Spiritual Guidance: Spells we forget

This Sunday, Dawn Moore has called a temporary truce with Fox Van Allen so the two of them can take Spiritual Guidance on a group trip to Disneyland. They almost made it through the entire Space Mountain line without a fight on what was better, healing or damage. Later, Fox got a stomach ache and dispersed while riding the tea cups, and Dawn had to go back to the hotel to lie down before the Hannah Montana concert.

Once upon a time, an off-tank coughed.

At the time, the off-tank was zoned into Trial of the Crusader and thoroughly engaged in a battle against Anub'arak. His raid was just transitioning out of the first phase 2, and he was moving to his position to pick up adds. Unfortunately, as the off-tank coughed, he shifted ever so slightly, causing a poorly placed cup of cherry Kool Aid to upturn. Not a second later, the off-tank's raid was audience to a colorful soliloquy about a different type of penetrating cold.

As the above events transpired, a disco priestess noticed that she had suddenly acquired threat from a newly spawned bug add. She strafed momentarily before hitting the key for her Fade spell and in doing so, saved herself from unknown peril.

The bug, having lost its focus, immediately turned its attention to another priest in the raid named Calvin. Calvin, it turned out, was specced holy.

Before things could get worse, the off-tank managed to pull himself together and resumed his tanking duties; he taunted the large bug and the panic in the raid subsided. Surprisingly, the battle continued without incident, and in the end the nerubian king was slain.

The fate that befell poor Calvin was the result of bad luck; an unexpected series of events led to an atypical situation in an otherwise smooth fight. However, while the events were unplanned for, there really was no reason for Calvin to die. The add that attacked him was a good 20 yards away from him at the time I faded. Calvin (who will by now hate me for mentioning him) either did not think to Fade or reacted at a snail's pace. Whatever the reason, his mistake is one that every priest should take precautions to never make. Keep Fade on your bars, and bound to a key that is easy for you to hit. Obvious, right?

For today's article I have compiled a short (and somewhat pretentious) list of abilities that priests sometimes forget we have at our disposal; our bread and butter might be in the healing, but we have a lot more in our toolbox. While the abilities listed here should not be new to you, take a moment to browse over this list of frequently forgotten spells as a way of jogging your memory. This will ensure that you and your loved ones are receiving the full benefits of the priest class.

Spells we forget
Fade Because imploding into a pile of clothie sludge like Calvin should never be your goal, keep Fade ready if there is ever a risk of acquiring the aggro of a boss or mob spawn. For example:

  • On Deathbringer Saurfang in Icecrown Citadel, healing priests can stack safely with the melee range and use Fade when the Blood Beasts spawn. By stacking in melee, the rest of the range in your raid will have a little more room to spread out and prevent Blood Nova from accumulating more blood power to Saurfang.

  • During Lady Deathwhisper, if you Fade as one of your allies is being mind controlled, or just before, you won't have to worry about being the focus of their attacks.

Mass Dispel It surprises me how few players employ this spell in PvE, as it is a cornerstone ability in PvP. The Faction Champions fight in Trial of the Crusader definitely helped to get more priests using this ability, but I still find that unless it is a major strategy point in a fight, many priests do not think to use it. There are a bunch of great places to use it right now:

  • On Lady Deathwhisper, using Mass Dispel on the melee after a Frostbolt Volley. The melee are at the highest risk to taking accidental damage from Vengeful Shades, so removing the slowing effect of the frostbolts will help them out.

  • Glittering Sparks during Blood Prince Council will cause damage and a movement debuff that can quickly be removed with a well placed Mass Dispel.

  • During Blood Queen Lana'thel's air phase, Mass Dispel can be used to dispel the fear effect cast on your party. The sooner the fear is dispelled, the sooner they can spread out to avoid splash damage from Bloodbolt Whirl.

  • During the transition phases of the Lich King fight, when Raging Spirits are being tanked, Soul Shriek can sometimes accidentally get applied to multiple players at once. If this happens, Mass Dispel is just the thing to use.

  • Wandering into 5-man content for a moment: In Pit of Saron, if your party insists on ignoring the Permafrost debuff, you can use Mass Dispel to cut down some of the damage they're taking. Obvious it would be ideal if they just filed behind the saronite boulders, but I've honestly only seen that happen once. Go figure.

Fear Ward You won't have as many opportunities to use Fear Ward, but whenever you can do it you should. It is one of the most commonly forgotten buffs that priests have.

  • On Lady Deathwhisper, keeping a Fear Ward on yourself or a tank will help to prevent any devastating events to occur when a warlock or priest is mind controlled.

  • To ensure that you actually are able to Mass Dispel during Blood Queen Lana'thel's air phase, you will need to apply Fear Ward to yourself right before the tank pulls, and once again later in the fight.

  • Spinestalker is the dragon to the left off the stairs when you enter Sindragosa's terrace in the Frostwing Halls. If you use a Fear Ward on your tank before he pulls Spinestalker, you won't have to worry about his tail sweeps knocking players around when the tank goes running. Obviously, this isn't as big a deal as say ... doing the same thing during Onyxia; but the little things that a priest can do make a big difference.

Hymn of Hope While I don't think Hymn of Hope is exactly forgotten, I think it's definitely overlooked by many players who have seen mixed results from the ability. There are two things to know about this hymn. The first is that you need to be completely or almost completely OOM when you use it. Hymn of Hope aids the players with the lowest mana, so if you aren't OOM there is a chance you might not get as many ticks from it as you'd like.

The second thing to know is that Hymn of Hope has synergy (I hate that "word") with Shadowfiend. Basically, since Hymn of Hope temporarily raises your maximum mana, and your Shadowfiend returns mana to you based on how large your mana pool is, you'll profit. Ms. Avalonna wrote up a very detailed and satisfying explanation of how all this works over at Tales of a Priest a few months ago. You should check it out (just ignore the fact that she doesn't like disco music. Such blasphemy.)

Shackle Undead Priests using crowd control isn't as common as it used to be, but Icecrown Citadel is the place to do it if you're going to. There are multiple trash pulls inside the raid and 5-man dungeons that can be made easier if you shackle. The two that come to mind are:

  • The trash mobs in the Crimson Halls are a little tricky because of the Darkfallen Tacticians. Depending on what your party wants, you may either shackle the tacticians, or another mob in the packs to give the tanks and DPS more flexibility in tanking and focusing down the tacticians.

  • In Pit of Saron, the mobs immediately after Krick and Ick are dangerous to most PUG groups. Shackling the casters that stand slightly away from the other mobs is always a good choice.

Psychic Scream While I'm not encouraging anyone to use this in dungeons frequently, it is an extra form of crowd control you can employ. I know a lot of priests do not think to use because it usually causes more trouble than it's worth, but make sure it stays on your bars somewhere, even if you only use it once in a blue moon.

  • During Lady Deathwhisper, after you have faded, you can use Psychic Scream on an ally who has been mind controlled. This instant cast crowd control can buy the rest of your raid extra seconds to get up a Polymorph or Cyclone.

  • In Gundrak, when you and your party dive into the water, use Psychic Scream to scare off the piranha mobs that attack you.

Not all forgotten abilities are for the most serious and difficult content ... Some of them are more for fun!

Levitate Thankfully, the Glyph of Levitate has brought this spell back into popular fashion by allowing priests to not concern themselves with farming (or buying) Light Feathers. I myself used to always carry two stacks of feathers around, but I knew priests who never did. Now, there are many more people to play Gravity Chicken with!

  • In Icecrown Citadel, Levitate will save you some unnecessary death after you've defeated Blood Queen Lana'thel and use her "short cut" back to the main central chamber of the citadel.

  • If you want to have some fun, combine your jet pack and Levitate during the gunship battle in ICC. You may find yourself a bit off course, but that's the fun of it.

  • Whenever there is water to cross, cross it faster by casting Levitate on yourself. Share the buff with your party. (Go exploring and find unknown places.)

  • Despite Levitate once being used to cheese the damage from Fire Bomb in Trial of the Crusader, never forget that the spell is there and could one day see some creative utility in a fight.

Mind Vision While my most common usage of this spell is to find a player who is doing an enchant for me (or to make fun of someone who is running back to the frozen throne after dying to a Val'kyr) this spell still has some good utility that many overlook.

  • In PvE content, patrolling mobs that may be hiding up hallways or around corners can be tracked with Mind Vision.

  • The PvP utility of this ability is quite astounding. In battlegrounds, use it to hop around and see the movements of your allies and enemies. You can make a lot of good decisions on where to go by first scouting out where you might want to go.

  • In all BGs and World PvP (not Arena), if you cast Mind Vision on a rogue or druid when they are not using Stealth or Prowl, you will be able to follow them even through stealth. The only way to shake you from there is to use an ability like Vanish.

And finally, the most forgotten ability that priests have ...

Mind Soothe! And why is it forgotten? Because it really is useless it has limited utility these days, mostly. Back in vanilla when mobs were clustered closer together, Mind Soothe was a great way to avoid pulling extra mobs you didn't want in dungeons and while playing solo. Nowadays, even when solo, there are few places where you absolutely need to use Mind Soothe to avoid a bad pull, just because mob density is designed differently. Mind Soothe is sadly just one of those spells that died with the times. Perhaps Blizzard will touch it up in the future? For now, I mostly use it to slip past packs of mobs in tight hallways and caves when I'm not in the mood to fight. Often though, I only do this because I'm playing it safe.

Wrap up
So? What spells do you forget, or notice other priests forgetting? If you've got any additional uses for our forgotten spells, let's hear them.

Simple article today, right? Lots of things you already knew? Well good, now I want you to take a step back. My larger goal today was to get you all looking at your toolbox like an actual toolbox. The spells here aren't necessarily a magic key to victory, but as you can see in some of the examples, they are sometimes a single step in a bigger puzzle.

I find that raiding nowadays is a lot like Ikea furniture. You buy all the pieces and directions, plus a little wrench, and then all you have to do is put in the hours to assemble it. When you're done you have your own Ikea whatever that looks just like every other Ikea whatever out there. You put it together but it's not really your own creation. Maybe that doesn't bother anyone but me, but a problem exists all the same:

While you can manufacture a million particle board shelves to be identical, not every rogue or shaman is going to function the same way as the last. Sooner or later, you're going to have a problem that demands you alter your strat, or toss it out completely. When that happens, consider what we did here today. Ask yourself what the problem is then then think about what you might be forgetting. Open up your spell book, then open your talent tree after that. Simplify the problem as much as you need to think about it critically. You might not find anything, but you might find something.

Want to find more great tips for carrying out your priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know. Check out Holy 101 or Disc 101 for an introduction to healing as a priest, or for the party minded healer, check out A priest's guide to tanks.