[Shadow Priest] How to make us scale ?
Not sure if this belongs to a thread of its own but I don't think it fits in the current sp threads.
I would like to address two things mainly :
1/ Where should we stand on the dmgmeter scale ?
2/ How can devs make us scale so that we can avoid the BC situation in the first place (from being way overpowered at the beginning of the expansion to our final slide at the bottom of dpsmeters)
On the first point :
We are a utility spec, actually we are THE utility spec given our impact on mana/hp regen and on other classes DPS (misery + weaving), no other hybrid brings as much to the raid in terms of overall efficiency increase. Given that I think we should stand at the bottom of the dmgmeter (yes, being lower than other hybrids is normal considering what we bring to the raid). Managing roughly 25% DPS less than top single-target classes (rogues) is a goal to reach for.
Right now we already seem to be standing below that 75% threshold (Brutallus fight being the metric used now : top rogues around 2200DPS and shadowpriest doing 1400-1500DPS), which brings me to my second point : with no change to our scaling we are mathematically going to slide further down.
On the second point :
Given our extreme capability to get to hit-cap with shadow focus, our only meaningful stat has always been shadow dmg. Granted spell haste changes in 2.4 is a step in the right direction but so far the final gain is still being highly debated (sweet spot or no sweet spot ? is there a meaningful conversion between dmg and haste ?).
I don't need to go into the mathematics of itemization but depending on two stats (or even worse : one stat) is bad. If we compare our situation to mage / warlock (assuming destruction for them) situation their DPS is scaling through hit / dmg / haste and crit, allowing for much more DPS increase for the same investment in iLevel item points.
Said another way our main problem is that the slope of our progression is too much less than the slope of other DPS classes :
The gear reset (not sure if the effect we'll be as groundbreaking as for BC release) won't change the basic fact that our scaling is not on par with other DPS classes, I'm sure the devs will find a way to make the DPS curves shift a little so that they seem to be okay at first but unless our scaling radically changes come the expansion we will have the same problem later.
Any solutions ?
Some come to mind (I'm assuming there won't be any enormous change to our playstyle in WotlK) :
- Add ruine-like talent + talent to make dots crittable : increase in crit dmg percentage debatable (common arguments against : DoTs scale better than anything with +dmg => would be overpowered to make them crit, DoTs allow more mobility, might be more difficult to control aggro)
- Maybe allow for more itemization with +shadow dmg (cheaper investment than generic spell +spell dmg) > not sure if this makes sense mathematically (?)
- Make spell haste affect the DoT ticking speed
The problem with letting haste decrease time between ticks on a DoT is your mana/life regen will not last as long. The entire idea is to do as much damage as humanly possible in that window, but the more often you have to refresh it, the less regeneration you do. It's more important to throw as much into the 15 second window as humanly possibly, instead of stacking haste that will reduce you to a 12 second window. After all, if you're just trying to scale your damage at the cost of your utility, why did the raid bring you?
The best thing they could do to scale our damage would be an extra rank of our primary spells in BoP books found on certain raid bosses. Problem with that is, every other class is going to want it too. Just thinking about the potential reward in getting another rank of mindblast from Maggie, SW:D from serpent lady whose name I can't friggin remember, SW:P from Kael, Mindflay from Archimonde, Vamp Touch from Illidan.
Also, we have to consider something. Shadow priest is truly a utility class for a party or raid. Hell, I'll put money that more than 1 tank was bought enough time by our chip healing for the healers to get him out of the imminent death zone. We're pretty much equal to chain chugging super mana pots as well. The real question is, SHOULD our damage really scale as well as Pure DPS oriented classes? To me, it makes sense for the gap between the best and us should widen. If it doesn't, it's becoming more and more of an "win" button to throw in a shadow priest in every group. Instead of making sure you have the best to make up the lost DPS of putting an SP in every caster group, it begins to promote mediocrity. Meh, that's my rant, have fun ripping it to shreds/agreeing with me :p
Regarding your scaling question, I think this can only end in baseless speculation. We don't know what new talents or spells we or any other class are gaining next expansion. We certainly have no idea how adding a 10th class will shift raid balance or needs. It's a fair assumption that shadow priests will retain their role of mana battery, but we have no idea if they will be relatively better or worse than other support classes, or how much other classes will need mana. No one here can contribute to this discussion in any meaningful way unless you work for Blizzard.
Last, I'd like to stress that Shadow Priests are fine. And by fine I mean actually slightly overpowered, even if they are only putting out 80% the damage of a mage or warlock and they don't have AoE spells. Even though I topped damage meters when working on Gruul, I honestly believe my contribution to the raid is more important now than then. Shadow priests have never been more essential to a raid's success than now, and that's a sign that their relative damage scaling just doesn't factor into how well balanced the class is.
For example, on Brutallus as a shadow priest I put out 1600 DPS, only 300 DPS short of the margin. I also heal 90% as much damage as a holy priest. And I restore almost 30,000 mana to EACH of my party members. That's more than 10 mana potions per person. Our guild has two shadow priests right now and we're recruiting for a third. If people want multiple copies of your spec in the raid, your class is fine.
Had the same feelings when I was spec'd affliction with the lack of DoT scaling. The thing is, your utility to the raid allows decision making to occur in whether to bring spriest_X over dps_Y or healer_Z based on the needs of the raid. If you scaled with rogues or other pure dps classes, the choice would be simple:
Two tanks, three healers (1 paladin, 2 shamans), 1 CoS warlock, and 19 shadow priests (hello debuff limit lol)
For certain fights, VE can do substantial effective healing, eliminating a healer slot (ie Brutallus). VT can boost certain classes DPS tremendously, which you should factor in as part of your effective raid DPS. And rogues at 2200 dps don't achieve those numbers alone - that's windfury, battleshout, bloodlust, unleashed rage, curse of recklessness, expose weakness, expose/sunder armor and more all coming together.
The only raid buffs to your DPS you can take advantage of are far more minimal- curse of shadows, improved shadowbolt, wrath of air, bloodlust, ferocious inspiration and to a very small extent, moonkin aura/totem of wrath.
Brutallus is also a tank and spank fight. Fights with high mobility tip in your favor and for any DoT class really.
Adjusting the coefficients on spells compared to the base damage can completely balance for the poor scaling of a single stat. This isn't a complicated issue at all. Resto druids have the exact same issue. Beyond a small based amount of regen needed to sustain casting, that anyone in epic gear has, druids only scale effectively with +healing. Other healers can use less efficient, higher ranks or higher HPS spells to turn more regen into more output, resto druids for all intents and purposes only have 1 rank of each spell. The reason you don't see too many resto druids complaining about this is that our spells were kind of weak when we first hit 70, to the point where it was difficult to actually spec full resto because you often couldn't keep a tank alive with the spells that were castable in tree form, but our spell coefficients are setup to account for that. A druid simply gains more healing output per point of healing than any other class, which directly balances the fact that it costs more on gear to stack 1 stat.
So, the question is, why didn't they do that with shadow priests? The answer is they didn't because its a bad idea. If SP damage scaled at the same rate as other caster's damage, so would VT, further letting those other casters scale faster. Say at one point in gear a mage and a sp do the same amount of damage in a stationary fight. Ok, now if they both double their damage, the SP and mage are both doing the same amount of damage, but the SP is also doing double the VT. That allows the mage to completely stop using mana pots in favor of destro pots, it lets the warlock stop life tapping at all and use destro pots. It lets the shaman drop his mana regen crit for a bit more spell damage.
If you do out a formula for total raid benefit, striking some balance for ve healing, vt mana, damage, debuffs, and compare gear with Scaling of total raid benefit, I'd imagine SPs are actually scaling too fast.
Out of casual curiosity, has anyone tried running a simulator to see where we would be DPS-wise in T6 gear with Mind Flay scaling like we had temporarily during TBC Beta (~82% I think)?
Here's the 'Theorycraft' page (Theorycraft/Caster DPS Comparison - Shadowpriest.com Wiki)
So really: it's not even that big of a deal. There are more issues than just MF's crappy coefficient.
The core problem is single-stat scaling (or now two-stat scaling with haste), compared to other classes's (hit, crit, haste, damage for warlocks, for example) scaling.
To that end--having dot ticks 'crit' might be useful, afterall.
Maybe a self-debuff with a short timer that trades +hit for +dmg? "Shadow Word: Haze - - For the next 20 seconds, your shadow damage spells do 10% more damage, reduces your chance to hit with Shadow Spells by 10%". 30 second cooldown, 200 mana.
<shrug> The mechanism for having Shadow scale better does not exist at the moment. I would surmise that this can only effectively be dealt with via a new spell in WotLK.
Which would be nice if crit actually offered some meaningful scaling.
Haste has become quite nice since the GCD change, it decreases your time spent casting DoTs/cooldowns.
However, with the new free cast time from haste, you can only cast more of your filler spell, Mind Flay.
Which cannot crit and has a horribly low scaling coefficient.
Mind Flay Scaling
Mind Flay is a 3s spell with 57% scaling that cannot crit. Shadow Bolt is a 2.5s spell with 106% scaling that can crit.
Yes, apples and oranges.
Destro locks have a 15% shadow damage multiplier and no other spells to cast (they would lower DPS). Shadow Priests have a 15% and 10% multiplier and other spells with high scaling to cast. Mind Flay also costs only half the mana, and there is the health/mana regeneration synergy.
Mind Flay with, say, 120% scaling would probably be overpowered at entry level raiding. It would be a much closer call at endgame raiding though.
But I think a lot can be changed with damage scaling. I hear numbers of 0.5-0.6 dps per point of +damage. Mages hover at 0.9-1.1, warlocks are beyond 1.0 as well.
That shows that your scaling with +damage is way sub-par and I think a fix to Mind Flay could make a big difference to start with.
An idea might be a self buff like Healing Way, "Your Mind Blast hits (crits?) increase your Mind Flay scaling by x% for y seconds, stacks up to z times."
That wouldn't touch burst DPS and tab-dotting, but help for single target damage. And it would would improve the scaling of crit, making Mind Flay scale indirectly with crits.
Or adding an "Empowered" talent to increase the scaling of MD/SWD.
A 200% crit damage talent might help too, although I don't think it adds much.
Moonkin have 200% crits and a -0.5s cast time after a crit to make crits attractive.
The bottom line is: Increase the current 0.5-0.6 DPS/+dmg to around 0.7-0.8 DPS/+dmg. My personal preference would be talents that scale with crit.
Now, about Vampiric Touch. My personal opinion is "damage is damage, mana is mana", the two shouldn't be connected.
Going from low-end to top-end gear, my damage takes a huge jump, it doubles, triples, or even more. My mana consumption essentially stays the same.
Haste has some impact on mana consumption, yes, but it's mostly because you go from ~50 haste before Illidan to ~450 haste when you have everything from Sunwell, it just a sudden flood of haste on gear.
So, why should VT mana regeneration take that huge jump as well? Or Life Tap return twice the amount of mana? Mana drains don't scale with damage stats either (just with haste).
But that's just my opinion.
A valid point however is that the combination of vampiric touch and (nearly) full damage scaling would be too strong. Think warriors pre-BC - more damage means more rage means even more damage. So they scaled down the rage/damage by 50%, but increased rage at low gear levels.
Also, Tigole (I think) stated at some point that shadow priests should top damage meters and healing meters and give their party a huge amount of mana, which I think is a valid point.
I think there are quite a few options to somehow normalise mana returns from VE. Make them scale with mana stats (int/spi), the characters natural regeneration, maybe crit, but not 1:1 with damage done.
The current dilemma is that the whole mana system is pretty messy. They can't fix shadow priest scaling with 1:1 VT scaling. They can't fix VT scaling before they adjust all relevant classes to less mana returned from VT.
Hunters are nearly self-sufficient with JoW, priests/druids got their big spirit boost. Still some classes to go.
But this is where currently shadow priest DPS lies. Their mana increases mage DPS by up to 350 (Brutallus fight in sunwell gear), warlock DPS by up to 150, or allows you to drop another healer.
From this perspective, they are still very worth their raid spot if they get a group that fully benefits from their support. Similar to DPS shaman and paladins, and probably druids - but I think it's a much closer call there, I don't have the numbers, so I won't argue.
However, these classes already scale much better, and some of them give even bigger boosts to their party than shadow priests.
But their party boosts are limited and well defined - you can't have two windfury totems, and one strength totem is always X additional raid damage.
A huge amount of scaling raid mana is a much more generic boost. It requires you to think on every raid encounter "Does infinite mana trivialise any part of this?". Which is good since simple mana checks are pretty silly anyway.
Whoops, that was a bit longer than intended, ending in a rather large collection of thoughts about VT.
So, my opinion is that damage and mana stats should be separated rather than scaling. Even with the currently bad damage scaling, shadow priests still offer very good DPS if you factor in the gains from VT in a caster group, or supporting some other group to give you a benefit in an encounter.
The gap is however closing as the lack of personal DPS increases.
I don't think that shadow priest scaling can be fixed before VT and the mana regeneration system in general get some changes.
(1) Scrap the existing VT so that it doesn't scale with damage dealt and we can't "go infinite".
--> "Whenever your shadow spells deal damage to a target while Vampiric Touch is active on that target, you return 40 mana to your party."
(2) Change the coefficient on Mind Flay to something reasonable.
Somehow this double posted on an edit.. no idea how.
They'd have to build in some safeguards on that change, to ensure that priests didn't downrank to go infinite. Not sure how much work that would entail.
Also, to add something more of substance, I think we're actually doing fairly well overall. I remember the doom and gloom that people predicted ( *coughheelcough* ;) ) when we got nerfed repeatedly, with the weaving change and the increased SWD cooldown. That didn't come to pass because the other stuff we bring to the table is essential for at least one group in a raid setting, if not more. I certainly wouldn't complain about boosting our damage by 10% or so, but it's really not a major concern at this point.
However another interesting point is even if SP's did a lot more damage, you couldn't exactly stack them over other casters. You'd quickly run into the debuff limit. With just 1 afflock and 2 spriests on our first Brutallus attempts we were having debuffs knocked off occasionally. If you went to an extreme and brought 5 spriests, that would be eating up 22 debuff slots -- even more if you include Devouring Plague, Starshards, etc as options.
Priest in +100 haste returns more.
As to a downranking safeguard, we can already go infinite by downranking. I don't think it's as big of a concern as people make it out to be, especially since spriests are effectively already infinite by way of shadowfiend and occasionally a pot, even going full out. Being able to go infinite in a low DPS cycle strikes me as a silly thing.
MF6 has a 54% damage coefficient and costs 205 mana prior to Focused Mind. Assume 30% of ooc regen while casting via Meditation plus incidental gear mp5 yielding 118 mp5 total while casting, or 70 mana during the duration of a flay)
(426 + .54*K)*1.1*1.15*1.13*1.05*1.1*.05 = 205*.85 - 70
(426+.54*K)*.0825 = 174.25 - 70
426 + .54*K = 1263
.54*K = 837
K = 1550
MF6 goes infinite at 1550 spell damage. For every 50 spell damage over 1550, we regen an additional 2 mana beyond what we consume.
(330 + .47*K)*1.1*1.15*1.13*1.05*1.1*.05 = 165*.85 - 70
330 + .47*K = 851.51
.47*K = 521.51
K = 1108
MF5 goes infinite at 1108 +dmg. For every 50 spell damage over 1108, we regen an additional 2 mana per MF beyond consumption.
VT1: 80% coefficient, costs 325 mana. 35 mana during casting from MP5.
(450 + .8*K)*.0825 = 325 - 35
.8*K = 3065
K = 3831
VT1 goes infinite at 3831.
If we assume zero haste, cycle is:
VT MF MF MF MF pause 1.5 repeat, which also nets a single 5SR tick (3s from MF, 1.5s pause, 1.5s cast, gives 6s not casting).
So, spend 325+140.25*4 = 886 mana in 15 seconds. Regen is 1 full tick, 6.5 30% ticks, plus 40 static mp5. 103 mana on a full tick, 30 on a 30% tick, gives a total regen of 103+6.5*30+120 = 418. Thus, we need to deal 8360 total damage in 15 seconds in order to go infinite.
VT1 damage: 450 + .8*K
MF5 damage: 330 + .47*K
(450 + 4*330 + (.8 + .47*4)*K)*1.1*1.15*1.13*1.05*1.1 = 8360
(450 + 4*330 + (.8 + .47*4)*K)*1.65 = 8360
1770 + 2.68K = 5066
2.68K = 3296
K = 1229
Any shadow priest in 10 man gear can go infinite. Who cares?
One of the bigger problems in our scaling is that while our mana regen scaling is not fixed, mana consumption generally is, and regen generally scales *up*. As content and gear scales, we tend to become less necessary as a mana battery, and the difference between 300mp5 VT regen and 325 mp5 regen tends to be very minimal in practice - it won't usually let a DPS caster convert from mana pots to destro pots if they couldn't already, and with the 2.4 regen changes, healer regen isn't typically an issue. In reality, boosting our damage (by giving us back 6 second SWD and 15% weaving) wouldn't matter - although the 15% weaving would throw off lock/mage/rogue balance and remove fire lock viability, so maybe make Darkness 15% instead.
A priest in 1100 spell damage returning the same amount of mana as a priest in 100 spell damage actually does make sense, specifically because it's mana. The priest in 1100 spell damage can do a hell of a lot more with that mana than the undergeared one, as does the rest of his equivalently-geared group. The fact is, because spell costs are 100% static (outside of like 2 shaman relics), mana returns not only don't need to scale, but they really shouldn't scale. The spells that use the mana already scale, which means that mana return scaling would be either quadratic or exponential (in this case exponential).
If blizzard is aware of this, it's probably why shadow priest damage scales so poorly. Doubling the mana regen they gave would gum up mana regen mechanics even worse than they already are. VT was an interesting, awesome idea, but I think for the sake of allowing shadow priests to scale in a way that doesn't introduce fundamentally flawed balance mechanics, VT needs to go static, or at least scale with something other than total damage output. Scaling with haste would be interesting, wouldn't make it scale horribly out of whack, and would actually counteract the greater mana strain that haste already introduces. Scaling with crit (eg 100 mana per shadow crit) would put it's scaling in the right range with respect to gear, and give a better reason to have crit in the first place. Simply having a static portion and a scaling portion, like 50mp/5 + 2% of your damage, would fix it but be the bulkiest of the fixes.
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