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Spiritual Guidance: The Mists of Pandaria and the fate of DoTs

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 shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

Last week, we took a somewhat in-depth look at the latest incarnation of the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator. Part of the conversation was about shadow priest staple Mind Blast, but it was Devouring Plague that got you all really talking -- more specifically, the fact that Devouring Plague doesn't appear to be in the current MoP shadow build.

Is Devouring Plague really gone for good? The question is serious enough that it deserves a detailed look at the evidence. Tremble, ye priests -- things do not look good.

The three possible fates of Devouring Plague

OK, granted, there's only one piece of real evidence as to Devouring Plague's fate, and that's the fact that it's not in the latest build of the talent calculator. That could mean any one of a number of things:
  1. It just hasn't made its way to the talent calculator yet. These things are notoriously wonky, and if you'll recall, it took Blizzard four months to get around to adding Mind Blast back into the talent calculator mix (a spell we knew wouldn't be disappearing). If this is the case, it could signal that Blizzard developers either don't know where to put it in the leveling process or are toying with the idea of adding it as a talent. Personally, I'd put the odds of this somewhere around 10%.
  2. Devouring Plague could be getting a dramatic overhaul -- one that isn't finalized. Spells in WoW change all the time. The boomkin's Insect Swarm has gone through a number of iterations, from debuff to DoT. Heck, Devouring Plague itself used to be an undead racial -- most shadow priests couldn't even cast it until Wrath came along. If Blizzard isn't sure on how to sell the overhaul to the public, then it'd likely play its cards close to the vest. I'd put the odds of a major Devouring Plague overhaul somewhere around 33%.
  3. Devouring Plague could be getting removed from the game entirely. I fear this is the most likely scenario, and I'll tell you why in a moment. I'm putting the odds of this right around ... uh, 57%. These odds are very exacting, folks. Seriously, you could head to Vegas and play them. (WoW Insider does not in any way endorse the fun crime of illegal gambling.)
Why Devouring Plague is likely gone

Aside from its absence in the talent calculator, there's one piece of especially damning evidence pointing to the elimination of Devouring Plague: Boomkin and warlocks are losing DoTs, too.

If this is news to you, it's probably because you think boomkin/warlock columnist Tyler Caraway is totally lame and you avoid his columns whenever possible. Understandable! But the DoTpocalypse is indeed happening, per his most recent Shifting Perspectives column:

Insect Swarm (MoP text)
The enemy target is swarmed by insects, increasing all damage taken from your spells by 25% for 1 min. Limit 1 target.

Currently, Insect Swarm is a happy little nondescript 18-second DoT with an annoying sound effect. Meanwhile, warlocks are seeing their DoT abilities being cut as well (selectively). According to Tyler, demonology warlocks are losing access to the DoT Immolate and destruction is losing access to the Corruption DoT. Affliction warlocks, the DoT spec, are getting a getting a channel called Malefic Grasp that increases DoT tick time by 100%.

Why would Blizzard do this? Quite simple, my friends. Think back to the first few tiers of Cataclysm raiding and shadow priest superiority therein. We demolished the charts on Double Dragons. We rule Lord Rhyolith. We dominated on Nefarian. There's one thing all those fights have in common: All showcase our multi-DoT skill.

We're not the only ones, of course. Balance druids and warlocks also shine on multi-DoT fights, so much so that Blizzard is taking a hard-line stance against super-powered multi-DoTing.

Shadow priests, it is time to grieve. If Insect Swarm is gone, if Immolate is gone, and if Corruption is gone, then Devouring Plague is almost certainly gone.

... or is it?!

Earlier, I talked about the possibility of a Devouring Plague redesign. It may just be wishful thinking, but there is an argument to be made for it, especially when you consider it currently has a one-target limitation. After all, shadow priests need an instant-cast spell for times of movement. Few of us repeatedly spam DP as a habit (I do on Morchok when I lack any other options). But it's an option, and options are great to have.

So what would a redesigned DP look like? That's up to Blizzard, but I'd wager it might look something like this:

Afflicts the target with a disease that causes 326 Shadow damage instantly. 50% of damage caused by the Devouring Plague heals the caster over 24 seconds. This spell can only affect one target at a time.

Basically, what I've done there is kept the exact same measure of instant-cast damage we currently get while casting DP on the move, while getting rid of the DoT component. It's still a 24-second duration, and we'll still get the exact same amount of self-healing from the spell we currently do. Granted, it makes the spell much more situational. But that actually makes the spell more interesting.

But enough about my opinion -- what does the shadow priest community at large think? Should Blizzard axe DP? Do you think it's gone for good? And if it really is being redesigned, what should Blizzard developers replace the spell with?
Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than back up? We've got everything a shadow priest will need, from the basics of shadow priest PvP and advice on gearing up for Raid Finder raids to the hottest trinkets and weapons for today's shadow priests.

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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