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Holy Specs in 4.0 and Cataclysm

We’re getting closer and closer!

The Public PTR has now been patched with a 4.0 Build! This means we should (soon™) see the build on the Live Servers and shortly after see Cataclysm! As of yet, we’ve not seen an official Blue Post giving us an actual date. I think the next 1-2 beta patches will be the real tell tale sign. If the next patch is as big as I suspect it will be… Boubouille’s November 2nd date could very well be the date we all hope it is.

By now many of you might have already downloaded and copied to the PTR to take a look at the 4.0 Talent Trees. Over the next two weeks we’ll be explaining both Discipline and Holy builds are at level 85 (and subsequently level 80). I’ll be starting with the Holy Builds first and Avalonna will be taking the Discipline build next week. (mainly due to the fact that Holy is the most ‘complete’) Disc, I am hoping, is still going to be getting some polish in the next patch or two.

Generally speaking, there isn’t much ‘choice’ in the Holy Tree; you are either going PVE Healing or PVP Healing. There is very little, “Shoot!! Should I take X instead of getting Y?” in the Holy Tree– that exists mostly in the Disc Tree.

In my eyes you really have 2 options as Holy: Holy with Inner Sanctum and Holy with Archangel. Most PVE Holy builds will get you your pure throughput improvements via Divine Fury, Improved and Empowered Healing. You also get your secondary throughput improvements via Test of Faith and Inspiration. Most importantly, this build gives you all of our new toys like Chakra and Revelations. (See my other posts on those abilities on Chakra here and Revelations here.)

This talent build is what I would consider a standard Holy with Inner Sanctum spec. 9/32/0

You do pick up Desperate Prayer, Lightwell and Spirit of Redemption in this build. These 3 points are pretty disappointing in my eyes but could offer some flexibility in your spec decisions.

Desperate Prayer – while very handy, I hate having to spend a point to get it when I would rather just eat a Healthstone or cast Binding Heal.

Lightwell- I will give Blizzard some credit where it is due: Lightwell has been notably improved. It has an increased ‘click’ range and is non-targetable, making it much more viable than in the past. Further, the heal over time it provides is beefy. The question that we need to ask ourselves and to continually test in practice: Will players use it? If we can’t train DPS to keep an eye out for it when a heal is needed… perhaps this is a point better spent elsewhere.

Spirit of Redemption – Now with 5% less spirit! This talent provides no passive buff (the current 5% buff to spirit is THE reason most Holy Priests have taken this) and no is literally ‘improved death’. — I will say that my guild’s first Heroic Sindragosa kill was likely thanks to a Spirit of Redemption’d Divine Hymn… but I shouldn’t be dying in raids. Could I use this point elsewhere? Maybe.

After we’ve capped our ‘needed’ talents in Holy, we can use points in Disc. (Obviously with only Level 80 TPs you are very limited in what you can grab, but remember… these trees are not build assuming Level 80, just like how in TBC 3.0 the trees weren’t build assuming Level 70.) You have the 2 Tier 1 abilities, Mental Agility and Twin Disciplines, for mana cost reductions on your instants (Renew, Holy Word: Chastise/Aspire/Serenity, Twirling Light FHs, Leap of Faith, and PW:S) and output improvement. One could argue that 2/3 Mental Agility is sufficient, but with Mana being at a premium now, I’d rather err on the side of conservatism.

Here is where the question lies: Inner Sanctum or Archangel?

Evangelism and Archangel are interesting talents. I am still not 100% sold on the practical application of weaving smites into your healing rotation. However, if you are going to play a Holy Archangel spec, you should pick up 2/2 Twirling Light to be able to instantly (and cheaply) spot heal after your smites. Your mana will likely be a bit stronger do to the fact that you’ll be restoring a substantial amount with Archangel. However, to get access to Archangel and Twirling Light, it does mean you’ll need to free up 2 talent points.

For me, I think one of the obvious choices is Desperate Prayer. If you are going to be picking up Twirling Light, your Instant FH can easily be subbed in for DP. Well that’s 1 of the 2 needed! As I previously mentioned, that leaves Lightwell and Spirit of Redemption at the top of my list. (Going 0/2 Divine Touch is up there as well, but I’ve been enjoying the cleanup work it can do, as well as the assistance in keeping my Mastery HoT on the MT). I want to give Lightwell a fair chance, so my Holy Archangel Spec will be sans-Desperate Prayer and Spirit of Redemption. Other options to free up these points include taking a point from Mental Agility or Serendipity (now that it has decreased value)– the choice is really up to you and customized to how you play.

My Holy Archangel Spec would be this build. 9/32/0

Holy has some interesting toys this go around, and I know I have been really enjoying Chakra and the Revelations. There are some preference choices you can make to make the build more customized to your playstyle… and I like that. The builds I have posted here are only *my* opinions of what I think are strong options– how you play and what you want to use is entirely up to you.  The jury is still out for me and my verdict on Archangel… perhaps I am just an old man yelling at the kids on my lawn in the way that I feel about healers casing DPS spells in a raid environment.

Damn kids… get off my lawn!!!

All of the information in this post is based off of Beta Build 12942 and, of course, is subject to change.

Image used under Creative Commons from Flickr user David Light Orchard.
Written By: on September 16, 2010
  1. I also think this build could prove useful. Depends how much movement will be required in Cataclysm encounters, but there are usually several movement heavy encounters in all “episodes” of WoW and Body and Souling several people in a row might prove beneficial. A Holy Priest wouldn’t want to abuse the shield though, since it’s a man drain.

  2. I never liked Test of Faith. You already have to take 2/3 just to get to GS, that extra 4% is just meh. Wow, my 8000 Heal can be increased to – 8320. If people have 70k health pools then this isn’t going to top them off. No, I’d rather be able to cast 1% faster for the entire fight than have that 4%. Or stronger instants for the whole fight. But everyone has their own preference.

  3. Hi,

    you missed a point in your specs. We can pick up 41 points ; )
    I agree that spirit of redemption without an added passive bonus is just meh…

    What do you think about picking up darkness from the shadowtree?
    Especially at the start where haste rating will be pretty low it might prove more useful than inner sanctum.
    You could do a 6/32/3 build.

  4. Thinking about it, you could even get an archangel 8/31/2 build with 2% added haste

  5. Darkness in the shadow tree would be a nice option aswell instead of Evangelism/Archangel. Maybe not when you are raid healing with renew cause then you have a 1s gcd already with Chakra, but when tank healing it’s nice to have a faster Heal.

  6. Oops, you are right I accidentally missed 3/3 Disciplines. I’m not 100% sure on Darkness yet, personally.

  7. Hi there!

    Nice website :) I’ve been checking it for a while(man, love you vids) and now I’ve read this post, I’d like to leave my opinion about the new builds (just my opinion uh? ^^).

    First, I love the work Blizzard did on the Holy tree because finally I can choose all the talents and abilities that are more o less iconic of the Holly branch: before I felt forced to pick talents outside my spec just to be ok for raiding. Yeah, I love Desperate prayer (I could be in a raid with no lock, right? xD) and Spirit of Redemption, though I also think they were better with the previous changes (the +5% spirit and healing thingy and so on) but still pretty useful sometimes and so I’m planning to pick both. Besides, I always wanted to have Lightwell, and now I wil finally have it! (even more, improved…I guess the better way to teach dps would be using Holy Word: Sanctuary and cast the well over it, though it would be their decision in the end mm)

    About the talents of Disc branch..well, I think the only ones that could be usefull for a Holy build are the Twin Disciplines and Mental Agility. Inner sanctum doesn’t seem so cool from my point of view unless you’re going to use the build for PvP since in a raid o maz context you shouldn’t take agro, you know. I know most of the talents for agro reduction are gone, but still I think the meta gems remain and of course our Fade, sweet Fade)

    The other talent, Archangel, seems pretty good; but not for a Holy build; why? Well, I don’t think you should waste time casting Smites when you’re supposed to be healing – the only reason that explains its presence in the Disc tree is the next talent Attunement (which you won’t be able to pick if you’re a Holy priest), which allows you to heal all melees a percent of the damage dealed with Smite :)

    Obviously, the +15% healing power and the mana restoration it gives is attractive (it will be all about mana, right? *sigh*), but I think I’d preffer the first Shadow talent: Darkness, which increases 3% the spell haste – if my translations doesn’t fail, I think it could be even more useful since it will help priests to worry less about taking Haste and choose other stats in first place (as Spirit or Mastery) and meanwhile casting heals in less time and getting more healing ticks with the same mana cost. Of course, I won’t be sure about that until I check it for myself but I guess the stats will be important in the near future and from all I’ve read ’til now, the priority will be Spirit-Intellect/Haste-Mastery (as I said, not sure about that).

    On the other hand, I’m also not so sure that the Discipline Tree would need more changes; Disc and Holy are just two completely different ways of healing. Of course, with this patch Holy gets a great deals of new toys, but the way Discipline heals will change completely too. The problem here is, I feel, Disc was ever thinked off as a “more PvP spec”, you know: I think that’s why most of its talents are PvP-oriented, and why if you just ignore them you’ll find yourself with just a few. Anyway, Disc has an “advantage” over other branches, and it’s that Disc Priests could pick more talents from the other trees.

    I leave my builds for you to check :)

    I think that’s all mm. Sorry for writting mistakes (english’s not my mother tongue) and keep up the good work ;)

  8. Where is Ava? I DEMAND AVA. Talk to me about Disc builds, Ava. And if you cant, send Derevka on time out for me until he gives Disc some love. And if you cant do that either… tell him a your mom joke or something. Anything. Make him write about Disc.

    Also, thumbs up Derevka, I’ll refer my Holy priest companions to your post. It’s very well explained. (:

  9. Very nice post, I’ve been waiting for this one since I first discovered your page :)

    Basically I’m in the same situation too, where I have to pick between Inner Sanctum and Archangel, but after they changed Improved Inner Fire to Inner Sanctum I’ve kind of not wanted to pick that since it “only” gives reduced spell damage.

    As some also have mentioned maybe getting Darkness instead would be more suited for raids, since I recall you also mentioned in an early post that Haste might be a very important stat for Cataclysm.
    Ofcourse Archangel is very nice, since it’s pontential a 15% more healing for 15 seconds, but it requires to cast those 5 smites in the rotations, and thinking on the more difficult Wrath of the Lich King encounters I didn’t really have much time to use on damaging in the start.

    So basically I think I’m gonna see how the final build will be like, and if things haven’t changed then I’m mostly seeing myself picking Darkness as the last 3 points :)

  10. Good post, I’ve been waiting for your insight on Holy builds. I’ve been Disc for all of Wrath but at this point, especially with how little attention Disc has received so far from Blizz, it looks like I’m making the switch back to Holy for Cataclysm.

    I’m also pretty uninspired by Evangelism/Archangel. It might be the preference when we overgear content, but right now it just doesn’t look like the way to go immediately when they throw the “mana matters” ball back at us. But then again, combat is supposed to be slowed down a bit more in Cata so maybe we will have time to toss some Smites around and take advantage of Archangel to catch back up.

    At the start though, I’m definitely going with the Inner Sanctum build you linked first. It’s a solid, reliable throughput build and we can drop two points (probably SoR and ToF) to gain some extra haste from Darkness if we need it (though initially I don’t think it’ll be necessary since its a % boost and I don’t imagine we’ll gain very much at the start).

    I know Disc is still pretty rough, but I’m looking forward to the evaluation once we get the next build, which I trust will have the Disc changes that we’ve all been dreaming about for so long!

  11. Well, to start with, I am still rather unimpressed with a few things in the holy tree.

    Lightwell – This spell badly needed a redesign, and all it got was a tweak. Although the tweak is a long time coming, it still remains a spell that I think few dps will actually use unless the raid environment is indeed survivability over damage.

    Spirit of Redemption – You nailed this one right on. It isn’t worth a point, because if we are dying, the fight is usually over anyway. This has been the argument for a long time, and it’s only saving grace was that it gave 5% spirit. Without a redesign, this talent will gather dust.

    Chakra/Revelations – I cannot tell you how excited I am for these spells. This puts priests in the realm of “I can do anything the other healers can, and put up their numbers.” This was so critical for this class. These two talents alone make the blizzard priest definition true again “Masters of healing!” Now I am not saying that priests need more spells, we already have a ton and a half, but the way these spells play within the general healing playstyle that is coming is really something to marvel at.

    Desp. Prayer – Well, for a talent point this guy seems weak. However, I have always liked Desp. Prayer as it is an extra oh shit button, costs 0 mana, and has a modest cooldown. Yes it’s opportunity cost went up with the reduction of overall talent points, but as I’ll discuss a little later, we don’t have a ton of options.

    CoH CD to 10 sec. – Well, at first I really hated hearing this, but now I am ok with it. We have so many spells to throw into the mix that a 10 second cooldown doesn’t seem long anymore. I think it is actually necessary to allow us to maintain a chakra state, but that is up to debate.

    Chakra states:
    Renew – This is going to be a powerful state. This state obviously is the easiest to maintain when raid healing, and give us that ever so awesome second hot.

    Heal – A pretty darn good state. Gives us what is absolutely essential to single target or 2 target heal very effectively, with an o shit button thrown in for effect.

    PoH – Quite possibly the best for raid healing in widespread damage situations, but the hardest to upkeep. Having to cast PoH to extend it by 4 seconds is brutal, but the raid environments are not known yet. It may be that in some encounters, PoH is a really attractive heal. I also love HW:Sanc. as a cooldown AE heal.

    Holy tree overall –

    Well, I love what they have done with the tree, I just wish there were a few more choices. To get down to 31 points you pick up almost everything in the tree PVE related. This is either bad, because you have less choice, or good, that you can get all you need and then dip into disc with the rest. I’m still not sure on that.

    Disc. Dipping – Although you had reservations about Archangel and Evangelism, I do not share these. To me the bonus provided by Inner Sanctum are minimal and situational (possibly needed for certain progression) so the only way to go is a Archangel build. I would like a bit longer duration on Evangelism, but 15 seconds seems to be sufficient. When you pair this with twirling light, it’s cost is minimal. You may burn an extra GCD, but often times in fights there is at least one spare GCD floating around every 15 seconds. The bonus to our healing is also a nice benefit when you do pop Archangel.

    Overall, I’m impressed with the Holy tree, and really unimpressed with the Disc. tree. I can’t see many priests going Disc. in Cata unless something changes.

  12. ZOMG… so many comments today.

    I’ll comment on a few of these, but will probably do a follow up post to this one.

    1. Attonement is very lackluster… mainly b/c Smite hits for so little. Don’t count on it doing much healing. BUt Ava will cover that in her Discipline analysis.

    2. Darkness- 3/3 haste is great, how exactly haste will fit in outside of gearing I’m not sure. Haste and Mindflay and the 3 other SP dots, however make it their ‘go to’ stat of choice. Holy…. Im not so convinced since we wont be renew blanketing anymore. I think as holy, you’ll see a Balance of Crit and Haste being important, but Spellpower, Spirit, and Mastery as our ‘go to’ stats. A Mastery buffed Echo of LIght is nothing to scoff at when Holy Tank Healing. :)

    3. Inner Sanctum – maybe I am old school in my obsession with ‘spell warding’ and 15% spell damage reduction in a PVE raid enviornment. Not to mention the movement speed buff on heavy movement fights. That being said, I’m strongly considering Holy/Archangel Specs as my ‘main’ spec in Cata… overlooking Inner Sanctum… for now. Especially with Twirling Light to ‘make up’ for my smiting. (I still feel dirty about smiting!).

    4. Ava will be back… she’s just been on blogging hiatus for a short bit. She’ll be doing Disc stuff next week! :)

  13. <3 Anna

    I swear – I'm still here. You all should know how NUTS things get for me around Halloween – that's my Christmas. I'm hosting the Chicago HorrorFilm fest, helping produce Days of the Living Dead (watch the trailer!, Helping at Statesville Haunted Prison, and I also write for Bloody Good Horror…so yeah – things are nuts. Oh, and work, but that's boring.

    Anyho – I'll be looking at disc in depth this weekend. So far I'm…….meh. I'm hoping there's something shiny they haven't unveiled yet.

    And personally, I blame Derevka for my lack of posts. It's his poor manager skills that allow me to miss deadlines.

  14. All looks towards being an interesting times ahead :)

    First a Thank You to Derevka and Ava for their time on this great site :)

    I have been following the changes somewhat and one thing I have been wondering about it “Hit” (or is that gone and I missed it?). As it looks like we need to weave a few Smites in at times and seems that if we have no hit, and cast a couple times and see “miss”"miss”, would that not be a total waste of mana, which sounds like we might have to start to manage agin (a good thing), to keep the buff up, and a couple of globals?

    Unless i have missed something of course….


  15. @mikita they removed it as a talent and ave it as a glyph on the beta. :)

  16. Smiting isn’t going to be a fundamental factor for healing. Taking Evangelism/Archangel will be little better than taking the smite glyph today. Its just there for when you don’t need to heal but don’t want to be bored.

    Inner Sanctum all the way for me – 15% less damage is 15% less mana I spend on myself.

  17. Well…. now with the latest build notes this whole post is going to change a lot.

    Huge changes to Twirling Light, Atonement, and Inner Sanctum’s Spell Damage mitigation.

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