Last updated: 12/12/08, patch 3.0.2.
Priests can be excellent damage dealers or healers.
- If you like to be in the thick of the action:
A melee or tank class might be better for you.
- If you want to be a damage dealer:
Shadow priests excel at dishing out constant damage, have high single-target DPS, and an even better multi-mob damaging ability through their Mind Sear spell. Doing damage as a shadow priest is largely similar to playing an affliction specialized warlock; it involves managing your damage-over-time (DoT) spells and ensuring that they remain active your enemies. At higher levels, shadow priests more commonly fill the role of a damage-dealer (DPSer) in groups, but are still commonly asked to heal. That being said, you probably should not select the priest class if you think you will never want to be asked to heal in groups. Shadow priests are desirable in raid environments due to the Replenishment (mana regenerating) buff that they can bring.
- If you want to be a good healer:
A priest is a very powerful healer. They have a wide range of abilities at their disposal to keep their party members alive: large heals, small heals, a shield, a heal over time, and multiple group and multi-target heals. However, a priest specializing in healing will not have the ease of defeating enemies in solo play that shadow priests or other damage dealers might. They may rely more on doing instances or groups to gain levels. Fortunately, a priest with many talents in the shadow talent tree can still be an excellent healer in groups with the proper skill and gear. A priest’s naturally powerful healing is usually sufficient, and you should not feel required to specialize in talents that increase your healing ability in order to be a good healer while leveling. Many priests will level with a shadow talent spec and will respec in the higher levels to a more healing-oriented spec, if that is their objective. Priests are the only class with two trees aimed at healing, and the only type of healer that can specialize in damage prevention.
- If you have high latency:
Healing is very tough if your computer or internet connection is such that you have high latency, but it can be done. I’ve found that healing at high latency is a bit easier as a paladin, due to the spam-heal mechanics. A shadow priest at high latency is at a large disadvantage compared to other casters. Most all shadow damage spells are either instant casts or have a short casting times. A mage suffers a lot less from high latency as their spells have longer cast times. Warlocks do as well (depending on talent choices). Even elemental shaman and balance druids have longer casting time damage spells than shadow priests.