You see this question a lot on a number of forums and am often asked myself:
What race should my priest be?
The short answer is: it doesnt really matter, so long as you are having fun– which really is a driving point in Mists of Pandaria. However, each race does bring some flavor and benefit to your play, and if you are trying to min/max your priest these racial perks should be considered.
Racial bonuses we will be evaluating will be mostly regarding regeneration, survivability, throughput, and basic advantages. Racial abilities, that provide more of a ‘toy’ (eg. Pack Hobgoblin) or priest-irrelevant bonus (eg. Crack Shot) will be skipped. Any passive profession bonus that provides added skill (ie. +10 Profession Skill) will not be considered. For any races when evaluating mana regen based bonuses we will be using the Combat Regen Formula: Total Combat Regen = Total Mana *0.02 + (1.1287 * SPI * Meditation%) and equalizing down to MP5 and Spirit. For any racials that include combat stats we will be using the Level 90 combat stat conversions.
(in alphabetical order)
Blood Elf -
Arcane Torrent is a flat 2% regen every 2 minutes (+6,000 mana), instantly, and off the GCD. This is worth a flat 250/mp5 or ~443 spirit. This is the largest mana regeneration talent of all priest eligible races. Blood Elves also have a 1% reduction from arcane damage.
Heroic Presence, at 90, is worth a flat 340 hit/340 spirit (thanks to Spiritual Precision, if Shadow) which is slightly more than a Rigid River’s Heart. Additionally, Priests will still have access to the scaling HoT, Gift of the Naaru. Draenei also have a flat 1% reduction in Shadow Damage taken, which is potentially valuable since a lot of the Sha damage in Mists of Pandaria is shadow based.
Dwarves do not have very much in the PVE world aside from Stoneform. Which is a nice, on-use cooldown to help mitigate raid damage. They also have Explorer, which will help Dwarven Archeolgists get those potentially advantageous early expansion Epics. Dwarves also have a flat 1% reduction to Frost Damage.
Expansive Mind grants gnomes an extra 5% mana. Since Priests are the only class that can be Gnome, this would only need to account for Shadowfiend/Mindbender/PW: Solace and Hymn of Hope (which, for the record does not guarantee any regen to the priest, and as such is not being considered in this analysis). 5% is an extra 15,000 mana.
Shadowfiend +3600 additional mana per cast
Mindbender +2000 additional mana per cast
PW: Solace +105 additional mana per cast (0.7% mana per cast)
Let’s equalize around Mindbender ~167/mp5 or ~296 Spirit (instead of speculating a certain amount of Solaces cast).
It also important to recognize that they will also START the fight with additional mana, giving them a larger “zero sum” to operate with.
Time is Money is an exceptionally strong racial because it provides a flat 1% increase to spell casting, constantly and it scales. This is worth MORE than just 425 Haste Rating (which is 1% Haste at 90), because haste gains are multiplicative— Including other haste gains (ie. Mind Quickening). You don’t simply add 1% to your haste. Goblins also have their very handy Rocket Jump, which can help when trying to get into position (or out of the way of a boss mechanic!). See the Haste Breakpoint page for more details on the reduced breakpoints.
Human Spirit - Worth 3% of total spirit as a bonus. Assuming a 10,000 spirit as a benchmark (attainable with MOP level gems and enchants), this racial would provide 300 spirit, or ~169/mp5. It is important to remark that Human Spirit does scale with gear, and the other racial regenerative abilities do not. So as you gain more spirit on your gear, you also gain it in lockstep from Human Spirit. Humans continue to enjoy Every Man for Himself, which while mainly a PVP talent, does have the occasional bonus in PVE encounters. Diplomacy is also a bonus, which can be helpful early in the expansion to reach the desired reputation for the Faction Based Valor Point vendors.
Night Elf -
Similar to Dwarves, Night Elves do not have much in the healer PVE world for racial bonuses. Shadowmeld is helpful for the occasional aggro dump, however is more of a Priest/PVP benefit (dropping target). Quickness, might save you from the occassional melee swing, but it is more a tank racial than a healers. Wisp Form is nice for the long haul back from graveyards. Overall, in PVE, the only real benefit Night Elves have is their 1% reduction from nature damage.
Epicurean provides them with a double “well fed” bonus. Of course they can eat whatever food they want to to provide a bonus to Spirit, Intellect, Mastery, Crit, or Haste— this does give them incredible amounts of flexibility, but lets compare if they chose to eat a doubly-good Spirit Food! Specifically, +300 Spirit Food. (Steamed Crab Surprise)This then provides Pandaren an additional 300 spirit, or an additional ~169/mp5.
Unlike the other racials this bonus requires the Well Fed buff to provide the bonus. Meaning, if you die and are battle rezzed or if your buff wears off mid-fight, you lose the racial benefit.
Tauren really are the Night Elves of the Horde and they do not have really very much to offer in the lines of PVE Healing. They do have access to War Stomp, which is handy should a trash pack get out of control, as well as slightly higher base HP. Tauren also have a 1% reduction from nature damage.
Beserking is an excellent on-use cooldown providing 20% haste on a 3 minute cooldown. If you equalize this over the duration, it is simlar to ~2.1% static additional haste- but more importantly you can control when it becomes active; this racial is the reason you choose Troll. Trolls also have Regeneration which provides them a slight amount of automatic healing when in combat; however not enough to really be exceptionally relevant in PVE. Da Voodoo Shuffle, can be a handy cooldown if an encounter has a snare mechanic. (Very few do, and if we encounter a fight that does, we can simply spec into Phantasm, which devalues this racial benefit).
Will of the Forsaken is handy for fights that have breakable fear mechanics. Touch of the Grave is new for Mists, however is mostly goign to be a slight benefit for our Shadow brethren. (Arguably, Goblin/Troll haste benefits are superior to this). Undead also have a 1% reduction from shadow damage, which will prove helpful against Sha.
Viciousness grant them an added 1% crit, which is worth 600 crit rating. While an oft debated stat due to its RNG throughput, it is a strong combat stat for priests (particularly Disc due to Divine Aegis scaling well from Crit). The arguably best racial bonus to Worgen is Darkflight, enabling them to sprint. However, with the priest level 30 tier giving all priests access to Angelic Feather or Body and Soul, I consider this bonus slightly devalued to what it was in Cataclysm. Worgen are also the only class to have 1% reduction from two schools of magic: shadow and nature.