My thoughts on Priest Tier 9

t9-priest2Like most Shades at this point, I have had to weigh the options on whether or not Tier 9 is going to cut the cake as far as we’re concerned. Considering all the negative reactions on forums and blogs so far, especially concerning the set bonuses, I had little hope. Still, I believe in the value of figuring things out on your own, so it’s time for a little review.


Not going to win you any DPS, but looks are important. The set looks awesome in my opinion (even though the looks are shared with the Warlock and Mage sets) and I think it will be quite menacing in Shadowform. Even so, I have to concede that it does not hold a candle to our Tier 8 set, nor our Tier 6 sets, which I consider to be iconically Shadowpriestly (similar to this is the black Tier 5 set, Merciless Gladiator).

So in looks Tier 9 scores “average” marks, not better.

Rough stat comparison

I made a quick comparison of benefits and drawbacks using a simple WoWHead item comparison, the results of which are:

  • Tier 8 offers 64 more Haste, 84 more Crit, and sports one more red socket and yellow socket
  • Tier 9 offers 130 more Hit, and 2 more Spellpower, as well as 69 more intellect, 24 more Stamina and 41 more Spirit

According to this article on EJ, you get 0.006% spell crit per point of Intellect, meaning that the additional intellect from Tier 9 offers an additional 69*0.006=0.414% crit. The 41 additional spirit will provide 4 additional spellpower. The stamina will give 240 more HP, and the Intellect will provide 1035 additional mana.

Also according to that article, 32.78998947 hit rating converts into 1% Hit. When dividing 130 by this number, we get 3,9646246339584445130350936950148% Hit from this (rounded down to 3,96% hit for convenience).

This means that if you had difficulty reaching the hit cap before, it’s a lot easier now. A lot of the Ulduar-quality belts, boots, cloaks, neck pieces and wands do not have Hit on them, so you can invest more points into Crit and Haste on those pieces instead of Hit.

The question is whether we have any use for this Hit, or whether we are swamped with Hit items and have to completely re-gear to take advantage of this. The fact that between the 2 sets, there is only a 2 spellpower difference makes me worry a bit.

Gem slots

The Tier 8 has the following slot combinations and bonuses:

  • Tier 8 Hands: [Yellow]; +4 Hit rating
  • Tier 8 Shoulder: [Red]; +5 Spellpower
  • Tier 8 Robe: [Yellow][Blue]; +6 Crit rating
  • Tier 8 Pants: [Red][Yellow]; +6 Hit rating
  • Tier 8 Head: [Meta][Red]; +8 Intellect

The Tier 9 has the following slot combination and bonuses:

  • Tier 9 Hands: [Yellow]; +5 Spellpower
  • Tier 9 Shoulder: [Yellow]; +5 Spellpower
  • Tier 9 Robe: [Red][Blue]; +7 Spellpower
  • Tier 9 Pants: [Red][Blue]; +7 Spellpower
  • Tier 9 Head: [Meta][Blue]; +9 Spellpower

Now the following comes with a caveat, namely how I gem my stuff usually, something that does not necessarily equal how you would do it. My Metagem is the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (+21 Crit rating and 3% additional crit damage), which requires at least 2 blue gems.

Where I need to slot yellow I go for Rigid Autumn’s Glow (+16 Hit) (Up to Hit cap), slotting red is Runed Scarlet Ruby (+19 Spellpower), and blue is slotted with Purified Twilight Opal (+9 Spellpower/+8 Spirit). I am currently assuming blue quality gems, not epic, since not everyone will have those yet.

Edit: Yellow slots can also be filled with Reckless Monarch Topaz (+9 Spellpower/+8 Haste) or Potent Monarch Topaz. Edited totals below.

Tier 8:

  • 3x yellow (+48 Hit)
  • 2x red (+57 Spellpower)
  • 1x blue (+9 Spellpower, +8 Spirit)
  • Bonuses: +10 Hit, +8 Intellect, +6 Crit, +5 Spellpower

Tier 9:

  • 2x yellow (+32 Hit)
  • 2x red (+38 Spellpower)
  • 3x Blue (+27 Spellpower, +24 Spirit)
  • Bonuses: +33 Spellpower

This means that between Tier 8 and Tier 9, assuming equal gemming, I lose 24 Hit, gain 27 Spellpower (+1,6 from added Spirit), and lose 6 Crit.

Edit: By slotting +Spellpower/Haste or +Spellpower/Crit in yellow slots (assuming we are hitcapped already), Tier 8 will give 27 Spellpower and 24 Haste/Crit, and Tier 9 will give 18 Spellpower and 16 Haste/Crit, turning things still a bit more favorably towards Tier 8 in my opinion.

Set bonuses

Tier 8:

  • (2): Increases the damage done by Devouring Plague by 15%
  • (4): Casting Mind Blast gives 240 Haste rating for 4 seconds (About 240/32,78=7,32%)

Tier 9:

  • (2): Increases the duration of Vampiric Touch by 6 seconds
  • (4): Increases the Critical strike chance of Mind Flay by 5% (About 45,9*5=229,5 rating)

When comparing these, Tier 9 becomes very unfavorable. 15% additional damage on vampiric plague is a straight DPS increase. When you add in the Improved Devouring Plague talent, the initial burst damage when initially casting it is also increased. 6 seconds of additional VT is an increase in mana efficiency, but not DPS.

240 Haste rating in between Mind Blasts effectively allows you to cast a Mind Flay, An instant cast and the start of an additional Mind Flay in between. This Mind Flay will benefit from the Haste, after which you cast an unhasted Mind Blast to start up the process again. This is very tricky, and while definitely an increase in DPS, it can also be a royal pain if you lag or are late/moving. 5% additional Crit on Mind Flay, our main Nuke, is a huge advantage and a good DPS increase.

But you see, the problem is this: Mind Flay is about 25% of my damage overall, and I have a raid-buffed crit% running at about 30%.  This means that 30% of that 25% is a crit. A 5% increase in crit for this spell is not a linear 5% increase to DPS. To put it in easy numbers:

I deal 4.000 DPS; 25% of this is Mind Flay -> 1.000 DPS comes from Mind Flays.

Of that 1.000, 30% is caused by Crits, which is 600 DPS (Crits deal double damage).

So this means that 1% crit (in this example) is 20 DPS.

When I add in that 5% set bonus crit, it means my Mind Flay Crit DPS goes from 600 to 700 DPS

The 400 DPS of non-crits is not changed, add in 700, and my new DPS for Mind Flay is 1100.

3K DPS comes from other spells, add 1100, and my new DPS is 4100.

Seems weak now, doesn’t it, even though 100 DPS difference would be massive.

Well, because my DPS increased from 4000 to 4100, this is an increase of 100/4000*100%= 2.5%

Even assuming that the Haste bonus would be good for only 1 single full Mind Flay, this is 7,2% increase to the 1K dps from Mind Flays, being 72 DPS . And it can be used for an additional Mind Flay tick, as well as speeding up the global cooldown for at least 2 spells…

Adding it all together

When adding the little numbers together, the following becomes apparent:

You will gain a total of about 28 spellpower when upgrading from full T8 to full T9, and gain about +106 Hit rating. However, you pay for that with 64 Haste rating and 90 Crit rating. Previously I would have had to socket a blue gem in my belt to get the Meta to work, which the T9 does not need, but even then the gain is about another 10 Spellpower at the most.

Edit: Assuming using +Spellpower/+Haste or +Spellpower/+Crit gems instead, you gain +126 Hit rating and 19 Spellpower but lose 64 Haste and 90 Crit rating, and an additional 8 points from either Crit or Haste depending on the chosen gem.

There is no way in which the full upgrade is worth it unless you have an awesome belt, cloak, rings, offhand and/or neck item which all lack Hit. In addition, the loss of the 2piece T8 bonus on Devouring Plague is quite a loss which I am not really prepared to go through.

In my own situation, having 4 pieces of Tier 8, I might decide to upgrade 2 pieces (most likely legs, and robe because it gives me the benefit of a second blue socket, more Hit and Spellpower as socket bonuses) but no more.


It is possible I made some glaring mistake or my math is off. I am not a math wizard, and did this all by hand. But even if I miss the mark by 10%, it still would not be worth it to do a full upgrade for me. Which seems strange to me, as Tier 8 pieces are easier to get now that badges of conquest are readily available, and has the better look and feel too.

Does anyone have a different opinion? Am I completely wrong? Can I be convinced T9 has any use?


8 Responses to “My thoughts on Priest Tier 9”

  1. Well I’m convinced, great overview! The stats on T9 look terrible compared to T8. That’s a lot of crit and haste to loose just for hit, especially when most of us are hit capped by Ulduar. And two spellpower is shocking. Are other classes in the same boat?

    Looks like we’ll want to hang on to 2T8 for while…

    • Well, I can never be sure if my math holds out, but as it stands, Shadowpriests probably will only want to invest in pieces of T9 for which they have no T8 or BiS items. For instance, for me the T9 legs would be an upgrade over the ones I have now, but otherwise I would not trade my 4 piece bonus for the 2 piece bonus the T9 gives.

      I have checked the T8/T9 comparison for Druids over at HoTs & DoTs, and they come to the conclusion that while T9 is an upgrade (and a big one) in terms of pure stats (restos need no hit, so do not suffer for it like we do), it is probably wisest to wait until you have 4 piece T9 before actually equipping it!

      This is because their T8 4-piece bonus is retardedly awesome (Rejuvenation giving an instant heal when cast) and the 4-piece T9 as well (Rejuvenation can crit), but everything in between is rather unappealing.

      So other classes are in the same boat we are, we’re just riding coach. Others have cabins, and some eat at the captain’s table instead. ^_^

  2. To clarify the glaring difference, it’s all a matter of itemization. We are reasonably favored in the Hit department, and we have good stuff on the list with Hit that we want.

    Sometimes Blizzard decides to “help us out” by making incredibly heavy Hit gear (I believe Sunwell was guilty there too) but because we are stubborn, we rather run in old gear that gives us a benefit than shiny new gear that does not.

    Also, I ask myself the question: “do I want to spend DKP for such a marginal upgrade, even if it was one?” From my T7 to T8 I have been giggling myself to sleep cradling my new tier items, but the T9 does not make me even flinch.

  3. The math in the Mind Flay w/ T9 set piece section looks a little off. If 1K of your DPS is from MF, and you have a 30% chance to crit, then more than 30% of that 1K DPS will be from crits, since crits cause more damage than normal hits. I remember reviewing Recount a few nights ago and noting that crit damage accounts for just less than half of my DPS, even though my raidbuffed crit rating is around 30% (maybe a little more).

    However, I don’t think that fundamentally changes your argument. The T8 bonuses are better than T9, and the T8 stats are better than T9.

    To me, Natarumah argues it best with the “Do I want to spend DKP on this crap?” I suppose I’ll be using T9 tier stuff to gear up my healing set (since I’m my raid’s utility infielder – gotta keep both sets ready to go).

  4. Yes, you are correct Juzaba, 30% crit chance when 1000 damage is from Mind Flay is indeed more than 30% because we crit for double damage; hence I put in that this means 600 damage, instead of 300 (which would be 30% of 1000).

    It’s in this section: “…Of that 1.000, 30% is caused by Crits, which is 600 DPS (Crits deal double damage…”

    Still, sharp catch on that one ^_^

    I try to double-check my math, but while I like a good discussion, I usually leave the numbers game to people who are better at that. However, when dealing with your Tier set, I take no chances.

    • Ah, yeah, you’re right. And like I said, having the numbers be exactly correct isn’t really necessary in this case. You can do some vague math to see that the 8.5 set bonuses are just much better.

  5. i’m not quite sure what to make of Tier 9 just yet. Perhaps it’s good that so much time will pass before we get a shot at building a proper set (yay! one boss per week). I intend to pass on the Trophy/Tier thingies that pass for a good long while so that the truly dedicated Emblem farmers can upgrade first.

    I loved your comparison. The small spell power upgrade amounts were a bit alarming. And that’s probably more hit then I’d like – especially when you’ve got a pocket Draenei.

    Keep in mind that you can choose the healing tier items and get some haste/crit instead of hit if Tier Tokens become abundant.

    I’ll be aiming for 2 piece Tier 8 and 2 piece Tier 9 I think. Just not quite sure equipping 4 pieces of Tier 9 is a smart move when there might be much nicer items available for those slots.

  6. @Cassandri
    General consensus is that 2pT8 and 2pT9 has the best of both worlds; then comes the discussion which slots are better to place them in; I personally lean towards gloves and legs.

    Getting the healing items is an option, especially if by some bizarre coincidence the 2pT9 healing set has something we can use…or we could bank 5 universal tokens and either wait for Blizzard to either fix the set, or just get a healing set and be imba that way (or Discipline in Arenas).

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