This is a rewrite of previous priest compendiums, which together had over 2 million thread views. It is concerned with healing priests, whether Discipline or Holy in spec. If you think there's something that deserves to be put into the original post, toss me a PM and I'll happily edit it in. Note that you can send PMs by left-clicking my name on the left box of this thread, above my Avatar.
Disclaimer: there is a Discipline-centric thread, for those who raid as Disc 99.9% of the time. Like many people, I've fallen in love with the dual-spec system, and I go Disc approximately 40% of the time in Ulduar. The rest of the time, I'm holy. If you want pure, untainted Discipline information, head to the other thread. Otherwise, welcome!
Random Terms Used
OO5SR : Outside Of 5 Second Rule
I5SR : Inside 5 Second Rule
PoM : Prayer of Mending
PoH : Prayer of Healing
CoH : Circle of Healing
RSTS: Random Secondary Targetting System
HC: Holy Concentration (talent, Holy tree)
HpM: Healing per Mana, a measurement of efficiency
Q: What spec(s) should I be as a healing priest?
A: Now that dual-spec is in place, there's no excuse to not have multiple specs available to you at the push of a button. My personal feeling is that at least the first healing priest in a raid should have a cookie-cutter Discipline spec as one of the dual options, and a cookie-cutter Holy spec as the other. The second/third/fourth priests can obviously mix it up a bit, and perhaps have a shadow spec, or a raid-healing-focused Holy-Disc hybrid spec.
If you are going to go Disc+Holy as your two dual specs, I suggest something like:
Discipline: Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
Holy: Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
Q: But my Discipline spec is different from yours!?
A: There are very very few "optional" talent points in the Discipline spec. First, you are primarily a tank healer, so you have to go deep enough in Holy to pick up Inspiration. Secondly, you should love the bottom half of your tree, and take basically every talent in there. The only real "options" are to pull the points from Focused Will (3% crit being the least benefit of any of the +stat talents in Disc) and then to pull the 5 points from Divine Fury and reshuffle. In the process, you can gain Spell Warding (very useful to reduce your personal damage) and Healing Focus. If you wish, you can move the Focused Will points over to Holy and end up gaining 2 points in Improved Healing, saving a bit of mana on your Penance spell. It's not really worth it, but you can do it.
Q: But my Holy spec is different from yours?!
A: There are lots of spots you can shuffle Holy to be more useful to you. If you never, ever, ever cast Renew, then obviously points in Empowered Renew are useless to you. If you don't believe you'll ever use PW:S in a raid setting, then don't spec into Body and Soul (although the personal-only poison removal is hot for certain Ulduar encounters). If you believe both of these things, the default spec becomes:
Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
(pulling an additional point out of Inner Focus to max out Blessed Resilience). This is a pure throughput build, and you won't be using Renew or PW:S in it.
You can also justify picking up Lightwell if you think you'll use it. All in all, there's only two talents in the entire Holy tree that are notably less useful now: Spell Warding and Blessed Recovery. I predict that Blessed Recovery will get a secondary effect added to it at some point, similar to Blessed Resilience. This would help solve the problem of where to put all 15 of your initial talent points without overloading Tier 1.
Q: What about removing certain GHeal talents?
A: There are definitely justifications for losing Improved Healing and possibly even Empowered Healing if you don't cast enough GHeal / FH to justify keeping them in a Holy build. It certainly opens up a lot of options for getting full points into Test of Faith and Blessed Resilience, which scale heals at the end of the computation, instead of simply off spellpower. The loss of Improved Healing is basically a no-brainer assuming you don't cast many GHeals: I checked a recent log of an Ulduar raid for me, and it was less than 50 casts the entire night, and most of those were after a wipe when topping up raiders. Thus, losing Improved Healing makes perfect sense.
Losing Empowered Healing is a tougher call, simply because it removes one of the best gear-stat-scaling talents we have. However, comparing an extra 20% of your spellpower applied to FH to a possible 12% extra *healing* balances out fairly quickly. There will be some math on this topic inserted at the end of the post; feel free to check it out, and convince yourself.
If you were to drop both of these talents, a typical spec would look like:
Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
Notice that the points in Divine Fury are also taken away. Unfortunately, there's not much to put in their place, so I ended up choosing 4 points in Spell Warding for more survivability. You could easily argue for pulling a point from Empowered Renew to max out Blessed Resilience, or to take Lightwell, and if you never use Body and Soul, those points can do the same thing. It's certainly an interesting spec; see the math for more.
I. a) Holy Talents
Q: What's the deal with Healing Focus?
A: Reducing pushback used to be a much bigger deal than it has been in WotLK due to the mechanics changes. However, there are certain fights in Ulduar (Mimiron being the prime example) with heavy focused damage, and the pushback there can be enough to kill you. I've found that taking the two points in Healing Focus, combined with a paladin's Concentration Aura, basically removes these concerns. It's still not a magic fix and you will leap tall buildings with a single bound, but it's certainly an improvement. If you cast tons and tons of Renews in a raid, and you don't want to lose 3/3 Improved Renew, consider how many GHeals you cast, and possibly steal the points from Divine Fury instead.
Q: Should I take inspiration?
A: Yes. Everyone should have Inspiration. If you don't take it, you're being selfish, in the sense of caring more about your own throughput or benefit than of the raid. Even if you are a 100% raid healer, you will still be casting PoM and PoH on targets that may end up being tanks, or in tank groups (in the case of PoH). Proc'ing Inspiration means reducing tank damage, and Ulduar bosses hit like trains loaded with trucks loaded with trains. Inspiration is a must-have talent.
Q: How good is Holy Concentration?
A: Nowhere near as good as the old HC+IHC combo used to be. It's still nice, and when you crit and actually activate the talent, it's a nice chunk of regen. It's nowhere near as reliable, or as fun to use, but it's still there, and you should still spec into it. There's some math on this at the end of the thread; basically, every percent crit you have (assuming a certain number of Flash and Binding Heals cast per minute) has about 12Mp5 return from HC. For a typical Holy Priest running 30% raid-buffed critical chance, that's up to 360 Mp5 average value. That's good enough to always take this talent.
Q: Holy Reach - yes/no?
A: It's almost mandatory to take a single talent point in Holy Reach. The second is entirely up to you. I personally find it to be much less useful, and put the talent point into something else (like Body and Soul) instead.
Q: Body and Soul - worth it, or not?
A: Yes. Absolutely. I've found a use for Body and Soul on over 70% of the Ulduar.25 encounters so far. Yes, it interferes with Discipline shields. However, if anyone goes Disc, it's likely to be either me, or both Wreath and I. It's incredibly rare for him to go Disc while I stay Holy. If you raid with a 100% Disc priest, you can question whether or not this is worth the talent points, as it may never get used. However, I do suggest you raid with it at least once, and spend the night trying to find places where it's useful. I know that the Fusion tanks have fallen in love with it, and if I spec'd out of it would probably revolt.
Q: Blessed Resilience vs. Test of Faith?
A: Math has Test of Faith being marginally better. 3% all of the time vs. 12% on 50%- targets seems like a toss-up, but the real answer is that most of the time in Ulduar, if you're healing someone, they're below 50%. Most of the incidental damage is serious: 10-14k hits. Accordingly, Test of Faith should result in more throughput, and especially so on people who really need the heals.
Q: 1 or 2 points in Surge of Light?
A: Personally, I can't justify a second point in a talent that gives me a "free" Flash Heal that is incapable of proc'ing anything except Serendipity. 1 point is fine: if you cast PoH and *don't* crit at least once, something is seriously wrong; most of my casts have at least 2 crits, sometimes more (in the case of pets in the party). Same goes for CoH. 1 point seems entirely sufficient. Some people swear by 2, but you have to pay for that point, so consider carefully.
Q: What talents are low priority, or useless now, from the Holy tree? (for PvE)
A: Blessed Recovery. Spell Warding. Improved Renew. Empowered Renew. Lightwell. Blessed Resilience.
In order of usefulness, from least to most. If you actually cast Renew a lot, then move Empowered to the top of the list. Crit initial-cast Renews are great for proc'ing things, including Holy Concentration.
I. Discipline Talents
Q: What's with the bottom of the Discipline tree?
A: It's awesome, that's what. Tiers 7-11 are chock-full of awesome talents that are must-haves. If you want to drop any talent from the bottom part of the tree, think long and hard before you do. Divine Aegis, Grace, Pain Suppression, Aspiration, Rapture, Borrowed Time, and Penance are all must-haves. You could argue for losing Renewed Hope, but it procs the raid-wide -dmg buff, so it's entirely not worth it from any real perspective.
Basically, if you're spec'ing Disc, plan on filling out Tiers 8-11 completely, and then consider whether you really want to drop points from Tier 7.
Q: But Aspiration seems so weak?
A: Sure it does, until you realize it reduces your Penance cooldown. Then it's amazing. Combine it with the Glyph, and Penance becomes the primary focus of your rotation, instead of a long-ish cooldown.
Q: What are the must-have talents for a Discipline priest?
A: It's easier to explain what aren't must-haves. Unbreakable Will, Martyrdom, Silent Resolve, Imp Mana Burn, and Reflective Shield. To a lesser extent (especially on a fight like Yogg-Saron), Absolution. Reducing the mana cost of a spammable Dispel Magic or Abolish Disease actually helps a lot over a long fight.
Q: Is Soul Warding good?
A: Absolutely, 100%, yes, yes, yes. GCD-based PW:S is the next best thing to sex. Get this talent, and never let it go.
WotLK makes yet another sweeping overhaul to the regeneration model. In 2.4, we all became used to the regen formula of:
which made spirit very valuable, and intellect slightly so. Not only was the coefficient lowered as we leveled to 80 (as expected), but Blizzard made the decision to lower the coefficient yet further in an attempt to remove our ability to 'regen infinitely'. Accordingly, the formula at 80 was:
Then, in 3.1, Blizzard decided that spirit-based regen was too powerful, given their new BURST->lull->BURST model of raid and tank healing. Thus, they nerfed us yet again, dropping our spirit-based coefficient to:
a further reduction of 60%. To counteract this, they buffed Meditation to give 50% of spirit-based regen as I5SR Mp5, and changed our Holy Concentration talent (in deep Holy) to only work on spirit-based regen. This forces holy priests to continue valuing spirit as a primary regeneration model, while reducing its value significantly.
What this effectively means is that priest healing styles have changed. While we can still regen mana by just standing around, OO5SR, it's significantly nerfed from previous levels. It takes full Ulduar gear before your spirit climbs to high enough levels to justify aiming for OO5SR ticks. Of course, if you have a break in the fight (very common in Ulduar), by all means take advantage. It's just not going to net you the 10k mana it used to.
It also means that intellect is that much more important, since mana pool size and response to effects like Replenishment, Mana Tide Totem, Shadowfiend, and Hymn of Hope are that much more important. Also, given that priests will find it hard to stack spirit on every item without nerfing their other stats, you will inevitably end up with more raid-buffed intellect than spirit. Even just using the proper flask for progression content (Flask of Distilled Wisdom) will push you ahead. This doesn't really matter for anyone other than a user, so it's a non-issue.
Q: How do I take advantage of OO5SR regen?
A: If you are Discipline, you don't want to. Disc is all about sustained throughput, and using any free GCDs you have to put extra PW:S on people likely to take damage. If they actually take a hit that removes the shield, you get back most of the mana through Rapture, restore power to them, and mitigate some of that damage. The nature of Borrowed Time also means it's a good use of your free time, since it'll make your next tank heal that much faster.
If you are Holy, it really comes down to "breaks". We can't cheat the 5SR the way we used to, chaining IHC into Inner Focus into IHC again, and getting back 5k mana while casting 3 GHeals on our tank. However, we definitely can gain mana; every priest has an effective "reset" button by combining Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope. If you are low enough in mana that you can be confident that you will get at least one of the Hymn of Hope ticks (raising your maximum mana by 20%), use Fiend, then swing directly into Hymn. The combination will net you a minimum of 53% (assuming your fiend doesn't die), and likely more like 70% given the scaling on Hymn, Replenishment ticks while you channel, the OO5SR nature of the end of the channel, and the fact that your fiend will be giving you more than 5% per hit while the buff is up on you. It almost makes sense to aim to be below 25% mana before you use your effects; I've been finding that trying the old method of using them in sequence as you drop in mana is much less effective than the whole combination can be.
III. Cheating the 5 Second Rule
Priest (Holy) regen used to be about cheating the 5SR. Unfortunately, this is mostly gone now, and you shouldn't worry too much about it. It's still something you can use, but until you get enough gear that an OO5SR tick is worth 1500+ mana, don't even bother caring about it. If it's not going to restore an extra 1k or more mana, it's not even enough mana to cast another PoH, so just focus on healing and use the tools available to you to restore mana (fiend, a shaman's tide, Hymn of Hope, or a mana potion).
IV. Taking Advantage of Shadowfiend:
If you've played priest for long, you've learned to hate our stupid mana regen pets. They're slow, they randomly attack the stupidest things, and they generally return a variable amount of mana that is undependable. However, Blizzard finally listened to our complaints, and have (marginally) fixed fiend. It still runs into melee range where it can get hit, and it still dies, but it starts attacking faster (immediately), it restores a fixed amount of mana per hit (instead of scaling with your spellpower), and it has a lot more HP. To counter this, it no longer has AoE avoidance (yay), so it'll get one-shot by any sufficiently large AoE attack.
My experience in Ulduar: use it on an add if possible, if not, put it on a boss that doesn't do an AoE. If neither of the above is possible, use it on a boss immediately after the boss does his I OWN YOU NOW attack, so it has more chance of living.
V. Downranking and Spell Coefficients
Q: Is downranking spells still viable?
A: Nope. Nonexistant. It's done. Dead. Finished. Kaput.
Blizzard changed mana costs of all downranked spells to be more than the maximum rank. There is no reason whatsoever to use anything but max-rank of every spell you have. This helps slightly with bar bloat, and hurts tremendously in our granularity of heals.
VI. Raiding as a Priest
VI.a) Raiding as Holy
Q: What spells should I typically be using?
This is a tough question. Every fight is different. I'll try to give an idea of different roles, and how each one uses our unique spells.
Tank Healing: don't heal tanks unless you absolutely have to. Blizzard gutted holy priest tank healing in 3.1, and it's a lost cause. Without IHC and the old Serendipity, we can't even hope to keep up with shamans, no less paladins or druids. Just don't heal tanks. If you want to tank heal, go Disc.
Raid Healing: Ulduar is all about BURST->lull->BURST. This is perfectly built for the new style of Holy priest healing. Your primary four tools are: Prayer of Mending, Flash Heal, Circle of Healing, and Prayer of Healing. Enter every burst phase with a 3-stack of Serendipity up, start with two hasted PoHs (note that it's currently "bugged", and you can get the haste effect on two casts in a row), and then CoH. Two FH, then a final PoH+CoH, and the raid damage should be topped up. Regen a bit, then restack Serendipity and get ready for the next one.
If it takes more than a sequence like I've listed per burst, something is wrong. Even Ignis, the highest sustained raid damage in the zone, doesn't have more than this to cover Flame Jets. You can't sustain infinite healing, so don't even try. It's about burst, then rest.
Note that you should figure out how Divine Hymn works, and try to get a feel for when to use it. To be perfectly honest, I probably used Divine Hymn no more than 10 times in a full clear of Ulduar. I just couldn't find times when it was needed. It's a ridiculous amount of healing, and usually the damage was either focused on a group (so PoH+CoH did the job fine), or the raid was wiping. It's just so much healing, it's hard to know when to use it. Remember you have it, though; it's a very very efficient spell.
As well, if you spec'd into Body and Soul, make sure you explore how to best use it to save people from their own stupidity. The speed boost really helps when avoiding things like Light Bomb explosions on XT, or Shadow Crash on General Vejax.
VI. Raiding as Discipline
Q: What spells should I typically be using?
Tank Healing: PW:S, Penance, Flash Heal, PoM and occasionally Greater Heal. Penance on the cooldown keeps up Grace, and the rest is details. Always keep a Weakened Soul debuff on your tank if you took Renewed Hope to keep your crit rates high. Ideally, use the new GCD-based PW:S to keep up Borrowed Time if you're in a lull. A lot of the Ulduar bosses hit very very hard, but very slowly as well. If your tank is keeping up a dodge string, use your GCDs to shield people around you, so you have Borrowed Time up when the hit finally comes. Obviously pre-stack PW:S and PoM on anything you have the chance to, as mitigating 10k from a 40k hit means your tank lives, instead of gibs.
Raid Healing: Disc is actually a viable raid healer now, due to GCD-based PW:S and targetable PoH. It doesn't have the sheer throughput of Holy, but if you think you're going to be tank healing for part of the fight and raid healing the rest, Disc is the way to go. Use Borrowed Time liberally to haste your PoH casts, keep PoM on cooldown, and toss off lots of shields if you're in a lull. You can very effectively heal Razorscale or XT by just pre-shielding half the raid in-between the AoE or incoming damage bursts.
VII. How to Cross Heal Effectively
This is roughly an extension of the above sections on Raid Healing. Basically, there are two situations where a priest will be cross-healing a raid during a boss fight.
Situation 1: predictable incoming damage, along with some random variability. Examples: Hodir, Aeriya, Razorscale, possibly Ignis Flame Jets, Mimiron P2.
The keys with this fight is *not* to go nuts and spam heals like a madman, aiming desperately to get everyone in range of you topped up Right Now. You need to know the total amount of incoming damage, and be perfectly aware of what can happen that will take someone at 20% life to 0% life. You also *must* know your responsibilities, and not stray outside them too much -- part of your job is preserving enough mana to heal the entire fight.
For example, on Ignis, the incoming damage is quite extreme. If you leave someone low, they will die. In this case, you need to have clear assignments, so everyone knows what they are responsible for, and people can work together to top up the *entire* raid. If you know the duration of the incoming damage, you know when you can leave someone at 60% to catch up someone else. It's ok if someone ends the phase at 15%, so long as they end the phase alive. Similar theory applies to XT and his Tantrum, to Mimiron and his machine gun focus, and to Thorim's lightning (although most of that is avoidable).
Situation 2: large incoming damage, but focused on a small subset of the raid population. Examples include Kologarn's grip, Ignis' slag pot, Light Bomb on XT, or Constrictors on Yogg.
You know there is incoming damage, you know roughly how much it will be, but the target is RSTS. In these situations, it's 1-3 people taking a lot of damage. Assign a couple of healers (shamans are actually great at this) who can switch between single- and multi-target with ease, and aside from an initial heal (PW:S, PoM, CoH) just ignore them and let the other healers do their job. If it's your job, then use the heals appropriate: PoM and PW:S being great initial choices, followed by Flash Heal, Penance, or Greater Heal. CoH if there's 3 (Kologarn), but not if there's only 1 (slag pot).
VIII. Threat Mechanics and You
With WotLK, the entire threat system was overhauled. Tanks were given many more abilities to hold threat on multiple mobs, and Blessing of Salvation was completely removed from the game. Accordingly, on 90% of encounters, threat will be a complete non-issue for you. On the encounters where it will matter, you will be doing AE healing while mobs spawn at random spots in the room, so tanks can't necessarily pick them up immediately. This, and only this, will be the situation where you have to care about threat. And, thankfully, we have a nifty tool to deal with it:
Fade: Fade out, temporarily reducing all your threat. . Note that the threat lost from Fade is regained in full once the 10 second duration finishes, and that you continue accruing threat while Fade is up. This has been changed in WotLK to actually set you to zero threat for the duration of the buff. As such, it is very useful, and should definitely be hotkeyed.
Oil: Nerfed, no new oils available. With WotLK, Mana Oils are no longer available. RIP.
Flask: is the best option, followed by (for regeneration). If all you want is throughput, is your only real option.
Potions: is the obvious 1-use consumable. If you want to elixir up instead of flasking, good choices include , or , or for Guardian, and , or .
Note that in WotLK, potion 'sickness' has been implemented, which limits your use of a consumable potion (Haste Potion, Runic Mana Potion, etc) to one per combat cycle. What this means for healers is that we get one Runic Mana per boss fight. Now, Runic is a fair bit of mana, but you only get one, so use it wisely.
X. Useful Addons and User Layout
Typical healer layout has some small variations, but is centered around the idea of having the complete raid in front of you (currently 25 bars+tank targets), with easily observable health totals, and some method of debuff curing.
If you're starting from scratch, the first thing you should do is:
Replace your unit frames: ag_UF or Pitbull
as the base-WoW unit frames are horrid. Set these up in a convenient spot on your screen, and make sure you configure them fully to show health details and debuffs.
Second thing you should do is:
Replace your raid frames: GRID, Pitbull, sRaidFrames and tank targets: oRA2, Pitbull
and make sure you fully configure the setup to show debuffs and buffs easily. Aggro notification is also a neat feature which can warn you of who will soon need heals.
From here, you can pick and choose which addons you'd like to use, starting with:
Custom Bar Mod: Bartender4, etc. Something to let you organize, hide, and keybind all your abilities. Setting up a hidden bar that contains your primary 10+ keybinds is a great way to free up some real estate on-screen.
and adding some raid utility:
Deadly Boss Mods, BigWigs: timers, boss warnings, aggro notifications, all sorts of handy things.
and then add some personal organization:
ArkInventory, AllInOne: bag mods to help organize your crap. ArkInventory is especially good because it allows for custom rule-sets which divide up your stuff into little categories (like consumables, potions, dps gear, etc).
Prat: organize your chat tabs in an efficient way, and add some fun features.
FuBar: extremely useful addon, with some amazing little plugins. Give it a try. One you should definitely get is RegenFu.
Quartz: infinitely useful for /stopcasting. Definitely recommended.
MSBT: very useful as a visual tracker for healing and overheals, without having to watch a combat log scrolling by.
Clique: an absolute must for click-dispelling and generally for interacting with GRID in many useful and interesting ways. I personally use ALT+LClick and ALT+RClick as Dispel Magic and Abolish Disease respectively. It saves a lot of time.
If you're interested in UI design, swing by the User Interface and Addons forum and read some of the threads there.
X. Setting up GRID to be useful as a Priest:
When you to go to download GRID, be aware that many of its most useful parts come as addons to GRID, and must be downloaded separately. My list of sub-addons includes:
(to go files.wowace.com to see all possibilities)
Once you have all of these downloaded and installed, load into WoW. Now, first thing you want to do is go GRID -> Frame -> Advanced -> and configure the Frame Width and Height. GRID refers to an individual in the raid as a 'Frame', so this is essentially your unit bar inside the GRID space. Configure this to a reasonable size.
Now that you have it to a good size, edit the name length by going GRID->Frame->CenterTextLength. I have mine set to 20; your mileage may vary.
Now go GRID->Frame->CenterText and set it to display what you want (I have Name listed here). Then go GRID->Frame->CenterText2 and set it to what you want (I have Health Deficit, AFK, Feign Death, and Dead listed here). This gets your text bars setup.
Now for mana/energy/rage bars. GRID->Status->ManaBars->Side (Bottom), ->Hide Non-Mana Bars (disable), and ensure ->Enable is clicked. This gives a nice blue/red/yellow bar at the bottom. You can modify its height in ->ManaBars as well, if you choose to do so.
For debuff display, go GRID->Status->Auras-> and you can then ->Add New Debuff. I use this to display things like Burn (Brutallus), Encapsulate (Felmyst), Bloodboil (Bloodboil), and so on. Once you have set a debuff here, go to GRID->Frame->Center Icon and enable the Debuff you just created to have it appear in the center of the frame as a purty little icon.
GRID->Layout->Raid Layout is handy for setting it up as you'd like it. Notice that you can set default raid layouts for each type of raid: Party, Raid, Heroic Raid, etc..
GRID->GridAlert is handy for setting it up so that one someone is debuffed with something you can cleanse, it will go SPRONG (audio) and alert you to the issue.
Next, we need to make sure Clique can interact with GRID, so load up Clique, and choose "Options" at the bottom. Make sure anything labelled "Grid" is clicked on. This will let you setup mouse-click macros in Clique for dispelling, which is quite amazing, if I say so myself.
Finally, there are a couple of options you can mess with in GRID->Frame->(anything Corner) // (anything Icon) which will let you setup small icons/lights that will light up on certain circumstances. I use mine to show when people have aggro, when people have Renew ticking on them (from me), when people are missing buffs, and so on. It's quite powerful, and is the *real* reason you want to use GRID over any other raid frame.
From here, the sky is the limit. Configure!
XI. Gearing Questions
Going into WotLK, spirit has been lessened in value by a strong amount with the leveling coefficient nerf, and intellect has been boosted to extremely high levels by the changes of all regen mechanics to a %-mana pool system. Despite this, given the returns that we are seeing from HC (as holy), it still makes sense to keep spirit reasonably high to sustain the "spirit-based regen" needed to make HC worthwhile. It scales very well with crit, and keeping it up basically returns our regen to the levels we enjoyed in 3.0.2.
When you are looking at a piece of gear, and asking yourself if it is an upgrade, there a number of questions you need to ask. Firstly, how would you gem the piece? Always compare pieces to each other fully gemmed (with or without socket bonuses depending on your gemming choices). If you are unsure about how to gem, try two or three or four different combinations, and see which one seems to give the best result.
The following stats are of value to healing priests: stamina (almost meaningless), intellect (major), spirit (major for holy, medium for disc), haste (medium-to-major), crit (major), spellpower (major) and Mp5 (low). You can consider items with mp5 on them, but be aware that they tend to be less valuable than items with spirit on them.
Regarding spirit specifically, assuming a typical amount of intellect (1400 raid-buffed), Disc priests can evaluate spirit at a ratio of ~ 2.75:1, or 11:4. That is, every point of spirit is worth ~ 0.36 Mp5 (factoring in Blessing of Kings and Enlightenment). That is really the only benefit you will see from Spirit, which leads to the conclusion that gemming for spirit as Disc is a silly idea. Of course, there are times when you can't avoid it (if you go for socket bonuses, blue sockets pretty much default to or .
Basically, though, if you see a cloth item (or a ring/neck/etc) in Ulduar, and you are concerned about its value for Disc, take the amount of spirit on it and multiply by 4/11 to get the equivalent amount of Mp5. It works out that 50 spirit = 18 Mp5, as a baseline.
For spirit and Holy priests, you gain no more regen from a single point of spirit (in fact, slightly less due to the extra 1% scaling in the Disc tree), but you gain a tremendous amount of spellpower. The ratio remains 11:4 for regen, but for every 11 points of spirit you gain, you also gain 2.75 spellpower. Note that "gain" here is used in the overall, after buffs, sense. So for a holy priest, if you have an item with 50 spirit vs an item with 18 Mp5, the 50 spirit gains you an extra 14 spellpower, a nice buff and enough reason to choose the item.
For haste, there are some nice cutoffs to reach. If you can hit 20% haste, it lowers the cast-time of a GHeal (without any procs/talents) to 2.08 seconds. If you never use GHeal, consider that it does the same thing for Prayer of Healing, and then you can stack Serendipity on top of that. For a Disc priest, you gain 6% from Enlightenment, and an additional 5% from Wrath of Air, plus 3% from ret/moonkin aura, leaving you with only 5% to gain from gear to reach the hard GCD cap on PW:S (given Borrowed Time). For a holy priest, you don't have Enlightenment, so you should consider picking up slightly more haste. I personally don't count Serendipity in any way, since it's mostly used for hasting PoH, and every bit of haste helps there. TL;DR: Holy, run 12-14% haste. Disc, run ~6% haste, or slightly under. To be honest, it's genuinely hard to avoid passing the 6% haste mark in Ulduar gear; you have to actively aim for all crit pieces, and even then picking up a T8 piece or two will put you there.
Of course, you can't always be sure you'll have moonkin/ret aura + Wrath of Air, so running slightly higher can make sense for those situations. It's certainly not expensive to get small amounts of haste.
Regarding crit, the sky really is the limit. There is very little reason to stop stacking crit at any level. You will gain 5% from talents (Holy Spec), and Disc can count roughly 7% more from Renewed Hope and Focused Will (since your tank should have Weakened Soul up almost all the time). Additionally, no 25-man raid would be complete without a moonkin in WotLK, so you can assume an additional 5% from that. Given that we will be running over 1400 intellect raid-buffed, that will grant us ~ 8.4% more, so there is no reason for any priest to be under 25% crit raid-buffed. In fact, once you finish your gearing (and pick up items which have crit on them), holy priests should break 30% crit, and Disc be closer to 40%.
Intellect is incredibly valuable now. It converts to crit at a rate of 150:1 (with BoK) [for holy] and at a rate of 132:1 (with BoK+MS) [for Disc]. Additionally, almost all regen mechanics (external) are now based off percentages of your final mana, so the more you have, the better they work. Replenishment @ 25k mana is worth 312 Mp5, as compared to 190 Mp5 @ 15k. Your shadowfiend now restores mana based on a percentage of your overall mana bar, and Mana Tide totem continues its practice of doing the same. In addition, Hymn of Hope scales your maximum mana pool if it procs on you, which scales all other sources of incoming mana regen.
Rules of Thumb for Holy
Stack haste up to 12-14%. Think hard about whether you need more than that, given raid buffs and talents.
Pick up as much intellect as you can. It's always valuable.
Spellpower is always good.
11 spirit = 4 Mp5, ignoring spellpower gains entirely. Given spellpower gains, a 2:1 ratio is acceptable.
Crit is always valuable, although less so once you break 30% raid-buffed (diminishing returns on ilvl points spent).
Rough goals for the start of Ulduar.25 are to have 2800 spellpower, 26-28% crit, and 12% haste, along with ~ 500 Mp5 I5SR fully raid-buffed.
Rules of Thumb for Disc
Pick up haste up to ~ 11% (hard-cap). Absolutely do not stack more.
Spellpower is always good, especially since you don't have Spiritual Guidance scaling your levels.
Pick up as much intellect as possible.
11 spirit = 4 Mp5, with no spellpower gains.
Rough goals for the start of Ulduar.25 are to have 2500 spellpower, 35% crit, and 8% haste, along with ~ 500 Mp5 I5SR fully raid-buffed.
XI. a) Gearing Levels for Ulduar
Say all you do is 10-man content. You've been killing Malygos and clearing Naxxramas. Maybe you've even killed Sarth+3. But you wonder about this new fancy-dancy Ulduar business. When will I be ready? Is my gear good enough?
Be aware that Ulduar is definitely the next step in raiding. There's more damage, more mechanics, more crazy things, and our talents have changed. Basically, the rule of thumb for entering Ulduar.10 is that you have less than 3 items left as upgrades from the Tier7.10 areas. On top of this, *hopefully*, you picked up some 25-man gear somewhere (on a PuG, in your guild group, whatever).
The Flame Leviathan check is a good one. Scan your gear. Is every item ilvl 200+? Ideally, is every item closer to ilvl 213? Having the odd ilvl 200 item isn't a terrible thing; trinkets, for example, are ilvl 200 in a lot of cases. But if you have no ilvl 213 gear, you're going to struggle somewhat in Ulduar, at least until you start getting pieces. But in that case, you probably remember what Naxx.10 was like the first week. Patchwerk dying 15 seconds after you ran out of mana. Running out of mana on every trash pack. Welcome to Ulduar, have fun.
There's no hard and fast limits on when you can enter the dungeon, obviously; just have the best gear available to you, enchant it properly, and then have fun. If you're really struggling with mana, go Discipline and enjoy Rapture and the extra mana pool.
Q: Will I still be using epic gems?
A: No, the common-quality gems exceed the TBC-level epic gems, and the rare-quality ones absolutely destroy them. There are currently no epic gems available in WotLK except for Stormjewels (from the daily), although that will eventually change.
Q: What should I be using for gems?
A: Whatever works given the above rule of thumb. Spirit/Int gems are valuable, as are pure Int gems. Spellpower is always a logical choice, and the mixtures available of spellpower/int and spellpower/haste make mixing and matching your gems trivial to accomplish. So long as your gems involve crit, spellpower, intellect, spirit, and haste, there is really no wrong answer.
Q: What specific gems are there?
A: There are well over 100 specific gem cuts available, but I'll list the most commonly used (for priests) ones:
Q: What about the Stormjewels?
A: , , and are all definitely worth putting in your gear somewhere, if only to gain the extra stat from using a pure rare-quality.
: the most useful, and easiest to equip, metagem. A 45-second ICD proc that restores 600 mana, and 21 intellect to gain crit and regen make this the best metagem available.
: basically useless. 25 spellpower is meaningless compared to the 2500+ we will have raid-buffed, and the reduced threat is as useful as a solar-powered flashlight.
: decent metagem, probably second choice to IED. The 2% intellect ends up giving more int after you break 1155 intellect raid-buffed, which happens early in Naxx.25. However, the proc on IED is worth a conservative 50 Mp5 that you do not get back from ESD, making IED significantly stronger in the long run.
: interesting gem. The Mp5 isn't anywhere near as strong as IED or even ESD, and the increased critical healing doesn't add that much throughput. Might be slightly superior to BED or ESD for throughput, but if so, just barely.
XI. c) Trinkets
: still an excellent trinket, the rare-quality version will be rapidly eclipsed by raid drops. The epic version is still nowhere to be seen.
: an excellent JC trinket, definitely worth wearing for a period at the start of the expansion.
25-man Raid Drops:
: interesting throughput trinket
: incredible regen trinket, but only take it above paladins if you are 100% Disc.
: incredible regen trinket
: highest throughput trinket available, BiS for Discipline, although arguably Eye of the Broodmother is more "balanced" if you can pick it up. Given that most priests passed Illustration, it might be worth asking for Eye; it's our turn!
: highest possible spellpower, but useless proc; really not worth wearing
: decent Disc trinket; weak for Holy
10-man Raid Drops:
: godly +int trinket; amazing regen.
: horrible for holy, decent for Disc
: really nice throughput trinket, if you can pry it out of the hands of the dps.
: incredible priest trinket, definitely BiS. The effect is worth a conservative 100 Mp5.
: amazing trinket for Holy, meh for Disc.
: again, decent for Holy, meh for Disc.
: awesome trinket, and in 3.0.8, BoE!!
: don't know how I missed this before, but it's basically equivalent to Je'tze
: don't even think about taking this trinket. If you want one, buy the badge option.
Badge / World-drop / 5-man Drops:
: quest reward from the final quest in Dragonblight, it's a nice replacement for Earring of Soulful Meditation
: drop from The Oculus
: drop from Old Stratholme
: drop from heroic Drek'tharon keep
: heroic Halls of Stone
: heroic Halls of Stone
: good trinket, although arguably not the best for priests. Definitely worth getting if nothing else drops. Since badges are easy to get, grab one, and see how much you use the haste proc. If you use it, this trinket beats Forethought. If you don't, it doesn't.
XI. d) Enchants
Head: ; available from Kirin Tor (revered)
or : available from Wyrmrest Accord (revered)
Shoulders: Master's Inscription of the Crag - Spell - World of Warcraft and Master's Inscription of the Storm - Spell - World of Warcraft are available for Scribes; they are the BiS options available. For non-Scribes, there are and available from the Sons of Hodir at Exalted reputation. At honored, there are and .
Darkglow Embroidery (tailor only)
Pants: (Argent Crusade (exalted) : Recipe) or (Kirin Tor (exalted): Recipe)
Rings: Enchant Ring - Greater Spellpower (enchanter-only)
Weapon: or or ; if you use a stave, use the new enchant (no link yet).
XI. e) Glyphs
<insert discussion of glyphs here>
XI. f) I) Best-in-Slot Ulduar Gear (no ToC drops)
[TABLE] or :
+ or / or
Helm: is clearly better than T8.25, so it gets BIS due to ilvl 239.
Neck: Several options; really depends if you want spirit or not. is an incredible upgrade to .
Shoulders: T8.25 is solid; the only real replacement is the Yogg.10 hard-mode drop, and it's only nice because of the two sockets. Tier is fine.
Cloak: Most of us will stick with for a long time. Eventually, when we can complete the Algalon quest, the is great.
Chest: T8.25 is the only real choice here. is a nice interim solution if you want to keep haste high while you upgrade pieces, and competition on it will be fairly low.
Wrist: Grasps of Reason are definitely BiS, but competition on them is as heavy as it was on .
Gloves: are definitely BiS. Dropping a tier piece here seems to make the most sense.
Waist: from Algalon.
Legs: No replacement for T8.25 known yet.
Boots: are BiS, and thankfully, the dps casters even have their own version to compete on!
Rings: you could easily argue for items like or , but if you want to keep the paladins/shamans/dps casters happy, go for + Conductive Seal.
Trinkets: Huge upgrades are available here. Your first choice as holy should be , and then the second trinket would typically be chosen for throughput. Any of , , or would do nicely.
Wands: Only two choices: and . If your dps would prefer the socketed wand, or the hit-wand from 10-man hard, then pick up . It's a great item, similar in form to for allowing you to get haste+crit at the expense of spirit.
Weapon(2H): is the only ilvl 239 caster staff in Ulduar at the moment. The mace from Hodir.hard () is a reasonable alternative. If you prefer stats, go with .
Nidaba's BiS Gear List
Nidaba's BiS Gear List: No Hard Mode Drops Allowed
or (sockets make these most flexible)
, any 213 ring you have or
+ or or or (if you can do Thorim.10-hard, which really isn't that hard)
XI. f) II) Best-in-Slot Ulduar + ToC Gear
Now that ToC has come out, we're working on a gearset that will include all regular-mode .25 drops (as well as any particularly well-itemized .10 drops). Before the heroic bosses become available we'll have some idea of what we would want to get from those drops, although it's fairly simple with the straight upgrade path they have set up.
There are many things about Discipline and Holy healing that take math to model. The more interesting ones will be summarized here.
XII. a) Empowered Healing
Empowered Healing reads Your Greater Heal spell gains an additional 40% of your bonus healing effects. This means 40% of your spellpower is applied to the healing of GHeal (and 20% to Flash Heal, as a secondary benefit).
The final formula for computing benefit to a Greater Heal from Empowered Healing with Cast Time coefficients:
[ Base_Healing_Range + HSE * 3.0/3.5 + 0.40 * spellpower]
Also, be aware that Spiritual Healing is both multiplicative at the end of the process listed above. You can combine the spellpower gains from things like Empowered Healing, the cast-time reduction, etc. into an overall table that gives coefficient gains from spellpower. See below.
XII. Coefficients for Spells
Note that many spells on this list gain additional benefit as static multipliers from talents like Divine Providence. These are not spellpower multipliers, so they are not included here.
XII. c) Value of Intellect and Spirit
One of the big questions many priests ask is "how much spirit / intellect should I have", with the secondary question "where is the point at which it makes sense to stop stacking one and start stacking the other". As mentioned above, each gives some side benefits that must be considered.
First, realize that regardless of Discipline or Holy, every point of spirit is effectively equal to 1.155 spirit, thanks to 5% from Enlightenment / SoR and 10% from Blessing of Kings. Disc gains an additional 0.011 spirit for every point from Enlightenment. Similarly, for a Holy priest, every point of Intellect is equal to 1.1, while for Discipline, each point is equal to 1.265, thanks to Mental Strength and Blessing of Kings.
Now, the conversion numbers are as follows:
- 1% crit = 166.67 intellect
- 1 intellect = 0.1875 Mp5 (Replenishment)
- 1 intellect = 0.208 Mp5 (6 minute fight, mana pool size)
- 1 intellect = 0.104 Mp5 (6 minute fight, shadowfiend)
- 1 intellect = 0.145 Mp5 (Meditation, 1200 spirit assumed)
- 1 spirit = 0.313 Mp5 (Meditation, 1400 intellect assumed)
- 1 spirit = 0.25 spellpower (Holy, Spiritual Guidance)
Since 1 intellect = 1 spirit (effectively) for ilvl points spent, we really have no loss in gaining one versus the other. The exception to this rule is in considering gear that has no spirit on it, as those items are in much much higher demand, especially by dps casters (for cloth items) and by all casters and healers (for necks, rings, and trinkets, along with weapons). You will find it much easier to pick up spirit items than non-spirit, simply because of that competition. Thus, I am going to assume that any item you grab is a spirit+int item, just for sake of argument. When this is true, the minimum gearing you will be at, fully raid-buffed (25-man), in ilvl 213+ epic pieces, will be 1200 intellect + 1200 spirit. This is, of course, assuming full enchants, and all raid buffs possible, along with consumables. So use 1200/1200 as our starting point. Obviously in Ulduar, you'll be running quite a bit higher: I was at 1240 spirit and 1430 intellect for our first clear.
Now, here's the hard part. How do we model crit rating as a regen mechanic? For holy priests, every critical Renew, GHeal, Binding Heal or Flash Heal results in +50% spirit regen for 8 seconds. Thankfully, the new Rapture mechanics are much easier to model than this; the old Divine Aegis model was very hard to tweak.
Every percent to crit grants an additional chance to proc Holy Concentration. Best case, we cast ~ 50 Binding Heals per minute, which grants us 100 chances to gain HC. Worst case, let's ballpark and say we only cast 10 Flash Heals and other, non-proc'ing spells over the course of the minute. Thus each percent to crit grants us a ballpark of 0.45 HC procs per minute, or roughly 2.7 procs per boss fight (6 minute length).
If we assume that we're running 1200 spirit / 1400 intellect, then our spirit-based regen is 750 Mp5, so a HC proc gains us +375 MP5 for 8 seconds. Of course, this is OO5SR regen, so we may only gain half of this possible 600 mana. Let's assume 80% of the time, we don't manage to get OO5SR for any of the savings; 20% the time we do, for the final 3 seconds. This gives an average return on a proc of 323 mana.
Thus every percent to crit is worth approximately 12 Mp5 in terms of Holy Concentration gains. This converts to 0.08 Mp5 per point of intellect from critical gains.
Rapture gains are now based around PW:S absorbs only; no critical strike basis whatsoever. Let's assume we get a fully absorbed PW:S every 12 seconds, granting 2.5% of total mana. If we assume a total mana of 25,000, then Rapture gains maximize at 260 Mp5.
Given that you may be tank healing, you can assume a single PW:S fully absorbed every 15 seconds (Weakened Soul), so 4 procs per minute. Thus, 10% of your total mana per minute regen from Rapture, or 208 Mp5. We can easily assume 200 Mp5 from Rapture without being out of line.
Overall Regen Gains: Holy
Spirit: 0.362 Mp5 per point
Intellect: 0.792 Mp5 per point
(1 raw point; gearing, buff, etc; then scaled by other buffs and talents)
Overall Regen Gains: Disc
Spirit: 0.365 Mp5 per point
Intellect: 0.817 Mp5 per point
Thus, no matter what gearing you go with, there's almost no point in socketing spirit for regen ever again. There is a point if you are looking to maximize your OO5SR / Holy Concentration benefits and also scale your spellpower. As holy, one of the biggest reasons we stay competitive is Spiritual Guidance. In the pure spellpower race, without SG, we lag behind the shamans, paladins, and druids significantly. This is why it's definitely still worth taking the spirit+int items, even if you choose not to socket spirit at all.