Shadowlands Beta Class Tuning Recap – Guide Writer Insights & Opinions

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Shadowlands Beta Class Tuning Recap - Guide Writer Insights & Opinions



Last week, Shadowlands Beta Build 36294 contained many class and spec changes for the upcoming expansion including tuning changes for Conduits, as well as Legendary and Covenant ability changes. Due to the large number of tuning changes, we’ve had some of our class writers analyze the updates, discussing how the Covenant and Legendary changes have affected their overall specializations.

Class and Spell Changes Recap Build 36294

Build 36294 comes with many class spell changes, and updates to Legendaries, Soulbinds, Conduits and Covenants. Our datamining post of all class and spell changes can be found by clicking here.

Class and Spell Changes Build 36206

Highlights:

Death Knight Class Changes
Demon Hunter Class Changes
Druid Class Changes
Hunter Class Changes
Mage Class Changes
Monk Class Changes
Paladin Class Changes
Priest Class Changes
Rogue Class Changes
Shaman Class Changes
Warlock Class Changes
Warrior Class Changes

Comments From Class Writers

We’ve had some of our Class Guide Writers give their thoughts and opinions on the changes from this Shadowlands Build. While many classes and specs had Conduit changes which you can see in the Datamining Post, for this section we’re mostly focusing on the specs which had additional changes to Base abilities, Legendaries or Covenant changes.

Havoc Demon Hunter Analysis

  • Chaos Theory   Blade Dance has a 10%30% chance to grant you Chaotic Blades, increasing the damage of Chaos Strike by 25%50% and its chance to refund Fury by an additional 60% for 8 sec.
    Inventory Type: Waist, Hands
  • Sinful Brand   Brand an enemy with the mark of the Venthyr, reducing their melee attack speed by 30%, their casting speed by 30%, and inflicting (520%338% of Attack power) Shadow damage over 8 sec.
    Activating Metamorphosis applies Sinful Brand to all nearby enemies.
  • Dancing with Fate   (Potency Conduit) Blade Dance has a 5.0% chance to apply Essence Break.The final slash of Blade Dance deals an additional 10.0% damage.
    Rank changes:
    5.0% 5.5% 6.0% 6.5% 7.0% 7.5% 8.0% 8.5% 9.0% 10.0% 11.0% 12.0% 13.0% 14.0% 15.0%
    10.0% 11.0% 12.0% 13.0% 14.0% 15.0% 16.0% 17.0% 18.0% 19.0% 20.0% 21.0% 22.0% 23.0% 24.0%

This section was written by our Havoc Demon Hunter Class Writer, Kib:

  • Chaos Theory: Straight up buff is nice, and the Legendary still suffers from RNG but going from 10% to 30% makes it way more reliable on top of the buff in damage too. It’s definitely a welcome change to help with ST damage, a very weak aspect of Havoc.
  • Dancing with Fate: Very disappointed to see this change. As it stands Essence Break is a pretty weak talent in comparison to Cycle of Hatred and First Blood and this Conduit would’ve allowed us to gain the talent in some way. With this change this Conduit falls down the pecking order quite heavily. We’re waiting on final tuning obviously but very disappointed with this change.
  • Sinful Brand: Not really surprised to be honest. Sinful Brand has been extremely powerful since it was first introduced. Something to keep in mind when looking at covenants is that they are a lot more than just the Covenant ability. The Sinful Brand nerf hurts Venthyr obviously, but the Venthyr Soulbinds are some of the strongest Soulbinds for Havoc and that didn’t change.

Marksmanship Hunter Analysis

  • Serpentstalker’s Trickery   When Aimed Shot hits multiple targets from the Trick Shots effect, 3 enemies struck by the Aimed Shot also get hit by an
    Chimaera Shot
    Chimaera Shot
    Arcane Shot.
    Inventory Type: Shoulder, Fingerfires a Serpent Sting at the primary target.
    Inventory Type: Shoulder, Finger
  • Flayed Shot   Fire a shot at your enemy, causing them to bleed for (250%87.5% of Attack power) Shadow damage over 2014 sec. Each time Flayed Shot deals damage, you have a 15%10% chance to gain Flayer’s Mark, causing your next Kill Shot to be free and usable on any target, regardless of their current health.
    Cast Time changed from Instant to Attack speed

This section was written by our Marksmanship Hunter Class Writer, Moofz:

  • Serpentstalker’s Trickery previously gave Marksmanship Hunters an incredible amount of burst in AoE. The legendary has recently been reworked. Rather then shooting off multiple Arcane Shots or Chimaera Shots after each Aimed Shot, it now shoots a single Serpent Sting onto the primary target. It does not spread with Trick Shots like its previous iteration. Many Hunters dislike this change as it took some of the fun and burst AoE potential away from us. However, it’s now our best single target legendary by a fair bit, and gives Marksmanship some much needed spread cleave potential, allowing us to multi-dot by alternating Aimed Shots.
  • Flayed Shot was nerfed in this previous Beta build. Previously it competed for best single target option for most Hunter specs. The change was questionable as Flayed Shot served zero purpose in AoE, and was only viable for single target scenarios. Now it serves little to no purpose at all and there is little incentive damage-wise to go Venthyr. On the bright side, the DoT from Flayed Shot is now Hasted, meaning it will scale better as we gain more secondaries in later tiers.

Discipline Priest Analysis

  • Mind Sear  
    Discipline:
    Corrosive shadow energy radiates from the target, dealing 14.824%12.6% of Spell power) * 6] Shadow damage over 4.5 sec to all enemies within 10 yards of the target.
    Shadow:
    Corrosive shadow energy radiates from the target, dealing 14.824%12.6% of Spell power) * 6] Shadow damage over 4.5 sec to all enemies within 10 yards of the target.
    Generates 6 Insanity over the duration per target hit.

This section was written by our Discipline Priest Class Writer, Jak:

Both Holy and Discipline received buffs to underperforming conduits. Discipline received a slight nerf to Mind Sear which, like other AoE damage, only transfers to Atonement off the first enemy hit. Mind Sear will still see use when extra damage is needed on large packs of enemies.

Shadow Priest Analysis

  • Devouring Plague   Afflicts the target with a disease that instantly causes (76.5%65% of Spell power) Shadow damage plus an additional 4 Shadow damage over 6 sec. Heals you for 50% of damage dealt.
    If this effect is reapplied, any remaining damage will be added to the new Devouring Plague.
  • Mastery: Shadow Weaving   Your damage is increased by 4.0% for each of Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague on the target. During Void FormVoidform, all targets receive the maximum effect.
  • Mind Flay   Assaults the target’s mind with Shadow energy, causing (151.44%128.4% of Spell power) Shadow damage over 4.5 sec and slowing their movement speed by 50%.
    Shadow
    Generates 18 Insanity over the duration.
  • Shadow Priest   Effect #1 Effect #12 Apply Aura: Modifies Effect #2’s Value
    Value: 700800
    Affected Spells:

Auspicious Spirits   Your Shadowy Apparitions now deal 30%15% increased damage and generate 12 Insanity.

Searing Nightmare   Instantly deals (43% of Spell power) Shadow damage to enemies around the target and afflicts them with Shadow Word: Pain. If the enemy is already afflicted by your Shadow Word: Pain, Searing Nightmare’s damage is increased by 100%.
Only usable while channeling Mind Sear.

Dissonant Echoes   (Potency Conduit) Void Bolt deals 35% more damage.
While not in Void Form, dealing damage with Mind Flay has a 2.5%3.1% chance to allow you to cast Void Bolt.
While in Void Form, Void Bolt has a 2.5%3.1% chance to reset the cooldown on Void Bolt.
Rank changes:

2.5% 2.8% 3.0% 3.3% 3.5% 3.8% 4.0% 4.3% 4.5% 4.8% 5.0% 5.3% 5.5% 5.8% 6.0%
3.1% 3.4% 3.7% 4.0% 4.3% 4.7% 5.0% 5.3% 5.6% 5.9% 6.2% 6.5% 6.8% 7.1% 7.4%

Rabid Shadows   (Potency Conduit) Your
Mindbender
Mindbender
Shadowfiend’s attack speed is increased by 15.0% .19.0%.
Rank changes:

15.0% 16.5% 18.0% 19.5% 21.0% 22.5% 24.0% 25.5% 27.0% 28.5% 30.0% 31.5% 33.0% 34.5% 36.0%
19.0% 20.9% 22.8% 24.7% 26.6% 28.5% 30.4% 32.3% 34.2% 36.1% 38.0% 31.5% 41.8% 43.7% 45.6%

This section was written by our Shadow Priest Class Writer, Djriff:

  • Dark Thoughts: Should be more than 1 stack, duration is in a good spot.
  • Mind Flay/Devouring Plague Nerf: It was a bit too strong relative to the rest of Shadow’s damage spells. The nerf creates a more healthy damage profile but are an overall damage nerf and will need to be compensated with tuning as Shadow was not performing well in Shadowlands without BFA’s borrowed power.
  • Mind Blast Insanity Buff: This is a good change. The reduction in Mind Flay damage also makes this spell feel better to cast.
  • Auspicious Spirits: The insanity change is a revert to a nerf we had awhile ago. Overall, this change doesn’t do anything and the loss of extra damage is just a nerf. We’ll still likely take Auspicious Spirits in every scenario.
  • Painbreaker Psalm: The changes make it so we’ll need to reapply our dots more for a minimal tradeoff gain. We’re not really sure what the role of this legendary actually is.
  • Dissonant Echoes: A good change, it will alter the value of Misery on single target encounters
  • Rabid Shadows: Another flat buff. An another note, this conduit acts like a dot that doesn’t have a partial tick, causing some upgrades to not grant you any DPS as you won’t get another swing with your Shadowfiend or Mindbender. It’s further convoluted by the amount of haste you have.

Rogue Analysis

  • Echoing Reprimand   Deal (135%110% of Attack power) Arcane damage to an enemy, extracting their anima to Animacharge a combo point for 45 sec.
    Damaging finishing moves that consume the same number of combo points as your Animacharge function as if they consumed 7 combo points.
    Awards 3 combo point.2 combo point.
    Effect #1 Effect #1 School Damage
    Value: 0 (AP mod: 1.351.1)

Slaughter   Lash the target 3 times, dealing (5%6% of Attack power) Shadow damage and adding a stack of Flagellation for each lash. The target remains tormented for 45 sec, causing20 sec, receiving an additional lash for each combo point spent.
you spend.
Reactivating Flagellation cleanses their torment, increasing your Haste by 0.5% per stack, up to a maximum of 20% for 25 sec.15% Haste for 20 sec.

  • Effect #1 School Damage
    Value: 0 (AP mod: 0.050.06)

Cooldown changed from 5 sec cooldown to 1.5 min cooldown
Sepsis   Infect the target’s blood, dealing (162.89% of Attack power) Nature damage over 10 sec. If the target survives its full duration, they suffer an additional (77.5667% of Attack power) damage and you Vanish from sight.
gain 1 use of any Stealth ability for 5 sec.
Cooldown reduced by 6030 sec if Sepsis does not last its full duration.duration.
Awards 1 combo point.
Cost changed from None to 25 Energy
Serrated Bone Spike   Serrated Bone Spike’s bleed has a 30% chance to deal its damage a second time.

  • Effect #1 School Damage
    Value: 0 (AP mod: 0.60.1)

This section was written by our Rogue Class Writer, Mystler:

After a lot of back and forth, Rogue covenant abilities are starting to look like what we may see when we sneak into the Shadowlands. This is highlighted by several tuning passes as well as changes that obviously have tuning in mind. Let me go through the current state of Rogue covenant abilities and the outlook.

  • Echoing Reprimand (Kyrian): Over the past few weeks we saw an overall pretty heavy buff to the instant damage of the ability. That buff brought it more in line with the other covenant abilities and shifted more value away from the combo point minigame to the basic attack. Consuming the animacharge with a damage finisher was changed to also scale passive interactions as if they used 7 combo points. This is very helpful with things like Restless Blades, Deepening Shadows, or Ruthlessness. While I’m personally not a fan of the minigame and it still has the issues of having thresholds that can be hard to get (probably causing you to ignore the minigame rotationally and just waiting to match at some point), it looks like it is here to stay.
  • Serrated Bone Spike (Necrolord): The ability that was pretty much overpowered for most of the alpha and beta got the expected nerf. Damage was reduced across the board and the unintended fracture mechanic (which was not on the main tooltip and always seemed like a leftover) was removed. This makes bone spike easier to understand again with gameplay being entirely in using the 3 charges for DoTs and combo points. It also eliminates some bugs with fractures from dead targets quirks like that which we have seen on Beta. Main drawback is that the heavy nerfs put this in a weird place for the Subtlety AoE rotation. It may look like the best AoE covenant ability but targets have to be alive for quite a while to be worth the use.
  • Sepsis (Night Fae): Sepsis has not changed too much aside from one rather important thing: Instead of triggering a free Vanish, it now grants a buff which allows the ability to cast a stealth-requiring spell, such as Ambush, Sap, or Cheap Shot. As such, Sepsis no longer synergizes with stealth effects such as Master Assassin or Subterfuge. While this does remove some interesting gameplay, this change is a welcome sight in order to make this ability actually balanceable. The free Vanish was heavily favoring Assassination and legendaries that synergize with Vanish, basically making it impossible to tune it so that it is viable with and without those synergies. The new approach is much less impactful but allows it to come in line with the other covenant abilities. Main value is in the DoT and the empowered DoT tick, with the stealth ability being a gimmick on top. Oh, and this also fixes the open world problem of resetting enemies that don’t die fast enough with the free Vanish.
  • Slaughter (Venthyr): In place of Slaughter, Venthyr Rogues have received an entirely redesigned covenant ability. Flagellation now reminds a lot of the Ashvane’s Razor Coral trinket. It has two alternating uses, one to apply a debuff that stacks and deals damage for every combo point you spend on any target, and another one to consume that debuff and convert the stacks into stacks of a Haste buff. Just like Razor Coral, stacks are also converted when the debuffed target dies. Otherwise, the duration is not too long and you have to pay attention to convert before the debuff expires. Compared to Slaughter, this removes some serious issues of being untunable and favoring specific specs. Flagellation looks like it will be a more independent support cooldown that seems generally fine in every situation.

About the situation as a whole, all of these changes and tuning made covenant abilities very close to each other in single target simulations. The abilities themselves are all in the ballpark of 3-4% increases and end up within 50 DPS for each spec. Just changing one talent is likely to have a higher impact than changing the covenant ability. If the same kind of tuning is applied to soulbinds and conduits (and it is currently leaning that way), then the bottom line is probably going to be: It doesn’t really matter what Covenant you choose – both differences as well as impact on your spec performance is very low.

Elemental Shaman Analysis

  • Chain Harvest   Send a wave of anima at the target, which then jumps to additional nearby targets. Deals (310%205% of Spell power) Shadow damage to up to 5 enemies, and restores (315% of Spell power) health to up to 5 allies.
    For each target critically struck, the cooldown of Chain Harvest is reduced by 5 sec.
    Effect #1 Effect #1 School Damage
    Value: 0 (SP mod: 3.12.05)

Echoes of Great Sundering   When you cast Earth Shock, your next Earthquake will deal 250% additional damage.175% additional damage.
Inventory Type: Shoulder, Hands

Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise   Flame Shock damage over time critical strikes reduce the cooldown of Storm Elemental / Fire Elemental by 1.0 sec, and Flame Shock has a 30%50% increased critical strike chance.
Inventory Type: Chest, Finger

Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence   When you cast Earth Shock, gain Lava Surge and increase the damage of your next Lava Burst by 30%.20%.
Inventory Type: Feet, Back

This section was written by our Elemental Shaman Class Writer, Gistwiki:

  • The nerf to Chain Harvest and the conduit Elysian Dirge have Elemental looking towards other covenants. While the jury is still out on single target, and will likely depend moreso on soulbind paths than the covenant abilities themselves, in mythic+ the change is enough that Elemental is beginning to look at going Night Fae with both Night Fae & Venthyr performing similarly at the moment.
  • For legendaries, the documented changes don’t change anything at the moment with which legendaries we prefer on the beta. Instead, it’s a recent bugfix that looked to shift our priorities. Originally the Echoes of Great Sundering buff would buff all active Earthquakes, which was extremely powerful. With that bug now fixed, this legendary is still powerful though noticeably less so than before. As such, Elemental currently favors Elemental Equilibrium in all situations outside of ones that allow Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise to shine such as Council-style fights.

Enhancement Shaman Analysis

  • Chain Harvest   Send a wave of anima at the target, which then jumps to additional nearby targets. Deals (310%205% of Spell power) Shadow damage to up to 5 enemies, and restores (315% of Spell power) health to up to 5 allies.
    For each target critically struck, the cooldown of Chain Harvest is reduced by 5 sec.
    Effect #1 Effect #1 School Damage
    Value: 0 (SP mod: 3.12.05)

Doom Winds   Dropping Windfury Totem grants you 100% chance to gain Windfury Weapon for 8 sec. and increases Windfury Weapon damage by 100% for 12 sec.
This can only occur once every 1 min.
Inventory Type: Head, Waist

Legacy of the Frost Witch   Consuming 5 stacks of Maelstrom Weapon will reset the cooldown of Stormstrike and cause your next Stormstrike to deal 100% increased damage.15% increased damage.
Inventory Type: Neck, Wrist

Primal Lava Actuators   Each time Flame Shock deals Periodic damage, increase the damage of your next Lava Lash by 10%12% and reduce the cooldown of Lava Lash by 0.5 sec.
Inventory Type: Wrist, Hands

Witch Doctor’s Wolf Bones   Increases the chance to gain a stack of Maelstrom Weapon by 5%3%, and whenever you gain a stack of Maelstrom Weapon, the cooldown of Feral Spirits is reduced by 2.0 sec.
Inventory Type: Shoulder, Finger

Chains of Devastation   Casting Chain Heal makes your next Chain Lightning instant cast. Casting Chain Lightning makes your next Chain Heal instant cast .
Inventory Type: Neck, Chest

Essential Extraction   (Potency Conduit) Fae Transfusion deals 15%30% increased damage, and channels 15%30% faster.
Rank changes:

15% 16% 17% 18% 19% 20% 21% 23% 24% 25% 26% 27% 28% 29% 30%
30% 31% 32% 33% 34% 35% 36% 38% 39% 40% 41% 42% 43% 44% 45%

This section was written by our Enhancement Shaman Class Writer, Wordup:

Legendaries

  • Doom Winds This was previously very weak, and saw a massive buff. Part of this is attached to the baseline increase to Windfury Weapon, which may have been a bit of an extreme swing in the buff direction with how much synergy there is. The baseline change makes Forceful Winds an appealing talent and Unruly Winds a powerful conduit. Pairing these with the original effect, an extra 4 seconds and newly added 100% increase to damage turns this into an incredibly powerful one minute cooldown that works well in single target, and excels in AoE.
  • Legacy of the Frost Witch On the other hand this was very strong and a nerf was expected. This was dominating in all situations but dropping down to a 15% increase from 100% is probably on the harsh side and could probably stand to be adjusted back up a little. The most important aspect of the item is the Stormstrike reset though so is still functional in the same way it was on Beta.
  • Primal Lava Actuators Small buff, still stands as a niche single target option so the damage per stack doesn’t really change much.
  • Witch Doctor’s Wolf Bones Nerf to the Maelstrom generation hurts the consistency here. With how low the damage contribution of Feral Spirit is right now, this has recursive nerfs as the main goal of this cooldown (and legendary) is more Maelstrom Weapon charges.
  • Chains of Devastation Previously dead in the water for Enhancement due to the huge Mana costs to cycle the effect. With the added component of making Chain Heal cost no mana, might see some use as a support tool at the cost of damage.

Covenants

  • Chain Harvest Took a flat numbers hit. This ability lives and dies on the tuning because of the low mechanical complexity and what it replaces in the rotation. Where this lands in terms of how strong Venthyr is entirely depends on what the tuning goals of other covenant abilities are.
  • Essential Extraction This conduit saw a massive buff, and helps push Fae Transfusion as a strong single target cast. All of the mechanical shortcomings of the covenant ability itself still remain though, and with conduit slots less available means it costs that to make it usable.

Restoration Shaman Analysis

  • Earthen Harmony   Earth Shield healing is increased by 300%150% if your Earth Shield target is below 50%75% health, and Healing Wave adds a stack of Earth Shield to your target, up to 9 maximum stacks.
    Inventory Type: Chest, Back
  • Spiritwalker’s Tidal Totem   After using Mana Tide Totem, the cast time of Healing Wave and Chain Heal is reduced by 50%, and the mana cost of Chain Heal and Healing Wave is reduced by 100%25% for 10 sec.
    Inventory Type: Legs, Back
  • Chain Harvest   Send a wave of anima at the target, which then jumps to additional nearby targets. Deals (310%205% of Spell power) Shadow damage to up to 5 enemies, and restores (315% of Spell power) health to up to 5 allies.
    For each target critically struck, the cooldown of Chain Harvest is reduced by 5 sec.
    Effect #1 Effect #1 School Damage
    Value: 0 (SP mod: 3.12.05)

Nature’s Reach   (Potency Conduit) Chain Heal has a 40% chance to jump to an additional ally.The primary target of your Chain Heal is healed for an additional 10%.
Name changed from Nature’s Reach to Nature’s Focus
Rank changes:

40% 43% 46% 49% 51% 54% 57% 60% 63% 66% 69% 71% 74% 77% 80%
10% 10.7% 11.3% 12% 12.7% 13.3% 14% 15% 16% 16.7% 17.3% 18% 18.7% 19.3% 20%

This section was written by our Restoration Shaman Class Writer, Niseko:

  • Earthen Harmony
    Halving the healing boost sounds like a nerf at first, but this is actually a buff to this legendary.
    You’ll see many more procs of this legendary in a fight as its a lot more likely that your target is below 75% health, compared to below 50% health.
    For example: Looking through a beta Mythic+ log with me using Earth Shield on the tank, of 240 Earth Shield hits 110 of them happened while the target was below 75% health, but only 22 of them for below 50%. Even calculating in Mastery: Deep Healing it still comes out as an overall buff.

Spiritwalker’s Tidal Totem

  • While an extra Innervate as an effect might have been too strong, I believe that reducing the mana reduction all the way to 25% is a bit much. As it stands right now, while playable, it looks to be a bit on the weaker side. I’d like more from a legendary that looks pretty fun.

Chain Harvest

  • Bit of a damage nerf, puts it more in line compared to the other options for AoE as it was ahead. It is still the highest damage per cast but its DPS came down enough to lose that spot.

Nature’s Reach

  • Instead of giving you a chance for an extra jump of Chain Heal, it now simply increases the healing of Chain Heal on the initial target – and that target only, not the jumps. I found the old version of extra jumps to be too weak, even while including the potential with High Tide synergy (if you’re lucky), but this new version is worse in my opinion.
    It is essentially a copy of the azerite trait Soothing Waters, which already wasn’t great. Due to Chain Heal being fully smart (the jumps try to find the lowest health players they can find), when buffing the first hit you’re buffing the hit that is most likely to overheal as well as it is the only player targeted hit.

Demonology Warlock Analysis

  • Balespider’s Burning Core   Shadow Bolt increases the damage of your next Demonbolt by 25%Demonbolt by 8%, stacking up to 4 times.
    Inventory Type: Wrist, Hands
  • Implosive Pontential   When Implosion damages at least 3 targets, gain 5%Implosion grants 1% haste for 8 sec for each Imp exploded.
    Inventory Type: Head, WaistWhen this damages at least 3 targets, instead gain 5% haste per Imp.
    Inventory Type: Head, Waist

This section was written by our Demonology Warlock Class Writer, Not:

  • Balespider’s Burning Core: A big change that makes this Legendary much easier to play around and much more friendly to the overall gameplay/toolkit. Having a (basically) permanent buff to Demonbolt should make for a pretty strong case for using this legendary for any single target encounter and make the Demonbolt build actually a fair amount stronger for us and could (possibly) allow us to playable in raid over the other two specs on single target.
  • Implosive Pontential: Allows you to have some benefit outside of only AoE, which will be important for M+ where this Legendary will primarily be used. Wearing this piece will now provide you some benefit on bosses where you can’t take advantage of the bigger haste buff but still give you the opportunity to have some “free” haste single target. Generally speaking you would want to implode Imps that are about to expire (if possible) in that single target situation to get max value but having the additional haste, especially early in the expansion where we will have fairly low haste levels will make the spec flow much much better.





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