We haven't had a lot of Shadow love lately, so I figure it's about time we check out our new spells in Wrath of the Lich King. With the level cap currently 77 in the Wrath beta, it's a little hard to gauge just how effective the new Shadow spells really are. You can't see Dispersion in a raid setting or a competitive arena setting, and Mind Sear just doesn't seem balanced for the level you receive it.
I'll start off with Dispersion. Before I was able to use the spell myself, I was really doubtful of its usefulness. This is because for a PvE scenario, it largely just seemed like Evocation for Priests since it Silences you. I've heard time and time again that high-end Mages don't use Evocation at all because it's wasted DPS time when you can just chain potions (which can't be done in Wrath now), or all of the environmental damage break it anyway. Yeah, I can definitely understand that. Sunwell is brutal.
Dispersion has a couple of things going for it that help it out. One, you're still mobile. Two, the damage reduction. Let's say you're doing Brutallus. You have three stacks of Meteor Slash (a debuff that causes increased incoming fire damage) and Brutallus decides to cast Burn (a fire DoT that gets increasingly more hurty) on you. You need to run away from your group, and off to the 'safe spot' to get heals. While you're running, you really can't be DPSing more than instant casts, and your incoming healing is probably a bit dicey until you get to where you need to be. Popping Dispersion while you run it going to regen a massive amount of mana, and that huge DoT on your has been trivialized until you're in the proper position.
It has its uses, and there are a lot of situations lately in Sunwell where I think to myself, "Wow, that would have been much easier with Dispersion." I admit, I'm still underwhelmed that it's our 51 point talent. It just doesn't match up to taming Devilsaurs. It really was needed in a PvP context though, and it's good to see it's not totally stupid in PvE.
Of course, this is my opinion before we get to see level 80 or any of the content there. My opinion could totally swing around by the time I get to step into a raid, because that's the setting that really puts talents to the test.
Mind Sear is good, if a bit odd to get used to using. It has some flaws, but at least it's an AOE. First, Haste doesn't do anything for it. Whether that's intended or not remains to be seen. It can crit. It regens health via Vampiric Embrace, it doesn't seem to regen mana through Vampiric Touch. It procs Blackout and Shadow Vuln. Shadow Focus is not reducing the mana cost, which is likely a bug.
Speaking of the mana cost, holy crap. You get the first rank at level 75, which is the point where your spells start swinging towards level 80 balance rather than leveling balance. As a result, the mana cost on this spell is obscene until you're in level 80 gear that none of us have yet. It is certainly able to be used in the gear we all have, but it hurts.
Mind Sear has an... interesting mechanic in that you choose a target, start channeling the spell, and it damages everything around your target. It does not actually damage your target. This is both good and bad. Good in that if your target dies, your AOE won't be instantly canceled. It'll keep channeling. It's bad in that there's at least one target in that AOE pack you're not touching at all.
A bizarre advantage to this is that you can target a Crowd Controlled mob with Mind Sear, damage all of the nearby mobs, and not break the penguin/sap/whatever. Of course, this means the tank needs to be tanking all of the mobs near whatever is CC'd. Considering that on pulls you'd want to AOE your tank is probably using Swipe/Consecrate/Shockwave/Thunderclap as often as they can... it's unlikely that CC'd mob is in range of what you want to AOE.
It's a decent enough spell, but it could use some tweaking before the beta is over. The damage is good, but there are some flaws, like I said. It seems Mind Sear requires a little more tactical forethought, which can be seen as either good or bad. Honestly, I'm just glad we have a freaking AOE. No more picking our noses and tabbing Shadow Word: Pain on AOE pulls! Woohoo!
All in all, I'm pleased with these two new spells and I'm confident they'll work out the kinks. I can't say I'm confident about Shadow Priests overall after tinkering on the beta realms, but we're due a second pass sometime. We'll see what happens.
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