Every so often, I'm hit with this brilliant idea that I should level another priest. It always sounds like a lot of fun at first, especially when I'm just toying around in the character creation screen making my new baby all pretty. Do I want brown hair or blond hair? The sexy eyes or the vapid ones? Hmm ... now what do I name her? The fun ends a few minutes later when after skipping the opening cinematic (which I've already seen), I pick up my first quest and realize I've done this before. Sure, maybe this time I'm picking up Salvaged Supplies instead of Cactus Apples -- but really, it's always the same. That's why after about 5 minutes of killing eight boars or eight bandits or eight worgen, I bask in the glory of level 2 and log out.
Except for today. Today, I was determined to get my new darling Elyria up to level 12 so I could see all of the new Worgen content and the new Forsaken quests in Silverpine Forest after that. I was really determined this time, and as a result, I made it through something like 42 Smite casts without logging out and got to learn Flash Heal as a result That's when I realized that damn, priests these days have it easy. Flash Heal at level 3? Really? Let me tell you how it used to be.
If you were going anywhere, you were walking
In the old days, mount vendors were pretentious snobs who charged exorbitant prices and wouldn't allow you to train until you'd reached level 40. (How they even knew what level you were is beyond me, since most of them weren't even level 20 themselves. I'm looking at you, Katie Hunter.) Most classes had ways to get around this, such as druids with their Travel Form ability or mages with Teleport. Priests, though? We were stuck trekking about in our cloth booties for the first 40 levels, and when we finally were able to train, we had to pay full price for our mounts. You'd think there would be some discounts for men and women of the cloth, geez!
Holy Nova was a talent
Until Wrath, Holy Nova could only be obtained by dropping talents into the holy tree. Sure, it's never been a bread-and-butter spell to a healing priest, but as one of the few instant-cast spells with no usage restrictions, Holy Nova could actually save quite a few lives (particularly your own) if utilized properly. For surviving while on the move, Holy Nova was a great followup to a Power Word: Shield and Renew, and it wasn't too bad when you were stunlocked by all those bacon-craving rogues out there, either.
Oh, and before you go thinking you can properly reminisce about the old days, don't forget that way back when, Holy Nova was a 31-point talent. 31! Madness!
Spirit of Redemption was awful
Most people these days joke about Spirit of Redemption being a terrible talent because it's only useful when you're dead. Pfft! I say. Few priests actually remember the horror that was the original Spirit of Redemption. Holy priests these days enjoy luxuries like casting while in improved death form, but I remember when you couldn't even do that. Once upon a time, the only thing Spirit of Redemption did was apply a small heal and HoT to your party when you died. That's right, you got to die and then do absolutely nothing but sit there. Brilliant. Do you see what you kids take for granted these days?
Shadow priests were non-existent (and mostly useless)
Back in the day when you had to walk through three zones, in the snow, just to reset your talent points, shadow priests also had it rough. With the limited range of Mind Flay, the long cooldown of Mind Blast, and the severe lack of quality DOTs (remember that Devouring Plague used to be a racial), there wasn't much point in bringing a shadow priest to a raid. Making matters worse, Vampiric Touch didn't even exist until The Burning Crusade, and with healers often being in incredibly short supply, if you were a priest, you were healing. Unless you were this guy, that is.
On the plus side, since you couldn't check other players' talents back then, as long as you never swapped into Shadowform, you could come to raids and sneak in a few little HOTs between your heals without people knowing. The added benefit of this was also that no one could ever judge you for your terrible talent selection.
Your tanks hated Power Word: Shield
Some of you may remember that in the not-too-distant past, Power Word: Shield would prevent warrior and druid tanks from gaining rage. Cruising through a dungeon as a disc priest? Forget about it, because the first time your mediocre tank lost threat and someone died, guess who they'd blame? That's right, you and your bubbles. And don't think for a second they ever listened to you when you told them about the main tank from your guild who managed just fine with shields on him. No, of course not, it couldn't possibly be that the tank was just bad at his class. No. Not at all. Never. Dawn mutters under her breath.
Getting Benediction was a pain
Sure, getting legendaries is always a burden, but what if you had to run all over the world and fetch random eyeballs just to get a best-in-slot purple? That's what you had to do to get the Benediction, and assuming you even got your eyeballs, you still had to bring a whole slew up supplies to survive the very difficult quest objective. This old guide dated from 2005 suggests bringing 15 Oil of Immolation, two Major Mana Potions, and a Flask of Distilled Wisdom. Can you imagine if you had to go through all that work for a Smoldering Censer of Purity? Forget it! The Benediction might as well have been a legendary! Especially when you consider that the quest was extremely easy to bug out and fail if you stood in the wrong place or a random bystander tried to help or interfere. What a headache.
Discipline priests sucked
Do you remember Divine Spirit? What about Wand Specialization? Force of Will, perhaps? Up until Wrath of the Lich King, the purpose of a discipline priest was very, very vague. With talents crossed somewhere between offensive and defensive, there was really no telling what a disc priest was supposed to do in combat. Should we DPS? Maybe heal? Should we smack ourselves across the face and go respec to holy (the answer to that question is yes). No one knew, and as a result disco revival was something only PVPers and the most stubborn of raiders bothered with. Talk about an underutilized talent tree. We didn't even have Penance back then, and nowadays you whippersnappers get it at level 10! Blasphemy, I say!
My memory isn't what it used to be
Perhaps I've forgotten something. Do you remember something from your old war stories that these novice priests should know so they can appreciate what they have these days? If you do, leave a comment, fish out your old screenshots if you have any, and show us your battle scars.
Spiritual Guidance has the inside line on pre-raid, valor point and raid gear for patch 4.2, as well as priest healing guides for the early and final bosses of The Firelands. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into leveling a healing priest, plus our guides to Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.