Proper Talent allocation is essential for maximizing Damage output. Here, we will describe the most optimal spec and lead you through the Talent Trees level-by-level to explain some choices.
Shadow Priest's Talent Build should depend on his current Gear. Raid-ready Spriest should go for the more aggressive setup, while beginner should aim for Talents that will allow him to stay useful when he inevitably runs out of mana:
Entry-level Shadow Priest Build - Shadow Priests are famous for running out of Mana incredibly quickly, especially when they are undergeared. This build tries to offset that fact by securing Talents, like Spirit Tap and Wand Specialization. These create a solid backup plan for situations when Priest's mana runs out - finish off a trash mob, pull out a Wand, and Shoot Targets while your mana regenerates. While solid in 5-man Dungeons, this strategy will not work too well in Raids, which means that this version of the Build should only be used to farm pre-Raid BiS items (this is why it closely resembles a leveling build). As soon as you build-up enough Spell Power and high enough mana pool, you should switch to the Build featured below (Spell Power makes Wanding obsolete and high mana pool allows you to maximize your Mind Blast usage which considerably increases your DPS).
Raid-ready Shadow Priest Build - This version of the Shadow Priest build forgoes utility and sustain-related Talents, and instead focuses on maximizing DPS. To use it effectively, you'll need at least pre-Raid BiS gear and a hefty stock of consumables (Mana Potions, Runes, Mana Regen Food, etc.). In the Raid environment, you will not be required to support healers with Shields and the only instant-cast spell you'll be using in your rotation is Shadow Word: Pain, which means that Improved Power Word: Shield and Mental Agility Talents are completely redundant. This means that 8 Talent Points can be spent elsewhere: Thanks to 4/5 Improved Mind Blast Spriest's rotation becomes much smoother - 6 seconds (the new Mind Blast's cooldown length) is enough to cast two Mind Flays which allows you to use Mind Blast ? Mind Flay ? Mind Flay ? Mind Blast sequence without clipping into Mind Blast's cooldown (which would happen if you used 5/5 Improved Mind Blast). However, using Mind Blast more often creates a Threat problem. This is why 4 remaining points were used for 5/5 Silent Resolve which should minimize the problem.
5/5 Wand Specialization - Your Wand now deals 25% more DPS. This Talent makes a big difference if you don't have Spell Power/Shadow Damage gear equipped - when you are gearing up, in other words.
1/5 Silent Resolve - With this version of the build, you will not be using Mind Blast too often which means that Threat should not be a problem.
2/2 Improved Power Word: Fortitude - In a build designed for High-Level 5-man Dungeons, this Talent is necessary (there might not be a second priest in the group, so you will te the one buffing people).
3/3 Improved Power Word: Shield - PW: Shield does not scale with gear almost at all, which means that this Talent is the only way of improving it. The shield is incredibly useful in 5-mans and for solo content, so skipping this Talent is not recommended. Sadly, Shield can be used on Group members only, which limits its viability in Raids and other mass content.
1/1 Inner Focus - Great for casting a free, hard-hitting Mind Blast, although you should try to save this Cooldown for an emergency.
3/3 Meditation - Makes Spirit a bit more valuable and slightly improves your sustain.
5/5 Mental Agility - In 5-mans, you will constantly be using spells like Power Word: Shield, Shadow Word: Pain, and even Renew, which means that this Talent will generate a lot of value over time.
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