Beta Build 12539 And Its Inner Shadow Tree

So far I’ve been reluctant to start picking apart the new talent trees because we really are very early in the development cycle and anything anyone says might become totally irrelevant come next build. However the latest beta build 12539 had very few changes for priest talent trees so I take that as a green light to assume the current talent tree is damn close to what Blizz had in mind. So lets get that wall of text rolling.
(WordPress still doesn’t allow Wowhead links to work unless I part with my credit card so I’ll have to make do without them.)

First of, below are the talents that have received major changes in the beta compared to live realms.

Spirit Tap – When you kill a target that yields experience or honor, you instantly gain 5/10/15% of your total mana and your mana regeneration rate will be increased by 20/25/30% for 15 sec.

A massive buff compared to what we have on live. I’m even inclined to think they have made a typo because 15% of total mana back after every kill would make it very hard to go OOM while leveling. Definitely a talent even healing priests will want to take while leveling.

Shadowform – Assume a Shadowform, increasing your Shadow damage by 15%, reducing all damage done to you by 15%. However, you may not cast Holy spells while in this form.
Improved Shadowform – Your Fade ability now has a 100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects when used while in Shadowform, and increases the spell critical effect chance to ally nearby party and raid members by 3/5%.

It’s nice seeing Shadowform simplified and tooltips that are no longer novels. No more pushback protection as it’s now one of shadow mastery bonuses. DoTs now benefit from haste by default so that’s gone from tooltip as well. It seems Blizz is trying to provide us some raid utility in the form of passive 5% spell crit chance. Take that boomkins. And, of course, with both of these talents now placed on lower tiers we can now get Shadowform 10 levels earlier which is only for the best.

Mind Melt – Increases the damage done with your Shadow Word: Death by 15/30% on targets at or below 25% health, and and when you deal damage with Mind Spike, the cast time of your next Mind Blast is reduced by 25/50% lasting 6 sec. Mind Melt can stack up to (2 or 3, talent description varies on amount of points put in) times.

Completely revamped. The extra crit chance to our main dps abilities that Mind Melt provides currently will be missed. The damage buff to SW:D looks to make casting the spell viable at least in some situations. The second portion of the description however promises a powerful synergy between Mind Spike and Mind Blast – cast 2 Mind Spikes to get 2 stacks of Mind Melt and then cast the now-instant Mind Blast to trigger the secondary portion of Mind Spikes damage. Sounds much more interesting than just spamming Mind Flay every time something needs to die fast.

Empowered Shadow Orbs – Increases the chance for you to gain a Shadow Orb when dealing damage with your Mind Flay and Shadow Word: Pain by 3/6%, and you have a 33/66% chance to gain a Shadow Orb when critically hit by any attack.

Completely new if a bit boring talent. Faster Shadow Orb generation sounds like it will provide a nice dps increase however from a completely new talent I would have expected something a bit more jazzy. Maybe an added effect to orbs or a proc of some sort. But we’ll just make do with the extra orbs.

Shadowy Apparition – When you deal periodic damage with your Shadow Word: Pain, you have an 2/4/6% chance to summon a shadow version of yourself which will slowly move towards a target which is afflicted by your Shadow Word: Pain. Once reaching the target, it will instantly deal damage equal to 15% of your Mind Blasts damage. While moving, the chance to summon the shadowy apparation is increased to 20/40/60%.

Another new talent. This one seems to follow Blizzards new design philosophy of allowing damage dealers to continue their job even on the move. Definitely a good thing for shadow priests as currently all we could do when a boss fight required movement was to refresh DoTs if needed and cast a SW:D if there was no raid damage going on. Plus unique mechanics that sets classes and specs apart is always a good thing.

Twisted Faith – Your damage done by your Mind Flay and Mind Blast is increased by 2/4/6% if your target is afflicted by your Shadow Word: Pain, and increases your spell hit rating by an additional amount equal to 4/8/0 (most probably 12)% of your Spirit.

The damage increase has remained the same however the stat conversion has not. Instead of converting Spirit to SP, Twisted Faith now converts Spirit to Hit. With the removal of Shadow Focus and Misery, shadow priest hit cap is bound to be much higher than the current 11% and looks like this talent will provide some help with that. Though I can’t imagine us wearing spirit gear just because of this talent.

Other talents are either the same as on live or have had only their values shifted around but, since it is very early in the beta testing phase and changes might still be coming, there is no point in discussing them. Only things worth noting here are that Darkness is still present, despite being a prime candidate for removal, and Vampiric Embrace has become somewhat less potent now that Improved Vampiric Embrace is gone.

Of course many talents have been removed completely of which I personally will miss only Improved Vampiric Embrace and Misery, former for allowing us to laugh in the face of raid damage and latter for the extra utility and lower hit cap it provided.

As far as Discipline tree is concerned, it looks like we’ll still be taking Twin Disciplines first. Then however we are forced to take either Improved Power Word: Shield or mental Agility to get access to Improved Inner Fire in second tier. However many talents can still get shifted around so building a final spec at the moment is a bit pointless.

Cookie Cutter 4.0

Overall the current cataclysm shadow tree offers few suprises and little customization options. Indeed for an endgame PvE spec the only choice seems to be between Improved Shield and Mental Agility – except for the 3 PvP talents (Improved Psychic Scream, Silence and Psychic Horror) and the sole leveling-only talent  (Spirit Tap), every other talent in shadow tree would be mandatory to maximize dps. And that is quite paradoxical considering that we have more choices even in the current trees.

I can’t say that the shadow talent tree is broken or non-functional because it isn’t. However it does seem to pidgeon-hole us into a cookie cutter build more than ever. One just have to have faith in Blizzard and hope that we’ll see improvements in future builds.

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~ by Shale on July 21, 2010.

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