Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Spiritual Guidance: Is Greater Heal on Life Support?

Matt Low

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. Is the Priest usage of Greater Heal fading away? Matticus shall answer!

An excellent thread on Plus Heal has caught my attention and it's a topic that's also been picked up by Kestrel.

It's about the current use of Greater Heal (or lack thereof).

Check your meters. Specifically, check your cast sequences. See if you can determine how often you use Greater Heal on a typical night. If you're a player who uses it often, I applaud you. From a mathematical and healing efficiency stand point, Greater Heal has the edge.

Under lab conditions.

Except raid environments aren't lab conditions. Let's go into detail about when Greater Heal is used in Discipline and Holy after the break.


Surge of Light is one of the talents that have given Priests a reason to use Flash Heal.

Two reasons:

  • Free: Does not place Priests into the 5 second rule. Does not trigger in combat Mana Regen.
  • Instant: Possible to wait until the last possible moment to cast it.

Perfect for sniping them pesky Resto Shamans, right?

The side effect of this is that as one spell's use rises, the other falls. During the Burning Crusade, Greater Heal was the single target heal of choice. But with the various changes and bonuses to Flash Heal, Priests will opt to use more of that.

Having points invested in Improved Holy Concentration hastens a Greater Heal or a Flash Heal cast. This drops Greater Heal down to about a 2.1 cast and Flash Heal to ~1.0 second cast.

The Flash Heal glyph gives even more incentive for Priests to use Flash Heal. It knocks off 10% of the mana cost rendering the heal per second and heal per mana cost almost the same as Greater Heal. So if you're trying to manage your mana, it allows you to control it that much better!

Unfortunately, there is no Greater Heal glyph. If there is, it might result in more uses. What effects would a Greater Heal glyph do?

  • A minor stacking spellpower increase to healing spells
  • Chance to increase haste on next spell
  • Increased critical strike chance

I'm not the most imaginative. But it is a start.


A neat trick (or staple) I like to use is a Shield, a Penance and a Greater Heal. The Penance does not consume the Borrowed Time effect which means the Greater Heal can be pulled off in a little over 2 seconds.

I know that as a raiding Disc Priest in my guild, I find myself often staying within the 5 second rule. I don't queue up Greater Heals as much as I'd like to since the tank I'm healing doesn't take much damage (usually).

Now Flash Heal does offer a feeling of control in a raid environment. You can hit more targets with Flash Heal then with Greater Heal.

Let's put it another way.

You may not whack a mole as hard. But you can whack more of them within a same period of time.

There's also the server lag issue to take into account.

Set bonus

The 4 piece set bonus for Faith reduces the cost of Greater Heal by 5%. I personally don't find the bonus that great because I don't use Greater Heal often enough to justify it. 5% off of 1050 is 51 mana. Most Priests I know do not run into mana problems since they're either deep Discipline or deep Holy.

When is a good time to use Greater Heal?

That's a loaded question. Let me give you a real raid example of how and when I use Greater Heal. Remember that I am a Discipline Priest and your mileage may vary.

Let's say that it takes 3 decent sized hits for the Megatron raid boss to kill our main tank. I also know that the amount my Greater Heal can heal for can mitigate a hit from Megatron.

Use Greater Heal if it means the tank won't die within the cast time. So if Megatron is one hit away from killing your tank, it's a bad idea to use it because your tank might not live long enough. In most cases, you won't be the only healer on the tank.

To hammer the point home further, Greater Heal shines if you're the only healer on a tank. This means you're at the point where it is not possible for other healers to cross heal your tank because the encounter is that stressing.

In a non-raid environment, I find myself using Greater Heal more frequently in certain heroic instances.

Maybe it's the encounter

Maybe it's just a little more convenient for Priests to use Flash Heal instead on present encounters. I remember running Karazhan with T5 and up gear. I got lazy and just flashed more often because my regeneration allowed me to do that. I have a hunch that may be the case here for some players.

In the grand scheme of things, we have just started raiding. The only direction our health pools can go is up. Feral Druid tanks are breaking the 50k health barrier. As instances become harder, I suspect Greater Heal will see increased usage.

Either that, or raid groups are stacking way more healers then are necessary. An entry level raid will pack 6-7 healers. A group with Naxx on farm will be equipped with 5-6. I would say 4 healers, but I have never been able to successfully heal a heroic Patchwerk with under 5 healers (20% was the closest for me).

In any case, the use of Greater Heal may be dying. But I don't believe it's quite dead.

All hail Megatron!

Want to find more great tips for carrying out your Priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know! And don't forget to check out our other Leveling Guides as well as our Wrath Guides and Galleries!

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr