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Spiritual Guidance: The return of Devouring Plague, and our new shadowy friend

Spiritual Guidance: The return of Devouring Plague, and our new shadowy friend
Fox Van Allen
Fox Van Allen|@@foxvanallen|May 2, 2012 2:00 PM
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.

In case you haven't noticed, the shadowformed Spiritual Guidance is a once-every-other-week thing now. Normally, I'm cool with that. But man, these past two weeks have been killing me. Last week, there were changes. Big changes. Huge changes! And this week -- more huge changes! Groundbreaking changes! Stunning, jaw-dropping changes! Unbelievable ...

Okay, I digress. But there's no exaggeration here. The changes over the past two weeks have been huge. Old friends are making a comeback. New friends are on the way. Shadow priest PvP is changing forever. And shadow priest mastery has been completely overhauled -- twice.

We've got a lot of catching up to do, kids. I'll introduce you to our new friend in just a bit (not that Dawn Moore and Matt Low haven't already let the cat out of the bag), but first, an old friend has been waiting to say "hi." Ladies and gentlemen, make our oldest of friends feel welcome -- a round of applause, please, for Devouring Plague.

Return of an old friend: Devouring Plague

We bitched. We moaned. We mourned. We held candlelight vigils. Sure, it may have all seemed over the top, but it was worth it. Blizzard had taken away one of our more iconic spells, Devouring Plague. Now, we're finally getting it back, effective in the beta build that went live yesterday.

After playing a few weeks on the beta servers, I must say that I actually started to get used to shadow priesting without DP. It was a bit weird to not have the spell, but since Shadow Word: Pain no longer automatically refreshed, it didn't feel like I was using DoTs less often. It was all starting to come together, and honestly, it wasn't all bad.

But no matter -- for now, Devouring Plague is back. But like a traveler from over there, there's something a bit different about it. Take a look at the new tooltip:
Devouring Plague
1 Shadow Orb
Consumes all of the caster's Shadow Orbs to deal 2,099 shadow damage per orb consumed and afflict the target with a disease that causes 1,049 shadow damage every 1 for 2 seconds per orb consumed. 15% of damage caused by the Devouring Plague heals the caster.
That's right, Devouring Plague is our new mastery ability. It consumes shadow orbs as opposed to mana. It's very much a different spell than we're used to, but at its heart, it's still a DoT -- a weird new DoT that appears to tick every second for up to six seconds.

Is this a change for the better? Well, as much as I love the return of Devouring Plague, I'm torn. Since DP now costs shadow orbs, Shadowy Apparitions no longer do -- nor are they castable. It's nice to free up a space on my keybinds, but I was starting to warm up to being able to call my dark clones on demand. Ah, well.

Meet our new friend: The Mindbender

I've been very vocal about loving my stable of shadowfriends. I've been crazy about my Shadowfiend since day one. When Blizzard added the Psyfiend to the stable, I was estatic -- not because he's useful, mind you, but because he's a new shadowy companion. And now, we shadow priests have been bequeathed a third shadowfriend: Ladies and gents, meet the Mindbender.
4-minute cooldown
Creates a Mindbender to attack the target. Caster receives 6% mana when the Mindbender attacks. Lasts 15 seconds.
Mindbender is a new talent located in the level 45 tier. That means this shadowy friend, like the level 15 tier Psyfiend, is totally optional.

The Mindbender is exactly what he sounds like -- a superpowered version of the Shadowfiend. Note that Mindbender restores 6% mana per bite, up from the usual 3%. The damage done by the Mindbender is also double that of the Shadowfiend. It takes a good thing, the Shadowfiend, and makes it even better.

The downside to our new dark friend: Taking the mindbender means you have to give up Archangel, also located in the level 45 tier. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- to me, a pair of dark, shadowy wings is a must-have. Probably moreso than a dark, shadowy squid. I doubt we'll be that desperate for mana.

New shadow priest mastery: The supercrit

There's one final, major change to shadow priests on the beta. Our mastery mechanism underwent a total overhaul. And if you've got Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest, the new mechanism is very familiar indeed. What is it? Simply put, each point of mastery raises the chance that you'll proc a bonus tick on your DoTs. It's nothing groundbreaking. It's nothing shocking. In fact, it's downright uninteresting -- not that I believe shadow priest mastery can ever really be made interesting.

I've termed the mechanism "supercrit," meaning that each DoT tick has a chance to supercrit for four times the normal damage. Granted, the likelihood of a supercrit is low -- given 20% crit and 20% mastery, a 4x pop of damage will only happen 0.8% of the time. You'll see 3x ticks of damage more frequently -- about 4.8% of the time, if my math is correct. (And if my math isn't correct, lord knows some commenter will call me out on it in the comments below.)

I have nothing against the new mechanism, mind you. It's no worse than the current mastery scheme that adds a flat percentage of damage to our DoT ticks. But on the same token, it doesn't really feel that much better or more fun.

The healing shadow priest: No longer an oxymoron

If you pay attention to my shadowy Spiritual Guidance columns, then you'll know I'm not really big on PvP. It's just not my thing. But you don't have to be a PvP expert to understand the value in the newest, most game-changing shadow priest glyph of the beta, the Glyph of Dark Binding. The tooltip here is short but sweet:
You can now cast Binding Heal, Flash Heal, and Renew without cancelling Shadowform.
Powerful stuff. Possibly overpowered. Having a shadow priest be able to switch between heals and damaging spells without having to eat up a GCD on each cast is huge -- so huge that I'm tempted to take the glyph for PvE, even though it'll be less useful there.

Shadow priesting 5.0

There have been an awful lot of changes to shadow priests over the last few months in the beta, and there will be an awful lot more coming down the pike in the coming months. So far, though, it's hard to deny -- shadow priesting is looking pretty damn good on the beta right now. And as evidence has shown, it's getting better by the day.
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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Spiritual Guidance: The return of Devouring Plague, and our new shadowy friend