As a priest, one has three specs that are very viable and very desirable for raiding: Discipline, Holy, and Shadow. While some people might’ve been able to accumulate off-spec gear over the last few months and prior to the release of the dual-spec option (seriously, don’t all paladins have a full holy set? Damn Naxx itemization), many players might now be faced with the expectation they “suddenly” have the gear to support another spec, should the need to switch arise.
Fortunately for priests, this isn’t a terrible challenge. While switching from Feral Druid to Resto Druid requires completely different gear for every single slot, the requirements for the three priest talent trees aren’t so radically different, and in a lot of cases, you won’t have to swap that much around. While you can find many sites with lots of math and lots of arguments on how best to gear for your main spec (check out my thoughts on the matter, BobTurkey’s post on priest theorycrafting, Xeonio’s thoughts on stat weights, unholy holy’s assessments, Shadowpriest.com’s gear guide, or the priest forums at Elitist Jerks for example), you might not have the time, money, or opportunity to put as much care into accumulating off-spec gear.
In general (very general), the different talent trees will privilege attributes like this:
Spellpower > Haste = Crit. Intellect > Spirit
Spellpower > Crit > Haste. Spirit > Intellect
Spell Hit > Spellpower > Crit > Haste. Spirit = Intellect
Skill aside, the gear requirements from switching from healer to Shadow Priest are more stringent than the switch from Shadow to healer. This is because reaching the cap for hit is truly a requisite for raiding. Assuming there’s no Draenei in your group and you have the full 6 points in Misery and Shadow Focus, you’ll need 290 hit to reach the cap. Here are some places (outside of raid zones) where you can grab it:
Heroic Violet Hold:
Mark of the War Prisoner (+73)
If you are switching to Holy from one of the other trees, particularly from Discipline, you might find your gear is lacking Spirit. Again, here are some quick ways to boost that attribute.
Getting a feel for playing your off-spec will take time, whether it’s mastering the refresh priorities of a Shadow Priest, making the most of SOL procs as a Holy Priest, or taking advantage of Borrowed Time procs as a Disc Priest. But gearing for your off-spec needn’t be viewed as a huge hurdle.