Can Disc Priests Compete As Tank Healers In Progression Content?
There seems to be a lot of talk on the interwebs about how Disc Priests cannot tank heal effectively on progression content anymore.
Most recently, Paolo over at Penance Priest gave a pretty discouraging review of Disc Priest tank healing after he jumped into progression content alongside two solid Healadins. You can read his article here.
While I respect Paolo’s opinions, I do not share his beliefs on the state of Disc Priest tank healing.
So how can the two of us have such differing views on the subject? Simple, we follow two very different schools of thought when it comes to stat priorities.
Paolo’s school believes in stacking crit and spellpower in order to maximize damage mitigation from a Priest’s shields. Vesserion’s school believes in stacking haste and regen in order to maximize heals per second.
These two schools have radically different performance when it comes to casting the one spell that has become absolutely critical to success for Priest tank healing today: Greater Heal.
That’s right. Greater Heal.
You see, a crit/spellpower build’s success depends upon refreshing Divine Aegis frequently, and getting larger bubbles when you do crit thanks to the high spellpower. Which is great when you are firing off Flash Heals and Penance under the effects of Borrowed Time.
Unfortunately, current tank healing (where the boss does smaller hits more frequently) doesn’t permit you to toss bubbles to other players to reapply Borrowed Time on a regular basis. Which means that most of your heals are not going to have a 25% haste boost.
Now also consider that even though bosses are hitting for less damage more frequently, Flash Heal is just not going to do enough healing to keep a tank up in certain high damage phases of fights. So you have to switch to casting Greater Heal. (We won’t discuss the increased cooldown on Penance or the 4 piece tier 10 bonus.)
And for the crit/spellpower school, the confluence of these two scenarios is a perfect storm of fail. Without Borrowed Time’s haste boost, your cast times are painfully slow, and if you switch to Greater Heal, you significantly decrease your number of spells cast per minute, which reduces the number of crit opportunities. So you end up with slow-ass heals with more time between potential crits, which are the focus of your build.
In that scenario, it is easy to see why some Priests think that Disc’s days as a tank healer are ending.
Over in the haste/regen school, though, these two scenarios are no big deal. If you stack haste, you don’t notice the absence of Borrowed Time when you need to heal the tank, and only the tank, with no global cooldowns to spare for a shield. Further, you can switch to casting Greater Heal in between reapplications of PW:S and Penance without your casting speed coming to a screeching halt. And Greater Heal, at this point, is still a big enough heal that you can keep your tank alive through high damage phases of current progression fights.
All this haste and the frequent use of Greater Heal is going to absolutely destroy your mana pool, however. Which is why you also need to be stacking regen. (I say regen, instead of Spirit or MP5, because you can’t afford to be picky here. I tend to favor MP5, but will take Spirit if it’s on the gear.)
Just to give you an idea, I think that a tank healing Disc Priest (in my school) needs to be running at least 25% haste and have in combat regen of at least 450 MP5 unbuffed in order to be competitive in current progression content.
In my haste/regen gear set, I am running over 28% haste (approximately 910 haste rating) with around 455 in combat MP5 unbuffed. (I will update the raid buffed numbers shortly).
With those stats, I don’t feel like I am at any disadvantage compared to a Healadin. In fact, my raid logs put me right next to, and sometimes higher, than my guild’s other tank healers when you account for shields.
So it’s not the end of the world for Disc Tank healing. At least not for those in the haste/regen school.