Spiritual Guidance: Gearing your healing Priest in Nighthold
Gear this expansion is very Diablo-ish. There’s a lot of RNG and everything can always upgrade. This is the reason you won’t find many best in slot lists out there. It’s less about “you must have this at all costs regardless of item level” and more about working with what you have already, or the needs of your raid.
Stats and Enchants
Discipline received relatively little changes with patch 7.1.5. Haste is still king, Mastery is still great for raids, and Crit is still great for dungeons or non-instanced activities. The neck enchants received a buff, making Mark of the Ancient Priestess a contender again. However, it’s only up to a certain point. Around 500k HPS (on a consistent basis), your healing starts to outdo the enchant’s proc rate. When you get above 500k HPS, Mark of the Claw is the better enchant to use — and best for Mythic+, too.
Holy, on the other hand, received quite a few changes that impacted our stat priority. Piety was buffed and Benediction was nerfed slightly to compensate for it. Now Piety adds Serendipity to Prayer of Mending bounces. Using Piety and Benediction in raid healing is optimal over Surge of Light or Apotheosis.
With regards to stat priority, item level is still best above all, and you’ll want to keep your stats relatively balanced. Whereas before you were stacking Mastery above everything else and Crit in second place, with little to no Haste, now you want to keep them even. Don’t get me wrong, Mastery is still great, especially for raid healing, but the other stats now have more prominence.
The reason is the Trail of Light change. Before the patch, Trail of Light was acting as a version of Flash Heal, which made it activate Blessing of T’uure, which made Crit very valuable. Now Trail of Light is classified as its own spell, which no longer activates T’uure, which in turn brings Crit’s value down. Crit is still useful, but not to the point of stacking it purposely.
The change to Piety/Benediction, bringing more Prayer of Mending and Renews to the raid, increases the value of Haste. Haste affects Renew and the cast time and global cooldown of Prayer of Mending, allowing you to cast more, which procs Serendipity and Renew more, which gets your Holy Words available faster. You don’t want to stack Haste like Discipline, but you definitely want more than before. If you have too much Haste, you run the risk of going through your mana faster.
You’ll probably hear something like 30-40% Mastery or 30% all stats. There’s no “real” mathematical or simmed number for that, it’s just what you’re likely to end up with at Nighthold gear levels. Nighthold gear is heavy on Crit and Haste, so you’ll want to get your Mastery where you can and try to keep Crit and Haste as even as possible. As for enchants, Mark of the Trained Solder is still best because of the Mastery proc.
Tier 19, Vestments of the Purifier
Tier sets are great. Of course they are. But we’re healers, so if you’re running with any kind of organized group, you’re likely to be behind the DPS and near the bottom of the preference list. Such is the life of healers and tanks. Our tier bonuses are pretty good and not anything you want to pass up, for either spec. You’ll want to get your 4 piece set as soon as possible. Pray to the RNG and bonus roll gods.
Tier sets now come in 6 pieces instead of 5, so that you have options and can work around whatever legendaries you have. The specific pieces won’t matter too much, it just depends on what you have already. If you’re unlucky like me and don’t have awesome legendaries, you’ll take whatever tier pieces you can get your hands on first, and whatever else is an item level upgrade. Three of the set pieces have Versatility on them — gloves, legs, and cloak — which really only matters if you can be choosy about the pieces you equip.
Oh boy, trinkets. This is the “fun” part, because it all depends. It always depends. OK, it’s not really that fun. The problem is that healers are hard to sim. You don’t heal in a vacuum and it’s a zero-sum game. So many variables affect your healing, like who you’re healing with, how your raid performs, what you’re wearing, and so on. DPS classes like to make fun of “feelycraft,” a play on theorycrafting without the math, but it’s exactly what healers are.
Ideally, you’ll want to end a fight at zero mana. Any mana more than that when the boss dies is wasted mana. So, if you’re having mana problems, use mana-regen trinkets. If you’re not, use throughput trinkets. The best mana trinkets are Darkmoon Deck: Promises and Amalgam’s Seventh Spine. One’s crafted, the other one’s from Mythic+. Notice how neither are from the raid? But the item level matters too. Promises really needs to be fully upgraded to 865 with Obliterum to be useful, and an 840 Amalgams is not going to out-perform an 880 stat stick.
Discipline Throughput Trinkets
If you take throughput trinkets, your best bet are the stat sticks from Mythic+. Etraeus’ Celestial Map from Nighthold is decent, but you can’t always guarantee it’ll proc Haste. Perfectly Preserved Cake was recently buffed along with the other Nighthold trinkets, which makes it quite useful. The absorb buff is automatic, even though the trinket text implies that other players will have to actively click it. Basically you’re throwing cake at people. It says up to 5 allies, which means 6 total since it’s 5 allies plus you. As a throughput trinket, this one is quite good since mana not used is mana saved.
If you’re lucky enough to get your raid’s Blessing of Wisdom or Innervates, then you may not need mana regen trinkets as much. Longer encounters will likely call for regen regardless, shorter encounters may offer you more choices. It all depends on your raid. As for DPS trinkets, which are on Discipline’s loot table, they were heavily nerfed for the spec to prevent them from being absolutely overpowered. Some people can make them work, but you’re likely better off going with healer trinkets.
Holy Throughput Trinkets
Good throughput trinkets are Etraeus’ Celestial Map from Nighthold, or Brinewater Slime in a Bottle and Ethereal Urn from Mythic+/Mythic. Unstable Arcanocrystal is arguably pretty good, but it’s from a world boss up every ~8 weeks or so, so it’s not easily farm-able and it’s unlikely you’ll get it.
Relics are easier to deal with. There are certain traits you want to go after, and even the best traits will be out-performed by a worse trait that is 10 item levels higher. Luckily for us, Nighthold contains relics for our best traits.
For Discipline, your best trait is Confession, followed by The Edge of Dark and Light. If you can get two Confession relics in your Holy slots, and one The Edge of Dark and Light for Shadow, then you’re set. Tichondrius drops Archaic Nathrezim Keepsake and Gul’dan drops Warchief’s Shattered Tusk, which is doubly great because it’s your best trait and it’s the highest item level.
For Holy, your best trait is Say Your Prayers, followed by Words of Healing and Reverence. Your optimal relics in Nighthold are Flickering Timespark from Chronomatic Anomaly for Holy and Parasitic Spore from High Botanist Tel’arn for Life. Obviously, if you can find a high level Say Your Prayers relic then you’d want to go with that. But it’s probably easier to get a relic from Nighthold than spamming Mythic+ hoping for the right one.
Legendaries are nice, and best in slot lists ranking them are out there, but it’s not like you’re going to have a choice of what you get any time soon (though once upon a time they said maybe). You can only wear two, so pick your favorites. Switch them out as needed. Make sure you do the upgrade quests for that nice stat boost to 940 ilvl. There are a couple awesome legendaries they added in patch 7.1.5, especially the amazing trinket. If you can get the trinket, you’ll be in a great spot.
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