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Tank or Group healer? Holy vs Discipline?



This is an actual call out for advice, which may not be a clear cut yes/no type of answer. I'm looking for input in helping my wife build up her priest to be able to heal 5 man heroics, and then onto 10/25 raids possibly (but not necessarily).

Her armory link is: http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Gul%27dan&cn=Sosueme

We are perfectly aware that she needs new gear, and we have gone through plenty of lists of suggested items and we (our son and I) are working on outfitting her with some runs. The big issue is most of the suggested gear is inside heroics, and the bigger issue even then we think is the spec choice.

Many "guides" actually seem to conflict each other with Holy Vs. Disc discussions. What I can seem to tell so far is that Holy is for "group" healing, while Discipline is focused on 1 person or "tank" healing. Is this correct in your opinion(s)?

Basically we'd like her priest to be able to comfortably heal a (competent) tank through a 5 man heroic without much stress... Looking for inputs to help direct us because no one in the family has a healer this high other than our son who's Pally just heals when other healers fail on him.

6 Answer(s)

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My first suggestion would be to check out worldofmatticus.com or plusheal.com for advice on specs and what not. There is a fine group of healers who can probably answer this in-depth.

From my own personal experience, healing heroics works fine as either spec. I prefer Holy for heroics solely for easy group healing and what not but know that Discipline works fantastic as well.

What you will find is both have a different playstyle in their methods of keeping people alive and I think she would end up having no problem finding groups or raids as both specs in most situations. Though most raids do like to keep those Disc Priests around.


I agree that play style is the key here. Also both use mana differently. – Rowsquartz (Aug 20 2010 3:39 PM)



I have a priest that is dual spec holy/disc. I run 5 man dungeons in Holy and raid as a tank healer in Disc. You can run 5 man dungeons as Disc it's just easier as Holy. As far as gearing goes the wishlist site at http://gear-wishlist.appspot.com can be very helpful. Good luck!


I'm not sure why you raid as a tank healer; Resto Druids, Resto Shaman and Holy Paladins are all far superior to Discipline in terms of tank healing. As for five mans -- after leveling two priests to 80 and a third to 71, the results are fairly conclusive: Discipline is more efficient than Holy and will prove to be easier for any new healer. – ImpartialSanity (Aug 20 2010 6:50 AM)


That the other classes are superior tank healers does not mean priests are completely incapable of getting the job done, at least in reg ICC. – Nightfreeze (Sep 2 2010 12:06 AM)



Both Discipline and Holy are perfectly capable of healing any five man heroic; you will generally find, however, that Discipline is the more efficient of the two -- especially at earlier levels of gear -- thanks to the talent Rapture.

As far as raids go, Discipline and Holy are the two worst tank healers. Holy Paladins, Resto Shaman and Resto Druids are all superior for tank healing. Unfortunately, the misconception that Discipline Priests are tank healers has become widespread as many players continue to cleave to the early Wrath attempts on Blizzard's part to make Discipline a viable tank healer.

Simply put, Discipline lacks the throughput to be a strong tank healer except in the easiest of content, and Holy lacks the efficiency to be a strong tank healer except in the easiest of content.

(You will, however, occasionally see one or both specs used as a secondary tank healer; heroic Lich King, notably, is one place where an alternative spec for Holy -- using Empowered Healing -- becomes desirable due to incredible tank damage being dealt; a Holy priest on that fight tends to tank heal during Phases 1 and 2, while raid healing during Phases 1.5, 2.5 and in Frostmourne)

Currently Discipline is an incredibly strong raid "healer". Bubble botting, aka Shield spamming, has become very powerful due to the ICC raidwide buff.

In five mans with little party-wide damage, you'll be focusing primarily on the tank -- keeping PW:Shield up as much as possible, using Prayer of Mending on cooldown, Penance as your go-to heavy burst heal and Flash as your filler. In five mans with noticeable party-wide damage, you'll want to keep PW:Shield on everyone as much as possible; the other spell uses remain the same. Prayer of Healing and Holy Nova can be used for heavy and light (respectively) damage beyond what your Shields can bear; try to use Prayer of Healing in conjunction with the Borrowed Time buff. You can also pre-Renew people in anticipation of damage (only advisable when you've Shielded them already and do not need to cast another spell like Penance/Flash/Binding Heal.)

Holy remains strong in its fill-in-the-gap healing style, offering Druidesque healing during aura-damage fights like BQL while retaining strong burst capabilities, which are excellent during fights like Professor Putricide.

In five mans with little part-wide damage, you'll want to keep Renew on the tank, cast Prayer of Mending on cooldown and use Flash Heal as your main direct heal. Greater Heal should be used sparingly and preferably when you have 3 stacks of Serendipity. When party-wide damage is present, keep Renew on everyone and use Circle of Healing as needed. Prayer of Healing, like Greater Heal, is best used with 3 sstacks of Serendipity.


Discipline and Holy are both raid healers and should rarely be given the task of tank healing.

For more information, check out my blog, Priest It Forward. It offers run downs on both Discipline and Holy, including descriptions of their current optimal healing styles, gemming choices, glyph options, builds and pre-raiding gear.



Both specs are great, but in your situation I'd recommend she try Disc first. Run through a few normal dungeons with a cookie cutter disc build and see how it works out. If she likes it than follow that, otherwise try Holy. I recommend reading up on plusheal.com or wowhead.com for the basic mechanics of Disc.

The reason I recommend Disc is that at lower gear levels Disc is much more mana efficient. Disc at low gear levels should have nearly the same throughput, but it is somewhat quicker and passive. The playstyle is different than other healers though since they really heavily on the shields from PW:S and Divine Aegis to prevent damage rather than just straight healing.



The biggest difference between holy and discipline priests is healing vs. damage mitigation. Both do their task well. The holy is superior for healing (raid wide) and the disc is great for absorbing spells.

My advice is, if you wish to fill the role of healing and have no interest in dps, duel-spec in both holy/disc. Use the sites listed by drotara to find the build(s) you desire. The style you choose may depend on your mana pool, since disc is generally more efficient. With friends supporting you, you should be able to determine which style you like better and perform best with.

Finally, some bosses require different healing needs. In the Lich King, disc is at its best. During the Valithria Dreamwalker fight, holy has more tools to use.

Good luck, and have fun. Great role!



It is more a choice of play-style or even challenge maybe the disc vs. holy issue. Most people I know who have played both like the disc bubbles and mana regen. I, however, dungeon leveled a night-elf holy priest from deadmines through 80. I always did fine healing five mans, although once at 80 I did start preferring to be a raid healer. Last week though, I had to solo heal the weekly raid. It can be done as holy! I am sure I cannot argue the fine points of holy priest as well as many, so let's talk about gear instead... When Lich and then heroics first came out, 200 level gear was considered standard to heal heroics. I am not saying that it can't be done with less, and you aren't wearing greens or anything... but many pieces of your gear are lower than 200 blues and at least one 70 purple. These can easily be upgraded! I would not invest a lot of money into it because you will soon be getting badge and heroic gear, but this is how I geared at 80: Started healing TOC regular at 77 or 78 to get 200 purples. Then made level 200 blues as needed with tailoring. All were enchanted and gemmed when needed- not saying you have to get epic gems right now, but this helps! Notice on my armory I even have (help us all) some PVP purples thrown in. I forget if these are from VOA25 or just Wintergrasp badges, but they were huge upgrades from the blues I had. Eventually I got badge gear, and that has lead to now my upper badge gear, a few pieces of raid gear, and several pieces from Pit of Saron and Forge of Souls. When I was in blues and 200 purples, I was having issues with mana. So I have focused on spirit and mp5 on my gear. I would highly recommend going for the amount I have while not casting even, because these days tanks are speed pulling entire heroics without mana breaks- they don't really care if you leave so much anymore. Would start heroics with friends you know or at least a tank you know, so that you are ensured stress-free runs in the beginning! Also, spell-power and crit are important to me- crit over haste because half my spells at least are instant casts... but I did pick up some haste for my greater heal. I use wowhead.com to search for gear on their tools list, or you could just look up tailoring and find gear you want. BEFORE you get the mats if it is an upper level pattern you should find someone who can make it and stay in touch with them- through trade link or realm forums. Anyways, don't know that this will help, but my armory is: http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Terokkar&cn=Meridia


I'd suggest some formatting for your answer, good content won't shine as much in such a wall of text. – Nayu (Aug 30 2010 1:46 PM)


You say you've had issues with mana, yet you haven't taken Meditation. You're also using a terrible meta gem and mp5 gems. You would do well to check out the Priest Forum for help for your own character before trying to give advice to others. – ImpartialSanity (Aug 30 2010 6:26 PM)

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