Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Raiding Shadowpriest 3.3 Guide: Part 1

This guide is something I've been writing for past few days, and is intended to give you a rough overview of raiding as a shadowpriest. I'm pretty casual as far as raiding goes, but nonetheless I hope this guide proves to be useful no matter if you are a healer looking for an offspec or an up and coming shadowpriest.

Why be a shadowpriest?

What I love most about being a shadowpriest is Vampiric Embrace, the ability to steadily heal my group in the raid through damage. It allows me to take a lot more risks and be a rebel, standing in fire, whirlwind, fire, orbs and fire. If we underestimate the damage then we have Dispersion to fall back on. It's pretty stupid to like a class for the ability to play bad, but it's funny on fights like Twin Val'kyr to see everyone manically running around trying to dodge orbs, sometimes dying, while I am able to more damage through not having to move and healing myself for more at the same time. We're not immortal, but we're not pushovers.

Unfortunately we will always have some deficit to our class, known as the 'Hybrid Tax', that makes us inferior to pure damage dealing classes. We put in more effort than others only to get less in return. But if you are looking for a class that can stand on it's own two feet in raids, Shadowpriests are it.

Key points about shadowpriest.

- Provides Replenishment through Vampiric Touch and Mind Blast. Same as Retribution Paladins, Frost Mage, Survival Hunter and Destruction Warlock.
- With 3/3 Misery, a deep shadow talent, gives entire raid an extra 3% spell hit. Same as Balance Druids.
- Constantly heals yourself for 25% of your damage done, 5% to party members, through Vampiric Embrace. A Paladin's Judgement of Light is similar on a smaller scale, but benefits the whole raid.
- Shadowform provides 15% less damage. Also, the talented cooldown ability Dispersion temporarily reduces damage by 90%.

Gearing a shadowpriest.

It used to be simple, reach spellhit and stack spell power. Shadowpriests get a decent amount of hit through talents Shadow Reach and Misery, requiring 289 hit with both talents to hit the cap, 263 if you're a cute draenei to boot (<3 racechange). You still want to keep gearing for more spellpower, but that comes with a penalty in terms of gear itemisation - you gain more from multiple stats rather than one stat.

Thankfully haste is thrown into the fray due to patch 3.3, and is weighed up very close to spellpower, with Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague ticking faster with more haste. Affliction Warlocks, our closest cousins to the DOT-oriented playstyle, have the same buff with Corruption. Haste is beautiful, but it changes things around a bit. With the Black Magic enchant on a one handed weapon you have to keep an eye on your Devouring Plague and Vampiric Touch when it procs. If you don't refresh them while it has procced, then you lose the real benefit of the haste.

Spirit is calculated into spellpower through Twisted Faith (increases spellpower by 20% of total spirit) and Improved Spirit Tap (increases Spirit by 10%) talents and Glyph of Shadow (increases spellpower by 30% of spirit when critting with non DOTs). Thats 50% of our spirit, which also gets an extra 10% increase. Moonkins and Warlocks also get 30% as spellpower while Mages get 55% as crit rating. When both proc on my self-buffed priest I gain around 220 spellpower. There is no spirit on any of the T10 pieces, nor do the set bonuses provide crit buffs to spells which proc Shadowy Insight like T9 gave 5% crit to Mind Flay. As far as 3.3 looks, we will be spending 5 talent points and a glyph for an increasingly diminutive gain in spell power. That 220 bonus spellpower will end up at 140 spellpower with full T10 and a couple of spirit pieces.

Ultimately, priority for gearing is, with values from shadowpriest.com:

Hit = 1.88 (0 after cap)
SP = 1.00
Haste = 0.98
Crit = 0.76
Spi = 0.59
Int = 0.22

If you're switching from holy or levelling pieces with shadow, a good mix of crit and spirit will give you uptime on Glyph of Shadow and some decent spellpower to compensate. But ultimately go for spellpower and haste pieces for good, consistant damage. You can afford to go for gem bonuses with red/yellow requirements thanks to Reckless Ametrine, which is rated close to Runed Cardinal Ruby. Note that you should spend Heroism badges on the Ametrine and Honor on Cardinal Rubies, as the rubies are more expensive with badges.

Shadowpriest Glyph and Talents

My Talents and Glyphs

Damage (which includes Hit) are top priority talents for shadow, and we get a lot of them. Along the way we will get some utility talents, some more useful than others but all ultimately situational. There isn't really a right or wrong, the Shadow tree is pretty good as talent trees go. But within that tree there are many mana conservation and regeneration talents, which can be sacrificed for less interruptions or constant self healing.

Glyph-wise it's the same principle; Damage before Utility. Patch 3.3 turned Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain into one of less importance, making Glyph of Shadow and Mind Flay the chief damage dealing glyphs. Glyph of Shadow Word: Death is also a damage dealing glyph but it's situational requirement of 35% or less health for 10% damage buff means it is useless for the first 65%. It is a prime choice for the mana regen utility of either Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain or Glyph of Dispersion. The latter comes with a shield wall like ability and is my chosen third glyph.

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