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Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priests and leveling in Mists of Pandaria

Spiritual Guidance Shadow priests and leveling in Mists of Pandaria MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore is a discipline priest by reputation, but still enjoys melting faces as shadow and bugging her raid to click the Lightwell as holy.

"I have a bad feeling about this."

That's what you should be saying to yourself after reading my name in the byline. (If you're smart, that is.) Anyway, if you missed the news, your beloved Fox Van Allen has stepped down from his position as WoW Insider's resident shadow priest columnist. He's moved on to writing about iPods or something, which means you're stuck with me for now. I will do my best to make this as painless as possible.

So Mists of Pandaria is just two weeks away now, and while I'm far from considering myself an expert shadow priest (more on that later) I've leveled a few shadow priests to 90 on the beta in preparation for the race to level 90. In the process I think I've figured out some of the nuance, so I thought I'd share it so you can start thinking about how you'll get your own 85 shadow priest to level cap.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priest news bulletin (as narrated by a discipline priest)

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

I had just zoned into the instance when the rogue died.

I was running Temple of the Jade Serpent on the Mists of Pandaria beta as a promise to a friend who hadn't had the foresight to invite a tank or DPS. We were two healers and an enhancement shaman, organized enough to be on Vent but still ultimately at the mercy of the Dungeon Finder. My expectations were low.

All the same, six minutes later, we drew a warrior tank and a rogue. Now all we had to do was decide which healer was healing. The resto druid didn't want to DPS; rather, he "couldn't" because he only knew how to play feral and lacked a suitable weapon to actually do so. That meant by default I would have to go shadow, so I started readjusting my bars to do so.

When the druid finished resurrecting the rogue, we set right to work on our next trash pack. I found myself fumbling about, unsure why Vampiric Embrace was on cooldown and where Devouring Plague had gone. My friend, the enhancement shaman, took notice.

"When was the last time you played shadow?" he asked.

"Well, I have my rotation written on the back of an envelope I had on my desk," I replied.

Immediately he laughed, but from the way it awkwardly trailed off, I knew he was losing faith.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: The new shadow priest trend of backtracking

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

I spent a long time trying to come up with the perfect word for what's happening to shadow priests on the beta right now. At first I thought up déjà vu, but that didn't seem quite right (and shut up, I know that's a phrase, not a word). Then I got bored and played Civilization 5 for a while. Then I made a sandwich.

I don't know where I'm going with any of that, but I did eventually settle on a word: backtracking. That's what happening with shadow priests -- Blizzard is revising the class and hastily making a retreat on just about every unpopular decision it's made over the last few months in the beta. Two weeks ago, Blizz did it by backing down on its decision to axe Devouring Plague. This week, it's backtracking again, giving us back yet another thing it had axed going into MoP.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? In a sense, both. But we'll get into that shortly.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: The return of Devouring Plague, and our new shadowy friend

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

In case you haven't noticed, the shadowformed Spiritual Guidance is a once-every-other-week thing now. Normally, I'm cool with that. But man, these past two weeks have been killing me. Last week, there were changes. Big changes. Huge changes! And this week -- more huge changes! Groundbreaking changes! Stunning, jaw-dropping changes! Unbelievable ...

Okay, I digress. But there's no exaggeration here. The changes over the past two weeks have been huge. Old friends are making a comeback. New friends are on the way. Shadow priest PvP is changing forever. And shadow priest mastery has been completely overhauled -- twice.

We've got a lot of catching up to do, kids. I'll introduce you to our new friend in just a bit (not that Dawn Moore and Matt Low haven't already let the cat out of the bag), but first, an old friend has been waiting to say "hi." Ladies and gentlemen, make our oldest of friends feel welcome -- a round of applause, please, for Devouring Plague.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Patch 3.2 PTR: Priest changes in build 10072

A new build for patch 3.2 hit the PTR recently, and all of the related Shadow Priest changes are things that the recent Q&A hinted toward or straight out told us to expect. Let's not waste any time here and dig right into the changes.
  • Vampiric Touch now deals more damage when dispelled. (Max rank deals 1360 damage, previously 680)
Definitely not a surprise here. I've been saying for a long time that this component of the spell needed a significant buff, Ghostcrawler agreed, and doubling its base damage can probably be considered that. We'll still need to see it in action to determine if it's enough. If it's not enough, at least it's closer, and that's something.
  • Devouring Plague cooldown removed, can now only be applied to one target at a time.
This is a change I long expected, and despite Ghostcrawler initially seeming iffy on it in the Shadow Priest Q&A, the simple fact that it was mentioned made me more hopeful that it would happen. And it is happening! So I'm pretty happy about that. There isn't much more to say. It'll make playing a Shadow Priest much less frustrating when it comes to encounters where you're swapping targets a lot. Yogg-Saron, I'm looking at you.

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Filed under: Priest, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

Shadow Priest questions answered

Shadow Priests have been up in arms all over the official forums recently, and it seems to have reached a bit of a breaking point. Rather than waiting for the official Priest Q&A in the developers' Q&A series, Ghostcrawler chimed into an unofficial Q&A thread to give some insight. Since it's unofficial, the questions asked are very direct and specific, aimed at the posters in that thread rather than the playerbase as a whole. Still, the tone is mostly the same: Don't expect major announcements while reading the thread, it's more a discussion on class direction and philosophy rather than patch news. That being said, there is some good news in the whole thing. Some bad news, too.

I strongly recommend reading the whole thing on the official forums, but I'm going to pull out some bits and pieces here.

The first big thing that jumped out to me was in response to a question regarding Haste and DoTs. Have they considered DoTs scaling with Haste? Ghostcrawler says... yes! It's something they're apparently actively discussing. That doesn't guarantee we'll see it, but the fact that they're talking about it is promising.

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Filed under: Priest, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

Patch 3.1 PTR build 9658 Priest changes

As I'm sure many of you have heard already, another build has hit the PTR this afternoon. Information on what's contained within is still slowly filtering in, but many of the class changes are already known thanks to Boubouille. Most of the Priest changes are just number tweaks, but there's some good stuff in there for potential Holy Priest PvP viability. Yes, Holy PvP! Let's dig into what we've got.

Shadow

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

WoW Patch 3.1 PTR Shadow Priest changes

The PTR patch notes have hit, and while we don't have the entire spread of changes yet (they'll be coming in waves), we do have a lot of pretty good material to look at. Personally, I think the Shadow Priest changes are pretty great this time around. PvP Shadow Priests might feel a little disappointed, but PvE Priests should be fairly happy with how things are going so far.

Even PvP received a few good buffs, but while it's a step in the right direction, it simply isn't enough. It feels as if they're trying to approach some of the big issues carefully, when they really do need to go in there and start making pretty sweeping changes to the PvP-centric talents of the Shadow Priest. A lot needs to change to make the Shadow Priest relevant in PvP again without strapping a Warlock to their hip at all times.

Enough of that, though. Let's look into the changes, shall we?
  • Shadowfiend: Health scaling increased. Now receives 30% of the master's spell power. Mana return increased to 5%, up from 4%. The Shadowfiend now receives mana when its melee attacks land, rather than when it deals damage. Movement speed normalized to player movement speed. Tooltip revised.

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

Wrath of the Lich King: Priest roundup


Cheer up and be optimistic! Try not to be too worried about the Priest class. True we haven't changed all that much, we are still the most diverse healing class in the game. Even Elizabeth Harper and Phaelia agree that we still remain the best healers (for now). Don't be disheartened! But the challenge starts now. Hitting 80 will be a bit slower for us Holy specced players in comparison to other classes and specs. We can still hold our own against Arthas' minions! So where are we at then?

State of the Game

Talent Trees

General Tips

Having fun is the most important thing you can do. If the quest givers or mobs are overloaded, find a few guildies and lock yourselves into Utgarde Keep for a while.

Filed under: Priest, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Spiritual Guidance: Wrath of the Shadow Priest

Each Sunday one of our resident Priests brings you Spiritual Guidance, looking at the ins and outs of the Priest class. This week is brought to you by Shadow Priest Alex Ziebart.

Wrath of the Lich King
is only a few days away, and as soon as we put those install discs in our computer we're back to leveling. There are some Priests who prefer leveling as Holy or Discipline or tri-spec or whatever, but as a diehard Priest of the Shadows, I think they're insane. For the next ten levels, this world is ours.

The Shadow tree is by far one of the best leveling specs, perhaps across all of the classes. I'd put it right up there with Frost Mages. Shadow is very well known for how well it solos, and how smoothly it grinds. This becomes even more true from levels 70 through 80. Some of our spells have been reworked, we get some fantastic new ones, and our new talents are pretty swank. Leveling is a much easier process than raiding or the arena, so we have a nice and calm next few weeks. I've gone over a basic leveling spec before, and now we're going to look at the new (or updated) tools we're going to be using on the way.

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Filed under: Priest, Analysis / Opinion, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Wrath of the Lich King

Shadow Priest changes in patch 3.0.3

Patch 3.0.3 is going up on live realms today, and with it comes changes. Shadow Priests manage to get by without a massive list of changes and balancing acts, but the changes we do get are pretty good ones, I think. If you're interested in what you'll be seeing this afternoon, read on!
  • Devouring Plague: The bonus coefficient has been increased to be on par with other DoT spells. Base damage on ranks 7,8,and 9 decreased to partially compensate for better scaling.
This is very, very nice. Devouring Plague's damage was pretty pitiful for awhile there, right after they spread it to all Priests. It was sometimes even questionable whether it was actually worth using in raid situations because of the GCD and debuff slot. It needed this buff, and I'm glad to see it. The healing from it will be nice now as well, because every little bit helps with Shadow Word: Death around.

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Filed under: Priest, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Talents, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King

Shadow Priest talent build for Patch 3.0.2

Echoes of Doom is here, along with all of its tasty new talent points. Things haven't changed very much for us Shadow Priests. If you enjoyed the Shadow Priest playstyle before, you still will. The numbers you put out in terms of Healing, DPS and mana regen are wildly different, but the buttons you push are pretty much the same. If you found Shadow Priest playstyle (not necessarily the numbers game) a little stale before patch 3.0.2, this patch and even Wrath itself won't change that very much. If you plan on sticking with Shadow, good on ya.

I'm going to lay out my current Shadow talent build and explain why I picked the talents I did. Keep in mind that this spec is not for every aspect of the game. It's not even for every player. I'm using this spec as a level 70, PvE raiding spec. It's not perfect, I'm not completely happy with it, but I think that's because our trees are currently meant for level 80 and not level 70. I haven't been able to come up with something I like better yet. When I plan ahead for level 80, it feels much more complete. We don't have the luxury of those extra 10 talent points yet, so this is what I'm using for now:

Shadow

Tier 1
I skipped Blackout because its raiding applications are very limited. It works on some trash, but never bosses. That's a big 'meh' for sure. I went with Spirit Tap and Improved Spirit Tap, because that's going to act as a Shadow Priest's Meditation for now. Finally, Tier 1 of the Shadow tree has something genuinely useful to raiders!

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

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:

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

Priest changes in Wrath beta patch 8982

Today's Wrath beta patch has a few Shadow Priest changes, but nothing particularly substantial. It seems like a nerf across the board, but this is something we should be used to by now. The devs say that, in level 80 epics, our damage is competitive to other classes, but we'll have to wait and see when we're in those epics, I suppose.
This isn't too big of an issue if the coefficient is still high. If this is/was coupled with a lower coefficient again, it would be utterly ridiculous. As it is, maybe not such a big deal. Lowering the base damage may actually allow the spell to scale better without becoming terribly broken. It may level off nicely once you're out of greens.

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

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