11 January 2008

My place in the (5-man) world

I ran Sethekk Halls last night, giving me a rare chance to blow the dust off shackle.

Shackle undead is a priest's only means of crowd control, and it's a beauty. At max rank it will chain a mob to the spot and prevent them from causing any damage for 50 seconds. The only limitation is in the name — it only works on undead.

Most groups in Sethekk Halls contain at least one undead, so for the first time in Outland I found myself in need for more than just my face-melting abilities. And it made me realise how limited my normal contribution is to a 5-man group. Outland instances are very reliant on crowd control and so you would usually look first to rogues, mages and hunters to fill you dps spots.

Sure, I can buff. Nice to have. I can burn mobs down, but any class can do that. I can restore mana and health to the group, but in 5-mans where the mobs go down quickly, the benefits are marginal. I can even mind control, but the spell is so unreliable and is such a drain on 5-man dps that I don't really consider it viable cc. To be honest, right now my spot in a group could easily go to anyone else.

That's why I am so excited about Wrath of the Lich King expansion. A Scourge theme promises a lot more in the way of undead instances and with it a much-needed utility role for shadow priests in small groups.

And I've been thinking about ways the class could be developed to cement that spot in a group. My ideas so far:

  • Shackle could be expanded to cover demons too. It certainly seems to fit with the lore. Why shouldn't masters of light have power over creatures of the underworld? This overlaps somewhat with the warlock banish ability, but I'm not sure that matters. After all, hunters can trap anything.
  • Shadowform could include an aura. Don't get me wrong, shadowform is already very sweet, but I like the idea that a priest in shadow form would give off some kind of buff or debuff, perhaps a flat reduction in damage by mobs, or a small spell hit increase to party members.
  • Make mind control more like enslave demon, so instead of effectively 'switching' to the mind-controlled character, it becomes a pet with an action bar and controls, leaving you free to continue to dps. The duration could be the same, or even reduced, but the reliability of the spell would have to be improved to make this a viable form of cc.
  • Make divine spirit trainable. It's about time. Let all priests carry this fab little buff to the benefit of the whole group. Spec for improved divine spirit if you want.
I really don't think any of these ideas are particularly class-breaking. I want other things which probably would be — more direct-damage spells, an increase to crit bonuses and an aoe attack. I can live in hope. But I'd take any one of the things on the list above before them. What do you think? Overpowered? Underwhelming? What's on the top of your wish list for the expansion?


grayhammer said...

I like the idea of expanding the shackle applicability to demons... not a huge deal would just open up our utility in netherstorm instances and elsewhere.

MC definitely needs a fix.... but I'm not sure what is best. Here's the dilemma as I see it. Other forms of CC such as sap and sheep are much more reliable, which is a big factor in loss of favor towards shadow priests in 5-man PUGs. Still, from one point of view MC is a superior CC; sap and sheep only serve to take the target out of action, whereas MC gets you a new ally. So, one might argue, MC should be worse than sheep or sap in some fashion. And it certainly is. In my experience in heroics, if you want to set up for a full wipe, try MC. Better no CC than MC in most cases. One improvement could be that with MC you remain free to do other things, as you suggsted, but I would rather have MC become more reliable, for example, there is one resistance check upon cast rather than at every 'tick'. This would make it a more useful spell in BGs as well.

Luvstospoon said...

All of these changes would have been Great with the little change priests saw in the 3.0 patch (shoulda been named Echoes of QQ).