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Spiritual Guidance: Shield questions answered

Matt Low

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new UI and addons blog for WoW. Today, Matticus looks at a few question on shields. More specifically, why Holy Priests should not shield tanks if Disc Priests are present.

One of the core spells in any Priestly arsenal is the use of Power Word: Shield. The primary purpose of it? To save lives and prevent players in your party or your raid from taking damage. I've seen a few questions and grumblings crop up regarding the use of it on a few blogs and I wanted to weigh in.

A quick history

During the era of shielding 1.0, I remember that shields gained very little from spell power. I believe the number was something along the lines of 10%. More importantly, it affected the rage generation of tanks (which were mostly Warriors at the time). Because of this, tanks constantly pleaded and begged us not to shield them because they couldn't gain rage. This always irritated me. I'm a Priest! I'm supposed to protect them! That's my job! But that's the way it was. I understood and accepted the instructions from my raid leaders and shielded only when I thought it was necessary. The problem with that is I felt that shields were always necessary. Paranoid much? Yup, that's the thought process of a Priest.

Now we entered the time frame of shielding 2.0. The spell power bonus increased up to 20%. We gained a number of fundamental talents that increased the flexibility of our bubbles. I deliberately picked up Reflective Shield just so I could sit there and passively kill mobs. Naturally it didn't work out that way. I still had to wield a myriad of Smites, Holy Fires, and Mind Blasts. What's important during this period is that shields slowly became increasingly more flexible in terms of talents. The Discipline tree received several changes that improved shields. At some point during this period, shields no longer affected rage generation.

Okay! Welcome to shielding 3.0! This is when bubbling really took off. Extra talents were added to make shields much stronger. Only through shields can Disc Priests get a benefit to their mana from Rapture. Renewed Hope increases the chance that Weakened Soul players get critically healed. Borrowed Time gave Discipline Priests further incentive to cast shields as their next spells would go off faster. Soul Warding, a talent that came later on, removed the long cooldown on shields effectively making them castable quickly. Body and Soul was placed in the Holy tree to help give them some kind of incentive to use it as well.Oh yes, and the shield gets a glyph.

So where does that leave us now?

Divine Aegis or Power Word: Shield? Which takes precedent?

There's a few points of discussion specifically about shields that warrant some bringing up.

First, there is this question tabled beautifully by Sundotz from Plus Heal.

If Divine Aegis and Power Word: Shield are both present on a target and that target takes damage, which protective effect takes precedent?

Okay, the words aren't quite the same. But you get the idea. It's a good question. I'm fairly certain someone out there's already answered it. I wasn't sure of it myself, so I decided to go try it out.

I don't have the patience to run an actual theorycrafting test. Quite frankly, I was quite bored. My testing involved 5 minutes of time with some very large Molten Colossus (Colossi?). I noticed that the combat log reported the disappearance of shields based on which effect landed first.

Naturally, it wasn't a scientific test. I did take care to remind readers of it as such. It was meant to be of more entertainment value than anything.

In any case, subsequent testing by other players determined that Divine Aegis always gets consumed first regardless of the order that the two shields are applied. Hopefully that will help answer the questions of different players. Personally, I never thought much about it until I saw the thread and I grew curious.

Next question!

Why do Holy Priests get asked not to shield tanks?

This is actually a post I stumbled upon on Shadow Weaving (definitely another blog to add to a reader). Main reason I found Shadow Weaving is because I found it as a referral from For the Bubbles. What the authors here want Holy Priests to take away from their posts is this:

Please do not shield the tanks.

Now as there are a large number of sensitive Priests (well, players of all types) who don't like being told what to do, just take a step back and stop for a second to think. Whenever I get told to stop doing something or to start doing something, I put on the critically thinking cap for a second and ask myself why is this person asking me not to do this or to do this? I've noticed there are many players out there who just don't like being bossed or ordered around because no one likes to be wrong or to be told they're doing things wrong. Hell, I'm one of them.

But let's stop and examine why a Disc Priest does not want a Holy Priest to shield a Warrior tank.

Stronger shields. No ways around it. Disc shields are just way stronger than their Holy counterpart. My shields regularly absorb 6000+. When I was Holy, I was able to absorb less than half of that. I can't think of a single reason why any tank would want a lighter impact shield cast on them when they have the option of a super shield that can take even more of a licking.

Tanks gain rage, mana, energy or runic power. Whatever color their bar is below their health, Rapture ensures that they gain some of that energy back. But it will only kick in if the Disc shield gets dispelled or completely absorbed. Back in shielding 1.0, tanks had trouble generating the rage they needed. Now it's even easier for them to get some.

Everyone takes less damage. True fact. When a Disc Priest casts a shield, everyone benefits! All damage affecting the party or raid gets reduced by 3%. Naturally a Priest can cast it on anyone and the buff will still be there regardless. But we'd rather save it for the tanks so we can kill two birds with one stone (as it would protect the tank and apply the buff at the same time).

It's cheaper. We're doing you a favor. Let us cast the cheap sauce spells so that you don't have to! Disc shields don't cost as much as Holy shields.

What about the Holy Priests who have their T8 4 piece set? You know I did think about that. It does provide you with a buff of some sort. I'd say it wouldn't hurt to target yourself with it every so often or target another raider around you.

So the next time you get asked to stop doing something, take a step back and ask yourself what their justification is before ultimately making your own decision.

Have Twitter? Feel free to follow @mattycus!

Want to find more great tips for carrying out your Priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know! And don't forget to check out our other Leveling Guides as well as our Wrath Guides and Galleries!

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