Holy and Disc Too Costly for Dual Spec

At least, those are the conclusions I’ve reached when I tried it.

On Monday night, the Conquest raiding crew was getting hammered by Kologarn. We simply could not heal raid damage of that magnitude. Some assignments were changed around and I activated my dual spec to Holy to see if I could help alleviate some of the stress.

But alas, to no avail. Being specced Holy and geared for Discipline means you rocket through your mana insanely quick. My mana pool lasted about 2 – 3 Right Arm deaths on Kologarn before I ran out of tricks. Pots used, Shadowfiended, and Hymns were already used. This is just because of the way my augments are setup. I don’t have enough Spirit gems and enchants. It’s too costly and too much of a hassle to augment when I need to switch to Holy.

So it is with a heavy heart that I used my (free) talent refunds on Tuesday. I set aside talent 1 for Discipline and talent 2 for Discipline.  The basic structures were the same. Some points were allocated differently and there were a few minor changes to glyphs.

  Endurance Disc AoE
Spec 53/18/0 54/17/0
Major Glyphs Flash Heal
Hymn of Hope
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Healing
Minor Glyphs Fading
Shadow Protection
Shadow Protection


The deal with Endurance spec is that you’re trying to stretch your mana pool to go even further than before. This involves talenting into Improved Healing for the 15% mana cost reductions to Greater Heal, Penance and Divine Hymn. The glyphs also represent the endurance method with Hymn of Hope and Flash Heal. If your Shadowfiend manages to die, you still get some mana back rather than none. This would be more of a progression spec, I think. In case your raid group loses one or two healers, the idea is that your mana supply can hold and last long enough while you compensate for their deaths until they get Rebirthed or until the boss dies. Out of the upper level Disc talents, Grace is one talent where I felt 1 talent point might be enough to maintain the buff considering the amount of heals you’ll be dumping on the tank anyway.

Disc AoE

With Disc AoE, you’re still going to be focusing on one or two key tanks. But on fights with enormous amounts of AoE damage, you won’t be locked out entirely. Your fast Shields should be placed quickly on players who have taken damage. Your Prayer of Healing adds a HoT effect. At least you won’t be as handicapped during Tympanic Tantrums or anything like that.

This is the result of my experiences in Ulduar so far. It’s still going to be subject to some more tweaking.

28 thoughts on “Holy and Disc Too Costly for Dual Spec”

  1. Let me first preface this by saying I read your site daily and agree with and enjoy what you write.

    However, in this case I’m baffled. As part of dual speccing, its necessary to switch out gear to accommodate different specs. This is just a given. It would be similar to trying to spec shadow in your healing gear, which while somewhat effective is largely affected by the gear (no hit, lack of crit meta, etc).

    Ultimately, it seems like you’re unnecessarily limiting yourself from the strength of having both a Discipline spec for tank healing and a Holy spec for raid healing due to gold cost and bag space. I have a feeling this will end up limiting you in the future. Mimiron phase 2 makes tantrums and Kologarn look like a picnic.

    Anyhow, best regards and I wish you and your guild the best of luck.

  2. That’s assuming you have some Ulduar Holy gear lying around. If he has a BiS set, I doubt that he regems and re-enchants along with switching dual spec.

    If he gets loot from my priest so that when he feels like he needs to go holy he has a *second* raid-worthy set of gear I do believe I’d pitch a fit.

    He is limiting himself, but unnecessarily is a stretch. Once he develops an off-set that can sustain holy itemization, gems, and enchants at the level we’re raiding (You’re expected to have Naxx 25 gear or equivalents) then it seems like he should do a Holy / Disc build.

    I think you are dismissing how available (or not) gear is to everyone though.

  3. I’ve got the same issue on my warrior. I decided to do 2 Arms builds because I was gimping my Fury viability by not gemming completely into Str – whereas I gem ArP with Arms.

    I felt that 8 scarlet rubies and 3 Dragon’s Eyes were a bit much to spend every time I wanted to switch specs.

  4. It’s funny, I originally thought I was going to be Holy/Ret for PVE and Holy/Prot for PVP for my dual specs and I wind up being Holy/Prot for both but with minor differences in allocation of points just like you. I guess even the best laid plans can go to waste as reality not matching up means we must adapt. Good luck in Ulduar!

  5. Fair enough Lakland. I’m not advocating carrying a bunch of gems and glyphs to change out on every switch. I do assume, maybe unfairly, that over the course of farming the Tier 7.5 content for the last couple months there would have been opportunities to pick up offset gear.

    • Cleansed: The amount of cloth wearers in the guild kinda put a damper on those plans ^^. What gear I have now isn’t quite enough to sustain the rigors that Ulduar demands. I did manage to get a shot on Mimiron on the PTR and that fight looks like a lot of fun and I can’t wait to give it a shot again with the guild =D.

  6. Although I agree that in principle it can make sense to have two specs in the same tree (I see a lot of resto druids doing it), I’m not sure about this example. The two specs shown are only different by [effectively] two points. It seems to use spec swapping just to swap glyphs… and since you can re-glyph anywhere now, getting extra glyphs crafted may be simpler.

    Of course, anyone can use their dual specs however they like, to min/max. But I would think it would behoove a player more to have a secondary spec that’s different by more than 2-3 points. I personally feel that the flexibility of having more different specs would outweigh the fact that you may not have the best gear for one of them.

    Wikwockets last blog post..An ode to Ignis the Furnace Master

  7. Surely the way around this is to go for a shadow spec instead of a holy (or second disc) spec? Might be entirely irrelevant in your case, as you’d probably be the last healer switched out, but, I’d assume, most players and guilds would be happy to have the extra viability for certain bosses where less healing is necessary. In my experience, which might be complete chance, I’ve got a pretty decent DPS set simply through Naxx-25 runs, which, while obviously not as good as a MS spriest’s, would probably serve it’s purpose and help push out some extra DPS.

    I suppose either way it’s up to the gear you have more than anything, if you can’t viably gear for your secondary spec it’s pretty pointless. Wouldn’t it be nice if Blizz let you change gems and enchants along with glyphs…

    Perhaps that’s trying too hard to implement the changes Blizz have made in my gameplay, perhaps it’ll only really work in later content when we have an easier time with bosses and can afford to go for a bit of DPS speed at the cost of healing.

  8. I’m sort of coming to the same decision but from a different direction. So far I’ve been Disc through this second week either because of assignments (tank healing on XT-002 even though Body & Soul is amazing) or preference (Ignis’s Flame Jets vs. Power Word: Shield is no contest) and I’m really looking at my Holy spec as dead weight.

  9. I know this is a very minor point, but why have the glyph of levitate in only one spec? Have it in both or in neither, or you’ll forget which spec you’re in and fall to your death. 😀

  10. Gear, gems, and enchants are just as important as talents and glyphs for fulfilling a role. That is why when I was choosing a dps second spec for my resto shaman I choose enhancement instead of elemental. While elemental would have had more overlap with resto gear the gem and enchant choices would often be different. With enhancement I’m forced to wear completely different gear which avoids all of the pitfalls of picking a role to be optimally enchanted/gemmed for.

    The obvious down side to this is it requires access to an entirely separate gear set. I was lucky enough to have a full set of Naxx25 resto and enhancement gear since I was anticipating dual specs since their announcement. Obviously that is a luxury not everyone will have.

  11. Have you noticed you are giving up 3% crit by not taking focused will?

    When I’m going for full throughput I find it nearly impossible to get enough points into imp. healing. Second tier in holy tree is just horrible for disc priests, I wish there was something useful there. I’d be very happy inf imp. healing would swap places with spell warding or divine fury.

  12. I ran into the same issues as Matt so I approached it from a different approach. There are a few pieces that are BiS for both holy and disc priests so I wear both of those all the time. For the most part, the other BiS pieces for disc are not the T7.5 pieces so I gemmed and setup my T7.5 for Holy and put it on with that spec.

    This may not be as good of a set as if I was main spec holy, but it’s more than good enough to allow me to switch back and forth as needed. If you kept your T7.5 laying around in the bank it’s something to consider.

    Xannders last blog post..25 dragons > Malygos

  13. That’s interesting – I hadn’t appreciated that the gearing differences would make that much of an impact.

    As an aside, we found the raid damage on Kologarn a bit easier to handle by running a nature res aura and also placing all the melee and a couple of resto druids in close to him, towards his left armpit (right as you look at him). He doesn’t seem to target those eye beams on those guys, which made life a lot easier in an already chaotic fight. Kudos to Project Marmot over at Tankspot for the idea – it worked though 🙂

  14. Hey Mat, fellow Disco priest here! 😀
    I totally agree that a serious gear change is needed to go from Disc to Holy, and I’m another one who doesn’t have two sets. (Between having 80 billion clothies in guild, and not joining my current guild until just a month or two before Ulduar, I’ve been catching up on gearing for mainspec, much less offspec). Eventually I’ll likely have two sets, but that sure isn’t the case atm.

    Couple of comments–

    Why glyph of fade? Are your tanks having a lot of aggro issues? I don’t find myself using it a whole lot these days, so I have Shadowfiend as my minor glyph on main spec too.

    How is your mana doing in general? I have yet to come close to going OOM (admittedly we have a good half of Ulduar left to clear on 25 man so we’ll see) so the mana return glpyhs seem kind of irrelevant.

    As it is I’m tossing bubbles around the raid every couple of seconds anyway, especially on low-hp people and to help out on the other tanks. (Even though I’m always on MT healing, I keep an eye on the raid window, ready with a bubble on any dps who start taking damage.) Between that and PoM every CD, I feel like I’m doing a decent amount of raid-assisting.

    Don’t underestimate the pre-emptive bubble, too–a lot of these fights have predictable raid damage, and a few bubbles tossed out ahead of time can help–I like to focus on bubbling the raid healers so they can focus on the rest of the raid in the first couple of seconds of big raid damage. Then during the actual raid damage phase (like tantrums, say), I’ll try to assist with shields or quick flash heals on people who are dropping especially fast. So even though the actual raid healers are doing by far the bulk of the raid healing, I can help them out here and there, which can sometimes be the difference between someone living or dying. Also, PoM. Rock on, PoM.

    Are your other raid healers having issues? I know one stupid thing I kept seeing on Kologarn was dps running eye beam lasers through the middle of the raid–and murdering the raid healers. So things like better positioning and DPS not being dumb can help out too, indirectly.

  15. @Eliseth:

    RE: Glyph of Fade – At the time, I didn’t have other attractive options. So instead of a “I need this” it was more of a “why the heck not?” kind of situation,

    RE: Mana. It’s good. If all healers are alive, I have plenty in the tank at the end. Where it gets exciting is when one or two healers drop and I assist in picking up the slack. I’m trying to challenge myself and cast as many bubbles as I can to immediate party members (or melee players for example).

    RE: Raid healers. Yup, there’s a few coordination related deaths among what you’ve mentioned. Those get identified and resolved fairly quickly.

  16. As my guild was getting wiped for 3 hours straight at Kologarn last night, I was just thinking to myself when I’ll get some tips from Matticus on how to do this fight. This is a perfectly timed post, and right on the money with the exact problem our guild is also having.

    You beat me to the punch too for dropping holy off-spec and building a disc off-spec. Though I was thinking of just spamming shields on everyone and using talented renews and PoMs.

  17. Eliseth Hit it right on the nose Pre-emptive shielding raid members is the best way a disc priest can deal with AOE dmg. It takes a lot of pressure off of the raid healers. (Plus it guarantees that your rapture will proc every cooldown)

    Priority shielding is pretty much healers then clothies…beyond that I watch for people who are dangerously low on health and drop a shield on them to give the other healers more time.

    I’ve discovered with all the changes they’ve made to the Disc priest blizz has transformed them into a really nice support class and being speced it is like being a permenant “OH SHIT” button for the raid. Between the burst heals and shields we can buy those precious milliseconds needed for the big heals from the other healers to land.

    Just for background we (vanquish) generally runs with 2 shaman, 1 pally, 2 druids, a holy and a disc priest for 25 man healers.

    As far as dual specs goes I had originally planned to run with a disc/disc spec or a hybrid holy/disc for pvp untill I seen the changes they made to shadow for pvp. and I will say shadow PvP is quite enjoyable again. Even with crappy gear we can actually hold a bit of our own again.


    My armory if anyone cares to look: (Sorry, I’m usually my shadow PvP build outside of raids)

  18. I cant belive you are running into mana issues. I’ve knocked down the first half of ulduar and haven’t gone under 20% often at the top of the meter if holy and when discipline in the same gear sans a trinket i’m seeing np. my gear is stacked with intel and crit, we do run with replentishment as well. Matt, are you trying to do just too much? spamming POH might be overkill. thats what druids and shammys are for. 😉

  19. I’m confused about the lack of regen with holy. What spec were you in holy? Most holy priests are not socketing spirit (or at least shouldn’t be) with the only spirit coming from what is on tier gear. Int >> Spirit for holy priests. If you spec holy for AoE healing you are going to blow through a lot less mana.

  20. This is the part of me which wants to say:

    God, are the stats you need for Disc and Holy that out of wack that you can’t properly sync them with the same gear? I though that was a given? I mean, I play shadow MS and go holy for guild raiding, i know that i have to come with 2 completely different gear sets, gem sets, enchantments for the most part. Sure i’d rather wear something that’s BiS for shadow over something of significantly lower power…

    Really Disc and Holy are as similar as Balance and Resto in the druid trees…

    Which reminds me. I want separate tier gear for disc and holy.

  21. I try to check in on this site fairly regularly and enjoy the articles very much, so after reading this topic, I wanted to post here to possibly get some feedback from this community. As a preface, I play a Priest on Jaedenar, US in a not-really-hardcore raiding guild. Pre-3.0, I played predominantly as Holy, and only went Disc for PvP. However, with guild Sarth+3d attempts, I went Disc and stayed that way for some time. When dual spec was introduced, I chose Holy and Disc as my talent lines.

    To the point of this post, my guild also spent some time on Kologarn after Ulduar went live and I was eventually asked to switch to Holy for raid healing while pallies were assigned to the tanks. Now, I do use outfitter to switch gear and I maintain somewhat separate sets for Disc and Holy, but many pieces, especially those from Naxx25, Sarth, and Maly25 that are (arguably – at least, pre-Ulduar) BiS for both Holy and Disc are not swapped out. But unlike the author of this topic, I did not notice any significant impairment when going from Disc to Holy for this fight. Of course, regen was certainly more of an issue, but I knew that would be the case and that adjustments would need to be made. Perhaps I haven’t played a Disc priest long enough to fully appreciate the differences in gear/gemming/enchants. It’s also a possibility that my use of certain pieces of gear/gems/enchants as a Disc priest are not optimal, but are better suited for a Holy priest. If anyone would like to comment on my armory or make suggestions, I would appreciate it, since I will most likely be playing a Disc priest in Ulduar (and perhaps beyond) and I would appreciate any words of wisdom this community may have to offer.

    As always, I very much enjoy this site and the articles – please keep them coming, and I’ll keep reading.

    Character: Quall
    Realm: Jaedenar, US

  22. We had a run where we slightly less healing sign-ups then usual, and had to pull an additional holy pally to satisfy our 6 healing core for the raid. Since I’m the only raiding disc priest, I almost never find myself feeling that I needed to switch to my holy counterpart, except for this run.

    Granted, I was not asked to switch, I simply felt that since we have already two good holy pallys, that me swtiching to holy would give us additional aoe healing strength. Our typical healing core usually consists of 1-2 holy priests, one disc (me yay!), two resto druids, shaman, and holy pally. However, that raid where I switchd specs, we had two holy palllys, one disc, only one holy priest, and two resto druids for aoe healing.

    The druids were the first to mention that general healing seemed more strenuous, and I thought that was due to me being slightly new holy, as I’ve only been holy fulltime since BC, so I had to get used ti CoH and even PoH. We had a harder then usual time with Hodir. i mentioned that I was holy, and they asked that I switch back to disc (just to see if I can help elevate much of the healing). Part of the damage was people simply not getting out of the way from the ice blocks, which is something we have had trouple with, however me mass shielding again really helped with the added damage mitigation.

    Disc AoE got a huge ramp-up with the latest patch, and I think the paradigm that disc is only good for single target healing, is now a thing of the past.


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