Paolo: I need a gem please.
JC: Sure, what kind? We got red, blue, green, you name it. Attack power, intellect, what do you need?
Paolo: Um, this. (Reaches under his Bauble-Woven gown, into his back pocket, sorts thru several crumpled pieces of scrap to find the one he wants, and hands it to the JC.)
JC: (Tilting his head, trying to read what’s on the paper.) Say what?
Paolo: I need a gem.
JC: This isn’t a gem, noob. This is a profile of how you might look someday when you shed your noobish skin a few times. Not today though. Today you can have one gem, which means one stat, two if you ask nicely. But you cannot have “0.3 spellpower, 0.25 intellect, 0.25 crit, 0.1 haste, and 0.1 spirit.”
No, I’m not going to try to convince you that I have better numbers for you to plug into Lootrank. Theorycrafters will do much better than I will at producing stat ratios on the optimal end-game gearset.
And I’m also not trying to compare buying a single gem with designing a plan for your end-game gearset. I was just having fun.
No, this is a little more real-world. When the theorycrafters tell you to weigh crit by 0.25 and haste by 0.15, that doesn’t mean that the next piece of gear you should get must have those stats in that ratio. You meander. The next piece of gear might be all crit. Then the next might be all haste. Etc.
The stats behind the stats, and Disc’s strengths & weaknesses
All of the stats you find on equipment end up translating into one of two fundamental healing abilities:
- Throughput: the ability to pump out more heals per second (HPS). Aka “hit harder.”
- Longevity: the ability to heal for longer fights without going out of mana. Aka “last longer.”
That’s pretty much it. Some stats translate in an obvious way: more spellpower, for example, will make you hit harder, while more mp5 will let you last longer. Other stats have a more complex response: crit, for example, gives you more throughput, and some extra longevity as well (via Rapture procs on Divine Aegis). In fact, most stats have some crossover — even spellpower will increase your longevity a bit via its impact on Rapture regen.
Disc’s strength is its longevity. Rapture rocks, and our other mana-saving talents are wonderful as well. Our weakness is throughput. Holy priests hit harder, that’s just the way it is. Both the low throughput and high longevity are inherent properties of the spec.
And as you’ll find when you start playing at 80, you desperately need to address your weaknesses more than you need to advance your strengths.
More on the individual stats
Here are how the stats affect your throughput & longevity. Green is a positive effect, red negative, and the stronger the color, the stronger the effect.
Look at that…only one red cell. Keep that in mind: haste is great for throughput (more heals in a shorter amount of time), but bad for longevity.
The three phases of Disc gearup
Enough chitchat. Here’s the point.
As you gear up, you will go through three phases during which your priorities, and the resulting gear choices, will shift.
Phase One: You just hit 80, and are rocking maybe 1300 spellpower. You simply cannot keep a tank alive through heroic anything, and Patchwerk is your worst nightmare. You need help.
Stack spellpower until it hurts. Regen (either intellect or mp5/spirit will work) is a close second, but gem and enchant for pure spellpower, because throughput is your biggest weakness. Avoid haste at all costs. Take crit any time you can, but do not trade any spellpower options for crit. You will be getting int along the way without particularly trying.
TLDR: Spellpower >> Intellect > MP5/Spirit > Crit
Phase Two: Oddly enough, even though you’ve been focusing on throughput, it’s your longevity that has benefited the most. And you now are feeling confident with longer fights, even if you’re still having difficulty with spike damage.
Start backing off regen items. Continue to stack spellpower, and focus on building up a solid base of crit, aiming for 25-30%. Continue to treat haste like a disease.
TDLR: Spellpower > Crit
Phase Three: Stack haste. Get rid of regen items to the degree that you can. Now you can, if you like, gem for intellect.
TLDR: Haste > Spellpower >> Int
A final note on throughput & longevity
The reason you should focus so aggressively on throughput is because of the huge number of third-party support options for longevity. In other words, here are some buffs that you can get from various classes:
Weak throughput buffs: (none)
Hence you must take care of your own throughput.
During phase one, it’s an easy call. Renew. Yes, the evil HoT, the anti-disc spell that procs of none of our delicious cookies. Well, the glyph turns your renew into an HPS machine. It will now hit for harder each tick, and you have it up on the tank at all times anyway (don’t you?). Yes, you’ll have to cast it more often. But we’re interested in HPS right now, and the tradeoff we’re making (wasting a GCD more often) is easily worth it.
During phase two and phase three, playstyle choices are more relevant. You can glyph for dispel magic (there’s a ton of it needed in Northrend) or for Holy Nova (another formerly-hated spell, now finding its uses), Prayer of Healing. Your choice.
On the assumption that you are willing to dump 800g or so into an epic you won’t replace anytime soon, get a Wispcloak made the day you hit 80. It has as much spellpower as you could hope for, and 20mp5 is crazy for a cloak. If you’re a tailor, put on Darkglow for extra regen.
By the time you hit phase three, you should seriously consider spending another 800g or so to get Deathchill made. The loss of stats, including the regen, is perfectly acceptable at this level. And haste is now something you are seeking, because regen is no longer an urgent issue. And instead of putting on Darkglow, get it hasted.
At this point you should understand this philosophy well enough to navigate the talent choices you have. How should you relate to Enlightenment? Improved Renew? Improved Divine Spirit? Absolution? Those are a few of your negotiable talents, and based on what we’ve been talking about, they are the ones that will shift around as you gear up. Play around with them as you progress.
Paolo: I need a gem please.
JC: Sure, what kind? We got red, blue, green, you name it. Stamina, defense rating, spirit, what do you need?
Paolo: I just hit 80 bro. What’s the fattest spellpower gem you have?
JC: Excellent choice my friend. Wanna heal H.VH?