Holy Priests and WLK

Stellvia's picture

Since we seem to have a number of new holy priest wannabe healers and given the sometimes drastic changes the priest class gets I think it's wise to write a few things down before you guys go off leveling, instancing and raiding in Northrend. I believe that in order to be capable and good at your class you should have a grasp of the mechanics behind your skills and talents in order to correctly judge their worth, when and when not to use skills, how to choose gear and which talent spec to pick.
A few things you should be aware of before reasing this thread: it applies to HOLY priests, not discipline, disc priest work totally different, they require other gear, other stats etc. Second of all healing also greatly depends on your healing style, which means some talents while good may be worthless to you and vice versa. The same applies (to a lesser degree) to gear.

0. Intro

Holy priests are designed to be the ultimate all round healer. No other class has so many healing spells and abilities than a priest (only druids come close). We're also the only class that has 2 healing talent trees. A priest litterally has a heal for every possible situation. There are no healing tasks that can not be effectively handled by a healing priest. This diversity is our greatest strenght, it makes being a priest healer loads of fun because no fight is ever the same compared to other healer classes that generally stick to the same spells in each situation. But it also makes mastering the class rather difficult since it takes a while to figure stuff out.

The downside (there's always one) is that priests suffer a few significant weaknesses. First of all is the lack of raid utility, we don't "stack" well in raids, bringing additional priests doesn't bring more buffs (like pally or shaman). Second weakness is the fact we are the lowest HP class in the game (now you know why priests get Fort) with no survival buttons like iceblock and the likes which makes us very fragile. The most significant problem however is that our healing power comes at a heavy cost: mana. Priest mana regeneration is a big issue and being succesful at playing priest means being succesfull at managing your mana bar. Don't be fooled by how you do late TBC due to some really sick mana regen buffs we received, by the time you hit 80 all that beautiful mana regen will be gone, the spirit regen was nerfed by about 40% on top of removal of downranking and some pretty high spellcosts.

1. Mana regeneration and the 5 second rule

In order to properly play a priest it's essential you understand just how mana regeneration works. In WoW there are 2 basic ways to regenerate mana: Spirit and items which carry the Restores X Mana Per 5 Second stat. These 2 systems work independently from one another and both restore mana in their own unique way. Spirit mana regeneration follows a very simple rule (but uses a rather complex formula) which is called the 5 second Rule (5SR)

When you complete casting a spell that requires mana, your spirit regeneration is inactive for 5 seconds.

What does this mean?
- For the first 5 seconds after finishing a spell that costs mana you are considered to be "inside the 5 second rule" or to be "in cast" or "while casting".
- The time after those 5 seconds you are "outside the 5SR" or "out of cast" or "while not casting"
- When you are outside the 5SR your spirit regeneration works at 100%
- When you are inside the 5SR your spirit regeneration works at 0%
- When you finish a spell that costs no mana (through talents, skills, items abilities or whatever) you do NOT enter the 5SR. So you can only get inside the 5SR if you spend at least 1 mana casting a spell.
- Each time you cast a spell the 5 second timer is renewed. So if you cast a spell, you enter the 5SR and spirit regeneration drops to 0 for 5 seconds. Let's say 4 seconds after completing the first spell you complete another spell that costs mana. The timer will then be reset and you are again inside the 5SR for 5 seconds. You will stay inside the 5SR untill you manage not to finish casting a spell that costs mana later than 5 seconds after the previous one.

The primary rule to understand how the stat Restores X Mana Per 5 Second works is really simple:

Restores X Mana Per 5 Second will restore X mana every 5 seconds no matter what you are doing. So being inside or outside the 5SR has no importance. The 5SR ONLY applies to spirit and never to Restores X Mana Per 5 Second

If you want to regen mana through Restores X Mana Per 5 Second you don't need to do a single thing. It will be active 100% of the time. If you want to regenerate mana through Spirit you need to stop casting spells for at least 5 seconds before it becomes active. As long as you keep casting spells and stay inside the 5SR Spirit does nothing.

So Spirit is useless? No
Priests (and Druids) have a talent (Meditation : http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=14777) that allows 30% of spirit regeneration to work when they are inside the 5SR. That's why they love stacking spirit along with Restores X Mana Per 5 Second. Both of these independent mechanisms will help regenerate mana when they are inside the 5SR.

Let's look at your character sheet now: When you hover over the mana regeneration in the spell tab you'll see the two values for "while casting" and "while not casting" for your character. How are these 2 values reached?

=> While not casting : it's the sum of 100% of spirit regeneration + the total amount of Restores X Mana Per 5 Second on your gear.
=> While casting (for druids + priests: it's the sum of 30% of spirit regeneration + the total amount of Restores X Mana Per 5 Second on your gear.

There are 2 more additional mana regeneration methods available to a holy priest in WLK

1. Replenishment: A buff from Shadowpriests, retri paladins and Survival hunters that restore 0.25% of total mana per 5 seconds, the more mana you have, the more mana is restored.
2. Spellcrit: This will be a VERY important mana regen mechanism. A crit in itself ofc gives no mana, however coupled with a few talents it does. Critical heals will give clearcasting through the holy concentration talent. This means the next spell cast is free of mana cost (only applies to certain spells). It's very much like the paladin mana restore talents, crit heals make the next heal free of cost. On top of that since the spell you clearcast costs no mana you do NOT enter the 5SR and thus stay out of cast, which allows spirit mana regen to trigger. Crit heals also help save/restore mana through the Serendipity and Surge of Light talents.

2. Spirit mana regen formula, the value of intellect and cheating the 5SR

The spirit regen formula we had in 2.4 was changed, else we'd end up with infinite mana regen by the time we hit level 80. The new formula is

Mana restored per 5 seconds = 5 * 0.005575 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

Now I know most people hate mathematics so don't worry you don't need to memorise this in order to be able to play Smiling . What you should be aware of is the following thing: The amount of mana restored by spirit depends on intellect. Should you be stacking both intellect and spirit then? That is going to be one of the most difficult things to answer in WLK:

=>when you look at the formula you can see that for a priest alone 1 spirit gives more mana than 1 intellect does. On top of that higher intel has diminishing returns, the more intel you stack the less mana regen it adds.
=> However in a raid situation hunter shadowpriests and retri paladins will be giving the replenishment buff, which restores mana based on intellect alone. It restores 0.25% of total mana per second. This means the more intellect, the more replenishment regen.
=> It's very hard to say where to stack more int and where to stack more spirit in raid situations. I wish i could give some numbers here but for that i need to raid a bit at 80 first before i can do the maths, you'll have to wait Smiling

Cheating the 5SR:

Priest Out of 5SR regen is all about cheating the 5 second rule. Blizzard's 5 second rule is currently set so that upon completion of a spell which costs mana (the critical factor), you enter a 5 second period (In cast ) where you regenerate mana at a reduced rate.
Given that priests gain so much regeneration from spirit, the typical difference between a regen tick inside 5SR and Outside 5SR is approximately 2-3x. It can range from 2x on the low-end (Mp5-heavy gear) to 3x on the high-end (spirit-heavy gear). In any case, a tick Outside 5SR is worth a minimum of 2x inside5SR.

So how do we cheat the rule?
- inner focus talent: it makes the next spell free of cost: hence you never enter the 5SR
- holy concentration: after a spellcrit you can get clearcasting : so the enxt spell costs no mana and again you don't enter 5SR
- Cast and cancel spells : precast a spell untill it is near completion, when the target needs no heal cancel the spell to save the mana and to avoid entering 5SR;

3. Healing Spells: Which to use when and where

- Greater Heal: the basic MT healing spell. It is the biggest single target heal you get. It's also very slow to cast. In general this is the spell to use when healing your Main Tank. It's virtually useless on normal raid members since the ehal will be too big for them and too slow, they're either dead or healed by someone else before it lands.

- Flash Heal: Single target raid healing spell. This spell is back, used to be near useless in TBC due to the high mana cost and low healing. However since downranking is removed, thanks to new talents and glyphs this will once again be a great spell. To offset the still steep mana cost the Flash Heal glyph is required. This will be the basic raid healing spell.

- Renew: Used when in encounters on which the raid suffer alot of DoT damage or encounters with high mobility. Always usefull on tanks to soften the damage between slowcast gheals. However the usefulness of this spell heavilly depends on your own playstyle: HoTs often get overhealed, they are also quite slow and in general overheal for tons. Glyph of renew is very good, but only if you actually use this spell alot

- PW: Shield: Since we aren't heavy disc we don't get the completely OP PW Shield but the standard one. PW Shield should be used on targets that are at high risk of death. Since you don't have an instant heal, and since even the fastest heal takes 1.5 sec to cast the target may be dead before it lands; As such shielding them up and then healing often has a higher chance of survival from death due to area effects or spells. If some mob is bashing the target neither shield or a heal will save the DPS.
PW Shield is also great for mobility fights coupled with renews.
Be very carefull about shielding a tank. I can't stress this enough, PW Shielding a low health tank often means you just killed the tank. The GCD from PW Shield + time to cast next heal = dead tank; Shields are too weak to prevent the huge incoming damage. You're better off casting a regular heal on tanks. The only moment to shield tanks at low HP is when there's multiple healers on the tank.
Also, PW Shield prevents rage generation, hence the tank can not gain rage from being hit and thus can't use his abilities. In most fights this is a non issue though. However it's very important at a pull, NEVER shield a tank at pull unless the initial dam is huge (like archimonde), the lack of rage at pull could mean instant aggro loss and wipe.

- Binding Heal: Love it and use it alot: whenever both you and the tank or target needs a heal use BH. It's one of the best spells you have. If you aren't using this spell alot you are doing it wrong. BH counts as 2 heals and thus you get 2 chances to proc holy concentration, in fact my guess is with lvl 80 gear BH will have a 1/5 chance to proc holy conc. It heals slightly more than Flash Heal per target, and costs about 70% of 2FH. Should be hotkeyed.

- Prayer of Mending: awesome healing spell for melee targets, melee in general gets hit alot and PoM does wonders there since there's always ppl in range to jump to. On ranged it's fairly useless as it can't jump always due to range issues. In heavy AoE fights PoM is great in close hugs.
Note: the threat mechanics have changed: the healing threat from PoM is now for the healer and no longer the person carrying the spell (it's no longer a self heal like in TBC). Also in WLK PoM can crit. As such PoM at pull on a tank might not be a good idea anymore, a crit PoM is alot of healing threat possibly before the tank has had a chance to generate any aggro at all.

- Prayer of Healing: The most powerfull AoE healing spell in the game: this is the only spell that can heal through massive area damage on the entire raid in a fast and efficient way. It is however group based. It's a strong heal and the range is pretty huge (30/36 yards radius around the priest). When do you use it? it's meant to be used when your entire party took a ton of damage, not when 2-3 ppl need a heal (that's a chain ehal job). Examples are Najentus, RoS phase 3, Kalecgos dragon realm, in such fights, ocne the damage goes through the roof only PoH can keep groups alive, no other class or spell can. However it is expensive so be prudent when using it; spamming PoH can get you /oom very fast.

- Circle of Healing: Smart heal (it target ppl who need the heal the most): Very good raid heal spell for moderate damage, but extremely range limited and wil lhave a hefty mana cost in WLK (bye bye CoH spam). Use it but don't spam it, to spam is to be oom is to suck at priest. In 99% of all boss encounters it's useless (too spread out, too costly to use, too weak healing)

- Lightwell : new mechanics ruined this spell: it now requires targettign (FY blizz on ruining it for PvP once again). If you do take it, cast it between ranged DPS and ehalers, melee and tanks can't reall make use of it since they can't see it. Warlocks love it to selfheal afetr lifetap.

- Holy Nova: crap when not glyphed. With Glyph still crap since CoH is better.

- Desperate prayer: medium instant self heal. It will save you a few times in high need, but it's far from being the great spell it was due to the mana cost.

- Divine Hymn : AoE healing HoT + AoE CC. But it also puts less dam taken on the targets and has a long CD. This spell is meant for those "oh crap double pull" moments. The first versions of this were insanely good, the final heavilly nerfed version is not :'(

4. Talents

I'll classify the talents as low, medium, high and must have. I'll also add a few discipline talents for the simple reason the most needed talent by all healing priest is in the Disc tree (meditation). If you happen to spec anything without meditation i'll have Ako eat you.

Tier 1 Holy
Healing Focus => Medium
Due to changed pushback mechanics the value of this has greatly diminished, on top of that there's a big chance a paladin will have concentration aura in the raid. But any spellpushback can result in dead raiders so don't be too fast to discard this talent.

Improved Renew => Low/High
Depends entirely upon healing style, if you use renew alot get it, if you don't skip it.

Holy Specialisation => Must have
Crit is everything now, 5/5 all the way

Tier 2 Holy
Spell Warding => Medium
10% less dam from spells is great, but it is also not needed if you keep an eye on yr health, we are healers after all, something to dump spare point in , if you have them

Divine Fury => Must Have
3 sec Gheal = dead tank, no further comments needed

Tier 3 Holy
Desperate Prayer => Medium
Will save your butt a few times, but you'll use it like 2-3x a raid with most of those time unneeded. It has it's value, but you won't miss it if you skip it.

Blessed Recovery => Low
What makes you think you will survive a crit in PvE? It's a PvP talent, skip it, if we get hit in PvE we die, it's that simple.

inspiration => High
Most people will say must have talent. It will reduce damage on a tank by 3% but the better geared the tank the less the effect. in many fight it's completely not needed, it also doesn't help against spells. In damage heavy encounters it can mean life or death. It's very good to drop points in, especially as tank healer but it's all or nothing 1/3 or 2/3 is wasted points, go 3/3 or nothing. The high crit we will have also means it'll be up most of the time.

Tier 4 Holy
Holy Reach => Medium
PoH already has a good range, and CoH is a smart heal now, thus the value of this talent has reduced alot. It's never wasted though but not needed at all if you can keep track of your own relative position compared to the raid.

Improved Healing => Must have
Remember weakness nr 3 : /oom = > this talent is one of those top talents helping you have a non empty mana bar

Searing light => Low
Damage Talent, and if you are needed for DPS in a raid then the gnome mages aren't being slapped enough by Deadeye. Skip it.

Tier 5 Holy
Healing Prayers=> Medium
Good spell to significantly redce the ridiculous poh cost.... but poH isn't exactly a highly used spell which means the points are mostly wasted. If you have spare points this is a good palce to drop them but not a required talent at all.

Spirit of Redemption=> High
+5% spirit = win , Free healing at death (especially glyphed) = win ... but why did you die to start with? It's a great talent, definitely worth a point.

Spiritual guidance=> Must have
25% of spirit = spellpower, with an easy 1000 spirit raid buffed late naxx that means 250 spellpower or + 500 healing. It scales very well with gear, it's a talent you can't afford to skip.

Tier 6 Holy
Surge of Light=> High
Free Flash Heal when you crit. It completely rocks, but you will need a decent mod to warn you off the proc to amke good use of it. Is it required? no, but it is damn good, if you find yourself unable to keep tracka nd amke use of the proc skip it, if not get it, it's amazing.

Spiritual healing=> Must Have
+10% healing on everything, if you didn't figure out yet this is must have then i strongly suggest you log off, delete char and reroll to a simple class like rogue or something Eye-wink

Tier 7 Holy
holy Concentration=> Must Have
Crit = clearcast = mana = win. One of the most important talents in the holy tree

Lightwell=> Low
Another patch, another mechanic, and once again they manage to ruin it completely, skip unless you're a hardcore LW lover.

Blessed Resilience=> Low
If something crits you, you die, in fact if something even looks at you you die so.... PvP talent, skip it.

Tier 8 Holy
Empowered healing=> Must Have
40% added to the spellcoefficient of Gheal is HUGE, same applies to Fheal and Bheal. This talent is one you can't afford to skip.

Serendipity=> Must Have
The talent that undoes the effect of removing downranking, to a certain degree, without this talent you will not be able to keep aman going on tank ehaling, it's must have.

Tier 9 Holy
Improved Holy Concentration=> Must Have
More procs and spellhaste as icing to the cake, core talent, thus must have

Circle of healing=> High
Awesome spell in so manay ways, but you can do without it. I wouldn't skip it but if you find aoe healign is rarely done, or you prefe the Fheal style coupled with Pom one could skip it. Highly recommended

Test of Faith=> Medium
Good talent, but it'll rarely be used, very few ppl ever drop below 50% On tanks you generally can't afford to wait for the 50% mark to heal either. It looks great but 6% is imo a bit low for 3 talent points. Others will disagree and swear this talent is the top. I'll leave it up to you Smiling

Tier 10 Holy
Divine Providence=> Medium
Depends greatly on the spell usage in raids. Every point is definitely worth it, but is it worth 5 points when there is so many other great talents in the holy tree?

Tier 11 Holy
Guardian Spirit=> High
It'll cost you a fortune on talent point to get it, but it's worth every point. A cheat death with + 40% healing? This is exactly the one thing priests have been needing for ages, the "oh crap the MT is gonna die" button, it's the one missing tool in the priest armory compared to otehr healing classes. Now we have it and it beats the crap out of other classes equivalents.

Tier 1 Discipline
Unbreakable Will=> Low
This talent was never too good and now it's even worse with the new mechanics, complete waste of points => skip

Twin Disciplines => High
Awesome Tier 1 talent, and since you have nothing else to pick go 5/5

Tier 2 Discipline
Silent Resolve=> Medium
In general healers do not generate enough aggro for this to be needed, but in some encounters with a lot of adds it can help alot, if you want to feel safe grab it, if you think fade is enough of a lifesaver, skip it, it's a decent talent, but if the tanks are worth something it "shouldn't" be needed.

Improved inner Fire=> Medium
It adds a bit of healing, a bit of physical dam reduction(2%) and some extra charges. It's nice but far from crucial. In fact you need to weight this talent vs Silent resolve. If you wanna feel safe with alot less threat go resolve. If you think Fade is enough to keep you safe from aggro go inner Fire.

Improved Power Word Fortitude=>High
Only 1 priest in the raid needs it.... but you know that's the one who's internet fails taht raid ofc. It adds over 1000 HP per raid member. I say everyone should pick it but 1 priest per raid should be enough.

Martyrdom=> Low
Lol........ GG Blizz on nerfing the worst disc talent even more, it's completely crap. Take it and look like a fool.

Tier 3 Discipline
Improved PW : Shield=> Medium
Good talent, if you take the glyph that goes with it, but it's actually meant for pure disc builds. If you happen to sue shields alot itworth the points, if not then don't bother.

Inner Focus=> High
a 1 point wonder, great spell is so many ways, imo it's must have but some ppl may prefer more points into holy tree. If you pass on this you better have a very good reason

Meditation=> Must Have
The CORE TALENT of every healing priest. If you do not have this I will personally kick you from the raid, you can not raid without this. It's the talent that turns spirit into active mana regen, to skip it is to be oom instantly. I'm quite serious actually i won't allow anyone to raid who doesn't have this talent.

Tier 4 Discipline
Absolution=> Medium
Less cost on dispels is always nice, but it shouldn't be an issue.

Mental Agility=> High
For the CoH spammers amidst us, great talent but high up the disc tree, you have to sacrifice in the holy tree to take this. It's worth the points though if you use instants alot.

Mana Burn=> Low
Should be obvious why.

Tier 5 Discipline
Mental Strenght=> High
More intellect, alot more intellect, this talent is awesome but it requires to sacrifice Guardian Spirit.

Divine Spirit=> Medium
Great talent, I'm not entirely sure how it stacks with other raid buffs though, having it is definitely an asset. On it's own it is a very good talent to have.

Improved Divine Spirit=> Medium
Again questions on how it stacks with other raid wide buffs. On its own it is quite good though

Any higher tiers of disc I won't include as you will then start skipping the top holy talents thus becoming hybrid.

5. Gear

Priests need spirit intellect stamina spellhaste spellpower spellcrit. basically all the caster stats.

The first thing to look at when judging gear is mana regen : thus spirit intel mp5 and spellcrit
The second thing to look at is HPS (heal per second) : thus spellhaste and spellpower
The 3rd thing to look at is Stamina: you'll need some to stay alive

I'd love to give the values for how spirit intel and crit compare to one another, but i don't have the values for lvl 80 yet. i can give some rules of thumb though

Spirit : you can never have enough spirit
Intellect : you can never have enough intellect from a raid mana regen poV. But Spirit will also give spellpower and at some value Spi> Intel, just where this line lies is not possible to tell yet
Stamina : as needed, you'll gradually increase it as you progress, it's easy to ignore this stat, if you die alot or if spelldamage is starting to become too big a % of yr total health you need more. Keep in mind you will be most likely the lowest HP player in the raid, a good aim is to keep up with mages.

Spellcrit : the more the better, but past 25% spellcrit I suggest you look for other stats instead.
Spellpower: the more the better, but do not stack it at the expense of stam or mana regen
Spellhaste: medium need, get some for sure but it isn't required to stack this very high.
MP5 : Greatly depends on the amount of mp5 an item offers. Mp5 has to beat spirit by a fair amount in refen to be worth it, keep in mind priest are out of cast alot, and when they are they'll regen 2-3x more than in cast. Mp5 will usually regen more in cast than the equivalent spirit item, but also alot less out of cast than the equivalent item. Personal playstyle (and thus how long you are in or out of 5SR) plays a great part in judging the value of mp5.

The ideal item to hunt for would have
- Medium stam
- High int
- High Spi
- Spellpower
- Spellcrit
The ideal gem color is blue>yellow>red