I was going to title this post “What I Wish I’d Known,” but… having married the man behind a level 70 priest, I can’t really say I didn’t KNOW. So, we’re going to call this
What I Wish I’d Listened To
1. Learn to Party-Heal – and Learn Early. Yes, we know, you want to be a Shadow Priest, /pat. But unless you’re willing to possibly miss out on dungeon runs, group quests, etc., for the entire 70 levels, you need to at least be open to the idea. And stepping into Maraudon or even the SM: Cathedral realizing that you don’t have all your heals on your hot bar is like pasting a sign on your toon that says “Noob priest – please /kick me, /laugh at me, and tell everyone in trade chat what a moron I am.”
2. Keep that wand upgraded. Make sure you always have the best wand possible for your level. It’s such a huge part of your dps while you’re leveling that you just can’t afford not to.
3. Spirit – the Ugly Cousin stat. We laugh at gear with heavy spirit on almost all toons. And then we try to level a priest. Guess what? We, uh, kind of need it. >.>
4. The Strafe – Learn it, Practice it, Master it. Here’s how you do it. Get to max range from your targeted mob. Turn to face 90 degrees away from it. Wind up your opening spell and let loose. Now strafe away from your target using the Q and E keys while your GCD ticks, keep strafing while you click SW:P. Why? Strafing is the same speed as running forward, much faster than backing up, and your instants will land as long as you’re facing no more than 90 degrees away from your mob. Learn to use the strafe to gain max distance from your mob while dropping instants, stopping only for spells that have a cast time. At level 65, Prin’s spell rotation is a Vampiric Touch, strafe away while dropping SW:P and Vampiric Embrace. Stop and wind up a Mind Blast, then Mind Flay until the mob reaches me and interrupts it. She can almost always drop a SW:Death at this point while strafing away again as a finisher.
5. Keep your buffs on. PW:F and Inner Fire should be on at ALL TIMES.
6. Keep a healing set of gear. Don’t sacrifice your dps gear when choosing between quest rewards, but there’s no reason not to hang on to gear you can switch out to for those times when you gotta – sigh – heal. Keep it as up-to-date as possible. All the way up to Heroics, you CAN effectively party-heal with appropriate gear and consumables. Even while specced Shadow. If you’ve been following Rule #1, you know this is true and your guild will, too. Prospective PuGs may be doubtful – that’s okay. Odds are you won’t be the weakest link in the PuG chain.
7. Run TO your tank. Never away. Never. Here’s the scenario: Your party picks up an add, the tank is taking double damage and his health is plummeting. You drop a heal on him – and the add, which has not yet been engaged by your tank – heads straight for you. GAH! You instinctively begin backing away from the mob, shielding yourself, dropping a Renew on yourself for good measure, and – you die. WTF? Before you start hammering your “/y Tank you suck! GTFO, NOOB!” macro, let’s get a grip on what went down. Backing away from your tank means he has to come that much further to get to the mob that’s shredding you. It also means less chance that he’s even going to NOTICE that there’s a mob shredding you. Using PW:S and heals on yourself generates even MORE aggro with the mob in your face, making it that much more difficult for your tank to pull it off of you.
So how could we have handled this better? Again, if you draw aggro, run TO your tank and jump on his head. If at all possible, hold off on shielding or healing yourself until he’s got it. It’s helpful to have a /y macro set up to announce your distress to the party, especially if you’re not using Vent or voicechat.
8. The Secondary Skills. You need them all. I mean, come on, why not? First aid means you can avoid having to pop out of Shadow or sit and eat if you’ve taken a little damage. There are some awesome buffs available from cooked food, having both cooking and fishing means you won’t have buy them off of the AH. At lower levels Smoked Sagefish and Sagefish Delight are amazing. Once you get to Outlands, you can look forward to Blackened Sporefish, Poached Bluefish and Skullfish Soup.
9. When choosing between two pieces of roughly equivalent gear – choose the piece that’s “sexier.” Seriously. The point to playing a game is having fun, and if every time you log in to your priest you have to groan over her bright-purple shirt and clashing lime-green pants, you’re limiting your enjoyment. Trust me, I know.