"Note to self, never group with a DPSing Shadow Priest again. "
That is the title of a topic on the WoW GameFAQS board today. I shuddered. Someone, somewhere, is out there making life harder for the rest of us 'responsible' shadow priests again. *sigh*
So why ARE S'Priests such adorable little aggro-magnets? In a word - or two - Vampiric Embrace. I mean, just check this baby out. Once you've wiped the drool off of your face, you'll realize the less-pleasant implication of such a yummy spell: it adds a second kind of threat-generation. Not only are you generating hate with the damage you deal, you're ALSO generating healing aggro.
From WoWWiki: One point of damage = one point of threat. One point of health actually healed = .5 threat. Emphasis is mine - it's important to note that overhealing doesn't apply. (Ex: You toss a 2000 pt heal on someone whose health was only down by 1500 - you'll generate 750 threat, not 1000 threat.)
Let's look at Prin, who currently has an average 735 dps Mind Blast, unbuffed. She also has Imp Vampiric Embrace, which heals all members of the party for 35% of all shadow damage I do. How much healing aggro is generated by this depends on the current health (or hp deficit, rather) of all the members currently in my party. Without taking into consideration any threat-reducing abilities, auras, etc., it's entirely possible to generate 735 dps aggro + 1286 healing aggro (35% of the dps x5 party members) = 2,021 threat for one little Mind Blast. GAH!
Lucky for us, Priests have a little talent in the Shadow Tree available to them called Shadow Affinity. Rank 3 reduces the threat of all shadow spells by 25% - that's HUGE. Our 2,021-threat MB just got reduced to 1,516. However, that's still more than double the damage done. If you're lucky enough to be partied with a paladin, please please PLEASE ask for Blessing of Salvation. That's another 30% reduction in threat you generate.
Hoo boy, we have to do math again. Be sure to buckle up first, and wear your safety goggles.
I believe that the BoS threat reduction uses our REDUCED threat amount, after our own threat-reducing talent has been applied. Ex: Our threat with BoS on the above 735 dps Mind Blast would be 2021 - 25% = 1,516 - 30% = 1,061 threat. It would be nice if we could just say "SA is 25%, BoS is another 30%, so I can reduce my threat by 55%!!" but that's just not the case.
So what's a Shadow Priest to do? Well, we can try several things.
- Wait an extra few moments before you start dpsing. The more hate the tank has generated, the more you'll have to do to pull aggro from him. This is especially important with Druid bear-tanks, since they rely heavily on damage received for their rage & subsequent threat.
- Always use a threat meter. Even if no one else in your party uses it, you can still gauge your own threat. Do a little research on the various tanking classes at your level in order to get an idea of their average threat generation numbers.
- Prioritize. If your party healer is doing a good job keeping your tank up and everyone else topped off, drop VE from your dps rotation.
- Fade near the end of the boss fight, hopefully about 10 seconds before you believe he'll go down. Then you can unleash with a little extra insurance.
- Fade if you can see your threat approaching the tank's. Granted, it's only going to last for 10 seconds and then you'll get all that hate right back. But with any luck and a skilled tank, he'll have topped you on the meter again by then.
- Prioritize again. Drop Mind Flay, since the speed-reduction component of this spell generates additional dps threat. Unless you're on runner-patrol, you can use the time between MB & SW:D cool-downs to let your threat drop a bit.
- Prioritize yet AGAIN. At this point you can SW:P, wand, and /sigh a lot.
- If you are STILL pulling aggro, you'll either have to stop running lowbies through SM or drop back into a pattern of /sighing, complaining, and asking your tank whether or not the guy he bought his account from had the audacity to add a shipping charge to the eBay sell price.
- If you haven't been /kicked from the group, now would be time to drum up support from the other party members to locate a different tank.
- Psychic Scream. No, really, go ahead. This party sucks anyway, right?
As always, I'd love to hear differing opinions / strategies on dpsing without pain (our own, of course).