25 March 2009

Fighting the flab

Today I am grumpy. While on holiday last week I put on several boozy pounds around the midriff, morphing my once-cute love handles into distinctly muffin-toppy lumps. Who knew martinis would do that?

It's a case of life imitating art if patch 3.1 is anything to go by, in which shadow is undergoing the same tragic bloat.

In real terms, the test realm tree has actually shrunk by two points, but it has swapped a five-point talent (blackout) that nobody should raid with, for a three point talent (improved devouring plague) that everybody should take. If this makes it to live, it will mean a net gain of three talent points that we just don't have.

Now I'm not going to make too much of this, a shadow raiding build isn't a tricky thing, and we already drop points into talents that, in the general scheme of things, could be considered optional. All this means is we will be able to pick up fewer of these optional talents than before. My dilemma is which ones should we drop?

I'm starting from the assumption that this core build includes all the key talents for raiding — which only leaves three points to play with between the remaining options:

Shadow affinity (3 points) — some of you have already argued on this blog that you don't need the increased threat reduction from this talent. I personally would be very nervous to run without it, particularly on aoe trash. But that's your three spare points gone already.

Veiled shadows (2 points) — the lower cooldown on shadowfiend will give you at least two shots per boss but they're wasted points if you don't use it. I don't know how long the fights will be in Ulduar, but I'm loathe to take this talent unless I absolutely have to.

Improved vampiric embrace (2 points) — alas, vampiric embrace, I knew you so well. Changes to this spell in the Wrath expansion very nearly killed it; this extra squeeze on talent points is the final nail. In fights with regular, raid-wide damage, it's actually quite useful, but it will be very hard for anyone to justify these points now and without the improvement vampiric embrace is virtually worthless. Might as well take it off your hot bar.

Improved shadow form (2 points) — another one of those talents that you don't need until... erm... you need it. You don't often need pushback protection in current raids, but we know raid damage is only going to get worse. Possibly another one of those talents you should only take if you absolutely have to.

Admittedly, some of the talents I've classified as 'mandatory' in the core build could themselves be targets for shaving.

Talents that provide mana efficiency, such as meditation and focused mind, are worthless if you have the mana to last the fight without them. But would we? As raid fights get harder, and mana regeneration is squeezed, I'm not sure we would.

Is inner focus really worth the point? If you make the most of it, it's still only a few mp5. Would the mana return from veiled shadows be a better investment? Someone who can do maths tell me!

I'm also rather unimpressed by improved shadow word: pain — the spell has lost a lot of lustre in Wrath, and with the new devouring plague talent, three per cent per talent point is looking more and more like a very poor investment. In my last Naxx run, these two talent points combined accounted for less than one per cent of my overall damage. Can anyone say that's a bargain? I'm seriously considering dropping this talent in protest until Blizz does something to improve it. But I did say earlier that I'm feeling rather grumpy today, and may change my mind when I feel better.

What are the optional talents for you, and where will you be spending your points?


Leigh said...

I presume in your build you meant to take 3/3 Meditation over imp shield? :P

Personally the choice for each shadow priest is going to be down to play style. I am running with 500 haste at the moment which is waaaay too much for my liking but i can't swap in higher crit gear because of lack of +hit!! For me i will prob sacrifice one point in MB and see how that works out for me, obviously not a longer term strategy.

Knocking points out of Veiled Shadows would be a strong possibility for me. I currently use my shadow fiend once in an encounter and don't touch dispersion unless i want to avoid large incoming hits or i am running from A--B and even then it's not necessary. As you said will mana be an issue in 3.1? I think it will be so long term that shadowfiend cooldown will be needed.

For me improved shadowform is nice. The extra utility it brings and the bonus it gives to fade makes it worth the 2 points alone.

Imp VE is something that i could live without yet the utility with regards self healing could be necessary if SWD finds a way back into the rotation.

So when 3.1 hits the 3 points i will save are:
- Point in Inner Focus
- Point in Imp Ve
- Point in Imp MB

What do people use Inner Focus for? I used to use it for DP but i forgets more often then not! I ends up using it on a MB to try get a big crit when your super buffed. The days of using Inner Focus as a mana saving talent for me is gone. It's just there now for healers to get out of the 5SR and regen some mana.

Merlot said...

"I presume in your build you meant to take 3/3 Meditation over imp shield? :P"

Oh god, you're right. I'll fix that as soon as I get home.

Yea, I've got inner focus macroed to dp, so it's used pretty much every cd. The crit boost is wasted right now, but with the imp dp talent coming it might actually be quite useful. Just something else to make my head hurt!

candy said...

I can't imagine tossing out mind sear without having that aggro mitigation...I wouldn't want to be the priest SPLAT! on the floor.

I tried out Inner Focus but find I forget to use it so that is not going into my post-patch build.

Here's what I was initially thinking: http://talent.mmo-champion.com/?priest=0503203000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000325323051123010323150301351&glyph=000000000000&version=9722

Leigh said...

Yeah if you have it macroed it's pretty useful saving you what, close on 2K mana per fight or so? I think the one point reduction in getting a 2nd shadowfiend out might be useful particularly in 3.1.

Like what candy said i often forget to use Inner Focus, i think i have used it a lot of times for dropping out of shadow form and hitting PoH when behind an ice block just to give our healers a lending hand, other then that it's for an epeen crit more then anything.

The build candy linked is a good solid build. I still maintain the 3 points in shadow affinity are a waste, I have done 15K on trash in spider wing and not pulled aggro. If i do see mobs running towards me I simply hit fade, job done :D

Saintanger said...

Leigh: I use IF un-macro'd for DP or Mind Sear. Its like another trinket I need to activate. After 3.1 it looks like we'll need all the mana tricks we can get.

My extra 3 points go in 2/2 Veiled Shadows for more quality shadow fiend time and 1/1 Psychic Horror. Probably will never use PH in raids, but it sounds too cool not to at least try once.

Unless I go with 4/5 Imp MS and have 4 extra points. Then I might go with 2/2 Imp Shadowform or 2/2 Imp VE instead of 1/1 PH