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[H2P] How to use the Tier 13 4-piece set bonus.

by Kilee » 10 Jan 2012, 12:32

I'm creating this topic to consolidate the past few weeks worth of research and testing I've done with the tier 13 4-piece bonus. To start off with, what does it do?

Item - Priest T13 Shadow 4P Bonus (Shadowfiend and Shadowy Apparition)

Your Shadowfiend and Shadowy Apparitions have a 100% chance to grant you 3 Shadow Orb each time they deal damage.

The Shadowy Apparitions portion of this is a passive dps increase. It just happens whenever it happens, and you don't even look at it.

However, there are some interesting things you can do with the shadowfiend. Each time the shadowfiend attacks, he generates 3 shadow orbs. However, under our normal rotation, the only spell we cast that can take advantage of it is Mind Blast. The shadowfiend typically gets about 10 attacks off during its 15 second duration. If we use Mind Blast just after casting Shadowfiend, this means at most we will only use 3 of those attacks worth of shadow orbs.

The focus of this thread is to demonstrate, both in world of logs and in simulationcraft, a better way to take advantage of the 4-piece set bonus.

What I think we should do with the 4-piece set bonus

When I first simmed the 4-piece set bonus under the default simcraft action list, I got a PP value of a bout 190 PP. This is not bad, but compare this to the tier 12 4-piece set bonus, which was worth 250 PP. Also compare it to the other tier 13 class set bonuses, which had a similar (or even higher) worth. At first glance it appeared that our 4-piece set bonus for tier 13 was quite lame.

So it's with that in mind that I set about looking for something more.

Reading through the spell list, the only other spell that uses shadow orbs is Mind Spike. It seemed to me that the designers intended us to do something with this spell and the set bonus. However, how do we make it work? Where do I go about proving it?

Simulationcraft evidence

Ironically the first attempts at simming the set bonus looked amazing. 1000-2000 dps increase. After people started pointing this out, the designers at simcraft pointed out that Mind Spike wasn't modeling correctly (it wasn't removing dots), which set everyong back to the drawing board. "It doesn't work," or "There's no change in dps," was the common answer.

The real problem here is that the 4-piece set bonus is very hard to model in simulationcraft. This is because of several factors:
1. Simulationcraft does not handle clipping of Mind Flay very well.
2. Simulationcraft cannot (to my knowledge) handle a sequence of casts rather than a priority.
3. It is difficult to tell simulationcraft to look ahead and wait for certain spells to synch up or come off cooldown.

Because of this, a lot of attempts to sim the 4-piece bonus made it look like it didn't work. However, just recently, some action lists have been coming out that demonstrate an increase in DPS. This one, for example is showing a nearly 1000 dps increase on many shadowpriests that you use it with.


(Many thanks to the user "Taradenha" on the simulationcraft website for his list.)

Under this action list, the PP value of the set bonus goes from 190 PP to 500 PP.

I'd like to submit these simulationcraft results as the first point of evidence that this is how we were supposed to use the set bonus.

World of logs evidence

Please view the following log:

Warlord Zon'oz

I'm using this log in particular because it has a very good and clear example of two shadow priests with equivalent gear and equal buffs, using two different casting methods. In this example I'm using the 4-piece with a Mind Spike rotation, the other shadow priest is not. However, before this raid, I simmed both of our characters in Simulationcraft with the default action lists, and got only a difference of 100 DPS between us.

Here are two more examples of me using the 4-piece set bonus.

Alizabal - achieved a 107 WoL ranking at the time of the fight

Ultraxion - achieved a 76 WoL ranking at the time of the fight

In each of the logs, you should be able to see a clear rise in DPS at the moment AA and Shadowfiend are used.

I would like to present the above World of Logs evidence as my second point of proof that the 4-piece set bonus is intended to be used this way.

What is the rotation?

There's been a lot of discussion for how to implement this over the past few weeks. I will give two different rotations, and try to cover the benefits of each as best I can.

Rotation #1

This first rotation is very easy to use, and requires very little setup. You need to create a macro for Mind Blast that looks like this:

/cancelaura Mind Melt
/cast Mind Blast

The point of this is that if you Mind Spike and immediately Mind Blast right after, the Mind Spike eats the orbs and Mind Blast won't receieve any. The macro removes the instant cast nature of Mind Blast, and gives the shadowfiend some time to attack the target. So the rotation will look like this:

Mind Flay x 2, clip both after 2 ticks
Mind Blast
Mind Spike x 4-5 (use a 15s trinket just after the first or second mind spike)
/cancelaura Mind Melt (this is a macro)
Mind Blast
Mind Spike x 3-4 (depends on lag/latency)
Mind Flay (full 3 ticks) (shadowfiend will be ending around here
/cancelaura Mind Melt
Mind Blast
(Archangel and spellpower proc ends here, refresh dots and continue normal rotation)

It should end with 4-5 stacks of evangelism and allow you to move right into your normal rotation with no pause.

Rotation #2

This rotation is a bit harder to pull off than the above, but it has a few good benefits. It gets 3 Mind Blasts with 3 orbs off, and it seems to give more consistent dps. I also think this rotation works a little better with Dark Intent (ie it is the most friendly to warlocks). Note that this rotation does NOT use a macro for Mind Blast.

Mind Flay x 2, clip both after 2 ticks
Mind Blast
(pop spellpower trinket here)
Mind Spike x 3
Mind Flay (clip as soon as Mind Blast is available)
Mind Blast (instant cast)
Mind Spike x 3
Mind Flay (clip as soon as Mind Blast is available)
Mind Blast (instant cast)
(archangel, spellpower trinket, and Shadowfiend ends here, you still have 3 orbs remaining)

Resume dots and consume the remaining 3 orbs on your next Mind Blast.

Rotation #3, the Bottled Wishes rotation

If you have Bottled Wishes trinket, this rotation is designed to try to take advantage of it. It is a variation on Rotation #2, but intended to take advantage of the limited proc time on the trinket. This rotation also does NOT use a cancel aura macro.

Mind Flay x 2, clip both after 2 ticks
Mind Spike x 2
Mind Blast + Archangel + Bottled Wishes
Mind Spike x 3
Mind Flay, clip after 2 ticks
Mind Blast
Mind Spike x 3
Vampiric Touch
Devouring Plague
Mind Blast
(Bottled Wishes, Shadowfiend, and AA end)

You should spike very high with this, but dps will even out over time.

Drawbacks, or where not to use it

I wouldn't be thorough, unless I covered some of these topics. So there are a few drawbacks to using this rotation.

1. It doesn't work very well for the warlock attached to you with Dark Intent. Your uptime on the debuff will drop some while the shadowfiend is out (once every 90 seconds or so). If you are the highest eligible DPS in the raid by a large factor, then this won't really matter much, because the amount of dps you can contrinbute doing this far outweights the loss to the warlock (~1000 dps, minus ~200). However if it comes down to a choice between you and, say, a boomkin or a fire mage who is doing equivalent DPS to you, it becomes more of a gray area. You will want to talk this out with the warlock in your raid before you start changing your rotation significantly.

2. It's difficult to do under 25%. Once you get into execute range, your time is taken up using Shadow Word Death. It's difficult to balance the rotation while using Death, and this is something you may want to be aware of. It seems like the best way to deal with this is to consider Mind Blast > Shadow Word: Death > Mind Spike.

3. The rotation doesn't seem to scale too much with heroism or haste buffs. The shadowfiend attacks very slowly, so casting faster just results in spells that don't get 3 orbs. This also makes the technique not very good for Madness of Deathwing. I wouldn't use it during heroism either.

Conclusions, wrapping up

I'd like to conclude by saying that I think this is what we were intended to discover about the set bonus. I'd like to think it was like an "easter egg" planted by Blizzard just for the theorycrafters to play with.

Also, even if not intended to be used all the time, keep in mind this is an excellent source of burst DPS, and you'll want to use the technique for a fight like Spine of Deathwing or Hagara, regardless of whether or not you choose to incorporate it into your normal rotation.

I hope this post has helped and been informative. Good luck and happy shadowpriesting!
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by Blackmorgrim » 10 Jan 2012, 15:16

Awesome post Kilee.
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by Caewyn » 10 Jan 2012, 16:46

Thankyou very much for this information Kilee. I am yet to even have a 3 set, however, I am hoping to obtain the 4 before we work on H Ultra. I think this is going to be very handy.
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by Raquell » 10 Jan 2012, 19:35

Thanks for compiling the recent findings Kilee especially including both theory and empirical log data. I'd also like to give credit to the following:

- Margo from shadow priest forum for mentioning the simcraft discovery from EJ
- onceler21 from the EJ forum that posted his simcraft priority list that led to the increased simmed DPS discovery
- And Kilee again for the excellent 4.3 Shadow Priest Guide that led to this in-depth discussion
- And of course the simcraft team for continuing to take our feedback and someday they will be able to sim this correctly

I don't know who else contributed but it's definitely worth noting so that we can continue developing better rotations for the spriest environment. This is our strength over the KR guilds who hide everything they can.

On a further note:

Rotation when health<=25%
I think it would still work. You can fit two SW:D during the 15s SF. SWD does more DPE than MS w/3Orb, so in particular at ~2600haste:

Code: Select all
AA(if avail) SF
MF 1 Tick
MB Instant (Clip MF whenever it's done CD)
MS x 3
MF 2 ticks
MB Instant (Clip MF whenever it's done CD)
...ctd as Kilee's rotation...

This would make you lose 1GCD timing off the SWD 10s cooldown but it benefits that you still get your MS reotation off and still get 3 stacks of evangelism.

Heroism Potential Exists

I timed it with my friend on skype during LFR Morchok runs (just for DPS test), he heroism's at the start and screws everyone else up (whoops). If you can press AA and SF (I macro it now to SF button) just as he counts the 1 you can get heroism on the SF. The spike damage with a MS/MB cast time under 0.8s destroyed everyone. I didn't do any MF because it was too difficult to time (Japan latency of 200ms), I just used my specialized macro for testing. (Unless Gnosis displays cast time wrong, I thought we couldn't break the 1s GCD cap, but with the 30% haste raid buffed, then 30% heroism they seem to stack multiplicatively). During testing, I used:

Code: Select all
/cancelaura Mind Melt
/castsequence Mind Blast, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Blast, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike, Mind Spike

I manually stop casting when I see the SF has expired and then start dots. Ideally if I was fast enough I could put in 5 Flays in there and keep the Mind Melt buff. I remember one test to have gotten over 14 casts during SF all with Orbs. I'm sure the shadow fiend attacks like a madman during heroism. I will log to see exactly how many.
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by Brusalk » 11 Jan 2012, 02:09

I'm really not sure. I've been doing pretty extensive testing on my character, with 4 set, and there's not a real difference between the two.(Below 50 dps difference) Though realistically, the comparitive ease of the normal non-ms rotation could yield better real-world results.

That being said, there may be something I'm missing, because when I simmed the stat weights, haste was still valued vastly higher than crit and mastery(relative to the stat weights calc'd without the MS rotation), which is the opposite of what I would expect.

Also, I think that the cancelaura of Mind Melt and it's effectiveness depends greatly on your lag. Personally (We've been progressing on heroic spine, so I've had a lot of attempts to test it), when I use the following macro for my mind blast, it successfully clears all the stacks even when I cast MB while I'm finishing up my MF.

Code: Select all
/cancelaura Mind Melt
/cancelaura Mind Melt
/cast Mind Blast

About once in every 30 MBs will I get a MB cast with 1 stack of mind melt, but never instant. (My world latency is around 40-50 in a boss fight)
That being said, I do think that off the start of a boss fight, your suggested rotation with feeding in a few Mind Flays is a very good idea, as it doesn't reduce damage done significantly, but allows for significantly slower ramp up time after SF and AA end.

Also, have you done any testing to determine if lining up AA and SF reduces the number of total AAs you get access to in a fight? That's assuming you have to wait on AA for SF, which would in turn, potentially reduce the benefit of saving the CD.

I dunno, maybe I'm missing something, but is certainly an interesting idea :)
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by Nephelee » 11 Jan 2012, 04:40

I played around with this tonight. One thing I ran into trouble with was Insignia of the Corrupted Mind procs messing up my Mind Spikes/Blasts with orbs. Similar to Hero, some of my Mind Spikes/Blasts were landing before my Shadowfiend could melee which caused them to not have 3 orbs.

It *seemed* like more dps but I wonder if it will be worthwhile if I switch the Insignia trinket for either NF or TM. ^_^ Imagine a TM proc at the start of the fight during the Spikes/Blasts. I never had much luck with it procing immediately though.
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by Taradenha » 11 Jan 2012, 05:09

There are some things you might want to change in the rotation suggested.

You don't need to cast a full MF, just clip both MF at the start and you'll get 5 stacks of evangelism using only 2 gcd.
Cast SF before MB, so you don't cast a MB without any orbs unneededly.
Cast MSp until MB is off cooldown, do not spell queue the next mind blast, play it like MF clipping and hit the MB macro as soon as the cast bar enters the latency zone.
Continue with MSp until there's only 1 attack left for SF, do not consume these orbs with MSp, instead just start normal rotation.
Do not build evangelism before recasting the dots, it's not worth it.
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by hecatus » 11 Jan 2012, 15:54

I haven't actually worked out any of the timing but as far as this rotation would go during execute, would it be possible to squeeze in SW:D's every other set of spikes/blasts? Say we spike 3 times, mb, sw:d once vs flaying and resume? Skip sw:d the second batch and do it on the 3rd 6 seconds + later for a double sw:d in exe range w/ the tail end of AA? Granted the ramp up time on our 5 stacks later would take a little bit longer, it'd just be one extra full flay before reapping dots.


Also, I saw your post in here: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=1142

and was wondering how this would affect our priories now. I'm assuming that since this is the smaller part of the fight haste stacks are gonna win out like you said w/ a legendary and DI but if we're unable to reach 3202 in our current gear, should we start favoring some mastery? If so, up to what degree would you think we'd drop our haste?
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by Kilee » 11 Jan 2012, 16:00

I want to do some testing with:

(delay, or cancel Mind Melt aura)
(delay, or cancel Mind Melt aura)
(fiend/AA end)

If this becomes the case, you just replace any of the 4 MS with 2 SW: D.

Since I've made this post, I've had several people telling me the above is better. I've done a bit of math today and it seems sound. I like the rotation I'm using because it gets 3 MB into the rotation at 3 orbs, but when I start looking at the numbers, this should sustain higher DPS. Primarily because you can pot at the start of it, and use the pot throughout.

Anyway, try the above as well and see what happens. I'm not perfect, and I don't want people to think there is the only one way to do it. I had good success with one method so far, that's all. If people have better ideas, please post them.
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by Aleysia » 11 Jan 2012, 17:17

Hmm... wouldn't you still get a 3rd 3-orb MB if you don't /cancelaura? I might be totally mistaken, but I thought the cooldown starts after the spell finishes casting, so having an instant cast MB would effectively shorten the duration between MBs slightly.

I've been playing around with variations of the rotation you posted on MMO a little while back, basically
MF2 (or MSx1 and pause)
MB (instant)
MF (SF fades during this, but gives (at least one set of) orbs first; MSx1 maybe possible?)
MB (instant)
(AA fades)

I'm not sure of the relative benefit of delaying vs not delaying SF until after the first MB. For delaying SF,
  • Pro: Not wasting previously accumulated orbs by overwriting them with SF orbs before using them
  • Con: Your 3rd 3-orb MB won't benefit from AA (but it's the least important one, not a guaranteed crit)

I do agree that getting a 5-stack of evangelism during the rotation isn't terribly important, as having an extra 3-orb MS will probably outweigh the dps gained by an MF2 and having ~2 stacks of evangelism (based on equivalent cast time) before starting the normal rotation.
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