Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I can haz ansers?! - 10 Basic Shadowpriesting Tips for the Nub Shadowpriest

So I got this comment on a recent post:

Sad day! I just finally started building a shadow off-spec for my priest. It's disappointing to know that class scaling combined with my inexperience and second-round gear will make it pretty much pointless.

That said, I imagine there will still be times when I'll have to dps, so, if you don't mind my asking, do you have any basic pointers for shadow spec dps? I'm doing alright, but I know I could be doing better with the gear I have (3-4k depending on boss in ~Ulduar10 with some ToC10 gear). I haven't really messed with it since level 59 three years ago... Any particular must-have mods or easy to convey spell priority clues?

Someone actually asking me for tips! I also got an email asking for basic tips, maybe from the same person. I will now attempt to make myself sound smart/knowledgeable about shadow priesting.

Tip #1: Get a DoT-tracking addon.

I highly, highly, highly recommend getting something to track your DoT's. One I've found absolutely invaluable is one called Fortexorcst. I'm sure there are other DoT-tracking addons like this one, but make sure that it is one that tracks not only the DoTs on your target, but the ones you've put on OTHER TARGETS. I cannot stress this enough - it WILL up your dps if you keep Shadow Word: Pain from falling off of your targets after applying it.

This is what the timer bars look like in action. You can change the size and scale of them and whatnot to suit your needs, but mine are pretty small. The red bars are for spells that are about to end due to the target being almost dead. The solid bars are for the spells on the current target, and the more translucent bars are for spells on other targets.

As mentioned before, I find this almost invaluable for making sure that the souped up, Shadow Weaving x 5 stacked, Potion of Wild Magic-buffed SW:P never falls off of the mob or mobs that I put it on while souped up.

Take Gormak the Impaler. I ramp up my spells on him, stack SW to 5, pop any trinkets (I have no on-use trinkets, but here is where you would do it yourself if you did have some), chug a PoWM, and apply SW:P. Mind Flay/refresh DoTs until Snobold comes out.

Now I have to switch to the Snobold. But I just applied that super version of SW:P up with my only PoWM for the entire encounter! I do not, under any circumstances, want that to go to waste.

So I attack the Snobold until SW:P has about three seconds left on Gormak, which I can see due to ForteXorcist bars. I clip a MF to refresh that super SW:P, then get back on the Snobolds.

Viola! That SW:P never falls off of Gormak, ticking for the maximum damage until he is DEADED!

Now ForteXorcist left me a little confuzzled the first time I tried to edit it, so here are the basics.

a. Download it.

b. Open game. Get on your super shadow priest and do the following:

Yup, that's how you open the configuration menu - a simple /fx. You'll see this gobbledegook pop up:

Before you have a heartattack, ignore all the "soulstone tracker" and "summon assistant" stuff and go straight to Spell Timers, which is circled in the photo. Scroll down to "coloring/filtering" subheading, and you'll see a line that says "Customize enter ability/spell/item name." Click it.

Yup, enter all of your spells and such into this. Make sure the boxes I have clicked in the photo are clicked, including "normal", "cooldowns", and especially "unique". For some reason, Devouring Plague falls under the "unique" category while everything else should be under "normal". To cover them all, just click everything I did. :-D

On a side note, I also clicked "heal". When I'm on S and I'm throwing HoTs around, I get Rejuvs and Regrowths and stuff to show up. Handy! Renew will show up here when you are healing, as well.

You can add more stuff (trinket procs like Elusive Power [from Abyssal Rune, the ToC 5-man normal trinket, etc.]) to it, as well, under the same "Customize" bar. If you add something and then don't see it show up, you can play around with the settings (clicking more of the "type" boxes - maybe it's a "friendly buff" instead of a "powerup buff" or whatever).

Which leads me to:

Tip #2: Make sure five stacks of Shadow Weaving are applied before doing SW:P

The way you apply the five stacks may vary, of course, depending on the situation. When running in, you'll be using your DoTs more since they are instant cast (you can use SW:P as one of your SW stack applications, then reapply it once five are up).

When standing in place (let's say on a boss, not on trash mobs that die too quickly), I like the following "opening":

Vampiric Touch > Devouring Plague > Mind Blast > Shadow Word: Death > Vampiric Embrace > (Potion of Wild Magic, trinket pop) > Shadow Word: Pain

If you have a "proc" trinket instead of an "on use" trinket (like Abyssal Rune or Dying Curse), you may want to skip out on the potion and trinket popping until your proc hits, then immediately pop your other trinket/chug your potion and reapply SW:P. SW:P will continue to tick with whatever buffs and stuff you apply to it before you actually put it on the target, as long as you don't let it fall off and continue to reapply it via Mind Flay (hence tip #1, important when you have to temporarily switch targets).

When running in to a boss (Anub'arak comes to mind), I like to do the following "opening":

Shadow Word: Pain > Devouring Plague > Shadow Word: Death (and by this time you should be in place) > Vampiric Touch > Vampiric Embrace > (PoWM/trinket) > Shadow Word: Pain

Multiple mobs, Mind Sear to oblivion. Especially if other dpsers are doing aoe abilities as well!

In regards to the use of Shadow Word: Death, there's been some going back and forth on the efficiency of this spell since I first started raiding. The latest thing I read about it recommended that you use it in your opening right behind Mind Blast.

After you ramp up SW:P and everything is up on your target, you're ready for the meat and potatoes of your dps. Keep SW:P up - it's not in your list because it will always be ticking, right?

Priority is something like so:

Vampiric Touch refreshed > Devouring Plague refreshed > Mind Blast > Mind Flay

Most of the time, you will have time after the initial ramp-up and the application of SW:P, to start in with Mind Flay x 2, Mind Blast, Mind Flay, Vampiric Touch, Devouring Plague, Mind Flay, Mind Blast, repeat sequence again starting with Mind Flay x 2.

Mind Flay is always, always your filler spell, in between making sure your DoTs are refreshed and Mind Blast is cast every time it's available. SW:D is for your opener, don't cast it during your "rotation". At least, I don't.

Tip #3: Be in shadow form

No, really. Sometimes, after I rez someone while group is running to the next mob or group, I'll run up to start dpsing and wonder why the heck I'm casting Greater Heal. Oops!

Tip #4: Account for lag

Addon called Quartz. Simple and shows a red bar to account for latency and stuff. Invaluable, yo. And to go along with that:

Tip #5: Don't clip Mind Flay or reapply VT or DP before the last tick of damage

This is a common problem with a lot of shadow priests, and especially if you lag a lot. That last tick of damage is important! Unless you are purposely using a clipped Mind Flay for refreshing SW:P quickly, you should wait until the channel is complete before starting again. But of course, the longer you wait, the less dps you are doing. Just pay close attention - shadow priesting isn't all "auto attack" and "jam your buttons" like ret paladins - we have to watch for beginnings and ends to spells.

Tip #6: Be hit capped!!!!!!!!!

No matter what, make sure you are hit capped. This is more important than anything else! Draenei (or almost always group with one) - 262. All other shadow priests - 289. Learn the number and love it.

Tip #7: Use Nigel every cooldown

Shadow priests typically don't run out of mana, so your trusty shadowfiend is mainly there to provide you a little extra dps boost. Use it! After you apply your bigtime SW:P, release the hound fiend! Make sure the boss you're releasing it on is not about to do some big aoe raid damage, or he'll be crushed and you will have wasted him.

Tip #8: Don't be afraid to multi-dot

I don't do this enough myself, honestly, but whenever there are more than multiple mobs that are NOT going to die in 0.2 seconds, go ahead and dot them all up with a little SW:P. If there are more than three, the focus on one and go to town with Mind Sear, but if not, then ramp some VT/Mind Flay action on each target one at a time until squashed.

Tip #9: Trash that "rotation" macro

Don't use a "rotation" macro. There are some out there, but shadowpriesting is more about reapplication of dots and finding the right time (you'll eventually get a feel for it) to recast Mind Flay as close to after the last tick of damage as possible. Also, situations change and the spells you use need to be available for those situations. I do believe there's a "no clip Mind Flay" macro but I have no idea if this works - I've never tried it. Who knows, maybe I've clipped my Mind Flay more often than not and a macro like that would serve me well? But I'd rather rely on my own eyes and fingers as to when exactly to hit my number 5 button (where Mind Flay is keybound to).

Tip #10: Practice!

It does make perfect - don't go into raids with this information without first testing it out on test dummies and heroics. Go with pugs, too. Make sure you visit several heroics. Also try to go out and kill big trash packs. A good test for me used to be those traveling groups of mammoths running around near Hibernal Cave in that valley between Dun Niffelum and the big Amazon lady place in Storm Peaks. Bubble, target the one that's up front and farthest away from you, and Mind Sear. Bring them all close to you. Practice multidotting. Practice Mind Searing while keeping yourself alive (bubble ftw). Get used to seeing all those timer bars on your screen and what they are telling you. Move around, try to give challenges to yourself by killing a stray worm outside of the mammoth pack with the "opening" sequence. Practice that opening sequence on everything - heroics bosses, test dummies, the neutral bucks roaming around Crystalsong Forest beneath Dalaran.

Don't get discouraged - shadow priests have had scaling problems with gear for ages, and you will most likely not outdps similarly-geared dpsers of other classes. Rogues will pwn you, hunters will squash you, and warlocks will make you want to cry. Bad advice coming from me, I know, but shadow priests CAN do extremely awesome dps when the player sets his or her mind to it and has the gear to pull it off.


So there's my two cents. I have explained on this very blog before about how I get outdpsed by boomkins in lesser gear than me, so my word is obviously not gospel and these tips are all from my own personal experiences and trials and errors. Shadowpriest.com (excellent source for information about all things spriest) may say differently. People may have other suggestions about addons. These are what I've found to work for me.

How about you other great shadow priests out there - any helpful tips to add?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The more-appropriate (for me) DPS "not a meme", a blurb about why I fail at melee, and E is 66 and climbing

Well, I did the healer "not a meme", but I'm not a main spec healer. D weeps every time she's forced to heal.

So here we go, Death Goddess has converted the "not a meme" into a DPS version, and here are my answers for both D (yay, shadow!) and K (yay, maces axes!).

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?
D the shadow priest (spriests are a class of their own, buddy!) and K the enhancement shaman.

What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Everything, actually - I do 10, 25, regular and hard modes, 5-mans, the occasional battleground - everything but arenas.

What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?
Mind Sear! I love MS for D, it's insanely powerful with a large group of mobs (think whelps on Onyxia or the groups of lashers in Freya's room) and unlike poor mages or warlocks, our AOE is mobile. I love shadow form in general, too - no other class comes close to looking as cool as us on a mount. For K, well, so many things to love. But my favorite? Heroism/Bloodlust. No other class provides it and it is a very, very significant dps increase for not only myself but the entire raid, and many groups specifically "bring the class" to raids because of it (fail Blizzard). I lurve it!

What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?
On D, I actually use them all. I guess VE counts as a dps spell? It doesn't provide any dps but it's a talent in the shadow tree. I only use it on bosses, really. On K, there are a ton of dps tools I never use - some totems like Fire Nova Totem, any pvp-ish totem (Grounding, Earthbind, etc) and weapon imbues that never see the light of day (Frostbrand, Rockbiter).

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?
Single target dps for both K and D. If it's a relatively stationary, single boss? I'm golden. I can do massive dps. Shamans are also, in my opinion, the best buffing class in the game.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?
Very easy to answer this one - on D, definitely having no burst damage and a slow (six global cooldowns worth) ramp up time, and on K, sucky AOE if the mobs are mobile (Magma Totem is okay, but not super awesome, and of course it doesn't move if the mobs move.)

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?
On both D and K, the best assignment that will get the most dps out of me will be to stay on a stationary boss and single-target dpsing. D will get some high numbers if there are a lot of mobs to AOE as well, but there are not a lot of those fights in ToC. Having to switch targets constantly (boo, TOC) will lower dps on both of my raiding toons, especially on D with her slow ramp up time.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?
Mmm - elemental shamans? Love Totem of Wrath and the Totem of Air's spell haste in addition to my own enhancement totems, and those two benefit D as well. I also love boomkins (free 3% hit and extra crit? Thank you!) and paladins (kings, yay!).

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?
I like buffs. Sorry rogues/hunters/dk's/warriors! Sucks to be you! :-D

What is your worst habit as a dps?
On D, probably not watching my own health. I have the ability to heal myself or pop a health pot, but .. well, I guess I expect healers to keep me and everyone up. I don't stand in fires or make it harder on the healers, but if I'm low I don't stop dpsing to help, even though I'm paying this stupid hybrid tax for the ABILITY to heal. For K, definitely neglecting to use Earth Shock - ever since the last patch when Flame Shock entered our rotation, I have the extremely bad habit of using Flame Shock in the "rotation" instead of Earth Shock, and I'm absolutely certain that is why my dps has not gone up since the patch. I really need to work on SS-FS-LL-LB/CL-SS-ES-LL-LB/CL-SS-ES-LL-LB/CL instead of using FS every time.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?
Lazy dps. I don't mean the ones that do crap dps, I mean the ones that sit and dps and get tunnel vision - they will stand in Emalon's lightning nova and expect healers to heal them through it so they can do their max dps, or they will not switch targets because it cuts down on their numbers, or especially if they don't watch their threat and don't back off if they pull something, because they just have to be top of the charts. So you out dpsed me, you stupid rogue? Yeah, I could pull high dps, too, if I stayed on the light twin valkyr instead of switching to that dark one that just got their shield, you blowhard!

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?
Um ... a big fat no on the shadow priest. DPS isn't scaling as well with gear as other classes, it's been an issue for the past several patches, and I cry myself to sleep seeing myself at number 9 or 10 on Recount when I used to be 3 or 4, even though I'm currently (true story) the best-geared person in the guild. We don't bring anything to the raid that another class can't bring. Hybrid tax my big fat yellow ass - give me a reason why I'm paying a hybrid tax (can't heal in shadow form, so why am I paying a tax for the ability to heal? I already have to shift OUT of shadow form to throw a heal or two and then spend a global cooldown to shift back into it, which is usually enough time for some DoT's to fall off thus lowering my dps already.) Hopefully, the buffs will increase our dps enough to make the negative points of shadow priesting (no burst damage, very slow ramp up time) worth it. For enhancement shamans, however, I definitely think we have it made even MORE than some classes. Our AOE is kind of weak in some cases (boo, whelps in Onyxia's Lair) but we get lots of things that make up for that, like constant high single target dps with no ramp up time whatsoever. Our dps sort of flounders a bit when there's a lot of movement and switching targets, but what melee class doesn't have that problem? Enhancement shamans bring so many buffs that are unmatched by any SINGLE class in the game (paladins do ONE buff at a time PER PALADIN, for example, while shamans can cover Horn of Winter, Blessing of Wisdom, AND an extra haste and spellpower buff PER SHAMAN). I can't sing the praises of the shaman class enough - they truly do have it made over other classes, and I'd say enhancement shamans in particular are extremely powerful and great, while still having to pay for that greatness in certain situations.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a dps?
Combat logs and Recount. On D, I can check her guild's World of Logs, er, log. My shaman is never logged onto someone else's combat log thing, though, and I find it would be too much trouble to do it just for myself (I'm lazy), so I always check my dps against others and notice what makes it higher or lower and adjust what I'm doing. I do check it during fights and after fights for every dps toon. If I die, I look to see what killed me and whether or not I could have done something to prevent it.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
For shadow priests, I actually haven't come across any misconceptions - the general consensus (and I agree) is that we have no burst damage and 2-3 mob pulls aren't ideal for us (too few for Mind Sear, but more than one generally means they go down too fast for our DoTs to tick). Anything that requires super high dps at the start sort of leaves us at a disadvantage. For enhancement shamans, I've also never come across misconceptions - no one has ever said anything about us that I disagree with. (I know, lame answer).

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new dpsers of your class to learn?
For shadow priests, it's how to manage the DoTs and "priority" list. It's not difficult once you get it, but getting into a pattern of knowing what to look for and when to refresh your DoTs is probably a bit complicated at first. I even know a noob shadow priest that once used a macro for their "rotation" until I schooled them (hey, they asked, I promise) about the error of their ways. For enhancement shamans, how to use EnhSim and Rawr? It's extremely hard to get answers about gear and stuff from "the experts" because most will just tell you to "sim it" and that is, for someone stoopid like myself, almost impossible.

What dps class do you feel you understand least?
Oh, where do I start? Hunters (P is only 30)? Rogues (T is only 32)? Mages (I have one on my second account at 60, but that was leveled purely by Recruit a Friend - I have NO idea how to play it)? Often when I'm raid leading for K's guild, I'll say "that cheater-y rogue stun thing" or "the frost trap thingy that hunters do" or "the multiple-mage thing". I have no idea what the cooldowns or limitations on those are. :-P

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?
Honestly? I have no clue what addon it is that keeps track of Maelstrom Weapon on K, but I do have one that tracks it. It's not ShockAndAwe, though - I've tried several times to figure out how to make that one work for me, but I just fail at addons, and I never liked it. I use ForteXorcist for tracking my DoTs on D (I love being able to see when SW:P is about to fall off of a target I'm not targetting, like ramping up a trinket/Pot. of Wild Magic-buffed SW:P on Gormak the Impaler in ToC, switching to the snobolds, and then clipping a MF on Gormak to refresh SW:P so I don't lose the maxed-out DoT) and .. well, I actually use that addon for all of my toons. It's invaluable when healing on S and keeping track of those HoTs on people. Of course, I also use Recount.

One stat above others, or balanced stat allocation, and why?
For any, any, any DPS class, I'd say getting to minimum hit cap (17% for casters, 8% for most melee) is the NUMBER 1 priority. Whatever the class and spec, if you are not hit capped, then hit should really be ranked WAY above everything else. After that, for shadow priests, spellpower has been ranked above everything else for as long as I can remember, though that may change in this next patch. I try to balance things, though - currently I do value crit over haste (again, other way around when the next patch hits) but I gem for spellpower (or enough spellpower+spirit or spellpower+crit to meet the meta gem or worth-it socket bonus requirement). For enhancement, I typically go for attack power first since we get no extra bonus to attack power with agility. However, enhancement shamans are dual wielders AND half of our special attacks are considered spells, so we need to be spell hit capped at the minimum and OVER that amount if we want some of our white damage to land. So any hit over spell hit cap is gravy, up to some insane number that I don't care to look up because it's not practical to reach. Er, long answer short on K is that I do a balance - expertise, hit, attack power, crit, haste, armor penetration - everything is good.

There wasn't a request to tag folks, but everyone who hasn't done it (here's looking at you specifically, shadow priests and enhancement shamans) should give it a go - at least it's more fun for me to read than those silly healer answers! And it's definitely better than the me-no-understand-tanky-stuff tank answers.


failure is funny

On Saturday night on her "regular" ToC 25 pug run, K finally got rid of her ghetto mace and nabbed herself a yummy axe. Since it dropped off of Anub and it was late, I only spent time vendoring the ghetto mace, enchanting a Beserking scroll on D and sending it to K and applying it to the axe. On Sunday, K was invited to an OS 10 3D zerg run (we failed), and I went resto for all the trash before switching to enhancement for the boss. (**pro tip, you can throw an earth shield on the tank and then switch to your dps spec, if you're a dual-specced resto/dps shaman - the earth shield stays on for 10 minutes and DOESN'T GO AWAY if you switch specs - any amount of healing is a bonus on that fight**)

You can guess what happened, right? My 1h axe skill was at 300. FAIL MELEE! If I had gotten a new weapon on D it wouldn't have mattered, but melee can't have their weapon skill less than maxed! Man, I suck. My dps that attempt was 2500. /facepalm And I had vendored the ghetto mace the previous night, so I had nothing to switch to.

I endured the ribbing from my raid-mates (thank goodness it was all guildies and not a pug) and hearthed to Dalaran to check my bank on the off-chance that I had thrown the mace in there instead of vendoring it. Nope - but I did find the mace from ToC heroic in there with an attack power enchant on it. Better than nothing, but I was super disappointed that I couldn't use my shiny new axe.

I ended up doing between 4500 and 5k dps every attempt with the fail mace, on the plus side.


Got from 64 to 66 on E this weekend - I tanked a few instances, did the Nesingwary quest chain and Ring of Blood in Nagrand, and ran a couple of battlegrounds. Paladins are the second best class after shamans, I am pretty much convinced. I can't believe how powerful ret is when you get Divine Storm - I can tear through anything. And prot? Nothing can beat me down. I can't wait to get Divine Plea so I stop running out of mana.

Is there seriously anything that paladins can't do?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet the family!

This is mostly so that I can refer to this page from the main site, but here is a list of my toons (on my main account, anyway).

This is D (80), with her nobility-styled hair and her refusal to face the camera. Shy? No, she used to be, but now she's just snooty, because she is my main and will likely remain that way until the end of my WoW days. She is main specced shadow, and was my first toon to 70 and then to 80. She barely acknowledges her younger siblings' existences because her gear score makes her SUPERIMBA. When she is logged in, she can usually be found either in a raid or doing something for achievement points. She doesn't bother doing dailies anymore - she lets others handle those menial tasks. In other words .. she's too good for dailies.

This is D's fun-loving sister K (80), who likes to smash faces in with big maces and axes (she's turned sideways to show off her newest axe here). She's pretty much become "second main" instead of an alt - her gear is almost as good as D's and she raids nearly as much. She picks herbs and makes potions and flasks for herself and her brother and sisters, and she'll do dailies if it strikes her fancy.

Big brother S (80) - he's not exactly the warmest of fellows, but he enjoys clawing faces out with the best of other druids. He is specced to be a rawrbear and spam Rejuv. Currently enjoys flying loops in the sky above Crystalsong Forest for fun.

This is E (80), specced prot and holy.  Not doing much on her aside from the occassional ICC run.  She's probably bored to tears!

This is TW, 74 79!, arcane blasting her way into Northrend. She WAS specifically being leveled for the Undergeared project, but that idea fell through the wayside.  I'm currently trying to powerlevel enchanting on her so I can dump it on D in anticipation of another profession (whatever ends up on top) for Cataclysm.

My first main before catching site of a shadow priest and rerolling, this is T (32 46 62!), my rogue. She's slicing and dicing her way through Outlands, loving assassination spec. With hardly any downtime and multiple ways to stay ahead of her foes in battlegrounds, she is a force to be reckoned with.

This is P (30 46!), a BM hunter with her trusty croc. She mostly gets playtime when I like to "hide" the fact that I'm logged in. Leveling with her is almost easymode - kitty runs in, she shoots her arrows, and BAM! - mob is dead.

What about I?  She's 56 now - warlocks are kind of awesome.  I loved affliction - I recently respecced to demonology, but I don't actually like that as much.

And Rapanui is just ... sitting in SW.  She's 24.  Improved Revenge is still killer, though.

RIP, sad M - I deleted the old deathnoob because I never played her.  I made room for a druid (we'll call her L, resto, now 21 I think) and a priest (call her Ta, shadow of course, currently 23).  The priest is kind of fun, a project with a friend.  The druid has been sitting around.  I moved S to Icecrown (before two weeks later deciding to move D to Silvermoon like a dummy).  I have a smattering of lowbie 20's alts on Icecrown, but they have all been unplayed for months.  So many alts, so little time!