Penance Priest

Discipline Priest Blog

One of the smartest members of the priesthood has done an excellent write-up of how crit and haste play out in practice. Well, in theory. In theoretical practice. Go check it out—Zusterke has done a splendid job of exposing the interlocking mechanics of these two stats.

He's concerned primarily with tank-healing throughput, which is of course what these two stats are all about.

TL;DR? Not sure I want to do this at all, because the article is not that long, and it's very well written. He quickly shows how a balanced profile gives the biggest boost to HPS, but that crit is slightly superior overall. Don't just take this over-simplified conclusion for granted though; his article is very nicely done and a fascinating read. I love good thinking!!

Enjoy, and have a safe & happy new year!

EDIT: As you can see, my comments on T10 were written prior to the changes in March. The new set bonus is massive for 25-man bubble-botting disc priests. The rest of this article is basically irrelevant now :( Except Gentle Giant. They still rock.


We need to start planning our emblem purchases, so it’s time to start looking generally at where the set bonuses will be taking us, what compromises we’ll need to make, and whether or not those compromises are worth it. This is not going to be a complete exposé on the value of the Tier 10 set bonuses, but a broad-stroke look at the cost of going tier. Stay with me, this is long! But hopefully there’s something in here you can chew on; I know the whole issue of gearing up for T10 has been bugging me for a while.

As usual, if you come expecting a single, final, absolute recommendation, you will be bored, disappointed, and end up sending me hate mail. Bail now.

The bonuses

Just for review – here are the T10 set bonuses for healing priests.

(2) Your Flash Heal has a 33% chance to cause the target to heal for 33% of the healed amount over 9 sec.

(4) Your Penance spell has a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Penance spell.

Apparently there was something in there about CoH too, but who gives a hoot about holy anyway? (Lol at you dual-speccing traitors. Shame on you!)

For shield-spamming raid healers

You, my friends, are SoL. (And that’s not Surge of Light.) On a recent jaunt to ICC, I was on shield spam duty for the night, and Flash Heal made up a whopping 2.7% of my overall healing for the night. Obviously, since both the 2-piece and the 4-piece bonuses are tied to Flash Heal (and/or Penance), you certainly won’t want to make any compromises to get the set bonuses, which are basically crap for you. Get whatever gear you want, including tier pieces if you like.

That’s about all there is to say for shield spammers. The tier bonuses are largely irrelevant. But I feel bad, since you came here hoping for a real post. So, as my gift to you, for coming here planning to spend some time reading tons and tons of words, I offer you some music instead. Enjoy this window into 1978 British prog-rock bliss. If my calculations are correct, this was around the time your parents were dating, plus or minus.

This is one of my favorite bands. Consider it a sneak peek at my playlist, which is on whenever I can spare the brain cycles for music while I’m healing. Look up the albums Freehand and Interview for more deliciousness. Yes, they're goofy to watch.

For tank-healing foos

Clearly the bonuses are aimed at tank healers. Both the hot and of course the Penance cooldown reset will be throughput boosts. How beneficial will they be exactly? Hah! You shall not receive the glory of mathematical analysis in this post. Instead of looking at the benefits, we’ll be looking at the opportunity costs of using the tier pieces. For those of you not familiar with the term, “opportunity cost” simply means: what do we give up, relative to getting non-tier BiS gear, to get the tier gear? The actual cost (in emblems, for example) might be the same for tier gear and non-tier gear, but there’s a stat tradeoff that we want to look at carefully.

My own thinking

Treat this as a disclaimer, or as deep thoughts on the matter, or as the ramblings of a lunatic fool. But we all come with our own context: the gear we’re wearing now, the role we’ll be playing, the availability of upgrades, etc. Here’s my context, and how I expect it will affect how I relate to the new tier gear.

First, as you know, I just transferred servers and joined a new guild. How will that affect my role? Who knows. I might be needed more as a shielder than as a tank-healing support healer. So until that’s resolved, I’ll be moving slowly on tier pieces.

Also, I might be raiding as shadow quite a bit more now. Which is fine, I love shadow. And it turns out that several of the shadow tier pieces are BiS for disc as well, although they count as offset from that perspective, since those set bonuses won’t exactly proc on heals.

And, like many of you, I have two pieces of T9. I don’t plan to drop that bonus any time soon! In an ideal world, I’d find a way to have two pieces from each tier.

Lastly: I’m fascinated by the new 4-piece bonus. It’s not clear yet how it will translate in practice, but I love the fun factor of it. It’s a weak version of the other proc-based items they’ve added to the game (Nibelung, Trauma), of which I am a BIG fan. I’m kind of peeved that there isn’t a weapon that summons a healing Val’kyr; that would be just about the biggest win in the game. But you get the idea: the reset on Penance, while not something you’ll be able to rely on, will still be awesome to use. If I’m going to be tank healing, I will try to find a way to make the 4-piece bonus happen. I just like the idea of it, and if it’s not the perfect or absolutely optimal setup, I’m ok with that.

Three sample gearsets

Below are three 5-piece gearsets. They are made of all 264s; nothing higher for now. The first gearset uses four tier pieces plus the BiS item for the fifth piece. I chose offset legs for this experiment, although one could certainly look at gloves, or even the robe as your offset piece. The reason I chose the legs is that they are craftable (and more importantly, purchasable with cash), which means I won’t necessarily have to wait to accumulate additional emblems before getting them crafted. YMMV, of course.

The second gearset uses two tier pieces and three BiS offset pieces. For this set, I picked the two tier pieces with crit (head and shoulders), then picked the best offset pieces for tank healing.

Oh, all the offset pieces are crit/haste. I’m maximizing tank-healing throughput for this experiment.

Lastly (I hope you saw this coming) I created a gearset which ignores tier pieces altogether, and just grabs five BiS pieces. And yes, two of those pieces are shadow tier gear.

Here we go:

You can see the comparison on this Wowhead page, which gives a great presentation of the tradeoffs I’ll be discussing below.

There are lots of debatable choices I just made. For example, why the crit pieces instead of the haste pieces in the 2-piece gearset? Why the offset legs instead of the gloves in the 4-piece gearset? These questions are valid. But for now, as you’ll see, all this is secondary to the main tradeoff we see in this comparison: regen.

What do we lose in order to get the tier gear?

Check out the Wowhead link above for a very nice presentation that I won’t reproduce here.

I’ll start by using the 0-piece BiS gearset as a reference. Going to the 2-piece gearset, we lose 156 haste and 16 crit, but gain 172 spirit. (And, of course, the 2-piece bonus itself.)

Going from the 2-piece gearset to the full 4-piece gearset, we lose another 100 haste, 64 crit, and 25 spell power, but gain 180 spirit (and the 4-piece bonus). (I’ve put red gems into the two extra slots we get, just to keep things simple.)

The full tradeoff from the BiS gearset to the 4-piece gearset is a loss of 256 haste, 80 crit, and 25 spell power, and a gain of 352 spirit, plus the two bonuses.

So returning to the debatable points I just mentioned: no matter how you pick your pieces, the tier gear will give you more spirit, and the BiS offset pieces will give you more throughput stats (crit/haste). The throughput stats can be adjusted towards crit or haste by making adjustments to the gearsets above, but in the end, it’s a tradeoff of throughput versus regen.

I expect this was not a big surprise, now that we look at it. After all, I’m defining “best in slot” as those pieces with maximum throughput stats, and the spirit on the tier gear is most definitely not a throughput stat.

About that regen

Ok, using the BiS gearset loses us 352 spirit that we would have gotten from the tier gear. For my current unbuffed setup (600 spirit, 1400 int), this translates to approximately 100mp5. There are ten gem slots in the BiS gearset (eight slots in the 4-piece gearset). Using a healthy dose of intellect in those slots would not quite make up the difference, but it would make up enough. If you’re stacking throughput stats, you damn-well better have enough mana to make use of all those big & fast heals!

So… go for the BiS gear, lose the spirit, and gem intellect. Not bad…not bad at all.

And the 2-piece

Not known yet whether or not the hot will stack. This matters a bunch. This question should be resolved soon, as enough emblems become available for early-adopters to get this bonus and test it out.

In conclusion

The BiS throughput gear costs you a bunch of regen, which you can (and will probably have to) recover by using int gems. The benefits of the tier bonuses are as yet undetermined. Until we know about the hot stacking, and until we can get a real-world sample of how the 20% Penance reset works for a tank healer in ICC fights, we can’t put pen to paper and come up with the perfect analysis of tier vs. non-tier.

And the real conclusion is that I have no conclusion. I’m stumped. I’d like to have it all! As I said, the 4-piece bonus appeals to me on levels that go beyond pure min-max throughput. But max throughput appeals to me as well, not to mention the fact that gearing up with BiS throughput gear is perfect for shadow play as well. I don’t expect everyone will share my opinions in this matter, and that’s fine. Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought as you make your own way in this early phase of tier 10 gearup.

Well I think I found the guild I was looking for. In theory anyway, and over vent, and armory, all that stuff—anything that you can try to match up “on paper” matches up. So I'm server transfering this week, and we'll see if the “in practice” lines up as well! I have every expectation that it will. I'll give you the details after the dust settles.

Anyway: this quickie post is just to say thank you to my readers, who gave more pointers and invitations to apply than I had expected. You guys are great!! GRRRRREAT!!!!

And unrelated but awesome—here's the YouTube find of the day.

I wasn’t in a real raiding guild in Burning Crusade. We had several weekly Kara groups, and eventually I managed to get some action in ZA, but our forays into 25-main raids were fairly minimal. I always hated the larger raids, not only because (sorry guys) the number of baddies in that guild was pretty darn high, but also because it felt like a huge uncontrolled mess. That was due to the bad players, lack of leadership, not to mention the fact that my computer couldn’t handle so much going on. I’ve since upgraded all of that – a much better computer, a real raiding guild, solid leadership – and found that 25-man raiding can be every bit as solid as 10-man raiding.

With WoLK, Blizzard introduced the notion of parallel raiding tracks for 10-man and 25-man groups. I thought this was brilliant. I envisioned a world where smaller guilds would progress on equal footing (sharing equal pride) with larger guilds, and perhaps partner up if they wanted to do the 25-man versions of content.

It hasn’t entirely worked out that way. Not many players see themselves as 10-man raiders. Which is why I wanted to include Sinespe in this Q&A series. His guild, Fancy Hat Club, is a “strict” 10-man guild, which is a term that GuildOx uses when ranking guild progression. It places clear limits on the type of gear one can be wearing to qualify for their progression chart. I sought his priesty perspective on the 10-man raiding scene, even though he is only a part-time discipline priest (and in fact, he’s written a fantastic guide for shadow priests, not to mention a blog for the dark side, called Anathema). Unfortunately, due to some technicalities regarding alts and 25-man runs, they are currently disqualified from GuildOx’s 10-man strict rankings, but that will be cleared up soon.

One last note: Sinespe speaks a dialect called “Old English.” It’s not his fault, really; he hails from Old England. I’ve tried to make sure he’s understandable through his thick accent.


PP: How long have you been raiding?

Sinespe: I have been raiding since approximately June 2007, when I first hit level 70 with my Forsaken Priest. At the start of my raiding career, I was shadow – and loved it to a fault. My only experience of healing during TBC was in heroics as holy, at which I was terrible for a couple of weeks until I learned to down-rank Greater Heal to ranks 1 and 3 for mana-sustainability. It was there, of course, that I learned to love Prayer of Mending – well, not just there: there's nothing quite like doing 5v5 arenas with two discipline priests, especially when you come up against a DoT class with ADD, who will Curse of Agony everyone and send PrOM flying everywhere.

However, because I was pretty terrible at everything, hating arenas especially because of how often we screwed up, I didn't get much exposure to raid healing until after I re-learned my class. This happened when I made a new priest and re-levelled, and for some reason just realised all the things I'd been doing wrong previously. I started pulling 1.1k DPS on Nalorakk in Frozen Shadoweave-level gear, causing our tanks to panic from how close I came to over-aggroing, and our rogue to fight every second for his top DPS spot; and, on the holy side, I got into the proper groove of exiting the 5-second rule wherever possible, cancel-casting Greater Heal 3 when it wasn't necessary, etc. etc..

My real exposure to discipline healing occurred during 3.0.8; as with TBC, I focused on shadow as my main spec, but I made serious, early efforts to keep my discipline gear on par so that I could dual spec and double my utility. Naturally, with the homogenisation of loot, this was a lot easier than it was in TBC. I loved the emphasis on shields, as well as the beauty of Penance and the familiarity of pre-Black Temple holy healing; the holy tree, meanwhile, has morphed into something completely alien to what I had become accustomed to doing in TBC, so I've left it alone with no real desire to go exploring its mysteries. Furthermore (although this has changed in 3.3 with haste becoming far more important for shadow than it has been up until this point), the itemisation of high-end disc play fits in very nicely with shadow theory: crit/SP gems in yellow sockets enable items such as Merlin's Robe to be usable in both specs, which lowers the overall gear maintenance requirement of each spec. As I say, in 3.3 that has changed and I will have to maintain two different gear sets almost completely; however, I look forward to having two full sets of Tier 10 with the knowledge that I want every single piece.

PP: Wow. Well that about covers it, thank you for coming!

Sinespe: ...

PP: Ok, ok. What level of content are you at now? How many hours per week do you raid?

Sinespe: Fancy Hat Club, raiding eight hours per week, has managed to down Anub'arak on 10-player Heroic, focusing entirely on 10-man raids with minimal gear pollution from the 25-man sector, with 49 attempts remaining. We value every hour and use it to its maximum potential, being able to keep up with guilds who might raid three or four nights a week, thanks to our efficiency. We'll be looking forward to ICC10H.

PP: Do you raid on any other toons? And what have you learned from non-healing roles that assist you on healing duties? Was a priest always your main?

Sinespe: I do have a Blood DPS death knight with whom I run ToC10/25N and other such casual raids with my guild's wide variety of alts, but that's really just a boredom killer. The Blood DK and my role as shadow have one thing in common: insane survivability as a standard part of our DPS. Blood, every 10 seconds or so, regenerates 15% of the user's own health through Death Strike, and shadow has the constant 25%-damage-as-healing stream from VE pouring into me. As a result, I've tried to learn that certain DPS have quite a bit more resilience than healers tend to give them credit for. It's very easy when you watch Grid to see someone's health drop by 75% and think “ohcrapohcrapohcrap”, but they might not die at all within the next 5-10 seconds because the danger of further damage might not be present.

And, yes, I have most definitely been a priest all my life. It is the only class I have ever raised to the level cap from level 1 – death knights skip all the horror of Vanilla levelling, so they get around the requirement for me to be in love with them in order to level them. I do have to be in love with my class to haul it through the poorly designed mess that is 1-58 Vanilla questlines.

PP: How much time do you spend healing versus shadow?

Sinespe: Since shadow is my main-spec, I spend more time in shadowform than I do throwing bubbles and balls of light around. However, I would say that the split is closer to healing 40 : 60 shadow than, say, 25 : 75. My role becomes more fluid as we start farming content rather than training content. I anticipate that I will be in shadowform for 90-100% of my time in Icecrown Citadel, perhaps healing in the last week before a new wing gets opened up if it is required of me to do so. Ultimately, I like to get a feel for an encounter as a DPS before considering that I'll be good to heal it. I'm good at discipline, but it is not yet as instinctual as my ability to DPS.

PP: Your favorite raid? (Before it was on farm status.)

Sinespe: Ulduar, without a doubt, but Black Temple comes in a close second. I was still a scrub when I was raiding Black Temple, but the fights were really well-designed. I went there recently and heard Mother Shahraz's spine-chilling voiceover without the hectic noises of 24 other people casting spells. Ulduar has so much depth: the encounters, in general, are well-designed and the graphics show a lot of polish. The best thing about Ulduar while training it was the ability to choose a completely different progression route from one week to the next. One week you might want to work on Vezax and Yogg, so you'd rush through FL+0, Trinketscale, and all the non-optional bosses, clearing the keepers quickly; another, you might want to work on a specific keeper or Iron Council, so you wouldn't even go into The Descent into Madness.

PP: Why do you raid in a 10-man guild? What are the unique challenges or opportunities?

Sinespe: I raid 10-man for a number of reasons, but the chief one is that I feel lost in a group of 24 other people. I very briefly (i.e., a single raid) raided Ulduar alongside a good friend of mine, Zicon/Isolde, in her 25N guild on the Quel'Thalas-EU server. I did something I very rarely do: I died. This was on Mimiron: he lag-bugged when he targeted me with his Spinning Up attack. This caused him to turn anti-clockwise while I was moving anti-clockwise to avoid the incoming beams, meaning not only that it was impossible for me not to get hit by the beams but that I also took a few people down with me. Naturally, they killed him without me needing to be alive. That's what I didn't particularly like, and what I mean about feeling “lost”: it felt like if I screwed up it didn't matter so much because one death in 10-man is worth 2.5 in 25-man. The other “lost” feeling comes on the social side of things: in FHC I'm one voice in 10 rather than one voice in 25.

PP: How do you feel Blizzard has done in creating a satisfying 10-man raiding game?

Sinespe: WotLK is the first time they've attempted to do this, and they've been trying various different ways of implementing it – I think it's too early to declare it a success or a failure. I am very glad that they implemented it all the way up to ICC. That's as much as anyone should be able to expect for one expansion, and I think there will be greater things to come with Cataclysm and the Guild Levelling system – there's a lot of scope for 10-man raiding in the future.

PP: The notion of 10-man strict is not a Blizzard creation. Do you get respect from 25-man guilds for the progression you’ve made?

Sinespe: Well...I would actually disagree with the statement that 10-man strict is not a Blizzard creation. It is not enforced by Blizzard in the same way that it is by GuildOx, but it is certainly encouraged with and recognised by achievements such as Herald of the Titans and Tribute to Dedicated Insanity. The “strict” paradigm as it stands with regards to gear restriction is certainly a GuildOx creation, though, and I think Blizzard does need to implement some kind of deterrent for hardcore 10-man guilds not to pollute themselves with 25-man gear. Just to pull an example out of thin-air, a way to do this would be to force raiders to accomplish the “Glory of the Icecrown Raider (10-player)” drake-yielding achievements under Herald/Dedicated Insanity conditions. Out-gearing the 10-man version of the raid is a serious problem for a number of reasons, although I don't wish to pre-empt my answer to the next question.

My thought about 10-man strict can be summarised thus: Blizzard encourages it when they should restrict it by such things as the Herald idea suggested above; GuildOx doesn't do enough to restrict it in terms of building up a progression table. It is unfair, for instance, that a 10-man strict guild has the potential to be usurped on the rankings by a guild who, until 3.3, decided to run ToC25N, but after 3.3 chooses to do 10N/H raids only. GuildOx relaxes the rules on previous tiers of content far too soon. Once more, I pre-empt a question here by evoking the example of ToC10 trinkets being appalling compared to their 25-man counterparts – yet, until a 25-man guild exempts itself from the 10-man Icecrown listings by clearing the 25-man content, it will be listed as a “strict” 10-man guild, with all its 25-man trinkets and other gear.

Within my own guild, I'm hoping that the 10-man strict paradigm will be followed more seriously in 3.3. As I said earlier, we have self-disqualified from it purely because we have alts in FHC who run ToC25 – even though they don't run with the main 10-man team and have no ToGC10 experience at all, they cause us to be disqualified from a listing which will remain disregarded as a serious progression table unless the 10-man raiders themselves make a conscious effort to make themselves noticed and competitive. So, to anyone in my guild reading this: please do consider the setting up of a <Fancy Alt Club> or something, so that our guild's armoury page doesn't get polluted in 3.3 with irrelevant 25-man kills.

PP: Does it bother you to see 25-man raiders talking about how easy 10-man raids are…even hard modes?

Sinespe: Yes, it does bother me, because it's not true. It is a myth which has hung around from TBC when 25-man was the only progression path available to anyone who wants to get media exposure within the WoW community – and before that, in Vanilla, it was the same with 40-man guilds. 10-man raids are easier only in the sense that they can be out-geared if you run 25-mans. ToGC10, for instance, is tuned around the premise that it is challenging but possible (that is, after all, the definition of cutting-edge content) in approximately 70% 232 gear and 30% 245 gear. If you're raiding ToC25/ToGC25, however, your gear makeup is more likely to be 40% 232/60% 245, or even more over-geared than that. The problem with evoking ToGC10, I should note, is the fiasco with trophies only being available at the end of the damn instance in ToGC10 instead of dropping off each boss (à la conquest emblems from Ulduar-10H bosses) – an issue which Blizzard themselves has admitted was a mistake; so, hopefully, we'll see Tier10.264 turn-in tokens dropping from Lord Marrowgar-10H, not from a chest after killing Arthas-10H.

I fear, however, that this is one of these issues which is only provable if/when a blue poster comes out to say, “We tune 10-heroic fights to be proportionally difficult compared to 25-heroic: they are as hard as each other unless you out-gear them.” Until we get a definitive answer like that, among other things that Blizzard could do for us, we'll be second-class raiders.

PP: Many people claim that the game is harder for 10-man guilds. Fights like Sartharion 3-drakes (pre-zerg) had far less room for error than they do on 25-man. And until the recent addition of drums, you were less likely to have a full set of raid buffs.

Sinespe: Sartharion+3 10-man was a bit of an aberration in terms of difficulty. If you were in full-213 gear with no 226 pieces, it's very unlikely that you'd be able to complete it. Herald/Dedicated are extremely difficult, but I'd say Sartharion+3 10 was nearly impossible. After the initial fiasco of Ulduar-10 scaling to 25-man values, everything balanced out somewhat. In terms of encounter tuning, ToGC10 has been very decent. With another raid night per week, we'd have Insanity by now, without question, but not without some serious toil. In short, Blizzard is getting better with the way they're tuning 10-mans as the expansion goes on and it bodes well for the future in that respect.

PP: Do you find that, other than the obvious incremental benefit you’d get from slightly higher-level gear, that you are being left out of some fun or exciting gearing opportunities? Ulduar 10-man trinkets were verygood. In ToC, you have one 10-man trinket that’s sharded more often than it’s equipped (sorry!), and one 25-man trinket that’s overpowered.

Sinespe: It has felt like Blizzard has given more than just an extra tier level to 25-man raiders. However, I will admit that from a discipline perspective it hasn't been all doom and gloom on the trinket front. Those Ulduar trinkets, along with the Talisman of Resurgence, provide a good pool of BiS slot items for discipline – they make Solace seem not so much of a huge loss: we don't need Solace to get by in a 10-man setting. On the DPS side of things, however, things are pretty grim. If I were to make a BiS list of items from purely 10-man loot lists, Broodmother would be top of the list and then Abyssal Rune / Sundial of the Exiled, a heroic-accessible trinket, would be below it. There just haven't been many decent options at all. Really – who designs a spellcaster DPS trinket without putting spell power somewhere on it? The ToC10 trinket designer needs to have unpleasant things done to him; and it's a bit of an insult that our 10-man ICC trinket is just a re-hash of something that 25-man raiders have had access to since 3.0.8. It's not a bad trinket – not at all – but it shows a distinct lack of imagination or ingenuity.

Similarly, we don't have any legendary items. Blizzard has said that legendaries are a 25-man only thing for the time-being, but why? 25N is easier than 10H, but 25N gets access to Val'anyr and Shadowmourne? What did casual 25ers to do deserve that treatment that hardcore 10ers didn't do? Form a larger group of people? Irrelevant, surely. Where legendaries are concerned, it should be difficulty that determines worthiness, not number of people with whom to compete over the item and cause guild drama. I would like to see 10-man-H raiding get something unique in terms of loot, not just in terms of Herald/Insanity achievements.

PP: You can make one change to the discipline priest. It can be talents, mechanics, cooldowns, you name it, but keep it reasonable.

Sinespe: New Talent: Reflection of Piety. 20% of base mana. Instant: Your target receives the buff Confession, which lasts for 90 seconds. 60% of the healing of your Penance spell is applied also to the confessing raid member.

Very simply, it is a weak form of Beacon of Light. I don't at all think that our tank healing is bad. But, especially in the 10-man raiding scene, and especially in ToGC, paladins are able to out-perform us to such a huge degree that they pretty much break Anub'arak-H as an encounter: They are the reason why 2-heal 6-DPS is even possible on 10-man: because you can leave both tanks to be healed purely by the paladin and have your discipline priest focus on Pen Cold with super-fast shields and Flash Heals. It would boost our tank healing in a minor way: 8 seconds would not seem like such a long cooldown for Penance.

It's also an excuse to see Penance's animation bounce from one raid member to another. Penance has a gorgeous animation.

PP: What was your proudest or most memorable moment in your career? It doesn’t need to be a guild event or boss kill; it can be something personal, solo or in a pug.

Sinespe: I can't recall one specific time, but I feel proud every time I out-perform someone, either healing or DPSing, when, on paper, I shouldn't be able to do so because of gear difference, guild reputation or unfavourable encounter mechanics. I love being the underdog, and I love discrediting the opinions of pseudo-elitist gearscore followers – as anyone who has read my blog knows. I still need to get my BiS blue list together and get into a Naxx25 raid to show that it's possible to pull 4k DPS through sheer skill.

My most recent victory is detailed in my blog. Hybrid power.

PP: Overall, what is your experience of the discipline priest community?

Sinespe: This is a bit of a generalisation, but it seems to me that discipline priests fall into two categories: People who get it, and people who don't. The people who don't get it are not necessarily the people who cannot perform, but they are the people who complain that we don't heal as well as a paladin, or that we get schooled on the healing meters at every turn ... They forget that, while we might be a different kind of healing priest, we're still a priest: we're supposed to fill multiple roles. “Jack of all trades” still applies, even if “master of none” does not. The people who do get it are the people who wouldn't want to heal any other way – or the people who are dual-specced disc/holy.

PP: Well, I said it before, but this time I really mean it! Thanks very much for your time.

I’m looking for a new server. If you have a slot for a disc priest, or know of someone who does, please holler! Here’s what I’m looking for, although nothing is set in stone:

  • Raid days: 3-day raiding schedule, 5-day attitude.
  • Raid times: I’m an east coaster, so raid times would have to work for my evenings.
  • Server: Transfer expected.
  • Faction: I won’t say never to Horde. But it would be hard to imagine.

Best way to get in touch is via in-game email.

Just a note that the ICC gear list has been updated. Head over there for details.

The 3.2 list remains relevant if you aren't fully 245+ geared yet, so head there for details on the ToC loot options (and for my thoughts on gear lists in general).

While I don't include hit gear in the list, I have included the shadow T10 gear, as several pieces have haste and crit on them. Obviously, choosing shadow tier gear will prevent you from getting the 4-piece healing bonus. How you relate to that is up to you...perhaps the subject of a future post. (Thx to jedimax for the tip!)

And if you're new here: this list isn't designed to explain how to choose your gear. For my thoughts on gearup plans, stats for disc priests, and enough words to make a nice tossed salad with, have a look here (for tank healers) and here (for raid healers).


Head | Neck | Shoulders | Back | Chest | Wrist | Hands | Waist | Legs | Feet
Ring | Staff | MH | OH | Wand | Trinket



Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Hood (Tier 10, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Hood (Tier 10, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Hood (Tier 10, 251)

Corp'rethar Ceremonial Crown (Gunship 25h, 277)
Corp'rethar Ceremonial Crown (Gunship 25, 264)


Thaumaturge's Crackling Cowl (Saurfang 10h, 264)
Thaumaturge's Crackling Cowl (Saurfang 10, 251)


Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Cowl (Tier 10 shadow, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Cowl (Tier 10 shadow, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Cowl (Tier 10 shadow, 251)

Cowl of Malefic Repose (Lana'thel 10h, 264)
Cowl of Malefic Repose (Lana'thel 10, 251)



Holiday's Grace (Festergut 25h, 277)
Holiday's Grace (Festergut 25, 264)
Choker of Filthy Diamonds (Rotface 10h, 264)
Choker of Filthy Diamonds (Rotface 10, 251)


Bone Sentinel's Amulet (Marrowgar 25h, 277)
Bone Sentinel's Amulet (Marrowgar 25, 264)


Blood Queen's Crimson Choker (Lana'thel 25h, 277)
Blood Queen's Crimson Choker (Lana'thel 25, 264)
Soulcleave Pendant (Saurfang 10h, 264)
Soulcleave Pendant (Saurfang 10, 251)
Arcane Loops of Anger (Devourer of Souls Heroic 5, 232)



Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Shoulderpads (Tier 10, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Shoulderpads (Tier 10, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Shoulderpads (Tier 10, 251)

Stiffened Corpse Shoulderpads (Trash 25, 264) (BoE)
Bloodstained Surgeon's Shoulderguards (Festergut 10h, 264)
Bloodstained Surgeon's Shoulderguards (Festergut 10, 251)




Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Mantle (Tier 10 shadow, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Mantle (Tier 10 shadow, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Mantle (Tier 10 shadow, 251)



Volde's Cloak of the Night Sky (Emblems, 264)
Drape of the Violet Tower (Emblems, 264)


Greatcloak of the Turned Champion (Saurfang 25h, 277)
Greatcloak of the Turned Champion (Saurfang 25, 264)


Frostbinder's Shredded Cape (Valithria 25h, 277)
Frostbinder's Shredded Cape (Valithria 25, 264)



Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Robe (Tier 10, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Robe (Tier 10, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Robe (Tier 10, 251)

Ermine Coronation Robes (Emblems, 264)

Mord'rethar Robes (Devourer of Souls Heroic 5, 232)


Sanguine Silk Robes (Blood Princes 25h, 277)
Sanguine Silk Robes (Blood Princes 25, 264)
Bloodsoul Raiment (Blood Princes 10h, 264)
Bloodsoul Raiment (Blood Princes 10, 251)


Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Raiments (Tier 10 shadow, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Raiments (Tier 10 shadow, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Raiments (Tier 10 shadow, 251)

Meteor Chaser's Raiment (Emblems, 264)
Robes of Azure Downfall (Sindragosa 10, 251)
Robes of Azure Downfall (Sindragosa 10, 251)



Death Surgeon's Sleeves (Rotface 25h, 277)
Death Surgeon's Sleeves (Rotface 25, 264)
Bracers of Dark Blessings (Deathwhisper 10h, 264)
Bracers of Dark Blessings (Deathwhisper 10, 251)







Gloves of Ambivalence (Emblems, 264)


Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Gloves (Tier 10, 277)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Gloves (Tier 10, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Gloves (Tier 10, 251)

San'layn Ritualist Gloves (Blood Princes 25h, 277)
San'layn Ritualist Gloves (Blood Princes 25, 264)
Gloves of Broken Fingers (Rotface 10h, 264)
Gloves of Broken Fingers (Rotface 10, 251)


Gloves of False Gestures (Emblems, 264)



Lingering Illness (Festergut 25h, 277)
Lingering Illness (Festergut 25, 264)


Circle of Ossus (Emblems, 264)
Cord of the Patronizing Practitioner (Marrowgar 10h, 264)
Cord of the Patronizing Practitioner (Marrowgar 10, 251)


Crushing Coldwraith Belt (Marrowgar 25h, 277)
Crushing Coldwraith Belt (Marrowgar 25, 264)
Cauterized Cord (Putricide 10h, 264)
Cauterized Cord (Putricide 10, 251)
Strip of Remorse (Lich King Heroic 5, 232)



Lightweave Leggings (Crafted, 264)
Leggings of the Refracted Mind (Valithria 10h, 264)
Leggings of the Refracted Mind (Valithria 10, 251)


Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Leggings (Tier 10, 264)
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte Leggings (Tier 10, 264)
Crimson Acolyte Leggings (Tier 10, 251)


Leggings of Woven Death (Crafted, 264)
Kilt of Untreated Wounds (Festergut 10h, 264)
Kilt of Untreated Wounds (Festergut 10, 251)



Sandals of Consecration (Crafted, 264)
Pale Corpse Boots (Blood Princes 10h, 264)
Pale Corpse Boots (Blood Princes 10, 251)




Plague Scientist's Boots (Festergut 25h, 277)
Plague Scientist's Boots (Festergut 25, 264)



Ring of Maddening Whispers (Deathwhisper 25h, 277)
Incarnadine Band of Mending (Blood Princes 25h, 277)
Ring of Maddening Whispers (Deathwhisper 25, 264)
Incarnadine Band of Mending (Blood Princes 25, 264)


Marrowgar's Frigid Eye (Marrowgar 25h, 277)
Memory of Malygos (Sindragosa 25h, 277)
Marrowgar's Frigid Eye (Marrowgar 25, 264)
Memory of Malygos (Sindragosa 25, 264)
Signet of Putrefaction (Festergut 10h, 264)
Signet of Putrefaction (Festergut 10, 251)

Ashen Band of Endless Wisdom (Rep reward, 277)
Ashen Band of Unmatched Wisdom (Rep reward, 268)
Ashen Band of Greater Wisdom (Rep reward, 259)
Ashen Band of Wisdom (Rep reward, 251)


Ring of Rapid Ascent (Gunship 25h, 277)
Ring of Rapid Ascent (Gunship 25, 264)
Cerise Coiled Ring (Blood Princes 10h, 264)
Cerise Coiled Ring (Blood Princes 10, 251)





Archus, Greatstaff of Antonidas (Lich King 25h, 284)
Dying Light (Lana'thel 25h, 277)
Archus, Greatstaff of Antonidas (Lich King 25, 271)
Dying Light (Lana'thel 25, 264)
Mag'hari Chieftain's Staff (Saurfang 10h, 264)
Mag'hari Chieftain's Staff (Saurfang 10, 251)

(or neither!)

Nibelung (Deathwhisper 25h, 277) (Proc, DPS)
Halion, Staff of Forgotten Love (Lich King 10h, 271)
Nibelung (Deathwhisper 25, 264) (Proc, DPS)
Halion, Staff of Forgotten Love (Lich King 10, 258)

Main Hand


Frozen Bonespike (Marrowgar 25h, 277)
Valius, Gavel of the Lightbringer (Lich King 10h, 271)
Frozen Bonespike (Marrowgar 25, 264)
Valius, Gavel of the Lightbringer (Lich King 10, 258)


Midnight Sun (Gunship 10h, 264)
Lockjaw (Rotface 10h, 264)
Midnight Sun (Gunship 10, 251)
Lockjaw (Rotface 10, 251)

Both (or neither!)

Royal Scepter of Terenas II (Lich King 25, 284)
Trauma (Rotface 25h, 277) (Proc)
Royal Scepter of Terenas II (Lich King 25, 271)
Tel'thas, Dagger of the Blood King (Lich King 10h, 271)
Trauma (Rotface 25, 264) (Proc)
Tel'thas, Dagger of the Blood King (Lich King 10, 258)
Hammer of Purified Flame (Quel'dalar quest chain, 251)





Sundial of Eternal Dusk (Valithria 25h, 277)
Sundial of Eternal Dusk (Valithria 25, 264)


Shadow Silk Spindle (Blood Princes 25h, 277)
Shadow Silk Spindle (Blood Princes 25, 264)
Shriveled Heart (Halls of Reflection Heroic 5, 232)



Nightmare Ender (Valithria 25h, 277)
Nightmare Ender (Valithria 25, 264)
Lana'thel's Bloody Nail (Lana'thel 10h, 264)
Lana'thel's Bloody Nail (Lana'thel 10, 251)




Corpse-Impaling Spike (Rotface 25h, 264)
Corpse-Impaling Spike (Rotface 25, 264)


Althor's Abacus (Gunship 25h, 277)
Bauble of True Blood (Lana'thel 25h, 264)

Althor's Abacus (Gunship 25, 264)
Bauble of True Blood (Lana'thel 25, 264)
Purified Lunar Dust (Emblems, 264)
Muradin's Spyglass (Gunship 10h, 264) (and no, this isn't really a healing trinket!)

Muradin's Spyglass (Gunship 10, 251) (just for fun, please!)
Sliver of Pure Ice (Marrowgar 10, 251)
Ephemeral Snowflake (Marwyn Heroic 5, 232) (widely acknowledged to be a waste of bag space...shard it now!)
Nevermelting Ice Crystal (Tyrannus Heroic 5, 232)

I first met Matron on the Plusheal forums. I believe it was in a heated debate about the viability of Greater Heal for tank-healing discipline priests. I was only a provocateur, but he was debating with gusto against some staunchly anti-GH forces, and doing it calmly, articulately, and convincingly. I was impressed, and continued to pay attention to his posts on that site. After I posted my article on stats for tank healers, he PM’d me, asking if he could quote my blog in his rebuttal, to be posted in an undisclosed location, perhaps public and perhaps not. This made me both eager for dialogue and nervous as hell.  When he failed to make good, I took it upon myself to write the article I suspected he wanted to write himself, on intellect for disc priests.

So, the inaugural entry in this Q&A series belongs to Matron. He’s not only a world-class discipline priest, but he is the guild leader of Ladies of Destiny, an endgame progression guild on Scarlet Crusade. He is also one of the authors of the new LoDBlog, which offers an endgame perspective on current raid and class mechanics.


PP: How long have you been raiding?

Matron: I’ve been raiding with LoD since summer 2005. We started in ZG, which served as a great introductory raid. I’ve raided seriously as almost every spec imaginable, even holy dps in Vanilla WoW.

PP: What level of content are you at now? Do you normally raid at the edge of progression? How many hours per week do you raid?

Matron: We’ve cleared ToGC 25 man, so we’re focusing on clearing with 50 attempts left and waiting on ICC. LoD didn’t start as a progression, or even raiding, guild but over the course of time we’ve built ourselves into an endgame progression guild. We’re not competing for World Firsts or anything like that, but we’re consistently raiding the most difficult content that the game has to offer. We’re scheduled for 4 nights of raiding, 16 hours total, but with the new limits on attempts being introduced and the general lack of new content it becomes a challenge to fill those hours. One thing we've started to do is to run two regular ToC 25 runs each week, splitting mains between the two runs, for more chances at weapon/trinkets so that everyone can be in BiS for ICC.

PP: Do you lead raids? How does that affect your healing during a raid?

Matron: Yes I’m the raid and guild leader of LoD, leading our 25 man raids. I’d like to say that leading doesn’t hurt my personal healing, but it certainly does. Any time you have to concentrate on anything but your main role in an encounter it’s going to hurt your performance. Directing the action and pushing your personal performance will always be in conflict.

On the other hand leading a raid does force you to pay attention to everything, meaning that you know when and where everyone will be at all times. This greatly helps anticipatory healing, which is the major strength of the disc spec. Because I’m the person that tells people to go into the Yogg brain room I know exactly which ten people to make sure have PWS on them at those times. This raid awareness extends to runs that I’m not leading, such as some of our 10 man endeavors or even PuGs. In those runs, without having to lead, I’m able to really push my performance, in part because of my experience leading other raids.

It’s a mixed bag really.

PP: Name some of your favorite fights to heal. They don’t have to be from current content.

Matron: Chromaggus – The 2nd to last boss in BWL. I found healing in Vanilla WoW a lot more interesting because of down ranking. All of your spells were similar in effect, single target heals, but varied in mana cost and amount healed. I had 7 single target heals on my bar (2 ranks of Flash Heals, 2 Heals, 3 Greater Heals). Chromaggus was a looong encounter, on the verge of 10 minutes, and he had so many abilities that you couldn’t settle into simply spamming one size heal. There were enrages, frenzies, and breathes that forced you to ramp up your healing at various times. However you had to find a balance where you would be able to keep the tank alive, but also maintain mana over a long encounter. I really enjoyed a straight stand still fight where mana management, heal selection, heal canceling and oo5sr regen were the important components. Now most fights are one flavor or another of “don’t stand in fire” and all the heals are “one rank fits all.”

PP: Your favorite raid?

Matron: My favorite instance of all time was ZG. Back in the early days of WoW, guilds weren’t as organized with recruiting or set schedules. We’d just have people online each night and everyone was really excited to work together on this new instance. Because it was everyone’s first raid we all learned the game and our classes together. ZG had some interesting boss mechanics and an awesome jungle/troll atmosphere. I remember every first kill in ZG feeling like a holiday. I wonder if people have the same “first raid” feeling, now with Naxx or Ulduar completely changing the way they look at the game. ZG and the people I met when I first starting raiding, are probably most responsible for my love of WoW.

PP: Your meta gem. Have you tried others?

Matron: I’m currently using ESD, but, I actually think IED is a lot stronger choice for a meta gem. At the time I socketed +25 SP / +2% intellect I was using dual intellect trinkets and really wanted to see how high I could push my mana. When I upgrade to my next helm (the 258 T9) I’ll go back to 21 int and mana regen.

PP: Do you change glyphs for certain fights? Do you change gear?

Matron: I haven’t changed glyphs in a long while. Disc choices are very limited. I change gear more for HP reasons than any other. For heroic Twins + Faction Champions I sometimes equip some extra stamina gear to give myself wiggle room; when attempting to clear with 50 attempts left in ToGC any death is a bad death.

Swapping gear when speccing holy or disc works sometimes, but only if you have two pieces which are equal ilvl and very specific for each spec. In ToC there really isn’t a huge selection of gear, so often times your ToC gear is BiS for both specs. There are only a few slots where you can drop spirit to pick up a second throughput (crit/haste) or disc friendly stat, gloves off Anub > T9 gloves for example.

PP: Renew? Greater Heal?

Matron: Renew when I’m tank healing, though it’s hardly a priority.

Greater Heal, hell yes! People like to think that flash heal has destroyed GH’s viability. Nothing is further from the truth. GH, when specced for it (which I am), is more HPS and better HPM than FH. I think it’s a HUGE mistake for priests to ignore the GH talents if you’re attempting hard modes. Algalon, Anub, Thorim, Council, and I can only assume a few ICC encounters have very hard hitting tank damage. People like to say that FH is just so much faster and easier to use, but GH gets hasted down with borrowed time to a very reasonable cast time, sub 1.8s. A lot of spells make you choose between HPS and HPM, GH beats FH in both. I could do paragraphs on greater heal…

PP: Do you heal as holy, or full-time discipline?

Matron: I used to swap back and forth per encounter, back before I realized that disc was such a valuable raid healing/absorption spec. Now I’d only switch if another disc priest was in the raid and we were bumping WS debuffs too much.

Discipline is such a strong raid healing spec, every raid’s first priest should be disc.

PP: How do you evaluate a new discipline priest?

Matron: Healers are always tough to judge, because your output is dependent on your raid group. A DPSer will do the same dps in one raid as another, but a healer in a bad group is going to look a lot better than a healer in a good group. Until you’re healing against the people you’re trying out with, meters and logs don’t mean much (though you should be topping your guild's meters before you apply elsewhere).

Disc is especially difficult to evaluate, because the effectiveness of each disc priest is reduced when another disc priest is added to the raid. So having two disc priests joust for PWS applications doesn’t really show you the maximum output of either one. Basically, if I were recruiting a disc priest, I’d let them be the only disc priest and I’d check to see that they were beating the other healers in HPS (counting shields). I know that no meter shows shields exactly, but you can get a good idea from them. A disc priest SHOULD be competitive in combined HPS with other healers.

PP: Do you do all of your own theorycrafting? If so, where (if anywhere) do you share it? And where else do you look for good information or suggestions?

Matron: I suppose you could say I do most of my own theorycrafting, most of it is simple math that any high school student could do. Obviously I’m often helped when people share experiences or new findings. But a lot of experiments you can do on your own. EJ is the most valuable resource, and has been for some time, but that’s not really easy reading for most people. Since the summer I’ve been trying to right some misconceptions on the plusheal forums, having long arguments about the value of meters, HPS, and GH. Most of my recent theorycraft comes from those discussions.

PP: Overall, what is your experience of the discipline priest community?

Matron: Well, I think that you have all types within the community. I’ll say that I have been surprised by a few things, most notably how many people have limited experience or success with raiding yet still preach their methods as gospel. To me, that’s a dangerous situation. Someone asking a question might not know which person to listen to and if the “bad ideas” get repeated often enough people start to believe them.

Phrases such as “GH is too slow,” “The extra healing from GH compared to FH isn’t needed,” “Disc priests are for single target healing,” “If you never go oom then it’s time to stack SP” are all easy for starting players to latch on to and accept as “truths.” But they hurt their development as players and probably doom them to a certain level of raiding for the rest of their careers.

This isn’t the new player’s fault, it’s difficult to navigate the jungle of advice and pick out the pearls of wisdom.

Sometimes those pearls are a little too complex for a newer player and they need an easier to digest message, with accurate information. Even though a lot of the bloggers/posters in the community might not have the experience, I think many do a good job of finding that good advice and presenting it in a “noob-friendly” manner.

I’d think the ultimate goal would be a platform where smart, accurate information was presented in a way everyone could understand. I’m not sure we’re quite there yet, but I see people working towards that. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve launched LoDBlog.

My ultimate pet-peeve is the person that uses the excuse, “Well my way works fine for the content I’m doing.” That may be true, but I think the majority of people searching for this information want to be the best they can be and not just “good enough.” This person effectively wants to put an end to the discussion for no other reason than sheer laziness.

PP: And from left field…You’re stranded on a desert island with an undead rogue you’ve never met. Fight to the death, or partner up despite the communication barrier?

Matron: They’re a rogue! Screw the communication barrier, if you think that’d be my biggest problem with him then you’ve never pvped as a priest! I’d kill a human rogue too! Well… unless there was a desert island 2v2 bracket, then maybe we’d talk.

PP: Thank you very much for taking the time!

Here's a quickie tour of the place. Please don't cross the velvet ropes; there are stealthed rogues afoot. Private tours can be arranged for a price, including afternoon coffee with the blogger.

Stats & gear selection

The ABC of Discipline Priesting
Stats for tank healers / Stats for raid healers
Gear list for 3.3 / Thoughts on Tier 10 (outdated!)
Gear list for 3.2 / Notes on the gear list
Stat balancing in the real world (old)

User interface

Power infusion macro
Information dashboard Part 1 (buffs & debuffs) / Part 2 (cooldowns)
Healing Kel'Thuzad (setting up raid frames for custom debuffs)
Stealth inspection

Philosophy & game mechanics

Wow-heroes & gear scores / Part 2
Right & wrong ways to play

I love this game

8-man Naxx
Happy birthday to Penance
I love teamwork & progression

About me

Healing web ring questionnaire

An interesting array of cultural factors aligned in the 1990s. As baby boomers were entering their 50s, they were experiencing mid-life crises in large numbers and with large bank accounts. Boomers were ready and willing to part with a lot of money to alleviate the nagging ache that invades the spirit as one grows older. The ache that says, “I haven’t lived up to the expectations I set for myself when I was younger…there’s so much more to do!”

Additionally, the 90s saw the advent of eco-tourism and adventure tourism. With the number of untouched wild areas dwindling, the Australian Outback and South American rainforests were becoming more and more popular. For many people, vacationing in Paris or Tuscany started to hold little pull compared to the more raw emotional experience of the wild.

One type of adventure tour that emerged in the 90s was the Everest climb. The way to the top had been well mapped…not only the actual routes up the mountain, but the process of acclimation to the thin air and biting cold. It remained a dangerous and sometimes deadly climb, but the perils were more predictable and preventable than ever before.

Tour guides – people who were themselves highly trained, very experienced climbers – began offering the thrill of a lifetime. For around $60k (plus travel and equipment, of course), you could essentially be carried to the Top of the World. Everest was no longer the exclusive domain of the most trained, elite, risk-seeking mountaineers.

The process has a built-in ready-check. Most humans are not built to deal with the trivial amount of oxygen in the high mountains, nor with the trivial amount of heat in the air. So climbers spend weeks at Base Camp, which is actually at 17000 feet above sea level, doing little but letting their bodies adjust to the extreme conditions and taking occasional forays to higher altitudes. (The summit is over 29000 feet.) Not everyone is suited to this process, let alone to the final, intense hike to the top. Those who are physically able to endure the conditions do so with the assistance of the very best gear, large support crews, and a generous dose of supplementary oxygen.

Early explorers, of course, traveled under a very different set of circumstances. Sir Edmund Hillary wore winter clothes that look to our modern eyes as scarily insufficient. He had guts though, and he failed multiple times before he finally succeeded in his historic ascent.

In 1996, everything went wrong. Two tour guides and six of their customers died on the mountain. A combination of bad luck, bad judgment, and raw arrogance brought the experiment in paid summiting to a devastating halt. No amount of money or gear was enough to secure the safety of those involved. The two tour guides died trying to save their customers’ lives. The inexperience and arrogance of their paying customers was just too much weight for them to carry.

I find myself fascinated by this type of arrogance and its results. We all have it, we all act on it, we all create some form of repercussions because of our own hubris. This was obviously an extreme example, with deadly results. But what about in our little corner of the world, where the price paid for shortcutting is virtual?

We all know that in this patch especially, gear is free for the taking, no raiding required. Which means no learning required. You can be geared in 245 without ever having made a mistake severe enough to wipe a raid. Messing up that badly is a very real learning experience. Wiping in a heroic is not. It’s why the Everest tour guides were tour guides: they learned through hard work and mistakes, in real and challenging situations, not just on indoor rock-climbing equipment.

I’m very much in favor of the gearing shortcuts that have been implemented in 3.2. The thing is, farming (or buying) cheap epics is not a substitute for learning. You can be a well-geared failure but still be proud of your accomplishments (i.e., purples), never realizing that you earned nothing.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. On my DK, I have something like 100 heroic instances completed, and only 15 boss kills in Naxx and Ulduar combined. On those fifteen kills, I wiped the raid at least five times, and no one knew it was me. I was brought in as the overgeared tank – with the assumption that I was a low-risk asset to the raid – and proceeded to silently prove to myself just how empty the purchased epics were. I learned first-hand how utterly irrelevant good gear is compared to the skills and awareness that come only from experience. Some of that experience transferred over from my priest, but much of it had to be re-learned as a tank the hard way.

So…you’ll get a snapshot from the Top of the World if you get airlifted in or get there on your own guts, determination, and suffering. While that snapshot might look the same to others, to you, there’s no comparison. The learning process, while more time-consuming, brings deeper and more lasting satisfaction to the reward you get at the Top than any shortcut method could. I won’t insist that the journey is more important than reaching the destination, because it’s not that simple. Just don’t underestimate how rewarding the journey can be, both because of and despite the difficulty of truly doing it yourself.

Oh, and if you haven’t read Jon Krakauer’s book about the tragedy on Everest, called Into Thin Air, I strongly recommend that you do. The story is heartbreaking, and the storyteller is a master.

My producer just informed me that we have a guest in the studio for today’s blog. I’ll be interviewing someone who would like to discuss my post on stats for discipline priests. To be frank, I’m a bit surprised it’s taken this long to find someone to rebut that post, since I fully expected that it would generate more heat than it did.

Would you like to introduce yourself to my readers?

Paolo: Hello, my name is Paolo, and I’m a discipline priest. I want to say that I’m a big fan of your blog. Your post on stats agitated me a bit, so I wanted to offer an alternate take. Other than that though, kudos on some great work.

Penance Priest: Um, did you say Paolo?

Paolo: Yes, why?

PP: Oh, nothing. Please, tell us a bit more about yourself and your thoughts on stats for disc priests.

Paolo: Well – and I’ll cut right to the chase here – your stance on intellect is just wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that intellect is bad.

PP: I never said that.

Paolo: Indeed you did. Not only did you say, and I quote, “Intellect is usually bad,” but the consistent message in your post was that it is a second-class citizen, or “special-purpose” stat, as you called it.

PP: It usually is the wrong stat for people to take. As I described, many discipline priests are using intellect for the wrong reasons, or just blindly, for no good reason at all. However, I did indicate that there are good reasons to stack intellect. I just didn’t cover them in depth. I made it clear that I’m primarily a tank healer, and as such, I usually have more mana than I know what to do with; ergo, intellect gets the short end of the stick when it comes to gems.

Paolo: Tell me: on a fight like twins, what’s your role?

PP: Well that’s an interesting example, simply because it’s basically a raid-damage fight. But I’ll play along. A tank healer like me would be stupid to relegate himself to tank duties only. So I usually float on that fight, doing raid healing more than anything.

Paolo: I’ll admit, I chose it as an example of a fight that forces you to bubble-spam. There’s really very little use for Penance, is there? It’s PoM and bubbles for the most part, not much else. So yes, I’m forcing you to discuss your role as a raid healer.

PP: There isn’t a single shield that doesn’t get 100% used up on twins. Same with PoM, all charges consumed, guaranteed. The constant ticking of the AoE effect will certainly make quick work of the shields.

Paolo: So what’s your HPS on that fight?

PP: I really don’t know.

Paolo: I knew you would say that, given how much you hate meters. But let’s do some simple math, and for now, we’ll ignore the passive HPS included with Renewed Hope. I’d ask you how much your shield will absorb, but I’m guessing you don’t know that either. So let’s just say your shield absorbs about 8000 and your PoM will hit for about 4000 each bounce. With Borrowed Time up (and it will be up almost 100% of the time), your GCD will be down to 1 second. So you’re probably shield-spamming about that often, maybe a bit less. And PoM is getting you 5 hits every 10-second cooldown. Maybe you slack a bit with PoM, and only cast it every 15 seconds. Let’s give you 10 shields and 5 PoM hits every 15 seconds, for a net theoretical HPS of about 6600.

PP: Wow.

Paolo: I chose this somewhat extreme example to make a point. And my numbers may be off a bit for sure. But the point is that a shield-spamming disc priest is potentially an HPS machine, and not only on this fight. The only problem is –

PP: Mana.

Paolo: That’s right. Shield-spamming is a mana drain. If you did nothing but chain-cast shields, you’d last about a minute and a half. Which means –

PP: Intellect.

Paolo: You really are as smart as they say. In order to make shield spamming possible, you need to increase the size of your mana pool and boost your regen. Of course, if you regem for intellect, each shield will be smaller since you’re not stacking spell power. But if you’re OOM, you’re shields get smaller still…like, zero. Should we go over the math of how much smaller your shields will be without your spell power gems?

PP: Well let’s see. I’m currently at 2600 spell power unbuffed, of which 275 or so is from gems. So I’d lose 10% of the shield strength relative to what I can do now.

Paolo: Yes, even less, because your spell power will be well over the 3000 mark with consumables and raid buffs. And we could take it one step further. You could revisit your old friend Tier 8. We all have a love/hate relationship with that set bonus, but I’m sure we can agree that it is perfect for shield spam. What I’ve done is regemmed my Tier 8 gear with intellect, and kept my new Tier 9 gear gemmed as it is for tank healing. There’s a lot less haste and crit than there is on my new stuff, but between all the int gems and the full-time 250 spell power bonus, you have a gearset designed for the job.

PP: Interesting idea. When T9 was released, there was a massive amount of discussion as to when disc priests would abandon their T8 gear, because the four-piece bonus is so compelling. You’re saying T8 might be viable even now?

Paolo: Perhaps…I’m using the T8 gear largely because I followed your gearup model during 3.2, which was of course aimed at tank healers. So my main set now is full of crit and haste, both of which are mostly useless for shield spam. If I had been planning for a shield-spam kit from the beginning, my gear choices certainly would have been different.

PP: Alright then, tell us more about the gearing choices you’re making, other than the Tier 8 set. Which, if I understand you correctly, you’re using for two reasons: the delicious set bonus, and the fact that you now have a second set of gear that you can re-gem with intellect. You also seem to say that the Tier 8 gear is not necessarily optimal, just the best you currently have for the job.

Paolo: That’s correct. I’m also using Spark of Hope, which is one of the best mana-conservation trinkets there is, and of course Solace. For shield spam, I’ll also equip Rapture, since I’ll get more benefit from the spirit on that staff than I will from the haste on Enlightenment. Remember, shield-spammers are very much subject to the 5% haste cap, which you discussed in your original post. So it’s important for me to be shedding haste for this gear set.

PP: What’s your mana pool like? Your regen?

Paolo: It’s enough to last through a spam fight like Twins without even a trace of worry. It almost feels like the infinite-mana heyday before they toned down the mana returns from Rapture. I’m now sitting at what is still a fairly modest 25k mana (unbuffed) and 650/350 regen. Spell power is at 2350 unbuffed, but remember that I get a near-constant 250 spell power boost, which brings me up to the same amount that you’re getting from your newer gear. If I remember correctly, your mana is more like 23k unbuffed, and 350/200 regen or thereabouts.

PP: How the hell do you know about my regen?

Paolo: You’d be surprised what I know about you. Would you like to talk about the rotten tanking job you did on Ignis last night?

PP: No I wouldn’t. I do have one last question though. What about the Tier 9 two-piece bonus? Wouldn’t that be as good or better for a raid-healing disc priest than the Tier 8 four-piece?

Paolo: Oh, absolutely. First off, I don’t have the two-piece bonus yet (as you well know). But more importantly, all the other pieces in my main gearset have been selected according to your tank-healing guidelines: slathered in haste and crit, which is just wrong for raid healing. So there’s nothing bad about T9 and other newer gear for a discipline raid fact, it’s really great. I’m only using T8 for the regemming option, as we discussed, and to enable me to have different gear available for tank healing and raid healing.

PP: You’ve said several times that haste and crit are bad for a raid-healing disc priest. Can you elaborate?

Paolo: Sure. When you’re spamming shields, you are constantly benefitting from the haste effect of Borrowed Time. As you discussed in your original post, it takes only 5% haste, or around 150 haste rating, to reach the haste cap. When you hit the cap, your GCD is limited to 1 second. So for a raid healer, any haste over 5% is literally a waste. And crit does not affect the strength of your shields. The glyph can now crit, but the glyph is still only 20% of the size of your shield to begin with, so it makes crit a very low-priority stat for boosting your throughput. PoM ticks can still crit though, but overall, the throughput of a raid-healing disc priest is most directly tied to spell power. By a longshot.

PP: Well thank you very much for joining me today!

Paolo: I’m always with you man.

Per the rules of this questionnaire, I can’t really forward it on. My apologies, but I only read priesty blogs! So I shall break the rules. Raesa, tag, you’re it. (And thanks to Fuubaar for the link.) And here are the tallies of the webring questionnaire.

Post this questionnaire, with your answers, on your blog. Pick the healing class you know most about (or is the focus of your blog) for the questionnaire, and then send it over to another healing blogger you know and love who heals with a DIFFERENT class. Include a link to the blogger who sent you the questionnaire, as well as a link to the blogger to whom you are sending it.

  • What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Paolo, disc with shadow leanings.
  • What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) Hard to say now. It had been 25s, but time commitments are forcing me more towards 10s. Also, because I’m no longer able to raid regularly with my guild, I’ve been leading pugs (10 and 25), which means I need to reserve 50% of my attention on any given fight to raid leading. (Which is a whole other kettle of fish!)
  • What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why? See URL.
  • What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Divine Hymn. I love it but generally forget to use it except for fights that I’ve trained myself for (like XT).
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? Toolbox variety. Other classes have big toolboxes too, but ours covers the field like no other.
  • What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? Honestly, I can’t think of one. That’s not a copout, really! A skilled, well-geared, creative disc priest can do just about anything. I no longer refuse assignments “because I’m disc.” There are of course classes that do jobs better than discipline, but I don’t consider that to indicate a weakness of the class. However, because of the versatility, disc is no longer a top-shelf tank healer or a top-shelf raid healer. Again, not necessarily a fundamental weakness.
  • In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Floater. Tank assist with raid support. This role doesn’t work at the beginning of each gear reset, when you really need to pick a role and run with it. But midway and later in each patch, floating is the best use of disc. Now, that could be because I run in two types of groups: guild runs (in which the other healers are disgustingly good) and pugs (in which the other healers are disgustingly bad). I’m either making my partners’ jobs easier, or covering for the weaknesses of pug healers. (Disclaimer: I just ran Toc10 with a holy priest and holy pally, and I outhealed them both. Before you count absorbs. So I’m more than a bit cynical about pug healers on my server.)
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Trees, no two ways about it. Holy priests are not too far behind. The synergy between disc priests and trees is perfect.
  • What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? Pallies. Because I do both raid and tank healing, I prefer to run with other healers who can also do both, allowing us to dynamically adjust. Pallies are the worst at raid healing (in most situations), and all other classes can serve both roles.
  • What is your worst habit as a healer? Straying from my assignment on progression fights. I can get overconfident, and have to really focus when I’m on tank duty on difficult encounters.
  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? Other healers who aren’t prepared. See my post on Kel’Thuzad…I still routinely run into healers who use DBM to tell them who has Incinerate Flesh, or who have no idea who has Penetrating Cold. Also, priests who do not immediately pop Inner Fire when it drops.
  • Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? No question about it.
  • What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? Honesty. I usually know when I gave it my all, when I made the right choices. I check meters occasionally if I’m curious about my spell choices. But I have no idea what my HPS (or DAPPS) is or should be on any given fight. Like asking a guitar player how many notes they play on average during a two-chorus solo…those numbers are not only meaningless, but really meaningless. In other words: to answer this question, we need to define “performance” – and that has very little to do with numbers, and it has only a bit to do with whether or not the boss went down and the tank lived. (Succeeding at a boss fight is far too dependent on group play to use it as an indicator of my personal performance.)
  • What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? I can’t think of one. Gone are the days when people still believed disc was for pvp, or that disc was a dps spec. I no longer have to explain myself to pug leaders.
  • What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? It  depends on how they got their start. Priests who are learning disc from a long time being holy have a hard time giving up Renew and picking up Shield. Priests who are learning disc from other healing classes have a much more natural learning curve through the spec. They have a hard time getting comfortable with the big toolbox, but that’s pretty hard for everyone. And all new disc priests have a hard time thinking offensively (e.g., Power Infusion, dispels).
  • If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)? I have no idea. Assuming they didn’t miss the Big Obvious (factoring in absorbs), I really wouldn’t know what they would see in terms of overhealing, HPS, etc. Simply because the notion of evaluating performance via Recount is 99% flawed as a question! To clarify: when I run with other disc priests, I never know beforehand what I would expect to see from their healing profile on any given fight. I only compare it with my own profile, filtered through Honesty, Flexibility, and Creativity.  
  • Haste or Crit and why? Both.
  • What healing class do you feel you understand least? This is the only healing class I’ve played, the only one I have any grasp of. I’m pretty stupid on pallies, druids, shammies, rogues, mages, warriors, and hunters. And holy priests.
  • What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? Grid/Clique for healing & dispels. Information displays are provided by CooldownWatch, MSBT, GhostPulse, DBM, Quartz, and Shadowed Unit Frames. I have a ton of macros, but mostly they’re just simple ways to bind multiple spells to one key (via shift/control/alt). The only macros of significance are for PI and PS, covered here.  
  • Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? Linking again to my long-winded answer and its followup. TL;DR: Balance is not a goal in and of itself. For tank healing, there is no limit to the amount of spell power, haste, or crit I would take, so I end up looking balanced in the end.