The Ultimate Healing Priest Guide  

Since the normal priest FAQ hasn't been updated for quite some time, I finally got off my lazy backside and decided to make a healing priest guide myself. Sticky or not, I'm going to bookmark it so that new players can be pointed to a solid read about the class. As a small disclaimer: this is not solely my work. In fact, I have cited many of the probably more knowledgeable priest players from these boards on numerous occasions. Also, keep in mind that none of this is law. A healing priest has the advantage of being able to spec into whatever he wants, as long as his assigned target stays alive. The specs given in this thread are the ones that probably make your life easiest, but if you want to play a holy/discipline hybrid, be my guest; it might even work well enough for raids.

That said, welcome to the ultimate healing priest guide.

Table of contents

  1. What should I expect as a healing priest?
  2. What race should I roll?
  3. Rundown of priestly abilities
  4. Basic healing tactics
  5. Talent specs and glyphs
  6. Priestly Macros
  7. Handy links

Contents [hide]

What should I expect as a healing priest?

A healing priest is a class fairly wanted in both PvE and PvP end-game. In PvE, healers are rare and therefore sought after. What you can expect as a PvE healer is to spend most of your time in the back of the raid next to the ranged DPS group. Some will say that playing a healer priest in end-game PvE means you spend most of the time watching green bars. While this is somewhat true, healing in PvE end-game is something you'll either like or dislike. Some simply prefer to be in the back and maintain a clear view of the situation, so to say. While the official Blizzard site states that tanks are usually the natural leaders of a group or raid, I find myself disagreeing. While a tank is the person to call the pulls, healers stand back and have a constant view on the hit points of the entire raid and what's going on, and can therefore direct everybody around as needed.

Aside from that, as a healing priest you will be expected to keep your raid alive, it's as simple as that. You will mostly be asked to focus either on a tank or on everybody else (raid healing), and can specialize in either through talents.

Skills to master as an end-game PvE healer:

  • How to be mana efficient & when to use what heal
  • How to deal with tough/emergency situations
  • How to predict incoming damage and how to heal preemptively
  • How to dispel magic and diseases effectively

In PvP, DPS+healer teams have ruled the boards from the start and in fact still do so. Regardless of the class you play, end-game PvP usually has a higher phase than end-game raids. As a healer priest specifically, you will be generally running around a BG or arena, avoiding hits while keeping your teammates alive. You will be avoiding 'up close' situations, but will often be required to deal minor damage or mana burn the enemies healer.

Skills to master as an end-game PvP healer:

  • How to survive by hiding/running until your teammate(s) need heals
  • How to time your mana burns and CC in an effective way
  • How to dispel magic and diseases effectively

What race should I roll?

Let's take a look at each race and their bonuses individually.



  • Gemcutting - Jewelcrafting skill increased by 5.
    • Gemcutting is obviously a nice bonus if you intend to go jewelcrafting, but it's not a requirement or such for raids.
  • Gift of the Naaru - Heals the target (50 + 15/Level) over 15 sec
    • The amount healed is increased based on the caster's Spell Power or Attack Power. This ability does not lose casting time from taking damage. 1.5 sec cast. No mana cost. 3 min cooldown.
    • Gift of the Naaru is an interesting spell; it gets the full 100% bonus from +healing, which basically means it scales great at end-game. It also costs no mana, which allows you to cast the spell while staying out of the 5 second rule. While the cooldown is long, it can definitely be a nifty trinket in PvE use. For PvP, it's fairly useless. The 1.5 second cast timer means your enemies have a chance to interrupt you and lock down your entire holy school; all because you tried to get off a minor HOT.
  • Heroic Presence - Increases chance to hit with all spells and attacks by 1% for you and all party members within 30 yards.
    • While more hit is quite nice for shadow priests, healing priests do not need hit at all; there is no chance that a heal will miss the target. Heroic Presence has some minor use in PvP, since you will cast the occasional spell at an enemy there, but it's nigh useless for healing priests.
  • Shadow resistance - Reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%.
    • Comparable to Heroic Presence. The buff is nice, but it probably won't really help you in PvE. It has minor use in PvP (mainly when you are facing shadow priests who only cast shadow spells) but for a healing priest the talent is pretty lackluster.


  • Stoneform - While active, grants immunity to Bleed, Poison, and Disease effects. In addition, Armor increases by 10%. Lasts 8 sec.
    • This one has been a nifty trinket from the start. While exceptionally useful in PvP (Gives you another way out against rogues, warriors, death knights and since lately also feral druids), Stoneform also has some minor PvE uses. For example, back at 70, it could be used to remove Moroes' garotte, making the Karazhan fight a little easier. It's situational, but a fairly nice racial.
  • Gun Specialization - Your chance to critically hit with Guns is increased by 1%.
    • Priests cannot wield guns, thus, this racial is 100% useless to a priest.
  • Frost Resistance - Reduces the chance you will be hit by Frost spells by 2%.
    • Comparable to a Draenei's shadow resistance. Nice to have the buff, but it isn't going to help you in PvE. In PvP, it has minor use against frost mages.
  • Find Treasure - Allows the dwarf to sense nearby treasure, making it appear on the minimap. Lasts until cancelled.
    • While handy to know, find treasure does not have any use in end-game PvP. Its use in end-game PvE exists, but it's minimal; some instances have chests, but they will usually be so obviously located that this skill should not be needed. It can however be a nice buff to your gold pool while leveling.


  • Perception - Increases your Stealth detection.
    • While nerfed with the release of WotLK, this racial is still pretty powerful for PvPing priests. A correctly specced and played rogue should nearly always have the opener on you, but this does help a lot in BG's and against feral druids.
  • The Human Spirit – Spirit increased by 3%.
    • Fairly useless for PvP; 3% spirit can be enough but it's not something that will win you matches. For PvE however, 3% spirit is a very nice bonus. Even with the focus from spirit to intellect with the release of WotLK, spirit is still very important to healing priests (and even more so to holy specced healing priests - more about that ahead). 3% spirit in PvE simply is a very nice buff. The spirit bonus is applied after gear but before buffs.
  • Diplomacy - Reputation gains increased by 10%.
    • Useful mainly for getting up your reputation with factions who sell item enchants, like The Sons of Hodir. A bit more useful for PvE than PvP, since most PvP item enchants can be bought in Wintergrasp and do not require reputation.
  • Sword & Mace specialization - Expertise with Swords/Maces and Two-Handed Swords/Maces increased by 3.
    • Both are nearly completely useless for a priest. Priests should never be meleeing a mob. Aside from that, priests cannot use swords.
  • Every Man for Himself - Removes all movement impairing effects and all effects which cause loss of control of your character. This effect shares a cooldown with other similar effects.
    • Basically, this racial does the same as a PvP trinket. It does share its cooldown with the PvP trinket, so it's not a free out. On the brighter side, what this racial allows you to do is equip two trinkets of your choice rather than the standard PvP trinket and just one of your choice. This has obvious use in PvP, but also some use in PvE; you'll have a PvP trinket 'equipped' alongside your two healing trinkets, and have the ability to escape a number of crowd controlling abilities so you can keep on healing.

Night Elves

  • Shadowmeld - Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect your presence. Lasts until cancelled or upon moving. Any threat is restored versus enemies still in combat upon cancellation of this effect.
    • Next to useless in PvE for one reason, Fade. If you get aggro at one point (which should never happen in a raid) you're better off using fade, which has the same effect but a shorter cooldown. One could argue that Shadowmeld doesn't cost any mana, but all the same; you won't use Shadowmeld a lot as a PvE healing priest, and can do without it just fine. For PvP however, Shadowmeld definitely has a bunch of uses. Mostly, it's used when moving to an obvious spot or to pretend to jump of an object: If you are being chased, act like you jump off that mountain, but just before you jump, stop and use Shadowmeld. Odds are your enemy will blindly jump down. While not the most reliable and best racial there is, this definitely has use in PvP.
  • Elusiveness - Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Shadowmelded or Stealthed.
    • Since priests can't stealth, this racial is useless for them.
  • Quickness - Reduces the chance that melee and ranged attackers will hit you by 2%.
    • Somewhat similar to Frost and Shadow resistance. Useless in PvE, however. If you get aggro you will die in one hit; the chance that this 2% miss chance is going to save your behind is negligible. Somewhat useful in PvP, especially against rogues. Regardless, nothing to go wild over.
  • Wisp Spirit - Transform into a wisp upon death, increasing speed by 50%.
    • Another one of those 'nice to have' racials. This will shorten corpse runs by quite a bit. On the other hand, if you have a talent that improves you in combat you will have less chance that you actually need to do a corpse run.
  • Nature Resistance - Reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%.
    • Completely similar to Shadow and Frost resistance; has minor use in PvE, and some use in PvP (mainly against balance specced druids).


For PvE, Humans are hands down the best class for a healing priest. The 3% spirit bonus will be with you at every boss, all the time, unlike racials like Nature/Shadow/Frost resistance. On top of that, you'll have an easier time getting reputation with The Sons of Hodir and have a free PvP trinket in PvE. The second spot is reserved for Draenei; the Gift of the Naaru buff which has excellent scaling will also be with you all the time, at any boss. And while Heroic Presence might not benefit you, it can be useful for groupmates. On the third spot are the Dwarves. While most of their racials are useless to priests, Stoneform does allow for situational easy outs. Last but not least are the Night Elves. Shadowmeld is next to useless in PvE, and shamefully, it's the only thing they have to offer that can compete.

For PvP, Humans and Dwarves tie for the first spot. Dwarves would be the better if they had any other decent racials; while fairly good, Stoneform is literally the only thing Dwarves have to offer. While none of the Human racials are equally as good for a PvP-playing healer priest, they do have a steady arsenal of them. Night Elves follow in close pursuit since while unreliable, Shadowmeld can confuse opponents and buy you that extra bit of time you need. Draenei get an honorable last spot; Gift of the Naaru is next to useless in PvP, and all their other racials áre useless.


Blood Elves

  • Arcane Affinity – Enchanting skill increased by 10.
    • While nothing special, still a semi-nice talent. A lot of priests decide to pick up tailoring/enchanting as their professions, and this one ties in with that nicely.
  • Arcane Torrent - Silence all enemies within 8 yards for 2 sec and restores 6% of your total Mana.
    • 6% mana back for free, great. Not brilliant, but at level eighty 6% of your mana can easily be two spells. Wouldn't say no to that. For PvP, this talent is pretty nifty. It is probably the least useful for a priest out of all Blood Elf classes, but it still has its use. If you close the gap on a enemy caster, you have an extra spell interrupt at your disposal.
  • Magic Resistance - Reduces the chance you will be hit by spells by 2%
    • Now we're talking. Instead of just 'frost' or 'shadow' resistance, you get the same 2% against all spells. Still nothing that you're completely going to love, but it's starting to look good. PvP-wise that is. Once again, in PvE you should never be hit, (in)effectively making this racial useless.


  • Berserking - Increases your spell casting speed by 10% to 30%. At full health the speed increase is 10% with a greater effect up to 30% if you are badly hurt when you activate Berserking. Lasts 10 sec.
    • The bad thing about Berserking is that it doesn't gain it's full effect until you're nearly death; which is the point where you cannot afford to wait for a 1.50 second global cooldown from a racial. Generally, this racial will be used around full hp, giving an effective 10% casting speed. While nothing splendid, this can be used in combination with a shaman's Bloodlust and/or a discipline specced priest's Power Infusion, effectively increasing your cast speed by up to 65%. In PvE, Berserking can be used when you know the tank is going to receive burst damage, while in PvP, it can be used whenever you can spare the global cooldown it gives. Combining it with Power Infusion in an arena to Mana Burn an enemy healer down is often a good idea.
  • Regeneration - Health regeneration increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat.
    • Troll priests benefit most from this talent, since they generally have a high amount of spirit. The more spirit the higher your health regeneration. The higher your health regeneration the higher 10% of it. While nothing game-changing, definitely a useful racial for both PvE and PvP to remove a little bit of healing stress by somewhat lessening the need to heal yourself.
  • Beast Slaying - Damage dealt versus Beasts increased by 5%.
    • While not a bad racial per se, useless for healing priests. We heal and we don't deal damage. The racial might speed up your leveling by a little bit, but not by a noticeable amount.
  • Bow & Throwing Weapon Specializations - Your chance to critically hit with Bows/Throwing Weapons is increased by 1%.
    • Useless. Priests do not use bows or throwing weapons.
  • Da Voodoo Shuffle - Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%. Trolls be flippin' out mon!
    • While this racial has minor use in PvE, it's somewhat nice in PvP. Shorter slows means you'll have an easier time avoiding incoming damage. The good thing is that it stacks with gems, as of such is can be combined with a -15% snare duration meta gem to effectively cut 1/3 of all slows used on you. On the other hand, there are better ways to spend your meta gem slot.


  • Will of the Forsaken - Removes any Charm, Fear and Sleep effects. – Instant – 2 minute cooldown.
    • This racial has dominated the PvP boards since the launch of the game. While it has been thrown around and fiddled with, it is still plainly good for PvP. It's basically a free weaker version of the trinket, and the two don't share cooldowns. Not all too good for PvE, though it has its uses.
  • Cannibalize - When activated, regenerates 7% of total health every 2 sec for 10 sec. Only works on Humanoid or Undead corpses within 5 yds. Any movement, action, or damage taken while Cannibalizing will cancel the effect. Instant. 2 minute cooldown.
    • Close to useless for a priest. While not spending mana is always nice, you will usually simply heal yourself up. Cannibalize has situational uses in both PvP and PvE, but generally you don't need it.
  • Underwater Breathing - Underwater breath lasts 233% longer than normal.
    • Nice. A bit like the Night Elves' wisp form. Nothing to go wild over, but it can be fairly helpful when questing and/or leveling.
  • Shadow Resistance - Reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%.
    • Exactly the same as the Draenei racial. Wouldn't say no to it, but it's fairly lackluster.


Overall the choices for horde healing priests are pretty slim, and for PvE the Blood Elf is probably the best race to play a priest as. 6% free mana is just that bit better than Berserking. Trolls come in second, having the small advantages of Regeneration and Da Voodoo Shuffle in PvE alongside the use of Berserking. Undead come last; Will of the Forsaken, Cannibalize and Shadow Resistance are all so situational that Undead isn't a race to go wild over.

For PvP on the other hand, Undead are on top of the board. While a silence is nice and so is casting speed, nothing beats a free PvP trinket (even if it's a little less versatile as the normal one). Even in WotLK, the Forsaken continue to top the charts racial-wise here. The Blood Elf probably comes second, with a combined silence and mana potion being just slightly more effective than -15% snare duration; Berserking is nice but not too noticeable.

Last but not least, a quick reminder. I'd just like to say that whatever you plan on doing, the racial differences are so small that you will generally not notice the difference between a Dwarf priest or a Troll priest. These racials only really matter if you want to get everything you can get out of your character, and if you plan on doing excessive high-end PvE or PvP. If you simply like the looks of a Blood Elf better than those of an Undead but want to PvP, just pick the Elf; in the end you're the one who has to watch the characters back through all his adventures.

Rundown of priestly abilities

Before going into this, I will need to explain the basics of Heal Per Mana, aka HPM. To be as efficient as possible, you will want to use the spells which heal the most for the lowest mana cost as often as possible. HPM is used to find out which of your spells it the most efficient. Quoting myself from The Priest Healing Mana Efficiency Thread here;

...Calculating the hpm for your characters heals is pretty easy; just cast a heal or 3 on yourself. Pick a number that seems avarage (for example, if you healed for 3432, 3687 and 3501, pick '3500'). Check how much mana the heal cast costs, and then divide the earlier picked number by the mana cost....

That said, let's look at the abilities we have at our disposal. Keep in mind the 'average' HPM mentioned means the HPM at level 80 in average heroic gear.

Flash Heal - Heals a friendly target for X to Y. 1.5 sec cast, 470 mana, 4 to 5 Average HPM.

    • While one of the least mana efficient spells in your arsenal, this one is fast. It is meant to do exactly what it is called; heal in a flash. Flash Heal isn't used too much as a main heal, but more often thrown on targets that would probably die before the cast time on a big heal is finished.

Greater Heal - A slow casting spell that heals a single target for X. 3 sec cast, 825 mana, 5 to 8 average HPM (depending heavily on spec). Bested by only penance, Greater Heal is the main heal used by nearly all priests. Out of all steady single-target heals all priests have, it has the best HPM. When specced holy, this will be one of your most used spells. Keep in mind that in PvP, one won't use this one a lot. Even with the cast time lowered to 2.5 sec through talents, it's still a tricky spell to get off and it leaves you open to get your holy school locked down to abilities as Counterspell.

Penance - Launches a volley of holy light at the target, causing X Holy damage to an enemy, or Y healing to an ally every 1 sec for 2 sec. 618 mana, 11 to 12 average HPM, 8 to 10 sec cooldown.

    • While only available when specced 51 points into disc, Penance is arguably the best single-target healing spell in the game. Its HPM is simply great, the first heal is instant so no need to wait for a long cast timer, and all 3 independent ticks can crit. Also, if you have the talent, Penance automatically applies the maximum of 3 stacks of Grace onto your target. This is the only heal to best Greater Heal, and will be your main heal as a discipline specced priest. As an additional note, Penance does not use up the 'Borrowed Time' bonus from the talent while being affected by it. This plainly means you get a free sped-up Penance after every Power Word: Shield spell alongside a normal sped-up spell.

Holy Nova - Causes an explosion of holy light around the caster, causing W to X Holy damage to all enemy targets within 10 yards and healing all party members within 10 yards for Y to Z. These effects cause no threat. Instant cast, 875 mana, 1 average HPM per person.

    • While this ability (then-talent) used to be pretty awful pre-TBC, it has only gotten better since. While its mana cost remains high, it is now a fairly viable heal. Especially with the Holy Nova glyph which increases its healing by 40% (but reduces its damage by the same amount), the spell is a steady AOE healing spell. For a disc priest, this is the only AOE spell that can actually be cast while moving, allowing it to shine in fights like Grand Magus Telestra (in the Nexus) or Malygos, where your whole party gets picked up and thrown around. Since the spell is AOE, you need to hit at least 5 people to bring its HPM up to Flash Heal's level – usually hitting 3 people (including yourself) with it is enough though, since you will have one or two crits. Also, this is unglyphed – with the Holy Nova glyph its HPM gets bumped up to an average of 2 per person.

Renew - Heals the target for X over 15 sec. Instant cast, 657 mana, 7 to 9 average HPM.

    • As the only heal over time spell in your arsenal, Renew is pretty nifty to have. While not a life-saver, it gives you a hand on bursts on the tank or fills up that DPS on 90% hp if he doesn't require an immediate heal. It's HPM is fairly nice, making the spell worthwhile enough to use.

Prayer of Mending - Places a spell on the target that heals them for X the next time they take damage. When the heal occurs, Prayer of Mending jumps to a raid member within 20 yards. Jumps up to 5 times and lasts 30 sec after each jump. This spell can only be placed on one target at a time. Instant cast, 5 average HPM per person, 10 sec cooldown.

    • This spell is fairly bad ass to say at the least. 5 average HPM per person means you can easily achieve the huge amount of 25 HPM when all its 5 charges are used, which makes the spell more than three times as efficient as your main heal, Greater Heal. And that's assuming you don't get one crit. As a discipline specced priests, you will probably have one or two crits on every cast, bouncing up the spell's HPM to a whooping 30 HPM, even excluding Divine Aegis procs. Holy specced priests might have a little less crit, but can achieve the same number due to the sheer amount of talents in the holy tree that increase this spell's efficiency. Apparently, the heals done by Prayer of Mending were meant to cause aggro for the priest, but at the moment they do not cause any aggro at all. This is probably a bug, but just now it can be thrown on the tank before each pull for a very nice amount of extra healing.

Binding heal - Heals a friendly target and the caster for X to Y. Causes low threat. 1.5 sec cast, 1043 mana, 3 average HPM per person.

    • What this basically is, is a split Greater Heal. While its use has been slightly lowered with the release of WotLK (we have other spells taking its place), it is still a fairly nice spell. Whenever you have to spam heals on the tank and you're getting hit yourself, you start spamming this instead of Greater Heal and you'll keep yourself and the tank alive. It works out nicely in fact; 3 average HPM per person means 6 HPM for you and the tank together, bringing the spell on par with Greater Heal.

Desperate Prayer - Instantly heals the caster for X to Y. Instant cast, 802 mana, 6 to 7 average HPM, 2 min cooldown.

    • A bit of a 'meh' spell. For starters, you won't need it in PvE as you won't be getting hit. It's nice for PvP, but though not up high, it is located in the holy tree. Also, it has a relatively high mana cost (seeing as it used to be free). At the moment, it's only real use in PvE is as a replacement for health potions so mana potions can be used instead. Even then, Desperate Prayer takes a 802 mana toll for that use. Most PvPing priests do pick it up because it's instant and it heals for a nice amount, but it's far from as good as what it used to be. It's a panic button which definitely has it's uses (mostly in PvP), but it's so/so for PvE.

Prayer of Healing - A powerful prayer heals party members within 30 yards for X. 3 sec cast, 1854 mana, 2 to 4 average HPM per person (depending heavily on spec).

    • While not too efficient, this spell is your only reliable AOE heal as a disc priest. As disc, you need to heal at least 3 people for the full amount to get a decent HPM out of it. Luckily, you will usually have a crit coming with it. As holy, this spell is still costly but a lot more effective, and healing 3 people for the full amount will bring it on par with Penance, efficiency-wise.

Power Word: Shield - Draws on the soul of the party member to shield them, absorbing X damage. Lasts 30 sec. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. Once shielded, the target cannot be shielded again for 15 sec. Instant cast, 879 mana, 4 to 8 average HPM (depending heavily on spec), 4 sec cooldown.

    • Power Word: Shield or PW:S has been the subject of many discussions lately. To summarize all that has been going on about it; As holy, you will use this spell solely as a last second life saver. For holy priests, it is not an efficient spell at all and should not be used until it is really needed. For disc priests, it's efficiency is actually higher than Greater Heal, mainly due to the huge amount of damage it absorbs (at time of writing this, mine absorbs nearly 5000 damage) combined with the mana returned when it gets hit due to the Rapture talent. Disc priests will be using this ability basically ‘all the time'. You have to keep an eye out though; since launch there have been all sorts of contradictory reports about if and how badly a shield messes with a warrior/druid's rage generation. On DK tanks, you're free to use this before any pull. On warriors, druids and paladins (who rely on you to heal them to regain mana through Spiritual Attunement), don't use it until you're well in combat and you're sure your tank isn't out of rage or mana at the time.

Divine Hymn - You recite a Holy hymn, causing the closest 10 enemies within 15 yards to become incapacitated for 20 sec. and heals the closest 10 friendly targets within 15 yards for 348 every sec for 6 sec. Incapacitated enemies take 40% less damage while incapacitated and for 3 sec after the incapacitation ends. Damage caused may interrupt the effect on all incapacitated targets. 1.5 sec cast, 694 mana, 3 to 6 average HPM per person, 6 min cooldown.

    • A quite unknown but nevertheless useful spell in the priest's arsenal. It's primary use is PvP, where it can be cast to keep the enemy at bay for a bit while you get a chance to heal up your partner(s). In PvE, it is used on bosses like Slad'rann in Gundrak, where you might be overrun by mobs and need to hold out a little longer. It's HPM is pretty fair, even for disc priests, turning this into a very interesting spell. It's situational because of the 6 minute cooldown, though.

Circle of Healing - Heals friendly target and that target's party members within 15 yards of the target for X to Y. Instant cast, 450 mana, 2 to 3 average HPM per person, 6 sec cooldown.

    • One of the more significant holy tree abilities. This is mainly what allows holy priests to perform so well in raid healing. It's HPM is pretty nice and the spell is instant. There used to be no cooldown on the spell, but this got changed with patch 3.0.3 because Blizzard thought holy priests were relying too much on spamming CoH. Even with the CD, you will use this spell quite a lot when raid healing as a holy priest. It's like McDonalds; cheap, fast and not terrific, but nevertheless fulfilling.

Guardian Spirit - Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec. – Instant cast. – 207 mana. – 3 min cooldown.

    • Discussions about this talent are currently still going on, but however you put it, it's a talent that is definitely nice to have. The mana cost is so cheap you'll always be able to use it when you need it. The main idea of it seems to be that in PvE, you use it when your tank drops below 30% hp (you need to have low standards or the talent will never be used), and in PvP, you use it as a free cheat death effect on yourself or a teammate.

Lightwell - Creates a Holy Lightwell. Members of your raid or party can click the Lightwell to restore 801 health over 6 sec. Attacks done to you equal to 30% of your total health will cancel the effect. Lightwell lasts for 3 min or 10 charges. 0.5 sec cast, 733 mana, 3 min cooldown.

    • Even though Blizzard has been buffing this talent pretty much every patch since it was introduced, the spell is still nigh useless and rarely picked up. While it's healing isn't bad and you can place it before combat, there's two reasons as to why it's bad. First, nobody uses it. In normal instances half the people won't know what it is or do and they will simply not click it. Second, even if they do, if you spec that far into holy your job is generally to be a raid healer. Why make the DPS waste their time to use a heal? You should be the one watching their health bars, not them. It is not uncommon to see people put 51 points into holy and skip "lolwell"; while, like almost every talent a priest has, it has situational uses, it's useless most of the time.

Pain Suppression – Instantly reduces a friendly target's threat by 5%, reduces all damage taken by 40% and increases resistance to dispel mechanics by 65% for 8 seconds. Instant cast. 306 mana, 3 min cooldown.

    • This used to be the talent that made discipline the PvP tree in TBC. Since discipline is now viable for PvE as well, Pain Supression sees a lot more use in instances and raids. Even with the 5% threat loss, it's use is straightforward: throw it on the tank to help him survive burst damage. It's basically the disc version of Guardian Spirit. It's probably not as good, but then again, it's an 41-pointer whereas Guardian Spirit requires 51 points. A very nice spell for both PvE and PvP.

Power Infusion - Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%. Lasts 15 sec. – Instant cast. 612 mana, 3 min cooldown.

    • The primary use for this talent in TBC was to throw it on yourself in an arena and then proceeding to mana burn down an enemy healer. While it still serves that purpose to some extent, it is now also used in PvE to empower a caster class when the DPS are commanded to nuke. Generally throwing it on a mage works best, but a warlock, elemental shaman or what-have-you should be fine as well.

Inner focus - When activated, reduces the mana cost of your next spell by 100% and increases its critical effect chance by 25% if it is capable of a critical effect. Instant cast. No mana cost, 3 min cooldown.

    • Inner Focus has been a target of debate for some time as well. For one, this spell does not trigger the global cooldown, which allows you to macro it in with a heal to form some kind of ‘panic' button. Also, because a spell cast while Inner Focus is up costs no mana, this spell does not trigger the 5 second rule (more on that later) allowing you to regenerate a little longer when using this ability at the right moment. At the end of TBC, plenty of priests were skipping the talent stating they never really used it, but before the talent really ‘slipped away' it got ‘re-introduced' when WotLK came due to the fact that disc PvE healing was suddenly made viable. The talent is not a must, but it's definitely a nice ability.

Basic healing tactics

Discipline is for PvP, holy can't do anything else but raiding and shadow is purely for leveling and PvP.

Or at least, that's how it used to be before WotLK was released. The latest expansion has changed the way priests work quite a bit. For starters, the Surge of Light talent was changed. In addition to granting the priest a free instant Smite on a crit, the talent now also grants a free instant Flash Heal. Also, Holy Concentration was changed to work with crits, rather than having a small 4% chance on any spell, and Serendipity was added to the holy tree. In the disc tree, Rapture, Divine Aegis, Grace, Borrowed Time and Penance were added and effectively turned the discipline tree into something viable for raiding.

The changes in these trees have caused some kind of a split; with 51 points in discipline, you will mainly be a tank healer since you have Penance, the most efficient single target spell a priest possesses, at your disposal. Since the holy tree is mostly focused on area of effect healing, holy priests make for excellent raid healers. That's not to say they can't crossover, though. With semi-decent gear, a discipline priest can perform raid healing just fine, just as holy priests can get away with tank healing. Even in raids. Regardless, you generally want to stick with doing what you are specced for, since doing otherwise means you are simply throwing away talent points.

While you have to keep in mind that healing doesn't know ‘rotations' like DPS classes do, there are a couple of ‘rules' you should learn and follow while healing if you want to play more effective. While the parts up next should make a good foundation for becoming a good healer, always keep in mind that a truly good healer always looks for something extra; there are always niches, situations, possibilities where one heal is better than the other or where doing something different will give you more woosh for your bucks. If you want to excel at the priest class, be on the lookout for those moments at all times.

Basic holy healing tactics

Quoting Teacake from the same thread here;

Quote: 1. Keep Renew up on the tank at all times. 2. Cast Prayer of Mending on the tank on the encounter every time it's off cooldown. 3. Cancel-cast Greater Heal, letting it land as needed. 4. Use Flash Heal for DPS who take damage, quicker heals on the tank, and every time Surge of Light procs. 5. For AOE damage, use Circle of Healing (instant, tops off 5 raid members, 6 with the glyph) and/or Prayer of Healing (longer cast time; heals for more but only the priest's own group; generally better for 5-mans). 6. Use Binding Heal when you take damage.

This is basically what you spend most of your time doing being holy priest in your average (heroic) instance. The only real difference between heroics and raids is that since you'll be a raid healer as holy, you'll barely be spending any time cancelcasting Greater Heal (more on cancelcasting in the ‘Priestly macros' section). You will be using Prayer of Mending a lot in raids, and Circle of Healing as well – the latter mainly when the raid is taking heavy AOE damage and you don't have time to throw down a Prayer of Healing.

Also, you'll rely somewhat on the '5 second rule' mentioned earlier in this guide. Quote from WoWwiki;

After a character expends mana in casting a spell, the effective amount of mana gained per tick from spirit-based regeneration is reduced (interrupted) for a period of 5 seconds. This is commonly referred to as the five second rule (FSR).

While the 5SR has become a lot less important in WotLK thanks to the addition of talents like Serendipity, a holy specialized priest still has a lot to do with it. Generally you will want to stay out of the 5SR whenever possible; to do this, the best technique at your disposal will be to heal everybody up and then stop casting. Since Inner Focus makes your next spell cast free of mana cost, a spell cast with Inner Focus up does not make you enter the 5SR. Therefore Inner Focus is often used to extend the period spend outside of the 5SR by using it to throw off a big heal to fill everybody up again, after which more time can be spend regenerating. Both this reliance on the 5SR and the Spiritual Guidance talent are also the main catalysts for determining how a holy priest gears. They focus on intellect and spirit foremost, then MP5 and crit (aiming for ~20% crit unbuffed is a nice number for holy priests). Spellpower is a more personal stat; while some find it equally as important as intellect and spirit, others do not feel the need to focus on it. While you will need a minimum amount at any point, see what works for you; you might find 1700 spellpower to be low for heroics while I am doing fine with 1300.

Last but not least, keep in mind Prayer of Mending is your friend. It's HPM rises up to obscene levels as a holy spec, and it automatically jumps to whoever needs healing the most. Though there are some exceptions, you will generally want to have a PoM jumping around at any time during a boss fight.

Basic discipline healing tactics

Discipline specced priests heal quite a lot different from holy priests. First and foremost, they have next to no reliance on the 5SR. The idea with a disc healer is that they stack loads of intellect first and foremost. More intellect means more mana, and more total mana means the effect Rapture has will be larger. Aside from intellect, crit is also extremely important for discipline priests, since a discipline priest will need crits to achieve the full effect from Rapture – and in addition to that, there's the Divine Aegis talent. After intellect and crit, discipline priests will be focusing on spellpower; while it is a somewhat personal stat (as it is for holy priests), disc priests rely a bit more on spellpower to have decent numbers on their heals so Divine Aegis has a larger effect and they will have an easier time dealing with bursts on the tank they're healing. Haste comes right after spellpower; while nothing you really need it's nice to have and it definitely benefits Penance. Last but not least, there's spirit and MP5. Discipline priests rely almost solely on Rapture to keep their mana up, and while spirit and MP5 are not horrible stats, they are far from as useful to disc priests as they are to holy priests.

This all (obviously) ties in with the way discipline priests heal; their primary aim in a raid should be to keep Grace and Weakened Soul up on the main tank which means they will not spend a lot of time outside the 5SR, making spirit somewhat obsolete. On the other hand there are usually a number of moments in a boss fight where the tank is on full HP and not taking any damage at all. At that point you can let Grace fall and regenerate for a bit until the tank needs another Penance to heal him up and get Grace back up to 3 stacks. Weakened Soul is kept up because Power Word: Shield is a pretty efficient ‘heal' thanks to Rapture while the ‘debuff' gives you a crit bonus on the tank thanks to Renewed Hope. Pain Suppression is used on bursts, or whenever the tank's health falls too low.

For raid (or mainly group) healing, Discipline priests rely on Power Word: Shield, Renew, Flash Heal and Prayer of Mending. Occasionally, you might want to use a Prayer of Healing, but since spells like these have such a long cast time and are so inefficient you'll want to avoid it; usually, you're better off just going past targets one by one and healing them up individually.

As a last note here; Disc healing is currently still under heavy discussion, and this is just one side of the story. Some players might disagree with me in for example keeping Weakened Soul up, so use what you can and avoid what doesn't work for you.

Talent specs and glyphs

Perhaps the most important and most heavily discussed aspect of the whole game are the talents. Since the release of WotLK, along with talents come glyphs. Once more, keep in mind that especially talents are always under heavy discussion and especially for the priest class, a lot of variation is possible while remaining viable.

Disc healing specs

Basic PvE disc cookie cutter (no Divine Fury)
This is the most basic Discipline healing build. It relies on basic discipline spells like Penance and Power Word: Shield, and plays exactly like mentioned under the basic discipline healing tactics. Also, one point is left which can be put anywhere you prefer. Even though Silent Resolve is now pretty much useless in PvE (thanks to WotLK's new threat mechanics you shouldn't ever aggro at all), some priests decide to put their last point there. Others prefer picking up Desperate Prayer. It's all preference here. The reason improved Divine Spirit isn't included in this spec is because it does not stack with a restoration specced shaman's spellpower totems. It can however be picked up if you barely ever raid with a shaman. Good glyphs to go with this spec are obviously the Glyph of Power Word: Shield, the Glyph of Holy Nova to make up for the loss of AOE heals, and the Glyph of Flash Heal since this spec while usually use Flash Heal over Greater Heal.

As a little note, here is my own version of this build, which picks up Reflective shield, Desperate Prayer and Imp. Divine Spirit while dropping Enlightenment.

Basic PvE disc cookie cutter (with Divine Fury)
While the previous build takes Flash Heal over Greater Heal, the major difference with this one is that it picks up Divine Fury and uses Greater Heal over Flash Heal. They are pretty much completely the same, except for that one 'big' difference.

Anti-shield disc While a bit of an odd build, this one skips over all the talents enhancing PW:S in the discipline tree to pick up Improved Healing. It is specialized purely and solely for spamming Penance and Greater Heal on a tank to keep Grace up.

Basic PvP disc cookie cutter
While a lot of things can be thrown around in any PvP spec, this is mostly the basics. One of the more major changes would be to pick up Imp. Inner Fire; the reason it (alongside with Imp. Divine Spirit and Imp. Fortitude) is not included in this build is because Inner Fire can be dispelled.

Holy healing specs

Basic PvE holy cookie cutter
Meditation is still pretty much a must for every priest out there, which is the primary reason for the 14 points in the discipline tree. Aside from that, ‘nuff said I think. Glyphs that work well with this spec are the Glyph of Circle of Healing, the Glyph of Holy Nova and the Glyph of Prayer of Healing. The Glyph of Spirit of Redemption could work too, but when PvEing you will generally be avoiding death.

Basic PvE holy cookie cutter II
This is basically an alternate version of the holy cookie cutter spec, focused primarily on improving Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending and Prayer of Healing above single target heals. This build allows for great synergy with classes/specs made for pure tank healing. As a small change to this build, points can be taken from for example Imp. Renew to fill out Holy Reach. This change works best when healing 25-mans, since distance often plays a larger role there than in 10-mans.

'Basic' PvP holy cookie cutter
While basically non-existent, I figured I had to give a go on a PvP holy spec here. It's not something I would recommend for any serious PvP, but it might be fun to play around with in a battleground. Looks like I've found a use for Blessed Resilience.

Priestly macros

While some people are hesitant to use macros because of their allegedly high difficulty rating, some macros can be a great addition to a priests' arsenal and can greatly improve one's healing. I will not explain how macros work specifically here (just look for a macro guide if you're interested in that), but I will give a couple of macros that are of specific use to priests.

Cancelcast macro

First, let me give a short explanation on what cancelcasting actually is. It basically means you create a macro that when pressed automatically cancels any spell currently being casted and immediately starts casting a (greater) heal. This macro is then used to ensure that the priest is constantly casting greater heal – upon about 0.5 seconds before the heal would normally land, the macro is pushed again, cancelling the heal that was being casted and starting up a new heal. This effectively allows a priest to be permanently casting so that the heal can actually be allowed to land when it's needed. Since you do not enter the 5SR until you actually launch the heal, cancelcasting is often used to keep out of the 5SR while keeping a heal on the tank close by. Like some will say; yes, it is possible you simply jump or walk to cancel a heal, but one should try a cancelcast macro to notice how much of a hassle that actually is. Also, not having to jump or walk saves time since a macro ensures you keep casting with barely any lag – if you jump, you will have to wait to land before you can start up another heal.

That said, here is the basic Greater Heal cancelcast macro:

Greater Heal CancelCast Macro

/cast Greater Heal

Focus Shackle and Raid Announce Macro

#showtooltip [target=focus,harm] [] Shackle Undead
/clearfocus [target=focus,dead][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Shackle Undead
/s --== Shackling "%t"! ==--

An all in one macro for your Shackle Undead spell. What this macro does is shackle your current target and then set it to be your focus; a secondary click on the button will then automatically recast Shackle Undead on the same mob so you don't have switch targets to reapply shackle. The macro also announces the target you are shackling in /say. Alternatively, the /s in the last line can be changed to "/yell", "/p", "/raid", "/rw" as well to make the macro announce your shackle in the yell, party, raid or raid warning channels respectively. Last but not least, if your focus is dead or non-existent, the macro will clear your focus. If you have no idea what a focus is then don't fret; you will not be using it for anything else.

Trinket macro

/use 13
/use 14

One of the simplest macros out there, all this one does is activate both your trinkets for bonus healing. Additionally, the /use 13 or /use 14 lines can be added in to for example the cancelcast macros so that your trinket will be used on a Greater Heal whenever it is off cooldown. I myself for example have my trinkets macro'd into Pain Supression and Innter Focus so that they will trigger whenever I use my emergency-situation-spells. Please note that you cannot insert two trinkets who share cooldowns here; doing so will result in only the first firing.

Last but not least, a collection of useful links for priests. I will start off by stating that for healing in raids, a priest generally needs an add-on like Healbot, Pitbull, or Grid. All three of these add-ons can be found here (just search for the mod you want on the site). A mod that can also be found on that site is ‘Decursive', one which will be of great help when dispelling magic and diseases. Another mod named PoMtracker might also be of use; it gives you a little frame that shows how much jumps your Prayer of Mending still has left, on who it currently is and how much healing it has done so far.

Additional handy links are;

Parts of this page were originally written by mozared.
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This page last modified 2009-01-21 11:01:50.