|Need a new talent?|
Why not Zoidberg?
Recent Beta patches: Tuesday May 1, Friday April 27.
I actually wrote a full rant about the state of Shadow priests after the April 27 patch, which was made almost wholly obsolete by the May 1 patch. You can see that rant here, if interested. If you're wondering why the tone of all my beta posts is so positive, it's because things actually are looking good. That rant is a great example of what I write when things are bad; because they were, and I did.
The New Mastery
Mastery: Shadowy Recall - Your DoT ticks have an X% chance to deal damage twice.
It's like crit rating that only applies to DoTs... or is it? Many of our abilities have a chance to trigger on DoT damage. In addition to behaving like crit rating, this will also increase Shadow Orb procs from MF/SW:P, mana return and Mind Blasts from VT, and Shadowy Apparition procs from SW:P. Also, as we gear up, DoTs will shift towards greater prominence in our rotation. Cool. I like the new mastery's design.
With the addition of Glyph of Dark Binding, Shadow priests can now heal without a double-whammy to their DPS from needing to re-cast Shadowform. Combined with a level 75 talent option, Twist of Fate, it will be a damage gain to heal someone who is below 20% HP.
At 0% haste, the buff gained from Twist of Fate perfectly cancels the time lost to casting a Flash Heal, assuming you won't cast any DoTs during the 10 second buff, and exceeds it if you do. As haste levels rise, both the cost of casting the heal, and the benefit to DoTs rises. Not only can you spec to heal your raid, but there's also a real DPS incentive to do it.
In addition to proccing off of intentional heals, Twist of Fate has also been proccing off of SW:D backlash and Devouring Plague heals when you're below 20% HP. This makes Twist of Fate appreciably more valuable than it previously was for Shadow, making it more competitive against the other level 75 talents. (Previously, it was weak.)
Shadowy Apparitions is passive again (and there was much rejoicing!)
Last beta patch, Shadowy Apparitions was our only rotational Shadow Orb-dump. Now it's the same old passive proc from SW:P. Huzzah! See my rant for why this is a good thing. Also, their chance to proc no longer rises while we're moving. Good. Another bad mechanic gone. Finally, the summon limit has been raised to 15, which should help in cases of path-finding errors. Now while several of them stand around useless, at least we'll still be able to proc more on something else.
Devouring Plague is back!
Devouring Plague had been gone since the start of beta, apparently never to return. Then, it returned today as our new Shadow Orb dump. It deals 2.5k per orb instantly, and another about 8.8k per orb per second for 2 seconds. Notably, our Shadow Orb dump still interacts with our mastery nicely. This DoT has two relevant haste breakpoints. It gains an extra tick at 25%, and a second extra tick at 75% (reachable with a base haste of 34.7%, plus Heroism.) 25% haste is likely to be a very important mark for Shadow in early Mists, possibly surpassing hit capping, as haste did in early Cataclysm.
Notably, Vampiric Touch no longer self-heals, but Devouring Plague does. 15% of damage dealt is converted to health. This amounts to a quick ~20k self-heal, which can be used on-demand to soften certain fight mechanics. Nice.
Spectral Guise is slightly improved relative to when I wrote the rant. It still bites, but it now grants stealth instead of invisibility, meaning we can still see our foes. This is a minor step in the right direction.
Vampiric Touch procs stuff.
From Darkness, Comes Light no longer procs from SW:P, leaving VT as the only thing to proc Mind Spikes. Also, we got a new baseline passive ability, Mind Surge, which procs instant Mind Blasts off of VT. While VT was heavily nerfed 2 beta patches ago, it's still a little stronger than SW:P, and more so due to these procs.
State of the Spec
Things are looking pretty good. All of our talents are looking at least situationally viable. We have options for an off-healing spec, proc-heavy rotations, and/or burst cooldowns. We're almost free of all of our known buggy mechanics -- Shadowy Apparitions, while still susceptible to path-finding errors, is at least a minor part of our DPS once again.
Also, scaling looks likely to preserve our rotation as we gear up. Late in Wrath, we had issues with Mind Blast dropping out of the rotation at ICC gear levels, but the new mastery design seems built to reinforce the usage of spells that are already limited: DoTs and cooldowns.