21 February 2008

Heroic or just plain stupid?

I ran heroic Botanica last night with a very good team of warrior tank, priest healer, mage and hunter.

It was the mage's first heroic. She had been put off attempting them before by some elitist jerk who told her 500 spell damage wasn't enough. Botanica is generally regarded as one of the easier heroics so I thought we'd be fine. And we were; more than fine. We cleared it with only one or two silly wipes on the trash and got all bosses down first time.

The hunter, in very good gear, topped the damage metre as you'd expect. But the mage, with about 300 less spell damage than me, came a clear second place, even while busy sheeping. And she is frost spec. It really did feel like I was a fifth wheel at times. So I wonder, is there really a place for shadow priests in heroics?

There's a chance it's just me, not all shadow priests, of course. I was a bit laggy last night and a bit sluggish to respond at times. And then there's a chance that Bot is simply not very shadow priest friendly: the fourth boss, Laj, actually resisted four consecutive attempts to land shadow word: pain, which seems a bit unlikely given that I am now spell capped.

But I doubt those things were a big factor here. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that shadow priests simply aren't designed for heroics. There are four things I think a group needs going in to a heroic:
  1. a well-geared, skilled tank
  2. a well-geared, superb healer
  3. reliable crowd control
  4. massive amounts of controlled, sustained damage

Now, with the exception of Sethekk Halls, we bring no reliable crowd control. So our role is clear — we are there to burn things down. And in heroics, where the mobs hit hard and the trash groups are big, you'd better do it quick. The problem is, more than any other class, our burst potential is poor. We rely on DOTs and a channelled spell to do the bulk of our damage. Affliction locks suffer from similar issues, but they have more nukes at their fingers and more cc functionality to balance it out. And they always have a nuke talent tree to turn to if they can't keep up. On trash, I don't always have time to build up steam. While my comrades are unloading at full throttle, I'm still applying spells.

It's a different story on boss fights, which usually last long enough to allow me to reach my full potential. But typically, the bigger challenges in heroics are the trash leading up to them. What do you think? Am I doing something wrong? Or should I accept the limitations of my class and move on? Is burst damage as important as I think it is, and what does that mean for the future of shadow priests if it is?


MD said...

Not the best shadow priest, so take my words with a grain of salt :)

About Bot, Laj does change its resistance to different magic schools during the fight. I have problem with it too :)

Personally I think that certain group make up (such as paladin tanker and mana dependent dps-ers) has better synergy with shadow priest more than others. We bring more to the group than just dps :)

Another thing to consider is whether you have different spell rotations for bosses and longer to kill mobs than for mobs that go down fast?

Jinvasha said...

I'm no shadow priest, so my comments might not be particularly valid... but shadow priests might not be there for CC, or for burst damage, but because they are very good at enabling other classes to reach their full potential.

I have had the euphoric experience of being a bear tanking an elite mob with a shadow priest DPSing behind me *and* healing me at the same time through vampiric touch. Shadow priests have such a wonderful synergy with other classes that I certainly wouldn't pass one up in a heroic.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that would make me choose between an equally geared mage and shadow priest would be how much I could stand either player. Also, shadow priests generate a lot of aggro, which makes tanking more challenging, which I like.

grayhammer said...

You ask "is there really a place for shadow priests in heroics?", a valid question in my experience as a shadow priest. As far as an answer goes, I would say there is only a place at the tolerance of the other group members. IOW, we're a relatively weak addition to most groups and they put up with us. Most groups would benefit more from the other classes that do more DPS and have reliable CC: #1 being mage and others include hunter, rogue, locks. My opinion on this comes from being excluded from groups because they "want a mage", or being in groups and watching the other DPS/CC classes top the damage meter and CC reliably. I have been an important addition to heroic 5-mans in the situations where back-up healing was needed, e.g., with paladin healers or if the main healer gets iced. But I agree, as a rule the heroic game is broken for shadowpriests, which is an ironic shame given how well the rewards fit the class, e.g., the witch doctor wand and the OH orb of the souleater.