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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One of my most viewed posts is now slightly outdated.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

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.

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.

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