All pretense aside if you are looking to min-max as much as humanly possible on your Spriest, there are 2 top race choices (as they are for many classes) - Worgen and Goblins. The current theorycrafting puts Goblins ahead as the #1 choice for Spriests as haste contributes more to our DPS than crit. I would personally place Blood Elves, my race of choice for Spriesting, at third in the lineup for their Arcane Torrent ability, which really proves invaluable at keeping your mana up.
- Talent Tree
You're not a shadow priest until level 10 when you get your first delicous shadowy talent point. Aside from that first talent point (which should be placed directly into Darkness) just for choosing the shadow tree you will be rewarded with the shadow priest quintessential spell, Mind Flay. Make this spell your best friend. It is a channeled Damage over Time (DoT) spell and it is the core of being a shadow priest. The grind until about level 80 is more or less a no-brainer talent wise and there is already a more than sufficient point-by-point guide to the leveling process penned by shadow priest columnist Fox Von Allen over at Wow Insider. The link to that guide is:
What you're going to want to keep up with in addition to your Talents while leveling are your glyphs. While Minor Glyphs are largely pretty useless (aside from Glyph of Levitate which is practical and FUNNNNNnnn) there are some major and prime glyphs that become cornerstones of your rotation. You'll gain your first of all three types of glyph at level 25.
A. Level 25 Glyphs: For minor, I would recommend Glyph of Fading, as it is the only relevant glyph that will actually affect an ability you currently have. It will also stick with you all the way through 85 as nothing is really better than it.
For Major, Glyph of Psychic Scream is the only choice that will benefit you right at 25. This will make your psychic scream spell cause the targets it hits to tremble in place instead of run, causing you much less problems if you use it. However, by far the most powerful Major glyph in the game is Glyph of Spirit Tap, returning a huge portion of your mana to you if you kill a target with Shadow Word: Death, a spell you won't get until level 32.
For Prime, we run into the same problem. You have access to the Glyph of Shadow Word: Death (SW), allowing you to use SW twice in a row instead of once, dealing out TONS of damage in the execute (Target below 25% health) phase and giving you a second chance to activate glyph of spirit tap and get that mana regen going. BUT, we don't have SW yet. So, for the time being, take your pick between Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain (SW:P), and Glyph of Mind flay. I would probably go for Mind Flay, but both provide a 10% damage increase and your tactic at this point should pretty much be throw up SW:P and flay the target to death.
What you can do is choose to go with Glyph of Pyschic Scream and one of the other prime glyphs until you hit level 32 and then use vanishing powder to remove them and pick up Spirit Tap and SW glyphs but it isn't entirely necessary. If you don't, however, you will have to wait until level 50 for your next glyph slots.
B. Level 50 glyphs: Minor: Pick up Glyph of Levitate. It is so much fun.
Major: If you haven't picked up Glyph of Spirit Tap yet, do so. If you're already sporting it, pick up the Glyph of Psychic Scream.
Prime: If you haven't picked up Glyph of SW yet, do so. If you're already sporting it, pick up the Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain, or Mind Flay.
C. Level 75 Glyphs. Minor: Glyph of Shadowfiend is the last thing thats even remotely useful.
Major: Pretty useless slot, I chose to run with Glyph of Dispel Magic, for that little bit of healing and raid utility. Just a bonus to keep debuffs off your friends.
Prime: There's some debate as to whether to have both Glyph of SW:P and Glyph of Mind Flay, or to remove one (probably SW:P) and grab Glyph of Dispersion. The main argument is more mana regen but I don't really find it that necessary, as of yet. But, as of writing this post I am not at level 85 and raiding. I prefer to have the damage increase, and between Shadowfiend, Arcane Torrent, Dispersion at regular cooldown, replenishment, the glyph of spirit tap, and the Dark Archangel cooldown, I feel pretty covered on mana regen.
II. The Final Stretch: The leveling experience of 80-85
If you were an Spriest decked out in ICC epics when Cata hit, rockin’ about 30%+ crit and haste, you were just coming off of enjoying a moment in the spotlight for Spriests, with us easily topping damage meters in ICC with fights almost seeming tailor made to compliment Spriest mechanics. The beginning of Cata was a breeze for me as well, burning through mobs and having little to no mana problems…
It’s around level 83 when it hits, when quest rewards start to look surprisingly appealing compared to your epics, when mobs just don’t seem to want to die, and when you notice your mana move down significantly from just a spell or two and that you’re rarely critting with Mind Flay, and Shadowfiend is staying on CD a LOT longer. That’s when you realize, “Oh man… I’ve been getting weaker.” And you HAVE been getting weaker. Every time you level up, it takes more rating to gain 1% of any given stat. So, as you level, though your haste and crit rating remains the same, your haste and crit chance decline. Also, your maximum base mana increases with each level, which you might think is a good thing, but all of your spells use a percentage of that base mana, therefore increasing exponentially since the gear you are now getting, although better than ICC epics, is still Cata greens, so your added intellect from gear vastly drops below the curve.
Even if you weren’t in epics before, this transitional phase, from WotLK to Cata, will be a grueling one. Quest mobs are tough! They have TONS of health, and they hit hard enough to drop a flimsy Spriest PW:S in 1 hit flat. Vampiric Embrace has also been noticeably gimped. You can’t enter a battle at 50% health and come out with more any longer. Get used to dropping Shadowform in between (sometimes during!) fights to heal yourself. Get used to drinking again… and your character will also need to drink to recover mana as well. XD
Don’t get me wrong, Cata is fun! It’s hella fun. Much more fun than WotLK, but it’s challenging, much more challenging. However, for me, this is precisely WHY it’s much more fun that WotLK. You just have to be prepared for the playstyle changes coming. Also, Spriesting is not “gimped” or anything. Trust me, I still churn out damage and am more useful in ways never utilized in WotLK, which we’ll get into. This is solely and completely a gear issue. Blizz wanted to tackle that infinite blue rage bar called mana that casters had previously. They wanted casters to care about it again, to use restraint when managing it. They succeeded. Because of this, we are much more dependent on gear quality than ever before, because we must have more intellect. It’s not only intellect you lack during this phase, it’s basically everything. Haste decreasing is the least of your worries because you don’t have the mana to throw away spells like bullets in a Bruce Willis movie any more. Crit is the one that hurts. Crit gets Shadowfiend off of CD, and you will need your retarded shadow companion more than ever in this expansion.
I hammered out no sure fire rotation for the grind from 81-85. Mind Spike is good, but costly. It’s efficient to use at first, but mob health gets quite high. PW:S won’t hold up through damage so expect spell pushback, which means DoT’s are good. What you sue is really up to you. I’ve heard a leveling spec using the talent Paralysis can help, but I managed just fine without it.
- Reputation is Important!
Zones to level in are in shorter supply in Cata than most expansions, but some easy choices that will benefit you later are Hyjal and Deepholm. The Guardians of Hyjal faction gives you shoulder enchants at revered and Therazane rep gives you your head enchant… might as well spend your leveling days getting rep with these factions.
You’ll get to 85, you’ll manage, but it just might feel uncomfortable, you’ll feel a little bit too weak at first, especially coming off of that ICC high, if you were there for it.
III. Cataclysm Stat Priorities: Preliminary Numbers
First off, I’m not a number cruncher or theorycrafter or any such thing. I suck at math, and all the numbers I use are gathered from other sources which I will give proper credit for. That doesn't stop me from reviewing the numbers and digesting it in my own way to pass on to others. These numbers I’m about to show you were originally crunched on Shadowpriest.com and further consolidated and posted by Fox Von Allen at Wow Insider. This is the first round of numbers released about stat priority for Spriests in Cataclysm, whether or not they are set in stone is not certain, but there are some surprising things revealed.
1 intellect = 1.00 PP (standardized)
1 spellpower = 0.79 PP
1 haste = 0.50 PP
1 critical strike = 0.40 PP
1 mastery = 0.39 PP
1 spirit = 1 hit = 0.37 PP (for each point under the hit cap)
The initials PP stand for Pseudopower, a standardizing unit used to compare Spriest stats to one another. The numbers in their original (but much harder to see and compare) form are located on Shadowpriest.com, but for my purposes here this is plenty.
What should immediately stand out with glaring clarity and spark most seasoned wow players, Spriest or not, to say "WAITAMINUTE THAT CAN'T BE RIGHT!" is the appearence of Spirit/Hit (One and the same for Spriests thanks to the talent Twisted Faith) at the bottom of the priority list. Taken literally, this would mean taking any of these other stats over hit as the best choice for gearing, including reforging hit/spirit OFF of gear for other stats. My research into the subject has shown that several things are causing this stat to seem so underpowered for Spriests specifically. The main reasons can be broken down into the insane inflation of stat points necessary to cause significant gains in things like hit and haste etc... and the way that Spriests uniquely deal damage.
A. Stat Inflation
~446 hit rating is what was necessary to achieve what is known as the "hit cap" in Wrath, which guarantees any spell you cast to hit a target of any level. The golden rule in WoW for time eternal has been hit the hit cap first, it has always been the #1 priority above anything until that cap, when afterwards it immediately becomes the least desirable. Every time the level cap is increased, however, you must gain more rating for the desired effect. So, how much hit rating do you assume we would need at level 85 considering 446 is what we needed at 80... 700? 800? 900? 1,000 maybe? No, the hit cap number would be an astonishing 1,741 hit rating to be hit capped, ensuring 100% success of all spells landing at level 85. Obviously, this cuts deeply and severely into what other, more fun and desirable stats that you can stack up on. "Still," you say, "if I'm not hitting my target I'm not dealing damage at all, how CAN'T hitting be first priority?" Well, first of all, the numbers lie at least partially. You do still need hit rating, it is not as undesirable a stat to start stripping it off your gear, but, being completely hit capped may no longer be the utmost priority for us, and this is a unique consideration applying only to us Spriests.
B. Shadow Priest Spells
Aside from one misguided Dev who in Blizzcon's Q+A referred to people recognizing Spriests as "incredibly bursty" with our damage, anyone who knows anything about an Spriest knows we do low burst damage or damage per second (DPS), but incredibly high damage overall, because of our unique damaging nature. I'm talking DoT's here, of course. DoT's up on every time. Even our spammable spell is a channeled DoT, and we rely very little on our main damage rotation nuke, Mind Blast. With this in consideration, our DoT's dole out damage time and time again without us having to recast. The only chance a DoT has to miss is on its initial cast, and TWO of our three main DoT's are instants, expending only the GCD in time. With the changes in Cataclysm, this also holds true of Mind Flay, which can ONLY miss on its initial cast. If it hits, all three ticks of damage are going through. Of course, we don't want to have 0 hit rating, even if that were possible, because we'd like to have to recast spells as little as possible. But, contrast our damage rotation with another spell dps class that revolves mostly around casting spammable nukes with cast bars, a very bursty class. Mages. Mages deal most of their damage through hard-hitting nukes that take a couple of seconds to cast, and if they miss leave a big, giant, gaping whole in their DPS. With the class changes to Mages and the proccing nature of Arcane Missiles (or the other talented option in fire) that proc on spell hits, that's even more of a kick in the Mage balls. I’m not saying there aren’t repercussions to missing with Mind Blast, but they are far less severe.
Bottom line is, it’s more than likely going to be feasible for us to not hit the hit cap. Again, I'm not advising you to reforge hit off your gear, but it’s safe to say we won’t be gemming, enchanting, or reforging for hit. A very generalized guess as to how much leeway we will have with chance to miss our targets is 5%. That is personally the most chance to miss I would want to have, 5 out of every 100 spells, with little chance that it's going to be one of our nuke spells.
Well, if you are to believe the PP calculations unquestioningly, it’s pretty straightforward to figure out how you should gear. Since reforging into intellect or spellpower is impossible, your main consideration with reforging will be to turn crit into haste at every opportunity. As far as gemming and chanting go, you should use the +40 intellect gems (once you’re in epics) and enchant for either haste or spellpower when possible, and that’ll pretty much be your mantra. At this point, a case can’t really be made to take mastery instead of haste or crit, as long as it stays so low on dps increasing, but, through some information and analysis on how haste works with DoTs in cataclysm, I think I can make a case for crit (after a certain point.) However, bear with me as I go through a quick rundown of how haste works now.
- Haste and YOU
I’m sure you’ve heard by this point that haste works differently with DoTs in Cataclysm. Prior to a brilliant post at HotsDots.com, I had very little information about just HOW haste works now. I knew that it increased the amount of times in ticked in the same duration, but how it scaled exactly I never knew. The way it worked pre-Cataclysm was to shorten the duration of the DoT, allowing you to re-apply them quicker for more damage. Haste now works in a very interesting way. I will very briefly paraphrase it here, but for a much more in-depth analysis including very helpful diagrams see this link to HotsDots.com:
Even though haste ranks so high on our damage, it is very temperamental as to if and when it will affect the power of our DoTs. It will indeed add more ticks to our DoTs, but only at very specific percentages of haste rating, which is different for all three DoTs. This is a repost of a diagram from ElitistJerks on at what percentages haste adds a new tick to our DoTs:
What this shows us is that, until you hit a specific percentage of haste that is a “sweet spot” for one of your DoTs (a percentage at which that particular DoT gains an additional tick of damage) haste rating does absolutely nothing for your DoT spells. This is most noticeable in the gap from 18.75% when DP gains a new tick, and 25% when SW:P gains a new tick. Between 18.75% and 25%, haste is doing nothing new or beneficial for your DoTs whatsoever. Seeing it laid out so black and white can, in my opinion, allow you to set a soft hastecap for yourself, after which you prioritize crit above haste. I would suggest to stack haste up until either 25% or 31.25%, so that you end on a DoT gaining a new tick, and then completely stop stacking haste as your DoT’s and other spells will now benefit more from crit rating. This will bring spells like Mind Blast, Mind Spike, and SW benefit as well which have little benefit from haste.
This theory also calls into question using enchants or trinkets that proc a high amount of haste rating. In order for you to take full advantage of such a proc, you would need to recast all of your DoTs, and even then maybe only 1 or 2 would gain a new tick, and this would only benefit it for that one duration. The only spell that gains a real advantage from a high haste proc would be mind flay, which could also benefit from a high crit or spellpower proc that would also benefit your DoTs if you recast, but also Mind Blast, Mind Spike, or SW which normally would receive little to no benefit from high haste at all.
IV. Everything you need to know about 85:
Hitting 85 was a sigh of relief for me. Not because I didn’t enjoy questing, I still quest for enchanting mats and fun. I’m just too used to being max level on my Spriest, and things were too variable while leveling up. It’s the first time you get to sit down and look at gear options and feel yourself start to rise above the at first crippling curve you fall under. I can’t stress the importance of gear enough, so the first thing you should do is:
A. Get the gear you can right away: First, are you honored with one or more factions? Unless you didn’t quest most of the time for exp, the answer is yes. Fun fact: every quartermaster has a blue piece of every type of armor at honored, and they’re all different slots =D. Buy every piece you need from them FIRST as in BEFORE spending Justice Points on anything. Your primary goal at this stage is to obtain a minimum gear score average of 329 to gain access to running Cata heroic dungeons, your next source of pre-raid gear.
Next, do you have a ton of JP left over from WotLK or from grinding tons of Cata normal dungeons along the way? Head to the top of Grommash hold for horde, or namby pamby land for alliance, and splurge. Remember your first goal is to obtain an average gear score of 329 to gain access to Cata heroics. Spend your JP wisely, upgrading the lowest gear level slots first, and getting the cheaper things if possible to maximize how many pieces you can get.
Next you should take a look at:
B. Talents: Did you make a special spec for leveling? It’s time to go back through and rip it a new one. Here is a link to the spec and glyphs I’m using at 85, explanation to follow:
I can assure you that Paralysis and Phantasm have absolutely no utility at 85 in PvE. I can’t remember being snared or immobilized in any way that I urgently needed to get out of, making Phantasm quite useless. Paralysis only immobilizes, it DOES NOT STUN. It is also variable, dependent entirely on your crit chance and the RNG (random number generator) gods. It can not be relied on for CC, especially since if you’re within melee range the thing can still hit you and if it’s a caster it lols in your face and calls you a nub. It can actually work against you if the tank is trying to position a mob and you immobilize it. Don’t get it.
There is a popular build out there recommending the taking of both points in imp psychic scream to gain access to silence since heroics demand a lot of crowd control (CC). Even though it’s not as much of a waste any more to get imp psychic scream because of the glyph that makes targets tremble instead of run, I still find it an unnecessary waste to get it, as well as silence. Silence is good CC, it is. But, it has a 45 second CD. MANY other classes get free, untalented casting interrupts that are on much shorter CDs. Of course, most are just interrupts not full-on silences, and 5 seconds is a good bit to not be able to cast, however, there is little demand for such excessive silencing. Interrupting on bosses and tough instance mobs is all you need, just one well-placed interrupt. They usually also need interrupted far more often than every 45 seconds, and chances are, your silence will hit about the same time as someone else’s interrupt anyways, which is a complete waste. If a mob is immune to interrupts, they’ll be immune to silence. The reason the 2 points in imp psychic scream are wasted is mainly because all bosses and many mobs are immune to fear.
My point is, if silence is your group’s only interrupt, you’ll be wiping anyway. The silence build also excludes getting imp Mind Blast, which reduces the CD on a powerful nuke that procs replenishment, consumes shadow orbs, and therefore imbues us with Empowered Shadow which we should try to have as close to 100% uptime as possible. It also only allows you to get 2 points in Mental Agility, a mana saver on instant cast spells, which we have a lot of not only DPS spells that are instant, but raid utility spells like PW:S, Prayer of Mending (PoM), Renew, and our new level 85 spell, Leap of Faith which can be obscenely helpful in certain scenarios. In my mind, what you sacrifice to get silence is not made up for with its limited usefulness. It remains a strong PvP talent, with little use in PvE.
There is a free floating talent point which I chose to place in imp PW:S since I use it liberally in encounters to help relieve stress from healers (YES I KNOW UNLESS IT’S A PRIEST SO SHHH). You could, however, put it in anything you desire, a good idea might even be Psychic Horror for another AoE fear bomb when mobs are swarming.
C. Understanding Cata Heroics: Whether you’re a brand new player, bringing your first toon to max level or a WotLK veteran, Cata heroics are a sobering thing. They’re hard. Bosses have tough and have almost raid-boss like mechanics. Trash pulls are tough and must be approached with tact and you MUST use CC. You will wipe, I guarantee you will wipe on both trash and bosses at first, especially if your whole group is a PuG. Completing one will require patience, teamwork, and at least a couple hours at first. As a Spriest, you must know what abilities you have to contribute to the team, and you must be assertive and inform others of what you can contribute to the team, because people trivialize Spriests to begin with sometimes, and most do not know of our powerful CC and group utility abilities.
a. Mind Control: Open your spellbook and leaf through the shadowy pages and find Mind Control. Pull it out and replace your entire action bar with copies of this spell. Well, don’t really do that, but seriously, Spriests, Mind Control is back, in a BIG way. I will venture forth to say that, situation providing, it is the single most powerful CC tool in WoW. The situation you need is a group of mobs that has at least one humanoid in it since MC can only effect humanoids, and circumstances that do not require you yourself to move a lot. A LOT of Cata mobs are humanoids, and trash pulls often don’t require movement, and I will teach you how to utilize mind control.
Arrange with your tank to pick a marker for you (I usually ask for moon) that designates the mob that is to be Mind Controlled. Make sure to inform him/her that it must be a humanoid target (and once you learn mob capabilities ask for specific targets or kinds of targets). Have him/her also use a separate raid marker for a different mob that no other player should attack, because you’re about to tank it. You should pull the mobs with your cast of MC, which works out perfectly because instead of turning on the group, the whole pack of mobs will at first focus on your MC’d target, probably dealing it a butt ton of damage. Have the tank and other DPS attack the other mobs as normal after this, and turn your MC target’s sights to the mob with the other raid icon, and unleash whatever harmful abilities you now have at your disposal at the target, pulling/keeping threat and effectively tanking it. With the damage output by mobs in Cata heroics, 90% of the time, one of those mobs, either your MC’d mob, or the one you’re attacking/tanking, will die before MC even breaks.
What you’ve effectively done is removed two mobs from the fight entirely, and have severely injured (if not completely killed) one or both of them! That is CC with a KICK, a really big kick. Consider a group of 5 mobs with one that can chain lightning for 20k+ increasing on each additional target (a standard pull in heroic Throne of the Tides). MC the witch with the chain lightning attack, and you can burn down all 4 of the other mobs simultaneously, making them all turn on their most deadly threat, which is also your group’s most deadly threat, and cause them all to kill her before MC breaks, while bringing the other 4 down below 50% easily. Of course, not every pull is that magically awesome, but pretty damn awesome all the same.
What you should do as a Spriest MC master is to familiarize yourself with your MC targets and their abilities. When you MC a target you will gain full control over it AND its specific abilities, which will be on the action bar in its normal place where your spells usually are. Remember, one of MC’s drawbacks is to increase the delay between melee swings on the MC’d target, so it is always a better option to MC a caster, which not only have more fun, juicy damaging abilities but will not be hurt by that drawback at all. Jot down which targets dole out the most damage with the best, most radical abilities, and watch your group members turn into your own personal groupies as you make pull after pull 10,000 times easier and smoother. It can even be effective in boss encounters that spawn adds, again like the throne of the tides boss that spawns those same devastating chain lightning witches. My MC is the only way we passed that encounter, although it was still incredibly rocky because of the random water spouts that require you to move.
Remember to MC responsibly, keeping in mind all the drawbacks and side effects which are:
- Must effect a humanoid target.
- Imposes a 30% delay in melee swing time of the target.
- You must keep the target in your spell range or MC will break.
- When MC does break, for any reason, the target will have high threat on you and must be taunted.
- You will be unable to move for the duration of MC and if you are attacked or somehow moved by game mechanics, MC will break.
b. CC is not the only thing that is necessary to get through heroics. You need to be willing and able to help out with group utility abilities. One very easy way to help out your teammates is simply to throw out a PW:S, as long as the healer is not a priest or you make arrangements before hand on certain targets you will shield if necessary. It will drop you from Shadowform, but using PoM is immensely helpful for raid damage. Also, watch out for harmful abilities players can’t or fail to move out of where a Leap of Faith (or LifeGrip or LG) could mean life or death. For instance, the Force Grip mechanic in Stonecore, you can target the affected player and LG them right out of it. With its 1min CD, you can completely negate just about every other Force Grip in the encounter. Keep it on your bar and keep your eyes and mind open, Cata is not a DPS race expansion like WotLK was and you will fare much more success if you stay aware of what is needed by your group!
Our rotation is highly subject to two things more than ever before: Proccing and Cooldowns. There was a time where a very specific sequence of casting would give the same results every time in Spriest rotation history. It is very different now. It is more of a priority system where you must constantly decide upon what to cast at a given moment. In the order I place them in, here are your top concerns:
1. DoTs: Your DoTs are a majority of your damage, you must be on point with refreshing them. The article I linked earlier in the Stat Priority section to HotsDots.com has brilliant graphs and explanations of DoT clipping and when is the right time to refresh your DoTs. On a single target boss fight, the only DoTs you’ll be worried about refreshing are Devouring Plague (DP) and Vampiric Touch (VT) since Shadow Word: Pain (SW:P) is auto-refreshed by Mind Flay (MF). These must be up 100% of the time. As an immovable rule, I always, always cast VT first thing in the fight. It is the only DoT with a cast bar, and you want it up and ticking from start to finish because it is very powerful. Your next two casts should be SW:P and DP in that order, followed by calling your Shadowfiend, and then a little trick I like to use is to PW:S myself and then SW. I do this because from the moment I finish casting VT, I begin to move, since all the spells thereafter are insta-cast, and provided SW:P is your next cast, you have a good chance of proccing an apparition or two if you continue to move while casting through the rest of your insta-cast spells.
It happens, but if one of your DoTs expires and your target is not afflicted by it for even a second, you are failing. Try to avoid this as your utmost importance.
2. Empowered Shadow/Shadow Orbs: Through SW:P and Mind Flay ticks, you will have a chance of gaining a stack of our mastery, Shadow Orbs. Shadow Orbs are crap. They suck ass. But, they are important for another reason. That reason is a buff we gain upon consuming Shadow Orbs with Mind Blast (MB): Empowered Shadow (ES). It is a 15 second long buff that increases damage from periodic effects by 10% base, and +1.3% for every point of mastery (this is regardless of how many orbs were consumed). Mastery is still low, and you should stack both haste and crit above it, but even if you have 0 mastery rating, you still have those base 8 points in mastery, granting you that 10% buff at a minimum, and you should strive for 100% uptime on ES.
So, after unleashing your initial fury on the target, casting your DoTs and Shadowfiend, you should head straight into Mind Flay-ing (MF) and wait and watch for it to trigger a Shadow Orb, which is highly subject to the RNG, and the chance to gain one is only affected by the talent Harnessed Shadows and can not be further increased. Hopefully you gain one before the expiration of that first VT, and as soon as you do immediately cast MB to consume the orb and gain the ES buff. This increases the damage of all of your DoTs and MF, and even a 10% damage buff to those is huge for us. IF you don’t gain an orb to consume before that first VT wears off (VT will be the first to expire if you use the opening rotation I suggested) do NOT wait for the orb, refresh VT as normal, and the same goes for DP. Once you trigger ES for the first time, it is possible for it to be up for the entirety of the battle, and you should do your best to achieve that. Also, once you trigger ES for the first time, don’t freak out and recast all your DoTs immediately. You don’t want to clip off all the last ticks of your DoTs and waste mana like that, just refresh them as normal and have them benefit from ES then. The easiest way to achieve close to 100% uptime on ES is to keep an eye on 2 things, if you have even one shadow orb, and if MB is off CD. If you have an orb, MB is off CD and no DoTs need refreshing, then just hit it. This is vastly easier if you have 3/3 points in the talent Imp. Mind Blast.
3. Shadowfiend: This is quite simple and self-explanatory. Shadowfiend deals tons of damage, returns mana, and your MF crits will decrease its CD time. So, therefore, instead of wasting a bunch of MF crits with your SF sitting there off CD, use him as soon as he’s available every time, and the first time you use him should be after throwing up each of your 3 DoTs right in the beginning of the battle. As your crit improves you’ll be able to use the Shadowfiend 2-3+ times a fight.
4. Dark Archangel/Dark Evangelism: This is so low on my priority list for 2 reasons: because DE is self contained, you do not need to manage it because it procs 100% of the time from MF ticks and you’ll be giving out MF like a pedophile gives out candy, and DA consumes your DE stacks. You will have 5 stacks of DE all the time without even trying, and it’s another passive boost to periodic effects of 10%. Woot. What you do need to manage is DA. I was sort of torn before, but I am leaning towards using DA every time it’s available just like SF. It returns mana, and DE will be back up in a couple casts of MF. Don’t worry about it as much as other things, but if you’ve just recast DoTs and none are about to expire, and you’re about to MB the boss anyways, pop DA for the mana return and the extra hard hitting MB, but that’s just about all you’ll get out of it until the execute phase. Once the target is under 25% health, DA becomes much more appealing because you can double tap them with SW which gets the boost from DA. It churns out nice damage.
Of course, whenever you’re not refreshing DoTs or casting MB to gain the ES effect, you should be using MF over and over and over. Squeeze in as many as you can in between casts of other things.
Well, that's about everything I have to pass on to fellow Spriests. Of course, I'll update if anything else comes out and am always open to questions, comments, and certainly debate, I would just ask that it be respectful. After all, I'm just trying to help!
Your view of haste is very wrong. Haste changes the time between ticks of your dots linearly and more haste will always improve the dps of your dots, not just at plateaus. As the time between dot ticks decreases the total duration of the spell on the target will also be decreasing, this continues until the total duration is low enough for an additional tick to be tacked on to the spell increasing its duration.
What we see instead is small windows of haste levels where haste is better than any other stat (read: intellect) because we gain the additional tick. But it's important to understand that this isn't because the dps of your dot has improved in anyway different from how any other point of haste has changed the dps of your dot, it's because you gain a significant improvement in damage per execution time (or damage per cast time). In other words, it's because you don't have to refresh the dot as often allowing you to cast other spells (Mind Flay).
You want to continue to gain haste between the plateaus and if you find yourself very close to the plateau it is likely worthwhile to sacrifice intellect to gain the haste to gain a tick.
Anyway, I think your haste section needs a rewrite.
Although a very well written Spriest, I would recommend stating at some point (preferably near the beginning) that this a Shadow Priest PvE guide, and isn't intended for Shadow Priest PvP (which is what I was looking for). Nevertheless, it was helpful and informative, I've bookmarked this thread so I can reference back to it as I start leveling my SPriest.