Healing priest was the first main character I had in WoW.
I was account sharing with my friends/roommates trying to find a groove. Warrior didn’t fit. Mage didn’t fit. Paladin didn’t fit. When I rolled a Night Elf Priest for the first time, that was it – I went out, bought World of Warcraft in June 2005, and it was on.
Most of my raiding “career” has been on priest. I spent nearly a decade playing Priest exclusively in raids, and it wasn’t until mid-2015 that I went Monk (for part time healing/part time tanking) and then 2016 where I switched to Demon Hunter, where I’ve been ever since in both tank and DPS roles, short of a start of Shadowlands excursion as Holy Paladin.
This weekend, I was feeling a bit of desire to play something different in WoW. I decided to fire up my priest, my original raid main, who I did level to 60 (and had geared reasonably well, he was 198 despite having not been played in months) and decided to get him to Korthia and putz around a little bit. When I last played him, I was rolling as Shadow almost purely, and had picked Kyrian for cool cloth armor with no mindfulness of whether or not Boon of the Ascended was a viable Covenant ability. When I switched in Warlords of Draenor away from him in the middle of Heroic Hellfire Citadel progression, it wasn’t because I hated priest or anything – it just better served the raid to have me able to heal and tank, and Priests can’t tank (although in ICC I was king of getting Lana’thel’s attention for the first bite somehow, which led to a number of wipes and running jokes).
Priest is one of those classes that is comfortable to me. I played it for so long in so many ways that even through changes, it still feels like the nights spent in Molten Core. I decided that for now, I wanted to try healing in Shadowlands a bit more, and while I have a more-geared (well, was more geared) Holy Paladin, the DPS to heal lifestyle in WoW isn’t my groove all the time, especially given the harder-to-use healing kit of paladins. So I went Holy for the first time in a while.
I probably spent more time raiding in both Disc and Shadow over the course of my time maining a Priest, but Holy has a certain comfort to it for me. Holy is the spec I spent most of Wrath of the Lich King playing, probably the time where I was most engaged with the game. Despite the flat rating of “10 years” playing a priest, my most gameplay hours were probably into Wrath of the Lich King on the class and were mostly spent on Holy.
Shadowlands Priest design has a lot of hooks for someone like me, particularly for Holy. Circle of Healing is back and baseline. Prayer of Mending is back to instant cast (I don’t know if that was a Shadowlands change since I played Shadow when leveling my priest in BfA). The spec just feels homey to me in that way – the core gameplay is different, sure – no more Spirit, a Covenant ability, the pace and flow of the modern game – but then I get into the flow of healing and it all feels so familiar, and in a strange way…comforting.
I spent around 10 hours this weekend just goofing around on my priest, gearing from 198 item level to 209, running Mythics, Mythic Pluses, doing some LFR, engaging with world content in Korthia and the Maw, and just generally enjoying myself. I like healing.
One of the things about holy trinity gameplay design in MMOs is that, done right, I vastly prefer healing to the other two roles. Rotations and locking in perfect execution around movement requirements and mechanics are great, but great healing is an improvisational performance. You get a lot of choice and agency for how to perform – do you play into a damage meta, and if so, how do you handle incoming damage? You have a lot of spell choices and while there are certain truisms about each healing class/job in most MMOs, it’s not like DPSing where you really never should use a spell or ability. Holy Priests have had Renew as a standard, low-HPS HoT spell for ages, and depending on the expansion, it is a trap choice, but I always enjoy using it to brace for AoE damage or using it on a tank to build Echo of Light from Mastery. I’ve enjoyed trying to find the ways to channel my lazy FFXIV White Mage into my Holy Priest gameplay – focusing on DPS and using Circle of Healing/Prayer of Healing to lazily and inaccurately top up people so I can get back to Smiting. I’ve been smashing my Holy Words to put up a big Mastery HoT in anticipation of incoming damage, saving my Serenity for the actual reactive damage moment.
It’s been fun. Not to say my Demon Hunter isn’t fun, or that I’m done playing her – I’m certainly not. But it’s been very enjoyable to try something different – a totally different role, a spec and class I’m familiar with that feels the closest to that time I enjoyed most. Holy Priests aren’t the meta right now, because the meta is becoming more damage – Disc Priest would be the meta, but I have a second priest for that. Of course, Holy isn’t a bad healer – quite the opposite, it probably has the most throughput of any healer in the game right now. It just doesn’t bring much else besides raw throughput, and a well-played Resto Shaman can get to similar numbers with higher damage dealt, so that’s that. But I’m also not playing this character trying to get Mythic World First and I haven’t pushed a key higher than a +2 despite my gear indicating it’s go time. This is just for me, a little moment of purer, lower pressure play – where I get to dictate the terms over a fixed rotation and still perform up to snuff and then some.
I like being a Priest, sometimes.