Jov sez: How to Spec Your Priest

February 3, 2009

noAs you all have probably noticed from my “It Came From The Meeting Stone” screenshots, not being a tard when standing at the trainer clicking the little talent buttons is important to me.  And since there seem to be some people determined to be creative, original, or just entirely avoid min/maxing for who knows WHAT reason…  I’m gonna make a handy little post.  And more than that, I’m going to macro it with a /t %t “Hey, it may have escaped your notice, but your spec is bad.  I don’t see how you can be anything but a drain on your raid with a spec that special.  Please check out the guide at {here} and thank me later.”

Okay, first of all, there are two types of priest: Holy (*buffs nails*) and Discipline (… meh).  Okay, there’s the replenishment bot in the corner, but we don’t care about them.  Their purpose is just to fill our neverending mana pool.  But on to the basics.

First, you’ve two options for spec, with some wiggle room allowed in each.

Discipline (54/13/0 — points remaining: 4)
Holy (14/54/0 — points remaining: 3)

snowflakeYou do NOT have the option to try and pick a little of column one and a little of column two. Doing so does not make you a tender and unique snowflake.  It makes you spend a respec fee to not do it wrong.


Must haves — Both specs
Twin Disciplines : Superior choice to Unbreakable Will; more spellpower is good.
Improved Fort : Unfortunately, we need it.
Improved Inner Fire : Starting at lv 71, Inner Fire gives a spellpower boost.  Improved improves it.  Better choice than Silent Resolve.
Inner Focus : A free spell (with bonus improved chance to crit).  Good for getting time out of the 5 second rule.
Meditation : Our primary regen talent.
Holy Specialization : Crit is very important to several of our talents.  This is a free 5%.
Divine Fury : Reduced cast time to smite, holy fire, flash and greater.  Superior to Spell Warding.
Inspiration : If there’s any chance you’re going to be having a heal land on a tank, you want this maxed.

Must haves — Discipline Spec
Improved PW Shield : You’ll be shielding a lot; improve it.
Mental Agility : Reduced mana cost on instants, good for all the shielding you’ll be doing.
Mental Strength : More mana, better results from Replenishment, required for Power Infusion.
Focused Power : Increases Spellpower
Enlightenment : Improved stats plus haste
Power Infusion : Not just for mages 😉
Renewed Hope : Improved crit meshes well with Divine Aegis
*Grace : (see Situational section below)
Rapture : Mana regen talent
Aspiration : Primarily for the reduced cooldown of Penance
Divine Aegis : Good with Renewed Hope.  Again, shields are vital.
Pain Suppression : Good “oh shit” button
Borrowed Time : Haste and more shield improvement
Penance : Penance and Shield are the two main “bread and butter” spells of the discipline spec.  Don’t spec Discipline without this talent.

Suggested Use of Leftover Points — Discipline Spec
Desperate Prayer, Improved Renew, Divine Spirit — Regular DS is the strongest of these, but they all work.
Situational: If you don’t run with Shammies, feel free to go IDS.  If you don’t have a protadin, get *Grace.

Skip — Discipline Spec
Improved Divine Spirit : Does not stack with Flametongue Totem.  If there are shammies in the raid, chances are this is a wasted point.
Reflective Shield : Only reflects damage done to you when you are shielded.  Does not reflect damage when anyone else is shielded.
*Grace : Damage Reduction does not stack with Blessing of Sanctuary, though the boost to +heal does.

Must haves — Holy Spec
Improved Renew : Better option than the alternatives
Improved Healing : Reduced mana cost of heals
Holy Reach OR Desperate Prayer : Either of these is as good as the other.  Holy Reach will increase the spread of CoH and Holy Nova.  Desperate Prayer will heal you (personally, I think you’re better off with Binding Heal, but to each his own).  They’re both primarily a means to jump down a tier.
Spirit of Redemption : 5% spirit increase, plus improved death.
Spiritual Guidance : Spellpower increased by 25% total spirit.  Spirit is still mandatory for holy priests.
Surge of Light : 50% Chance on crit to get a free flash/smite.  Good for downtime when no one needs a heal, good for getting time out of the 5 second rule when paired with Inner Focus.
Spiritual Healing : Improves healing spells
Holy Concentration : Clearcasting
Empowered Healing : Improves Greater, Binding and Flash heals
Serendipity : Mana regen talent
Imp Holy Concentration : You get a reduced cast time for Greater, Flash, and Binding, plus improved chance to proc Clearcasting
Circle of Healing : 6 second cooldown or not, this is still a valuable part of a holy priest’s arsenal, and a useful group heal.
Divine Providence : Improves healing done by all spells not Greater/Flash and reduces the cooldown of ProM.
Guardian Spirit : Good “oh shit!” button that also increases all healing done to the target.

Suggested Use of Leftover Points — Holy Spec
Healing Prayers, Test of Faith, Desperate Prayer/Holy Reach — all solid choices.

Skip — Holy Spec
Healing Focus : Changes to pushback mechanics make this talent somewhat lackluster compared to others, so skip it.


  1. Some pro shaman in my guild told me once “I can’t believe you don’t have pushback on your spec”, after we wiped a few times on Sarth+2 due to whelps zerging me.

    I told her I’m using the standard EJ spec, which doesn’t include pushback, but I’d still love to hear – why is pushback not viable?

  2. Where are you seeing that BoS overwrites Grace? I am looking at my guild’s most current WWS report and our tanks definitely had Grace stack and refresh on them while they had BoS.

  3. A word from the tank corner on Pain Suppression. From our perspective, it serves much the same purpose as Guardian Spirit: preventing us from dying from predictable burst damage (e.g. Flame Breath from Sartharion + 3D).

  4. Your mistaken about Grace. Grace has two effects…

    1- Reducing Damage (does NOT stack with BOS)

    2- 6% Bonus Healing on target (will stack with BOS)

    6% Bonus Healing when fully stacked is nothing to shrug off on a spec that struggles with competing on throughput anyways. Definately worth a couple of talent points.

  5. Also, there’s a movement in the Disc community to forsake Divine Fury, since most Disc priests rarely, if ever, use Gheal.

  6. Useful post (I didn’t know that part of Grace didn’t stack-hm!), but I resent disc being called meh. 😉

  7. As Cladius mentioned, the healing bonus on Grace does stack with Blessing of Sanctuary. That’s an additional 6% healing exactly when you need throughput — when you’re tank healing — since Grace will always be fully stacked. And it’s only two talent points.

    When you think about it, if you’re single target healing, your target will always have Weakened Soul up and/or three stacks of Grace. If you compare Renewed Hope with Grace you are comparing 4% crit with 6% healing. The two points in Renewed Hope are far more replaceable than the two points in Grace.

    Juzaba – while Disc priests don’t cast Greater Heal a lot, when we need to it’s because we need throughput. There is no better Greater Heal throughput talent available to us than Divine Fury. Plus, with the static haste on my gear (of which I don’t have a whole lot) plus Borrowed Time and Divine Fury, my Greater Heal cast time is 1.7 seconds. That turns PW:S -> Penance -> GHeal in to some wicked burst HPS.

    Additionally, where else would you spend those points? If Renew sees some significant buffs in the future I’d consider dropping two points from Divine Fury to max Improved Renew, but that’s it. And even then I’m not sure I’d want to..

  8. Cladius beat me to it… The damage reduction on Grace won’t stack with BoS, but the increased healing bit will still be effective.

    I don’t have Divine Fury either, I just don’t cast Gheal enough to make it worthwhile for five points. Normally if i cast it, it’s right after a shield so it falls under Borrowed Time.

    For a while I did not have the pushback talent… but it comes in handy for PvP which I do a lot of these days. Plus, since I dropped DF after going disc I had to spend the five talent points somewhere… I supposed I could have taken spell warding but meh I’ll save that for a real PvP Disc spec.

    Anyhow, I choose renew and healing focus to replace DF. I use renews a bit when I’m healing on the move and i PvP a lot. So, those two talents get more mileage than DF which I cast mostly after rezing people in raids…

    Also @ Senres, Borrowed Time is only for the first cast after you shield… does Penance not use up the charge? (I haven’t noticed is why I’m asking)

  9. p.s. Jov… Once you go disc, you never go back. (provided you give it long enough to get your casting rotations right)


  10. @Raivyne
    Borrowed time is not used up by Penance, though Penance receives the haste bonus. So far there has been no word from Blizzard if this is ‘working as intended’ or a bug.

  11. In general, a spell benefiting from a consumable buff but not consuming it should be assumed to be a bug. Very few effects are supposed to exhibit this sort of behavior, and the ones that are usually are very specific about it in their tooltips/descriptions.

    Holy Focus is still a good PvP talent (as is Silent Resolve), but it’s less exciting for PvE now because you can only suffer pushback twice per cast. In general in PvE (outside of rare circumstances like Vael) if you’re suffering pushback rather than death in a fight, it’s because there’s a bunch of wimpy adds on you, which somewhat negates the benefit of Holy Focus since you’ll probably still suffer those two pushbacks even WITH the 70% resistance.

    But a solid PvP spec will look a bit different than either of the presented options regardless, so you’d be swapping around more than just those 5 points anyway 🙂

  12. I’ve been thinking about dropping DF as well, mostly because with the rotation i usually do my tanks rarely if ever need a GH, and with Borrowed Time + my own gear haste it should already be fast enough, but the fact is that i can only think of spending 3 points in Imp Renew and not sure where to toss up the other 2, anyone got suggestions for that? (not Healing focus cause yea that would just be even less useful than DF given that i rarely PvP)

    Also i always have Grace on my build, gives nice benefits to even try to skip it (and i don’t really see anywhere else to use the points).

    And Jov i’m hurt that you put disc as “meh” /cry

  13. Raivyne – Takka beat me to it, but yes, Penance benefits from borrowed time but does not consume it.

    Yuki – in some ways it seem like it may be a bug, but it may also be intended. I like to think of it as along the same lines as a frost mage’s shatter combo. Whether or not Blizzard agrees with me is a whole other question 🙂

  14. At this point i really don’t think Penance not consuming Borrowed Time is a bug, cause we should’ve seen something related to it on a blue post if it was (or are they just really not mentioning it because blizz hasn’t decided if they want to keep it or not?)

  15. @Jov – Even though you “meh”ed at disc, I promise to not throw rotten garbage at you. =3

  16. @ Everyone — Jeez, I leave the comment section alone for a day and it turns into the Discipline Love Fest. What is it, a spec or a cult?

    I might have been unclear, out of date, or otherwise made some mistakes in my post. I’ll dig through and fix/update as I have time (likely tomorrow).

  17. […] one of the most popular hits for our blog.  If you’re here looking for spec advice, go to this post instead.  This was made for the days pre-Wrath release, not intended for level 80 raiders.  Follow the […]

  18. >What is it, a spec or a cult?

    Can’t it be both?


  19. Disc priest gets no love from the outside world so we have to get our loving from each other. We are a spec and a cult, and probably all from West Virginia.

  20. Hello Snarkers! I’m a just-dinged-80 priest, and a regular reader of snarkcraft. Thanks for the great post and comments, you’ve given me lots to think about. (Especially how crap my current holy-ish spec is. Omg I didn’t realise!)

    I’m thinking of trying out disc spec, and I was wondering: can someone suggest a guide for disc spell rotations?

  21. @ Lidija — As a matter of fact, I can. Ego wrote up something just a few weeks ago when she made the swap from Holy to Disc. It’s at… um… here. But if you check our Blog Roll, both Egotistical Priest and Matticus are Disc, so digging through their sites would probably help you 🙂

  22. Lidija… welcome to the cul… err ummm family!

  23. It is so true disc get no love most of the time 😦 the other day i decided to go on a pug (yes i must be a bit crazy) for naxx and they actually asked me to respec to holy because “it will be better”.

  24. That’s because holy IS obviously better. Silly Disc presit. 😉

  25. >_> Where’s Seri when we need to be defended?

  26. Mwahahahaha! Y’alls mine now.

  27. Besides, why do you expect Seri to defend you. She went Disc, yeah… then she went Rogue.

    That’s pretty telling, imo. Not only is Disc a cult, but it causes reroll.

    Just something to remember…

  28. I’d argue that point except that I haven’t leveled my disci priest at all in favor of my death knight >.>

    Although, to be fair, that can hardly be considered a “reroll” given my proclivities 😀

  29. Very nice post. Handy reference to give to our new priests 🙂

    One thing about the healing focus, as it seems an obscure subject. Paladin healers bring the concentration aura which reduces pushback by 50%. Healing focus doesn’t stack additively, meaning you get 70% reduction on the remaining 50%. That totals to 85% and it seems that the reduction improvement from 50% to 85% isn’t worth the talent points.

    However… if you find yourself in the position to be raiding without paladin aura on frequent basis then the talent is practically a must have. It makes a world of difference in both [i]your[/i] and the tank’s survivability. Being delayed 1s on your emergency heal is just deadly. Especially if you’re a binding heal fan like me, this talent can really show its worth and practically replaces ‘desperate prayer’ because a reliable binding heal is worth just as much.

  30. I went from rogue to holy priest then to disc priest…


  31. I disagree that Gheal is the only spell of choice when you need throughput. While PI>PW:S>Penance>Gheal>PoM is one of the (if not the) highest HPS single-target combos in the game, replacing the Gheal with two Flash Heals is not a significant decrease in the HPS. Flash Heals from a Disc priest should keep a target’s head above water in time for Penance to come back online, which is all that’s really necessary in current content.

    There are playstyles that can make better use of some of those talent points. For example, people who PvP on the side will want some combination of Imp. Renew, Healing Focus, and Desperate Prayer. I’m not saying that you will often see a Disc priest without Divine Fury, but losing a few points from the talent is not as critical as it would be for Holy.

  32. Someone say my name? Disc = win, but I am vaguely uncomfortable with its cult-like allure right now. But maybe I’ll feel better when I get my standard issue black t-shirt and sneakers in the mail.

  33. @Jov – Great post. IMHO Grace is a must have for Disc. Its such a great passive skill.

    @Lidija – Disc priests (and healers generally) don’t really have fixed rotations as we react to events. We do have a kinda priority list but its more about play style than a DPS type rotation.

    @Seri – Yes i’m thinking of swappign to Holy as Disc is getting crowded 🙂

    @Zusterke – I have to disagree re:Healing Focus. It might be a must have for Holy but is isn’t overly useful for Disc. Many of our spells are instant.

    Gobble gobble.

  34. you all make me feel so out of place here. I’m pulling a holy build with partial disc…23/48 to be exact. I don’t raid with a shaman in group so i had to pick up the divine spirit (guess my number was up) over the all powerful “holy crap” guardian spirit ability. keeping true to my holy loving self i did go for more clearcasting in lieu of increased effect of AoE’s i hate the 6 sec. c/d of PoH now and it makes me sad. yes i admit i was the kara raider who continuously spammed CoH and prayed for mana regen. Now that i’m in almost full T7 gear I have found that there is only really one instance where i would ever consider using PoH anyway and PoM works just as well (I condemn you Kel’Thuzad to burn for your iceblocks!) Since the fight isn’t incredibly healing intensive to begin with (only the holy shit that person is going to die in 4 seconds bit) i just leave PoM on c/d for the majority of the fight and hit the blocked person/people with PoM surely 3200 healing is enough to cover the extra 4% damage they could take (that’s almost 10% of most tanks i know lol). I have recently been looking at disc tree to try respecing. But i feel like so many of the things i love in holy get sadly left out. (call me vain but i love opening my character screen and seeing 2300 spellpower self-buffed).
    My name is Asymun and i play on The Venture Co. Plz feel free to look my character up and ridicule me. I shall take it as “constructive Criticism”

  35. “Not only is Disc a cult, but it causes reroll.”

    o.o Maybe.. but I think there’s an underlying element not being considered. Perhaps Disc is just so epic that, for those of us who were already severely epic, our souls just couldn’t handle so much more. I’d like it to be noted I adore Disc with all my heart, and I’m shadow. Er.. *ahem*.. Replenishment Bot. =.=

  36. @Asymun I healed as 23/48 for a while, it’s a decent spec IMO. I wasn’t overly estatic about Guardian Spirit so I just got spirit instead. /shrug

    I have a friend who’s currently rocking it and he healed us just fine in heroic CoS.

  37. Thanks for this, very useful after coming back to WoW for the expansion.

  38. Thanks so much for your advice, guys. So far the Disc cult– oops I family– is turning out great! I can’t get enough of Penance, probably I’m relying too much on it, but gosh its good.
    I haven’t worked out when you can use PW:S without the tank getting narky, or at least slightly nervous, though it seems if you wait until he has enough agro then he won’t lose it due to a PW:S.

  39. I’ve never had a good tank complain about Power Word: Shield. It simply doesn’t affect their rage/tps enough to matter.

  40. […] while waiting on a summon.  There’s actually little to no reason to avoid going straight for one of the specs I outlined a few weeks ago, just remember to start in Discipline for Meditation, either way.  […]

  41. […] I posted a general guide to speccing, which is great if you’re going the LFG […]

  42. […] on some talent changes she was considering.  As anyone who’s read this blog knows, I’m pretty damned opinionated as to how to properly spec.  However, I do also try to keep a (somewhat) open […]

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