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.