Arcane Priest DPS Overview (Video and Written)

  • Video


    This is an inclusive overview in which I will address Solo, PvP, Dungeon and Raid applications all to an extent.

    So, back in vanilla, priests (unlike any other class) had 2 abilities that changed depending on which race you were. However, most of these had long cooldowns or were temporary buffs of some kind. Night Elves stood out in this regard, as their Priests had access to a spell called "Starshards", which was a channeled, damage-over-time Arcane spell with no cooldown. It was very similar to the Mage spell "Arcane Missiles". But recent "Vanilla historians" have brought Starshards into the spotlight as a build-around damage spell, a Priest who focuses on dealing Arcane damage.

    Now, when it comes to damage, Priests usually have to pick between Holy or Shadow damage (or a mix of the two), but Arcane? Why would anyone build a Priest around Arcane? What do you get out of Starshards? You get the most mana-efficient damage spell in the entire Priest arsenal. You get more mana than you can imagine. I've heard of Arcane Priests in dungeons never needing a drink of water, or just going around questing non-stop. And, funnily enough, this is all thanks to the biggest WEAKNESS of Starshards - it has a 6 second channel time. This means several things. First, that you get a large amount of mana regen at the end of the spell cast. Second, this restricts mobility enormously. Third, it's a risky spell to cast - if you take any damage pushback when casting, the damage-per-mana becomes significantly worse. But let's look at the uses before getting into the math:

    Youtube Video

    Pros and Cons

    In solo, Arcane Priest is absolutely great because of all the health and mana regen you get from stacking Spirit. It doesn't kill the fastest, but using Power Word: Shield lets you avoid spell pushback when casting Starshards and your mana will take ages to go empty. In Dungeons, same deal - when everyone else is out of mana, you'll be sittin' pretty (although again, you don't exactly have "damage on demand"). In Raids, everything points to Starshards occupying a debuff slot (although this may be a bug) so you might not get picked unless you also have some INSANE Holy damage for the bosses. And in PvP, the low damage-per-second from Starshards may push you to use your "faster" damage skills instead. Now, you might get blocked from casting Holy or Shadow but you can still use Starshards as a backup. It also seems you can maintain line-of-sight and rotate instantly if someone tries to flank you while channeling.

    Talents and Math

    Now let's check out the talents. Okay, so there are a few things here that don't really help Arcane damage directly, but having access to full-power Smites and Holy Fires doesn't hurt. What really makes this whole thing work though, is Spiritual Guidance. This talent increases spell damage by 25% of your Spirit, so (for example) 400 Spirit also gives you 100 spell damage. Combine that with Spirit Tap in the Shadow tree and every time you kill something, you get double Spirit. So that 400 Spirit now becomes 800 for 15 seconds, and is now giving you 200 spell damage instead of 100. The Discipline tree rounds everything out with Divine Spirit, which increases your Spirit by another 40 (and therefore 10 spell damage). You also can get Silent Resolve which lowers your threat, Meditation which lets your Spirit regenerate more while casting, and Inner Focus, an ability that reduces the mana cost of your next spell by 100%.

    Now why is Spirit so important? Well, there's the spell damage, but the main reason is because of the "5 Second Rule of Spell Casting", which grants full Spirit regen if you haven't spent mana for "5 seconds" or longer. And although Spirit only grants mana every 2 seconds, Starshards (at a 6 second long channel) works very well with this mechanic by charging mana at the start of the channel, and granting a full dose of Spirit regen at the end of the channel. That means that you can chain Starshards to keep up that damage and yet be regenerating plenty of mana throughout a fight. The Meditation talent helps take advantage of Spirit as well, giving extra bits of Spirit-based regeneration throughout casting. Thankfully, in Vanilla WoW Spirit is a stat that is both in abundance and shunned by many, so there shouldn't even be that much competition for heavy Spirit gear throughout your adventures.


    And that's the advice I give for gear, just generally go for more Spirit. Intellect usually benefits offensive casters by granting not just a larger mana bar, but also increased chance to crit with your spells. Starshards, however, doesn't appear to be able to crit, which sucks! Though, that might change with the release of Classic if it counts as a "bug to be fixed" or somesuch. But unless that happens, Intellect is not going to be very useful for the Arcane Priest, and Spirit gives you damage.

    Final Thoughts

    And now we come to the conclusion of the matter. In my opinion, I think that in Classic, the Arcane Priest is going to be decent. Probably nothing game-breaking, and probably not utter garbage either. But I do think that the Night Elf Priest posesses the greatest potential of any other Race when it comes to Holy-damage Priests, simply because you get to do everything you normally want to do, and yet have that extra damage spell that lets you preserve mana and keep up the dps with all that Spirit you got lyin around. The real question is this: Starshards, or Fear Ward? Heh, we'll see, come Classic...

    About the Author

    I make videos about the lesser-known ways you can play the 9 classes of Classic World of Warcraft. I'm also a big fan of level 19 twinking. If you would like a video made about something, feel free to let me know!

  • Initiate

    I’d be really interested to try this build out. I don’t have beta access - can anyone confirm if starshards occupies a debuff slot?

  • Founder Priest Horde

    Dude this looks freakin cool, thank you soo much for putting the time and effort in to making this!!

  • Priest Horde

    I will definitely make an Alliance alt to play with this build. Never cared much for Alliance and NE in particular. But this build might change this.

  • Druid Alliance Initiate

    I was going to make an alt priest, for mind control lava fun, but I couldn't decide on Dwarf or Night Elf. With the Dwarf you have the bonuses of Fear Ward and being a Dwarf. For Night Elf you have Shadowmeld, which is great for getting those mind controls off before they see you. But with this I think I will be choosing a Night Elf.