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.


7 comments so far

  1. BobTurkey on

    Interesting counter post.

  2. Jasyla on

    I don’t play a priest, (I’m a tree) but I can say I definitely feel a difference in raids when our disc priest is not there. I can’t comment on how tank healing feels for them, but I really find that having a disc in the group makes my life easier, whether I’m tank or raid healing.

    My 10-man raid group does not have a pally, and our disc priest does just fine at tank healing.

  3. Marava on

    I follow Paolo’s teachings pretty much, though I learn a little more towards balancing stats. I’m now at 32% holy crit and have 450ish in combat regen. I have 11% haste which, when I have BT, is plenty. I have a really, really hard time running out of mana in ICC. I have not noticed any problems tank healing. Also, in ICC, I am often assigned to multiple tasks. One fight I may be on tank heals, others I may be bubbling the raid, or floating. Even when I am tank healing, I am often tossing out bubbles to other raiders in danger and I keep PoM on cooldown. My bubbles are also glyphed.. all of these things benefit from having high spellpower and crit, so.. no complaints here.

  4. bingo on

    With 900+ haste and good, end-game gear, greater heal spam is definitely viable for tank healing. 1.7 sec cast greater heals (raid buffed), offering 8k bubbles per crit is very useful. The only problem is mana, but taking improved healing (sacrificing improved flash heal) helps.

  5. Anon on

    Woohoo for posting on long dead threads. No one will read this.

    Pretty much, Holy Paladin’s Holy Light stomps Disc Priest’s Greater Heal. I mean, no comparison. Discipline should stick to the role of bubbling the raid. Go for crit/spirit pieces. Crit/haste pieces are also acceptable; spirit isn’t helping much more than crit since disc doesn’t tend to have mana trouble with Solace of the Fallen (a must have, best in slot trinket). Overall, you’re only stat that really matters is spell power.

    • wantedpriest on

      Thanks for adding some meaningful dialogue Anon.

      Let me see if I have this straight: in a post discussing stat priorities for tank healing Disc Priests, you claim that because HL is better then GH, Disc Priests shouldn’t tank heal, and then proceed to give some pretty unsophisticted stat priority advice for raid bubbling Disc Priests.



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