Sunday, 6 March 2011

It’s not easy being a priest

I first realised I might have a little bit of an alotoholicism problem last week when I stepped back and had a look at the number of alts I have. I'm in the position now where I have 3 characters at 85, two of which (Priest and Mage) have been through tens of heroics, one which (the DK) is on his way to being reasonably geared, so I can safely say I know quite well. I've the druid which is late 60's and a Hunter Warrior and Warlock all in their 60's that I must confess I haven't played at all (yet!) since returning to WOW, a Rogue and Paladin in the 30's and the Shaman that I created but haven't played purely to make up the numbers. That's nine out of the ten classes I've spent playing, when you consider the different specs too, I reckon it's about 16 different class / spec combinations I've played, clearly some of those experiences are out of date since Cata hit as the play styles on most classes have changed significantly but you get the picture.

I was running a good few heroics over the weekend on my mage and DK as we had guild healers available, and then swapping to the priest with many of the same group. We were taking it easy and chatting as we went, when it struck me how much more involved the Priest is to play; on the mage I play a fire spec, I can easily kick out 12k DPS on regular occasion, with pretty poor gear, all that's needed is Living Bomb and Fireball till your heart's content, with a quick scorch to begin with, and looking out for Pyroblast and Fireblast procs; there's a little bit of complexity in choosing the correct spells for crowd dps, and the cool downs, but nothing overly challenging. Contrast this to the Priest, as DPS you've got three dots to keep up on the mob, your own buff to refresh, providing you have shadow orbs to be able to, Mind Flay to ensure you don't clip, SW:D to bring into the equation when the mob is at 25%, and that's before you take into account the cool down spells and when's best to use them. Cross over from the dark side and take a look at healing and it's even more complicated! There are a massive 12 healing spells which a holy priest may use in general play, another 4 occasional and "oh shit" type spells, and a further 12 situation specific spells, like Dispel Magic, which may or may not be added into the mix for a given encounter, add to this the different usage profiles of these spells, depending on what Chakra state you're in, the very fact you can now cancel Chakra after 30 seconds and recast to another state; it's a nightmare, a great big, fun filled, nightmare! Now don't get me wrong, I love the complexity the priest offers and the learning curve for playing it, anyone can pick up a priest, either healing or DPSing, but it takes a long time to master it.

Now I'm being a bit unfair to Mages in comparing them to healing Priests, I've always said tanking is harder (to master) than healing, and my experiences on the Death Knight over the last week certainly back that up, and healing is harder than straight forward DPS. But just taking the DPS comparison, looking at my first heroic with both classes, the Priest kicked out about 5k, the Mage was touching on 10k. Even on the healing front, I've been running through the old instances on my Druid, and am now getting to the stage where the instances are becoming difficult to heal (i.e. a Rogue with a few bandages and a bottle of magic spray couldn't do it) and I can't believe how simple the choices are, basically it's a hot, and a small heal (read Renew and Heal equivalents), a big heal for when things go wrong, a PoH equivalent and a reverse Holy Word: Serenity type spell (in that it removes a HoT and adds a big heal, plus an AOE healing circle on the ground, as opposed to making the next heals better with a Priest). Admittedly I'm not at 85 yet, so it might get more complex, but looking at the spell list on wowhead I doubt it's going to be that much different.

Actually the most difficult class I've played to pick up is the Death Knight, Tanking especially, but even on the DPS front; you're instantly presented with a million and one different diseases and abilities, with Runes and Runic Power to bring in, and none of the normal early learning curve as you don't start from level 1, fortunately I had a friendly guild DK, who I'll be eternally grateful to, who explained that it was more about priorities of sorts, than a true DPS (or tanking) rotation. Once you get to grips with the DK's abilities it's a lot more straight forward, it's not the face rolling it used to be by any means, but it's not hugely taxing. Of the other classes I've played, Hunters are pretty straight forward, ahem auto shot ahem, Warlocks are just wannabe Mage's with DoTs and a self-harming problem, Rogues just stab things in a similar vein to Cat Form Druids (but with knives I suppose) Paladins have it a bit harder (from memory) and warriors were a set key mashing order. Clearly if you're Tanking (well) on any of the classes which can, it takes a lot of ability, but as healing or DPS goes, I can't think of a harder (or more fun) class to play than a priest. But perhaps I'm biased? Go on tell me I'm wrong!


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