Interview: Holy Priest vs Discipline Priest


I had an idea the other day to interview two healing Priests of different specs. I wanted to see what choices they make under similar circumstances. Figured it would be fun to ask them both identical questions to determine where the differences started between them! Hopefully this post will help shed some light for Priests that are still mulling over what spec to select for in end game.

Where did I find my Priests from? The Plusheal forums naturally!

Questions Yaxley (Discipline) Deklen (Holy)
First, a brief introduction about yourself: My character is Yaxley, a discipline priest. I’m an officer of the Apostles of the Phoenix raiding guild. I am an officer and healing leader of the guild Phoenix Rising on Mannoroth (US) in which I play a Dwarf Priest named Deklen.
What is your current level of progression? I’ve cleared Obsidian Sanctum 10/25 (no drakes up), Naxx 10/25, and Malygos 10. Currently working on Malygos 25. Phoenix Rising has successfully completed all 10 man content and has completed all 25 man content with the exception of Malygos (We plan to start attempts on him this coming week).
What factors influenced your choice to pick your spec? I felt discipline was a more challenging spec than holy, and when the new talents were announced for 3.0, I was very intrigued. I liked the concept of almost having a healing rotation with many spells to choose from that integrate well together. I really enjoy the diversity of healing spells available to priests, and holy priests in particular. I enjoy the complexity that comes with having to choose the correct healing spell for the given situation.
What stats are the most important for you? Intellect is my most valuable stat, as it contributes to every aspect of my healing. A bigger mana pool means bigger returns from Rapture, Shadowfiend and Replenishment. It also boosts crit for more throughput and more Divine Aegis procs. Haste is what I look for second, but only until about 10%. After that I feel stacking it is hurting other stats. For the expansion, I have chosen to keep spirit at the top of my priority list when it comes to gear selection and augmentation; however, with that being said, I value Intellect much more so than during BC raiding. I reserve yellow sockets for Brilliant Autmn’s Glow, attempting to maintain some semblance of balance between spirit and intellect.
What trinkets are you presently using and how do they help? Right now I’m using the Egg of Mortal Essence from Emblems of Heroism along with Forge Ember from heroic Halls of Stone. I use the Egg mostly for the raw spell power, though the proc is a nice to have when it goes off. Forge Ember gives a nice hefty amount of crit and I love the proc for a nice spell power boost. I carry around a few other trinkets for different situations; I usually use Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon for long fights as Disc casts enough spells to make it worth a fair amount of regen. I am using the Majestic Dragon Figurine and the Spirit World Glass. The two trinkets provide excellent mana regen for boss encounters. Spirit World Glass really shines when there is predictable incoming damage in which I am able to pop the on use ability after a clearcasting proc, followed up an Inner Focus + Greater Heal to allow for maximum regen time spent OO5SR. If the full 20 seconds is spent not casting or "cheating" the rule, it usually will return about 35-40% of my 20k mana pool.
Your 3 top spells in order of usage on any given raid are: 1: Flash Heal,
2: Penance
3: Prayer of Mending.
1: Flash Heal
2: Circle of Healing
3: Prayer of Mending
Which raid encounter in the game is your favourite? Kel’Thuzad. There is a lot of action going on with a lot of situations where my quick single target heals and shields help. A lot of tank damage, as well as the ice blocks which require people to be healed quickly for a large amount. Sapphiron. The encounter really tests the healers both on raw healing power as well as their regen techniques/skills. In addition, the fight in particular showcases just how awesome bouncing Prayer of Mending can truly be.
What’s the worse? Heroic Thaddius. Its a boring fight when done correctly, and a painful fight with a long corpse run (with frogger slimes and pipe boss in between!) when not executed correctly. And if it were not for levitate I’m sure the Super Mario jump would make it even worse for me. Heroic Patchwerk. While there is some skill involved in trying to keep your mana going throughout the fight, I find little enjoyment in spamming Greater Heal on the MT/OT and praying they dont get 1 shot from a hateful strike. P.S. Holy Paladins are disgusting for this fight.
How do you handle AoE healing? In a five-man, Prayer of Healing is my spell of choice. In a raid, its not as useful as you need to heal outside your own group. As Disc you need to be more aware of who is taking damage and who is going to need the most help. I usually throw shields around the raid on every cooldown for the Borrowed Time buff, but I try to keep them on the tank and the squishiest members of the raid. Prayer of Mending on cooldown as well, this is especially useful during the Vortex in the Malygos encounter. Before casting an AoE healing ability I first determine what caused this person to be damaged, and if they are in close proximity to other players. If they are alone I usually cast a Flash Heal, if they are grouped up I would obviously cast Circle of Healing. In fights like Gluth and Loatheb though, I use Prayer of Healing considerably more (After decimate and when necrotic aura drops off, respectively).
How do you gem red, blue and yellow slots on your gear? Red: Luminous Monarch Topaz
Yellow: Luminous Monarch Topaz or Brilliant Autumn’s Glow (depending on if I’m losing spell power for other stats in an upgrade).
Blue: Seer’s gems
Red: Runed Scarlet Ruby (I dont believe the +Spirit/+Spell damage gem is in the game yet).
Blue: Sparkling Sky Sapphire
Yellow: Brilliant Autumn’s Glow
Your gut reaction to the Circle of Healing nerf is: I like it, as it brings Holy spec back in line with Discipline, where you need to choose your spells carefully. I’d rather they were more creative than using a cooldown, however, as CoH spam is useful in situations. But as it is now, it is useful in nearly all situations – which lead to one button healing. I don’t think it will be as bad as everyone is thinking it will be. Yes we will loose some AoE healing ability but those who spammed the spell mindlessly never really understood the true potential of priests and instead relied on a crutch. That being said, I will miss it!
What type of healing are you assigned to by your leaders when raiding (tank or raid, etc)? I’m assigned to the main tank or an off tank nearly 100% of the time. I still heal the raid from time to time when the boss is trying to break through my shield! Either myself or the GM are responsible for healing assignments, but I usually put myself on raid healing as we have a healthy supply holy paladins but only 1 restoration shaman and 1 restoration druid.
Do you enjoy playing your spec? Does it satisfy you? I love discipline spec. I’m not sure I could heal any other way. I’ve healed as a Holy Paladin and as a Resto Shaman in the past, and discipline definitely takes the monotony out of healing. Managing cooldowns and being smart about what spells to use used to be something relegated to DPS classes. Yes, I very much enjoy healing as a holy priest. As I said before, the diversity and complexity of healing abilities available to the priest is the reason I choose to heal and, ultimately, is what keeps me interested and entertained while healing.
What 1 piece of advice would you give other players who were to play your chosen talent specs? Don’t ever rely on healing meters to judge your performance. At least until Blizzard adds absorption amounts to the combat log. The biggest problem I have observed with new healers is their inability to observe and react. It is so easy to fall into the habit of tunnel visioning your raid frames that you forget to observe what exactly is happening around you.
If you could make one addition or change to your spec, what would it be? The obvious change would be more AoE healing tools, whether it be talents to modify Prayer of Healing or Holy Nova. But since that would be trespassing into Holy’s niche, I think more talents to make Renew useful to a Disc priest would be good. Perhaps allowing it to crit, or to be included in Rapture returns. I don’t believe I would change anything currently given the present PVE environment…PVP on the other hand is a different situation entirely though.

Special thanks to Yaxley and Deklen for participating!

Image courtesy of mmagallan

26 thoughts on “Interview: Holy Priest vs Discipline Priest”

  1. Great post. I was full Disc when 3.0 came out and LOVED it, but when I was one of the first healers in our guild to get to 80 I felt like i needed to head back to Holy while we were attempting some of the new heroics just for the raw throughput. Now that we’ve got a good cadre of healers at 80 I’m probably going to head back to full Disc since I love the utility we bring to raids. Shields, almost instant mass dispels, lots of mana efficiency, pennance, etc…. gotta love it.

  2. Excellent Post. I’m currently raid healing as a Holy Priest and have thought about giving Discipline a try. These interviews give some interesting insight in to the two specs.

    The questions I found most interesting were the most and least favorite raid boss questions. For their favorites, they both chose encounters that play to their spec’s strengths. Kel’Thuzad’s ice blocks really play to Discipline’s on demand burst HPS while Sapphiron’s massive raid damage plays to CoH’s strengths.

    For the worst encounter it’s interesting to hear the Holy Priest select Patchwerk as that would also be my choice. I hate healing Patchwerk as Holy. It’s difficult to heal through because I need to be efficient and conserve mana, but if I stop-cast a greater heal right before a big spike of damage lands it’s hard to guarantee the tank lives long enough for my next Greater Heal to land. I’ve found it’s more doable once I got into a rhythm and was able to mostly time my Greater Heals to land after a Hateful Strike, but I envy Discipline’s on demand burst HPS in a fight like that.

    My guild is focused on 10-man content and we typically run with 3 healers: myself, a Holy Paladin, and a Resto Shaman. That kinda gives me the freedom to experiment with either spec.

    What intrigues me most about Discipline is its ability to react to damage spikes that I feel Holy lacks. PW:S, borrowed time, and Penance all allow Discipline to put out huge burst HPS on demand. Holy just doesn’t have those kinds of tools.

    I am a little hesitant to give up Circle of Healing as it has been invaluable in certain situations, though. For example, the amount of healing I can output on Loatheb with PoH + 2xCoH is rather ridiculous. It’s also come in handy during fights like Sartharion when a few people decide to get hit by a lava wave. Malygos also comes to mind although I’ve only attempted him once.

  3. I have a discipline priest I’ve taken through all 10-man content and I agree with much of what Yaxley has said. I’m surprised however, that how they each handled AoE or raid healing was asked but not how they handled intense single-target healing, since Holy is naturally pre-disposed towards AoE with CoH and Disc is more aligned to single-target healing. It would’ve been nice to compare how Yaxley handles a fight like Patchwerk and compare/contrast with my spell rotation.

    jobiass last blog post..jobias: Listening to the Wall-E soundtrack while wondering whether what to play and whether to do something productive instead.

  4. Jobias: Yeah, good question to ask that totally slipped my mind too. :(. Oh well! I’ll know better for next time!

    Delos: That is quite true since I’m Holy. Disc doesn’t get a lot of love.

  5. Yaxley is definitely a noob though… and hi Kitts!

    For Heroic Patchwerk, I pretty much use my regular tank healing rotation. I’ve been assigned to the main tank for most of our fights so far. I keep Penance on CD whether it goes to the MT or one of the soakers, PoM on cooldown to keep bouncing between the 3 tanks, and rotate PW:S around to keep Borrowed Time up as much as possible, as well as Renewed Hope. When I’m not casting one of those 3 I’m spamming the hell out of Flash Heal. Last fight ended up about 60% FH, 25% Penance and 15% PoM.

  6. into all of the same content and I stack alot of crit/intellect as holy.

    properly managing trinkets and CD’s and having a resto shammy and a ret pally = no mana issues.

    the crit is huge for us due to holy concentration and surge of light procs.

    toss in the fact that you get six targets from COH and with POM bouncing around critting as well = lots of free casts.

  7. I have been a discipline spec’d priest since Level 1, and before the patch, I was constantly being told to switch to the more superior Holy spec. I personally feel that Blizzard really used their creative imaginations in order to bring Discipline into the limelight as a concrete and solidified healing spec. It’s always a blast running dungeons and having other priests whisper me asking “What’s that spell you’re always using, the one that spins?” Penance is arguably one of the best single target healing spells for its ability to generate all 3 stacks of Grace, its ability to return mana through Rapture and the fact that it’s nearly half the mana cost of Greater Heal. While discipline priests may not have the raw AoE capablities of a holy priest, Inner Focus combined with Prayer of Healing creates a mana free, critting AoE heal that can get the priest out of a tough situation. I’d recommend Discipline spec to any healer out there.

  8. lol, just noticed on armory that deklen has turned disc too 😛
    I was kinda hoping I could see his setup, but all hope’s gone now for us holy specced hehe…

  9. I read the patch and decided to make a discipline priest to see myself how well it does at healing. I myself am amazed at the results. My only worry is how I am going to convince my guild which uses the “Holy heals.” policy that I can heal with discipline. Any suggestions on how to persuade a guild stuck in their ways?

  10. Zyriza: I’d say just make the switch anyway and run with it. Perform first and see how you like it while at the same time “showing” your guild what discipline is capable of.

  11. Absolutely. Though I do recommend running a couple of heroics first to get used to the difference in play style as it really is a significant change in how you heal and how you think about healing.

    I recently spec’d Discipline to try it out and absolutely love it. I’ve temporarily gone back to Holy for the time being to enjoy pre-nerf CoH and wait for the Rapture/PW:S bug to get resolved in 3.0.8.

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  13. I can see that Yaxley also made a respec into Holy.. It seem’s like they both, after reading the interview, think that the other spec is better :p

  14. I just looked up both Yaxley and Devlen’s specs in the armory to see where they were at today. Much to my amusement, the disc priest is now holy, and the holy priest has gone disc. Dunno what that says about holy vs. disc except perhaps the grass is greener on both sides!

  15. There’s always a story! I actually quit the game in February; I guess I was holy the last time I played… most likely for a Malygos 10-man. My wife is due with our first child in September, and it was time to grow up a bit… something I personally couldn’t do while addicted to wow.

  16. I guess I’m late to the party as usual. I still enjoyed this article, and it gives me renewed hope that being a disciple priest is very doable. I enjoy this spec even though I get a lot of flack from other classes. “Why be a disciple priest they don’t heal as good as a Holy Priest, and they don’t DPS as high as a Shadow Priest. To them I say it’s all in how you play the spec. Thank you so much Yardley for giving me some good advice, and thank you for this great article that has helped one disciple priest play better. Take care.


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