16 January 2008

What not to wear (part 1)

Being purple and transparent, I don't much care what my clothes look like. Still, this game does require a certain amount of fashion sense — enough to know what gear will enhance your class, spec and play style the most. A warrior with intellect or a hunter with a fiery weapon is a sad sight, like a transvestite in their mother's clothes. But figuring out what stats look best on you is the easy part. The real trick is finding the gear to match. And for shadow priests, it inevitably involves some compromise.

The basic advice for levelling priests is to balance intellect, spirit and stamina and add spell damage where you can. If you're specced shadow, you should have five points in spirit tap to reduce down-time in-between fights. With enough spirit, you will rarely need to drink at all in solo play.

As you progress through Outland, the choices become more difficult. The good news is that stamina and intellect are abundant, and this kind of gear usually comes with a smattering of spell damage. It's quite easy to build up a substantial quota of spell damage simply through quest rewards. The trouble is that spirit doesn't really feature on dps gear, so as your spell damage increases your mana efficiency will decline. Speccing into discipline for meditation will help, as will vampiric touch, but the returns from spirit tap will slowly decline and you will find yourself drinking more often in-between fights.

At 70, you face a dilemma. If you want to raid, you need to improve your spell damage. The consensus for Karazhan entry seems to be about +700 shadow damage. But this comes at a cost. The best spell damage gear provides less intellect and stamina. My own health and mana pools are lower now than when I first hit 70. Add to that the high threat caused by vampiric embrace and vampiric touch and you become incredibly squishy.

That's the price of raiding shadow. In return, you will provide more health and mana to your party, which at the end of the day is your reason for being there in the first place, so perhaps it's not a bad compromise after all.

There's one other stat that raiding shadow priests need to consider that I haven't covered here, and that's spell hit. More on that next time, along with some hints on how to gear up for raiding when you hit 70.

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