As shadow priests, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that since we spend 90% of our time in Shadowform, we won't be able to see a lot of the detail of what we're wearing. So, in a way, we won't be able to get the maximum value out of transmogrification.
The good news is the flip side of that coin -- because we lose a lot of the color detail of our outfits via Shadowform, we can easily mix and match tier and non-tier pieces of different colors to create a coherent look. In fact, we really only need to focus on three specific slots that you can really see through the shadows: your weapon, your shoulders, and your helmet.
My favorite tier set for shadow priests has got to be the tier 6 Absolution Regalia. The centerpiece of the tier 6 set has to be the shoulders, Shoulderpads of Absolution. They give off the perfect shadow priest aura, a DPS set with a definite spiritual vibe -- so perfect, in fact, that it serves as the logo for Shadowpriest.com.
The Shoulderpads of Absolution can be bought with the Pauldrons of the Forgotten Conqueror tier token that drops off Mother Shahraz in the Black Temple BC raid. A look-alike piece, the Amice of Brilliant Light, drops off Shade of Akama, also in the Black Temple.
A lot of priests are going to be sporting that set, so if you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, you'll have to look somewhere else. Consider the tier 5 Avatar Regalia's Wings of the Avatar. As you can divine from the name, they do look something like a set of wings -- an element that meshes really well with our Dark Archangel ability.
Grabbing the Wings of the Avatar requires the tier 5 Pauldrons of the Vanquished Defender raid token that drops off of the Void Reaver in Tempest Keep: The Eye. Unfortunately, there aren't any look-alike drops; it's Wings of the Avatar or nothing.
A few cool runner-ups: Personally, I like the sharp edge of the tier 2 Pauldrons of Transcendence, which drop off Chromaggus in Blackwing Lair. I recommend against stealing tier sets from other classes -- I want you all to show some shadow priest pride. Still, if you're really interested in reliving your BC glory days, the Frozen Shadoweave Shoulders (a tailoring craftable) have a great priest vibe, especially when paired with the Collar of Cho'gall from Gruul the Dragonkiller in Gruul's Lair.
As a cloth-wearing class, priests often get the short end of the stick when it comes to head gear. After all, how many different ways can you style a cloth cowl? (A frat boy popped collar? That's an option, I guess.) Thankfully, there are some more interesting options as well -- there's no need to settle for boring and uninteresting.
While tier 3 may no longer be in the game, the shadow priest's tier 7 (from the Wrath version of Naxxramas) uses the same headpiece model. And that just happens to be my first pick -- the Heroes' Circlet of Faith, purchasable with the Helm of the Lost Conqueror tier token that drops off Kel'Thuzad. It's a simple look -- a halo -- but one that works well, especially with the unique shadow twist we put on all the gear we wear.
The more recent tier 9 Zabra's Cowl of Conquest (Horde only -- sorry, Alliance folks!) and the look-alike Hood of Clouded Sight have a very distinct, very cool, very DPS feel to it. You also get to see your character's hair. This is a definite plus for blood elves (and for blood elves at heart). No need to set foot in a raid for this one -- you can buy these with justice points. These pair great with Zabra's Mantle of Triumph or the Pauldrons of Catastrophic Emanation, the latter of which you can buy with justice points.
If you do go for the traditional cowl look, I suggest the tier 5 Hood of the Avatar, purchasable with the Helm of the Vanquished Defender tier token that drops off Lady Vashj in Serpentshrine Cavern. Really, though, what I like isn't necessarily the hood itself but the way the hood works with the whole tier 5 set; it feels the least "cloth" of all the priest tier sets.
Finally, don't be afraid to explore your non-tier headpiece choices. There are a lot of cool options out there. Take a look at the Cowl of the Illidari High Lord found in Black Temple or even something more recent, like the Collar of Bones.
If there's one end-all, be-all weapon for shadow priests, it's Anathema. Super-powered in its day, the Anathema is the shadowy alter ego of the healing priest's Benediction. (Dawn Moore had a great write-up on the staff last year.) Unfortunately, though, the staff was only obtainable via a priest-only quest chain in vanilla WoW that has since been removed from the game. Don't have it? Too bad -- you missed your chance.
That doesn't mean you're totally out of luck on some other neat weapon choices, however.
If you're looking for a solid priest-specific stave, consider farming non-heroic Stratholme for Redemption. It's a classic, simple staff used by some famous in-game priests: Argent Confessor Paletress and Stormwind's Archbishop Benedictus. Invincible Stave (BC quest reward) and Trindlehaven Staff (from Blackrock Spire) also has a great priest look. Or, you could just say "screw this traditional priest crap" and grab the Crystalheart Pulse-Staff and be the futuristic space priest you always dreamed of becoming.
What will I be using? Well, you can't really transmogrify Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest. Otherwise, I'd choose the Frostscythe of Lord Ahune. It's a really cool model that I never really got to take advantage of, because the itemization was so damned lousy this year.
You have a lot of choices for replacing a one-handed mace as well. I really like the model for the Gavel of Infinite Wisdom, another relic from vanilla WoW. You can still get it, but you need to put in a lot of work to complete the quest for it. I also like the Gavel of Naruu Blessings, a funky BC piece purchasable with justice points, and Archon's Gavel from Sunwell Plateau (for a Draenei). If you want something a little dark, you could get The Cruel Hand of Timmy from Stratholme -- it's pretty much just a skull on a stick. For something more classically "priest," consider the Hand of Righteousness, a drop off High Inquisitor Whitemane in Scarlet Monastery.
When it comes to one-handed daggers, there are a couple of different routes you can go. I like the Blade of Tarrasque from ToC (Alliance only), because it has a more priest-like feel than most other daggers out there. Yogg Saron's Soulscribe also has something of a priestly feel -- a blade that seems to exude a magical quality. Or, of course, you could just go total simplicity by grabbing the Moon Blade or Nethershard, and just let the sparkle of your enchant steal the show.
Choose what you think is cool
The coolest aspect of transmogrification is that there's absolutely no wrong way to do it. It's your character, and you finally get free rein to do whatever you want with it, appearance-wise. Have fun, and use the comments section below to tell everyone your shadow priest outfitting plans for 4.3.
Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? We've got more for shadow priests, from Shadow Priest 101 to a list of every monster worth mind controlling and strategies for raiding Blackwing Descent.