I want you to go get killed this week.
In game, that is. I know that sounds out of the ordinary, but this week, I'm giving you permission to die. Not in raids, mind you, but in the fields of battle. You see, this week we're going to venture into the dark and spooky land of PvP. Granted, it's not at all that dark or spooky. The in-game lighting in battlegrounds and arena actually tends to be a lot brighter than it is in some raid environments. Getting back on track, though: you've probably noticed that Spiritual Guidance tends to be a very PvE- and raid-oriented column. Today that changes -- sort of.
The focus of this week's article is to introduce primarily PvE priests to the idea of PvP as a means to improve yourself as an overall player. I don't intend to impress experienced arena junkies with the nuances of playing a priest in the 2400 bracket (mostly because I never played anywhere close to that level) I will try to give priests who have no PvP experience a good introduction to it, though. If you are already a seasoned PvP priest, I encourage you to visit the comments and share any beginner advice I miss.
To start, I want to express that I am by no means a great PvPer. I'm above average, but I still can't hold my own against the most skilled players who not only understand many aspects of this game better than I but have a level of spatial awareness I can't fathom. PvP is an entirely different game than PvE. It's like the difference between playing chess and checkers. To be good at chess, you can't just react. You have to know where you're going and what you're doing well in advance. To be good at checkers, you only need to respond to your opponent and stick to a basic strategy.
So now imagine if you had a chess master play checkers.
That is where I'm going in this article. You see, despite being a mediocre PvPer, it was all I used to do. When I started raiding, my raid leader quickly noticed I had the ability to keep it together when the worst scenarios occurred. This is what kept getting me invited back, even when my gear was horrendous. I reacted to loose adds, fires and anything that needed to be dispelled with speed and ease most of the other players didn't have. My raid leader and I both attributed this to my experience in PvP, which while pathetic in the arena, took me very far in raids. Even today, I still pride myself on staying alive and taking the least damage, something not enough raiders put weight on.
Having said that, my hope is that those of you who are not particularly interested in PvP will reconsider. Even if you hate PvP, try to look at it as a means to an end; a training ground to push yourself in. I can promise you that if you stick with it you will become a better player, and with that a better raider. Now, let's get started.
Things to keep in mind
First off, you will die. You will die a lot. Going into PvP as a priest is a lot like curing, smoking and then sandwiching yourself between two slices of bread. You are the irresistible bacon sandwich of the World of Warcraft, and you will find people coming after you first because they'll think you're an easy target. For this reason, the first thing you're going to have to learn in PvP is how to survive. This will be frustrating, but don't be daunted. Focus on running away while healing and use every ability in your arsenal to do this. Get in touch with your offensive and utility spells. Re-examine how your racial abilities work. Get used to only using spells that can be cast on the run.
While on the topic of survival, you should know that when starting out, PvP operates at a much faster pace that PvE. If you are a PvP virgin, you might find yourself exploding instantly without any idea how or why it happened. When this happens, don't get frustrated. As you continue, your ability to process and respond to what is happening will grow. If you consult your combat log, you'll also be able to learn more about the other classes you encounter, which is key in deciding how you will engage them in future battles.
Next, you're going to need some gear in order to start getting some resilience, an important stat to your survival against ... everything. PvP gear is very costly in honor, and the best of it requires arena rating to get. Fortunately though, the random dungeon tool will come to your rescue like a white knight (a white knight who charges you after you've been rescued, that is). You can acquire the following pieces of gear from your faction's Emblem of Triumph vendor.
- Furious Gladiator's Mooncloth Hood -- 75 Emblems of Triumph
- Furious Gladiator's Mooncloth Robe -- 75 Emblems of Triumph
- Furious Gladiator's Mooncloth Mantle -- 50 Emblems of Triumph
- Furious Gladiator's Mooncloth Gloves --50 Emblems of Triumph
- Furious Gladiator's Mooncloth Leggings --75 Emblems of Triumph
If you have extra Emblems of Frost, you can also purchase Relentless gear from your faction's frost badge vendor. Running Vault of Archavon will also give you a chance at various types of PvP gear, so make sure to do it every week.
You will be able to use the honor points you get from battlegrounds to buy some of the Wrathful accessory pieces from vendors in Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Some of the items require arena rating and will be unattainable to start with, so check the vendors surrounding them for discounted gear from previous arena seasons.
You will also need to get yourself a PvP trinket like this one. (If you're a human, your racial ability, Every Man for Himself, will substitute for a trinket. Forsaken get part of a trinket with Will of the Forsaken.) You'll need honor to purchase a PvP trinket, though, so to start out you can either go without one or buy a lesser quality one from the Wintergrasp vendor using your Stone Keeper's Shards. There are a few PvP items from the Wintergrasp vendor that you can buy instead of the Furious gear, as well.
One thing to note is that health and mana are big concern in PvP; you'll never have enough of either. This means there won't be much room for taking throughput stats like haste and crit when you gem and enchant. Early on, you will find yourself needing to gem for stamina, resilience, and mana regeneration (intellect, spirit and MP5.) In order to get a nice balance of what you need, try mixing some of your PvE gear with your PvP gear. Good PvE regen trinkets are especially valuable in PvP, so feel free to keep those equipped. PvP weapons are hard to acquire as well, so plan to use your PvE weapon on the battlefield. Especially if you have one of these.
Later on when you are capable of more offensive play you'll also want spell hit and spell penetration. That's not something we need to worry about this early, since we're playing defensively, but should you want get to that point early, shoot for 4-6% hit and 130 spell penetration. 6% hit is cap once you consider racials (it's 4% without). 130 spell penetration is what you will need to deal with most player shadow resist. The exception is a fully buffed mage, so make sure to dispel mages as soon as you can.
Glyphs don't really require a section of their own, since you can (for the most part) stick with the glyphs you used in PvE. The exceptions would be Glyph of Pain Suppression, which is now favorable to use. As a rule, your glyphs should match your playstyle. If you took Glyph of Flash Heal in PvE because you used it a lot or were short on mana, you can do it again. If in PvP you find you don't use Prayer of Healing, don't take Glyph of Prayer of Healing.