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Spiritual Guidance: The priests of BlizzCon 2011

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

This past weekend, BlizzCon 2011 brought a plethora of announcements for World of Warcraft. Players can now look forward to pandas, a dramatically new talent system, a Pokémon-style minigame, and lots more. Priests in particular are in for radical changes with the new talents, and while I suspect some of you would like to hear my perspective on things, I'm going to wait a week and see what else unfolds from the blues as they respond to some of the more obvious questions the community is asking. This also gives me the opportunity to follow through with my original plans of introducing you guys to some of the priests I met at BlizzCon 2011.

Rabz, discipline priest of

Through my writing and podcasts, many of you are probably familiar with Kinaesthesia, a holy priest in and my BFF, but do you know who is Rabz is? Rabz is the charismatic disc priest of vodka who I had the opportunity to meet in person for the first time at BlizzCon 2011. Rabz attended the convention to participate in the live raid with the rest of vodka, and afterwards I had a brief chat with him about playing a priest. As a member of the #1 guild in the United States, Rabz offered excellent insights on high-end raiding.

Spiritual Guidance: Tell us about your first priest.

Rabz: My very first character at release was a rogue. Rogues were everywhere and my small guild of friends needed a healer, so I just rolled a priest. That was probably in March of release, and I've been playing the same character the entire time. The exception is during Ahn'Qiraj progression when a friend of mine -- we were both priests -- actually switched characters because his had more gear. I played that priest for about five months, then switched back to my own later.

What's the most epic moment you've had as a priest?

Three-healing heroic Ragnaros. Every single wipe was just soul-crushing. Every single transition ... I mean, half the time it was luck. You've got four or five people that are about to die and you've only got two or three GCDs. You just hope the other healers hit who you didn't choose. You get through those two transitions, and then in phase 3 all of a sudden someone gets hit by Engulfing and you have to do it all over again. It was discouraging for so long, then everything just clicked and we killed it. But it was ridiculous.

As a top raiding priest, is there any advice you want to give?

The first thing mechanical-wise, I really recommend mouseovers. I know a couple healers in my guild don't use it and obviously they do extremely well. But if you've never given mouseover macros a try, I would really suggest finding a simple one. My mouseover macro that I use is one and a half lines long, and I use it for every single spell.

After that, success and failure as a healer is hard to measure. You are a successful healer if you keep people alive to kill the boss. That's all that matters. Your healing per second doesn't matter; no one cares if you do 30,000 healing in some crazy fight. We've had the same five core healers for a year now and all that matters is getting the job done. Drop your ego -- just do your job and save lives. It's really that simple. I could Prayer over resto druid HOTs or spam shields, but if my job is to keep the tank alive, I keep the tank alive. I don't worry about throwing random DPS shields. I trust my teammates to do that.

The other thing I would suggest is to open your eyes to the raid. So much of being a high-level healer is about anticipation. As a priest you can save someone's life with one spell. One good, open-eyed grip or a shield ahead of time ... This is what separates good healers from great healers. A lot of healers just see the raid frame and think it's just reacting to whack-a-mole. But if you're at the point where you're just playing catch-up, you've already lost. You should always be ahead. You should know what's coming up. And if everything is OK, you should be thinking in the back of your head, "Well, this could possibly happen."

Oestrus, holy priest and blogger

One of the best priest blogs out there right now is The Stories of O, written by the holy priest Oestrus. To me, a good class blog should offer well-explained technical information, thoughtful analysis, and constructive opinions. Oestrus nails this and makes things further compelling by throwing in her own snark and personal stories.

At BlizzCon 2011, I had the pleasure of being able to talk with Oestrus a couple of times. Since so much new content was at the event, we ended up talking quite a bit about priests, and I think she's got some great impressions on the direction of the class.

Spiritual Guidance: Tell us about your first priest.

Oestrus: I started out in vanilla, and I admit I didn't really know what I was doing at the time. My first raid, I remember a piece of
Prophecy dropped and I had to ask, "Is this an upgrade?" Very embarrassing, but I learned a lot. I'm really glad I grew up in that time frame, because you really appreciate having to buff 40 people or have a mage conjure everyone food. I feel like those are values that a lot of raiders don't have anymore.

What new ability do you want for priests in the next expansion?

Can it be an improvement of a spell that already exists? I'd really love to see something more done with Spirit of Redemption. I really feel it was strong for a while, and it still could be, but it's not doing anything right now. We have so many tools that could stand to be buffed. Especially with 5.0 giving a lot of us personal cooldowns, I think Spirit of Redemption could be ours. Maybe extend the duration or expand on what it can do. I hate seeing talents go to waste when we have so many good ones.

As a priest blogger, what do you think about the new talents system?

I really like it, especially given that I've had a lot of personal experience with the holy/discipline divide. I have a personal stake in it and have found conflict because I didn't always want to do the spec that everyone thought I should. I like that this will just let me be a healing priest. You can still choose your specialization, but I can get Power Infusion if I'm holy. I like that and I think it's going to take away the insecurity of some holy priests who weren't comfortable going disc or disc priests going holy. Even shadow priests have some really great talents for healers. I like that you're becoming one whole priest now.

Alex, shadow priest and cosplayer

I had it in my mind that at BlizzCon 2011 I'd meet a bunch of priest cosplayers decked out in each of the tier sets and full of fascinating stories about their characters. Unfortunately, I must have missed most of them, because it took me until Saturday night to finally track down a priest cosplayer who played a priest. Who'd have thought reality wouldn't live up to my expectations?

Anyway, on Saturday I scoured the convention hall and the main stage seating for priest cosplayers, but everyone I found was a warlock, a mage, or something not quite as good as a priest ... Then I spotted Alex. She was weaving quickly through the crowded convention center in a beautiful rendition of High Inquisitor Whitemane. I scrambled after her and despite her being in a hurry, she was kind enough to answer a couple of questions.

Spiritual Guidance: Tell us about your first priest.

Alex: My first priest was a Night Elf shadow priest that I rolled in 2006. I loved playing shadow and just being in Shadowform. All the spells we have to cast are just ... awesome.

Since you're cosplaying as a priest, can you tell us why you picked this character in particular?

High Inquistor Whitemane is my favorite character and I really love the Scarlet Crusade. I've always wanted to be her. In game, I roleplay as a Scarlet Crusader and even have her outfit for my character, so I wanted to finally be her.

Are there any other priests or tier sets you'd like to cosplay?

I raided Ahn'Qiraj on my priest, so I'd really like to do the tier that drops in AQ actually. It's not officially a tier set, it's like tier 2.5, but it's gorgeous and I've never seen anyone do it. It's such a beautiful priest set, and it's great for shadow priests.

Is there any advice you want to give to new priests?

It is a little hard at first. A lot of my friends say that priests are really hard and they don't want to play them -- I think because it's cloth. It does take a little skill in the beginning, but once you're higher level, it's awesome. Don't give up.

Ian Beckman, holy priest and machinima artist

One of my favorite machinima artists is Ian Beckman, the creator of Azerothian Super Villains and a few other gems like Perception. Did you know Ian plays a priest, though? Well, he does ... So now you know.

Spiritual Guidance: Tell us about your first priest.

Ian Beckman: The very first character I played was my priest, and I still have the same character to this very day. He's changed faction and moved around servers many different times, but back in 2005 my friends needed a priest, so that's basically why I rolled him. They needed a healer, so I just stuck with it. Back then, you couldn't be a shadow priest; that was very, very not good. Priests were needed for healing, but because I liked that role, I stuck with it into raiding and all sorts of stuff.

What's the most epic moment you have as a priest?

When I was level 59, I got pulled into my very first Onxyia raid. I wasn't even 60, and we killed Onyxia. Now mind you, I am the only level 59 -- and of course, the epic priest hat dropped. It was the best thing you could get in the game then, and I got that hat. I won, and everyone was super pissed-off at me. I couldn't even use it. But I had the hat forever. It was a turban, and it looked like shit. But it was so great. I loved that thing. I was so sad when they changed it.

What do you like about playing a priest?

That's a good question. I like playing the support role. I enjoy helping out the team in a way that is not necessarily being responsible for the tank. I've played as a tank before, and it's a little too stressful for me because I always think I'll mess up. Then again, I heal and I mess up, so ...

Do you ever want to incorporate your priest into your machinima?

My priest has appeared as my avatar character in many, many machinimas. He is always in Prophecy with a Benediction staff, because that's what I used to wear. He's appeared in everything from That's the World of Warcraft That You Play to recent presentations at my company. He's always there.


Anything else you want to say to the community?

This is to everybody: Click the Lightwell.

Spiritual Guidance has the inside line on pre-raid, valor point and raid gear for patch 4.2, as well as priest healing guides for the early and final bosses of The Firelands. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into leveling a healing priest, plus our guides to Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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