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WoW Priest Guide: Combat

Updated Fri, Aug 19, 2011 by Mem

Now that you have completed the arduous task of picking a spec for your Priest, it’s time to move on to even more important matters. Now you must learn how to play your Priest. Be aware that most of your skill will come from experience and much trial and error, but we here at Ten Ton Hammer can at least point you in the right direction.

Priest Solo Play

Soloing as a Priest can be a tricky, yet rewarding experience. Priests are notoriously squishier than some of the other classes available in World of Warcraft therefore they can easily find themselves in sticky situations. Thankfully a Priest (no matter the spec) is well equipped with a variety of spells to prevent certain doom.

Be sure all possible self buffs are active, you are fully healed and make the pull. Defeat the mob using pretty much any spell rotation you want, in solo play which spells you use matters very little. However, solo play is a prime place to experiment and familiarize yourself with your spells which can be a great help when you finally make the move into group play.

Discipline Priest Healing

Discipline Priests as mentioned in the Basics section of this guide, focus more on mitigating damage than really healing it. If you take a quick glance over the Discipline tree you will find that many of the talents found there mirror this sentiment. Because of this Discipline Priests are excellent choices as tank healers, however they can also heal multiple targets if needed.

For single target healing Disc Priests will want to either use Strength of Soul and Heal to ultimately reduce the duration of Weakened Soul which in turn will allow for more Power Word: Shields, or using Smite to reduce the cool down of Penance. If you are asked to raid heal, the Disc Priest should use Atonement to heal the melee and use Borrowed Time to quicken Prayer of Healing to take care of the ranged groups. On top of this be sure to keep Prayer of Mending up at all times.

Familiarize yourself with your spells, know what they are, how to use them and how much mana each consumes. Also don’t be afraid to experiment. While the suggestions above are useful, they are not the be all end all of healing, so play around and find out what feels right to you. Not to mention that healing in World of Warcraft is constantly changing, so finding new a better strategies is never a bad thing.

Check out our Ultimate Healing Guide for even more healing goodness.

Holy Priest Healing

Holy Priests like Discipline Priests, can fulfill any healing role in raid, however currently they really shine in the role of the raid healer. And the Holy Priest is well equipped with a variety of tools to help them not only fill, but excel in this role. However, despite their plethora of tools, healing as Holy is still a difficult task especially with the removal of Blanket-Healing (the steady application of HoTs to counter consistent raid-wide damage) and the increase in overall health pools.

In Cataclysm bosses typically deal out large amounts of burst damage, which unlike the bosses of the past usually allows players plenty of time to heal their raid members back to full health. However, if a players health does drop drastically try not to panic. Instead continue healing everyone up to full health as quickly and efficiently as possible. The best Holy Priest (or any healer for that matter) is one who knows how to conserve mana while still managing to keep their targets alive.

In Cataclysm bosses typically deal out large amounts of burst damage, which unlike the bosses of the past usually allows players plenty of time to heal their raid members back to full health. However, if a players health does drop drastically try not to panic. Instead continue healing everyone up to full health as quickly and efficiently as possible. The best Holy Priest (or any healer for that matter) is one who knows how to conserve mana while still managing to keep their targets alive.

One of the most important (and sometimes confusing) Priest spells to date is Chakra. Chakra is automatically activated it affects the next compatible spell that the Priest casts and will stay active until one is used. Chakra can be used with Heal, Prayer of Mending, Smite, or Prayer of Healing. What spell you choose to activate Chakra with, will determine with spells gain a buff from it. On top of this buff, the Priest has taken the Revelations talent, Holy Word: Chastise will also transform into either Holy Word: Serenity or Holy Word Sanctuary. Chakra is a powerful tool, use it wisely and well.

While Chakra is a staple spell, the Holy Priest can effectively make use of almost every spell in their arsenal, so be sure to go over your healing spells and familiarize yourself with how they work, how much mana they use, and how much healing output they provide. From this you should be able to garner when and how to use the spells and which should only be used in emergency situations (those that cost a ton of mana especially). From here you need to get out there and heal, start out small in 5 man instances and then work your way to the top, trial and error is the ultimate teacher.

Check out our Ultimate Healing Guide for even more healing goodness.

Shadow Priest Damage

The Shadow Priest is like freakish combination of a Mage and a Warlock all rolled into one class. Shadow Priests can do incredible single target DPS, like the mage, however, a portion of their damage comes from the use of DoT (damage-over-time) spells. Currently Shadow Priests are some of the hardest hitters in the damage department and can easily top the meters when played correctly.

Shadow Priests will also obtain Shadow Orbs, a buff that procs from using Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Flay. Shadow Orbs can stack up to three times. Shadow Orbs increase the Shadow Priest’s Mind Blast or Mind Spike depending on the Priest’s mastery rating. When Mind Blast is used with the Orbs up the Priest receives a buff called Empowered Shadows. This buff is essential to Shadow Priest DPS and should be kept active at all times.

Other Important Priest Spells

Fade Available at a rather low level, Fade causes the Priest to temporaruky "fade out" of exsitence. This reduces all threat for 10 seconds, however, once Fade ends all threat will be returned to the Priest.
Inner Fire Available at level 7, Inner Fire is a 30 minute self-cast buff that is available to all Priests. Increasing both armor and spell power Inner Fire is especially useful in a solo setting, but can also provide great benefit during group play.
Shadowfiend The Shadowfiend is a very valuable tool for both healing and DPS. When cast a Shadowfiend spawns that will fight for the Priest for 15 seconds Each time the Shadowfiend lands and attack the Priest who cast the spell gains a portion of mana back based on the Shadowfiend's damage.

Managing Priest Aggro (Threat)

One of the most important things that every Priest should know, regardless of spec, is how to manage their aggro. Remember, a dead Priest is a useless Priest. To begin let's go over a simple definition of aggro and how it works.

Aggro is the rated aggression or threat that a mob has towards a certain player. Each mob has a table that tracks the threat points for all targets that it is currently aware of. Ingoring abilities that generate extra threat, each point of damage generates one point of threat. The mob will attack (aggro) the target it has the most threat points against.

Threat gain can become very complicated and confusing, especially when large groups of mobs are pulled. Almost any action a player takes (heals, shields, damage) will gain aggro on one or more mobs. Learning what to cast, when to cast, and when to stop casting will only really come after much trial and error. However, for an easy way to guage your threat gain consider downling one of many great threat meters (such as Omen) available. Or if you don't like to download addons simply make use of the simple one provided by Blizzard in game.

Priests are especially lucky in that they have a special spell called Fade (mentioned in the above section) that reduces their aggro. Use this whenever you find yourself in a sticky situation.



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