Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priesting through the Hour of Twilight

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration. He is also scientifically proven more beautiful than boomkin blogger Tyler Caraway.

Players of World of Warcraft had been clamoring for quite some time: "We love escort quests! Give us more escort quests! We want a dungeon that's nothing but one big escort quest!" Well, good news, person who doesn't exist and never will -- Blizzard designed an instance just for you!

Hour of Twilight is pretty much one big long escort quest involving Thrall. Dude's trying to deliver the Dragon Soul to Wyrmrest Temple, and a whole bunch of bad guys are trying to stop him. A whole bunch of bad guys with loot. I think that's the part I cared about the most. The loot. Saving the future was merely a side effect.

Getting the loot requires you to put up with a lot -- one of the most annoying fights in Cataclysm, in my opinion. I'm talking of course about the Asira Dawnbreaker fight. Thankfully, though, her shadow priest frustrating silences are avoidable. Sort of.

But hey, she's the second boss in this thing. First things first.

Today, I am going to be clever. I am going to use the phrase "back to the future" in an appropriate context. I am so excited for this. It's coming up soon, so you nerds don't want to miss it. In fact, you should probably call your friends on the phone and tell them I'm about to do it, so they don't miss it. Then you can read it together. Or better yet, Skype in with each other so you can see the sheer look of joy on their face when I reference a really cool movie in the next paragraph. OK, you ready?

After spending the last two weeks in the futuristic nightmarescape of End Time and resisting the urge to date our (great-, great-) grandmothers at the Well of Eternity, we're traveling -- ready, here it comes -- Back to the Future, all the way to the Hour of Twilight!

Awww man, was it as good for you as it was for me?


If a lot about this fight seems familiar to you ... well, it should. Every little piece of this fight is borrowed from somewhere else, whether it's the boss's model (Twilight Council), the boss's weapon (Abracadaver), or the boss's water-based attacks such as Ice Tomb. That said, you should be pretty well prepared for this fight -- it's not that hard.

There are a few shadow-specific notes here, though most of them are simply aimed at helping your party's healer out. First, Arcurion has an attack called Hand of Frost. It's hardly devastating, but it can be interrupted using Silence. Arcurion also has an attack called Chains of Frost that will root you in place for a frustratingly long 10 seconds. The good news: The root can and should be Dispelled.

Partway through the fight, Arcurion will encase Thrall in an Ice Tomb, which it's the DPS's responsibility to break him out of. It's not an absolutely crucial, time-critical thing; a strong healer can work through a group that's slow (or negligent) on the DPS draw. Simply multi-DoT through the phase, keeping the bulk of the pressure on the Ice Tomb.

When the boss's health hits 30%, Thrall casts Bloodlust. Treat this like any other cast of Bloodlust -- send your Shadowfiend out immediately prior to Bloodlust; refresh your Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague immediately following Bloodlust.

As far as treasure goes, there are two important Arcurion drops. The first is the Chillbane Belt, a hit-plus-mastery item with an inexpensive-to-fill blue socket. The second is the Urgent Twilight Missive, an item that starts a quest to defeat the final boss of the instance. If this is your first time through the instance, be sure to loot the item and then accept the quest before moving on.

Asira Dawnslayer

Ah, Ms. Dawnslayer. How I despise you. Hands down, this is the most caster-unfriendly fight in Cataclysm.

If you get hit with Dawnslayer's Mark of Silence debuff -- and really, it's inevitable you will -- the boss will throw a blade at you if you dare attack her with a spell. That blade, if it hits you, will Silence you, effectively interrupting your next spellcast and making you do nothing for 2 seconds. This mechanic can be avoided, however. Ideally, you should position yourself just behind the tank (or Thrall). This way, when Dawnslayer throws a knife at you, it actually hits and silences the tank instead. When the mechanic feels like working, that is. In my experience, it's something of a crapshoot.

Now, if that silencing mechanic didn't make things bad enough, Asira Dawnslayer can also call Choking Smoke Bomb. When your view is obscured by the smoky area, you won't be able to fling spells at her. The tank will need to reposition the boss, and you'll need to reposition yourself behind the tank again. All told, it feels like an annoying exercise -- there's nothing exciting about a lot of low-stakes movement and an inability to act.

The only good thing about this fight is the Rising Fire mechanic. Thrall will throw down a totem that applies a stacking buff of you every 5 seconds. Ideally, you'll want to be close to the totem to take advantage, but because of the constant movement and forced positioning to avoid silencing, this is sometimes impossible. C'est la vie! Just try to refresh your DoTs immediately before the buff expires, if you perceive the event to be an inevitability.

And after all that work, what's your reward? The Cloak of Subtle Light, a simple i378 back piece with spirit and mastery. She's also got a chance to drop the Ornate Weapon, if you're a Darkmoon Faire fan (or a fan of selling Darkmoon Faire items on the Auction House).

Archbishop Benedictus

One of the coolest twists of the Cataclysm expansion is the act of Archbishop Benedictus' turning traitor. During the Cataclysm beta, learning that Benedictus is an agent of Deathwing was part of the Alliance chain to get into Twilight Highlands. Thankfully, that scrubbed plot point finally made it into the game ... even if playing the beta lessened its impact a bit.

On my first run through of this fight, I really didn't know much about the mechanics and kind of muddled my way through it. That's kind of the beauty of being a shadow priest. When in doubt, Disperse throughout. And that's my advice to you: If you want to trivialize Benedictus's attacks, you can just use Dispersion.

Technically, this boss has two forms, a light form and dark form. There's not much difference between them, save for the fact that Thrall will be helping out during the initial light phase. Stay spread out to trivialize the boss' Righteous Shear/Twilight Shear. When he casts his Purifying Light or Corrupting Twilight, he'll be attacking your position with a magical orb. You can actually avoid getting hit by these, and since they hit pretty hard, you should try to do so. Failing that, they'll create a void zone, so ... well, you'll have to move anyway. Just move.

The most important of his attacks are the Wave of Virtue (phase 1) and Wave of Agony (phase 2). For the light-flavored version, avoiding death is as simple as getting inside Thrall's water bubble. For the dark-flavored version, you have to find the gap in the wall. Or, as I said earlier, you can just Disperse through it and laugh in the face of game mechanics. Your rules do not matter to us! We are shadow priests!

As you might expect of a priest gone bad, Archbishop Benedictus drops a lot of cool stuff appropriate for shadow priests. The Stalk of Corruption, a i378 two-handed staff with haste and mastery, is especially well itemized for us. He also drops the hit-plus-mastery Mantle of False Virtue. And on your first time through, defeating Benedictus will give you the opportunity of choosing two great quest rewards. The first quest, To Wyrmrest!, requires you to choose between the spirit-plus-haste Safeguard Gloves and the hit-plus-haste Ring of the Loyal Companion. The second, The Twilight Prophet, starts with the Urgent Twilight Missive dropped by either of the first two bosses. It requires you to choose between the hit-plus-crit Writhing Wand and the spirit-plus-haste Signet of the Twilight Prophet.

See also:

Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? We've got more for shadow priests, from Shadow Priest 101 to a list of every monster worth mind controlling and strategies for raiding Blackwing Descent.