It has taken me a few tries to talk about Shadow Priests today, because I've had a difficult time even wrapping my mind around last night's Wrath Beta patch. It was one of those dreaded "balancing" patches, in which everything and everyone is brutally beaten with nerfs to bring their damage in line. The only problem with that is Shadow Priests were beaten just as hard, if not harder than many other classes, long before we ever had anything resembling competitive damage.
Edit: It looks like this is mostly being reverted, so the changes in this content patch were ultimately completely arbtirary and baseless. If you're still curious as to what those changes were, keep reading.
Let's look at what this patch had in store for us, shall we?
Fade now only has one rank, and it temporarily drops all of your threat.
- Fade no longers removes snares when used with Improved Shadowform.
I'm not the greatest PvPer in the world, so I can't say I entirely grasp the impact this talent may have had on the other classes, but I'm still of the opinion that gutting this talent entirely was just silly.
- Dispersion reduces all damage taken by 60% (no longer 90%) and regenerates only mana (no longer health and mana).
- Twisted Faith now increases your spell power on all spells by 2/4/6/7/10%. It used to be Shadow spells by 6/12/18/24/30%.
Misery was changed in their raid buff shuffle, Shadow Priests spoke out that it would be yet another gouge to our personal DPS. This secondary effect was added in response. Less than a week later, it's gone again. Okay.
Improved Spirit Tap allows 10/20% of mana regeneration to continue while casting after a Mind Blast or Shadow Word: Death crit, and increases your spirit by 10%. Originally 25/50%.
- Improved Fade is now Veiled Shadows. With two points, it decreases the cooldown of Fade by 6 seconds and the cooldown of Shadowfiend by 2 minutes.
And while this isn't Shadow-specific, it still hurts...
Twin Disciplines now only affects instant spells.
All in all, I am severely disappointed. The class developers finally put forth some slight idea that they understood what Shadow Priests needed (and wanted), and then we're hit with this. I really, honestly don't know what to say! You would think that they would be trying to make the Shadow Priest a playable class/spec before nerfing the Hell out of it. I understand 'balance' patches must happen, but how do you make the decision to tune a class down when it's already so far out of competitive levels with the other classes? How do you nerf what's already broken?
I've tried to be optimistic about my Shadow Priest, especially since the devs have recently made an active effort to give us information, but that optimism is just about gone. I know that the devs aren't evil bastards nerfing us just for jollies, but I can't help but feel slighted and betrayed here. "Buffs are on the way! Oh no, just kidding, haha." Hey, at least Mind Flay isn't a squiggly line anymore. It's more of a spinny line. Huzzah. Yes, I realize two different teams work on art and class balance. Hush. I'm being grumpy.
Oh, and if you don't want to take it from me that Shadow Priests are in a tight spot, why not check out what one of the top Shadow Priests in the world has to say about it?
Ghostcrawler herself says that these patch changes were made without hard numbers in mind, but I don't understand how you can change numbers so drastically when you have so little to work with. Budget is worthless when you don't know what that budget means.
[ Unofficial patch notes via MMO-Champion, commentary my own ]