We’re getting a lot of traffic to our Patch 5.2 changes for Disc and Holy Priests from readers searching for things such as ‘holy or disc priest healing 5.2’ or ‘disc vs holy 5.2’ etc. Due to this we’re here to try and set the record straight and cover what is the best healing spec for Priest in Patch 5.2: The Throne of Thunder.
First things first. The most important thing to remember is that you should be playing what you enjoy playing. Don’t choose a spec if you don’t enjoy it. Both are very viable specs and the beauty of playing a Priest is that you can easily switch between specs for each encounter. Having said that, let’s take a look at the two specs…
Patch 5.2 brought with it quite a few changes to the Discipline spec, but minimal changes to the Holy spec. We must remember that some healing combinations work better with other healing specs and different healing specs work better for particular encounters. First we should take a look at how the specs are fairing out in the real world. Below you will find screenshots of parses from all different modes of raiding in the Thunder Throne in Patch 5.2.
These parses are from raidbots.com, using all parses from a 1 month timespan in a sample period of 2 weeks. What we’re looking at is the plateau’d area where the lines are settled, not the beginning of the patch where the lines fluctuate. Shield’s are included in these parses.
Here we have 25 man normal. Disc Priest is well on top with Holy Paladin and Holy Priest following closely behind, so not too much difference there.
Probably the area that a lot of people are interested in, similar to 25 man Normal, 25 man Looking for Raid presents us with Disc Priest being way out in front of Holy Priest and most other healers bar the Holy Paladin.
Now to 10 mans, looking at Heroic version here where Holy is below all other healing specs including Discipline, which again is top of the table.
And last but not least we have 10 man Normal, where once again we see Disc at the top of the table, and Holy below Disc by a small amount.
Looking at worldoflogs HPS from Throne of Thunder for 5.2 in 25 man LFR only, here are the amount of times that Disc and Holy appear in the top 10 of a boss:
That is a huge difference.
So we can see from all of these results, that Discipline is scoring better over Holy at this point in time and also scoring better than most healers specs. So why is Disc getting a Higher Spec score?
Well we know that in 10 man, a Disc Priest’s Atonement really shines as there are less players to receive the heal caused by damage from Smite etc. It’s also easier to shield 10 people than it is to shield 25 people. So in 10 man when you shield someone, you’re shielding 1/10 or 10% of the raid, while in 25 man you’re shielding 1/25 or 4% of the raid.
In 25 man, Holy is able to cover more AoE healing then Disc, and as such it can compete better than it does in 10 man. However, it is still below where it should be.
While Holy can cover more players with their AoE based healing, those spells currently require more mana than the core abilities Disc uses to mitigate damage. The damage spells that Disc use to heal through Atonement are also cheaper than AoE heals, and although must be cast several times to cover more players, those heals are smart heals, meaning before it heals, it chooses who has the lowest HP and heals them first. Whereas some AoE heals such as Prayer of Healing covers a group heal, but not everyone in that group could be damaged = overheals = wasted mana. Disc also has the ability to have mana returned when Power Word: Shield is absorbed.
Without mana, there are no heals. So to make sure Holy Priests have mana to spend on these expensive Holy spells, we need to make sure our Spirit stat is of a very comfortable value, which means our other secondary stats( Mastery and Haste) suffer and therefore cause Holy heals to be not quite as effective. It also means that while we push Spirit to the brink, Holy need to focus heavily on mana management, while Disc has a bit of lee-way and is able to make the occasional mistake or “waste” a spell here and there.
Just tell me what’s better!
What’s better for leveling? Disc until about level 56 when Holy actually gains some spells. Then they’re both viable…
What’s better for max level dungeons and heroics? Either is viable. Choose what you prefer to play.
What’s better for 10 man raids? At the moment, Disc is the clear winner, but is dependent on your other healer – Disc creates shields yes, but someone needs to heal those who have been shielded.
What’s better for 25 man raids? Dependent on your stats and your raid composition, but both Disc and Holy are viable but Disc slightly edges out Holy due to Disc’s mana being abundant. Disc can also also be a little easier to play, with Holy’s Chakra states continuing to play havoc with a lot of players. We believe this is due to Holy lacking these spells while levelling, but that’s a whole different post altogether.
So take all this information as a grain of salt. Play what you want to play above all else. Try both specs out and see what works for you and your raid. Let us know what you think of the current state of Holy and Disc. What works for you and what do you recommend?