8 December 2009

3.3 survival guide (for the extremely ill-prepared)

  • Haste is the new black
  • Mind flay finally hits 30
  • Arthas is begging for it
The final major content patch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion is here, opening Icecrown to raiders and setting the most intrepid among us on a collision cause with the Lich King himself.

For shadow priests, this could be the New Hope of patches. Through improvements to shadowform, vampiric touch and devouring plague will now benefit from haste, essentially increasing the speed at which the dots tick. And mind flay finally gets the base range that many of us have argued for some time it rightly deserves. A couple of glyphs have been altered to reflect the new world order.

The haste change will have a huge impact on how you evaluate gear, while the new glyphs will give you some more freedom in how you augment your spells, though the overall effect on your dps will probably be minimal.

Before I say more, here are the important bits from the patch notes.
  • Improved Devouring Plague: This spell now deals 10/20/30% of its total periodic effect instantly, up from 5/10/15%.
  • Mind Flay: The range of this ability has been increased to 30 yards, up from 20.
  • Shadowform: This talent also now causes Devouring Plague and Vampiric Touch to benefit from haste. Both the period length and the duration of these spells will be reduced by haste. In addition, the mana cost has been reduced from 32% to 13% of base mana.
  • Vampiric Embrace: This ability is now provides a 30-minute buff that cannot be dispelled, instead of a target debuff and only generates healing for single-target shadow damage spells.
  • Glyph of Mind Flay: This glyph now increases the damage done by Mind Flay by 10% when the target is afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain.
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain: The periodic damage ticks of Shadow Word: Pain now restore 1% of the priest’s base mana with this glyph.
  • Glyph of Shadow: While in Shadowform, this glyph causes non-periodic spell critical strikes to increase spell power by 30%, up from 10%, of the priest’s total spirit for 10 seconds.
If talents have a budget, Blizzard has just officially blown it on shadowform. For just one frugal point, a priest can increase damage by 15 per cent, reduce incoming damage by 15 per cent, reduce threat by 30 per cent, enable their dots to crit — and now it will speed up two of their three dots through haste. It puts the crappy improved shadow word: pain to shame. (It hurt just to type that.)

This is the big one of the patch, the one you’ve probably been slipping off your seat in anticipation of for some weeks. There can be no doubt that this is going to increase shadow damage considerably. But there seems to be some lingering hesitation among more informed players than me over whether it will increase it enough. And clearly, it’s disappointing that Blizzard didn’t want to tackle shadow word: pain’s many bugs to allow it to scale properly alongside every other spell.

Plus, there’s a catch. With faster dots, not only will you have to adjust to a different rhythm, but you will be expending more mana and casting them more frequently. The glyph of shadow word: pain is intended, I think, to compensate, but more on glyphs below.

All of this means haste is much, much more attractive to shadow priests than before — which is a particular shame if, like me, you avoided haste and stacked crit instead. What a shitter. The excellent theorycrafters on shadowpriest.com suggest haste is now pretty much an even 1:1 with spellpower, although this may well change as they gain a better understanding of the mechanics and practicalities.

I really can’t compete with the brilliant folks on that site so I strongly urge you to visit this thread, take time to understand the arguments, and then apply what you’ve learned to your own gearing strategy.

Mind flay
What can I say about this except it’s been a helluva long time coming? Now that’s it’s actually happening, I’m surprised to see there is no catch whatsoever, no tradeoff for a ranged snare that once was considered too powerful to permit at a 30-yard range. The game has changed, I suppose, and I’m just glad to see Blizzard changing with it. All I can advise is to make the most of it. Without the need to glyph for an equitable range on our primary filler, we are free to select a third glyph that suits our personal needs (as slim as those pickings may be).

Vampiric embrace
Just a quick word on this change. As a self-buff, this ability has probably recovered its place on our toolbars. There’s no excuse not to always have ve ticking away now, regardless of the healing it provides. The fortunes of this spell have declined sharply in this expansion, but I have hope for a comeback in Cataclysm.

Hoorah for shadowform, spirit’s a little less crappy than it used to be. And good riddance to that ten-yard nonsense glyph.

With mind flay’s range extended, the glyph had to change. What do they do? They nick shadow word: pain’s glyph, something I argued all along was mislabelled anyway. So you’ll want to keep mind flay’s glyph after all.

Shadow word: pain’s glyph now restores 1 per cent of a priest’s base mana per tick of damage, which equates to approximately 64mp5. I’m not sure yet how much we will feel the mana drain of hasted dots — personally, with only 440 haste right now, I’m guessing not much to start with. But this might become a mandatory glyph for a well-geared shadow priest heading into Icecrown.

The alternatives are rather lacklustre. Dispersion might be tempting, reducing its cooldown by 45 seconds, but at only a two-minute cooldown already, I don’t see how you’ll need it. Plus, it seems counter-intuitive to pass over what amounts to a passive mana-regeneration glyph for one that requires six seconds of silence to work. No, if you really want to swap out shadow word: pain for now, shadow word: death is probably the best of them.

Some guy with a rasping cough will shortly be available for butt-kickings. And there are three new five-man instances collectively named the Halls of Reflection for grinding badges and some item level 232 gear, which for Merlot is mostly win. Look out particularly for the Nevermelting Ice Crystal, as well as the Shriveled Heart (which doesn't seem to be on wowhead atm). I will be boiling one puppy every hour until somebody hands them over to me.

And that’s all you’re going to get from me for now. Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to track down some answers. In the meantime, check out the full patch notes on mmo champion for a lot more, including a new interface that promises to put the fun back in pugging. (Puggifung?)

Best of luck with patching, and don’t forget to update all your addons!


DanVanGogh said...

Please correct me if I found a major bug, I have 3 talents into VE and IMP:VE. BUT look your self at the buff, it will say 15% even tho the talents say like 67% increase to 27% or something like that. As of now...does having 1 talent into VE do the same as 3?

DanVanGogh said...

by what I mean of that is me and another Shadowpriest were together, he has 1 talent into VE, I have 3, but both our buffs say 15%.....

Merlot said...

Sounds like a tooltip error but I'll check it out tonight when I'm patched and in.

Avonar said...

Awesome - thanks for the great information!

Leigh said...

DPS wise I am very very happy with the buffs. My gear was not fantastic as I stopped 25 man near the end of Ulda and haven't even completed a PUG 25 man ToC yet because I was disgusted at the state of shadow DPS. I done a self buffed dummy test there and was rocking at a steady 4.3k (I only have 470 haste, 2 piece bonus and am a good bit over the hit cap not by choice!). Contrast that to a DPS test from last night where I was struggling to maintain 3.2k at my gear level.

I done a heroic VoA last night as well and done 5.2k DPS on the fire guy with full caster raid buffs. If it translates to 1k more DPS minimum in a raid scenario I will be equally delighted but hopefully the added caster buffs will push that number up a few notches :)

Finally proud to be back in black :)