There is this priest trial in my guild right now. He applied as a discipline priest but what we were looking for at the time was a holy priest. Unfortunately, he doesn't know how to play holy, so I'm exploiting my veteran status and making him learn it. Coincidentally, the big bosses also want all of us here at WoW.com to work on these 101 columns, so this kills two anything-but-birds with one stone. I really like birds, by the way.
The following is meant to be an introductory guide to the priest holy tree. It is not going to tell you what to do step by step (at least not until you get to the enchants section) instead it intends to show you some options from which you can get started. If you're already a veteran holy priest, feel free to add anything I left out in the comments so readers who use this column as a resource can get as much help as possible.
1. What is Holy?
Holy is one of a priest's two healing specs. In raiding, it is most frequently used to fill a raid healing role, where as in 5-man dungeons it offers a diverse palette of abilities to keep any party alive.
2. Holy benefits
- Flexible to many different styles of play.
- Benefits from almost every caster stat and thus makes it easy to find gear upgrades.
- As a raid healer, holy offers excellent reactive and preemptive healing options.
- Provides a variety of utility spells to assist the raid.
3. Holy drawbacks
- Jack of all trades, master of none. Even as a capable raid healer, you will not be able to keep up with equally skilled druids, and healing 25-man tank damage is no easy task. In 10-mans a holy priest can fill all raid roles better.
- No niche. The holy priest is a great example of "bring the player, not the class." There is nothing a holy priest has that makes him a must-have member of the raid. Unique spells like Body and Soul and Lightwell are not universally useful to every raid, and abilities like Guardian Spirit have comparable counterparts offered by other healers.
- Not strong on every fight. A holy priest can be ideal for some encounters, and useless in others. Having a secondary spec you are competent with is ideal.
4. Stats to look for
Holy priests benefit from almost every caster stat available. Conveniently, this will allow you an amazing amount of flexibility in picking out gear. However, it also means that it is not advisable to stack one stat. The following are stats that you can benefit from as a holy priest.
- Spellpower: The more spellpower you have, the more your heals will heal for. Easy enough, right?
- Intellect: This stat will increase your mana pool and grant a small amount of critical strike rating. In addition to buffing your mana, it will affect your mana regeneration from spirit and increase the amount of mana returned by abilities like Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope, and Replenishment.
- Spirit: Spirit converts to mana regeneration in and out of combat. When talented, 25% of a holy priest's spirit converts to additional spellpower. Spirit is affected by Meditation and Holy Concentration, furthering its value as a regen stat. Spirit converts to MP5 based on your intellect, so as you gain more intellect, it will take less spirit to get 1 point of MP5.
- Haste: This stat will decrease your casting time on non-instant cast spells. It will also lower the 1.5 second global cooldown (GCD) that all your spells have. While you can stack haste past the 1-second GCD haste cap and still lower the casting time of your longer cast time spells, it requires an extraordinary amount of haste to do so and would thus require handicapping all your other stats in the process. Don't do that.
- Critical strike: This stat increases the critical strike chance on your spells. In that sense, it is not guaranteed to help you all the time, but that doesn't mean you should avoid this stat. Crit helps to activate important talents in the holy tree such as Holy Concentration, Inspiration, and Surge of Light, so make sure there is some crit on your gear. Consider that you will receive an additional 5% chance to crit with holy spells from talents. There is no cap for this stat, but stacking crit has far less utility than stacking other stats. Without buffs, 20-30% crit chance is a good range to be within.
- MP5: MP5 gives no additional benefits other than mana regeneration, so it is not a stat you need to stack by gemming, but you can take it when it is an option on other gear (like trinkets).
Stamina is, of course, valuable, but you don't need to prioritize it over any of the above stats. You will naturally acquire more stamina as you get better gear.
There is no universal priority for gearing the above stats. Find a balance that works for your play style. If you find something deficient in your performance as a healer, first evaluate how you can improve your game play. If something is still lacking after that, then you can make stat adjustments based on your needs.
5. Stats to avoid
The following stats are not necessary to heal.
- Spell hit.
- Spell penetration.
- Melee stats such as strength, agility, armor penetration, and expertise.