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Your primary buffing category, Discipline includes Power Word: Shield and Power Word: Fortitude, which are two spells that you’re going to be using quite often, both on yourself and your teammates. Many of these spells are useful for both solo or group play, although some are exclusively self-buffs, such as Inner Fire, which gives you extra attack power and a huge boost to your armor score for a few minutes. Even Inner Fire is defensively oriented, though, and that’s the story of this ability tree: most of the abilities here are intended to improve your defense, or those of your teammates. There are some exceptions, of course, such as the direct-damage Starshards, or Shackle Undead, which is tremendously useful at higher levels. Although it’s a simple root, and only works on undead foes, you’re going to find plenty of use for it when you start hitting the Eastern and Western Plaguelands, which is where the Scourge has established themselves.
In an odd juxtaposition, though, many of the Discipline talents are targeted towards improving your offensive abilities, with talents like Silent Resolve, which reduces the threat you gain with damaging spells, Wand Specialization, which increases the amount of damage you deal with wands, and Force of Will, which gives a small bonus to the damage dealt by offensive spells. Feel free to mix and match talents here as you like; almost everyone will get something out of Improved Power Word: Shield, which lets you cast the spell more often onto yourself or one of your tanks. Improved Power Word: Fortitude can also be worthwhile, although like many talents that add percentage increases to numbers, it will be somewhat insignificant at lower levels of the spell itself. There are some other generally useful talents, though, including Mental Strength and Meditation. The outstanding member of the class, though, is Divine Spirit, which is a long-lasting and effective Spirit buff, but which is unfortunately locked for you until you spend 30 talent points in the tree.
Holy spells are pretty much the raison d’etre of the priest class; these encompass all of your healing abilities, including Lesser Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Renew, Prayer of Healing, Desperate Prayer, Flash Heal, etc. Obviously, you’ve got a lot of different options available to you, so buy them all and start learning the differences between them and what situations each one is appropriate for! In general, spells like Lesser Heal, Renew, and Flash Heal are the ones you’ll want to be using most often in group play; Heal and Greater Heal are obviously powerful, but they have long casting times and are aggro magnets. If you cast one, you can expect to get the attention of any enemies that haven’t been Taunted by your party’s tank. So far as offensive abilities goes, you do gain Smite from the Holy tree, such as it is. If you compare it to the direct damage abilities of a mage, Smite isn’t much to speak of, but it’s what you’ve got, so make the most of it.
If you plan on fulfilling the archetypal priest role in group play, then Holy talents are where you’ll want to invest most of your points. Almost everything here is useful, especially the talents on the first three tiers, such as Subtlety, which will reduce the threat you gain when casting healing spells, Spiritual Healing, which increases the amount of health your healing spells restore, and Holy Specialization, which increases the chance that your healing spells will spontaneously double their effects. You’ll want to investigate the effects of all of these talents before deciding which ones to invest your points into, but they all have some utility.
Shadow Magic is the priest’s primary damage-dealing and offensive spell tree, encompassing as it does spells such as Shadow Word: Pain, which is a helpful damage-over-time effect, and Mind Blast, which is a better offensive spell than Smite for solo play, due to its lower casting time and increased damage. There are also a number of less overtly offensive spells here, though, such as Psychic Scream, which is going to be incredibly useful for soloing, as it causes enemies to run away from you so that you can hit them with more spells, and Fade, which will reduce your threat against nearby enemies and allow your warriors to get an enemy’s attention once more.
The most useful talents here will unfortunately only be available after you make your way up the tree a bit. One of the biggies here is Mind Flay, which combines a slowing effect with damage-over-time, and can be constantly recast, allowing you to prevent enemies from escaping from battle while quickly ensuring their death. Mind Flay also makes for an excellent match with Vampiric Embrace, which will let all of your teammates gain 20% of the damage dealth by the former spell, but you’ll want to cast these on something tough, such as a boss monster, to ensure that they last long enough to be useful. Silence is another good choice, as it costs only one talent point and will let you prevent targets from casting spells for a short period of time; this is obviously great when you can foresee a high-damage or healing spell coming down the pipe, and while the 45-second cooldown is a tad long, it’s short enough to allow you to use the ability once every fight or so.
One of the most important abilities here is Shadowform. Although you have to work your way through the entire tree to get to it, it becomes incredibly useful when you do, as it’ll increase the amount of damage you deal with your shadow spells by 15% and will reduce the amount of physical damage you take by 15%, thus effectively making you 30% more effective when pairing off against melee-oriented enemies. You’re not going to see many talents offering you that kind of benefit with only one talent point required. The big caveat here is that you can’t cast holy spells while you’re in Shadowform, so it’s not something you’re going to want to use a lot while partying, but it can make soloing a heck of a lot easier.