Archive for News

The grand design…of sorts

Posted in Fun, News, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by Natarumah

There’s a lot of clamoring about Shadowpriests in the current Beta build; I can’t verify any of it since I don’t have Beta access myself, but I will try and make a coherent baseline setup of what we’d be looking at doing in the current build from what I’ve gathered.  (I received Beta access with the second wave of keys, with most of the other GreyBeard accounts). There are, as always, major concerns and gaps which need to be filled, but we’ll have to hope these get addressed as time marches on.

Keep in mind the general changes to the game, such as Intellect no longer providing mana, meaning we all have the same mana pools, and that Replenishment is gone.

Note that, due to my personal affection for my class, some ranty elements might be included in this post, for which I apologize beforehand. I love my class, and that sometimes gets the better of me.

The base system: Shadow Orbs

Shamelessly lifted off of the Paladin model, Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Blast generate Shadow Orbs, which are used to unleash our most potent attacks. I can’t tell if there’s a limit to the amount we can have, but this picture by Theed on the MMO-Champion forums suggest 3 (three), since the UI has been changed to make room for three slots under the character portrait.

Option 1:Shadowy Apparitions is now a triggered ability, which consumes all Shadow Orbs to generate 1 SA per Orb.

Option 2:Psychic Horror now costs Shadow Orbs to trigger, no mana, and lasts longer with more Orbs. [PvP, do not touch!]


Our new Mastery is a straight %Increase to our Shadow damage dealt, and when we trigger Shadowy Apparitions, there’s a chance to be refunded Shadow Orbs when they deal damage. This seems to feed into a system where we trigger Shadowy Apparitions in “lean times”, hoping to be refunded the Orbs. Currently, since the only other thing we can do with them is triggering Psychic Horror, we will do this a lot.

Talents we take

Tier 1: Psyfiend (Static Fear), Shadowy Tendrils (Root), Dominate Mind (New Mind Control) – all of them are as useful or useless as you make it, pick one.

Tier 2: Path of the Devout (Increased speed while Levitating), Phantasm (Fading currently gives you a Smoke Bomb effect as well as a Root escape) – take Phantasm, unless you like recasting Levitate every 5 seconds. (There’s currently word that the speed buff lasts 30 seconds, which would make this a more equal draw).

Tier 3: Dark Archangel (25% Damage boost) or From Darkness Comes Light (VT damage procs an instant MSpike without losing DoTs) – We probably need to calculate burst damage benefits versus the benefit of having a semi-useful MSpike every so often – I probably will go for Dark Archangel then. There’s one spot for an unannounced talent, so let’s hope there’s something good to be had here.

Tier 4: Void Shift (Swap Health and heal lower health target by 25%) – the others are healing talents.

Tier 5: Power Infusion (Straight damage buff), Divine Insight (MB casts allow you to treat your target as <20% for SW:Death), Twist of Fate (15% damage on healing and damage on targets below 20%) – Divine Insight will be the key to the immense damage overload of SW:Death, so I would take it over ToF. PI will be the winner in the beginning, when we have to adjust to our rotations and our mana returns are still bad.

Tier 6: If the “Coming Soon” talent in the preview is Shadow related, take that. Else take Divine Star (Holy Jojo) to steal a Mage’s Fire Orb that also comes back because our spells are loyal to us.

Spell changes

  • Vampiric Touch no longer triggers replenishment, which has been removed. It instead heals you for 15% of the damage it deals.
  • Devouring Plague has been removed; its initial damage aspect has been moved to SW:Pain.
  • SW:Pain now deals instant damage, and generates 1 Shadow Orb when it is cast (no when it ticks).
  • SW:Death now deals X damage to both you and your target, 4x times damage on a target below 20%. It no longer provides mana. When you fail to kill the target its cooldown is reset, as if you had the current SW:Death glyph.
  • Vampiric Embrace now has a 3 minute cooldown, but when triggered heals (Party Memebers) for 50% of the damage you deal.
  • Vampiric Dominance (New) used to be a talent but is now baseline or replaces VE possibly, heals 3 nearby low-health targets for 15% of damage dealt. It cannot be cast in Shadowform however, which is completely against the nature of its ability, name and icon.
  • Mind Control has been removed and replaced with Dominate Mind, which has a 30 second cooldown, maybe (?) instant cast, and affects all non-mechanical targets. Considering people are speaking of using other spells while mind controlling, it might be that this is a full CC or that you get a pet bar instead of losing control.
  • Psychic Scream is baseline again, because screaming like a little girl while tossing dots around didn’t go out of style, no matter what the Devs thought.
  • Spectral Guise is a new ability, generating a copy of you while making you invisible. If your real form is hit with direct attacks 3 times, the spell dissipates.
  • Inner Fire: Now gives a 10% static boost to Spellpower.
  • Shadowfiend’s cooldown has been reduced to 4 minutes.
  • Empowered Shadows is gone entirely.

The good

The dynamics of a [SW:Px3, SA, MB, MF] rotation, while horribly similar to a Paladin’s or Fire Mage’s rotation, can be very interesting but it’s a sudden change in direction. We have one less DoT, and the remaining DoTs need to be more significant to not let this talent spec become the “infant terrible” among DPS, with lots of new kids lolling about how “easy the spec is”. There’s an immense amount of battlefield control – Scream, Horror, Dominate/Tentacle/Psyfiend, Silence which will make us versatile in PvE but a destructive train engine in PvP.

The combination of SA, MB and SW:Death in its current form also means we are absolute masters of the Execute, which will have people cry for nerfs in PvP about three minutes into Live.

We have strong (albeit strange) escape mechanisms including the new Phantasm and Spectral Guise, which seem aimed at making us more like real ninjas than rogues are. I mean, we can’t just go invisible, but we leave  a double behind. We have a Smoke Bomb which also breaks roots. It feels a bit like being in an episode of Naruto.

The bad

Shadowpriest talents and abilities still seem horribly aimed at healing (VE, VD, Void Shift, Divine Star), while our raid support otherwise is still non-existent. TBC saw the nerfing of our raid Shadow healing, WotLK saw the nerf to replenishment and subsequent increase in our damage. Cataclysm saw our first real revamp where Shadow Orbs and advanced SW:Death techniques were added and VE healing further nerfed. But through all this, we haven’t gained anything worthwhile (in fact everything that was added will be removed or completely revamped in MoP) whether in personal or raid support.

Dispersion is a survival cooldown and I am called on a lot to soak/survive crazy stuff like solo-soaking Zon’ozz orbs or Hour of Twilight from heroic Ultraxion. So only now does that ability really shine. But when I compare it to things like the Doomguard/Infernal, Demonic Teleport and Demon Form from Warlocks, or most of the awesome things Unholy Death Knights get I feel a bit shortchanged. And when I look at what extra work is done on these classes for MoP, it makes sticking to my Shadowpriest actually hard. I mean I want to play my Shadowpriest, and I remind myself that this is only Beta, but I see ourselves being so much more boring than the Warlocks while offering nothing an Affliction Warlock couldn’t.

The ugly

There does not seem to be a real proper design direction for Priests, which heavily impacts the current choices. It all seems like some random “do damage”, “boost damage” and “heal crowd” abilities being tossed about at various levels, trying to put them in such an order that we’d have a hard time picking between them. The developer Metagame of “tease the player, not the class” takes an all new high in attempts to make us jump through hoops to do the same damage as other classes while still being elected “off healer of the year” the moment a healer doesn’t show up for a raid.

I’d say forget about the talents for now. It’s obvious they will either fall in the “pick one, they don’t matter” or “mandatory” classes. The core of the class is the manner in which we deal damage. We used to be “Dots with benefits” but it seems the designers want to move away from this role to give the Affliction locks more breathing room. This is fine, but this does mean we need to have a new, proper role that does not make us infringe upon the intellectual property of Mages.

I have made several posts before about design philosophy and design, and I see the same mistake being made daily in Process Management and Document Control – the lack of a proper foundation, lack of a “Management Summary” which all designers can stick to, no “winning themes” or “design document” which details the end result that the designers want to achieve. I am not sure, I have to assume that the Developers have these, but the more I see the new changes I am wondering what it could be…


The change from Shadowpriests to a more balanced, direct-damage type seems to be in full swing, but otherwise there is no real flavor to the class. The mana issues have recently been handled with reductions in mana costs across the board, but the lack of raid utility seems rampant. To this, I must ask: “Why would I play a Shadowpriest over a Warlock? What does a Shadowpriest have that is fun and unique?”

I am currently looking for the answer and dreading the outcome. I want to play my Shadowpriest, but I won’t sacrifice my fun to do it.

Tier 11 Bonuses and talent changes

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , on September 10, 2010 by Natarumah

Another day, another build and this time the bonuses awarded by the T11 set have been released! On first sight, they are not the greatest for Shadow, but then it will take a long time for the awesome T10 bonuses to be equalled. Let’s face it, Blizzard is pushing us more and more into crit, which seems okay with the reductions in crit that will be suffered to avoid Mudflation. Still, enough is enough, ok?

Tier 11 Bonuses (Shadow)

2piece: 5% bonus on Critical Strike chance with Mind Flay and Mind Sear

4piece: 30% bonus on Critical Strike chance with Shadowy Apparitions

The problem I am having with these bonuses is twofold: First off, every Shadowpriest has Mind Flay and Mind Sear, but Shadowy Apparitions don’t look too good yet. They might get better, but 15% of Mind Blast damage on a slow-moving missile that can be avoided by a boss on a turtle mount does not make me happy.

Plus, 30% extra crit chance is nice and good, but even if it crits that makes it 30% of Mind Blast damage. No idea how the math pans out, but it’s simply not very promising.

Talent Changes

Shadowfiend, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch now have 40 yard ranges, to make up for the removal of the range increase talents.

Twisted Faith now increases Shadow Spell Damage by 1%/2% instead of giving a bonus to Hit (Drats!)

Mind Flay base damage has been increased almost three times, from 167 to 501 damage. This is most likely part of the increased co-efficients Shadowpriests need to get to make up for the loss of passive damage talents. This way, all of our talents can be focused on playstyle, utility and the like, without sacrificing too much of the pure damage we need to earn our spots.


This build seems to be about tweaking the numbers, and I can only hope the set bonuses will be tweaked a bit – sadly they probably won’t. I guess that the Tier sets in Wrath were too good, and everyone went for them. Making the set bonuses situational, build-related or just not that spectacular is probably a way to make us diversify our gear more. Which is sad a bit, since Tier should be a defining aspect for raiders, just like the PvP seasonal gear should define PvPers.

Blizzard seems adamant to overload us with Crit; that’s all nice and good, but it seems a bit too forced. It’s almost like it is not based on judgment or research, but an answer to our quest for more and more Haste in Wrath. Action-reaction in its most primal form.

What I am most curious about is what the sets will look like in the first place – the concept art I saw of the Warrior and Hunter art makes me feel like it’s elemental-related. I wonder if that means we might get a shadowy shroud or wind cloaks? Would be nice.

Mana taking a hit for Shadowpriests?

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on September 1, 2010 by Natarumah

Judging by the latest Beta build, and the news published on MMO-Champion, Blizzard is now going to great lengths to limit mana pools for healers – priests in this case get a few select and chewy nerfs to mana regeneration to digest, which will hit us in the crossfire. But thankfully, Blizzard did not forget about us and gave us some juicy new toys to wave in the healers’ faces while we laugh our way to the mana bank…

Hymn of Hope restores 1% less mana per tick than on Live, and max mana drops from 20% to 15%. Not a big deal, since I only use it to fuel up our healers in emergencies, but it makes it just a little less useful to cast even then.

Shadowfiend restores 3% mana per hit instead of 5%. This is a big one, since we already were anticipating having to use Shadowfiend for mana instead of a DPS cooldown. Also, the cooldown reduction from Veiled Shadows went from 1/2 minutes to 30/60 seconds. We get to use out fiend less often, and he’s less useful. I guess that is the downside to that talent now being available to healers.

The good news is that the PvP talent Sin and Punishment will reduce our Shadowfiend cooldown by 10/20 seconds when you critically hit with Mind Flay. That’s probably going to be once every Mind Flay cast, in the BiS level 85 raid starter gear. It also is a sign Blizzard wants us to value Crit higher now, since we ignored it in favor of Haste almost exclusively. Less Haste also means less mana consumption, so our mana issues are somewhat deflated.

Masochism is a new talent that gives us 4%/8% of our total mana back if we take 10% of our total health in damage in a single attack, or damage ourselves with Shadow Word: Death. Hey wait! Does this mean SW:D will be starting to be in our rotation now? Sure does Biff, and this translates to (at best) 8% total mana per 10 seconds. If we have a 30K mana pool in the first raid content, this equates to 120 MP/5…

So in the end, it looks like the changes have been designed to make our mana regen less passive (Replenishment, Popping Fiend on cooldown) and more active (MF reduces SF cooldown, Dark Archangel, Masochism) which is not a bad thing in my mind.

It will, however, be quite a hassle to relearn my Facemelting ways come Cataclysm, because the entire system’s changed.

Priest Cataclysm overview tomorrow

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on April 6, 2010 by Natarumah

Check out this statement from Blizzard regarding the class previews for Cataclysm. And, the priest preview is scheduled to be revealed April 7 – tomorrow!

I personally hope that there will be a few hints to our talents, especially regarding the following subjects:

  • Will we be dumping Spirit altogether, on gear as well as talents, or will we get “the boomkin treatment”?
  • Considering we will lose our ability to remove Disease in Shadowform, does it mean we will be more focused on damage and raid support through damage, losing our healing/support secondary role?
  • What will be our third “mastery” – besides the +%Damage and +%Mana regain we share with the other priest trees?
  • Will the storyline of Cataclysm anchor Shadowpriests more into the lore, rather than being “tacked-on” as being priests of the old gods?
  • What new spells await us as we progress to level 85?
  • How does Blizzard feel about our Replenishment/VE ability and has their focus changed – how will we support our raid/arena team and earn our raid spots in Cataclysm?

The announcement states some of these questions will be answered, and others are wishful thinking on my part. The idea of providing health and mana through damage has always been the fact that drew my into the Shadowpriest class, and I would hate to see the class changed so far that we are identical to warlocks.

As a member of the Priest class, we are by necessity a supporter, rather than an individual like the warlock or the death knight, which would corroborate this statement. Even so, Cataclysm can hold many surprises for us – pleasant or not.

As soon as I pick up the list, expect to see it here, as well as my take on the announcements.

Races and racials, oh my!

Posted in News, Shadowpriest with tags , , on August 24, 2009 by Natarumah

inv_offhand_stratholme_a_02When I first saw the racial abilities of the Worgen and Goblins, I was pleasantly surprised. Those are quite the powerhouses they have there; that would be awesome! Goblins get a hobgoblin manservant to access their bank (I just know people will give them names) and rocket boosts at a touch of their oversized belt buckles. They also get the best deals regardless of reputation and have a bonus when using potions. Worgen can shift into Worgen shape in battle (while they normally fight in Wolf form) and have a bonus to damage done. They also can skin very fast, very well and without using a knife. This seems less awesome than Goblins, but their shapeshifting animations make up for it.

Of course, Blizzard plans to also update the other races to a similar level. I can only speculate what this would be, but expect solid combos like the Draenei and Blood Elves already have to be more common. This fits in with the redesign of the classes, stats and talent trees that are planned. On the whole, I am reeling a bit at the magnitude of the changes, and their familiarity…

You see, a lot of the things (like guild bonuses and recipes) have featured on Age of Conan before, as has the idea of “downranking yourself” or “upping a party member to your level” so you can play together at a level difference. The change for Hunters to use Focus instead of mana remenisces of the way that Hunters work in Lord of the Rings online, where a hunter builds up focus and releases it into powerful shots. Does the new warlock shard system look familiar? You should, because it is identical to the way that Unholy Assassins in Age of Conan empower themselves to unleash shadowy havoc.

The way the new stats are looking, as well as “combat rating”…errr, I mean Mastery of course, is also a part of that game.

I realize now that Blizzard’s taken a long good look at their game mechanics, and decided to streamline it with what is popular in other games. While this borders on plagiarism, we can only hope that this will be wrapped up in a typical WoW package, and adapted to the needs of the players, rather than a straight cut-and-paste.

Still, I think a horde-side Goblin bank alt seems more than tantalizing (Hey, Greedy Goblin! Now you can do it in style ^_^), and a Troll Druid would be most likely made of win and awesome on a stick and covered with awesome sauce.

Finally, I also think that a few stories, theories and RP guides on Worgen shadowpriests are brewing in the back of my mind…mmmm, delicious!