Seri sez: Gearing for Disc vs Holy (or: Why My Secondary Spec is Shadow)

April 23, 2009

This one's for you, Dan.When I first heard about Dual Specialization, my first thought was: Yay, finally!

Then I realized my main’s a Rogue now, and I don’t PVP. Nuts.

Anyway, it should come as little surprise to you that my first character to purchase Dual Specialization was, in fact, Seri. I didn’t have to think too long or hard about what my offspec would be, because for the last few weeks I have been livin’ la vida Shadow and having a bit of fun with the pewpewlazors. Making Discipline my primary and Shadow my secondary was a bit of a no-brainer, but the more I thought about it the more sense it seemed to make. Discipline and Shadow actually have fairly similiar priorities when it comes to gear, and I played a Druid for way too long to cheerily embrace building multiple gear sets for a char I don’t play every day. (Or that I do, for that matter…)

Dual Specialization is great in that it gives raiders the opportunity to have a solid raiding spec on raid night and something else in reserve for general tomfoolery during downtime. But for those for whom raiding and healing are their bread and butter, Dual Specialization presents a unique opportunity to stack two extremely viable healing specs. Need more AOE heals for a boss? Go Holy. Need mitigation for another boss? Go Discipline. Best of both worlds, right?

It’s not that easy.

Discipline and Holy are two very different beasts with their own set of priorities for gear. One of the biggest mistakes that I see Priests making right now is thinking they can respec and do either one just as well without swapping any gear around.

There are a lot of gear guides out there for both Discipline and Holy, so I’m not going to re-create the wheel. What I will provide you with are some basic proirities without delving too deeply into the math because this isn’t that kind of blog. (Also, math is hard. Let’s go shopping!)


Gearing for Holy

Let’s talk about Holy first. Back in the day, Holy Priests stacked Spirit, and lots of it. It couldn’t have been more tasty if it was slathered in fudge frosting.

Okay. Maybe if it had been slathered in fudge frosting.


Where was I? Oh, right, Spirit. Spirit will always have a special place in our hearts, but we don’t get as much bang for the buck as we used to. Holy Priests still gain bonus Spellpower based on Spirit (courtesy of Spiritual Guidance), but the ratio of Int to Spirit that you want for maximum mana regeneration has changed. As of patch 3.1, you want this ratio to be approximately 1.4:1 (meaning 1.4 Intellect to every point of Spirit). That’s right.. Intellect has become more important than Spirit.

Of course, Intellect and Spirit aren’t the only things you need to worry about. Spellpower is also important, as it directly affects how effective your healing spells are, and of course Crit and Haste are like the sprinkles on top of the Holy cupcake. I’m making myself hungry.

Anyway, the generally accepted priorities for Holy Priests are:

Spellpower > Int/Spirit (1.4:1) > Crit > Haste > Mp5

I think this may be even better than dogs playing poker.Gearing for Discipline

Moving away from food analogies, think of Discipline Priests as the chess club nerds. Intellect is king for Discipline, because while Holy Priests have to worry about their Int:Spirit ratio for regen purposes… stacking Intellect allows Discipline Priests to take full advantage of talents like Rapture and Mental Strength. The more Intellect they have, the more mana they have. The more mana they have, the greater the return from Rapture. Discipline Priests also get greater returns from Shadowfiend and Re

plenishment, which are based on the size of your mana pool.

Discipline Priest priorities look more like this:

Int > Spellpower > Crit=Haste > Spirit > Mp5

When it comes to Crit/Haste, you don’t necessarily want them to be the same. They’re just listed together because they’re roughly equally important. You want to shoot for a crit rating of around 30%; whatever Haste you pick up to go with that is gravy good.

As you can see, the only thing that Discipline and Holy Priests have in common is that they don’t really give a fig about Mp5. We cautioned you back in TBC not to stack Mp5 and we will continue to do so now. Don’t stack Mp5!!

Get your gear on!

Now that you have a better idea of what swapping between Discipline and Holy entails for maximum effectiveness, it’s up to you to decide if having a Disc/Holy Dual Spec combo is for you. While you’re at it, make me some cupcakes.



  1. Long-time fan here. I’ve been meandering through Outland and Northrend on my disc priest (first toon) – and with a few heroics under my belt now – using Dwarf Priest’s guide, mainly cause it had all sorts of convincing math I didn’t understand. In that guide, MP5 rules supreme. How can that be? I’ve asked the same question over at Discpriest, but we didn’t get close to an explanation really. I’m thinking because it’s for long raid boss fights (i.e. longevity over throughput), but it makes me a sad hawkstrider to think I might be choosing the wrong gear.

  2. Very good point, and I’m seeing more and more priests realising this (luckily, I went Disc and Shadow). One point though: although I agree Disc priests shouldn’t stack mp5 (I still don’t have any mana issues, not even in Ulduar and not even after the 3.1 nerf to Rapture), it is STILL more useful than spirit. Enlightenment does increase our spirit, but this is just not enough, especially not with OO5SR regen being nerfed that badly. So, my priority for Disc is Int -> Spellpower -> Haste=Crit -> mp5 -> Spirit

  3. Interesting… With my gear stash I’d probably be able to gear my spriest up quite well as disc, just by wearing pieces without +hit. It’s a pity I have no idea how to heal. рЯШЙ

  4. Oops, I means without +hit and with minimal spirit.

  5. There’s actually a lot of discussion as to spirit vs mp5 for Discipline over at PlusHeal. Specifically, check out the Priest forum stickies (Zusterke’s “Regen Without the Mathbook” while written pre-3.1, still has some pretty solid information.) Also, neither Seri nor I are big math types, but if you head over to PlusHeal, Zusterke can give you the specific points and when they’re most important.

    hmm… I smell guestpost! *trundles off to poke Zusterke*

  6. I collected some Disc gear as well. Generally I looked at crit and intellect increasement and keeping the same spellpower. I actually found out my disc gear (offspec) is about the same or even slightly better then my fellow (main spec disc) priest. The 2 specs NEED different gearing, gemming, enchanting. And as Matticus said a post ago, this dual spec IS expensive. You preferably want different food buffs as well.

  7. I am a Holy priest that has started to occasionally pretend to be Disc. My main spec is Holy and my second spec is Disc, but my gear is mostly Holy. I have just a few pieces I swap out when I switch to Disc. I know I’m not as good at Disc and I know I’m not geared as well at Disc, but still I’m glad I made this choice. I will slowly work up a better Disc set and I’ll learn the spec better as I go. I’ll improve my Disc set the same way I did my Holy…one piece at a time.

    I have made one amazing discovery…I like Disc…truly like it. I did not really expect to enjoy it so much as I love raid healing and Holy has better raid healing abilities. However it is fun. Not sure why but it is. рЯЩВ

  8. @ Auror – I’m too lazy to go looking for Dwarf Priest’s guide, but if you want to toss me a link I’d take a look. I’m inclined to suspect that it’s just out of date. Dwarf Priest has been inactive since December. рЯШ¶

    @ Tsark – I think the take-away here is: As Disc, don’t go out of your way to stack Spirit or Mp5. Just go with whatever you come across, as both are pretty similar in the amount of regen that results.

    @ KiwiRed – Yeah, like I said.. I felt Shadow/Disc was a great combination for my Dual Spec. рЯЩВ

    @ SuicidalPriest – Yup!

    @ Ayslin – Personally, I like the way the tanks do the ‘stagger’ animation whenever they get hit with a Penance charge. It’s like… by the power Light, be HEALED! I feel so evangelical.

  9. Specing disc = winnning at holy dodgeball.

  10. I’m kind of interested to know where/how MP5 became the bottom stat for Holy Priests, with the nerf to Spirit-based regen in 3.1. To my mind, MP5 > Crit > Haste. (Not a LOT of difference among them, but if I cast faster, I better be able to regen more, too.)

    I agree that Int > Spi; I hadn’t seen the 1.4:1 ratio before, but I haven’t had time to really pore over PlusHeal threads the past week. Pre-patch, I thought Zusterke was advocating 5:4 or something similar.

  11. Hey Seri


    Stat-weighing was just as much all over the place when this guide was brand-new.

  12. Ohhh … you may also enjoy EJ’s 3.1 healing compendium. From a first read through, it seems they value int higher than you do viz. spi for holies. Anyhoo, it’s great playing a class that attracts this many knowledgeable people.


  13. @ Auror – Yeah, I would consider the DP guide pretty out of date this point because of the changes to how regen works since it was published. Stacking MP5 can be helpful when you are making the jump from 5-mans to raiding, but with the high-end raid gear int/spirit are going to yield greater returns hands down. I know your question is more about WHY this is the case but when I start looking at the equations my brain shuts off. рЯШЫ

    We’re currently in negotiations with Zusterke to get a guest post that gets more into the nitty gritty of the current state of Priest regen. In the meantime, you might find his theorycrafting tools helpful: http://zusterke.orderoftheathanor.eu/

    Also, this thread at PlusHeal: http://www.plusheal.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1766 (may not be 100% updated for 3.1)

  14. I’d love a guest post by Zusterke on mana regen! Honestly it just seems so much more confusing to me now. On top of that I have a druid in my guild that is constantly trying to convince me that Mp5 is more valuable to me than I believe it is. For my Holy set I vastly prefer spirit, int, crit, and haste over Mp5.

    I’m not good with math or theory crafting…really I play by feel. I can say that I do not have mana issues yet, but I’ve also not gotten very far into Ulduar yet either. Also I have a new interest in Disc and little understanding of the spec and how regen works for them as compared to holy.

  15. I guess i was on the side of those healing lovers that didn’t jumped over the fact of wanting to do Disc/Holy for the dual spec. And is not just because of the different gear you need for both (i actually happen to have some “holy” kind of gear stacked somewhere in my bank) but is also a diff style, which if you’re not really used to it you won’t perform as well.

    Of course i actually did consider doing shadow for my 2nd spec… but then again i have a pally that went Prot/Ret and a Mage both 80 with nice gear for dpsing.

    So… my priest just ended up with Disc PvE/Disc PvP, cause even tho i’m not really into the whole “let’s go pvp!” mood all the time, my priest is my fav healing class so it just made sense not having to respec to do my weekly Arena, or the random BGs or even WG lol.

    As for the whole Spi vs MP5… I rarely get Spi as Disc (unless is already included in a piece of gear i want as an upgrade) but i would normally take MP5 > Spi, always have, but is also even more natural to do so with the regen changes that came with the patch. And no i’m not pro at the whole math side of the game, but i decide based on how i felt after healing (regen/output/how much i had to “smash my buttons”).

  16. Gearing isn’t the only issue, I wish it was. I read this post and felt like getting an offspec and going disc, which I did. What I discovered is that my healing addon, Healbot (don’t get me started on Grid), requires some reconfiguring every time I switch specs. New spells must get a new key combo and old spells must be deleted or they bug the entire thing. So switching specs or roles will never be a 1 button thing for me.

  17. Ok I know you said to not get you started on Grid, but I had to point out I use Grid & Clique. I have Grid set to show the exact same things for either spec and Clique has an option to not only set up 2 profiles, but to switch between the two when change spec.

    So when I respec the only thing I have to do after is change clothes and I do that with one more click on my outfitter. рЯЩВ

  18. I was checking my starred items in Google Reader (as in, interesting and to be read when I actually have time to pay attention) and realized I’d starred this post. Good thing, too, as I was procrastinating about writing a post about priests and dual specs. I got to link to you for a good part of it – thanks! рЯЩВ

  19. […] wrote an excellent post last week entitled Seri sez: Gearing for Disc vs Holy (or: Why My Secondary Spec is Shadow). Don’t forget to go read it and give her […]

  20. […] the last week getting the gold together to go dual-spec. Shadow, naturally. As Seri points out, Disc and Shadow have a certain synergy, and as long as I don’t plan on raiding as DPS, I can live with it quite cheerfully. I […]

  21. I have a Disc Priest, When Gearing him for healing i find myself looking for those Items that have +int +Stam + crit and +mp/5 +Sp. Is this a good practice? imo i fell that as a disc priest i want every heal to be a crit heal. am i alright for thinking like that. Right now my build is 60/11/0 with 1924sp 1k+ stam 1k+int and like 850 sprit with 520 mp/5, with only priest buffs.

    • Sounds pretty good, but there’s not much point in prioritizing Stamina. Pretty much every piece of gear you pick up is going to have Stamina on it. рЯЩВ

  22. […] a lot of Priests that don’t “get it” I feel I should also mention my post about gearing for Discipline vs gearing for Holy. It’s been a while since I revisited it but I *think* the stat priorities are still generally […]

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