Jov sez: Your lousy spec

March 17, 2009

I’m putting my supposed-to-go-up-last-week-but-I-didn’t-finish on the back burner yet again due to the veritable shit storm of commentary from Seri’s post a couple weeks ago, the simple post screenshotting a spec which we’re STILL getting responses to.  (And also because the put-off post is still not finished.)

So, it’s a lousy spec.  Most of the priests who actually research their class (or think hard about it) can spot the 10 or 20 things that really need improvement before being proclaimed a viable spec.  The ones who REALLY enjoy the math aspect of the game can take it one step further, pulling out calculators and spreadsheets to illustrate exactly WHY it’s wrong, and specifically how much gimping you’re doing to yourself by your inability to research.  (And for the person who points out there are shit specs on wowwiki, it’s true, but one source does NOT count as “research” by any definition.  Armory or inspect someone in a raid guild, ask around where to get other information, read the effing tooltips.)

But!  All that aside, there’s a bigger question that was raised by Nihonga in comments:  “Does he get the job done with this spec?”  Seri answered assuming the commenter was simply being a smart ass, I gave the more blunt answer that current content could be healed with 0 points in holy OR discipline, so it’s not entirely a fair assessment.

But what if it is?  If content is such that currently it can be done without paying the slightest attention to theorycraft or talent trees, does that then imply that they don’t matter?

The short answer is no, the longer answer is sometimes.

The obvious problem with going into any situation with a bad spec is the fact you’re not doing as well as you could.  A respec may not by definition make you a better healer, but will make some heals stronger, some faster, and give you some more tricks for maintaining your mana.  It makes your job easier.  Back in the dark ages pre-Wrath when TBC, Illidan, and Sunwell were the Big Things, Wynthea over at World of Matticus made a post which could be essentially described as the rallying call of the non-bad.  “Myth: It Doesn’t Really Matter As Long as the Boss Dies” I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and give a blow by blow of her argument, but to sum up, it posited that HOW a boss goes down is actually more important than just the fact that he does.

Does a bad spec get the job done?  Presumably, or they wouldn’t be on the team.  But the more important question as to how well that happens is totally untouched.

So why do I answer with sometimes?  Well, it really goes back to the raid group as a whole.  If you’re in a group that doesn’t care (that believes that only the boss dying matters) then theorycraft really doesn’t matter beyond a certain point (do you have the health/mana/regen/defense to survive the encounter, and if you don’t, do you know enough to know what needs tweaking to change that answer to a yes?

If your answer to that is yes, then if you’re clearing content, your lousy spec does not, in fact, matter.  It just makes the rest of us twitch.  (And, no, you cannot join my guild.)


  1. Jov, you’re my hero. And, for the record, if the ss’d Priest in question app’d to my guild, I wouldn’t give them an interview until they could tell me what was wrong with their spec, and had fixed it.

    Much, much love!

    (And a tasty cupcake!)

  2. “Armory or inspect someone in a raid guild” This one can be a bit misleading at times if you have no clue of what roles the players you are looking at have in the raid. A quick glance at the priests in some of the world’s top ranked guilds reveals quite a few specs that are very different from one another. Some of them are built for pure raid healing simply because they always go with specialized tank healers that will be there everytime (Inspiration not needed), some respecc depending on the encounter (Guardian Spirit id fun and all but rarely used that much outside Sartharion 3d), some of them don’t raid much at all after everything has been cleared (and therefore may be using a talentbuild for arena PvP even if they are in the guild that had that world first kill of that dragon). For those reasons I prefer the “ask around where to get other information”. Nothing beats communicating when it comes to knowledge.

  3. Spec is the second place someone is going to look when they’re sizing you up (after gear). It’s like a real life interview – unless you’re dressed appropriately and your resume aligned to the position you’ve applied for- you’ve poisoned the process before you’ve even walked in the door.

  4. Sometimes you can create a spec specifically to synergize with other specs in your guild, but even so that guy was just all over the place. It makes me think of someone who was leveling and just threw talent points up based on what he wanted at the time he leveled. Yeah, it might come in handy in some situations, but any content harder than the current end game and you’re done.

  5. I actually would caution against using any spec randomly gleaned from raider inspections/armories, for two basic reasons:

    1. The “best” raiders (ie, the ones who get world firsts, etc) are terrible theorycrafters. They’re usually months behind the curve in terms of optimizing and generally make fairly talent choices. So the people that someone is most likely to check out if they’re looking for the “best” spec is likely not to actually have it.

    2. The best theorycrafters are the experimenters, which means that their spec at any given time may reflect something being tested rather than something proven. So the people that you’d look at if you know who’s well-respected for their opinions may not actually have the spec you’re looking for at the moment.

    Really it’s better to just do the extremely minimal amount of research it takes to find out what the general consensus on things is. Ask someone who knows their theory, read EJ, hell even the crappy regular forums usually have some measure of this.

    Or you can just not be terrible at math and figure it out for yourself 😀

  6. I was trying to present the options more as “all of the above” than saying that hitting up the raiders specs as 100% accurate.

    And @ Yuki — I’ve always been terrible at math, that’s why I had you do my thinking for me so long 😛

  7. My problem with truly bad specs is that they tell me the person with said spec has no clue what they are doing. If they do not know how to spec most likely they do not know their class well enough to play reasonably. Also from my experience they are not generally getting the job done…they are being carried by the other healers in the group. Here is an example….


    This priest grouped with me in Nexus. I was on my shammy alt. She tried to heal through the final boss with only renew.

    I know maybe there is person out there with an awful spec that by some miracle actually knows how to heal…but I bet that is rare. Mostly to me looking at a spec tells me how much knowledge the person has. I do not insist on an exact cookie cutter, but a spec should make sense. Also by level 80 you should have been able to figure out your class well enough on your own to come up with a reasonable spec.

  8. First off, @ Seri – My apologies for coming off as a smartass in regards to my previous comment, it truly was not my intent. Without knowing anything other than his spec as shown my question was serious. I ran with a similar spec (23/48/0, IDS) and did fine during all 5 man content, heroics included. Basically, I got the job done.

    With that being said, I have to tell you I worked hard for every success, with my fair share of disappointments along the way. Experimentation with my spec (research, along with tons of gold spent at the trainer) put me where I need to be to do what I need to do.

    Jov hits the nail on the head. I wasn’t doing it as well as I could. Re-spec’ing did make me a better healer and it certainly made my job easier. It’s only a matter of time before the SS’d priest comes to this realization also.

  9. Instances are a team effort – so is it possible to have silly healer (or any team member for that matter) and still complete the instance. Of course it is – in fact it happens all the time.
    For every point that the said priest spent on useless talents, there is another healer somewhere who had a very stressful raid night – or even worse a potential tank who goes back to being a DPS because it turns out that being def capped with 23K health is not enough to run heroic Utgarde Keep with the said priest – and since he has no point of reference other than his fellow tanks sporting naxx gear our tank feels it’s his fault and gives up on tanking.
    Spec matters.
    Unless you can solo Naxx – you did not get the job done – the team did.

  10. Mages could, in fact, solo Naxx for a while. Well, one wing anyway. >.>

  11. Heh, heh i’m still raiding with points in Reflective Shields from my time leveling…

    Personally a bad spec (like Disc without Penance) isn’t fatal to a players chance of suceeding, but it is a black mark. If I have the choice between two healers, one with a bad spec and one with a normal spec then i’m going to lean towards the one with the normal spec.

    They are more likely to understand their class and how to play it. There is also a tendency for people generally to prefer the familiar (normal spec) over the unknown (bad spec). That’s human nature.

    However having said that the player with the normal spec might be a poor player and the bad spec player might be the shizzle.

    You never know until you try them.

  12. Talking about specs is always kind of like walking on a thin line… it is for me, anyway! 😛

    One thing I like to see personally is a player who is perhaps not spec’d the exact-cookie-cutter spec of the moment but who still knows what they are doing and is experimenting or spec’ing for a certain role or raid composition. Once you’ve played a class long enough you can sort of learn to differentiate between the people who have no clue what they are doing, and the ones who are different because they DO know what they’re doing. I have a lot of respect for those latter people.

    But yeah, the fubar specs that we’ve all seen? /shudder 😛

  13. Oh also, I dunno when the last time I said this was, but you guys getting “booted” from Matticus was the best thing ever, I ❤ your blog!

  14. OK so what do you do when some priesty shows up to your PUG raid in a completely random assortment caster DPS/healing gear (some still from lvl 70), only 1600 SP, a spec that makes you cringe almost as much as the one you posted here, then proceeds to outheal everyone else by a sizable margin? When asked what they were doing differently than the rest of the healers, they responded: ‘idk I just mash heel buttunz’

  15. @ Pike — That’s like the best double-backhanded compliment ever! ❤ 😉 Thank you.

    @ Doug — Figure out what the hell is wrong with the rest of your healers.

  16. Le sigh. I linked to wiki — to simply illustrate the point that there is plenty of misinformation out there, by sources that some people would consider to be ‘trusted’. I’ve no issue with your snark, your site — you say what you want. But I’ve never in my life the type of person in my life who sees something in the wrong, and just points, laughs, mocks, scorns etc without being like hey you know what.. this isn’t working. And this is why it’s not.

    Having been the priest class lead in my guild there have been a number of priests that have come in and out of our guild and in and out of my care who had no idea that were blogs on the internet devoted to ‘how to play a priest’ish topics, who didn’t fully understand the changes made to their class even after reading their tool tips, etc.

    Because you went so far as to make a topic of how you felt one should spec. And then a subsequent on a different page of your blog which in essnce was a post which said, ‘haha this is so wrong’..

    I just thought what you did could be made twice as good by a) taking the opprotunity to highlight your previous work and b) take the live exaple of ‘bad’ you presented and explain exactly WHY it was bad.

    I dont remember my first internet blog. I know I did the best that I could with what I had at my limited disposal for so long .. and once I started to poke around out there I began to be overwelmed by exactly how much information was out there, some right, some wrong..

    What I said was just a suggestion. Nothing more, nothing less. I am sincerely sorry if what I said caused offense. My desire was only for you to consider what it’s like to walk around in a misinformed priests shoes who may or may not be hip to the blogosphere/navigating the internet and may or may not understand why something is bad, other then it’s being said ‘this is bad’.

    I just felt what you said was an opprotunity for education, instead of simple humiliation.

    /end soapbox apology’s.

    I would just like to say I do enjoy your site a lot and wasn’t trying to give Seri or Jov a hard time. I’ve read your posts over at plus heal/on this site for quite a bit and do respect your knowledge on things priestly.

  17. Our guild tries to be open towards unconventional, non EJ cookie-cutter builds.
    However, we ask that raiders show a decent level of performance. So, they are automatically challenged to aim for performance (chosing a method of their liking). If they fail to perform, we might address the issue.
    We ask (not impose) that they discuss their specs and strategies on our forum. It helps us understand their plan and allows us to give feedback.

    But the build in this discussion is beyond unconventional. It is totally bogus. In all my experience, not 1 (!) spec that I found bogus, has ever proven performant. Not once have I seen a competent player wield such a spec either. So typically, such a spec suggests that the player lacks class knowledge or was playing darts when assigning talents. It’s not something to be laughed at as many ‘know’ that their knowledge of the game may be limited. If such a player shows up in my team, and is willing to learn more and work on his peformance, then he is welcome… even with an unconventional spec. But if he proves obstinate and convinced his approach is acceptable while his performance is not… then he gets the boot.

    It must be noted that we never had to boot someone for such reasons, although many needed some help with their performance. Never the less… when such a spec gets posted (without name, mind you) on a blog. I lol 🙂

    @Freyal: there is indeed a lot of misinformation out there. However… any ‘gamer’ more or less knows that a single source of information is not reliable. If they search for more than 1 source of information, it is doubtfull that they’ll find the same bogus information twice. Search long enough.. and you find enough information and you should more or less be directed towards better builds than that.

  18. I just come here for all my priest info :)Bestest source evar!

    (asskissery aside, I did actually base my current healing spec on a lot of stuff that has been said here!)

  19. […] 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 mind to things which […]

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