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secondaryAs 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 matterBobTurkey’s post on priest theorycrafting, Xeonio’s thoughts on stat weights, unholy holy’s assessmentsShadowpriest.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:

Discipline
Spellpower > Haste = Crit.  Intellect > Spirit

Holy
Spellpower > Crit > Haste.  Spirit > Intellect

Shadow
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:

Consumables:
Elixir of Accuracy (+45)
Snapper Extreme (+40)
Worg Tartare  (+40)

Enchants:
Enchant Boots:  Icewalker (+12)
Enchant Gloves:  Precision (+20) 

Tailoring BOE:
Ebonweave Robe (+68) 
Ebonweave Gloves (+51) 

Heroic Violet Hold:
Mark of the War Prisoner (+73) 

Badges of Heroism:
Plush Sash of Guzbah (+33) 
Ward of the Violet Citadel (+38) 

Gems:
Lambent Forest Emerald (+8) 
Rigid Autumn Glow (+16) 
Shining Forest Emerald (+8) 
Veiled Monarch Topaz (+8)

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.

Consumables:
Elixir of Spirit (+50)
Cuttlesteak (+40) 

Gems:
Intricate Forest Emerald (+8)
Misty Forest Emerald (+8) 
Seer’s Forest Emerald (+8) 
Sparkling Sky Sapphire (+16) 
Sparkling Dragon’s Eye (+27) 

Enchants:
Brilliant Spellthread (+20) 
Enchant Cloak:  Wisdom (+10) 
Enchant Bracers:  Major Spirit (+18) 
Enchant Weapon:  Exceptional Spirit (+45) 
Enchant Boots:  Major Spirit (+18) 

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.

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WHAT

powerinfusionPower Infusion
Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%.  Lasts 15 seconds.

2 minute cooldown (lowered to 1.6 minute with 2 points in Aspiration)  Does not trigger the GCD.


HOW

I’m a big mouseover macro fan, as clicking on someone to target them, then clicking on a spell is too slow and unwieldy.  It’s also good practice to notify someone they’ve received Power Infusion because even though they should notice the animation and the buff, they might not (and/or might not realize what Power Infusion does.)

The following macro casts PI on your mouseover target and sends them a whisper:

/cast [target=mouseover] Power Infusion
/script local n,r=UnitName”target”;if(r)then n=n..”-“..r;end;SendChatMessage(“Power Infused! +20% haste at -20% mana for 15 seconds. Go!”,”WHISPER”,nil,n)

Penance Priest has some other macro ideas, including the addition of quartz cooldowns and error checking.


WHO

As Power Infusion gives the recipient increased casting speed at a reduced mana cost, the spell should obviously be cast on someone who a) casts spells and b) uses mana.  Duh.  When determining who will benefit the most from PI, consider a) who can use an increased casting speed and b) who can use the break on mana consumption.  Duh +1.

Although I’ve read some suggestions that Disc Priests use the buff solely on themselves (and have raided with a Disc Priest who did just that), I think it would be a difficult argument to make that a Disc Priest needs help with mana.  (Maybe if you’re undergeared?  Maybe if you’re healing a heroic with 4 melee who won’t step out of whirlwinds?  Maybe if you’re using spells that don’t proc Rapture?)  If you feel you are struggling with the healing in a particular encounter, then by all means, buff yourself.  Otherwise, I’d recommend buffing someone else.

I don’t use Power Infusion as an “Oh shit!” button for more healing, but rather as a “Hell yeah!” button for a high-dpsing caster.  Consensus seems to be that mages are the best recipients of PI — they get the most bang-for-the-buck from the haste and the mana reduction.  However, depending on the makeup of your raid and the DPS of your caster group, you might chose a different target.

I don’t use Recount, and I don’t monitor the DPS of a fight, but if I don’t know my fellow raiders and don’t have an established target, after the first encounter, I always ask Kaleyen who the top caster and the top mage were so that I can gauge who gets PI.  If appropriate, I’ll Raid Leader if they have a preference for who receives it.

Mages who respond to my PI whisper macro with “??” do not get the buff again.  Mages who respond to my PI whisper macro with “omg i love you” do.


WHEN

Power Infusion does not stack with the mage talent Arcane Power, and the haste portion of the spell does not stack with Heroism/Bloodlust.  You’ll want to track these spells so you aren’t wasting a cooldown.  You can use the addon Need to Know to track the latter.  I use Grid to track Arcane Power on mages (See this post for help on setting up Grid).  If you try to cast PI on a mage who has Arcane Power up, you will get the “a more powerful spell is active” error message.  The mage will, however, be able to override PI with Arcane Power.

It’s also worth having a conversation with your casters to ask about their preference for receiving the spell.  Good DPS have their casting rotations down to a science, and they’ll be able to tell you when the buff would most benefit them.  For example, the mage Mirror Image ability reduces a mage’s threat, and so Mirror Image and Power Infusion work well together as the mage will be able to pump out the extra DPS without the risk of pulling aggro.  This spell is often their opening salvo, and if so, you should cast PI on them right away.  (I need to figure out a better way of tracking when a mage has Mirror Image active — other than, ya know, looking at the screen)

With a 1.6 minute cooldown, one can cast Power Infusion a lot over the course of a raid.  (You can use WWS to check the “uptime” of the spell.  For help with WWS, check here.)  This is something I’m trying to improve in my own gameplay, making sure that PI gets worked into my “rotation” regularly.

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When I logged into Twitter this morning, I saw that the venerable ILikeBubbles was studying the WWS reports from her 25man Naxx run.  A fellow soldier in the battle against Fail Priests, she was puzzled how a Holy Priest could have spent so much time casting Prayer of Healing and yet so little time healing the raid.  Having just written a very lengthy argument in support of WWS reports — a thread deleted  from the former guild’s forums due to my penchant, apparently, for nationalist-socialism — I thought I’d re-purpose some of the information here.

How to Use WoW Web Stats Reports
(more…)

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Much like Caesar, some Death Knights feel they’re invulnerable and supreme, arguing that as the first “hero class” they deserve never to be nerfed or tweaked or removed from 2200+ arena teams.  I’d argue that “hero class” means merely that Death Knights start at level 55 rather than level 1, and as characters who already have a history (pardon the RP here) — even if it’s in the service of Arthas — they (re)join the Alliance or the Horde with some very nice gear.

As such, Death Knights enter the Outlands at level 58 in all blues, gear that will tie them over for many, many levels.  Unlike other characters who (sadly) walk around in hideous mismatched armor and who find upgrades on the first greens that drop from the boars outside of Honor Hold, DKs needn’t feel any pressure to run the Outland instances or complete most Outlands questlines for anything other than XP.

That being said, there are three questlines that DKs shouldn’t miss while leveling.  The final reward for each of these is a weapon, a nice item for any class as weapons contain the most bang-for-the-buck stats (triple digit spellpower, for example) and sexiest enchants (such as Mongoose); but for a DK, it’s an essential.  By completing these quests, a DK will have a solid weapon that will take them from their starting weapon, through Outlands and Northrend leveling to (likely) the Blacksmith crafted mace upon hitting level 80.

1)  The Ring of Blood
Required Level:  65
This six quest series can be picked up from Gurgthock in Nagrand, in the Ring of Blood (duh) just west of the Laughing Skull ruins.   The quests will net you over 80,000 XP and 80 gold (plus some potions and bandages).   While the quest recommends five players, it can easily be accomplished with fewer, even if you’re doing this with level-appropriate characters.
Final Reward:  Honed Voidaxe

2) The Last Rites
Required Level:  68
This four quest series starts in the Borean Tundra, near The Death’s Stand.  This quest will net you about 60,000 XP and about 20 gold.  (There’s also a nice trinket reward along the way, Death Knight’s Anguish).  The first three parts are soloable; the last boss Prince Valanar, can be duoed with another player your level, as long as you watch out for his Soul Deflection damage-reflect.
Final Reward:  Axe of Frozen Death

3) The Amphitheater of Anguish
Required Level:  75
This six quest series starts with our buddy from Nagrand, Gurgthock, and completion of this and the Ring of Agony quests will give you the Of Blood and Anguish achievement.  This time, Gurgthock is in Zul’Drak.  As with the earlier quest series, completion gets you well over 100g and 150,000 XP (along with some potions and bandages).  The quest recommends five players, and if you are completing this with a level-appropriate group, you’ll definitely want a tank and a healer and dps.
Final Reward:  De-Raged Waraxe

With all these quests, it is worth asking in General chat if anyone else wants to join you.  Give first priority, naturally, to a healer as their weapon reward is very nice as well and as one of a thousand DKs out leveling, you’ll want to woo healers.  After all, there’s only so much Blood Aura can heal.  With the Ring and Amphitheater quests, assign one person in your group the task of starting the quests each time around, so that you’re certain everyone is ready and on the same fight.

Congrats on your new weapons.  (Don’t forget to runeforge!)

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Champion

Khaeli and Kaleyen finally earned their "Champion of the Wastes" titles.  Although we'd killed Malygos about a month ago, we'd never done Heroic Occulus or Heroic Halls of Stone.

PUGOS10

As no one in the guild seemed to log in to do 25-mans this weekend, I respecced shadow.  I'm still feeling pretty unsure of my DPS, but K- was really encouraging and supportive.  We did a couple of pickup raids, and yay, I didn't suck.

Stone

I'm planning a much longer post on this soon™ but I sent the shaman out to (begin to) gather the supplies necessary to switch Khaeli to jewelcrafting.  But as you can see, she was a little sidetracked by gathering candies instead.

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Still Shadow

Khaeli is still specced shadow, and I was even able to run Naxx 25 and OS 10 this weekend as DPS.  I had to put together the funkiest gear combination to get hit capped, but I don't feel I did too poorly.  Of course, when I bid on Soul of the Dead, the raid leader whispered, "When I saw that drop, I said, 'Disc Priest item!'" Despite the reminder that DPS is fun and easy and decidedly stress-free, I'm actually looking forward to healing again now, which is nice.

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We didn't feel like raiding last night, and so we spent the evening running heroics for badges and wintergrasp shards.  Knowing that I've been both stressed and undervalued as a Disc priest lately, K- suggested I respec Shadow for the evening.  My DPS was pretty lousy (in order to reach the hit cap, I'm wearing a real mish-mash of gear, including a helm from ZA), but I had so much fun.

And my new warlock (twink-to-be) alt now has shoulders and a trinket.

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