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Shadow Priest changes and glyphs in beta build 9095

A new beta build went live yesterday evening, and while it wasn't a massive patch, I don't think very many of them will be anymore. We're pretty close to the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, so I think a lot of the class changes will just be fine tuning from here on out. The glyphs coming in these beta patches look like they may be a little more exciting, though. With professions, especially something like Inscription, they can add new recipes whenever they'd like. You can't quite do that with new spells. I expect we'll be seeing new glyphs right up until the day Wrath launches and plenty afterwards, too.

Shadow Priests got a few good changes, a few bad changes in this patch. Let's take a look at the Glyphs first, then the class changes:
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain - Increases the damage done by your Mind Flay spell by 10% when your target is afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain. Changed from: Reduces the mana cost of Shadow Word: Pain by 20%.
  • Glyph of Mind Soothe has been removed. Replaced with Glyph of Shadow: While in Shadowform, your spell critical strikes increase your spell power by 10% of your Spirit for 10 seconds.
Woohoo! It looks like our glyphs are on the right track finally! The new Shadow Word: Pain glyph is so much better than its previous incarnation, my mind is nearly blown. Glyph of Shadow looks downright fun. I was looking at Warrior glyphs the other night and wondered why their glyphs were so fun while most classes get straight bonuses or even punishment in their glyphs. Things like Glyph of Shadow is what I like to see from glyphs. Things that are fun and exciting. Something beyond 'more damage' or 'longer stun.' I min-max like crazy, but that doesn't mean I don't like my min-maxing to sparkle, you know? Eh! On to the class changes:
  • Devouring Plague's base damage has been lowered.
This change struck me as being a little strange, because Devouring Plague didn't exactly have a high base damage to begin with. It did less damage per tick than Vampiric Touch, and Vampiric Touch isn't exactly known for being a powerhouse in the damage department. Just nerfing DP would be... special. I hopped on the beta realms to test out a theory of mine, and it proved fruitful!

Ghostcrawler mentioned they would be increasing the Vampiric Touch coefficient to help bring Shadow Priest DPS up to speed, but it looks like they did some tinkering with Devouring Plague, too. With equal gear, talents, spell damage, et cetera, Devouring Plague was doing roughly 110 damage per tick more than on live realms, after this 'nerf' to the base damage. Unless there's a factor I hadn't taken into consideration (which is entirely possible, I'll admit) it looks like Devouring Plague actually received a buff to its scaling. That was also without Shadowform, by the way, so it will scale even better than my numbers here reflect.
  • Vampiric Embrace now heals the priest by 15% and other party members by 3%.
  • Improved Vampiric Embrace now increases the healing received from Vampiric Embrace by 33/66%.
This is a nerf, yes, but it was a necessary one, as much as I hate it. Let's bash it into our heads right now. Things that scale with a percentage of your damage are, at their base, broken. Vampiric Touch was the biggest example of this but it isn't the only one. Come the next expansion, 25% personal healing and 5% party healing will be higher than the devs like. Hell, we may run into that before Wrath even ends. It will probably play a factor in Icecrown. Shadow Priests will become invincible or some nonsense, and it will break again. Then they'll shift it over to a straight proc on damage or periodic effect while Mind Flaying that will heal a small percent of your maximum health and your DPS will have nothing to do with it, because that's the only way it will work properly.

This isn't a dig at Blizzard or the devs. Vampiric Embrace is an amazingly fun idea. I love it. It's just... flawed. If things such as expansions (or even gear) were not concepts in WoW, the spell would work. As it stands, we're going to get a new iteration of it every expansion until it becomes Vampiric Touch 2.0, but for health. Which is honestly a little funny since Vampiric Touch used to be Vampiric Embrace, but for mana.

[ Unofficial patch notes via MMO-Champion, analysis and commentary my own ]

Filed under: Priest, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Inscription

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