HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Into Pure Shadow Energy

You disperse into pure Shadow energy...

You disperse into pure Shadow energy...

Since it’s implementation on the PTR (Public Test Realm) Shadow Priests have had mixed feelings about our 51 point talent, Dispersion. This post is intended to examine Dispersion and to describe the best and worst situations to use it.

Of course, all this advice comes from my own personal playing experiences – raiding, completing achievements, running dungeons and engaging in (*cough* getting ganked) in world PVP. I don’t do arenas and if I join a battleground, it’s as Discipline.

What does Dispersion do? Currently it reduces incoming damage by 90%, regenerates mana (I get back about 1/3 of my mana bar from it), and removes snares. You cannot cast during Dispersion. But you can move. It is often compared to a Mage’s Evocation.

Dispersion is a mana regen and/or survival 2-in-1 spell.

In the Priest Q&A Dispersion is described as:

a very valuable spell — nearly all Shadow priests take it

Not a compelling argument since many Holy Priest take Lightwell because it’s in a good place on the talent tree. Might as well, ya know? I think in my talent build if I were to drop Dispersion I would be trading it for Inner Focus.

A Brief History

  • In it’s earliest incarnations on the PTR Dispersion regenerated health and mana.
  • In it’s earliest incarnations on the PTR Dispersion boosted your spell power for a short time.
  • Before Dispersion left the PTR the spell power boost was reduced significantly.
  • By the time Dispersion came to the Live servers Dispersion had no spell power boost attached.
  • In the week following the release of Ulduar, Dispersion worked in Ignis’s Slag Pot. Unfortunately Ignis was terribly bugged and when he came back fixed, Dispersion didn’t protect you from this damage anymore.

Other players have described other raid encounters where incoming damage is not reduced using Dispersion, but the Slag Pot is the one that springs to mind. When Priests talk about how the Dispersion tooltip lies, they’re talking about the you-can’t-depend-on-it-to-work-at-all incoming damage reduction.

Dispersion DON’Ts

During Boss Encounters When the Boss is Enraged (for Mana)

The type of fight I’m talking about is those ones where you can DPS down the boss until he’s at x% and suddenly he hits harder until he’s dead. You can’t DPS during Dispersion, and DPSing hard is critical to getting through enrage phases, so use a Runic Mana Pot or, even better, your Shadowfiend. If you must use Dispersion make sure that it has finished before the onset of the enrage.

During Boss Encounters to Prevent *insert boss ability* (for Survival)

Dispersion will allow you to avoid some melee hits should your tank die, or be slow to taunt or something. Don’t expect Dispersion to save you from things like General Vezax’s saronite green pool debuff damage. Of course there’s a small chance that you might discover one of the rare boss abilities that Dispersion will protect you from so you might as well give it a go.

During Boss Encounters (for Mana)

Try not to use Dispersion during boss encounters because you’re wasting DPS time. Think of it as your last resort. You should be able to get Shadowfiend out twice in most fights and survive on that mana in short, 1 or 2 target type boss encounters.

Always double check your Shadowfiend cooldown before using Dispersion to regen mana. If Shadowfiend is available find a target with some health and throw your Shadowfiend at it. Or use a Runic Mana Potion. Keep casting.

Note: Having raided a couple nights post patch 3.2, with reduced returns from Replenishment, I found I struggled significantly more with my mana pool than I have previously in Wrath and needed to use Dispersion more often.

When your Shadow Weaving stack is about to Wear Off (for Mana)

Cast something (preferably refreshing your Shadow Word: Pain with Mind Flay) first and then immediately Disperse. As soon as you’re out, Mind Flay again and you should have kept both 5/5 Shadow Weaving and Shadow Word: Pain active during Dispersion.

Dispersion DOs

When Hoping for Divine Intervention (for Survival)

One of my personal favourites is to Disperse during wipes after the tank has gone down and run in range of your fleeing Paladins hoping for a Divine Intervention.

To Tank the Boss at 1% (for Survival)

If you’ve crawled quite high on the threat meters and your tank dies you can take over tanking for a few seconds when the boss comes to you. Chances are by the time he goes after you your mages and warlocks will be dead grey squares in amongst your raid frames but you might buy some time for another tank to taunt or a druid to battle rez.

Great for tanking 1% wipes while you hope your DoTs tick over and finish the boss off.

Dispersion works nicely when you're waiting for quest mobs to die

Dispersion works nicely when you're waiting for quest mobs to die

Multi-dotting during Dailies/Questing (for Survival and Mana)

If you have a quest or a daily that requires you to kill a bunch of mobs, find a good spawn location and DoT up maybe 4 or 5 mobs with a couple DoTs and use Dispersion while you wait for them to die. You shouldn’t lose much health at all. Unfortunately you can’t do this more than once every couple minutes, so I tend to just use Vampiric Embrace on each mob instead while I wait for them to die.

Soloing Level 60 Dungeons (Survival and Mana)

Same method as above for multi-dotting stuff while questing. Holy Nova does a good job too since so many mobs interupt/silence you in lvl 60 dungeons.

While Looting or Chain Pulling (for Mana)

Dispersion is great to use while looting trash in between trash pulls. It’s even better when your raid is moving at a fast pace because you can keep running while regenning your mana. Laugh at the casters who have to sit down to drink.

When you can’t DPS anyway (for Mana)

Good times to use Dispersion are obvious breaks in boss fights where you’re moving into position but have no targets to DPS. This is also a good time to consider using Hymn of Hope too if your healers are struggling. Examples from Ulduar:

  • Mimiron’s phase transitions
  • Yogg Saron’s phase 1->2 transition
  • When you have to visit/stand in a Sanity Well during the Yogg Saron fight
  • Razorscale if your raid is waiting for more adds to spawn
  • Ignis’s slag pot since you can’t cast there anyway

“Escaping” from the opposite faction in world PVP (for Survival)

Unfortunately Dispersion only works here if you have a friend to run to (since your chances of actually killing the other player are incredibly low). Can be used to buy a few seconds thinking time after the initial attack. Usually it will just prolong the whole miserable experience. It also tells your enemy that you’re Shadow spec if you are pretending to be Discipline and “hiding” out of Shadowform (a tactic I recommend).


Blizzard love Dispersion. They want us to love it too. But it’s lacking somehow. I believe that’s because it exists to serve two purposes and doesn’t excel at either.

The mana regeneration component is a fall back, and yes it’s handy on fights where you can be mana drained or pour out a lot of DoTs but Shadow Priests already have two other mana regeneration abilities, Shadowfiend and Replenishment. Two signature class (well Replenishment used to be) abilities that we have been attached to for quite some time now. Dispersion is the new kid on the block.

Getting the most out of Shadowfiend actually requires some thought and I consider that to be as much a situation-dependent decision as using Dispersion. So, in my mind, Dispersion certainly doesn’t make Shadow Priests more interesting to play.

I would much prefer to see the Shadow Priest gain double returns from Replenishment, similar to how Vampiric Embrace heals the Priest more than their party, because I think this would make soloing as a Shadow Priest more enjoyable. I, for one, struggle with mana when solo or questing at level 80 and I have to stop and resort to drinking for mana much more frequently than Lath as Moonkin.

The “survival” aspect is even more unreliable. As mentioned early in the piece Dispersion doesn’t do anything to reduce damage from a lot of stuff during raids. I see the Mages in Hodir hardmode completely ignore Flash Freeze using Ice Block and I look at Dispersion with disappointment.

It also doesn’t deter enemies in PVP who tend to stick around and just wait it out. I see players give up and run away when a Paladin bubbles, sometimes from me when I PVP with Pain Supression, and I think of Dispersion and am disappointed. Perhaps there ought to be a Glyph of Dispersion that extends the duration of the effect out to twice as long whilst restoring no additional mana?

The only time I use Dispersion and really really love it? When I’m running past all the other casters while they have to sit down and drink. Plebs!

I would miss Dispersion if Blizzard removed it altogether. However, I know several Priests at who advocate dropping the talent altogether and they don’t appear to miss it at all.

3 Responses to “Into Pure Shadow Energy”

  1. PlagueNo Gravatar says

    Very mixed feelings about Dispersion myself, and the only time I ever use it now myself is either multi dotting while doing my dailies or on Algalon to absorb the Big Bang ability he has if I’m soaking it or am too far away from the black holes.

    It’s a very love it or hate it spell, very situational – is it worth the final point in the Shadow Tree? I probably wouldn’t say so, but alas, I feel it shall forever be our very own Shadowy lightwell.

  2. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    If we ever make it to Algalon, I’ll definately keep that tip in mind.
    Not sure we will though :(

  3. PlagueNo Gravatar says

    It was only my first time on him this week so am by no means a seasoned vet at him, says it all really though that I was probably just as excited for finally having a use for my top tier talent as I was stood infront of old Algalon himself.

    Next expansion I’d be shocked if it didn’t get dropped to maybe the 3rd/4th row of the talent tree.

    Still, perhaps in 3.3 it’ll be looked at…maybe…hopefully
    .-= Plague’s last blog … What classes for new races? =-.

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