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Guest Post: Priests in the Arena

November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Week!  Jov and Seri are traveling, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for a serious case of food coma.  Special thanks for the guest posts for taking wow posting off our plates, and leaving us with more room for sides…

I thought I would write a guest post for Snarkcraft (one of my favorite priest blogs!) about a topic not often covered:  Arena PVP.  I’ll start with some basic arena strategies.  I am assuming you’re just starting out, and that you’ll be a Priest, specced Discipline.  Holy really isn’t arena viable at the moment.

General Arena Helpful Tips

  1. Don’t Die
  2. Don’t Let your Partners Die
  3. Blow Defensive Cooldowns when the other Team blows Offensive Cooldowns
  4. Blow Defensive Cooldowns Earlier Rather than Later
  5. CC and DPS when the target is low
  6. Drink – a lot!
  7. Pick up a PVP trinket – don’t leave home without it.

How to gear

As a priest, you wear cloth and lots of it.  You’ll want to wear as much resilience as you can get your hand on.  Once you start feeling comfortable (for me this happens only once I’m in the 1000+ range), start stacking stamina and spellpower.  Get the spirit set, although you can double dip the shadow set, getting the 50 resilience bonus from both sets, but you’ll notice the lower regen.  You will be able to go offensive much better though, so it could depend on your playstyle.  Get at least 4% hit so your fears connect a reasonable amount of the time.  Yes, it’s that important.  Pick up the +hit offset pieces for cloak, ring, and neck slots, and you should do fine.

Glyphs – Pick up Pain Suppression and Inner Fire, especially while still gearing up.  Glyph of Penance is 100% necessary 100% of the time.

How to survive

You have no real escapes, especially against warriors/undeads.  Priests in PVP essentially tank in cloth.  I know it sounds crazy, but it’s crazy fun when you can pull it off!  Anyway, keep moving, cast PW:shield->Penance->Prayer of Mending->Renew->stop and flash as necessary.  Remember to dispel any dots or snares that you can – especially against DKs (Chains of Ice and Diseases) and mages’ frost novas.  You’d be surprised how much dispelling what amounts to these classes’ damage buffs reduces the amount of damage they can dish out.

Line of Sight (LOS) – Line of Sight is your friend in Arenas.  Anyone who says otherwise, or says that LOS is cheesey, plays too many battlegrounds on their hunters.   Good LOS play can significantly reduce the damage you take and the scariness of enemy target switches. You’ll notice some teams will try to lure you into their LOS.  Shield/Penance your DPS when you can, but be aware the other guys have some dirty tricks up their sleeve…

Fearing Defensively – Save your Psychic Scream for when you need to get a cast off, or you see an opportunity to gain distance or get out of LOS.  If you are in an emergency situation, however, blow it.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than dying while your cooldowns are still up.

How to heal

Penance and PW: Shield, Prayer of Mending – these are your most powerful heals in arena.  In my experience, greater heal comes close to the output of penance, but penance has the benefit of going off immediately, and going through line of sight.  Use PW:shield first, especially since it gives you a haste buff.

Flash heal – Flash heal is what you do when Penance, PW:Shield, are on cooldown.  Get a latency mod, like quartz for your castbar and spam that button!

Other odd heals you wouldn’t think to use – Greater heal, Divine Hymn, Binding Heal, and Prayer of Healing are heals you probably won’t use very often, mostly because they’re best when you aren’t being focused, which happens approximately 0% of the time.  However, if you can get them off, especially if someone has let their mortal strike debuff fall off for a second, you can really turn the tables.  I’ve seen 3v3 matches where I was super behind, and I popped Divine Hymn and Inner Focus and topped off my team.  And they say Priests have no reset buttons.  :P

Mortal Strike – Mortal Strike is your enemy #1.  Know what the debuff looks like, know how long the cooldown is, know how to get as many heals off as possible when the debuff is *not* up.  Hunters, Warriors, and Rogues can all apply versions of the 50% version.  Mages and Shadowpriests (do they really exist?) provide a 20% version.  Oh, and if someone has the debuff and needs a heal, heal them.  You just got outplayed, but you have a better chance of winning if your teammate is alive.

How to pressure

Dispel – Dispels at the right time can be sooo clutch.  Paladins and Priests should be dispel spammed if they are your DPS target.  Also, dispel any CC as often as possible.  Some classes have dispel protection – for instance, if you dispel unstable affliction from Haunt warlocks, you’ll get silenced, which is BAD…

Mana Burn – You’ll find that the one thing in your bag of tricks that will force a healer to go defensive is Mana Burn.  As a healer, learn this sound.  It will strike *sheer terror* into your heart… It’s fun to hold people on the other side of pillars with this.  Say your DPS is focusing the other team’s DPS.  Use Mana Burn to force the healer to LOS their DPS, then keep using it to hold them there.  They’ll only be able to get off instant casts, which means they’ll be way behind.  Just make sure you remember to heal your DPS in time…. Cast Shield, Psychic scream, and Power infusion, then spam Mana Burn at the other healer for fun and profit.

Mass Dispel – Mass Dispel has two uses in Arena.  One is when there’s a zergfest and everyone’s in range – you’ll dispel debuffs and buffs at the same time!  This is win. The other use is to dispel Iceblock and Divine Shield.  Especially against Paladins, it’s important to pre-load this so that you can get their bubble off and get the kill before their heal goes off.  Plan ahead!

Fearing Offensively – Psychic Scream is a powerful CC because it hits all targets within range.  Use that to your advantage, and try to catch the target and at least one other player.  Also, against healers, fear them when the target is around 30% health – they may think they are keeping up, and then BAM! They’re CC’d!  At the very least, you forced the trinket or blew their timing/global cooldown.  This is all huge, just from a 30 second cooldown!

How to DPS

If you are in a place where you need to out-and-out DPS to help force a kill or apply more pressure, you need to consider what situation you’re in.  IF the target is very low on health, cast Penance or Holy Fire->SW:Death.  This “Backloads” the damage from SW:Death (the damage will all come in nearly the same global cooldown, because the GCD from Penance is already done).  If you need to pressure, use your holy DPS spells.  These spells (Holy Fire and Smite) are at what amounts to 100% spell penetration because Holy has no resist stat.  Don’t forget your DOTs and Mind Blast, they do a surprising amount of damage!

Smite Spec – if you want to go really offensive, pick up the smite glyph and the low end holy smite talents – Holy spec, Divine Fury, and Searing Light.  Congratulations!  You are now a Mage with healing spells!

How to CC

Refer to Psychic Scream offensively, above.  One little thing to note here, do not ignore shackle undead!  Make a macro to target Ebon Gargoyle, and shackle DK ghouls whenever you can.  Also, DK’s who pop Lichborne are legal targets for Shackle as long as the buff is up…

When to trinket –
#1 – when your team needs a heal.  You just got outplayed, again.  Prepare to eat blind or sheep.
#2 – Against CC, try to sit it out if you can, and save the trinket for emergencies.  However, be aware that some comps can easily drop your DPS inside even really short CCs.  Refer to #1 and trinket.  Otherwise, refer to the LOS section.

How to Drink

Drinking is how to pressure, defensively, as a Priest and as a healer in general.  Most of the time, especially against Paladin and Druid healers, Priests just can’t keep up in the mana department.  It’s the drawback we get for being able to go offensive with Mana Burn.  If you can, have your DPS go defensive and get drinks off, early.  The longer you can postpone your shadowfiend, the more pressure you can put on the other healer in a mana war.  A few ticks of drinking can change the game!  Learn to notice when the other team is leaving you alone.  These are the best times to sneak off behind the nearest pillar and get a drink.  Do it at every opportunity! Remember, you need to buy special Arena Water for Arenas.

On a side note, make sure to dispel innervate and divine plea whenever you can.

Enjoy!
~Felade

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4 comments

  1. couple of comments off the top of my head:
    mass dispel – also useful for getting in combat or dispelling when target is out of LoS. You can position the spell in such a way that it still hits a target behind a pillar.

    nuking – be careful when nuking if there’s a chance you might get interrupted. Use mind blast in that case, so you don’t get locked out of holy tree.

    shadowfiend – use it offensively, so the other team doesn’t have a chance to CC it (especially druids). Also don’t wait until you’re oom to use it. If you can’t drink, the earlier you use it, the earlier it’ll be back up.
    Also if you do get oom and have a few seconds to be idle, pop shadowfiend and hymn of hope at the same time. SF will return more mana since it’s % based.


  2. Great post!


  3. “Get the spirit set, although you can double dip the shadow set, getting the 50 resilience bonus from both sets, but you’ll notice the lower regen.”

    I wouldn’t DARE do this on my 1900+ priest. The 4set bonus of taking 2 seconds off of Weakened Soul is way too good to pass up for a mere 50 resilience. 13 second Weakened Soul is much much more noticable than 50 resilience, I promise!


    • Of course, they’re buffing the 2pc bonus to give 100 resil, if you double dip in 3.3 it will be 200 resil.

      Mostly, I would agree – when you’re geared, you don’t really need to double dip and the 4pc bonus is better. However, when you’re still gearing up, its something you can consider.



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