2 March 2009

About Stretch!

Stretch! is the campaign for a baseline 30-yard range on the shadow priest spell mind flay.

Our mission statement
We believe shadow priests have the right to outrange environmental damage and approach positioning in raids on the same terms as other ranged classes and not have to glyph for it. That's why we want a baseline 30-yard range on mind flay. It's time to Stretch! the spell. We will work to educate the WoW community about the deficiencies of mind flay, generate ideas and debate about how it can be fixed in a fair manner, and campaign to ensure that Blizzard brings about these changes to the benefit of all shadow priests.

About mind flay
Mind flay is a spell available to priests via a tier three talent in the shadow tree. It is a three-second channelled spell that deals shadow damage each second and reduces the target's movement speed by 50%. It has a baseline range of 20 yards.

Its range can be extended by 20% through the talent shadow reach in tier four, and by 10 yards through the glyph of mind flay.

The spell accounts for approximately a third of a raiding shadow priest's damage on boss fights.

Mind flay has the shortest baseline range of all channelled spells.

Mind flay shares, with frost shock, the shortest baseline range of all single target spells with a snare component.

Mind flay is the only spell with a baseline range of 20 yards that is not instant.

The issue
Mind flay is the only offensive spell in a shadow priest's repertoire with a baseline range of 20 yards. The others — shadow word: pain, mind blast, shadow word: death, vampiric touch, devouring plague, mind sear and vampiric embrace — all share a baseline range of 30 yards.

It is a shadow priest's most efficient and effective spell, accounting for the largest single portion of a shadow priest's damage against raid bosses. Without the glyph, it creates two distinct positioning issues for shadow priests:
  1. Environmental damage — it requires that shadow priests stand closer to targets than all other ranged classes, risking greater damage from boss aoe spells and centred environmental effects, or else causes shadow priests to constantly alter range at the loss of substantial dps
  2. Range to target — with a shorter range to target than any other ranged class, shadow priests must move further and face greater obstacles in reaching targets in fights with adds or substantial movement
The only option to a shadow priest who wishes the same level playing field as other ranged classes is to glyph for an extra 10 yards on the spell at a reduced snare. The snare, as we shall see, is irrelevant to raiding shadow priests, but the glyph slot is one that could, and should, be available for a more appropriate use.

The logic of 20 yards
Why is there this discrepancy in the range of a shadow priest's spells? The answer is the spell's snare component. To compensate in PVP for the spell's 50% movement reducing effect, the range is kept artificially short. It is a PVP-balancing effect.

But in PVE, for raiding shadow priests, the snare is irrelevant. Bosses are immune to the effect and in almost every situation where a snare would be useful other classes are equally or better equipped to provide one. The range is always better.

In recognising this issue, Blizzard provided a glyph which brings the spell up to a standard range while lowering the amount the target's movement speed is reduced by to 10%.

We believe to provide shadow priests with a level playing field against other ranged dps, the spell's baseline range must be brought up to standard to enable raiding shadow priests to compete from the same distance and with the same access to three potential glyphs. The snare component is a secondary consideration which we propose should be tackled in other ways.

The solution
Stretch! recognises that mind flay cannot be allowed both a significant snare and standard range without compensating in other areas. We also recognise that, while range is vital for raiding shadow priests, not all priests choose to raid, and many are more concerned with PVP performance. We propose an open dialogue between the WoW community and WoW developers to arrive at a suitable compromise.

To kick off the conversation, we suggest the following ideas:

  1. Make mind flay 30-yards baseline with zero or small snare. Change the glyph of mind flay to add or improve the snare at the cost of range. This effectively turns the current spell and glyph on their head, positioning the spell much more in line with PVE requirements while enabling PVP shadow priests to glyph for a snare if they so wish.
  2. Make mind flay 30-yards baseline with zero or small snare. Provide PVP functionality in other ways. While it's not the aim of this campaign to propose sweeping PVP changes, we know Blizzard is in the process of doing exactly that, and we feel this is an excellent opportunity to consider mind flay in that context.
  3. Make mind flay a baseline spell with zero or small snare and a 30-yard range. Provide an improved talent to give the spell added PVP functionality for shadow priests. This talent may or may not add a snare component, but the effect could be balanced within the framework of talent budgets. While some priests might feel that mind flay is a distinctly shadow spell and would regret its availability to holy and discipline priests, its inclusion in a priest's spell book would probably not prove game-breaking (mind sear is baseline too after all).
How to get involved
  • Write to Blizzard
  • Add your voice to forums
  • Blog about it. You can link to this post or write your own.
  • Tell your friends and guild mates
Please show your support for Stretch! with a comment below. If you spot any mistakes in this post, please let me know and I will endeavour to correct them as soon as possible. If you have any questions or would like more information, again, please feel free leave a comment or drop me a line in person.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you on this one... i have the glyph bc its needed for raiding... however if i could slot in a different glyph i totally would.... i for one don't care about the snare bc i don't pvp much.. i use my pally for that i will write in to Blizz and suggest it to thanks for blogging and keep up the good work!!!!!

Typhoonandrew said...

This makes sense and is an excellent suggestion. Post coming soon in support.

Colsima said...

I'd fully agree with you.

Just as a not on how retarded the present situation is, when dual-spec comes along, I'm seriously tempted to use it to have a PvE shadow spec and a separate PvP shadow spec. PvE with no silence and with the mind flay glyph, and PvP with silence and a different glyph.

Peter said...

Merlot, I've gotta say I'm not with you on this one.
I love the work you've done on the blog, and I really like some of your ideas for improving Spriests (a hymn of despair would be awesomesauce or dark penance?).
But... we already have a 30 yard range with the glyph.
and we also have a glyph to increase damage to mindflay.(SWP glyph)
So if Stretch were successful, we've got a free glyph spot. (For what? Shadow word death increases by 5%?)
I think the current glyph does what it's supposed to do... Changes a staple spell for grinding into a staple spell for raiding.
I'd much rather they fixed the issues with SWP and shadow weaving so my trash DPS could start looking respectable...

Merlot said...

Thanks for your feedback Peter, I appreciate it (and love dark penance!)

I don't think the argument that there are no other decent raid glyphs for shadow is a good enough reason for allowing an unfair situation to persist. Compare us to elemental shaman, who also have a short range on one of their key raiding abilities. Do they have to glyph for it? No, because they get a talent to improve its range. This allows elemental shaman to glyph uncompromisingly for dps — AND it focuses the designers on ensuring the class has access to enough glyps to support it.

I agree we don't have enough glyph options, but I think the mind flay glyph is part of the problem, serving to obscure the true extent of the issue.

I also agree we deserve a fix to the shadow weaving bug, but that's already universally acknowledged. I'm just trying to draw attention to an aspect of our class design that I think is overlooked.