WoW Guide: How to Play a Holy Priest

Updated Fri, Apr 29, 2011 by Mem




***The information contained in this guide is currently out of date. Please see our Priest Guide for up to date information concerning your Priest!***

So instead of wanting to wow people with your amazing DPS, or charge into the fray and take charge as a tank, you have decided to join the ranks of those unsung heroes, the healers. Though it is often a thankless job, healers are always in high demand, especially healing priests Priest healers are a formidable bunch, that no raid should do without.

The Basics

Priest healers are doomed to wear cloth, and as such tend to be a little squishier than Shaman or Druid healers who can outfit themselves in leather or mail. But don’t let this discourage you;, while you will need to be a little more aware of the damage you take, Priest healers have an arsenal of spells that make it easy for them to keep themselves and others alive.

Unlike most other healing classes, as a Priest healer you will have the option to spec into one of two talent trees:; Discipline or Holy. Each spec brings a different type of healing style to the table and while both specs value the same basic stats on gear, the way the stats are ranked varies slightly. Choosing which talent tree you wish to spec into will depend on your personal play style and how you feel most comfortable healing. This guide will focus on the Holy spec.

Holy Priests are masters of raid healing, and should be placed in this rolel as often as possible. With powerful group healing spells such as Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing and Circle of Heal, combined Flash Heal and Renew, Holy Priests are really the ultimate group healers. Especially in Ulduar you will notice that most boss fights provide damage in a burst-lull-burst format. This is perfectly built for the Holy Priest as they  require at least some short down time to help with their mana regeneration. Holy Priests can tank heal, and do it well, however it is much smarter to place them in a group healing spot and let them really shine..


Item Stats



Even with the most recent regen mechanics which brought a nerf to Spirit, and caused Intellect to be a much sought after stat, it may seem that Spirit should be knocked off the top of the list for Holy Priests. However, with Holy Concentration it is still worth maintaining a high amount of Spirit to make this talent worthwhile. Keeping this talent up will allow the Holy Priest to enjoy almost the levels of mana regen seen pre Spirit nerf, while also gaining some spell power along the way.

While Spirit is still the be all end all for Holy Priests, the usefulness of Intellect cannot be ignored. Almost all regen is based off of your final mana, so the more mana you have, the more regen you will see. Even your Shadowfiend now restores mana based on your overall mana, therefore picking up as much intellect as you can is a good idea. It’s always valuable and you can never really have too much.

Not the most important stat for Holy Priests, but still pretty important, as gaining more Crit will allow your Holy Concentration to proc more, thus allowing you to regen more mana. More mana equals more heals. After you reach 30% raid buffed, Crit becomes less important and you can worry about other stats.

As a Holy Priest you will need about 12-14% haste. Sit down and consider what spells you use, and take into account which buffs and talents you have available.  If you don’t have Enlightenment, or you cast a lot of heals with longer cast times (Greater Heal) you should probably pick up slightly more haste than the recommended 12-14 percent.

Spellpower is always a good idea to look for. The more spell power you have, the harder your heals hit making it so you can heal less, and regen more. Not with Mp5 though, while not a useless stat for the Holy Priest, Spirit is still a much more valuable stat and should not be a substitute for Mp5 unless no other options are available.


Talents



Holy Priests have the luxury of being able to shuffle some of their talents around, picking and choosing the talents that best fit their heal style. A standard Holy build is 14/57/0, however there are quite a few low priority spells in the Holy tree and they can be shuffled around at will. If for example you never use Renew, then  drop Empowered Renew. Or if you feel like you aren’t casting Greater Heal or Flash Heal simply drop Improved Healing. There are plenty of other places that you can place these extra points that will be far more beneficial to you. The entire list of useless or low priority spells currently in the Holy tree is: Lightwell, Blessed Recovery, Spell Warding, Blessed Resilience, and Improved Renew.

Regeneration


With the changes to Spirit, priest healing styles have significantly changed. While mana can still be regened by just standing around it has been hit with a pretty big nerf stick and takes quite a bit of gear before you can really count on ticks outside of the 5 second rule.

This also makes intellect much more important for Priests since mana pool size greatly affects your regeneration abilities (Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope). You will eventually find that you have much more Intellect than Spirit, mostly because you cannot stack Spirit without greatly nerfing many of your other important stats.



Holy Priests can make use of staying outside of the 5 second rule. To do this it really comes down to taking small breaks in your healing. As stated previously in the guide this works well with the new damage style introduced especially found in Ulduar of a burst of damage, a lull, then another burst of damage. At any time when there is a lull in damage the Holy Priest should be in regen mode. Pick your nose, twiddle your thumbs, anything that keeps you from casting during the periods of time without any damage.

Holy Priests have access to some spells that make mana regen that much easier, in the form of Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope. To best make use of these two spells, wait till you are low on mana (30 percent or less), use your Shadowfiend and then hit Hymn of Hope. By the time you are done (and if your Shadowfiend doesn’t get wtfpwned) you should have gained a substantial amount of mana back allowing you to continue saving people from certain doom.

Glyphs

Major Glyphs to use as a Holy Priest are:

Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Circle of Healing
Glyph of Renew

Minor Glyphs:

Glyph of Levitate
Glyph of Shadowfiend
Glyph of Shadow Protection
Glyph of Fading
Glyph of Fortitude

Fade and You


As a healer you will find that very rarely will you ever have to worry about threat (unless you have a really terrible tank). But you will still find yourself in situations where threat is a concern for healers, especially when there are many mobs spawning that cannot be picked up quickly. An ill timed heal can bring these newly spawned mobs down on you, easily wiping you out.

To avoid getting splattered all over the ground by rampaging mobs, making use of the Priest’s Fade ability is imperative.  Fade temporarily reduces all threat for 10 seconds, and gives your tanks time to pick up the mobs you have gained aggro on. Keep in mind that after the 10 seconds is up all your threat will instantly come back and any mobs that are not picked up by a tank or another player will make a bee line for you.

Raiding as a Holy Priest


You’ve chosen the Holy tree and are ready to raid, but once you get there, what exactly are you supposed to be doing? There is no real set rotation for a healer. Every fight is different and having a knowledge of all the spells in your arsenal is important. Knowing your spells gives you the ability to decide which is best for the situation.
 
Holy Priests are made to be Raid healers, and as such the spells they will use in a raid situation are spells that are quick, and do vast amounts of group healing. The primary spells used by a Holy Priest will normally be: Prayer of Mending, Flash Heal, Circle of Healing, and Prayer of Healing.

Since damage now commonly comes in bursts with lulls in between you should attempt to start the burst phase with three stacks of Serendipity up, then once the burst hits follow it by two hasted Prayer of Healing, and then finally Circle of Heal. Finish up with some Flash Heals all around and possibly and extra Prayer of Healing or Circle of Heal if needed. Don’t be afraid to throw out some Renews or Prayers of Mending to help heal those taking minimal damage while you focus on others who may need your healing more. Regen during the lulls in damage, and then get Serendipity back up to prepare once again for the burst of damage. If only one target is taking damage in the raid, simply throw a Renew, and Flash Heal the target to full.

Holy Priests should when possible always be used as raid healers. While they can easily heal a tank, their abilites are far better put to use healing your raid.. If you really feel you are being forced to tank heal often, I would suggest having your dual spec as Disc as Discipline is just made to tank heal.. But if you find yourself forced into tank healing keep Renew up on your tank, along with Prayer of Mending. Flash Heal and Great Heal as needed.

Regardless of whether you choose to heal as Holy, Disc, or as a Druid, or Shaman, healing is all about keeping a cool head, assessing a situation, and knowing your spells well enough to use the correct one. This is something that is learned with time and experience and no amount of written words can make it go any faster. So keep at it, don’t get discouraged, and eventually you will find that healing will become as easy as breathing, and you will join the ranks of those excellent healers that are so often the unsung heroes of the raid.

Good luck in your healing adventures!

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