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?

    Weapons that would forever change humanity… I was one of those weapons

    7 Aug

    Obligatory James Cameron reference in the title there.  5 bonus points if you figure out what non-Avatar work it’s from and why I quoted it.

    So I posted some thoughts on current talents, and Blizzard went along and shook them up.  All the changes are good!  We saw some serious lover here, and I’m excited about it.

    Shadow Power is “gone” from the talent tree.  I know I said I was a little mixed about this, but felt it was an important part of feeling like a damage class.  This:

    Shadow Power
    Shadow Power is now called “Blackout” and is a passive talent tree bonus for picking the tree. It provides 200% crits to Shadow spells.

    I also appreciate the “Blackout” label coming back.  It turns out we can use synonyms for shadow, without constantly just calling everything “improved shadowiness.”

    The early Discipline Tree changes are what have me most excited.  Evangelism and Archangel got something of a rework.  Casting Mind Flay will now proc “Dark Evangelism” which increases the periodic damage of shadow spells.  This is great for three reasons.  First, its a not-completely-passive damage boost that can be relied upon for sustained damage.  Second, it makes getting talents in the Disc tree exciting, rather than “now where do I put these points?”  Finally, the buff is to our periodic damage; I’ve always felt, as DoT casters, we deserved more attention paid to our DoTs being a bigger part of our damage pie.

    So that’s all sorts of win.  Guess what else is?  The companion talent, Archangel.  Assuming one is in Shadowform, releasing stacks of Dark Evangelism will place you in a state called “Dark Archangel.”  This restores a chance of mana and gives a temporary damage boost.  I’m assuming this would be used during burn phases, with a potion, during bloodlust, or on a target swap.  As a class that’s asked for some serious burst for a while, this is a welcome talent.

    Darkness and Improved Shadow Word: Pain are both still in tier one.  Spirit Tap is gone, which I’m 100% okay with.  I have to force myself to respect leveling talents.  I think good class design should let your playstyle while leveling teach you valuable skills while raiding.  Raiding shouldn’t take away all the crutches you had and just throw you into the fire.

    Veiled Shadows also made it to tier one, which I think is great.  I’ve always hated that there was nothing compelling for other specs of priests in our tree.  It makes shadow feel like a reject tree.  Holy or disc priests being able to drop the cooldown on one of our most powerful mana return abilities?  Sounds like it could be handy in the more mana-harsh environment of Cataclysm.  Of course, we’ll take it for damage.

    The old “improved shadowform” is now Phantasm.  I must say, while this talent is one of the ones raiding spriests may pick up as filler utility on the way to 31 points, the name is golden.  Snaring us?  Oh no, didn’t we mention?  We’re as ethereal as air.  With the options for advancing being this or Improved Psychic Scream, I’ll be taking this talent.

    Some talents have been moved around a little, or had the number of points invested in them reduced.  New and shiny?  Sin and Punishment!  (As an aside, did Blizzard just hire a dedicated “shadow priest naming consultant?”  SaP is awesome.)  This talent is something I’ve wished for for a while, but felt wouldn’t work.  Affliction warlocks have a silence effect tied to Unstable Affliction.  Dispelling this ability silences the dispeller and does a chunk of damage to her.  Vampiric Touch, our big damage DoT requiring a cast time, as a slight damaging effect that everyone worth their salt just powers through.

    No longer!  Sin and Punishment fears the dispeller of your VT (and everyone within 6 yards) for 3 seconds.  Gonna chain dispel me, Mr Holy Paladin?  How about a mini Psychic Scream right in your face!  As can be expected, I’m entering a state of girlish giddiness about this talent.

    Thing are looking promising.  Check out the tentative talent build I’ve put forward, and feel free to make your own and post it in the comments.

    Are You Afraid of Shadow in Cataclysm?

    3 Aug

    Blue Post:

    Mind Flay — This is a technical explanation, but basically we had to rebuild it for Lich King to get it to benefit from haste correctly. Now that we have tech to let all periodics scale correctly with haste, we can change Mind Flay back to the way it used to work. The “latency” issues you experience today should be gone. You can just mash the Mind Flay button and the periodic won’t clip.

    Mind Blast — With some increases scaling and the Shadow mastery, Mind Blast should always be your highest damage button (other than SW:Death).

    SW: Pain — Pain and Suffering refreshes SW:Pain with your current haste, crit etc. values. All damage-over-time refresh mechanics and talents should do this now. You shouldn’t have to recast a dot to benefit from a temporary buff or proc or whatever.

    Spec options — We have some plans to make early Disc more attractive to Shadow. There are probably fewer of us than you imagine, and we just can’t work on every class at once.

    I’ll admit it, I have concerns about the Cataclysm progress regarding shadow priest play.  Saying that is a little bit like asking an unfinished portraiture why your illustration doesn’t have a chin yet.  The answer: we’re getting to it.

    What I posted above is great.  Fixes to long term bugs in the class is as exciting for shadys as blink working correctly would be for mages.  Honestly, though, those are not my major concerns.  Maybe they should have been, but they aren’t.

    Two things warrant mention.  First, I love how a shadow priest plays.  I enjoy complex DoT management, I like having tons of small periodic effects whittling my enemies down.  If I wanted to blast giant balls of flame, I’d play a mage.  If I wanted a pet and a lot more fragility, I’d play a warlock (more often).

    Second, the damage tree for priests is full of relatively lackluster talents.  Part of this is because of the above: we already have a fair amount going on.  Reducing cooldowns to give us access to spells more often is great.  Cool shadow apparitions that create a neat visual, correct some mobility deficiencies, and don’t force us to completely re-learn the class—perfect!

    Now this is a QQ post, so not I’m going to QQ a little.  Stay with me, because underneath my complaints there is a legitimate issue.

    Tier 1

    Darkness –  In the current beta build this talent increases shadow damage by 6% for 3 talent points.  It also occupies that “low in the tree” spots that make it ideal for other specs to dip in for.  I would love to see this removed completely, or perhaps replaced by a talent like Twisted Faith that gives us Hit from Spirit.  At least that talent is useful for a pvp spec or a leveling healer.  If in the new talent system every point is special, or most are, I hate spending 3 in darkness.

    Not past the first tier yet, we hit Improved Shadow Word: Pain.  An exciting change to the mechanic of our signature DoT?  Nope, just another passive increase to damage.  This time its only 2 talent points for 6% damage.  Goodie!  Honestly, this talent would be more exciting as a proc of some kind, perhaps a 50% chance to do 12% more damage.  Even a bonus to crit damage is more exciting than the current talent.  As with darkness, there are no reasons for other specs to even think about this talent.

    Spirit Tap has been clearly relegated to the domain of leveling talent.  Honestly, while I’ll miss procing and indirect increase to spellpower, this isn’t really a bad thing.

    Tier 2

    Improved Mind Blast is a shining example of perfect talent design.  It gives a core ability more use, and it adds a mechanic unique to the spec.  With shadow priest mortal strikes being normalized, this effect will be as strong as a hunter, rogue, or warrior.  For three talent points, this feels right on budget.

    I kind of wish shadow had some of our PvP functionality tied into other PvE abilities, so Improved Silence makes me a little sad.  The ability is what it always has been, a few critical seconds shaved off one of our best PvP abilities.  Fine enough, I guess, but this would be an ideal talent to add “and increases your shadow damage by x%.”

    Another success story is Veiled Shadows.  This talent reduces the cooldown (and increases our use of) two unique abilities that feel connected by flavor.  Talents like this make us feel more “shadowy” without adding undue complication.

    Tier 3

    Signature and still great, Shadowform has changed a little.  It still gives us more damage and a little more survivability, so I still love it.  Don’t fix what isn’t broken, eh?

    The sister talent, Improved Shadowform, also works well.  It gives us a little utility and a solid raid buff that’s worth taking even for soloing.  My only complaint is how many abilities begin with “improved.”

    Not to be outdone, Improved Devouring Plague looks like a passive damage increase on the surface, but it’s actually a well crafted talent.  Adding an up-front damage component to the spell changes the way we use it, and in this respect makes it a bigger part of the shadow toolbox.  Good talents don’t have to hit you on the head with a hammer, but they should feel special.

    Tier 4

    Deeper into the tree, we see talents like Vampiric Embrace which got a beautiful redesign in WotLK and now functions as a personal buff. I love what this talent does for personal and raid survivability, but could we change it to cause no threat and automatically be up in shadowform?  Rebuffing after a death in a BG shouldn’t take me twice as long as the preparation phase.

    Shadow Power is weird.  Do much larger crits change the feeling of a dps class?  I think they do.  +100% for 2 talent points (read, four levels and two “exciting moments”)?  Yes, that feel right.

    Significantly re-designed for Cata, Mind Melt currently looks interesting.  Buffing the damage of Shadow Word: Death during an execute phase and reducing the cast time of Mind Blast with Mind Spike creates some interesting rotational changes.  As talents go, altering the interaction of important class abilities seems idealy suited to this level of character customization.

    Still needing improved fear to gain the one point for Silence leaves us exactly where we were before—one PvP shadow spec, and one for PvE.  Nevertheless, I am glad to still have the option of this powerful form of CC.

    Tier 5

    Iconic to the priest, Vampiric Touch hasn’t changed.  If they change replenishment in a significant way, it will effect the entire raid and the many classes now offering this buff.  Gaining abilities from talents is exciting.

    With Shadow Orbs being our new mastery bonus, I’m a little surprised they added Empowered Shadow Orbs.  In the defense of this talent, they could have named it “improved shadow orbs.”  The talent increases the odds of gaining an orb.  I don’t understand why they didn’t make this baseline, as designers will have to balance around the talented priest’s mastery bonus scaling.  When the mastery concept was first introduced, the suggestion was we might have talents to let us do things with the orbs.  Apparently this is the end result.  Shadow Orbs are hard to get excited about, when I’m just a semi-translucent shaman.

    In stark contract, Shadow Apparition is exciting and visually unique as a talent.  The damage is not game breaking, and it asks you to adjust your playstule in some situations, but most of the time the bonus is passive and the talent is still fun.

    Tier 6

    Psychic Horror is another talented CC ability that spriests do not seem to have room for in a PvE build.  Oh well.

    Converting spirit to hit and adding damage to our rotation, Twisted Faith isn’t bad.  The spell hit aspect gives us a slight advantage when going from holy/disc to a shadow offspec, but our best items are still going to not have spirit on them.  This talent works a passive bonus into an active play style change, so it very much works.  My only issue is I wish it were in tier 1.

    As I expressed before, I enjoy the way our class plays.  That’s part of the reason I’m glad Pain and Suffering is reasonably unchanged.  As talents go, this one feels important and does change how we’re doing our damage.  It also makes Shadow Word: Death slightly less risky.  Have I mentioned I really want to see Shadow Word: Death make a comeback?

    Tier 7

    Dispersion comes under fire from folks who don’t use it often enough.  This talented ability deserves its own article, so I won’t get in too deep, but I have no issues with it remaining completely unchanged.

    In summary, our talents feel significantly pruned down, but still remarkable bloated.  Perhaps this is the price we pay for having two healing trees.  Nevertheless, I’m hoping Blizzard takes another crack at our talented customization.

    SC2 vs WoW: The Endless Battle of Player Interest

    28 Jul

    Let me start by getting a few things off my chest:

    SC2 is awesome

    Raiding short some key players is a frustrating experience

    I haven’t slept even my usually small amount of time

    SC2 is awesome

    The experience of the campaign is another example of Blizzard’s extremely talented storytellers letting loose and delivering a deep and immersive gaming experience. A lot of our guild members are as excited by this game as I am.

    Some folks aren’t. I held back my excitement for long enough to raid last night and do a post-raid-debrief with a few new recruits. Other guild members I’ve talked to either don’t like RTS games or are busy enough with WoW.

    I respect that, so I’ve tried to keep the chatter in check. It’s good to reflect that not everyone is always going to be wildly enthusiastic about the same things.

    Our new recruits all show varying levels of promise. We can hand out experience and gear very easily (which all three of them are lacking in slightly), but attendance and enthusiasm are hard to teach. My hope is that a little competitive spirit in our raid group will strengthen attendance.

    Blogging has been slow for me. Last night I made the choice to board the Hyperion rather than polish of an spriest guide I’ve been working on. I promise to work on it this week. No promises yet on when it gets posted.

    Clever Arena Team Name

    26 Jul

    3v3 Matches:  Shadow, Frost Mage, Resto Shaman

    We began the night with a long drawn out set of matches that had us losing roughly have the matches.  Unfortunately, despite a high MMR, this netted us a slight loss in points.

    We’re gradually getting better.  It felt like the first half of the night was all loses, and the second half was all wins.  Its hard to know for certain what we’re doing wrong.  Many strong PvPers I know also have a tendency to lose 3 or 4 games and want to call it.  As far as I’m concerned, there are two ways this can go.

    First, you could call it early to avoid tanking your rating.  If one person is having a bad day, or your team just isn’t clicking, there isn’t much point to endlessly losing because of it.

    One the other hand, you could be fighting teams you have little experience against.  In this situation, changing tactics and pushing through might be the prudent play.  Also, for folks who work and raid and try to fit WoW in, play time during the week can be limited.  Often, the best thing is to just get in more time with the team, regardless of what that does to rating.

    Its hard.  I don’t have a deep enough understanding of play to suggest any one of us is doing something specifically wrong.  I also know both of my arena partners have more work cut out for them on the comp.  PvP is serious business, you see.

    2v2 Matches: Enhance Shaman, Shadow Priest

    There was a fellow advertising in trade he wanted a shadow priest.  That’s me, the spriest.  There are some marvelous things about this comp.

    First, the shear amount of passive healing is stupid strong.  When he’s got wolves going and I’m able to free cast, neither one of us can reasonably be killed.  This state of invincibility lasts for about 45 seconds.  In that space we have to get a kill, and quickly reset.

    And let me tell you, the rests are AMAZING.  Hexing a dps or fearing and then having us both able to off-heal is smooth.  I’m glad most teams can’t rest this easily.

    Our matches haven’t been a “faceroll to the top” series yet, but we’re learning to play together.  Everything I’ve learned about support and CCing for kills goes completely out the window.  We literally just have to burst, REALLY HARD.

    More on success and failures coming soon.

    Players Abound! Who are you?

    24 Jul

    Once again it bears mentioning that this week’s postings are inspired, at least in part, by the experience of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. This shall be the last such post, and next week you can look forward to aggressive shadow priest theorycrafting, or at least fewer references to hippie music.

    Folk music, but it’s very nature, is somewhat multigenerational. As the music “of the folk” it tends to dwell on the issues of those folk. Everything from a famed older gentleman known simply as Valdie singing about nuclear waste, to a French Canadian gal singing about linguistic disconnection—different times have different issues.

    Likewise, with our World of Warcraft, the different eras that players joined the game influence their styles and understanding of the game.

    The Vanilla player has longstanding experience with the game, and has likely found some balance in their life.  Once upon a time, they were a part of one of the best raiding guilds, but now they take a more relaxed pace.  Despite this, their numbers are top, they move out of fires before they even spawn, and they “used to pvp a little” (rocking the High Warlord title).  These folks have likely taken long breaks from the game, but on hard progression they’re your best asset.  “You think this was hard?  You should have seen Naxx.  No, I mean the real Naxx.”

    The Burning Crusade player calls for CC on a rough trash pull the first night of Ruby Sanctum.  Everyone laughs, saying CC is a crutch.  After the wipe, everyone quietly talks out how to CC the pull.  These players remember raiding when a different group size meant a different raid, and progressed through fights like KT and Sunwell.  Sometimes BC players are just like Vanilla players and are true loyalist.  Of course, with Burning Crusade marking the introduction of “raiding for all” these folks also learned game dynamics during a time when guild hopping was natural and expected.  Be careful that you’re helping these folks meet their personal goals!

    The Wrath of the Lich King player really got into raiding recently, but they make up for it with enthusiasm.  They might play a DK, and always wonder why people complain about “boring talents.”  They hate how the Ashen Verdict rep was so “grindy” and wish ICC had more AoE pulls.  Despite being newer to the game, these folks entered at a time where class tools are everywhere, and bad habits are easily broken.  These people are likely to stayl loyal to the folks who helped them get into raiding, or improve their play.  New Wrath players tend to have fewer alts.

    I expect the Cataclysm player will have a more balance schedule, more alts, and better class information.  Still, it will take some time for these folks to really crack into the raiding scene.  Guilds hoping to bolter numbers should remember that guild perks added in Cata will build loyalty, and that a player will always feel most at home with the people who helped make her/him better.  Cataclysm promises to be an exciting time; while the work is falling apart, our guilds are only getting stronger!