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Priest Basics Guide

The Basics - Mana
Mana is the magical energy that almost all casters draw on to cast spells. The amount of mana you have is mostly determined by your intelligence, while the speed at which it regenerates is determined by your spirit, the amount of MP5 you have, and a small portion of your intelligence.

Having enough mana is critical to the Priest class as all of your abilities require mana to be used. If you run out of mana on a fight you will still be able to attack with your wand, however this will severely hinder your healing and DPS. Blizzard has however given Priests the ability to use a Shadowfiend. This spell summons a shadowy fiend to attack the Priest’s target. While attacking, the Shadowfiend allows the caster to receive 5% mana on each attack. Don’t let this spell make you lax in your mana awareness though. Learning how to manage your mana as with all caster classes is very important, but can only be done with lots of trial and error.

The Basics - Healing
When playing in a group, or solo it is important to understand which heals you should use based on the situation you find yourself in. While big heals may seem appealing they are not always the best choice. Large heals will gain you tons of threat, take quite a bit of time to cast, and will use a big chunk of your mana pool. When healing, keep your options open and cast the heal that will best benefit the situation instead of just the biggest one available.

No matter if you are in a large raid, a small group, PvPing or solo healing a Priest should never underestimate the power of their Renew. Renew is a HoT (heal over time) that will help keep you or your party alive while leaving you free to cast other heals. Another tool that Priests can use to assist them in healing is Power Word: Shield. While not technically a heal, this shield will absorb damage which will keep the target alive while the Priest heals them to full.

While healing you will gain threat just like any other class. While healers very rarely pull threat, sometimes it just happens. Priests can easily drop this threat by using their Fade ability.

The Basics - Shadowform
Shadowform is the exact opposite of healing and represents the Priest’s affinity with death. Shadowform is the choice for those Priests who wish to do DPS. Once activated the Priest will turn dark in color, in essence becoming one with the shadows. Shadowform increases the Priest’s Shadow damage, reduces all damage to the Priest, and also reduces the threat generated. It also grants the periodic damage from Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, and Vampiric Touch spells the ability to critically hit for 100% increased damage.

While in this form the Priest may not cast holy spells, meaning that the Priest cannot heal themselves, or the raid quickly. However if needed the Priest can come out of Shadowform at any time (even in combat) with the cost of some mana to heal if needed. Priests using this form can however cast Power Word: Shield.

Shadow Priests bring several benefits to raids, including Vampiric Touch (does Shadow damage and causes up to 10 party/raid members to gain 1% of their maximum mana back when the Priest deals damage from Mind Blast), Vampiric Embrace (afflicts the target with Shadow energy that causes the Priest to be healed by 15%, and other party members to be healed for 3% of any Shadow spell the Priest deals), and

The Basics - First Aid
When I first started off as a healer (my first character was a Paladin) I thought, why the hell would I need to know first aid, I can just heal myself. It turns out that many healers have this opinion, and suffer for it later.
All healers NEED to know first aid in the end game as a way to heal yourself without spending any mana. In end game instances and raids you will take damage due to AOE damage and zone effects, and mana is critical in long fights. Bandaging lets you heal yourself (usually more than enough) and still allows you to regenerate mana while doing it. Because it is not a cast, the 5 second mana regeneration rule does not apply to it and you can step out of combat for a little bit, bandage yourself and come back into the fight with more mana than you left.

In an emergency first aid can also be used on another target, although it is likely to be interrupted if you try it on someone in combat. Don't try this as it doesn't do much, but still puts the 30 second cool down on them. If you are going to use a bandage on someone wait until they step away from combat and drop aggro.

For the reasons explained here, I would suggest that everyone level first aid as they level their character. I have gone back to level it twice once I was level 60 and it is not fun.

The Basics - Picking a Profession

Picking a profession can be a daunting task. Everyone wants to pick the profession that is best for them and their class. The Priest class is no different with some professions clearly being better than others. To help make your decision please visit our Priest Profession Guide.

The Basics - Stats
Holy
Holy Priests should try to stack haste up to between 12-14%, and pick up as much Intellect as possible. Spellpower will be the next stat a Holy Priest should look for as you just can’t go wrong with it and you can honestly never have enough. Spirit has recently been nerfed, however it still remains an important stat for Priests, however not THE most important stat. 11 Spirit will get you roughly 4 Mp5, and stacking Spirit will allow you to regen mana during your down time. Crit is a valuable stat, although not something you should stress over, especially after you reach 30% raid buffed. Goals to set for the start of Ulduar 25 are to have 2800 spell power, 25-28% crit, and 12% haste, along with around 500 Mp5 fully raid buffed.

Discipline
Disc Priests have a different healing style from Holy Priests and as such they have different stat requirements. One of the most important stats for a Disc priest is crit, as several of their spells rely on it. As such they are required to have slightly more than a Holy Priest. Disc Priests should pick up to 11% haste, stacking any more than that is just a waste. Spellpower is excellent for a Disc Priest especially since unlike Holy Priests they do not have Spiritual Guidance. Stack as much Intellect as possible; it not only broadens your mana pool but also helps your Mp5. Finally you can also stack some Spirit. How much you want is in my opinion up to the individual Priest. Remember 11 Spirit equals 4 Mp5. Goals to have for the start of Ulduar 25 should be 2500 Spell Power, 35% crit, 8% haste, and roughly 500 Mp5 while fully raid buffed.