Jov sez: In Defense of Wacky Specs

May 26, 2009

Last week, one of my priesties (Hai Mira!*) sent me a PM asking for my feedback 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 mind to things which might make sense based on current needs, either of the player or of the content.  I’m also willing to give a good bit more thought to something that comes from someone I trust to not be a total mouthbreather, but that’s neither here nor there.

Essentially the gist comes to this:  My little priestie (Hai Mira!**) has been doing research, reading blogs, keeping up on her talents (exactly like I like them to do) and approached me with the thought of using a build first proposed by Derevka a couple weeks ago.  She gave me the build, made certain I had a link to the post, and (re-)explained the reasoning behind the various talents.  Essentially she (HAI MIRA!***) did everything right to break through my consistant knee-jerk reaction to some of the talents she proposes to take/skip and take on faith that she’s experimenting with a plan.

That’s not to say I immediately agreed with her.  Anyone asking my opinion directly is going to get it. The reply I sent back goes like this:

Personally, I’ve never liked Spell Warding, for the reasons you mention. I’ve seen people argue taking it when faced with constant raid-wide unavoidable damage (it was very big in SWP), it seemed very much “drop in the bucket”y vs Greater Heal. Of course, with the death of downranking, I can also understand not wanting to sacrifice points in something which improves a spell you rarely use.

I’ll totally trust your judgment re: GHeal usage vs hope of taking the edge off certain spell effects for better survivability. That’s a personal call.

Re: Healing Focus. I’m just snagging a random WWS to take a look at your spell useage here. (5/7 Ulduar is what I clicked on). Pushback doesn’t matter on your instants (CoH, renew, ProM, etc, which was ~70% of your healing done for the night) but will help with Flash, Greater, and PoH (~30% of your healing done). Again, I know that your spell selection is going to vary by fight.

Summing up my thoughts on the proposed spec change:
1) Spell Warding is very little bang for 5 talent points. It can help on some fights, but I’m personally biased against taking talents which are so very situational, generally speaking.
2) How much are you facing pushback in a given week?
3) If you are needing a greater heal, is the lack of reduced cast time going to hurt? What about the loss of the mana reduction?
4) I understand the logic behind the changes, I only wonder at the applicability.
5) I wouldn’t make the changes myself. However, I fully acknowledge that I am not you, my style is not yours, and my biases are my own. I’m very pro- trying stuff out to see what works. My main issue (which you’ve already resolved) is just following something weird you dug up somewhere and try as the hot new thing without actually giving it thought. I know that doesn’t apply, so consider this the green light. I very much look forward to how this works for you.

See? I can totally be open-minded.

When it comes down to it, some amount of healing is still based on personal style.  If I trust you through reading or personal experience enough to know you know what you’re doing, I’m very capable of acknowledging that some tweaks might not necessarily improve your throughput, but might help you out in other ways.

This is also not the only spec discussion going on in-guild at the moment, as I’m privy to a bit of a disagreement between two people I trust highly in knowing what they’re talking about.  I think it’s somewhat resolved, with a “try both of the specs for a week and give them a fair shot” plan in the works.  I just hope that one can forget the mathbook and the other can give cookie cutter an open mind long enough for the test to be fair.  But we’ll see.

In other news, AXIOM IS STILL RECRUITING! We’re particularly wanting a tree and a holy priest! Trees will get plenty of fertilizer from the streams of BS in guild chat and vent!  Priests!  You’ll get a kick-ass priest crew.  You’ll also down bosses.  Axiom needs YOU!

* Didn’t know I was gonna do this in a post, didja?

** Bet you wish you didn’t say something when I was racking my brain for this week’s post, huh?

*** You’re really gonna kill me, now, aren’t you?


  1. I will never forget the math book~

    It’s a discussion I’ve had many times, with myself and with other players. One of the biggest difficulties of playing a healer is that there is no easy way to determine how good you are.

    Both ways! You can be a great healer, but think that you suck because your target died, in a situation that no healer alive could have kept the target up. Or, you can be a bad healer, and think you’re great because your team is helping you out so much.

    There was a really good post about this somewhere, but I can’t find it. It basically boils down to, the game doesn’t always give you negative feedback when you’re doing badly, and it doesn’t always give you positive feedback when you do well, and so we often learn things badly, or have a difficult time learning what’s good. Again, both ways.

    You can, of course, replace how well you play with how good your spec is.

    As a paladin, I recently switched from my 51/2/18 heavy-crit heal-one-target-forever spec/glyphs, to a 51/20/0 help-the-raid/higher-output-but-lower-longevity build. It feels right! But I have to be careful… does that 10 seconds of reduced raid damage compensate for the times I need to pop DP mid-fight? Do the holy lights that hit for 2k harder make up for needing to use flash of light more to manage my mana? Seeing an 18k heal is heavy positive reinforcement, when maybe it shouldn’t be.

    It’s something we have to be really careful about as we “l2p”

    • (I should point out, btw, that I consider all of the healers in this discussion to be excellent, and would not mean to imply otherwise)

      • Yeah, I posted that bit directly to you. I’m glad to see you spotted it. 😉

        When I said some level is about personal preference, I really meant that SOME level is about personal preference.

        Is it better to take spell warding or to be better about using binding/other forms of self healing? I personally think the latter, as it doesn’t cause you to miss out on the big throughput talents. But is it going to make a change for the worse in the long run? I’m willing to try it and see.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head crutches.. being a good healer can’t be measured so directly.

    Healing is essentially problem solving and that can be done in many ways. Some people prefer flexible solutions, others trade flexibility for management. Which method is best depends entirely on the player. Passive self preservation allows more focus on preserving others. Removing GHeal from the spell list makes your access scheme more efficient. This may give an increase in reaction speed and judgement that can not be measured.

    Such concerns transltate badly into a talent build. Throughput talents always come out on top in theorycrafts and are therefor often labeled as better. Does it not surprise you that people are willing to invest 3 talent points in serendipity to speed up PoH by 12% to 36% but not 2 points in healing focus to prevent a 33% to 45% slowdown?
    I’ve seen people die because they relied on desperate prayer… And I know some that can’t live without it.

    I think it boils down to how people want to manage the healing problem. That’s why I’ll always engage players in a discussion about how they heal, want to heal and how to spec for it rather than telling “Spec this way”. Still, it never hurts to ask people to ‘try this spec’ and check out how it works.

    • Oh dear. If Crutches and Zusterke get together and start plotting, my days will soon be taken completely over by maths and numbers.


  3. Oh, no you di-in’t! *head cocks*

    JK – i love discussion! i do like how you stay open and willing to try it out. A lot of my decision making on my spec is revolved around the content we are currently pushing on.

    So I’m guessing you won’t like that I’m considering killing 2 pts in Divine Providence for Body and Soul then huh? 😉 (Run speed for Yogg P1) ❤ my "wacky spec" 😉

    • Wacky spec is wacky.

      And… no, I don’t like B&S. >< Besides, you shouldn't be casting PWS! /spank Bad holy priest! Shields are for Disc!

      • How can you justify not casting shields when a Holy Priest has 4 pieces of T8, though? :/

      • We didn’t raid with a Disc. :)Either way, incoming post. I wound up with a new guild.

  4. Hai Mira!

    Sounds like your spec is very similar to mine. Don’t listen to this old fuddy duddy 😉 Spell Warding and Healing Focus FTW!

    Gobble gobble.

    • Who you calling “fuddy duddy”?


  5. After reading this I went and started playing with a talent calculator. I was not interested in dropping Divine Fury. I do not cat G. Heal often, but when I do I want it to be fast. Right now I tend to use it only when I have a 3 stack of serendipity and it has a cast time that is barely longer than flash heal. Which means I can get off a bigger heal fast and sometimes that is nice.

    Anyhow I do not use G. Heal often. When I do I want it fast, but I do not know that I need it to be cheap. So I went and looked at removing points from Imp. Healing. However….that just did not work for me. I already have points in Healing focus. All I could put them in is Spell Warding or Inspiration. Spell Warding I’m not really convinced on. Inspiration I loved for tank healing, but now if I plan to tank heal I switch to Disc and my Disc spec has Inspiration.

    Anyhow my conclusion is that maybe this would work for someone, but at this point not me. 🙂

  6. Haha! I was very surprised, but not at all upset to see this as a topic of discussion, Jov. This is why I come to you for your thoughts; I value your opinion immensely. ❤ So many discussions tend to be six of one, half-dozen of the other, and so devoid of the human element, that I prefer the opinion of someone who is familiar with my personal play-style and preferences. I have yet to try the alternative talent build I proposed, but plan to do so on a couple fights this week.

    For those interested, my normal raiding build (and one I am quite comfortable and happy with) is this:


    And I am thinking of making my dual-spec talent build this for the high spell-damage/pushback-intensive boss fights (I'm looking at you, Hodir and Mimiron):


    So, essentially, I would have two Holy specs (Holy4lyfe, yo) to swap around at my discretion. I have yet to try out this second Holy spec (last week was too crazy), but hope to this week. ^_~

  7. @_erica — That’s why I maintain that Priest T8 is either REALLY stupidly itemized (for Disc priests) or has fucking craptastic bonuses (for Holy) depending on your perspective.

  8. Much belated- Hey wait a minute…

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