We're told: "These talent trees aren't done. They're just far enough along that we're seeking feedback." Which is good. I'm not sure though, looking at the priest, what exactly they want feedback on.
This is not revolution; it's not even evolution, so much as it resembles tinkering. And that's fine if you think the priest is solid. If pressed, I'd say they're in a pretty good shape. I like shiny new things though, and this certainly doesn't deliver on that count.
We have, so far, a shadow tree that very closely resembles live. A few talents are missing (we knew about those already) and a few have filled the gaps, notably:
- Spirit tap now returns 15 per cent of total mana when you deal the killing blow, in addition to increasing mana regeneration by 100 per cent for 15 seconds. So much improved for the levelling priest, but without improved spirit tap, it's back to near-useless for the raider.
- Dark thoughts, a new tier one talent, now reduces spell pushback by 70 per cent at max rank. We used to get this from improved shadow form (more on that in a sec) but this position will make be handier for smite spam at low levels and could save burning through mana on shields.
- Empowered shadow orbs, a new talent on tier four, boosts the effectiveness of our mastery bonus.
- Mind melt has undergone a bit of a transformation. It now increases shadow word: death damage by 30 per cent on targets under 25 per cent health, and it empowers our new nuke, mind spike, to reduce the cast time of mind blast by 50 per cent, stacking twice for an instant mind blast. As mind blast sits on the global cooldown anyway, this is clearly aimed at pvp. I'm not sure if we'll even be casting mind spikes in a raid, but if we do, it will only be a small help on highly mobile fights.
- Shadowform has lost its innate threat reduction. I'm not surprised, either. It was silly to have two talents in the same tree that both reduced threat; nobody bothered picking up shadow affinity. Now we'll need to again.
- Instead of reducing pushback, improved shadow form now includes a five per cent crit aura, like a shaman's elemental oath and moonkin form. Improved moonkin form still increases haste of course, which we were once lined up to get instead of crit. I'm sure Blizzard's raid buff strategy will all become clear with time; right now, I'm lost.
- Our new talent, shadowy apparition, makes an appearance at tier eight. Shadow word: pain ticks have a six per cent chance to summony a shadowy version of ourself that moves slowly to the target and deals 15 per cent of our mind blast's damage when it arrives. So far so forgettable. 15 per cent of mind blast damage is fairly lame. But the chance to increase a shadowy form jumps by 60 per cent when moving. Expect to see a lot of twitchy shades at the target dummies while they figure out if this is worth trying to force in a fight. My guess: probably not.
- Pain and suffering has not changed. I bet it's still buggy as hell too.
- Twisted faith now increased spell hit by 20 per cent of our spirit. Apparently it's a crutch for offspec healers who go dps in their holy togs but it's also going to make healing gear more attractive to shadow priests under the hit cap.
So there we have it. For now. As others noted instantly, there is a dearth of supporting talents in the discipline tree (holy, we have been told, will never be an option for a secondary tree). So the current build would enable you to pick up every single point in the shadow tree and still have one point left over at 85. I suppose you could go for inner focus instead, and have something like this. Still more points than we need.
So that's where Blizz needs to concentrate. Either discipline must be more useful to shadow at lower levels or they need to throw in a few more shadow talents somewhere.