Hello again, class. Today we will be looking at our spells and deciding what sequence to cast them in. First, I will try to explain why I have chosen to cast spells in the order I do, then I will take you on a field trip of sorts, linking to other websites that have crunched numbers and melted training dummies working out what they think is the ultimate cast sequence.
As a shadow priest, not only am I looking to put out some decent damage, but to help the rest of the mana users in my group or raid with their mana regeneration. At least, that is how I look at things. If you regularly run with a group with a retribution paladin, a frost mage, or a survival hunter, maybe you don't need to worry about it so much,and can concentrate on damage alone. Here is my idea on what order spells should be cast. I present to you, Delgada's cast bar.
I use my cast bar to prioritize my casting sequence, mostly because it is easy to see, and if I have to hand my keys over to a kid, it is easy to give directions like, "Just push the buttons from left to right as they light up!" as I am extracting the toddler from the top of my linen cabinet. When I use the bar, I start at Vampiric Touch. I use Inner Focus only during boss fights, and keep it as next in line to Mind Blast because, well, no mana and more critical is good for this spell. If my health bar is not having problems, I use Shadow Word: Death as often as it is up, because the damage is minimal compared to the damage it does. I then cast Devouring Plague and Shadow Word: Pain. By then, Vampiric Touch needs a refresh, and Mind Blast is back up, as well as Shadow Word: Death. So the idea is, if while you are moving down the line, one of your items that has a cooldown becomes available, you go back to it. That doesn't mean I never get to Mind Flay. I do get to Mind Flay quite regularly, because I am talented for it to refresh Shadow Word: Pain, so that is effectively removed from my rotation after the first cast, so long as I don't fool around.
When soloing, the rotation is a bit different. I start out with a Mind Blast, Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Flay until it is almost dead, then Shadow Word: Death. Since I have noone to speak to except myself for mana or health, there is almost no need for the other spells. I'll pull out the fiend for some mana regen, and out of combat I'll toss myself a Flash Heal or Renew and move right along.
Buttons 8 and beyond are not in my rotation, but they are there for other reasons. Mind Sear is an Area of Effect spell, and I use it while clearing trash. If my tank has a good lead on aggro, I will use Vampiric Embrace to help with healing. Dispersion is there in case I get in a rough spot and have the time for it to help me out. Fade I do use quite a bit, as the last two times I raided I found I was riding the tanks tail in aggro. Shadowform just needed a spot to put it in. My Shadow Fiend(though you don't see a button for it, I use AutoBar) I use whenever it is available for the teensy bit of dps it provides, and the mana it helps me regenerate.
So, there you have it. My spell rotation, if you can call it that. I did a search for spell rotations on the internet, and, I guess I have the right idea. Seems everyone is saying it is a priority sort of thing, and not necessarily a rotation. Go ahead, test me, do a search. I dare you. :)
Congratulations! You have finished with kindergarten. I'll leave you to go to other, more experienced shadow priests for the nitty gritty down and dirty of being a raiding 0r pvp shadow priest. I'm going to lay out a mat and take a nap!