>Preventative vs Reactive Healing: A Discipline vs Holy Discussion

>As some of you already may already know, I have recently moved to a new guild.  I was looking for “greener pastures” and I believe I have found one.  Undying Resolution of Elune has welcomed me with open arms (thanks to a certain Druid) and I’m already signed up for raids for next week.

In my last guild I was Holy for 99% of the time in our little 10 man team. We ran with a Disc Priest and a Resto Druid as well.  After having a Vent interview with a few of the officers, they let me know they have room for a Holy or Disc Priest for their team and that they do already have 1 Holy Priest (who use to be Discipline).

I decided to pry a little deeper into the makeup of their healing team.  It seems they usually run with 6-7 healers give or take.  This includes:

1x Holy Paladin
1x Holy Priest
1-2x Restoration Shaman
2-3x Restoration Druid

So now the question is, what would a Discipline or an additional Holy Priest bring to the table for this raid team?  Do they need more Preventative or Reactive healing?

Holy is a Reactive healing specialization with a few powerful cooldowns to help bolster and stabilize the raid.  Holy’s Mastery, Echo of Light, is about throughput and it causes all of the priest’s healing spells to be even more potent.

Holy Cooldowns:

Guardian Spirit- The crown jewel of the Holy tree.  This spell prevents a person from dying by sacrificing itself and instead healing the party/raid member for 50% of their health.  It’s the ultimate Reactive cooldown.  When glyphed, it has a 2 1/2 minute cooldown

Lightwell- Once called “LoLwell” back in Wrath, this spell is no longer a laughing matter.  The amount of healing this spell provides for it’s miniscule mana cost is extraordinary.  It just requires raid members to be a little more proactive and click it for the healing effect.  It has a 3 minute cooldown.

Holy Word: Serenity/Sanctuary- This spell varies depending on our Chakra state.  Serenity is a very mana efficient single target heal, similar to a Holy Paladin’s “Holy Shock.”  This spell is usually available when a Holy Priest is tank healing and is used to bolster the healing on the tank through an extra 25% critical strike chance for 6 seconds.  It has a 10 1/2 second cooldown when properly talented.  Sanctuary is a ground AoE healing effect similar to a Shaman’s “Healing Rain.”  It’s affected by our Mastery and is used to help stabilize the raid during heavy damage.  Sanctuary is also the longest lasting healing ground effect in the game.  It’s mana cost is quite steep and if not used correctly, it can be a waste of mana.  It has a 40-second cooldown.

Circle of Healing- One of the most powerful raid heals in the game and what Holy Priests are most known for, Circle of Healing is a healing cooldown  that is used to heal multiple party/raid members for a large amount.  What makes it so powerful is that it’s instant cast and can be used on the move.  It’s on a 10 second cooldown.

Discipline is a Preventative healing specialization that specializes in preventing damage to tanks and the raid.  Discipline’s Mastery, Shield Discipline, enhances the Preventative healing aspect of the specialization and protects the raid from incoming damage.

Discipline Cooldowns:

Pain Suppression- The most powerful Preventative cooldown in the game. Pain Suppression reduces 40% of incoming damage.  It’s best used when the tank is about to take serious damage.  3 minute cooldown.

Power Word: Barrier- It has recently been nerfed, but is still an extremely valuable cooldown for raids.  It reduces 25% of incoming damage to everything that is inside it for 10 seconds.  3 minute cooldown.

Power Infusion- Surprisingly, this is more of a Reactive cooldown than a Preventative one. It increases your casting speed and reduces the mana cost of spells by 20%, greatly increasing your throughput for a short time.  On a short 1 1/2 minute cooldown.

Inner Focus- Another Reactive cooldown.  This spell causes your next Flash Heal, Greater Heal, or Prayer of Healing to be free of cost and have an increased 25% chance to critically strike.  It’s on a 45 second cooldown but can be reduced through talents and by casting Greater Heal.

Archangel/Evangelism- This cooldown is available with an Atonement specialization.  It temporarily increases the potency of your healing spells by 15% and restores 5% of your mana. It’s on a relatively low 30 second cooldown.

Penance- The bread and butter Discipline spell.  This is an extremely mana efficient single target heal that is channeled.  When glyphed, it’s on a short 10 second cooldown.  It’s used to effectively heal and stack Grace on a target.

Shared Spells for Holy and Discipline:

Divine Hymn- A channeled heal that is used for emergencies.  It increases the healing received by affected party/raid members by 10% for the duration.  It’s most potent form is in Chakra: Sanctuary where the 15% bonus to AoE healing is applied to the spell.  While it’s not as potent as a Druid’s Tranquility, the extra healing effect somewhat makes up for it’s lackluster throughput.  For Discipline Priests, it proc’s Divine Aegis when the heals critically strike the raid member.  It’s on a lengthy 8-minute cooldown and is used once per fight.

Hymn of Hope- A channeled spell that restores and increases a few party/raid member’s mana pools for a short period of time. This spell is best used in combination with Shadowfiend for our personal maximum return.  5-minute cooldown.

Prayer of Mending- This spell is the most unique spell for Priests.  It’s primarily cast on the tank and proc’s up to 5 times, bouncing to different raid members when they take damage.  It has a short 10 second cooldown.

Desperate Prayer- You have to put a point in for the ability, but it’s available to both Discipline and Holy Priests.  Discipline Priests will find it a little harder to find the point to put it in, however it should be in every Holy Priest’s arsenal.  It is instant cast, free of mana cost, and heals the Priest for a considerable amount.  2 minute cooldown.

Power Word: Shield- A Preventative spell that absorbs a certain amount of damage.  While the spell itself is not technically a cooldown, the debuff it leaves on the target causes it to be cast only once every 15 seconds on the same target unless you are properly spec’d into Strength of Soul in the Discipline tree.  This spell is invaluable to Discipline Priests and helps proc their mana return through Rapture.  It also benefits from Shield Discipline, increasing the absorption amount.  Holy Priests will find considerably less use for this spell, as there are more mana efficient alternatives.  However, Body & Soul gives a unique utility to the spell for Holy Priests.

Now, looking at the raid teams makeup we can see that the only Preventative healer currently on the raid team is the Holy Paladin.  Discipline Priests and Holy Paladins have long been the staples in preventative healing through the use of powerful cooldowns.  This Holy Paladin is likely a tank healer, mainly because that’s where they shine the most.

Druids and Shamans are considered Reactive healers, like Holy Priests.  They are about throughput and their Mastery revolves around it.  Those healing classes/specializations lack tank cooldowns, but really shine with raid healing.  That’s not to say they can never tank heal, because they most certainly can.  But there are other healing classes that are better equipped for the job, especially for Heroic modes.

So that’s why I chose Discipline.  Currently, the raid lacks a Disc Priest and they bring A LOT of utility to raids.  While I love Holy, a second Holy Priest wouldn’t really be needed for this raid setup.  A second Holy Paladin or a Disc Priest would be preferred for their preventative healing.

And who know? Maybe I will get a wild hair and try an Atonement specialization!


5 thoughts on “>Preventative vs Reactive Healing: A Discipline vs Holy Discussion

  1. >I've done both types of healing in Cata (Holy and Disc) and I find that Disc is great if you don't have another disc priest. I did find Holy slightly more versatile because it is easier to keep on top of AOE damage. However, Disc is excellent for feeling in control in heroics and for single-target healing. Ultimately, I went with Holy because my 10-team needs me to be able to multitask, but in a 25, you can do more niche healing.Though wowinsider's latest says that bubble-spec is better that smite-spec for raiding, I run with a smite-spec disc priest and it hasn't been a problem.

  2. >Thanks for stopping by Zelmaru! I completely agree. Before the great bubble nerf of 4.0.6, raids ran with multiple disc priests for their preventative healing abilities. Now that PW: S has been nerfed to the ground, stacking them isn't a very wise decision anymore. One Disc Priest can be a powerful asset to any raid composition.I was mainly Holy in my 10-man, like you said, because it's versatile. I would help tank and raid heal. 25-man you are more focused on your specific healing assignment rather than the overall raid.

  3. >I disagree about Desperate Prayer. In the same way that people argue one "should not" have Spirit of Redemption, because you "shouldn't be dying," I could just as easily say, you "should not" have Desperate Prayer, because you "shouldn't be stupid enough to let your health get that low in the first place" (with the exception of Chimaeron, where it's unavoidable).On that note, I do disagree about resto druids and holy paladins – both are a mix of preventative and reactive healers, as opposed to discipline, which is mostly preventative, and shaman/holy priests, who are mostly reactive. Paladins use a lot of cooldowns to be preventative (Hand of Sacrifice, Divine Shield, Hand of Protection, etc.), but those cooldowns aren't just limited to holy paladins, either. Their mastery is akin to holy priests', but it actually does a lot less of their overall healing than a holy priests' does, even for an absorb, and doesn't roll or stack. Druids are another ballgame entirely because of their HoT-oriented playstyle – I've always seen them as more preventative because they have to predict damage well in the future, with a good mix of direct healing in addition.

    • Hi Tomaj! I guess the Desperate Prayer vs “Improved Death” argument is one of personal preference. For me, I’d rather have an emergency instant free heal that heals for quite a large amount rather than SoR, mainly because if I go die it’s usually a wipe anyways. I find it invaluable for a personal cooldown.

      I consider Paladins to be mainly preventative healers, at least that’s what Blizzard WANTS them to be. Their mastery is built around absorbing and preventing damage. And while it is crappy, the improvements to Illuminated Healing in 4.1 have made it viable for a few heroic encounters. Top it off with their many different cooldowns and they can prevent quite a bit of damage.

      I consider Druids to be reactive healers. They really have no way of preventing damage from occurring to the raid. Pre-HoTting is a reactive way of healing because you are reacting to incoming damage, not preventing it.

      A good way to see which class/spec is a reactive/preventative healer is to look at their mastery. If the mastery is based on absorption then the spec is considered preventative. If its based on throughput, then the class is reactive.

      • Yes and no.

        Like I said, I kind of see druids and paladins as an in-between. I actually consider pre-hotting more preventative because it’s not reacting, in the very sense of the word of reacting. It’s pre-emptive. And truthfully, basing the reactive/preventative on mastery seems a little silly. Though paladin mastery may be more worthwhile in 25-mans and hardmodes, the fact of the matter is, they can’t make use of that mastery without being a reactive healer – the friendly takes damage and then they have to heal up that damage. Other things like Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Protection certainly lend to preventative healing, but on the whole, paladins are a mix of the two, just as druids are. If anything, I’d actually kind of put it on a scale:

        Preventative Reactive
        Discipline > Holy paladins > Druids > Holy priests > Shaman

        All the healers have some form of preventative healing (shaman being on the far end due to Earth Shield and Spirit Link Totem), but all healers also have reactive healing (Discipline on the other end with Penance and direct heals).

        I guess maybe it’s a matter of perspective on that point.

        As for SoR vs. DP, it’s definitely personal preference. I personally can’t be arsed with DP because I really find that I don’t want or need another button. But I wrote a post on SoR not too long ago here regarding Spirit of Redemption. Of course, later, once all the content is on farm, SoR becomes very lackluster and potentially worthless, but there’s always a new tier of content waiting after it. Even so, our last boss kill ended with just our tanks and our shadow priest alive, with myself in angel form, so I still see uses for it since we’re still progressing. To that end, Lightwell Renew + PW:S from myself is close to what Desperate Prayer would actually heal for (~120k health, 30% is 40k, Lightwell heals 20k, PW:S absorbs 17k).

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