A Priest Guide
By: Verem of Dalaran
60 Undead Priest
The priest class in World of Warcraft is not like most healing classes in other MMORPGs. While in other games, such as Everquest, the priest classes often only have healing spells and while potent, can not solo a pack of rabbits and must rely on other players to gain experience. This is not true in World of Warcraft. The priest, being a great healer and damage dealer in its own right, can solo anything that other players of other classes can solo. The different talent specializations a priest can acquire make for a very diverse class which can fill one of two roles, even that of a DPS (damage) class.
Let’s start with talent specializations. What makes a priest unique are the talents that they decide to invest in. The three talent trees for priests are Discipline, Holy and Shadow. Now for a basic rundown of the talent trees:
The Discipline tree is the mana conservation tree. Every time a priest casts a spell, it consumes mana. Currently, there are no ways for a priest to regain mana once they are out other than potions or other consumables. The reason the discipline tree is so important is that it reduces the mana cost of most spells, increases the priest’s maximum mana (enchants also affect this), allows the priest to cast their spells longer due to more mana regen while in combat and also contains a beneficial spell called ‘Divine Spirit’ which boosts your target’s Spirit by 40. This ‘buff’ spell is very helpful for raids and small groups by reducing time spent regaining mana.
The Holy tree is the pure healing tree. This is where a priest will put their points if they want to be the best healer possible. The Holy tree is a pure support tree, containing talents that increase the amount of healing done by your spells, being allowed to heal upon death, reducing the mana cost of high-mana heals, increasing the range of the priest’s area of effect healing spells and increasing the armor rating of your target by a certain percent for 15 seconds. There are some talents that relate to damage as well. However, as a holy priest most of your gear will be +healing, with damage gear no where in sight. This can cause grinding to become very boring and tedious solo. The damage talents help boost your damage a little to make it easier.
The Shadow tree is the damage tree. It is a very effective solo leveling tree as well as an effective PvP tree. Some priests (such as myself) even specialize in shadow for end-game raids. Leveling up, shadow is the best way to spend your talent points since it allows you to quest and grind solo efficiently without needing to drink after every two or three kills. Three of the major talents in shadow that all shadow priests usually take are Mind Flay (a channeled spell that damages and slows your target), Silence (5 second silence on a 45 second cooldown) and Shadowform (Increases shadow damage by 15% and reduces Physical damage taken by 15%). Other talents include Vampiric Embrace (Prerequisite for Shadowform which heals your group 20% – 30% of any shadow damage you deal) and Shadow Vulnerability (Increases shadow damage taken by 3% for 15 seconds and stacks five times for a total of 15% increased shadow damage – great for the raiding shadow priest). The remaining talents in the shadow tree are very useful and in general the tree synergizes very well. It is regarded by some to be the best talent tree in the game and Shadow Priests are considered overpowered in 1vs1 and 2vs1 PvP situations.
While on the subject of PvP, let’s talk about the different ways a priest could play their character in player vs. player combat. If you choose to specialize in Discipline or Holy and if your gear is +healing, you would become a combat healer. Healing in group PvP is very important and extremely powerful to your side. However, the opposing faction realizes this also and priests are always the prime target. If you wish to be a combat healer prepare to be polymorphed, sapped, stunned, blinded, ambushed and in general focus fired before you can get more than two heals off. Cloth armor and no real escape abilities make the priest a pretty poor PvP pick-up group combat healer. However, if you decide to PvP with a group of friends that you trust will protect you, you can turn the tide of a battle.
If you choose to go the way of DPS, you can also wreak havoc on the opposite team. Remember, just because you are a priest does not mean you cannot DPS effectively. You are a caster class first and foremost and all caster classes can gain +damage gear that greatly increases their damage output. Combined with the +damage talents from the shadow tree, a shadow priest will closely match mage or warlock DPS with the same gear. However, some abilities the shadow priest uses for damage do not scale as well as mage or warlock abilites like frostbolt or shadowbolt due to the time it takes to cast them. Some abilities, like Shadow Word:Pain, do gain the full bonus of your +damage effects and this is why a shadowform shadow priest with good +damage gear’s Shadow Word:Pain is the most deadly damage over time spell in the game. Also keep in mind that shadow is not the only way to go for DPS. Some priests even specialize in a smite build that incorporates +crit and reduction of casting times for their smite and holy fire spells.
Racial abilities also play a part in choosing your race for the Priest class. The priest is the only class in the game that gains two spells based upon what race the priest is. Here are the racial abilities and a brief description of what they do:
*Desperate Prayer – Instantly heals the caster for 1324 – 1562.
*Feedback – The priest becomes surrounded with anti-magic energy. Any successful spell cast against the priest will burn 105 of the attacker’s Mana, causing 1 Shadow damage for each point of Mana burned. Lasts 15 sec.
*Desperate Prayer – Instantly heals the caster for 1324 – 1562.
*Fear Ward – Wards the friendly target against Fear. The next Fear effect used against the target will fail, using up the ward. Lasts 10 min.
*Starshards – Rains starshards down on the enemy target’s head, causing 936 Arcane damage over 6 sec.
*Elune’s Grace – Reduces ranged damage taken by 95 and increases chance to dodge by 10% for 15 sec.
*Hex of Weakness – Weakens the target enemy, reducing damage caused by 20 and reducing the effectiveness of any healing by 20%. Lasts 2 min.
*Shadowguard – The caster is surrounded by shadows. When a spell, melee or ranged attack hits the caster, the attacker will be struck for 116 Shadow damage. Attackers can only be damaged once every few seconds. This damage causes no threat. 3 charges. Lasts 10 min.
*Touch of Weakness – The next melee attack on the caster will cause 64 Shadow damage and reduce the damage caused by the attacker by 20 for 2 min.
*Devouring Plague – Afflicts the target with a disease that causes 904 Shadow damage over 24 sec. Damage caused by the Devouring Plague heals the caster.
Remember that no matter what race you pick, you will do fine in every aspect of the game. These abilities just add some flavor to the class.
I hope this guide has helped you understand the priest class a little more. If you choose to play a priest, remember that it is a very potent healer as well as utility damage dealer. If you’re wondering about what side of the class you wish to specialize in, try them all out with a group inside the various instance dungeons in World of Warcraft. Discover what you enjoy the most and go from there. Remember, you are not a healbot and you are not an unstoppable killing machine. You are a versatile caster class that has an ability to heal as well as harm, and can do both effectively no matter what.