The State of Shadow Heading in to Patch 6.2

Priest
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I know this comment won't go anywhere, which is disheartening and probably the reason I never post, but I've gotta say after trying shadow on and off this expac, I just don't enjoy it. I used to love jumping at the opportunity to switch to dps during raid (right back to BC) but now I actively avoid it. I can't tell exactly why, but it feels like in trying to provide extra options they've made the spec overly confusing/hard to play optimally in comparison to many other dps specs. I hate the COW playstyle, but AP feels different to WotLK - MoP shadow priests - I don't know if it is actually different, but it just feels wrong somehow.
If it ever did split into two specs... it'd probably be the shadow and shadowfrost specs.

Shadow would be classic, dot-centric shadow, Shadowfrost would take off where CoP left off focusing more on direct damage. I could still see the two specs retaining some similar baseline spells like MB, SWD, but mind flay would be the filler of shadow, mind spike would be the filler of Shadowfrost. Dots would probably be limited in shadowfrost, with something like SoD replacing shadow apparitions.

If we lost a tier of damage talents, I'd love to see another utility tree based around our self healing and VE.
Really great read TwinTop! Thanks for all your work in the Shadow Priest community.

I strongly agree with pretty much everything you've said. I'm personally quite happy with Shadow Priest overall at the moment, but mainly because I'm playing AS all the time. CoP needs some work and VE needs a complete rework. Currently the T18 bonuses are an area of concern for me, seeing T17 mythic competing and sometimes outperforming T18 mythic is a worry.

I'm wondering what effect people think the legendary ring on use will have combined with 2P/4P Tier 18? It seems to me like this set bonus was designed around trying to give us a CD to line-up with the on use from the legendary ring. With the power this ring gives it'll have to be huge aspect of considering a raid encounter come 6.2, maybe this will be the deal breaker in T18 beating T17.

Mindbender CD with T18 2P: 40 Sec
Mindbender Duration: 20 Sec
Shadowfiend CD with T18 2P: 50 Sec
Shadowfiend Duration: 12 Sec

The reduced cooldown on Mindbender is nice as it'll allow for more uptime on the 4P multistrike gain but for the legendary ring, the cool-down of Mindbender was already going to line-up regardless of the 4P bonus. That and you'll also be losing the option for Insanity which for most fights and specs will be a DPS loss. Then there's Shadowfiend, picking this talent you'll still be able to use Insanity talent and the cool-down is going to almost perfect line-up with the 4P multistrike being active for the entire duration of each legendary ring use.

So, maybe Mindbender will get used with AS when there are enough targets to not have spare GCD for casting Insanity. It will give you a CD that is slightly easier to reliably line-up with the ring. Otherwise Shadowfiend seems like the better option. It's just a shame that due to how the 4P works you won't have the option for stacking your fiend with the multistrike buff, and my guess is 25% multistrike would have to far outweigh the fiends damage during the legendary ring use. So it'll be all about timing the fiend to end just as legendary ring is getting used.

With how powerful the effect of the legendary ring is it'll have to become a huge part of thinking about how to tackle a hard raid encounter. I kind of like the idea of this but wish there was a little more flavour to the set bonus for T18. Compared to many other classes cool-downs both fiend are quite weak, I guess that's part of the Shadow playstyle, where we're not as much about burst as sustain. I would love to see something along the lines of a transformation for the mindbender/shadowfiend giving the pet and caster an increase in (multistrike?).
Love, love, love this post! It puts words to many things I (and others) have been saying all expac.

For what it's worth, I think our balancing issues are centered more around our "mandatory" talent and glyph selection than the varying playstyles issues. Twist of Fate is too good when our damage is backloaded like it is currently.
Some good info. Did we get that TL;DR?
Wouldn't mind seeing some blue text on this post, great job everyone involved with this one.
Great summation Twinz!!!

Although I disagree with your statement of Shadow being a nightmare to balance. I don't think classes are difficult to balance because we as the community every day come up with really meaningful and intelligent ideas to fix them...I see two major and glaring issues with Blizzard atm and the reason they lost my subscription recently.

I think the root culprit is GEAR and Blizzards new direction of balancing classes and talents I might add around GEAR. It's the same thing I saw in Diablo 3...This spec doesn't work (or work as intended) without ABC items. This leads to what we saw in Highmaul with SPriest only being able to use CoP. A class or spec shouldn't NEED a specific stat to function optimally..

Secondly I think with these latest expansions, I don't think the developers are playing the classes as much nor focusing or getting them right...I think with Dragon Soul leaving a stench in people's mouth and Mists wearing out it's welcome; I feel they have shifted to just getting content out faster and classes are taking a back seat.

edit: I think Twintop's post should be moved to PTR section as well
05/27/2015 01:22 PMPosted by Mìkal
edit: I think Twintop's post should be moved to PTR section as well

I believe it's been linked several times there, in both the set bonus/trinket thread and the "We need to talk about Shadow" thread if I'm not mistaken. We know at least Watcher has seen it. Will anything be done? Not right away. The best we can really hope for is bandaid fixes until 7.0, and even that seems optimistic.
Im 693 ilevel Spriest and Im still having troubles doing dps.
I think Spriest should be revamped by Blizzard to make us more efficient doing dps such as hunters or druids.

Its almost imposible seeing a Spriest topping the dps charts.

Im always thinking what should I use AS or Cop. But im Crit boosted so if I use Cop it will not be so efficient and If I use AS, my dps will be worse placiing me in 5 th or 6th place in charts.

Shadow priests are very outclassed by other dps classes.

Hope in 6.2 Blizzard change Sps granting us a more solid functionality.
so TLDR ? = this is a PvE dissertation?
I don't know why all abilities aren't scaled separately for pve/pvp yet. Spriest definitely needs some love. Feels like spriest is only good for certain(few in between) fights.I think our single target is a joke, it gets even worse where there's movement, spriest suffers the most out of any caster class, making it harder/impossible to dot-weave perfectly. Our AoE is also mediocre at best.
I got Proven Assailant on my spriest and I'd love to main swap to it, but I'd rather smash my head through my monitor than keep up with DoTweaving.

What do you you all think of the longevity of DoTweaving? Is it here to stay, or will Blizzard change things around so that CoP will stay DoTless at some point?
05/30/2015 01:58 PMPosted by Onum
What do you you all think of the longevity of DoTweaving? Is it here to stay, or will Blizzard change things around so that CoP will stay DoTless at some point?


CoP will never be dotless because of our inability to cast mind spike while plague is up. The longevity of CoP though is another story. There aren't many fights in BRF that call for using it, and with access to more crit in 6.2, there won't be much room for it at all.
Thanks for the candid and constructive post. We read tons of feedback, and these kinds of posts, where the community is working together to provide constructive points, are exactly the kinds we like to read and discuss internally. So much so that we thought it was worth offering a reply based on some of the thoughts and discussions we’ve had since reading it.

First, let’s talk about talents. In general, most of these concerns are ones which we can work to improve through number tweaks. As a caveat, I’d remind that it’s not fair to look at talents purely from a raiding and min/maxing point of view (for example, Surge of Darkness is about as dominant in PvP as Insanity is in Raiding). But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to improve things in the raiding context.
  • Level 45 talents are a more skewed than we’d like, but all of the talents do see some play. Surge of Darkness vs Insanity is largely a question of whether you want more mobility. Highly skilled players in top raid guilds tend to min/max their movement better, and so typically find the raw DPS of Insanity more valuable. We’re hoping that Mindbender sees a bit more play, in part due to the Legendary Ring, and in cases where cooldowns are valuable. Overall, a row that could certainly be more balanced, which we plan to place greater emphasis on in the future.
  • Level 75 talents are similar; Twist of Fate is dominant amongst top raiders, but isn’t completely exclusive. Power Infusion and Shadowy Insight both do see some play. Power Infusion may go up a bit for the same reasons as Mindbender. Additionally, Twist of Fate requires some gaming of its proc to get the maximum theoretical value out of, leading to the row being more balanced in general for the average player. That said, Twist of Fate is likely the ideal one to be dominant, since it’s a good talent for both experienced and inexperienced players.
  • Clarity of Power has ended up being somewhat ironically named, because it’s actually rather unclear how it’s supposed to work. In fact, when we designed it, the DoT-weaving style that has emerged was never intended. It’s a good example of how players can use tools we give you in unexpected ways, and eek more performance than we expect out of something. Late in beta, it became clear that it wasn’t just a crazy idea, and was actually a significant performance boost to do. We opted to just let it go at that time, and see what happened with it. Unfortunately, it ended up overly dominant, without a clear/elegant solution to change it. In 6.1, we opted to just buff the other two talents on the row up to be competitive with the unintentionally overpowered Clarity of Power. That leaves CoP in the unfortunate situation of being the best, if you know the unintuitive trick to it, which is a poor situation for players who are new or not ‘in-the-know’. Void Entropy is also probably a little undertuned still; it’s just quite niche right now.


Next, the Shadow class trinket. It is, indeed, very punishing to use if there is a target swap. The intention is that it’s a tradeoff to use, but that in a good situation, it’s very strong, and I think the numbers reflect that (perhaps too much, based on PTR testing, but we’re still evaluating that). In general, the class trinkets are more situational effects. Being on trinkets, they’re more optional and swappable, than something like a set bonus is (which has few alternatives). There are exceptions on both sides of that, of course, but it’s a general case. Finally, there is one improvement coming that will help; it’ll reach max stacks twice as fast in the next PTR build.

Many other classes have the option to swap specs for any given fight, to switch to a spec more suited to that fight. Having only a single spec, Priests have no such option. Instead, we tried to position Mastery as an option that they could tailor their gear toward or away from based on the fight. I think it’s fair to say that that hasn’t worked out as well as we’d hoped, but hasn’t been a failure. I think one of the extenuating circumstances here is that raid fights this expansion have had more multi-target focus than single-target, leading Mastery to be quite niche indeed.

In terms of AoE, Shadow is intended to fill the role of a multi-DoTter. Different classes are different, and we don’t want to make them more homogenous by giving them strong burst AoE options like certain specs of Mages or Warlocks. That said, Shadow should excel at the situations they’re suited to, more. If the fight calls for sustained damage on 3 spread out targets, that’s a case that Shadow should be favored on, and I’m not sure if they do enough right now, to make up for the more common case of clumped/burst/many-target AoE. It’s something we’re looking at improving in the future.

Each raid tier, every spec gets new set bonuses. Sometimes their effects are more passive, sometimes more active. We try to make things exciting and feel rewarding. With any case like this, where there are so many bonuses, and they have to try to fulfill so many goals simultaneously, there’s bound to be some varying degree of success at that. And that’s generally OK; it adds texture to the game when how much you interact with your set bonuses varies between tiers. Your criticisms are totally valid, and we’ll take the feedback into account when designing future set bonuses, for sure.

Finally, I’d like to talk a bit more about Shadow in general; the big picture, not so much about these specific concerns. We’ve been retrospective lately about where Shadow has come, and how much it truly fulfills its intended fantasy, gameplay style, role, etc. Shadow Priests should be the masters of the shadows cast by the light from the Holy Priests. In terms of lore and fantasy, they should focus on the powers of the Void. However, they’re still Priests; they know that what they’re dabbling with is dangerous, and have to try to go as far as they can without going *too* far. Pain, Insanity, Darkness… These are the tools they use on their enemies, and even a bit on themselves. For the future, we’re looking at ways that we can adjust their gameplay to feel more viscerally “Shadow Priest”. We think some things have worked well (like their DoTs), and other things have worked not so well (like Shadow Orbs). It’s too early to announce anything specific at this point, but we can tell you that there are very significant changes coming to Shadow in a future patch, that we hope will better capture the fantasy, while providing unique gameplay. We're reading all of your feedback, and taking it into account when making these changes.

Again, thanks for the constructive feedback, and we look forward to more in the future.

EDIT: Whoops, accidentally said "Level 60 talents" when I meant "Level 75 talents". Fixed above. Forgive me.
Thank you so much for the reply!

Edit: Also want to thank Twintop for putting the entire post together in the first place. It's great to see a constructive post get feedback from a Blue with direct responses to some of the areas of concern.

Looking forward to the aforementioned updates to the "feel" of the spec, and would love to get some more details whenever they're available.
06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
That said, Shadow should excel at the situations they’re suited to, more. If the fight calls for sustained damage on 3 spread out targets, that’s a case that Shadow should be favored on


And still, our class trinket works just against this.

06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
Each raid tier, every spec gets new set bonuses. Sometimes their effects are more passive, sometimes more active.


The problem is when we're balanced around our bonuses (e.g. t17). Going into t18 for progression will be a huge hit for shadow because of this.

06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
Instead, we tried to position Mastery as an option that they could tailor their gear toward or away from based on the fight. I think it’s fair to say that that hasn’t worked out as well as we’d hoped, but hasn’t been a failure.


I think it's fair to say it is a failure. With mastery having so little synergy with Auspicious Spirits, limited gearing options (tier stats are fixed) and the removal of reforging, using mastery as a way to shift functionality just doesn't work.

06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
Again, thanks for the constructive feedback, and we look forward to more in the future


Thank you for listening!
06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
Void Entropy is also probably a little undertuned


VE is horrendously undertuned.

06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
That leaves CoP in the unfortunate situation of being the best, if you know the unintuitive trick to it


The unfortunate part of CoP being the best is it is completely different from the typical shadow priest playstyle; as in, the playstyle I (and many others) WANTED to play when I picked a shadow priest.

06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
And that’s generally OK; it adds texture to the game when how much you interact with your set bonuses varies between tiers. Your criticisms are totally valid, and we’ll take the feedback into account when designing future set bonuses, for sure.


:/ You're actually going LIVE with this multistrike set bonus? Could you at least give us SOME kind of synergy with multistrike beyond a minuscule damage increase?
06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
We think some things have worked well (like their DoTs), and other things have worked not so well (like Shadow Orbs).


If this great feedback (and great dev response) only serves to kill Shadow Orbs-- or at least turn them into an interesting resource-- then everything will have been worth it several times over.
06/01/2015 11:49 AMPosted by Celestalon
I think it’s fair to say that that hasn’t worked out as well as we’d hoped, but hasn’t been a failure. I think one of the extenuating circumstances here is that raid fights this expansion have had more multi-target focus than single-target, leading Mastery to be quite niche indeed.


When something rarely works as you intended, it's a failure. Call it what it is.

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