Spiritual Guidance: My least favorite ability in the game and the MoP beta

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Spiritual Guidance: My least favorite ability in the game and the MoP beta
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

The big news of the week is, of course, the launch of patch 4.3.4. But for us shadow priests, there's nothing interesting under its hood. Our rotation doesn't change; our stat weights don't change. It's just business as usual.

But what's going on over at the Mists of Pandaria beta -- well, there's plenty of shadow priest news coming from there. New buffs are in the mix. There are new talents as well, and one buff that was long missing from the beta has finally returned.

With the good comes the bad, though. One new talent that shadow priests are likely going to be pressured to take closely mirrors my least favorite ability currently in the game. Well ... really, "least favorite ability" doesn't go far enough -- let's call it my most despised ability. Can you guess what it is?

My least favorite ability is ...

If you think I'm about to dump on shadow priests here, you're wrong. Though plenty of our spells seem useless, none of them qualify as my least favorite. No, to find my most hated ability in the game, you'll have to look at the sad, misshapen boomkin.

See, I play a balance druid from time to time -- my casual raiding group over on Proudmoore needed one for Earth and Moon, that 8% magic damage buff. Ugly work, but someone has to do it. Here's the thing, though. To be a good balance druid, you need to master the art of good AoE. And mastering the art of AoE means you have to use Wild Mushroom, the ability I despise more than any other in the game.

It does terrific damage, so that's not the issue. What sucks about Wild Mushroom, as any druid will tell you, is the amount of set up time it requires. To maximize your DPS, you need to drop three mushrooms. That act requires six button presses -- once to choose to use the mushroom, and a click of the mouse to decide where to place it, all repeated three times. Then you need a seventh button press to actually detonate the mushrooms and deal the damage.

It's a lot of time spent doing tedious things, and I hate doing it. I hate even more than I have to do it to actually deal the max amount of damage. It's quite a useful ability, but it's a useful ability with a terribly designed user experience. And it's an ability that, inexplicably, the Blizzard game design team seems to love.

"But Fox," you say, "that's a boomkin thing. Shadow priests don't have to deal with that nonsense!" Oh, my friends, if you think that, you're wrong. That awkward mechanism is coming to priests of all stripes in the form of our new talent Feathers from Heaven. The gory details, straight from the tooltip:

Place Heavenly Feathers at the target location. Each Heavenly Feather causes a single nearby friendly target to gain 60% movement speed for 4 sec. Only 3 Feathers can be placed at one time. Accumulates an additional charge once every 10 sec.

Ugh. Or more appropriately, ugh times three, because that's the number of times you'll have to click your mouse. Now, I grant you that Blizzard is doing some work to overhaul the awful Wild Mushroom mechanism, combining some steps so you only have to choose the spell once to place three mushrooms, instead of having to choose the spell thrice. And that means this mechanism will be similarly affected -- only four button clicks are required to drop your feathers.

It's a really cool idea, I grant you that. It draws from the fun of the Alysrazor fight, and it gives priests a cool buff to share with other people as needed. But why would a shadow priest want to waste the time for four button clicks to stop from DPSing, especially when there's a talent in the same row, Body and Soul, that grants the same 60% movement speed buff for 4 seconds when we cast Power Word: Shield on someone? Because certain raids are going to pressure us to take Feathers from Heaven to maximize the number of raiders with the speed buff, that's why. I'd much rather see a single press of the Feathers from Heaven button place three feathers around us automatically, maybe one three yards ahead, one at a 120-degree angle from where we're facing, and another at a 240-degree angle. Not perfect, but certainly better than four DPS-less (or heal-less) button pushes.

Blizzard, please. You like the mechanism, we get it. But the mechanism well and truly sucks. No one likes long setup times, no matter how useful an ability is.

Good news on the mana front: Replenishment

Enough with the negative, though. There's some good stuff on the beta server that's appeared since we last talked. And it's time we give praise where praise is due.

First off, Blizzard took a pen to Vampiric Touch and changed the ability for the better. The tooltip now reads (emphasis mine):

Causes 925 Shadow damage over 15 sec. Each time Vampiric Touch deals damage the caster gains 3% of maximum mana and health equal to 15% of the damage done.

Replenishment, old friend! You've returned to us! Actually, no -- this isn't the same old Replenishment, since it only affects us. But 3% of maximum mana per 3 seconds is actually far better than the current pittance of 1% restored per 10 seconds, and the new form removes casting Mind Blast from the equation altogether. It'll go a long way toward quelling the complaints that you guys had last week about mana getting eaten up too quick in the beta.

The talent From Darkness Comes Life saw a buff on the beta as well, which makes matters a bit more complex for shadow priests because the Dark Archangel talent feels so iconic. (Never mind that Evangelism is busted on the beta.) From Darkness Comes Life now gives us a 20% chance to hit our enemies with a free instant-cast shot of Mind Spike every time a DoT (either) ticks for damage. Further, the Mind Spike wouldn't extinguish DoTs. Undeniably useful, but nowhere near as fun as the alternative. Still, I suppose options are good.

Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than back up? We've got everything a shadow priest will need, from the basics of shadow priest PvP and advice on gearing up for Raid Finder raids to the hottest trinkets and weapons for today's shadow priests.

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