A Constructive Guide to Fixing Shadow

Arenas
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Hi everyone!

Let's preface this whole thing by getting this out of the way:

MY GOAL:

I don't want Shadow to be OP. I don't want them to have insane damage; I don't want them to be unkillable. Truly, I just want them to be a well-rounded spec that I can have fun on - in any PvP format.

I've been making constructive posts about Shadow since beta. I've seen several of its iterations, though I was invited to beta late. I've been playing the game since TBC, and have experienced every iteration of Shadow's PvP design.

Priest is in a bit of a conundrum right now - most of you might not be aware. Shadow is good in certain 3s comps, but cannot queue 2s at all, because it lacks the defensibility or toolkit to support itself like other specializations can.

On the flip side, Discipline flourishes in 2s, but cannot actually participate in 2s skirmishes, because healers are barred. However, they only have a comp or two that work in 3s, and require mindful partners, so you cannot queue 3s skirmishes as Discipline.

Thus, priests are completely barred from an entire format of PvP in Legion. Here are my ideas for making Shadow's design a bit more conducive to the average player, who's not solely concerned with R1 3s, while not making it overpowered.

SURVIVABILITY:

The meat of the spec's issues! The unarmored, pulverized meat. For the last couple of expansions, Shadow has had issues of design. Historically, extending from Vanilla to early MoP, Shadow has had 15% damage reduction attached to Shadowform. It's had a parallel to Warlock, in that they've both been conceived as immobile but tanky casters.

It was removed in mid-MoP, citing that raids were "stacking" Shadow and boomkins. So, let's say it presents a PvE problem. There's a way to solve this, while also bringing Shadow's performance up to par while skirmishing, doing battlegrounds, doing rated 2s, questing, and getting uninterestingly melee trained in 3s.

This is the most important change in this post. If you change nothing else, please, implement this.

Focused Will
Passive
"Melee attacks against you cause you to gain Focused Will, reducing damage you take by 15% for 8 seconds, stacking up to 2 times."


Right off the bat, this alleviates our specific case of being melee trained, in a way that suits Shadow historically and fits its class fantasy of being an immobile caster. Focused Will triggers solely from physical attacks, so this doesn't give Shadow an advantage over its fellow casters.

It's a rather elegant solution, I think, because this makes Focused Will a passive that all three Priest specializations share, giving the class a degree of consistency palatable to newcomers.

Let's be frank: Shadow needs its damage reduction back. It needs it sorely against melee, and not in the sense that "melee are overturned, just wait until they're nerfed!"

Armor doesn't help. It didn't when it was added to supplement our damage reduction's removal, and it especially won't now. The majority of melee's damage comes from magic, bleeds, and poisons, which bypass armor entirely.

From a design standpoint, Shadow cannot kite. I don't want shadow to be homogenized with kiting tools. Classes that cannot kite are given other tools to supplement their design. Remember that parallel to Warlock?

CROWD CONTROL:

This section will be comparatively brief. I don't expect fundamental talent tier changes, let alone to the general, PvE-affecting talents.

And I don't think Shadow needs much. In an ideal world, I would do this to our 45 talent tier:

Remove Mind Bomb. Remove Dominant Mind. Make Psychic Voice baseline, as it historically has been. Put Silence in this talent tier, along with Psychic Horror, and Void Tendrils. So we have:

Silence / Psychic Horror / Void Tendrils

That would give us a supremely interesting and varied talent tier, drawing from existing and old spells, with multiple uses and applications against opponents. By putting Silence into the talent tier, we're not giving Shadow any additional CC. Remember, I don't want my spec to be overpowered. We're giving it options, though; options to contend with melee while not overwhelming casters.

Such a revision is unlikely to happen, because it's to PvE talents. In that case, I would give Shadow either Psychic Horror, with its old Disarm effect (Note: Boomkins are getting a 30 second CD Disarm on Faerie Swarm in 7.1), or Void Tendrils. Whichever is more balanced. Perhaps Horror could only be a Disarm, not a Horror, to prevent excessive CC proliferation against healers/casters. Whichever is added could be put in place of Last Word in PvP talents, which is a flawed talent that no one, as far as I can tell, wants or uses, as it adds passive CC that DRs our Silence uncontrollably.

(continued)
DAMAGE:

I don't have much I would change here. Shadow's damage is good, when given room to cast. None of these things need to happen, but would give the spec depth or relieve stress. There's three quality of life changes I would propose, in an ideal world:

1) Void Torrent uninterruptible, like it was on beta. Shadow has one school. It would provide Shadow a sorely needed and powerful juking tool, without giving it a second spell school. Void Torrent's damage has been nerfed such that I don't think this would be OP, given its 1min CD and channeled state.

2) I would make Insanity no longer drain while CC'd. I believe this is too easy a counter to abuse versus Shadow, especially given that Insanity is visible to other players.

3) Void Origins baseline. This was added last-minute to beta in July, and significantly hampered the spec's quality of life in both PvP and PvE. Having to cast Voidform is unnecessarily cruel. If needed, remove the "Void Eruption" damage component.

4) Lastly, and this might be controversial or unneeded: nerf our intellect. As I said, I don't want Shadow to be a powerhouse. I really don't. My goal is to bring Shadow's design in-line with other specializations.

--- THOUGHTS ---

A specialization that is immobile, has no snare-removals or blinks, and hard casts everything should inherently take less damage from melee. There's a reason our damage reduction on Shadowform existed historically, and its removal has made Shadow unplayable in 2s without a healer for almost 3 expansions.

I believe these changes are fair and relatively balanced. I've carefully made sure not to add hard CC without giving up something (Silence). Focused Will is an elegant solution that offers no advantage versus casters, or in a raiding environment, but makes us not a free kill for melee.

Most other casters have multiple spell schools. All other hybrids have multiple spell schools. Thus, I don't think the Void Torrent change, giving us something to eat interrupts with, is out of line.

If that's unacceptable, I would recommend we make Shadowmend a Shadowfrost spell, similar to Mind Spike, to give us something to cast while locked on damage, while retaining class fantasy. Notably, this could not extend to Discipline, and would thus be a clunky change.

Let me reiterate one last time: I'm not one of the spriests on the forum decrying everything Shadow. Shadow's damage is powerful and could very well need nerfing if you buff its survivability.

We bring good group utility to 3s, but I think I speak for all Shadow players when I say it is not a remotely enjoyable experience. We need quality of life changes, and I've outlined what I think the best ones are, while not affecting PvE raiding or making shadow OP in 3s.

I appreciate any feedback! Please upvote if you appreciate the thought and time that went into this post.

If any R1 players with any sort of visibility and sympathy to Shadow's design plight read this, I would appreciate it greatly if you tweeted this thread to @WarcraftDevs or Holinka.

They've demonstrated a readiness to enact PvP hot fixes; I have to believe they can and will help Shadow not suffer for another entire expansion. I would love to queue 2s skirmishes with friends.
Pretty much this.
My only regret is that I can only like once.
If only.
Please work for blizzard.
it's been a long time since Shadow has felt like a well-rounded, self-sufficient spec that can survive in a 1vs1 and 2vs2 environment. But Affliction feels the same way. So does Elemental. In 1vs1 I get !@#$canned, in 2vs2 I struggle and I'm never T1 and people say "Well you're great in 3s!".

The fundamental problem here is that Blizzard (loosely) balances the game around 3vs3 arena and not 1vs1 viability. So we see specs that are garbage in 1vs1 and 2s, and pretty viable in 3s.

It's been years of people saying "God, Shadow in 2s is just so painful!" and getting "LOL2S" as a response. I remember watching Jahmilli and Pika trying to do Spriest/Subt 2s in WoD and just getting ROLLED by keyboard-turning Feral/Discs lmao.

But here the thing, Disclaimer. Gonna be real. There are no new design decisions really coming this expansion. No more spec overhauls. No more reworks. No more fundamental changes. We're looking at number tweaks. We're looking at "Increase X by 5% and decrease Y by 10%". That's it. And even then, largely PvE based changes, as PvP barely gets Blizzard's time of day. Conceptually, I agree with you. But pragmatically, we're not going to see a spec altered in a rich and fulfilling way at this point.

As the melee classes continue to get nerfed into the dumpster tiers, the casters will rise again and Spriest/Mage, Spriest/Lock and Spriest/Feral will become stronger and stronger. With patience, you'll see Spriest's position in 3s become more and more solid. But if you're looking for the 2s or duel viability that Spriest has lacked for... I don't know... 5 years? Don't hold your breath.
If you lack mobility, crowd control, and survivability, then you should at least deal really good damage, which spriests don't. They are basically falling behind on everything, whereas other classes, rogues for example, have tons of survivability and cc and deal insane damage in both wpvp and instanced pvp.
10/15/2016 09:02 AMPosted by Theblindone
it's been a long time since Shadow has felt like a well-rounded, self-sufficient spec that can survive in a 1vs1 and 2vs2 environment. But Affliction feels the same way. So does Elemental. In 1vs1 I get !@#$canned, in 2vs2 I struggle and I'm never T1 and people say "Well you're great in 3s!".

The fundamental problem here is that Blizzard (loosely) balances the game around 3vs3 arena and not 1vs1 viability. So we see specs that are garbage in 1vs1 and 2s, and pretty viable in 3s.

It's been years of people saying "God, Shadow in 2s is just so painful!" and getting "LOL2S" as a response. I remember watching Jahmilli and Pika trying to do Spriest/Subt 2s in WoD and just getting ROLLED by keyboard-turning Feral/Discs lmao.

But here the thing, Disclaimer. Gonna be real. There are no new design decisions really coming this expansion. No more spec overhauls. No more reworks. No more fundamental changes. We're looking at number tweaks. We're looking at "Increase X by 5% and decrease Y by 10%". That's it. And even then, largely PvE based changes, as PvP barely gets Blizzard's time of day. Conceptually, I agree with you. But pragmatically, we're not going to see a spec altered in a rich and fulfilling way at this point.

As the melee classes continue to get nerfed into the dumpster tiers, the casters will rise again and Spriest/Mage, Spriest/Lock and Spriest/Feral will become stronger and stronger. With patience, you'll see Spriest's position in 3s become more and more solid. But if you're looking for the 2s or duel viability that Spriest has lacked for... I don't know... 5 years? Don't hold your breath.


I appreciate the response! I agree that such overhauls as my PvE talent proposals are entirely unlikely. However, I must insist that such additions as Focused Will can indeed still happen, and would make all the difference!

In 7.1, they're slated to re-implement Shadowform as a toggle, and give it 10% armor, which will be entirely unsatisfactory -- indeed, armor will change nothing, because most melee attacks bypass it entirely.

But the important thing to note is that they're still demonstrating a willingness to implement new spells and passives to specs that require them. They've been upfront about their lack of responsiveness during beta, and have demonstrated a degree of regret about it in the Q&A. I believe Focused Will and my Psychic Horror/Void Tendril change could easily be added still, and would make the spec far more playable.
I agree that [Focused Will] for Shadow would be a (relatively) easy addition for Blizzard, would not have ramifications for PvE, and would only really impact the melee that pose the problem in the first place. I'd rather have a Shadowform armor buff, though. [Focused Will] is a historically Disc spell, and retrofitting it for Shadow seems lazy. Plus there is no counter-play for melee. It's passive, which is uninspired, and the game needs a lot less of.

The reason I liked Shadowform giving say, 50% additional armor, is because you had to make a conscious decision to drop form for some spells. AND things like [Colossal Smash] and [Sunder Armor] and [Find Weakness] were ways to counter it, even if momentarily. I'd rather see Shadowform re-implemented with caveats on dropping form for your healing, mass dispel, life swap etc etc to make certain choices have ramifications. More passive, baked-in options, especially out-right scavenging from other specs/classes (yay homogenization) is the -problem- with the current design philosophy, and shouldn't be considered a -solution- in any way, shape or form.

If you'd allow me a moment to disagree with you further, even though I appreciate this is your thread...

I would like to see [Vampiric Embrace] be an additional utility that is -meaningful-. A short, say 45sec, Cooldown, x% of damage done converted to healing on the priest and nearby allies. Like a more powerful Nature's Vigil. This would make Spriest better both in Healer/DPS and Double/DPS 2vs2 and add additional survivability, utility and spec uniqueness in 3s. You'd arguably need a bit of a damage nerf to offset VE and Shadowform being added to the spec, as you already bring a TON of utility. But Spriests should bring more significant and meaningful healing through PW:S and VE than they currently do. Enhance is over here dropping 300k healing instant surges and Spriests can cast a 80k shield every 8sec? Really?

With VE and a better Shadowform (with consequences), and a slight damage nerf, I think Spriests would be in a good place for 2s, and still a strong contender for 3s. Also, let us not ignore the reason you're struggling in the first place - mongoloid melee with limitless uptime and overtuned damage are the principle problem here, not Shadow Priest itself. Buffing Shadow Priest -too- hard in order to counter the PRINCIPLE ISSUE is not only sloppy, but myopic. Blizzard should be rectifying the source and not pouring too much development time into Band-Aid fixing the symptoms.

My $0.02. I'm at work with a lot of distractions, forgive any perceivable lack of congruency.
Again, I appreciate your response and bump to my thread.

First of all, allow me to disagree about Focused Will. It was originally a Discipline talent, if I recall, but it's been a passive for both Discipline and Holy for years now.

Extending it to Shadow would be a perfect for for the class' congruency, and being a passive, it scarcely counts as "homogenization," in my opinion. Especially given its unique advantages: triggering specifically from physical attacks, but being flat damage reduction; not affecting raiding or casters, but helping against all melee attacks, which armor simply cannot replicate.

Armor simply doesn't work. It doesn't mitigate most damage, even from melee. This is easily observable with boomkins, elemental, holy paladin... None are noticeably tankier, and they have the mobility and toolkit to properly compensate.

I agree in theory with damage reduction being attached to Shadowform (and Focused Will could be tailored to Shadowform), however, in practice it would be rather meaningless in Legion. Our heal is on our Shadow school -- and though I'd be glad to put it on Holy again, that would require a more in-depth class redesign than I think could be applied hastily.

Lastly, with regard to Vampiric Embrace, I fundamentally agree that it's a neat cool down that has a lot of potential. However, in beta, it proved problematically strong given its synergy with a couple of other talents, namely San'layn. That's why it was nerfed. In this thread, I'm primarily more concerned about Shadow's personal survivability; I think its group utility is quite fine as it is, and doesn't need buffing.

Ultimately, Focused Will being a passive isn't making Shadow's new tankiness "without consequences." The consequence, as with Warlocks, is that they lack mobility, unlock other casters who can kite and create distance far better (though melee's gap closers should still be toned down).
1) You believe that a passive 30% damage reduction for Spriests in PvP is both balanced and healthy for the game, carefully considering both the frequency and severity of recent (and indeed, prospective) melee nerfs, as well as Shadow Priest current (arguable) Tier-1 position?

2) Adjacent to that, you support Blizzard instituting passive remedies in lieu of resources / buffs that players need to make active and measured decisions with regarding the risk / benefit consequences?

Just want to clarify several long posts that might off-put readers as "giant blocks of text". The two above points are the crux of your argument, so I've boiled them down. I'm not agreeing / disagree'ing outright (although I admit the questions are quite loaded).
I feel if this happened it would have to be a pretty hefty nerf to int
1) You believe that a passive 30% damage reduction for Spriests in PvP is both balanced and healthy for the game, carefully considering both the frequency and severity of recent (and indeed, prospective) melee nerfs, as well as Shadow Priest current (arguable) Tier-1 position?

2) Adjacent to that, you support Blizzard instituting passive remedies in lieu of resources / buffs that players need to make active and measured decisions with regarding the risk / benefit consequences?

Just want to clarify several long posts that might off-put readers as "giant blocks of text". The two above points are the crux of your argument, so I've boiled them down. I'm not agreeing / disagree'ing outright (although I admit the questions are quite loaded).


1) I believe 30% is not so much in practice. It sounds scary, but Discipline and particularly Holy both are perfectly surmountable, and take plenty of damage. Indeed, Holy can be globaled.

Discipline is able to bypass this because a) it has several damage reduction cool downs, b) it operates with powerful absorption abilities, and c) it has multiple spell schools from which to heal.

None of these apply to Shadow. At most, Shadow can cast 4 Shadowmends before OOMing. Further, if you take into account that Shadow currently takes the most damage of any specialization in the game, and with Holy and Discipline's level of tankiness observable, I think Focused Will's damage reduction would put Shadow at only slightly more than most classes, and significantly less than Demo.

Remember, it only triggers off of physical attacks, and Shadow has zero mobility or escapes.

2) I think this is a misdirection. Passives have always existed. Indeed, the armor you're bringing up is a passive. Our historical 15% damage reduction was a passive. Passives are not, themselves, inherently a problem. Classes' design revolves around a mix of passives traits and active abilities. I don't think Shadow needs more active defensives, or group utility.

...players need to make active and measured decisions with regarding the risk / benefit consequences


This part of your comment is my entire problem with Shadow at the moment. You don't have time or room to make active, measured decisions. You explode instantly. All I want is the capacity to survive long enough to actually play the game. And this is a problem that's been endemic to Shadow specifically for, as you said, years now. It's not something that will be fixed when fotm melee are tuned down, because it's a design flaw with Shadow.

The problem is that Shadow is designed around being an immobile caster that hard casts everything, but doesn't currently have the staying power to so much as enter Voidform in anything but high rated 3s. And even 3s aren't enjoyable, even if they're playable. There have been countless gladiator, R1, veteran spriests saying precisely what I am.

Further, to expound upon your previous point about preferring armor on Shadowform to Focused Will: Armor would not help Shadow, and the reasons you prefer it (being counterable via armor reductions) no longer exist. Even Colossus Smash no longer provides Armor Penetration.
Make Shadow Priests Great Again!
Man I thought about making a thread like this but apathy is bae or whatever

nice read m8 I feel like this stuff is on point. Hopefully people can look past their vague memories of a period in beta when shadow was deleting 3's comps over and over and realize now that we're kind of in a very awkward niche position.

Edits:

I'd like to see Silence stay baseline, but work like it did in WoD with the glyph. 2 seconds duration baseline, talented to +3 seconds. I think that would be fair, tbh. Silence is an iconic shadow spell and i would like to retain some type of ranged interrupt somehow. 2 second silence on a 45 second CD is not ridiculous.

I also don't like mechanics that auto-trigger based on a very common catalyst. Pure of Heart (pre-nerf) proccing every time any healing effect was applied was utterly ridiculous. I don't think Priests should get a 30% wall in 3 seconds because a shadowfiend or ghoul pet autohit them twice. But I think the mechanic is sound. Perhaps a slightly amended alternative that doesn't make Priests impossible to train at any point;

Focused Will: Being the victim of a melee attack grants 8% damage reduction for 15 seconds, stacking up to 3 times (8/16/25%). Cannot occur more than once every three seconds.
I'd like to reiterate: I'd appreciate anyone with a twitter, please tweet @WarcraftDevs and holinka this thread.
10/15/2016 10:29 AMPosted by Worship
Man I thought about making a thread like this but apathy is bae or whatever

nice read m8 I feel like this stuff is on point. Hopefully people can look past their vague memories of a period in beta when shadow was deleting 3's comps over and over and realize now that we're kind of in a very awkward niche position.

Edits:

I'd like to see Silence stay baseline, but work like it did in WoD with the glyph. 2 seconds duration baseline, talented to +3 seconds. I think that would be fair, tbh. Silence is an iconic shadow spell and i would like to retain some type of ranged interrupt somehow. 2 second silence on a 45 second CD is not ridiculous.


The reason I put Silence in the talent tree is because having both Silence and Psychic Horror in a meta where CC has been largely pruned would give Shadow too much control over healers and casters.

With Silence in the tier versus Psychic Horror and Void Tendrils, we have the same potential CC we do now versus casters, it just opens up options versus melee.

I've tried to make my posts very thoughtful of stuff like that. I don't want Shadow to be OP. I want it to be playable in all forms of PvP.
10/15/2016 09:51 AMPosted by Theblindone
1) You believe that a passive 30% damage reduction for Spriests in PvP is both balanced and healthy for the game, carefully considering both the frequency and severity of recent (and indeed, prospective) melee nerfs, as well as Shadow Priest current (arguable) Tier-1 position?

2) Adjacent to that, you support Blizzard instituting passive remedies in lieu of resources / buffs that players need to make active and measured decisions with regarding the risk / benefit consequences?

Just want to clarify several long posts that might off-put readers as "giant blocks of text". The two above points are the crux of your argument, so I've boiled them down. I'm not agreeing / disagree'ing outright (although I admit the questions are quite loaded).


I feel like these are good points. I firmly believe that meaningful, high-skillcap gameplay comes from giving a class several varied but highly circumstantial abilities that have a lot of margin for error. Tremor totem (WoD), Spell Reflection (BC-Legion), Spectral Guise etc are great examples. When used perfectly, were very strong and effective at what they were supposed to do. used at poor/unwise times, they did almost nothing. I want to have more abilities like this.
10/15/2016 10:38 AMPosted by Disclaimer
10/15/2016 10:29 AMPosted by Worship
Man I thought about making a thread like this but apathy is bae or whatever

nice read m8 I feel like this stuff is on point. Hopefully people can look past their vague memories of a period in beta when shadow was deleting 3's comps over and over and realize now that we're kind of in a very awkward niche position.

Edits:

I'd like to see Silence stay baseline, but work like it did in WoD with the glyph. 2 seconds duration baseline, talented to +3 seconds. I think that would be fair, tbh. Silence is an iconic shadow spell and i would like to retain some type of ranged interrupt somehow. 2 second silence on a 45 second CD is not ridiculous.


The reason I put Silence in the talent tree is because having both Silence and Psychic Horror in a meta where CC has been largely pruned would give Shadow too much control over healers and casters.

With Silence in the tier versus Psychic Horror and Void Tendrils, we have the same potential CC we do now versus casters, it just opens up options versus melee.

I've tried to make my posts very thoughtful of stuff like that. I don't want Shadow to be OP. I want it to be playable in all forms of PvP.


That's fair, but Shadow has had all of these tools before and never ruined a meta. I don't think they would do so now.

This is super super tangential, but with the way Burning Determination/Calming Waters are changing in 7.1 to reduce the duration of lockouts AND silence effects, retaining Silence would not be the healer-killer I think you believe it could become. This isn't really a strong argument, but I believe that that change is being overlooked.

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