I'm actually not one to spend a lot of time criticizing other priests, but I ran a VoA pug this weekend that really made me start thinking about all the wrong ways you can priest-heal. If I ever needed proof that it is completely possible to have a fully epic set of gear without knowing how to place your class and spec, this run provided the requisite evidence.

This run also provided me the perfect opportunity to use Recount to get an idea of what was going wrong with the healers. Since it was a pug, however, I didn't really feel it was my place to necessarily do assignments or criticisms.

So here was the initial healing set up - Two holy priests and one resto shaman. The resto shaman was somewhat new to 80, and while he'd been making plenty of heroic ToC 5 man runs, he explained right from the beginning that he wasn't sure how strong his heals were going to be. The two priests were myself, and another girl.

On the fire boss dude fight (Koralon, but you knew what I mean by fire boss dude, right?), there are certain times when the two tanks take a significant amount of damage... and you basically need to spam heal them. The raid really should not be taking much damage except when he does his fire breath thingy. Therefore, I suggested that the other holy priest focus on one tank, and i would focus on the other, and let the shammy do the raid heals, since we would need stronger healing on the tanks.

After three tries, we gave up - we couldnt seem to keep the tanks alive.

I knew it was a healing problem because I was watching the tanks' health. My tank stayed up, hers continually went down. When I looked at her top three spells, it was Prayer of Healing, Circle of Healing, and Renew. 20% of my heals were overheals, which, while not great, is not unexpected for single target spamming. 40% of her heals were overheals.

So what? I hear you say. Holy Priests excel at raid healing, it's their biggest strength! That's what they're supposed to do!

And I will have to disagree. Yes, Holy Priests DO excel at raid healing, and that is the optimal assignment for them. However, the biggest strength of a holy priest is not their raid heals, it is in their versatility - they can do everything well. That includes single target healing.

A really great holy priest who understands their spec knows how to roll with the punches and switch healing assignments quickly. If you are the person in charge of keeping one of the tanks alive, Flash Heal (Binding Heal as needed) should be used often, along with Greater Heal and/or Prayer of Healing. Greater Heal is useful for precisely this scenario. If Prayer of Healing is your most used spell, and Flash Heal or Binding Heal isn't even in your top 3, then you aren't utilizing Serendipity to its fullest extent.

To her credit, her main spec was shadow and she was only healing to help out. She likely would have been one of the first to admit that she did not know how to heal holy very well, so I don't mean to pick on her.

When another player offered to come on his Disc Priest, she jumped at the chance to return to dps. And now we come to the Disc Priest.

The Disc Priest that joined us was dual specced Holy/Disc. And he healed exactly like a Holy Priest with Penance, but sans CoH. He did not cast a single Power Word: Shield. However, it worked, and we were able to finish off VoA.

At the end, he was boasting about how he was number one on the healing meter. Observe as I gracefully and elegantly bash my head against my desk repeatedly.

Did it work? Yes. Did we finish the instance? Yes. Everyone survived, the epics flowed like manna from the heavens, and everyone left a few badges richer, and relatively happy. Myself, the disc priest, and the resto shammy all did our jobs, so does it really matter if the disc priest didn't take advantage of the strengths of his spec? No, most likely it did not. When most people are overgeared for something, then it really doesn't matter. But I did walk away learning a few things about what people may or may not understand about priest specs.

For Holy?
YES YOU CAN HEAL ONE PERSON. And when that is necessary, you should be casting a lot of Flash Heals to build up Serendipity stacks for hasted Greater Heals.

For Disc?
Yes, Penance is awesome. However, Disc Priesting is not all about Penance - it's also about those Bubbles, so don't stop bubbling!
12 Responses
  1. tufva Says:

    I recently had a fellow priest (now shadow, was holy in BC) tell me that holy priests can't raid heal. The CD on CoH killed raid healing for holy priests which is why he re-specced.

    I was gobsmacked!!

    I was holy in BC (but not CoH, Imp DS) and am still holy. Funnily enough I tank heal almost all the time as we only have 1 disc priest and no pally healers - and it works just fine thank you very much. My raid healing is a bit dodgy at times, but that's really due to lack of practice more than anything else.

    I would love to try disc healing, but I just love holy too much - and the flexibility is the reason why!

  2. Jessabelle Says:


    Sounds like your BC background is a lot like mine - I was a DS priest myself, so I never used CoH before the cooldown nerf. Once I specced into it, I certainly fell in love - but it was just too hard to sacrifice DS before that!

    LOL @ holy priests not being able to raid heal. The nerf to COH just forced us to learn how to use our other spells! I wasn't really excited about the changes to Serendipity (from when it gave you mana back when you overhealed) but now that I've been using it for so long, it really is an awesome improvement to holy priest flexibility. With Serendipity, we are able to do a solid job healing one target, or we can do an awesome job raid healing - it's a mechanic that allows us to do both well, and to shift between the two tasks easily and effortlessly if needed!

    I think people get so caught up in "optimal" healing assignments that they forget that you really can put a holy priest on any task, and as long as they play their class well, they can handle it just as well as another class. "Optimal" healing assignments are more often best for the raid as a whole, considering buffs and other healers, and things like that. But it doesn't mean that a non-"optimal" assignment won't be successful.

  3. Juzaba Says:

    Hehe, awesome story. I love to commiserate over failpriests.

    For example, my warrior was Pugging normal ToC to get the tank trinket, and our Holy priest healer refused to buff the party and had 70% of his effective healing done by Gheal. I whispered him to ask for priest buffs and request a rolling Abolish Disease during Black Knight, and he flew off the handle about people blaming the healer.

    I was vindicated the next day when I found him trolling Trade. Ah, so THAT'S why he couldn't get two synapses to fire at the same time...

  4. Fuubaar Says:


    /wipes sweat from brow

    I thought this was going to be about me :P

  5. Zigi Says:

    I used to play a priest, and now play a resto shaman, but I try to stay pretty up on priest TC.

    When I see disc priests brag or complain about meters (or really any healers in general) I just want to die.

    1) Until blizz can account for actual absorption in meters, we're all just guessing about actual contribution.
    2) I'd rather have a healer that sticks to his healing assignment than blows up the healing meters and doesn't tank heal/raid heal like he was assigned.

  6. bobturkey Says:

    Totally agree.

    Holy can tank heal fine. Discipline can raid heal fine. Been saying that for a while now.

    Gobble gobble

  7. moarhps Says:

    Ugh, that Disc priest... Has he not -read- the talents in his tree or something?

    I'm a prude; I hate putting Holy priests on tank healing. I'd rather put a Resto druid on a tank than a Holy priest. There, I said it. LOL Maybe I'm stuck in optimizing my raids too much (or maybe I don't trust my Holy priests!), but I'd rather have just about any other healing class on the tanks. XD

  8. tufva Says:

    @ moar Everyone has a right to their prejudices I guess... ;-)

    Optimal is one thing, but like Jess said sometimes you just have to go with what you got - and sometimes it might even work too. I once did half of 10-man Ulduar healing along side 2 shammies. 1 holy priest and 2 resto shammies is probably one of the least optimal healing combos there is - but it was that or not raid. So off we went and we did it - it wasn't pretty and it was hard work at times - but it was doable.

    I'm not sure if that is "bring the healer, not the class" or just plain stubborness winning the day... ;-)

  9. Jessabelle Says:


    You know, I think that's a common mistake among new healers... whether they be pally or priest or any other type. They seem to think the biggest heal is the best heal!


    I approve of this message. I think this is especially common amongst healers who started out as DPS... they don't seem to understand that recount is NOT directed at healers.


    Amen to that!


    I really do understand where you're coming from! Especially since I know you are the type that likes to optimize everything - I'm generally the same way. I get a little tic in my neck whenever I have a raid fully of pally healers, or when I have to have a holy priest on the tank or a disc priest on the raid. Even though I know it CAN work it's just... NOT OPTIMAL DAMMIT. :::runs to a spreadsheet to feel better:::


    I know what Moarhps is saying though - it's not so much prejudice as a by product of always striving to optimize - and there's nothing wrong with that! I'm a bit OCD and have a hard time accepting the fact that you can't always have an optimal healing set up. Sometimes we just have to grit our teeth and make do with what we have, eh? XD

  10. moarhps Says:

    @Jess and tufva:

    I had three healadins in one of my groups ToGC-25 Beast nights. It made me nearly lose my mind, but that's what we had. LOL I think my favorite people in the world are priests who go Disc/Holy who are skilled in each. So much lovely flexibility!

  11. Jessabelle Says:


    for the longest time in our Ulduar 25 group, we had 3 holy paladins, a disc priest, and myself (holy priest) along with maybe 1 or 2 other non holy healers. I was in charge of assigning heals.

    You may commence with sympathy for the tic in my OCD neck starting... now.

  12. Tamarind Says:

    Sorry for comment spam.

    I really hate the rigidity of class-based healing assignments - I think it makes for lazy, unimaginative healing. Yes, you'd be stupid to have your shaman on tank healing but the point is it shouldn't stop you having a holy priest on tank-healing if that's what you happen to have.

    I was in a PUG-somethingorother the other day which I didn't hang around very long for - oh, yeah, it was Naxx, and not to be confused with my beautiful, wonderful casual group. The pally healer left halfway through, leaving myself and a shammy - after consulting with the shammy via whisper we decided we could 2-heal it comfortably enough, shammy on raid, me on tank. We communicated this to the group whereupon someone piped up: "lol, holy priests can't heal MT, they heal raid."

    I was furious. I might not be optimised for single target healing but, dammit, I can heal a bloody tank. I insisted I could and, of course, just to prove them wrong, and the tank didn't die (thank God) but I left after the wing because ... well ... gah!

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