This just in: Mastery rocks!
For quite some time, it seemed like the Mastery for Shadowpriests was going to be a puff of smoke – stacking 3 orbs to gain a bonus on Mind Blast or Mind Spike damage. Considering how little damage we do with Mind Blast compared to our DoTs, and the time it took to stack those three orbs, we were considering taking no Mastery on gear, and reforging whatever we couldn’t get away from.
Well, Blizzard promised a fix, and we got one. Mastery has been overhauled for Shadowpriests (which means we can make a legitimate claim now on the new Legendary, since it is bound to have Mastery on it) and it now falls into the category “wants”. It may take some time to ascertain whether it also falls into the “I’d hit it” category, but I have my hopes up.
Shadow Orbs is now a passive bonus for choosing the Shadowpriest Specialization at level 10. This ability gives you the following:
“You have X% chance for your Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Flay spells to grant you a Shadow Orb each time they deal damage. Casting Mind Blast or Mind Spike spell consumes all Shadow Orbs, increasing damage of that spell by Y% per Shadow Orb and granting Y% increased damage on your periodic Shadow spells for 15 seconds. You can have up to a maximum of 3 orbs.”
Numbers can be tweaked or may be slightly off, but the base mechanic is clear. Your DoTs buff your MB/MSp, and they in turn re-empower your DoTs. This turns our casting into a spin-cycle, where we have a DoT phase, then a DD phase, and then resum with our DoTs again.
The upside of this is that we have a strong talent-tree defining ability here, which introduces us to the concept early on in play (if you roll a new priest) while being equally viable to Direct Damage and DoTs. Very nice.
The downside of this ability is that the moment we get the buff from consuming a Shadow Orb (called Empowered Shadow) we would have to recast our DoTs to gain the benefit of it within the 15 seeconds it lasts. Haste and Crit modifiers are baked into the DoT and are updated, but buffs that don’t fall into this category seemingly are not. GOod thing we can’t accidentally clip our DoTs, eh?
Overall the initial discussions on our new mastery seem to indicate we can keep the buff up 90-95% of a fight, assuming we don’t have a phase with a lot of movement or where we are incapacitated (Lich King, Sindragosa, etc.)
Mastery: Shadow Orb Power
This is our new mastery, and it is basically a flat increase of 1.25% on our Shadow Orb damage per point. Since Mastery now affects both the DD and DoT components of our spell array, this makes it an enormously viable stat now.
With this, I can see our gearing priority in Cataclsym becoming Intellect > Haste />/ Mastery > Crit after we reach the hit cap. Since Intellect, Haste and Crit also increase the value of Mastery (since it is a percentage increase, so casting a spell more often, critting or making it hit harder means the absolute value of the bonus goes up) I can imagine this “wave” value for Mastery.
Basically, you’d up your Intellect always – primary concern. Then as your Haste and Crit increase, Mastery becomes more and more tempting, so you take more of that. This leads to a higher relative value of Haste and Crit again. Haste will always remain slightly more valuable than Crit, for one simple reason: Since we stack Shadow Orbs with DoT ticks and Mind Flay, a higher haste will give more orbs.
A real-world example
Imagine a roulette wheel, and you are betting on the 3 numbers. When you increase your Haste, you start betting on 4,5 or 6 numbers. When you increase Crit, you still bet on 3 numbers, but your winnings are much larger.
Now we add a system to the mix where every time you bet on a number (SW:P tick/MF) you gain a 1% increase in your winnings.
When you spin the wheel while betting on 3 numbers, you gain 3% extra profit if you win. If you increase your haste, and start betting on 6 numbers, you gain a 6% increase in your profits as well as a higher chance of actually winning, but winnings per number is lower. If you increase your Crit, your win chances don’t go up, but since you bet a lot more money on that one number, the 3% boost becomes a lot of cash.
The last example, when increasing Crit, is also how our old Mastery used to pan out – our overall winnings were meager, but if we won, we broke the bank (and our PvP opponent, as it turned out). Our new Mastery makes it a lot smoother, and also does us more justice – what is a DoT-based class without a DoT-based Mastery?
And just as in gambling, our new Mastery will have to be theorycrafted to the bone to see how it relates to Haste and Crit to help us in making our gear choices – but I know I start getting warm for it already.