My Nightmare as a Priest

I’m reading Leiandra’s post on the different types of healers and their functions. After reading some of the comments there, I felt like this merited a direct post reply on it’s own instead of a comment. I wager I’m one of the few players to have rolled all four healer classes. I’ve only raided with three of them (Priest, Shaman, and Paladin while my Druid is on the backburner somewhere at the early 50 level). Some of the comments I’ve read made me raise my eyebrow.

Elinor

I know my comparison is somewhat simplistic, but taking away +healing gear (should be the same for priest or paladin) a paladin’s biggest heal with appropriate talents is a 2.5 sec cast for 2740(840 mana). A priest with appropriate talents has a 2.5 sec cast for 3062(825 mana).

Of course there is a talent for paladins to reduce that cast time by .5 for the next 15 sec, and the 3062 for priest doesn’t include the talent to increase it by 25% of spirit.

Also a druid has a 3.0 sec direct heal for 3517 (935 mana).

Firstly, that’s an unfair comment to make. If you’re going to compare healers, the assumption should be made that they are talented to the best healing spec available. There’s no point in comparing supposed healing classes without full and complete talents because there isn’t a player in WoW who raid heals with no talents spent in their appropriate healing trees. Don’t compare base heals or stats either because certain races and classes have a higher advantage over the other. If you’re going to compare healing output, then add an arbitrary base healing number that seems fair (like +1500 healing). Please, if you’re going to compare one class with another, make realistic comparisons.

So here’s the million dollar question. Is there one healing class better than another? It depends entirely on the encounter and on the situation. Let’s hypothetically say that there’s a 25 man raid team about to engage a boss. It’s your standard tank and spank encounter. Nothing special about it. Except for the fact that Crosbane, our boss, hits like a freight train for 30 minutes. Most healers would run out of gas long before those thirty minutes are up. Pally’s, not so.

They’re the energizer bunnies of WoW. They keep going, and going, and going. It’s true that as a Priest, we have the 5 second rule to fall back on and we would gain a crapload of mana back. Realistically, we don’t have that kind of option. If we don’t heal for five seconds, our assignments are dead. I suppose the best we can hope for is to light up a PoM, a Renew, and a Shield. That would us a few precious seconds to regen our mana. Then the boss crits.

Pally’s own us Priests, period. There’s a reason why many high end raiding Guilds no longer run Holy Priests as healers. We’re a dying breed. Sure we bring a lot of specialist skills like PW:S and Prayer of Healing, but well timed spam heals from Paladins keep everything going. The reason I agree with your assessment about Paladins being the King of Healing is because they would never run out of mana in endurance fights. I’m busy struggling and blowing my potions, yelling for Innervates, Mana Tides, using my Shadow Fiend, and theres Joe Paladin in the corner just spamming Rank 5 Flash of Light over there. Couple 3 Paladins, a Shadow Priest, and a Resto Shaman with buffed mana spring totems and you have a group that can heal indefinitely.

My WWS in Carnage shows our Healers with four Paladins constantly on top all the time. Master Harth, High Priest that he is, leads the way in over all heals so there is hope for us yet.

But you can’t expect WWS to illuminate the numbers for us all the time. It only shows us one side of the story. Different Healers are best suited for different encounters.

Take an encounter like Fathom-Lord in SSC for example. There are four bosses that need to be tanked. The Hunter boss spawns a pet every now and then, and the tank that’s tanking him needs to draw aggro on it as well. So here is this one tank that’s getting his ass handed to him by two Ford F-150’s. On top of that, there’s a freakin’ Whirlwind type thing that comes around and throws me in the air every once in a while. I’m so focused on my raid health that I always seem to miss it coming by. If it weren’t for my instant spells, he would be dead. Thankfully, the Hunter boss is the second boss that needs to die. With the damage input that Thor (my tank) is taking, it’s impossible to sustain it for more then a few minutes. Eventually, I would hit a time where my potion cooldown is used, my shadowfiend timer is down, and all the innervates have been used. In this short period of time, I would excel in my role no problem. I don’t have to keep him alive for an abysmally long time. Just enough to weather the storm.

Compare this to the last boss, the Fathom Lord himself. Initially Lang is over there with a Paladin. This Boss is last on the food chain. Paladins need to be able to keep Lang alive for at least seven minutes. Oh, and they have to heal themselves too. Lang may not be taking as much burst damage as Thor was, but he’s taking a beating for a longer amount of time.

Do you see the point I’m trying to make here? It’s nearly impossible to compare all the healing classes together. Each brings a different set of skills to the table. With the encounters in end game, I suspect that Paladins are better suited and utilized more often then not. As a Priest, I have enough spells at my disposal to react quickly enough to salvage a raid in case anything goes wrong. A Paladin won’t be able to recover as much. But their long term efficiency is so good that there is little reason for raids to go in the crapper.

Sooner or later, our class will go the way of the Dodo bird. Aside from broccoli, that is my greatest fear with Holy Priests rendered inert, useless, and outclassed in every aspect. I guess I better start accumulating Shadow Gear. Good thing I have a Paladin and a Shaman to fall back on.

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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.

Comments

  1. I’ll be honest here… I don’t understand the idea that Pallys are better than Priests. People espouse their durability and longevity. I’ve lasted longer than our Pally in some of the longer more intense fights (Prince for example). I think Priests have more raid utility as healers. We can heal the entire group in 3 secs, and COH crappy as it is, is instant. We can bomb heal the tank just as good as a Pally can. I just don’t run out of mana all that often. I can count on one hand the number of encounters where I have gone truly OOM. I just don’t get it, to me Priests ARE the best healers.

  2. Durability and longevity indeed…

    I suppose it’s a different experience for me in the 25s. And like I know there’s a lot of things we can do. We have our AOE heals, and all that stuff. But let’s be honest. How often do we use it? I don’t use my COH that often against mobs that AOE because our tanks and mages do a great job of controlling them. Most fights nowadays seems to be endurance based. In addition to the tank taking damage, the healer too will take damage. The Paladin has the armor to withstand several such hits until they need to drop a heal on himself. Us squishy dwarves don’t have that luxury.

    Understand that I’m using a different definition of “better healer”. A good healer is one who can heal their assignment and live long enough to do their job. There are all these standards that people base their healing on: Speed, longevity, quantity, number of players healed, yadda yadda. I don’t include Kara as a benchmark for healing. 25s are the eventual end game goal for different Guilds. I would be hardpressed to find a Guild that says “OKay, we beat Kara, we’re done”. If there were no 25s and end game was just Kara, then yeah, this post wouldn’t be here.

  3. Doc Holiday says:

    4 pallies spamming Flash heal on a tank = 1500 Heals 3000 crits = low aggro and mana use. Any pally that ooms during a fight is doing something terribly wrong

    Our guild uses 0 Holy Priests. We run with 4 pallies,2 Resto Shamans and 2 Resto Druids and 2 Shadow priests. The pallies can keep our tanks up every single fight we have done and never require a innervate. Resto shamans heal the Melee and tanks by Chain heal and the Resto druids raid heal via Lifeblooms etc.. My guild is 4/5 Hyjal and 3/9 BT for reference.

  4. As someone who has raided with both a holy priest and a holy pally, I would say that currently, from a raiding perspective, a holy pally somewhat edges out priests in the single target category. My priest was great for healing whole groups and had a more diversified toolbox, but I found myself constantly oom on the big boss fights, as well as being a little too paper thin on trash. So I respecced my priest shadow, and heal mainly on my pally. I may revisit that down the road, but that’s what works for me and my raid. :\

  5. You argue that holy pallies are better single-target healers over a long period of time but you don’t compare holy priests to druids or shamans. Seems to me that even if holy pallies are best at healing the main tank there will always be a place for priests as utility healers because you won’t succeed as a raid running with 8 pallies all the time.

  6. Curaja: I don’t compare a holy priest to a druid, because I’m not as familiar with them as I should be. Hopefully Phaelia will see this post and drop his two cents somewhere.

    All I know about Druids is their Healing ability relies heavily on HoTs (Rejuvs, Lifeblooms, so on and so forth).

    In regards to Shamans, I’ve raid healed with Saphfira before. Solo target healing is okay as long I’ve got a partner with me. I don’t know if that’s a gear issue on my part, or if my technique’s horrible (Gift of the Naaru, Healing Wave, Healing Wave, Healing Wave). Even with Mana Spring down, I think both Wave’s are mana inefficient when compared with Paladin heals.

    The main reason I didn’t compare Priests to Druids or Shamans because those two classes were never under dispute in the original post I was responding to.

    Perhaps I should replace the word “best” with “better suited”.

  7. Since it was my comment that started this whole thing, I hope you don’t mind me chiming in. First off let me qualify the quote. I was only commenting on Leiandra’s statement:
    “Paladin: King of the direct heals. For the most part, paladin spells take time to cast.” I was only trying to compare the paladins largest heal with the priests largest heal. Even if you do take into account all the possible talents, the priest will have the bigger and more mana efficient heal. So the “king of direct heals” didn’t sit well with me. Although from what I have been reading that isn’t how pallies heal. So you are right that the comparison is mute.

    Now having said that, I’m not trying to argue that priests are better overall healers right now. I hope they are again in the future, because it saddens me to have a hybrid class out do a dedicated class, but the fact remains that Pallies are taking the main heal roll in raids right now.

    So I have a few question, I sincerely would like to understand better:
    From the posts, it sounds like pallies use their flash of light much more than holy light? Why are paladins so efficient? Is it the downgrading with high +heal? Is it their mana regen seal? How long can they go spamming flash of light?

    As I stated on Leiandra’s site, when I have raided, the palllies get their heals off faster, and I cancel a lot of my heals. Do pallies tend to overheal a lot? That obviously isn’t a problem if they have almost endless mana?

    I guess what i’m asking is how do holy pallies heal?

  8. The build centers around a Paladin Flash of Light spamming. They have a talent called Illumination:

    After getting a critical effect from your Flash of Light, Holy Shock or Holy Light spell, gives a 20%-100% chance to gain mana equal to the base cost of the spell.

    That is the entire source of their efficiency. I think the recent patch nerfed it down to 60% or something, I don’t remember. But all Paladins need to do is stack a ton of spell critical gear. If you couple it with a down ranked flash of light, along with a Blessing of Light on their assignment, there’s a lot of healing power applied without much expenditure depending on how much the spell crits. So yeah, Paladin casts Flash of Light, it crits for 1400, they gain 60% mana back.

    I don’t think Pallies overheal as much as Priests do. All thats’ required of them is continual spamming of Flash of Light rank 5 or something. As a Priest, our job is to bomb heal and over heal like crazy on intensive fights. So the Paladins help sustain health on a tank after he takes a huge hit and keep it level as much as possible while we’re relied on to shoot up the tank from 50% back to 100%.

  9. Just so you know; Druids are absolutely terrible at mana efficiency, lacking any and all methods of actively gaining our mana back. Not only this, but I can almost guarantee we’ll never be in the 5second rule, rolling lifeblooms simply doesn’t allow it.

    What we -are- good for is creating safe buffer zones for other healers to heal through. Take a Tree of Life Druid, put them on MT + raid healing, tell him to stack spirit and burn his innervates on himself.

    Ultimately you get very efficient raid heals combined with about 1000-1300 HP per second rolling on the main tank.

    Paladins are, in my opinion, the batteries reserved for healing guys that take alot of damage; their mana can handle it, and they can simply keep going.

    Shamans are extremely good at raid healing, to the point where I’d say that’s almost all they’re good for, except perhaps 1 shaman LHW spamming the tank for that armor crit proc.

    I see priests as the hybrid of these guys; they’re capable of keeping a solid instant cast slew of spells in order to cut down on spike damage, as well as GHeal bombing while the Paladins FoL spam with a Druid HoT rolling buffer.

    The only problem is that obviously you’re going to suffer on the healing meters. I just like to think of you as being less efficient, but ultimately still very capable of helping the raid.

    PW:S and PoM in themselves are far faster ‘instant heal’ spells over a Druid’s slow HoT, or a Pally’s 1.5s FoL or Shaman’s 1.5s LHW. More instants mean less guys dying to spike damage.

  10. What Matticus said in regards to Illumination and Pallies is very correct. I have about 20% crit chance on my Paladin now (and I’m not really that well geared yet) and I am getting back 108 mana on a flash of light and 500something on a Holy Light crit. We also gain mana if we take damage and someone else heals us, so if we’re in a group with a Shadow priest, for instance, we get some nice mana regen going. There are definitely times when we do start running low on mana (our fight on Nightbane last night was a great example) but overall it is miles away from the constantly oom my priest was.

    I also planned ahead and picked up Alchemy with my Paladin, and use an Alchemist’s Stone, which gives me quite an oomph when I need to chug a pot.

  11. This conversation really interest me. I am currently a Holy Priest and have considered strongly going to the dark side. I just wanted to ask question, do you think this an intentional progression of the game by Blizzard? I as well hate the thought of having a main healing class driven to extinction by the hybrid classes.

  12. Thanks for the info guys. I was not aware at all of the stacking spell crit gear, with illumination. This has been very insightful.

    I might have to play around with some different specs on my pally now 🙂

  13. Notlok: Yeah, I think this is an evolutionary stage for Priests at the moment. Before Burning Crusade, Priests were THE standard in Raids. Shadow Priests were scarce and few and far in between. At the rate we’re going right now, I do think we will be extinct. Our class is no longer the super power of healing as we were once known as. Now we are just a support class. We’re the last line in healing defense.

    Just like Roberto Luongo, we save (Except he hasn’t been saving much).

  14. I feel the need to add another commen here. I haven’t done any 25-mans so I can’t comment on that content. I think you’d be gimping yourself to go with out at least one of all the healing classes. Each has strengths and weaknesses. If a Druid or Shaman goes down and Priest can easily pick up that group healing slack. If a Pally goes down again the Priest can take over. The Priest can do either job on their own as well. Maybe I’m just really good at mana management, but I’ve never needed Innervate and I can usually go as long as the Pally if not longer.

    As for Holy Nova… to me that’s not a raiding talent. I used it back when all I was doing was 5-mans, but I don’t have it any more. I agree, I’ve never found a situation where I needed it in a raid, but that doesn’t make it worthless.

    Maybe my lack of expirence farther along in the raiding content is skewing my perception… but I just don’t understand the aversion to Holy Priests.

  15. As a Shadow priest now.
    I observed that when i m in raid (10 man)/groups.
    Returning mana is to the healers is good althou i m still observing that priest’s mana pool burns much faster then a pally or shammy.
    It must be due to the chain casting required that disallow a priest to follow the 5SR thingie that is causing them to OOM more.
    And for the grouping part.
    I did a heroic mech last night with a pally and his mana pool didn’t drop below the 80% mark the whole run except for the part before the last boss. Since i can’t stop MF-ing for a drink. xD

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