Shadow Word: First look at Shadow Priest talents and abilities in Battle for Azeroth
Greetings, Voidkin! The Battle for Azeroth datamining has officially begun, and you all know what that means — it’s time to freak out about nerfs!
Just kidding. But it is time to take a look at how our spells and abilities will be changing in the next World of Warcraft expansion. For those of you who have enjoyed Shadow in Legion and/or hate relearning Shadow every expansion, I have good news — Shadow is fundamentally unchanged.
Blizzard has said they want to iterate on the Legion class changes rather than overhaul them, and that’s exactly what they’ve done with Shadow. So, keeping in mind everything below is subject — and likely — to change, let’s take a look at Shadow’s first design iteration in Battle for Azeroth.
What’s changing and what isn’t for our spells
In general, Blizzard seems to be targeting Insanity generation and DOT duration. It’s hard to say whether or not the Shadow damage and Haste nerfs to Voidform are to compensate for the item-level squish coming, or if they’re genuinely meant as nerfs. For now, I’m not freaking out too much, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Likely the biggest change below — thanks in part to some of our talent options — is the one made to Void Eruption.
New and changed spells for Shadow Priests
- Shadow Word: Pain — Now lasts 14 sec. (down from 18).
- Vampiric Touch — Now lasts 21 sec. (down from 24 sec.) and heals for 30% of damage dealt (down from 50%).
- Mind Blast — Generates 12 Insanity (down from 15).
- Void Bolt (Passive) — This extends the duration of our DOTs by 2 sec. (down from 3 sec.)
- Void Eruption — This now does Shadow damage within 10 yds. of the target regardless of whether or not the target has a DOT on it, only requires 90 Insanity to activate (down from 100).
- Voidform (Passive) — Shadow damage increased by 10% (down from 25%), now gives 0.5% Haste per sec. (down from 1% per sec.) and reduces Mind Blast’s cooldown by 1.5 sec. (down from 3 sec.)
- Shadowfiend — Lasts 15 sec (up from 12) and generates 3 Insanity per hit (up from 0).
- Vampiric Embrace — This now has a 2 min. cooldown (down from 3 min.)
- Mind Sear — It’s back, baby! Generates 4 Insanity over duration per target hit (live: 1 per target hit).
- Silence — This now silences for 4 sec. (down from 5 sec.) and interrupts non-player targets from that spell school for 4 sec. (up from 3 sec.)
- Leap of Faith — It looks like we may have this back!
- Power Word: Fortitude — It’s also back!
- Void Torrent and Shadow Word: Death are now talents (see below).
Unchanged spells for Shadow Priests
Not too surprisingly, most of our utility-style spells have not changed. Of note on the DPS front are Mind Flay, Shadowy Apparitions, and our Mastery — so far, there have been no changes to these spells (outside of damage coefficients). If you’re curious to see the full list, however, look no further:
- Mind Flay
- Shadowy Apparitions (Passive)
- Mastery: Madness (Passive)
- Shackle Undead
- Mind Control
- Dispel Magic
- Mass Dispel
- Mind Vision
- Psychic Scream
- Power Word: Shield
- Shadow Mend
- Purify Disease
Shadow Priest talent changes in Battle for Azeroth
Our talents have received an update on the same scale as our baseline spells. While it’s not an extreme overhaul, it’s still significant enough that you’ll want to give things a look-over to understand how Blizzard intends our talent design to work.
Also note that most talents have received an adjustment either in terms of Insanity generation, damage done, or both. However, the ones listed in bold are either brand new or significantly altered from their live version — you’ll especially want to pay close attention to these.
Level-15 talent tier
- Fortress of the Mind — Mind Flay and Mind Blast deal 10% more damage and generate 20% more Insanity.
- Shadowy Insight — Shadow Word: Pain periodic damage has a chance to reset the remaining cooldown on Mind Blast and cause your next Mind Blast to be instant (approx. 3 procs per minute).
- Shadow Word: Void — Blasts the target with a word of void for (125% of Spell power) Shadow damage. Generates 15 Insanity. (Replaces Mind Blast, has 2 charges)
I kind of like the change here — Twist of Fate and Shadowy Insight have swapped places, which makes this tier more about Insanity generation. Not to mention, Shadow Word: Void replacing Mind Blast instead of adding another ability to your kit smooths things out, rotation-wise. My only concern right now is that the “best” option here will come down to simple simulations, rather than being situational.
Level-30 talent tier
- Mania — Your movement speed is increased by up to 35% based on your current Insanity.
- Body and Soul — Power Word: Shield increases your target’s movement speed by 40% for 3 sec.
- San’layn — Reduces the cooldown of Vampiric Embrace by 45 sec increases its healing done by 25%.
This tier remains an odd choice between two movement speed increasing talents and one that aids in healing. On top of that, it completely reworks San’layn in a way that removes and damage-boosting components from the talent, which I’m not a huge fan of.
Level-45 talent tier
- Dark Void — Void Eruption applies Shadow Word: Pain to all targets hit.
- Misery — Vampiric Touch also applies Shadow Word: Pain to the target.
- Shadow Word: Death — A word of dark binding that inflicts (220% of Spell power) Shadow damage to the target. Only usable on enemies that have less than 20% health. Generates 20 Insanity, or 30 Insanity if the target dies. (Has 2 charges)
Here’s where things get interesting. Dark Void is completely new and has a different enough functionality from Misery that choosing between them will be meaningful. That choice will (hopefully) involve figuring out how each interacts with our other talents, as well as what works best for a given boss.
Shadow Word: Death gives us a talent choice that will also make this tier about single-target vs. multi-target vs. execute-phase bosses. That said, Shadow’s execute phase is part of what’s made us stand out in Legion, and I’m not a huge fan of removing it as a baseline ability. I’d rather Blizzard keep it and make a talent that affects it.
Level-60 talent tier
- Last Word — Reduces the cooldown of Silence by 15 sec.
- Mind Bomb — Inflicts the target with a Mind Bomb. After 2 sec or if the target dies, it unleashes a psychic explosion, fearing all enemies within 8 yds of the target for 5 sec. (Replaces Pyschic Scream)
- Psychic Horror — Terrifies the target in place, stunning them for 4 sec.
This won’t really have any impact on our DPS, so I’ll just say that I’m still salty the cooldown on Silence is so much longer than other classes’. It would be nice to not require a talent to make it closer to others’ — but still somehow longer. Making Mind Bomb a fear instead of a stun is also an unwelcome change.
Level-75 talent tier
- Auspicious Spirits — Your Shadowy Apparitions now deal 100% increased damage and generate 2 Insanity (down from 3).
- Twist of Fate — After damaging a target below 35% health, you deal 15% increased damage and 15% increased healing for 10 sec.
- Shadow Crash — Hurl a bolt of slow-moving Shadow energy at the destination, dealing (200% of Spell power) Shadow damage to all targets within 8 yards. Generates 20 Insanity.
We’ve had Twist of Fate as a must-pick talent for so many expansions now I’m not sure anything could ever pass it. Like Shadow Word: Death, I would much prefer it become baseline (if also less powerful) so that we have a more meaningful choice to make.
Level-90 talent tier
- Lingering Insanity — When Voidform ends, its Haste bonus fades by 1% every second, instead of ending immediately.
- Mindbender — Summons a Mindbender to attack the target for 15 sec. Generates 6 Insanity each time the Mindbender attacks. (Replaces Shadowfiend)
- Power Infusion — Infuses you with power for 20 sec, increasing Haste by 25% and Insanity generation by 25%.
I like this talent tier, if only because it seems like the choice could actually come down to talent interactions (while it may just come down to simming). I’m curious how Mindbender will compare, though, given Shadowfiend lasts just as long and gives 3 Insanity per hit.
Level-100 talent tier
- Legacy of the Void — Void Eruption’s cast time is reduced by 40% and may be cast anytime your Insanity level is 60 or higher.
- Void Torrent — Channel a torrent of void energy into the target, dealing (220% of Spell power) Shadow damage over 4 sec. Insanity does not drain during this channel. Requires Voidform.
- Surrender to Madness — All your Insanity-generating abilities generate 100% more Insanity and you can cast while moving for 1 min. Then, you take damage equal to 90% of your maximum health and cannot generate Insanity for 30 sec.
Okay, this tier is excellent all around. I’m sad to see Void Torrent taken out of our standard kit, but not at all surprised. Heck, I’m surprised to see it anywhere at all! But beyond that, Surrender to Madness has been changed to be potentially far more viable across multiple encounters, and I am so, so excited about that.
What happens next?
I’m running out of words, so I’ll try to keep this brief. I’m happy that Blizzard hasn’t changed anything too drastically — though I know some of you weren’t fans of Shadow in Legion. With a few exceptions, our talents also appear to be in solid order for a first iteration. Right now, my biggest concern is how our execute phase will feel if we opt out of both Shadow Word: Death and Twist of Fate.
Hopefully we’ll have the alpha out sooner than later and I can get a feel for everything… before Blizzard changes it all and flips it on its head. Overall, how are you all feeling about our first look at Shadow in Battle for Azeroth?
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