Thursday, October 15, 2009

Managing the Priest

I have been writing a whole ton of posts, recently about death knights and tanking, so I decided to take a trip down a different road this morning. Most of you have probably noticed that my priest has been leveling up some and he has indeed been the focus of most of my gaming for the past week. The reason was simple, I had just finished the Tribute to Skill achievement and consciously decided to take a break for something totally different.

And what could be more different than playing a healer? A total opposite to what I usually play, however something I have always, as a tank, felt close to; a bond if you will, between those whom I keep safe and whom struggle and do their very best to not let me be squashed. Aye, never an easy task, but we make due ;)

Achn is actually a character that I have, since inception, been leveling with a partner, my real life partner in fact. Anyone who has not tried it, have my recommendation, for it is a match made in heaven. Her human paladin tanks for me, while I heal and dps for her. I started out all out in holy spec, for I wanted to get to know the class from a healer's point of view. But now, after we have crossed the level 60 threshold, I have moved to two specs; shadow and disc.

I use the shadow spec for our quest marathons, for it is a minor inconvenience for me to occasionally heal her, while doing extra dps to get the mobs down quicker. When going to instances, like the Hellfire Citadel dungeons that we have recently been nearly farming for gear (I know, it is not sexy to care about gear when leveling, but bite me), I will of course go disc.

Why the change from holy to disc? My own personal choice tbh, but I did not very much enjoy the constant threat of ooming as holy. Also, after simply trying disc, with my mana problem removed, I fell in love just the style in which we heal. However, juggling these specs and getting some real healing experience as a level 59 in Hellfire Ramparts, I began to question some of the addons I was using, or rather, the lack of proper ones.

First of all, a proper cast bar. There is no question about it and the only viable option I managed to find was Quartz. There is almost no contest; Quartz is highly configurable and has the most efficient features.

The second a must have addon is ForteXorcist. This is a massive addon, centering around the idea of micro managing all the small whistles that most classes have. These include shards and healthstones for warlocks, cooldowns, spell timers, messages, and so on. The list is almost endless and configuring this mammoth can easily seem daunting. However, it is a lot less complicated than it seems and it truly is invaluable.

The main feature I use for my priest, is the spell timers. I could not possibly live without them, especially in shadow spec, which relies on the exact management of dots on the target to produce quality dps. Xorcist shows me all the spells I have cast on the target, in easy to read rundown bars, with timers.

For my discipline spec, I use the spell timers to keep an eye on my Power Word: Shield and Weakened Soul debuff. Before you say that I can also manage the same by watching the debuff frame, yes, I know and that is what I did before. However, at least in my minimalist UI, the frame is tiny and watching the debuff tick around clock-wise is not very optimal.

Third, but not least, is a reliable way to track your Prayer of Mending. This is actually something I have yet to test, for I will not be able to learn the spell itself until level 68. However, it is something to think and prepare for. One options that I have heard a lot of good about is PoM Tracker; I love the simplicity and that it will be yet one more feature on my screen that will not take a lot of space. Also, what I read is that is a lot more reliable than many of its competitors. For one, it does not get confused by multiple prayers.

That is all for the moment. I would consider the three above mentioned addons crucial to any priest and high recommend you have a look at them, if you have not yet done so.

Good luck and enjoy.

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