Category Archives: Priest

Signature Abilities

There are certain things in the game that scream: “THIS IS WORLD OF WARCRAFT!” Each class has their own special thing that people think of when they picture the class in their head. Some have changed over time, being iconic when the game came out and all but vanished now. Some have emerged over time, starting as a thought and finally being realized.

One good thing is that I couldn’t think of one specific ability that is recognizable for the entire game. There are a few front-runners, but there are many that define each class. Blizzard has done a great job of making each class very individual (with a few exceptions), and you know who you are playing by what you can do.

Shamans get two picks from me: Frost Shock and Bloodlust. Sorry Alliance, but it will always be Bloodlust and not Heroism. In Vanilla PvP, Frost Shock was one of the biggest abilities that the Horde had in their arsenal, as it was a good snare on a short cooldown that did a decent amount of damage. There used to be an addon that would have an audio file of “FROST SHOOOOOCK!” when it was used. Bloodlust, including the roaring-murloc-style sound, is such a great feeling. The very first time it was used in game for my character gave me goosebumps.

(The above is my son being a good PvP Shaman in training)

Druids are pretty straight forward, being that their forms truly define who they are. Not as much as previously, with the removal of a permanent Tree Form, but I believe that Bear Form & Cat Form are truly iconic (and of course the laser chicken). There’s no mistaking what you’re fighting when you have a cat tearing up your face. Being able to be a warrior, rogue, mage, and priest all in one is a nice feeling.

To me, the Warrior’s signature ability was mainly visible in Vanilla as it was before big nerfs. Mortal Strike was a high damage move that also caused the target to receive 50% less healing as a debuff. This was in place for a very long time until it was nerfed to be only 10% less healing, as it was very overpowered for PvP. Many tanks were Arms spec in Vanilla mainly for this ability, so mobs that healed themselves could be mitigated. Close second is Titan’s Grip – being able to wield two two-handed weapons is just awesome.

Rogues are mainly known for one thing: their stuns. They have close to fifty thousand of them (or so it would seem at time in PvP), and used well they can completely lock out someone for a good period of time. By the time the stuns wear off, the target’s health is low enough that they’re as good as dead.

Warlocks also have two great abilities to cause grief to people: Fear and Death Coil. Both mainly in Vanilla again, but the combination of the two spells were great to keep a player or a mob out of the way for a good period of time. The only problem with PvE use of them is that they have a very good chance to pull approximately one thousand other mobs who are close by.

Mages have two things that I believe is their signature, which is Polymorph and the ability to blow stuff up. Polymorph’s history goes back to the early RTS games, and thankfully stays in the game today as a great crowd control device. Being able to have different animals other than sheep is nice for groups or raids with multiple mages, but the sheep is still awesome. Plus, mages can blow stuff up, including Living Bomb. How can you go wrong?

Hunters are definitely known for having their pets and their traps. The removal of Eyes of the Beast, allowing direct control over the pet, is definitely a big loss – it was also the way our guild pulled Baron Geddon in Molten Core back in Vanilla. When pets had their happiness system or needing to tame specific pets to learn specific abilities, or basically how pets were before they were all made generic are what truly defined hunters for a very long time. The traps have become a lot better, as rather than having to place them where the character is, they are now able to be launched to a location without having to sacrifice yourself. Coming close behind is feign death, which is also useful in real life.

I had a difficult time coming up with a specific priest signature ability. Eventually I decided on Shadowform and the ability to be a very flexible healer. Unfortunately with all the specific heals that a priest has, there are too many to narrow down to one signature one, apart from Greater Heal. Bread and butter healing. Shadowform is very different in the fact that it gave priests a way to do very good damage and still be a priest at heart.

Death Knights are pretty easy, as Death Grip is one of the first things that a player uses after rolling one. Being able to yank someone right to you, also acting as a taunt, is a tank’s best friend. Plus, a lot of fun in PvP. Army of the Dead is a close contender, as there are few things more awesome than an army of ghouls rampaging on your behalf.

The Paladin signature ability was the easiest one to come up with. Divine Shield, or the infamous “Bubble”. Unfortunately not being able to last long enough for a full bubble-hearth, it still has the reputation that it definitely deserves.

In conclusion, each class has things that truly make them feel unique. Even the Druid, which “borrows” the styles of other classes, still makes the playstyle their own. Even though they use rage like a warrior, they are not warriors (parrying with their faces takes skill).

As a signature ability for the game? I don’t think there needs to be one. The closest “iconic” one that I can think of would have to be Bloodlust. It is synonymous with the Orc culture, and every time I hear the sound effect I can’t help but think of the Warcraft series.

Moving On Up

I have mentioned before that I was working on a goblin priest for an alt, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. That priest is finally level 85, and heroic ready… but the process was a little bit different from the expected.

Originally, my thought was to try to level through the dungeon finder to work on healing skills as I had never healed on a priest before. It worked out well for quite a while until level 41, when I got too frustrated at other people and then decided to just take the plunge and quest with a shadow spec. This ended up being a good plan, as I now have the basics of both specs down.

The thing that was scaring me was the idea of healing Cataclysm instances. On my druid, I have done all of them multiple times (excepting the new Zandalari ones), so it wasn’t that I didn’t know the fights. I had the simple fear of failing at something that I set out to accomplish. Many times I’ve been in a group where there’s been one member that was doing a very bad job at their role and I was afraid that one day I’d turn into them.

Once my item level was high enough – unfortunately heirlooms make this a bit difficult, as they’re an item level 1 – I decided to give it a try. From when I first made my priest, I decided to use discipline as my healing spec since it looked like fun, and so far it has been. Having the multiple methods of damage prevention and utilities make it so I have more tricks up my sleeve, and hopefully will make the run go smoother.

All in all the regular instances went fairly well. It didn’t stop me from being nervous through all of the runs, but at least we were able to make it through them. The hurdle now is the transition into healing heroics.

I’ve done a number of heroic runs with my shadow spec, getting drops and justice points to improve my gear before I try to heal them. As of last night, I am at the point where I think my gear is ready to go into a heroic. There are a few fights that I’m worried about that have high levels of damage, and whether I’d be able to cope with the stress.

Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of forgetting to use cooldowns at times. The biggest problems are two of the best cooldowns a discipline priest has: power infusion and pain suppression. Huge increase in healing throughput and huge damage reduction, and I forget to use them? I have to set up some power auras to help me remember, the same I did for my boomkin stuff.

My priest has yet to heal a heroic, but I think I’m ready for it. If not, that’s why there’s the option for a dual spec.

Outland and Northrend, redux

Here we are, 4 and 2.5 years after the content was released, and I’m doing a review of the Outland and Northrend areas of World of Warcraft. Timely reporting, right? In this case, it actually is – I just finished getting my former-lowbie priest up to level 80 and blazed a trail through the two former content areas. As I adventures through these places, I was reminded of things that I liked and things I certainly didn’t like.

With heirlooms, I actually didn’t go through all of the zones for each continent. (As an aside, I was using the heirloom shoulders, chest, cloak, weapon, and trinket.) Even without, I know that I could have skipped some areas. It is nice that the leveling process has been eased as time goes by through these old areas, as what was once the best part of the game is now some of the worst.

Outland and Northrend are now suffering the “middle child” disease, being forgotten and overlooked. Cataclysm brought us a completely redesigned Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms (less a few zones, coincidentally from Burning Crusade), and going from levels 1-60 in the “old” world is now very exciting and fun. Prior to Cataclysm, people would power their way through the Vanilla content so they could get to the better things in Outland and beyond.

Now the two continents are relics of an old design philosophy. Cataclysm has brought so many new quest mechanics and storylines that it’s truly fun to play through the zones and see what all is going on. Outland and Northrend have many of the same thing over and over again with little deviation.

Outland

My progression through Outland started with Hellfire Peninsula, going through half of Zangarmarsh, and then finishing most of Nagrand before hitting level 68. With 25% experience bonus from heirlooms and an extra 10% from the guild perk, the levels flew by – so much that I was level 73 before hitting Zangarmarsh. I only did two instances, and that was my wife running me through Hellfire Ramparts and the Blood Furnace. This time I was going for efficiency in leveling, and wanting to get through as fast as I could.

One relic quest design that still exists in Outland is the amount of Elite/Group quests. Fortunately, as I was playing a Shadow Priest this time around it was actually fairly easy and I was able to solo a majority of them. There were the few that I needed help with, like Arazzius the Cruel and Durn the Hungerer, but more often than not I was fine.

Nagrand is my favourite zone from Burning Crusade. The looks of it were just amazing, along with very good questing design for the most part. However, this zone suffers from quest hub-itis. There are five places in the zone where you get quests (mostly), and three of them are in the same area – for the Horde side at least. This means that while you can grab about 7-12 quests at once, there’s a lot of travel time involved from place to place. As much as down time is necessary to regroup and calm down, there’s a lot of travel time involved in Nagrand.

All in all, Outland isn’t a bad place – it’s just boring to me. I’ve gone through Outland numerous times and it’s still the exact same as it was when it first came out, with the exception of how long it takes to get through it. There are many great views, quests, NPCs, and other things to see along the way. I just ask that Blizzard update things to make them better. If someone has never gone through the continent before, I think they would enjoy it.

Northrend

Going through Northrend was also a lot quicker than at first, mainly due to heirlooms and guild perk. I started in Howling Fjord, did all of Dragonblight and Zul’Drak, then about halfway through Storm Peaks is where I ended up hitting level 80. Through this I only did two instances, both through the LFD tool, coming up with Utgarde Keep and Halls of Stone (of course).

Normally in my quest to level alts, I end up getting stuck around the beginning of Northrend. I can usually make it through the first zone, usually Borean Tundra, but by the time I reach Dragonblight I get bored very quickly. In a WoW Insider Show, they had likened the province of Manitoba as being the Dragonblight of Canada, and I have to agree – Dragonblight is just boring.

As I said, I normally start from Borean Tundra so the first area I hit in Dragonblight is Agmar’s Hammer. Since I started in Howling Fjord this time I did the Venomspite quests first, which is what I believe made the difference. It wasn’t much of a change, but any change is welcome in boring content.

Similar to Outland, there were a number of Elite/Group quests that were out there. Also similarly, I was able to solo most of them and only needing help with the ones that had mechanics that were harmful to cloth-wearers. The travel time to get to different places still was a big factor, but not nearly as bad as Outland. By this time, Blizzard seems to have learned that people don’t like having to fly somewhere for five minutes before getting to the quest objective.

During my initial time in Wrath, I didn’t really have a favourite zone. This time, Zul’Drak really stood out to me – the story of an empire that wanted to fend off the Scourge so badly that they killed their own gods out of desperation. I would love to see the zone the way it was before, as the pinnacle of a troll empire.

Right now Northrend is still too fresh in my mind from Wrath. Cataclysm has only been out for five months, so it hasn’t been long enough for me to get over it. The zone and quest design isn’t bad, but I’m glad it’s not the current one anymore.

Conclusion

Many times through my leveling experience, I was extremely thankful for the ability to have a flying mount. Originally, flying wasn’t available in Outland until level 70 and in Northrend until level 77. Having to run through all the stuff before was painful enough, I am so very glad that I didn’t have to do it again.

Last year I wrote up some retrospectives about Vanilla, Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King. Going through the two expansion contents, I’m reminded about many of my original observations and my overall conclusion from them: I’m glad that I was able to play through them when they were relevant, but I’m very glad that it’s the past. What’s done is done, and I’m glad the game is moving forward.

It shows how much Blizzard has done to improve the game over time. Anyone who says that the game was better during Vanilla, Burning Crusade, or Wrath is a liar. The game as it is today is far more superior to the previous content. Blizzard will always improve their work.

I’m very glad to be back in Cataclysm content. Hyjal, here I come!

Melting Faces and Taking Names

Once upon a time, it was said that Shadow Priests can melt faces. After testing out this theory for myself, it turns out that the information presented was indeed correct. For the first time in my World of Warcraft career, I’m playing a “squishy” class without actually being squishy.

When Cataclysm hit, I had my sights set on making a goblin priest. I’m not sure why exactly I wanted to do that specific race/class combination, but it seems to be working for me so far. The first bit I decided to try to level entirely by using the dungeon finder, and it worked – for a while.

Levels 15-35 were fairly uneventful, with decent groups being able to go through a dungeon in a good amount of time without much drama. After that, it seemed every second group would either be completely full of idiots, or people who don’t know what they’re doing. If I was really fortunate, it would be a nice mix of both. I was really hoping to continue leveling through the LFD tool to work on my healing, since I would likely be doing this once I hit max level. However, this didn’t end up happening, and at level 42 I decided to start questing again.

Unfortunately, since this character had been parked in Orgrimmar from levels 15 to 42, I didn’t have any flight paths other than Bilgewater Harbour and Razor Hill. Thankfully I had epic riding skill, so the drive down to Dustwallow Marsh to pick up the Thousand Needles breadcrumb wasn’t too big of a problem. I changed over to my dual spec of Shadow, and promptly began to melt the faces of Grimtotems, pirates, and anything else that stood in my way.

Since then there has only been one circumstance when I switched back to my Discipline spec for use, which was to heal a tank so we could duo Durn the Hungerer in Nagrand. Apart from that, I’ve only switched over to spend the talent points that I had earned. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any need to do so.

While I was leveling my enhancement shaman I found I was able to solo most things, including some group quests which I had never been able to do before. Out of curiosity, I decided to try this in Hellfire Peninsula on my priest. I had gotten the feel of the class by this point, and was comfortable in what to do for an elite mob. After some preparation and making sure I had the proper buffs, the giants for the Colossal Menace quest were destroyed efficiently.

I was honestly quite shocked – a clothie that can solo group quests this easily? It was different from what I had expected. (For the record, I have leveled a Warlock previously and they did well for group quests – but having a Voidwalker or Felguard will help quite a bit! Warlocks aren’t that squishy, but I don’t have any experience with one since originally leveling through Outland back in Burning Crusade.) Not having a pet or something to tank an elite mob, while I was able to still do very decent damage and have self-healing… it was a nice feeling.

Going through Outland, I was able to solo all group quests in Zangarmarsh and Nagrand (with the exception of Durn). In my brief time in Howling Fjord I’ve been able to solo the one group quest that has come up which has always presented me with problems on other characters, which is March of the Giants – elite giants who do heavy damage, along with a hard-hitting damage over time debuff placed on you. Fortunately a priest’s arsenal includes Dispel Magic, which saved my hide a number of times through the course of that questline.

I was able to hit 70 before completing the quests in Vengeance Landing and Camp Winterhoof in Howling Fjord the other night. Originally, I was expecting to level by healing the dungeon finder groups I found with a Discipline spec. I’m extremely glad that I decided to make the switch.

It will be interesting to see how things go through Northrend and Cataclysm content. I’ll be wanting to get more healing experience, but being able to melt faces is just so much fun. Rolling this priest as an alt seems to have been a very good idea.

To Alt, or Not To Alt

I’ve confessed a couple times before that I’m an altaholic.  I go through various stages of it, and there have been times where I’ve gone weeks without working on my main for any significant amount of time.  I enjoy the different scenery, mechanics, point of view, role… all of these.  However, recently I seem to have been doing the exact opposite – rarely ever have I had so many alts with full rested experience waiting to be played.

The circumstances haven’t changed much, apart from the fact that I haven’t been raiding much in the past little while due to family stuff.  Even before that, I’ve been working on things to improve my main more and more.  First it was getting the Therazane reputation complete, since that would give access to good shoulder enchants.  Then it was the Tol Barad dailies, and wanting to get the dragon (because it’s a dragon!).  These could be classified as working towards improving my character, as there are benefits that are associated with those repuatations.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the reputations that came next.  I managed to hit exalted with Lower City by doing my daily runs for Anzu, and started up my Ogri’la dailies again after not touching them for a long time.  After getting exalted with Ogri’la on two characters, I really hope I never put myself through that again.  Currently, I’m trying to finish up the Sha’tari Skyguard and Netherwing reputations so I can get some Nether Rays and Nether Dragons to fly – which are both really good looking mounts.

These things I’m working on have absolutely no benefit to me in a raiding or progression standpoint.  They are things to occupy my time and give me something to do while I watch the rest of my guild do other things that I wish I could be doing.  I only do the daily heroic because I need the valour points, and many times I don’t do it because I want a guild group, or I’m listening to see if my son is actually asleep.

There are a few alts in particular that I want to level: my shaman, priest, and warrior.  The guild has a lack of those three classes and I want to help out if needed, but even though the majority of the leveling is going through new content that I haven’t seen yet, it’s still getting a bit boring.  I’m actually enjoying working on my main, and working towards accomplishments that I’ve been wanting for a long time.

As with everything, I go through phases.  It seems that I’ve run out of stuff to do for new Cataclysm things right now, so I’m working on older stuff.  Once I have my new dragons and nether rays, I’m sure I’ll be moving back to the alts again.

Altaholic-ness, Redux

A while back, I mentioned how much I enjoy leveling alts. To this day the trend continues, and unfortunately Cataclysm has made it even easier to enjoy this hobby. The addition of new races, new race/class combinations, and the complete redesign of the level 1-60 leveling process was just a bit of encouragement. Then I go and splurge on all three heirloom cloaks from guild rep, making it that much easier.

My habit has continued, and it has flourished.

One big thing that I’m a bit surprised about is that two classes that I enjoyed quite a bit before have not interested me as much now. The Warlock, my very first class that I got to the level cap with on the Horde side in Vanilla, has no presence on my character list at all. I tried rolling one a few times, but it’s just not doing it for me right now. Perhaps later. The Death Knight, a class that I thoroughly enjoyed back in WotLK, is now my bank alt. I have one that I’m trying to level through Outland right now, but I think it might be more of that continent’s fault than the DK class itself.

My Shaman just recently hit 65 after simmering on the backburner for a while. I wanted to get geared up and ready for heroics and raids before I focused too much on any alt for a little bit. Now that I’m raiding again (woot!), I’ve been slowly working him through Outland. As I mentioned before, it really is a chore to get through the BC content. I remember trying to rush as fast as possible to 58 so we could get away from the junk of Vanilla content – oh, how times have changed.

There’s the hunter who’s in the late thirties. I was going pretty steady with it for a while, but I’ve lost interest in it for the moment. These phases come and go quite quickly with various classes and how I feel with it. On our old server, I was leveling a rogue with my wife and was having a blast. I tried rolling a rogue a few times already, and it’s just not doing anything for me right now. More than likely, it’s too close to the cat druid that I work on mostly right now.

One character that I was looking forward to rolling at Cataclysm was my goblin priest, and she’s been quite a bit of fun. Checking out the talent trees previously, Discipline looked like a great spec to try out for leveling as it had a good mixture of damage and healing abilities. So far I’ve leveled exclusively through the dungeon finder from level 15 on, just to work on my skills so when I hit a higher level I’m not completely out of it. I’m only level 29, so it’s not really too big of a challenge, but it’s been a good experience so far.

Lastly, I have lowbies of the rest of them: paladin, mage, and warrior. I’ve played a paladin and mage to level cap previously and enjoyed it, and the highest I’ve ever gotten a warrior was to the mid twenties. Some of the higher levels that I have right now are going to be DPS and healing, so I’m thinking a tanking warrior would be fun. Heirloom shield please?

I enjoy the different experiences that I have on each character when I play them. Each has their own different feel, their own nuances that I have to figure out – it’s nice to have such flexibility within the game. Plus, this is all on the Horde side. If I wanted something completely new, I’d work on my Alliance characters… maybe.

Dungeon Finder and YOU!

There are numerous stories that could be told about the Random Dungeon Finder.  The good ol’ LFD/LFG/looking for PAIN tool is a wonderful and horrible invention that can be used for good or for evil.  Unfortunately, there are many people who seem happier to use it for the latter.

I have a lowbie Priest who is currently level 23, and has leveled purely through the dungeon finder so far.  Through that I have come across many great players who have been willing to help out others who aren’t as good, as well as many players who have no clue what they are doing and don’t want to accept any suggestions at all.  Of course, this doesn’t go just for the lowbie instances – my Druid main has come across many different types of people through the dungeon finder for regular and heroic dungeons at level 85 as well.

After all my experiences, I think that the most important thing to remember when with any group (LFD or not) is to have good communication.  It doesn’t matter if it’s all guild members, one pug, or if it’s all completely random – if there’s a communication breakdown, failure is sure to come knocking at your door quite soon.

A good example would be a Wailing Caverns run that I did the other day on my priest.  I don’t remember the exact makeup, but the tank was a paladin who didn’t like to listen and who liked to do his own thing.  After killing the first boss, Lady Anacondra, 4 of the 5 of us drop down and proceed to the west side to start the trek to the second boss, Lord Cobrahn.  The tank proceeds to continue around the top side towards where the Naralex event eventually happens at the end.  In chat, we asked multiple times what he was doing and if he was going to come back to where the group was, and he never said anything.  In hindsight, this would have been a good time to initiate a vote-kick.

The group was fine, since we had a hunter with us and the pet tanked just as good as the paladin was, and fortunately I was able to keep everyone alive.  We put up with the tank’s eccentricities like randomly running ahead and getting new packs of mobs before we were done the previous ones, or randomly going afk for 5 minutes without saying anything.   Once again, I’m thankful that we had the hunter’s pet to be a better tank than the one who was in the group.

Don’t be “that guy”.  Don’t be the one that people write blog posts about, or laugh about with their guilds, or complain about to their wives.  As a sidenote, I’m glad that my wife enjoys listening to my dungeon finder stories.  It makes those brutal groups much easier to bear.

Try to help others who are having difficulties.  Don’t post damage meters, because nobody cares (on that note, if you’re trying to see how you’re doing compared to others, you don’t need to announce it to the rest of the party).  If you don’t know your way around, ask.  If someone doesn’t know the way, help point them in the right direction.

It’s really not that difficult.  If everyone puts in a little bit of kindness, it’ll go a long way.  Maybe the idiot from the last group will pick something up from you, and next run will be a little bit less of an idiot.  If during that run, someone gives him a few more pointers, he’ll be even less of an idiot.  Hopefully the idiocy will flush itself out, but that’s just me being hopeful.

Remember Wheaton’s law: “Don’t be a dick.”

So close you can taste it

Five more sleeps until Cataclysm.  Only a few more days until on December 7th, a box will arrive at our door that contains two smaller boxes inside.  Unfortunately they’ll likely arrive while I’m at work, but I’m thinking that there will be lights, fireworks, and other spectacular things when the boxes are opened.

Either that, or I’ll be able to make my goblin(s) at last.

4.0.3a has given us a great deal of what was promised in Cataclysm, but the more that I read about them and through the previes that I’ve seen, I really can’t wait to make my goblins.  The plan that I’ve had all along was to make a priest, and have it be my main alt for a while.  I made a night elf priest a while back and enjoyed leveling it as discipline through the dungeon finder.  For once, I don’t want to use the LFD tool for the fact that I want to experience as much as possible.

My Forsaken hunter just finished up Silverpine Forest, and I am absolutely amazed with how well it turned out.  My last post had the first impressions up to the beginning parts of the zone and even then it was great.  It just gets better and better the further you go.

Since that was a changed zone, I can’t imagine how awesome the goblin areas are going to be.  I remember hearing about a questline that has some sort of a “Grand Theft Auto” part to it, which I’m quite looking forward to.  For whatever reason, having a short character appeals to me as well.  I’ve tried many times to make a gnome, but I just couldn’t do it.  Now that the Horde has a “short” race, I think it’ll be fun.

The only problem with Cataclysm being so close is that time seems to slow the closer that you get to it.  On top of that, I start a new position at work the day before the game comes out, and I have plans on the evening of the 7th.  I do still have some sick days left…

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