Yesterday, when a friend asked me if I wanted to go to Alterac Valley with him, I replied immediately: "No - all I do there is die over and over. I'm no shadow priest!" My friend had a quick comeback: "Why not respec?"
I didn't have any response to that. I'd leveled up with a holy/discipline build that had served me well, but in the past few days respeced several times in an attempt to make solo and PvP a little more fun, without gimping my healing abilities. I hadn't been entirely happy with any of the results, so perhaps this was the time to consider more serious measures. I headed straight for the priest trainer and, after some hesitation, paid the fee to unlearn my talents.
I put 20 points in discipline and remaining 31 in shadow. I was now, officially, a shadow priest.
I headed for the PvP queues and ended up in Alterac Valley. I dropped into shadowform and rode out to the front lines, intent on melting faces. Well, I died, and quickly, too. Switching from the mindset of a back-lines healer to front-lines DPS was not something I was prepared for, and I wasn't yet accustomed as to how best to use my new abilities. I kept noticing people taking damage and trying to heal them - and hitting healing hotkeys in shadowform has little effect.
The hectic environment of a battleground probably wasn't the best place for me to learn how to play a DPS caster, and I was somewhat relieved to when some friends asked me to run Stratholme with them. I could fall back to the comfortable, familiar role of a healer - where I knew exactly what to do. Of course... this wasn't as easy as I recalled, either. The extra casting time on my greater heal spell kept throwing off long-practice reflexes on how and when to heal, and I kept falling back on shields and flash heals to save time. With my smaller mana pool and more expensive instant cast spells (talents higher in the discipline tree formerly provided a 10% boost to my mana pool and a 10% reduction in casting cost of instant cast spells - such as Power Word: Shield), these were pricey alternatives, and I would end up drinking between every fight. The loss of a talent in the holy tree making my heals more difficult to interrupt also caused me difficulty. In my previous builds, if I pulled aggro, I'd finish whatever I was casting and then immediately fade - but this no longer worked very well, as hits kept causing me to loose casting time.
A couple of hours - and a couple of wipes - later, we were through. It was neither the best nor the worst instance run I'd participated in, but it felt very hectic, with most of the run feeling like I was barely keeping all the healing in check. Of course, with necessity being the mother of invention, this has hopefully this run has added a few new tricks to my bag.
Will I stick with shadow? Well, I think with a little more practice I'll get used to working in and out of shadowform in this new spec. And I'll probably stick with it for a while - for easier times in PvP and solo PvE. But I've already learned a lot from this spec that's given me ideas for my next talent build... but when? Who knows!