Posted by: innerfire | May 22, 2007

The Priest Healer Guide (archive)

Archive of the page “The Priest Healer Guide”. Hasn’t been updated, won’t be, but still has a lot of people who reference it, so here it remains.

I was inspired by Frostbolt’s Druid Uber Healing Guide. You’ll notice a lot of similarities. Ever since a number of great posts on the Priest forums were un-stickied, I really felt something like this was needed. There were will one on shadow (focus on DPS), and one on healing. I’ll be talking with friends to get an idea of how they play, and work this guide around that. This will be a work in progress.


  1. Disclaimer
  2. Your New Priest: An Introduction
  3. Toys for Your Priest: Addons and Macros
  4. Cold? Get Your Priest Gear
  5. Keeping Your Priest Healthy
    1. Stats and the Great Debate
  6. Why Does it Keep Crying? Supplies
  7. Is Your Priest “Special”? Talent Builds
  8. Tips for Keeping Your Priest Happy
  9. Revision History

1. Disclaimer

I don’t claim to know everything. Everyone has their own style, their own way of doing things. This is more of a general overview with little details you might like to know, and perhaps some information you didn’t know. These should be taken as guidelines rather than rules. That said, enjoy.

2. Your New Priest: An Introduction

Welcome to playing a priest. If you’re looking at this guide, you’re probably interested in the healing aspects of a priest, and so are most raiding guilds. I will outright say it: it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to find an end game guild that wants a shadow priest. They either have them already or aren’t interested in them at all. We’re generally considered healers, whether you’re instancing or doing battlegrounds.

Don’t pick a priest if you’re looking for ZOMG damage. Shadow priests are more low-sustained, medium burst damage, and a healing priest trying to deal a lot of damage is going to spend a lot of mana doing so. Pick a priest because you don’t mind being seen as a “healer” regardless of spec. Pick a priest because you enjoy playing a support class, because that’s what we do. To quote Tarana in “Tarana’s Guide to All the Nagging Questions“:

Are priests fun?
Easy Answer: Yes, but masochistic.
Long Answer: Depending on what you’re expecting, they can be. If you play a priest with the intent to tank, you’ll obviously get laughed at until the next 40 priest instance raid comes around. If you want to heal people, you got it. If you want to nuke the crap out of people, you got it about 40% of the time (100% solo, 20% groups). AoE? We have one of those and it’s kinda fun. Control of other players’ welfare? Yep (I have a god complex sometimes). If you don’t like those things, particularly the notion of ever healing, don’t pick priest as your class. It’s like picking a warrior and expecting to NEVER be asked to tank.

3. Toys for Your Priest: Addons and Macros

While I have a post on my many mods (and I now greatly favor the oRA, Raid Frames, and Squishy replacements for CT Raid) some are just good staples for priests (and the descriptions are taken from my mods post anyway):

*CT Raid Assist*
This is often a requirement for end-game raiding guilds, but I’ve also (thanks to Frostbolt) found Ace replacements that are much lighter and actually give some fuctions I wish CT had:

All the basic raid functions, but no raid frames or emergency monitor – those are included in the next mods. But if you’re not a healer, this is probably all you need.

Basic raid frames, except they also fade out when people are out of range for healing. <3

Emergency monitor that also tells you what heals are already going on them, making it easier to avoid doubling renews.

*Decursive* or *Detox*
I’ve begun using Detox because it’s lighter and doesn’t have that period of “searching” lag, although I’m worried about how it’ll work out for say, the Baron Geddon fight. I like that Decursive skips melee classes.

*FuBar:* BagFu, BattlegroundsFu, ClockFu, DurabilityFu, ExperienceFu, HeartFu, MoneyFu, PerformanceFu, ToFu
This set of mods is much like Titan, but has fewer memory leaks and usage, and more tweaks. A favorite of hardcore PvPers. Most are fairly self-explainatory, though HeartFu lets me hide and configure Heart, and ToFu gives me an ATI for long flights, so I know how long I have to bake cookies or whatever.

The evolution of Genesis. It’s essentially a healing priority mod that works with CT’s emergency monitor. It also shows you who else is healing who, as long as they’ve also got Heart, in order to avoid cross-healing. Brings up a bar that lets you know, once your heal has finished, what % they’ll be overhealed so you have time to cancel it. REALLY REALLY NOT RECOMENDED FOR NEWBIE HEALERS. LEARN THE OLD FASHIONED WAY SO IF THIS MOD BREAKS YOU ARE NOT SCREWED. Thank you. <3

*Item Rack*
The “new” wardrobe. I have so many sets of armor (healing, regen, PvP, shadow resist, fire resist, etc) that it becomes a real pain to go through my bags and find everything. I usually forget to put on trinkets…

The Necrosis for priests, with fold-out bubbles for rarely used spells and buffs, potions, water, makes sure you have the number of candles you need, etc. And it’s pretty.

*Trinket Menu*
hehehe. A nice little menu that allows me to switch out trinkets with a left or right click and cooldown notices. Re-equips automatically (if you choose) once the cooldown is done and you aren’t in combat.

4. Cold? Get Your Priest Gear

(Also from Tarana’s Guide to All the Nagging Questions because she puts it better than I really can)

MP/5 vs Spirit
This is a complicated subject, but the basic rundown is this:
If you are inside the 5 second rule (i5sr) the majority of the time, then MP/5 is a good stat for you. Since spirit, at best, regens at 30% of the normal rate while casting (with Meditation and 3/8 transcendence), spirit’s returns aren’t near as high as mp/5 while chain casting.

If you are able to get out of the 5 second rule (o5sr), then you are going to benefit more from spirit than mp/5. Since Spirit regens at a rate of ([spirit/4]+13) mana per tick o5sr, it goes at a much faster rate when not casting.

In general, the rough numbers are:
o5sr: 1 mp/5 = 1.66 spirit
i5sr, 15% regen while casting: 1 mp/5 = 10 spirit
i5sr, 30% regen while casting: 1 mp/5 = 5 spirit

On most gear, if choosing between spirit stat and mp/5, the ratio is approximately 4 spirit per mp/5 on equal level and quality items.
Int vs. Regen vs. +healing
Int is good for short fights in which you have little chance to regen o5sr. This is a preferrable stat in pre-raid instances (Ragefire Chasm through Blackrock Spire).

Regen is best used during longer fights. Examples of this are Onyxia, Nefarian and Chromaggus, where the fight takes more than 5 minutes and will require multiple “med” periods.

+healing is best for mid-long fights or burst healing fights, depending on which spell ranks you use. +healing is often bundled with Regen gear to allow the priest to sit out for a while, then be very effective, then sit out again in a rotation style. If you’re in a longer fight, +healing can use lower ranks of the spells to conserve mana. In a burst fight, top rank spells can be used to keep the tanks alive.

The best builds out there incorporate more than one of these gearing options. A balance of stats will allow the priest to perform many different jobs very effectively.

Different Weapons?
Keep multiple weapons. At the raid level, keeping Benediction with +55 healing, Will of Arlokk with +20 Spirit, and Staff of Dominance with +22 int will give you many, many options in regards to each situation, as well as giving you all of the positives of each stat focus. Starting with SoD will give a higher mana pool to start. Once that mana is depleted, swapping to Benediction for heavy +healing can keep you healing efficiently until you’re LOM, when you swap to your regen Arlokk staff.

5. Keeping Your Priest Healthy

In brief, it can be concluded that healing aggro is based on hp healed and generates approximately 65% of the aggro per hp that is generated from damage. Subtlety will reduce this to 50-55%. Over-healing has no effect on aggro, since aggro is based on actual hp healed. Aggro is applied to all mobs that your healing target has aggro on, ones that know of your target, not necessarily every mob in the area. In addition, aggro does not dissipate over time, at least not a short period (a few minutes).

Contrary to popular belief, all your healing spells (Lesser Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Flash Heal, and Prayer of Healing) generate the same amount of aggro per hp healed. This means that one Greater Heal is like using 3 Flash Heals to heal the same amount, or one Prayer of Healing on 4 targets would be the same as Flash Healing each of them.

Other than having Subtlety, the best ways to avoid drawing healing aggro is obviously to not heal too soon in a fight, or too often. The problem is, you often have no choice, you can either chain heal, or let the person die. In raid zones, alternating healing with a backup or secondary healer may be necessary.
(Information quoted from here.)

There is a section on fade which discusses nicely when to use fade (basically, when you’re being beaten up) but I also occasionally use it when I’m in a fight where aggro is easily gained by healers, and just spam it whenever it comes up (ex; Nefarian’s draconids in Phase 1).

1. Stats and the Great Debate

There is, and has been since the dawn of the “five second rule” a debate over whether spirit or mana/5 sec is better. I actually found a model on one website that showed how 40 mana/5 sec was better than 300 spirit, but unfortunately, I can’t find it anymore. Take my word on it, however: in most battles, you need to be regenerating constantly, and because of the five second rule, spirit is useless until you stop casting (or with talents, only semi-useless).

The “five second rule” says that you will not regenerate mana until you cast nothing for five seconds. You can still wand, but you can’t keep casting those vital chain heals. In many end-game instances, big fights require a certain amount of chain casting, and you need to keep enough mana to continue that for the entire fight. Mana/5 sec gives you that.

However, that said, a good priest has gear for different circumstances. Please see the Gear section above.

6. Why Does it Keep Crying? Supplies

As I said above, Serenity is a nice mod to keep track of supplies, because it lets you know (without digging through bags) how many candles, feathers, and potions you have.

Once you hit level 50, you have the joy of party-based buffs. This means, by spending one candle and a ton of mana, you can buff an entire party as long as they’re all in range. Sounds good, but keep in mind how much you’ll end up spending on Sacred Candles: 2g a stack, and you should keep 60-80 on you at all times. I go through about 20-30 for a full ZG or BWL run depending on how often we wipe. Carry more if you’re the only priest, or if the group isn’t familiar with an instance (because they’ll wipe more often).


I like to keep 20 on me at all times for various needs: in PvP battlegrounds, it’s useful to float down away from enemies or to get from the road to the mine faster, etc. You can cast instants while floating too, so you can also riddle a field with DOTs while floating down at your leisure. Also good for walking on water, floating down to Buru (carefully, so as not to aggro anything), etc. They’re dirt cheap on the AH, so no excuse not to stock up.


I’m a pretty poor priest. I don’t farm (I refuse to spend hours just farming because that isn’t fun, and I play the game to have fun) and don’t have alts that are, as of yet, capable of farming potions for me (because I am a tailor/enchanter, meaning I use lots of resources and don’t make much of use). So, when I can’t beg off the kindness of friends, I have to buy them. Magic Resistance Potions are useful if you don’t have enough resistance, and they stack with potions that “absorb” elemental damage, plus they’re cheap and easy to make.

Mana potions, of course, are a staple. I’m used to doing without, but when you can have them, they’re certainly worth it. I suggest buying Greater Mana Potions and just popping them like candy, because you can buy a stack of 5 for 50-70s as opposed to Major Mana Potions that cost 10-15g (on my server) for a stack of 5. You’ll use more because those (and Superior if they’re cheap enough) don’t give you as much mana back, but they are cheaper overall, and you can just take them repeatedly over a fight.

7. Is Your Priest “Special”? Talent Builds

I could sit around and talk about builds all day. I’m a bit weird (in my guild) because I went heavily into discipline to get Power Infusion. Most priests in my guild are 25/26/0 or something weird. Come Burning Crusade, I’m going even heavier into Discipline. For any priest, Meditation and Inner Focus are basic staples for Discipline, as well as Healing Focus for Holy. But here are a few common builds I’ve seen, along with mine.

Katenel’s Build (31/20, Power Infusion and Crit-Based, had to get Holy Nova for Vael fights; Imp. Shield is a stupid talent)

Spell Warding/Heavy Healing (20/31/0; I honestly don’t like either Spell Warding or Blessed Recovery, but I see this build a lot)

Crit with Lightwell (17/34/0; This one is rare, but I’ve seen some interesting use for the Lightwell.)

Really Freaking Weird (40/11/0 A Holy-DPS build… I just had to put it in here.)

21/30/0 (Seen this one a few folks.)

26/25/0 (Courtesy of our priest lead; emphasis on heavy healing)

MS/SG 26/25/0 (Variation of the above)

That’s all the variations I can think of. I hope I didn’t forget Divine Spirit in any of those. That’s pretty damn vital.

8. Tips for Keeping Your Priest Happy

This section is going to sound mean, but I’m really just trying to be practical. I make friends with people because I like them, but every priest should be making friends with the mages, warlocks, tanks, druids, and other priests ESPECIALLY. Mages give you water and buffs, and many are alchemists. Warlocks love priests who can just throw them a renew when they’re life tapping, and if you’re Shadow-specced, you’ll be their best friend (and should it come to it, they’ll be the first to defend you, not other priests… sadly.) Tanks tend to blame healers for their deaths, regardless of LOS, lack of mana, poor placement, poor aggro generation (for the tank), or whatever else might go wrong. If you make friends with them, they’re less likely to view you as just a “healer” and cut you some slack… which can be necessary on bad days when you’re stressed out. Druids and Priests are fellow healers. Some druids are feral/Moonkin, and some priests are shadow. If they’re willing to be friends, make sure you’re extra nice to them, because it can be very rough when you’re not exactly what everyone wants you to be.

Keep dissention within the ranks down, and just be nice to them. Kindness goes a long way, and it’ll not only make your life easier and happier as a “heal bot”, but everyone around you will enjoy being around you and want you to be in raids with them simply because they enjoy your company. No one wants to be seen as just a class.

9. Revision History

10/14/06: Initial creation
10/16/06: Disclaimer, Mods, and Gear added
10/30/06: Supplies
11/7/06: Tips, Stat Debate, Introduction, Builds. Edited Mods.
11/13/06: Added new Specs courtesy of my guild


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