Archive for Talents

Sneak preview: Shadows in MoP

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , on November 23, 2011 by Natarumah

Blizzard just released a new talent calculator, showing us quite a bit of the new design philosophy and changes to be expected for the various classes. As could be expeected, this will cause quite some hubub as there will undoubtedly be some controversial or unloved choices. Check it out for yourself here, while I try and highlight some of the big changes for ourselves, as Shadowpriests.

Almost no healing – cause we don’t heal

As I have talked about before when discussing the philosophy of class design, an easy way to distinguish the Shadowpriest is to remove some or all healing spells. And it looks like this is indeed what is happening. Greater Heal, Binding Heal and Prayer of Mending have been relegated to “spec-specific spells”  for Holy and Discipline. We will also lose Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope to Holy and Discipline respectively, meaning that we also will lose our raid utility cooldowns. Hot damn.

So – do we get something in return?

For losing all healing spells except Flash Heal, we get Silence and Psychic Horror baseline. It also looks like Holy and Discipline will still keep access to SW:Pain, SW:Death and Mind Sear. As the Mind Blast spell will require Shadow Orbs, it is now Shadow-specific and can’t be used by the healing specs.

But…it’s pre-beta right, so perhaps some changes in the talents?

Nope, unchanged since the unveiling as far as I can see, but I will go over them with a comb today.

Edit: yeah, it’s nowhere near complete, or even fully thought out.

The following spells were not listed even though they are critical: Devouring Plague, Mana Burn.
Twisted Faith wasn’t in there, nor was there any mention of the Spirit > Hit conversion. This could indicate we are supposed to grab Hit gear now, or they decided to drop the healer to DPS conversion.

While leveling, a Shadowpriest cannot heal him/herself except through Flash Heal. This becomes especially bad because Vampiric Embrace seems missing, and the last-tier talent that makes a mockery out of it isn’t cutting it, sorry. It seems more than ever that the concept of the specs is simply missing, and needs to be rethought from scratch. We used to be the DPS that drained enemies and empowered allies, I’d suggest working with that.

If the planned removal of Replenishment goes through, and Vampiric Embrace is watered down to an ability all specs can get, Shadowpriests are effectively a homeless spec. Out abilities are like those of an Affliction Warlock (Dots, Fear, Dispel Protection) but without the pet and the additional raid utility (Soulstone, Healthstone, Summons) or even the self-healing.


It’s still very early, and the warning that all is subject to change is printed in big letters at the bottom. That is sound judgement, because so far we Shadows only lose out on it. We lose 75% of our healing ability, all raid utility except for PW:Fortitude and Leap of Faith (which is still Holy) and the healers lose nothing except Mind Blast. Unlike some of the cooler classes (warlock and death knight, I am looking at you) there are also no new spells listed.

I can only say that this is the perfect time to brainstorm about what would be needed to fill the gap in our spells and talents, and see if the beta allows us to be part of the cool crew.

Edit: This post is one of those evil quic-update things where you see new things every five minutes. The next post, I am going over the the abilities we have currently (as planned for MoP so far) and see where things could be designed to fill existing gaps.

The legacy of Blizzcon 2011

Posted in Fun, News, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2011 by Natarumah

Alright, it’s official: the new expansion’s going to be Mists of Pandaria, as reported by Boubouille at MMO-Champion. So far, there’s a few things to be excited about: Panadaren race which will choose to be Alliance or Horde, depending on your choices after building the character/finishing the starter zone. And a Monk class, which will probably be the new plate-less and shield-less Paladin. Right.

Some of the other things that can work out really well:

  • Level Cap Increased to 90: Learn potent new spells and abilities while exploring uncharted zones and taking on challenging new content.
  • New Zones: Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.
  • Scenarios: Join up with some friends to achieve a common goal, such as mounting a defense against invading monsters, in a flexible new type of PvE challenge.
  • Dungeon “Challenge” Modes: Master the ultimate 5-player time trial and earn prestige rewards in a new dungeon mode that will put your resolve and coordination to the test.
  • Pet Battles: Challenge other players’ companion pets with your own collection in a new tactical mini-game, and find out who’s king or queen of the pint-sized battlefield.
  • New Talent System: Customize your character to suit your play style with the newly overhauled and improved talent system.

I heartily recommend you to watch the trailer, honestly. It softens the blow when I start talking about the new talent system.

And check out the details on the Minipet battles – they are awesome. On one hand, it’s just Pokemon, really. But it’s fun because it’s using all those Minipets we already had anyway. So expect to have your Tortledy-…err I mean Toothy, come out of its bucket for a scrap.

  • You will be able to collect, level, and battle with companion pets.
  • It will be accessible to all players.
  • Works with almost every pet
  • Pet Customization, you will be able to name your pet, give them visual abilities, etc …
  • There will be “Wild pets”, you can find them in the world and engage in battle with them. You will then be able to get that pet and add it to your Pet Journal.
  • Pets have random stats, some of them will be very good at tanking, some will have a CC ability, etc …
  • Some pets will only be found during a specific season, while it’s raining, or during the day or the night. Some of them will only spawn in the spring, when it’s raining, in elwynn forest at night!
  • Most pets will become tradable, even after it’s leveled, etc …
  • Pets will be account wide
  • Your pet journal will display info on all your pets, including stats, skills, and also drop locations and lore info for the pets you don’t have yet!
  • Winning battles earns you experience, and levels your pets.
  • You will learn new abilities. Every pet can use 3 abilities in a battle at one time.
  • Every time you level you will also increase the stats of your pet.
  • You will level multiple pets to build your team.
  • You have 3 battle slots, one for each pet in your team.

So yeah, Pokemon. Totally.

Talent System

The talent system will be overhauled completely – again. Last time it was heavily simplified, and a base set of abilities have been tied into your choice of primary tree. This will now follow evolution to its eventual end: every 15 levels you will get to pick a single talent from among three choices. Generally, one of these will be Utility/Healing/DPS/PvP, depending on the available specs for the class.

We’re screwed. Two of our trees are healers.
Druids and Paladins and triple-screwed. They have a lot of options, but still only three boxes to put them in.

Check the ideas they have for the priest, in the picture below:

The key here is also that these seem to be toggle-based, meaning that outside of combat and for some fee/reagent you will be able to choose a new set of (6) talents, and then click Learn to finalize it. No more talent point ranks, no more complicated respeccs. Most likely dual-spec will still be available, so that you could have more than one primary talent set to choose from.

It’s quite likely, considering the design philosophy they extolled here and the main Pandaria FAQ that we will not be able to heal much at all, even out of Shadow Form. It feels a bit like more and more of the regular class abilities (especially if one spec is hinges on them) are confined to talent tree abilities. On the other hand, it would make little sense for a healer to not be able to quest or PvP.

Warning concerning Shadowform

I certainly hope it’s not going to happen, but – in the pictures, references are made between Caster Form and Shadow Form. I hope with all my heart this is not an early reference to making Shadowform a cooldown (like Tree of Life) rather than a stance. It would be pretty bad, for the community as well. When Tree of Life became a cooldown, the resto druid community practically collapsed. A dozen bloggers vanished without a trace (I kid you not) and more restos simply respecced because they hated the Macho Tree. They didn’t return until the glyph was introduced that returned its original form.

But it would be a bad thing for us too – not purple means not a Shadowpriest. That’s it.

Recap of the philosophy

Talents 2.0

  • Major change to class talent trees, and this is a new phase of development for the talent system.
  • The goal is to have you sit to another next to another combat rogue, and this combat rogue will actually have different talents than you do!
  • Character customization was the original point of talents in the first place but overtime cookie cutter builds dominated the scene.

New Model

  • Class Abilities are available to all specs in the class. All warriors learn heroic strike for example.
  • Spec Abilities are available to certain specs. Only Arms warriors learn Slam. Retribution and Protection paladin get Hammer of the Righteous, etc …
  • Talents are optional skills/bonuses available to all specs. Any warrior can choose Throwdown, and you will have to pick between 3 different crowd control abilities on this level of talent.
  • Level 15 – You pick your first talent. For example, warriors have to pick between Juggernaut / Double Time / Warbringer and players will have to pick which mobility ability they want to pick depending on their playstyle.

Talent Philosophy

  • Access to stuff you never could before. If you were a subtlety rogue you knew you weren’t going to get something like Killing Spree. And because talents are going to be all in the same tree, you’re going to be able to combine them in a way that you never could before. For example, any rogue can have Shadowstep!
  • Several new, overpowered (feeling) talents will be added to the game.
  • If you don’t see a beloved talent in your new talents list, don’t worry, it’s probably something we gave your spec as a baseline. For example all Holy priests now have Circle of Healing.
  • No mandatory talents anymore.
  • Every choice should be hard but fun!

Talent Preview

  • Design will iterate a lot on individual talents
  • Don’t obsess about the numbers

Initial feel on the talent changes

The first five seconds of me reading these changes made be go “nononono” considering I could see a new leveling player being sharply regimented into a “Choose spec at 10, get reward at 25+” sort of game. Having rewards spread out too much will make leveling even more of a grind. But it looks like they are planning to take some spec-iconic abilities and add them to the class abilities while leveling. For example, I could see for us that Shadowy Apparitions (not in the trees now) becomes available at around level 55 or so.

Tier 1 – Psyfiend for PvE, Psychic Scream for PvP. The tendrils are nice, and could be used in specific add-based fights, but otherwise are not that special.
Tier 2 – Phantasm for PvP and any fight with roots – else Body and Soul to shield yourself for movement. Don’t take Path of the Devout since Levitate is broken on damage and thus no good in any environment with damage.
Tier 3 – From Darkness comes Light (Surge of Darkness) will provide more DPS in all likelihood – Dark Archangel looks good as well but without a mana regen component, it’s basically a 15% damage buff that is up every 90 seconds. RNG is more involved in the former than the latter.
Tier 4 – Final Prayer on average, for when your healer is asleep
Tier 5 – Power Infusion – Twist of Faith is only good for boss battles with insane time at 25% or lower (Ragnaros) which is also a burn phase.
Tier 6 -Vampiric Dominance – with Void Shift for specific fights

So while it seems “hard” to make a cookie cutter build, it’s not hard to make a baseline. Going Psy/Pha/FDcL/FP/PI/VD will give you enough utility in most fights and you can always swap for specific fights. However, just like with glyphs today, it will probably not happen much.


  • Clean talent trees, easier to balance
  • True hybridization
  • Utility and Survival is a personal choice, basic DPS should be baseline
  • Easier to swap and switch


  • Less choice, and most often the logical choice is obvious
  • Slower progression might discourage newer players
  • Pidgeon-holing and alienating older players (again).
  • Healers get to our goodies – and we don’t want theirs.

Will Smite priests survive? Will Shadowpriests actually have any benefit from these changes? To me it just sounds like we’re on the short end of the stick since Disc/Holy will have a use for all our talents – even in PvE. We don’t have any use for their talents. I mean, Vow of Unity is a poor man’s Divine Sacrifice (Paladin). Why take it? A healer might, but why would a DPS other than because the specific fight dynamics demand it?

This also means you will have a hard time explaining an average simple-minded puggy that he needs that talent, or you won’t win the fight. He’ll go “meh, I am DPS – I take the DPS talent”. And there you go, stranded until you can make it clear.

Controlling Heroics

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , on January 7, 2011 by Natarumah

Anyone who’s rolling in heroics at this time in Cataclysm will attest to the fact that their difficulty has been increased substantially from what they were in Wrath. With proper skill, crowd control and tactics, they are very doable. Without, they are nightmares. Shadowpriests have never been the kings of crowd control, nor are we likely to be in the future. But what we can do is prepare ourselves for control over brute DPS, and smoothen the ride.

Why a control spec?

I am currently running a dual Shadow spec – one is my raid spec with all the maximum DPS talents, the other is this set of talents, which is based around control.

My reasons for adopting this spec, despite it’s lower DPS (8-9K in heroics in an average party with 333 average iLevel) is that I found a lot of wipes were caused by a few things, even with proper tactics:

  • Mob(s) has an ability that stacks damage rapidly, or inflicts high burst damage
  • Crowd Control could not be re-applied when broken, adding mobs on to the tank
  • Mob(s) were casters, and someone did not LoS them during a corner-pull

A good example of the first issue is Throngus the Forgemaster in Grim Batol. He switches weapons, and the group tactics change depending on what weapons he uses. This fight does get easier with experience, but it demands a lot from the healer as well. When he picks up a big mace he has to be kited around, leaves fire patches on the ground and sometimes picks a person up and deals heavy damage. But if right after that he picks up his twin set of blades, he will be stacking debuffs on the tank, attacking rapidly. If the healer isn’t quick to switch from the group (during mace phase) to the tank (for the twin weapon phase) it can go downhill quickly.

In this case, any good Shadowpriest will help out the healer by putting a shield on a low-health party member or pop Divine Hymn if the whole group is low on health. But having Psychic Horror (which inflicts a Horror as well as a Disarm on the target) you can actually remove one of Throngus’ weapons during his twin weapons phase.

This improves tank survivability a lot, allowing the healer to re-assert control even if the situation went bad before.

For the second example, having a previously-sheeped or -hexed mob run into the AoE of, for instance, a Paladin tank means the tank and healer will have to deal with the extra mob. Nothing to be done about this except with some fancy chain-CC, repositioning and coordination.

What I like to do here is use a Psychic Horror or a glyphed Psychic Scream to root the mobs in place before they get too close to the party. To prepare for this, just make sure to stand in between the party and the CC’d mobs, if the fight allows it. Applying CC often takes a second or two, and if you buy this time for the group, your effective DPS and healing has just skyrocketed into hero spheres.

The last example can be found a lot in Grim Batol, Stonecore and Halls of Origination – all of which have a plethora of casters. During a cornerpull or LoS pull, everyone gets out of sight of the mobs when the tank pulls, drawing ranged mobs close to the party.

The problem with this is basically perception. Not everyone realizes exactly when they are out of LoS of a mob (even though they seem quite capable of it when it concerns LoS to the healer) or dares to admit they don’t know what a cornerpull means. In this case, all is not lost by a quick application of Silence (to draw the mob in) or Psychic Horror (to allow a person to take cover) and assertion of control over the pull by the tank.

But it’s lower DPS – and why’s Phantasm in there?

Times have changed, it’s about control and saving healer mana now in heroics, not about who can run through them the fastest. In fact, bringing more control, and more CC, will make the run quicker than high-powered DPS that doesn’t know anything except massively AoE’ing down the mobs.

Phantasm’s an odd talent, I will say that. It’s part of that spec because in Wrath there were a lot of Snares to deal with, but they seem less prevalent in Cataclysm. Still, I feel safe in the notion that I can pop Fade and get out of slows and snares. It also means this spec is a lot more useful in PvP (which would work quite well, I imagine).

You can always switch some points around if you want; Improved Mind Blast is a good contender, although I find that in heroics individual non-boss mobs die rather quickly with proper CC and tactics, so I go with MSx3, MB, SW:D combos on tiny adds more often.

It’s still a bit of a development, since heroics are being adjusted a lot currently, making things easier or harder on us. And I try to anticipate a bit on the heroics yet to come in future patches as well. But that’s what makes life fun, preparing for the unknown eventuality.

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.

Shadowpriests and Evangelism

Posted in News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , on August 5, 2010 by Natarumah

The latest Beta build apparently has quite a few changes in store for us, and boy are they massive! It means saying goodbye to a few old friends, but the possibilities put in its stead are breathtaking! Remember how Blizzard stated that Discipline would be more interesting for us? Oh yes it is…

Spirit Tap (removed)

Spirit Tap is gone entirely. This will mean we will have less mana to work with when leveling, but we were not planning on taking it for raiding anyway.

Shadow Power (Removed)

No more free damage buff to our Shadow spells – we will have to do it by ourselves again.

Veiled Shadows (Moved up to 1st tier)

Veiled Shadows moved up to where Spirit Tap used to be. This is quite nice, but this does make me hope we will get Shadowfiend sooner, because I doubt anyone will take it just for the Fade cooldown reduction.

Phantasm (Renamed)

The old Improved Shadow Form is now an independent talent, and removes movement impairing effects when casting fade 50%/100% of the time. May be useful on some Hard Modes, but has become a bit more of a PvP talent.

Sin and Punishment (New)

This talent, requiring Vampiric Touch as its prerequisite, is one of the most painful PvP advantages we can have. If your VT is dispelled, it causes the dispeller and nearby targets to be feared for 3%. There is a certain chance for this, but the tooltip does not display it properly yet. Probably 100% at two ranks.

Mental Agility (Moved)

Mental Agility, reducing the mana cost of your instant-cast spells, is now a first-tier ability and therefore very easy to reach for Shadowpriests.

Evangelism (Discipline, reworked)

In addition to its normal effects, casting Mind Flay also gives you stacks of Evangelism, up to 5 stacks and lasting 15 seconds. Stacks of Evangelism increases the damage of our periodic Shadow spells by a certain percentage.

Archangel (Discipline, reworked)

Archangel now also works with Evangelism stacks gained through Mind Flay, as per Evangelism. Consuming your stacks of Evangelism will restore a percentage of mana, and increases Shadow damage done by a certain percentage. It does not list a certain duration (will probably be added in later) for which the damage bonus lasts.


One other thing I saw is that Pain and Suffering now has a 66% at 2 ranks to refresh the duration on our Shadow Word: Pain. Either this is a bug, and it will be reworked to 50%/100%, or Blizzard wants us to risk dropping off stacks. Even so, with the extended duration of DoTs compared to Live, working in the Mind Flays shouldn’t be a big issue.

I am really excited about these changes so far – they make for a much more lively build and the idea of a “Dark Archangel” ability gets me stoked! It is also much easier to ignore the PvP talents in the Shadow tree and get the important things done.

I have been checking out a possible build:

It is a bit sad that we’d have to forgo more points in Improved Inner Fire (and thus extra spell damage) but I am fairly certain that Evangelism and Archangel more than make up for that. Plus, we really want Dispersion for mana and as an emergency button.