Monday, August 13, 2007

Spiritual Guidance: Priest sets (part two)

Every Sunday, Eliah or Elizabeth will bring you their thoughts on the Priest class with Spiritual Guidance. Whether it's keeping your fellow players alive or melting their faces, you can read about it here!

The archaic stuff out of the way, in part two of this two-part series we turn to the hot new stuff: the Priest sets from the Burning Crusade. BC made one tremendous improvement in the way class sets were handled: raid gear for off-specs. For us men and women of the cloth, that means Tier 4, 5, and 6, as well as Arena gear, are available in versions befitting both healing and shadow priests.
As before, I'll start with the epic raid gear, T4, T5, and T6, pictured above from left to right. They really went crazy with the shoulders, didn't they?

Tier 4, like all the BC tier sets, is five pieces, and it comes from Karazhan, Gruul's Lair, and Magtheridon. It's tokenized, so instead of the actual pieces dropping, items drop like Gloves of the Fallen Defender, which can be turned in by any warrior, priest, or druid for their actual T4 gloves. This also enables people to pick whichever version they want (healing or damage for priests, etc.). The set is called Incarnate Raiment (healing) or Incarnate Regalia (DPS); collectively, it's known as Incarnate. It's not the prettiest gear, in my opinion, but it fits in well in KZ. Here are the set bonuses:
  • Raiment:
    • 2 pieces: Your Prayer of Healing spell now also causes an additional 150 healing over 9 sec.
    • 4 pieces: Each time you cast Flash Heal, your next Greater Heal cast within 15 sec has its casting time reduced by 0.1, stacking up to 5 times.
  • Regalia:
    • 2 pieces: Your Shadowfiend now has 75 more stamina and lasts 3 sec. longer.
    • 4 pieces: Your Mind Flay and Smite spells deal 5% more damage.
The 2/5 healing bonus is nice, amounting to somewhere between a 5-10% bonus to PoH, although it does look small. The 4/5 bonus is interesting, but never having had it, I can't really comment first-hand. I can say that I don't use Flash that much, so I doubt it would wind up amount to much. (Why don't I have 4/5 of my T4? Two words: Primal Mooncloth. I'll discuss that more later.) The 2/5 dps bonus is great; in fact, I'd like a 20% extended Shadowfiend as a healer. Mmm mana. The 4/5 bonus also seems solid enough, and is an amusing acknowledgment that Smite-based priests exist.

As far as stats, as I alluded to above, Primal Mooncloth, a BoP tailored set, beats T4 significantly in the slots it can go in. There is also a problem with the head piece's itemization: it has a meta gem slot. There are no really good meta gems available for healers. Therefore, a good chunk of that piece's item budget is essentially lost. The stats were bumped up considerably in the 2.1 patch, though, along with almost every other epic in the game, so it's a much more competitive set than it used to be.

Tier 5 drops in Serpentshrine Cavern and The Eye. If I may say so, it looks pretty rad. The metal angel wings are a nice touch, attached to the shoulders. And getting a real halo is always fun. I had a good time running around with T5 on when they were handing it out on the PTRs to test the Black Temple. It's called Avatar Raiment/Regalia, and here are its set bonuses:
  • Raiment:
    • 2 pieces: If your Greater Heal brings the target to full health, you gain 100 mana.
    • 4 pieces: Increases the duration of your Renew spell by 3 sec.
  • Regalia:
    • 2 pieces: Each time you cast an offensive spell, there is a chance your next spell will cost 150 less mana.
    • 4 pieces: Each time your Shadow Word: Pain deals damage, it has a chance to grant your next spell cast within 15 sec up to 100 damage and healing.
12% mana back on your Greater Heal if it tops the target off? Yes please! And a 20% longer Renew is almost equally hot. According to Wowhead, the proc rate of the Regalia 2/5 is 6%, which works out to 9 mana off every spell. That adds up. And the Regalia 4/5 is really interesting. It appears to have a 40% proc rate, which means every three seconds, you get on average up to +40 damage/healing to your next spell. I like the sound of that a lot. Anyone played with this and have an impression of its value?

Tier 6 is the best gear WoW has to offer right now for raiders. It drops in the Black Temple and Mount Hyjal, and there can't be that many people in the world (if any) who have completed their sets. I used to not like the look of our T6 that much, but it looks great on Beardy the dwarf up there. The faces on the shoulderpads are an inspired touch, and everyone loves chains. It's called Absolution Raiment/Regalia. Here's the slightly disappointing bonuses:
  • Raiment:
    • 2 pieces: Reduces the cost of your Prayer of Healing ability by 10%.
    • 4 pieces: Increases the healing from your Greater Heal ability by 5%.
  • Regalia:
    • 2 pieces: Increases the duration of your Shadow Word: Pain ability by 3 sec.
    • 4 pieces: Increases the damage from your Mind Blast ability by 10%.
Why do I call these disappointing? Well, the 4/5 bonuses are both no better than the 4/5 of Incarnate Regalia, which is T4. That's not the sort of thing a person wants to see in top-class epic gear. They're fine, but not outstanding like the T3 bonuses were.

What's a level 70 to do for set gear before they start raiding? Well, first off, there's our Dungeon Set 3, Hallowed Raiment, pictured at right. It's five pieces, and only comes in healing flavor. It comes from all over the place: Sethekk Halls, Shattered Halls, Shadow Labyrinth, and Arcatraz. The looks are nothing to write home about, but dungeon sets never have been. It does have a halo, which quite honestly you deserve for beating Skyriss. He's a pain. The bonuses:
  • 2 pieces: Gives you a 30% chance to avoid interruption caused by damage while casting Binding Heal.
  • 4 pieces: Your Prayer of Mending heals an additional 100 health.
That 2/5 is obviously trash. It does draw even more emphasis to the fact that Binding Heal is meant to be used in a pinch -- when a mob is beating on you, for instance -- but the truth is Binding Heal is fast enough and enough priests have Holy Concentration that the difference between 70% and 100% resistance to interruption is not too significant. The 4/5 is a little better, especially because it applies to each hop of PoM. The stats on the set are decent, but compromised by the fact that the it has both yellow and meta sockets, neither of which have great options for healing priests. That's some points lost.

For more pre-raid gear, and some of the best value in WoW, look no further than Primal Mooncloth and Whitemend Wisdom, two small sets of tailored gear, pictured together at left (as you can see, they're just a recolor of Prophecy, our T1). Neither of them are technically Priest-only, but as they are cloth healing gear, a Priestly focus is definitely there. Between the two of them, they fill four the five slots of a five-piece set (head, shoulders, belt and chest) as well as pants. They're best-in-slot gear at least until T5; T4 is really no competition, especially when set bonuses are taken into account. The materials can be pretty costly, and you have to be a primal mooncloth tailor to wear the Primal Mooncloth gear (since it's BoP), but in my opinion, it's worth it. The hardest part for me was finding a tailor with primal nethers to make me the Whitemend pieces, which are BoE (they take one each). Here are the bonuses:
  • Primal Mooncloth 3/3: Allows 5% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting.
  • Whitemend Wisdom 2/2: Increases healing by up to 10% of your total Intellect.
I am never giving up my PM bonus. Well, probably if I get to T5. But I love it so much. And the Whitemend bonus is a good way to make more out of the gobs of Int that you can't avoid getting your hands on as you collect epics (seriously, they're covered in Int; it's a bit annoying). And aside from the bonuses, the stats on these are simply incredible. Seek these sets out if you're a healing priest.

And finally, we come to the PvP gear: Gladiator's Investiture/Raiment, and Merciless Gladiator's Investiture/Raiment, for Arena seasons 1 and 2, respectively. Their looks (at right) are meant to be reminiscent of T4 and T5, respectively, and they're some of my favorite sets graphically, although the S1 gear looks a little more Druidic than Priestly to me.

I'm told it's the gear to aim for if you're an Arena player. Me, I don't PvP much, and especially not with my priest, but it's sure nice to look at. The set bonuses are all the same, whether S1 or S2, Investiture or Raiment:
  • 2/5: +35 Resilience
  • 4/5: Reduces the duration of the Weakend Soul effect caused by your Power Word: Shield by 2 sec.
The gloves also carry their own bonus: Increases the duration of your Psychic Scream spell by 1 sec. All in all, a focus on not letting people damage you, which is important for Priests, I suppose. We are squishy after all.

I'd like to close with the following image, showing the progression of all our Tier sets. Thanks for reading! Which set is your favorite?

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