So no doubt, priest or not, you've heard of the infamous Smite spec. Often called "Lolsmite" or "Holy DPS Spec," it's a playstyle for priests that involves dealing Holy spell damage, with little to no dipping into the Shadow tree.
As with most offspecs, it's rough being a Smite priest. Priests, do you remember being Shadow during Vanilla WoW? Do you remember not being taken to raids, or being ordered to respec to Holy? Do you remember being laughed at, being told "Priests are for healing, reroll mage"?
It's worse than that for Smite priests. Why? Because we don't have our own talent tree, and our build is officially (yes, officially) unsupported by Blizzard. As in they actually said, in a more professional way, "Lolz, wut u gaiz doin'?"
Ghostcrawler posted the following on the US forums on August 4, 2009, regarding lolsmite:
We have no intention of majorly supporting a Smite-centric, Holy-damage-focused priest build.Smite is there to give you something to hit at low level and give you some ability to do damage in a Holy or Disc build. But we don't expect it to do competitive DPS with a Shadow build. Shadow is your DPS spec.
Now, I'm not trying to be the harbinger of doom and gloom for all those aspiring Smiters out there, but before you consider making the switch, you need to realize we have our work cut out for us. Sure, Smite spec is loads of fun, and one of the most rewarding aspects of it is overcoming the hurdles we face in-game. But it's not easy, it's not cheap, and it's not something you can do overnight. You need a special kind of personality to enjoy the struggle, so if being made fun of or being let down after a lot of hard work will crush your soul, don't try Smite. Because one or both of those WILL happen to you at least once, if not often.
OK, HAPPY TIME NAO!!!
You still there? Ok, good.
All that being said, Smite is really, really fun. There is a lot of support for it in the Priest community, believe it or not, and many priests have been running it since Surge of Light became a talent. It was actually pretty awesome in Burning Crusade, if you knew what you were doing, and Smite Priests DID top damage meters in Heroics and some raids.
I played Smite a bit in Karazhan, and I gotta say, nothing was more satisfying than coming in on top of the "pure" DPS classes on the meters. Once we got to upper Kara I had some trouble with mana, however, and rather than spend oodles of gold leveling Alchemy to test out the Alchemist's Stone, I just went back to a traditional spec. Where I am now in the game, both gear/progression-wise and emotionally, has made me decide that I, once again, want to play around with this spec. The support of fellow Smiters and of my guildies (or some of them anyway) is invaluable in this little journey.
So where do I start?
Well, that's where the fun begins. One of the issues with Smite is you have to ALREADY be geared for it to work. We also have no +hit talents, either, so expect to have to stack a ton of +hit.
If you're a Shadow Priest: You've got an advantage on the healing priests because you possess some DPS and hit gear, AND rolling on hit gear in a raid won't cause a ridiculous uproar. If you want to save a ton of gold respeccing and you're serious about trying Smite, make it your second spec. Yeah, you'll probably lose that healing or PVP offspec, but I told you this wasn't going to be easy.
If you're a healer: Go Shadow.
Why? Because otherwise you're going to have a very hard time justifying your rolling on +hit DPS gear as a healer, unless you run exclusively with a very understanding guild. As Shadow, no one will question those rolls, and you won't need to deal with the harassment of people who don't understand what you're doing. It's also good practice for learning the role of a DPSer in a raid, which can be vastly different from that of a healer. I'd suggest the same as above for specs: make your specs Shadow/Smite. If you want to stay as a main spec healer in raids, then that's fine, you can keep your healing spec. But be prepared to spend a lot of gold respeccing between Shadow and Smite.
You need 17% hit for Smite, due to lack of talented support (thanks for killing what we DID have, Blizz). That's 446 hit to be capped. If you're a Draenei, or have 100% access to one in raids, that takes you down to 16%, and a Shadow Priest or Boomkin will grant you an additional 3%, bringing that number down to 341. Remember, the Draenei and SP/BK combo is the ideal situation, so you want to get as close to that 17% as possible. Most, if not all, raids will require you to be hit-capped.
If all of this insanity hasn't phased you, then you just might enjoy Smite!
Stay tuned for next time, when we'll explore talenting, glyphs, and stats. In the meantime, go grab some hit gear!