Upon the release of Wurm Online on steam, I decided to do something fresh: an entire makeover of how I play Wurm Online. After some time playing the game as a priest, I have found that the experience is quite different, and now I am sharing it with you. Now, for full disclosure, I am going to explain my current living situation.
I started in Harmony on day 1 and was delayed on praying for about a few days when I was able to get some clay and iron to make my first altar. Other than the time spent as a follower before priesting that's the time I spent with access to imping and other non priest activities. I did not speed grind any skills at this time other than farming and played casually (about 5-6 hours a day) without sleep bonus. My account was premium and I did not purchase sleep powders, only used the ones I obtained from my prem time.
Along the way I made 1 other account, and 4 sermon alts. Currently all my accounts are priests with no exception: all 6 of them. I have no characters to imp with and I have for the most part worked on my accounts exclusively. I currently do not have a crafter account. I was recently joined by my friend Yodie who is new to the game, and who picked up smithing to the exclusivety of all else. This was the bulk of what I had access to on Freedom.
Where I went from there
I will admit that playing the game exclusively as a priest is blyat. You will be living in a wooden house if you can even make it, and you wlll spend your time asking others for help. You can enchant a mailbox, but you can't make the damn thing to begin with unless you do some hard grinding before you priest. Freedom is full of self serving people for the most part so if you decide to live on your own you will need a lot of silver if you don't want to terraform with 1ql tools and spend 90% of your time building and crafting instead of working on your priest skills. Add to that the fact that grinding channeling is a no go for your average non-elite player, as farming consumes most of your time and it will take a legendary amount of time for you to have enough sacables to be able to grind effectively if you go that route. The same could be said about iron if you decide to make locks, but in the end the issues are the same. Your best bet is to join an already existing village and not stake it out on your own. The biggest drag is you cannot imp your own gear, so you'll be doing everything slower unless you find someone to do it for you.
Defiance is a much different experience as a solo priest and completely changes your game experience. Due to the nature of PVP alliances, everyone seems to work together with a more communist mentality. Miners mine for skill and give their materials to crafters to skill with. Crafters in turn make tools, weapons, armor for the kingdom to use, who then go out to pvp with or use them for their other various crafts. The smith makes the tools for the farmer, who tends the fields for t he cook, who then makes food for everyone allowing the smith to be able to concentrate on his task and not need to farm and cook for his own food. PVPers go out and while hunting they bring back the corpses for much needed meat for the cook to use, and animal parts for the Alchemist, plus hides for the leatherwoker who makes their saddles and armor... and the priests enchant everything. It is an economic cycle in which silver never changes hands, yet everyone has what they need.
The difference between the two types of playstyles for a priest is glaring, making it all feel like a different game.
Well the jury is still out on this one. Currently I have mixed feelings about playing as a priest and many times I have wanted to just quit and go back to being a crafter. The grind is slow, and I spend more time doing creation tasks instead of priest duties (casting, enchanting, etc). Being a priest main I can't just sit in front of an altar and pray for my entire game session (otherwise I wouldn't be able to play.).
It is my belief that you cannot play this game as exclusively a priest on your own (without a crafter alt, the market or another player to help you) and that even if you do, you can't work on your priest skills exclusively, as they are time based. Faith is a huge one that requires you to be chained to a single spot for the span of a minimun of 2 1/2 hours a day (if you don't sermon. If you do its forever). During this time you are unable to channel grind sacrificing unless you have your own sermon alts, and you can't go too far even if you do, as you are stuck to your altar for the duration. Adding to this is the long prayer/sermon/sacrifice timers, which are some of the longest action timers in the game. This coupled with extremely long cast times on certain spells makes priests unable to do much of anything else unless they are willing to sacrifice their gameplay. The time sinks are astronomical, cutting down your game experience and your game time. This is something I did not notice when I used priests as alts, but that its glaringly obvious when seen through the eyes of a priest main.
To add to the above there is the problem that other players do not understand this struggle. On PVP kingdoms you are expected to be up to par with all your combat skills (fighting, weapon skills, stance (for two or more weapons/stances) , your priest skills (faith and channeling) and to do menial task on top of that (help build towers, make bulk, gather materials, etc.). This digs into your available time to do your own priest skills, and when compared to the reality of how long priest actions take, you are left with little time to do anythng else, or sacrifice your priest skills at the expense of everything else. For example, you cannot pray to grind Faith at the same time you're out hunting. You either do one or the other. However, as a priest you are expected to do both, so prepare to get rid of your social life and live, eat and breathe this game to be able to be on par with the others.
How can this be improved?
Here is a list of my suggestions on how living exclusively as a priest can be improved.
Eliminate the need of altars for faith gains. Priests are already able to pray without an altar, but are unable to get any faith from doing so. This is a pretty restrictive requirement that serves no purpose other than to imobilize an account. You can even increase the prayer timer to 1 minute without an altar as to still retain the benefit of owning one. This would be a huge QoL improvement for priests and would unchain them from the altars they have to live on. Keep sermons and saccing as they work right now, but free prayers so we can actually play the game. No one wants to spend their entire game life on deed doing nothing but praying.
Reduce Sacrifice timers. Half the timer, or if you want to get technical, tie it to altar quality and enchant like any other tool. Simple. Why do they need to be so long? This is a huge QoL for priests. Channel grinding is tied to quantity of materials already, I don't understand why another time sink for them is required.
Remove the Alignment Gain from Sacrificing. Why is this even a thing? You are a priest and because of this one thing you cannot channel grind while participating in a sermon group. What? Why? So now not only am I required to be chained to an altar for my entire game session for weeks on end, but I cannot grind my channeling skill at a moment which I have plenty of free time to do so.
New Priest exclusive skills. Give priests something more priest-like to do. An inscription skill that allows priests to put some spells to parchment should be interesting. Things such as a Mend, Strongwall and Genesis could be sold by priests with the ability to make them. Tie the inscription to the quality of the cast (90 cast on the parchment = 90 cast on the inscription) limited to the inscription skill. A 50ql scroll = 50 cast ql max on the inscription. Being able to mail a Genesis would increase the QoL of priests. You can also pick and chose which spells would be allowed for this skill.
Continue tweaking spells. I know there has been many changes to the spells usage and within reason. However, right now the sole reason for a priest to become a priest is to use spells, yet most of the spells a priest can use on the go take nearly the entire faith bar. What's the point of having spells you can't use? I know there are balance issues with this and I understand is a still ongoing process, but please don't forget about this fact.
Add more QoL spells that allow priests to have a much easier time. Things such as lighting a furnace, falling trees (for fo), removing dirt (for Mag) and increasing food/water bars by means of spell can mean an incredible boost of QoL for a priest. Temporarily increasing the effectiveness of skills (increasing the timers of non tool skills such as forage/botanize/pottery/etc) could be a good spell that can be activated on the body instead of the item, thus making priests adept at these skills. Favor usage is a good compromise to what would be normally done by a mining action, but that now goes against the priest's diety.
There is much more than can be done and I have not included here, but these are my experiences and I thought I'd share. Good luck to those of you who decide to follow the path of the solo priest. It is an arduous road.