24 February 2009

Devouring plague: now with added bite

Last night brought our first glimpse of the 3.1 patch notes via the downloaded patch files. Thanks to the ever-awesome mmo champion as usual.

This is the patch, remember, that promises to improve shadow performance in pvp, and there are a couple of things in here that might help (a buff to dispersion, for example) but probably won't transform shadow's fortunes. There are some interesting changes for raiding priests too, which we'll go over below. As usual, this is only a test build — we will see more changes over the coming weeks, and much of this is likely to evolve during the test phase.

So in brief:
  • Shadowfiend will scale with its master's spell damage and stamina, and will return more mana
  • Blackout has been removed (sad face); darkness has been moved to fill the tier one space
  • Dispersion now clears snares and movement-impairing effects, and makes you immune to them for its duration
  • Shadowform no longer boosts periodic damage by your crit percentage; instead, dots can crit (no, really)
  • Silence increased to 30 yards
  • Vampiric embrace duration increased (in pve) to five minutes, cooldown removed
  • New talent: improved devouring plague; increased period damage by 15% at max rank and deals 15% of total period damage instantly

Guess which bit everybody is zomging about? Yep, dots can crit. But don't get too excited just yet, this may yet sting us. At best, assuming crits will benefit from shadow power, this will result simply in dots doing, on paper, precisely the same damage they do now with the percentage boost (but in real life, being subject to the tribulations of the RNG). The benefit comes not in the damage of the dots themselves but in potential synergies with things that proc off crits. But anything that procs off dot crits would become a near-perma buff even with a modest crit rating, so you can assume a few things, such as improved spirit tap, won't count. And if dots are not covered by shadow power, it will actually mean a nerf. So, over all, while this is a very flashy change, I'm not sure it will mean much for our raid performance beyond, perhaps, keeping glyph of shadow active for longer. Wait and see, I guess.

The improved devouring plague talent interests me much more. It shamelessly nicks a mechanic from the shaman spell book (thank you flameshock and riptide) to give us an instant, direct damage component to a spell that already ticks for a decent amount. By my clumsy calculations, it's going to hit for about the same as a shadow word: death. The question is, where are we going to find an extra three points?

Alex Ziebart, in his Wow Insider column, suggests we'll be waving sayonara to meditation, and that's one possibility. But I don't know that my mana regen could hold up to it. Maybe fully raid buffed in Naxx, but what about 10-man Ulduar? I fear that some of the optional talents in shadow, like improved vampiric embrace, may be better candidates.

Which is a shame, because with the remove of ve's cooldown, suddenly shadow looks invulnerable for aoe grinding. Slap it on three or four mobs while they charge at you and mind sear with a shit-eating grin on your face.

Anything excite you about the patch notes?


Leigh said...

Very much a mixed bag for shadow priests if you ask me.

- VE being 5 mins long is both good and bad. Good in that I save a number of globals not having to reapply it but bad in the fact you now cannot control when it drops off. So on aggro sensitive bosses (non tauntable or aggro reset) we may be looking at serious problems and have to look back at shadow affinity again.

- The change to DP is nice. Gives us a shadow word death style damage boost without having to include it in our rotations.

- The change to shadowform is what is concerning me at the moment. I see it as an overall nerf unless the top end gear changes drastically. Currently most top end gear gives us a choice of:
- Crit and haste
- Haste and hit

Very few have crit and hit. We will obviously be gearing towards crit even more so now but we are going to gimp ourselves in a way to reach the hit cap. Hopefully the new items in Uldular will have more crit and hit!!

Personally out of this patch I was looking for something that would allow us to compete in that last 30% without having to glyph for a spell that we hardly ever use.

P.S. what you make of the 1000g cost for dual specs? Bit pricey if you ask me.

Esdras said...

Im more sad about reflective sheild being removed.

MD said...

Dots can crits! :) I am both excited and apprehension about the change, with similar reason that you have explained. I guess we just have to wait if it's a buff, and by how much.

I am also really liking the instant damage component of DP. As for the extra 3 pts, I know that I can get 1 pt off inner fire. I am hesitant to drop meditation. Isn't with the change in the mana regen, meditation is actually getting a buff? My last 2 points would probably come from improved shadowform or improved VE - at their current form. It's great to have choices again :)

Merlot said...

The meditation change isn't actually a buff - the increased percentage will simply bring the mana return up to the same level in real terms after base mana regen has been nerfed. (Same too, I assume, for spirit tap and improved spirit tap). But I agree those points are will still be very hard to give up. I might consider it in exchange for veiled shadows, but that would only save me one point. I wonder if I could get away with only two points in misery? I suppose my raid leader would frown...

Anonymous said...

Is the dot-critting only being enabled for spriests, or for every dot in the game? I used to play a warlock full time, but I put him away for wrath...this might be enough to make me want to start playing him again. The only problem I can see is that as it is now, we have way too much lag already. I'm pretty sure having the server trying to compute every dot tick's crit percentage isn't going to help with lag. Of course, I guess this isn't really all that different that a hasted rogue slashing at something once per second.

Merlot said...

"Is the dot-critting only being enabled for spriests, or for every dot in the game?"

So far, I've seen talents to enable corruption and unstable affliction to crit for locks, and bleed effects to crit for feral druids. There may be others, dunno.