HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

The Shadow Priest Changes for Cataclysm

Shadow Priest with Shadow Orbs

Welcome to the future!

I read the Priest Class Changes for Cataclysm (MMO Champion link for when the Blizzard one breaks) right after they were released. I was standing at a target dummy in Stormwind messing with my UI and it was a quiet afternoon when a guildie asked me if I had read the post. I read it. I thought: oh well that’s not great, not too bad either. And went back to making my ForteXorcist Spell Timer match the exact width of Quartz.

I counted myself lucky when, a day later, Lathere totally freaked out that Tree form might be taken away from her. At least they weren’t removing Shadowform or something!

During last night’s server maintenance I started reading what all the blogging Priests, mostly healers, thought of our class changes. I never intended to post on the two or three Shadow Priest changes mentioned. I hate doing news pieces for the blog – I always feel like I’m under some tight deadline to get things out while its is still relevant. But after I left my 2nd lengthy comment I discovered that I actually had quite a lot to say.

And I felt that someone ought to comment on the Shadow Priest changes. And since there are only a couple of Shadow Priest blogs out there… here goes.

Heal (available at level 16): While priests already have a spell called Heal, the existing version becomes obsolete at higher levels, which is something we intend to change in Cataclysm.

I know, not actually a Shadow Priest change. But I’m actually really happy to hear about this change.

I tend to bring abilities out onto my toolbar the moment I learn them, convinced, that at some point, in some situation that spell will the right one to use. The very first time I healed (well successfully) was when I reached level 40 something and healed an entire Zul’Farruk run using Lesser Heal and Renew.

I don’t understand the logic in teaching new players one spell only to introduce them to something else later under a completely different name. Sure you want your heals to become more powerful as you rack up the levels. Isn’t that what Spell Ranks are for?

Mind Spike (level 81): Deals Shadowfrost damage and puts a debuff on the target that improves subsequent Mind Spike damage.

The intent of Mind Spike is to fill a niche missing in Shadow DPS, though it may be occasionally useful for healers as well. Mind Spike provides a quick nuke to use in situations where the priest doesn’t have time to set up the normal rotation, such as when adds are dying too fast or you have to swap targets a lot.

Spamming Mind Spike will do about as much damage as casting Mind Flay on a target afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain. The idea behind the debuff is that when you cast Mind Spike, we expect you to cast a lot of them; we don’t intend you to fit it into an already full Shadow rotation.

It also provides Shadow with a spell to cast when locked out of the Shadow school. (School lockouts will no longer affect both schools for multi-school spells.) 1.5-second cast. 30-yard range. No cooldown.

The first Shadow Priest change announced. I know that a lot will change between now and the release of Cataclysm and I really truly hope that it’s the name of this spell. I am willing to pay. Otherwise I’m forever going to be hearing Lord Marrogar saying “stick around!” like some kind of catchy horrifying remix by Mr Voletron.

Also, I don’t think Blizzard took into account that the Shadow Priest abbreviation for Mind Spike “MS” is already taken. Have you ever tried to read an Arcane Mage theory crafting article when 70% of the Arcane spells all abbreviate to “AB”?!

I’m glad that the developers have correctly identified that Shadow Priesting is pretty miserable in instances. Especially when your party brings a truckload of DPS in the form of a Mage or Hunter or Shaman or Paladin or… well you get the picture.

A year ago I would have said “who cares” and that feeling weak in one situation – a dungeon/raid trash – is a fair sacrifice for being so fun to play in other parts of the game. However, if Cataclysm follows the trend set in Wrath of the Lich King we’ll be running the Cataclysm heroics for the entire expansion. And for many players who don’t want to raid, they’ll be spending all their play time in dungeons wondering why their alt Mage still wearing level 80 gear can out-DPS their Shadow Priest.

I don’t really like Blizzard’s solution to the problem here. Partly that’s because Shadow Priests have been promised a new, no cooldown, nuke for Cataclysm. Something that will replace our channeled Mind Flay (with its snare utility) as our go-to spell in Cataclysm. I was really, really, looking forward to replacing the channeled part of our rotation with a direct damage spell that’s not so fussy. No more worry about clipping the spell too soon or being hampered by unpredictable latency. I’m worried that Mind Spike will be this new spell. And that we’ll still be Mind Flaying during boss encounters.

I don’t want Shadow Priests, even with our annoyingly long ramp up time, to change into something we’re not: bursty, with front loaded damage and spammy, benefiting from casting one spell over and over again. I feel that Mind Spike will make it easier to play a Shadow Priest without thinking in a dungeon setting. But I don’t think anybody who chooses to play a Shadow Priest should be happy about that.

Perhaps this spell will be the one that makes all the Discipline and Holy Priests out there no longer hate Shadow spec for solo play? If so, they should have called it Mind Smite.

Inner Will (level 83): Increases movement speed by 12% and reduces the mana cost of instant-cast spells by 10%. This buff will be exclusive with Inner Fire, meaning you can’t have both up at once. Inner Fire provides a spell power and Armor buff; Inner Will should be useful on a more situational basis.

I just read this as a PVP version of Inner Fire.

Other bloggers are reading all kinds of amazing things into this spell but I think it’s more likely that raiding Shadow Priests will be totally unwilling to loose the spellpower boost even temporarily mid fight – or whatever Inner Fire will give if spellpower is gone – unless they’re in a phase when they cannot cast at all.

Be handy for something like swimming to the orbs in Dreamwalker. But that’s a healer senario.

Wait. I know exactly what I’ll be using this for. To pop while clearing trash. Yep, I’ll just pop Dispersion at the same time and laugh at the Hunters and Mages as I fly past. Now I’m excited.

Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or “Life Grip”) is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can’t seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.

A lot as been said about this spell already. My initial reaction to this was simple: it’ll never make it to live servers. At the moment it has a 45 second cooldown. I also expect that it will have a nasty mana cost or high threat component but make no mistake: it will come with a high cost so that you, as a Priest, are hesitant to cast it.

Alternatively, I believe it may become in PVE what a Death Knight’s Death Grip has become. Something that the Death Knight uses to help the raid, that everybody fervently wishes they just wouldn’t use it at all. Eventually the Raid Leader snaps and declares that nothing is to be Death Grip-ped in raid. The ability that, if you use it under your own initiative as a Raider Trial, will soon get you gkicked.

On a more serious note, I dislike the notion that a Priest should be that responsible for their raid members. Priests are not baby sitters and even if your raid members don’t expect you to become one, I feel that having an ability like this will slowly change our own thinking about ourselves and our raid. For example, having Hymn of Hope forced me to be aware of other players’ mana. Even once they take that spell away, I’m sure parts of my brain will still be sparking unnecessarily when I see our Holy Paladin get brezzed.

If it does come in I’m going to follow Amber’s advice on how to use Leap of Faith:

Yank some easily movement impaired class to you for no reason other than to fuck up their DPS.

Yank the melee to you after they blow their cooldowns.

DoTs and Haste. All HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).

This is actually my favourite change announced. I’d love to return to a time when Vampiric Touch was 15 seconds, Shadow Word: Pain was 18 seconds and Devouring Plague was 24 seconds. At the moment Haste is shortening those durations and this can throw off your rhythm a little bit.

Anything that gives us a smoother rotation and higher DoT uptime is something I really favor.

Bringing Shadow Word: Death back into the Rotation. We want to bring back Shadow Word: Death as an “execute” — something you do when the target is at 25% health.

I’d be really curious to see how they manage to pull this off. For as long as I’ve been playing the Shadow Priest Shadow Word: Death has either been a steady part of the rotation (the Burning Crusade) or absolutely not a part of the rotation (Wrath of the Lich King). At no point as the decision to use Shadow Word: Death been affected by the health of the boss.

Quite amusing when you think about it actually.

I’m quite a fan of Shadow Word: Death as it stands right now. It’s an excellent spell to cast when you’re on the move. It has a small penalty so you do need to use a part of your brain before using it (killing yourself is as embarrassing now as it was years ago). It’s an excellent spell to strike down mobs in heroics. If it crits it can feel godlike. PVP-ers still claim that you can use the backlash to break out of CC but this obviously requires a hell of a lot more skill and timing than I can manage.

Perhaps they could do something like make the damage dealt by Shadow Word: Death inversely scaled to the health of the target – like if you cast it when the boss is at 90% it does 10th of its potential damage. Cast it at 20% and it does 80% of it’s potential damage. And I don’t think Shadow Word: Death should ever kill you, it should be capped to bring you down to like 10% or something, but never outright kill you. Getting to 10% health is pretty dangerous all on its own.

Oh yeah. And if you want us to use it, make sure it hits harder than Mind Flay.

Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game.

Awesome! So far we’re down to 4 buffs instead of 5 (6 if you count Shadowform) on the pre-pull buff checklist. Can you make Vampiric Embrace, Shadowform and Inner Fire/Will persist through death?

Replenishment. Mana will be a bigger consideration… We’re also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don’t feel as penalized when those buffs aren’t available.

Oh my. Do I even want to get started? Replenishment is offered by four classes. Nearly half the classes available in the game. I want to see these raids that don’t have Replenishment. And don’t tell me that your Hunter/Mage chooses not to spec into it, because that’s not our problem. That’s your Hunter/Mage being inflexible. And who doesn’t have a Retribution Paladin hanging around? They’re everywhere.

I’ll bet you’re thinking “of course Cassandri takes Replenishment for granted – she’s a Shadow Priest!”. Well you’re wrong. I don’t take Replenishment for granted. I’m not a healer but I need it all the same. My spell costs and abilities are all factored around the understanding that I’ll be getting mana back from Replenishment. When they nerfed Replenishment you can bet I noticed it.

I love that Replenishment is a buff provided by DPS classes – something that we can give back to our healers. Frankly if they’re going to nerf Replenishment further I wish they’d just remove it from the game. Why bother? I’d like something amazing for my effort, instead of something that forces me to cast Mind Blast on a Vampiric Touch-ed target to keep it up.

We want to improve Shadow for short fights and reduce its susceptibility to school lockouts.

That’s what I figured the Mind Spike spell was all about – short fights. I hadn’t really noticed the problem with being locked out of Shadow spells. Must be a PVP thing because any PVE Shadow lock out that I can think of – Lord Jaraxxus and his mistresses? – is preventable.

Talents. Since the Shadow tree has a lot of passive damage-boosting abilities — something we’re trying to avoid in Cataclysm — we will need to replace several of the tree’s talents. One idea is to play off of the new Shadow Orbs mechanic (see Mastery section below), possibly allowing you to consume an orb to increase damage from Mind Blast or reduce Mind Spike’s cast time.

I don’t really understand the Mastery thing and I’m quite happy to figure that out once I’m hitting level 81. It’s true – our Shadow talents are mostly boosts to our damage under certain conditions: when such and such spell is up, when you’re in Shadowform etc. I’d be really excited to see what else they have in mind.

I’m ambivalent about the Shadow Orbs mechanic that they’ve brought up here. I think of Earth, Water and Lighning Shields as very unique Shaman abilties. Very visual Shaman abilities. They are also really annoying when they lose charges and drop off while you’re busy doing something else.

I don’t mind the idea of having some spare charges lying around, but my primary concern/question is “what is this going look/animate like?”. I don’t want to see a Shadowpriest hovering in the back of the room with 3 black balls spinning around their body. Give us something that complements Shadowform and doesn’t look anything like a Shaman’s shield and I’ll be happy. Ideally they won’t be visual at all and might just be a resource system like a Death Knight’s rune system – something only the Death Knight user can really see and monitor.

Utility and Misery. Misery will no longer affect spell Hit chance. We want players to be able to gear themselves around a Hit cap that isn’t variable depending on group composition.

I remember when Misery was a debuff that meant the target was susceptible to Shadow Damage from the party/raid. But I can’t find anything to back that up.

Nobody enjoys spending talents to buff +hit anyway. No problem, get rid of it. Now what are you going to give us that is awesome?

Further Reading

16 Responses to “The Shadow Priest Changes for Cataclysm”

  1. LenNo Gravatar says

    I’m not sure mind spike will be *that* used as a cast-over-and-over-and-over nuke. On any bosses or hefty trash mind flay + dots will still be the way to go. On large dungeon or raid trash pulls, mind sear will still be the way to go. Shadow priests can actually do pretty well in dungeons with careful use of multi dotting and mind sear and not feel like a *total* waste of space.

    I see mind spike being used on small individual trash mobs, mobs that need to be burst down quickly or even to ramp up a bit of burst on a boss when all dots are ticking? I guess we’ll see what the numbers say!

    Blizzard said priests would get a nuke without a cooldown – they never said it would replace mind flay.

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      You’re quite right – we only speculated that our new nuke would be intended to replace Mind Flay (this was around the time they couldn’t decide if it should have the snare or not in PVE).

      Of course Mind Spike isn’t going to replace our entire rotation. What worries me is that many players will just find that spamming Mind Spike produces enough damage to get through your average dungeon/heroic. And I think that would be a shame. On three targets I imaging spamming Mind Spike on each on consecutively would be more damage than Mind Sear (since Mind Sear would only hit 2 targets).

      I think the intention is that we’ll swap to our new spell when it comes time to burn down Bone Spikes or the like – raid adds that have little health and are top priority.

  2. NatarumahNo Gravatar says

    The idea is for a single Mind Spike to deal as much damage as Mind Flay boosted by Shadow Word: Pain. Blizzard has been quiet about whether they mean every cast or over the same time, so that is open to interpretation.

    In the strictest sense of reading this, Mind Spike deals Mind Flay +10% damage (as boosted by SW:P) in 2 casts (2x 1.5 seconds cast). It will also put a debuff on the target increasing the damage of the next Mind Spike.

    In the best case scenario, this means that you deal 2x (Mind Flay+10%) damage – if the damage Blizzard reports is per cast instead of over an equal time – plus the damage from the debuff. This could add up to a lot of spammable damage, and might be worth it over multi-dotting a few trash. It probably won’t beat Mind Sear on lots of trash.

  3. ShivaNo Gravatar says

    Well, in regards to “Shadow orb” being unique, don’t forget back in vanilla our Horde shadow priests had a similar mechanic/device. Shadowguard was the troll racial for priests and worked pretty much the same way Lightning shield does, except shadowguard also had the added bonus of being able to proc blackout and what not.

    It was kind of cool, having a rogue opening up on a poor little troll, only to get a blackout proc from the shadowguard. And suddenly you’re free to turn around and melt his face with his stunlock interrupted.

    Also, I think under current implementation, mindflay will never leave the rotation, at the very least, it will always be useful for refreshing shadow word: pain. That said, as a player from vanilla, I am kind of disappointed as how Shadow Word: Pain has fallen into somewhat of a state of disgrace. Shadow Word: Pain use to be the single most powerful DoT in the game, now it’s one of the weakest and we only use it because it’s fire-and-forget via Mindflay refreshes.

    I pray to Elune on a nightly basis “Grief Grip” does not make it live in any state or form. I do not want to be responsible for some fail DPS standing in the fire. No.

    I do like the implications with the return of Shadow Word: Death and Mind Spike though. Having to be intelligent about spellcasts in different situation, that’s always a good thing in my book. Though, I am kind of worried by the number of keybinds needed…

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      I wholehearted agree Shiva. At the time they announced we were getting a new nuke was around the time that they discovered that Shadow Word: Pain refreshing with Mind Flay was just to difficult to work around. I think on the ShadowPriest.com forums there was a lot of talk that perhaps they were just giving up on Pain and Suffering (the refresh talent) because they had something else planned for the next expansion.

      I was hoping:
      (a) Mind Flay would become something of a PVP ability which really makes use of the snare. And we would get something else, direct damage off cooldown, for PVE
      (b) Shadow Word: Pain would be placed higher on the DPS stakes than Devouring Plague

      I’ll always think of Shadow Word: Pain, the very first real Shadow spell that Priests learn, as being one of our iconic abilities and it should be GOOD. Devouring Plague is an ex-racial spell that I’ve only been able to cast for a year.

      Unfortunately I played a Rogue up until several months into the Burning Crusade and I didn’t know anything about the Horde racials at the time. I take it that Shadowguard didn’t have a visual effect?

      • ShivaNo Gravatar says

        Did a quick google of it, found a link to thottbot: http://thottbot.com/q5643

        The graphic pretty much looks just like Lightning Shield, except it’s all shadowy. However, it’s likely you never saw it as there never were many troll shadow priests to begin with; most preferred to go Undead.

        That said, on the same token… “Mind Flay” is iconic too. Or as it’s better known “face melt”. Don’t forget at the core, back at level 60, Shadow Priests pretty much had three things: Shadowform, Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Flay.

        I however do agree with you, but in sort of an ironic sense/way. From the sounds of things, it sounds like Mind Spike will be a vastly better pvp ability except in Warsong Gulch. Mind Spike dealing shadowfrost damage means we won’t be as hampered by shadow resistance… and also being on a separate lockout from our other shadow spells is a very important implication.

        Getting locked out of mind flay means we’re locked out of psychic horror, psychic scream and possibly silence; but there are virtually no reprecussions to being locked out of mind spike, we’ll keep our defenses and can still mind blast or mindflay.

        One thing I’d like to mention, perhaps you have something to say on it… Have you noticed a lot of shadow priest “utility” is being taken away? No more Divine Spirit. Shadow priests do not bring a usable CC (I highly doubt we’ll see many undeads… while fighting elementals and dragons) like every other ranged DPS (entangle, cyclone; hex; polymorph; seduce, fear; frost trap, freeze trap). Won’t be able to use abolish disease in shadowform. We know Misery wont exist so we wont bring the hit. And lastly, replenishment is taking a hit, but even so a plethora or classes have it.

      • CassandriNo Gravatar says

        Wow – my job at creating Shadow Orbs is a lot closer to what Shadowguard was than I thought. I agree that Mind Flay is a pretty iconic ability – and one that’s unlocked through our talents so other Priests can’t have it. That said, I was hoping to see Mind Flay turned into something great for PVP. But, you’re right, on the surface it definitely sounds as though Mind Spike might get more use. Surely there’s some use for the snare somewhere?

        I’m not too worried about our “utility”. I’d be more worried about losing the hymns – I think these are raid savers. Being the only DPS class able to Dispel Magic (so far, I think we might be) is still pretty sweet. I’m happy to lose Prayer of Spirit and Misery. I do expect that Blizzard will replace these losses with something else though. I feel that all the “fun” DPS enhancing abilities are given to Mages, Shamans and Boomkin – straight up +dmg from spells % and crit % increases. I’d love to have something like that – even if it’s shared with other classes.

  4. I agree with both of you, im a 25hm from boulderfist, and honestly i feel like the priest have always got shit on thoughout the wotlk and bc. For starters we DONT have more than 1 aoe, which imo is bullshit, boomkins have pushbacks, speed increases(and their getting more) and so many dot and hot and aoe’s i honestly dont know how they manage, but likewise priests have mind sear. mind sear, the aoe that dosent effect target , so while the oomkins are starfalling the trash of 3 and raking in the dps, were sitting back hitting 2 of the three, and we may get one of the casts off b4 our target is killed, then were only hitting 1 of the 2 trash there. i mean thats just rediculos. im NOT happy at all with the dropping of misery, i feel that, that is one of the reasons why spriests are so valuable during raid encounters, is cuz even if were doing our (usual) dot-n-dip and putting up dots and bailing, because of our v.t and our v.e, healing members while we execute the mechanics, WHILE our dots crit for EMMENCE damage, we wont have that aspect anymore where our raid members benefit from us. in other words we jsut bring less to the table, where 2 shadow priests would be in top 10 dps or the 25man hm, we will be sitting in 12-17 because of our losses. and mind spike i cant honestly see balancing another spell allong with grief grip, because u guys are right, we ARE NOT babysitters. we will turn into babysitters, honestly, theres no way that im taking out of my rotation for the idiot in the fire, i can sort of understnad using it for agro. but i have discussed with my guild already, we we readily cant find ANY use for that spell outside of lower mor “pug” raids(where messing up is more common). im my guild every fail counts, and we dont let people in that would ever NEED to be l.g’d in to the rest of us. idk, i may hit 85 and stop playing, or i might be first on server again lol, in either case my thoughts on the new cataclysm updates to the LEETEST dps in the game are somewhat….absurd

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      I have only one solution for you: abuse Life Grip so horribly that nobody will ever, ever expect to be Life Gripped to safety again.

      I hope we continue to be one of the most self-reliant DPS classes, and the one that can survive while the others are face down on the floor. I think as healers are going to struggle a hell of a lot, staying alive is going to really be worth something.

  5. Anyone notice that they’ve taken away our threat reduction and with the added burst damage we get from MB and SW:D I can’t go through one rotation without pulling aggro. I practically have to work a fade into my rotation. I guess that’s why we have two talents in our tree for Fade. I guess we can dot dot Life grip dot dot mB fade life grip. Blizzard should just change spriest main function to dot our raid group so they do more damage, the more dots and buffs we apply during the encounter the more dps they will do, just make the dot fall off every 3 sec that way we can waste our time re-dotting all day. Wow can’t wait for the dotting trinket to drop. :)

  6. plagueNo Gravatar says

    so…. should i roll a mage instead cuz from what all i read on this page, seems like Spriests got fucked hard in the back without lube. :) im deciding ona priest or mage. i like pve and pvp. :)

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