Archive for Spell Focus

Spell Focus: Mind Flay

Posted in Guides, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on September 30, 2009 by Natarumah

Spell_Shadow_SiphonManaOur filler spell for a long time, Mind Flay is one of the clunkiest spells in terms of game mechanics ever invented. It is a shame that it has such utility for us (keeping Shadow Word: Pain on the target) that it cannot really be done without. So what makes this spell nice to have, and what makes it an ass to use?

The Spell

Mind Flay TooltipMind Flay is a channeled spell without cooldown, which ticks once every second. It has a comparitively short range, but has the added benefit of reducing the movement speed of the target by 50%. Of course, being channeled, this also means you cannot move while maintaining this spell and its speed debuff.

  • 57,2% coefficient, meaning that 100 spellpower will increase the damage dealt by this spell by 57,2
  • 3-second channel, no cooldown
  • Procs Shadoweaving with each tick


Several talents give a bonus to the use of Mind Flay, most prominently:

  • Mind Flay (Requires 10 points in Shadow): Gives you the use of Mind Flay, nuff said
  • Shadow Reach (Requires 15 points in Shadow): Increases the range of Mind FLay by 10% per point (max 20%)
  • Focused Mind (Requires 20 points in Shadow): Decreases the mana cost for Mind Flay by 5% per point (max 15%)
  • Mind Melt (Requires 25 points in Shadow): Increases the critical strike chance of Mind Flay by 2% per point (max 4%)
  • Shadow Power (Requires 30 points in Shadow): Increases the critical strike damage bonus on Mind Flay by 20% per point (max 100%) – this means that Mind Flay deals double damage on a crit instead of +50%
  • Misery (Requires 35 points in Shadow): Casting Mind Flay on the target gives a +1% chance per point for spells to hit it (max 3%) and increases the benefit of spellpower on Mind Flay by 5% per point (max 15%) – this means that the coefficient of Mind Flay is effectively raised to 72%
  • Pain and Suffering (Requires 40 points in Shadow): Casting Mind Flay has a 33%/66%/100% chance to refresh the duration of Shadow Word: Pain
  • Twisted Faith (Requires 45 points in Shadow): The damage from Mind Flay is increased by 2% per level (max 10%) if the target has Shadow Word: Pain on it

General Use

DoTs on the target? Mind Blast on Cooldown? Flay away. With sufficient amounts of Haste (around 400 or so I believe, will check for the maths later) you will be able to squeeze 2 Mind Flays in between a Mind Blast cooldown, which makes for a very smooth DPS cycle.

Pay attention that the 3 ticks of Mind Flay seem to be inevenly distributed; a previous bug with the spell was that the 2nd tick was almost at the end, and the 3rd tick after the spell had ended channeling. It still seems today that the ticks are not evenly at every second (or part thereof, due to Haste), which is why “clipping Mind Flays” (only allowing MF to tick once or twice to even out our spell casting) is a tough art to master.

Note that when using Mind Flay to refresh Shadow Word: Pain, that this will have to be done before SW:P has reached its last second or so of duration; often the Mind Flay will hit, but no longer refresh SW:P. This results in a loss of DPS because you have to recast it, and it starts ticking after 3 seconds from then. This may or may not be related to the bug where the ticks of MF are not evenly distributed.

Also, when MF refreshes SW:P, non-numerical (so %-based) improvements to SW:P will remain active for as long as you can keep it up. As an example:

  • SW:P is on the target, with 1000 spellpower, a +3% crit bonus and a special +50% damage bonus due to the encounter (Like Vezax’ black spots)
  • Before SW:P is refreshed, your spellpower increases to 1200
  • SW:P increases in power because of the 200 extra spellpower at the next tick
  • When you refresh SW:P, the 3% crit bonus and the +50% damage bonus are retained
  • You lose the 200 spellpower, and the next tick this causes SW:P to deal less damage
  • The 3% crit and the 50% damage bonuses are still there
  • You let SW:P drop off, and recast it on the target
  • The 3% crit and 50% damage bonuses are gone, because you no longer have them active

Because of this, it is possible to gain a huge damage bonus on SW:P (Hodir’s buffs, Vezax Black Spots, Twin Valkyr’s buff) as long as you keep SW:P refreshed through Mind Flay. This does not work on flat numerical increases (such as +200 crit rating or +200 spellpower), only on percentage-based buffs.

Caveat: This also goes for debuffs that reduce your damage done by 50% or your crit by 20% and the like…

The favored glyph for Shades, Glyph of Mind Flay, increases the range of Mind Flay by 10 yards, placing it on par with other spellcasters’ nukes. Previously it reduced the snare component of Mind Flay, but no longer.

As of Patch 3.3, the Glyph of Mind Flay increases MF damage by 10% if the target is afflicted by SW:P; this function was previously the Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain. MF base range has been increased to 30 yards.

Spell Focus: Vampiric Embrace

Posted in Guides, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on September 15, 2009 by Natarumah

spell_shadow_enslavedemonVampiric Embrace in its current form is a slight trickle-heal for party members based on your damage done. While this premise is awesome, and it is quite handy, recent nerfs to its usefulness have made this spell a bit of a gimmick instead of a raid utility tool; and who could blame Blizzard? After all, at the higher levels of gear we would be healing as much as another healing priest!

The Spell

Vampiric Embrace tooltip

One of the spells best use to open up on a boss with while positioning, this spell does nothing for our DPS but can actually keep us alive pretty well. When our raid was testing our raid DPS on a boss dummy, VE allowed me to use a full Shadow Word: Death rotiation without dying. That’s class!

  • 15% of the shadow damage done by you is converted into healing for you
  • 3% of the shadow damage done by you is converted into healing for your group members
  • Does not proc Shadow Weaving
  • No cooldown, 5 minute duration


Vampiric Embrace itself is a talent, and only its improved version affects it meaningfully.

  • Shadow Focus (requires 5 points in Shadow): Increases your chance to hit with Shadow spells by 1% per point (max +3%).
  • Vampiric Embrace (requires 20 points in Shadow): Allows you to use VE as a spell.
  • Shadow Reach (requires 15 points in Shadow): Increases the range of your offensive Shadow spells by 10% per point. (Max 20%)
  • Improved Vampiric Embrace (requires 20 points in Shadow): Increases the healing gained from VE by 33%/66%.
  • Mental Agility (requires 15 points in Discipline): Reduces the mana cost of your instant-cast spells by 2% per point. (Max 10%).

As an explanation, sometimes it is misread: This means that 15% for you and 3% for party is turned into 25% for you and 5% for your party. Some people are very happy when they think they can start healing themselves for 81% of their damage done, but the tooltip is simply a bit awkwardly written.

General Use

On Hard Modes in Ulduar and Colliseum, you will find that every little bit of healing helps. There’s a lot of AoE and raid-damage effects, and you still want to cover up for your occasional abuse of SW:D. It could lift a bit of load from your healers to put you in the tank group and have your tanks’ health filling up, but it’s not much.

This is one of my two gripes with how the spell is organized. First off, it’s such a small heal it’s normally not even taken into account. At about 5000 DPS, you will heal yourself for 1250 HP/s (which is awesome) and your party members for 250 HP/s. This means a combine 1000 HP/s for four additional group members total. This seems great, and adds truckloads to our survivability, but tanks laugh at such small numbers.

The second is that it is only within a party. Had it been raid-wide (as was once put forward as a possibility but never implemented), we heal that 250 HP/s across the raid, which helps a lot more in raid healing. This would give us a total of 6000 HP/s across the raid, which seems a lot, but it is divided among 24 people.

I personally would have preferred this spell to be either:

  • A buff you place on a target; it will be healed for 25% of your Shadow damage, and you receive this healing as well.
  • A debuff placed on the boss; it will heal the entire raid for 5% of your damage done.

Either way would give us more utility and make this ability less negligible.

But, fair’s fair, this is still an awesome self-healing spell for Shadowpriests; else we’d be popping out of Shadowform to heal constantly.

Tips and Tricks

When running in after the tank, make sure you cast this spell on the boss while moving to position; it causes no threat on its own, lasts 5 minutes, and saves a global cooldown later you can use for refreshing a dot. DPS saved and utility preserved.

When multi-dotting adds, put this spell on each add along with VT and SW:P. This together will get you a lot more healing than just the boss. And, considering an add’s lifespan, you only need it once. Good examples are Snobolds on Gormok the Impaler.

Spell Focus: Shadowfiend

Posted in Guides, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on August 28, 2009 by Natarumah

spell_shadow_shadowfiendAs priests increased in power over the course of the Burning Crusade, we discovered how to call into being a minion forged of shadows, whose vampiric nature allowed it to link with us and supply us with mana it drained from our enemies with its vicious attacks. While often underappreciated, this tiny being is as stalwart ally as our tank, despite the fact he can be called only a few seconds at a time.

The spell

Shadowfiend tooltip

Our little shadowfriend attacks once every 1.5 seconds, meaning it will strike 10 times within its duration if used properly. Most often, you will see about 8-9 attacks due to positioning, switching targets and AI silliness. This will regenerate mana for you at the rate of 5% of your maximum mana per attack, regardless of whether it hit or not.

  • 30% coefficient, meaning its dps increases by 30% of your spellpower; with a 1.5 attack speed this is 0.2*spellpower.
  • 5 minute cooldown, 15 second duration
  • Shadowfiend can crit, but does so only rarely (estimated 5% or so crit chance)
  • Shadowfiend spawns on “defensive”, and has a pet bar
  • Shadowfiend has an ability “Shadowcrawl” (explained below) which enhances its use


Only a single talent affects our Shadowfiend at this time:

  • Veiled Shadows (requires 15 points in Shadow): Lowers the cooldown on Shadowfiend by 1 minute per rank (Max 2 minutes reduction)

General Use

Besides being a good way of regaining mana (to the degree that I never use a potion for mana again) it is also a reasonable DPS cooldown to use. It can easily do about 5-7K damage for the duration it runs, which is a nice addition to DoTs and nukes.

Shadowfiends have an ability called Shadowcrawl, which will allow it to warp to its target and increases its damage by 15% for 5 seconds (see the tooltip below).

Shadowcrawl tooltip new

This ability needs to be triggered manually, because it is not on autocast and you don’t want to fiddle with the pet bar if you can help it. Instead, I simply created the following macro:

/cast Mind Flay
/cast [pet] Shadowcrawl

I am pretty sure to Mind Flay a few times during its life, so that covers its Shadowcrawl. And since it does nothing while I have no pet, there will also be no error messages to mess up my screen.

Tips and Tricks

Since it is on a reasonable cooldown, and does not reduce your DPS like Dispersion does, I prefer to use the Shadowfiend first, at about 60% of my mana, roughly. Its attacks will fill up my mana bar even if I continue casting, and is ready soon for another run.

Shadowfiends take reduced damage from AoE but are still exceptionally squishy – don’t summon one into dangerous situations unless you are willing to take the risk of it dying.

Shadowfiend adds a tiny boost to DPS races, like XT-002’s Heart Phase, and can also be used as a temporary stopgap where a melee range/hit is required (Snaplasher movement speed debuff on Freya, tentacle hits on Yogg-Saron, possibly even Algalon’s Big Bang).

Spell Focus: Vampiric Touch

Posted in Guides, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on August 25, 2009 by Natarumah

Vampiric Touch iconOur most powerful, but also our most humble DoT, VT is the good old standby that gives us Replenishment. It mimicks the warlock DoT Unstable Affliction in that it has a cast time, but otherwise follows nicely in the footsteps of our other DoTs. This is also a talented spell (41st point talent) meaning you will not see this spell any earlier than level 50.

The Spell

Vampiric Touch

Vampiric Touch is a basic cast-time DoT, but with some special effects that can be talented into to increase its effectiveness or interact with other spells.

  • 40% coefficient per tick, meaning that 100 spellpower will increase the damage done by 40 each tick of the spell.
  • 1.5 second casting time, no cooldown.
  • Deals its damage over 15 seconds, ticks once per 3 seconds, meaning that the full damage is divided over 3 ticks.
  • Vampiric Touch cannot crit unless you are in Shadowform; if you are, it can crit for 100% increased damage.
  • Its casting time is affected by haste, but the speed of its ticks are not.
  • Vampiric Touch adds a stack of Shadow Weaving.
  • Deals damage to anyone dispelling it.


The following talents affect or interact with Vampiric Touch:

  • Shadowform (Requires 30 points in Shadow): Allows Vampiric Touch to Crit for +100% crit damage.
  • Misery (Requires 35 points in Shadow): Casting VT on a target allows misery to be debuffed on the target, increasing the chance to hit with spells by 1% per point (Max 3%).
  • Vampiric Touch (Requires 40 points in Shadow): Adds Vampiric Touch to your spellbook.
  • Shadow Affinity (Requires 5 points in Shadow): Returns mana to you should someone dispel your Vampiric Touch from a target.

General use

While it is powerful for a DoT, its most important use is to provide Replenishment to your raid. Once you have VT on the target, casting Mind Blast on it will provide replenishment (1% of max mana per 5 seconds) to the 10 lowest-mana raid members. It also is one of the first spells to cast, getting stacks of Shadow Weaving and Misery up to set up your assault.

In PvP it does not usually have the chance to shine, even though it has been optimized to do modest damage to anyone dispelling it, and if this happens will return a bit of mana to you. This last function is tied to Shadow Affinity, a talent which is not taken by PvP shades, and nowadays hardly by any PvE Shades either.

Spell Focus: Mind Blast

Posted in Guides, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on August 21, 2009 by Natarumah

Mind Blast iconMind Blast is our multi-functional nuke; while its cooldown means it does not have the spammability of Mind Flay, it is central in our casting for the triggering of various utility effects, whether our T8 4-piece bonus, Replenishment, or the newly added Mind Trauma debuff which reduces healing by up to 20%. Mind Blast is one of the earliest spells we receive as priests, and it stays faithfully by our side until deep into Icecrown Citadel.

The Spell

Mind Blast

Mind Blast is a very simple nuke with cooldown, and as such there is little to say about it untalented…

  • 42,85% coefficient, meaning 100 spellpower would add almost 43 damage to the spell.
  • 1.5 second cast time, 8 second cooldown untalented
  • Mind Blast can crit, and its cast time is affected by Haste
  • Procs Shadoweaving


Many talents change the efficiency and utility of Mind Blast one way or the other, as one of our core spells:

  • Improved Mind Blast (requires 10 points in Shadow): Reduces the cooldown on Mind Blast by 0.5 seconds per point (Max -2.5 seconds) and while in shadowform has a 20% chance per point (100% Max) to inflict Mind Trauma, reducing all healing done to the target by 20%.
  • Focused Mind (requires 20 points in Shadow): Reduces the mana cost of your Mind Blastby 5% per point. (Max 15%).
  • Mind Melt (requires 25 points in Shadow): Increases the chance for Mind Blast to crit by 2% per point (Max 4%).
  • Shadow Power (requires 30 points in Shadow): Increases the critical strike damage bonus of Mind Blast by 20% per point (Max 100%). This means that with 5 points (100% increase), a crit deals +100% extra damage, so 200% of the base damage.
  • Misery (requires 35 points in Shadow): Increases the benefit of spellpower on Mind Blast by 5% per point (Max 15%).
  • Twisted Faith (requires 45 points in Shadow): Increases the damage dealt by Mind Blast by 2% per point (Max 10%) if the target is afflicted by Shadow Word: Pain.
  • Vampiric Touch (requires 40 points in Shadow): When you cast Mind Blast on a target affected by Vampiric Touch it triggers replenishment (1% of max mana per 5 seconds for 15 seconds) on the nearest 10 targets with the lowest mana pool.

General Use

Mind Blast serves primarily to trigger replenishment for the raid and maximize our DPS. In essence you should cast it whenever it comes off cooldown. Whenever you have SW:P on the target its damage is also increased by 10%, meaning that with a MF/MB combo you refresh its duration and up your MB damage at the same time. Keeping up your DoTs is more stringent now than ever before.

The “mini mortal strike” effect was placed in to make us feel good about ourselves in PvP, but in practice is rather small. In raids it can be used to limit healing done by mobs and on, for instance, Steelbreaker hard mode. Even then, most likely someone in your raid will have the real deal (50% healing reduction) overwriting your pitiful trauma debuff.

Mind Blast has a very good mana-dps ratio, meaning that it is a relatively cheap spell to cast. Even so, on fights where mana is an issue such as Vezax, it is usually left out of the rotation because the combination of cast-time and its “real” mana cost is too high a risk.