Looking at the Holy Priest Renew Spec

Looking at the Holy Priest Renew Spec

There is a discussion that has spawned on Plus Heal about the high use of Renew in T9 and T10 raids. Some players were asking about it and I felt it was enough to touch on and elaborate further about here.

What is it?

The Renew heavy spec: Take a look.


It’s essentially a 14/57/0 Holy priest build but there are a few key talents that are missing. Almost all direct healing spells do not get talented. Talent staples such as Empowered Healing, Divine Fury, and Improved Healing are skipped over entirely. Instead, Blessed Resilience, Empowered Renew and Test of Faith are all taken and maxed out for amplified Renew… age.

Single target healing spells aren’t used much.

Flash Heal would mostly be used during Surge of Light procs (when they’re free). When looking at spell usages, it’ll be a mixture of Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending and lots of Renews until the cooldowns are available. Prayer of Healing is another option when strong AoE heals are needed.

For glyphs, it would consist largely of:

A case could be made to include glyph of Renew in lieu of Guardian Spirit but that’s assuming that cooldowns might not be needed. I don’t know, the ability to boost healing received every minute is like a reverse 2 minute DPS cooldown, you know?

You can expect a really high amount of overhealing to come from this style of play especially when you are paired with multiple Druids. The line of thinking here though is to sustain your raiders and "slow down" whatever damage ticks they are taking long enough for a Chain Heal, or a Holy Light to bring them back up to the green zone.

What are the benefits?

Master of Priestcrafting, Zusterke, points out that:

  • A glyphed Flash Heal costs roughly the same as Renew
  • Both spells can trigger Holy Concentration
  • An Empowered Renew can hit with an instant heal in the 2-3k range (Flash Heal takes 1.5s to produce a 5k-6k heal)
  • Renew is a HoT and still produces healing after it is applied
  • It doesn’t require a glyph (although the glyph is handy)

Where could I apply it?

In Icecrown, I can think of several instances where a heavy Renew style would be very beneficial. Against Lord Marrowgar, Bone Spike Graveyards can be cushioned quite easily. Lady Deathwhisper, jus about every player would benefit and those caught in death and decay have an extra second or two to bail out. On Saurfang, players suffering from Mark of the Champion would have some increased insurance.

In the Plagueworks when fighting Festergut, the gases that damage the entire raid can be mitigated with a whole bunch of Renews. Against Rotface, even though the healing is halved, those affected by the slime debuff when they have to run out could move a bit further before a dispel is necessary. It’s also great for stabilizing the raid after one of those Oozes explode. When engaging Professor Putricide, preemptively Renewing the raid just before a green ooze makes contact or on any number of other aspects of the fight can grant a slight edge.

To finalize

I’m going to give this a shot this week and see how it works out. It’s not quite the same as dropping shields all over the place, but you can see the similarity when it comes to "blanketing the raid".

Anyway, it’s a style and spec to consider so keep an open mind.

Error, no group ID set! Check your syntax!
About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. I like the sound of this a lot. Would love to test it out in our own raids, as I’ve been jonesing for a chance to go holy once in a while, and I haven’t really been it since early TBC. Do you think it’s viable for both 25 and 10-mans, or do you see it as something belonging mostly in one of the brackets?

  2. Been using this spec since late T9. It made me fall in love with the holy tree again, after literally logging on for raids then logging off to do nothing else for months.

    It’s also quite powerful. We have another holy priest with the “flash heal” spec, and I mostly beat her out if not tie.

  3. The only thing that would concern me about this particular spec (yes, I play a Holy Priest) is that it essentially turns you into a one-trick pony. I enjoy the renew spell a lot as it is with my particular spec and it works out very well. Do note that I understand that we still have all of those spells, single target and CoH, available to us. However, it just feels to me as if too much of the spec is relying on one spell, whereas the Holy Priest’s strength has always been in its versatility.

    This does not mean that I am not willing to try it. It seems very interesting! But I have my doubts. I don’t like giving up my versatility.


  4. 3 words for you: roll a druid. 🙂
    .-= Rivven´s last blog ..Barnett and Kaplan at GDC 2009 =-.

  5. I have to agree with Riwen here. Druids are hands down the best raid healers. With T9 set being, in my opinion, the best T9 healing set in the game.
    .-= Skonged´s last blog ..Cataclysm alpha =-.

  6. I agree with Rivven, if you want to just HoT up the raid roll a Druid. I have always considered myself a Renew heavy user, but it has never been my highest total healing spell, although it sometimes is 2nd.

    Flash, Renew, CoH…

  7. Shieliding the raid is mostly a Disc function isn’t it. I mean the mana cost for a Holy is very high. It isn’t worth it, is it?

    • @Lychordia: I think you misunderstood my point when I mentioned that a Holy Priest dropping Renews all over the place is similar to a Disc Priest dropping shields all over the raid. I wasn’t clear enough, but thats what I was getting at.

  8. Saying this as someone who runs a resto druid as my main and a holy( or disc ) priest as my alt.

    I dunno, I got pulled into the last two bosses of ToC25 on my holy priest last night and I’ve always thought I was a pretty good raid healer, but the renew heavy holy priest put me in the dirt. She outgeared me, but not by so much to leave that much of a difference. Skada showed me at about 4.3k, the other priest was at 7k. She renewed, while I kept PoM up, Flashed for Serenity procs and cast hasted PoH while weaving in CoH everytime it was off cooldown. I simply could not keep up. I’ll be looking at this tonight.
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..On Goblins of Avaricious Nature and the Social Aspects of WoW =-.

  9. I tried this type of blanket renew raid healing before and found my self going back to my normal spec very quickly. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time but the druids did a much better job at hotting the raid than I.
    .-= Napps´s last blog ..Happy New… Resolutions! =-.

  10. I can read this on my BlackBerry.

    The Wayward Priest

  11. I’m leaning towards the “that’s a druid’s job” argument too. Unless you don’t normally have a druid in your raids, then I could definitely see the benefit of this spec.
    .-= Jasyla´s last blog ..How not to die =-.

  12. Had to chuckle just a bit. Rather than change my holy spec to a situational spec (we’re still doing ToC-10 and Ulduar-25), I went with the cookie-cutter Disc build.

    Unless you are exclusively raiding ICC (in which case, this will work for all heroics 5-mans with the possible exception of HoR), I’d say stay Holy, get a tree or shammy, or go Disc.
    .-= Kestrel´s last blog ..Grammar Potpourri: Homophones =-.

  13. I’ve messing around with renew specs since twins in toc. roll renews & spam, wait for surge procs for flash heal to build up hasted poh. Been working well in ICC, i’ve actually been running holy alot more, was mainly disc for past few months. O, and have been beating druids in healing since ToC spec’d this way

  14. I have a spec that is a little similar to this in spirit, although mine is more to maximize the results of CoH/PoM/PoH. Honestly, I realize the cool thing now is to not take Empowered Healing, but that one still makes me antsy. Are you really NEVER going to cast Flash Heal? Maybe it’s just me, but Flash Heal is still ~20% of my total healing done on a tough fight. Plus, Empowered Healing scales well with your gear, which is a lot more than you can say for most talents.

    Anyway, I used to play a Renew-bot in the old Molten Core days, and I’m happy to see that play style be viable again!

    Next on the docket: Body and Soul, a PvE talent in ICC?

  15. Renews and the Snowflake trinket = profit?
    hot Health for all & mana for me, but it would feel kinda drood.

  16. Again, you gotta look at your raid in context before trying it. If you’re raid is rocking 3 Druids, then it probably won’t be necessary. But if there aren’t any or if there’s only 1, then it might be a viable alternative.

  17. (Off-Holy-Topic)

    I run renew heavy but I am a DISC priest. I’ve found that a shield + renew is quite effective for keeping anyone alive. The shield protects the person and gives renew time to do it’s work plus there is the shield HoT too.

    The other HUGE benefit is that it doesn’t mess with Grace like Flash Heal does so you can keep Grace up on the tank.

    I run the following spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#bVcbuhhVRIsffRtfxzc

    Glyph of Renew
    Glyph of Penance
    Glyph of PW Shield

  18. Hey, I never comment on blog posts but I had to here. It’s nice you bring this in the open Matticus, I and a lot of other high-end healers have been using this spec since mid T9. It’s wonderful.
    We always have atleast one druid in our raid, and with my renew spec I can rival his HPS on raid damage heavy fights. Now, I’m disc/holy, so my holy spec is especially tailored for heavy raid healing. It takes some getting used to, and some people come fencing with ‘roll a drood’ argument, but this spec beats the other holy specs out of the water in current raid heavy damage content.
    With this spec i chunk out 8k hps in heroic Twins, i have yet to see another holy spec do the same.
    Yeah, yeah hps isn’t everything at all, I’m well aware of that, and it does narrow your holy priest role down a bit. Flash’s get completely pushed aside now, only to proc Serendipity with SoL’s or so.
    In my humble opinion, it’s the best and strongest holy spec out there right now, but it might not be for everyone. Nor is every encounter really suited for it.

  19. I think a renew favoured spec would be preferable in a 10man situation where you are partnered with a holy paladin/Resto shammy for tank healing. If you are with a druid, i agree with the others above, go disc, you can’t match a really good resto druid.

    Being a dwarf i’m not seeing the ability to remove poison as bigger deal as a i thought, and I don’t use PW:Shield enough to make Body & Soul useful.

    I might give it a whirl, I just need to find a mod that monitors renew ticks better i’d say.

  20. What kind of haste are you looking at to make this kind of spec effective?

    • @Scott: I wish I could answer that question but I can’t. Hopefully one of the players familiar with the spec and style of play can drop an answer ^^.

  21. ran something like that with body and soul incorportated through the end of ulduar, and into TOC.

    after the t10 set starts to come into play I dumped it. it wasnt bad, it was nice when we didnt have a druid in the raid. you can top your effective healing (as well as like anyone cares right now, overhealing with it) its not a bad spell. nor spec.

    I’m normally disc but have been holy due to my choosing alot of the ICC fights..

    I see its place, its handy, and I did miss it when people died and I knew damn well an empowered renew woulda kept them up.

    but…. after months, its been dumped. some love for it on the tier set may have swayed me, but meh the like druids rolling rejuv and wg on the raid. We fix damage and fast. we dont tick for 3k renews and do our job. (at least imo) I have used it though, and that was due to a despirate raid makeup.

  22. edit. scott when I put on the holy haste gear at its peak I was pushing 850 haste.

    i’ve used it as low as 500 though. I’m guessing someone has a better answer, and i’m betting upwards of 900 haste and some great mana regen come into play.

    we arent trees. imo its a situational use spell.

  23. I actually found this method/spec to show better synergy with druids. With my Fheals, most of its healing capacity gets ninja’d by one HoT or another. In the end, the amount of healing produced my FHeal isn’t that greater than the instant heal from the Empowered Renew and that one at least had guarantee’d healing done. Add one tick, which isn’t unlikely in a 15s timeframe, and it does more healing than Fheal.
    It’s true that a Druid has better hots, but he relies on them. Renew is more a filler spell for me. With PoM & CoH on cooldown, combined with PoH whenever applicable, Renew seems to give more ‘body’ and coverage to my healing than FHeal. Even outhealed a druid with it on Twins… though… he may not have been the pro most of these commenters are used to. I’m going to experiment with this build more often 🙂

  24. I never ever ever cast flash on twins h 25

    its purely COH POM on CD and holy nova. if someone does sumt stupid I may fill it with a surge of light on a soaker, or more likely a POH (shit spell without serpendipity which I also dumped to the wayside)

    I did and still do like renew for filler.. downtime, and I have the mana? sure I’ll toss some 2/3 renews out. I ran it for a few months glyphed and specced, in part due to raid makeup, imo its a shit heal. but your raid may differ.

    thankfully I dont feel the need to cast renew… nearly ever.. on paper it looks great! in practice.. meh.

  25. I’m using this spec since Ulduar. The only differences are one point in Desperate Prayer from Spell Warding and I ditched the lame PoH glyph in favor of the Renew one. Also I use the Flash Heal Glyph instead of GS as I always caught myself just not using GS enough. Funnily enough I don’t really use FH often either nowadays.

    If you ignore Body & Soul as a situational talent, the spec is the cookie cutter Holy raid healing spec for me. It has all tools you need to do your “job” as Holy Priest (counter burst AoE damage) and the imba Renew is just an empowered icing of the cake :)).

  26. I just switched to essentially this spec. It will take me a little while to get used to the playstyle change. It does have the side benefit of being just a bit more mobile than a flash heal spec.

    Also since ToF + BR > Empowered Healing for flash heals on targets where ToF is active, your flashes are still pretty good.

    We bring 2-3 Holy Priests, 1 Druid, and 1 Shaman for raid healing, and Renew definitely helps, at least on meters. I feel like I’m built to rock the meters, but it feels like I am actually less likely to save lives with this spec.

    I’m curious why you recommend the POH glyph – it is a nice HOT, but I find that I rarely cast it except on fights like precious/stinky and festergut. I may try that this week.

  27. I would say this spec is even better… 18/53/0


    granted you have a floating point(s) on the holy side if you refuse to get lightwell.

  28. I like to run with a renew heavy spec as well, however I give up one point in Spell Warding to keep Desperate Prayer. I guess it is a chicken or an egg argument – maybe I wouldn’t need Desperate Prayer so much if I had another 2% spell damage reduction. Do you find that you just don’t use DP that often?

    I also give up Healing Prayers to keep Body and Soul. I know B&S is situational but I use it often to get me out of places I shouldn’t be and use it regularly to help tanks get to where they need to be quicker.

  29. I have healed using this spec and style since pretty much the start of Wrath. It is extremely efficient imho. To be able to instantly heal someone for 3k while on the move and know that they are receiving heals for the next few seconds is satisfying.

    If I could describe me healing a heavy raid damage fight it would go like this: While on the move constantly, renews, CoH, proc’d Flash Heals, PoM, shields if necessary, renew, renew, renew, rinse and repeat. In a way it makes me feel like a druid with all the instant casts.

    This with Althor’s Abacus…. mmmmmmm

  30. Sadly this type of healing is pretty effective still even if it’s beaten by the trees. It has as much to do with the playstyle change in ToGC/ICC with less predictable heavy raid damage bursts as it has to do with the nerf to PoH that gimped the FH-BH-serpendity-CoH-CoH style of healing severely. It’s still great to see that healing priests have as many options as we have for different playstyles that still work. If that isn’t versatility in itself I don’t know what is. Myself, I prefer to have that versatility among spell selection rather than in talent buld so I stick to the more conservative raid healing style of past patches. I’m still pretty much on par with my fellow fakedruids in ICC. There are so far only two fights where I really prefer one type of healing over the other:

    1. Saurfang. Discipline beats all simply because shields take of the first tick of the dot and produces incredible amounts of less BP.

    2. Putricide. The movability on this fight is made for Tuskarr’s vitality, body & soul and renew builds.

    The article is a good one if not only for providing a good discussion on how to heal which is always interesting and always need to be reevaluated. Stagnation is the worst enemy for success. I’d however like to point out a few things that I consider wrong too. First I don’t know what you consider to be staple talents but Improved Healing is not one of them and hasn’t been since some time long ago when hunters ran around with two headed dogs. Second and more importantly I can’t understand why in a spec that focuses it’s healing on renew-PoM-CoH you’d pick up Healing Focus. Almost all ov your spellcasts will be instant and unaffected. You may even want to look into reaching Mental Agility over this.

    Other than this. Keep up the good work.

  31. @Nodyen I would favor BR over ToF in that build and switch the point from LW to BR as well. In total you would lose 1% from BR and then ToF for 10% mana reduction on most of your spells. Combined with a spark of hope or the new snow-thing-trinket you could have a serious cut in manacost which would allow one to gear for more throughput.
    But I guess I just like ToF and ‘can manage’ by gearing for more regen. On one hand … our manaregen model grows more than linear, making it favorable to invest points in it. On the other hand, cost reduction is an incredibly effective method of balancing regen power vs mana drain. Agh.. choices choices… I went with throughput since I found this renew mehod to have fewer mana worries as is.

    @Blakkeyez I would keep Healing Focus as well. You rely mostly on instants, that’s true… but with CoH & PoM having a cooldown, and Renew not being ‘quick’ about healing someone when it needs to go fast, you’ll have to fall back on direct heals every once in a while when it matters. A pushback at that time can be your biggest player/tank killer and hps reductor. Besides… there isn’t much else to go for in the lower tier talents 🙂

  32. Awesome post and comments! I’ll be trying this spec this weekend to see if I can rock our druid out of his #1 raid healing spot!

  33. Eberron of Ravenholdt says

    I think too many players are, as Matt pointed out, missing the point: This is a spec that’s best used in raids with few or no trees as they’re excellent for this kind of thing. It relies a lot on healer synergy and trust in the other people to do their job.

    If you’re short on those kinds of players (trees or just trustworthy heals in general) you’d probably want to shy away from such a niche spec.

    That being said Matt, it looks fantastic. I’d love to see it in action. I’ll have to tap my priestie friend on the shoulder (who loves her some Matticus btw) and ask if she thinks this might be useful given the guild’s current raid makeup.

    Sadly for me, I work during raid nights, so I don’t know. 🙁

  34. AshhealsTG says

    I think you graized over why exactly you don’t take Emp Healing, Imp Healing, and Divine Fury. Flash is only cast for Surge procs, and I haven’t found an appropriate mana per healing per overhealing situation to cast GHeal in.

    For the time it takes to cast, versus the fact that Holy Priests should be raid healing, a 3xSerendipity should be used for a PoH not a GH. GH is a too slow, too large single target that will most likely be 90% overheal. You can argue overhealing doesn’t matter when mana is infinite, however I think any good priest should take it into account.

    But another reason I think you’ve failed to mention is that the majority of spells you cast include: CoH, PoM, PoH or Renew depending on the damage going around. If you take Emp/Imp Healing those points aren’t actually going towards improving your most used spells.

    Taking Blessed Resilience is amazing in the sole fact that it buffs ALL of your spells. so 3% over all spells vs 40% of a spell you never use and 20% of a spell you only use on a proc? It seems common sense to me.

    Another thing about your glyph selection and then your later over all conclusion stats you should only be using this spec in a tree less raid. I offer that you think this way because you don’t glyph renew. If you’re saying that Druid hots are a reason why you’re not using renew, a glyph that makes your renew tick faster seems to be a fix to that complaint.

    I think math would prove that Renew (with all the bells and whistles calculated in) is better over a fight than 40% for 10secs every 1 minute assuming you’re using it on CD and its not being eaten (and lets not talking about not having an oh-shit button when it hits the fan.)

    I guess it might lead to personal preference, and playstyle so to each his own!

  35. Im running a variation of this for an all around kinda feel. I cant get by with just flash healing, and renew is a great heal on the run spell. I also use bubble, although sparsely since dropping Body and Soul.
    Renew healing gets really big really fast, especially with the glyph. you can crank out mad HPS while still dropping flash heals on the raid in my current spec. Was running 6400 HPS in my last Valk twins reg fight.

  36. Has anyone with the holy spec thought of using http://www.wowhead.com/?item=42406#created-by


    I havent raided on my priests for a month, not even sure if mana is an issue anymore but seems like that would keep you full of mana. Also I read it stacks. Anyways it was a 3.3 change I overlooked and may try it out on my Holy spec.

  37. I have been running a spec similar since Uld. My guild runs 25s only, and our only stable healers are myself and 2 shammies, aside from that it’s a toss up. I’ve always run being the only priest, and when I’m not disco for certain fights (like Saurfang where disco just makes the fight a joke) I find that this spec really is a good base for any kind of healer set up.
    @ Riwen- The whole “roll a druid’ comment kind of burns me, as while HoTs are nice, holy priest is about aoe heals. I’d just rather be able to have a filler that I can cast on the run since it makes a bit more sense in a lot of the encounters.
    @Scott- I run around 550+ haste but find that 800+ is best. I only run so low because I can’t afford to get 2 seperate sets of gear at the same level since I switch from disco to holy quite often. I make up the missing haste with food buff and one shammy drops the necessary totem.
    @nodyen- I used to have 30+k mana unbuffed and have dropped that to around 25k in favor of SP/Crit/Haste. As long as you use your replenishments (HoH, Fiend, etc) you should be fine. Start out with a good mana pool and work your way down. I feel if I’m not popping fiend on a boss, then I can afford to swap some spi/ int for pure SP.

  38. In my opinion one of the most important strengths of the renew spec is your ability to move around and still keep up strong healing.

  39. @Nodyen: I think you confused the description. It restores base mana, not max mana.
    Shadow Word Pain costs 22% base mana
    Restores 6% base mana (1% per tick, 6 ticks per cast).
    You lose 16% base mana.

  40. Like others above, I’ve been using this spec since Ulduar and it rules in heavy AOE raid encounters (e.g. heroic Twins, Blood Queen). I use it on about 1/3 of encounters, otherwise I am disc.

    After analyzing my logs I made one significant adjustment to the spec. I dropped the three points in Holy Concentration and put them in Mental Agility, getting a 10% reduction in cost of all instant spells. Notice that every bread-and-butter heal that this spec relies on is instant? (This spec adjustment does require sacrificing one point in the Holy tree for a weak talent point in Disc such as improved shield.. I chose to go 2/3 Serendipity rather than 3/3 because the only thing I use Serendipity for in this spec is an occasional PoH.)

    That spec adjustment gave me around a 150 MP5 gain in a AOE-heal spamming fight, and made a huge difference when I was in 232/245 gear on the Twins. Now in 245/264 gear I have no mana problems even on a 5-minute spamfest like Blood Queen. The spec adjustment allowed me to stack haste in my holy gear set to my heart’s content with no real mana worries.

    HL is poorly suited for generating mana for this mana-hungry spec in a constant AOE raid damage situation. You are never casting GH or non-SOL FHs. You are basically relying only on Renew crits to proc HL, and the rare BH cast. Yet you will be casting CoH/PoM/SoL on about 70% of your casts–SoL will be proccing constantly. Furthermore, HL regen scales with crit rating, yet in this spec crit is the last thing you want to stack, since SoL can’t crit and Empowered Renew crits are negligible healing. You want haste, spellpower and more haste!

    So I think keeping HL with this spec is just a vestige of old habits, at least if like me you are using the spec primarily for high AOE raid damage situation.

  41. Hi Folks,

    I’m just returning to the game after a while out and this spec looks interesting after turning my back on Holy at the start of WotLK. I’m not yet raiding again but plan to in the near future so figure I may as well get some practice in whilst I run heroics for badges etc. My gear is a mix of level 200 / 213 so pretty low down the scale so I was wondering is this viable for heroic 5 man healing.

    I’m guessing the response will be, any spec if fine for heroic 5 man healing 🙂 but I wasn’t sure. Since I’ll be covering a tank, can I avoid using FH or indeed GH to the extent that maximising this spec requires?



  42. i find that this spec is better for low geared priests more so than top geared priest; mainly if i used this my 800 haste would be a super waste. imo go for the fastest; biggest heal you can. POM COH 3FH POH all day long after this i find there is merely time to cast renew so if i do get a chance i just put it on the main tank it is probably because hots are the druids job and i already have enough trouble competing with our resto shaman to punch out heals over his 1 second chain heal.

  43. My main’s a Holy Priest, and since 4.0 hit, I’ve found myself using Renew as one of my main heals.
    This is while raiding with a Holy Pally and a Resto Druid, and I’ve found that my Flash Heal is just too slow to compete with the Druid HoTs, and the occasional insta-heal from Mr Healadin.
    This group mostly does ICC, and it works really well for keeping everyone alive. Which, imho, is far more important than meters.


  1. […] A few months ago, I wrote a post about an emerging style for Holy Priests who did little more than cast Renew on their…. […]

Speak Your Mind