Shadow Word: Death and You – Getting to Know the Good and Bad of Tier 13

Sometimes Blizzard hits it right on the nose when it comes to assigning set bonuses for classes on tier armor (like tier 10, I miss you), and other times they miss completely (4 piece tier 11, because really who doesn’t love 30% more damage on a miniscule 12% proc chance). Coming from tier 12, where I thought Blizzard did a good job on both the 2-set (+20% fire damage and -75 seconds to shadowfiend) and the 4-set (+15% [it was previously +25% before 4.3] damage to Mind Blast when all your dots are on one target), I believe Blizzard both hit and missed on the tier 13 bonuses for shadow priests. It has been a while since I have talked about anything priest related on here, but after having recently acquired my 2-set tier 13 bonus, I feel as if I can give an accurate opinion on the bonuses. Lets take a look at what Blizzard has given us for bonuses this tier:


(2) – Increases the damage you deal with your Shadow Word: Death by 55% and reduces the damage you take when your Shadow Word: Death fails to kill your target by 95%.


(4) – Whenever your Shadowy Apparitions and Shadowfiend deal damage, you have a 100% chance to instantly gain 3 Shadow Orbs.


While it doesn’t state it in the bonus, the 2-set bonus increases the damage of Shadow Word: Death at all times, not just in execute phase. However, due to the relatively low damage it deals outside of execute range, it is probably best to avoid using it, unless you desperately need to regain some mana back from your masochism talent. The 2-set bonus is the one I believe that Blizzard got right, however, in order for you to get it, you will have to give up your previous 4 set bonus if you had it from tier 12. I believe that this is a good tradeoff for any shadow priest in the long run, the numbers do not lie either.


Damage Breakdown in WoL


Above is the last WoL parse for the damage I did in a raid setting, the two abilities to focus on being Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death. If you do not have your four piece shadow tier bonus from tier 12, the 2 piece tier 13 is a huge upgrade, get it. If you have the 4 set bonus, this comparison is for you. Even with the slight upgrade to intellect and stamina from 391 to 397 gear, lets see what the damage difference is using 4 piece tier 12 versus 2 piece tier 13. This parse was taken with me wearing the 4 piece bonus, so:


Mind Blast Damage: 7,879,616, this damage becomes 15% less by going to the 2 set tier 13 bonus, so the adjusted damage will be: 7,879,616 x .85 = 6,697,674 for a loss of  1,181,942 damage from that spell, however, your shadow word: death will now hit 55% harder:


Shadow Word: Death Damage: 2,734,866 increased by 55% with the 2 set tier 13 bonus to become: 2,734,866 x 1.55 = 4,239,042 the new, adjusted damage for Shadow Word: Death yields an increase of 4,239,042 – 2,734,866 = 1,504,176. This number is also a bit lower than the actual gain due to slightly increased levels of intellect and a small amount of critical strike chance that comes from the tier 13 gear that I am not using at the time of this parse.


Overall you gain: 1,504,176 – 1,181,942 = 322,234 damage, and I am going to round this up to 375,000 damage from the increased stats of tier 13. Adding this damage to the previous total of 54, 174,339 damage for the night we get a percentage gain of (375000/54,174,339) x 100 = 0.692 or a .7% damage gain by going from your tier 12 4 piece to your tier 13 2 piece, but wait the good news doesn’t end here.

Your healers can now breathe easier watching your health in those fights where those green life bars are fluctuating constantly. Yes, the days of holding back using Shadow Word: Death on Ultraxion and Madness of Deathwing are long gone with the second part of the set bonus reducing the recoil damage taken by an additional 95% (its already reduced by 40% from the Mind Melt talent). I mean its not like I ruthlessly mashed my Shadow Word: Death button on those fights and ended up killing myself with recoil (more than once)……. nope, haven’t the slightest clue what it is like to do something like that.


An adamant masochist at his best!


The only thing that will be focused on in this part is damage taken from Shadow Word: Death in relation to the post, other elements, like degenerative bite, can be avoided by not prematurely mind searing on your tanks when bloods spawn in the Madness encounter. I took 1,330,879 damage from recoil from my Shadow Word: Death, and with the set bonus, the damage I now take becomes:

1,330,879 x .05 = 66,544, or 1,264,335  less damage taken, allowing heals to focus elsewhere in the execute phase. In addition, Shadow Word: Was about 20% of the damage I took over the course of the night, it drops to < 1% with the set bonus. There are also a few things you can do with your spec to help reduce your damage taken and strain on your healers, give this a look if you are considering trying out shadow in a raid setting. Onto the second tier bonus for tier 13.


This bonus I am not sold on. The bonus itself SOUNDS great, but using it in a practical manner is much harder. The shadowy apparitions part granting you three shadow orbs is not the main reason why I dislike the bonus, on the first picture Ive had Shadow Word: Pain tick 549 times on the night, leading me to gain (on average) 549 x .12 or 65.88 (66) procs of 3 shadow orbs from my shadowy apparitions. The main problem I dislike about this is the sheer amount of wasted orbs we get when our shadowfiend is out. We cannot ever exceed having more than 3 shadow orbs at once, which means in order to get the maximum effect from this bonus in regards to shadowfiend, we need to find a way to use those orbs before we get the next set of three, and the only way to do that is to use the much maligned, Mind Spike. Here are some things to consider about your shadowfiend:

1) Its attack speed is 1.5 seconds, with an effect like windfury, hunting party, or icy talons, its attack speed drops to 1.35 seconds.

2) In order to not have the possibility of missing out on orb procs, the cast speed of your Mind Spike or Mind Blast has to be less than 1.35 seconds with your haste.

3) With the melee haste buff, your shadowfiend will deal 12 attacks in a 15 second period, 11 attacks after its deployed, and it attacks as soon as you cast it.

4) Your shadowfiend has no expertise or hit, it can miss, be dodged from behind, and parried when you cast it, since the AI places it in front of the boss.


The only good thing I can see out of this is that, the number of attacks you do will match up evenly with the number of attacks your shadowfiend does. (3 Mind Spikes and then Mind Blast, 3 times over to get 12 attacks). Of course, you miss out on not having your dots up for the duration of your shadowfiend, you will also not refresh your dark evangelism stacks since you wont be casting mind flay either. This just seems really clunky to me, if Blizzard wanted us to function like shadow mages, they would not have given us 5 damage over time effects, and more single target nukes, especially ones that DON’T REMOVE ALL YOUR DAMAGE OVER TIME EFFECTS. I am right now sold on getting both the 2 piece tier 13 bonus and matching it up with (preferably heroic) tier 12 bonus to allow you to use your shadowfiend more, with more damage coming from it. If you cant get the 2 set to tier 12 though, similar 397 pieces that are not tier related should serve you well in your damage dealing adventures.


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