multi-dotting fights.

25 Responses to “Shadowpriest stat priorities”

  1. skmisu Says:

    out of curiosity, when was this updated? because our DoTs DO benefit from crit as of WoTLK

    • Short answer: it hasn’t been. As I’ve posted a little while back I am tracking back through my blog to update the older posts, but that is going to take a while.

      On a totally theoretical point; DoTs still cannot crit baseline. It is only with the Shadowform ability to make DoTs crit that we achieve this; in other words, the DoT of a Discipline priest still will not crit.

  2. This page should now be relevant for 3.1. Please let me know if you find any more pages out of date. The limits of the free WordPress engine (instead of self-hosting) mean I am restricted to a slower way of browsing and organizing the site.

  3. Thanks for updating the information! I got my alt shadow priest to 80 this week, and your blog has been an awesome resource for me as I leveled him. Keep up the good work!


  4. This page has now been updated to 4.0.1.
    Expect a giant revamp when Cataclysm hits live.

  5. Heydy "Anderhall" shadow priest Says:

    Dude tgat information is Epic ty very much.

    Question: what is my cap fo spell penetration and what should i stack on?

    U can email me @

    • Spell Penetration is a pure PvP stat, and even there it is not very useful. You could stack a little bit of it (40 or so rating) but to be honest, you are better off prioritizing Intellect, Resilience and Haste in PvP.

      In PvE, we stack Hit to be hitcapped, then Intellect > Haste > Crit > Mastery.

      • spell pen not very useful? Of course it is. It negates resistances. the new pen cap is 240.

        • Spell Penetration is of some use in PvP, yes. But most people prefer to get more resilience, Haste or Crit instead.

          In PvE, Spell Penetration does nothing as bosses now simply have a certain amount of Crit suppression instead and has been reported unmitigatable in any way (like Glancing Blows for melee classes)

          Only a few bosses have an energy resistance (Supremus in Black Temple, Hungarfen in Underbog, Rage Winterchill in CoT: Mount Hyjal) and even when that was progress content, Spell Penetration was not considered to be of use in those fights.

  6. It may seem a bit mystical, but I’d say that having a 1:2 ratio would be ideal. I can’t confirm this though, so I will soon be going through the maths at, and hope to find something conclusive.

    Hi mate well it mystical in deed :D cause in simple maths it doesnt matter.

    1:2 or 2:1 is just same DPS :D

  7. One thing that you’re off is the absolutely black & white you have painted hit to be. Quite frankly being hit cap at this gear content is pointless and is a dps gimp atm. Both theorycrafters in and have come to agreement that it is not necessary to be hit cap. My opinion to hit is that at about 15% is good enough, some claim that they go as low as 8% and do fine. But I have noticed that below 15% in movement fights having VT, MB, MF, DP miss sucks and may throw of shadow orb uptime.

    • It is true that it’s currently not feasible to be hitcapped all the time – however it isn’t really hard to reach hit cap, plus 12-14% crit and 15% haste with average Epic gear.

      However, reaching the hit cap is a good priority to go for still, since every spell that misses is a DPS loss for several reasons. First, it means you wasted the time casting the spell, or the GCD for an instant spell. Second, you will have to spend that same time again to recast the spell. Third, since DoTs start ticking a second or so into the spells’ duration, you delay the dealing of damage by that amount of time.

      Refreshing DoTs and missing is not a problem, if you manage to have enough time to spare to try again. Once your DoT drops off, you have to face the start-up delay for DoT damage.

      This means that missing is an incredible loss of DPS when you are starting up in a fight, or when switching targets, or when your DoTs drop off for any other reason. When it happens to me, it is drop from 15-16K dps during a boss fight down to 12-13K.

      So while 15% is fine and you will hardly see more than a few spells miss during a fight (or even an evening) you will find that if you are having a bad spot of misses, you will simply drop off a lot in damage.

      Whether this is worth is, is an RNG versus Big Damage discussion. It’s been done before – but I simply rather see regular and predictable damage over spikes myself.

  8. Draenei no longer share their Heroic Presence with raid or party members.

  9. TooSalty Says:

    I disagree with this a little bit.

    I think Hit is not important for a spriest since most spells are instant. If it misses reapply right away. The stats points we saved to convert to Haste and Crit should help with DPS IMO.

    • I made a post about it, and there’s quite a lot of theorycraft on it. You need a quick eye to catch a miss on a spell, which costs mana and a GCD. It might also delay casting Mind Blast, which is another DPS loss.

      Experienced Shadowpriests who are comfortable with their spellcasting will have no problem adjusting, so dropping to about 15% Hit would be no issue. However, since this list is mainly targeted to starting Shadowpriests who might not have their muscle memory trained for such adjustments yet, I would still advise them to get more hit to smooth things out.

      Once you have a good grasp of Shadowpriesting, relaxing your Hit requirements in favor of Haste/Crit is a fine thing to do.

  10. Hi,

    Quick question, I have my weapon enchanted with +81 SP. Is there anything else worth replacing this enchant?

  11. These facs are all wrong..!
    ur getting hit from spirit, which means reforging and gemming hit is a major waste.

    If ur raiding, u don’t want to go haste, u want to go mastery! When u got the ShadowOrb stack of three, ur mindblast hits for 50k (non-crit).. so if u want to top the dps, go mastery! Haste is for PvP, since u have to kite alot :)

    Never, ever in my life have I ever seen a Priest with crit.. so Don’t even think about it ; /

    a little fact u might want to know.. every undead has a resistance against shadowdmg, so spellpen can be used in PvE.. and the fact that ur saying, that spellpen is not even usefull in PvP? u rly don’t have much PvP exp right?

    ur right about intellect.. gz!

    • 1) Indeed, you get Hit from Spirit. As noted in the post you replied to. Reforging to Spirit is not a waste, since you will lose a lot of DPS if you miss consistently. Elitist Jerks and (as well as discussions on this blog) agree you don’t necessarily need to cap your hit – 15% seems to be plenty, with Hit Cap only needed if you are unsure about your skills. For instance, if you are new to Shadowpriesting. Gemming for Hit or Spirit isn’t needed, although to match a good socket bonus (of +20 Int or at least +30 in Haste or Spirit if you are not Hit Capped) you might want to use a Purified gem.
      In response to your comment, we need the Hit from Spirit, but not the Spirit itself.

      2) Haste is still the number 1 stat. Now that Firelands gear is out and we routinely end up with 30% haste or more, raiding Shadowpriests stack up on Mastery as a second stat. This is not done for the Mind Blast crits (although they are nice with the 4piece T12) but for the Empowered Shadows buff. This buff gives all our DoTs the same damage buff, and it goes up with Mastery. In PvP, the traditional kill combos are either dotting up our targets, or using MS-MS-Insta MB-SW:D-SW:D. Kiting is not useful since we have no spells we can cast on the run except for our DoTs. If you mean avoiding melee targets then yes, we “kite” a lot.

      3) There are Shadowpriests who focus on Crit a lot, and they are successful too. Granted, they will be 1-2K DPS below a Haste/Mastery Shadowpriest, but during AoE phases or when casting SW:D below 25% they will out-dps them again by a large margin. I’d never recommend going Crit/Mastery over Haste/Mastery though, because it also makes for a rather nervous playstyle. Your DPS will be going up and down like a rollercoaster – like how Arcane Mages feel a lot of the time.

      4) Spell Penetration can be used in PvE against mobs and bosses that have Shadow Resistance. But in Cataclysm there are very few of those, and they are mostly trash. And since we maximize our gear based on bosses, this stat is still irrelevant. All bosses do have a flat resistance which cannot be removed or mitigated (not even by spell penetration). In PvP, a small measure of Spell Penetration can be useful for Prayer of Shadow Protection and natural Shadow Resistance from Undead and Draenei. From ArenaJunkies and SkillCapped, the basic surmise is you can suffice with only using the Spell Penetration cloak and be served well.

      5) Yes, Intellect is our number one stat as it is will all casters. No matter what, all our gear needs it and we will gem and enchant for it as well. It allows us to read posts intelligently so that we do not make comments stating the exact opposite of common wisdom without proof, it improves our spelling and allows us to enjoy sarcasm and irony.

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