When I first rolled my priest, I planned to do more PvP with it than I had with my other characters. And as I leveled up, I'd usually spend an evening or two a week running through Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and eventually Alterac Valley. But after hitting 60, I found myself wanting to PvP less and less. I've talked a bit about struggling with healing in PvP, and while it's certainly possible, I can always tend to think up more entertaining things to do than venture into the battlegrounds these days.
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!
Life as a Shadow Priest: Day One
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.