Friday, June 22, 2012

Shadow Priest Healing: When and How

Beta update: Blizzard put up a new talent calculator as of June 14. Link. That's my tentative build. It doesn't look like they're done balancing it yet, so I chose the mechanics I think would be fun (mathematically, a lot of what I marked was very weak.)

It's a well-known fact that Shadow is a fairly unusual spec, in that one of our utilities is healing. Most DPS specs bring utilities such as shared raid buffs, CC, burst DPS, or interrupts. Our most widely-used heal is Divine Hymn, a raid-wide healing cooldown. This is a utility we share with only one DPS spec: Balance druids (feral has it too, but it's like peeing into the ocean). We also have Power Word: Shield, which does not strip us from Shadowform, and a full healing toolkit which does. The healing kit and our mana regeneration is strong enough to permit Shadow to heal 5mans, although you would always be better served by a similarly-skilled healing spec.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shadow Word: Insanity Mechanics

Archangel is no longer a talent option (probably because it was garbage for Holy). It has been replaced with Power Word: Solace, which deals a pitiful amount of Holy damage (or Shadow damage in Shadow spec) and restores 2% max mana. If you shift into Shadowform, however, it morphs into Shadow Word: Insanity. Its tooltip lies; see below.

Straight from Ghostcrawler (Source) :

"The damage scales based on the percentage of ticks that have already gone off from the spell (specifically, for each DoT, the damage is increased by (# ticks elapsed / (total ticks – 1)) * 100%, so for a base SW:P which would tick 6 times, SW:I gains 20% damage per tick elapsed), the tooltip should reflect this in a future build. The intention is that you can use Shadow Word: Insanity in solo combat when a mob is getting low to help push them into Shadow Word: Death range, or before your DoTs fall off on a raid boss to eek some more damage out of them. The damage increase based on duration is there to avoid a situation where the right way to play is to apply your DoTs and then blow them up, which we don’t consider fun gameplay."

It's obviously IMBA for PvP, but its PvE uses are less obvious. For narrow bust windows, if any, it may be useful. Depending on its base damage and SP-coefficient, it may also be rotational if/when your DoTs all run low at the same time. If our mana income is too low, then the talent also gives us the option to leave Shadowform to spam Mind Siphon. Frankly, I would be surprised if the talent comes anywhere close to viable when compared to the other options on that tier, but I haven't run the math yet.

Halo and Cascade Mechanics

Zarhym has put out an open call for theorycraft regarding talent and spec balance, (Source) based on the latest beta build. While I intend to submit my own analysis regarding Shadow, I think the following information may be of use to anyone else planning on doing the same.

"Cascade does a % of its max damage/healing based on linear distance between the source and target of the bounce. It does 40% of its maximum damage at 0yd, and 100% at 30+yd, scaling linearly between those two points (anywhere between 30yd and 40yd will give 100%). It prefers farther away targets when it bounces.

Halo’s damage scaling is… a bit more complex. Sometimes the formulae that are under the hood are extremely complex looking, because we build in several knobs that we turn to get the tuning where we want it. Halo is one of those cases. The easy to understand way to think of it is that the multiplier on the max damage/healing is 10% at 0yd, up to 40% at 17yd, spikes up to 90% at 22yd, 100% at 27yd, then down to 60% at 35yd. The intent is that it is weak on targets near you, but there’s a sweet spot in a ring from 20yd to 30yd from you, and that the edges of that ‘sweet spot’ are smooth. The actual formula (warning, may seem scary!) is… 0.5 * (1.01)^(-1 * (((Distance-25)/2)^4)) + 0.1 + 0.015*Distance. I’m sure someone can post a graph of that pretty quickly. One thing to note is that the max range is 30yd, but that it includes creature’s hit boxes, so the distance between the caster and a valid target may be slightly larger than 30yd, which is why the formula makes sense out to 35yd. Again, you absolutely do not need to understand any of that to benefit from the heal!"

In an attempt to simplify the above, here's that graph he mentioned.

Note that the distance used is from the source,
and the source isn't always you.

It has a "soft" 30 yard range limit; it accounts for the targets' hit boxes.
It has a "hard" 35 yard limit. Nothing centered 35+ yards away will be hit.

Friday, June 8, 2012

H Madness of Deathwing - Defeated!

Me, enjoying the spoils of war.
Well, we're finally done. What did we do differently? We brought one rogue. That's all it needed to fix everything. The first time we made it to phase 5 (took a few tries to get there, several people had never been to Madness before) we killed it. We went from routinely letting 1-2 bloods be absorbed per set, with the rest barely dying, to killing every last one of them effortlessly before they even made it half way in. Having a reliable, spammable, AoE 70% slow is mandatory for this fight. Do not attempt without one.

Also, we developed a complicated maneuver to permit a Shadow priest to soak an Impale, as we had some issues with our usual method. As per usual, all players other than myself vacated the melee radius just prior to the Impale. I used Fade as they were leaving to shunt any melee swings onto warlock pets (they died) and Dispersion as soon as the Impale cast began. It worked splendidly. The warlocks disagreed.

Trouble actually putting together a full raid team aside, I'm pretty happy with how we did this raiding tier. Pic related. Both of the mounts dropped (rare and heroic), and I got the heroic one. I also got [Rathrak, the Poisonous Mind (Heroic)]. [Not Caster Gear] dropped too. I'm not sure who took it, but I'm guessing it wasn't a caster.

On a related note, I will be entering a period of reduced posting until Mists of Pandaria. I will be updating once every two weeks until then. Good luck in Dragon Soul to everyone who's still progressing, and I hope to see you all in Pandaria! May all of your Elementium Fragments spawn in a nice, little, easily-cleavable pile!

Friday, June 1, 2012

How to: Connect to a Mumble Server

Update: I've added a section on pre-potting to Advanced Shadow Priest DPS.

As most raiders know, quick voice communication mid-fight can turn wipes into kills. As such, a reliable voice-chat program is a must for most raids. While WoW does include a voice-chat feature built into the game, it has several major flaws, such as poor sound quality, and high latency in groups of more than 5. Ventrilo is the most popular voice-chat program, followed by TeamSpeak, and my personal favorite, Mumble.

Mumble has two main features that make it better than Ventrilo: lower network usage, and automatic volume adjustment. The main thing holding it back is Ventrilo itself; since Ventrilo is so popular, very few people know how to use Mumble, and so, Mumble is harder to use because you need to walk people through using it. In this post, I'll present a simple guide to connecting to a Mumble server.