Shadow Word: Everything changing for Shadow Priests in the Legion pre-patch
Oh, the times, they are a-changin’. The Legion pre-expansion patch is imminent at this point and it brings with it arguably some of the biggest changes to Shadow Priests ever. While we’ve gone over talents and playstyle changes before, the nature of the beta has been one of ever-constant change. But now that we’re so close to release, it’s a safe time to give things another rundown.
After the break, we’ll be discussing stat changes, spell changes, and how to go about picking the best talents for your shiny new Shadow Priest in patch 7.0.
Shadow’s secondary stats will change
While relatively small in the grand scheme of things, it’s still worth noting that your spell casting may feel a bit different after the patch. For starters, Multistrike is being removed from the game. This means that any gear with Multistrike on it will have a different stat breakdown when you log into 7.0. However, even if this weren’t the case, a new level cap means a different way of calculating a stat-to-percentage ratio.
If you look at the example above, you can get an idea of what I mean. Some of my numerical values went up, but the percent increase went down. Again, this isn’t as drastic a change as anything else we’ll be going over today, but it’s worth keeping in mind if your casting feels a little off after the patch.
How exactly are Shadow’s spells changing?
These changes are definitely going to take a bit of getting used to. To quote Lúcio, let’s break it down:
Spells that are staying/changing
- Shadowform: This spell is enabled 100% of the time for Priests who are specced Shadow. The default version is less visible than on live — similar to the glyphed version — and gets darker as you gain more and more Insanity. This makes first-person screenshots and armor displaying slightly annoying as it cannot be turned off.
- Vampiric Touch: The biggest change to this spell is that it now will heal you when it deals damage. This makes it a very important spell to keep on as many enemies as possible to maximize survival. In addition, its duration has been extended slightly to 18 seconds and it will grant Insanity on the initial cast.
- Shadow Word: Pain: Outside of granting an initial amount of Insanity, the biggest change here is that it now only lasts 14 seconds, down from 18.
- Shadow Word: Death: Instead of resetting if the target doesn’t die, this now has two charges by default with a 9-second recharge time.
- Mind Blast: Thanks to talent changes (see below), Mind Blast will now have a cast time for all Shadow Priests. (The “charges” tooltip is because it can be modified by legendaries.)
- Mind Flay: The only real change here is that it can be talented to become Mind Spike.
- Mind Spike: This spell has changed quite a bit. It is a talent-only spell that replaces Mind Flay, does not remove DOTs, and can stack on an enemy to explode for damage.
- Mind Sear: No real change, but it generates Insanity per target hit.
- Vampiric Embrace: This one has received some pretty big changes. It heals for 40% baseline, but it will only heal one nearby party member at a time — including yourself. This means the spell is a lot more powerful for soloing than it is for group play.
- Utility spells: I’ve gone over these in the past, but it’s worth repeating: Utility spells (Dispel Magic, Mass Dispel, Power Word: Shield, Purify Disease, and Shadow Mend) will now cost mana. “But they already do!” you might be saying. Well, yes, but for a while in alpha, we had no mana at all and these spells cost Insanity, which made for some un-fun gameplay. Blizzard added back a mana bar specifically for these spells. Keep in mind, you won’t get as much out of them as you’re used to — Shadow Mend, for instance, costs almost 1/4 of your overall mana.
- Dispersion: This not only reduces damage taken by 60% but it also halts Insanity drain for its duration.
- Mind Control: This is back to being a baseline ability.
- Fade, Levitate, Mind Vision, Shackle Undead, Silence, Shadowy Apparitions, and Resurrection are all pretty much the same.
- Mastery: Now increases SW:P, VT, and Void Bolt damage.
Spells that are being removed
- Devouring Plague: I won’t lie, this one is painful. As someone who started as Forsaken, this has been part of my kit from the very beginning. And while I don’t actually think it would fit very well in our new rotation, I am really sad to see this go.
- Power Word: Fortitude: While I won’t really miss this spell, I’m not exactly a fan of its removal either. Buffing players has sort of become a staple of pre-pull rituals and removing them from the game is, at best, unnecessary.
- Psychic Horror: With Psychic Scream and Mind Control baseline, I’m not too sad about this. Disarming was nice in PVP, but all classes have received PVP tuning.
- Shadow Orbs: Gone!
- All level-90 talents: The talent tier that seemed determined to aggro everything in sight is gone. While not something that bothers me too much, they did have some of the most impressive visuals for Priests, and I’ll miss those.
- Holy spells: Prayer of Healing, Flash Heal, Leap of Faith, and Fear Ward are all gone.
- Lots of talents: If for some reason you needed incentive not to stop reading halfway through, consider the talent changes discussion below a reason to keep reading.
- Void Eruption and Void Bolt: unless you’ve spent too much time being blinded by the Light, Voidform isn’t going to surprise you. However, it was recently changed in a notable way. Now, when you reach 100 Insanity, you click Void Eruption to activate Voidform and the transformation now has a cast time. Once in Voidform, this same button becomes Void Bolt.
- Void Torrent (not coming until Artifact implementation): Your first freebie Artifact ability, Void Torrent is a huge damager with a channel time and the ability to halt Insanity drain.
- Shadow Mend: This spell has effectively replaced Flash Heal, giving us a gain-some-lose-some heal that we can use in Shadowform.
- Many talents! Handle them! Naturally, with old talents being removed, new ones had to take their place.
What talents should you pick for Shadow now?
It wouldn’t be a new expansion without talent overhauls, and that’s exactly what the pre-patch is bringing us. While I encourage you to test each tier and see what works best for you, the following talents are the ones I have been using on the beta for leveling. (Keep in mind, these are my personal recommendations fit for soloing and leveling.)
Level 15: Shadow Word: Void. This is the only active talent in this tier, but I like it because it allows for on-demand burst of both damage and Insanity. In a way, it feels to me like what Mind Spike has felt like in Warlords.
Level 30: Body and Soul. I don’t think I’m ever going to get over the loss of the practically passive movement increase that Angelic Feather offered, but Body and Soul is the next-best thing. Masochism is a solid choice in its own right, but it’s too hard for me to give up a movement speed increase.
Level 45: Mind Bomb. I love this spell. It’s changed a bit over the course of the alpha/beta, but it still offers the most bang for your buck. While Dominant Mind is super cool, it’s also a bit of a pain to maintain for long periods of time.
Level 60: Void Lord. This tier is really a bit of a dealer’s choice tier, but I opt for Void Lord since it will benefit any amount of mobs that you happen to be up against. Void Ray can be strong — especially for single-target encounters — but while out soloing, it’s a bit easy for the buff to fall off if you are too focused on multi-DOTing.
Level 75: San’layn. Again, this tier will vary, but with the new dependence on Vampiric Touch for healing, San’layn is my favorite. Tossing Vampiric Touch on a bunch of mobs and then popping Vampiric Embrace can keep you alive through any number of mobs. If you’re having trouble getting used to focusing on Vampiric Touch, though, both of the other options revolve around Shadow Word: Pain.
Level 90: Shadow Crash. I’ll be 100% honest here, I take this talent because it looks amazing and I love yelling, “SHADOW CRAAAAASH!” Outside of that, though, it offers you a pretty strong AOE spell that will help boost your Insanity if you plan to take on multiple mobs at once. The other two choices here are solid options if you tend to level one mob at a time.
Level 100: Mind Spike. For soloing, this talent is the most consistently useful of the bunch. Legacy of the Void is a good option but not my favorite choice. If you can’t get used to a Mind Flay-less rotation though, I’d take Legacy. Surrender to Madness (as I’ve discussed before) is my favorite talent here for a plethora of reasons, but it’s definitely not one built for leveling.
Shadow Priests in 7.0 in a nutshell
Whew! Think you have all that down? All in all, Shadow still feels like Shadow. Sure, there are changes and new spells to emphasize, but I’m finding playstyle to be much more familiar than I expected. If you survived the change from Mists of Pandaria to Clarity of Power-land, this will likely feel like less of a shift than that was.
Once we actually dive into Legion and start taking on bosses, there are sure to be a lot more minutiae for those of us who want to min/max. But for now, rest assured that Shadow will be recognizable — and likely a lot more fun — when the patch drops.
Until then, always remember: If Shadow Priests were a Pokemon, we’d definitely be Gastly.
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