15 December 2008

A shadow priest's take on aoe

We have not one but two aoe spells now. It's awesome. To give you an indication of how disadvantaged I felt without one, I was happy when we got holy nova. But now I have mind sear I am ecstatic. Well, for the most part.

Mind sear is a channelled spell that costs 28% of base mana and, according to the tool tip: "causes an explosion of shadow magic around the enemy target, causing 212 to 228 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 5 sec to all enemies within 10 yards around the target".

I've had enough practice with it now to think I've got it figured out. Which is not to say I always use it correctly; knowing and doing are two very different things in my world.

But the more I use the spell, the easier it gets to know when and how to throw it into the mix.

And the more I use it, the more glaring and frustrating its limitations become.

The good
It actually packs quite a punch within a reasonable range, and that mana cost, while significant, is not so huge that you think twice before casting the spell (for comparison, shadow word: pain is 22%).

I'm finding it's doing somewhere around 900-1000 damage per tick — it's like mind flaying multiple targets for two seconds more (which I guess is how they pitched it at design stage).

Situationally, it's great for when a boss summons squishy adds, providing the tank can pick them up; you don't even have to change target. And it's super for packs of one elite and several normal hangers-on. After that it gets a bit tricker.

The bad
The number of talents that buff mind sear is rather limited, while the crit bonus remains just 50%. That's a shame given that shadow priests have only just been allowed into the 100%-crit club. I suppose it gives us something to envy in our mage and lock cousins.

The ugly
What you probably know, but could be forgiven for not realising from the tooltip, is that it doesn't affect the target. This is one of those things that sounds quirky and original on paper but drives short-tempered players like me up the wall.

I know why they did this. It's because if they didn't, mind sear would virtually replace mind flay on trash pulls. And to be honest, if it did hit the target, that's probably exactly what I'd do. Any pull with two mobs or more would get the mind sear treatment in-between dot applications.

Even with this limitation, it's tempting to throw mind sear into the mix on three or four-mob pulls. But you either have to switch targets to mind flay, or else lower your dps on the main target. And while this might improve your standing on the damage metres, in focus fire situations, either option wastes time. It also distracts from maintaining your group utility (you can't trigger replenishment if you're busy mind searing).

You could argue this limitation on the spell doesn't matter. Standard pulls weren't designed for aoe. Six months ago, we would have two or three in each pull crowd-controlled anyway.

That may well be true, but it's not how the game has played out. The fact is, we're only a few weeks into the expansion and already I'm running heroics without crowd control of any kind. Not just with paladin tanks but warriors and bears too. If this was the same time into burning crusade, there's no way the healers would be able to keep up. There's no way, in fact, that tanks would be able to hold agro against aoe. The game has changed.

Does this mean the game is under-tuned? There's a lot of evidence to suggest it is. But if this is working as intended, we might as well get used to aoe trash pulls, and that means finding the best way as shadow priests to contribute.

My Christmas wish list
Mind sear doesn't have a glyph yet. If the Blizzard pixies are reading, I'd like the ability for mind sear to damage the target please — and I'm willing to pay for it.

Maybe a mind sear glyph would reduce damage by 15%, or reduce the range to 20 yards, or increase the mana cost by half, or increase the cast time by a second or two. I think any of those things would be a reasonable compromise. And there must be other possibilities.

But if Blizzard really doesn't want shadow priests to aoe packs down, they might want to start looking at how hard heroic elites hit, how much mitigation tanks have, and how well healers can heal.

But that's a bit off topic. I just want to pew pew stuff. Give me my glyph already!


xxxiii said...

Mind Sear simply excites the hell out of me! It's not a targetted-area affect, it follows the target, which makes it so much more fun to use than other AOEs.

"D" said...

It is SO time for people to start whining about how shadow priests are OP and need to be nerfed -- notice how no one ever complains about shadow priests? If they give us the ability to have the targeted mob or player taking damage on Mind Sear, we may finally be the subject of much envy! :-D Hurray for Mind Sear as it is, but a little tweaking and suddenly every healery priest may want to respec to shadow to really take advantage of that bad boy!

Esdras said...

I think the ONLY way they could let it damage target would be some sort of glyph as it would just be to OP.

Leigh said...

Having ran Naxx 25 and Naxx 10 in quest blues and one or two purples from heroics all i can say is MS is complete and utter Haxx :P

On trash pulls i am doing about 12K DPS (max so far has been 15K), i will open with VT and tab onto a second target and VT that then mind sear like crazy. If 3 adds are up and running it's 100% warranted to AOE them. Only time you stop is when you are down to two and at that stage you should be MB, SWD or MF, dot's waste a GCD unless the mob is over 50% health and even then VT > any other DOT.

Don't worry about replenishment, healers cannot get rid of their mana as it is so they do not need it. Even on boss fights i am finding myself getting innervates from druids who are sitting there on 3/4 mana for the entire fight!!

BTW, how are people finding the hit cap? Any gear I am picking up seems to be lacking in hit somewhat. The badge OH and badge belt are my next two purchases but other then that hit is scarce to come by :(

Anonymous said...

I have about 1700ish + Spellpower now and my Mindsears can crit at around 1600 - :) I loves it as a farming spell. Especially on those mammoth Mobs..

grayhammer said...

As something of an aside: leigh, why open with vampiric touch in the sequence you describe?

Anonymous said...

I think MS would be pretty OP if it damaged the target and I think if Blizz glyphed it they would gimp its damage by 50%. In big pulls that warrant AOE I'll throw up all 3 DoTs and spam MS on that target so I'm still damaging everything all at once. Raid buffed I'm close to 1900 spellpower and spike close to 2k when Glyph of Shadow procs. My MS currently hits close 2k and crits close to 3k so I'm loving it. It really helps on Naxx fights like Maexxna that spawn squishy adds right on the boss so I don't even have to swap targets.

I also like how it's a ranged AoE so we don't have to get up in the mobs faces like arcane explosion or hellfire and that it can proc blackout if you're specced for it. If you bring a frost mage and they're using blizzard, the crit bonus from winters chill goes to all the mobs and it's crit heaven xD.

Leigh said...

Grey, in Naxx your dealing with hard hitting elites, I don't want to be pulling aggro by opening with a MS that has the potential to be critting for 3k a number of times in quick succession. A VT (or two!) not only boosts your overall damage but it gives the tanks time to grab enough aggro on all targets for the duration of the pull. In 5 man instances you can just spam MS from the off. The lost time casting a VT or two in the overall scenario ain't going to be enough to knock you off the top of the overall damage meters :)

grayhammer said...

Good points Leigh. Why not open with SWP ? Why VT over SWP?

In regular NR instances I've opening with VT, VE, SWP, then MB and finally MS.

Lisandra said...

I tend to have two uses for this spell, and they depend on whether I'm killing a large mass of weak mobs, or 3-4 "strong" mobs.

If it's just a large mass of weaklings, then Mind Sear spam until they're dead. I may SW:D the mob I'm targeting if it gets low enough in HP from other AOEs to be 1 shot, for the personal mana regen.

If it's a group of strong mobs, I'll VT + SW:P the mob I'm targeting for Mind Sear before starting my Mind Sear. This lets me do some DPS on that particular mob, and if the healers are low on mana (usually from chain pulling) I can weave a Mind Blast in between Mind Sears.