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That was then

Prior to the 4.0.1 patch, I would start boss fights like so:

  1. Vampiric Touch
  2. Devouring Plague
  3. Mind Blast
  4. Mind Flay
  5. Shadow Word: Pain

This would "charge up" stacks of buffs for my Shadow Word: Pain to have maximum damage output for the rest of the fight (Shadow Word: Pain stays up whenever you cast Mind Flay).

Assuming the boss was a boring Sit There And Shoot At It fight, the rest of the fight involved spell priorities as follows:

  1. Keep up Vampiric Touch
  2. Keep up Devouring Plague
  3. Mind Blast when it's available
  4. Mind Flay for filler

This is now

With the 4.0.1 patch, all of this appears to have totally changed. I no longer seem to have to "charge up" my Shadow Word: Pain buff stacks, and new Shadow Orbs are flying all over the place. It's craziness!

How do I make most effective use of these new talents and mechanics?

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I'm too far away from this topic to know the answer, but this might help: – tzenes Oct 13 '10 at 15:55
This question is probably always going to be too localized: right now, we're in patch 4.0.3, level 80 rotations are no longer balanced since level 80 is no longer the endgame, and Blizzard has been hotfixing abilities almost every other day. – user3389 Dec 15 '10 at 19:37

Thanks to @tzenes for an ElitistJerks link, which has some great info. Of note is that Shadow Word: Death is much better than it used to be.


  1. No specific information on how to start the fight
  2. Keep up Vampiric Touch, Devouring Plague, and Shadow Word: Pain
  3. Shadow Word: Death when available
  4. Mind Blast when available
  5. Mind Flay for filler

One important note is that (with a Glyph) Shadow Word: Death has an instant cooldown when the boss is below 25%. This means you'll need relatively little Mind Flay filler past the 25% mark. Just don't kill yourself.

I am going to suspect that Mind Blast could eventually outperform Shadow Word: Death later on, especially with Mastery points making it more effective and Mind Spike synergy. But according to Elitist Jerks, Mastery is pretty terrible at the moment.

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While Mastery is pretty terrible at the moment, this will change in patch 4.0.3. When that goes live, Mastery becomes an extremely strong stat for Shadow, overcoming even Intellect. – LessPop_MoreFizz Nov 12 '10 at 22:12

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