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The Best of (Dark) Intentions

17 Nov

Dark Intent.  This is an ability you don’t care about for three reasons.

First, it’s a warlock ability.  As this is a priest blog, you usually come here for discussion of priest abilities (with a few notable exceptions).  Today is not a day I plan to consume theorycrafting anything other than my main character, so let’s get that out-of-the-way first.

Second, it does not exist in-game yet.  This is a beta ability, first available to warlocks at level 83.  As a beta ability it is subject to change.  We will be exploring the current (and so far stable) iteration of the spell.

Third, you might have already written this ability off as a Focus Magic clone, tradable between warlocks and irrelevant to your shadowy path of destruction.  Not so.

You care about this ability because despite being cast by warlocks, these dark intentions are for us. In terms that a warlock can understand, I’m going to give you the ammunition you’ll need to fight off all competitors and receive this buff.

How Does it Work?

Dark Intent is a 30 minute buff a warlock will cast on another player.  It does two things.  First, it gives both players a flat 3% haste.  This effect stacks multiple times with additional buffs.  Second, every time your linked friend crits with a periodic ability, you receive a flat 3% increase to periodic damage and healing.  This stacks up to 3 times.  Likewise, if you crit with any periodic ability, the warlock receives this stacking buff.  This effect does not stack with multiple Dark Intents, so it is unwise for warlocks to trade this buff.

Who is the Warlock going to Use this Ability on?

A smart warlock thinks about three things:

  • How can I increase my personal DPS?
  • How can I increase the overall power of the raid?
  • Can somebody make me a sandwich?

In terms of personal DPS, he’s wise to trade with a class that grants maximum uptime on the +% damage part of the buff.  This requires a high number of constant critical periodic effects.  Critical hit chance effects this, but it is not a complete picture.  Likewise I’ve seen analysis that looks at the number of periodic effects one class has active versus another class.  This is also an inaccurate method of assessment.

The metric for puzzling out uptime on the +% damage buff is periodic critical strikes per second. While harder to measure than flat crit rate, only a class with more than one periodic critical every 7 seconds is going to keep maximized uptime on Dark Intent.  Here shadow reigns king.

The second aspect of your warlock’s little “who should I give this too” puzzle is raid power.  The buff should be handed out to the class that makes the best use of it.  This means a class that appreciates haste and makes use (primarily) of Over-time effects such as Hots or Dots.  In the category or non-warlock damage classes, shadow priests are the only class with three DoTs and a periodic effect as a spam-able nuke.  This puts us high up enough on the list to not be completely ignored.

In Conclusion: Why Us?

With the highest number of periodic effects of any class–and an unrivaled rate of periodic critical strikes per second–shadow priests are a perfect choice for raid success and the personal DPS of your warlock friend.

If your warlock is a mouth-breathing lowlife who looks like the picture below in real life, consider forgoing all advice and just making him a sandwich.  In my professional experience, sandwiches buy you a lot of love.


Friday Q & A Series

3 Sep

I’ve decided I’m going to officially set aside Friday as a day to answer any and all questions you guys email me or ask more generally.  If you have a burning question you want answered (that you can wait a week for the answer to) post it as a comment here or email me.

WordPress tracks the google searches folks use to get to my blog.  A number of them imply questions, and I thought I should answer a few.  (some just make me giggle).

Google Search: vampiric touch dispel damage in cata

In Cataclysm the talent Sin and Punishment is slated to add a horror effect to dispelling our Vampiric Touch.  They have also removed the damage component from dispelling the horror.  The jury is deliberating on if this will be a run horror, like death coil, or a cower horror, like our Psychic Horror

Google Search: what achievement do you need for icc

I get this search hit often, and the basic answer is none.  Pug will ask you to link as far as you’ve gotten, and honestly is your best policy.  If you’ve accomplished nothing, not even the lower spire, explain that you’ve watched the fights (assuming you have) and offer your services politely.  You might well be taken!

Google Search: world warcraft lesbian

I have a suspicion that the individual making this search was disappointed to find my blog.  First off, I’m only bisexual; my girlfriend is gay.  Sadly, she doesn’t even play WoW (and doesn’t think she’d get into it).  I do know a number of openly gay (and closeted) players in game and on my server.  We form a distinct little community, and I’m always excited to connect with these players (men and women alike)

Email: My gearscore is 5600 and I’m hitcapped.  What should my DPS be?

A lot of the items a shadow priest is going to prioritize are not the top gearscored ones.  This is especially true for trinkets, but choosing correctly itemized pieces of gear in every slot is important.  As an example, I recently helped a priest remove Shard of the Crystal Heart to replace it with Abyssal Rune.  That’s a significant drop in item level, but a major increase in DPS (assuming one remains hitcapped, or finds it in a better way).  Short answer, I don’t know.  Send me your armory link and I can make suggestions.

Email: I notice you’ve been less active with your blog lately.  I’ve enjoyed reading Mind Spike, and hope you haven’t given up on it.

Fair criticism.  I’ve been remarkably busy keeping track of my read life, and my wow-life.  The 4plex I rent had a flood, so major clean-ups and challenges presented themselves.  My guild also recruited a big batch of new players, and I’ve put some time and attention into making them feel like they have a home.  Rest assured, Mind Spike will pick up as soon as my schedule dies down a little.

Patch Day Ponderings

24 Aug

Image by SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations via Flickr


… is a team sport.  And having a full team in our guild now, rocking steady with a fleshed out core, feel great.  When getting nostalgic about old content we tend to block out the bad and recall only the good.  Our roster for this stage of ICC work will be something I remember going into Cata.  I like our people, and they know what they’re doing.


At least one of the best players I’ve arena-ed with is having a baby soon.  While that’s fantastic (babies are cool and his relationship with his wife is likely to improve) I will miss being about to play regularly with him.  I haven’t met many of my significant personal arena goals, but I feel like I will–some day.  I’ve learned a ton!

Property Ownership

Isn’t always fun.  My roommate flooded our kitchen and it leaked into the drywall of the folks downstairs.  Only two pieces of insulation and some ceiling fell victim to this week’s biblical disaster, but fixing any damage costs money.  /sigh

That is all for today.  This week I hope to have time to meet my WoW goals, blog on a few interesting topics, and go see a concert in Vancouver (Vampire Weekend.  Yay!)

They tend to see right through us

22 Aug
Cults and new religious movements

Image via Wikipedia

Its been a while since I’ve participated in a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.  Anea of Obeying the Muse brings us this week’s topic.  She’s asked:

How do you think your class is viewed/treated by NPCs?

This stemmed from a pondering about how my rogue might be viewed/treated by NPCs – after all, if someone calls you “roguish” it really usually isn’t a comment. Would a warlock be treated with a sneer? A priest/paladin with extra respect?

Might this depend on the NPC (a guard, a vendor, flight master, quest giver) and the circumstances?

Now I’m going to take this opportunity to dig up some shadow priest lore for you folks.  Wouldn’t you know, I’m a closet lore junkie.  Anyone know what Dranosh means?

The classes page on the official Blizzard website has this to say:

Priests are the masters of healing and preservation, restoring their wounded allies, shielding them in battle, and even resurrecting their fallen comrades. While they have a variety of protective and enhancement spells to bolster their allies, priests can also wreak terrible vengeance on their enemies, using the powers of shadow or holy light to destroy them. They are a diverse and powerful class, highly desirable in any group, capable of fulfilling multiple roles.

This really doesn’t go far enough into the nature of the class.  Beyond this, priests are the lorekeepers and arbiters of Warcraft.  In the traditions of the trolls, Witch Doctors are often priests–cultural icons worthy of fear and respect.  Sen’jin, friend of Thrall and leader of the Darkspear tribe, was a priest of much power.  All priests worship an aspect or deity relevant to their particular race.  As such, folks seek priests for guidance through tough times, and for rulings on matters of morality and higher power.

Where then does the tradition of the shadow fall into this paradigm?  While troll shadow hunters like Vol’jin seem to have many shadow priest-like powers, the true progenitors of the shadow are the Forsaken and their Cult of the Forgotten Shadow.  The faith recognizes the power of faith and discipline, and seeks power by swaying such beliefs.  

Discipline priests renew hope while shadow priests blast the mind with the grim reality and darkness of life.

In life a human priest might have warded an ally against fear, but in death a Forsaken priest focuses on the Existential scream that forces enemies to run in terror.

The nature of a priest’s shadow magic is psychological.  Understanding faith implies knowledge of the danger of having no belief at all.  Without strong belief, or by playing on doubt, a priest can even control the mind of a weak enemy.

As the Forsaken teach a need to constantly understand the light–to thwart it–it seems natural that the other races would discover and seek to understand this atheistic power of un-belief.  Shadow priests exist now across all priest races, and will even spread their numbers to a few new races in the Cataclysm.

So how do you react to such a being?  I’d posit that a shadow priest is something like a very well-respected lawyer or judge who, with their extreme understanding of the law, has turned to using its nuances and intricacies to gain power.

In a culture like that of the Forsaken, I expect such a turn would garner extreme respect.  The Forsaken believe life has played a cruel trick on them, and any cruel trickery they can return is completely justified.  Using the light cases extreme pain for undead priests, so a shadow priest’s understanding of it evidences much personal devotion.

Humans and dwarves, both people of strong beliefs and history, must have mixed feeling toward a priest of the shadow specialization.  While an obviously powerful ally, the priest’s flirtation with disloyalty to the light might call into question all their beliefs.  The more opportunistic humans may only see a source of power, but the stubborn Bronzebeard clan would expect such a cleric to earn trust.

Blood elves and Trolls, despite their history of bloody conflict, are both opportunistic, dualistic, and cutthroat–when the situation warrants it.  Here shadow priests would command significant respect as lorekeepers and leaders.  When your history is deceit, trickery, and re-interpretation of past misdeeds, who better to keep it than a priest of darkness?  Trolls fear and respect the Voodoo, and Blood elves are wise enough to show deference to their shadowy icons.

Nights elves draw priestly powers from Elune, the moon deity.  As a night goddess, exploiting fears and doubts might seem natural.  Nevertheless, I posit that priests of Darnassus are as out-of-place as warlocks in the orcish horde.  For the nocturnal elves, day is night and night is day.  Belief is strongest under the light of the moon.  Here, in relative darkness, the powers of doubt and shadow hold little cultural sway.  Nevertheless, despite Tyrande’s leaning toward the light, her power as a priest implies a significant understand of the shadows.  Such priests are certainly given at least mild deference to their mastery of a strange craft.

As for the gnome priests, shadow tauren, and goblins–we still have much to see about how they’ll play out.  There are examples of all three in-game already, but I leave them for you players to explore.

Holy Bologna: What the Devs are telling us

21 Aug

The newest beta build has hit and I wanted to take a few moments to discuss how the priest Holy spec is shaping up. Like all good priests, I stay as current as possible in all three trees. While my love is shadow, I boast at least proficiency at both Holy and Discipline. Before I get into the meat of the changes, this makes me happy:

Darkness now increases Spell haste by 1/2/3% instead of increasing Shadow damage by 2/4/6%

I know what you’re thinking. “But Calsong, isn’t a boost to haste for three talents points just an indirect damage increase, and therefor still a boring and passive talent?” Not so, good readers. Couple this with the trends of late WotLK and the new haste aura associated with shadowform, and we become slippery agents of darkness, favoring reckless destruction over carefully placed killing blows.

It carves out a niche without overly complicating the rotation, which is a good thing.

Now let’s talk Holy.

The biggest news on the block is the new “specialization ability”: Holy Word: Chastise. I have three immediate reactions to this ability. First, its supported in the lore for a “holy word” framework. Priests are billed as the quintessential lore-keepers of both horde and alliance, filling a key role of arbitration and oral tradition. If the nature of “shadow words” is calling upon the dark secrets of this lore to weaken resolve and test faith, and the nature of “power words” is to draw forth the strength from within someone, then our new “holy word” is about the daunting, effervescent power of the Light.

What’s the point? Doesn’t Holy do fine already?

Holy Word: Chastise *New* – Chastise the target for 563.9 to 632.71 Holy damage, and Immobilizing them for 2 sec. 15% of base mana, 30 yd range, Instant cast, 45 sec cooldown

That looks to me like the instant cast, “oh shit” button that every Holy priest needs while leveling. It also appears to be another effort to get Holy priests involved in PvP, at least in the new rated battlegrounds. Interesting!

“Alas, alack,” say the QQers (this is a dramatic reinterpretation. They actually said “QQ”) “we want holy’s signature ability to be an awesome healing spell.” Blizzard thought of this, folks:

Revelations (Tier 5) *New* – While in a Chakra state, your Holy Word: Chastise ability will transform into a different ability depending on which state you are in. Holy Word: Serenity (Heal) – Instantly heals the target for 3161.85 to 3730.47, and increases the critical effect chance of your healing spells on the target by 25% for until cancelled. 45 sec cooldown. Holy Word: Aspire (Renew) – Instantly heals the target for 2363.56 and another 4471.99 over until cancelled. 15 sec cooldown. Holy Word: Sanctuary (Prayer of Healing) – Blesses the ground with Divine light, healing all within it for 298.75 to 355.32 every 2 for 15 sec. Only one Sanctuary can be active at any one time.

That talent is a mouthful, but here’s the punchline: Holy Word is going to be the long CD powerful healing effect you need it to be, in the situation you need it.

Current WotLK has holy priests being the “jack of all trades, master of none” healer. If we’re short a druid, I assign a renew speced holy priest to pick up the slack. The power of a Prayer of Healing build can rival the chain healing of a shaman, and I’ve even seen Holy priests use Flash healing to push the HPS of a paladin.

Chakra promises to only magnify this. That’s a good thing. For those of you who only read beta changes on my blog (who are you?) Chakra has been in the beta for a while. The latest version is a pop-able cooldown:

Chakra – When activated, your next Heal, Renew, Prayer of Healing or Smite spell will put you into a corresponding Chakra state. Lasts for 30 sec.

Heal – Increases the critical effect chance of your Heal spell by 10%, and your Heal refreshes the duration of your Renew on the target.

Renew – Increases the healing done by your Renew spell by 10%, and reduces the global cooldown of your Renew spell by .5 sec.

Prayer of Healing – Increases the healing done by your area of effect spells by 10% and reduces the cooldown of your Circle of Healing by 2 sec.

Smite – Increases your total damage done by Shadow and Holy spells by 15%

Holy seems geared up for long talent descriptions this time around. The ability basically says “you want to be awesome at using renew? Fine, here’s a reduced global cooldown and more HPS to help you out.” To increase the uptime on Chakra, Holy also has:

State of Mind – Your successful Heal, Renew, Prayer of Healing or Smite spell casts increase the duration of your corresponding Chakra state by 4 sec.

This means that, with a little forethought, a priest can stay in a Chakra state for as long as is needed. With mana being a bigger issue in Cataclysm, this won’t be forever.

So Holy is shaping up to be an interesting jack-of-all-trades. My questions (and they really can’t be answered without testing raid content) are: will the healing of holy be tuned for Chakra? Will one Chakra state be obviously and consistently better? Will Holy ever truly be PvP viable?

When are they giving us the promised racial changes?

New Build, More Awesome. Beta Delights!

14 Aug

Well my shadetastic friends (fantastic plus shady, in case you’re late to the party), we’ve got a new build of the Beta and some sweet changes.  Some of them are bittersweet, but most are just sweet.  Let’s go through them!

  • Mind Spike revamped – Blasts the target for 1082.81 to 1144.05 Shadowfrost damage, and increases the critical strike chance of your next Mind Blast on the target by 30%. Stacks up to 3 times.

They told us they’d redesign this spell, and it doesn’t surprise me that they are still playing with it.  The goal is to have a different button to push for trash/fast kill targets.  I’m a fan (obviously) but let’s see how it pans out for them.  To further reinforce this, Blizz has made this change:

  • Archangel now also increases your frost damage when used as Dark Archangel (Shadowform).

A burn rotation and a different style of play for quick burst is what we’ve been asking for, so its nice to see the designers giving that some attention.

  • Shadow Word: Death cooldown changed to 10 sec, down from 12 sec. Damage increased by 10%.
  • If they intend to seriously bring Shadow Word: Death back, this is a part of that picture.  I mis more risk in our rotations, so I support this.

  • Mind Flay now deals damage over 3 sec, down from 5 sec.
  • I always kind of assumed this was a bug, but either way I’m glad our rotation isn’t getting a mindshattering change (you know, other than the ones it already got).

  • Vampiric Touch no longer deals damage if dispelled.
  • Given that the damage wasn’t really a deterrent before, and that Sin and Punishment will be a real US style effect, I’m fine with the developers keeping us balanced.

  • Twisted Faith is now a Tier 2 (Down from Tier 5) 2-Ranks (Down from 3 Ranks) Talent. Revamped – Increases your chance to hit with shadow spells by 1/2%, and grants you spell hit rating equal to 50/100% of any Spirit gained from items or effects.
  • GREAT.  This is downright awesome.  This makes gearing for us a lot more possible, and it opens up some rad PvP/Soloing opportunities in the shadow tree for our healing cousins.  I’ve been asking for this for a while, and I’ve been secretly jealous of our Boomkin and elemental shaman cousins. Don’t tell them.

  • Mind Melt now stacks up to 2 Times. (Down from 3)
  • How our rotation is going to work is getting some attention.  These kind of changes aren’t going to be completely understood until we have a chance to practice a real rotation on mobs or raid bosses at level 85.

  • Empowered Shadow Orbs is now named Harnessed Shadows.
  • Blizzard developers don’t read my blog, but they sure do hear my prayers.  Thank you for renaming at least one of the lame talents!

  • Improved Mind Blast now gives your Mind Blast a 33/66/100% (up from 20/40/60%) chance to reduce all healing done to the target by 25% for 10 sec.
  • This is another “we knew they were going to do it but had waited so long we started to wonder” talents.  Thanks.

  • Improved Devouring Plague is now a 2 Ranks talent, down from 3 Ranks. Revamped – Your Devouring Plague instantly deals damage equal to 15/30% of its total periodic effect.
  • Hmm… okay.  If this is needed to balance out our damage, I’ll buy it.  Fewer ranks in core talents mean more points to put interesting places, of course!

  • Paralysis *New* (Tier 5) – When you critically hit with your Mind Blast, you cause the target to be unable to move for 2/4 sec.
  • I don’t feel like we’re doing badly in PvP right now, and this talent gives us no real PvE utility, so I’m wondering what its doing here.  Either way, it looks like Blizzard is telling me to get ready for some PvP awesomeness!

    So far, the new build looks solid.  I’m strongly considering leveling up a second priest in Cata.  Any suggestions for race?  Goblins are calling to me, but a Tauren priest has some awesome lore.

    Why Priests /Win.

    11 Aug

    I borrowed this from a poster at because… well, frankly, its pretty impressive.

    Right before 10% when the Lich King wipes the raid he gets a disc priest to throw Pain Suppression on him and pops Dispersion.  This plus a shield lets him live through the Lich King’s raid wipe.  Three soulstoned warlocks and an ankhing shaman joined him to DPS down the Lich King during the roleplay.  Who needs Tiron, right?