Dabbling in holy priest PvP

I've said before that I'm not a huge fan of PvP, but lately I've been giving it a try again, mainly for socially motivated reasons. Cataclysm has heralded the return of several guildies of mine that had stopped playing in late WOTLK, and while they are very dear to me, they aren't really interested in doing PvE content (anymore). Getting stun-locked every so often still feels like a small price to pay to have an excuse to spend some time with them.

While I've acquired a few pieces of PvP gear, I'm playing in my holy PvE spec, only occasionally swapping some glyphs around - I should really do that more often in fact, but I tend to forget because it's simply not something that I'm used to doing on a regular basis. I have no idea what the expert opinion on holy priest PvP is at the moment, but my overall impression is that it's less sucky than it used to be. Discipline might still be superior, but at least holy has some fun tools to play with such as Body and Soul - which is great for helping flag carriers along and to generally escape from attackers - and Holy Word: Chastise. Forget Chakra states for PvP, enjoy being able to stun someone briefly every 17.5 seconds (with two points in Tome of Light)! PvP is also the only content where I've really got any use out of Leap of Faith so far, again mostly to help flag carriers along... but I still don't use it as often as I should because I somehow feel bad about yanking other people around. It may be done with good intentions, but I know how much I hate being pulled around by death knights and I'm not sure people will like it that much more just because it's being done by an ally.

An old warrior friend convinced me to do some 2v2 arena with him, something I hadn't done since late Burning Crusade. For all the changes made to healing and health pools, the way our games play out doesn't feel much different from how things used to go three years ago. Whoever we end up facing will ignore my warrior friend except to apply some crowd control and then try to kill me. Even in the games that we win I often die, but some healing from Spirit of Redemption (another useful PvP ability, who'd have thought) and the insane self-healing that warriors have at the moment can still be enough to tip the scales in our favour.

The reward system for arenas has improved a thousand-fold since BC times, however. Back then you got arena points regardless of whether you won or lost. Of course you got more for winning, but unless you were particularly competitive you didn't really care about that because everyone could get all the gear eventually anyway. Later they introduced rating requirements for some items, but that didn't change things all that much for me either. Plus, you still needed to play at least ten games a week to get anything at all, and then you had to wait for your "point pay check" to arrive at the end of the week, which gave the whole thing a very chore-like feel in my eyes.

With the new system you only get points if you actually win, which I found does wonders for my motivation, because if we lose I actually have a tangible incentive to do better. You also receive the points right after you earned them and can immediately go out and spend them on something fun.

We've also been participating in some rated battlegrounds. Even though there is little to no reward for me in those, seeing how I reach my weekly conquest point cap much more easily through the arena matches, I've been enjoying them quite a bit. To me it's a bit like a reverse of the development that I've seen in PvE content, where there's been a shift from guild groups towards anonymous pugging for a while, even if it's been halted a bit with the release of Cataclysm. In PvP I never used to bother with premades and only did random battlegrounds with a friend or two (and always thought that they were absolute cesspits). Doing rated battlegrounds with a premade group is a great exercise in team play however, and I never have to worry about randomly being abandoned by the dps whose butts I just saved or finding that I'm the only one even trying to achieve the battleground's goals.

Since we haven't been able to put an entire rated team together within the guild it's also a good way of rekindling connections to the server community at large. Our PvP organiser has a pretty sizable list of friends from different guilds, and I have to say I kind of enjoy being out and about for a bit, encountering different attitudes and play styles. It just feels "healthy" somehow, in the same way that it's healthy to mingle with different kinds of people in real life.

Difficulty-wise rated battlegrounds are quite intense though, and on our first night we only won two games where the system bugged out and gave us no opponents, resulting in considerable spam of "flawless victory"-type achievements. All the other games we lost. Two days ago we already did a lot better though, actually scoring a couple of genuine victories as well. It's a learning process, but just like in a raid it's beautiful to see things come together in the end.

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