Category Archives: Holy

The Cataclysmic Priest in WoW

Back before we knew much about what was coming in Cataclysm, I wrote this article. It detailed some of the changes I’d seen and talked about how the focus for Holy and Discipline Priests could change a bit. What I didn’t know then was what it would be like to actually play one of those specs with the new abilities, talents, and glyphs.

I’ve been taking Annasteezia through the dungeon finder here, and there, trying to gain the skills necessary to be a good Disc healer. When she’s doing her Jewelcrafting daily or just questing, I keep her in her Shadow spec. Then I noticed the Archangel deal…

Well, I’m only 75 so I can’t get to that part of the Discipline tree while Shadow-specced, so if I want to check that out, I’m going to have to do it in Discipline, right? I’m still not quite comfortable enough as a healer to be Smiting, so that means I’ll have to do it solo. This is a transcript of my experience.

Discipline spec? Check. Let’s go find some mobs.

Look at Evangelism and Archangel talents again. Realize that those no longer do what we thought they would do.

Become completely bummed about Discipline dps spec.

Switch back to Shadow. Complete JC quest.

Well, it could have been interesting. Maybe I should just nut up and queue to heal, then start Smiting. Seriously, I haven’t even had Smite on my toolbar since I got Shadowform.




Your spec is important, no lie. That’s what makes you a shadow priest, as opposed to a utility priest or healbot. Deep in that Shadow Tree lurks our soul; coaxing it out is half the fun.

Because this is Prin’s blog, and she – like most priests you know – can have a bit of an attitude, we’re going to touch on her leveling spec first. The talents are presented below in order of acquisition.

Level 10-14: Wand Specialization – Rank 5/5 Increases your damage with Wands by 25%. These first few levels, your wand is capable of more dps than any of your spells. Love it.

Level 15-19: Spirit Tap – Rank 5/5 Gives you a 100% chance to gain a 100% bonus to your Spirit after killing a target that yields experience or honor. For the duration, your Mana will regenerate at a 50% rate while casting. Lasts 15 sec. Essential talent for any priest to have.

Level 20-21: Improved Shadow Word: Pain – Rank 2/2 Increases the duration of your Shadow Word: Pain spell by 6 sec. Longer duration = more ticks = more dps.

Level 22-24: Shadow Affinity – Rank 3/3 Reduces the threat generated by your Shadow spells by 25%. She had to take something to get to the next tier (and Imp MB, woot), and she was spending a lot of time partying with friends, so…

Level 25: Mind Flay – Rank 1/1 Assault the target’s mind with Shadow energy, causing 528 damage over 3 sec and slowing the target to 50% of their movement speed. This ability becomes a staple of the S’Priest’s dps.

Level 26-30: Improved Mind Blast – Rank 5/5 Reduces the cooldown of your Mind Blast spell by 2.5 sec. This talent makes your MB available to you more often; since it’s one of the few spells we have that can crit, use it as often as possible.

At level 30, you can respec out of Wand Spec in order to get Vampiric Embrace (Rank 1/1 Afflicts your target with Shadow energy that causes all party members to be healed for 15% of any Shadow damage you deal for 1 min). Pick up Spirit Tap, Shadow Affinity, Imp SW:P, Imp MB, MF. Grab Shadow Reach (Rank 2/2 Increases the range of your offensive Shadow spells by 20%) and drop 2 points into Shadow Weaving (Rank 5/5 Your Shadow damage spells have a 100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to Shadow damage. This vulnerability increases the Shadow damage dealt to your target by 2% and lasts 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.) Finish it off with VE, another defining S’Priest ability, and your whole play-style now changes. More about this after the spec-talk.

Level 31-33: Round out the rest of Shadow Weaving.

Level 34-35: Improved Vampiric Embrace – Rank 2/2Increases the percentage healed by Vampiric Embrace by an additional 10%.

Level 36-38: Focused Mind – Rank 3/3 Reduces the mana cost of your Mind Blast, Mind Control and Mind Flay spells by 15%. We like using less mana.

Level 39: Drop this point into Darkness (Rank 5/5 Increases your Shadow spell damage by 10%). You’ll eventually max it, but right now you just want to make sure that at level 40 you have access to:

Level 40: Shadowform – Rank 1/1 Assume a Shadowform, increasing your Shadow damage by 15% and reducing Physical damage done to you by 15%. However, you may not cast Holy spells while in this form. WOOT. Finally. We can now call ourselves “Shadow Priest.”

You’re going to notice a few things about Shadowform, most notably that it has its own hotbar. The 1 & 2 keys on this bar need to be PW:S and Shadowform. Why? Notice that you cannot cast Holy spells while shifted. This means healing. If you get into trouble you need to be able to react quickly, shield yourself, shift out of form, and drop a renew while vacating the premises as quickly as possible. This leads me to my next point, that you’re about to get a good education on which of your spells are holy. You’ve probably not really thought much about this, but healing, resurrecting, and curing diseases are all holy spells. Luckily, a recent patch changed the mechanics so that using a holy spell while in SF shifts you out automatically, and the spell is cast.

Level 41-42: Improved Psychic Scream – Rank 2/2 Reduces the cooldown of your Psychic Scream spell by 4 sec. This is primarily a PvP talent, and Prin does not PvP. She does, however, like causing trouble, and little is funnier than D’s bear tank turning around to snarl at her for turning a 3-pull into a 6-pull. It’s really not her fault, though. She drew aggro, and broke a nail, and well, what did he EXPECT her to do? Just TAKE it? Ha. Besides, we’re just trying to get to level 50.

Level 43: Silence – Rank 1/1 Silences the target, preventing them from casting spells for 5 sec. Another skill that is good for PvP, but there are times when you want to disrupt a mob’s heal or pull a caster into melee range.

Level 44: Drop this point into Shadow Power – Rank 3/5 Increases the critical strike chance of your Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death spells by 9%. Of course, we don’t even HAVE SW:D yet. We’ll come back to this later for another 2 points, but what it does for us now is open the way to:

Level 45-49: Misery – Rank 5/5 Your Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Flay and Vampiric Touch spells also cause the target to take an additional 5% spell damage. Extra damage is always yummy, and filling this talent means that:

Level 50: Vampiric Touch – Rank 1/1 Causes 685 to 690 Shadow damage over 15 sec to your target and causes all party members to gain mana equal to 5% of any Shadow spell damage you deal. Not only another source of shadow damage, but this is the talent that gives us that “mana battery” rep. Yeah, baby, sport it.

Level 51-56: Go back and fill in those extra points in Darkness and Shadow Power.

We’re done in the Shadow tree, so now we’ve got some choices to make. Should we skip over to Discipline for some largely useless talents in order to get to the two-three decent ones, or should we bite the bullet and make ourselves more viable (shudder) healers? The choice is up to you, and really depends on how you spend most of your time in parties and whether or not you like healing occasionally. Remember that with a set of healer gear you CAN heal 5-mans all the way up to 70. I wouldn’t try to main-heal a heroic, but you can pull off a normal instance with gear and skill.

Let’s take a look at the Discipline tree, should we choose to go that route. What you’re looking for here is a path to Martyrdom, Inner Focus, and Meditation. Use Inner Focus every time its CD is up, and always before a MB or SW:D. It’s free mana and a good chance at extra damage, there’s really no need to save this ability for emergencies. Meditation means that some of your mana is regenerating even while casting – yummy. Martyrdom has limited appeal, it’s only really useful if you’re trying to get a heal off while taking damage.

In the Holy tree we have a few attractive options. Use your first 5 points in this tree for Healing Focus and Improved Renew. Maxing out Divine Fury means a half-second less cast time on your Greater Heal, while Spell Warding reduces the damage you take by 10%. I’d go SW, wouldn’t you? Either option opens the path to Holy Nova – an AoE spell! Wait – an AoE spell that damage mobs AND heals party members! AND causes NO THREAT! Sign me up. I think this spell was created mainly for running lowbies through dungeons, but whatever. I’ll take it.

We’ve got 3 points left to spend at level 70. Inspiration relies on two factors, both of them unlikely – a) that we’ll be healing, and b) that we’ll land a crit-heal. Since we’re not speccing holy, I think we can skip wasting points here. Might as well drop these last three into Blessed Recovery. Alternatively, you can go back to the Shadow Tree and see if there’s anything there you’d like to play with. Now that we’re level 70, and have access to dailies, respeccing is totally affordable.