What’s that? The total amount of Gold I have spent since hitting 85 tuning just my Holy Spec. That is eleven 66 gold respecs. Could it be me being fickle? Yes– and let’s be real here: I can be fickle and indescisive. (Just look at the total gold spent in the Barbershop and the total numbre of race changes I’ve done!) Joking aside, it is me testing out different spec options and seeing which seem to work best for me and my raid group. As a general rule, there is very little flexibility in the ‘bookends of our spec’.
The real questions come in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tiers of the tree- and therefore have the most flexibility. You need to remember to spec to how you are going to play your priest, That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. Let’s go over the spec that I have been using in 25-Man Normal and (starting tonight) our first few 25-Man Heroic raids.
Instead of going over each tier, I want to spend time going over the “Why I chose X” and “Why I skipped Y” instead of going over some of the more obvious choices that are obvious choices. Elitist Jerks’ Holy Compendium does have two specs that are viable; however I do feel that some of those talents points could be better used elsewhere in the Tree.
Derevka’s Spec 6/32/3
Rapid Renewal – With renew being much more expensive to cast, we aren’t blanketing the raid with renews nearly as often. Looking at my logs from our 25 Man kills, renew is on my tank, and occasionally on a random DPS person. I’m never spamming it on multiple targets to require a faster GCD. (Talent Skipped)
Divine Touch – With Rapid Renewal not a necessity, we could free up the 2 points in Divine Touch and use them elsewhere. DT hits for a pittance for two points– why waste them? (Talent Skipped)
Surge of Light – Even as a raid healer, Heal is your filler spell– raid healers should be assisting on the Tank when they have downtime as well as spot healing with Heal. The alleged incoming buff to SoL will allow the proc to happen more often (Due to the increased number of spells that can proc it) and enabling it to crit. With this in mind, the Surge proc can provide you either with a great top (and free) off spell for a random raid member or to be burned on the Tank. (Talented)
Desperate Prayer – Situational? Yes. But remember, you’ve now freed up points from Divine Touch, and Rapid Renewal – this is a free, instant, self heal. I can think of several situations where a 2nd warlock cookie would have been helpful. (e.g Falling from Gravity Crush, Acquiring Target, etc…) Besides, you are going to need to spend this point to get further into the tree. (Talented)
Spirit of Redemption – No longer provides us with a spirit bonus; however it can be a raid saver. (e.g. Up against a soft enrage to keep your last few DPS alive as the boss slowly peels away your raid group). Yes, SoR is just “Improved Death”, but it can mean the difference between a first kill and a wipe. (Talented)
Lightwell - gone are the days of LOLWell. Lightwell is pretty much a ‘must have’ in a Holy Priest’s spec. (Yes, I said “must have“). It is one of our most cost-effective spells. There is some training involved on when to use it, where to place it, and training your raid to use it properly. Mana is at a premium, triage healing a focus, and raid healing big AOEs a priority. Lightwell is one of our best spent single talent points. (Talented)
Serendipity – While Flash Heal isn’t our “go-to spell” anymore, Serendipity still provides a benefit to us. (Besides, where else are you going to spend those points?). If you are in a situation where you need to cast a Flash Heal, you’re also likely in a situation where you’re going to need subsequent spells with speed. (Valuing the Mana Cost Reduction less than the Haste) However, when spec’d into Surge of Light, it increases the value of Serendipity. Get a SoL proc? As a Tank Healer: it makes your next GHeal less oppressive– for Free! As a Raid Healer: your next PoH is all the better. (Talented)
Test of Faith- In WotLK, being under 50% HP was quite rare, so Test of Faith was an arguable waste of points. In Cataclysm, however, ToF has a much more improved value since we are seeing raid members at lower HP quite often during a fight. To get deeper into the tree you’ll need at least 2/3 — and the extra point provides bonus healing to the most greviously injured targets is well spent. (Talented)
The rest of the tree is fairly self explanatory and filled with some pretty “cookie cutter” options. Depending on how the “Chakra Duration” buff goes, we might not need State of Mind capped off (or at all). I’d much rather have State of Mind reduce the CD on Chakra itself– enabling us to swap in and out of different stances with a bit more fluidity. Even the 30 second cooldown is a bit restrictive. I find myself pre-pull to be in Chakra: Serenity for the first 15-20 seconds of a fight to then be sure that I can swap to Chakra: Sanctuary when the AOE starts– e.g. Ascendant Council… but that might just be a pipe dream.
Darkness – 3% haste to all your spells. It also will bring you to your 12.5% haste marker much easier. There has been some debate weather or not this 12.5% is worth the effort– I’ve found, even in purely a “only renew the tank” situation, the added throughput and HPS/HPM that Renew provides is worth the effort. (It really isn’t all that difficult to hit 12.5%). (Talented)
Veiled Shadows – What?! I thought you said mana was at a premium! But you have zero points in Veiled Shadows! It is. However, at only a 30 second reduction per point — meh. I’m pretty much of the mindset that if you need two Shadowfiends in the same encounter, something larger is wrong. (DPS too slow, poor use of your own cooldowns, spirit or other stats are too low, etc…) (Talent Skipped)
Twin Disciplines – Pure throughput improvement. Cap it. (Talented)
Mental Agility – This is part of my Raid Healing spec if anything just for Prayer of Mending and COH. (It also helps with making Renewing the tanks a bit more tolerable). Further, it makes me feel better for not using Inner Will in favor for Inner Fire’s spellpower. (Talented)
Inner Sanctum – Getting points into this is possible, however you’d have to sacrifice points in Darkness (or 1 point in Mental Agility). Heroic Encounters may require the Spell Damage mitigation, but I’ll have to take a look at the way this feels in 25-Man Hard Modes and get more data. For normal encounters, this is not a necessary use of your points. (Talent Skipped- Testing in HMs)
I don’t want to get into our glyph choices too much. Fellow priest, Dawn at WoW Insider, wrote an article that offers an explanation of our options and outlined them very well. I will say that we do need to remember that we can (and should) be changing our glyphs as the fight calls for it to quickly optimize ourselves for those fights. (ie. Doing more tank healing? Renew might be an important Glyph to keep on. Lightwell playing an important role in your strategy? Glyph for the additional charges.)
Renew: This is the “Break the WOTLK Habit” mantra for Holy Priests. Disc Priests need to learn to NOT Bubble Spam and Holy Priests need to learn to not Renew Spam. Our mana pools simply cannot support Renew Spam, which devalues the spell as a major player in our spellbook. For me, I do keep that 12.5% haste benchmark in mind (even though it’s usefulness has spurred some debate) if anything just for Tank Renews, as at that point(raidbuffed) Renew gains an additional tick.
Yep, I roll Renews on the tanks. Not with 100% uptime, but if one of our tank healers gets Arion’s Lightning Rod, or if Cho’gall has too many Worship Buffs… you’re damn right I do. (and often times even if they aren’t) HPS is HPS is HPS. Am I assisting with Heal or even swapping to Chakra: Serenity? If the fight allows for it, yes. One of our biggest strengths we need to always keep in mind is our flexibility; Raid healing and Tank Healing. Arguably Holy Priests are the strongest raid healers and should be focusing on that, but many fights have ebbs and flows in how the damage comes out. (Maloriak’s different phases, P1 or P2 Ascendant Council) Renew and Heal play a big part in the Tank Healing portions of those fights.
One of the things I think is great about Cataclysm for us Holy Priests is that there isn’t really a “standard cookie cutter spec”. There are some “must haves” and “should take” talents; but there are a few “take this if you don’t cast/use this” talents. A number of the non-holy points are flexible. If you need the cooldown of your Fiend reduced, you can move points into Vield Shadows. (Either from Darkness, or from Mental Agility). If you need the added survivability from Spell Damage, you can spec into Inner Sanctum.
The suggestions I’ve made here are just that: suggestions— however, after running several raids with a number of different spec options, I’ve found this one to work the best for me. The key is to find what works best for you. I offer you my spec and rationale as a starting point of consideration. Good luck!