Sunday, December 12, 2010

Speccing Holy - So Many Choices

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.


  1. I feel like surge of light procs almost NEVER, and I had it for a while and used heal quite heavily. I'm having the opposite problem - trying to find enough stuff in the holy tree that I don't utterly hate just to get to 31 points so I can move into the other trees.

  2. @Zelmaru
    Nope you're right. I'm really trying to make this work well, but the proc rate is just too abysmally low. With the hundreds of Heal I probably use in a heroic I can hope to get a handful of procs, and only a few of those are "oh my god thank heavens that things procced!". It feels like I'll have to respec... again. Just wonder if the alternatives are much better. As you say there are definitely alot of weak talents in the holy tree.

  3. I'm finding that in heroics, people are under 50% a LOT. Test of Faith, to me, is a high priority talent.

    I've had Surge of Light for a few heroics, and I'm wondering if it's actually worth it. The problem is when I need a Flash Heal, I'm usually using Prayer of Healing, Greater Heal, or Flash Heal already which means no procs off Heal. An instant flash heal is a boon when you are rolling Renews on a few different people as it refreshes the duration of renew when in Chakra: Serenity.

  4. @Brandon
    Yeah I have been giving SoL another chance in raiding and instancing now and it just sucks too much to be worth spending 2 tp in. It's never there when I need it anyway, and it procs way too seldom. They have to quadruple the proc chance before I will bother with it. Fifth respec inc.

  5. Hey there, Xinn! I was forwarded to your post by Mimetir's roundup on World of Matticus and being that I'm a holy priest blogger, myself, I figured I would stop by and see if I could contribute some discussion here.

    I have to say that I don't feel our talents could simply be put into two camps - the good talents and the bad talents. What I have found is that they're all good, but situationally. If you have a sense for what situations you are finding yourself in, then you know what is going to work for you and what isn't.

    Desperate Prayer is something I was never really a fan of, but I have been tempted to pick it up, given my experience in level 85 dungeons, as I prepare for Heroics. From what I have seen, people who were playing the game when it was still a racial or an ability that not everyone had access to tend to find more of a use for it or are more partial to it than those who came to it at later stages of play.

    I'm a big fan of Surge of Light and I remember discussing this with Zelmaru. I wouldn't base my rotation around this talent or I wouldn't do something hoping it saves my hide. But it helps - it really helps. I can't think of a time that it procced and the heal wasn’t needed somewhere. Could it be better? Of course. But free, instant heals are pretty hard to argue about!

    You actually got me wondering about Inspiration now and I am anxious to test whether or not it does stack with Demo Shout. I would still be inclined to put the points in it, anyway, given that I prefer not to count on other classes to do what I could possibly do. Take warlocks, for example. Technically, their Blood Pact overrides my Fort buff, but that doesn't stop me from buffing the raid or attempting to.

    I'm pretty firmly against Rapid Renewal, because I don't feel that we should be putting ourselves in a place where we're handing out Renew that much. I would like to think that the game has changed to such a point where we won't be falling back into the old Wrath habit of using it as much as we did, where it was a crutch.

    Ah, Body and Soul. This is one of those talents where I literally think "How did I ever live without this?!" I see it being good for yourself and it can be a good "nudge" spell for someone doing something they shouldn't.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt like Circle of Healing wasn't really doing anything. It seems like it's facing some tough competition from Holy Word: Sanctuary and even the improvements made to Prayer of Healing have made it more favorable. Circle of Healing seems like it's being pushed into the "icing on the AOE healing cake" position. I agree that a lower cooldown or even buffing the co-efficients or base healing would be a big help. Maybe a change in the glyph?

    Currently, I have max points in Test of Faith and I really enjoy that. It was kind of a given for me, because I admit I still struggle with the idea of getting used to my tank hovering around the 50% point in regular dungeons. I don't mind having the DPS get a bit low, but the tank's health falling always sends me into a mini-panic. However, I have heard that the Heroics are nas-tee, so I'm hoping this talent reinforces my ideas that the tank shouldn't fall that far down or shouldn't be for long.

    In terms of the rest of your choices, I took them all. Every single one of them. I took Twin Disciplines, Test of Faith, Mental Agility & Veiled Shadows.

    You brought up some really good points and supported some spells or talents that have not been getting much love, for any number of reasons and you have even given me something to think about, as I put the final touches on my own holy talent analysis.

    Thank you for writing a really great read and I hope to see more from you in the future!

  6. @Oestrus
    Wow thanks for all the input! And yeah I agree with you in that there aren't many bad talents. If there were the choices would be easy!

    After I wrote this post I've been able to do some hours of raid healing and it has given me a new perspective on a few of the skills. For one I am now completely sure that Surge of Light are 2 wasted talent points. On about 500 heals I got about 30 procs, which is just too low (but exactly 6%). Sure when you get them you're happy, but I could spend those 2 tp where I'd get more healing out of them. So I'm with Zelmaru on this one ;) This talent needs a huge buff!

    I'm still not sure about Rapid Renewal, because even in raids you don't want to spam renews, that'll oom ya way too quickly. So yeah that could probably be spent better elsewhere. But the testing goes on!

    And I'm always happy to add another priest blogger to my reader, will enjoy to see your opinions on our healing :)

  7. I certainly didn't mean to dump on you, Zinn. I was really bored at work today (well, I had work - I just didn't want to do it) and I was a bit overzealous that there was another holy priest on the block that I could talk shop with. So, I apologize in advance if I crit you with my wall of text!

    Yeah, I was thinking SoL could probably go once you're in a raid type setting - provided you're not doing much tank healing. I actually enjoy tank healing and have requested more assignments as such, so I'm keeping the points there until I know that I will be predominantly raid healing.

    I will add you to our blogroll over at Divine Aegis and I look forward to chattin' with ya soon.


  8. @Oestrus
    Haha, you should know every blogger dreams of getting into long discussions with their readers about their loved subjects ;)
    Yepp one thing I enjoy about healing right now is that you can tailor it more to suit your way of healing than ever before. Everyone has to find a way that works, it's great!

  9. Hey guys - great discussion. Want to test to see if I can post before I post my own...

    - Mordecaii

  10. Ok so I triple posted. Nice.

    Surge of Light - I have stayed away from this one in, until I found I was using heal 90% of the time (I really dont like heal btw!. I preferred BC days where we used GHeal as our main spell, stop casting if tank was full etc). With that said, now that we are forced to use heal, I feel this talent is finally worthy. As Ostrus noted, while it cant be coutned on to save your ass, it still would always have a home when it did proc.

    Desperate Prayer - Try to think of this as no longer the "oh shit" button. Use it as much as possible with the 2 minute CD, instead of wasting mana on yourself. Pretty solid for 1 point.

    Inspiration - would like to know the results of your testing.

    Rapid Renewal - I like this talent for the reasons people mentioned they dont like COH anymore. Rapid renew along with COH can mitigate some decent damage now. In cases where spell casting is slowed and raid taking aoe damage, this talent shines with COH. (COH is still weaksauce compared to its former self, as was pointed out).

    Body & Soul - I love it just for the fun factor. This game is fun right?

    COH - oh I miss the days after this spell had just come out. Needs a buff, even if PoH needs a nerf. CoH much more fun.

    Test of Faith - an absolute must imo. Sure you dont want to be using this talent much, but when yuo pop that tank back with 2 spells up after he's down to 25%, it feels good!

    My main question (and how I arrived at this page via google search), was if I had to choose between mental agility and veiled shadows, which do I pick? I don't like cruching the numbers, others usually will eventually, so I appreciate your rough math. I'm a little disappointed that MA beats VS so soundly. I know in a raid setting I love popping fiend early and that 1 minute less would be ideal in some fights. But I suppose over the long grind MA wins out. I suppose I could drop a point in darkness...

    Lets see a link to your specs?

    Heres mine:

  11. @Mordecaii
    Nope I am really disappointed in SoL, I won't use it :P As for Test of Faith I agree that it's a great talent. I just haven't figured where to get that final point from really. Will have to do some tinkering in my tree I suppose. And yeah, I always thought VS would be about as good as MA since the fiend is a great way to regain mana. But if my math is even slightly accurate, reality seems to point in another direction. Right now I've only put 1 tp in VS, and might even move that to ToF. Here's my build when writing this, but I've already respecced like 7 times so...

  12. SoL may not proc that much, but when it does its pure gravy. Free instant heal, and a not so insubstantial one at that. Even if you do not need it as it may not be a oh fudge moment, its a freebie that adds a better kick to your rolling EoL. Not to mention it kicks off serendipity.

    Test of Faith is a win in my book. Boost to healing in a "O shot" moment, pure win. And if its group wide damage or atleast multiple folks that need it, boost to CoH, PoH, PoM, and Renew.

    I agree with Oestrus on the Twin Disc, Mental Agility, and Veiled Shadows. What I dont see as useful to myself and my style of healing is Body and Soul. PW:shield as holy is nto cost effective or strong enough and the speed increase doesnt make me want to grab it. Its a spell that doesnt actually help my actual healing. Again please notice I said my style as I am positive there are multiple ways in which ppl heal, even with the same talent setup.

    If you are looking to save a point, as a point is coveted these days, you may look at Guardian. Oh some would say its the spell that makes holy worth it, but unless I am appointed as a tank healer in a raid setting, its just not used enough to maek the point more valuable there than it could be used somewhere else.

    I also like the 3% haste talent in the shad tree. Heal is the goto spell, and its slower than molasses in November. Sorry for not remembering the name of the talent.

    Desperate prayer is up to the individual. I personally forget about having it even when I had it on my bar in WotLK.

    A quick side not for mental agility...when used in conjuction with Inner Will, we are talking what, 25% reduction as opposed to the 10% from mental agility alone.

    I know this is long, but one last thing...Renew. As Heal is so slow, this is still one of the most used spells in our arsenal, atleast for myself. So Rapid Renewel is not a bad choice, in fact its one of those you may pickup just to move the tree down so to speak. Each tick can crit, it sets of EoL, and its a fire and forget, drop it on the DPS who got singed and move on. With mental agility and Inner Will, its even cheaper.

    I look forward to your conclusions on the contrast between Inner Will and Inner Fire. Sorry again for the wall.

    Solaril - Bloodhoof

  13. @Solaril
    I totally love that people can have so different opinions about a talent like SoL! Some hate it (me), others love it and it makes me feel like Blizzard have really succeeded. I don't think I'm right and your wrong, because as you say it's really up to whether it works with your way of healing or not. If people survive you're doing it right! Oh, and I love walls of text ;)

  14. After reading Modecai's post, sorry I somehow missed it, I woudl ask why are you not taking VS and MA? You get 10 points outside your tree, so you can pick them both up. personally once I get my final talent point I will be running with a 5/30/5 spec. with the Disc being 2 twins, 3 MA. I think the MA man save is better than teh extra 2% to healing, but thats my 10 pennies worth.

    On the Shad side I will be taking both SV and Darkness. Heal is a sickeningly slow spell on its on, so haste becomes like gold...I want to horde it. And VS gives faster Shad fiend. In a protracted fight with HoH being a smaller mana gain,(but useful as it helps others, and lets face it, this is a "team game"). I like to pop SF early, then use Hymn if needed for other healers and myself, then back to SF if needed. Gives a chance for 3 mana boosts in a fight.

    I wont smite as Holy priest so no reason to go past the first tier in Disc.

    Currently I run a 4/30/5 so I am basically running with what I will have anyhow. Mana is your biggest friend AND enemy, so any talent that gives you more or saves you more is a win.

    The arguement I had with myself was whether or not to take a point form Darkness and put it into Twin to fill it, but Haste in Cata is just so much a must, I just could not go with a 2% heal bonus. If that 1% haste makes you cast in time to save the tank or a party member vs an extra 2% health on a are bette roff keeping the tank or DPS up. Dead tank generally means dead group/raid. Dead DPS is does no DPS.

    I am a horrid typer, I know this and my wife gets her laughs watching me type, sorry for the pain of reading my hacked typing job.

    Solaril - Bloodhoof

  15. @Solaril
    Unless wowhead talent calculator is lying, you have to put 31 points in holy, leaving only 9 for the off trees. So you can't get both full VS and MA without sacrificing a point in something else :/ And on something you said earlier, you have to take Guardian to open up the other trees, so you can't save a point there unfortunately

  16. Hmm, you are right that I need 31, but yu actually get 41 points, so I will be 5/31/5.

    Side note, you need 31 points before you can put points in other trees, but you do not need Guardian to be one of them. I am at work and these non WoWing folks block the web sites that allow access to a calculator, but you can armory my toon to see the spec I have. I am curretnly running Guardian-less, and I have Darkness, VT, and MA maxed with I beleive 1 point in Twins.

    Solaril - Bloodhoof

  17. @Solaril
    Yes you're right, you get 10 points for the off trees. And you're right, you don't have to take Guardian, but you do have to place 31 points into Holy before you can go to the off trees. But taking full in both MA and VS still means sacrificing a point in either Darkness or Twin Disciplines. Personally I prefer 3 tp TD, 3 tp MA, 3 tp Darkness and 1 tp VS.
    And no, armory hasn't worked for days for me :( Dunno what's wrong.