Friday, April 6, 2012

Mastering Mind Spike

(Note: this post is not about Mastery.)

In Cataclysm, we got a new DPS spell, called Mind Spike. By design, it lets us deal passable damage without ramp-up or the need for the target to survive particularly long. Also, due to it dealing shadowfrost damage, it can harm shadow-immune mobs (are there even any left?) and be cast after something interrupts our shadow spells. For both of these reasons, the spell has seen excellent use in PvP. Unfortunately, all-too-often, we see novice shadow priests using it in PvE when it's really not applicable. In this post, I'll give some guidelines on Mind Spike usage in PvE.

Generally, you should rarely need Mind Spike. If you find yourself using it more than a handful of times in any PvE setting, you're probably doing it wrong. If you're in the habit of using it, (be it from PvP, or from solo questing) break that habit. Stopped using it? Good. Now I'll tell you when it actually is appropriate.

  1. Fighting a single low-HP foe. If your group pulls just one, or maybe just two foes, and you know the fight's going to be over very quickly, then MS/MB is appropriate. If there's more than that, Mind Sear is probably a better idea.
  2. A priority burn target joins a fight in progress, and will die very quickly. Some examples: the Malignant Troggs in the General Umbriss fight (Grim Batol), or the Twilight Sappers in the Warmaster Blackhorn encounter (Dragon Soul). If it will survive 15sec or more, then you should apply DoTs.
  3. You need a quick burst of damage for a specific mechanic. For example, interrupting the Fiery Grip during the Spine of Deathwing encounter (Dragon Soul), or damaging the Twilight Soulblade trash mobs when they're using Blade Barrier (Bastion of Twilight). These cases are quite rare, much more so than the other two.
  4. You want to remove your DoT effects from a target. For example, if the Hideous Amalgamation's HP is falling too low during the Spine of Deathwing encounter (Dragon Soul).
  5. You have the 4-piece tier-13 shadow set bonus and your Shadowfiend is active. In which case, see this article for more information.
So why do we cast Mind Spike in PvP? This, I believe, falls under reason number 3 (or 5, if you're crazy enough to show up in raid gear >.>). We use Mind Spike in PvP, because our opponents are capable of healing, dispelling our DoTs, and disrupting our attacks. Using Mind Spike allows us to quickly unload onto a low-HP target that the enemy healers may not be prepared to defend, possibly allowing us to finish them off before the healer can react, and it also insures us against having our DoTs dispelled.

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