Welcome to the third installment of our interview series, Class Lectures. In this series we will interview established member(s) of the Blizzard Community that are experts at their class. We hope the interviews are entertaining and educational! Please enjoy.
This particular interview evolved directly from a fantastic conversation held at the Hilton Bar during BlizzCon 2014 (true story), between myself, Valiane from Howtopriest.com and World #1 Method; Twintop from Icy Veins and Howtopriest; and Drye from Howtopriest and US #1 Midwinter. All of these gentlemen are pros at their class, and were willing to talk for HOURS about shadow priests!
- Darrie (Host): Please introduce yourselves and let us know how you contribute to the WoW community!
- Valiane: Hi there, I’m Val or Daniel in real life. I play shadow priest in Method and have done so since February 2nd 2011. Prior to that I’ve been in other guilds such as Inner Sanctum and Immersion.
Apart from doing the whole world first raiding thing, I’m also part of the Moderator team on howtopriest.com, the #1 site for priests of all specs.
- Twintop: I do general theorycrafting for the Shadow community. I maintain the Priest module in SimulationCraft and use it as a tool to determine things like stat priority and what talent combinations work best for different fight types. Pulling this information together, I use the results to generate Best In Slot lists to help other players with making gearing decisions, and, advise guide writers so that they can present the most accurate information in their guides.
- Drye: Hey, my names Drye! I’m a moderator and guide writer at HowtoPriest.com, and a top end raider in Midwinter-US.
- Darrie: Let’s start with the basics, guys: how long have you played shadow on your priests?
- Valiane: I’ve been playing Priest ever since early TBC. Initially my main was a Resto Druid and my priest was my main alt. I did a lot of both healing and shadow’ing in alt raid and Zul’Aman sell runs in the start. Mid Black Temple or so, my guild was in need of a new Shadow Priest to provide mana for healers/mages/locks. Since we had a good healer core already I decided to pick up my Priest and play shadow and have stayed true to the shadowy arts ever since.
- Drye: I started playing WoW a few weeks after it’s original launch. Started off playing a mage and switch to Shadow Priest at the end of Sunwell. I was always a huge fan of shadowform. I finally just gave in and made the switch.
- Twintop: I was a main spec healer through all of Vanilla. I took a break for all of Burning Crusade, but came back for Wrath and was still a main spec healer until ICC when I made the switch to Shadow full time because the guild I was a part of, even though they recruited me because I had Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings, did not need healers consistently.
- Darrie: What is it about Priest that made you decide to play that class for raiding?
- Drye: I’m a big fan of the whole shadow priest kit. One of the big things people complaining about shadow priest are their graphics. I for one, love the shadow graphics. Shadowform, shadow orbs, shadowfiend and, totally nerding out here, the ability to dominate and destroy ones mind. Gengar being one of my favorite Pokemon doesn’t help my case either
- Twintop: There are frequently times where an extra healer is needed by our raid team. I don’t mind switching to healing as needed for progression (I healed more progression kills in MoP than I played Shadow!), but if given the choice I would much rather be a damage dealer. I’m also not a fan of switching to “Flavor of the Month” classes — I’m perfectly content with playing a Priest through both the good times and the bad times.
- Valiane: I’ve always preferred priest over other classes primarily because of the utility kit they have, even though it is severely diminished in WoD compared to what it was previously, but its still decent. I never really liked playing pure classes, because I like having the flexibility to do more than just damage, so that has always been a big thing for me when playing a class, even though I play “everything” I don’t really play my pure classes that much.
- Darrie: What is your favorite Shadow Priest spell/talent? Is there a spell/talent that is now
removed from the game that you miss?
- Valiane: Favorite spell was probably the old Vampiric embrace. I remember back in fx ICC on Festergut pumping out the big healing numbers with VE, but sadly its just a stupid weak CD. I also miss Void Shift, making the big plays with it is something I’m definitely missing.
- Drye: I really miss the passive tankyness that shadow had with the dmg reduction shadowform gave. I died a few too many times when it was first take out. “Yeah, I totally dont have to move that farm from Lei Shen’s Thunderstruck… Drye has died”. I think the thing I miss most, is the talent Blackout. Blackout was a talent that was a %proc to stun your target when using shadow dealing abilities. It lead to a lot of good laughs.
- Twintop: I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Shadowy Apparitions. For the longest time they were treated as guardians and would have pathing issues reaching their target. Then they received a redesign in mid-MoP to be a missile and are absolutely fantastic. There’s a very satisfying feeling to have Shadow Word: Pain rolling on a bunch of targets only to see your screen blanketed with these flying ghouls heading in every direction. Mind Soothe is an ability that was removed with the 5.0 prepatch before Mists of Pandaria was released. It would reduce the agro radius of humanoids and was a lifesaver when trying to sneak past difficult mobs in instances or in the world. It (probably) would have been incredibly over powered in Challenge Modes, but I still miss it!
- Darrie: A lot of people still talk about Shadow Priests being nothing but utility players. Do you
think this stigma from the “mana battery” days continues to haunt raiders who want
to play Shadow as a main spec?
- Valiane: I guess it can be true to some extent, because a lot of players take things out of context very often. Some people, including myself have in the past been very vocal about shadow not being “viable” and a lot of people think that means shadow is actually overall bad, which its not. Fact is just that in the past especially in MoP with a few exceptions shadow was just out performed by other classes/specs in almost every situation so for being able to push for world first kills shadow wasn’t “viable” because you really need to push everything possible, even though on some fights shadow would be viable because the amount burst healing we could do with our level 90 talents, resulting in being able to cut a healer. But yea, shadow was always viable for “regular” raiding, some people just take things out of context from time to time, also another problem is people like myself and other high end players, aren’t always that clear and specific when we say shadow isn’t “viable” because we usually talk about high end raiding.
- Twintop: I think there’s a large group who wish Shadow Priests offered some sort of utility that you couldn’t have a raid without. Any negative stigma of those days has been replaced by a stigma that Shadow Priests can’t do effective DPS in any situation where they can’t multidot, thanks to the Mists of Pandaria design of Shadow. This certainly isn’t the case any longer — there is an entire sub-spec (Clarity of Power, Level 100 talent) and Shadow’s new Mastery in Warlords (by increasing the damage of Shadow’s most used single target abilities) that increase damage done in single target.
- Darrie: The Shadow Priest has notoriously played 3rd place to Mages and
Warlocks since Vanilla WoW. Give us your argument why Shadow Priests should always be considered
as good as (or better) than Mages and Locks. This is your time to brag!
- Twintop: With the design of the Level 100 Talents as ‘Sub Specs’ and having a total of 4 of the 7 talent rows (L45, L75, L90, and L100) impacting not only how we play but how we deal damage, we are able to switch talents to overcome any encounter’s mechanics and still do very good damage. Warlocks and Mages may have 3 specs to choose from, but can only have 2 at any time (unless they Hearth and respec).
- Drye: I think this is the first expansion where balancing classes is going to be significantly easier than before. There’s still tuning to be done for 5mans/cmodes but as far as raids go shadow was preforming above both classes. Shadow now has a mastery that scales very well as far as single target goes, a talent for multi dotting that is going to scale ridiculously well with crit and gear. I have a feeling that shadow is going to be one of the strongest classes as this expansion goes on.
- Valiane: Our ability to pull of clutch plays, with shields, speed increases (Angelic Feathers and Body & Soul) as well as Leap of Faith. Even though it can be very situational, it is something the Mages and Locks aren’t able to do and is that special thing about priests.
- Darrie: Tell us about a Warlords talent or ability that has you really pumped up right now.
- Twintop: I really enjoy Auspicious Spirits. AS is one of the new L100 talents for Shadow that changes your Shadowy Apparitions from doing damage when they strike their target to, instead, granting a Shadow Orb. When you have many targets to multidot Shadow Word: Pain on (which, when it crits, spawns a Shadowy Apparition) you can have a seemingly never ending source of Shadow Orbs. This increases the pace of Shadow’s baseline rotation from predictable to one with a very high skill cap thanks to it being much faster paced.
- Drye: I’m really pumped for Auspicious Spirits. This talent has the ability to make shadow the highest skill cap in the game with a high ilvl. I know a lot of people complained in MoP about shadow being too easy, this is going to be the exact opposite. Once we start to get high levels of crit, this talent is going to be unreal. On any multi target fight you’re going to have to be thinking 4 or 5 GCDs ahead of what you are currently playing. Making sure all targets have sw/p how many shadow orbs you’re at, how many Spirit apparitions are out all while doing fight mechanics. I’ve been really pumped for this talent all beta.
- Valiane: Clarity of Power or CoP got me really excited every since we got to know of it. It is a very different approach to the shadow gameplay as oppose to the old “Keep dots up and Flay” Especially considering the different levels of gameplay the talent offers because it plays out differently on single target compared to multi target and the additional depth to the talent offered by the ability to play it with Dot Weaving is great.
- Darrie: If someone wants to get involved in the online Priest community, how do they get started? Is
the community generally friendly?
- Valiane: As long as you are open and willing to see beyond your own nose you will have a warm welcome. The priest community is in general very friendly unless you really give us a reason to not be.
- Twintop: One very important thing to note: anecdotal evidence will not be received well if you are using it as a basis for an argument that goes against established information. You will be challenged, not because community members don’t like to be wrong, but because the community is full of passionate individuals who like to keep incorrect information to a minimum.
- Darrie: Any boss fight videos that you want to share, where something interesting or funny happened?
- Drye: There’s a high possibility I messed up on the Siegecrafter belt….