Greater Heal - Is it worth it?
This is a continuation of my analysis of certain talents - all the different debates I want to get out there before I release my PvE Holy Priest Guide. More to come in the following days, btw.

I've often mused that the debate regarding whether or not to use Greater Heal has a lot in common with a similar debate for Holy Pallies, Flash of Light vs Holy Light. Greater Heal is this big powerful heal with a long cast time, and at least in a raiding environment, you rarely get a chance to peel off that Greater Heal before another healer as thrown in a stopgap. It usually ends up being a total waste when you're raid healing.

For Disc Priests, if you're on MT duty, or anyone who takes a large amount of steady damage, I suppose it could be more useful, but truth be told, I think it would still be better just to use Flash Heal. However, I would be really interested in hearing from the Disc Priests that read this - do you find yourself using Greater Heal much at all?

For Holy Priests, you can get more use out of it due to Serendipity. With three stacks of Serendipity up, the cast time for Greater Heal is only slightly longer than Flash Heal (but don't forget, for mana conservation purposes - it's STILL the same mana cost!). But even then, there are rarely situations in which Greater Heal won't be a waste, and generally if you're on raid heals it makes more sense to cast a hasted Prayer of Healing - or just ignore the stack completely.

There are a couple of fights where I use Greater Heal a lot - Patchwerk, obviously. Predictable damage, and all healers are focusing on the tanks. Then there's the pull on Auriaya. Generally all three of our tanks are taking massive amounts of damage and no one else is, so all the healers are unloading on them with everything they've got (for the record, I reeeally hate that pull). I build up my stacks of serendipity and unload a Gheal, and it's one of the few situations in which it's not often wasted.

All that having been said, it's up to individual choice. I know I focus a lot on raiding here, but if you prefer sticking to five mans where you are the only healer, I think Greater Heal can get a lot more use. Use of Greater Heal is one of those significant indicators of individual healing style - some people use it quite a bit, others not at all. If you can control the healing coming in on your target, i.e. in a 5 man where you are the only healer or when you are solo-healing a target, it is a lot more useful. Therefore, even if you are in raids, if you are assigned strictly enough to the point where no one else is ever healing your targets, again it makes more sense.

The Greater Heal centered Talents

Where am I going with this? Well let's take a look at some Holy talents that name Greater Heal specifically.

  • Divine Fury - You don't use Heal after a certain level, when you get Greater Heal. Since you are on healing duty, there is almost never a reason to be using Smite or Holy Fire in a raid, and to a lesser degree, in a 5 man. Therefore, the only healing spell that you will use affected by this talent is Greater Heal. So, if you don't use Greater Heal, should you even bother with this talent?
  • Improved Healing - Again, you won't be using Heal or Lesser Heal at 80. If you are holy, you don't have Penance (weep). Therefore, only Greater Heal and Divine Hymn are benefitted by this talent. Divine Hymn, with its 10 minute cooldown, will likely be used only once a boss fight (if that), so again, Greater Heal is the biggest target of this talent's benefit.
  • Empowered Healing - This talent is a bit different because it also gives a bonus to Flash Heal and Binding Heal, both of which are highly used spell (if you aren't in the habit of using Binding Heal - get with it!). Fully specced, this gives you an extra 40% of your bonus healing for Greater Heal, and 20% for Flash Heal and Binding Heal. That sounds pretty awesome but there is a really good argument for saying that Greater Heal doesn't NEED to be any bigger - it doesn't get used enough as it is because it's too powerful and gets wasted. The bonuses to Flash Heal and Binding Heal are awesome, but you can pick similar bonuses up from other talents if you choose.
So, with these talents (and for the record, I'm currently specced into some of them, which I'm beginning to reconsider), is it worth investing the points when the greatest beneficiary is a spell that you may or may not ever really use? For some of the talents, there may be no better alternative - but for others, there just might - and I will get into that in days to come.

ETA: Forgot to add this, but in case you've forgotten about the Class Q&A with Ghostcrawler, here are some of the comments he had regarding Greater Heal:

"Flash Heal is big, so Greater Heal is just overkill. Combine this with the fact that there are other spells that are doing a lot of the healing that Greater Heal used to do -- Penance for example. I don’t think many players look at Greater Heal as being too expensive from a mana-per-healing standpoint. They often aren’t in danger of running out of mana. It’s also worth pointing out that max rank Greater Heal has always healed too much. The difference is that priests used to be able to cast down-ranked Greater Heals. We have considered offering say Lesser Heal as a literal 50% mana, 50% healing version of Greater Heal [...] In a raid in which healers don’t coordinate well it’s easy for other healers to stomp on your big, slow heals. While you are casting, someone heals your target for you."

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8 Responses
  1. Grimmtooth Says:

    My disc priest experimented with GH last week. I ended up mana starved and almost losing the MT anyway.

    Same fight, same strat, using flash heal and Penance, and I had almost 1/2 my mana left over at the end of the fight, and it was a lot less frightening.

    (in both cases PoM and PW:S are mixed in whenever they are available)

    Now, I am geared and glyphed in such a way as to ignore GH's existance, so that plays a big part in my results. I'm still surprised by the big delta, though.

    FWIW I'm pretty much an MT healbot, we have a shammy for raid heals. For fights where I heal more than one or two plate targets, GH pretty much might as well not even be there. If I have to spend that long on one target, the other one better not be taking ANY damage.

  2. Fuubaar Says:

    here's a question for you:

    Is it really all that bad to spec into Renew as a Disc? I've found it quite amusing to bubble someone who is taking damage throw a renew on them & go about my business. Since both are instant casts, I can do this quite effectivly throughout the whole fight where AoE damage is king.

    Using this strat allows me to really zone in to keeping the (normally undergeared pug) tank alive while the ZOMG pew pew DPS link their Recount IN THE MIDDLE of a fight while standing in the bad.

    So, will I be shunned from the DISC community if I spec into renew & use it?

    Oh & SCREW GH!


  3. Grimmtooth Says:

    @Fuubar- I took that too. I'm not the world's most effective raid healer, but sometimes it helps. Plus, you know, BUBBLES.

    If you're shunned, save me a seat :)

  4. fido Says:

    renew bad? no way. I specced into improved renew simply because the other options look useless to me. besides that, shield and renew on dps ensures you keep grace on your tank. such a waste to lose 9 percent healing on yr tank.

    And about greater heal. Yes, I do find myself using it sometimes. but only in combination with Borrowed Time. But it's rare.


  5. Jessabelle Says:

    dangit you priests! i was going to post about renew tomorrow! Fuu, listen to Fido and Grimmtooth. They know their stuff much better than I do! Personally, I think the disc talents really support the idea of any instant casts, renew being one of them. I love renew.

  6. Fuubaar Says:

    @ Everyone

    Thanks for the tip. I'm so new to doing something other than tanking so I didn't want to look like a huge nooblet when I actually flex my healing muscles.

    (Note: a very small muscle, more like a pocket of fat that I got from being a paladin but still, it's being shapened into something more useful than a lovehandle)

    ok, I'll shut up about Renew now & pull up a chair.

    /waits for tomorrows post

  7. Grimmtooth Says:

    @Fuu - when it comes to healing, I'm always a nooblet, it feels like. My main is DPS. How did I end up a healer!?? :)

  8. Jessabelle Says:


    We call that "coming over to the light side" XD

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