Guildie guest Yuda - My Experience as a Healing Priest in Cataclysm

Most of my guildies know me as Yuda, my priest’s name in game. Yuda wasn’t always my main and healing hasn’t always been my main role. I started healing more out of necessity because I was running mainly 5 man dungeons with my RL friends. The only other person willing to heal was the guy tanking :(

If you’re new to priest healing, there are a few more decisions you need to make than the other healing classes.

1.    Holy or Discipline
2.    If you choose discipline, Atonement/Archangel or Non-atonement

Holy or Discipline
Priests are the only class blessed with two specs to heal. Early in my priest’s career, I’ve been pretty much a discipline priest purely because I use to PvP, and holy was seen as a raid spec. I started raid healing in Cataclysm first as a holy priest in my old casual raiding guild. We ran 10 man BOT, BWD. I was the tank healer while also helping out with raid. Our healing setup was, one healer for each tank who also helped raid, and one healer purely for raid. Holy priests have the versatility of 2 chakra states of healing. Serenity chakra state was stronger for single target healing by increasing the critical effect chance of direct healing spells by 10% and also allows direct heals to refresh Renew. Sanctuary increases healing done by AOE spells and renew by 15% and reduces cooldown of circle of healing by 2 sec. For my role, I exclusively healed in Serenity chakra state and did fine.

When I joined Frostwolves, Navi asked me to heal in Firelands as discipline. So after a bit of research i decided to try discipline healing. Discipline priests are able to mitigate damage with Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis (proc with critical heals or all prayer of healing) and power word: Barrier, while also doing decent healing. We were doing quite a lot of 10 mans and again I was tank healing. I noticed a few differences to healing as holy. Mana efficiency was better as discipline, and discipline had a few more cooldowns at their disposal..
1.    Power Word: Barrier - reduce damage by 25% for 10sec, 3 min CD
2.    Power Infusion - mini bloodlust for priests, also reduce mana cost, 2 min CD
3.    Pain Suppression - reduce damage on a target by 40% for 8 sec, 3 min CD

In the course of a boss fight, you could use these CDs twice!

So in my opinion here are the strengths and weaknesses of the two specs:

Discipline strengths
- Power word: barrier - even more important for heroics i would imagine
- more CDs
- More mana efficiency
- able to ramp up HPS (heal per second) by multi power word shielding for intense periods of damage
- Strong tank healer
- Pro-active healing

Discipline weakness
- Prayer of healing is strong as it procs divine aegis but is confined to a group of 5
- No ‘smart’ healing like circle of healing (holy) that can cross groups.
- 25 man raid healing may see your shields not completely absorbed which can impact on your mana return through rapture
- Once someone is shielded, another disc priest cannot shield them again due to the Weakened Soul effect, hence multiple disc priests in the same raid may see less healing potential. However you have more barriers, yay!

Holy strengths
- Versatile due to two Chakra states that can change during battle
- Best utility as a 25 man raid healer imo
- Lightwell is nice if people used it correctly (did you know that you can click it at range and not interrupt your cast?)
- Body and Soul speed buff
- Note in 4.3 Divine Hymn will receive a major buff with State of Mind talent redesigned to Heavenly voice (holy talent)

Holy weakness
- OOM easily if not careful
- Very dependent on spirit for mana more than disc (65% mana regen in combat vs 50% for discipline)

I would say that both specs are viable. Which spec you choose depends on your healing assignment, 10 man or 25 man and what spec you enjoy. I have noticed that out of the three discipline priests in our guild, I am the only one with non-atonement spec. Atonement /AA or non-atonement is another topical priest discussion which I could talk about if I ever get invited back to post :P  I hope I have given some non-priests in the guild some insight into priest healing.


About the author: Yuda originally joined Frostwolves on his mage (Jiraeya) during WotLK but went back to playing with his RL friends.  He rejoined us on Yuda (his alt) during Firelands.  He is an avid AH player and gets his wife to do all his farming for him on her hunter.


  1. Thanks Yuda! At least now I can understand priests a little bit more... hey now I need a Shaman post! :)


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