2 June 2008

The future of face melters

What would happen to shadow priests if vampiric touch was nerfed by 60%? At my level, and in my guild, probably not a lot. I'd struggle to last through some long fights and my potions bill would go up. But in later raids, and in more dedicated guilds, perhaps they'd loose their spot to a pure damage dealer because a face melter's dps potential currently plateaus early in end game progression: they become, as we know, mana batteries. Take that away and there's not much left.

But what if that same shadow priest scaled better, could put out more damage, could compete with the locks and the rogues and the mages? Would their spot be safe?

I've been chewing over the Wrath alpha talents and abilities, and this could be a distinct possibility. The changes hint at an attempt by developers to position shadow priests much more in line with the other dps spell casters — for better and worse.

A current shadow priest only looks at one stat, damage, while others casters have to juggle hit and crit and intellect and, increasingly, haste as well. I'm over-simplifying, but you get the gist. With 10% hit from talents alone, and a utility tied directly to our damage output, we have little else to think about.

If our hit talent were to be nerfed along with VT, we'd have a much bigger gap to make up to the spell cap. And if we were given a talent that increased our spell crits to 100%, we'd suddenly have to sit up and look at our crit rating wouldn't we?

These things would make the job of gearing your shadow priest a lot more interesting and perhaps make it easier for Blizzard to itemise for spell casters. For all intents and purposes, we would dress like a lock.

Now add to this a talent which improves spell damage by a percentage of your spirit and things get a whole lot more interesting. Locks are in line for a similar talent. Throw into the mix a reworked spirit tap that could proc repeatedly during a fight — not only boosting mana regeneration but spell damage as well. Does this mean spirit, which currently doesn't even feature on caster gear, is going to make a comeback? How will we compare the value of spirit to damage to hit to crit? Will we see shadow priests speccing for divine spirit in the expansion?

The immediate reaction to any nerf bat is horror — "why are you doing this to me? My class is broken! I'm rolling a lock" blah. But maybe, just maybe, you get something much better in return. Nothing about Wrath is decided, the shadow priest's future is not set in stone, but the snippets of information unearthed so far hint at an intriguing and lucrative new path for face melters in Northrend.


grayhammer said...

I'm not liking the rumblings I'm reading about WotLK for shadow priests. What concerns me is that it sounds as if we are getting more DPS but our role as utility class isnt being elaborated or enhanced. Along the lines of what you wrote does the game really need a watered down lock or mage? Of course not. We need something that will get us in the "LFM.." lists along the lines of what you see all the time these days: "LF one more DPS for heroic mech ... need mage or lock". So blizz gives us more DPS, wahoo, we're still going to do only a fraction of the damage done by locks and mages, but still wont have the CC ability that those classes offer. We wont otherwise be better at enhancing the group as a whole will we? Bah!

You know what Blizz should have done? Made us necromancers, that is what, it is a perfect fit. Instead, they invent this new class the death knight that is getting such thrills.

Merlot said...

Hmm, I'm not sure about necromancers but I admit I would have liked access to a second school of magic and the death knight's unholy would have been perfect. They get death and decay too, the bastards.

I won't say I'm not worried about my future, but I like to look on the bright side and trust in Blizzard to balance my abilities fairly. I live in hope, you could say :)

Chronic said...

Currently juggling two stats, I thought. No love for haste?

I definitely agree opening up the itemization is going to be a lot more fun though.

Merlot said...

Chronic, that's a good challenge. Where I am in raiding, I don't see much haste, so it's not something I know much about. Not sure how it stacks up against damage, but I promise to investigate and report back...