Archive for World of Warcraft

How the East was won

Posted in Fun, News, Shadowpriest with tags , , , , on May 27, 2012 by Natarumah

Since there are little to no changes to the Shadowpriest on the beta of note (just continuous shuffling of abilities) it’s about time to look beyond the Shadowpriest itself, and look at the expansion as a whole. From what I’ve seen and what I’ve been told, Mists of Pandaria is going to be quite a different expansion to what we’re used to, as attested to by what the Devs claimed were their intentions and what’s on the Beta right now.

There will be more exploration in Mists

One of the key things here is that the vistas are grand, and areas are huge. There is so much to see, and a lot of detail in the terrain. There are also things scattered around the area from carts to boxes to tea sets still giving off steam. The visual experience is powerful, colors are bold and models are well-made and animated. Where once WoW’s cartoony graphics may have been an anti-aging method, here they actually look like they’re “in place” and meaningful.

Exploration also comes into play with the quests. Where Cataclysm led you by the nose, some quests and events in Mists you won’t find unless you go off the beaten path and beyond the area you are questing in. If you follow the quest lines alone you will level just fine, but to see all that Pandaria has to offer you will have to go down unused paths into the jungle or find long-lost caves and ruins.

Another nice touch is how the quests involving a dungeon actually take place in and around that area, instead of just leading up to it and then stopping cold of the instance portal. It makes the world feel that much more real, thought-out and immersive.

Mists of Pandaria will be more Casual-friendly

Unless the raiding model will be much improved from Cataclysm, and Blizzard gets their raid buffs sorted, it’s likely you will find the number of hard-mode raiders dropping severely (again). With the raid finder, the complexity of 25mans without the additional reward and the heavy focus put on 10man raiding, you will see that Hard Modes are going to be for an ever shrinking group of players.

On the flip side, WoW will be very inviting to more casual play. Pet battles and exploration for those who like them, the ability to farm your own plot of land (like done so beautifully in Lotro before – expect the pipeweed is missing) and the removal of the daily quests cap means that there is plenty to do even if you are not a raider. And if you fancy yourself a good player, you can always test yourself in the 5man challenge modes.

Blizzard seems to head for a Dynamic Server Model

There seems to be a lot of pressure on cross-realm interaction, especially in leveling zones. This seems great for people who want to do that Elite quests (which will make a comeback in Mists) but it does introduce one problem: cross-realm asshattery. Since there is zero responsibility or capacity for punishing people who misbehave on cross-realm areas, we can only hope that the improved reporting system (made quicker and more efficient) will actually curb leechers, trainers, kill-stealers, ninjas and pottymouths.

This is of course nice for people who are leveling, but do not discount the economic effects. Servers that are hardly used because no one was leveling in their zones (I am talking about the physical/virtual servers now, and not realms) can now be merged onto a single virtual server (the crossrealm leveling zone) meaning greater efficiency. This will cut costs and makes sure there’s a lot of backup capacity. This might also help with calamities and stability issues, not to mention look good on the next annual report.

Crossrealm leveling zones will still have their normal trading restrictions (like in random dungeons and raids today) but this might change in the future. And from there it’s only a step up to a truly dynamic server model, where your choice of realm is a choice when logging in, or even a click away (like in Champions Online). This would make the debate about merging realms and dying realms obsolete, as people could be dynamically redistributed. The only stable location would have to be the capital cities, where your guild and friend would be able to meet you when needed and you could organize your 5mans, raids and PvP.

If Fun>Profit run Game else Quit

Yes, an equation. Not very elegant but it proves a point: while some people play for challenge, most just play for fun. Where WoW was once a game where the elite few raided or PvP’d while the rest just stuck to 5mans, it’s now is a game where the casual player is the audience. Those people who want challenging raid mechanics, gear and titles as actual status symbols and truly diabolocial achievements to gain will probably need to look for another game. And let’s face it, it makes sense.

The top raiders once were teenagers, but they are now adults with responsibilities and jobs (for the most part), with the influx into the game being modern-day teenagers who (thanks to the Facebook era) don’t want to spend that amount of time on a game – especially if the same is offered by the free online and FB games of today.

But if you can adapt to the more casual mind-set, where maths are much simpler and gameplay is more set in stone, then Mists of Pandaria still has a lot to offer. I may not personally like how much the game has been made more simple, but it does allow for more expansions to follow and balance to be maintained more easily. And a game that can be upgraded and maintained more easily, and attracts a greater audience, will have a longer lifespan. It also will have more subscribers, which feed into R&D and Design, making the game more shiny. And I cannot find fault in that.

What I intend to do

My personal look at Mists is that I will definitely play. Question is whether it will be as a Hard Mode Raider, and whether it will be as Shadowpriest. So far Shadowpriests are solid in terms of rotations (since we don’t really get anything new anyway) but severely lack in fun (latest addition: a glyph to give your noncombat pet Shadowform – yeah, pass). Warlocks and Death Knights get a lot of shinies and look equally solid. So it may be that I decide to switch mains, or go Casual.

But I do know that I will be playing in the next expansion, and that’s a better outlook than I had a month ago.

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!]

Mastery

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…

Concusion

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.

Ten ways to increase DPS that should be obvious

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , on February 22, 2012 by Natarumah

Looking back on all the posts I made, I realized I never made one in the style of “Ten ways to…”, so I decided to rake together a number of ways to increase your DPS that, while obvious, aren’t known or used by everyone. Considering the current lack of real news regarding priests in general (and Shadowpriests in particular) that emerges from the Blizzard HQ these days, we might as well make the best of the content we have…

10: Un-clutter your UI

A clean and well-organized User Interfance makes the battlefield a lot easier to oversee, gives you swift access to your abilities and the information you need and may also reduce (input) lag. One of the things you could go for once you have mastered keybinding is a minimalist UI, where nothing shows up unless you need it (not even buttons). However, it might be that you have very different needs if you switch between PvE and PvP a lot, or if you want to have a minimalist setup only on fights that aren’t on farm.

In this case, you might use an addon called Reflux, which allows you to save the setup for your UI as a profile, and switch between them with a text command. By making your UI match your personal preferences and making use of as little interface as possible, you can gain valuable time and focus.

9: Always be casting – Always

While it should be somewhat of a mantra for most DPS, any time where you aren’t casting is time where your DPS drops. No matter what else you are doing, you should always be hitting buttons around the GCD. Devouring Plague spam, Shadow Word:Death, Shadowfiend are all prime spells to cast in such times. But if there’s heavy damage incoming that might kill you, you can also use movement time for Power Word:Shield, Renew+Shadowform, and the like.

8: Practice Fights

If you are in any way serious about raiding, you should know what you’re getting into. At least read the boss’  abilities in the Dungeon Journal (Shift+J) for a basic idea, and a strategy guide as found on Bosskillers, Icy Veins, Tankspot, Wowpedia or Wowhead. If you have time, check out a video of the fight, preferably from a ranged DPS view. This gives you an idea what the fight will look like in reality, since looking at 2D maps and John Madden Charts will not prepare you for where to move.

If you are going to go to a Dragon Soul fight with a (new) raid, try running it in LFR difficulty first. Sure it won’t be quite as difficult as the fight will be on Normal mode, but it will tell you how and when boss abilities fire, what they look like, and a basic idea of where not to stand and what not to do. This will allow you to focus on refining your tactics in the normal run.

7: Use consumables and Services

When raiding, always have a Flask active. If it isn’t done yet, ask if the tanks can count down before they pull the boss and use a Potion (Volcanic Potion for us smart types) on the count of “2”. This way you will have the benefit of the potion the first 12 seconds of the fight, and are able to use another potion somewhere halfway the fight (during Heroism or below 25% is a good call). Known as “double-potting”, this practice can easily put another 50-100K damage on a boss in a fight per raid member.

Try to carry a stack or so of Volcanic Potions with you at all times – two stacks if you plan a wipe night. While this might seem expensive, you will shorten the time to kill and learn a boss, increase your DPS and show that you are a real contender in a raid.

6: Move in the GCD

There are quite a few fights where you have to move only a little bit at a time. Haggara’s storm strikes on the ground you move out during her lightning phase are an example, or when shifting DPS to a tentacle in the Madness of Deathwing. As an extension of “Always be Casting”, it will pay to learn to move in the Global Cooldown. Even when you have metric kilotons of Haste, the GCD will always be a second (give or take, with lag). This means that in many cases you can cast a spell, and hit a movement key right as it ends to start moving. When the GCD is finishing, immediately queue another spell.

This way you minimize the movemement you need to make, meaning you maximize DPS time. Oh, and if you are having difficulties with movement or are a bit slow, enchant run speed on your boots. If you aren’t sure of it, this will increase your DPS most of all.

5: Toss and Turn

Another trick is the “half-strafe”, which I jokingly called the “PvP Run”  when I was a wee pre-60. If you use WASD to move, simultaneously hold your right left mouse button and move the mouse to move your view around without changing directions. If you let go of the mouse button, you will immediately shift directions to move where you were looking. You can use this technique to keep an eye on objects/creatures you will need to target soon (Haggara’s ice phase pillars, Yor’Sahj’s globules). Using the right mouse button will allow you to turn the camera and also move in that direction.

As another obvious point, Mind Flay will turn you in the direction of your target if it means. This means that you can use Mind Flay to keep you turned without moving when fighting Yor’Sahj’s globules for instance. If it passes you by, use Mind Flay and immediately once you turned around cast another spell at it. You will never waste DPS turning again.

4: Use boss-specific opportunities

Every boss fight has special opportunities to increase (or minimize loss of) DPS. Your job as a Shadowpriest is to recognize them and use them to your advantage. Whether it is casting at Morchok from between two of his pillars during the black sludge, multi-dotting giants and dragons during the Blackhorn encounter or using Dispersion to soak Hour of Twilight on Ultraxxion. Many of these opportunities are explained on blogs, tactics or class-specific sites, but also research the fight yourself to make sure you get all you can out of it.

Speaking of Dispersion, if you use the following macro, you can Disperse and tap the button again to get out of Dispersion and resume DPS quicker:

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Dispersion
/cast Dispersion

3: Get a hold of your loot

If you are in a raiding guild, chances are you will be using some sort of loot distribution system. Regardless of the type (Suicide Kings, DKP, EQDKP, Loot Council, etc.) you are best off learning exactly how it works. Nothing bogs down your DPS like not being properly geared, and the loot system is in place to make it fair. However, if you lack knowledge, others have a distinct advantage in getting better gear.

Avoid tactics that are considered to be unfair, like driving up a bid for an item you don’t intend to buy, or change your mind after bidding, and the like. Be sure you know what you want – make a list of the items you want to have, order them by how hard you need them and make sure you have a maximum bid in your mind. It doesn’t help if you pay a lot for an item, only to lack points to bid on/opportunities to win an item which is one you have more need for.

Also: be proactive. Bid aggressively on items you really need. Don’t buy Valor Point items for yourself before a raid, do it after a raid when you know nothing you wanted for that slot will drop. Run LFR difficulty to fill up any “weak spots” in your gear. If a particular trinket is in high demand, chances are that even if it drops, others will bid on it heavily. Best thing is to run LFR difficulty and try to get at least that version of it, so that you don’t stick with lesser trinkets just because you are hoping for that one big payday.

2: Don’t be a miser

It may take you weeks to get a good set of DPS gear together, only to find that your next upgrade puts you over the Hit Cap, or somehow skews your Haste rating. Don’t be cheap and leave it like that, continually invest in keeping yourself at top of the line strength. Reforge, regem as needed, stock consumables, carry extra food and the like. You’re going to spend more on repair bills, I can guarantee you that, and this will at least show up in the meters.

When buying or bidding for items from raids, or even LFR items, don’t just consider whether they fit your kit now. If you know that the “leg” slot of your tier is the weakest link, but it’s all you have to keep your 4piece, don’t hesitate to still get the Best in Slot leg piece. One day you are going to get a replacement tier piece so you can get rid of your tier legs, only to find out you now have to wait for the BiS leg piece to drop again…

This also goes for gearing up an alt, applying to your first raiding guild, or switching mains – if you want to impress people and show that you can handle it, you may need to spend some big piles of gold to get it done. Don’t fall in the trap of “good enough” – eventually those little slip-ups and lazy moments will catch up and show you a 10K DPS difference with your class colleague.

Last but not least – level your professions. It happens quite often someone applies for a raiding spot and then has “10 Mining” or “300 Alchemy”. It’s ok to be in the process of leveling them – but tell it to your raid leader/in your app and make sure you get it done. Profession benefits add to DPS in almost all cases, and not having them shows that you are either lazy or unwilling to invest.

1: Socialize and be flexible

Being sociable not only helps in meshing well with the raid. Talking with your fellow class members may bring you a fresh look on things, or a previously unknown trick of the trade. Your other raid members might also help in upping your DPS when it helps the raid as a whole. For instance, a Power Infusion during a really difficult add phase, Dark Intent from a Warlock, or a Paladin’s bubble-of-immunity are all things that greatly help to increase DPS (or prevent loss of it by dying). Don’t be afraid to at least bring it up, and how it helps the raid as well.

And always remain flexible, especially now in the face of a coming expansion. Talent trees are overturned, stat balances change, even getting better gear might make you rethink your gearing strategy. Stay flexible, willing to learn and wide-eyed. Imagine every raid to be like your first and keep a mindset that you have to prove yourself to win your raid spot. You will find that the early adapter scores some quick wins in the DPS department.

Conclusion

There are many small things that contribute to better DPS. But remember to make sure that this is quality DPS. Massive damage on adds which leaves the boss alive to reach the enrage timer is not quality DPS, and while you may win on the meters, eventually it will be found out and you will be asked not to. Make sure that every point of damage you do contributes to reaching the raid’s goal – a boss kill and nerd screams on vent.

Comparison: Shadowpriest vs Sith Inquisitor

Posted in Diary, Fun, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Natarumah

It’s one of those things that seems unavoidable; when I played Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR) beta, the first thing I rolled was a Sith Sorceror. Guess you can’t deny your true nature – and now that the game’s out, my Sith Sorceror is almost level 50, so time to do some comparisons on playstyle between it and my favorite pastime: the Shadowpriest.

Look and feel

The theme of the Sith code is very strong, and is represented in everything a Sorceror does. Dark sided social options, quests that promise *unlimited powerrrr* and Lightning as primary source of damage. Every second of play, every encounter with NPCs, underlines that you are dangerous and unpredictable, demanding of respect. It’s really well done, and mirrors my earlier post about class design: a strong theme, a strong feel makes half a class.

Talents

I am currently playing a hybrid between the Lightning and Madness trees, but you could go for more Madness (more DoTs) or fully into Lightning (more Direct Damage). Strong points of the Sorceror are their mix of healing and damage (even the healers deal damage to keep their Force regeneration up), ability to shield allies and their good CC. Whirlwind allows you to keep an opponent out of the fight indefinitely, and you can talent it for a reduced cooldown or CC’ing more than one mob at a time.

Damage-wise, there’s a lot of synergy in talents. Lightning Strike (Say, Shadowbolt) ups your Force Regeneration. Affliction (SW:P) makes your Force Lightning tick faster. Thundering Blast crits automatically on targets with Affliction on it and feels a lot like Mind Blast currently is. Force Lightning is a dead ringer for Mind Flay – it even has the Slowing component. All in all, people who play Shadowpriests will find that the Sorceror is a wealth of rediscovery.

Playstyle

When playing solo, the Sorceror plays a bit like a Warlock, using your companion Khem Val as a tank and healing him while you blast opponents to pieces. This is quite challenging to do, because Khem Val is not so bright and has a lot of AoE, breaking your careful CC. You can turn off his AoE abilities (he has a full pet bar) but to be honest it seems to spring back one every time (most likely a bug).

You have a lot of short-term control (as do most classes). You can Interrupt, you have a Stun (Electrocute) but even your Shock will stun weaker targets. If you are swarmed, you can knock your foes back. All in all, an enormous toolbox of abilities. Like the classic Shadowpriest, you also have quite some healing power – and be expected to use it. A Flashpoint can be healed even without a healing spec, but it will be a challenge. More to the point, you will get a lot of healing practice keeping your companions up on some of the more challenging class quests.

The flipside of the Sorceror (the Assassin) is my girlfriend’s weapon of choice – a combination of Death Knight, Rogue and (TBC-style) Tankadin. All in all ironic since her main’s been a Paladin since TBC, and she instantly recognized the playstyle from way back when. In fact, a lot of the feel of the classes and abilities are reminiscent of TBC-era World of Warcraft. And here too, a tank/healer combo is the bomb. Between the two of us, 4-man quests are relatively easy because we carry healing power, enough CC to control 2-3 targets and 2 additional companions.

Mind you that you will need it – this game is definitely more challenging than WoW. Mobs will need CC, positioning is important and the game does not pull punches in your class quests. Adapt or die, seems to be the buzz word.

Conclusion

For players of a Shadowpriest, the Sorceror feels like the Shadowpriest should: dark, powerful, commanding respect. There’s a lot of support for your group, and a lot of ways to screw over your enemies. The only complaint would be that you have too much to do, and are fighting bar space to fit it all in.

For Blizzard, I’d recommend a similar treatment for the Shadowpriest – don’t be afraid of the CC (we lack it anyway), the stuns/control (smart players need a challenge, on either side of the fence) and damage potential. In the end, the feeling of the class determines its popularity.

Leveling a Shadowpriest in the age of Deathwing

Posted in Guides, Shadowpriest with tags , , on August 15, 2011 by Natarumah

While one of my readers had asked to update the Shadowpriest leveling guide, I thought it would be more prudent to start from scratch. That way, it’s also more convenient to find for others as well. The format will basically be the same, and I will discuss the gear, talents, glyphs and professions that will benefit your new Shadowpriest on its way through the post-Cataclysm world. This will delay the Discipline Priest healing guide (part 3) but on a Shadowpriest blog, I am willing to take the risk.

EDIT: Well, hello Mists of Pandaria! How nice of you to completely turn over how classes work…see the updated guide here: https://twistedfaith.wordpress.com/melting-faces-101/leveling-a-shadowpriest/

Gear

Heirloom gear is still the panoply of choice to wear for the discerning Shade. These are available either by spending Justice Points or Champion’s Seals from the Argent Tournament. I can imagine that doing the Tournament dailies might feel like a chore, but at 85 they are very quick and easy to do – and it saves you from having to spend Justice Points if you still need them. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Tattered Dreadmist Mask: available for 1,350 gold from a guild vendor if you are honored with your guild and it is level 20+ (Sta/Int/Crit/Haste, +10% XP bonus)
  • Tattered Dreadmist Mantle: available for 2,175 Justice Points or 60 Champion’s Seals (Sta/Int/Crit, +10% XP bonus)
  • Tattered Dreadmist Robe: available for 2,175 Justice Points or 60 Champion’s Seals (Sta/Int/Crit, +10% XP bonus)
  • Ancient Bloodmoon Cloak: available for 1,200 gold from a guild vendor if you are Honored with your guild and it is level 10+ (Sta/Int/Crit/Haste, +10% XP bonus)
  • Dignified Headmaster’s Charge: weapon available for 3,500 Justice Points or 95 Champion’s Seals (Sta/Int/Crit/Spellpower)
  • Discerning Eye of the Beast: a trinket costing 2,725 Justice Points or 75 Champion’s Seals (Intellect/2% mana return on kill) of which you can have 2

Other heirlooms of note:

  • Dread Pirate Ring: available as a reward for winning the Kal’uak Fishing Derby (Sta/Hit/Crit, +5% XP bonus)
  • Excquisite Sunderseer Mantle: available for 2,175 Honor Points at the Wintergrasp or Honor Vendor (Sta/Int/Crit/Resilience, +10% XP bonus)
  • Grand Staff of Jordan: weapon available for 3,500 Honor Points at the Wintergrasp or Honor Vendor (Sta/Hit/Resilience/Spellpower)

When possible, you should go for the PvE version – they are more powerful and they don’t have resilience, which eats item budget but does not provide any benefit against non-player targets. However, if you are on a PvP realm, there might be value in using them if you are in danger of equal-level players a lot. If you are deciding to level through BGs rather than questing or dungeons, the PvP gear is obviously also a superior choice.

Most heirloom gear will only function up to level 80, meaning you have to replace them with regular items at that point. The cloak and headpiece available from the guild vendors will continue to improve its stats until level 85.

Professions

As ever, enchanting is a powerful profession to make money with, as you can disenchant your questing gear and make sure even gear that runs behind can match your current level by enchanting it. However, now that Mining and Herbalism offer XP per node, it is more beneficial if you are leveling through questing to get those professions instead. With both of these professions (and the fact that they benefit from rested bonus) you will gain an enormous chunk of XP as well as goods to sell or level your final professions at 85 with.

In PvP, engineering at the lower levels is still valid, but becomes more and more restricted as you level up. When questing  it provides you with unique teleports to Everlook/Gadgetzan, Area 52 and several places in Northrend. This allows you to quickly move back and forth for various quests, resupplies and the like.

Guilds

If you are looking for a guild to join, there are many perks that can help you.

  • Fast Track (level 2 and 6) improves XP gained by 5%/10%
  • Mount up (level 3) improves mounted speed by 10%
  • Hasty Hearth (level 8) reduces Hearthstone cooldown by 15 minutes
  • Mobile Banking (level 15) allows you to summon a guild chest to access the guild bank
  • Have Group will Travel (level 21) allows you to summon group members
  • Bountiful Bags (level 23) sometimes gives you extra mats when mining, skinning, disenchanting or herbing
  • Mass Resurrection (level 25) allows you to resurrect your group at once

All of these will shorten your leveling time, improve your mobility and make you your dungeon group’s best friend. Bountiful Bags combined with two gathering professions makes for a lot of money or a shortcut to max level professions.

Talents

Our talents received a major overhaul right before the Cataclysm, and the leveling builds have been changed accordingly. Below are presented sample builds for every 10 levels; one will be a “questing build” focused on questing and solo play, while the other is a “dungeon build” designed for running dungeons. At the end of this section I will discuss the few PvP-related talents for those of us who level through BGs.

Keep in mind that I tried to avoid talents at levels where you wouldn’t have the relevant ability (like Veiled Shadows major effect on Shadowfiend, which you don’t get until much later) or where the target wouldn’t live long enough to gain a benefit (Pain and Suffering’s effect on Shadow Word: Pain).

Level 10: Choose the Shadow spec; Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 20: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 30: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 40: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 50: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 60: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 70: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 80: Questing build/Dungeon build
Level 85: Questing build/Dungeon build

When leveling through PvP, the following talents will be especially tasty: Improved Psychic Scream, Silence, Psychic Horror, Phantasm and Improved Power Word: Shield. Paralysis is too unreliable, especially at lower levels, and you can cannibalize Harnessed Shadows for points because it too is reliant on RNG a lot.

Playstyle

Until you get Shadowform, a Shadow Priest can be a bit unwieldy to play. When questing, it basically boils down to Shielding, putting up Shadow Word: Pain on the target, maybe Mind Flay until it is in range and then wanding it to death. Spirit Tap will give you back quite some mana, so even without mana efficiency talents you should have relatively little downtime. You will see some downtime, as the mana-efficiency talents and glyphs will become available only later. Shadowfiend (32), Masochism (49) and Glyph of Spirit Tap (32) are spread out between levels. While the cost of spells is considerably lower at lower levels, expect a mana crunch at levels 60, 70 and 80, when the gear available for a starting character is not fully suficient to keep mana up.

After Shadowform you will see more use from Crit rating, your damage numbers will go up, and Mind Blast becomes more interesting. If you are in dungeons you will find that mobs live long enough that your dots will tick for long enough to make them worthwile, but your Mind Blast has a tendency to be a bit late.

Once you have Vampiric Touch you can use Mind Blast to grant Replenishment to your party, but the buff lasts long enough that you don’t really need the reduced cooldown yet. VE and VT will make you loved in your group though, and your DPS will be competitive.

From level 60 on your survivability will be enormous, you can take on larger and larger packs of mobs, and your self-healing and mana regains will be improving. You will not reach the “God of Death Mode” that affliction warlocks seek out at this time, but you will find that you have more tools to play with now than before.

From level 70 on, you will find that our playstyle is much the same as it has always been; keep up DoTs, Mind Blast if you have 1 orb up and Mind Flay as filler. SW:Death when you get below 50% mana or to score a kill on a low-health mob.

Glyphs and Consumables

Questing Shades will want the following glyphs, in order:

  • Prime: SW:Pain/Mind Flay/SW:Death or Dispersion
  • Major: Spirit Tap/Psychic Horror/Fade
  • Minor: Any

Dungeoneers will want to get the following glyphs, in order:

  • Prime: SW:Pain/Mind Flay/SW:Death
  • Major: Psychic Scream/Fade/Spirit Tap
  • Minor: Any

For PvP leveling, you probably want to take the Questing glyphs, but add PW:Shield as a glyph instead of Mind Flay. This way your shield becomes a cheap heal as well as a protection ability. The glyph of SW:Death becomes very potent once you reach level 81 and can use the dreaded MS/MS/Insta-MB/SW:D/SW:D combo.

For other consumables, potions and scrolls are generally very cheap as alchemists and scribes level on them. These days, leveling characters are more likely to vendor their old potions rather than put them on the AH, but it does happen. Place any consumables on your bars, so you don’t forget to use them. Nothing is more wasteful than reaching level 30 with a stack of unused level 21 potions, except maybe dying when you could have taken one to save your life. Also, bring water at all times – downtimes may be a bit lower, and half a stack of level-appropriate water will last you quite some time.

Conclusion

Leveling is now easier than ever, and the new questlines offer a fresh face of Azeroth to prospective new Shadowpriests. Between heirlooms, xp from gathering professions and the possibility of using the Recruit a Friend option (which has now been extended to level 80 from 60), your character will hit the Cata zones in no time!