High Heals: Priest

17 May

Priest came in a very close second to the Shaman from reader replies on the Project: High Heals post. As such, they’re going to be the 2nd class of course, but I also decided that I can handle leveling two of these classes at once, so the Priest has already been rolled as well.

The Priest is unique among the classes for having two healing specs to choose from, but I’m going with the one generally agreed to be the “harder” of the two to level, Holy. I have considered actually grabbing a dual spec on this priest to make use of both of the healing specs since it does still fit in with the plan of the project, but I think I would end up running around as Disc all the time and ignore Holy, so I’m going to resist.

Also, as I’m finally making a return to the Horde (though not for good) I decided to make this one an Undead male, allowing him to take on the Master’s name. So today I’m going to do a bit of outlining for my plans to level the second (first, part two?) of the leveling guides, Psynister the Holy Priest.

Healing Tools
Priests have probably the single largest healing tool set in the game. They have direct heals, HoT’s, bubbles; heck, they can even heal you after they’ve already died themselves. The spec that I’ve chosen, Holy, is geared more towards the use of direct heals and HoT’s where my potential dual spec (Discipline) is aimed more at damage mitigation through the use of bubbles. Both specs heal and they both have mitigation, they just have different strengths between the two specs.

As far as dispels are concerned the Priest has Cure Disease which removes a single disease from the target, Dispel Magic which removes up to 2 Magic spells from themselves and for choosing a healing spec they can do the same for friendly targets, and Mass Dispel which hits a 15 yard radius with a dispel that removes 1 harmful spell from all friendly targets and 1 beneficial spell from all enemy targets within the radius (up to a maximum of 10 friendly and 10 enemy targets). Holy Priests can also spec so that their Cure Disease also removes 1 Poison effect when cast on themselves.

Mass Dispel also has the added benefit of removing Magic effects that are otherwise too powerful to be dispelled, for example you can use this to break an enemy Mage’s Ice Block or a Paladin’s bubble which normally makes them immune to everything.

Leveling Tools
Being a full caster class, Priests have the benefit of being able to use all of the class’s offensive DPS spells even in their healing spec. Granted, they don’t do as much damage as they would in other specs, but they’re still available. None of the other healing classes are pure casters. Healing Priests also receive additional mana regen during combat which is designed to help them in their healing role, but while leveling that also means less downtime while using your spells offensively for questing.

For choosing the Holy spec you get a spell called Holy Word: Chastise which is an instant cast spell that deals damage and also disorients the target for 3 seconds. As both an instant spell and one that can pseudo-stun a target it’s a fantastic spell for leveling as well as PvP. Sadly, it does come with a 30 second cooldown, but that can be specced down to around 20 seconds.

Priests also have the advantage of their bubble, Power Word: Shield, which absorbs damage and also prevents pushback when you’re casting spells while it’s active. This makes leveling much easier compared to other casters as your spells fire off at the normal rate when mobs manage to close in to melee range (not to mention the added survivability from the absorb).

Leveling Strengths
Holy Priests don’t have just a whole lot going for them in the way of leveling strengths, which is why most people who level Priests choose to do so as Shadow or Discipline instead. If you can stick to your healing role by running dungeons and PvP a lot then you can really play to your strengths (healing), but for questing you’re not quite as well off as you could be in another spec.

While Holy doesn’t receive any boost to their damaging spells, they do get to reduce some of the cast times which speeds up leveling in a similar way. While I might not hit you 20% harder, I do cast 20% faster (just an example), so it evens out. But the flip side of that is that I may also have to spend more mana to do it as it takes me three casts to kill something that another spec could handle with only two.

Leveling Weaknesses
The Holy Priest’s biggest weakness when it comes to leveling is that they receive no damage buffs at all outside of glyphs. Any amount of damage you can do as Holy, Disc or Shadow could easily do better. Not so much at low levels perhaps, but the higher you go the more apparent it becomes. Thankfully the class’s strengths should be enough to overcome this, but it does mean that questing will seem slower as Holy. I’ve tried to alleviate some of that by choosing Engineering as one of my professions, hoping to put explosives to very frequent use in my questing.

Priests are also notorious for having really bad issues with mana while leveling. Shadow gets a few tools to help with this, as does Discipline, but Holy does not. I’ve decided to combat this to some extent at least with my racial selection of Undead, allowing me to consume the corpses of undead and humanoids in order to regenerate both health and mana.

Intended Leveling Focus
Since I am going with the most healing-focused tree for the class, I’m leaning more towards dungeons as my focus for the Priest. Questing isn’t too bad, but my lack of damage buffs makes it more difficult than it would be had I chosen a different spec. PvP isn’t too bad, so I’m going to keep on doing a decent amount of that as well, but LFG seems to be the best fit for me.

I think focusing to LFG allows me to utilize my strengths and nullify my weaknesses. The major exception to that being if I end up with people in the dungeon queues that don’t allow me to stop and drink if my other mana replenishment options aren’t available. Being able to use bubbles usually gives me the time I need to use Cannibalize to regen my mana, but big pulls where I’m doing a lot of healing or where agro is all over the group can really burn through my mana and easily lead to a wipe.

Planned Spec
Holy is unique for me personally because it’s the only spec of all of the healer classes that I have no experience in at all. Well, technically I did have a level 10 Holy twink-to-be that lasted for a single WSG run before he was switched over to Disc, but he doesn’t really count since it lasted all of seven minutes.

Having no experience of my own, I had to turn instead to a reliable source. And with Tales of a Priest closing their blogging doors I had to find a new, reliable source: enter The Stories of O, stage right. She blogs about Holy Priests in particular which happened to be just what I was looking for too.

I gave her suggested spec a look and figured that for the most part I see where all of those talents could be helpful to me while leveling. There are a couple of possible exceptions, such as Lightwell and Circle of Healing which I can probably get away with not spending points on as this particular priest isn’t going to raid. That’s not to say that they couldn’t be used in a leveling environment, just that they aren’t necessary. I’ll probably end up spending the points in them anyway since there’s not really anywhere else that they could serve me better.

And I think frequent use of Lightwell while leveling in dungeons just might teach some people to get used to clicking it…maybe. Alright fine, they’ll still be clueless, but not for a lack of trying on my part!


Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Caster, Class, Leveling, Play Styles, Priest


Tags: , , , , ,

8 responses to “High Heals: Priest

  1. Cynwise

    May 17, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I had a priest drop a Lightwell in ZF the other day – it was awesome! I remembered to click on it and everything!

    (It made me miss a taunt, though, which I didn’t appreciate.)

    • Oestrus

      May 17, 2011 at 6:34 PM

      Woo! Someone clicked the Lightwell. Spread the word, Cynwise!

  2. Oestrus

    May 17, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    This is an awesome guide, Psynister and I really like the way you picked up on the weaknesses of Holy while leveling and built your toon around that (i.e. Undead for Cannibalize). That’s really impressive.

    There are some talents that are useless for raiders that help when leveling. I know Surge of Light is great for soloing, because you’re probably going to be Smiting enough where that free heal can come in handy if you take damage. Tome of Light will help with the Chastise cooldown. You may notice that your leveling gets better with Chakra: Chastise, but it also could be argued that any other priest tree with that many points to spare could still out damage you. Still, you probably won’t feel as behind once you get that as you may have felt before.

    I keep meaning to try leveling a new priest myself, just to maybe do some posts about the lowbie experience. I just never seem to get around to it, sadly.

    Again, I loved the post and thank you for the shout out and the link. Let me know how it goes!

    • Psynister

      May 17, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      Thanks for stopping by, O. :)

      I really like talents like Surge of Light for low level LFG healing as it often gets incredibly boring so throwing Smite around helps keep it fun while also allowing me to heal. Not to mention my bubble and Renew are often enough to keep the tank completely topped off through an entire pull at this level.

      Hmm, so level 49 gives me a 15% damage increase with Chakra: Chastise? I think I could make very good use out of that one. I saw the two healing effects of it and completely ignored Chastise. It’s a bit of a wait, but that can be really handy.

      This post is just the introduction for the Holy Priest, the guides will come in the following weeks as I have time to write them and as the character reaches the level caps I use for my guides (29, 49, 69, 85). I’m doing the Resto Shaman and Holy Priest at the same time (not literally, only 1 account) so I might trade off every other week or if I have enough play time and focus on leveling then I might be able to do a post for each of them each week.

      Again, thanks for stopping by and for helping me out through your blog. :)

  3. slice213

    May 17, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    Nice, well written post!

    It’s nice to see someone else try and level as holy. :)

    Ahhh, the piles of silver spent on drinks.

    Good luck with the priest!

    • Psynister

      May 17, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      I actually tracked all the drinks I used when I leveled my Priest a couple of months ago (as Shadow), you can find the details on that in one of my other posts about Priest mana issues.

      Thanks for the wishes of luck, though, I’m sure I’m going to need them. ;)

  4. nostalgeek

    May 18, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    I’m really excited about this one. My first main toon at launch was a Priest (though Shadow) and i have many fond memories of dungeons with friends.

    But leveling solo at a Priest is tricky especially Holy as you know. If you ever decide to quest a bit let us know how it goes.

    Best of luck!

    • Psynister

      May 18, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      I’m definitely questing as holy, that’s just not my primary form of experience for this particular toon. The Shaman is the one focused on splitting activity across the board, Priest will be more Instance focused, Druid focused on PvP, and Paladin focused on questing. They’re all going to participate in all aspects, they just get a focus unique to their strength.


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