Category Archives: talents

Patch 4.0.6 Notes: Yay! I mean, crap.

I’d heard some muttering about the upcoming patch notes, and I decided to check into it for myself. The first couple of things I noticed cheered me right up: things like how I can now queue for BRC so I can run it with the Hub (who has yet to step into his first Cata dungeon) and Altairus’s wind-change thingy being easier to see (I’d been relying only on the buff, and just running blindly ’til it said, “Upwind”). And then. Oh, and then.

Fel Armor now increases the warlock’s maximum mana by 10% instead of regenerating health.

What? OMG, WHAT?? Okay, so I LifeTap myself between fights, and then I have to what, sit and eat? Why freakin’ tap at all, then? Why not sit and drink like a Priest, or a Godforsaken MAGE? Oh, wait, Mages don’t have to drink, they can Evocate. And they can glyph Evocate to replenish BOTH health and mana. WHAT???

This shall not stand.

Okay, what else? While I’m already devastated, bring it on.

Okay, if you insist. Felstorm (Felguard) damage has been reduced by 20%.

GAH! I don’t often run in Demo, but I’ve been using it for the Tol Barad dailies since it’s so easy to get spawn-slammed in there. That really sucks. But I’m strong, I can take it, I can–

Burning Embers damage has been reduced by 15%.

What is this, piss on your favorite Warlock day? What the hell, man, surely you aren’t–

Improved Soul Fire now increases Fire and Shadow damage done by 4/8%, rather than 7/15% spell haste. In addition, this talent has been moved to tier-3 Destruction, switching places with Aftermath.

So basically, I no longer have a desire to cast Soul Fire. No more increased haste buff from it, and I’m willing to bet that the dps I lose from having to wind one of these suckers up isn’t worth the dps I gain from that piddly 4-8% increase. PLUS I can’t use it in Demo anymore. Oh you guys. Seriously.

Find Herbs, Fish, and Minerals are no longer canceled upon entering an Arena or rated Battleground.

Well, thank the gods for that, huh? Whew, I was starting to think that NOTHING positive would be coming out of this patch. Other than the opportunity to get into a regular dungeon I’ve already DONE like 5 times.

Can you see me glowing with shadow and fel rage? I’m gonna unleash this, y’all. I’m gonna let ‘er rip. Here it comes.


The Strafe: Learn it, Love it, Live by it.

Ah, the strafe… those wonderful default key-bound Q & E motions… why do we need to keep these, again?

  • Strafing is much faster than backing away
  • With the correct angle to the mob applied first, it allows us to avoid those nasty “You must be facing your target” error messages
  • Keep maximum distance from your mob while spell-casting
  • Maintain distance while firing off instant-casts
  • Combined with Vampiric Embrace, healing + damage avoidance = being able to drop PW:S and self-Renew from your spell rotation – saving you 1050 mana per pull at level 70.

You can start using the strafe early on, but it becomes essential at level 30 with the addition of VE. Here’s how you do it: Select your target mob. Turn your character to an almost-90 degree angle from it. Make sure that you have a safe area to strafe into – nothing is worse than running smack into another group of mobs in a futile attempt to avoid the first one.

Wind up a high-damage spell with a cast-time – I prefer Mind Blast. As soon as it fires, begin strafing away from your mob. Simultaneously drop SW:P; continue strafing while watching the GCD and then drop VE. Again, continue strafing while the GCD ticks. As soon as another cast becomes available, stop moving and begin to Mind Flay. The beauty of this spell is that it’s also slowing the mob’s progress towards you. As soon as your 3 seconds are up – or the mob reaches you and interrupts it – check the mob’s health. If it’s under 30%, go ahead and finish it off by wanding. Your SW:P will continue to tick, supplying a little health back to you via VE. You’ve started your 5-second waiting period a little early, which means you’ll have a head start on that mana regen.

You’ll develop a pattern as you clear your way into an area, pulling mobs back substantially before moving forward a bit to select the next one.

At level 62, Shadow Word: Death becomes available to you. Acquiring this little number effectively makes your wand obsolete. Granted, the penalty for not timing it correctly kind of sucks, but keep in mind that a portion of that damage caused – both to you and the mob – is being returned to you via VE. It’s not all bad. The fact that SW:D can crit (yummy) makes it even more attractive, and you absolutely MUST learn to work this spell into your damage rotation. I use it as a finisher most of the time.

Using the strafe well requires practice and a commitment to being a clicker. You need to be able to fire off instant-cast spells while strafing, and using the Q & E keys for movement while clicking spells is the best way I’ve found to accomplish that. Of course, I’m always open to hearing about the methods that others use – got an improvement for this system? Think I’m completely off in the head? Leave me a comment! Share your opinion with the world!



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.

Got that "new-priest" smell.

So you’ve made yourself a priest, have you? Delightful. You’re in for a treat.

That’s said with just a bit of sarcasm. Just a bit, because while your shadow priest is going to be doing some amazing damage and awesome group utility later on, leveling through the early stages can range from numbingly boring to hair-pullingly frustrating.

Okay, so maybe you haven’t made your priest quite yet; you’re still thinking about race or faction. What are your choices? For Alliance, you can go Night Elf, Dwarf, Draenei, or Human. For the Horde? Troll, Undead, or Blood Elf. While racial abilities give each its own special flavor, the beginning stats become a moot point very quickly. The Belf abilities – mana tap & arcane torrent – offer a source of free mana and an early Silence. Sold! to an American. That’s what I picked. (Side note – If you choose to go Alliance, the Draenei racial “Inspiring Presence” offers +1% hit. That’s no biggie now, but will help an end-game raiding priest who’s having to stack +hit on gear.) EDIT – as of Wrath, Mana Tap is no more. Arcane Torrent still silences and returns a bit of mana, but note that it’s a very small range.

Soloing: At level 5 you can acquire your very first wand; I suggest you do so. Enchanters can create Lesser Magic Wand; at 11.3 dps this is far better than any spell available to you. So, let’s see, by level 6 you’ve got PW:S, Smite, SW:P, and your wand. Select a mob you believe you can pull by itself, get to maximum range, PW:S yourself, and wait a moment for the Weakened Soul effect to partially fade. You should be able to Smite twice before the mob gets to you – now strafe away (in a safe direction, of course!) while dropping a SW:P on your mob. Stop moving as soon as your spell fires and begin wanding your mob. Your shield should last longer than the mob; if not, the Weakened Soul debuff should have worn off which allows you to re-shield. Finishing off your mob by wanding allows you to conserve mana and reduces your down-time; your mana will also start to regenerate once you’ve gone 5 seconds since your last spellcast.

Partying: What’s your role in parties? To heal, for the most part, at least during these early levels. Or course, there are other healing classes, each with their “specialties,” and you may have a druid or pally in your party who just WANTS to do it – but don’t count on it. Don’t lose sight of the positives – every good guild appreciates a capable and willing healer, and most of them will be more than happy to help you level and gear up for the good of all. Finding a PuG (pick-up group) is far easier for you than any dps class, and you can expect several whispers during any given play session asking you to come heal dungeons or group quests.

Later on as you work your way down the Shadow talent tree, you can contribute far more as a dps class yourself. Vampiric Touch and Vampiric Embrace offer group-wide health and mana based on your shadow damage output; if mages get called “vending machines,” expect to be referred to as a “mana-battery” on occasion. EDIT: as of Wrath, VT only returns mana when you use Mind Blast. Priests also have two rather limited forms of crowd-control: Shackle Undead only works on – duh – undead, while Mind Control only works on humanoids. SU is by far the more reliable, as MC requires a bit of luck and your awareness of your toon AND your target’s surroundings. Run your MC’d target too far from you, and it will break. Screw up and hit one of your toon’s abilities (instead of your target’s) and MC will break. If you’re going to try to MC, choose a healer whenever possible. Double advantage of preventing your mobs from being healed while still being able to drop heals on your group’s tank.

Important Stats: So you’re starting to see some green gear, and you’re wondering which stats are most important to you. Focusing solely on PvE, you’re going to want to pick gear that offers bonuses to Int (mana and increased chance to spell-crit), Spi (quicker regeneration of health and mana), and then Stam (more hit points = less chance for a dead priest). Of course, my opinion on stat-prioritizing is just that – an opinion – and others will have different views. In any case, rest assured that you have absolutely no need for Strength or Agility. If Prin catches you stick-whacking a mob (past level 5) like some noob melee-priest she will step out of the shadows and Smite your silly butt. No, wait, she can’t, she’ll be in Shadow Form and one can’t use Holy spells while shifted… Okay, she’ll SW:Death you, and damn the consequences. You have been warned.

Weapons: Priests are born knowing how to wield maces. What? Whose bright idea was THAT? *Sigh* whatever, get thee to a capital city post-haste and ask the nearest guard for the Weapon Master. Most importantly you want the ability to wield a staff so do what you must to train in staves. Even if it means dancing for silver on a local mailbox. Yes, yes, we’ve all done it, you’re not too good to do it, either. Most of the best caster-stat weapons in the game will be staves, especially while you’re leveling.

Talents: So you’ve made it to level 10, and you’ve got your very first talent point to spend. Where should it go? Well, you want a Shadow Priest, so obviously the Shadow tree, right? Actually – no. I’m going to suggest that your first five talent points go smack into Wand Specialization in the Discipline tree. Trust me on this one – you want that extra wand damage. Starting at level 15 you’ll want to drop points into the Shadow tree on Spirit Tap. Once you get to level 50 you can re-spec and get Shadowform, dropping the Wand Spec until later – if at all.

Click or Key?: Because most of your spells have a cast time, you’ll spend most of the fight stationary. For this reason, I recommend WASD to move and clicking your spells / abilities on your hot bars. While healing, however, I’d strongly suggest the following: Have a healing hot bar set up with PW:S on the 1 key, and your most often used heals on 2-6. I have Greater Heal, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Flash Heal, and Binding Heal. Now while party healing, get yourself into position (within range of the other party members, but at max distance from the mob) and move your left hand up to the 1-6 row. Use your mouse to select party members’ portraits and key the heal spells with your left hand. (Extra special thanks to D, who taught me this early on.)

So what final words of wisdom does Prin have for your newborn priest? Practice. Practice everything. Get invited to an RFC run and learn to heal. Head out into the wilderness and try different tactics and each new spell you learn.

Find out where your limits are – and then push them.