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Holy vs. Disc – Healing Cata HCs in 4.1+

June 8, 2011

One of my most viewed posts is now slightly outdated. A few talents have changed, gear has improved, and the game has moved on. It’s still a valuable resource for fresh 85’s, but for those slightly more experienced among us moving into the Zandalari Heroics, I think a fresh post would help.

Holy and Disc are still very competitive specs, with very different play styles, and very different strengths. They are both suited to ZA/ZG equally, perhaps pulling slightly ahead of each other on certain fights, but overall they are still competitive. Picking a spec is personal, and it’s important. More and more people are attempting mount runs or pushing for fast times to get fast VP, so optimising your spec is important.

As a small warning, this post isn’t aimed at beginners. The comparison is opinion and conjecture, not maths, but I won’t be deconstructing the specs as much as i sometimes would.


Holy is about power. Holy’s heals are big and powerful, and some of the highest numbers of any class, what’s more, they leave a reaasonable HoT on the target making an bigger, prolonged impact. When it comes to raid healing holy can churn out impressive results. It’s very forgiving to newer healers, and has a lot of scope for the more experienced to fine tune their styles. Holy is a judgement game, it’s a race between your mana pool and your spirit. It can become incredibly efficient, with Heal becoming a reasonably sized heal for virtually no mana cost due to high spirit.

The main problem with holy is speed. Haste obviously combats this, but there will be times when Flash Healing is unavoidable, and while serendipity makes it less of a mana burden, it does not change the fact it set’s you behind. Holy when played poorly is akin to setting  your mana pool on fire, when played well it’s more like emptying a vat of water on an ember.

I started this expansion as Holy, and i really enjoyed it. It served me well from hitting 85 all the way to getting full heroic gear and a few purples. I’m now discipline, because I just don’t find Holy as much fun.


Discipline is about preparation. You can pump out a lot of healing, but a lot of the time, you won’t need to. Discipline is about using your talents and spells to helps you do less. At higher gear levels, your increased mana pool and spellpower from our passive talent Enlightenment really makes a difference. While the other specs often have more raw output and can do more healing, the margin isn’t that great. We can do about 90% of what other healers can do, but then again, they can’t absorb like we can. Not even paladins with their bubbles come close to the levels of absorption we can put out.

When things get risky disc comes into it’s own. We cant do what holy does and churn out big numbers, but we can freeze things and extend the time we have to play with. We can fire a shield off on the tank and PoH to shield the party or raid. We can renew and start chaining GHeals to recover people from the brink, doing all of it taking very little mana. Holy regenerates mana while discipline manages it. I play the much debated atonement spec, and with a little help from archangel, I have the luxury of an extensive mana pool to keep me supplied while I churn out smites and GHeals. Discipline is a visceral spec which rewards inventive and pre-emptive players. However, it requires finesse. It’s not an easy spec, in honesty I think it’s slightly more difficult than holy – and I think it’s more rewarding.

However, as to the question between the two, they’re close to even. A lot of people seem to prefer Holy at the moment, though more and more are playing Discipline. They do very different things in very different ways, but they do them very well. I stand by the fact that Priests are the most versatile of healers, and that our arsenal is the largest of the healers. If you’re struggling with your spec, try the other. Try the variations on specs. Find your essential playstyle that suits you, because that’s the one that will be best. The maths could tell you one was better in theory, but I would stick with your favourite, it will serve you well. There’s no definitive best playstyle or spec. The best on paper might not work as well for you in practice, because at the end of the day we’re priests, and we have a tool for every situation. Every style and spec has weaknesses and strengths, playing well is about figuring out your weaknesses and how to cope with them or how to lessen them.

Good News Everyone!

May 30, 2011

Exactly 4 days ago, I resubscribed to World of Warcraft.

Yes, that’s right. Shadanzi is back.

Over the next few days I’m going to be flooding this site with new posts talking about priests in patch 4.1. Having returned to the game I decided I would also return to Discipline as I’m going to be doing PvP as well as raiding, and I’m very pleased with the feel of it at the moment.

It’s surprising how much has changed in Azeroth in the past few months. For a start DPS know what CC is, know to let me drink, and know what to do on most fights. I actually quite enjoyed a few pug groups I did ZA and ZG with, to the point I may actually use LFD for more than just a last resort. What’s more, I really want to kill me some fire elementals. Firelands was a big reason I decided to come back, and I wanted to come back to clear T11 content before it’s nerfed 20%.

I hope you are all well, and will be posting you my thoughts on 4.1 in the near future. I also started killing bosses with my new guild today, so I’ll post about how to heal raids soon too.

The re-enlightened Shadanzi.

Shadanzi – Signing Off.

February 24, 2011

Well guys, it’s with great sadness I say goodbye to the wonderful world of wow. Many will wonder why and it’s all below in a post I put on the official forums.

“I’ve found the new dungeons, while challenging yes which makes them slightly more interesting, feel almost more grindy than wotlk. By the time you’ve done it twice, you’re still on autopilot, it’s just a slightly higher grade of autopilot. It’s not fun running the dungeons over and over again, because each time I realise just how pedantic this game has gotten.
It’s also very buggy. Conclave 10 man felt quite undertuned until we hit the bugs, 16 wipes at about 10% due to Rohash randomly turning 180* to blast people off the platform is quite ridiculous. Yes, I know how he works, he points and blast. Well, sometimes he points, blasts then turns instantly to the players.
Another thing I really don’t like is how pedantic team composition is. Even in heroics, without the right amount of CC and interrupts some bosses are impossible. CC and interrupts dont make it fun, they just become another part of a priority system. Maybe the first few times your like yay im interrupting again! But then your just an interrupt bot, big woop? And this is coming from someone who played an interrupter in high end PVP in GW for 3 years. It’s one thing shutting someone down, it’s another where interrupting the same spell every CD is mandatory.
My guild fell apart, because it was slightly casual. We raided 3 times a week and got 11/12 ICC10hc in wotlk. We grinded HC’s together and got raid gear, we killed a few cata raid bosses. Then we realised the time investment, and people stopped being as enthusiastic. I understand the need for the game to appeal to the hardcore, the ‘elite’. But there are some very, very good gamers out there I’m sure, who like a game they can plunge into head first and get straight into the action. I’ve not felt like im ‘in the action’ in wow in a very, very long time.
My favourite thing in games is when everything’s going wrong, everyone’s almost dead and it’s just plain bad. And then everyone pulls together and does amazing things and you save the wipe and keep going. There shouldn’t be a sense of futility unless you stand in exactly the right place and push exactly the right button. Wow feels futile, and a lot of the time it’s better to wipe than persist.
I’m not opposed to extreme time investments in a game but the time investment should be optional (like achieves etc) rather than being a mandatory step to getting to the interesting part of the game.
That’s just my feelngs about how it is at the moment, though I’m sure you’re all right statistics showing new subs are going up. Those ‘noobs’ are going to love the community I’m sure. And are new subs the really important ones? Yes, probably to a corporate engine. But shouldn’t the loyal gamers be important too, shouldn’t they be provided for? We’ll see.
I’m not quitting wow for another game, I’ve always played 2 or 3 MMO’s at a time. But my time on azeroth is done, so I’ll see you all playing Titan. Maybe some of you in GW2, Rift and SWTOR. It’s been fun, but I’m done now :)”

I’ve really enjoyed my time in Azeroth, but without a guild-home and much enthusiasm for cataclysm, I’m taking my healing arsenal somewhere else. I’ve gone back to my Guild Wars roots, back to the wonderful world where control and interrupts aren’t something you ask for, but something given freely. And I’m going to be trying Rift (HERESY!) but I really do like the game (I’ve played 3 betas and I’m just so excited for Headstart Today). In the 3 months I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had almost 4000 viewers, so thank you. Thank you for reading and listening and thinking and trying to become better (informed) priests. I leave wow without a shadow of a doubt that Priests will forever exist as one of the most potent and versatile classes in the game. I will not be abandoning healing either, on the contrary I will be branching out to every style of healing and support Rift can offer me. Should you find yourselves in Telara, on Illusion, Cloudborne or Firesand (I’m undecided if I’ll PVP and RP yet) then look out for Shadanzi. He will most likely be a Cleric or a Mage as I’ve always preferred casters. And to any of you playing Guild Wars, while my semilegendary was deleted many years ago, my new Necromancer, Mistress Hellion, can be found mooching around filling up her HoM and running around soloing things that shouldn’t be soloed. I may this very night begin a new blog, about Telara and so on, but we shall see. I’m one step (round etc.) away form joining the Royal Navy (British Navy not American) so that would severely hinder my mmoing and blogging abilities. Should I be invited, I will turn my back on mmo’s with no regrets, IRL has to come first in the end. And wherever I am in the world, don’t worry, I will still be there as Servers go live for GW2, I promise.

So once again, thank you. Thank you for caring enough to google such wild things as ‘How to Holy’ and ending up here. Good luck in whatever endeavours you undertake, both in Azeroth and RL. I hope you can find a new source of Enlightenment and Spiritual Healing, though be careful when playing with Inner Fire and Shadow Orbs! I hope to see you in Telara, Kryta and the far flung lands that Titan is set in. Until then, farewell :)

Your faithful Guardian Spirit,


Raiding as a Holy Priest.

January 19, 2011

I’ve been slacking with posting, I admit. Why? Well, Nocturnus started raiding. We’re doing well, we’re 38th on the server or something like that. It’s not exceptional but it shows we’re getting the hang of what we’re doing. We don’t profess to be hardcore, though 2/12 is not small feat! We’ve killed Magmaw 10 and Omnomnomtron 10 so far, both of them were slow at the start and sped up quickly. This week we’re starting on Conclave and hopefully farming Magmaw so I can get my hands on the Crown of Burning Waters. I’ve also killed Argaloth 10 – Lol I almost said it like it was an achievement.

Enough prose, on to the content!

  1. Pit Lord Argaloth – The hardest part of this encounter is winning Tol Barad, after that it’s pretty much a Holy Priest’s dream fight. Use Inner Fire if your mana can handle. Chakra and PoM the tank to enter Chakra: Sanctuary, renewing it every 30 seconds. You DO NOT want to be in Chakra: Serenity as is usual, because this fight is built for PoH. Each Group will stand on different sides of the room and the tanks will swap aggro each time one group is AoEd. Precast PoH so it Heals moments after the AoE hits, CoH and PoH again. The only other two considerations are Mass Dispelling the debuff and switching to Inner Will and using renew in the Fel Firestorm phase that happens every so often. OH – don’t forget to cross your fingers for Priest loot!
  2. Magmaw – There’s not much to say here really. You’ll be using Heal, FH and GH a lot and you will be rolling renew, so Chakra: Serenity is your stance of choice. I did the WHOLE fight with Inner Fire up and was fine mana wise, though we had 3 priests (me included) and a Resto Shammy and 3 HoH’s and 2 MTT (with good timing) makes for comfortable mana situations. You’ll also want to bring a Potion of Concentration to use in the Head phases when healing is virtually unnecessary (only topping up from before hand). This fight is hard on DPS, they have a lot to do. Theres only one tank, who needs heavy healing frequently so make sure Holy Word is kept on cooldown. Other than that it’s an okay fight to heal :)
  3. Omnomnomtorn CouncilIt is a pain. I found it a huge pain. There’s a lot of movement and add-dodging and running-away-from-bad. Use Inner Will for the speed buff and cheap renews/CoHs on the fly. Don’t forget Body and Soul here, it’s unbelieveably useful. Theres also massive blue whirlpools that give you HUGE amounts of mana regen (I spammed Flash Heal/2xSerendiptiy GHs in one and gained mana overall). It’s a somewhat hectic fight, but they die quite fast once you get the hang of it. Just stay alert and run away from the stupid amount of nasty that’s thrown all over the place.

I will add more posts as we down more bosses and also talk about the changing rotations and spell usages I’m seeing as my gear improves. Good Luck and Happy Raiding!

Patch 4.0.6 Notes (PTR)

January 7, 2011

I will comment on these patch notes in depth when and if they go live. What I will say for know is I love the Levitate buff even if it is quite useless, and that I think the change to PW:S (The mana cost of PW:S has been increased by approximately 31%, but its effect has been increased by 208%) is a thing of beauty!

Priest Glyphs!

December 30, 2010

Well – I know I said my next post would be about Raiding… but it’s Christmas (well it was) so the Raid schedule got messed around. I’ve attempted Omintron and Halfus – got both to about 25% but generally flailed around and died after that. I don’t even know why! Theres a few greens and ilevel 316s floating around the raid group which I’m sure is a contributor but mostly I think it’s a mind-set thing. We all know to move out of fire/slime/poison/bad  it just takes us about a second to do it. This = DEATH.

So I’m going to talk about glyphs! Glyphs annoy me for three reasons.

  1. They make me feel like un-glyphed spells are rubbish – they’re not.
  2. The Holy Priest glyphs are largely useless yet quite necessary – they bore me. That’s bad.
  3. They’re so damned expensive! (I have almost all of them – but still)

Basically if you’re a healer glyph PoH and don’t ask questions. Disc then pick PW:S and Penance. Holy Lightwell and Renew (and CoH). Now pick some nice Majors and Minors to suit your style. That’s it. It really is!

If you’re Shadow – Pain, Death, Flay. Majors and Minors are also quite open.

Glyphs – Can’t live with them, can’t live without them!

Priest Stat Priorities in Cataclysm

December 20, 2010

So, I’ve done A LOT of research into this topic, and it is rather conflicted.

I’ll start with Shadow because it is essentially the simplest.

  • As ever Hit is top priority. 17% is the cap, however at about 15% it becomes less useful. It is BEST to get the cap, but it’s not worth reforging other stats if you get to th 14/15% mark.
  • Following this is Intellect/Spellpower – the more you have the more damage you do, and the more spells you can cast without mana cooldowns.
  • Haste is top priority green stat (after hit) so you get faster ticks and flays.
  • Crit is slightly better than Mastery, though on heavy movement fights it can go the other way. Keep them even and only reforge them to hit/spirit or haste – don’t bother changing one to the other.

This is essentially as it was endgame Wrath. The only variation I’ve seen is some PvP sp’s (BG oriented not arena) going virtually pure mastery for huge mobility/dot kiting. It’s pretty deadly.


Discipline gets a little more personal.

  • Intellect is your number one stat, no surprises there. With the recent Rapture buff and the Enlightenment Tree bonus Discipline essentially sees the highest Intellect scaling of all.
  • Spirit is second to Intellect for Discipline mana regen – however it is still a very important stat.
  • As for crit, haste, and mastery they all scale better the more of them you have. It’s good to keep them balanced for discipline right now because you cannot realistically reach any sort of ‘cap’ without massively gimping the other two stats. Crit gives you more DA procs. Mastery bigger shields (though scales with DA poorly). Haste gives you faster GCDs, Renews and Casts. Haste makes Strength of Soul better, which means more PW:Ss which means Mastery scales better, and you’re casting more spells, so crits occur more often. There is a lot of variation on the prioritization for discipline – it’s highly dependent on role, however balancing them is the strongest overall in my opinion.


Holy is where you start to see a real split in thinking.

  • Intellect and Spirit are top. They both need to be high (Intellect will be higher naturally – but relatively they will both be high). I gem red and blue slots with Int/Spirit gems. More int and spirit means bigger spells, and more longevity – evermore important in Cataclysm.
  • Beyond this you want to avoid crit. It’s not that strong because we can get +35% crit when we need it. It’s nice to have some, but it’s not something to stack. I mention what to avoid because I’m scared to mention haste and mastery.
  • Haste vs Mastery is the subject of many Holy Priest debates. Haste is strong because you can cast faster and more often – getting off more spells. However, with enough spirit it becomes more and more unnecessary as you can afford to cast Flash Heal when you NEED speed. Mastery is the opposite – to have high mastery your going to have less haste. You will cast slower and less often – but your spells will be HUGE. I get 2-3k Echo ticks on the tank from GHeal which makes tank healing much less mundane and Heal spammy. It also makes you efficient – haste makes you less efficient as you burn mana faster. Mastery means your HPM increases dramatically on all spells (Renew to a much lesser extent) and means expensive spells like Prayer of Healing become efficient AoE Heal-Nukes. I favor mastery, some favor haste. I raid heal so Mastery is hands down win IN MY OPINION. It’s a style thing. It’s personal, so do what you feel best and don’t yell at me for liking Echo!

I hope that’s helped, feel free to ask for any further clarification.

Prayer of Hotfix – Answered.

December 16, 2010

December 15 – Priests (Source)

  • Blessed Resilience now increases healing received by 15/30%, up from 5/10%.
  • Focused Will now reduces damage taken by 5/10% and 10/20%, up from 4/8% and 6/12%.
  • Healing done by Glyph of Dispel Magic no longer improperly caps out at a certain health pool range.
  • Holy Concentration’s mana regeneration component has been increased from 10/20% to 20/40%.
  • Player-controlled vehicles return an Invalid Target error when attempting to use Leap of Faith on them.
  • Rapture’s mana regeneration component has been increased from 1.5/2/2.5 to 2/4/6%.

Oh Blizzard, you’re a little late, but I still love you for this. This is pretty huge for both specs. The Holy buff makes Spirit an impossibly good stat, and trinkets like Blood of Isiset will result in phenomenal mana gains. The Discipline buff is the opposite, making Intellect (and mana pool size) even more useful and gives over twice the mana return. I’ve stopped having any mana problems on normals now, and few in Heroics – only long fights. However this will make drinking between trash less necessary, and will mean I dont require the DPS to be QUITE as high as I can last a bit longer. Also, I tried a raid. Apart from it being a pug with green tanks and DPS my mana still felt very flammable, hopefully this buff will help that! Very pleased with the buffs overall, not sure how needed they were, but it will pacify a LOT of the people complaining. Buffing priests and nerfing Holydins (yes they got hit HARD but all my proadin friends dont care about so I’m going to ignore the people crying about it – I NEVER used ToR endgame WotLK, yes this is Cata, but HS is enough Holy Power for any non LoD spammer). LIFE IS GOOD.

Healing Cataclysm Heroics – Holy or Disc.

December 14, 2010

For many priests right now, this seems to be the big decision. The answer is simpleplay the spec you prefer and enjoy more! However I will outline the strength and weaknesses of both in case you would enjoy the most powerful the most.

An updated Guide for experienced Priests looking at healing Rise HC’s and Raids can be found HERE.

Discipline – Guide to Disc!Guide to Priest Healing!

StrengthsDiscipline excels at mitigation and damage reduction, it reigns supreme in encounters with predictable or consistent damage.

  • Power Word: Shield mitigates damage – quite a lot on the tank with Strength of Soul and Heal – and regenerates mana from Rapture. It also causes Renewed Hope and Weakened Soul for -3% dmg and +10% crit respectively.
  • +15% Intellect boosts your mana pool, spell-power and crit – very good scaling.
  • Divine Aegis makes Prayer of Healing (GLYPH IT!) a very potent group heal/shield. If you know group damage is incoming, use it to soften the blow and to top anyone off. No healing should be wasted as people should be kept at 70 – 80%.
  • Inner Focus gives you big free GHeals on the tank when you need them most – and Train of Thought makes it more efficient to cast occasionally.
  • Evangelism/Atonement/Archangel may not be the best use of talents, but it has it’s uses. I’d skip it but thats a personal thing more than anything.
  • Penance/Grace make your tank healing abilities pretty strong, giving you bigger Heals on the one who THEORETICALLY needs them most (in practice it’s the Rogue or Warlock (UGH)).

WeaknessesDiscipline will never have the raw power of Holy, and can struggle with heavy, random AoE.

  • Inherently smaller heals mean that without Grace stacks you will need to cast more spells to heal someone up.
  • While Power Word: Barrier is strong it’s just not Guardian Spirit.
  • Reliant on more expensive Greater Heal and cooldown (Penance) for healing heavy tank damage.
  • Reliant on crit rating to proc Divine Aegis – current low gear levels can render this talent virtually useless.
  • Weaker AoE healing even with Divine Aegis on Prayer of Healing meaning you will need more Prayers to get everyone up after AoE – costing a lot of mana.

Holy – Guide to Holy!Guide to Priest Healing!

StrengthsHoly is all about pure, raw, healing power. Versatility is the name of the game with Holy, you can adapt to any situation – and excel at it.

  • A very potent and scalable mastery. Can easily reach 20 – 30% additional healing with current gear levels – making every heal more efficient.
  • +15% Healing means you’re spells are inherently stronger. Not quite the scaling of Discipline but makes you more efficient with bigger heals.
  • +20% regen from spirit is uttterly amazing and means you can get truly absurd amounts of mana regen.
  • Prayer of Healing (GLYPH IT!) and Circle of Healing make for extreme AoE healing. Using CoH then PoH will heal the group for significant amounts and can trivialise most AoE damage. Heavy AoE fight? Pop Chakra: Sanctuary, cast Holy Word: Sanctuary, CoH then PoH and it won’t seem so bad.
  • Powerful, efficient tank healing from Chakra: Serenity. Extra crit on your single target spells and they renew the rather expensive Renew. The Holy Word is very cheap and a moderate amount – and don’t underestimate the buff. Holy Word: Serenity, Flash Heal then Greater Heal is a HUGE heal-spike which will save your tank from almost any situation.
  • Guardian Spirit – enough said.
  • Body and Soul makes kiting a dream and means you can get in range fast if the tank is knocked back or moves too far.
  • Test of Faith means you’re even more potent when you need it most.
  • Serendipity makes Flash Heal and Binding Heal much more efficient and means PoH and GHeal are faster and cheaper.
  • Under used for it’s poor scaling- but AWESOME at current gearing levels, Surge of Light gives you free Flash Heals and Serendipity procs.

WeaknessesHoly is expensive and requires virtually perfect execution – picking the wrong Chakra or healing spell can cause a wipe.

  • Slow heals can be a killer – the lack of Borrowed Time can hurt.
  • Lower mitigation theanDiscipline forces you to heal more.
  • Requires virtually every green number to be effective to be efficient and not to go OOM.
  • Reliant on mana cooldowns.

Overall it’s a very personal choice. I was Discipline in Wrath and I’m not overly sure why. I REALLY enjoyed it but I always thought of trying holy. I had no gear for it though so it was awful. I didn’t have the haste or spirit to make it work – now I do. I don’t need the haste really, triage makes it less important – I like that a lot. I love the holy mastery, even the name. I’m going to be a Holy Priest for the foreseeable future unless my guild needs a Disco. We’re planning to run Holy Paladin, Resto Shaman and Priest – those two will have the tanks covered, I’m pretty sure, at least I hope they have. I’m awful at tank healing – I’m scatterbrained and much better at shooting heals off in every direction than on one/two people (I know that makes about as much sense as Lightwell used to – but like Lightwell it’s secretly imba!). Priest Healing is a strict but potent mistress, learn to love it. Pick a spec and fly with it. Play what you enjoy. Ultimately you’re a Priest, you could even heal as Shadow. Healing is what we do. (Though we are DANGEROUS as dps- muahahahaha).

Mind Control and You.

December 14, 2010

Crowd Control is more important than ever. Priests don’t REALLY have normal Crowd Control. Sure, we can Shackle undead, or AoE fear (GLYPH IT!) but really, that’s not as useful as polymorph. What we do have, is something magical. Mind Control. If you’re a shadowpriest ABUSE it. Every pull. Let the tank know what your doing of course. If you’re a healer then it’s a little harder to use it, but still possible. You can open with it so a mob is dead before you engage, then heal. More usefully, you can MC healing mobs and heal with them (Temple Adepts in VP for example – 100k heals ftw!). Practice makes perfect.