The very first character I rolled – a Dwarfen priest – is still my main. He healed through vanilla and then discovered the joys of melting faces with a shadow priest during the Burning Crusade, even if our DPS was deliberately limited thanks to the mana regen Vampiric Touch gave the group you were in – 15% of your damage done was turned into mana. Later the DPS of shadow priests was allowed to go up in Wrath when vampiric touch just gave the raid the replenishment buff – something other classes also provided thanks to Blizzard’s “Bring the player, not the class“.
At the start of Mists of Pandaria, Shadow priests weren’t in a bad place really, but as the expansion has gone on things have changed.
I think what really brought it home was seeing what a destro warlock could do on Thok heroic – they were putting out ~440k DPS average for the fight; according to WorldOfLogs this is pretty good, but wouldn’t rank. However if they put out that much damage as a shadow priest they’d be ranked #1 on WoL.
Given we had vaguely similar gear levels, this was rather depressing to say the least.
The problem shadow priests seem to have are our DoTs – make DoTs too powerful and on multi-target fights we’re just too powerful – if those targets live long enough. Its notable that on the fights which have multiple targets in SoO like Protectors my priest does competitive DPS. Even on fights like Spoils HC where the mobs don’t last as long, my priest does reasonably well.
Single target fights however? That’s another matter. Keeping our DoTs low currently means that our single target DPS is lackluster – you have to do all sorts of tricks to boost DPS. I switch talents almost every fight to work best with the fight at hand.
This state of affairs is something which will hopefully be addressed in Warlords – our mastery is changing from DoTs multi-striking, something the new multi-strike tertiary stat will do, to boost the damage done by our non-DoT spells: Mind Blast, mind spike, mind flay and mind sear.
But that doesn’t help my priest right now as the guild I’m in works its way through the later parts of the heroic Seige of Orgrimmar. A good example is on Thok HC the only reason to bring a shadow priest is our utility – we can do some DPS, but its healing from vampiric embrace, being able to cast mass dispell without caring about it’s mana cost, Prayer of Mending to help with healing, etc.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to compare single target DPS on a target dummy by my shadow priest and my warlock. Some notes:
- Both characters have the legendary cloak and meta gem
- Both characters are optimized using Ask Mr Robot, with suitable stat weights
- Test ran for 10 minutes and abilities were used off cooldown
- I use the AffDots and AffDotsPriest addons to allow me to snapshot DoTs. Useful on my warlock; critical on a shadowpriest. I’m glad snapshotting is going away in Warlords
- Talents were adjusted for use on the target dummies – mostly important for my priest as Twist of Fate doesn’t proc on low health target dummies & that’s a large part of how shadow priest DPS these days. From a log the Heroic Immerseus to Nazgrim clear on Wednesday it had a 33% uptime – which on a +15% damage boost is rather nice.
Finally, and most importantly, there are around 40 ilvls of gear difference between the priest – who has a number of items from heroics – and the Warlock who has items from Ordos, flex and one or two normal items.
So, first up is the priest who was using FCDL, DI and DS which is normally the sort of proc-y build I’d use on Thok. However with no ToF and SW:I falling behind – I did a test which used SW:I, the normal “I can stand still & nuke!” talent, but it was ~20k DPS worse than FCDL.
As you can see, its ok for the gear level as a priest, but its really not so good when compared to the warlock who is quite a few ilvls lower:
Even worse, my warlock couldn’t use shadowburn either – we so need realistic target dummies which die or at least go into execute range for some of the fight. Something else to consider is that I’m far more practised on my priest than my warlock. On the one side my priest has been melting faces since TBC & has raided a lot as shadow. On the other side my warlock has only switched to destro about three weeks ago!
Given this – who would you rather take as a raid leader? A shadow priest who could bring some utility or a warlock who can bring DPS and utility?
If you’re curious as to what a warlock brings to the raid:
- Health stones
- Spellpower and health buff – which actually overwrites the priest fortitude as its better
- Demonic portals
- Combat rez
- A lot more DPS than a shadow priest
And they also have fun things like Unending Resolve whose interrupt protection is insanely for fights like Thok with its continual caster interrupts.
One of the current bits of fun for DoT classes right now is the idea of snapshotting. The stats you have when the DoT is cast is used for the entire duration of the DoT. It used to be everything was taken into account and over time that has been nerfed down – these days its really haste and spell power which are preserved.
Naturally this means that if you cast a DoT just before heroism ends it’ll continue to tick as if you had heroism on you even after it has ended.
Combine that with trinket procs and the caster legendary meta gem and you have the potential to get some very hard hitting DoTs in place.
On the surface this would seem to be one of those “hard to master” things which seperates the player base out – except that most people just use an addon like AffDots to track things for them!
This system is going away in Warlords, with your stats at the time of the DoT tick being used to calculate damage – given the addon use here, I think its a good thing to do really. Whilst people can claim “Oh its down to skill” if all you’re doing is having an addon track the snapshot levels, it doesn’t require that much skill when it comes down to it!
As for Warlords and some more details of the current system see: Behavior of DoTs and Haste in Warlords of Draenor