The emperor’s new nuke

inv_offhand_stratholme_a_02So Ghostcrawler promised us a pony last time, and this time he let slip that Shadowpriests would be getting a new nuke in Cataclysm. Everybody was really excited of course (as people are at Blizzcon any way) but regardless of all speculation, no one knows what this nuke’s going to be, and what it will mean for us. In fact, this could simply be yet another PvP equalizer. Let’s look at some facts.

What we already have

We already have quite an arsenal, and we also use quite a bit of it. Mind Blast is our cast-time, on cooldown nuke. Shadow Word: Death is our instant cast, on cooldown nuke (with backlash). Mind Flay is channeled, but has no particular cooldown.

The very definition we use of a nuke is a “good old standby”; it has no cooldown, is always available and does our “basic DPS”. It would be our equivalent of melee’s autoattacking. This means that this nuke will not be an instant cast, no cooldown spell that we could only cast on a certain condition (like: Instant cast, deals X damage, following within 10 seconds of a Shadow Word: Pain crit).

Our main nuke would have to be:

  • Shadow damage (obviously)
  • Have no cooldown (else it wouldn’t be a nuke)
  • Non-conditional
  • Could be instant cast or with a cast-time

What nukes do others have?

Mages generally have Frostfire Bolt as their main nuke these days, else fireball and frostbolt seem to be their standbys (mages have lots of nukes). Warlocks have Shadowbolt, Shamans have Lightning Bolt and Druids have Wrath and Starfire. None of these have a cooldown, and generally average cast times (1.5-2 seconds, with Starfire topping the list with 3.5 seconds).

This being as it is, and our own spells generally being instant cast (except for VT and Mind Blast), we can probably expect our new nuke to behave like Starfire, with a longer cast-time but generally good damage per mana.


The inclusion of a new nuke could have great ramifications for our playstyle. I estimate it will be a no-cooldown, long-casttime shadow spell, with potentially some changes in our talent trees to accomodate this spell and make it more beneficial than Mind Flay. Should this be true, I can see Mind Flay being used once every 10 seconds or so to keep Shadow Word: Pain up, and this nuke filling up the rest of our time where we normally would have cast Mind Flay.

I would not welcome a further increase in the difficulty of our rotations; we are at the same level as an Affliction Warlock or kitty Druid as it is, and this might mean less people playing the class (well) and a decrease in the faith people have in Shadowpriests in general. That said, if this spell does awesome DPS, I won’t be complaining.


5 Responses to “The emperor’s new nuke”

  1. I wouldn’t be surprised if our new Nuke is intended to replace Mind Flay altogether. That means refreshing Shadow Word: Pain with the new nuke, not Mind Flay.

    I think Blizzard intends to keep the snare effect, short range on Mind Flay and they want Shadow Priests to use it in PVP to try and keep our enemies under control.

    I remember when I was level 40ish on my Rogue (back before BC mind you) and I got kited around by a Shadow Priest using Mind Flay and aside from Sprint every 5 minutes I couldn’t close the gap to get to them. This is what Mind Flay exists to do.

    I don’t expect we will see the base range of Mind Flay increased up to 36 baseline range. I expect we’ll have to keep relying on our Glyph to make it convenient for PVE until the next expansion.

    • Yes, that could very well be. As Blizzard wants to revamp the talent trees entirely for Cataclysm, it is entirely likely that Mind Flay will be relegated to the PvP nuke of choice, making the new spell our PvE equivalent.

      Adding a longer cast time but giving it a good coefficient makes it suited for PvE without making it useful in PvP (as it would be interrupted).
      I think a spell with a 3-second cast time doing damage equal to Mind Flay is the same as a 3-second channeling spell anyway, except it won’t allow us to automatically face the target anymore ^_^

  2. I don’t think we need another regular spell in our raid arsenal, but I don’t see the need for a new nuke either. Mind flay is already a nuke, a very good one. In mobile fights the last thing I want to do is swap mind flay, which I can channel for one or two ticks as I move, for a three-second cast time. If only they’d wake up to the range issue, it would be perfect. My hope is that they keep mind flay exactly where it is, fix the range, and give us a spell that works instead of shadow word: death in a standard rotation – like a shaman’s lava burst, or a mage’s pyroblast.

    • It would be awesome to have a spell like SW:D without backlash for our new nuke, but I think that if Blizz wanted to give us that they’d just remove the backlash from SW:D, which is why I think that they will go another direction.

      A new nuke was announced, but that was it, leaving us to speculate about it. Do we need a new nuke? Not really. Do we need some way to catch up with us slowly slipping behind on scaling? Hell yes.

      You see, not all of our spells are affected by Crit, nearly none by Haste. And yet we find more and more of it on our gear while we don’t benefit from it the way warlocks, mages and boomkins do. This leads to a situation where we are quickly outstripped in damage. Spellpower scales well with everything we do, but there’s only so much you can get of it.

      So Blizzard decided to give us a new nuke to most likely replace Mind Flay, and if it scales better, this will band-aid our scaling issues.

      Time will tell, let’s hope some new tidbits of info are released soon ^_^

  3. Better scaling would be great, but I fear it won’t come from a nuke. Haste is the biggest problem, and a nuke will not make our dots tick faster :( Still, you’re right, we’re only speculating. Here’s hoping they get it right next time :)

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