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Spiritual Guidance: A shadow priest year in review, 2011 edition

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 the founder of several ill-fated boy bands.

Happy New Year 2012, shadow priests! I rather love the holiday. Not necessarily because it gives my friends the opportunity to slap me in the face five times over the course of 30 minutes -- which this year, it absolutely did. It's because I love to reminisce. And now that 2011 is officially in the history books, I can finally look back at a really awesome year for shadow priests.

When we were standing here almost exactly one year ago doing our 2010 shadow priest year in review, there was a lot to talk about. We'd seen one expansion end and another expansion begin. But don't think that just because we "only had Cataclysm" that 2011 was a boring year. We learned a lot. For starters, we all learned:
  • We learned that after a long period of neglect throughout Wrath, shadow priests not only did competitive damage in Cataclysm but, in multiple raid fights, were a chart-topping DPS spec.
  • We learned that Tyler Caraway's crippling sense of neediness would lead him to move halfway across the country to literally live down the street from America's favorite shadow priest.
  • We learned that we'd be getting pandas. Shadow pandas.
And that's just for starters.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Priest healing the Madness of Deathwing and heroic Dragon Soul

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 is it -- the last priest healing boss guide of the expansion! (After this, it's pandas or bust, baby!) Are you excited? You should be, because the last boss fight of Cataclysm is a loot piñata that's actually easier than the second to last fight a lot of fun! Hopefully, you all remember the drill from last week ... You want to familiarize yourself with the mechanics of this fight before progressing further into this guide. LearnToRaid.com has a nice video guide for Madness of Deathwing, and Icy Veins has an excellent written guide.

Priests of either spec should know that cooldown management is the key to succeeding in this encounter as a priest. The encounter as a whole is not particularly difficult, but using your regen cooldowns at the right time will pave the way for you to hold onto just enough mana from start to finish. I recommend using your first Shadowfiend after the Mutated Corruption dies on the first platform, and your first Hymn of Hope just after jumping over to the second platform. Your second Shadowfiend should be used as soon as it becomes available, which will allow you to pair your third Shadowfiend and second Hymn of Hope together (just like we used to always do it in Wrath -- cast Shadowfiend, then immediately follow it up with Hymn of Hope). From there, use everything on cooldown, and you should be sitting pretty for mana the whole fight.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Healing priest strategies for Warmaster Blackhorn and Spine of Deathwing

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.

Assuming you survived last week without turning into a puddle of priestly sludge or quitting your guild (cough, cough), it's now time to move on to the sixth and seventh encounters in Dragon Soul, Warmaster Blackhorn and Spine of Deathwing. Just like last week, I want to remind you that you'll need to be familiar with the basic mechanics of these encounters to follow along with my priest healing guide. For Warmaster Blackhorn, try checking out LearnToRaid.com for a video guide and Icy Veins for a written guide.

Warmaster Blackhorn is a pretty straightforward fight as far as healing is concerned. The key is to keep your eyes open to what is going on instead of staring intently at your raid frame the whole time. Much of the healing required will be in response to effects you'll see on the ground first, so if you're good at clicking players instead of health bars, you'll be way ahead of the game.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priesting the Well of Eternity

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.

Greetings, fellow time travelers! Last week, we had a lot of fun creating all sorts of terrible paradoxes as we shadow priested through the End Time futurespace. So much fun, in fact, that after a quick stop at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart for supplies, I figured we'd continue our time traveling journey this week. But instead of moving forward in time, we're moving backwards -- all the way back to the Well of Eternity.

If you're doing these new patch 4.3 5-man heroics in order, Well of Eternity is the second you'll come across. There are three boss fights, but in my opinion, the first is the most enjoyable. The reason is a pretty selfish one: the Shadow Walk/Shadow Ambusher buffs that can turbocharge a shadow priest's DPS into the stratosphere.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Priest healing for Dragon Soul's Hagara and Ultraxion

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.

Picking up where we left off the other week, today's Spiritual Guidance will cover the fourth and fifth bosses in Dragon Soul. The first up is Hagara the Stormbinder. Before we jump right in please make sure you're familiar with the basic mechanics and strategy of the fight; I will be examining the fight specifically from a healing priest's point of view. For Hagara, I recommend getting acquainted with the fight through the video guide at LearnToRaid.com or the written guide at Icy Veins.

Healing priests of either spec should be mindful that Hagara's ice phase is probably going to be where players are at the greatest risk of death. Fortunately, Leap of Faith is the perfect way to intervene, provided you remember a few things. The obvious one first is that you should make sure you're well ahead of the Ice Wave before you use it. It's easy to get caught up in the wave yourself if you try to stop and cast, and the extra second required to orient yourself properly for a life grip could be a second too long if you're not careful. Next, take care to ensure you're not pulling your ally into an equally treacherous spot when you use Leap of Faith. Pulling someone away from the Ice Wave just so they can be hit by an Icicle is cleary counterproductive (although somewhat comical, depending on who you're saving).

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Shadow priesting the End Time heroic

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.

Recently, I've found myself playing World of Warcraft more and more. It's all because of my new shadow priest I finished leveling on Horde side. Even more specifically, it's because of the new 5-man heroics in patch 4.3. There's nothing I like more than fresh content.

The first of the three new 5-man instances is called End Time. It's got a great concept: You travel forward in time to a post-apocalyptic Dragonblight nightmarescape. In this (soon-to-be) false future, Deathwing was not stopped and the maddened Echos of faction leaders roam a destroyed world. With treasure. As a level 85 shadow priest, it's your duty to travel to End Time, beat up the baddies, steal their loot, and ignore all the terrible time paradoxes your action undoubtably causes.

There are five different bosses in End Time. Your party will randomly face two of four different Echoes (Baine, Jaina, Sylvanas, Tyrande). After beating the first two bosses, your party will teleport to the Bronze Dragonshrine to face off against the dragon Murozond in what is arguably the most fun 5-man fight of the entire expansion.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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).

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

Spiritual Guidance: Healing priest strategies for Dragon Soul's first 3 bosses

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 week, we'll be looking at how to heal on your priest through Morchok, Warlord Zon'ozz, and Yor'sahj the Unsleeping.

If you haven't read one of my boss healing guides before, let me give you the same ol' disclaimer I always give ... This guide focuses on the specifics details of how to heal as a discipline or holy priest within a given encounter. It assumes you have a basic understanding of the fight, and it will not typically explain mechanics or general strategy. If you are unfamiliar with a fight, please review the links at the beginning of each boss subsection.

I also think it's worth mentioning that these guides will seem a bit excessive to players experiencing these encounters exclusively through the Raid Finder.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: New patch 4.3 shadow priest gear

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.

Gear. It makes the world go round. And though we like to say that we mess around in heroics and raids for the thrill of victory, let's face it -- if we didn't get those shiny new purples, we wouldn't obsess over victory so much.

If such virtual treasure fuels you, today's column is for you. Whether you prefer to run the new 5-man heroics, mess around in the Raid Finder, or even just shop around on the Auction House, there's some terrific new gear out there.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Healing priests in patch 4.3

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.

Like a sperm whale (or a bowl of petunias), patch 4.3 might be hitting live servers this week. Whichever it is, it's going to be a big one, so I figured I'd piece together a small guide for holy and discipline priests that recaps, follows up, and aggregates tons of stuff you might have forgotten or completely missed about the patch.

I'll also be addressing that little talent calculator that popped in for a visit in the middle of last week and wiped its feet all over my clean carpet.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: Mists of Pandaria spell and talent changes for shadow priests

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.

When we first talked about the new-for-Mists of Pandaria talent trees after BlizzCon, there were still a lot of questions to be answered. The main question, of course, was this: What will happen to all the talents that were removed from the old Cataclysm-era trees?

Well, wonder no more. Last night, Blizzard went live with an all-new MoP talent calculator. Not only does it contain the new talents we talked about last month, but it also contains a list of what spells will be baseline for what specs and when they're learned.

"Don't worry," Blizzard noted. "If you don't see your favorite talent, we've probably just given it to your spec automatically while leveling." And it's true -- shadow priests get a lot of good stuff as baseline abilities, and we're getting a lot of it sooner than you'd expect. But not every shadow priest spell and ability made the cut. In fact, if they all make it to the live version of the game, there are some very surprising changes, additions, and omissions.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Mists of Pandaria

Spiritual Guidance: Patch 4.3 raid gear for holy and discipline priests

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.

I've always hated patch day, and not for the reasons you'd think. The servers' being down doesn't bother me, and neither do broken addons or occasional lag. What bothers me is that after spending a few straight months piecing together a good-looking outfit, I'm suddenly forced into a situation where all my gear will inevitably start to mismatch as I acquire upgrades.

That's why this upcoming patch is so amazing ... Transmogrification means I can transmogrify my new gear to match what I'm wearing until I have enough pieces to swap over to a new outfit. I know that's not as exciting as transmogrifying all my gear into a cool RP outfit, but after thinking about it for a while, I think I'd prefer to keep all my RP gear in my bags for special occasions. That way they're always special, since people will only see them once in a while.

Anyway, a new patch is right around the corner, which means shiny new priest gear is on its way too! In preparation for this, I've made a gear list for priests to reference as we progress into the newest content in the coming months.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: A shadow priest's first look into 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 darkness to bask in your loving adoration and grant you one birthday wish ...

Let's start off today's column with a question to you, the reader: How did you get your start raiding?

Me, I got my start in the PUG raiding circuit of yore. Someone would spam trade chat with their need for one ranged DPS for whatever raid instance happened to be in fashion at the time. I'd whisper them, hoping to snag that elusive slot (and believe me, as a DPSer, that slot was very elusive). Generally, I had no idea what I was doing while in the raids. I knew not to stand in stuff and to target whatever had the skull over its head.

I was a pretty lousy PUG raider. Let's face it -- we all were. PUG raids aren't known for their rates of success. Which is why I was intrigued when Blizzard announced its new Raid Finder system, coming in patch 4.3. Could Blizzard have found a way to make PUG raiding ... bearable?

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

Spiritual Guidance: Further thoughts on priest healing in Pandaria

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.

A few weeks back at BlizzCon 2011 when the Mists of Pandaria talents were first unveiled, I spoke at length with fellow priest Oestrus about her thoughts on the new talents. One of the things she proposed was very interesting to me, that the new talent system might spell the end of the strong distinction between disc and holy. The idea was that since holy and disc priests would be able to use each other's talents now, it might blur the edge between discipline and holy to a point that we'd start thinking of ourselves more as healing priests, rather than disc priests or holy priests.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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