The Shadow Priest DPS Guide for PvE

Draenei Shadow Priestess "Regalia of the Exorcist" Tier 15 set  with Dinomancer's Spiritbinding SpireThe Shadow Priest got couple of nerfs and a buff in patch 5.3, but otherwise Shadow is still the damage machine that it’s always been. Here are some selected 5.3 patch notes, you can see the rest of the notes, here.
Selected 5.3 Notes: 

  • Mass Dispel had its mana cost reduced to 1%, down from 4.4%.
  • Mass Dispel no longer dispels magic effects that are normally undispellable (but see the Glyph of Mass Dispel.) Cast time has been decreased to 0.5 seconds, down from 1.5 seconds for Discipline and Holy Priests.
  • Void Shift was nerfed for Shadow: the cooldown has been increased to 10 minutes, up from 6 minutes, and the spell is no longer usable while in Arenas or Rated Battlegrounds
  • Glyph of Mass Dispel has been redesigned and no longer reduces cast time. The glyph now enables Mass Dispel to dispel magic effects that are normally undispellable. This restores Mass Dispell to its pre-5.3 value.
  • Glyph of Smite no longer causes the additional 20% damage dealt by Smite to transfer into Atonement.
  • Vampiric Embrace now has a healing cap of 15 raid members (up from 6) when used in a 25-player instance.

Shadow Priest Contents

  1. Shadow Priest Talents
  2. Glyphs
  3. Shadow Stats
  4. Rotations
  5. Gems
  6. Enchants
  7. Consumables
  8. Professions
  9. Races
  10. Shadow Abilities
  11. Addons & Macros
  12. Leveling Quickly
This Shadow Priest guide is primarily intended for use at level 90, in PvE environments and Raids. However, the principals will still apply during the leveling process, so if you’re looking for advice on leveling your Priest, check out our Priest Leveling Guide.Other Priest Guides: 

If you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to level 90 as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.

The Fastest Way to Level 90, Click Her to Start



Shadow Priest DPS Talents

Depending on the fight and your style you might want to switch talents up, or at least experiment. Talents can be changed at almost any time, you just need to click the new one, follow the prompts, and spend a tome. Keerp a stack of them handy.

Our picks, for general raid use, are checked: Best talent

Shadow Priest Tier 1 Talents

None of these are great, but they all have their uses. All three of these are situationally useful at best and unlikely to add much to a fight. Grab whichever fits your style and needs.

  1. Best talent Void Tendrils is an AoE CC and probably the most generally useful talent of this set. The tendrils can be attacked by the enemies, which is time spent NOT attacking your allies.
  2. Psyfiend is the living incarnation of fear spam, the Glyph of Psychic Scream makes it much more useful for PvE content.
  3. Dominate mind is exactly what it sounds like. The only “issue” is that it’s channeled, but creative people might come up with some good uses for it.

Shadow Priest Tier 2 Talents

  1. Best talent Body and Soul adds a nice, brief, speed boost when casting Power Word: Shield. Offers more speed control than the others.
  2. Angelic Feather is ideal for providing on demand speed boosts to one player at a time, tough to use accurately in crowded, chaotic conditions. Cheaper to cast than Body and Soul. Can be very nice outside of the raid.
  3. Phantasm doesn’t have much benefit in PvE.

Shadow Priest Tier 3 Talents

  1. From Darkness, Comes Light is the best choice for multi-target fights as it has more chances to proc. Some don’t care for the randomness of the procs.
  2. Mindbender is a DPS increase and optimal for single target, mana heavy, encounters.
  3. Best talent Solace and Insanity is is best for most encounters. It can pump out some pretty nice burst.

Shadow Priest Tier 4 Talents

Do you want your survival as something that works automatically or that you control?

  1. Desperate Prayer is an instant self-heal for a decent amount of health. This is a good choice if you want the control over your spells.
  2. Spectral Guise is for PvP.
  3. Best talent Angelic Bulwark shields us when we drop to low health, an alternative method of survivability to Desperate Prayer and it doesn’t use up a key slot. Angelic Bulwark might beat out Desperate Prayer on fights where you expect to drop to low health more often than Desperate Prayer can be of use. If you’re take “one hit” damage and you’re over 30% health then it doesn’t help. Of course, neither of the others will either. Picked due to its ease of use and shorter cooldown.

Shadow Priest Tier 5 Talents

  1. Twist of Fate is a good choice for single target DPS, especially if you can use low health adds to proc the thing.
  2. Best talent Power Infusion is the most useful talent in this tier as it provides the most reliable buff.
  3. Divine Insight is optimal for multi-target fights where it has more chances to proc when your DoTs are active on all enemies.

Shadow Priest Tier 6 Talents

All three talents are AoE abilities, pick whichever best suits the positioning of your targets. Check out the HaloPro addon, at Curse, to get the most use from these abilities (not just Halo.)

  1. Tightly stacked or single targets you’ll want to use Best talent Halo, spread out Cascade.
  2. Divine Star is great for small groups (heroics, challenges, etc, less useful for 25s, but since raid groups often form tight clumps it definitely has its uses.


Shadow Glyphs

There are a number of glyphs that can be used by your Shadow Priest, but only a few are actually worth using.

  1. Glyph of Dark Binding – You can now cast Prayer of Mending, Renew, and Leap of Faith without cancelling Shadowform. This adds a fair amount of raid utility and the off-healing might even save your buns, not to mention being able to cast the occasional Prayer of Mending and help out your team.
  2. Glyph of Mind Flay – Since you will be casting Mind Flay all the time you might as well take this a get a nice little speed boost with the cast. More time in range means higher DPS numbers.
  3. Glyph of Inner Sanctum – A nice little survivability buff.
  4. Glyph of Vampiric Embrace – More healing (to you) and lower duration.
  5. Glyph of Weakened Soul – Get to use PW: Shield that much more often.

Minor Glyphs are all cosmetic, they have no utility or DPS value. Pick any three to change the look of your abilities.


Shadow Stat Priorities

  1. Primary stats: Intellect
  2. Secondary: Hit/Expertise/Spirit (15%) > Haste > Critical
  3. Weak: Mastery
  4. Useless: Spell Hit over 15%

Hit, Expertise, and Spirit (from items and effects) all add into your Spell Hit rating. Since you can’t damage what you don’t hit, you should work to get your Spell Hit to that 15%. Spell Hit over 15% has zero value to you. Also note that:

  • Draenei get a +1 Hit
  • Gnomish dagger expertise adds to your Spell Hit if a dagger is equipped in the main hand.
  • Human mace expertise adds to your Spell Hit if a mace is equipped in the main hand. The Human Spirit increase also counts.

Spirit doesn’t have the same value as it does for healers as you’re fairly mana efficient. It does, as noted above, add to your Spell Hit rating.

Haste speeds up everything you do and will lead to the best overall DPS increase.

Mastery and Crit are very close to each other in value and you exact gear will determine which is “better.” Pick one or the other. Technically Mastery is slightly better.

If you have Unerring Vision of Lei-Shen, with its large crit proc, then you should prioritize Crit over Mastery, otherwise Mastery is first.

Reforging: Make sure you have your 15% Spell Hit, then reforge for Haste and then Mastery (unless you have that trinket) if your item already has haste.


In-Depth Shadow Priest Rotation Guide

Shadowform should be active at all times, as should Inner Fire or in cases of heavy movement potentially Inner Will.

Your top priority is to maintain your DoTs on your target. These are Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch.

  1. Mind Blast should be cast on cooldown, as it serves as one of your primary methods of generating Shadow Orbs.
  2. Devouring Plague should be cast whenever you have 3 Shadow Orbs.
  3. Cast Shadow Word: Death on cooldown, this spell can only be used when the target is at lower than 20% health.
  4. Use Mind Flay when no other spells are available.

When facing multiple targets, apply your DoTs to all targets (assuming they’ll live long enough for the DoT to actually deal some damage) and continue to use Mind Blast, Devouring Plague and Mind Flay as state above.

If you’re facing a particularly large group of enemies, meaning somewhere over 5 or 6, channel Mind Sear on either one of the enemies or preferably a friendly target such as a tank who is positioned close enough for the spell to hit all targets.


  1. Shadowfiend should be used on cooldown for extra damage and mana.
  2. Dispersion can be used to avoid damage and/or generate mana depending on your circumstances. You’ll primarily be using this for mana purposes depending on the encounter as some fights may demand the use of Dispersion for survival purposes instead.
  3. Vampiric Embrace should be saved for when it will help the raid/group most as it has a 3 minute cooldown and only a 15 second duration. This buff causes your single target damaging spells to heal allies for 50% of the damage.

Tier 3 Talented Abilities:

  1. From Darkness, Comes Light will have to be monitored to make the most of the instant cast Mind spike it can provide.
  2. Mindbender simply augments the use of your Shadowfiend and should be used on cooldown as normal.

Tier 5 Talented Abilities:

  1. Twist of Fate is a passive effect so you won’t need to worry about using it.
  2. Power Infusion should be used on cooldown.
  3. Whenever Divine Insight procs you should use Mind Blast as soon as possible for maximum Shadow Orbs generation.


Gems for the ShadowPriest

Unless a socket bonus offers intellect, it’s more effective to gem for pure intellect and ignore the bonus. Note that gems for secondary stats, such as Haste, have twice the value of Int: 320 Vs 160. Given a decent sockets bonus (for Int) it’s a good idea to use hybrid Int gems to match the socket colors.

Your Shadow Priest bonus adds to any Int gem bonuses, making them worth 5% more Int, that bonus does not add to other stats.

As your gear improves so does the value of Haste, meaning that after about a 505 item level you will want to start gemming even more for Haste. In either case you do want to match socket colors for the bonuses.

The Gems  Lower level gear item level 505 and better
Meta socket: Burning Primal Diamond Sinister Primal Diamond
Red, Belt Beckle, Blacksmithing slots Brilliant Primordial Ruby Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Yellow sockets: Reckless Vermilion Onyx Quick Sun’s Radiance
Blue sockets: Purified Imperial Amethyst Energized Wild Jade

Lots of gems are shown if you want to play around with the numbers. Check out Tycoon if you need more gold to buy these things.

Gemming Shadow
Meta Sinister Primal Diamond: +324 Critical Strike, and chance on spell damage to gain 30% spell haste
Burning Primal Diamond: +216 Int & 3% Increased Crit Effect
Red Brilliant Serpent’s Eye: 320 Int, self-only Jewelcrafting gem
Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
Yellow Quick Sun’s Radiance: +320 Haste
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +320 Mastery
Smooth Sun’s Radiance: +320 Crit
Blue Sparkling River’s Heart: +320 Spirit
Rigid River’s Heart: +320 Hit
Orange Potent Vermilion Onyx: +80 Int & +160 Crit
Reckless Vermilion Onyx: 80 Int, 160 Haste
Artful Vermilion Onyx: +80 Int & +160 Mastery
Green Energized Wild Jade: +160 Haste, +160 Spirit
Zen Wild Jade: +160 Mastery, +160 Spirit
Sensei’s Wild Jade: +160 Hit and +160 Mastery
Piercing Wild Jade: +160 Critical Strike and +160 Hit
Energized Wild Jade: +160 Haste, +160 Spirit
Purple Purified Imperial Amethyst: +80 Int, +160 Spirit
Veiled Imperial Amethyst: 80 Int and 160 Hit
Prismatic Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
Cogwheel Sparkling Tinker’s Gear: 600 Spirit – requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: 600 Haste
Smooth Tinker’s Gear: 600 Crit
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: 600 Mastery


Enchantments for Shadow

Short on gold? If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Tycoon Addon can do about about fixing your poverty.

Your Priest bonus adds to any Int enchant bonuses, making them worth 5% more Int. That bonus does not add to other stats.

Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants all come from the Inscription profession.

Priestly Enchantments
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit: Sometimes increases Int by 1650
Shoulders Secret Crane Wing Inscription: 520 Int and 100 Crit rating, Requires Inscription 550.
Greater Crane Wing Inscription: +200 Int and 100 Crit
Cloak Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect: +180 Int
Lightweave Embroidery – attacks can give 2k Int for 15 sec, requires tailoring
Chest Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +80 to all stats
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect: +180 Int
Fur Lining increases Int by 500, requires leatherworking.
Socket Bracer – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste: +170-Haste
Socket Gloves – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Gem slot for a nice Int gem
Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread: +285 Int and +165 Crit
Boots Enchant Boots – Greater Precison: +175 Hit rating
Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +140 Mastery, slight run speed increase.
Rings Enchant Ring – Greater Intellect: +160 Int, Requires Enchanting 550


Consumables for Shadow

Note that Pandarens get twice the food buff.

All food buffs last one hour. Alchemists get about 30% more effect and an extra hour from Flasks and Elixirs.





Professions for Shadow Priests

All of the professions provide some benefit for Priests of any spec, though clearly some are better than others. Even the gathering professions have some value, though you might be better served by using those to build a larger gold stash. Note that Herbalism has a big Haste cooldown, lifeblood, and that Haste is a great stat for your Shadow Priest.

If you’re looking for the buffs then Blacksmithing might be the best choice wince you can slot two gems and gems with secondary stats have twice the value of those with primary stats, 320 Haste Vs 160 Int, per gem, for example. It also gives you a bit more versatility with gem slotting. If you look at the gem selection, above, you’ll see that at high gear levels Haste become more and more valuable. Blacksmithing will give you 640 Haste.

Your Priest bonus adds to any profession bonuses.

Priestly Professions
Tailoring Cloak enchant sometimes adds 2k Int.
Leatherworking Bracer enchant adds 500 int.
Jewelcrafting Make nicer gems for your own use.
Enchanting Enchant both rings, for a total +320 Int gain.
Inscription Shoulder enchant adds 520 Int and 100 crit.
Alchemy More effect from your own potions. Adds 320 Int and an extra hour to your main flask, about 30% and an extra hour to all your flasks and elixirs.
Engineering has lots of interesting toys, some of which have situational use, and Synapse Springs, which increases Int by 1940 for a short time. If you take this use a macro to activate it along with other short term buffs.
Blacksmithing gives two extra gems slots for 640 in secondary stats, if you want them.
Skinning provides 480 crit rating
Herbalism Small heal and 2880 Haste for 20 seconds
Mining 480 Stamina


Race Choice for Priests

Since Cataclysm all of the WoW races can be Shadow Priests, except Orcs. Yes, even Pandarens can be Priests.

Most of the racial abilities will make very little difference in the end-game. If a Gnome or Goblin works for you, then go for it. If you want some extra burst then go Orc, if you want that escape ability for PvP then go Human. Want to just look gnarly? Undead or Worgen.

Blood Elf: You have the best hair, does that count?

  • Arcane Torrent restores some mana and silences casters, but you aren’t planning to be that close to other casters.
  • B’elves are good with Enchanting.

Goblin: Two goblins were shipwrecked and stranded on a small island. When rescued they had both become rich by trading their boots back and forth.

  • Increased Haste is a decent stat for you.
  • Rocket Jump is a nice escape for when things get close.
  • Vendor discounts will make things a bit easier on the good supply, especially if you’re poor (and why would you be poor?)

Tauren: Besides being cute, cuddly, and well horned, they can do a…

  • War Stomp stuns nearby opponents. This is an occasionally useful ability to stun things allowing you to escape. Melee range is not where you want to be.
  • The increased health is nice at mid-levels and amounts to about three Stam gems at 90.
  • Good with Herbalism.

Troll: Best tusks, laid back, but make pretty good Priests.

  • Berserking is a good emergency ability, increasing your casting speed for a few seconds. Drop it into your burst macro.
  • Increased damage Vs Beasts will help vs some trash mobs and any bosses that happen to be classed as “beasts.”
  • Resistance to movement impariing effects, like the Orc ability, has its uses in PvP, but less so elsewhere.
  • Ranged weapon expertise has zero value for you.

Undead: You’re Undead because the Gods didn’t want you and now you’re a Priest? Well… you are Shadow.

  • Canibalism can reduce downtime and means that you don’t have to carry food along while leveling. If you do PvP you can eat your opponents after you kill them.
  • Will of the Forsaken is a very nice PvP ability, but you’ll find little use for it elsewhere.
  • Touch of the Grave drains life and heals you for the same amount. This ability automatically triggers with your spell-casting and will add a bit to your DPS.


Draenei: Your (male) shoulders make a human look puny.

  • +1 to Hit racial is a nice stat, as it adds right into that 15% Spell Hit you will need.
  • The self-heal would be nice if you didn’t already have a few of your own.

Dwarf: So Runt, Ya wanna be a Priest, eh?

  • Your Stoneform washes away bleeds and reduces damage, which will occasionally be useful to you.
  • Expertise with Maces adds 1% to your Spell Hit if you equip a mace in your main hand.
  • Ranged weapon Expertise is useless to you.
  • Good with Archeology.

Human: You look good in the right armor and have two things that can add to your Spell Hit.

  • Your escape ability is nice for PvP and it allows you to use two DPS trinkets, or grab more Resilience, but the ability is pretty situational when raiding.
  • Diplomacy if great is you have any interest in building Rep with any of the bazillion WoW factions.
  • Your Spirit is increased by 3%, which helps with Spell Hit and Mana Regen.
  • Expertise with Mace adds 1% to your Spell Hit if you equip a mace in your main hand.

Gnome: Besides being the butt of “short jokes” you do have a couple of useful abilities.

  • Expertise with daggers will add 1% to your Spell Hit if you equip a dagger in your main hand.
  • Escaping from Speed Altering Effects (slows) has its uses in PvE (rare) and PvP.
  • Increased Mana pool will be of some use.
  • Good with Engineering, a pretty useful skill.

Night Elf: You look good in armor and you know it.

  • Shadowmeld will let you drop out of combat and drops aggro, so is handy for those times when things get tight.
  • 2% increased dodge is nice while tanking, but you will have little use for it.

Worgen: One word: Snuffling. Other than that the Crit and Sprint are quite nice.

  • Increased crit chance is an Ok stat for you.
  • Moving quickly is definitely a useful ability.
  • Worgen are good with skinning (which also adds to your Crit rating.)


Shadow Abilities

These abilities define you as a Shadow Priest, all the other abilities and talents are common to any Priest.


Mind Flay 10 Basic attack
Spiritual Precision (P) 20 Spell Hit gained from Spirit
Devouring Plague 21 Burn Shadow Orbs to throw damage and heal self.
Mind Blast 21 Basic attack, generate an Orb.
Shadow Orbs (P) 21 Used to power Dev. Plague and Psychic horror
Shadowform 24 Hmmm, I wonder what this couild be…
Vampiric Touch 28 Put a DOT on the opposition and gain mana.
Shadowy Apparitions (P) 42 A Shadowy suicide bomber you walks towards the enemy.
Mind Spike 44 Blasts the target and zaps your DOTs on same.
Silence 52 Time to shut up. The enemy, not you.
Dispersion 60 Massive damage reduction and regen mana
Psychic Horror xxxx 74 Boo!
Vampiric Embrace 78 Heal allies while you do damage.
Mastery: Shadowy Recall (P) 80 More damage from your DOTs.
Void Shift 87 Swap health numbers with an ally, might restore some health if one or the other is very low.


Addons and Macros for Shadow

Some useful Shadow addons

Descriptions are from the addon developer. Click through for more info on each.

  • Forte Xorcist – This provides you with a lot of useful tools to make playing your character easier and more fun. The main features are a Spell Timer, Cooldown Timer, Self & Raid messages, Warning Sounds, and more.
  • Weak Auras – WeakAuras is a powerful and flexible framework that allows you to display highly customizable graphics on your screen to indicate buffs, debuffs, and a whole host of similar types of information. It was originally meant to be a lightweight replacement for Power Auras, but it now incorporates many features that Power Auras does not, while still remaining more efficient and easy to use.
  • Gnosis is a highly configurable castbar and single timer addon. Gnosis can show ticks of channeled spells, detect unintentional clipping while channeling and combine data of channeled spells to combat text addons (MSBT, SCT, Parrot). It also allows to create buff, debuff, and cooldown (spell, rune, item) timers with a similar set of options castbars have. 
  • HaloPro creates a customizable bar that can be sized and positioned anywhere in your UI. As you move closer or farther away from a tracked unit the bar’s texture changes to let you know whether you need to move in or away to get in proper range (25 yards). This ensures you can accurately cast and time your use of Halo. HaloPro also goes further and monitors the other lvl 90 talents as well, to ensure you are maxing your healing or damage from Cascade, and know you are never out of range for Divine Star to hit twice.
  • Impluse makes keybindng and macros easy. Check it out.

Shadow Priest Macros

These were grabbed from HowToPriest. Check ‘em out.

Dispersion: Press once to Disperse, again to cancel if you don’t need the full amount of mana or damage reduction. DO NOT button mash this because you’ll immediately cancel it.

  • #showtooltip Dispersion
  • /cancelaura Dispersion
  • /cast Dispersion

Devouring Plague: These trigger the on use Engineer glove enchant and both trinkets any time they’re off CD and you recast DP. 10 is the Item Slot number for Hands while 13 and 14 are your trinkets. You can also drop other burst enchants here, such as the cooldown from your herbalism skill, lifeblood.

#showtooltip Devouring Plague
/use 10
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Devouring Plague

Tier 90: Spinalcrack’s Tier 90 one button macro. Best macro ever. NAME THIS “T90″ OR IT WILL NOT WORK! This is useful if you regularly switch your top tier talents. With this you only need one key and never again have to drag the new talent down to your bar. It will switch the tooltip and the icon upon your first cast after grabbing the new talent.

  • #showtooltip
  • /cast Cascade
  • /cast Divine Star
  • /cast Halo
  • /script m_c=GetSpellInfo(121135); m_ds=GetSpellInfo(110744); m_h=GetSpellInfo(120517)
  • /run SetMacroSpell(“T90″, GetSpellInfo(m_c) or GetSpellInfo(m_ds) or GetSpellInfo(m_h))

Power Infusion: Keeps PI on your bars after you change out of it so you don’t have to remap it every time.

  • #showtooltip Power Infusion
  • /cast Power Infusion

Shackle Undead: Easiest way to use Shackle is in a focus based macro such as this one. Feel free to augment the /clearfocus to suit you.

  • #showtooltip Shackle Undead
  • /clearfocus [mod:alt][@focus,dead][@focus,help][@focus,noexists]
  • /clearfocus [mod:shift]
  • /focus [@focus,noexists]
  • /cast [@focus]Shackle Undead

Dominate Mind: Basically the same as Shackle, but with the Dominate Mind talent instead:

  • #showtooltip Dominate Mind
  • /clearfocus [mod:alt][@focus,dead][@focus,help][@focus,noexists]
  • /clearfocus [mod:shift]
  • /focus [@focus,noexists]
  • /cast [@focus]Dominate Mind


How to Get your Priest to the Level CapASAP

Hit the Level Cap FastPriest leveling is easy, especially for Shadow. Holy and Disc. can level in PvP or Dungeons and Shadow can do all of that and quest effectively. Then you hit the tops and the game changes. And then you have those other alts you want to level though those 90 levels.

With the thousands of quests to 90 and a bazillion mobs to kill (not to mention other players, but they don’t count here) sorting out which quests are best and which series of quests will get you to 90 the fastest is important, which is why we highly recommend Zygor’s Guide.

Zygor’s is an in-game guide and it nearly automates the whole leveling process: you just pick your starting point, at any level, and the guide tracks which quest you’re on, tracks the quest objectives, and automatically advances and updates as you complete your tasks and quests. In addition, a waypoint arrow is set automatically, so you never have to wonder where to go. All of the important quest info is included in the guide so you never have to wonder what to do. You’ll find that it’s vastly superior to the in-game questing help.

Playing with Heirlooms and/or Recruit a friend? Gaining a few levels in the dungeons or in PvP? Zygor has your backThe guide knows what level you are and will correctly suggest where to go next and will let you dump all of your obsolete quests. You will probably never need to look at your quest log again.

Grab your copy here and get to 90 as fast as possible, or read our review, first.

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