According to a recent census at Warcraft Realms, only 4% of all priests are Dwarves. They come second to last only to Tauren, who up until this expansion were not a playable race for priests. When I decided to leave the Horde for the Alliance, there was no doubt in my mind which race I was going to choose. I changed my Blood Elf into a Dwarf and never looked back. Granted, there are a number of races out there that could be seen as having better racials for priests and each one has their pros and cons.
However, as I find myself experiencing more of Cataclysm and getting familiar with the current state of instances, I’m reminded of why choosing a Dwarf priest was the best decision I ever could have made. Others may disagree and that’s fine. Let’s talk about what exactly being a Dwarf priest gets you and in what situations you will notice this the most.
As of this writing, Dwarves currently receive 5 racial abilities (one active and four passive) upon character creation. You probably won’t get much use out of Gun Specialization or Mace Specialization as a priest and I can’t say that Frost Resistance will be something that may come in handy, either. The other two could pay off a bit more for you.
With Cataclysm came the most recently added racial, Explorer. This passive racial allows a Dwarf to find additional fragments when digging and it lets you survey faster than archaeologists of other races. The more fragments you dig up, the faster you can combine them into an artifact and level your Archaeology skill. For those of us who haven’t given up the ghost of Tyrande’s Favorite Doll or who have their eye on other neat items, this racial could speed the process up a bit.
The racial that I’m here to talk about and which has been the cornerstone for all Dwarves is of course, Stoneform. Stoneform has come a long way since its inception. It used to be something that you could use to make yourself immune to poison, disease and bleed effects. It was then changed to instead remove those effects if you already had one or more of them already on you. Then it gave you a 10% armor bonus, which probably didn’t help many priests who found themselves taking a lot of damage. In Cataclysm, Stoneform received a huge buff by now reducing all damage taken by 10% and causing you to increase in size when used. It seemed like overnight Stoneform went from “Who cares?” to “Who wouldn’t want this?”
It’s no secret that racials can play a large part in the character creation process and each race has something useful to bring to the table, in that regard. For me, I like to play classes and specs that I know can survive. I can’t heal people if I’m dead. I need to be standing to do my job and Stoneform helps me do that. I’ll admit that you may not be relying on Stoneform too much in regular or even Heroic 5 mans. But as you break into raiding and especially as you charge ahead into Heroic modes, you will almost always find a use for Stoneform. Here are some of my favorites.
I remember the first time I encountered Magmaw and how much damage his Lava Spew was capable of doing. It didn’t seem to focus on anyone in particular. It just kept coming and coming. I was literally blown away by it. That feeling returned when I tried Magmaw on Heroic for the first time. It can be even more intense. Because of how much raid damage is going out and how much constant healing is required, I like to pop Stoneform here to make sure I’m not taking as much damage from the near constant spew and I can direct more energy towards keeping other people alive.
Valiona & Theralion
One of the key aspects of this encounter is the Blackout mechanic, where one person gets targeted with a debuff that requires everyone to group up on them so it can be dispelled. When Blackout gets dispelled (which is preferable to having it expire on its own), it causes a lot of damage, which is spread out around everyone who is near the debuff target. The more people that group up, the less damage that is done to each person. In any event, it’s still a lot of damage (even more on Heroic and until recently you couldn’t even dispel Blackout on that setting) and popping Stoneform right before the person is dispelled can prevent a lot of damage from coming your way.
During Maloriak’s red phase, where he places a red vial in the cauldron, he gains the ability Scorching Blast. This causes him to spew out a cone of fire at the raid, which does a massive amount of damage that gets split up amongst everyone within 60 yards. On regular mode, this amounts to about 500,000 damage (on 10 man) or 1,250,000 damage (on 25 man). As expected, the damage increases drastically on Heroic mode, where you can expect your raid to take between 1,000,000 and 1,250,000 damage in a 10 man setting or between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 in a 25 man. That’s an insane amount of damage. Using Stoneform before this happens should help you survive the initial blast and lets you get to work trying to heal up the rest of your heavily damaged raid.
In my opinion, things don’t really start getting hectic on this encounter until you reach phase 2 and then you just find yourself healing for the sake of it and running on auto pilot. There is so much damage going out and the health bars just seem to keep on falling and it feels like Cho’gall isn’t dying fast enough. If you want to increase your chances of lasting until the end, either pop Stoneform immediately when the second phase starts or more towards the end when you sense a kill is about to happen. As a healer, you will mostly be trying to keep up with all the damage that goes out from Corruption of the Old God, which will start doing regular damage every 2 seconds to anyone still standing. Make sure you’re one of those people and use Stoneform to help you do that.
Last but not least is an encounter which I had thought I had seen the last of, only to remember that I would have to go back and face him again on Heroic mode. Let me tell you, it’s not much more pleasant the second time around. The ability that will typically take the largest bite out of your raid is going to be Electrocute, which Nefarian will regularly cast at 10% intervals as his health bar goes down (i.e. 90%, 80%). On Heroic mode, it’s not uncommon for guilds to ask their members to farm up Tol Barad marks to pick up the Mirror of Broken Images to help out with the Electrocutes. That’s how hard they hit for.
It still hits hard, even on regular mode and having Stoneform in either case can really help to cushion the blow. Depending on how fast your raid chips away at his health, you may not be able to rely on Stoneform for every Electrocute that goes out. But you should have it up more often than not and you will notice a big difference if you time Stoneform just right. Use it, survive, and help heal your group back up so they can finish taking Nefarian (and possibly even Onyxia, if she’s still standing) down.
These are just some of the instances in which Stoneform has saved my life and helped me to heal my raid just a little while longer. I think Stoneform is widely underestimated and I always try to encourage people to give it a second look and to see what it can do for them. I don’t regret being a Dwarf and I don’t think anyone else should, either. I feel that Stoneform is a very competitive racial, for anyone who wants the best for their priest and hopefully I have managed to illustrate that a little bit with this post. Feel free to share some experiences where Stoneform really paid off for you and maybe someone else can learn from that and get the same results!