As I mentioned the other day I have come to play more as holy when doing instances than disc. Now that I've finally dinged 85 I will also have to look at a spec that will work well in heroics, although I believe that disc healing will still do the job in raids (but that will yet have to be seen). The first thing I did when dinging 85 was to run and get a proper instancing spec for holy, and boy was that a tough task. I even had to respec immediately because I realized I had been thinking completely wrong the first time around.
In few cases the problem is whether a talent is good or bad. Most talents are good, in that they improve you in some way. The problem is to decide whether it is as good as something else. In some cases the choice is basically made for you since you have to pick something to advance downwards and there aren't that many choices after all, thankfully enough. But in many cases it's actually not entirely obvious which way to go, and I thought I'd discuss some of my problems with picking talents here. As always I won't discuss the easy choices, but the ones that are giving me headaches.
Desperate Prayer - I was one of them priests who enjoyed this talent back in Wrath. I liked having an instant self-heal to fall back on just in case. Question is, now that we don't have as much talent points to spend everywhere, is it still worth picking, and I'm not so sure anylonger. What talks for this talent is that it is free of mana, and probably will save your ass when you really need it. On the other hand it has a 2 minute cooldown, and when the shit hits the fan one can wonder if this will save you long enough? You'll probably need other solutions to keep yourself alive in any case, so how much mana will you save in the long run by using this skill every 2 minutes? It is also instant, something that is incredibly valuable right now that haste is down the drain. I want to take this talent, I really do. But I just don't feel like it will benefit the raid as much as other talents will, because it is a choice between having a talent that is useful when shit happens or having a talent that is useful even if no shit happens but also when shit happens, if you catch my drift. A dead healer is a very bad healer indeed. But by picking other talents over this I am also improving my own chances to survive, by keeping everyone including myself alive a little better.
Surge of Light - I really didn't like this talent after the revamp, and chose to play without out it the final weeks of raiding in Wrath. I never smited as holy, and I never used Heal either. Wrath encounters were not designed around a skill like Heal, and because of this Surge of Light became completely unusued. Even when I went out of my way to use Heal I didn't feel like it procced often enough, since 6% is really low. But now I am using Heal alot more. I don't like it because it's still a very slow and very small spell, but as I have said before I notice some potential. It works fairly well in Chakra: Heal and since it is my cheapest spell I don't oom even when using it relatively often. As such it might turn out to be mana efficient and a nice saver to get a SoL proc now and then when healing. The thing is that the more I use Heal, aka the more I have to heal stuff, the greater the chance that I proc SoL when I really need it. On the other hand it's never good to have to rely on procs like this to get good healing going. I will give it a new testing and see if I like it more this time around.
Inspiration - I was sceptical about this since changes made to skills like Demoralizing Shout made it seem like this was becoming obsolete. But I just can't think Blizzard would do something like that. In fact I think they stack, since a guildie of mine said that they would. I have no proof whatsoever that they do this, and I haven't found anything on the internets saying anything about it, neither yay nor nay so the jury is still out on this one. One argument in the favor of them stacking is the fact that they don't do exactly the same thing. Demoralizing Shout/Roar and dk/pala equivalents reduces the physical damage done by every affected target by 10%, while Inspiration reduces physical damage taken by the target by 10%. So seemingly the same effect, but not really. One reduces damage done by mob, the other reduces damage taken by friendly target. And since the one is an easy buff to keep up 100% of the time, the other one is a fairly unreliable buff, yet another factor talking in the favor of them stacking (just as Renewed Hope and Blessing of Sanctuary did for a while during Wrath). If they don't stack Inspiration is worthless, if they do stack Inspiration is as kickass as it has always been, so it all depends on this.
Rapid Renewal - Considering mana conserving is the new black, we might not want to throw around renews so often that we actually need to lower the gcd of it by half a second. On the other hand, when we do want to hand out renews like there's no tomorrow, you'll be damn sad you didn't have this baby. Or maybe not, because when it comes to that the first thing you do probably won't be to throw hots. I think this talent will come to its best in a raid, and maybe be a little less useful in heroics. Nonetheless, it's a good talent for just one point and I am going pro taking this.
Body & Soul - The problem with a talent like this is that it's not always useful, but only occasionally. So what you have to do is evaluate how often you'll need a talent like this, and how much you'll need it when you do. I can tell you that so far in heroics I've mostly been using it for funs, and not so much because it was actually helping out. When we had a kiter on the last boss in BRC I used this, but he would've done just fine without it as well. It has its moments, and talents that simplifies healing are usually good ones. Helping people avoid to be one shot sounds like a very good idea. I don't want to stand there without it when I need it.
Circle of Healing - Used to be the bread and butter of any holy priest healing talent pick. And I won't argue that you shouldn't take it, because for one talent point, and considering the alternatives, it's still a good way to go. But it's no longer an awesome aoe heal. Just had to get that out of my system. Relying on this to be an oh shit button will get you killed. Currently my CoH heals for about 4k per target, when most people at level 85 have well beyond 70k hp. I seriously think they should lower the cooldown on CoH because right now it's not doing much difference when used and is feeling like more and more of a wasted gcd when people start taking aoe damage, especially combined with the fact that it only heals targets that are within 15 yards of your target. If this doesn't shape up, I will seriously have to consider if it is worth having at all. Right now I am mostly using it to top people up before a pull, and that's not a good sign.
Test of Faith - Yet again, this is a great talent, but it is one of those where you will have to make a choice between taking this and something else. So we have to decide which is better between the choices. How often will people be below 50% health? In heroics not so often. The tank might be because he has so much hp that keeping him below 50% doesn't necessarily have to be a problem, and probably rather something you will have to get used to. But to take this talent we'd have to sacrifice something else, and the question is - which one? We could go without one of the off talents, like Darkness, Veiled Shadows, Twin Disciplines or Mental Agility. But which one? Or should we remove a talent in the main tree? Yet again, which one? I could consider replacing Rapid Renewal and Desperate Prayer for two points into this one, but will that really be the best choice? For instancing perhaps, for raids I'm not so sure.
Twin Disciplines VS Test of Faith - One of the talents we could sacrifice to get Test of Faith. What will be better used? 6% extra healing at all times or 12% extra healing when the target is below 50%? At the moment I am leaning towards 6% extra healing at all times, but it's definitely not an easy choice.
Mental Agility VS Veiled Shadows - That mana is an issue is hardly a suprise anylonger. And I don't think things will become easier within the next few weeks, or maybe ever. This could be the new way to heal, and we'll just have to accept it. Renew is a huge part of our healing, as it has always been. Add to that CoH, although you throw that very rarely, and PoM, which is also used a little less now but still fairly often and you have a really nice chance to gain some mana efficiency through this talent. But when compared to another mana efficiency talent like Veiled Shadows, a choice has to be made, because we can't get all out in both. Which one will be more mana efficient? The shadowfiend will award approximately 15% mana every 4 minutes. With my current mana that's about 10000 mana. Looking at a recent BRC I did I used approximately 62 renews during a 3 minute fight (and a handful of poms). Reducing the mana cost of those renews by 10% would've saved me 370 mana per cast, with my current mana pool, plus about 1000 mana for my handful of PoMs. That's just under 23000 mana over 3 minutes. With these extremely crude estimates it seems like Mental Agility wins out big time against Veiled Shadows.