(The limb upon which I step grows thin and weak. It begins to creak under my modest weight, threatening to send me to the lions roaring below. Fade…levitate…don’t fail me now!)
Graduate-level? That’s right. This is not a guide for the fresh 80, although if that’s you, hopefully you will find it interesting nonetheless. For reference, here is the short and long form of Disc Stats 101 for the Up & Coming:
Q: OMG HELP!
A: Stack more spellpower and intellect.
There you go. See you in a couple of months.
This is also not a guide for the PhDs among you. You’ll know what you need better than I could ever tell you. Go read another analysis of the HPS and HPM of Greater versus Flash Heal and report back to me.
This is a guide for the rest of us. Geared enough to be confident, smart enough to be willing to adjust to changing situations.
First of all, this guide wouldn’t be needed without the Great Penance Nerf of ’09. Simple as that. Prior to that, our HPS (yes, I said it) was excellent. But with the extra time between casts of the best healing spell in the game (I said that too), our healing has changed. I’m no longer able to comfortably keep up a tank the way I used to. Other healers have been buffed, we’ve been nerfed. I’m not here to complain, but to discuss how to adjust, by selecting the proper stats for your gear and gems.
Second: any playstyle recommendation is totally dependent on the context. Are you over-geared for the content you’re in? Are you running with druids or with pallies? Are your other healers shit-hot at what they do, or do you end up carrying some of their weight? And on and on…I’m convinced that when you add up all of those factors for any group and for any encounter, there actually is a single correct response to the situation. By that I mean there is a correct gearing plan and a correct spell selection. But because the factors are so many, it’s impossible to nail down a single overarching recommendation. You just need to be smart and flexible.
Third – and last comment before we get started – the days of min/max are behind us. You can ignore everything you read here and anywhere else and still do well for the most part. If you enjoy improving your play (as I do), and don’t build computer simulations to evaluate specs and spell priorities, then read on.
Ok. Let us begin.
A few priests to consider
Wandering the hallowed halls of the interwebz I stumbled across a few priests that caught my eye. These are all folks with Algalon under their belts, in the top echelon of the priesthood. These are not necessarily the top three priests in the world, but they’re obviously smart, creative, well geared, and in the top strata of what they do. All values are taken straight off armory, so no buffs. I’ve linked their profiles, but who knows what changes they will have made since I saw them.
Oh my. One stacked crit beyond what most people consider normal. One is an unabashed intellect stacker. And one stacked spellpower and haste. Who do we listen to?
The rest of this post is about the stats you can stack, why you would stack them, and why you’re nuts if you don’t do as I say.
Haste is sexy. As in, crazy sexy cool. As much as we love to see our crit bubbles, the feeling of a Greater Heal flying off your golden hands at light speed is just…awesome.
There is a lot of discussion about the haste cap for discipline. I won’t rehash the numbers, except to say you can easily find plenty of wrong information. The truth is that with 5% haste from gear, your GCD is capped at one second while under the influence of Borrowed Time and normal 25-man raid buffs. See here. The same one second cap applies to the cast time of Flash Heal.
That’s a soft cap. You can stack haste well beyond 5% and get plenty of benefit:
- Any time you aren’t casting with Borrowed Time up
- Any time you don’t have a full set of hasty raid buffs
- Any time you’re casting a Penance, Greater Heal, or Prayer of Healing
These are real possibilities, which is why haste is not hard-capped. Every point of haste always decreases the cast time of Penance, GH, and PoH. So depending on your spell-casting priorities, you may receive tremendous benefit from haste well beyond the 5% soft cap.
Why stack haste? If you’re on full-time tank duty, in a stressed environment (meaning you can’t be raid-shielding to activate BT as much as you might like). You’ll benefit from haste on most of your Flash Heals…any that don’t immediately follow a shield. And (the limb creaks ominously) your Greater Heals will be significantly better. A haste gearset goes very nicely with a Greater Heal build. GH can be a very good spell, despite what we’ve come to believe, especially if you adjust your spec to include Divine Fury and Improved Healing. And with haste on your side, your heals will actually be useful, and not just overheal.
In other words, there is a new style of discipline tank healing – GH plus haste – and it’s on the rise. You may be a GH hater, but leave it open for now. It’s a viable solution to our tank-healing woes.
Problems? Well, even with a lot of haste, we’re not paladins. Your heals still might not land fast enough. And they certainly won’t be big heals either relative to what a pally can put out. But haste will put you back in the HPS game for sure.
You know about crit. Not much to say here, except to remind you that as of 3.1, Divine Aegis bubbles will stack. You get a maximum cumulative bubble of 10k. Since DA bubbles are 30% of the original heal, you will get 10k protection for every 33k of critical healing you do. (Only crit heals count towards that, of course.) If you’re on tank duty, spamming everything you’ve got, there is no way you’ll keep up with that.
Some quick math, which you’re welcome to skip. Let’s say you’re doing 1000 hps. If your crit rate is 100%, that means you’re healing for 1500 per second, all crit, giving you 450 protection from DA. Scale those numbers however you want; there’s no way that you’ll be overshooting the 10k cap on DA while on a boss. A reasonable number for DA protection per second would be on the order of 1000.
That’s my new benchmark stat, by the way. Divine Aegis protection per second: DAPPS. “Maximize your DAPPS as a disc priest.” Meme it up.
Why stack crit? To boost your DA mitigation, of course. Your DAPPS will scale linearly with your crit rate. More crit also means higher uptime on Inspiration, but that should not be an issue; it will be up nearly 100% for any reasonable values of crit on a spamming tank healer.
A disc priest’s shields and DA bubbles are the heart and soul of our spec. We are the best mitigators in the game. It would seem that our unique value to a raid would be in direct proportion to the strength of our mitigation. And there are two ways to increase your mitigation: get more spell power, and get more crit.
Oh, by the way, spell power
Power Word: Shield does not benefit from haste (except via a lower GCD). It does not benefit from crit (except that the glyph’s heal can now crit). It does not benefit from intellect. The only way to increase the size of your shield is to add spell power.
To the degree that shields are part of your rotation, you need to be boosting your spell power. For a long time, it was the only stat I gemmed. You can’t go wrong stacking spell power.
Of course, spell power helps all of your spells, not just shields.
(The sound of snapping wood fills the night air. Guttural growls from the beasts below spark adrenaline rushes of fear. I could still turn back…)
As far as I’m concerned, intellect is a special-purpose stat. Of all the fights in the game, of all the different types of groups and healing teams, there are relatively few that require mana pools bigger than what you get from the gear you receive when you’re playing level-appropriate content.
There, I said it.
If you’re a PhD, you might argue with me, saying that 99% of the fights you’re working on require massive mana pools because of the dps requirements of hard mode Yogg, etc. Great. But if you’re at that level, what are you doing here?
All disc priests love their intellect. Some stack int for the sheer joy of the massive mana pool we get from Mental Strength. Some love to be the last person still healing in long fights. Some like to have a huge insurance policy for when things go horribly awry. And some believe that because intellect is related to crit that in fact it’s not merely a regen stat, but a combo regen+throughput stat.
It’s not. It takes 167 intellect to give you 1% crit. That’s eight epic gems. If you’re trying to get crit rating, do not stack intellect. If you’re using the additional crit benefit of intellect to justify stacking it, you’re deluding yourself.
You should power-on the intellect if and only if you are mana starved. It is a regen stat, and it is our best regen stat without question. If you end fights with half your mana and with shadowfiend off cooldown, you do not need more mana, and therefore you do not need to stack intellect. However, if you’re doing fights that require constant spamming of your biggest heals, and you struggle to last long enough, intellect is the clear choice.
On spirit & mp5
Every time a discipline priest slots a gem with mp5 on it, a new death knight is born.
Every time a disc priest uses more than one purified gem, a rogue starts an arena team.
Every disc priest who uses a spirit trinket (one exception) has secured themselves a dossier and an active case at the Internal Affairs department at Discipline Central Oversight.
If you need mana, get more intellect. Or, for more modest mana boosts, use one of a few solid trinkets that will extend your mana pool more than you probably think. Use a single purified gem to activate your meta. Otherwise, do not justify using any blue-tinted gem with issues of regen or even socket bonuses.
I’m watching you.
My role in 3.2, and its gearing implications
In 3.1, I found my role to be a supportive tank healer and a supportive raid healer. I could be assigned to a tank, but still shield the raid a tremendous amount. This allowed me to keep up Borrowed Time (and my 4-piece bonus). But in 3.2, I’m finding a lot less time for shielding. To make myself useful, I’m leaning heavily in the direction of a major increase in DAPPS. This is something that no other class can do. I could stack haste, but I’ll still never approach the sick amount of healing done by our druids and holy pallies (with whom I share tank duties).
So my gearup plan for 3.2 is a massive buildup of crit first, spellpower and haste second. I will be solidifying my unique role as a mitigator, rather than trying to close the unclosable gap in HPS.
- Spell power is always good. It boosts your healing spells and your mitigation.
- Intellect is usually bad. If you need more of it, you’ll know it, but do not listen to anyone trying to tell you it’s the überstat for discipline priests. You should have plenty on your gear already for what you need. Intellect does not add any (significant) throughput; it is purely for longevity, and it excels at its job.
- Haste is fun and fantastic for burst tank healing. It will improve your throughput and ensure that you run out of mana sooner.
- Crit will boost mitigation (which we now call DAPPS) and of course your overall HPS.
A crit-oriented gearup plan for 3.2. That is, if I survive the fall and evade the lions awaiting below…