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Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priest news bulletin (as narrated by a discipline priest)

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

I had just zoned into the instance when the rogue died.

I was running Temple of the Jade Serpent on the Mists of Pandaria beta as a promise to a friend who hadn't had the foresight to invite a tank or DPS. We were two healers and an enhancement shaman, organized enough to be on Vent but still ultimately at the mercy of the Dungeon Finder. My expectations were low.

All the same, six minutes later, we drew a warrior tank and a rogue. Now all we had to do was decide which healer was healing. The resto druid didn't want to DPS; rather, he "couldn't" because he only knew how to play feral and lacked a suitable weapon to actually do so. That meant by default I would have to go shadow, so I started readjusting my bars to do so.

When the druid finished resurrecting the rogue, we set right to work on our next trash pack. I found myself fumbling about, unsure why Vampiric Embrace was on cooldown and where Devouring Plague had gone. My friend, the enhancement shaman, took notice.

"When was the last time you played shadow?" he asked.

"Well, I have my rotation written on the back of an envelope I had on my desk," I replied.

Immediately he laughed, but from the way it awkwardly trailed off, I knew he was losing faith.

You can blame this on Fox

When Fox Van Allen emailed me and asked me to take his column for a spin this week, I told him I might do an interview with a reputable shadow priest. It seemed like the safest option at the time, and I think I spent a total of two minutes since then considering who I could actually interview.

At some point, I realized I didn't know many shadow priests anymore.

That was probably because like eating sushi or drinking whiskey straight up, playing a shadow priest is an acquired taste. It's a masochistic mentality, one that mixes a love for seeing big numbers with a stubbornness to just reroll to a class that offers even bigger numbers. Every shadow priest I'd ever known, including myself at times, had wanted to prove something, and we were hell-bent on doing so even if it meant putting up with a whole bunch of girly-looking armor and sparkly, golden angel-themed shit. I can't be the only priest who feels a bit uncomfortable casting Leap of Faith in Shadowform, can I?

Whether it was the decreasing popularity of 25-mans or my unsavory company that made all the shadow priests in my life vanish, it was an unfortunate circumstance for Fox's column that I would be the one butchering it this week. While there had certainly been a time where I had kept up with the best of them, my exploits as a shadow priest nowadays have been limited exclusively to the leveling experience (and even that was a simple matter of efficiency).

At level 85, it takes me an average of 16 seconds to kill a quest mob of the same level as shadow. As holy, even using Chakra: Chastise, it takes an average of 22 seconds, and you'll spend a lot more time drinking. You also can't effectively handle fighting two mobs at once, which alone is very inefficient. I often try to stress this to holy and discipline priests who have a sick and twisted desire to level in their healing specs, but they rarely listen.

Back to the story

Surprising as it was, we burned through the first three bosses of Temple of the Jade Serpent without wiping. The warrior tank seemed to have gotten his wits about and prevented the group from anymore untimely deaths. I'd also gotten the hang of my rotation, which was by no means perfect but as acceptable as one could hope to be beside a shaman decked out in heroic Dragon Soul gear. We stood before the Sha of Doubt when ...

"You have no idea where you're going with this, do you?" asked a voice. I glanced over, it was Shadowform Deathy. I had inscribed Glyph of Shadowy Friends while I was setting up my spec and bars. It was utterly useless, of course, but it was new and there was nothing else worth taking.

"Not really, no," I replied.

"Did you tell them yet that Shadow Orbs are now generated by Shadow Word: Death on beta, provided the target is below 20% health?" it asked.

"Um, no. Negative."

"Did you mention that Mind Sear has had its range raised up from 35 yards to 40? Or that Divine Insight was tweaked so that when it procs the next Mind Blast will cost zero mana in addition to being instant-cast? Did you talk about either of those news items yet? "

"No and no." I was wondering if this noncombat pet was a better shadow priest than I was.

"What are you waiting for then?" it chided me.

"There's just so little to be said about any of that, Deathy," I sighed. "The change to Shadow Word: Death is the most significant, first for increasing solo survivability. You could probably cast a fully charged Devouring Plague on every mob you fought now, or at least every other, depending on how many orbs you have when you pull the mob."

"I think they could have concluded that on their own."

"OK, fine. Well, in PvE, it should significantly increase Devouring Plague up time during the last 20%. Now that Glyph of Shadow Word: Death is incorporated into the spell itself, you should be able to generate three shadow orbs every 8 or so seconds, two from Shadow Word: Death and one from Mind Blast. Previously, you'd have only been able to get three orbs every 24 seconds unless you got a Divine Insight proc. Seeing as Devouring Plague only has a 6-second duration, this is a huge, huge buff. Does that sound correct?"

Deathy looked at me flatly and unimpressed. "You do realize when you talk to me you're talking to yourself, right?"

So we stood before the Sha of Doubt, not knowing that we were about to wipe three times due to a lack of proper dispelling and call it. In the end my DPS was as good as I could have hoped for in that situation, given that the event was entirely made up.

And that is how I told you the news in 1,000 words.

Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than back up? We've got everything a shadow priest will need, from the basics of shadow priest PvP and advice on gearing up for Raid Finder raids to the hottest trinkets and weapons for today's shadow priests.

Filed under: (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Priest

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