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Guide: Priest - Shadow

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Post  Rellion on Tue Jun 09, 2009 10:14 am

(Taken from References

This post is designed to help you maximise your dps output, however keep in mind there is more to being a good dps raid member than your dps numbers. While improving the more technical side to your game play helps there are always other facets to your game play that are just as important (if not more so).

Rotation or Priority

There seems to be a belief that the spriest rotation should be VT>DP>SW:P>MB>MF. Some people throw in SW:D, others tell you it's a dps loss to do so.

I'm going to ignore SW:P & SW:D as being in the rotation, firstly SW:P is only ever cast once (all things being equal) and it makes little sense to consider it part of your continual cast rotation. Secondly SW:D can only be used effectively in very subjective circumstances. It shouldn't be used automatically every CD and for this reason I don't consider it in the rotation.

So with that in mind the highest dps rotation is MB > VT > DP > MF. While that seems odd on the surface (considering both VT and DP have a higher damage per execute time than MB), delaying MB for 1 GCD has a greater percentage delay effect on the MB cycle (that being 1.5 sec cast + 5.5sec CD = 7 sec ) than it does to VT (15 sec cycle) or DP (24sec cycle). For that reason it's less of a dps loss to delay VT and DP than it is to delay MB. For the so inclined, you can read the math explaining this concept here. If maths hurts your brain, just take my word for it.

Now that you know the best possible rotation, the next step is to train yourself to cast those spells as close to the best you theoretically can. Keep in mind you will rarely be able to achieve this in a realraid encounter, but training yourself will help you select spells at the right time and minimise delay which should result in higher dps. Target dummies are good training tools but keep in mind that the raw dps figure isn't the number you care about. Instead you want to see how often you are casting your spells in comparison to how often they can be done in theory.

Mind Blast - 1.5sec cast + 5.5sec CD = Possible to cast every 7 sec (and technically quicker if you factor in haste)
DoTs - Best possible damage would result with them up 100% of the time
MF - Cast as many ticks as possible while other spells are on CD, this can be measured in ticks per sec.

The goal is to cast MB every 7.2 sec (on average), dots to be up 95% of the time (time in combat / 3 = max number of possible dot ticks, actual ticks/max number of possible ticks * 100 = percentage up) and a MF tick every 1.5sec (unbuffed, u can achieve better with haste buffs in a raid, ie. Bloodlust/Heroism).

If you can manage these figures you are very close to the max theoretical dps. It sounds like it's simple but go test yourself and see how close you really are. Recount and other combat log type addons can usually give you all the necesary information.

Spec & Glyphs

This is the accepted 3.1 cookie cutter build is 3.1 cookie cutter build I highly recommend anyone who feels there are a beginner or they are unsure what is the best spec to use this spec.

However,if you think you're a bit more advanced and mana isn't an issue, then this might interest you. The advantage with this spec is you get more threat reduction for easier AoE and imp VE (which is particularly useful in Ulduar and any form of progression raiding).

There is no real discussion about glyphs, you always take Glyph of Shadow, Shadow Word:Pain and Mind Flay. There is no debate, you take them, end of story.

If you're a bit hard headed and using some other type of spec and glyphs, give the above a proper trial and you will see it increase your dps.


We're lucky in that is one of the better class sites going around, and they have a comprehensive gear ranking list that utilises simulationcraft modeling. It's generally accepted as one of the best ways to rank gear, and if you follow the list you can't really go too wrong. Here is the list, it does give some information about Pseudo Power, hit cap, meta gem ranking etc. If you don't understand all those concepts, don't worry, just follow the list.

When deciding where is the best place to get hit, it's a good idea to create a ratio between the highest possible PP item (with 0 hit) vs the best possible PP item that has hit. You then divide the amount of hit by the loss of PP for wearing that hit item.

For example, the neck slot shows Pendant of the Shallow Grave as the highest PP item (151.29). The best hit item is Pendant of Fiery Havoc (132.04) with 46 hit rating. So the ratio is 46 / (151.29 - 132.04) = 2.38961. In other words you get 2.39861 hit per loss of PP for wearing that item. You can then rank gear by this ratio and work out where the most efficient hit items are. If all that seems too hard you can simply copy what is presented here.

When gemming your gear there is only a limited amount of real alternatives.

Runed Scarlet Ruby
Potent Monarch Topaz
Purified Twilight Opal
Misty Forest Emerald

Please note that the Misty Forest Emerald is only useful is some very rare particular cases. As you need 2 blue gems to activate your Chaotic Skyfire Diamond, while the Purified Twilight Opal is more PP the Misty can be used to get a socket bonus you would otherwise have to miss out on that makes it better.

Also not that you can use Rigid Autumn's Glow, Veiled Monarch Topaz or Shining Forest Emerald but its generally a bad idea. On the surface it looks like those gems are great to use because they are higher PP. However they provide hit very inefficiently, i'll use the same neck example above to illustrate.

Lets say you decided to use the Pendant of the Shallow Grave (151.29 PP) over the Pendant of Fiery Havoc (132.04 PP), meaning you decided to gem 46 hit rating to reach the hit cap. While the non hit stats on the Pendant of Fiery Havoc only provide a PP value of 132.04, all 46 hit on the item was being used, pushing the real PP value to 192.3. Therefore in using the Pendant of the Shallow Grave you have lost 192.3 - 151.29 = 41.01 PP. To get your 46 hit back, u are going to use 3 x 16 hit gems in place of 3 x 19 SP gems. You figure that 16 hit is 1.96PP better per gem, so you'll be ahead. However, those 3 gems only give a net of 1.96 * 3 = 5.88 but remember you lose out on 41.01 PP in using the non hit neck... so in fact you would lose out on 35.13 PP using this setup. Even if those yellow gems gave socket bonuses you'd otherwise lose out on it's rare that they would make up for what you would lose. Of course individual cases change, but you will find this outcome in 99% of situations.

Lastly, don't be tight and enchant your gear appropriately. The best enchants are listed in the best gear thread on If you are really keen to improve your dps ability, then go out and farm what you need to be as prepared as possible.


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