Excuse the reference to an obscure cyberpunk pen&paper RPG, this post is about a Naxxramas heroic run I did last night with my priest in shadow spec. Overall the run was very successful, we cleared 3 wings in 3 hours, and got a lot of epics. In spite of several people who thought we weren't "hardcore enough" having left the guild recently, we are doing surprisingly well with a more relaxed attitude; one could even say better than before. We manage to accomodate people who come home late from work, or others who have to leave early, by swapping people in and out with very little fuzz. And we have people politely passing on loot that is a bigger upgrade for somebody else. We're probably not running the most efficient raids, but we're running very pleasant raids, which is a different value.
So with the guild not being overly strict, and us having tons of healers anyway, it was no problem for me to do one raid as shadow priest. I had pushed up my hit rating a bit more with tips from my readers, and got my miss rate down to 1.5%. At the end of the raid Recount showed me as having done 3k dps overall, and being 6th in total damage dealt, nearly 11 million points of damage. Considering that I was still mostly wearing healing gear, I was quite happy with that performance.
I mentioned before that in holy spec my priest rarely had any mana problems. That turned into a complete parody with the more powerful mana regeneration of the shadow build. For example at Loatheb I did nothing but stand still and blast damage spells as fast as I could at the boss for a full 6 minutes, and at the end of the combat I was still at full mana. If I had taped over my mana bar on the screen to make it completely invisible to me, it wouldn't have made a difference, I simply didn't need to watch mana in that raid. I consider that to be bad game design, because you are taking away a tactical choice between more or less mana efficient spells from the players. And I'm afraid the mana nerf in patch 3.1 will not be sufficient to fix that, if it only affects out-of-combat mana regeneration.
This shadow run was a test for the upcoming dual spec in patch 3.1. I'm feeling comfortable doing a shadow build as my second spec now, and switching to it whenever more dps is required, without being a burden to the raid. But I did realize that while dual spec offers the possibility to have two sets of talents and corresponding sets of glyphs, I do not currently own two sets of gear. My solution to just change gems isn't viable for dual spec, unless I want to spend a fortune on gems for every switch. But then I might not really need to. While stats like hit rating might be "most efficient" for shadow priests, they are not absolutely necessary. And for holy priests hit rating is completely useless. So if I concentrate on different stats, like spellpower, int, and crit, I will get stats which are excellent for the holy priest, but still good enough for the shadow build without needing a second set of gear. Yes, having a second set of hit rating gear would be nice, but any piece I take for that set is missing for somebody else in the guild who might need it full time.
So I'm declaring the shadow experiment as over, and will switch back to holy tonight. I'll switch out my hit rating gems and replace them with gems that are useful for both talent builds, so I'm prepared for dual spec when it comes. And I guess I can count myself lucky that as priest I'll be able to do two specs with one set of gear. A lot of other classes, for example my warrior, will definitely need two completely different sets of gear for switching from one role to another.