Monday, October 20, 2008

Vampiric Touch and 3.0: Good for soloing?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I finally took Vampiric Touch for Alierah and am a little disappointed with it. I'm going to try to analyze it here, to figure out whether or not it's actually worth the extra talent point and using in fights, and you're going to read through it because... Well, because you're here. Too bad, suck it up. =)

Oh, and I'm looking at the whole thing from a soloing/leveling perspective. While leveling, you'll usually heal in groups, making this spell irrelevant, and I have no experience with raiding...

What Does It Do?

Still with me? Good. So let's start at the basics, with what the new spell actually does. The tooltip is really confusing and unclear:
Causes 450 Shadow damage over 15 sec to your target and causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain 0.25% of their maximum mana per second when you deal damage from Mind Blast.
So we have a DoT - so far so good, we all know about those. But VT is really about replenishing mana, not about the damage, so let's see if we can figure out what the rest of the tooltip means. When you deal damage with Mind Blast up to 10 party/raid members get a buff that regenerates 0.25% of their mana per second. For how long? The tooltip doesn't specify, but it seems to be a 15 second buff.

In other words, simply using VT on your target and Mind Flaying it to death will work, but not replenish any mana. Once you Mind Blast, you get a buff that in total will regenerate 3.75% of your mana.

The DoT

So let's start by looking at the DoT itself, and compare it to the others available to us. Since spell costs aren't constant anymore, but rather a percentage of your base mana, we're going to measure damage per percent of mana (dppm from here on) instead of damage per mana. Also, since the bonus damage from Shadowform applies to all of our DoTs*, I can ignore it in my calculations.

So let's start with my basic DoT - Shadow Word: Pain (Alierah is currently using Rank 9). 25% base mana doing 906 damage, for a ratio of 36.2 dppm. With Improved Shadow Word: Pain (Haven't seen a Shadow priest without it) increasing damage by 6%, that's 38.4 dppm.

Next we have Devouring Plague (currently at Rank 6). 28% of base mana doing 904 damage, or 32.3 dppm. Not as efficient as SW:P, but the health regeneration makes up for it nicely.

And finally we have Vampiric Touch (currently at Rank 2). 18% of base mana doing 600 damage, or 33.3 dppm. So it's a little more efficient than DP, but does less damage overall and takes 1.5 seconds to cast.

For comparison, Mind Flay (Rank 6) gets 36.3 dppm and Mind Blast (Rank 10) an average of 30.1 dppm, but they can crit making these numbers lower than the actual ones.

Bottom line? Very mediocre DoT. It's not very mana efficient, and doesn't do enough damage to justify being part of the rotation if the mana regeneration buff isn't used. So let's move on to the mana regen...

Mana Battery? Not Really

As I mentioned above, causing damage with Mind Blast on a target afflicted with VT will give a 15 second buff regenerating 3.75% of your maximum mana. According to Alierah's armory page (which still shows her at 63) her total mana is 6254 while her base is 1749, roughly 3.5 times larger. So the buff would regenerate around 13% of my base mana over its duration. That's starting to sound better, but we have to remember that to get that buff we have to cast both VT and MB, for a total of at least 37% of our base mana (assuming it's neither is resisted) so you still end up paying 24% of your base mana rather than gaining mana.

OK, so this is definitely not a way to replenish mana, but maybe it's still worth using from a mana efficiency point-of-view. VT and MB cost 24% of base mana, and do 600+572=1172 damage (average damage used for MB), getting 48dppm. You know what? That's actually not that bad. It's better than SW:P, which was our most efficient spell, and does eoughly the same amount of damage. The only downside is the total casting time, but if you open with VT it shouldn't be much of a consideration.

Final Thoughts

So VT isn't all I'd hoped it to be, but also isn't as bad as I'd felt. It is a little annoying that it only procs off Mind Blast, though. Considering that I hardly used Mind Blast until now, I now have to add 2 spells to my rotation. Not only that, but it sort of messes up the synergy between talents - right next to Vampiric Touch we also have Pain and Suffering which procs off of Mind Flays.

But overall, now it actually looks decent. Doing a rotation along the lines of: SW:P -> DP -> VT -> MB -> MF or SW:P -> VT -> MB -> MF -> MF, and finishing up with my wand should, in theory, work very nicely.

* I'm not going to talk about Holy Fire. For shadow priests it's irrelevant. Other priests don't have Shadowform anyway, so they don't get a bonus either way. Heck, they don't even have Vampiric Touch.

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