Friday, March 16, 2012

Mists of Pandaria Shadow Priest Changes

What? SHADOW PRIEST is evolving!
*Pokemon evolution music*

(For those interested, the current publicly available info can be found here.)

Ah, another expansion! We live in exciting times, folks. There's nothing quite so exhilarating as playing a brand-new expansion. We'll get to re-evaluate our entire class, compete with 200+ other players to tag our next quest mob, and boldly go where no panda has gone before (at least, if you level quickly.)

For now though, here's some pseudo-patch notes I've compiled from the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator.

  • Shadow Protection removed; magic resistances removed.
  • Dispel Magic now removes ALL harmful spells when cast on self, but has an 8 second cooldown.
  • Mind Blast is no longer baseline. It is now shadow-specific.
  • Psychic Scream is no longer baseline. It is now a talent.
  • Specializations
    • Shadow
      • Devouring Plague removed, in order to simplify the spec.
      • Mind Blast now requires at least 1 Shadow Orb to cast.
      • Silence is now baseline. (And there was much rejoicing!)
      • Psychic Horror is now baseline.
      • Vampiric Touch now heals the caster for 50% of the damage dealt as Health and Mana. We will never have to worry about running OOM again, even when healing.
      • All heals other than Flash Heal and Power Word: Shield are no longer baseline; our healing toolkit will be much diminished.
      • Many utility or situational spells no longer have a 40-yard range. Core DPS-rotational spells still have a 40-yard range, but we will once again have a positioning conflict when our utility is necessary.
      • Pain and Suffering now has a 100% chance to refresh Shadow Word: Pain up from 66%, but it can no longer trigger off the initial application of Mind Flay.
  • Talents
    • Level 15 (Crowd Control)
      • Void Tendrils - This is a mage's Frost Nova, but with a twist. Instead of breaking when the target takes damage, this will break when the tendril holding them dies. Mobs will likely break themselves out when they have no other target nearby. Lasts up to 20 sec.
      • Psyfiend - Repeatedly fears anything attacking you for up to 1 minute. (The fear lasts 1 minute, not the Psyfiend.) Due to the long cooldown, I would assume that it fears more than 5 targets (the number Psychic Scream does), but it will take 1.5 sec to cast each fear. Less useful if you need stuff to stop attacking you right now. This is serious CC, and is likely to be highly desired in 5man dungeons in early Mists.
      • Psychic Scream - Unaltered.
    • Level 30 (Mobility)
      • Body and Soul - Unaltered. Yay! Finally Discipline and Shadow get to have Holy's most fun toy. If used at maximal uptime, grants a 10.67% average movement speed increase. Due to the bursty nature of the movement though, this is likely meant for short sprints like getting out of the fire. On a 5.6 second or longer bout of movement, the speed boost will refund the time lost to casting PW:S. Can be used on others!
      • Path of the Devout - +25% movement speed when you have anyone's Levitate on you. Good for long runs (like, running back into a wiped instance, for example.) Useless in combat, and also useless for over-world travel, since you will have a mount by this point. May allow us to kite in future raids.
      • Phantasm - Also suppresses roots and snares for 3sec after use in addition to current effect. As always, will have uses in PvP. Likely to remain largely-useless in PvE.
    • Level 45 (Core DPS or HPS)
      • From Darkness, Comes Light - 15% chance on Mind Flay tick to grant a free, instant Mind Blast. Likely to be the best sustained DPS option, as the others have side benefits that would make them strictly better if this was not. The healing half of this talent is unusable for shadow priests, as we lack the spells required to consume the proc.
      • Divine Star - A clone of a mage's Flame Orb, with a twist: also heals allies in the path. Of these three talents, this provides the most "free" healing. Likely to be lower DPS than From Darkness, Comes Light because of that. I will be a sad panda if this kicks us out of Shadowform, but I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard did do that.
      • Archangel - No longer restores mana. Damage boosted 25%, up from 20%. The healing half of this talent is now unusable in shadow spec. Provides burst DPS on demand. Likely to be the highest DPS option for short fights, and obviously good for fights that need burst (like the Spine of Deathwing tendons.) Should be lower sustained DPS than From Darkness, Comes Light, because if it's not, then this is strictly better.
    • Level 60 (Defensive Cooldowns)
      • Desperate Prayer - Instantly heal yourself for 30% of max HP. 2 minute cooldown. Notably, this interacts with the new version of Vampiric Embrace, causing the healing to splash to some of your raid. At maximum usage, this has the highest sustained HPS of the talents on this tier. I would be unsurprised, but disappointed, if Blizzard makes this strip Shadowform.
      • Angelic Bulwark - Increases your shields on yourself by 30%. You'd need to shield yourself 3-4 times per minute for this to even come close to the other talents. PW:S is our only shield, and it has a 15 second "cooldown". Do not take this talent; it is BAD for shadow.
      • Final Prayer - When an attack reduces you below 30% HP but doesn't kill you, you gain a shield for 20% of your max HP. 90 second cooldown. Pros: automatic, shorter cooldown (may sync up with some fight mechanics better than Desperate Prayer). Cons: does not interact with Vampiric Dominance, lower average HPS, cannot be used on-demand, can be wasted when it is unnecessary (for example, Decimate effects). A viable choice, but Desperate Prayer is likely better in most situations.
    • Level 75 (Situational DPS or HPS)
      • Twist of Fate - Increases damage and healing dealt to targets below 20% HP. Does not say how much the increase is. Likely to be the best sustained DPS of the talents on this tier, otherwise Power Infusion would be strictly better, due to utility. In order to beat out Power Infusion for raw DPS, this needs to be +25% damage or more, and so I predict that it will be +25% or more.
      • Power Infusion - Unchanged. Can be a burst DPS cooldown, or a healing cooldown if given to a healer. A fun toy, and may even be the best DPS talent if other spellcasters in the group can make better use of this than you. Obviously great utility.
      • Divine Insight - Mind Spike hastens your next Mind Blast. Identical to our current Mind Melt effect. Boring, near-useless for PvE. May still see use in PvP.
    • Level 90 (Healing)
      • Vow of Unity - Links you to another player. Whenever you heal them, you gain HP equal to 20% of the heal. Whenever they take damage, 50% of it is redirected to you over 6 seconds. Ends if they take a hit greater than 30% of their max HP (has no cooldown, you can just reapply it). This is an extremely powerful defensive buff that you can put on anyone that needs to stay alive. Won't trivialize massive damage spikes in raids, but will trivialize trash mobs and basic boss melee swings on your tank. Unfortunately, exclusive with Vampiric Dominance, so you will need a source of external healing to survive this for long.
      • Void Shift - Swap HP% with target ally. You heal 25% max HP. Everything that Vow of Unity is not, this is. Can trivialize massive bursts of raid damage, and can also be used to grief raid-members or battleground-mates. Can also be cast on self for an instant 25% heal, making it like a second, weaker Desperate Prayer. 3 minute cooldown.
      • Vampiric Dominance - This is Vampiric embrace on steroids. (Meaning, almost exactly what it was 1-2 expansions ago.) Heals 3 "nearby" allies for 15% each of any damage you deal. We can assume that it will prefer low-HP allies. It's unclear whether this healing splashes near whatever you damaged, or if it's centered on you. Notably, this does not have the restriction to only proc off of single-target damage. I expect that to be fixed. If it doesn't though, cue massive HPS on AoE fights.
Notable Missing Spells/Mechanics
  • Masochism - Likely a Glyph.
  • Improved Devouring Plague - It's possible we'll get a new spell (or Devouring Plague will come back) to spam while moving. If not though, it may be intentional that we're losing a mobile DPS option. After all, we are getting some major movement utility; what better incentive for us to actually use it?
  • Paralysis - Probably a Glyph.
  • Sin and Punishment (both parts) - Probably intentional that we're losing dispel protection for Vampiric Touch; dispels in general are being given a cooldown. Mind Flay crits reducing the cooldown of Shadowfiend may have simply been forgotten in the current talent calculator, or it could be a Glyph.
  • Soul Warding - Not many shadow priests specced into it, but with Body and Soul around, we might have wanted to for the utility. Notably, Discipline is missing this too. Might be a Glyph?
  • Most of our heals - I'm sad to see shadow's healing options so stripped, but it looks intentional.
  • Cure Disease - Also looks intentional. When was the last time we actually used it though?

I for one am excited by these changes! Sure our rotation is being simplified a bit, but we're getting a TON of utility! If fights focus more on using our utility well, and less on DoT juggling, then I'm ok with that. Plus, we don't even know what new spells we'll be getting on the way to level 90. Maybe some of them will add back the rotational complexity we seem to be missing?

1 comment:

  1. The talent calculator is all wrong.

    lvl 15 and 30 are correct but it changes from there.

    Currently on beta Void Shift has taken the place of Final prayer at level 60 not 90.

    At level 90 the talents are Cascade, Divine Star and Halo. There is no Vampiric Dominance.

    Also, Mind Blast doesn't need an orb, it generates one.