Light & Leafy

Priesting in Cataclysm Part One: Leveling!

Posted on: December 6, 2010

When I was a newbie priest, a certain someone hooked me onto WoW by promising two things: 1. he would level with me so I could heal all the way to 70. 2. I would have a  veritable menagerie of cute companions that could follow me around at all times. The second point was accumulated along the way, though upon my first login I was presented with a white kitten and a snowshoe hare =)

E. followed through on his end of the bargain; we leveled all the way to 70 together – he pulling every mob in site and me gleefully smashing as many of my heal buttons as I could to keep him alive. It was all I really knew (for awhile anyway). After awhile my isolated bubble of WoW existence turned into a running joke which then morphed into an issue of pride. Even now I can honestly say that Edainne (on Terenas, not her clone) has never once been spec’d shadow. And as silly as it seems, it’s so much a part of her character (or what I envision her to be), that it’s not something I want to let go of lightly.

So, part of my preparation for Cataclysm was to create a Disc/Holy oriented spec  to level with. And now I’d like to share it with all the other masochists healing enthusiasts out there who want to keep their beloved priests smiting away. A couple of notes before we begin:

  • This is my core spec starting at level 80. The talent points you gain along the way can be used creatively.
  • I am NOT gearing this towards people who will be chain running instances. Personally, I like experiencing the lore and story lines that go into questing. I also get endlessly frustrated by random dungeons, and this is supposed to be a FUN experience, not a hair-pulling one.
  • This is NOT the quickest way to level. If your goal is to get to 85 as fast as draeneily possible (or dwarvenly or gnomely or whichever race you choose to play), this is probably not the way for you.
  • On that note, from what I’ve seen in the Beta, it is a little bit slower going leveling as a healer. I think they purposely didn’t try to tune the outside world for healers to level with because duel specs are very easy to come by nowadays, and it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that most people have some sort of DPS offspec.
  • My plan for leveling is to use one of the below specs for questing, and then having a “normal” PvE spec for healing instances with.

Part One: The Discipline Spec

Pros: Bubbles actually last the duration of a fight; reflective shield is AWESOME ; more mana efficient; smite heals you!

Cons: Slightly less damage done than a holy spec; getting low on health can easily turn into a death sentence

The Spec, tier by tier:

Tier 1:

Improved Power Word: Shield (2/2) – Because when you’re fighting mobs that can actually kill you, you want that extra bubble!

Twin Disciplines (3/3) – More damage = killing faster = faster leveling and/or less time getting acquainted with the ground

Tier 2:

Evangelism (2/2) and Archangel (1/1) – Basically each time you smite, you gain a buff that will reduce the mana cost and increase the damage of your smite, holy fire and penance. When you activate Archangel, you’ll consume the stacks of Evangelism refunding 3% of your total mana pool for each stack. It not only keeps you from going out of mana, but the wings are SO pretty. /love

Soul  Warding (2/2) : Reduces the cool down of your shields!

Inner Sanctum (1/2): I used this to jump down to the next tier. It increases the effectiveness of your Inner Fire or Inner Will. If you’re having mana issues, another choice could be Mental Agility (1/3) to reduce the mana cost of instant cast spells.

Tier 3:

Renewed Hope (2/2) – Increasing the effectiveness of most of your heals on a target with Weakened Soul (i.e. you) just seems like a good idea when mobs can bring you to half health in one shot

Power Infusion (1/1)- Because who doesn’t want a mini heroism?

Atonement (2/2)- Your smites heal you! No more wasting time healing when you can just kill  your way back to full health!

Inner Focus (1/1) - Because having a free heal is always a good thing

Tier 4:

Rapture (3/3) – Your shields will break often while questing. Might as well have your enemies restore mana while they’re at it!

Borrowed Time (2/2) – Again, since you’re likely to be recasting your shields every time you enter (or are about to enter) combat, it just makes sense to grant your Penace/Holy Fire/Smite a bit of haste.

Reflective Shield (2/2) – Because who doesn’t love going “neener neener neener” when a Twilight Cultist attacks you only to be smote by the power of your holy goodness!

Tier 5:

Divine Aegis (3/3) – Because you can never have too many bubbles. And it leads to the only spell that made me consider going Discipline full time.

Pain Suppression (1/1) – This is just one of those obvious choices once you start questing in Hyjal or Vash’jr and repeatedly get your face pounded in by geblins or cultists.

Tier 6:

Focused Will (2/2) – It’s not really that impressive if an enemy can take 10% of your health in one swing, seeing as you’re light filled, cloth wearing squishy. Which makes it awesome that as soon as they do, you take reduced damage for the next 8 seconds.

Grace (2/2) – When you’re soloing, chances are this buff will only stack on you (unless you have a penchant for healing any random passerby which, hi! totally understand that!), and increased healing is always a good thing!

Tier 7:

Power Word: Barrier (1/1) – This spell makes me SO happy. And, while in the beta, it got me through a lot of quests I was convinced I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise (not even Guardian Spirit was working on those pulls).

3 Remaining Points – What can I do!

My favorite choices for the last three points you have as a level 80 are either Darkness for the haste buff or Veiled Shadows for the increased uptime on Shadowfiend. Either should be fine choices. You can also put points into Divine Fury to reduce the cast time on your smite and heal spells.

Discipline felt like a great spec for leveling because I never felt the need to constantly heal myself or sit and drink between pulls. I did feel like I killed things a bit slower than I did as holy though.

Part Two : The Holy Spec

Pros: Feels like it hits harder than Discipline; bigger heals when needed; fun chakra states; Chastise!!!

Cons: Less mana efficient; smaller bubbles lead to more push back; no smite heals or power word: barrier /sad panda

Tier One:

Divine Fury (3/3) – Because who wants a slow smite?

Improved Renew (2/2) – Now with 10% more healing to keep you alive after the bubble fails!

Empowered Healing (3/3) – As a holy priest, you’ll be healing yourself more than your discipline counterparts (damn them and their bubble mastery!)

Tier 2:

Surge of Light (2/2) – Free  instant heals that proc when I cast smite?! Yes, please!

Inspiration (2/2)  – Damage reduction is always helpful while soloing.

*Editor’s Note* Yes, you can take Desperate Prayer (the instant self heal with a 2 minute cooldown), but I happen to prefer to put my points elsewhere since I already have 2 free heals from being a Draenei herbalist.

Tier 3:

Holy Concentration (2/2)  – As a holy priest, smiting isn’t exactly mana friendly, so the more in combat regeneration, the better!

Lightwell (1/1) – I found in the beta that if I put this in the middle of a group of mobs and then pulled them to me one at a time, I used a lot mess mana healing myself than alternating smite with heal.

Tome of Light (2/2) – The more often I can stun an enemy with Chastise and prevent them from hitting me, the happier I am!

Tier 4:

Spirit of Redemption (1/1) – The iconic holy priest flail angel! How could you NOT take it?

Serendipity (2/2) – When you’re really in a pickle, and flash heals just aren’t doing the trick, a quick greater heal is just the pick-me-up you need!

*Editor’s Note* Tier 4 for holy priest doesn’t offer much by way of offensive or defensive spells. If there are other talents in earlier tiers, go for them! I’m a sucker for nostalgia and nothing quite makes me think of a holy priest as much as Spirit of Redemption.

Tier 5:

Body and Soul (2/2) – When you absolutely, positively have to get there on time! (Or cleanse a poison….)

Chakra (1/1) – Chakra: Smite is an integral part of a holy priest’s arsenal while soloing, increasing damage done by holy and shadow spells by 15%

Revelations (1/1) – Switching your Holy Word: Chastise to correspond with your chakra state. I found it helpful to enter the prayer of healing chakra during certain encounters so that I was able to use Holy Word: Sanctuary as a boost to my survivability.

Blessed Resilience (2/2) – Like Focused Will, it’s dependent on taking 10% of your health in damage in one hit, which isn’t especially hard to do as a clothie. Another good talent for staying alive while questing.

Tier 6:

Test of Faith (2/3) – Increased healing when you’re below 50% health (it’s surprising how much harder it is to fill your health bar once it’s crossed the half-way point).

State of Mind (2/2) – Now you don’t have to worry about your smite chakra falling away so easily!

Circle of Healing (1/1) –  Because it’s fun, instant, and I love it!

Tier 7:

Guardian Spirit (1/1) – The ultimate “oh crap” button. Saving yourself from certain death when nothing else will!

Wait, what about all the extra points I have?!

I like going into any of the shadow talents above (especially veiled shadows because I find my shadowfiend to be a helpful companion in taking down the resilient cataclysm mobs). There’s also the option of branching into Discipline for Twin Disciplines and Improved Shields.

Leveling as a holy priest requires a lot more active healing than as a discipline priest. Bubbles seem to run out a lot faster than I had expected or gotten used to in Wrath. That being said, the smites do hit harder, and the chastise goes a long way in dealing with mobs. The best pattern I found for effective holy priest leveling in the beta was to cast two offensive spells, then a heal and repeat that pattern (putting up power word:shield and chastising whenever available) until the mob dies.

The glyphs for both specs are actually quite similar. I like using whichever Prime Glyphs are my favorites (for Discipline, it’s Barrier, Shield and Penance and for Holy it’s Guardian Spirit, Renew and Lightwell), and focusing on the major glyphs to take care of my smites – Divine Accuracy (so I don’t miss often), Smite (so I do more damage) and Psychic Scream (so I can have another way of keeping mobs from hitting me without accidentally aggroing more).

So this is my tentative plan for Cataclysm’s release on Tuesday. I’m pretty confident that I can level as a healer to 85 without chain running instances (I’ve done it before), and it’ll be one of those fun challenges I’ll look back on fondly once it’s over.

Or I’ll realize how absurd I’ve been acting. One or the other….

How are you all changing your specs around to accommodate your leveling styles?

2 Responses to "Priesting in Cataclysm Part One: Leveling!"

I am just finishing up leveling a priest that was almost always disc, or holy. Leveling as a healing spec wasn’t too bad but it gets pretty tedious when you get to Deepholm and have to kill quest NPCs with 200k to 700k hp. Some of the fights really dragged on and you couldn’t wait for your shadow fiend to come off cooldown for the extra damage. On the flip side I think I only died maybe 5 times from 1-84, the survivability is crazy.

For survivability, it really is a viable way to level. Though, I didn’t survive too well in zones where mobs were respawning faster than I could kill them (the “indoor” area of Hyjal with the Iron Dwarves, Elementals and the boss-like dragon being the shining example in my mind).

I do agree, though. I was frequently hoping for my shadowfiend to come do more damage for me. I’ve been leveling my druid and shaman in the down time, and the difference doing it with a dps spec is kind of remarkable.

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