I've done the unthinkable. I've crossed over from the Light to the shadow. From the light side of the force to the dark side of the force. A shadow has passed over my soul.
Oh, not entirely. I did drop my holy spec for a shadow spec, but I retain my trusty, true-blue discipline spec. You can have that when you pry it from cold, dead, pixelated hands.
That said, this does signify a bit of a twist in the road for me. I've dabbled in DPS, but generally on other classes and mostly in Wrath. In Cataclysm, I pretty much lost the way with DPS and healed all the things with all the things. I have one of each healer type at max level and that's pretty much all I did. Until recently, that is.
Starting a couple of months ago, I began getting back into my hunter, mostly neglected since Wrath except to level her up to 85. I realized that the reason I was pretty mediocre each time I took a half-hearted stab at DPS this expansion was due to never setting up a proper UI specifically for DPS. Even more so than healing, in my opinion, you need a really good informational set up about your abilities. The old maxim that DPS is a science, tanking is a skill and healing is an art really holds true to me. You obviously need a good informational set up to heal, but it's a different set of information, in my opinion. Healing has a large "feel" component, DPS is all about sharp precision. That's overly simplified (healing requires its own set of precision, DPS needs a feel for certain things) but I think it conveys the general idea.
Anyway, starting with my hunter, I began figuring out how to build a really good DPS UI for me. A UI that created an informational flow that made hitting the right ability at the right time feel natural. I had some good results on my hunter and I think hunter is a blast. If I could weld a discipline priest spec to a survival hunter spec on the same character, I would.
I can't, though, and I do want a proper DPS spec on my main character, which will continue to be my priest, Shanthi, into Mists of Pandaria. The biggest motivator was to be versatile, for the sake of my teammates. Having been the healer with two healing specs (discipline and holy), I was obviously never going to be doing anything but heal. For most of tier 13, we had three healers, which was fine until we hit heroic modes and dropped to two healers for various encounters. At that point, we usually needed one of our healers to go DPS and guess who it wasn't going to be? I felt bad that someone else always had to shift, never me.
So that was the primary motivation. Wanting to be useful as more than a healer. I often run five-mans with friends and one of those friends is a main spec healer also. Since you very rarely two heal five-man dungeons, she always had to switch to accommodate me. I needed more versatility.
However, as I've spent more and more time, since patch 5.0 dropped, working on my shadow UI and rotation, I've found it to be a lot of fun. I've been asking to go DPS as much as possible in raids to get practice keeping my DPS as high as possible while handling mechanics...it's a lot of fun handling a different role. Also, it's a lot of fun melting the faces of monsters.*
*Additionally, shadow has far cooler minor glyphs than discipline or holy. So there's that.
So now I feel very comfortable about heading into Mists of Pandaria as a discipline/shadow priest. I'll offer my raid more options in terms of composition and it really won't be any kind of sacrifice for me...it'll be fun whether I'm healing or DPSing.
This was going to be the introduction to a post in which I talk about my observations of the best way to play shadow (hey, we're all new to 5.0 class mechanics and I've been spending a lot of time reading and thinking about shadow DPS, even if I'm not a long-time shadow priest)...but this "introduction" got a little longer than I expected, so I think I'll just leave it as a stand-alone post about what I've been up to and follow it up in a few days about my thoughts on shadow priest DPS.
I believe that this blog will still mostly focus on healing (with a bias toward priest healing) but there will probably be some posts about DPS (with a bias toward priest DPS) now and again.