In 3.1, PvE Priests are in a good place. We have two distinct and raid-viable healing specs, and enough good places to put our talents that you can make arguments for several “cookie-cutter” builds.
When I first started rooting around in the WoW-blogosphere, I came upon a post over at Dwarfpriest that laid out each talent and what it did – and it helped me understand so much about my class mechanics that I thought I’d borrow a page from her grimoire and go over the trees as they stand now. (However, while she included our shadowy brethren, I won’t. Sorry guys, it’s not that I don’t love
your replenishment you, it’s just that I’m not going to claim to be knowledgeable about that strange tree of yours.)
After introducing each talent, I’ll spend some time showing how to actually make a build – by walking you through mine, as well as other examples.
A quick note on our beloved Disc tree: If you Google Priest Specs, you’ll likely find a lot of people talking about how Priests have “14 mandatory talent points.” (Sometimes they say 13.) What they really mean is that there are some talents in the Disc tree that are so universally outstanding that every Priest should take advantage of them – PvE, PvP, Holy, Disc, or Shadow. These talents are Twin Disciplines, Improved Inner Fire, and Meditation. It takes 10 points in Discipline to get to Meditation and 3 to max it out. The 14th point is Inner Focus, which I agree should be considered mandatory. You can fool around a little in the 2nd tier with Improved Fort, Martyrdom, and Silent Resolve, but skipping those others will handicap any spec you try to put together.
Outstanding for PvP, but no longer the premiere choice for the first tier of a PvE build.
This is your bread and butter for any PvE build. Renew, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Desperate Prayer, Holy Nova, PW:Shield, SW:Pain, SW:Death, Devouring Plague, Flash Heal and Smite (when made instant by Surge of Light), and the Glyph effects for both PW:Shield and Dispel Magic all benefit from this. You could make a strong argument for this in PvP as well.
Silent Resolve: Reduces the threat generated by your Holy and Discipline Spells by 7% per rank (capped at 20%) and reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by 10% per rank.
For PvE, the threat reduction can be helpful when running 5-mans with pugs, or on fights like Auriaya or Ignis where there’s a lot of raid healing and random adds popping up. For PvP, this keeps your DoTs ticking, and your Renews and PW:Shields where they belong.
This will increase the Spell Power gained from 120 to 174, and the charges from 20 to 32. For PvP or PvE, you want this talent.
As long as one Priest in the raid has this talent, the others could technically do without it, but you’ve got to put two points into something in this tier to get to the next level. For PvE, it should either be Silent Resolve or this. For PvP, Martyrdom would probably be a better choice; the 4% total gain to personal stamina is nice in PvP, but it’s not going to make or break you.
Martyrdom: Gives you a 50% chance per rank to gain the Focused Casting effect that lasts for 6 seconds after being the victim of a melee or ranged critical strike. The Focused Casting effect reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting spells and decreases the duration of Interrupt effects by 10% per rank.
Brilliant for PvP (and in my opinion, more useful than Imp:Fort), but next-to-useless for PvE.
Disc, Holy, PvE, PvP, Shadow…. Take this talent, and max it out.
Priests argue whether this one is actually mandatory. To an extent, it’s a function of playstyle – I always use this for either Prayer of Healing or Divine Hymn since they are the most expensive. Because of that, I use this every time it’s off cooldown. The added crit also means an almost guaranteed Surge of Light and Serendipity proc. It’s also a nice last-ditch effort when you’ve run out of mana. Really, I just can’t figure out where you’d get more benefit from spending a single point.
Brilliant for PvE or PvP disc builds. You also must max this out to access Soul Warding.
For PvE-Disc, this can save you a TON of mana over the course of a fight like Hodir or Yogg-Saron. For PvP, don’t leave home without this – remember that you’re not only dispelling and curing your teammates, but offensively dispelling your opponents.
If you’re this deep in the Disc tree, you’re not going to be getting Surge of Light procs, but this still impacts Renew, Prayer of Mending, Desperate Prayer (if you took it), Holy Nova, PW:Shield, SW:Pain, SW:Death, Devouring Plague,and the Glyph effects for both PW:Shield and Dispel Magic. Not a bad place to put points to get you to the next tier.
Utterly useless for PvE. Absolutely essential for PvP.
Originally designed to work no matter who you had shielded, the code proved too complex. For now, this only works when the shield is on you. Pro for PvP, this has basically zero application in PvE.
I think if this were lower in the Disc tree, it would become another “mandatory” talent. For raiding, Int. scales your replenishment and increases your crit. The total mana regen formula is also largely dependent on int. If that wasn’t enough, you also have to max this out to access Power Infusion.
If you’re this deep into Disc, you already know that Shield is one of your most-cast spells. This removes the cooldown (why does it have that, anyway?), and makes it cheaper. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this one point, especially PvE-ers with the 4-piece Tier 8 bonus. (+250 Spell Power after casting PW:S.) You have to max out Improved PW:S to take this.
PvE-ers will want the increase to spell power, and appreciate the cast-reduction on fights where Mass-dispel is needed. PvP-ers will want both effects. Highly Recommended.
Spirit will increase your mana return, and Spell Haste is becoming more and more important. You could argue about this talent, but it’s a very solid choice for PvE or PvP.
Focused Will: At max rank, this increases your spell critical effect chance by 3%, and after taking a critical hit you gain the Focused Will effect, reducing all damage taken by 4% and increasing healing effects on you by 5%. Stacks up to 3 times, lasts 8 seconds.
In PvE, you can make a good argument for 3% crit. In PvP, this will increase your survivability tremendously. An interesting detail is that even when you’re wearing resilience gear, this talent will work if you WOULD have been crit, but a crit is prevented by your gear. Nice.
This is one of the defining spells of a Discipline spec. Requires 5 points in Mental Strength. You can cast this on yourself, or make best-buddy friends with a mage.
You’ll be Flash Healing whenever penance is on cooldown – even if you didn’t need these 3 points to get to the next tier, this talent would be a major part of the mana-efficiency that makes Discipline such a strong spec.
Renewed Hope: Increases the critical effect chance of your Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Penance (Heal) spells by 4% on targets afflicted by the Weakened Soul effect, and you have a 100% chance to reduce all damage taken by 3% for 20 seconds to all friendly party and raid targets when you cast PW:Shield.
So, when you shield someone, your major heals heal for more on them. You also reduce the total amount of damage they take, period, in addition to what is absorbed by the shield itself. This talent is amazing for either PvE or PvP.
Rapture: At max rank, when your PW:S is completely absorbed or dispelled, you are instantly energized with 2.5% of your total mana, and you have a 100% chance to energize your shielded target with 2% total mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. This effect can only occur once every 12 seconds.
Getting mana back is a Very Good Thing, whether you’re killing bosses or player-opponents. Helping your team or raidmates have more resources is also a Very Good Thing. This talent is awesome for PvE, and due to the Dispel mechanic, equally so for PvP. Maybe more so.
As Disc, these are the spells that more or less make your spec. Allowing you to cast them more will allow you to do your job without always being on cooldown. PvE or PvP, you want this.
This provides an additional shield to Power Word:Shield, that scales with your Spell Power. As Disc, providing preemptive healing is one of your major benefits, especially as you venture further into single-target healing. A must-have for PvE, and a solid choice for PvP.
In PvE, 5% threat shouldn’t break a tank in a raid scenario – this is an excellent extra cooldown for those fights where the boss hits extra hard on a regular basis. (Think Mimiron Phase 1, or General Vezax). For PvP, the life you save could be your own, and it’ll even help you hang onto your PW:S and Renew.
Grace: Your Flash heal, Greater Heal, and Penance spells have a 50% chance, per rank, to bless the target with Grace, increasing all healing received from you by 3%. This effect will stack up to 3 times. Effect lasts 15 seconds. Grace can only be active on one target at a time.
Maxed out, this gives you a 100% chance to increase your healing on one target by 3%, stacking up to 9%, for 15 seconds. I think you can manage to throw a Flash Heal or Penance every 15 seconds on your MT. Don’t skip this for PvE. For PvP, you’ll see less benefit from this, but in 2v2 or situations where one of your teammates is being focused, it can help a lot.
Tiers 10 & 11:
Borrowed Time: Grants 5% per rank spell haste for your next spell after casting Power Word: Shield, and increases the amount absorbed by your Power Word: Shield equal to 8%, per rank, of your spell power.
As if you needed another reason to cast PW:Shield. Maxing out at 25% spell haste after casting a Shield, and an additional 40% of your spell power added to the power of your Shield means more mitigation for raid damage or single-targets, and faster heals from you. A Disc on raid duty will use this for Prayer of Healing. On the Tank, it will help you drop faster Greater Heals (or anything else.) For PvP, this also synergizes well with Reflective Shield, dealing more damage to your attacker.
Penance is a little funky, because of its dual nature. It ticks three times: Immediately, 1 second later, and 1 more second later. Each tick has the chance to crit (and proc Inspiration, Divine Aegis.) Talented, this 10 second cooldown is 8 seconds. You can glyph it down to 6.4, but remember: it has a 2 second channel time – so 2 of those 6 seconds don’t matter anyway. The damage range is 30 yards, the heal is 40. It’ll heal for something like 8-12k, and damage for 2-4k at lvl 80. This spell is AWESOME.
A note on the Holy tree: as a rule of thumb, and especially in 25-man raid content, Discipline Priests will specialize in single-target (tank) healing, and Holy Priests in multi-target (raid) healing. So, Holy Priests will spend the mandatory 14 points in Disc, and Disc Priests will put enough points into Holy to get Inspiration, because of its huge benefits to tank healing. Discipline priests who don’t do this will find themselves at a serious disadvantage when healing tanks. I’m also operating under the assumption that serious PvPers will be spec’ing Disc, since it’s amazing right now, and the PvP applicable talents in the bottom of Holy are largely outshone by their Disc counter-parts. I’ll still point them out when they come up, however.
There’s some debate over how effective this talent is, compared to your other options in the holy tree. Basically, the only top-end fight where spell pushback is bad enough to kill you is Mimiron. If you find that you cannot survive this fight due to blasts, by all means take this talent – it, and a Paladin with improved concentration aura, will help your survivability immensely. For all other PvE encounters, there are better places to put the points. For PvP, this just might save your life, or your teammates – take it!
Synergizes exceptionally well with Empowered Renew, for those going deep Holy. For Disc builds working towards Inspiration, this is also an excellent choice, since Renew benefits from Mental Agility and Twin Disciplines. It won’t give you the full 5 points you need to get to Tier 2 talents, though. For PvP, I find it helpful to have a bigger spell that’s castable while mobile – and with all the help the Disc tree offers to keep your spells from being dispelled, there’s a high chance it will last long enough to do quite a bit of good.
Another good choice for Disc Priests working toward Inspiration, this is also worth maxing out as you work towards gear caps. Personally, I find that 25-30% Holy Crit (when fully raid buffed) provides a guaranteed Surge of Light proc off either Circle of Healing (especially when glyphed) or Prayer of Healing (especially with 2-piece T8 and/or Inner Focus activated). Once you’ve reached that soft cap, feel free to reduce the points here to take either Healing Focus or max something out further down the tree. For PvP, I personally take 2/2 Healing Focus and 3/3 Improved Renew to get to the next tier – there are talents that will provide more reliability and stamina that are more worth the points.
I’ve seen suggestions that Spell Warding also helps on Mimiron, and other AoE-heavy fights in Ulduar. My opinion is that for 5 talent points I can either increase my PW:Shield to protect me from ALL damage, or increase my healing to keep me and the other people that I’m healing (can’t forget about them!) up through the damage. For PvP, however, this can save you against burst damage attacks from pesky mages, and the ongoing drain from warlocks.
If you find yourself grinding solo a lot, pick this up. If you find yourself using Greater Heal a lot (and check a combat log – don’t THINK you’re using it a lot, know.), pick this up. If you 2v2 or maybe 3v3 and need to be able to dps a little, pick this up. If you need points to get to 3rd tier talents, pick this up. If you need to find talents to put into something you KNOW will be more useful, do that. Most Disc Priests rely on Penance, Shield, and Flash Heal. Most Holy Priests rely on Flash Heal, Renew, and Circle of Healing. (not to mention Prayer of Healing….) This talent affects NONE of those, so you can safely rob points from it without getting anyone killed. You do need it maxed out to access Searing Light, so Holy-DPS builds will want it. (LoL-smite!!)
At lvl 80, this hits me for around 5-6k, and can crit. This point is all about personal playstyle. I have a bad habit of staying too long to get off just.one.more.heal. This helps keep me alive when I finally run away. If you find yourself not having any problems staying alive, feel free to skip it. For PvP, anything insta-cast that helps you is a good idea, so make sure you have this.
Blessed Recovery: After being struck by a melee or ranged critical hit, Blessed Recovery heals you for 5% per rank of the damage taken over 6 seconds. Additional critical hits taken during the effect increase the healing received.
This talent is as mandatory for PvP as it is useless for PvE.
Inspiration: Increases your target’s armor by 8% per rank (25% max) for 15 seconds after getting a critical effect from your Flash Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Penance, Prayer of Healing, or Circle of Healing.
Anyone planning to heal a tank is short-changing themselves if they don’t take this talent. (That should be everyone, even dedicated raid-healers. It proc’s off all your AoE heals, too.) For PvP, any increase in armor is a good thing when you’re wearing a dress.
Holy Dpsers will want this for sure. For PvE healers, the current debate is whether 1 point is sufficient – I find that on AoE heavy, yet very spread out, fights like Deconstructer and Hodir, I appreciate any extra range I can get. Disc Priests can feel free to ignore this – If you’re going this far into Holy it’s for the next talent. PvPers will need to check their personal style – but most arenas are so mobile and small, that I doubt you’ll see much benefit.
Very few Disc Priests will go this far into Holy, including PvPers. Personally, I DO take this talent in my Disc spec, (I steal 1 point from Rapture to do it), since it’s VERY SPECIFIC for General Vezax, and Rapture benefits on that fight are almost negligible. Holy Priests will likely need at least one point here to get to the next tier, but if you’ve looked at your combat log, and found that you don’t cast Greater Heal enough to justify these points, feel free to move them from this into something else.
This requires 5 points in Divine Fury to unlock. PvE healers will find it utterly useless. HolyDPSers will love it. Disc PvP builds will have a hard time figuring out which points to steal from survivability viable talents to put into it.
With all the AoE damage in Ulduar, the T8 2-piece bonus (adds 10% crit chance to Prayer of Healing), the T7 2-piece bonus (adds an extra bounce to Prayer of Mending), and the fact that Prayer of Healing is now castable on ANY party in your raid…. you’d be mad not to max this out, because you will be spamming these spells.
Spirit of Redemption: Increases total Spirit by 5% and, upon death, the Priest becomes the Spirit of Redemption for 15 seconds. The Spirit of Redemption cannot move, attack, be attacked, or targeted by any spells or effects. While in this form, the Priest can cast any healing spell free of cost. When the effect ends, the Priest dies.
This is your angel-form, and the beacon telling the raid that you have died. Again. I’ve been told that this is helpful after you die in PvP, but my opinion is that if you went Disc PVP instead of Holy PVP you’d probably still be alive. The reason all Holy Priests take this talent is for the 5% spirit. Increases your regen, and if you take Spiritual Guidance (why wouldn’t you?), your Spell Power. You also have to take this if you want Lightwell.
You’re a Priest, so the vast majority of your gear will have a lot of Spirit. It’s likely that all of your blue sockets have either Spirit or Int/Spirit gems. You’ll get a lot of spell power out of this.
Surge of Light: Your spell criticals have a 25% chance per rank to cause your next Smite or Flash Heal spell to be instant cast, cost no mana, but be incapable of a critical hit. This effect lasts 10 seconds.
Holy DPSers will like this one, too. Healers will find the mobility and mana-free benefits to Flash Heal (also great for stacking Serendipity back up after Prayer of Healing, since ProH will likely give you a proc) indispensable. The debate here is whether 2 points are required. Please note that this does not increase your chance TO CRIT, but rather for your crits to CAUSE A PROC. I keep 2 points in, because I like being able to count on this after a large amount of raid damage, and I find a noticeable reduction with only 1 point.
Odd in that it increases healing but not damage, this should be considered mandatory for any Holy build.
This talent is a large source of mana regen for any Holy Build. Don’t skip it.
Lightwell: Creates a Holy Lightwell. Members of your raid or party can click the Lightwell to restore 4620 health over 6 seconds. Attacks done to you equal to 30% of your total health will cancel the effect. Lightwell lasts 3 minutes or 10 charges.
Most Priests who like this spell REALLY like it, and the rest of us call it LoLwell. If you can train your raid to use it properly, it can be very useful. You must take Spirit of Redemption to unlock it.
Blessed Resilience: Increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 1% per rank, and critical hits made against you have a 20% chance, per rank, to prevent you from being critically hit again for 6 sec.
For Priests who insist on PvPing Holy, this is the entire reason you’re this deep in the tree. It is an amazing talent. The question is whether it’s more amazing than everything you give up in the Disc tree to get here, and I don’t think it is. The change to increase the effectiveness of your healing spells DOES add up in PvE, however, and if you’re soft-capped on crit, but don’t Greater Heal much, those points you robbed from Divine Fury and Improved Healing will stretch to this. HOWEVER, the amazing Sindaga did some great math over on the Elitist Jerks forums that suggests you’ll want to max out Test of Faith first. Ghostcrawler, if you’re reading this, I think this talent should be moved much further down in the tree – around where Divine Fury is. (actually, GC, if you’re reading this just make Greater Heal baseline 2.5 seconds and take Divine Fury out all together. Also, I’ll be asking for your autograph at Blizzcon!!)
Body and Soul: When you cast Power Word:Shield, you increase the target’s movement speed by 30% per rank for 4 seconds, and you have a 50% chance, per rank, when you cast Abolish Disease on yourself to also cleanse 1 poison effect in addition to diseases.
Another very solid PvP talent, much too far down in the Holy Tree to do much good. (and since it would synergize so well with several talents in the Disc tree, I really do wonder why it’s located here at all…. GC?) However, aside from the situational use of the self-cleanse for poison, there are better places to spend the points for a PvE healing build.
Anything that increases your Flash Heal is huge at this point. Binding Heal (especially) and Greater Heal are just a bonus.
With 3 stacks, this reduces the casting time of your Prayer of Healing by over a third. (36%) Mine are about 1.7 seconds, and I have less than 450 haste. While no longer glitched to allow 2 ProH casts, it’s still a huge benefit in fights like Freya and Deconstructor that involve predictable raid damage. With Surge of Light, it’s typical that your next Flash Heal will be instant to aid in re-stacking this. Do not skip this talent.
In addition to adding more to an instant cast spell without a cooldown (great for fights where you’re running a lot – Hodir and Thorim, anyone?) it gives Renew a front-end instant heal like a Druid’s Rejuvenation. With Circle of Healing on a 6-second CD, this gives you a great option for a single player who needs a heal NOW. For you Holy PvPers, this is another heal that can’t be kicked. If you’re in this far anyway, take it along with Circle of Healing.
The spell that changed the face of Holy Priesting. Still a powerhouse, even without being spamable – the range is increased by Holy Reach, the healing output increased by Twin Disciplines and Divine Providence, and it will nearly always proc a Surge of Light, which will then help you stack Serendipity.
This talent is an extension of the use effect of the Crystal Spire of Karabor. Maxed out, and combined with 2 points in Blessed Resilience, it makes for some interesting effects on Flash Heal and Binding heal – at the expense of Greater Heal. If you don’t have all 5 points to spare, you’re better off taking the crit from Holy Specialization, as this is situationally applicable. Unless you’re PvPing, in which case you already have 3 points in Blessed Resilience, which makes this a no-brainer.
Tiers 10 & 11:
Divine Providence: Increases the amount healed by Circle of Healing, Binding Heal, Holy Nova, Prayer of Healing, Divine Hymn, and Prayer of Mending by 4% per rank, and reduces the cooldown of your Prayer of Mending by 8% per rank.
Circle of Healing, Binding Heal, Prayer of Healing, and Prayer of Mending are all in heavy rotation in Ulduar, and gain tremendous benefit from this talent. Max it out.
Guardian Spirit: Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect, but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.
A talent worthy of capping a tree – this is amazing. You can glyph it to reduce the cooldown to 1 minute if the target doesn’t actually die, which would change it from an emergency button to a very frequently used part of your overall healing rotation. I’ve found that, due to the 40% increase to healing (from ALL healers, not just you), very often, the target doesn’t trigger the sacrifice. I’ve got mine macro’d to whisper the target that it’s on them, so that tanks know not to blow additional cooldowns. (and mages feel loved.)
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