It would thrill my 25-man raiding team if I woke up tomorrow and decided I'd really like to heal on my shadow priest. But that's not going to happen. And that's a good thing.
The introduction of dual specs has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has provided players who really like to perform several roles to do so on the same character. Or allowed raiders to save costly respec charges when they want to go PvP. But it's also created potential issues for players who truly enjoy one specific role a hybrid can play and who may then feel pressure from their guild to swap out and execute that other role "for the good of the raid."
I have to stop at this point for an aside.
At the start of WotLK, I shelved my Boomkin to level my shaman healer, "for the good of the guild." As in, no one else was going to level their healer so if I wanted to do any instances I'd better be able to heal them. That spilled over to my first forays into Naxx with an affiliated 10-man guild that my shadow priest had ton a bunch of Kara with at BC's end. Although I'd made it clear my druid was still my main, and she was a Boomkin (having been very unhappy with 3.0 changes making my prior 3 years' spec and healing style no longer competitive), we kept having fights we needed a third healer to accomplish. After failing at healing the four horseman fight, as the sole healer in the back, off spec on my druid, I was convinced to bring in my shaman.
This became a recurrence. If you look at my shaman and druid's armories side-by-side, you can see the failings of my raid team. The fights they just could not get down to accomplishing with 2 Main Spec healers. Not only did I start to resent having to swap out to heal, missing out on gear, I was missing out on the sheer fun I had when playing my main in her main spec roll.
Now, back to our main topic.
A key factor in deciding to make the leap to the horde last Spring was finding a group of folks starting Naxx, who overflowed with healers and welcomed having a shadow priest in the raid. In the three plus years since I rolled Anexxia, and for the 6 months I played my Alliance priest, rolling through Karazhan weekly, all I have done as a priest is melt faces. Since the very first time I threw out a purple beam and eviscerated some unlucky creature, I've been hooked.
I've spent the past year, i.e. the bulk of my WotLK experience, raiding on the shadow priest. I've tweaked my gear, my rotation, my knowledge of maximizing my output to a point where I am almost always in the zone when I'm playing. You know — that point where you're not thinking about what you need to do next, you're just flowing, and kicking ass. I've taken it seriously to try to get my knowledge of my role, in playing my shadow priest, up to the level of competence I felt I had in my three years of raiding on my druid.
I feel pretty close now. I am typically our top spellcaster in our raids, and even, every so often, edge out my SO the DK with the monster DPS. I've attended 2 or 3 or even 4 raids per week since July, depending on if we needed a little extra push for a progression fight. I've proven myself as being a totally capable, committed, core part of our progression raiding team.
The one thing I have not done in the past year? I haven't learned how to raid heal as a holy priest. Why? Because I have a healer (my shaman) that I have raid experience with and whom I enjoy healing on. I can still do that with minimal add-ons (I had grid set up for her and that's really it.) And I perform my main role exceptionally well. Have I been sat from 10 mans on occasion, seated so another DPS can take my place? Of course I have been. We have enough DPS whitelisted to raid 10 mans in our guild to have 3 10-mans a week If only we had the tanks and healers to support that, which we don't.
Luckily, we do have some folks who do enjoy their off specs, and do them well enough to act as a band aid when we don't have a full team of main spec healers, which seems to be more often than not these days. We also have two DPS whom we'd allowed to swap out from being Main Spec'd healers during the healer glut at the end of the year, whom we've tapped to do some healing again lately.
But to be frank, if you want to make progress or progression bosses, you need Mains, playing their main spec'd roles. Yes, we all know a person or two who kick as much ass in their off spec role or on their alts as they do on their mains. But that is the exception, not the rule.
I lack both the time and the interest to download a bunch of mods, configure them, learn how to use them, then absorb a ton of theorycrafting in case I am needed to turn in my kick ass DPS to perform as a crappy healer for a raid night. It would take months of practice for me to realistically get a spec I have never played (in a role I have only done in a few farm alt raids on my resto shaman) to be able to be performed anywhere near on par with the expertise with which I play my shadow priest.
And then there's the fact that I simply do not want to do it.
I raid healed for 3 years on my druid. But it's been a year and a half, almost two years since I played her in that role. That's not who I am as a raider any more. I'm Anexxia. The shadow priest. And I kick ass at my job.
I am all for allowing those who want to swap to an offspec to make a run happen do so. But I draw the line at forcing anyone in our raid into a role that they are not interested in pursuing. No one should feel as though they are being asked to carry the raid on their back. "You need to do this for the good of the raid" becomes a cross far to heavy for any of us to bear. I know — I've tried to carry it, and it made me stop enjoying the game.
We've had this gap we've been trying to duck tape for several months now. And there is clearly only one solution…
Straw Hat Pirates, the oldest horde guild on Bronzebeard, is in need of ICC 10/25 raid ready healers. We are 11/12 in 10-man (got our first peek at the Lich King this week), and 6/12 in 25. Raid times are 6:15 p.m. Paciific (Server time) to 9 p.m. Raid schedule can fluctuate, but Fridays are a night off, and Tuesdays are the weekly raid quest night, with the 25 man and two nights of 10s other nights.
If you are interested in a sociable guild that has a casual raiding team, head to the website and submit an arrplication. You'll make a shadow priest smile.