Ah yes, the Patch she has arrived. And thus I bring you today’s 5:
Least Surprising Post-Patch Nerf: Shadow Word: Death.
Remember how I wasn’t convinced that spamming the heck out of SW:D was really going to be a viable tactic? Blizz agreed that they’d never intended SW:D to be the shadow priest’s highest DPS spell, and quietly beat it down with the nerf bat within about 24 hours.
My Favorite Spell Change: One Telescoping Button for Portals and Teleports.
Whenever my mage sphere mod would break, the loss of 1-button access to my portals and teleports is what I usually missed most. Thank you Blizz for finally giving us 1-touch access to portals and teleports instead of forcing us to eat up another row of buttons/cast bars with them.
My favorite UI Change: The Much Improved Companion Pets Tab.
When you have 100+ pets, it can be hard to remember which little white cage has which pet inside. Or where exactly some of the pets are filed. The magnificent changes to the companion pet UI solve that — they now spell out the names of the pets in each tab and give you an animated preview of them when selected.
Most Fun Class I Play Now: Boomkin.
Pew pew pew! /boomkin happy dance. They’ve already started in on the nerfs (insect swarm was the first spell hit), but having one day wherein my Alliance druid handily out DPS’d my much better geared shadow priest was a giggle.
Most Bizarre Patch Bug: Amazing Appearing Tabards.
Not just on your login screen — but in game as well. Characters that have never donned a tabard and don’t have one equipped in game are still showing up as wearing one. Weird, and apparently fixed by equipping a tabard, but a bug nonetheless. Less annoying than the launcher screen BOOM! Significantly less annoying than enchanting items and seeing “Item not yet modified” on my screen when in fact the item has been enchanted.
I tried out my Northrend Glyph Research which had not returned anything new for over a year and was rewarded by learning Glyph of Living Bomb. No learning from my second try at it this morning. Learned Glyph of Colossus Smash from a Book of Glyph Mastery; no further learnings from a second book.
Note that the Dalaran trainer does not have anything the IF trainer didn't have, and that if you have already learned your limited quantity glyphs from the Dalaran supplier, there is nothing new for you there either.
Since I’ve been able to do some playing around on the PTR, I have my plans solidified for my talents and glyphs when the patch comes out in the next week or so. These choices are for being raid-ready at 80. I’ll certainly change things up for my off-spec and for leveling when the expansion drops on December 7.
As of the patch, you’ll get three glyphs each for your prime, major and minor glyph slots.
Reduces the cooldown on Dispersion by 45 sec.
Shadow Word: Pain
Increases the periodic damage of your Shadow Word: Pain by 10%.
Increases the damage done by your Mind Flay spell by 10% when your target is afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain.
I know that Blizz wants us to move SW:Death back into our rotation, but until I actually see in action that I am using it enough to warrant its glyph, I’m choosing SW:P over it. In BC, when it was part of my rotation, I still don’t think it got enough use that I would pick decreasing its cooldown over something else. And if you are spamming it trying to get those juicy big crits at the 25% and under health levels, well you’d better have a healer keeping an eye on you unless you enjoy floor hugging.
When you kill a target with your Shadow Word: Death and yield experience or honor, you instantly receive 12% of your total mana over 12 sec.
Targets of your Psychic Scream spell now tremble in place instead of fleeing in fear, but the cooldown of Psychic Scream is increased by 3 sec.
Reduces the cooldown of your Fade spell by 9 sec.
Despite not thinking I’ll be using SW:D a ton, the Spirit Tap glyph seems like a good buy (especially since there aren’t a ton of other glyphs in this range that I am dying to use.) The psychic Scream glyph rocks for providing PvE priests the ability to use Fear in a raid setting without sending off its targets to go find new friends. Huzzah! And given my love for using my Fade button, that glyph is also a no-brainer.
Reduces the mana cost of your Power Word: Fortitude spell by 50%.
Your Levitate spell no longer requires a reagent.
Increases the duration of your Shadow Protection spell by 10 min.
Nothing to see here. Pick your favorite boring old minor glyphs. These are the ones I’ve used since the dawn of inscription.
I’ve used MMO Champion’s talent calculator to show my build. Basically, you go through the Shadow tree, minus the stun for Mind Blast and the psychic horro and sience points, then put your remaining points into Discipline.
(NOTE: Now that you get your talent points every other level, you can’t spend that next point in Discipline until you hit 81.)
I’m not set on my rotation at this point. And from all the nerding back and forth on SP.com, I don’t know that anyone else is yet either. But this is what I am looking at:
SW:P > DP > VT > SW:D > MB> MF
Then wait for the MB and SW:D CDs to be back up, and refreshing DoTs as needed. Toss out your shadowfiend whenever the CD is available, starting when you are down 25% mana or thereabouts. If it’s a short fight, you may want to lead with it for pure DPS boost.
The current talk is that mastery becomes better than crit and haste only at the point that you have 1400 of each of them. Which I, not having any heroic gear, certainly do not have. So at this point, I won’t be worrying about it, other than as a way to manage my hit rating. Basically, 40% of the following stats on a piece of gear may be reforged into any stat not currently present on that piece of gear:
Critical Strike Rating
Overall it’s looking like our 4.0.1 gear stat priority would be: Intellect > Haste > Crit > Spirit > Mastery (at hit cap) or Hit > Intellect > Haste > Crit > Spirit > Mastery (until hit cap)
It’s nice to finally have a release date in hand so I can start figuring out what I want to — and have time to — accomplish in game before the world changes. December 7 gives me two full months before I have to start thinking about leveling my primary toons and their professions and the alts’ professions…
I’m sure that having a concrete date two months away is going to make some folks angsty. After all, if you don’t have an army of alts and killed the Lich King months ago and have already been feeling like you were stuck in a holding pattern, I can see how it would seem like way too long to wait. Had I not rediscovered the joys of playing my Alliance characters, I would likely be in the cursing the release date under my breath camp.
But luckily for me, I have plenty to do and to look forward to between now and then:
Level warlock to 80 (she’s only 40 now)
Level warlock’s JC
Level a new shaman and their corresponding profession(s)
Farm rare pets
Obtain remaining old world cooking recipes
Work on fishing up the elusive mister pinchy and the turtle mount
Complete world explorer for the druid
Hallow’s End fun and festivities
Pilgrim’s Bounty (a.k.a. the cooking leveling holiday)
Find more places like the Horizon Scout that I always meant to get around to seeing and go there
So, now that we have a date in hand, what’s your plan of attack?
The above is from the PTR today, self-buffed, no special food or elixirs/flasks, no mods to help me keep an eye on things like latency or procs. Just me on the heroic dummy.
Overall the DPS is OK. I do notice a few differences from PTR versus live:
1) Mind Flay’s damage is showing up as a DoT. However, the crit % was within 1% on live versus PTR, so it seems comparable in that way. The average live tick, however, was a smidge over 3k. Could have just been lucky procs.
2) Vampiric Touch had 3% fewer crits on the PTR. versus live, however, its average tick was for 300 more.
3) In live, I consistently do more overall damage with devouring plague than with shadow word: pain (13.1% vs 11.3%). On PTR this has consistently been flipped, with SW:P on top (13.3 vs 11.1).
4) SW:P has gone from 1983 a tick on average on live to 2313 a tick on PTR. That seems like a small uptick, but since you keep your SW:P up all the time with your mindflays, it adds up.
5) I kept up the mind blasts in both places to keep the replenishment flowing, but the new talents etc. caused the DPS from it to be twice as high on the PTR (12.4k average versus 6k average.)
6) It is really weird for me to see the shadowfiend’s melee swings outpacing the improved devouring plague, but it’s true. The talents/glyphs I am using on the PTR give me a shadowfiend cooldown a minute which I took advantage of every time it was available. I should mention the damage from each of its strikes has also increased by 1k.)
Due to all the changes to mana regen, I’d been concerned about maximizing replenishment uptime. And the last time I’d been on the PTR I’d had to disperse a few times over the course of my 12min trial. But today, although I had to do that in live, I didn’t ever even dip below about 28k/32k mana. So I am waiting for the nerf bat to strike. One thing I could not really test is how much damage shadowy apparitions add to your arsenal. They’re not showing up on the logs yet as they are doing 0 damage. So they are just a pretty proc to look at for now.
Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about what shadow priest DPS will bring for Cataclysm. For theorycrafting on BETA shadow priest DPS and spells, head to shadowpriest.com.
Despite recurring lack of interest across servers in WotLK raiding, I’m starting to see folks in guild forums and elsewhere starting to get ants in their Cataclysm pants about making decisions now about raiding teams in Cataclysm. If you’re tempted to start drafting up your raiding policies now, you may want to stop drop and roll, and think about these key considerations prior to making sweeping changes:
Mains today are not going to be mains in Cata.
Don’t assume your raid team is going to pick itself up and go into the expansion as status quo. There are going to be a whole slew of main changes. If you started playing in Wrath, or didn’t raid prior to Wrath, you haven’t lived through watching people who adored their class have nerd rage meltdowns regarding changed class proficiencies and game mechanics, and cycle through their alts until they land on one that feels right. So you’ll just have to trust me — THIS WILL HAPPEN A LOT. Until you have your first 10 folks ready and willing to raid, you can’t start parsing out the groups. Will you have too many tanks? Not enough healers? All druids? It’s really way too early to know. Or to start fighting about who gets what person on their team.
Your star raiders may not be your star levelers.
The first folks to make it to 85 are not necessarily going to be your best raiders. Or even be people with interest in raiding. Yes, hardcore guilds often give short timelines for leveling a character to get their raiding going as quickly as possible. But in a casual raiding situation, you may have folks level several toons to 85 prior to deciding whom they want to raid with, or even being ready to give up that alt leveling time in exchange for raiding. I know at least 1 person who has said outright that he intends to spend months leveling his alts prior to being ready to step into a raid.
Heroics will be your first step as a fresh 85, not raids.
That’s right– it’s not intended for a fresh 85 to immediately ding then head into the raid instance. When these expansions unfurl, there is an expectation that folks will farm their way through regular instances and heroics to gear up and get ready (and to learn how to play their class at level cap in a team.) I’ve heard a number of incredulous newer players complaining about how the heroics are being implemented in Cata as a “C*** block. Newsflash: you just got spoiled by the Wrath heroics on a whole being easy. BC heroics were REALLY DARN HARD at the turn of the expansion.
Guild churn is not over.
As guilds that focused on 25-mans pare down to 10s, and as folks who have a small core group of friends they play with realize that 10-man raids are a viable pursuit as a focus in Cataclysm, there will continue to be guild churn. You’ll also have some of the players who haven’t played in over a year who come back, swear they live for raiding, come to a couple then drop out. This is all perfectly normal. Take all such declarations with a grain of salt, and see how things look at the end of December when the dust settles.
Ideal raid makeups are still an unknown.
Blizzard is still making significant tweaks to the classes. Until they lock and load, and we can see true group synergy in raids, with proper glyphs and itemized gear, it’s a crapshoot. We know what has worked in the past, but what’s worked for ideal group composition has changed over time, through each expansion, and with some raid instances. See also why my BC druid main never finished ZA, yet my mage alt went through there countless numbers of times (see also: cc makes a Cataclysm comeback.)
This list spurred from having gone through all the prior expansion’s raiding “ZOMG we need to change everything up nao” bubbles, plus a great chat AF had a few weeks back to set raiders’ expectations. If your guild is starting to have these discussions, it may behoove you to get out in front of it and have a chat about guild expectations in regards to expansion raiding.
Thanks to our easily exciteable kittens, I was up bright and early Sunday morning, and decided to give the PTRs a spin. They just went live this weekend with the 4.0.1 build that introduces the many UI and talent changes they’ve been working on for Cataclysm.
I uploaded a request to copy over a couple of my characters to the PTRs, but since the estimated wait was 4 days, rolled myself this baby druid to check things out.
The first thing I was struck with, other than the proliferation of little white tiger cats running around, was that I came into the world with Wrath on my bar, and had enough mana to use it like crazy. I admit I pinched myself to see if I’d fallen asleep and entered dreamland. But no, Blizz is actually making it possible for those of us who like to level our characters up as casters to be able to do so without a bottomleess bag full of beverages.
I should note that I chose to go in while I was just ad the “available” stage of my PTR download, which means it had a ways to go before being completed. Overall, in the lowbie area, this had little affect on my playing, though I could tell at least once when I was getting a just in time download. The opening cinematic started with a long black screen and stuttered midway through, presumably also due to my choosing to play before the download was complete. Pretty minor issues though, which makes me hopeful they’ve found a good way for breaking up the patch files so the least-likely to encounter data files are the last to download, and thus speeding up the patching process for everyone.
It was moderately annoying, however, that after crashing out on the PTR, and relaunching, I was confronted with needing several additional hours of downloading before being able to play again. That was a bummer and put a crimp in my leveling explorations.
Some of the best UI changes are around the management of spells. The above window shows my druid trainer’s menu clearly showing my next trainable spell and its cost. No more clicking on a spell name in a long list to see when it will be available. Including its icon is a nice touch for those of us who are visual learners.
Similarly, I will never hustle myself back to the trainer to train some spell I couldn’t care less about — when you advance a level, you get both a tell and a big splash across your screen that tells you that a new spell is now available to you:
At level five, I ran myself up to Dolanaar and checked my mail to retrieve my BOA pets (only two of whom showed up– eeep!) Which brings me to the many changes with the talent and spellbook interfaces.
When playing a new class, such as me playing my baby warlock, you can feel clueless as to when some of your signature abilities are trainable. Well no longer — your spellbook can tell you. Your spellbook used to be a rarely visited place, sought out when pulling out a rarely used spell for a boss mechanic. But now, it shows you all the spells you have to look forward to training — and notes at wht level you attain them.
You’ll notice a few more tabs on your spellbook now — companions and pets are no longer a part of the character interface — they are subtabs of your spellbook, and have also gotten an overhaul.
No more peering at page after page of 12 tiny icons and trying to remember which speckled egg summons which companion pet. Now your pet UI clearly states the pet name next to its icon and pops up a picture of it in action if you select it from the menu. Necessary change on Blizzard’s part? Certainly not. But does it make me happy with my 100+ pets on two toons? You bet it does!
Last night, I was able to get on and briefly play around with my shadow priest and my boomkin, and respec them. I think I actually giggled when my eclipse proc made my nature spell buttons sparkly. It felt really weird to be confronted with the new talent UI though. I was not prepared.
I’m a cuddly and adorable Forsaken shadow priest! Who’re you calling a sinister shadow magic user? *cough*
It was weird to start at this screen then be shown only one tree until I’d met my 31-point quota. I spent those points, then moved over to the discipline tree, easily filling in my remaining 5 talents. It didn’t really feel like I made many choices, mind you. Mainly “Silence, y/n/murloc”, and “less dmg to self? y/n” The boomkin tree was more problematic, and made me feel as though I sometimes was forced to choose talents I didn’t really care
to get down the tree to the stuff I wanted.
Overall though, no great dramas with the new talents. I can’t wait to try things out on more than just target dummies.
I leave you with this beautiful scene, of a Darnassus without water, where boats float in mid air. Saefe travels!
The next live #BlizzChat will take place via Twitter today, from 5:00 – 6:00 PM PDT. This live chat session will focus on the Cataclysm talent specialization and Mastery system changes. That’s smack dab in the middle of my commute home, so I’m hoping some other folks will be asking similar questions, and retweeting the Qs they’d most like to have answered by the developers. Here are my top 5:
Any chance the shadow orbs for shadow priests can reuse the raven priests’ shadowy ravens’ model? Pretty please?
Any chance the respeccing fee might be waived or reduced while folks get used to the new 31-point trees?
How optional/occasional will druid tree form use be in Cata?
Will Moonkins also be primarily in caster form, not always shapeshifted? And are we getting new moonkin forms?
Just how slowly will our shadowy apparitions move? As slowly as the Gorefiend ghosts in BT? How often will they ideally hit their intended target?
What are your questions about the new talent trees?