Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Test of Faith: Are priests my thing?

Zuna, my priest, was my first 60. I've healed a lot with her, and watched the priest class move through changes. When I think about it, though, priests have been one of the more stable classes in the game, except for the complete re-haul of Discipline.

Because of my uncertainty, I decided to pick her up again and play with her a bit. Test things out.

Demand 1:

PVE healing style that fits me

Priests have two distinct PVE healing styles to choose from. To be completely fair: Every healer class have several healing styles, but none as different as holy vs discipline. With that said, it is different to raid heal with a shaman laser-chain-heal style and tank heal. Same with a druid. Can't speak about paladins, no direct experience in raids there.


I've only got experience as a raid-healing priest at lvl 70, and that was as holy. Still, I don't think it is a completely different experience now... well, except that Circle of Healing is on cooldown.

Holy has, when specced for it, a very strong hot in Renew. Glyphing it is completely overkill for normal 5-mans, but I can see how that could be useful in raids. Empowered Renew remind me of Riptide. I like it.

Surge of Light is also fun, especially since it can proc multiple times on a single Prayer of Mending. However, if I were to stay a holy priest, I'd get some addon that shows me when I've got a proc up. Too easy to miss.

Mana regeneration is also top-notch as holy (including Meditation, mind you). In fact, I often threw in some damage because I had mana to spare.

I didn't get to test out a lot of Holy's group healing in 5-mans. A random Circle of Healing (which practically guaranteed a Surge of Light following), once in a while a Prayer of Healing. I know from experience it is solid. In fact, I think Holy has the best tools for handling damage to a lot of party members in 5-mans.

I enjoy Guardian Spirit. It is very powerful and fun. I also played around with Body and Soul. Fun, and handy in PVP, but not a MUST-HAVE. Inspiration is as usual powerful.

The thing I didn't like so well with Holy was handling lots of tank damage. But that's comparing to Discipline and druid-healing, which is a bit unfair.

All in all... I liked holy healing fairly well.

What I didn't like so well is the Shadowfiend. Long cooldown (compared to Innervate and Divine Plea), too. That's not limited to Holy, though.


Ah... discipline. For a loooong time, I insisted on being a discipline priest, long before the rehaul that made discipline actually good. Back when Divine Spirit was the 31-point talent.

Anyway... I like discipline too. Powerful shields which can be tossed out extremely fast thanks to Borrowed Time and Penance that can heal a tank up from nada to full (almost) in no time are the two main selling points. Renew ticks for a lot less, naturally. Prayer of Mending is still powerful, though.

But, to start somewhere else: Discipline is not scaled well for below-max-level mana management. The mana returns from Rapture is just way more powerful when you got a good lvl 80 mana pool. At 71, I had trouble with my mana as discipline. Had to sit down and drink every third pull, less with a very tough tank. I know from second-hand experience that Discipline's mana is in a pretty good state, though. Had a disc priest heal my DK when I tanked the two groups after Ick and Krick. He ended up with more mana after the two groups than before he started, and he didn't use his Shadowfiend.

I also find the lack of a instant-heal slightly frustrating. Ironically. I'm tossing out shields like there's no tomorrow... which translates to everyone having Weakened Soul on them all the time. At least everyone who is taking damage. But it isn't that bad, I'm just not used to it from being a holy priest for a long time.

Discipline has a lot more cooldowns to play with. Good thing? Bad thing? Definitely something I need to learn. I didn't use them too well.

By the way, Engineering gloves enchant + Berserking troll racial + Power Infusion + Borrowed Time + Enlightenment is a sick amount of haste together. Resurrection in 4 seconds, anyone?

Demand 2:

Potential as PVP healer

If you look at any kind of rated arena, Discipline is the only way to go. Blizz has tried to make Holy viable with talents like Body and Soul, Blessed Resilience and so on, but Disc is still king. I don't mind, though.

Disc priests are very powerful in PVP. Priest-Mage-Rogue, anyone? They have powerful crowd-control in their Psychic Scream, shields that ignore any healing debuffs, penance that insta-heals the first tick and nearly the second too, Mana burn goodness for the right compositions (double healer + dps, for example), both offensively and defensively dispels, quick nukes at the right times... powerful, indeed. They're not built for outlasting another team, they are an offensive-type healer.

Sadly, I can't test too well. Walking into PVP with no resilience these days is a sure way of getting blown up, particularly as a healer. So I'll just have to take the word of the community, which says priests doesn't suck. Still... cloth means that my nemesis is warrior and to some extent rogue. I liked being tough and not fearing warriors as a DK.

Shadowfiend is worse in PVP. Can get kited around and killed easily, reducing my possible mana returns.

Demand 3:

Potential as ranged dps

Interestingly enough, this is the first time I've really specced shadow during all those years of being a priest. Dual-spec, I love you.

I like shadow. It's cool with the shadow ... stuff which seems to evaporate from you all the time. I like having three dots to play with, one CD nuke and one no-CD nuke. Creates a game of weaving, where I need to make sure stuff are up all the time. I can get used to that, and thrive with it. No proc-watching involved.

It wasn't so entertaining in PVP, but then again that might steem from my complete lack of resilience. There are some shadow priests among high-ranked arena teams, which should say they are viable. I liked the immunity Dispersion provides. The only good answer against a bladestorming warrior... haha, eat that.

I missed a snare. Mind Flay provides a semi-snare, but I have to stay immobile to maintain it, and that means I can't kite anything around.


That's a tough question... do I like the priest feel? The question is really, what is the priest feel? From the artwork on some of their armor, they're sort of Oracles, bringers of divine fury, angels... stuff. What do they worship? Easy to answer or a human or night elf, hard for a troll or an undead. And come Cataclysm, and we'll have gnome priests as well.

Angels and stuff are cool and all that, but it's not ... well... shamans are cooler, I'm certain about that.



I think the priestly playstyle might fit me. I'm not completely sure.


  1. I found the hardest part of playing a priest was remembering all the tools I had. And then the hardest part of not playing a priest was the frustration of not having the giant toolbox with something appropriate to every situation.

    I ended up taping little reminders around the edge of my monitor (pain suppression, divine hymn, hymn of hope) for the rarely-used buttons. Now they do come to me fairly naturally, but it did take more work.

    1. Surge of light procs. Try Power Auras. It rules.

    2. Mana. Don't forget about Hymn of Hope. It's useful for times when you have a "pause" in combat but you're not actually out of combat (between phases).

    3. ZOMG try Divine Hymn. It. Rocks. Like tranquility but "smart".

    4. For shadow - check out eventhorizon. See DDK's post on it. There's a video of eventhorizon in there and everything.

    5. Instas as a disc? Yeah, the only thing you get that is close is penance/shield, though strategically throwing your frisbee might be the way to go. You can use power auras to tell you when penance or frisbee is off cooldown. If you want to play as disc, make sure your raid frames (grid, vuhdo, etc) show who has a weakened soul debuff (from ANY source, not just from you) so you know whether you can bubble or not.

  2. I'll look forward to Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope. However, since I recently picked up my priest again, she's only at lvl 76 so far. Thanks for a lot of tips, though, I'll be sure to check them out.

  3. I've really been enjoying this series of comparisons, but I think you're a crazy altoholic too. :)

  4. Glad you're enjoying the reads.

    I agree I'm an altoholic. I have a theory: If I was seriously raiding or PVPing, I'd have an easier time sticking to one character. Well, at least in the case of raiding. However, since I don't do either seriously, I hit a roof where I can't get any more upgrades or challenges, and then I get bored and switch to another alt where I got new challenges awaiting.

    The problem with two casuals doing arena together is that we only do it when we both happen to be logged on and have time. And since VoA, daily random heroic, weekly raid quest and stuff often have priority... you get the point.