Seri sez: I Smite Thee – Leveling Disc/Holy in Wrath

October 2, 2008

Although leveling with a Disc/Holy spec is often considered to be reserved for masochists, people that never solo and those quaint folks that just don’t know any better, I’m here to tell you: It’s not as bad as it used to be.

Jov and I both leveled as Holy (heck, she’s done it twice now), and both of us plan to dust off our Smite buttons for rampages in Northrend when the time comes.

Of course, Jov and I have very different leveling styles. Jov likes to group and instance, and will probably heal her way to 80. I am… a bit more aggressive, and the unification of healing and spell power into a single stat as of patch 3.0 has made a monster out of me–a leveling monster that never needs to drink and can also confidently heal any instance encountered along the way.

Therefore, it is my privilege–nay, my pleasure–to bring to you 4 simple steps to successful Smiting in 3.0 and beyond.

Step 1: Augment your healing gear with a select few pieces that will boost your spell power/crit without nerfing your Spirit too much.

For me, this meant putting on DPS rings, trinkets and weapon. If you don’t have off-spec stuff, just stick with your healing gear. Why? For spell power, it’s probably comparable to or better than your off-spec gear and has the added bonus of having a crapload of Spirit–which for the Smiting priest boosts both spell power and regen. (I still have yet to drink any of the new level 70 water from Northrend, and I’ve schlepped it all over the place.)

When I first logged in to the Beta I had something like 1100 spell power in my healing gear, completely untalented. With talents, I was up around 1300 spell power. Not too shabby, ladies and gents.

Step 2: Choose talents that boost your Holy damage output.

There are some very snacky talents in the Holy and Discipline trees that will boost your Smiteability, either with spell power, spell crit, spell haste, or general utility. Spell power and crit are more important than haste IMO, so let’s take a look at just those talents first:

  • Twin Disciplines (D) – Increases spell power by 1/2/3/4/5%.
  • Improved Inner Fire (D) – Increases effect of Inner Fire by 15/30/45% and number of charges by 4/8/12.
  • Improved Divine Spirit (D) – Increases spell power by 40/80.
  • Focused Power (D) – Increases spell damage by 2/4%.
  • Holy Specialization (H) – Increases Holy spell crit by 1/2/3/4/5%.
  • Divine Fury (H) – Reduces casting time of Smite, Holy Fire, Heal and Greater Heal by .1/.2/.3/.4/.5 seconds.
  • Searing Light (H) – Increases damage of Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova & Penance by 5/10%.
  • Spiritual Guidance (H) – Increases spell power by 5/10/15/20/25% of total Spirit.
  • Surge of Light (H) – Spell criticals have a 25/50% chance to proc a free Smite or Flash Heal.

Keep in mind that at level 71 you’ll be getting a new rank of Inner Fire that increases spell power in addition to armor. What a nice little buff that is; Improved Inner Fire is finally worth buying!

Also, note that while Improved Divine Spirit no longer scales with Spirit, Spiritual Guidance still does.

Now, for the haste and misc other talents:

  • Inner Focus (D) – Next spell cast costs zero mana and has additional 25% chance to crit.
  • Reflective Shield (D) – 15/30/45% of the damage absorbed by Power Word: Shield is reflected back at the attacker.
  • Spirit of Redemption (H) – Increases your Spirit by 5%. (Potential synergy with Spiritual Guidance.)
  • Holy Reach (H) – Increases range of Holy spells by 10/20%.
  • Enlightenment (D) – Increases spell haste by 1/2/3/4/5%.
  • Power Infusion (D) – Increases spell casting speed and reduces mana cost for 15 seconds.
  • Spirit Tap (S) – 33/66/100% chance to gain 100% Spirit bonus when killing a target worth experience or honor.

Something of a smorgasbord of delectable little treats isn’t it? I even threw Spirit Tap in there, just because it is so delicious, but in my experience… it just seems like overkill when it comes to regen. On the other hand, that 100% bonus plus Spiritual Guidance… hmm. Tasty spell power boost, if you move quickly on to the next target.

Pack as many of those bad boys into your spec as you can. For a starter, I recommend 30/27/0. (Note: This link may or may not work, because talent trees are still being revised. I will update it whenever I notice it has changed, so check back if it doesn’t work the first time.) This contains all of the ‘must have’ stuff with 4 points left (at level 70) to fill wherever you like.

Personally, I picked Reflective Shield (because I plan to solo quite a bit on the way to 80) and Spirit of Redemption (because I have more reasons than ever to be a Spirit whore).

That’s right… I didn’t pick Power Infusion. I decided that the +5% Spirit from SoR was more important. PI will probably be the first thing I nab at 71, though. After that, I will probably top off Improved Healing before going back to pick up Enlightenment and maybe fill out Mental Agility or experiment with Spirit Tap.

Step 3: Smite early, Smite often.

My spell rotations usually go like this: Power Word: Shield (self) -> Holy Fire -> Shadow Word: Pain -> Smite until dead or low enough for Shadow Word: Death. If I have enough room, I’ll also usually back up a little bit after casting SWP, making the mob run a little farther before it gets to me since I have nothing better to do while waiting on the global cooldown.

Single targets die pretty quickly to this method. If you’re fighting multiple mobs, try to keep dots up on them all and keep your Shield up as much as possible–especially if you have Reflective Shield. Don’t forget that Holy Nova can trigger Surge of Light, for free insta-Smiting. Fear if you can’t refresh your shield right away or are bored and hoping to pull adds. Wand if you’re low on mana (haha) or the mob is low enough on health that casting another spell isn’t worth it (more likely).

Step 4: Profit.

Leveling as Disc/Holy is versatile and will save you gold in respecs along the way. You know your guild is going to want you to heal for them in dungeons and on group quests, but they’re not going to want to drag your helpless ass along for quest grinding all the time.

Be independent. Aloof, even. And if you see a Shadow Priest out in the wild, drinking to replenish their mana pool, it will be tempting to /point /laugh but really… you could also be the bigger (wo)man and offer them some of your superfluous beverages.


  1. Is Twin Disciplines back to 1-5% on everything? Last I looked it was only instant-cast spells, which made it significantly less useful for smiting things.

  2. Oddly the link for the 30/27/0 build you mentioned links to a 19/27/0 build instead. Just as an FYI.

    Thanks much for putting this together, I think I will try it out in beta and see how it works (been planning to level by healing instances, but we shall see)

  3. I’m new at leveling a priest (of which I’m using Shadow), but would it make sense to use Holy Fire (11% base mana, 2 sec cast) as the main nuke rather than Smite (15% base mana, 2.5 sec cast)?

  4. Hurrah for this guide! And hurrah for the truth! I’m leveling a baby priest as Disc/Holy (not even Spirit Tap) and even in my 20’s I don’t stop to drink.

    The concept of a “leveling spec” disgusts my fine role-playing sensibilities. Are you a Fire Mage? Resto Druid? Then level that way! Massive respecs at 70 are full of lose for everyone, not just newly minted Prot Warriors.

    Holy Fire is a damage over time spell (it kills stuff while you’re busy doing other things), and isn’t a suitable main nuke.

  5. @ Kindrie – Uh… hrm. Ok, I must have read the tooltip incorrectly. Repeatedly. Apparently I need a new proofreader too. (*thwaps Jov*) I need to think on this a little but will update the post. Good catch!

    @ Dechion – Fixed, thank you for pointing that out. It looks like there was at least one tree tweak in the beta build this week (Imp Inner Fire and Imp Fortitude swapped places, that’s the big thing I saw at a glance) so the original link… yeah, busted when Wowhead.com updated their talent calculator. I may go back in and try to include either a list of talents in that build or a screenshot of the current tree. I guess that’s what I get for writing about something that’s still undergoing revisions. πŸ™‚

    @ Pocket Watch – Smite is your primary nuke for a few reasons. Chiefly among them are:

    1. As of 3.0, Holy Fire has a cooldown so you cannot chain cast it.
    2. Part of Holy Fire’s damage is from the DoT it leaves behind, so you don’t want to re-apply the DoT before the last tick or you’ll cheat yourself out of damage.

    Holy Fire is a much tastier spell in 3.0, granted. Which is probably why it has a cooldown. πŸ™‚

  6. Thank You for posting this I have been messing around with talent calculators trying to decide on a holy/disc leveling build for Wrath.

    I leveled my Holy Priest to about 65 as Shadow and made a Shadow Priest that I managed to level to 69 before realizing I really just do not care for the spec. Anyhow I was really hoping that leveling as Holy/Disc would not be so bad and from what you have said it sounds fine to me.

    Oh and totally off topic. I post over at Ego Priest too and have seen you there. I post as Lillend there though.

  7. @ Sonny – I appreciate the sentiment, but I wouldn’t ever want to level as a Resto Druid. If there is one thing I never feel on my Priest it is helpless. I cannot say the same for my deep Resto Druid. Had to put enough points in Balance for Insect Swarm, at least. It taught me why it had been better off in the Resto tree. πŸ˜‰

  8. @ Ayslin/Lillend – Welcome back! Thanks again for the props at Ego Priest. At least he/she is living up to his/her title when it comes to the blogroll. We may be a baby blog but we’ve got wings! And did I mention we’re having a very special event next week? Big announcement tomorrow! Let there be hype. πŸ˜‰

  9. Thanks for the inputs. πŸ™‚

    I think I will stay as Shadow at least till level 70. I like the way it looks (Shadowform even transforms mounts), and the spell damage is a lot of fun.

    I will consider being a Discipline (healing) priest should the need arise. Patch 3.0 and WotLK buffed the tree quite a bit.

    As for leveling, if you want to have fun, level with the spec you enjoy, if you want to minimize down time, there are more effective specs to do it.

    When I was leveling my resto druid from 60 to 70, I remained resto and grouped all the way. That was before they added the 1/3 damage to +heal, which made solo so much easier.

  10. Hey, don’t blame me! You’re my class lead, you can’t expect me to pay attention to anything you say. πŸ˜›

    >.> Er, I mean, I’m sorry I didn’t proof it as carefully as I should have. Please forgive me.

    (in all honesty, I don’t usually pay attention to your details so much because, frankly, I trust you and if you don’t specify “go over these and make sure I’ve got them right” my usual proofreading is an overall general content kind of thing. Now that I know the level of prooving you’re needing, I’ll be more careful in the future. Maybe.)

  11. I forgot to mention that I, too, am super excited for the upcoming spell power changes.

    @Seri re:resto
    I suppose if you embrace the full glory of the magic bear toon and then “settle in” to the resto spec at 70, it’s acceptable. But this is only if your magic bear is still rawring to Boomkin at a moment’s notice!

    If, however, you are Resto Bear 4 Life, then I cannot respect your leveling decision.

  12. @Sonny: I assume you’re addressing the idea that I suggested by leveling the druid as resto?

    I would agree pre-2.3 that resto druids would be difficult in questing due to low dps output, but I can assure you that it did not hinder one bit while I grouped with others for instance xp grind.

    In fact, most groups needed healers so badly that I never had trouble going into dungeons whenever I logged on.

    Therefore, it is feasible to level (even from 70 to 80) a druid entirely in resto.

  13. Great guide! I’ll have a look at some of these specs and try them.

    If the mob has enough life, keeping Holy Fire on cooldown might be a better DPS strategy.

    And one clever trick: Get Spirit Tap if you plan on soloing. It procs of any attack. More important, you’ll enter into SS1 mode for 15 seconds. Your Spell Damage derived from Spirit will double, while you’ll be regenerating more mana while the Spirit Tap proc is on.

  14. […] him at the level cap. When I do, Seri from World of Snarkcraft looks to have some good advice for Leveling Disc/Holy in Wrath Β« . Flint has always leveled Holy/Disc so this advice lets me continue down that […]

  15. I wrote a similar post to this about a month and a half ago (Leveling as Holy in WotLK).

    Two things I left out of my post (and you skipped in yours, too!) that I felt worth adding to the conversation:

    1) Why you should level holy/disc over shadow:
    With shadow, your efficiency in leveling is from taking on multiple mobs at once, which just isn’t possible on the beta realms (and won’t be when WotLK goes live). There is just too much competition for mobs! You’re often lucky to just be going at a steady one-mob-a-time rate. Holy/Disc is very competitive with shadow DPS on mobs that die quickly, but is more mana efficient.

    2) If you are leveling holy/disc, then for the love of Pete get the Glyph of Smite! It makes things so easy, and it likely won’t be that costly.

  16. I actually leveled as a holy/disc priest way back when, not having known better. It’s already known that I’m going to be leveling my way to 80 with a hunter friend. I’ve been debating about just sticking with my holy spec (though not sure what the point is of CoH when there’s only three of us…) or going shadow. But so many choices! Holy/disc will always kind of have my preference – thanks for showing that it’s viable and giving some good tips!

  17. Ilove this. I leveled holy all the way up to 70 ( I will admit, a 70 lock quested with me a lot in the outlands). I was thinking I might stay deep holy all the way to 80, but, now I am not so sure. I love this guide, thanks for the tips.

  18. @ MK – Nice article, but… “you may not be as efficient as a shadow priest”? I’d be curious to hear what your criteria for efficiency is. πŸ™‚

    @ Avonar – If you’re planning to duo most of the way to 80 there isn’t a compelling reason to keep CoH the whole time. On the other hand, if you’re duo’ing to 80 with a hunter you don’t need to worry too much about your damage output either. This might be a good time to spec deep Disc just to play with the new toys. No one’s really sure yet if Disc is going to become something other than the redheaded step child of the Priest trees.

    @ Julanna – You’re welcome, hope you have a grand old time in Northrend. Smite early, Smite often!

  19. Efficiency = speed. In theory, you can level faster as shadow if you are chain pulling mobs.

  20. @ MK – Imagine how much faster you can go if you don’t have to stop to drink. That’s my whole point. What’s more, I believe I can kill a level 70 mob just as fast as a Shadow Priest, with the techniques outlined here. πŸ™‚

  21. Dear World of Snarkcraft,

    First of all, I’d like to give my compliments to this excellent and entertaining weblog.

    Second, I don’t quite understand what makes it so, that one never has to drink with this holy/discipline spec of yours. Is it Spirit tap, truckloads of spirit coupled with meditation, something completely different, or a combination thereof?



  22. @ Serbon – It is the truckloads of Spirit. While you’re out questing, you’re going to have regen time while moving between mobs and between quest target areas. I’ve found that my regen is so high with a spirit heavy gearset that I just don’t have to drink because it only takes 3-4 spellcasts to kill a mob and the little downtime that I have running to the next mob is sufficient to regen most of that.

  23. Hi Snark!

    Just wanted to say the thoughts on leveling builds for Wrath are pretty interesting. I’ve personally got a CoH build (http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=bVhbzhZsxtcs0qVhVGo) and have very few issues with solo questing, as far as survivability and needing to drink is concerned. Things get a little dicier if the mobs I’m fighting have a long interrupt or a really fast respawn timer, although that usually just means I have to actually use my fear and may drop below half mana.

  24. I leveled with a Smite spec through much of Wrath. I liked it initially. Over time I started seeing more and more downtime and my DPS in instances didn’t seem to scale up as much other classes.

    However, the DPS issue may have been a function of me starting my leveling with epics from BC, and I think the downtime was introduced because I forsook Spirit in favor of Crit a little too much when I chose my upgrades.

    Still, when I hit 77 I respecc’d Shadow and found that I’d kill things faster and had less (if any) downtime (yay Dispersion!). So, to me Shadow appears to be more efficient for leveling/grinding, but Smite is definitely a viable alternative if you’re looking for something new.

  25. I visited many web sites however the audio quality for audio songs existing at
    this web page is genuinely marvelous.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: