Fading away

You’d think a discourse on one spell – one that’s used by almost every priest with regularity – would get a short post. Unless you know me and my proclivity for going on and on and on…

Yep. Fade – the priest’s one-shot lifesaver. You already know how to use it. What I’m going to do is take it apart, look at the pieces, and help you be more effective in using it. Oh, before I go further… the numbers I’m going to be using are best guesses. Several places and people have tested and come with what they appear to be, and we (yes, I tested too) are fairly close to each other in most cases. But not exactly the same, and in the end we’re not the programmers and so don’t know EXACTLY what the mechanism is or how it works. It’s just a best guess with lots of empirical observation supporting the guess.

Tooltip first. For rank 1: “Fade out, discouraging enemies from attacking you for 10 sec.” Each of the next ranks add: “Fade out, discouraging enemies from attacking you for 10 sec. More effective than Fade (Rank [the one just before]).” And that tells you absolutely nothing about how it works.

Here’s our best guess. When you cast fade, your threat value on all mobs in combat is modified with a negative number. At the end of 10 seconds that number is added back to all the threat tables. Let’s make a more specific example using Fade Rank 1 – for which the experiments show the reduction value to be around -55.

Let us say – for an example – that our tank has generated 100 points of threat on each of two mobs. Things have gone a bit nuts and we’ve had to heal 400 points on our tank. At this instant we have threat exactly equal to the tank on both mobs. We’re 30 yards away, so we are safe as long as we don’t do more than 30 more threat — 60 more points of healing. Unfortunately, our tank took a nasty critical hit so we have to risk it. And (sarcasm) joy of joys, we do a 200 point heal. Our threat on both these mobs is suddenly 150 to the tank’s 100 and they’ve decided WE are the flavor of the day. The tank gives a fast shot to try and recover. Se hits them both but only does 20 threat apiece – and 120 threat is less than 150 so they’re still on the way.

We pop fade, and our number immediately drops by 55 to 95. Anybody in melee range with 105 threat, or anybody at range with 124 threat, is going to attract the attention of the mobs. The tank, bless her shield, is already at 120 and is staying in melee range to both, so away go the mobs. The tank has 10 seconds to generate enough threat to hold them. How much? That’s a nifty point too — the tank needs enough points that when 55 points of threat are added to the table we aren’t over 110%/130% (melee/ranged) of her threat. In other words, since at 150 we’re 125% of the tank’s threat, if we can get out of melee range in 10 seconds the tank will keep the aggro without either of us doing anything else.

Now review that scenario and notice some facts. When you pop fade your threat jumps. The computer treats it as everyone else jumping, though. Which means that given the choice you should get in melee range of the tank before popping it. In melee range the switch is at 110%, at range it’s 130%.

The second thing is that after you’ve popped fade, run AWAY from the tank. Get back to that 130% line.

The third thing to notice is really important. Your threat did not drop to zero. You just ‘lost some’. You can continue to build threat while faded, and it’ll maybe stay below the threshhold. But at the ten second point that subtraction gets reversed and you get it all back. And if you’ve added to your threat, you may be pulling those mobs right back into your face. Sometimes you have to, but know it first.

Fourth, let’s notice some math. The drop for rank 1 is 55 threat. At low threat levels 55 points is a LOT. At high threat levels – say, deep into a boss or miniboss or double-pull fight – 55 points is a small fraction of the total threat. It may not be enough to have the tank jump over the 110% line in relation to you (assuming you ran to the tank). DO NOT PANIC. Stay near the tank for a few seconds, doing nothing (except maybe a bubble) to let the tank do her job. Hopefully the tank will get them off, at which time you run madly for range.

Now, 55 points is not a lot of threat. On the other hand, that’s rank 1, which you learn at level 8. The number of points goes up with ranks. Rank 7 Fade is learned at level 66, and has an estimated effect of -1500 points. That means as long as we’re under about 15,000 threat points per mob we will cause the tank to break the threat line (110%).

A useful technique exists if you are using a threat meter and you see you’re getting close to grabbing aggro from the tank. You can use a pre-emptive fade. Yes, I’m going to assume you’ll stop healing to allow the tank to build a stronger threat buffer, though I recommend you let the tank know he needs to get a bit more threat. But by acting preemptively you avoid forcing the tank to use his long cooldown threat tools (like taunt), and you start the cooldown for your fade earlier – giving you a chance of having it ready for the same battle. I want to point out that the more important of those two is that it allows your tank to save her emergency aggro grabbers – trust me, it helps you both.

Two final points which should be obvious but sometimes aren’t. Fade does not work on other players — it’s worthless for PVP. And since there’s nobody around with higher threat when you solo, it’s worthless then too.

Summary. To use fade most effectively:
– run to the tank and THEN pop it;
– after you pop it wait till you know the tank has grabbed aggro, THEN run away;
– If you cast during fade you risk pulling aggro again;
– You can pop it preemptively to give the tank a chance to use standard instead of emergency (long cool-down) threat skills and talents;
– It won’t work for solo or PVP play.


~ by Kirk on August 15, 2007.

14 Responses to “Fading away”

  1. Oho! Nice new header! Gah, I’m so behind, I didn’t even change my sidebar image this week.


  2. Thanks. fwiw it’s a short-term header. I’ve got someone doing some artwork for me which may or may not include that/those staves…

    Any other priests – heck, any classes at all – miss their “proof of excellence” quest? I mean, sure the staff was a Kill Me Now marker. And it didn’t really test shadow at all, just the light. And you could get help from friends so long as you were careful. But all that said, holding Benediction/Anathema was still proof that you were a PRIEST, by Mu’sha. sigh.

    I suspect it’s easier, now, as a 70. And the stats… are so woefully outclassed by outland greens. Still, I may go get one for this main just for the statement.

  3. Ok, I’m a little confused now. I mean absolutely no malice by this post; really, I’m confused….

    By running to the tank to pop Fade, how is it more effective? I could see if I was next to the tank when I grabbed aggro and ran away, I would be crossing the 110%/130% line. But if I’m at range already, run to the tank, pop fade, run to range again, then I’ve netted nothing but the fade because I start at 130% area and end at 130% area.

    In fact, if I’ve pulled aggro at 130% area and run to 110% area, doesn’t that mean that my Fade had better be even better? You can see how confused I am. Any chance you could break it down a little further for us Priestards?

  4. Ok, after rereading the post a couple of times, I think I know the answer to my confusion.

    The tank is the one that needs to be within melee range of the offending mob so he only has to beat our aggro by 110%. If he’s at range, then of course, he has to get 130% of our aggro.

    But if I have my target of target set to on, and i see my picture pop up in that window, or if I have no target and suddenly I have one, I pop fade, if it’s up. Usually the mob hasn’t had time to move toward me, so a melee party member is closest to it and it redirects it attention to them.

    Now, if the mob has broken free of the tank before I hit fade, then I can see why to run to the tank before popping fade. Also, running to the tank helps to alert them that I’m about to get a beat down. lol

  5. I never did get to do that quest.

    I like the idea of class-specific toys and mounts. =] I wish they’d implement more.

  6. Daxenos, sort of. Let’s see if I can make it clearer.

    Try this idea – which may be how it works in reality – and see if it helps grasp what’s going on.

    When you pop fade, you don’t really reduce your threat. What you do is add threat to everybody else, and ten seconds later your threat is raised by the same amount. Now as I lectured (sorry) on the aggro posts, when someone is in melee range, if their threat exceeds 110% of whomever is on top, they become the new target. At caster range the magic number is 130%.

    You were (I hope) at caster range when you stole aggro. That means you had AT LEAST 130% of the tank’s threat – let’s call it 130 for simplicity. Now when you pop aggro (using the alternative view we are using here) you’ve made the tank’s threat 155. Assuming the tank did nothing to your mob, then you won’t lose it because 155 isn’t 130% of 130, but it’s definitely more than 110%. Now while most of the time the tank will be TRYING to recover aggro, you help a lot by running into melee range of the tank. And if you do it before you pop, you ENSURE the tank regains aggro. And by running back OUT of range, you help the tank keep aggro when YOUR threat pops up to 185 (130 plus the 55 aggro).

    As it happens I’ve begun to think this is what is actually happening. The reason is some oddities – when I’ve popped fade, the tank didn’t do anything to generate more threat, but when fade ended I didn’t get the mob back. Since nothing’s changed, if what I did was SUBTRACT enough to have the tank exceed my number, then when the number returned I should have regained primary threat. But nothing happens till I do a bit MORE healing. If you follow the example above, my 185 is not 130% of 155 – for that I need 202.

    Regardless, however, it’s all due to the aggro threshholds. I want to make it easy for the tank to grab from me, so I close to melee range. I want to make it less likely for the mob to return to me, so I move back to caster range.

    Still confused?

  7. Ego, I only got to do it once. The final quest wasn’t that hard (relatively). The hard part was the component from Molten Core. Boss drop item that was always there BUT was 50-50 priest or hunter. And you never had only one priest or hunter.

    Every so often I’m tempted to gather some 70s and small-raid MC and ZG. With the upcoming patch my reason for ZG has faded, but I’d still kind of like that staff…

  8. You’re missing out on the more important aspect of Fade – while it’s active, you generate NO threat. Popping a top rank fade drops you temporarily by 1500 points; if you then cast a greater heal with no threat reduction talents that heals for 4000 points, that’s 2000 threat points you’ve saved. This can be a great help when the tank gets a huge burst damage right after a pull.

  9. I’m sorry, David, but that’s incorrect. I’ve tested it. Here’s the test process so you can repeat it.

    Conduct the following in an area where you can comfortably stand the mobs chewing upon you, but where you won’t kill them too fast in the following exercise.

    – You need someone who is willing to play tank.
    – You will need to arm yourself with the lowest level wand you can get. Alternatively, prepare to use smite Rank 1.

    Have your tank chew on a mob for as close to 100 points of damage as you can manage. Now have him allow the mob to chew on him till he’s taken at least 200 points of damage – preferably more, but not anything close to life-threatening. You’re now ready to begin the experiment.

    Remind your tank to do absolutely nothing from here on out until further notice. Use your wand – I will assume a lesser magic wand – to do ~16 points of damage every ~1.5 seconds. Use it until you pull the mob off the tank. Immediately interrupt your wand cast (if you’ve not been using the singleshot macro), and fade (Rank 1). As soon as you’re sure the mob has re-targeted the tank, use a flash heal to restore the tank to full health.

    The mob comes back to you. Your 200 heal generates 100 threat which overcomes the ~55 threat reduction of a rank 1 fade plus some more, and the mob sees and reacts to the change in threat.

    I’ve done this test numerous times, David. If you bust your margin while fade is going, you pull aggro.

    Let’s look at your example to point out where I think you got confused. You did 4,000 points of healing. That’s 2000 points of threat. If your party is fighting two mobs, that’s 1,000 threat per mob. Which means you still haven’t bounced past the 1500 reduction. It’s not a case of being unable to generate threat, it’s that you have a surprisingly large buffer before you overwhelm your safety. However, if your tank isn’t busting butt to build threat OR your party doesn’t kill that/those mobs darn quick, you are less than ten second from becoming something’s new best George.

  10. *big doe-like eyes*

    I loves you


    I’m just learning how to be a priest after being a mage for much of my grind to 70 and let me tell you its a blast !. I learnt how to use Fade off another priest I was doing an Dead Mines run with – it was great ! ^_^. I was like :

    *mob drops aggro off tank*
    *mob runs towards me*
    *I pop “Fade” *
    *mob runs away from me*

    Me : cooooooolllll 😉

    I think i then preceeded to intentionally pull aggro on every pull …just so I could pop my new toy “Fade”

  11. OK, since this post came out, I’ve been very conscience about running to the tank before popping fade. Mostly, I’ve been playing duo with a shammy tank, and this works very well. I also, pop it as I’m running and continue running to the “other” side of the aggro circle.

    I’ve also realized another valuable reason to run to the tank, and that is to protect my fellow squishies from becoming George. That may have been mentioned in the article; I was too lazy to re-read it…lol.


  12. Dang! Conscious…conscience….un……able……to….. edit….

  13. Nope, wasn’t mentioned. Good point, Daxenos.

  14. I am at work and have not had the chance to test this theory yet. But I am curious if what you say is correct. I’ve been playing a priest for roughly 3 years. Recently in TBC I’ve switched to raiding as Shadow with over 1000 spell dmg.. meaning my dots are ticking for roughly 750-800 when fully raid buffed.

    Fade, according to OMEN reduces your aggro for what you said, roughly ~1500. HOWEVER your dots are still ticking on the mob.. so if you pop fade while you are just under the tank in aggro… it seems that even if you stand there and do nothing, your threat keeps going up and up until you eventually “pop” your fade threshold. I will have to try this method of “giving” threat to tank/melee’s by popping fade close to them. IE using it when a pull is first started, and then backing up and tossing out some dps. Then fading close to them again while I have a full array of dots up and have already mindblasted/sw:deathed while running in range of the tank. I’m very curious.. as it goes against the method the threat meters have always worked.

    If you pop fade right away, you can physically see YOUR personal threat drop into the negative numbers temporarily. More info on this to come when I go test it out!

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