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Shadow Word: Death
Spell shadow demonicfortitude.png
  • Shadow Word: Death
  • 30 yd  range
  • 12 seconds cooldown
  • 12% of base mana
  • Instant cast
  • A word of dark binding that inflicts X Shadow damage to the target. If the target is not killed by Shadow Word: Death, the caster takes damage equal to the damage inflicted upon the target.
Usable by
Cooldown12 seconds
Darkness, Shadow Affinity, Shadow Focus, Shadow Reach, Shadow Weaving, Shadowform, Shadow Power, Misery, Pain and Suffering, Twin Disciplines, Mental Agility.
Other information
This will hurt me as much as it may hurt you![1]

Shadow Word: Death is a Shadow Word - a Shadow-based direct damage spell, and deals equal damage to the caster if the target is not slain by the cast.

The self-harm effect limits usage, though it may be used on any potential target -- for a price.

Rank table

Rank Level Damage Cost
1 62 450 to 522 5g 90s
2 70 572 to 664 11g
3 75 639 to 741 18g
4 80 750 to 870 18g

Talent Improvements

Shadow tree talents:

  • Darkness increases the damage by 2/4/6/8/10%.
  • Shadow Affinity reduces threat caused by 8/16/25%.
  • Shadow Focus increases chance to hit by 1/2/3% and reduces the mana cost by 2/4/6%.
  • Shadow Reach increases the range by 10/20%.
  • Shadowform increases the damage done by 15%, reduces threat caused by 30%, and reduces the damage taken from the backlash by 15%.
  • Shadow Power increases the critical-strike damage bonus by 20/40/60/80/100%.
  • Misery increases the spell's chance to hit by 1/2/3% for 24 seconds when the target is afflicted by Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Flay, and Vampiric Touch periodic ticks.
  • Pain and Suffering reduces damage (backlash) you take from your own SW: Death by 10/20/30%.

Discipline tree talents:

  • Twin Disciplines increases the damage done by 1/2/3/4/5%.
  • Mental Agility reduces the mana cost by 3/6/10%.

All of these talents can be used in conjunction to improve this spell to its maximum.

Glyph Improvements

  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Death increases damage dealt by 10% on targets with 35% health or less.


  • The backlash to the caster is not a resistible effect with Shadow Resistance gear, and can be fatal, but the damage can be mitigated by effects which prevent damage such as Power Word: Shield, and effects that decrease spell damage such as Spell Warding. The damage can also be reduced with the Priest talent Pain and Suffering.
  • Fatal damage will result in no durability damage to the caster, making a suicide use viable in a wipe situation.
  • The backlash the caster will take always equals that of the target, even if the damage was zero. Damage that is partially resisted does not backlash; absorbed damage does, however.
  • When reflected, it causes both the spell and the backlash to damage the caster.

In World of Warcraft: Trading Card Game.

Tips & tactics

  • Mind Blast is ultimately more damaging than Shadow Word: Death at their final ranks, but Shadow Word: Death is the second most mana-efficient spell (Mind Flay being first).
  • Shadow Word: Death can be used by healing Priests to trigger a Prayer of Mending that has landed on themselves, thus preventing the Priest from having to fight to gain aggro, waste a Fade, and possibly die.
  • Because of its instant cast time, Shadow Word: Death used with good timing can be a way of triggering Spirit Tap in groups.
  • Be careful of using Shadow Word: Death in certain fights (The Curator in Karazhan, for example, during his evocation period; the 300% damage increase will more than likely kill any Priest, especially in the event of an unlucky crit)
  • The backlash from Shadow Word: Death can be used to break Polymorph effects if used shortly before the spell finishes. Details on how to use Shadow Word: Death to break Polymorph and Video Demonstration.[1]
  • Don't feel restricted to only using this spell on those with low life. Priests (Shadow Priests, in particular) have a large amount of passive healing thanks to Vampiric Embrace and Vampiric Touch, and can absorb the backlash with their shield. Watch your health, however.
  • Try to be careful when using this against a Warrior with a shield and Spell Reflection. A reflected Shadow Word: Death is considerably harmful to yourself, and in some cases suicide.


Shadow Word: Death to Break Polymorph

External links