29 May 2008

Doing damage on the move

It's hard enough to stand still and dps as a shadow priest. Your dots have irregular durations, your nukes have irregular cooldowns, and your mind flay has a crappy range. Add the need to move constantly throughout an encounter and you can kiss goodbye to respectable damage. Fights like shadow labs' grandmaster vorpil and the mechanar's nethermancer sepethrea are a perennial headache.

The same thoughts keep crossing my mind while I'm running around in alarm and mashing my keyboard: I'm going to die; why does mind flay have such a crappy range; do other shadow priests struggle as much as me; I'm going to die; shit, I didn't mean to hit shadow word: death; I wish I'd rolled a lock; I'm going to die; shitshitshit.

If there's a secret to walking these encounters, I haven't found it. The best I can muster is a vague list of priorities to forget while spinning in panic.

First off, I know it's obvious but my number one priority is to stay alive. In a standard fight, that usually means managing agro while slapping the bad guy as hard as I can. I can rely on healers for the most part to take care of splash damage. Not so on mobility fights: they're not designed to be healed through; you have to move. So there's something else for me to think about besides what spell to cast next.

If I determine I am not in mortal peril, only then do I think about casting any spells. My spell rotation inevitably suffers. As a general rule of thumb I cast vampiric embrace and shadow word: pain while running, and slot in everything whenever I can. Vampiric touch is my first choice, then mind blast. Mind flay is often out of the question because of range. Only when I'm sure I'm safe and I have three seconds to spare do I even think about it.

Mana conservation goes out of the window. Even with vampiric touch up I'm not putting out a high enough dps for it to have much of an effect. On top of that, I shield, I fear, I heal, I bandage, I pot, I drop back into shadow, I spam mind blasts, I shield again, I overlap dots. Every other player is under the same pressure as me. While healers will do their best to keep me alive I can't rely on them. They may be under fire themselves, or else out of range or otherwise tied up.

Gear is a constant dilemma too: do I dress for survival or damage? I am a very fragile priestie in my standard raid gear and lack a pvp set like some. My fallback is resistance gear, as mobility fights generally involve a lot of magical damage. I've a few nice crafted fire and arcane resist items, but even stacking boe greens I can raise my stamina a few thousand and build up a hefty resistance to once school of magic at the expense of some damage. I've tried both ways but without much scientific method. My gut tells me to dress for survival if it's a new encounter or an inexperienced healer; go all out damage otherwise.

Is this a textbook strategy? I doubt it. When it comes to mobility fights, I get the feeling I'm missing an important piece of the jigsaw. They are things that deeply irritate me and I'm constantly looking for ways to get the better of them. If you have any ideas or strategies, please let me know.

1 comment:

grayhammer said...

Those are two wicked fights. Another one with similar issues is final boss in M terrace. For point of reference for what I do in the toughest dungeons, I'm presently +975 shadow damage and about 8500 health buffed. That's not bad but still I'm the, or one of the, lowest health members of the group. Also, of the 3 DPS-ers, I'm typically #3, occasionally a close #2 in DPS if there is a weakly geared lock or hunter along, but I usually run with well-geared mages, locks, hunters. Most well-geared mages are doing double my damage. So frankly I dont worry too much about my DPS as much as other things like continuing to support the group as a whole. With that stance in mind, my #1 objective in both those fights is staying alive. So in these fights I get the DOTs ticking and then run to safety. While running I will toss prayer of mending to the tank, maybe a renew or two to other players as needed, shield the healer, etc. I re-cast the DOTs as needed, and, like you say, when I get some breathing room I bring out the bigger guns. I only bring out the big guns if I and others are stable. Adding heals to the mix runs my mana out in a flash, pop shadowfiend. So I'm not adding much to what you wrote other than to note that I heal as much as I DPS in those fights and other hard ones like final boss in MagTerr.

Speaking more generally, I've come around to this image of my role as shadow priest being one of backup healer as much as it is DPS, largely after seeing my rank at 3 or 2 on the damage meters time and time again, in spite of being epic in gear and cranking things up a couple notches during encounters. In these complicated fights, being 50-50 heals-DPS has worked for the groups I run with. Heck, in Mag Terr a strong group failed the last boss repeatedly until I went 90% heals (all heals aside from SWP). I would submit that if groups are noticing a reduction in your DPS in these fights as you struggle for self-preservation I would submit that it may be that their DPS isnt high enough.