Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shadow priesting 101 - Patch 4.0.1

Hello shadow priests and wannabes (locks)!

There is a lot of information out there on the brand spanking new patch 4.0.1, but I thought I'd compile and quick and dirty list of things you should know before delving into your new empty talent tree or your woefully-over hit capped gear.

Intro - some changes

  • Inner Fire no longer has charges - just buff and go for 30 minutes.
  • No more candles!  No more spirit buff!  Just fort and shadow protection, only one of each that works for raid or just yourself. 
  • You have to visit the priest trainer - do this as soon as you sign in.
  • Hit cap is now 17% for all priests except for space goats - for them only (it's not party wide anymore) it's 16%.
  • Before you do anything like regemming or reforging, put on your absolute best pieces (still with the 4-piece T10), disregarding hit or anything else.  You want to start from the best you've got - reforging really gives us an opportunity to tailor our best pieces to our own collection of gear.
  • Shadow Weaving is gone - we no longer have to wait on five stacks before applying our final Shadow Word: Pain.  Shadow Word: Pain, therefore, has become our second-highest-hitting dot up front, ahead of Devouring Plague.
  • When you go down this list, try to do things in order (gems and enchants before reforging).

 1.  Talents

This seems to be the consenses on the new level 80, pre-Cataclysm, non-leveling, PVE raiding spec, with two "optional" points.  Some will want to put them in Mental Agility, the mana-reduction talent for instant casts in the Discipline tree.  My choice, however, will be to put them in the ultra-useful Phantasm, in the third tier of the shadow tree.  What does Phantasm do?

  • Phantasm (2/2):  Your Fade ability now has 100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects.

As of a couple of days after the patch, shadow priests seem to have absolutely no mana problems whatsoever.  So why not take a mana-saving talent and swap that for something that might be useful for running out of The Bad?

2.  Glyphs

  • Prime:  Shadow Word: Pain, Shadow Word: Death, and Mind Flay (these three are the only three that offer dps increases)
  • Major:  Mass Dispel, Fade, Inner Fire (alternative for Mass Dispel or Inner Fire - Psychic Scream, will be handy for leveling but I'm not sure how useful it'll be for raiding at 80 .. but Mass Dispel would kind of be situational)
  • Minor:  Levitate, Shadowfiend, Fading (alternative for Shadowfiend or Fading - Shadow Protection)

3.  Gems

  • Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (unchanged from before)
  • Nightmare Tear (use only one in a blue socket, hopefully to obtain the most useful socket bonus you can - usually best in the helm slot)
  • Brilliant Cardinal Rubies in red sockets  (Runed Cardinal Rubies changed into these, so you won't have to regem your reds)
  • Purified Dreadstone in blue sockets (to meet the meta requirement or obtain a +6 socket bonus)
  • Reckless Ametrine in yellow sockets (only to meet a +6 socket bonus)

Ideally, you'll have the meta, one Nightmare Tear, one Purified Dreadstone, and all Brilliant Cardinal Rubies.  Sometimes, though, the socket bonus is worth using Reckless Ametrine or Purified Dreadstones for.

4.  Enchants

Chuck the head and shoulder enchants you've been using for forever, and get thee to Wyrmrest Accord for their head enchant.  Theirs is an Intellect+Spirit enchant, while the old one is still Spellpower+Crit.  Intellect gives spellpower PLUS mana, while spellpower is just boring old spellpower.  That being said, in your priority list, intellect > spellpower and thus Wyrmrest Accord enchant > Violet Hold enchant.  Similarly, you want the "healer" shoulder enchant from Sons of Hodir over your old "dps" one. 

Change your spirit chest enchant to Powerful Stats.  Other than those, everything else is the same - all spellpower, Tuskarr's Vitality (you've been using this, right?), and so forth. 

**** And for all of you lucky engineers out there - you can now keep your rocket boots/gloves/flying cloak engineering tools AND enchant your cloak, boots, and gloves.  Go for haste on the cloak, spellpower on the gloves, and Tuskarr's Vitality (or Icewalker, I suppose, though I'm firmly in the Tuskarr's camp) for your boots.****

5.  Reforging

When I first logged in, I was way, way, way over hit capped (like 25% hit) because of all the spirit on my gear.  As far as stats go, Mastery is junk at level 80.  So what you probably want to do is this, in terms of priority (if you can't do the first because the stat you are trying to reforge to is already on the item, go ahead to the next):

Hit to Haste
Hit to Crit
Spirit to Haste
Spirit to Crit

If you are NOT like me and need the hit, then do the following (after changing your helm and shoulder enchants):

Crit to Hit
Haste to Hit

You shouldn't have to do that, though.  Most folks will be way over hit cap.  Remember, put all of your best, highest level gear on before starting this process - with the new Reforging system, you can slap on that non-hit neck you won but couldn't wear because you were under hit cap without that lesser hit neck, and so forth.

Most items have either crit or haste on them, unless you are a lucky bitch who has best-in-slot and has all of the super haste+crit items anyway.  Reforging is pretty much a no-brainer - reforge what you don't have onto your gear, make sure you are hit capped. 

5.  Stats

Priority for stats is pretty much the same as before, until we start gaining mastery on our gear and crit becomes more important.  So:

Spirit or hit (until hit capped, but spirit is better than straight hit) > Intellect > Spellpower > Haste > Crit > Mastery

Crit is better than haste if you are focusing more on the last 25% and you are relying on Shadow Word: Death crits.  It'll probably be better as we edge towards 85, as well.  For now, though, haste is still our strongest stat behind spellpower.

6.  "Rotation"

Like before, we don't actually have a rotation so much as a priority system. 

Blizzard really bent over backwards to make sure we are using Shadow Word: Death again - it hits like a freaking truck.  It also crits a lot.  And it will kill us if we use it too much. 

With the glyph, below 25% health, there is no cooldown on the spell.  It'll hit anywhere in the 20k range when it crits (which hits us for about 10k).  Spamming it too much will of course wipe us out in due time.  Even though the risk is great, the reward is also great - if a shadow priest were to just spam Shadow Word: Death with a healer directly healing him, he could do some amazing, amazing dps. 

That being said, don't be stupid and think that a healer is going to be watching your back when your raid has Heroic Sindragosa down to 20% and everyone is taking frost damage and people are running around like crazy and the tanks are taking a buttload of damage to the face.  Again, DON'T BE STUPID.  Hit it once, MAYBE twice if your health was full to begin with and the first didn't crit.  Don't go hitting it three or more times when you know that it could potentially give healers a heartattack when you are full and suddenly you are on the floor.

So to make a long story short, priority:

(Above 25%) - Vampiric Touch > Shadow Word: Pain > Devouring Plague > Shadow Word: Death > Mind Blast (on cooldown) > Mind Flay (filler again)

(Below 25%) - Shadow Word: Death as much as you dare!! > Vampiric Touch > Shadow Word: Pain > Devouring Plague > Mind Blast > Mind Flay

Use Shadowfiend on cooldown, starting with near the beginning of the fight.  With our new talents and such, the cooldown on Shadowfiend can be lowered to around a minute, maybe less.  I have close to 30% crit and my little buddy was getting a cooldown of just over a minute.  Take advantage of this little guy!

Also, something to keep in mind - dots are no longer clipped (or they are not supposed to be, according to Blizzard - some speculation is suggesting that this is bugged for now).  If you apply a dot before the last tick, it will just tack the new spell's ticks onto the remaining ticks of the old.  Mind Flay also acts as a dot now, so you don't have to worry about clipping the last tick. 

That being said, don't waste global cooldowns trying to refresh dots halfway through their duration - wait until the last tick is ALMOST up, and THEN reapply.  You don't want any time to go by without your dots ticking, but you don't want to be reapplying too early, either.

7.  Consumables

Fish Feast is still tops (and the other spellpower foods). 
Flask of the Frost Wyrm is still our flask of choice.

The only difference is that now we pre-pot with Potion of Speed instead of Potion of Wild Magic, since Shadow Word: Pain crit modifiers do NOT get refreshed with Mind Flay.  The haste is better. 

A good question is whether or not the new haste-on-dots mechanic is applied to the entire duration of each dot while the haste modifier is up, or ONLY when the haste modifier is up.  For example, you chug a speed pot.  You apply your dots.  The speed pot boost falls off in the middle of your Devouring Plague duration.  Will the haste modifier remain until Devouring Plague is reapplied or falls off?  Or will the hastening end when the pot wears off?

I do not know the answer to this.  Any insights, shadow priests?


If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.  I'm no numbers cruncher, though - I read a lot of blogs as well as pay attention to and elitist jerks.  I do my own tests, but I don't crank out numbers of every little thing.  I'm certainly not an expert.  I also may have some things wrong, like the crit modifier not getting refreshed on Shadow Word: Pain or the amount of a socket bonus that makes it worth gemming something other than straight intellect.  But my guide should at least get you started on the way towards pwning as a shadowpriest in your next raid.

At least until a fire mage shows you up by doing twice your damage.  :-(  (Yes, they are OP.)

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