Holy Priests are by far the most versatile healers in WotLK. They have strong AoE and single target heals, plus a HoT. This essentially makes them the jack-of-all-healers. Having a Holy Priest in a raid won't screw up your raid composition as he/she is realistically able to take up any of the roles traditionally performed by the 3 other healing classes.
It has been said that Holy does not produce the big numbers that other healing classes can pull off, but that simply isn't true. Furthermore, Holy has or should have the least over heals of all the healers. Another amazing thing to note about Holy Priests is their arsenal of instant cast heals, which when utilized well makes them shine in mobile encounters.
However, there are a few talents or glyphs that you may wish to take or drop depending on your preference. These are...
- 1. Desperate Prayer - Tier 3
- 2. Inspiration - Tier 3
Unless you're the assigned tank healer in your guild, you may not be utilizing this talent at all. Also, Restoration Shamans apply the same buff (Ancestral Healing). With the amazing amount of those Chain Heal spammers around, you may not need this talent at all.
- 3. Holy Reach - Tier 4
CoH is a very amazing spell. It shines particularly in the Professor Putricide encounter where you can cast it and do lots of healing while flying through the air (green ooze).
One thing to note is that the mana cost reduction from these talents is only useful for Greater Heal, Prayer of Healing and to a lesser extent Prayer of Mending.
- 5. Blessed Resilience - Tier 7
- 6. Lightwell - Tier 7
Firstly, not many people are going to notice you dropping a Lightwell in the middle of an encounter. Most, if not all, of the raid will ignore it. I know of a Holy Priest who says he uses it for himself though, but then again you have Binding Heal for that.
Secondly, it will disappear if you take more than 30% of your hp in damage. This can happen often for encounters like Bloodqueen Lanathel.
- 7. Test of Faith - Tier 9
Renew is a Priest's only heal-over-time (HoT) that doesn't rely on procs. I personally use it as sort of a filler while the raid is healthy (might as well be doing something).
These two talents can be said to be mutually inclusive in that you must have 3/3 of both. You'll be losing quite some benefit from either talent otherwise.
- 9. Body and Soul - Tier 8
Renew happens to be a Holy Priest's most mana-efficient single-target heal. Some like to improve it with this glyph, especially at lower gear levels.
It must be noted however, that this glyph does not increase the overall healing done by Renew. Rather, it increases the rate at which healing from Renew is received.
Flash Heal a lot then this glyph is good for you. FH is quite costly in terms of healing done per mana point spent compared to other spells like Greater Heal.
Prayer of Healing is your most potent AoE heal. Adding a HoT to it is quite a nice bonus. It's not necessary however, as this HoT can end up as overhealing due to the strength of PoH itself.
Guardian Spirit is your life-saving spell. The glyph reduces its cooldown from 3 minutes to 1 minute 10 seconds. Pretty nice to have so that you can throw GS around more freely.
Do drop a comment regarding clarification about this, if needed.
- Holy Priest mechanics
Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing, with a maximum of 3 stacks i.e. 36% cast time reduction. Flash Heal always gives 1 stack while Binding Heal always gives 2. In emergencies you can use Binding Heal to quickly gain 2 stacks for faster casts of either Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing.
Throw Renew on as many people as possible and let Surge of Light proc. Using the Flash Heals from these procs, stack up Serendipity. This leaves you with some stacks of Serendipity for quick use when more heals are needed. Doing this doesn't cost a lot of mana because Renew doesn't cost a lot of mana to begin with.
- 4. The 5-second rule.
Most Mana regeneration is cut in half after casting a spell. Any spell, even instant cast spells. This reduction in mana regen lasts for 5 seconds, after which normal regeneration continues. As such, you must stop casting for longer than 5 seconds if you wish to properly regain mana without the use of cooldowns. It is important to find out when are the crucial times during encounters that you can do this, through experience or otherwise.
- 5. Intellect as a Mana Regeneration stat.
Replenishment is one of the reasons why Intellect actually provides mana regen. Replenishment is applied most famously by Retribution Paladins through the talent Judgements of the Wise. You should have 100% uptime of Replenishment throughout encounters. It can clearly be seen that a larger mana pool will result in more regeneration gained from this effect.
The other reasons are the mana regeneration cooldowns like Hymn of Hope, Shadowfiend. These are also based off of maximum mana and more Intellect would result in more mana regeneration from these spells.
- 6. Cast Greater Heal early
- Stat priorities
First of all, Spellpower will always be the most important stat. Spellpower usually results in the least over-healing compared to Haste and Crit (on a Holy Priest).
Spirit scales well on Holy Priests because of Holy Concentration, Spiritual Guidance and Spirit of Redemption, giving decent regen and Spellpower because of these. Haste increases the speed of your casts, in a fashion. What this means is that for good performance, you must have a a pretty high amount of haste. Too much Haste however, would result in mana problems and overhealing. As aforementioned, Crit increases the proc rates of Holy Concentration and Surge of Light.
Why do I seem to be beating around the bush rather than stating directly which stat to stack over the others? Simply put, the delicate balance of Spirit, Haste and Crit has to be decided by the player depending on his preference. You will have to sacrifice one stat for another depending on your style of healing.
Here's a general guideline though:
- Get more haste if you find yourself under-performing, more spirit on gear (not gems/enchants) if you need mana regen, and maintain about 25-30% Crit.
If you wish to make use of a blue socket, do use Purified Dreadstone or perhaps either Intricate Eye of Zul, Misty Eye of Zul, or Seer's Eye of Zul; do not use Sparkling Majestic Zircon.
As for the meta-gem, the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond provides the greatest mana regen. Other options include the Ember Skyflare Diamond or perhaps the Revitalizing Skyflare Diamond, but the latter has more potential for overhealing & less potency on a Holy Priest.
To end off, let me just say that no healing class can ever replace another. Druids will always be best at HoTs while Paladins will always be best at Single-target heals. Enough has been said about the Shaman. However, Holy Priests are capable of performing all of these roles at once, switching to another spell for the required situation. This flexibility is what makes Holy Priests so good. If played well, a Holy Priest is very capable of outshining other healing classes.
Feel free to ask questions through either the comments or PMs. Of course, differing opinions are always welcome.