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Spiritual Guidance: How to get your shadow priest started with the Raid Finder

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.

There's a lot of great content stuffed into the recent patch 4.3, but let's face it -- we're always going to be drawn to the content that has the best gear available. We can't help it. It's programmed in our shadow priest DNA. So while patch 4.3 has some sweet new 5-man instances with it, the real lure seems to be the new Raid Finder tool. What was once reserved for the hardest-core of players is now accessible by just about anyone with an hour and a half to spare. We can all, with the help of 24 complete strangers, defeat Deathwing. (Yes, that's a good thing.)

Before you try queueing up for the Raid Finder, though, you need to know some basics. A new level 85 player will still need to navigate the gear ladder. More importantly, though, all players need to know what the hell they're doing during the fights. Let's talk strategy, shadow priest style.

To use the Raid Finder tool to attempt the new-for-patch 4.3 Dragon Soul content, you're going to need a minimum average item level of 372. Like previous ilevel gates, you don't actually need to be equipped past an item level of 372; you merely need to have that gear in your bags or bank. This is good to know (considering how, for example, the i359 Darkmoon Card: Volcano remains a better trinket than the i365 Moonwell Chalice or i378 Rune of Zeth).

For a newly minted level 85 player, though, getting past that i372 hurdle is easier said than done. You may have to follow the standard Cataclysm gear progression, to some extent:
  • Run random non-heroics and quest in the Twilight Highlands to acquire i333s.
  • Then run regular heroics to acquire i346s.
  • Then run ZA and ZG to acquire i353s.
  • Then run End Time, Hour of Twilight, and Well of Eternity to acquire i378s.
Of course, there's no reason why you can't shortcut the system. Running random non-heroics and regular heroics will award you justice points. You can visit the Valor Quartermasters in Orgrimmar (Grommash Hold) or Stormwind (Command Center, Old Town) to buy i378 gear. I recommend starting with your powerful Cleansing Flame tier 12 gear, namely the gloves, vestment, and leggings. You can also buy a number of i378 BoE pieces off the Auction House fairly cheaply -- the Firesoul Wristguards, for example, often cost under 1,000 gold.

Learn the fights (sorta)

Any idiot can queue up for the Raid Finder. But we're not idiots -- we're shadow priests. We want to know at least something about the individual fights before we jump into the deep end of the pool.

Now, you may have heard the Raid Finder fights are dumbed-down versions of the regular Dragon Soul raid. To some extent, that's true. There are fewer mechanics to know. But it's definitely not a faceroll -- for some groups, the Raid Finder is a nightmare. You still have to be able to grasp the basics of the fights you're about to face.

Morchok

The first boss you'll face off against in Siege of Wrymrest is Morchok, a good starter-level encounter (and boring reskin). It's no more difficult than a run-of-the-mill heroic battle in terms of mechanics, though Morchok does have a lot more health than a heroic 5-man boss.

You do need to be on the lookout for crystals the boss drops. A good seven people per raid will need to stack immediately on top of the dropped crystals to soak damage. As a spec with passive damage reduction (thanks to Shadowform and Inner Sanctum), we're best suited for the task. Stacking on these is a priority. Use the time while running to refresh any instant-cast spells you may have available for use or fire off a quick Shadow Word: Death.

After dropping about three crystals or so, Morchok will suck in the raid group and paralyze it briefly. During this time, he'll drops giant stones from the sky at random and bleed out some bad. Do not stand in the bad. If you forget to not get out of the bad, use Dispersion to buy yourself some time and get the hell out of the bad. The only safe place from the bad will be immediately behind the dropped stones. Normally, this might cause some line-of-sight issues, but you can peek out from just over the stone's edge and DPS safely while he's still bleeding. Just watch your health bar to verify you're not standing in poison.

Otherwise, the fight is simple. There are no adds. Just DPS the hell out of Morchok per usual and collect your loot!

Warlord Zon'ozz

Often the second boss encountered in Siege of Wyrmrest, Warlord Zon'ozz is easy -- provided you know what to do to beat him. Thankfully, like Morchok, the mechanics involved are somewhat simple.

The main gimmick here is the bouncing ball. Each time it hits a player, it does about 180k damage divided among all those nearby then reverses direction. The general idea here is to bounce the ball between the ranged and the melee players about five times total, and then have the ball hit Zon'ozz. Each bounce will apply another stack of a debuff to Zon'ozz that increases the damage he takes.

Make sure you stay tightly grouped as ranged DPSers to better spread the damage from ball collisions. If you can, save your cooldowns for immediately after Zon'ozz is hit by the ball, to maximize their effect. Again, there are no adds here -- focus on keeping the boss loaded with DoTs.

Yor'sahj the Unsleeping

The third boss is one of the most challenging of the Raid Finder fights, mainly because it includes adds. Yor'sahj will periodically summon three slimes, but your raid is only allowed to kill one. Yor'sahj absorbs the other two.

Priority is important: Purple, if present, is the most important to kill. Then yellow. Then red/black. Single-target the slimes -- you might not have time to run a full complement of DoTs, so Mind Spike works well here.

Depending on what slimes Yor'sahj summons, your raid may have to deal with extra adds after the absorption. The blue slime will summon a Mana Void that will temporarily reduce your mana to next to nothing. Defeating a Mana Void is a priority; your leeched mana will be refunded when it dies, provided you're standing within 100 yards. A black slime will summon many tiny Forgotten One adds -- stay targeted on the boss and Mind Sear them down.

In between dealing with adds, keep up the pressure on Yor'sahj with DoTs. It may take a few attempts, but once everyone is on the same page regarding adds, the fight should go smoothly.

Hagara the Stormbinder

Hagara the Stormbinder, the final boss in Wyrmrest, goes through a handful of different phases. The most basic of these for shadow priests is when Hagara is unprotected by a shield. If you can attack her, that's what you should be doing.

Otherwise, there are two different shield phases. The first, Frozen Tempest, is ice-themed. This phase is somewhat simple. Run to the outer ring and DPS the four crystals with your burst spells (Mind Spike, Mind Blast). Avoid the rotating ice wall at all costs. It's easiest to be the one right near the ice wall chasing it, rather than be immediately in front of the ice wall with it chasing you.

The second shield phase is called Lightning Storm. During this phase, Hagara will summon Bound Lightning Elemental adds. They will be tanked to one of the four crystal conductors around the room and DPSed down. When they die, they'll short-circuit the nearest crystal, destroying it. After this short-circuit, nearby players will find themselves bouncing lightning back and forth between them. This does very little damage. Players who are charged with lightning should circle the room, using their own lightning to short-circuit crystals. There's not a lot of DPS involved in that, so it's a great time to pop Dispersion.

When Hagara loses her Lightning Storm shield, she'll take 100% extra damage for 15 seconds. This is the perfect time to unleash all your cooldowns you've been saving (like your Shadowfiend) to maximize their effect.
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.

Filed under: Priest, Raiding, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Cataclysm

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