(Warning – RPer content ahead)
So, when I’m not busy being a restorelemenhancement shaman (since I love all three specs, but am currently resto), I can be found playing a priest. Annalira leveled holy, aside from a short stint with shadow from levels 63-67ish, and she has always been intended to be a healer. Pre-BC she raided Molten Core and BWL as an auxiliary healer – never really had the gear to sustain main healing. She was the first character I got to 70, but when I rolled Annorah she took a bit of a back seat.
And then Totally Raids picked up Annorah – my enhancement shaman, who was NOT supposed to be a healer. And two weeks later Annorah became my resto shaman.
Having two level 70 fully-specced healers, and no other alts at 70… blows. I couldn’t farm, I could barely quest (as long as the quests were 3 levels lower than I was), and I got tired of the run around it took to get a group to get anything done, as well as the constant expectation that I would heal for whatever anyone wanted me to heal.
So in one great marathon I dropped herbalism, leveled tailoring from 0-350, respecced Shadow, and started working on Anna’s frozen shadoweave set. And all was good. Until I started to have in-character interactions, and realized that as much as shadow is useful, and has great DPS, and is a wonderful addition to a group… there was no way I could reasonably justify Annalira’s shadow spec without totally redoing her character (not going to happen).
This was a few months ago. Since then I’ve tried a few things (from only using shadowform when I’m actually nuking things, to wearing pretty not-arcanist-reskin gear around town) but in the end things haven’t felt the same with Anna. And while I’m connected to all my characters very strongly, she’s probably the one that I identify with the most – feeling a disconnect from that meant that I stopped writing about her, stopped talking to her really.
And I started thinking (dangerous, I know), if there were some way to have her be primarily focused on Holy/Light, without having her automatically be a healer. Two things came to mind. Heavy discipline/pain suppression priest – a PVP healer; and a smite build. Now, I’ve not tried deep discipline in awhile, so I suppose that’s a viable alternative, but that’s not a DPS build – and she fills a DPS spot in a Karazhan raid and a Zul’Aman raid, and I’m not sure I want to go back to having two level 70 healers (though having Angoleth at 70 would help).
Smite builds? Well, there’s a reason they’re called Lolsmite builds. Can you do the DPS? Yes, kind of. But you’re not a mage, and you’re not a warlock. You lose all the utility of the shadowpriest but you don’t get the scaling damage of a pure damage caster. Unlike shadow, you have easy access to mana-efficient backup heals, but there are lots of classes that do that with much more utility than a smite priest (elemental shaman being the one that comes to mind).
And thus you see my dilemma. The most logical spec for Annalira is something like the 34/27/0 build that I’m experimenting with right now. And damn if it’s not a fun way to play. Lots of usable spells, equivalent DPS to shadow, easy backup healing – the Heroic Mechanar run I did Sunday night went well, as did the heroic Shattered Halls and heroic Mana Tombs runs I did Monday, and the playstyle is really enjoyable. But if I ever want to bring her to anything more complicated than Karazhan? Well, from a raid leader standpoint, there are no situations that I’ve experienced up through SSC/TK where I would say “You know, I wish we had a smite priest”.
So far I really like this build, but I don’t want to get groups only with people that already know and like me (not that I don’t like grouping with friends, but it’s nice to know that you’re there both because they like you AND because they know you’re not a noob).
So when is it, really, just a game? At what point do you say “spec how you like and have fun with it” and when do you say “you know, you just can’t hack it, time to respec or find the door”?