Priests always seems to be in demand. Exploring or questing in any area of the game, at any level, whether Horde or Alliance, a Priest player can expect to be pestered with whispers for instance runs. Some polite, some demanding, some who need to be put on our ignore lists, and some who don't make any sense at all, but seem to be asking for something. What's a Priest to do when being asked to go here, there, or elsewhere? And what's a player to do when they need a Priest's help? Well, I'm going to try to explain here, in something of a how-to guide for grouping, for the Priests and non-Priests among us. So whether this is your first time partying with a Priest or your hundredth -- keep reading. There's plenty to know about how to act in a group, and we're only going to scratch the surface.
Just because a player is listed as a Priest in /who doesn't mean they're interested in healing. If you're asking a Priest to heal your group, be sure they're interested in healing first! However, also be aware that regardless of spec, a Priest can be a quite capable healer. Don't turn away a Shadow Priest who's willing to heal -- they may not have the healing talents, but a Priest's base abilities make them perfectly capable healers for most of the game's challenges. (My priest is currently specced with 31 points in Shadow and the rest in Discipline, and I tend to be a bit dodgy when asked about my spec. I love healing, and am happy to run any dungeon around my level, but sometimes if people find out I have a shadow-heavy spec, they won't want me to heal -- and in most situations I can heal just fine, despite my investment in the Shadow tree.)
But don't forget that a Shadow Priest who's only interested in playing in Shadowform can bring a lot to a group, too. No, a Priest in Shadowform won't be main healing, but with Vampiric Embrace is a nice healing boost for the entire party and Vampiric Touch will keep the party's mana-users up and doing damage. And, of course, even a Shadow Priest can buff you with Fortitude and help out with Power Word: Shield. All in all, they're an excellent addition to any party!
And, to the Priests out there -- just because you're Shadow specced or Holy DPS specced, don't count healing out. Sure, you can do great damage, but any instance group is going to need a healer, and you may be the best option they can find. If a group asks you to heal, don't necessarily tell them off -- but explain that you're not specced for healing and if you go, you're going to want to roll on cloth DPS gear. Hey, if they're asking you to do something you don't usually do, it's only fair that you both get something out of the deal. (But do be clear on what you expect before the run starts!)
I cannot possibly describe how much I loathe being yelled at to heal. (And this is from someone who enjoys playing a healing role.) Trust me -- If I'm in your group to heal, I'm watching everyone's health (and my mana) and casting spells accordingly. But if you aren't the tank, you're not my first priority. And while some people may be unhappy to hear that (the same people yelling HAEL ME constantly in party chat, probably), they shouldn't be. I'm trying to keep the whole group alive, which means my priority list looks something like this:
- Priest (that's me!): If I die, the tank is going to die next, and after that the rest of the group is probably lost. So if I'm taking enough damage to be dangerous, I'm going to heal myself first.
- Tank: Without a tank, any pull becomes a tremendous challenge. Sure, even a Mage can tank for a little bit, but without a main tank (with all the skills to manage aggro and soak up damage), the party as a whole isn't going to last for very long. Throughout most of any fight, I'll be targeting the main tank, either casting heals on him or monitoring his health carefully.
- DPS: Precise classes on this list vary depending on whether one or another is more necessary for the specific instance. But for the most part, I rank DPSing members of a party based on how well they're playing. Did that Hunter save us from a wipe last pull because he off-tanked an add with his pet? Did the Mage keep a Polymorph on a target we weren't ready to take on while we bandaged and rested up for a few moments? Yep, people who I notice contributing especially to a party I'm in get priority on my heals list.
And if you're playing in a group? Trust that your healer is watching you -- really, they don't need to be reminded to heal you. They're doing their best -- and yelling at them to heal is just going to annoy them.
No, this doesn't mean "out of mobs, please pull more!" It means "out of mana" -- and without mana, I can't heal you! So please take a glance at my mana bar before you decide to pull. If it's empty, the best option for me is probably to back up and drink while you get yourself killed. It's easier for me to rez you after than it is for us to do a corpse run -- because if I'm only have enough mana for a heal or two when a pull is made, the party isn't going to survive.
And Priests, it doesn't hurt to announce that you're out of mana when you're out of mana. A lot of players aren't used to running in groups and some of them may not even realize what mana is. (If you've only ever played a class with rage or energy, the concept of mana is going to be foreign to you.) So announce OOM when you're so low on mana that a pull would be dangerous -- and in case your group-mates don't read WoW Insider, you might want to explain what it means the first time you say it, just in case.
What's it mean when I yell "Aggro!" on the party line? Well, it means that a mob has broken off from the main group and is smacking me around. (Yes, just like damage, healing causes aggro -- which means if the main tank isn't working hard to keep the attention of all the mobs out there, a single heal could send some of them running straight to me.) And while I'm dealing with that mob (or mobs!), I'm not able to heal anyone in the party. Taking hits slows down and interrupts my healing spells -- not to mention that taking damage means I might die and leave your party healer-less! Yes, I can Fade to temporarily reduce my threat, which usually works -- but unless someone picks up and starts tanking that mob, it'll come right back to me after Fade wears off. When I yell that I've got aggro, it's because there's a mob on me that I can't get rid of -- and if no one tries to get it off me, it's going to wind up killing me and we're all going to be running back to the instance.
And healers, when you've got aggro from something and no one seems to notice? Say something about it! (In fact, make a macro to say something about it -- hitting a macro is always faster than typing.) Players who aren't used to playing in groups may just not be paying attention to where the adds are running, and a gentle reminder could get them to come to your aid, and in turn, keep the entire group alive.
Do you have any hints of your own for the Priests out there -- or the people grouping up with them? Tell us all about them in the comments!