So we are technically within the time where we should be expecting Ulduar releasing… soon.

But seeing as we do have some lovely pictures of our tier 8 set and the stats, we might as well get down to some good ol’ fashioned assumptive reasoning (AKA “the crap shoot”).

I want to first mention something that slightly intrigued me from a fellow Priest blogger, Dueg, who has some concerns toward the current itemization of our gear.  I respect him and his words, and I want to offer my own perspective in this arena.

Right now, our tier 8 has the following stats (I am looking at the 25 man set, but assume the 10 man set will have roughly anywhere from 7-10 points lower on stat points and anywhere from .09 to .20% difference in the crit/haste percentages).

Sanctification Regalia:

  • +364 stamina
  • +364 intellect
  • +318 spirit
  • +117 crit rating
  • +183 spell haste rating
  • +552 spell power
  • 0 MP5
  • 3 red sockets, 2 yellow sockets, 2 blue sockets, 1 meta socket…
  • … these socket bonuses add up to an extra 6 spirit, 10 crit rating, and 14 spell power.

Let’s compare this with our current tier 7, 25 man stats.

Valorous Regalia of Faith:

  • +322 stamina
  • +325 intellect
  • +302 spirit
  • +133 crit rating
  • +50 spell haste rating
  • +453 spell power
  • +20 MP5
  • 4 red sockets, 1 yellow socket, 2 blue sockets, and 1 meta socket…
  • … these bonuses add up to be 24 spirit and 4 spell haste rating.

If we look at these two sets right now, the major differences are in the areas of spell haste, spell power, and MP5.  There is, otherwise, somewhat marginal increases to all stats.  Noticibly, we lose blue socket for a yellow socket… something that is comparably weaker (example, Purified Twilight Opal vs. Luminous Monarch Topaz vs. Seer’s Forest Emerald).  But that’s all dependant on your current stats.

Haste is important to Discipline priests.  It is not as important as spell crit though.  When I look for gear, I weigh my stats in favor of…

Spell Crit = Spell Power > Intellect = MP5/Spirit > Spell Haste > *

The more spell power I have, the more my Divine Aegis procs will hit for.  The more spell crit I have, the better chances I have to proc a Divine Aegis.  Therefore in my mind, these two values are equal.

MP5 and Spirit for me are almost the same.  I stacked immense amounts of intellect to get to the point where the rare spirit gem is almots equal to the rare MP5 gem. My amounts have fluctuated for the most part, but it is almost the same.  I like spirit because the more I have, the more MP5 I will get than when I get MP5 (usually, there are rare cases).

Spell Haste is almost a wild card.  Due to the nature of current itemization, I have some spell haste on pieces… my tier 7.25 helmet, the Spire of Sunset, an enchant on my cloak, and my bracers.  That’s a good amount of spell haste.  Note, however, a little does go a long way.  We already get 6% spell haste from Enlightenment in our Discipline tree.  If we’re intelligently dropping shields on damaged members, we get Borrowed Time (a buff that increases our casting speed by 25%).  So even if we don’t have a lot of haste, we’re getting a lot from our talents and our play style.  Haste is important now because the quicker we can get the heal off (and the more actual damage we heal), the more mana we can recover through our current Rapture.  This will not be the case in 3.1!

I will add: 3.1 will be rough to some Discipline priests.  We lose a lot of mana from Rapture.  The balance of this is that our Divine Aegis is able to hold more damage and stack up a little, plus PW:S will cost less if you grab the new talent “Soul Warding” (and if you’re doing things right, you have other efficiency talents that sync up… but you should know this, I hope).  Truthfully, the fact they’re almost catering the 4-piece set bonus to us makes up for it. Because we’re going to be spending so much time healing and that we lost our mana talent (consider it to be as amazing as the Illumination nerf in BC… from 100% to 60% if you were a holy paladin… but that was pretty frackin’ OP).  I understand Holy lost theirs too, being replaced with a haste talent instead.  But consider this: we both enjoy haste but don’t prioritize hard on it.  I’d almost prioritze haste higher as a holy priest, because you probably spend more time casting Greater Heal than us Discipline folk do.  A Discipline priest who wants to cast a GH does it after a PW:S to benefit or if they can recover mana-wise after spamming.

Also: because we’re losing our effectiveness of haste, it becomes a lesser needed stat.  Holy, from what I do understand, benefits stronger from haste than we do!

I want to pick out something from Dueg’s post that I contemplated:

“There are also changes in the mix to make disc into an even more attractive raiding class which will ensure more than a few holy priests picking it up as a secondary spec instead of dps.  Because of this, you’re going to see a lot of priests passing up tier gear in favor of items that don’t have spirit slathered all over them.”

Priests passing up tier gear in favor of items that don’t have spirit… I don’t think I’d do that.  Let’s not forget a few things from the Discipline mind set:

  1. More intellect means larger mana pool.
  2. This affects our (new) Rapture (only affected by PW:S, dependant on mana pool) and when we get Replenishment.
  3. Because we have more intellect, we need less spirit per point for one mana per five seconds.
  4. Therefore, when we have more int, we will need more spirit (eventually) to beat pure MP5 because eventually we are affected by diminishing returns of effectiveness.  If you have a lot of int, then the differences don’t hurt you a lot.
  5. This means eventually MP5 = Spirit.

The only time a Discipline priest should be looking for pure MP5 is when you are just starting out with the spec and your itemization isn’t solid because you probably have lower intellect than you ideally want.  Granted: most pieces with MP5 also have crit on them.  But there are some with spirit instead that benefits even more.  It’s assumed if you’re going to Ulduar, 10 or 25, you have Naxxramas gear.  It’s assumed you have a somewhat high intellect than your spirit if you’re been doing it for a while.

If you’re dual speccing for another healing spec, okay.  Just make sure you’re using the correct gear to do so.  This homogenization of healing stats is helpful in that way.

… but that’s all assumption.  I guess the question I need to answer is what Dueg’s main point:

“Why are you trying to please both sides, Blizz?”

While I agree with the post’s statement of Blizzard doing a great job of truly making Discipline a distinctive healing spec with almost completely different roles and spell priorities and whatnot, I don’t think it’s that far away from the priest model at all.  Holy does need more spirit because they benefit from a talent that increases their spell power by proportion.  However, this doesn’t mean spirit isn’t part of the Discipline equation entirely.  It’s not really that much of a “write-off” stat.  If a piece has spirit and haste versus MP5 and crit, and I’m falling behind in haste… the spirit will usually be equal to the MP5 and I’ll really only lose some crit!

This might not be in everyone’s case, though.  I might just have so much intellect it’s ridiculous.  Holy will always benefit from spirit better.

To me, there’s not really another “side” to priest healing.  We both require all the same stats.  The weighings are a little different, but if you’re part of a guild that continually clears all available content now, the differences will be marginal.  If you just finished encounters and you’re not done and won’t be done by Ulduar’s release… there will be some decisions to be made with your own personal gear choices.

Like all other classes, our stat dependencies will change often and usually based on situation.  Discipline is lucky to have a stat that actually benefits them in all categories: Intellect (crit + mana pool + MP5 all in one).

Perhaps, Blizzard is only doing this to encourage us to try both sides of the field.  Maybe there will be a point where having more than one Discipline is enough (I believe strongly in being the only Discipline priest… get out, everyone else; if you run more than one… I wanna know why).  Maybe there will be a fight where you want lot of Guardian Spirit cooldowns for a random weird strategy.  Or maybe to have multiple Pain Suppressions.

So, where does this leave Tier 8 for priests?  Considering the 2-piece set bonus is bunk, and the 4-piece requries PW:S in order to gain 250 spell power for 5 seconds (which is enough time for us to get in a Penance->GH after the fact)… yes.  It’s great for us.  There is a little too much Haste for Discipline, to be honest, but we can get over that… especially if you’re going to be stacking more crit+MP5 in the future.  I assume Holy priests can cast the PW:S on themselves to gain the spell power bonus (for Renew, GH, PoM… dunno) for that 4 piece but it might be on the super expensive side…

(Note to everyone: Remember this is all conjecture and based off of personal experience and basic numbers.  There’s a good chance something is wrong in here… but heck, we’ve been done content for a while and I’m a super awesome genius at WoW [notrly].  I still love you Dueg.  Your monocle is pretty fan-freaking-tastic.)