Healing as a Shadow Priest

Last updated: 11/13/07 for patch 2.3.


Don’t let the fact that you have zero points in the Holy tree stop you from healing in instances. A shadow priest should be able to heal any non-heroic instance just fine. Don’t be afraid to offer to heal, especially if you think you will be healing more in the future (either as Shadow, or as Holy). Healing as a shadowpriest is excellent practice, as it will force you to learn good habits in terms of both mana and healing efficiency.

Here are a few simple tips:

1. Be Prepared

Level 40 and beyond you should start holding onto pieces of gear that you get that focus more in healing stats than what you would wear to solo with. You are looking for: +heal, +mp5, +spirit, and +int. Even if you do not keep the extra gear on you, be sure to keep a set in the bank, and be sure that it is updated appropriately (no, you shouldn’t be healing a level 70 instance in healing gear that you have had since level 50).

Be sure to have: mana potions (you don’t always need the max rank; keep a few of the lower rank, too, for when you just need a little boost), health potions (saving yourself could easily save a wipe), and bandages (it’s a mana-free self heal!).

If you are looking for some additional boosts, try picking up some Mana Oils appropriate to your level (especially if you are pugging; they persist through death). They are cheap and will last.

2. Be Efficient

Welcome to the “Price is Right” of healing. The name of the game is trying to heal the tank’s health up as much as you can without going over (overhealing). As with healing in general, it’s all about hitting that “sweet spot”. Holy specced, you might typically aim to heal the tank up to about 85% health with each heal. As a shadow priest healing, your heals aren’t as quick, so you have to aim a bit higher (90%+). Repeatedly start casting a heal before a tank takes damage, and just interrupt the spell cast if the heal isn’t needed, or looks like it will miss the sweet spot.

Your heals are more costly, too, which means you have to milk your mana pool for all that it is worth. You cannot afford to be constantly overhealing. You also can’t afford to be tossing around spells that do little healing compared to their mana costs; you need the be as efficient as possible.

Use caution with these spells:

  • Power Word: Shield should only be used situationally, or in those true life-or-death moments.
  • Holy Nova has provides little healing for its high mana cost.
  • Prayer of Healing isn’t worth it’s cost unless it will be healing at least three party members the full amount.
  • Binding Heal is only worth it if both you and the target have taken damage.
  • Avoid renewing Renew, unless it is over, or close to it.

Don’t be afraid to downrank your healing spells, either. Though you may not be able to downrank to the degree a healing-specced priest could, you can always stand save more mana.

3. Be Confident

Priests retain strong healing potential, even with zero points in their Holy tree. Don’t be shy about healing instances, even with people you don’t know. Don’t think of it as a way you could potentially fail, but as a fantastic opportunity to show other just how wonderful the priest class can heal. Priest healing is very adaptable, allowing us to do well in many different healing scenarios. Our flexibility as a healing class makes us ideal for healing without the proper spec.

If you find things not working out too well in an instance, don’t immediately blame yourself. Though you are there to heal, it does NOT automatically make it your fault if someone dies. Reflect on the workings of the whole group: is everyone doing their job properly? Is the tank holding aggro and not taking a tremendous amount of damage? Are the DPSers watching their threat? Is there appropriate crowd control?

4. Be Realistic

Knowing what we lack can help us adapt to our non-specced role better. For instance: we do not have the threat reduction to our healing spells that other priests may have. However, by ensuring that our tank starts battle with Prayer of Mending on, and by waiting a bit before casting any other heal on him/her, that fact is compensated for.

If you find that you are having trouble getting past a certain boss, do not be afraid to ask another healing hybrid class in your group to help out by tossing a few heals. It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with spike damage if the tank’s gear is mediocre.

There are times when it may be best to not have your healing at all! In Outlands instances, mobs with the words “Physician”, “Mender”, or “Acolyte” in their names typically have some strong healing ability. Mind Control the mobs and make them heal for you.

5. Be Courteous

Don’t whine and complain about how hard healing is, or how much of a sacrifice it is for you to be healing though you are not specced for it. You are just wasting a good opportunity to gain a lot of respect from people. Good healers are hard to find on many servers, and even worse, many people don’t realize that a priest can be a great DPSer or healer, without having to respec. Impress others with your skills, and do the priest class proud!

Be clear when joining a group that you intend to roll on any cloth DPS pieces (if you are). Some people may assume that since you are healing, you may be passing on them. It’s best to clear this up before an issue arises.

Not being specced for healing, you can’t be creating any miracles. If the group doesn’t have its act together, there is little chance you will be able to just save the group by healing harder. Be upfront with that fact if things look a little shaky with the group. Don’t make excuses, but just calmly explain that you can’t keep up a mage tank, for instance. It’s just a matter of practicality.

As always, remain positive, and stay constructive if you have to offer up any advice.

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2 Responses

  1. I like this post. I’m currently talking with a few well known priest bloggers on possibly trying a new website experiment based on the scholar journal methodology. If you would like more information about the experiment feel free to contact me.

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  2. Thank you for putting all this information together.. I’m am currently leveling a priest alt and all this is such great advice!

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