Celestalon talks about shadowpriests

Posted on Posted in General

Game Designer
Hey Void-dwellers. Let’s talk a bit about Shadow, shall we? There are a variety of topics to touch on:

Re: Multidotting and AoE in General
Shadow is one of our most heavily DoT-based specs, and that implies that multidotting should be their preferred method of attacking several enemies at once. But, unlike Affliction, your rotation also includes direct damage spells as well (especially the Void abilities). So, we need to make sure that a balance is struck between the two. Our goal is that you can apply your DoTs whenever you want, but that you’ll prefer to do so while not in Voidform, so that you can spend more of your Voidform time nuking the life out of your enemies with Void Bolts and the like. We’ve got this cool cyclical rotation going on, in and out of Voidform, trying to stay in Voidform as long as possible and then getting back into it as fast as possible. But multidotting doesn’t really fit into that well right now; it slows down your rotation massively, and requires reapplying DoTs to multiple targets while in Voidform, leading to longer times out of Voidform, and shorter times in Voidform. That doesn’t flow very well, so we’re going to make some changes to try to solve that:

  • Void Bolt will refresh Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain to their original duration, instead of just extending them by a few sec. With this, and rotating between targets with each Void Bolt, you should be able to maintain several sets of DoTs, through full Voidform sequences.
  • Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain will generate a small amount of Insanity on cast (same amount per cast time as Mind Flay). This should let you multidot without slowing down your Insanity generation rate. To preemptively answer why we don’t put Insanity generation of DoT tick, it’s primarily for two reasons: A) we tried it internally and found that it made Insanity generation feel very disconnected from your actions, feeling more like a constantly-generating resource like Energy, and b) it would scale exceptionally well with target count, leading to unacceptable overall Voidform uptimes when multiple targets were around, and too stark of a feeling difference between single- and multi-target situations. Insanity generation on cast doesn’t have either of these issues, so we’re going with that.

Re: Ramp Up Time
For the cyclical rotation to work, it’s important that there is significant time on both sides of the Voidform line. And the Lingering Insanity letting you speed the cycle up as you maintain it creates some really fun gameplay. But that first ramp up of the fight can feel like it drags on to some, and so we want to make sure that there are talent choices that let you kickstart your rotation. Currently, Shadow Word: Void, and to a lesser extent Power Infusion, do that, but we think they’re not quite strong enough to live up to that goal. We’re planning to tweak Shadow Word: Void to help it really deliver on getting you into Voidform quickly.

Re: Mobility
Every spec needs to have some weaknesses, but Shadow’s current immobility is fairly stark in that regard. It’s especially painful that their cycle slows to a crawl when they can’t get cast time spells off. The aforementioned change to Shadow Word: Pain generating Insanity on cast should help significantly with that. That said, we are concerned about the risk of Shadow Priests running around spamming SW:P constantly in PvP, and will be keeping an eye on that.

Re: Utility
Shadow is in a very odd situation when it comes to utility, especially in PvP. The amount of potential utility they offer is astronomical. It’s a staggeringly long list: Body and Soul, Dispel Magic, Dominate Mind, Mass Dispel, Mind Bomb, Power Word: Shield, Psychic Horror, Psychic Scream, Purify Disease, Shackle Undead, Shadow Mend, Silence, Vampiric Embrace… probably something else I’ve forgotten offhand. But at the same time, despite the crazy number of utility spells at their fingertips, it’s actually quite hard for them to actually use many of them. Since their rotation is based on continuously generating Insanity as fast as possible, any time lost to utility is punishing, especially in Voidform, where you’re actually losing Insanity while casting other things. And then on top of that, many of the spells cost huge chunks of Insanity as well. We’re not happy with that situation, and are considering other potential options. They could probably stand to lose at least a couple spells off that list, but we’re also considering bringing back Mana as an additional resource that would just be used for limiting your usage of the many utility spells, with costs proportional to their impact.

Re: Survivability
We see a fair number of complaints that Shadow is squishy. That’s true, and intended. The offsetting factor should be their shields, and their self-healing. Vampiric Touch provides very strong constant self-healing (so strong that we had to nerf it recently, as it alone outhealed the damage of outdoor quest mobs). Shadow Mend is an extremely strong spammable heal. And Vampiric Embrace (the new version) is great group and self-healing. The one thing that we think isn’t living up to its goals is Dispersion. It’s extremely strong, but the DPS cost on you rotation is also quite strong. We’re going to try pausing your Insanity decay when you use it during Voidform.

Re: Surrender to Madness
Talents as mind-blowing as this are a ton of fun. The fantasy here is extremely strong, and the gameplay concept as well. We don’t agree at all that it needs a redesign, and are totally fine with many people considering it ‘too niche’ or ‘too extreme’. We may tweak the exact implementation (increased Insanity generation vs decreased Voidform Insanity decay, for example), but are very happy with the overall design.

Thanks for the great feedback, keep it coming!

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