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The Shadow Diaries: In which I take a shortcut

Eliah Hecht

Back in November of last year, I wrote a post for the Spiritual Guidance column called "The shadow diaries." In it, I pledged that I would recount my experiences of leveling a brand-new shadow priest. However, as you may have noticed (or not), that never happened. There's always too many things to do in this crazy virtual world of ours (not to mention that other, brighter world outside), so poor Hieronymus ended up getting neglected.

Why am I talking about a series of posts I didn't write? Well, I may not have had the fortitude to level another priest all the way to 70, on a strange server no less, but eventually two realizations came together. I already have a priest at level 70, and I'm doing a lot more soloing than grouping with her these days. I'd recently moved a few points in my long-held 23/38/0 spec over to the Holy damage talents, which sped up my dailies a bit. But then I thought, why not go all the way?

And so I decided to respec to Shadow. After much perusal of the forums (an excellent resource), the WoW Europe forums (so much better than the US official forums), and even good old Elitist Jerks, as well as some musing on my own, I settled on this 14/0/47 build, and even found some stat values I could use as a Pawn scale. I love me some Pawn, when I have a good scale for it.

It's a fairly standard spec, but my requirements for it -- mostly solo, possibly a bit of 5-manning -- dictated a few specific talent choices. No Martyrdom in Disc, because I don't intend to PvP at all. As useless as Imp. PW:S is, it'll still be more useful than Martyrdom, I think. Spirit Tap instead of Blackout, because Spirit Tap is godly for soloing and Blackout is another PvP talent.

As for the Imp. Psychic Scream/Silence set, it is my hope that Silence will be a handy utility spell to have around. Besides, there's not much competition for the points. It would either be 4/5 instead of 1/5 Imp. Mind Blast, or 5/5 instead of 2/5 Shadow Power. My understanding is that MB is not a particularly mana-efficient spell, and the cooldown is already short enough that I won't run into problems with it while grinding. And Shadow Power simply applies to too few spells to make it very useful, especially considering that we have no talent that boosts the effect of our crits, like every other offensive spellcaster (even Holy priests).

Obviously, 3/3 Shadow Affinity is going to do nothing for me while soloing, and maybe I should have gone 5/5 Shadow Power instead, but I do hope to be doing some 5-mans and I hear shadow priests have threat issues, even with Shadow Affinity. Besides, as mentioned above, Shadow Power seems of questionable quality.

Having decided on a spec, and with much trepidation, I logged in to my priest, my first level 60 and first level 70, intent on going to Ironforge and unlearning those delicious Holy talents I knew so well. The respec was only 20g; I love that the cost of respeccing never went up and so it's the work of minutes to make it back via dailies. It didn't cost all that much to pick up all the ranks of Mind Flay and Vampiric Touch, either.

So here I sit, at the Ironforge bank, picking through my gear, looking at Pawn values, and trying to figure out what ridiculous-looking set of healing epics, random blues, and left-over greens will patch me through until I decide either to stay Shadow and start working towards Frozen Shadoweave, or to run back to the light side. I have to say, though, having just activated Shadowform for the first time in over a year, it feels pretty darn good.

Note: I wrote most of this a couple of weeks ago, but finals got in the way of my actually posting it. The reason I mention that is because if you check my Armory, you'll see that I've actually found a half-decent set of gear for myself (emphasis on the "half"). However, that will be the topic of the next installment of the Shadow Diaries. Stay tuned!

The Shadow Diaries bring you tales from a long-time Holy priest, just recently respecced for more face melting. This is only the second installment; to learn how this all started way back, check out the first post. And if you're a priest fan, you must read our (recently resurrected) Spiritual Guidance column. Finally, for all your class-related needs, refer to our handy directory.

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