8.1 PTR SPriest Feedback from 'Top 100' player

Priest
Hi everyone, my name is Divineas and I've been a shadow priest since MoP as my main. From MoP onward I've consistently performed among the top 100 shadow priests in Mythic Raiding. Peeking in late WoD/Early legion where I consistently placed in the top 10 of shadow priest ranks on Warcraftlogs. Being a small content creator I made a video describing and discussing the 8.1 PTR changes. I've also written a small synopsis detailing the most important changes and how these change our viability. Considering I play mostly PvE my criticisms/feedback will largely focus on this aspect of the game. Afterwards I'll quickly touch on ideas that would make shadow priest a more interesting and well rounded spec. If you are interested in watching the entire video, a link has been provided below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxRxOIPgRGs&t=49s

TL:DR conclusion
Although the changes introduced in the 8.1 PTR make the current shadow priest better numerically it unfortunately does not bring any meaningful change to our slow and bland gameplay. Voidforms place in a game like WoW where front loaded damage is far more important than increased ramp over a long duration is tricky since it actively prohibits certain content in the game (M+/Open World). Although Voidform was interesting as a mechanic for a while and has been experimented upon enough in Legion, we can conclude based on experience and available data, that in order for it to at least be a viable recourse system changes have to be made to our base AoE kit to accommodate the lackluster AoE we currently poses and that it's uncoupled from Void Eruption/Entering Voidform.

In depth:
-General Voidform Damage/Duration buffs:
Although the general damage increases that have been announced will help shadow in its current form. The fact the design team continues to push forward the idea that long Voidforms are a good thing is a serious hazard to our overall viability. As our AoE almost completely relies on the combination of Void Eruption and Dark Ascension in both M+ and raiding, not having any control on this AoE is a fundemental issue, that no other class in the game has to deal with. You could argue that other classes need to generate their own resources before being able to use their abilities and that its not as bad as it sounds. The main issue is that as Shadow Priests our single target damage relies on getting into Voidform. As such, we dont have the luxury of 'waiting' before casting Void Eruption in raid encounters considering we have a massive drop in damage if we do. Furthermore speccing into the AoE abilities Dark Void and Shadow Crash reduce our single target damage more than any other class has to deal with. Think of this like a mage normally doing 85% of their damage, they have a choice through talents if they want their remaining 15% damage be more single target focused or AoE focused. With Shadow Priest this balance is far more detrimental as our normal baseline abilities do not significantly cover both situations. As such we normally do 60% of our damage and have the choice to spec the remaining 40% into single target or 40% into AoE. This design fundamentally makes us a lot less viable than any other ranged class.

-Dispersion Changes and the introduction of Intangibility
Nothing but good words for the base change to Dispersion. This change hits the sweet spot in terms of damage reduction. In WoD the 90% damage reduction was obviously to high, but without our artifact weapon the BFA variant of dispersion was seriously lacking. The extra 50% movement speed is incredible and very welcome addition. However, I'm personally against the introduction of intangibility. The base changes to dispersion already make it incredibly powerful. The extra cool down reduction and additional healing is negligible. The big issue however is that due to the introduction of Intangibility in the 35 level talent row we're left with Body and Soul (BaS), San'layn and now Intangibility. This unfortunately again leaves us with only 1 movement increase in BaS and makes it completely mandatory in almost all raiding environments. So in short this talent makes the comment from the design team itself stating that they wanted a viable option instead of BaS completely contradictory.

-Focused Will and Hallucinations:
Big fan of both changes. I understand this might cause issues for pvp shadow priests since it also directly meant a nerf to Edge of Insanity. However, for open world content, mythic+ and raiding the introduction of a better dispersion and now Focused Will being available in Voidform increases our defensive capabilities. Hallucinations becoming baseline is a nice albeit small quality of life change and is welcome with the current iteration of shadow priest.

-Changes to Void Torrent and Lingering Insanity:
Unfortunately both of these changes will probably mean very little since they have to compete with the grand daddy Mindbender in the same talent row. Considering Lingering Insanity and Mindbender scale from the same thing, that being long voidform durations and haste, this merely becomes a numbers check to see which performs better instead of being a choice made due to a preference for gameplay.

Now Void Torrent is a personal gripe of mine. Like Shadow Word: Death and Shadow Crash I highly feel these abilities should be made baseline and their numbers tweaked accordingly. Our kit is laughably small without these spells since Voidform as a mechanic was highly dependent on high haste levels that were present in legion to make it interesting. As even though you werent pressing that many different abilities the high voidform stacks made it a very fast and engaging experience. Now that both Void Torrent/Shadow Word: Death and haste levels have been gutted in BFA this leaves Shadow Priest as a very clunky/slow and uninteresting spec.

-Surrender to Madness changes:
Unfortunately this talent will never work as Voidform duration is not nearly enough of a factor in increasing our damage. Furthermore suddenly dropping 90% of your hp in raids which since Legion have been far more focused on consistent incoming raid damage instead of big chunks makes this talent that more nonviable. (I go into why pushing Voidform duration is not as big of a deal as in Legion in the linked video as explaining it in text would take a bit too much space).

-Small additional changes just announced in PTR build 28202
Legacy of the Void now increases Void Form damage by an additional 5%. This change just makes me that much more fearful for any meaningful changes that I had hoped would be implemented in 8.1. This is merely a rollback to Legion LotV. Furthermore this just means that for any raiding content it either does enough damage to dethrone Dark Ascension, further reducing any meaningful gameplay, or it doesn't and its just never picked. Please just remove this talent, make the reduced Void Eruption cast time base (Since having our only AoE spell, which already is incredibly clunky to our single target damage reliance based on wasting our AoE ability, on a 2.5 second cast time is completely and utterly unacceptable).

Possible Fixes:
Although it is highly unlikely that at this point Void Form will be scrapped we need to address the issue that as long as we're stuck with back loaded single target damage that is bland and clunky, our AoE abilities need to be unlocked from entering Void Form and that meaningful AoE additions have to be made to our base kit. Furthermore our single target damage will need more meaningful interactions to make Shadow feel better in a Patchwerk situation.

Single Target:
-Make Void Torrent and Shadow Word: Death baseline and revert haste gain back to 1% per insanity stack. This would make Shadow Priest significantly more interesting in a pure single target situation since we can actually 'feel' the haste increase.

-Make Shadow Word: Void baseline. Let's be honest, nobody picks Fortress of the Mind since it makes our already boring single target even worse. Shadowy Insight is picked mostly in pvp, and only purely because when procced it makes Mind Blast an instant cast. Increasing Mind Blast from 1 to 2 charges will not change its viability in pvp and might even make it worth considering in a PvE scenario. A different talent needs to be introduced in the level 15 talent row.

AOE:
Adding Mind Sear back as an ability was a horrible quick and dirty fix to the problem created in later Legion patches where outside of the legendary ring The Twins Painful Touch we had no way to do any meaningfull AoE unless Shadow Crash was chosen. Since Mind Sear is channel spell castable on allies with no cooldown, buffing its damage will break it. Shadow Priest has always been reliant on DoTs for AoE potential. Mind Sear actively prohibits the application of DoTs if it receives a damage buff. Therefore I propose a few things:

-Remove Mind Sear as a cast-able spell and revert it back to a Mind Flay Passive where having a target with SW:P and VampT will automatically do a small amount of AoE damage.

-Introduce Shadow Nova. The Shadow Variant of Holy Nova, instead of it being a spell that we can spam, it should have a small cooldown attached to it (15-20 seconds). This way we have a baseline ability that provides us with meaningfull AoE that is in theme with the class while not utterly destroying people that play shadow and want to do old transmog farm raids.

-Shadow Crash talent changed: Shadow Crash is now a passive talent that significantly increases the cooldown of Shadow Nova but increases its damage and gains the ability to spread our DoTs to X amount of nearby targets. This way it does not interfere with the viability of Dark Void which is specifically viable for loads of small adds and instead gives us a nice way to spread DoTs to 3/4 large hp targets.
Back in MoP Shadow Priests had a Dark Halo talent which had an AMAZING visual and performed the same mechanic as your "Shadow Nova" idea. I would love if that spell came back into the picture.

Personally I kind of like Void Eruption, what I do NOT like however is the fact that, as you mentioned yourself, a lot of tools that feel should be baseline in order for the whole concept to work are locked behind talents, thus making the spec incomplete. I'm no expert on Shadow Priests, but I have invested some time into it and I feel like the Insanity resource during Void Form can be punishing. A very nice and I think fair fix would have been to bake in the mechanic behind "Surrender to Madness" to become baseline, making you able to cast on the move while in Void Form. Your character literally flies up and levitates when entering Void Form. It would attract a lot of players I'm sure.
Fair enough, although Dark Halo was amazing visually it suffered from a small drawback, namely increased damage over range. As such, you'd need to cast Dark Halo from around 40yds away for it to deal most damage possible. This wasn't an issue in raids due to the availability of the Leap of Faith Glyph so you could rapidly position yourself afterwards. However with the current movement options and simultaneous continues Insanity Drain while in Voidform this specific range interaction might be a lot harder to pull off than it has been previously in raids. But for M+ specifically Halo's range is far the big to be practical since ninjapulling becomes a problem.

For movement I, for the most part, agree with you on the Surrender to Madness becoming baseline. I'd however again make small a small adjustment to it to not make it overpowered. Id prefer if while in Voidform only Mindflay would allow you to move while casting. As such we'd still need to stand still while banking resources while outside of Voidform but would give us far more leniency within Voidform. Since being able to cast all the time without penalty is so far pretty much only allowed for BM hunters. (Why they simultaneously are allowed to do so much damage is beyond me though).
I dont understand why u or any of the devs thought that 90% dispersion was too much. I mean i dont get it..its our only defensive with long cd, we cant cast in it..we can only move and it doesnt heal us. Even with heal from it we were nonviable for high keys in legion since we had nothing to mitigate oneshots from bosses.
For me..even 90% is not enough without heal baked into it.
Don't worry, Disc Priest and Holy Priest getting dumpstered next patch.

We will all get to cry together.
@Duzurix Although I heavily empathize that a 90% damage reduction on Dispersion would've have been incredibly welcome in Legion and with your statement regarding high keys in legion were very unfavorable for Shadow in particular there are a few fundamental changes between Legion and BFA's M+/Raid design in terms of the relative 'power' need of defensive cooldowns.

Specifically in M+ the legion model heavily emphasized the use of a big defensive cd at point X. Good examples of this would be General Xakals Wicked Slam, Amalgam's Soul Burst, Lady Hatecoil's Focused Lightning etc. The fundamental change in BFA is that these mega hard hitting abilities are very scarcely present and most abilities that hit very hard are either debuffs capable of being dispelled like Sporecaller Zancha's Festering Harverst (which can be dealt with by other means too), high damage over a short period of time like Soulbound Goliath's Burning Brush which healer's can deal with sufficiently with the help of minor defensive cd's by dps. Damage that can be evaded by movement like Sharkpunchers Sharks or Harlan Sweetes' bombardment in Freehold. Or lastly generally high throughput damage without burst, a good example of this would be the Heartsbane Triad in Wayncrest Manor.

So instead of massive one burst hits we have more prolonged terms of damage that generally tend to be handled by the healer or specific abilties that dps need to deal with. Furthermore, many bosses have single target incapacitating abiltities that need to be cc'd/damaged/dispelled/moved through in which the use of a personal def cd is more likely used. Just at the top of my head Soulbound Goliath, Adderis,Aspix and Merektha from Temple of Sethhralis just to name a few all have incapacitating abilities or spells that need to be moved through. Dispersion only being on a 2 minute cooldown (Reduced further by haste) and now giving 75% damage reduction is incredibly powerful in dealing with these situations given the cooldown is short enough to be used multiple times in a fight and these abilities usually not hitting as hard as Legion bosses would have. Compare this to Iceblock (4min cd) and Aspect of the Turtle (3min cd), if dispersion would have been a 90% damage reduction it would be without doubt almost the strongest defensive cd in the game, since it also has the added bonus of halting insanity degeneration and a pretty massive 50% increased movement speed (Although the degeneration interaction has become significantly less important since 8.0).

Lastly don't forget that using Power Word: Shield before dispersion gives you an aditional ~15% hp. On top of that many 2nd and 3rd rings on Azerite armor either give you passive healing/shields. This extra addition on top of everything I just mentioned gives us pretty decent defensive capabilities now that dispersion provides this added protection.

Hopefully this has sufficiently explained why I feel 75% damage reduction hits the sweet spot in terms of what we need in comparison to your proposed 90%.
Our lack of movability. Also Voidform is move unfriendly, a lot PvE fights need to move and PvP is almost constant move. We need time to rise damage and lot of content, just don't have that time.

Ask devs which is broken, content, our mechanic or booth? :)
I was on the Ptr server today, I did not have any improvement.
Yes, we are longer in the VF.
but generally my skills have made less dmg than on the live server.

Same eq and talents.

So the VF buff will not mind if you reduce our base damage by 3% in the same breath.
I just don't understand why they still cling to the voidform/insanity mechanic.. Shadow priests can never be viable in all content if that stays.

Voidform/insanity was amazing in raid encounters in Legion. It was fun, fast paced and just felt really good. The problem was that it was tedious to play in dungeons and only really did competitive damage on really high keys, especially fortified.

Now that they tried to frontload damage SP actually do great AoE burst damage. But they sacrificed sustained AoE, ST damage and engaging voidform rotation to do so. Now they want to double-down on voidform being more important again.

It's just so obvious to me that this will not work.. Either voidform is a fun mechanic, and thereby making build-up long, OR voidform is just lame and SPs do good on burst AoE and are viable in dungeons. They can't have both with voidform being cool. Og voidform is cool, raiding is fun and everything else is probably !@#$.

On another topic: changing void eruption to not hit dotted targets but hit in a range around your target killed what SPs we're known for: SPREAD OUT CLEAVE/MULTI TARGET. RBGs as Shadow was the most fun thing in Legion. I absolutely loved it. Now that out spread damage is done like everyone else: stacked target void erupt./shadow crash/dark void/dark ascension we're just more and more similar to other classes. Flavour is gone. We can't void erupt on 7 targets in a teamfights in RBGs anymore, which was the best feeling EVER.

Wanted to main shadow priest in BfA. Too bad they killed it. Still waiting for some actual changes.

Devouring plague? Shadow orbs? More DoT focus? Spread cleave/aoe/rot? Fun and engaging rotation?

SW:D being made a talent is maybe the saddest thing of all.. Like SP didn't get gutted enough by the other changes and losing the artifact weapon.

Well, /rant. I'll check back in next SP change announcement to reconsider the spec I wanted to main in BfA. So far I'll keep it idle at level 120 waiting for good news:-)
28/10/2018 11:28Posted by Natuuro
I just don't understand why they still cling to the voidform/insanity mechanic.. Shadow priests can never be viable in all content if that stays.


Because reworks in BFA were green lighted in Nighthold, and at that time the whole phantasmagoria of problems that would reveal themselves in the next two tiers weren't so much to be seen. You can be upset about that all you want, but flaming those working on the spec currently (Who may not be the ones who created it in Legion) for not doing something they aren't allowed to do is idiotic.

Also I'd like to say that yes. Ramping drain, no abilities that cost insanity, and heavily gates burst behind a resource that starts at 0 are terrible mechanics for any spec aiming to be competitive in all formats, and even moreso a spec which has no alternate dps options on the same class. But I'd also like to say that those things aren't all that Voidform can be. The visuals / theme are awesome, the concept of "Stance that makes you powerful and lets you spend resources" isn't unworkable if you cut out the aforementioned terrible things.

There's stuff here to build on, and admittedly a lot that has to be taken away, and I'm as sad as anyone that it wasn't able to happen in BFA.

28/10/2018 11:28Posted by Natuuro
On another topic: changing void eruption to not hit dotted targets but hit in a range around your target killed what SPs we're known for: SPREAD OUT CLEAVE/MULTI TARGET. RBGs as Shadow was the most fun thing in Legion. I absolutely loved it. Now that out spread damage is done like everyone else: stacked target void erupt./shadow crash/dark void/dark ascension we're just more and more similar to other classes. Flavour is gone. We can't void erupt on 7 targets in a teamfights in RBGs anymore, which was the best feeling EVER.


I'm kinda perplexed as to why you think this. It might've looked cool but the damage it did was negligible and in no way part of why shadow was strong in RBGs throughout legion. Shadow's spread target in RBGs still does, and likely never won't, come from dots, and is very potent with the correct stats / traits (Which I don't have :P)
Question: What if mind sear remained as an active ability, that when used on a target already afflicted by your shadow word:pain and/or Vampiric touch, either:

1) Spreads the dots to ALL other enemies hit, with the same duration the current target has. Can not be used to refresh these debuffs.
2) Mind sear now deals significantly more damage when used on targets with vampiric touch & Shadow word: Pain, but only deals damage to the surrounding enemies, not the target itself.

I'm a big fan of how they reworked raging blow for fury Warrior, and I believe SP could use a similar treatment. Give us 2 stacks baseline, rework 1st talent tier.
@Atahalni

Its certainly a fun idea but almost impossible to balance. It would give us a way to spread DOTs that goes above and beyond what other DOT classes have to offer.

Although Sunfire is instantly applied to multiple targets, moonfire still has to be cast manually per target. Similarly Seed of Corruption only applies Corruption and not Agony/Unstable Affliction. And it kind of makes a large part of voidbolt interaction completely negligible. Considering it doesn't matter if your DoTs drop off since casting SW:P/VT followed by a single mind sear completely DoTs everything up instantly anyway. All in all it's far too powerful an interaction.

Your second interaction is a lot more realistic but in turn gives the same problem we already have right now. Mind Sear being spammable without a cooldown therefor never being able to do significant damage. If it would do more damage than DoTting everything up it would make the class even more boring/simple than it already is.

I personally hope for a more reliable way to spread our dots. Dark Void is a pretty good ability but is almost never chosen even in heavy add fights due to ToF being on the same talent row. If a similar interaction is made base we could have more meaningful talents to compete with ToF and similarly give us more ways to optimize and differentiate between good and mediocre Shadow Priests than is currently available.
1/ insanity resets to 100 when out of combat
2/ dark ascension no longer grants voidform, only does the void eruption part. Cd reduced to 30s, OR cd stays at 1min but it applies vamp touch to all targets hit

Done ?
Ditch Voidform. It sucks.

Bring back TBC utility.
@Atahalni
We had in WoD 25% chance to spread pain with mind sear, think it was talent, this can be back. And make re-doting a bit more fun, than target switching. And sear to be more active spell.

But let's Blizzard fix broken VF first, or make content VF competitive friendly.
As I've said personally multiple times:

I prefer the entire Void Form theme scrapped and the return of orbs. Why? Because I lack any faith and have about 0 trust in the fact that Blizzard is capable of balancing this mechanic. We've had a system that worked before right? If someone would shed some light on why the new Voidform mechanic was necessary for shadow please do so!

From looking at the opinions from most priests, Mists of Pandaria was probably the best version of shadow, along with TBC. However, TBC shadow was (let's face it) borderline overpowered. (imo)

Returning the lack of respect and clarity that Blizzard has given the shadow community, I'll continue to scream for orbs until I am proven wrong by the Blues themselves :)
29/10/2018 12:21Posted by Ellipsìs
I'm kinda perplexed as to why you think this. It might've looked cool but the damage it did was negligible and in no way part of why shadow was strong in RBGs throughout legion. Shadow's spread target in RBGs still does, and likely never won't, come from dots, and is very potent with the correct stats / traits (Which I don't have :P)


My two cents on this would be the fact that it felt EXTREMELY satisfying to hit Void Eruption when the entire enemy team was dotted up which is something that should be part of any spec really, a feeling of satisfaction.

Also the fact that you can LoS Void Eruption now is just yet another small annoyance of the spec that makes me want to slam my head against my keyboard but ey, whatchu gon' do?
11/11/2018 19:09Posted by Dotexe
My two cents on this would be the fact that it felt EXTREMELY satisfying to hit Void Eruption when the entire enemy team was dotted up which is something that should be part of any spec really, a feeling of satisfaction.


Ok it did feel kinda cool, but it didn't do anything :P And that was kinda the point I wanted to make. At least right now eruption serves a legitimate purpose, and making it how it was in legion would once again remove that. It's not perfect, in fact its pretty terrible in terms of design, but I'd rather it be how it is than how it was, given the state of everything else until 9.0.

11/11/2018 19:05Posted by Dotexe
As I've said personally multiple times:

I prefer the entire Void Form theme scrapped and the return of orbs. Why? Because I lack any faith and have about 0 trust in the fact that Blizzard is capable of balancing this mechanic. We've had a system that worked before right? If someone would shed some light on why the new Voidform mechanic was necessary for shadow please do so!

From looking at the opinions from most priests, Mists of Pandaria was probably the best version of shadow, along with TBC. However, TBC shadow was (let's face it) borderline overpowered. (imo)

Returning the lack of respect and clarity that Blizzard has given the shadow community, I'll continue to scream for orbs until I am proven wrong by the Blues themselves :)


If you wanna have a chat about this discussion in a format a little better designed for two way conversation add me on discord or in game.

Discord: Ellipsis - Ice Bear#7667

Bnet: Fake#2302

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