I feel like many people, mostly blizzard, don't quite realize what shadow priests mean when they say they feel 'locked in' to certain talents or that their talent choices are not fun additions, but core spec abilities.
Here are a couple thoughts from a shadow priest that hasn't changed 4 of his talent choices in the last year(almost two years actually):
Note: none of this comes from a place of anger, if you're going to be mad please do it elsewhere. My goal is to provide constructive feedback.
Talents that are actually core abilities:
In my opinion there are 3 talents that are actually not talents at all, but are so fundamental to the way the spec plays that playing without them would be playing a different spec.
Shadow Word: Void:
The addition of a second charge of "mind blast" is incredibly important to the core rotation of the shadow priest. Having a second charge allows for the player to make decisions about where and how to wait or cast your mind blasts. Without Shadow Word: Void talented, if mind blast is castable, you cast mind blast. Done. With two charges to play around with, you have the option to delay a "mind blast" for up to 9 seconds and instead prioritize a void bolt, cast a utility ability, or do anything else you wish without being harshly punished by losing valuable cooldown time on your mind blast. This fundamentally changes the shadow priest rotation, allows for more flexibility, and almost completely removes the awful feeling of being forced to move while mind blast is off cooldown. Even if this wasn't numerically the only talent choice, it would still be the only talent choice on this row that removes an awful-feeling part of the baseline shadowpriest rotation.
Outside of voidform, the baseline rotation for shadow priest is dots, mind blast, mind flay. Not an interesting or fun way to play. Inside voidform the rotation becomes interesting, fun, and far more rewarding from a dps standpoint as well. Lingering insanity shortens the amount of time you are forced to spend in the not-fun part of your spec and thus lengthens the amount of time you are allowed to spend in the fun part of your spec. When you play really well and build up to a massive number of stacks, that feels rewarding, and when you immediately snap back to nothingness as soon as your voidform ends the difference is jarring. I believe blizzard is aware of this and tried to fix it with chorus of insanity, which makes it even more surprising that they would choose not to baseline lingering insanity. Either they don't know how bad it feels to lose all of your voidform benefits instantly, OR they want some players to sometimes make the choice to spend more time in the not-fun part of the shadow priest rotation. This seems like an obvious choice for baselining because playing without it is simply less fun regardless of damage numbers.
Legacy of the Void:
Legacy of the void solves the exact same problems as Lingering insanity, but has an even worse downside if you don't "choose" this talent. This talent allows the player to spend less of their time in the not-fun part of the shadow priest rotation, and more time in the fun part of the shadow priest rotation. In the same way as Lingering Insanity, this makes the transition at the end of a voidform much less of a problem because you only have to spend maybe 5-6 globals outside of a voidform. Additionally, the base case time on Void Eruption feels abysmal. It feels like casting a chaos bolt without a conflagration buff. The damage from Void Eruption doesn't justify the enormous base cast time against single targets, and the only reason you cast it is to get into the fun part of your rotation. Again regardless of damage numbers, the spec is simply less fun without this "choice".
Honorable mention:Auspicious Spirits:
While I don't consider Auspicious Spirits to be a core function of the spec like the other three, this talent is very noticeable and I love it. I would be very sad if I was ever numerically forced not to take it, luckily for me it has been the best choice for most of the past 4 years so I haven't had to lose it.
I went back to check the warcraftlogs of every raidboss in BFA and in 100% of bosses after uldir, 100% of (the top 100 mythic) shadow priests were using Shadow word: Void, Legacy of the void, and Lingering insanity. 0% variation in the last almost 2 years.
Thanks all for reading my thoughts. Let me know what you think about this. And whether or not you agree.PS. If you're interested I've been an aotc every tier shadow priest main for all of Legion and BFA and only barely dabbled in mythic bosses each tier. I would like to think I'm fairly well versed in how the spec feels to play.
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