- Throughput: Are my heals large enough and fast enough to do their job?
- Regeneration: Is my mana pool large enough and my mana regeneration strong enough to sustain me through an encounter?
- Make a new raid zone that requires massive amounts of healing throughput — in terms of raid-wide damage and huge hits on the tanks.
- Nerf mana regeneration
Now ideally, when healers assess whether or not items are upgrades, they go beyond “zomg Ulduar purples! I need!” and think about how they are faring in terms of those two considerations: throughput and regen. This requires knowing how different attributes influence output and endurance.
Due to the changes to the priest class and talent trees in 3.1, it’s worth revisiting the attributes found on our gear to see what benefit(s) they offer.
Spellpower remains the most important statistic for a Discipline Priest. Obviously, spellpower increases the size of one’s heals (for details on spellpower coefficients, click here), but it also increases the absorption of Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis. Unlike Holy Priests who get a boost to spellpower via Spirit from the Spiritual Guidance talent, Discipline Priests have nothing comparable to convert Spirit or Intellect to +healing (although Focused Power grants a straight 4% increase.) Barring the need to make up for other missing attributes, spellpower will be what a Disc Priest gems, enchants, and flasks for. And unlike other attributes that suffer from diminishing returns, there is no cap to the benefit afforded by spellpower.
If spellpower is the primary attribute for a Disc Priest’s throughput, Intellect is the primary stat for endurance. While Intellect does influence throughput as it contributes to a priest’s critical strike chance, the reason to accumulate Intellect is to amass as large a mana pool as possible. This is desirable for several reasons: the first is that Replendishment (the only reason to keep a ret paladin alive imo, but that’s a different blog entry) returns .25% of max mana for every second for 15 seconds. The second is that Rapture now returns 2.5% of total mana when Power Word: Shield is fully absorbed or dispelled. Bigger mana pool equals bigger mana returns via these mechanisms. The shadowfiend also returns mana based on the size of one’s mana pool — ideally… if it actually hits the farking mob before it dies…. but I digress. With Mental Strength and Blessing of Kings (always ask for Kings), one point of Intellect is roughly 1 MP5.
Alongside spellpower, haste is the throughput attribute. Haste decreases your casting time and lowers the Global Cooldown of your spells (to a minimum of one second). The more haste you have, the more you can cast. Of course, the more you cast, the quicker you run out of mana, but since when did Disc Priests have to worry about mana, eh. Discipline Priests have several talents that give them some “innate” haste, decreasing slightly the need to gear for it. Enlightenment increases one’s haste by 6%. And Borrowed Time grants a 25% haste bonus to the subsequent spell cast after PW:S. With those two abilities in play, it takes very little haste to hit the magical one second GCD — only 66, according to Duct Tape and a Prayer. That’s a cloak enchant (+23 haste) and an elixir (+45) and some food (+30). Buffs like Borrowed Time and Heroism aside, the soft cap for haste is around 50%. (The formula for calculating this is: Haste rating / 32.79)
Several abilities make critical strike an important attribute for Disc Priests. Contrary to what might be the prevailing wisdom about the class, this is not the only or even the most important stat for a Disc Priest. Critical heals from a Disc Priest provide the following: Inspiration (granting 25% increased armor to target) and Divine Aegis (a shield that will absorb 30% of the amount healed, stackable up to 10K absorption). Three other talents boost a Disc Priest’s critical heal chances: Improved Flash Heal (a 10% increased chance that Flash Heal will crit on targets at less than 50% health), Renewed Hope (a 4% increased chance to crit on targets that have the Weakened Soul debuff), and Focused Will (a 3% increase to crit). While a better chance to crit means more mitigation via Inspiration and Divine Aegis, there is a point at which diminishing returns kicks in and the attribute starts to be less powerful — around 30%. With her current gear, Khaeli has 655 crit rating — roughly 25% chance to crit. Her Intellect grants another 8%. Divine Fury and Focused Will add another 8%. This is all unbuffed, and in a raid this figure increases substantially. But despite being over 40% crit raid buffed, Khaeli only averages around 36% critical heals — and that, folks, is diminishing returns in action.
SPIRIT & MP5
While 3.1 gave Divine Spirit, formerly a Disc talent, to all priests, of the three trees, Disc benefits the least from the attribute. While both Shadow and Holy Priests see some increase in spellpower based on their Spirit, Discipline gets nothing. And thanks to the nerfs from this latest Patch, Spirit does even less for mana regeneration. But as Spirit is slathered across most cloth gear, you can’t avoid accumulating it, even though MP5 is probably preferable (3 Spirit is roughly 1 MP5).
So in a rough order of importance, here’s what’s important to a Disc Priest:
According to the latest calculations from Elitist Jerks, Disc Priest stats are weighted thus:
MP5 – 0.67
Intelligence – 0.65
Haste Rating – 0.59
Crit Rating – 0.48
Spirit – 0.22
Coming soon: Khaeli’s gear wishlist for Ulduar.