You can't really choose between Flay and Spike as a Shadow Priest

There has been a lot of conversation about being able to “choose” between spike and flay as a shadow priest, so I wanted to try to see what those options would look like.

For the ST spikeless build, and in order to have 20 points to get to the capstone, I had to pick spike/aoe/utility to advance.

The flay-less ST build was a little better, but I only would have had 1 additional point to put into Maddening Touch before moving into utility or channel-centric talents.

Also, these builds are almost exactly the same, using SC and Unfurling Darkness (in both in spite of being ST focused) as well as the newly introduced coalescing shadow talents (which in the spikeless build likely means that you overcap CS, and in the spike-centric build you ignore the CS functionality and simply alternate between 2 spikes and MB). It also assumes you’re taking VE/DA and the following two nodes, which I understood was intended to not be a required choice.

I think some thought needs to be put into what the playstyle expectations are for priests and trying to make sure they are fitting well together and pathable. If we want many different playstyles to exist in this tree, moving up some of the talents in the capstone that are beneficial to a broader range of playstyles (deathspeaker, damnation, derangement, mind devourer, etc) would make it a lot easier to avoid the aspects of shadow priest you dislike (spike, channels, or 2 minute CDs)


It’s a bit strange that you can essentially pick every single damage improvement in the tree if you are not picking utility spells. The only choice comes at the final tier and even then, the choices are very limited given the terrible design of the idols.

Do other classes pick all of their relevant dps talents or are they forced to choose which spells they want to focus on? The ele shaman tree looks like they have a lot of different paths through the middle of the tree.

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@Matre I will respectfully disagree. I think you not only can choose between Flay and Spike as Shadow Priest, you can and should. Frankly, I think there are essentially two builds available right now, with a few alterations, in the shadow tree and they both depend on which filler you are choosing. Both builds have “built-in” cleave/aoe.

With the testing I’ve done, my opinion is that this choice defines what the rest of your build will look like, because of how talent synergies are constructed. I hope I’m not misinterpreting your post, it wasn’t fully clear to me, you the links to the builds you included are not complete, many points are left free which could define what you are doing.

Once you choose between Flay or Spike as your filler, it will effect your playstyle substantially, particularly in cleave/aoe situations.

I said more about this and provided some example builds here, if you care to take a look.

Don’t you think there’s a bit of a problem with the fact the mind spike build you suggested cannot interact with even one of shadows capstones though?

If you were replying to me (I’m not sure if you were, so I apologize in advance but I’ll respond as though you were) - I didn’t say the builds were good, well-polished, or desirable, or without problems. I was merely commenting that I believe the way the tree is currently structured, your pathing will largely depend on whether you went Mind Spike or Mind Flay: insanity as your filler.

Also I am no theorycrafter, this is just based on days of my own personal testing on the PTR. Whenever I respected the synergies that went along with either Flay or Spike, the build would consistently perform better on both single target and cleave than anything else I tried.

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Not to worry, most of our capstones outside of that SFP dumpster fire is useless anyways.

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I used to be a Shadow Priest main, back before voidform. And i was pretty excited that this Dragonflight expansion might remove that aspect of the mechanics. However, is anyone talking about the options of Void Form and Dark Angel? I may be ignorant, but neither feel useful to the heavy DoT build of the left side, with more dot damage, increased speed, etc. Void Form is all about void bolt, mind blast, etc. juggling, and Dark Angel only benefits non-dots. So am i right in that a heavy DoT/Mind Flay/Mind Flay: Insanity, etc. build won’t use EITHER of those CDs? And if that’s right – is that what was planned? haha.

I hope the balancing / tuning is such that it’s not a terrible loss. I really miss the days of Orbs and Devouring Plague, Mind Flay: Insanity, etc. And i feel like i’m being backed into a Void Form or Mind Spike build. Again. Lol.

I’m just looking for comfort. Bc I miss the spriest community :slight_smile:

Right now there’s no reason not to take dark ascension at all.

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If you want to be heavily DoT focused, you do not need to take either CD.

This is my DoT build, no CD necessary. Is it gonna do less DPS/damage than with the CD? Yep, but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

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I’m loving the mindspike build, its fast, punchy and the way it works with mind games is really good. I’m actually considering going shadow main for the 1st time and I’ve been playing since vanilla. My biggest concern about the build is that shadowy insight seems to consume all stacks of mind melt. Makes it harder to get a bunch of instant mindblasts back to back.

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I mean if you’re willing to drop a 5-8% DPS increase talent for a 0-1% increase talent I guess that’s true. I was more saying there’s no existing scenario where voidform out performs dark ascension, it’s not ‘dots Vs direct damage’ as you say.

You can achieve the same thing on live by simply not putting spells you don’t like on your bars. The results will be pretty much the same.

I get wanting to play your own way, I really do, but blizzard aren’t giving us (shadow) the tools to do that any moreso than they have in Shadowlands.

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You realize that, outside of cutting edge content during cutting edge before it gets nerfed 300 times over the entire season, you actually don’t need to play a certain way, correct? 5-8% isn’t much dps loss for a better fun factor way.

Of course, if your only way of fun is doing the highest damage then 5-8% is a big loss to you, then, but there’s a lot more to this game than simply topping damage meters. Again, in cutting edge content like mythic raiding the first 2 months yeah you need to be very optimal. Month 8 into the tier/season for mythic raiding, outside of the final 3 bosses you actually don’t need to be because by then either gear from vault, gear from mythic, tuning weeks, and direct nerfs to the raid/bosses, themselves, actually more than offsets any amount of damage loss you incur by not speccing correctly.

That being said, I do not recommend dropping 30+% damage for more fun, but 5-8% is pretty small. You’d be fine going all the way to about 15-20% and then after 20% the loss is not good unless you’re only doing normal/heroic content, in which case you’re fine.


Honestly I think people should be asking for better. Play your way should mean play a complete spec that plays how you want, not whatever this is. If bliz wanted to let people play without CDs, there should have been something comparable to take instead of them. There isn’t.

I don’t think you’re wrong for wanting to play the way you do. I’m more frustrated at blizzard with how poorly executed their vision for the spec is, and that people who want to do what you do deserve better.


And I agree with you. I also think that you can play your way, as long as you aren’t doing cutting edge content during cutting edge prime, or you don’t mind the damage loss.

If it is a 5-8% damage loss for not having a CD, I think that’s fine. On my Aff Lock I played with Absolute Corruption which was a 5% loss over not having Siphon Life on pure ST. It felt much better playing that over SL, so I took that loss of damage for more fun. The same way when I did AC/Creeping Death for a 8-9% loss overall, or sometimes when I just wanted to play Grimiore of Sacrifice, which on the sims was a 30% DPS loss but it apparently turned out that the APL was not up to date or good. It was actually a 15% damage loss, but due to the APL being weird it noted a 30% damage loss on sims but never turned out that way.

Yeah it just depends on the content you’re doing, when you’re doing it and your own personal style of what it is you want, and whether you’re good taking the loss or not.

Some people find that even a 1% damage loss is HUGE and other people, like me, only find it a HUGE damage loss above 20%, which is usually multiple talent choice nodes being taken that aren’t fully optimal.

I fully agree with you on this, too. I don’t mind bout the deserve better, but yeah it does get frustrating with their wanting to take away from DoT specs and not give a full on rot profile, though I think that’s more to do with how mythic+ is.

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It’s about 5-8 per point associated. So more like 15-20. 1 for DA 2 for AM. Not to mention how much better the sfp stuff is on one target than anything else.

Ahh gotcha, then yeah I would say that needs to be tuned better so it’s not as impactful. I detest CDs and don’t care for them, as when they’re on cooldown then you don’t feel powerful enough. It’s like going from being broke to being rich, and then going back to being broke again. It’s just not a good feeling, overall.

I think they should tone down the impact/importance of all offensive CDs. They can keep defensive CDs very important, as that’s how tanks get their fun and play, their challenge, but for offensives yeah they should tone them down a lot.

I think it might be easier to package competitive sustain damage playstyles as choices alongside them than neuter them completely, which is what you’re trying to do with your builds. But the trees aren’t designed to provide that.

Worth noting actually that now voidform doesn’t even provide a damage bonus it’s kinda the sort of cd you’d want to be in the game, it’s just not competitive against da and there’s no way to competitive avoid both of them :stuck_out_tongue:

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Not trying to neuter them completely. I don’t think CDs should be as impactful on gameplay at all.

So what I mean by this is: I think sustained damage, across all specs, should be higher and more. Burst should be toned down quite a bit, not neutered but 40% less burst should be fine. If not, then I think tanks should actually have their threat buffed closer towards Legion style threat. Not actually there because their threat levels were like 1000% or something insane to the point that 1 AoE ability would hold aggro and you never had to damage a mob again for their entire lifespan.

I don’t think it needs to go that far in that way, but I do know, especially when I play my bear tank, that outside of CDs it’s very very difficult to hold threat, especially over burst specs like Ret Paladin, both Warrior DPS, unless you have a Hunter or Rogue in the group for Misdirect/Tricks.

I think burst, in general, needs to be toned down quite a bit for several reasons:

  1. This is not an ARPG where the entire goal of the game is insanely high numbers.
  2. Having so much impact on your CDs means you feel awesome when they’re up, but unless they’re short CDs like 1 minute or less, then you’re feeling worse more often than good because they don’t last more than 30 seconds, with usually more than 1.5 minutes on CDs. On a 2 minute CD, which is a lot of specs/classes, you have a 20 second burst window or so, which means 1 minute 40 seconds of you feeling worse to the 20 seconds of you feeling godly. That’s pretty insane when you think about it. You’re feeling worse for so much longer than you feel good. On a 1 minute CD, if you have 20 seconds of burst you’re still feeling bad for 40 seconds of not having that CD to the 20 seconds of you having it up, but at least that’s better than the 2 minute CDs. Toning offensives down and then making their CDs shorter means the player will feel the highs and lows more often, and it won’t be as impactful.

Let’s use an example here: Dark Ascension boosted your DPS by 15% on a 1 minute CD. You feel the effect, you got your high. It’s done, now you start your lows. If they toned down DA to 10% more powerful, on a 40 second CD then there we go. You got 10% more powerful for 20 seconds, then 20 seconds of you not feeling as powerful, then you got your CD again.

  1. CDs, coming from a PvP perspective for this one, make PvP feel so boring to watch and just as boring to play. Everyone knows how and when to counter you, and they CC you during your powerful ability, then you lose it and if you were powerful burst that means your sustain damage is extremely bad. This means there’s not much else to do besides little pokes and jabs until your CD is back up, which everyone is tracking all the time anyways. It makes it boring to watch, boring to play and just overall a much more frustrating style of game play.

Classic felt much better to play vs retail for a lot of players. This is, in part, because there were a lot less cooldowns, and less impact on cooldowns. It was more sustain oriented compared to now with all the flashy bing bing numbers being thrown across the screen. Not all specs / classes felt better, but there were quite a few that did feel much better, and those that felt better to play were because they’ve now been riddled with a good amount of CDs compared to their more sustained counter part in classic/bc/wrath.

They don’t have to neuter CDs, they just need to tone down the burst a bit. Also, CDs need to be shorter with their actual cooldowns. 2 and 3 minute CDs are bad, in my opinion. I don’t think any CD needs to be longer than an actual minute, but I think most should fit within a 30-60 second cooldown. Those with 30 should last no more than 15 seconds. Those of 60 should last up to 30 seconds. This balances out the highs and lows evenly.


This comment made me smile. Maybe i’m in the wrong threads, but i don’t see a lot of kindness and empathy displayed in the forums, haha.

I see in other threads that the DoT/Mind Flay enthusiasts should use Void Form, because it will allow fillers, but I didn’t really find i ever had time for fillers in Void Form lol. Between Mind Blast, MB procs, Void Bolt. It felt more like whack-a-mole, and I don’t suspect that will change. Which means neither Dark Ascension nor Void Form is very dot-sustain friendly.
And tbh that feels like a design flaw. I’m unsure why Blizzard doesn’t see that. The tree looks like it wants to give us 3 playstyles, but only one CD is worth it, and it only benefits 2 of those playstyles.

And now they say they’re done with the talent trees, so that makes me nervousss :smiley: