Priest Crowd Control

Last updated: 02/05/08, patch 2.3.3


The phrase “crowd control” refers to the act of keeping mob(s) from actively attacking you (or your group). Priests have a few means of keeping mobs indisposed.

Shackle Undead

Priests first learn the spell Shackle Undead at level 20 (and learn higher ranks at levels 40 and 60). Rank 1 of the spell will hold an undead mob in place for 30 seconds; rank 2 will hold the mob for 40 seconds; rank 3 will hold the mob in place for 50 seconds. The ranks are equally effective against mobs of any level; the only difference is the amount of time they last (and how much mana they cost).

Shackle Undead will only hold undead mobs in place, not undead players (as they count as “humanoids”).

Only one mob can be under the control of your Shackle Undead spell at a time.

Damage caused to the shackled mob will cause Shackle Undead to break. However, casting things like Vampiric Embrace on the mob will not break the shackle, as it causes no damage. DoTs won’t break the shackle until they tick for damage.

Once a mob is shackled, there are periodic checks every few seconds to see if the mob stays shackled. If the check fails, then the shackle will break early and the mob will run at whoever is highest on its threat list (typically you!). These periodic checks are the same as your initial check to see if the spell lands.

Important! Repeat after me:
Reshackling every 15 seconds does not prevent early breakage.
Reshackling every 15 seconds does not prevent early breakage.
Reshackling every 15 seconds does not prevent early breakage.

The spell hit stat is the only thing that can reduce the chance of a shackle breaking early.

The effect of spell hit on Shackle Undead is probably the most misunderstood aspect of the spell. There will always be a unmitigatable 1% chance each check that the shackle won’t hold, even if you are capped on your spell hit, and even if you recast Shackle Undead every 15 seconds.

From the Lux et Umbra priest guide stickied on the WoW-US priest forums:

I don’t recommend casting Shackle “every few seconds.” Each periodic check is the same as the initial resistance check. Instead, start casting and cancel repeatedly if you want to improve average response time to a break.

If you are in a situation where you are going to have to keep something shackled for a long time, you should only reshackle just often enough to ensure that if you hit an emergency scenario you would be able to do whatever it is you need to do (move, spam heal, etc.) and not miss reshackling the mob. A ten second buffer should be more than enough.

If you are reshackling every third heal, you are just wasting mana. Period.

Use a focus macro (/focus) to keep an eye on the mob you shackled; if it breaks early, you’ll want to be able to reshackle right away. This macro will set your target as your focus and attempt to cast Shackle Undead on it:

#showtooltip Shackle Undead
/clearfocus [modifier:alt][target=focus,dead][target=focus,help][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus]Shackle Undead

The macro will clear your focus if your target is dead, invalid, or if your hit the macro with the Alt key down.

Various timer mods (like Quartz) can put a timer bar on your screen to let you know when the spell is set to end. Do recast it before the timer is over; don’t wait for the spell to end before reshackling.

A mod like CCBreaker can tell you when a shackle breaks early, which player (if any) broke it, and how.

It’s good to have some protection if Shackle Undead breaks early. First off, don’t stand near your shackle! Really! That way you have some time while the mob is running toward you to get it reshackled. Give yourself that buffer space; the spell has a 30 yard range. Secondly, you’ll want to have some way to snare the mob before it plows you down. Have a hunter place a Frost Trap, a mage ready with Frost Nova, or carry around some Netherweave Nets from tailoring.

Shackle Undead does cause threat on the mob, and the threat is additive every time you cast the spell. Testing has shown that the max rank of Shackle Undead causes a base of 120 threat each cast.

Mind Control

Priests learn the spell Mind Control at level 30. There are multiple ranks of the spell, and the top rank scales with your level, allowing you to affect mobs up to level 74. Mind Control lets you take control of a humanoid character’s actions. You will be able to use a limited set of its abilities and will be able move it around. However, when you are mind controlling something, your character cannot take any other action (without breaking the spell). It will last for up to a full minute against mobs and up to 10 seconds against other players.

Mind Control can be used on most any humanoid. The exceptions being humanoids that are friendly to you and select humanoids in instances/raids. You can never Mind Control a boss. Some undead and other kinds of mobs can appear humanoid-like, but do not count as humanoids. Only mobs whose tooltips explicitly say “humanoid” are viable targets.

Positioning is important when using Mind Control as it is a channeled spell. If you are near a mob that has an AoE or a Cleave and you are taking bits of damage, the channel on the spell will end sooner rather than later. Keep in mind that the mob you are controlling will have its own aggro radius, so use caution when positioning it.

Similar to Shackle Undead, Mind Control has periodic checks to see if it continues to hold. This is based off of your spell hit stat. Additionally, if you move the mind controlled mob more than 20 yards away from where you are standing, the chance that the spell breaks early increases significantly.

With Mind Control, you can potentially crowd control two mobs. How? Well, just take the one you have mind controlled and have it start attacking a second mob that no one else is. However, if your mob manages to kill a second one that no one has touched, then you will not be able to loot it. The same thing goes for if other mob(s) kill yours (if no damage was done to yours by your group prior to its death).

Threat-wise, Mind Control is much higher than Shackle Undead (somewhere over 3k at max rank). Try to practice safely breaking this spell whenever you can. Run the mob far away from you, alert your party that you will be release the spell, and then break the channel on it by casting Power Word: Shield or Fade (depending on how quickly you feel you tank will pick up the mob).

There are a few tricks with Mind Control in PvP. It is a handy tool to get some distance from your opponent so that you can pull off a heal or run away. Opponents can be thrown off of cliffs and bridges while under the effect of Mind Control. You can use it to run an enemy flag carrier in the wrong direction. Lastly, you can use Mind Control to buff a player of the opposite faction by casting this on them then casting Power Word: Fortitude, Shadow Protection, Divine Spirit, etc. while targeting them (though the channel on the spell will end immediately after you cast a buff).

Psychic Scream

Psychic Scream is learned at level 14. It will fear 2-5 mobs away from you (depending on rank) for 8 seconds. Each rank is equally effective against mobs of any level (use rank 1 when you only have to fear 1-2 mobs; use the top rank when you have to fear more). Most non-player undead mobs will be immune to Psychic Scream, as well as most demon mobs.

It is common to think of Psychic Scream as a panic button, but use caution with it. Mobs that are feared from you can easily run into more mobs and bring them back with them. That is one of the reasons why this spell only sees situational use in instances and raids.

Psychic Scream is commonly used in multi-mob situations. For instance: the priestly version of AoE farming (without Holy Nova) is to apply DoTs (like Shadow Word: Pain) to a handful of mobs, fear them, apply extra damage to them if needed, then move on pulling the next set of mobs. They should, in theory, die from the DoT while you are moving on to picking up the next set.

Psychic Scream only lasts 8 seconds, so it is typically used as a way of lessening damage done to you by a mob, or as aide in fleeing from a bad situation. The cooldown on the spell (30 seconds, without talents) is a major limiting factor in its use to crowd control.


Shadowfiend is learned at level 66. He is a summoned pet that will give you mana equal to the damage that he deals. However, you could think of this little guy as a pocket tank. He doesn’t have a lot of health, but he has high avoidance. He can dodge even the toughest mob’s attacks quite well. Your Shadowfiend only lasts for 15 seconds, and has a cooldown of 5 minutes, so he is not in any way a long lasting form of crowd control.

The best use for a Shadowfiend is to toss him at a mob if:

  • you accidentally pull too many.
  • you need to run by the mob to get to something first (quest item, herb, ore).
  • you aggro a mob you don’t want to deal with and need to run away.

A Shadowfiend isn’t a typical means of crowd control, just a way to buy yourself some time if things get sticky.


Kiting is the act of keeping a mob focused on you while you are running away from it. Small bits of damage are applied to it to hold its attention. Kiting is primarily used when you need to take down a mob that you do not have the defenses to survive attacks from. By kiting, you are limiting the amount of damage done it does to you by (hopefully) keeping it at a distance.

Kiting is not a specialty of priests in any way.

The best way to kite a mob as a priest is with damage over time spells, like Shadow Word: Pain. Every 7-8 seconds the spell will have to be reapplied, else the mob will lose interest in you and run back to where you found it initially. You do not need to use the max rank of the spell. When kiting with Shadow Word: Pain, Starshards, Devouring Plague, and Shadow Word: Death, you will not need to turn around to cast the spell. You are able to keep running. Psychic Scream (and possibly Power Word: Shield) should be used if the mob ever gets too close to you.

You can either kite to kill, which can take forever, or you can kite the mob to people who will help you kill it (such as: other players, or NPC guards).

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