Shadowpriests in Cataclysm – Darkness Incarnate

Alright, let’s face it – when the Warlock changes were announced, butterflies happened. I knew that since they were getting some nifty things, and having similar mechanics, we might be in for a treat as well. So, are we? Let’s take a closer look at the changes and revamps we will be receiving. Note that I will focus only on Shadowpriest-specific items in the list, hence why I posted this review separate from the general notes before.

Mind Spike (Level 81)

This spell deals Shadowfrost damage, which harkens back to the old Deathfrost enchant from TBC and the promise we would not need to rely solely on Shadow damage. Since lock-outs will not affect both schools for multi-school spells, this one is very good for PvP. It has a 1.5 second cast, 30 yard range and no cooldown.

Each Mind Spike you cast enhances subsequent Mind Spike damage. In other words, a bit like an Arcane Mage who uses Arcane Blast to set up, this is really a “Spam” spell. This is not for rotations, as Blizz pointed out, but is a filler (like Shadow Word:Death) or spammable to the extreme (for heroics and frantic PvP I guess).

So far, that looks very good, but a bit bland.

Inner Will (Level 83)

Like Inner Fire, with which is is mutually exclusive, this is a self-buff. This one gives us an increased movement speed (12%) and a 10% discount on instant cast spells. Interesting, since this will be very good for Discipline priests, but us as well. Fires can be ran out of all that quicker, and it will be a good “run back to boss room” spell while rezzing after wipe.

Our instant vs. Cast-time spells are closer to 50%, so it won’t be our standard buff. Inner Fire still gives more damage, and I doubt we will see a “Inner Fire/Will Twisting technique” – at least I hope not.

Leap of Faith (Level 85)

An instant-cast spell that draws a party or raid member to you – the reverse of Death Grip. Besides being awesome to save people as a healer, I can also see uses as a Shadowpriest to make sure people are where I want them to be, as well as complicated tank-positioning tactics.

But even better, it allows for mischief. With only a 45-second cooldown, it’s fun in downtime to play Priest-Pong with fellow raid members right? And when that AFK-er in that Heroic won’t go away? Just levitate over a cliff and “Life Grip” the guy.

DoTs Reign Supreme

Crit and Haste will affect Dots baseline now, and will add additional ticks within its duration. This is powerful, and also makes sure we won’t be wasting mana by getting more Haste. This is good on all levels.

With not having to frantically juggle ever-shortening DoTs (especially during Bloodlust, ouch!) and having our new SpamNuke we might have a little more time and might develop more of a flow, rather than having to adjust our timing after every upgrade.

Blizzard also wants to make Shadow Word: Death really a finisher after 25% health, so I imagine it will be limited to ONLY work after a mob has reached 25%.

Talent changes

We will lose half our talent tree, since the shift from a healer class to a DPS spec requires a lot of passive damage increases. Blizzard recognizes this and wants to play off our new mastery (see below) – I can smell the return of the old Shadow Orbs Shadowguard Troll racial. Could it really be?

Misery will no longer affect spell hit chance. So, this will sadly mean that one of our main “raid spot attractors” will be gone. It was expected, so I can only hope we will get some utility to make up for it rather than say “but life grip’s awesome right?” It’s only other effect was a passive increase on damage from spellpower, so I can see this talent being completely redesigned anyway.


Our first mastery is Spell Damage, our second one will be Spell Crit. Our special ability will be Shadow Orbs, which is triggered off casting Shadow spells, and increases Shadow damage done while they hover around.

This can go either way, to be honest. I love the floating orbs idea, and I am seriously glad this is in. I am just worried that these orbs will not stack or will not stack as high as we generate them, meaning we might waste a lot of potential.

The possibilities are many though – Orbs trigger damage when hit, Orbs could be consumed for a self-buff on Shadow damage, Mana or Health regeneration boosted through orbs. Sky’s the limit with this one.


Our new abilities are interesting, but very situational. I think I won’t be using Inner Will except after a wipe or in PvP, Leap of Faith is more of a “nag my raid” tool than that I’d see any use for it. Let’s face it, if people stand in the fire why should I save them? What will they learn from it? Mind Spike is welcome, but it has already been relegated to “either spam it or use it as filler” by Blizzard, which doesn’t make me feel comfortable to be honest.

And finally, our awesome special Mastery is announced with the words “to make Shadowpriests feel like Shadowpriests at early levels, before they get Shadowform”. What? This is our Mastery – this is what is our reward for being Shadowpriests. I want it to make me feel good about being a Shadowpriest even after I attained level 85, thank you very much.

Still, if our Mastery would become central to our new talents, and we could use the orbs to power a variety of spells (offense, defense, self-healing, mana regain, etc.) it might become a very interesting mechanic indeed. This aspect is what I am most excited about.

It feels a bit “One step forward, two steps back” – we lose half our talent tree and Misery, we gain a SpamNuke and much better DoTs. To be honest I am not all too impressed after seeing the Warlock changes, but we have a history of being understated for a large part of development, so I have hope yet!


5 Responses to “Shadowpriests in Cataclysm – Darkness Incarnate”

  1. Ghostcrawler clarified a few things – I will add what I can when it comes.

    Inner Fire and Inner Will do not have charges (thumbs up!)
    Misery was removed so people don’t need to regear when no Shadowpriest or Boomkin shows up. His reply to “why would they bring me” was “Because you know what the hell you are doing.” is sarcastic and uncalled for.

    Why bring the Shadowpriest who knows what he’s doing when you can bring a much more awesome Druid who also knows what he’s doing?

    The idea of “Bring the player not the class” has not worked out all that well (Druids and Shamans, most obviously, for BloodLust and BattleRez/Gift of the Wild) and the assumption that the other contenders for my raid spot would not know what they are doing is a bit naieve.

    When there’s a pool of 20 DPS and you need 15, you bring the 15 highest DPS or the 15 who bring the best buffs combined with DPS. Five people will be waiting outside who either a) are indeed not as good players, b) bring lower DPS as a class and/or c) don’t bring useful buffs that are needed by the raid.

    Think of it as this: Player A brings 10K DPS; Player B brings 8K DPS and a battlerez; Player C brings 6K DPS and a battlerez; Player D brings 8K DPS. You can pick 2 – who will they be?

    I hope that this will no longer be the case in Cataclysm, but mantras do not counter basic human psychology and behavioral patterns.

  2. All negativity aside – we are in a good place right now, so if we keep our relative value in Cataclysm and get one or two nice things to make us special we’ll be all set.

    Note that the Haste on DoTs thing will probably work out as follows:

    DOT Duration: 12 seconds, 1 tick per 3 seconds (4 ticks)
    25% Haste: 12 seconds, 1 tick per 2.6 secondss (5 ticks)
    50% Haste: 12 seconds, 1 tick per 2.25 seconds (5-6 ticks)
    100% Haste: 12 seconds, 1 tick per 1.5 seconds (8 ticks)

    Core here is that the duration will not increase, so DoTs tick faster and extra ticks are added someway. Does sond difficult to program, and it will likely introduce more “stepstones” of Haste, but it has merit.

  3. Also, warlocks have the following description added to their DoT description:

    “Haste will no longer act to reduce the DoT’s duration, but rather to add additional ticks. When reapplying a DoT, you can no longer “clip” the final tick. Instead, this will just add duration to the spell, similar to how Everlasting Affliction currently works.”

    Considering that Ghostcrawler stated he didn’t like us to clip DoTs either, I can only imagine it was lost while cutting/pasting, and this would apply to us as well.

  4. […] Natarumah at Twisted Faith shares his thoughts on the Shadow Priests changes […]

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