Holy? Check. Discipline? Check. Here it is, the third and final part of my not-so-eagerly anticipated series about the state of the priest class. I've clearly saved the best till last.
We've come a long way when you think about it. Shadow was a niche spec in Burning Crusade. There were plenty of us, for sure, but we were only there to keep the healers in mana. We were the sidekicks of raiding.
Now, it would seem, we have everything we asked for — competitive dps, better scaling, more variety in gearing... but it comes at a price.
From where I'm standing, our dps looks to be in pretty good shape. The functional design of shadow damage is leaps and bounds from BC. Our spells interact to boost each other through talents and glyphs, mind flay can crit and our crits now do double damage — our crit rating even benefits dots — and we now have one of the most powerful aoe spells in the game.
On single target boss fights, allowing for my crappy gear, I am doing reasonable damage; on trash, I'm a god. At one point yesterday in heroic naxx my recount read 6k dps.
That's not to say I don't find it lacking at all. A weakness of the class (which is amplified quite horrendously sometimes by my own poor reactions) is the speed at which we can switch gears. Shadow priests are the oil tankers of wow — slow to get moving and slow to turn but truck on quite nicely in one direction thankyouverymuch. We have no cooldowns to blow when the boss enrages, no talents or spells that do more damage at low hp (shadow word: death glyph doesn't count), no mana burn mode. We have but one speed.
This helps to illustrate what we traded away for our competitive damage — flavour, spice, personality. Vampiric touch is now our highest damage dot, but it's name is meaningless, a pathetic reminder of the former spell. Vampiric embrace is like a once-fierce guard dog, now castrated and lame. Replenishment is an abomination to shadow priests, a clumsy, common effect now wielded by paladins and... hunters? We are deeply shamed. (No offence guys!)
Shadow has lost some of what made it unique and fascinating to play. It's like watching Angel in his very best broody remorseful phases, especially post-Sunnydale when he'd put on a bit of weight and you just knew that even though he still had it, he was never as good as bad Angel, and never as much fun.
This isn't going to change. The driving forces behind today's class developments are functional and mechanical. The devs are so busy balancing numbers to keep players happy (a thankless, impossible task imo) I see very little time for ensuring classes feel rich and distinct. Roleplaying is all in your head, after all, so I hope you have a good imagination.
What we know is the devs are working on shadow pvp, which is where our fortunes have declined the most. Specifically, they had better do something with psychic horror before priests descend upon Blizz HQ with pitchforks and lanterns. And I have a hunch we may see some changes to the nature or position of improved psychic scream and silence. Just a hunch. I hesitate to suggest dispersion might get a facelift, as needed as it is. (Does anyone here use it as any more than a mana pot?) But it's always a possibility, especially if shadow priests are struggling as much as they claim in pvp, even with Blizzard's holy grail in their spell books. When the smoke has cleared, if we are lucky, raiding priests may find some peripheral buffs from the pvp changes.
There's one other dark cloud on the horizon for shadow priests, and that's dual spec. We've heard a lot of speculation about this functionality in the past, and now it's in the patch notes for 3.1. Shadow priests already bring very little that is unique to a raid and would be the first choice to plug healing gaps if all it took was the click of a button. You might be happy to step in, you might even enjoy the change of pace. But if the wind changes, as the saying goes, you may find yourself stuck like that. I for one have already got the shivers.
All in all? I like the way shadow damage is shaping up, even though I miss the distinct feel the class had once upon a time. But give me some shiny new spells and cooldowns to play with and I'm sure I could get over that. I wish the best for those of you who pvp but... honestly?... I'm just not sure how possible it is to shoehorn two distinct builds into one talent tree without making both heroically overpowered. I think your problems are not over yet.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
5 hours ago