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Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priest FAQs, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the darkness to bask in your loving adoration (and on occasion, to be helpful, too).

Greetings from beautiful Southern California, home of BlizzCon 2011! Now, I know what you're all thinking: "Oh, beloved Fox. Have you gone Hollywood on us? Don't tell us you've changed!" Sorry kids, I went Hollywood about 10 minutes before that plane hit the ground at LAX. I'm marrying that other Kardashian girl, and I've already got a reality show deal inked about the marriage with E! This is legit love, people -- no Hollywood smoke and mirrors about it.

Thankfully, though, I haven't forgotten about all you little people in flyover country who made me a star. As a special gift to you, I'm offering my head shot a column chock-full of shadow priest questions and answers. This week, we're talking a little more about Empowered Shadow, taking our first look at the brand new Glyph of Shadow effect, and getting a sneak peek at what's coming up in Spiritual Guidance a little later this month.

Empowered Shadow

We'll get things started with a simple question that a lot of people seem to have:

@marcooscoos asks via the twit-box:
question: when i consume my orbs and gain ES, do I need to recast my dots for the increased damage to take effect?
In simplest terms: yes.

If you cast Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague without the Empowered Shadow buff on you, you'll have to recast the two DOTs after getting ES to get its benefit. Thankfully though, if you have to go a few seconds without ES active, your casts of VT and DP won't lose the ES bonus unless you have to refresh them.

Shadow Word: Pain would work the same way, but any shadow priest worth his salt invests two points in the Pain and Suffering talent. That talent automatically refreshes SW:P via casts of Mind Flay. Each automatic refresh checks to see whether or not ES is up and active, so you really only have to cast the spell once per fight.

Glyph of Shadow ... revealed!

@Bleuchz asks via Twitter:
Do we know anything about the Glyph of Shadow? Rumor is that it changes shadow form to Fox Van Allen form. W/e that means >_>
Sorry, there's only one Fox Van Allen, and I don't like the world being crowded with poor imitations. And Blizzard has already stated that it doesn't want endgame raiders running around without shirts, so ... I don't know what to tell you there.

Last week, when the question was asked, we really didn't know a lot about the minor Glyph of Shadow beyond the tooltip: Alters the appearance of your Shadowform. Smart money was on the glyph making it easier to see shadow priest gear to allow us to better take advantage of transmogrification.

Well, good news: Glyph of Shadow finally works on the patch 4.3 PTR. And it's pretty much exactly what we thought it was. Take a look at these screenshots, courtesy of WoWHead:

As you can see, the Glyph of Shadow just gives your character a slightly more shadowy tint and the usual Shadowform "mist." You can see all your gear. Personally, I prefer the full-on Shadowform look, but it's totally awesome that players are going to be able to choose for themselves. Now, if we could only get those shadow ravens ...

How Fox Van Allen starts a fight

Last week, I touched on the topic of openers, stating how they generally don't have much of an impact on a long boss fight. That said, Chalcedony asked in the comments:
What do you use as an opener? I usually do 2 Mind Spikes, followed by a VT, MB, then apply DP and SWP. Is that bad?
I probably don't need to tell you this, but generally, different situations call for different openers. If I'm soloing (or DPSing trash in a 5-man heroic), my opener looks a lot like yours. Two Mind Spikes are great to guarantee an instant-cast crit of MB; following those Mind Spikes with Vampiric Touch is a great way to get Replenishment rolling with that inevitable cast. Remember, in terms of mana usage and raw damage output, VT is our best DOT for a short fight. I often find that casting DP and SW:P on trash is a waste, but for stronger trash with higher health pools, it's sometimes warranted. (It's also nice to be able take advantage of your four-piece tier 12 shadow priest bonus.)

As for longer, boss-type fights, I generally don't start with Mind Spike. My general rationale is that I want to get Empowered Shadows started sooner rather than later, so I typically make my first cast Shadow Word: Pain to start generating Shadow Orbs. I typically follow that up with Vampiric Touch, and if I haven't gotten a Shadow Orb yet, Devouring Plague. If the dark gods still haven't bequeathed upon me an Orb, I shrug, cast Mind Blast anyway, and then start with my Mind Flay filler until I get that Orb. I generally recast all my DOTs once I've consumed an Orb and Empowered Shadow is up.

After about 5 or 10 seconds into the fight, I send out my Shadowfiend. And once all three DOTs are up, I use Dark Archangel. Most of the mana regen from the two are lost, but those early moments in the fight represent a magic aligning of just about every buff its possible to have, from Lightweave to trinket procs to Power Torrent to a Volcanic Potion pre-pot. The multiplier effect is absolutely insane, and if you're not taking advantage of it by stacking yet another buff on there, you're missing out on something great.

Mind Blast follow-up

I talked a lot about Mind Blast last week, but there's one last piece of information I didn't include about it. So, onoyoudidnt72592 asked in the comments:
I can't seem to find any information about our mindblast when you put into account the 4set bonus. I have my 4set and I tend to follow the same rotation as i would without. I guess I'm wondering if it becomes an on cooldown move, because i tend to not use mindblast until I have at least 1 orb. I don't know if the output of mindblast with 4set and dots up is more of a DPS gain to use on cooldown then to hold out for any amount of orbs.
Just for clarification: The four-piece set bonus makes Mind Blast an incredibly powerful spell. It's a huge reason why shadow priests are starting to see six-digit hits of damage. (Sadly, the bonus is getting nerfed from 25% to 15% in patch 4.3. But 15% is still damn nice to have.) Without that set bonus, it's still powerful on its own right.

Regardless of whether you have the four-piece bonus, you should always be casting Mind Blast on cooldown if you've got all your DOTs active.

And some quick programming notes

Simply because it was asked: Yes, I'm still planning on doing a Ragnaros guide, and I'm glad you reminded me, because I had forgotten all about it. Next week's Spiritual Guidance will probably be about BlizzCon shadow priest bombshells (triple-speced level 90 pandaren shadow priests oh my god), but I'll get that Rag guide up ASAP following that.

Also, yes, I am getting the Dragonwrath, Tarecogsa's Wrath legendary ... eventually. I've run through the Nexus part of the quest chain, and it's really something epic. I'll try to work in a column on that soon. In the meantime, I can tell you this: From the ancedotal evidence I've seen from other players, this is a staff that you're going to work toward getting in patch 4.3 even if you don't have it now. It's that good.

See you all at BlizzCon!
Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? We've got more for shadow priests, from Shadow Priest 101 to a list of every monster worth mind controlling and strategies for raiding Blackwing Descent.

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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