Happy Friday, everyone! Boy, this week has flown by. Instead of continuing on with my Personal Cooldowns post series, I’m going to venture forth into dangerous territory- that of the comparison and contrast posts (i.e. using my English major in the works to be somewhat useful.) Before I leap into this head first, I need to put in a disclaimer.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A PRO PLAYER. There is a reason you don’t see me theory crafting. Other people do it WAY better than I possibly could, and honestly? It’s easier to point you in their direction than it is for me to try to replicate their work (you will never catch me copying their work, as plagiarism is the Cardinal Sin of the English Major.) So please remember- this is all from strictly an “I’ve played both specs and here are my thoughts” perspective. I invite- and encourage- you to go out there, do research, play them yourself, and draw your own conclusions. MY WORD IS NOT LAW, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE IT AS SUCH. There is NO substitute for being knowledgeable. My only hopes are to give you a good starting point for your own research and to promote discussion about the subject matter.
That being said, let’s do this.
Now, there is only one class in the game that can boast TWO healing specializations, and that is the Priest.
It gives raid teams with Priests and amazing amount of flexibility, especially if you have more than one (or, if you’re crazy like I am and go Disc/ Holy. Because why DPS?) This post is aimed solely at discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each spec. Yes, they both have them, and it is vitally important that people (all people, especially raiders) understand the differences between the two specs and what they bring to the raid table.
We’ll look at Holy first. Holy has an AMAZING kit in Warlords of Draenor and they are superbly strong healers. There is no niche they cannot fill- they can tank heal, raid heal, and AoE heal with a shocking amount of mana efficiency. But what are the strengths of Holy?
- Echo of Light. EoL is Holy’s Mastery. What it does is every time the Priest puts a heal (or a heal multistrikes) on a player, places a HoT (called Echo of Light) on the target that heals for a base additional 10% of the heal over 10 seconds. This is HUGE, since its basically free healing. Mastery is more healing. How could you go wrong with that?
- Chakras. Holy Priests have a Chakra for everything, but you’re likely only going to see them using two- Chakra: Serenity and Chakra: Sanctuary. And Now, they’re on a 10 seconds CD (instead of 30, thanks to the Enhanced Chakra Perk), so you don’t feel punished for being in the wrong Chakra, allowing you to switch pretty much as necessary.
- Chakra: Serenity will refresh Renew every time you heal the target (as long as Renew is on them.) It changes Holy Word: Chastise to Holy Word: Serenity, which instantly heals the target for 415% of Spell Power and increases your Crit Chance on that target for 6 seconds. This is amazing for tank healing, especially during phases where they will be taking massive spike damage.
- Chakra: Sanctuary will reduce the CD of Circle of Healing by 1 seconds for every heal you cast. It chances HW: Chastise to Holy Word: Sanctuary, which is an AoE heal placed in an area that will heal up to 6 friends for 8.45% of Spell Power every 2 seconds for 30 seconds. Great for stacked AoE healing with Circle of Healing. Plus, people will actually stand in it because it is impossible to confuse with a negative ground effect like poison clouds and such.
- Their raid healing CDs are soooo good. The two big ones I’m talking about are Divine Hymn and Guardian Spirit. I have covered what each of these abilities do in another post, so I won’t bore you by putting them here, but Guardian Spirit WILL save a tank’s life, and there is no such thing as too many raid wide heals.
- Lightwell. Because PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE TO CLICK ON IT ANYMORE. And it is a smartish heal, it targets people below 50% health. Genius.
- Serendipity + Surge of Light (talent). I LOVE Surge of Light for Holy, and that’s because it makes pinch healing a breeze and synergizes with Serendipity, a passive ability of Holy. Serendipity reduces the cast time of Heal or Prayer of Healing by 20% for 20% less mana every time you cast Flash Heal or Binding Heal and can stack twice. Surge of Light grants you a passive 8% chance per heal to make Flash Heal instant cast and cost NO MANA. Its a circle- cast Heal, proc SoL, cast Flash Heal, gain Serendipity, cast reduced Heal, etc. And Surge of Light procs a lot for me, so it makes my heals amazing and super efficient.
- They are straight throughput healers. They perform the best in healing intensive fights.
But, there are some negatives.
- Holy is kind of a jack of all trades. It can do it all, and it does it all pretty well. But you will be out-shined by people who specialize in certain niches. Shaman are almost always going to outdo you in group AoE heal situations, Paladins are just superior tank healers with Beacon of Light, and Resto Druids can spec to be AMAZING at tank, raid, or AoE heals. This is only kind of a bad thing since it really only applies to people who rabidly watch the healing charts, so…
- Chakra: Serenity is generally better than Chakra: Sanctuary. AoE heals are still very expensive and you will blow through shitloads of mana spamming Circle of Healing on CD. That being said, it is your best option during high AoE damage fights.
Now, onto Discipline. Discipline is still a very much viable healing specialization, and is very strong despite the nerfs to Atonement.
- Bubbles are still OP as hell. They are great on fights with low raid damage, tanks ALWAYS appreciate a bubble, and they really shine in situations where you have other healers who can heal them up after you’ve interrupted whatever damage your raid might have been taking- great for saving a life. Because of this, Discipline tends to outperform most healers on mechanic- based fights like Imperator Mar’guk
- Clarity of Will (talent). Even despite the nerf, it is the ONLY talent you should be taking at level 100 for Discipline. It is a cheap bubble, even if it does take long to cast, and absorbs 75% of the priest’s health worth of damage, so it scales, which is nice for things like Kargath’s Impale or Brackenspore’s Necrotic Breath.
- Mastery: Shield Discipline. This is a FLAT healing and damage absorption increase. Stronger shields and stronger heals = greater raid survivability.
- Mana Efficiency. Shields are cheap and have no CD as Discipline. Throw them around. Glyph them to heal people! Save your mana for actual Heals and Flash Heals! It is not unsusal for Discipline priests to be at greater than 50% mana at the end of a fight!
I know it doesn’t seem like Discipline could possibly keep up with Holy, but its kind of shocking how well it does.
But they, too, have their downsides.
- Atonement BLOWS. This is the BIG one. It’s not even worth it to cast Smite, Holy Fire, or Archangel. Sure, Atonement still heals for 100% of the damage done by damaging holy spells, but those spells hit like wet noodles and aren’t worth the mana you spend to cast them anymore.
- Shields do not proc Surge of Light nearly often enough. This only applies if you spec into Surge. I do, but only because I don’t really need Mindbender (except in very rare occasions.) Shields DO proc it, just… not as often as I’d like.
- No HoTs. Most of your heals as Discipline are going to be absorbs, but it would be nice to have just a little HoT.
- Lack of healing CD’s. Power Word: Barrier is still great, but when compared to Guardian Spirit or Divine Hymn, it falls a little flat.
- Clarity of Will. Yes, this is both a strength AND a weakness because it is the ONLY viable choice for Discipline, as Words of Mending is OK at best and Saving Grace is just abysmal for both Holy and Discipline.
So you see, Holy and Discipline are both very good and will serve you well in your raids. And now, you see what they bring and each specialization’s strengths and weaknesses. Go forth, then, and play with both specs! See which one you like, and tell me what you find!
That is it from me for this week, healers! Come back next week, I’ll be continuing the Personal Cooldowns series, plus I have plans for videos in the works about Holy and Discipline How To’s, so keep your eyes on my YouTube channel for that! Have a great weekend and, as always, keep cool and stay angry, healers!