So Shadow Maybe

So Shadow Maybe

“Hey I just met you
And this is crazy
But Monks are OP
So Shadow maybe.”

 

The world is officially ending.

Seriously, this is the year. Volcanoes are erupting ash into the atmosphere. Earthquakes are shattering continents. Storms are tearing up landscapes.

Why? Because the two most unlikeliest things have occurred.

I have a Horde Priest at max level. Never thought I’d get a character that high and routinely doing stuff. My friends ask me why didn’t I try a different class. It’s because I don’t feel comfortable playing another class. I just have an affinity and love for playing a Priest. However, I did decide to take her Shadow instead though she’s still quite capable of healing.

That’s the first bit of news.

The second?

It’s been clear to me after the first few weeks of raids that Holy Priests just can’t seem to match the level of other healing classes right now – Well, either that, or I can’t match the level of the other healers. That’s potentially true. The officers in my guild asked me to give Shadow a try. Since I’ve been predominantly Shadow on my Horde priest, I’ve had some practice. They were curious to see how I’d do in raids. I wasn’t the greatest Shadow player in Cataclysm but that’s largely due to my inability to maintain uptimes on DoTs (among other things).

But the Mist changes have made it a little easier for a newer Shadow player like me.

It’s fun, but I still feel wary. After playing a healer for 8 years, you still have assorted muscle memory from healing for so long. I find myself not only watching my DoTs on bosses, my timers, and my cooldowns, but I’m constantly scanning my raid frames. Burning Mana Hymns when I spot healer mana fairly low. I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for. My Resto Druid has been giving me her Symbiosis for Tranquility (which is fairly weaksauce, but not meant to stand on it’s own as a true healing CD).

I don’t know if I’ll ever play at full DPS capacity because I’m worried that something bad is going to happen. 

It’s not that I don’t trust the team, but I can read the play and “see” what’s going on.

Anyway, I apparently passed my trial so I’ll be doubleshifting as Shadow and Holy.

Things I need to work on:

  • Lining up cooldowns
  • Maintaining DoTs
  • Decision making (on spells)
  • Acquiring additional shadow gear (because I really don’t want to touch my healing gear)
  • Figuring out how to properly burst down orbs on Elegon
Atonement Priests in Mists

Atonement Priests in Mists

Edit: As of build 15640, Atonement is no longer a glyph or a talent. It appears to be a baseline ability built into Discipline and will not be accessible to Holy. Discipline Priests will learn it at level 60.

Plan on going Atonement? The process has changed.

For starters, Atonement isn’t something you talent into anymore. Instead, all the relevant abilities are located in your glyphs (See the above screenshot).

Atonement presently takes up a Major glyph slot. For it to continue being a strong style of healing for Priests, you’ll need to grab Glyph of Smite. You could grab Glyph of Holy Fire but it doesn’t seem to be as important. In order to be an Atonement priest, you must have the Atonement glyph and the Smite glyph. The Holy Fire glyph makes the spell instant but might not be a necessity depending on the encounters.

Not quite sure how I feel about moving Atonement from talents to glyphs. I understand what the move was made: So that Priests could really pick out their talents without feeling they had to force themselves down one route. At the same time though, limiting it to a glyph means that Atonement Priests don’t have as much flexibility either when it comes to glyph selection. I’d wager that you’d still have to grab Archangel in order to remain competitive.

The bright side is that you can go Atonement as Holy.  Chakra: Chastise increases the potency even further.

That third glyph slot?

You could go with the Glyph of Circle of Healing or Glyph of Penance as your two spec stapes.

There hasn’t been much change to the style of healing. If you’re comfortable playing Atonement right now, you should have no difficulties heading into the expansion. At least you can set up a specific glyph page just for Atonement.

Leveling as Smite spec? Still good to go (I’ve been doing it from 85 – 87).

Will you be giving Atonement a shot in Mists?

Leveling, Holy and Discipline Priest specs

Here’s a quick glance at my healing and questing specs on the grind from 80 to 85. My mentality behind this was to select talents that would give me an edge in either survivability or efficiency. I went for talents that helped reduce mana costs or gave me mana back. I also opted for talents that made me a little bit tougher to kill.

Starting from level 80

As Shadow (Link to talent calculator)

Notes

Improved Psychic Scream – In case things get dicey with an overpull, I can couple this talent with Glyph of Psychic Scream. I don’t send mobs flying every where and pulling even more stuff. But it might buy me the precious seconds I need to DPS something down and heal up.

Mental Agility – Cheaper dots. ‘Nuff said.

Veiled Shadows – Wishbone gets to come out more often. … What, don’t you guys name your Shadowfiends?

As Holy (Link to talent calculator)

I chose holy as my dungeon healing offspec. Mana won’t be a terribly challenging issue with the opening instances like Blackrock Caverns or Throne of the Tides. But you’ll want to consider grabbing Mental Agility on the way up.

Notes

Desperate Prayer – Yeah, yeah, not many people would choose this. But I personally like having a safety net in dungeons in case I pull something.

As Discipline (Link to talent calculator)

Notes

Chose Empowered Healing over Divine Fury. Cast time isn’t as big a factor when you’re leveling up via dungeons, I found. Still going to be using a combination of shields and Flash Heal to get over the top.

Raiding

As Shadow (Link to talent calculator)

Sorry guys, I can’t say this is the final form of the raid spec I plan to use as shadow. I’ll use this as a baseline to work with though at least.

As Holy (Link to talent calculator)

Yup, I kept Desperate Prayer and Inspiration for raiding. Darkness is another option when your mana regeneration hits a point where it isn’t a big a factor. I won’t be switching to it until I accumulate more potent gear.

As Discipline (Link to talent calculator)

So many options here. You can take out the points from Veiled Shadows and place them into Surge of Light or Inspiration (In case your party doesn’t already have one with it). But Disc by far seems to offer the most variety when it comes to talent placement.

Understanding New Talents and Thoughts on Priests

Last week, it was announced that talent trees would get sliced. Reason being that there was too much unnecessary crap and not enough fun talents. Most of us sort of got the idea of what they wanted to do. Include more talents that do something tangible, that we can feel or use.

Potentially free Lightning Bolt after casting a Lightning Bolt? Cool.

Gradually increasing healing by some random percentage of which you can’t really see? Not quite as exciting.

Preview the new trees and see what they’ll look like

How specialization works

Okay, so the way I understand it, the moment you ding level 10, you get to start specializing your character. The moment you invest your first talent, you get access to a myriad of spells and abilities which define that particular tree.

Let’s use a Priest for example.

As Holy

I get access to:

  • Desperate Prayer
  • Holy Priest (Pushback reduction on discipline and holy spells)
  • Meditation

As Discipline

I get access to:

  • Penance
  • Pushback resistance
  • Meditation

From what I can see, no special training is required. You are well on your way to becoming that specialized priest of your choice. There won’t be any 20/21 type builds either. You need to fully invest your points down one tree before you can fork over to a different one. The rate at which you receive talents points have been roughly halved as well. Figure you get a new point every 2 or maybe 3 levels.

What do I think?

My opinion though, I’m not sure what can be done to entice players to select holy at the lower levels. I notice a few sad face Priests when they notice that Desperate Prayer is the innate spell we get. Desperate Prayer makes the most sense for balance and logistical reasons (like what’s the point of getting Circle of Healing at level 10?) At that stage of the game, you’re hardly doing much in a party anyway. At least with the prayer, you can fire off a desperate heal if you pulled one too many murlocs.

I can’t count the number of times where I could’ve easily leveled the murlocs and their huts if I had access to Desperate Prayer.

Anyway, I can certainly see the foundation of Holy taking place. I’m trying to remember what the original 41 point talent was back in vanilla (Spirit of Redemption? Lightwell?). Now if they can just somehow throw in something new in place of Renew or Empowered Healing at the first level under Holy. What would be a decent ability at that level?

Holy seems quite top heavy in the sense that any of the deeper talents could easily fulfill the role as the 31 point talent. Guardian Spirit is the current one. Circle of Healing used to be the end talent back during Burning Crusade, if memory serves. I wouldn’t mind seeing Chakra and Guardian Spirit switched. From a symbolic perspective, I think a talent like that which gives your spells nifty bonuses whenever you string them together should be an ultimate skill.

But that’s inspired from assorted limit breaks from Final Fantasy.

From a logistical and practical standpoint? It might be better off if priests get a feel for Chakra earlier in their leveling life.

The Discipline side of things looks great! Power Word: Barrier as the 31 pointer? Awesome. It appears that Discipline is destined to be the leveling spec (due to Evangelism and Archangel).

One thing I noticed is the placement of Inner Focus. At 11 points in, it will not be accessible to Holy priests. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Inner Focus has been one of those taken-for-granted type talents that all healing priests usually get. For it to be cut off like for those that choose the path of Holy is going to be quite the impact. Here’s hoping it gets switched with Archangel.

Anyway, I like the direction the talent condensation is going. Obviously they’re not all complete or finalized yet. Some classes still have a few placeholders or leftover talents from live that aren’t supposed to be there.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a heck of a time figuring out which healing priest type I want to switch to. I’ll probably end up dual speccing both anyway. I might just go back to my roots and be straight up holy again in the expansion.

How are you liking the talents so far? (And it doesn’t have to be restricted to just priests either)!

The Flash of Light Spec

This is a guest post by @Dtotheug

What spec and glyphs should I should I use as a Holy Paladin for raiding?

That is a good question and really depends on how you want to play and what your role is in the raid. Currently there are two prevailing specs and each have their plus and minuses.

The first spec is the Flash of Light spec (51/5/15) which focuses on a bigger Flash of Light (FoL) heal, more mitigation via Sacred Shield (because Sacred Shield scales with Spell Power), increases the HoT effect of your Infusion of Light talent, and relies more on your healing spells to crit. The problem with this spec is that if you are not mostly using FoL you’re going to have to watch your mana pool closely because Holy Lights and Holy Shocks are going to eat through your mana pool.

This spec also greatly benefits from the four piece bonus of the T9 set which increases the HoT of your FoL by 100%. The major glyphs I would recommend if you are thinking about using this spec are Glyph of Seal of Light, Glyph of Beacon Light, and Glyph of Flash of Light.

Glyph of Seal of Light is a flat 5% increase to your healing spells and since you will be criting more with this spec (which means more mana being returned) you won’t have to worry about your mana as much, which means this glyph is going to benefit you more than the Glyph of Seal of Wisdom.

Glyph of Beacon of Light is chosen because it is going to add 30 seconds to Beacon of Light which means you don’t have to worry about it dropping off your target as quickly. In addition you won’t have to worry about trying to cast Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield (both have a 30 second durations) at the same time, it will also conserve some mana because you won’t be casting it as much, and plus it will let you focus on using your healing spells more.

Glyph of Flash of Light is a must have for this spec. It increases the crit chance of your Flash of Light by 5% which calculates out to a 1.5% mana return and a 2.5% increase on your Flash of Light heals.

If you are going to be the main tank healer in a 10-man or 25-man ICC raid I would suggest against this spec, you’re are going to be clicking FoL so much you may break your mouse. There are two situations when I would use this spec. The first is if this is my off-spec and I was running a 10-man or 25-man and if an extra healer was needed, I would step in. Between your Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield, and FoLs, this should give the other healers in your raid the buffer area they need to keep everyone topped off.

The other situation I would use this spec in is if I was backing up the main tank healer or helping with raid healing in a 25-man raid. Your FoLs will be filling in the gaps of the other healers and help keep everyone topped off.

EDIT: Forgot to mention there’s a part 2 coming

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.

holy-renew-spec

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.

Bubbles and Crits, part 2: What the Hell Took you so Long?

This is a guest post by jeffo, a Paladin blogger from Looking For More.

Way back on September 15 I posted ‘Bubble and Crits: 3.0 to 3.2’.  In that post, I examined the development of Holy Paladins from the release of Wrath up to the much-feared Great Illumination Nerf of 2009 (i.e. Patch 3.2), and looked at how the changes to mana regeneration across the board in that patch ‘encouraged’ Holy Paladins to go from a Holy/Ret Crit-based spec into a Holy/Prot spec that focused on mitigation through Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian.  I concluded that the Illumination nerf didn’t hurt these so-called ‘Bubble Spec’ Paladins that badly after all, and vowed to follow up with a look at how ‘Critadins’ were holding up in the mana department.

Obviously, it never happened.

While you shouldn’t accept flimsy excuses (and I try not to offer them), allow me a moment to explain. Just after the article posted my guild headed back into Ulduar, with me planning on firing up the old reliable 51/0/20 spec and seeing for myself how my mana pool held up.  Would I be soaking up Innervates, sucking down Mana pots and leaving my partner stuck on a limb? Would we need a third healer just for me to get by?  I was a little worried, but thought it would be a good experiment. Off we went.

After clearing Flame Leviathan we rode down the hall straight to Deconstructor – ‘Crybaby’, as we call him. The trash was dispatched with no trouble, my mana was fine so far, and we began setting up. As I watched Crybaby doing his calisthenics, two words popped into my head:  Tympanic Tantrum.  I looked at the raid. I looked at Crybaby. I thought about the potential time wasted and gold spent on repairs if we wiped, and thought about how much damage Divine Sacrifice can absorb.

And I swapped into the Bubble Spec.

When we got to Kologarn I thought about how I was likely to get Eyebeamed at the same time my partner would get gripped (it’s happened before). ‘Hmm, that’s a great situation for bubble-sac’ thought I, and I stayed in the Bubble Spec. Hodir?  Frozen Blows, nuff said.  Mimiron – well, Divine Sacrifice seems like it was made with Mimiron in mind. In short, for every situation we were heading into, I found a reason to stay in my Bubble Spec.

My inner Critadin never got off the bench.

A promise is a promise, however, and I aimed to deliver something to Matticus. My next step was to post a new thread at Plus Heal asking for feedback from holdout Critadins. Unfortunately, most of the responses came from Bubble Boys talking about how much they loved the spec, so that turned into a dead end as well. This was getting tougher by the minute, but I pushed on.

I tried to pore over World of Log reports for other guilds to see how Critadins were doing, but that proved a bit too tedious – I have my limits, after all. I finally succumbed to a variation of the latest scourge to hit the world of the World of Warcraft – gear score.

I’m not a big fan of gear score, to be honest, but I thought it might work for me to some degree. I believed that checking the proportion of Critadins to Bubble Boys at the highest levels would give me an idea of how the spec was faring – after all, if the Crit spec fails, nobody would be using it, right?  So I checked the Holy Paladin list for my realm at WoW-Heroes and ran down the top 50 and checked their specs (I could have kept going, but my eyes started to bleed). 

The results were pretty interesting. 

Of the top 50 on my realm (based on gear score as supplied by WoW Heroes), we had 25 Critadins, 23 Bubble Boys, and 2 You Really Heal With That Spec? types (69 points in Holy? Really? But they must be doing something right, they’ve got better gear than me). 

Further food for thought

In the top 25, Bubbles led the way, 14-10.

Positions 26-50 saw Critadins outpace Bubbles 15-9.

The top 4 spots were split evenly between Bubbles and Crits.

What does it mean? Well, it means that Holy Paladins really are in a good place right now.  We’ve got not one, but two viable healing specs that can be used. Bubble Boys may bring a bit more utility to the raid, but there’s still a place for the Critadin, even in Hard Modes.  The giant-sized crits can keep up with the hardest-hitting bosses, and we have enough mana management tools available to keep from running dry.  It’s enough to make me think about hitting that ‘Activate These Talents’ button again…..

Next up from me – an evaluation of the changes Cataclysm brought to Paladins. Due six months after WoW 5.0 is released…

It’s My Party and I’ll Spec How I Want To!

It’s My Party and I’ll Spec How I Want To!

brat

You’re the one who sits in front of your computer.  You’re the one who has to look at the back of your toon’s head all night (or day).  You’re the one who has to put the gold into gems, enchants, and glyphs.  You’re the one doing the necessary rep grinds.  Most importantly, you’re the one paying $15 each month to play the game you enjoy.

Hence, you’re entitled to play how you want to play, right?  Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean people are always going to want to play alongside you.  If you’re a chain-pulling DPS Death Knight, it might be tough for you to find dungeon groups.  If you’re a mage who is trying to mass-bandage people in battlegrounds instead of DPS, expect to get laughed at.  Most of us strive to play our characters in a way that helps and benefits a raid, battleground, or arena team.  We’re going to look at things from a raiding perspective.

If you’re an aspiring raider, two guys named “Min” and “Max” always come into the conversation pretty quickly.  Wikipedia describes this practice as:

…the practice of playing a role-playing game, wargame or video game with the intent of creating the “best” character by means of minimizing undesired or unimportant traits and maximizing desired ones.

Obviously, this doesn’t only have to do with spec, but also relates to gear, gems, enchants, and spell/skill rotation.  How beneficial is it to tweak all of these to get the most desired output from your character, whether it be healing, DPSing, tanking, etc?

PvP vs. PvE vs. Hybrid

If you really want to be effective in a raiding environment, leave your PvP spec, or your “hybrid” spec at the door.  Although it is perfectly viable to heal in a PvP spec (I usually do it after Wintergrasp), you’re lacking in true PvE potential if you’re not specced properly for raiding.  Taking talents such as Improved Ghost Wolf or Reflective Shield are not effective for raiding in the slightest.  The points you spend in talents like those are much more useful in talents that boost your raiding skills/spells.

Granted, you may be able to find yourself in a guild that doesn’t mind you being a hybrid spec.  Perfectly fine.  Just don’t be too upset if your raid spot is handed over to someone with a pure spec.  Keep in mind that the effort you don’t put into raiding has to be made up by the other raiders.  In effect, you run the risk of making their job harder.  It can be handled for a while, but there’s an often-reached breaking point.

Rusty Cookie Cutter

The term “cookie cutter” usually refers to a globally accepted spec to accomplish a certain job.  PlusHeal.com, TankSpot.com, OutDPS.com, and WoWWiki.com are all great places to get yourself a “cookie cutter” spec for whatever role you’re filling.

I usually reserve using a spec like those for when I’m first learning a new playstyle.  As a Discipline Priest, I’m not too familiar with Holy.  I lined myself up a “cookie cutter raid healing” spec, and learned the mechanics of that style that way.  The more I get comfortable with the abilities, buffs, debuffs, etc., the more I can tweak the spec to what I need, as well as what the raid needs.

If you’re joining up with a raiding guild that’s new to you, take a look at what kind of role you’re going to be filling.  If it’s foreign to you, start with a “cookie cutter” and go from there.

Juggling Stats

At a certain point in gearing, you reach a point where you can start adding on a certain stat over another.  For tanks, it’s the defense cap.  For DPS, it’s the hit cap. (Remember the expertise cap, too.)  For a healer, this point basically involves being able to keep your assignment up comfortably without running out of mana.  From there, you can stack:

  • Haste – Faster heals
  • Spellpower – Consistently bigger heals
  • Critical Strike – Chance for bigger heals / Chance for bonus procs
  • Mana/Mana Regen – Longevity

Each method serves a purpose.  Whichever path you choose, you essentially keep the minimum amount of everything else to function as a healer, and maximize what your goal is.  If you lose your ability to keep a target up or sustain mana in a fight, you’ve “min’d” too much.

The Good

If you min/max correctly for the role you’re filling, then you’re incredibly good at your job.  If you’re a tank-healing Discipline Priest in consistently short fights, and you gem into a higher Critical Strike Rating, then Inspiration and Divine Aegis are gonna stay up on the tank most of the time, making the other jobs easier.  If you’re a Resto Shaman healing the raid with a lot of AoE damage, and you gem for Haste, then you’ll be firing Chain Heals off like mad.

It also makes it easy to judge your gear upgrades.  You know what you’re aiming for, and you know what stats you don’t really need to focus on.  In fact, you may have some stats you may be able to start scaling back on to accomplish your goal.

The Bad

You go too far, and you lose versatility.  If you’re gemmed out for big heals, but don’t have longevity, you’ll be tapping out quickly.  If you’re stacking mana, but don’t have a lot of spellpower to back it up, you’re going to have a tough time lending a hand in short fights that pack a lot of punch.

A lot of us know the value of being able to think on your feet.  A good raider needs to be able to pick up the slack when someone goes down.  If you’re a one-note player, you’re going to have a tough time switching around.  A raid leader needs to fill specific roles in a raid, but he/she also needs people that can adapt if circumstances change.

Thes’s Solution

Staying within the role of your spec, do what you can to make yourself a well-rounded player.  As a Discipline Priest, my primary role is to keep the tanks alive.  However, if my target isn’t taking any damage, I’ll throw some HoTs and Flash Heals on the raid to help everyone else out.  It would be unwise of me to try to work my spec and gear to be a full-blown raid healer.  It’s a waste of my talents and spells, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help out when needed.

What do I do? I hit a point where I got comfortable with my mana pool and regen.  I could easily get through longer fights with my mana cooldowns (and keeping up my end of the healing).  I started swapping out my Brilliant King’s Amber gems for Luminous Ametrine gems.  This lets me keep my mana efficiency while upping the power of my heals.

If you need something more specialized for a long fight or for nuke heals, start building an alternate set of gear that’s more gemmed/enchanted for the task.  With all of the options for getting gear out there, it shouldn’t take that long to build a “special set”.  It’s an easy way to avoid being a one-trick pony.

Remember: Raiding is a team effort.  You have to put a lot into it if you want to get a lot out of it.  Cutting corners with spec/gear, or maxing TOO much of a certain stat can runs the risk of putting you on the standby list real fast.

ThespiusSig

Follow me on Twitter: @Thespius

Priest Guide: Part 3 – How to Build Discipline

Building-your-spec

Okay, you waited patiently for this, and a few of you kept poking me to make sure it got done. I hope I made you proud!

Part 1 gave a brief overview of each talent.

Part 2 went through my Holy spec, and how you can customize it for your needs.

This installment will review my Discipline spec, which is NOT a cookie-cutter build.

Step 1:14-mandatory-points

To start, plug in those mandatory 14 points:

  • Twin Disciplines – 5
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2* **
  • Meditation – 3
  • Inner Focus – 1

*PvEers: If you are 100% certain that another Priest in your raid will have Imp:Fort, and not mind buffing, and you REALLY feel the need for threat reduction, you can move these two points into Silent Resolve. I don’t think it’s worth it, but it is an option.

**PvPers: Choose Martyrdom rather than Imp:Fort.

Step 2:

Decide whether this is a Holy build, or a Discipline build. For this example, I’ll walk you through my Disc spec and my reasons for each point. This will be a bit different: because I usually raid Holy, my Holy build is very utilitarian. My Disc build, on the other hand, is specifically for General Vezax Hardmode – the only 25-man fight where I use it. (I do use it in 10 man content for things like Iron Council hardmode, but due to gearing levels, the spec doesn’t need to be perfect to handle the fight.)

Step 3:

Inspiration-done Because this is a Disc build, and Disc builds focus on single target or tank healing, after plugging in the mandatory points in the Disc tree, we should flip over to Holy, since we KNOW that we will want Inspiration, and get those points out of the way. This will give a better idea of how many points we have to work with when we are making either-or decisions deep in the Disc tree itself.

The first step is to max out Holy Specialization – I do this in Holy to allow more Haste on my gear, but in Discipline because of how Crit is heavily favored by deeper Discipline talents. Next, because I personally use Renew rather heavily to even out spiking tank damage, I max out Improved Renew.

I do not use Greater Heal often, so I only put 2 points in Divine Fury for now – I prefer that my Greater Heals be slightly faster when I DO need them (and, remember, I’m very used to a LOT of haste – I generally have over 15%). I have considered removing these points from Divine Fury altogether and moving them into Healing Focus – But, again, because this build is specifically for General Vezax, none of the damage causes spell pushback. You could make a case for putting these points into Spell Warding, but because of how Saronite Vapors works, as you decrease your taken damage, you will also decrease your mana received. (Note: Saronite Vapors are only available on regular mode) If you have trouble getting out of the vapors before the 8th tick, or want some cushion for the 7th, 2 points in Spell Warding might be a great idea. Whether you decide to put these points into Healing Focus, Divine Fury, or Spell Warding, leave it at two – that’s all you need to get to the next tier. If you find yourself with extra points after we’re done on the Disc side, you can always come back and plug them in.

Getting to the next tier is critical, since that’s where Inspiration is. Max it out, and go back to the Disc tree.

Step 4:

Tier-5-DiscSo far, with the exception of limiting the points in Divine Fury to two, this looks exactly like a Holy build. Which makes it time to plug points in down the Disc tree. We already took the Mandatory 14 points in  Step 1, so we’ll move forward from the 3rd tier. We already maxed out Meditation and Inner Focus, so just pick up all 3 points in Improved Power Word: Shield - the bread & butter spell of a Disc Priest – now even better!

In the 4th tier, 3 points in Mental Agility is all you need to move on to the 5th tier. Many, many Priests who take Disc as a career option will also want to pick up Absolution - invaluable on fights that involve crazy amounts of dispelling like Hodir Hardmode, Thorim Hardmode, and Yogg Saron. Because my disc build is for General Vezax specifically, and Vezax involves zero dispelling, I skip it.  You do not, for any reason, need Improved Mana Burn in a PvE build.

Tier 5 gives us Mental Strength, a must not only for better mana pool and increased regen from replenishment, but you have to max this out in order to access Power Infusion. To the right is Soul Warding, your reward for maxing out Improved Power Word: Shield. Since Reflective Shield, on the left, only causes damage to those attacking you, the Priest, it’s pretty much useless for PvE. (It reminds me a bit of the old Human Priest racial Feedback – I never used that, either, but at least this doesn’t cost extra mana and only last for 10 seconds.)

Next, max out both Focused Power (to increase your healing done), and Enlightenment. For Vezax, you could actually skip Elnlightenment – the Spirit isn’t going to give you any regen, and without Spiritual Guidance from the Holy tree, you won’t see a bonus to your spell power, either. But, personally, I appreciate the increase to haste, so I take it. (You have to have these points somewhere, anyway, to be able to unlock the next tiers.)

Tier-8-DiscTier 7 allows you to skip Focused will – the increased crit chance notwithstanding, this is primarily a PvP talent, and the bulk of it is useless for PvE. Power Infusion, on the other hand, is a brilliant talent. I don’t use it on myself on Vezax HM, since the mana cost isn’t offset by my own casts (I’m not chain casting.), but I’ll toss it on a Mage or Ele Shaman if I have spare mana. Having this talent allows my very specialized spec to do double duty in 10 mans. I do max out Improved Flash Heal – especially now that they cooldown on Penance is longer, I find I sometimes need Flash Heals to top off the tank.

Tier 8 gives us one of the greatest talents in the Disc Priest arsenal – Renewed Hope. I had a Disc Priest try to tell me that PW:S wasn’t worth the mana on Vezax – that it didn’t absorb enough. (I know, right?) Even if it didn’t, the increased crit to Penance, Flash, and Greater Heal, and the chance to reduce damage on this tank by 3% is unbelievable.  Rapture is where my spec gets a little strange. I only take 2 points here. 1 of them is to open the next tier, and the other could be moved somewhere else. The thing is that Rapture, while amazing on fights that actually allow regen, doesn’t work on Vezax. I’ve heard conflicting reports that it DOES work on your target, but not you, the caster. Either way, my tank is far, far, far from rage /runic power starved, and if I can’t get any mana back, who cares. I’ll show you what I do with the extra point later.  Aspiration is useful for lowering the cooldown not only of Penance, but of Inner Focus. Max max max.

Tier-9-10-11-DiscMax out the whole of Tiers 9, 10, and 11. Not that you need specific reasons, but on tank-damage-heavy fights like Vezax, an additional shield, external, tank-saving  cooldown, and additional healing received are HUGE. Ditto for a 40%-of-your-spellpower-bigger PW:S, spellhaste, and the grandaddy Disc Healing spell of them all, Penance. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Okay, so you can see that we now have 53 points in Disc, and if you’ve been following along in the holy tree, you’ll have 13 spent there. This leaves 5 points. Go over to the Holy Tree. In the middle of tier 4 is Improved Healing, which reduces the mana cost of Greater Heal, Divine Hymn, Penance, and some junk we don’t care about. For a fight like Vezax, this is huge. To get there, I take Desperate Prayer, mostly because I’m so used to having it (and bad things seem to happen to me when I don’t.) and I add one more point into Divine Fury. Again, these are purely based on my personal playstyle, and you could pack those two points into Healing Focus or Spell Warding – I just haven’t found either of those talents as useful as extra haste for my biggest heal, and an “Oh Sh**!!” button for myself.

Once those points are assigned, traipse down to Improved Healing and max it out – this reduces the mana cost of your Penance by 15% – roughly 93 mana saved, per cast. THIS is why I shaved the point out of Rapture, and why my Disc spec is considered pretty unorthodox. I wouldn’t spec this way if Disc were my primary spec, but for Vezax, Vezax HM, and any 10 man content (where my gear can compensate for a non-ideal spec), it’s brilliant.

This is my completed spec:

Disc-Complete

Which, again, is very, very specialized, and not at all what I would call a “typical” Disc spec. Part of my hesitation in writing this post is that I know most of our commenters and community are very vigilant about watching for things to be “best” and also about making a very strong case for their own quirks – but that’s the thing about WoW as it stands currently – “best” is dependent upon playstyle, which is itself dependent upon available content/equipment. That said, sometimes there really IS a “better” if not a “best” way to do something, and the fastest way to figure out what that is is to throw yourself into the lovely group of people that make the healer community.

I hope this look at a non-standard build helps you feel more comfortable stepping outside the box and tailoring your own spec to your specific needs – feel free to discuss what you’ve found helpful in the comments.

Next Post: Helpful Macros (keep me honest on this one – I’m terrible about posting most of the time, but I always read your emails, and your encouragement makes a huge difference!)

Luv,
Wyn

Priest Guide: Part 2 – How to Build Holy

Priest Guide: Part 2 – How to Build Holy

Building-your-spec

So now that you know what each talent is, does, and have a basic idea of when it’s most effective, let’s take a look at how to build a spec:

Step 1:14-mandatory-points

To start, plug in those mandatory 14 points:

  • Twin Disciplines – 5
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2* **
  • Meditation – 3
  • Inner Focus – 1

*PvEers: If you are 100% certain that another Priest in your raid will have Imp:Fort, and not mind buffing, and you REALLY feel the need for threat reduction, you can move these two points into Silent Resolve. I don’t think it’s worth it, but it is an option.

**PvPers: Choose Martyrdom rather than Imp:Fort.

Step 2:

Decide whether this is a Holy build, or a Discipline build. For this example, I’ll walk you through my Holy spec, my reasons for each point, and where you could easily change it to suit yourself – and which changes wouldn’t be as helpful.

Step 3:

Build it!

CritFor Tier 1, take a look at your crit on your character screen. The idea here is that you want enough crit to get the mana saving goodness that is Surge of Light and Holy Concentration with reasonable reliability. Since Holy is largely a raid-healing spec, your three major raid-healing spells are Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, and Prayer of Healilng. CoH hits 5 people (6 if glyphed), ProM hits 5 (6 with 2-piece T7, assuming full duration),  and ProH hits 5. If you have 2-piece T8, ProH gets 10% extra chance to crit.

Why does this matter?

Because in the first tier, Holy Specialization allows you a tremendous amount of control over the crit chance of your heals. Having around 20% crit unbuffed (25% fully raid buffed) gives you a 1-in-5 crit chance for each 5-target raid heal, with the raid buffs allowing some insurance. As with everything heal-related, you want to react as quickly as possible, and KNOWING that you will get a free, instant Flash Heal after every AoE allows you to plan ahead. If you have enough crit on your gear to get you to that threshold, you can start subtracting points from Holy Specialization. Personally, I like having the freedom to stack a bit more Spell Haste on my gear, so I choose to max out Holy Specialization so that my crit isn’t lacking.

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-1

Next, take a look at a Recount, WWS, WoWmeter, or other combat log parse. How much do you Renew? A  lot? A little? For more research, check out the uploaded combat logs for a guild that’s farming the content your guild is learning. Do those Holy Priests use Renew? Often, if there’s a huge discrepancy between a very successful guild, and a guild that’s having trouble, a small strategy change can make a big difference for those new to the content. (I’m probably going to catch some flack for that – yes, the idea is that all Priests are individuals, and your spec should reflect that. My argument is that when evaluating the effectiveness of a particular spell, look ahead and see how effective it is for successful people in content that you plan to clear. Don’t be so attached to your personal status quo that it prevents you from achieving your goals.)

If Renew is something you use, or plan to use, a lot, pick up the three points in Improved Renew.

Healing Focus – for this talent, consider the content your guild is working on. Are you having trouble keeping yourself and your assignment alive during Mimiron? This could be a great option. Aside from that, there just aren’t many fights where the pushback will kill you, and you’ll be too far away from a Paladin that could use Concentration Aura – or another healer that can help you until the danger has passed.

 

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-2Tier 2 gives you even more wiggle room. Spell Warding will help you if you tend to die to spell damage. If you’re building a spec specifically for Mimiron or Mimiron hard mode, this will help protect you from his Rapid Burst ability. However, it’s five points that help NO ONE except you.

Divine Fury  – points in this are a must if you still use Greater Heal a lot – more than can be helped by Serendipity, or if you also use your raid spec to solo quest grind. If neither of those are true, and you took points in Healing Focus, feel free to only put in two points. If you skipped healing focus, you have to put at least three points here to move forward. (Two will get you to tier 3, but you’ll need 3 for tier 4 if you take Desperate Prayer, and 4 if you don’t.)

Since I do all of my dailies in my Holy-raiding spec, I go ahead and max this out. It only costs me one extra point, which I steal from Improved Healing.

 

 

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-3

Tier 3 includes an easy decision: Max out Inspiration. Even though this is a raid-healing build, it’s a guarantee that some of your AoE will land on the tank. Spreading the love around won’t hurt the rest of the raid, either – if anything, it’ll make your job easier.

Blessed Recovery won’t help you in a raiding scenario, so skip it. (If you’re getting critical melee hits regularly enough to take this, get yourself a new tank.)

Desperate Prayer is completely up to you, but I find it very useful. It’s cheap, instant, has a short cooldown, can crit, and is a GREAT “Oh Sh–!!” button, especially now that pots are only once-per-fight.

 

In tier 4, since this is a healing build, forget about Searing Light.

To move forward, you’ll need 5 points between Holy Reach and Improved Healing, or 4 if you also maxed out Divine Fury. Since Improved Healing only affects Greater Heal (which I use rarely these days) and Divine Hymn (Which I always Inner Focus), I give Holy Reach both points, and stick just 2 in Improved Healing for filler.  (You could also completely bypass Improved Healing by putting these two points in Healing Focus.) In my opinion, that 5% savings on a heal I don’t use often is less efficient than the extra radius on my AoE heals. (And I’m more comfortable putting that point into Divine Fury, where on the rare occassions I do need Greater Heal, it will be fast enough to be effective.) Although you’ll run into many people who are perfectly comfortable with 1 point in Holy Reach, you will rarely see Holy builds that skip it entirely – you want CoH and ProH to have the chance to hit as many people as possible. If you skipped Healing Focus, you’ll notice only 1 point in Improved Healing is needed to move forward. You can easily plug that point into Lightwell, Blessed Resilience, or Test of Faith later in the tree.

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-6Once you reach Tier 5, maxing out Spiritual Guidance is a no-brainer, since it’s a flat-out increase to your spell power. Similarly, don’t skip Spirit of Redemption, since one point here buys you an extra 5% spirit. (Which, obviously, also increases your spell power in addition to your regen. It’s also nice to not ever have to inform your raid leader when you need a battle-rez, since it will be glaringly obvious.) Your other choice in this layer is Healing Prayers, and since Prayer of Healing and Prayer of Mending each benefit from set bonuses, and the AoE damage in Ulduar encounters makes Prayer of Healing your work-horse spell, skipping Healing Prayers is mana-suicide. Max it out.

In tier 6, Spiritual Healing is a misnomer, since it has nothing to do with spirit, however, it’s a straight up increase to the amount healed by all of your healing spells; max it out. Surge of Light is another talent where theorycrafters disagree: is one point sufficient, or are two required? Because I count on these procs, I max it out to ensure that I get them as often as possible. (And, really, why wouldn’t you want more mana-free, castable-on-the-move heals that stack Serendipity and take advantage of Twin Disciplines? More to the point, where could that one point buy you more benefit?)

By now, you’ve got more than enough points in Holy to get you to Tier 8, but this part of the tree is thick with awesome points. Still in tier 7, Holy Concentration is one of the best talents we have to increase our mana-regen, and you’ll find yourself gasping for water on longer fights without it. Combined with Surge of Light, this is one of the main reasons that crit is important for Priests these days. Take all 3 points. Lightwell, on the other hand, is a polarizing point. There are enough points in this particular spec that you can take it if you have trained your raid to use it properly, just either drop Divine Fury down to 4 points or Improved Healing down to two. Both of these will impact your Greater Heal (the former will nerf your cast time by .1 seconds, the latter will increase its mana cost by 5%.) Personally, I skip lightwell altogether.

Blessed Resilience used to be a strictly PvP talent. Then they re-worked it to “increase the effectiveness of your heals by 1% per rank.” Which makes it viable for PvE, theoretically. Frequent plus heal poster Sindaga posted the math over on the Elitist Jerks Priest Compendium that shows how this works:

“Empowered Healing vs. Blessed Resilience (yes, the PvP talent)

Taking two examples for empowered healing (Flash Heal & Binding Heal); this is due to the very low amount of greater heal casting, personally, done in Ulduar 25 and 10-man. Each heal will be looked at with empowered healing or with blessed resilience. Calculations will be done with 3000 spell power (a very attainable goal with even just a couple ulduar upgrades). The formula used will be as follows:

Spell = [Average + (Spellpower * coefficient)]*(talent modifiers)

i) Calculations with Empowered Healing (w/ spiritual healing modifier)
Flash Heal = [2049.5 + (3000 * 0.9668)]*1.1
Flash Heal = 5445 healing average
Binding Heal = [2237.5 + (3000 *0.9668)]*1.1
Binding Heal = 5652 healing average
Greater Heal = [4300.5 + (3000 * 2.2256)]*1.1
Greater Heal = 12075 healing average

ii) Calculations with Blessed Resilience (w/ spiritual healing modifier)
Flash Heal = [2049.5 + (3000 * 0.8057)]*1.13
Flash Heal = 5047 healing average
Binding Heal = [2237.5 + (3000 *0.8057)]*1.13
Binding Heal = 4969 healing average
Greater Heal = [4300.5 + (3000 * 1.6111)]*1.13
Greater Heal = 10321 healing average

iii) Calculations with Blessed Resilience & Test of Faith (w/ spiritual healing modifier) – I found something interesting testing with Renew. If the spell is cast below 50%, the ticks (even if the health goes higher than 50%) stay with the 12% increased effectiveness.
Flash Heal = [2049.5 + (3000 * 0.8057)]*1.25
Flash Heal = 5583 healing average
Binding Heal = [2237.5 + (3000 *0.8057)]*1.25
Binding Heal = 5818 healing average
Greater Heal = [4300.5 + (3000 * 1.6111)]*1.25
Greater Heal = 11417 healing average

So those are some pretty plain numbers. If you find yourself casting greater heal more than once in a blue moon, perhaps stick with Empowered Healing. If you regularly find yourself not casting it at all during fights then a spec for better output would first put the 5 points from empowered healing to 3/3 blessed resilience and then 2/3 Test of Faith.

Justification for taking test of faith is it provides more healing to those targets who need more health.” — Sindaga

The bottom line here is that putting 3 points in Blessed Resilience along with 2 in Test of Faith increases the amount healed on targets below 50% by a significant amount. If you’re looking to take advantage of Test of Faith in the next layer of the tree, it’s a good idea to pair it with Blessed Resilience – and you can easily take the points from Empowered Healing to make that happen. It’s entirely a play-style dependent call, and I personally prefer the constant levels of healing provided by Empowered Healing to the low-health dependent benefits of Test of Faith.

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-9 Moving into tier 8, you’ll find some of your decisions have already been made, due to the preceding math. If you decided to put Sindaga’s 3 points into Blessed Resilience, you have already decided to skip Empowered Healing. If you decided against the BR/ToF combo, you’ll max it out instead. The other talents in this layer are Serendipity and Body and Soul. Although I’ve read some arguments that the self-poison cleanse is useful on the more poison-heavy encounters in Ulduar, if your Shamans, Druids, and Paladins are doing their jobs, you won’t need Body and Soul. Serendipity, on the other hand, plays a major role in making Holy a more synergistic healing spec. Layering spell haste for your bigger heals is a huge part of the raid-healing strategies for fights like Ignis, Deconstructor, Freya, and Mimiron. My typical heal pattern takes careful advantage of this: Inner Focus-Prayer of Healing -> Surge of Light-Flash Heal -> Binding Heal -> Circle of Healing -> Surge of Light-Flash Heal -> Serendipitous- Prayer of Healing -> Surge of Light-Flash Heal…. into infinity, peppered with Prayer of Mendings and Renews as much as possible, both of which provide extra Surge of Light procs, and, therefore, free layers of Serendipity to haste my next Prayer of Healing. Make sure you take maximum advantage of Serendipity.

Like tier 8, you’ve already made quite a few decisions regarding tier 9, without realizing it: If you picked up Improved Renew in tier 1, you would shortchange yourself to skip Empowered Renew. When you decided to build Holy, you decided to take Circle of Healing,  (I know there was a lot of noise about avoiding it when they added the 6 second cool down, but with its coefficient balanced to reflect the cooldown, the glyph to increase it to 6 targets, and its ability to proc Surge of Light, skipping Circle of Healing would be foolish.) And when you decided between Empowered Healing and Blessed Resilience, you decided whether you would take Test of Faith as part of the Blessed Resilience package. If you’re following my build, take all three in Empowered Renew, Circle of Healing, and skip Test of Faith.

For tiers 10 & 11, you’ll notice you have exactly 6 points left. Finish out your spec by finishing out the tree with 5 points in Divine Providence, and the last into Guardian Spirit.

This is my completed spec – and I fully expect as many detractors as I do compliments. Lightwell may work for you and your raid, or perhaps you think I’m foolish to finish out Divine Fury rather than taking Healing Focus. I’d love to hear about tweaks that you make (and how they work for you), but for me this is my perfect spec – Renew-heavy, allowing me to stack haste, and with Desperate Prayer the only concession to keeping myself alive rather than focusing on my raid. Wynthea-holy-spec-final

Next Post: How to Build Disc

Luv,
Wyn