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…
So you want to run some battlegrounds as a . . . *gasp* PRIEST? What are you nuts? Seriously, people can have this reaction. Our class doesn’t have a great reputation for survivability and that deters many of us from running battleground or ever trying them for that matter. Fear not! I am here to guide you through these death mazes and give you some tools to bring the pain to your foes.
The first thing you should expect in Battlegrounds is to die . . . a lot. How much is a lot? Picture the Horde and Alliance lined up in the field of strife in Alterac Valley and the enemy all pressed tab at the same time, they would all target you. Yes it CAN be that bad but it rarely IS that bad. Battlegrounds (BGs) are not raids or heroics or arenas or even quests. They are their own unique slice of WoW and it involves dying. A lot. Everyone dies at least once in a BG, release, let go of it, and move on to the next victim.
You got Talent
Many people talk about pvp talent builds but be warned not all of these will benefit you in a BG, most of them are designed for arenas. You have a great deal more flexibility in your spec for BGs but a dedicated BG spec will make your life a lot easier. As Priests we have a lot of options for good pvp talents but we will stick mainly with one tree and this decision will rest mostly on your play style.
I WANT TO SURVIVE!: DISC
I WANT TO KILL’EM ALL!: SHADOW
I’M A LUNATIC!: HOLY
All types of priest are viable in a BG and have talents that designed for pvp activity. You can make your own choices and don’t have to stick with what you raid in. I am a Holy priest but I run BGs as shadow exclusively because I spend enough stressful time healing dungeons and pvp is a way to blow off steam and melt some Alli faces. I will not go into great detail about every useful talent for each built but I will point out a few crucial ones.
The Mandatory Disc talents are important here but there are some key differences. You will want to pick up Unbreakable Will if you find yourself getting snared or stunned a lot. Imp Inner Fire and Imp PW:F are VERY helpful. Meditation and Inner Focus are less mandatory. The reason being that BGs require a lot of chain casting (healing or killing or both) and I find mana regen impacts my performance since I am usually dead before I run out and I rarely find Inner focus to be worth the point except specific BG scenarios. Better spent points are Imp PW:S and Soul Warding to enhance protection. Further in DISC are some pvp essentials like Reflective Shield, Power Infusion, Rapture, Aspiration, Pain Suppression, and all the way to Penance the all purpose heal/nuke.
Shadow has a lot of great pvp talents too. Mandatory ones for pvp are Imp SW:P, Imp Mind Blast, Mind Flay, Imp Psychic Scream and down to Silence, Shadow Reach, Focused Mind, and pick up every talent in the Vampiric/Shadow form segments. Take up the all important Imp Devouring Plague(DP) not only because it is increased damage but also it gives DP instant damage which our class lacks a lot of in pvp. Optionally you can pick up Psychic Horror and I would grab it because there is a use for it and I will tell you shortly. Take Dispersion even if someone tells you it suck, it does but its all we got *sigh*. Its main use is mana regen and a very last ditch escape mechanism. (PRO TIP:You can Disperse even while mounted!)
Holy . . . well it kinda sucks. You CAN heal a LOT of people VERY effectively in BGs with this spec, but you can’t heal yourself very well with it. Survivability is key to pvp, the longer you live the less the enemy does. However, we do get some nice spells here. Healing Focus (stops pushback), Divine Fury (extra holy damage/healing), Desperate Prayer (instant full health heal or near it), and Body and Soul (an escape mechanism combined with shielding). You could argue there are more important talents in holy but for pvp these are the must haves.
The Tools of DESTRUCTION (mwahahahahaaa . . . ha)
You got the talents and the spells now what do you do when you want to kill someone. Typically you mostly spam SW:P and DP. I know it’s really sad and you are probably saying “Wow Nic you make BGs sound sooooo exciting!” Firstly, hey shut up! Sarcasm will not help you kill faster. Secondly, there are two reasons why you will spam your DoTs. 1) Almost no healer will ever remove your DoTs in the BG and 2) They are exceptionally potent and quick cast DoTs. Seriously, nothing will make you happier to watch a Rogue get DoT’ed up and run around as they desperately try to escape their ever shrinking health bar until they die. In fact I have yet to meet the rogue that can survive the SW:P and DP combo, even if no one else is attacking them (Sorry Seri). The key to topping the damage charts is getting in damage as quickly as possible before the target dies from other combatants and unfortunately our class dps is more of a steam roller. Takes forever to get moving but can crush anything, assuming it doesn’t quickly step to the side XD. Speaking of DoTs, Vampiric touch is very good too, except the slightly long cast. If you can get it up do it, but don’t start with it and don’t follow up with MB, its just not worth it (time wise or mana wise).
Our other useful spells are our trusty nuke, Mind Blast. IF you get the chance cast it. Another staple is SW: DEATH! I know it seems risky as you can actually kill yourself with this spell and probably will several times till you get the hang of it. However, it does crazy instant damage, crits very high, and glyphs can reduce the damage you take. Mind Flay is great in that it does a decent stream of damage AND cripples your opponent’s movement to a crawl. It’s bad in that it is basically a giant glowing sign pointing out to your enemy who is killing them slowly and can probably die easily. It’s good to use when others are around to finish off someone. Fear, Horrify, and Silence are all amazingly effective interrupters of casters and can help put distance between you and a charging horde of enemies. It also can be effective in chain silencing/interrupting Warlocks who are the current pvp champs and particularly difficult for priests. Horrify is particularly useful against the dreaded hunter. While two seconds of doing nothing doesn’t seem like a lot the key is the 10 sec of dropping your main hand and ranged weapon. You can essentially turn a hunter into a gimpy one-handed sucky rogue and own them. (See? I told you there was a reason for Horrify!)
If you go disc the power of bubbling and Penance cannot be overstated. Have you ever tried to kill a disc priest? They are, in my opinion, among the hardest to kill in a BG right after Trees and Pallies. If you are good no single player will be able to kill you, sometimes not even two or three. If you are disc the world of spells is open to you, if you are shadow you will neglect any holy spell as the cost to drop shadow form will be too costly to mana and inevitably health.
Tactics and Closing thoughts
Your job as a shadow priest in a BG changes depending on what you are running. In IoC sometimes you are most effective running seaforium bombs to the keep walls, in AV you are useful in defending a tower, or sometimes it just comes down to bringing the pain. In general we have some basic purposes depending on your end goal. If you want honor run where the action is and cause as much damage as humanly possible from afar and heal/passively heal whenever you get a chance. The more honorable kills you get and the more objectives you defend the better. If you want to win BGs, cause as much chaos as you can by slowing down hippity hoppity rogues with mindflay, silencing mages/healers, or sacrificing yourself to plunge into a crowd of enemies and cast fear. If your goal is to have fun I highly suggest you accomplish the first two goals with a friend or guildy in a party. Communication is survival and a partner can drive you to the top of the honor chart, damage chart, and heal chart in any BG. Finally, experience is the best advice I can give. Learn the layout of each BG, see where the enemy on your Battlegroup likes to attack and counter it. The goal is to have fun while dying, something you can’t accomplish in any raid or heroic. Happy hunting!