22 July 2009

Ghostcrawler watch part 1

If you're a Ghostcrawler watcher like me, you might have noticed this ominous message from the great man earlier this week. I know it's wrong to jump on Ghostcrawler's words (he told me so!) but it's rather hard not to when he's the only person engaged in any significant community outreach.

Discussing hybrid dps balance, he wrote:

DK and Feral dps should both be lower in 3.2 compared to 3.1. A few other specs received slight buffs, but overall we're pretty happy with the PvE dps balance. You have to look at a lot of different boss fights and break the data down in different and relatively complex ways before you can really stack rank damage done with any kind of authority. As soon as we add a new boss, it's all going to change anyway. Nobody's dps seems so low that it's a liability to bring them. The few damage-oriented specs that are low in PvE have alternative specs in other trees that work out fine. It's always going to be the kind of thing we tweak a lot -- it's a process not a destination.

This comment is the closest we've come so far to a definitive statement on shadow dps. If all pve dps is pretty well balanced, shadow must, by definition, be in reasonable shape.

Your reaction clearly is going to depend on your personal performance, and I've had plenty of feedback from shadow priests who think their dps is perfectly fine. I'm prepared to believe that my hardware is sub-standard, that my gear is not optimal, even that I'm just not that good a player. Nevertheless, I can perform better on other characters with worse gear (and I'm not THAT bad thankyouverymuch). So I stand by my belief that, on balance, shadow priests are at least at little... unfinished.

It's all a bit gloomy if you ask me. The last few Q&As have been met with a rather lukewarm reception by players who were hoping for far more than Blizzard delivered. I'm beginning to think my own expectations of our upcoming Q&A are equally unrealistic. At least I've had this warning to gird my loins for disappointment. I'm beginning to think the unthinkable — if shadow doesn't change, would I be better off raiding on a different class?


Leigh said...

I read the same post and had a similar reaction. The changes he has hinted at will see a considerable gap between hybrid and pure.

Take my last raid, we saw the following on the overall dmg and DPS meters. The top 10 had 2x warlocks (untouchable in terms of DPS for the last few weeks), 2x mages, 1x ret pally, 1x feral druid, 2x hunters and 1x balance druid and lastly a rogue (would have been higher only for general interrupts). Next up was the shadow priest who was on 4.2K DPS for a run that included Freya Mimiron and General with full caster and melee buffs. The spriest had the T8 2 piece set bonus and a number of BiS gear and in my opinion outgeared the hunter, both mages and the boomkin. It's not a case of skill, gear or reactions. On similar bosses last week when i had the rare privilege to DPS i matched the shadow priest in question and marginally bet him on each fight. Even on the general fight last raid he had over 6K DPS....our locks and mages were at a minimum of 7.5K with one warlock coming in just under 9k which he will break in the coming weeks as he gets more gear.

Either way the current gap is not only sizeable to be noticeable.....it's actually growing. My personal DPS went down about 150 when i got my 2 set bonus (one from heroic one from normal) because the legs i got to take the bonus replaced a BiS piece. I made a decision when i picked up my next piece to buy the healing tier :( When i got enough badges i bought the healing chest as well.

You asked a good question would you be better off raiding on another class? I have been asking that for a while and since 3.1 i am unofficially a disc priest but may be making that official shortly. I think i will continue to raid as Disc and when Blizz announce the next expansion (august hopefully!) i will go and pick out an alt i like and level it to 80. I like Disc at the moment but it's not a spec i want to play for an entire expansion. I have a DK tank at 75 and a warlock at 70 with one of every other class at 60 thanks to the RAF :P

Shy said...

Hmm...we have a warlock in our group and his dps picked up almost 1 k when he finally got a stable connection.

We also have a shadow priest in our group who is consistently challenging our rogues on dps (and our rogues are pretty massive dps).

However, on other fights the shadow priest just seems to drop. And not a little bit, a lot. I think one of the changes coming in 3.2. that will help a lot is devouring plague castable on one target at a time.

The only thing that Blizzard is still going wrong in is that a shadow priest can hardly be considered a hybrid. Yes, you can drop shadow form, but you cannot heal any of the Ulduar fights enough to really make a genuine difference if you have to drop from shadow form halfway.

The other way around, healing priests cannot do proper dps no matter how hard they try.

I blame the spell stat +hit for this. A shadow priest has to stack hit and is therefore missing quite a large part of regen, which is really needed since your spec doesn't have any discounts on mana cost for healing spells. And a healing priest simply hasn't got hit, which is really needed if you want to do any dps in a raid.

crysana said...

Conspiracy theory alert!

With the introduction of DKs we got a whole lot more tanks in this expansion. Standing in Dal, you'd see a constant stream of LF1M Healer. I always found myself wondering if Shadow became the sacrifical spec - made not so good on purpose. See, Blizzard made disc a damn good spec in this expansion and so many ex shadow priests respecced to disc so they didn't feel like they were playing a gimped class. Thus there was influx of healers...

I have a feeling that we are getting a hero healing class in the next expansion - seems to me that will be when Shadow gets some love. A sudden influx of healers, lets make shadow a viable dps spec again...

End conspiracy rant

Its funny - i respecced to Disc as well because i hated lesser geared and lesser skilled players kicking my ass in dps. I take pride in my knowledge of shadow, and in the way i play and it frustrated me to no end not doing the dps that i thought we should be doing. And more than anything, Blizzards stubborn attitude towards shadow shits me up the wall. How many times do they need to be told about dispersion, i mean seriously? Its just not funny anymore. There have been so many posts regarding the state of shadow on the forums recently, but they turn a blind eye to it all. Sigh... I played the Aion beta on the weekend. I liked it mostly. Think I'll be spending my time there when it comes out rather than wow...

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with those of you saying that we can't do decent DPS. For me, the answer is more of an "it depends on the fight mechanics."

If I have to do a lot of switching around on targets, yes, I'm going to end up lower on the scales. Fights where I can focus on a single target more or throw in a little AE I actually end up in the top five (if not the top spot itself).

Hodir is one fight that is largely RNG based. If I can stay well buffed and pop my potions at the right time and use that time to refresh SWP (and keep it up)... The shadow priests in our guild have been known to pull 12k dps.

Thorim is one fight that goes either way. It gives me plenty of opportunity for AE dps IF I'm running the gauntlet and don't MC later. I usually top meters in that situation. But if I'm in the arena, I do a lot of Mass Dispelling, and then if I later Mind Control during the main portion of the fight, I'll understandably have much less DPS.

Freya is off the charts and no comparison with as much opportunity to AE on that fight as I have.

Razorscale lands me in the bottom of the DPS every single time because our guild doesn't AE the adds.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that we have no real front-loading, full-damage DPS for situations where we move on from target to target. It takes us a little while to set up our DPS with 5 stacks of shadow weaving and applying DoTs before we move on to Mind Flay and Mind Blast-- our two big damage spells. We also (currently) have one DoT spell that is on cooldown, so if you use it up on that mob that just died, it will be a few seconds before you can use it on the next. SWP has to be reapplied to get any benefit from temporary buffs. Switching focus targets isn't exactly going to do us any favors, but AE on adds while focusing on the boss to keep up our debuffs provides unbelievable DPS. Single target boss fights with no frills (think Patchwork) will usually put us roughly middle-of-the-road.

Kyle said...

You know what I'd say.

The tone in the Priest Q&A thread is taking a decided turn toward the ugly. It seems like we are getting the last of the attention.

If Blizzard is committed to the concept of hybrid classes, then shadow will get its second revamp this expansion, possibly in the Icecrown patch. There's simply no alternative. We have all of these shiny new skills and mechanics, and yet some of our functionality is literally unchanged since vanilla WoW.

Something needs to change.

And if not, well, I already have an 80 mage gearing up. :)

Kyle said...

Oh, and @almoderate:

Elemental Shamans, as well as other critty classes, have been known to break 24k dps on Hodir. I wish I could say 12k was a "good" number for Shadow Priests. :(

Leigh said...

Crysana hit the nail on the head for me :) It's annoying seeing average players in average gear putting in a better performance then you. We bring + hit to raids, replenishment and Stam/Spirit/Shadow prot.....all of which can be supplied by other classes capable of doing superior DPS and the disc/holy priest takes over buffing.

Almoderate your 100% correct. Each fight is situational. Mass amounts of adds = super inflated DPS (Razorscale, freya, XT). 2/3 adds = minimal increase in DPS because of how our mechanics work. Getting our DOT's up on multiple mobs takes time and Mind Sear isn't an option on 2 or 3 targets (yet all other AOE is). Stand still and nuke fights we are very much middle of the road. Hodir and General are exceptions because of the mechanics of the fight, pure casters will beat us and we should in theory beat most melee classes on gimmicky fights like that but again it's buff dependent and very much RNG.

Just to put things in perspective....back in Naxx on an average enough gear level on Patch i could push top 5.....same on the vast majority of bosses and coming 1st wasn't unheard of. Now with everyone advancing gearwise and me still outgearing say 50% of the raid while probably still being one of the best geared casters i would struggle to break top 7 on a largely static fight like Ignis.

^^ as a sample of what i am on about (i'm Hadur and have a similar gear level to the other spriest as you can see!). From entering Ulda to where i am now my DPS on that boss has went up about 1000. I have picked up a few upgrades since then but haven't tried them out.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't know regarding the elemental shammys. I don't believe we have any. Either way, sometimes we top the meters and sometimes we don't on Hodir, depending on the RNG.

I did forget about General... Man does that fight suck for us. With such a limited amount of time in the shadow crashes, if that's the only place you're dpsing, then it can take some time to build up your dps as opposed to a mage that can start nuking away. Of course, if you have a positioning strategy where everyone pretty much stacks in between life drains, then it's not a huge issue, but if you stay spread out, that's another story.

What I'm trying to say is this... We can top the meters on some fights and make other classes look like total nubs. It really just depends on the fight. The only potential issue for me is that some raid leaders (bad ones) don't understand how shadow priest dps works and will question why you aren't switching targets on bosses like Freya and burning down low-health roots. (By the time you've laid down any dots and started casting MF, they're dead and you've really not contributed anything. Meanwhile, Freya's lost her SWP, so you've screwed your dps on TWO mobs.)

Gentry said...

I'm working on my warlock alt. I haven't seen anything from the dev's to signal any real hope for shadow, and I'm really dissatisfied with the imbalance between pures and hybrids. To me it just isn't worth it to play shadow. Once my lock gets nax25 gear, i will probably be able to out dps my shadow priest who is in full uld25 gear.