Why Are Shadowland Covenants So Controversial?


            To call the Shadowlands Covenant system controversial might even be a bit of an understatement. Players are wary of an expansion whose game mechanic is almost built around unbalancing the class power dynamic. The Shadowlands expansion may be a huge risk for Blizzard as far as implementing new mechanics, but it could be worth it. Nothing awesome can be gained without a little bit of risk-taking after all. The big issue is that Blizzard has done little to reinforce our faith in recent times, so what should make Covenants any different? Only time will tell for certain.

            It is unlikely that long-time players will abandon the characters they have invested so much into because of a bad expansion. While not uncommon for players to sell a WoW account once they are done with the game, we do not expect a mass exodus because of this expansion.  But really, therein lies the problem with Covenant. It forces you, with very little flexibility, to select a path for your character that can drastically alters their proficiency. While re-speccing isn’t something a long-time player is unfamiliar with, it won’t be that easy with the faction you choose. Balance is about to take a major hit and many of us are not thrilled about having the boat rocked.

            With such a meaningful decision to make, many players want to have their plan set out and start prepping their characters for a particular faction. Since each of the four factions has a custom ability for each class, a total of 48 new abilities will be released. These abilities drastically range in quality we thought we would give our rundown of the best faction for each class. Now, these will largely vary based on what you use the character for and what they are built to specialize in so take this breakdown with a grain of salt. These choices are just generally favorable of the class and not taking into account specifics. Also, these are strictly mechanics-based suggestions, lore, RP, and aesthetics are not really quantifiable so we can’t really break that down for you.  Let’s start with the base classes then move to expansions.

            Druids will want to look into joining Venthyr. The Venthyr faction’s Ravenous stacks damage, healing, and haste buffs for each druid spell cast. While not as flashy as some of the other factions abilities, it can easily build up into some serious firepower.

            Hunters will be one of the classes we suggest side with the Kyrian. Resonating Arrow, the ability Kyrian covenant awards hunters, does a low damage AoE attack that has an aftereffect of allowing the attacker to ignore line of sight and grants a whopping 30% increase in crit chance. That is the possibility of serious damage combined with giving your enemies nowhere to hide.

            For Mage players, we recommend the Night Fae. The Night Fae will award the ability of Shifting Power. Shifting Power is an AOE spell that does some serious damage when channeled and, as an added bonus during the channeling, the mages cooldowns are drastically reduced. This type of spell is versatile enough to work in most mage builds and still comes in handy.

            Paladins up next and, perhaps thematically appropriate, we think they work best with the Kyrian covenant build. While the Divine Toll ability doesn’t introduce anything terribly new, that doesn’t mean it isn’t devastatingly effective. Depending on the paladins build, Divine Toll will cast either Holy Shock, Avengers Shield, or Judgment on up to five targets within 30 yards, turning old spells into new AoE powerhouses that deal out a lot of holy retribution.

            For our first suggestion for the Necrolord build, we have Priests. Priests are granted the Holy Nova spell which is an AoE that both infects enemies with Unholy Transfusion and massively heals up to 6 allies. Unholy Transfusion, the icing on the cake, deals massive amounts of shadow damage over 15 seconds and heals any of your allies that attacks them.

            Rogues are another class we suggest side with the Necrolord and the ability they will get for it is honestly pretty devastating. Embedded Bone Spike does exactly as the name implies, embedding a bone spike and dealing massive amounts of bleed damage every 3 seconds until the target dies. That is some rough stuff, if you’ll pardon my language.

            Shaman, with their specific class versatility, is kind of hard to pin down. But if you twist our arm then we would probably recommend they align with Kyrian for their Vesper Totem ability. The Vesper Totem, for the next three spells cast, will either deal 80% damage of the spell or heal for 80% of the spell as an AoE. This makes this totem an extremely versatile ability, which we think best suits Shaman on the whole.

            Warlocks should sign up with the Venthyr for access to the Impending Catastrophe. Besides being the ability with the coolest name, Impending Catastrophe is a spell that sends a cloud at a target, damaging everyone it touches along its path. Then when it reaches the target it does damage over time and casts Curse of Weakness or Curse of Tongues as an AoE. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, in our opinion at least.

            Warrior is another class with think would best benefit from aligning with the Venthyr. A Venthyr Warrior can use Condemn. Condemn does hefty damage to a target, but is only usable on targets at either 80% health and up or 20% and below so it has a bit of a window.

            To start us off with the expansion class we have the Death Knight. Death Knight players would best benefit from siding with the Night Fae covenant. The Night Fae awards the Deaths Due ability an AoE attack that also increases the number of targets your Necrotic Strike/ Scourge Strike can hit. On top of this, Deaths Due reduces the damage your enemies can deal to you and gives their power to you in the form of strength buffs. That is a lot of effects in one spell and we love that it has so much to offer.

            Next, we have the monk, which proved to be a bit difficult to pick one covenant for but we settled on the Night Fae. Monks in this covenant will learn Faeline Stomp. This attack will reveal a faeline, deal damage, and deal bonus damage or heal depending on your monk specialty. This ability has the added bonus of having a chance of resetting the cooldown when performed directly on a faeline.

            Last but not least we have the demon hunter. The ability that the Venthyr offers the demon hunter class is truly something epic. Demon hunters who align with Venthyr can cast Sinful Brand. Sinful Brand does massive debuffs to a target’s melee attack speed and casting speed and inflicts an absolutely massive amount of shadow damage over time. The kicker? If the Metamorphosis ability is used, it will now inflict Sinful Brand as an AoE on everyone around the demon hunter. Truly terrifying.

            And there you have it, our recommendations for the best covenant picks for each class. You may not agree with the changes being brought to this update but that doesn’t mean you have to be unprepared to deal with the balance shift that is to come.  While Blizzard will allow Covenants to be changed, it will not be easy.  For this reason, we suspect that many players will choose to buy a new World of Warcraft account rather than go through the long process of changing factions.

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