priest healer (6)
  • Author: Luxrah
  • Date: November 30, 2023
  • Updated: January 4, 2024
  • Expansion: WoW Classic

When most players think of a healer in Vanilla World of Warcraft, they think of a Priest. The Priest class has the strongest healing toolkit in the game, offering the broadest variety of spells as well as solid buffs and utility. Of the Priest’s two healing specializations, Holy offers the most direct buffs to healing where Discipline focuses more on utility.

In Season of Discovery, other healers will be getting new abilities to help flesh out their spell lists, but the Priest will be getting some powerful spells of their own which should help them stay on top.

Build Summary

Priests are well equipped for healing, with a diverse toolkit that includes just about every type of healing spell you can think of. Season of Discovery has changed things up between the lower level cap and the new abilities you get from runes, but that hasn’t affected the Priest’s dominance.

You won’t have access to some of the spells that you would normally have at a higher level – namely Prayer of Healing. But you’ll be able to access Circle of Healing, Penance, and Prayer of Mending through the new rune engravings, all of which make powerful new additions to your spellbook in Vanilla WoW.

For tank healing, a level 25 Priest will rely on Flash Heal or Heal as their primary spell, filling in with Prayer of Mending and Penance on cooldown.

For raid healing, you’ll also lean heavily on Flash Heal or Heal, this time filling with Prayer of Mending and Circle of Healing.

You also have access to Renew, Holy Nova, and Power Word: Shield, each of which can be situationally very useful. We’ll talk more about those in the Key Spells and Abilities sections below.

Runes

Chest

Strength of Soul

This is a strong option for tank healing or PvP, allowing you to place a Power Word: Shield on a target more often. It also makes it so that Warrior, Druid, and Paladin tanks will not miss out on Rage or threat due to the shield preventing them from taking damage. This spell has a bad rap in Vanilla WoW for that reason. Now you can use it on any tank with no issues. A Warlock tank in particular will probably appreciate frequent shields since they also protect against spell pushback.

If you’re co-healing with another Priest, keep in mind that only one of you will be able to shield a target. If one of you has specced into Improved Power Word: Shield in the Discipline tree and the other hasn’t, that Priest will have more powerful shields and should take priority on casting it.

Serendipity

This rune will help you with getting quick emergency heals out without having to purely spam Flash Heal. You don’t have Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing at this level, and Lesser Heal is not very effective, so you would just be using this to get faster Heal casts. Even at rank 1 that spell costs more than your Flash Heal, but it does more healing.

This is the best option for this slot if you can’t take advantage of Power Word: Shield for whatever reason, but it’s not particularly useful at this level.

Gloves

Circle of Healing

Circle of Healing can instantly heal an entire party. Since you won’t have Prayer of Healing at level 25, you’ll want to grab this rune if you’re going to be doing any raid healing. While it does cost a lot of mana, it’s actually very efficient as long as at least 3 people in the same party need healing.

Penance

If you’re not going to need Circle of Healing for raid healing, Penance is great for everything else – tank healing, PvP, even throwing out some DPS. This spell is channeled, so you’ll want to be careful that you don’t cut it off before the last tick goes off. It does more healing than Heal and also does it more quickly, making it a great alternative to Flash Heal during heavy incoming damage. And it’s extremely mana efficient to boot.

Legs

Homunculi

This rune is a bit of an oddball, and it doesn’t really help your healing at all, but it will make you very popular with any Warriors in your raid (and other physical DPS as well). That’s because this ability effectively replaces the Warrior’s Sunder Armor, allowing your DPS to benefit from its effect without your Warrior(s) having to burn GCDs applying the debuff. It does cost you the use of Prayer of Mending, though, so you’ll have to weigh the cost and benefit for yourself and your group. Also keep in mind that you have no control over the mini-mes that spawn when you use this ability, and they die pretty easily, so you may still want to swap this rune out for certain fights.

Prayer of Mending

It would be easy to underestimate Prayer of Mending. Normally you’ll toss it up on a target and forget about it until it comes off cooldown again. But during that time, it’s bouncing around your group, healing people on its own. You’ll want to cast this ahead of any boss pull and toss it out again every time it comes off cooldown. Even in PVP, it’s an extra bit of reactive healing on your target the next time they take damage, which can make a big difference. For all that, it costs very little mana as well.

Power Word: Barrier

While Prayer of Mending is too strong to pass up in most situations, Power Word: Barrier can be useful for any boss fight that has a heavy AOE damage phase. The barrier will protect your team for 10 seconds, reducing the damage they take and helping you heal them up without any spell pushback. It can only be used once every 3 minutes, though, so this isn’t a spell that will help with regular raid healing. You can probably skip this rune for Phase 1, since Blackfathom Deeps doesn’t have any fights where it’s particularly useful.

Talent Builds

The Priest class is the only one that has two talent trees for healing. Both builds play very similarly at this level. The differences are mainly in utility.

Discipline Talents

The Discipline tree offers the strongest utility as well as the best mana management talents. However, while Meditation can be a great talent in longer fights, the boss fights in Blackfathom Deeps and level 25 dungeons shouldn’t be dragging on that long anyway – and if they do, you’ll struggle regardless of this talent. This build’s real strengths are Improved Power Word: Shield and Improved Power Word: Fortitude, the latter of which can make a huge difference in your party/raid members’ health at this level.

season of discovery priest healer discipline talents
Talent Calculator

The best utility for priests is available in the Discipline tree, but you may want to dip into the Holy tree for some small buffs to your healing.

  • Wand Specialization x5 will get us to the higher tiers. You should be getting a lot of use out of your wand whenever you’re not healing, so this talent will also allow you to contribute some damage at no mana cost.
  • Improved Power Word: Shield x3 will make your Power Word: Shield much stronger. Your shield can’t overheal like your other heals, so boosting its strength is always going to be useful (as long as you’re putting it up on someone who is taking consistent damage, like a tank).
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude x2 will significantly boost the Stamina of every person you buff. It’s not a glamorous talent but it is a very useful one.
  • Meditation x3 will allow 15% of your mana regeneration to continue while you’re casting. Without this talent, the only regeneration you’ll be able to get will be by waiting at least 5 seconds between spell casts. The amount of mana you get back from this talent at this level will be very small, so don’t expect it to make a huge difference.
  • Inner Focus is a powerful cooldown that will make your next spell free to cast. Use this on an expensive spell like Circle of Healing, or for a Flash Heal on your tank in a moment of desperation. It also makes the spell more likely to crit.
  • Improved Renew x2 buffs our heal-over-time spell and is as good a place as any to dump our last two points.

Healing Focus x2 is preferable to Improved Renew for PVP, but not as useful in other content where you should not be taking frequent damage.

Holy Talents

The Holy tree offers the best buffs to your healing, but at this level, additional healing is usually just overheal. One side benefit of many of these talents is that they also improve your damage with Smite and other Holy spells. This tree will also give you access to Holy Nova, your best option for AoE damage.

season of discovery phase 1 holy priest talents
Talent Calculator

Talent options at level 25 are limited, but you will still be able to access some solid buffs to your healing. It’s not worth dipping into the Discipline or Shadow trees at this level as neither has any valuable talents in the bottom tiers for you.

  • Holy Specialization x5 buffs all of our core spells and gets us to the next tier of the tree.
  • Divine Fury x5 reduces the casting time of our main healing spell.
  • Inspiration x3 causes our direct single-target heals to buff the target’s armor for 15 seconds.
  • Holy Nova gives us a great area of effect spell that does both healing and damage.
  • Improved Renew x1 buffs our heal-over-time spell and more importantly lets us unlock tier 4 talents.
  • Improved Healing x1 is as far as we can get at this level, and helps make our main healing spell more efficient.

Healing Focus x2 is preferable to Holy Nova and Improved Renew for PVP, but not as useful in other content where you should not be taking frequent damage.

Key Spells and Abilities

Lesser Heal

This spell doesn’t benefit from Divine Fury or grant Inspiration. It also scales poorly with your Spell Power. The only time you might use it is if you’re desperately low on mana and someone is going to die if you don’t heal them.

Heal

You won’t have Greater Heal until Phase 2, so this spell will be your bread and butter for now. At this level you’ll have access to two ranks of this spell, and you’ll want to have both on your bars. Healing in Vanilla WoW is a matter of gauging how much health you need to restore and using the cheapest spell/rank that can do the job so you always have mana when you need it. However, the spell power coefficient for rank 2 is much better than for rank 1, so you will get the best healing per mana (HPM) from rank 2 when it makes sense to use it.

Flash Heal

You’ll only have one rank of this spell at this level. It’s faster and slightly cheaper than Heal, but it does less healing. It’s a good choice for quickly topping someone off or getting a quick heal on someone who is taking heavy damage. However Heal is going to be much more mana efficient as long as it doesn’t overheal.

Power Word: Shield

This spell can be very powerful, but it also can really annoy your teammates if you put it on the wrong person. That’s because the absorb effect prevents the target from taking damage, which can rage-starve warrior and bear tanks. Luckily the Strength of Soul rune eliminates that downside, so you can and should shield your tank if you have that rune. Otherwise you should be more discriminating about who you use it on.

Power Word: Shield can be especially welcome for any caster or healer who is going to be taking damage, as it will completely prevent spell pushback for as long as it holds. The fact that you can put it out ahead of damage going out can make it especially useful for helping someone survive a big hit. Always use the max rank for this spell, which at level 25 will be rank 4.

Two things to note about this spell in Vanilla WoW are its cooldown and the debuff it places on its target. You can only cast this spell every 4 seconds, so don’t expect to be able to spam this ability and blanket the raid in bubbles. The spell also leaves the target with the Weakened Soul debuff, so they can’t be shielded again for 15 seconds. The Strength of Soul rune allows you to reduce this debuff in Season of Discovery, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Renew

Renew is a heal-over-time spell that is best used on a target who is going to be taking steady damage. Put it on the tank or a teammate who has a debuff and let it do its thing. Don’t waste your mana on it otherwise. Always use max rank (3 at level 25) if you use it at all.

Holy Nova

Holy Nova is an instant AoE that does both damage and healing while causing no threat. Its range is only 10 yards, so it’s best used when your group/enemy mobs are tightly stacked. It has a relatively high mana cost, so it’s not worth using unless you will be able to hit several targets with it, and even then you should keep an eye on your mana bar. This spell has a lot of situational usefulness for farming low-level enemies, knocking enemies out of stealth, or getting out some instant healing or damage in PvP.

Cure Disease

You’re one of only two classes who can remove diseases in Phase 1, the other being paladins on Alliance/shamans on Horde. So you’ll definitely want to have this bound.

Dispel Magic

This spell has two uses: offensive and defensive. Defensively, you’ll almost always want to immediately dispel any debuff your teammates have on them, unless there’s a specific reason not to. Removing debuffs can be more effective in keeping your group healthy than actually healing. As with Cure Disease, you’re one of only two classes who has this capability, the other being paladins. Shamans can’t do it, so on Horde you’ll be the only one.

Offensively, there are more classes who can purge enemy buffs, and it’s better not to waste your mana or GCD on it as a healer as long as there’s someone else who can take care of it.

Example Best-in-Slot

BiS lists can vary drastically from fight to fight. There is rarely a one-size fits all solution for any given dungeon or raid, so you will need to find what suits your needs best.

Below is an example of an all-round Best-in-Slot list that you can tweak to fit your individual needs. At this level, most players will find that additional mana (mainly from Intellect) is more valuable than Healing or Spell Power.

Armor

Weapons

Jewelry

  • Jagged Bone Necklace
    • You won’t see many necklaces this phase, and this one is your best option. If you can get one from the Auction House, Spectral Necklace (of the Owl/of Intellect) is also a great option.
  • Wow Alliance Crest Lorekeeper’s Ring/ Advisor’s Ring
    • You’ll need to get to Honored with your Warsong Gulch faction to get this ring, but it’s well worth it.
  • Deep Fathom Ring
    • A solid ring that you can farm as long as you can find a group willing to full-clear Wailing Caverns.
  • Acolyte’s Void Pearl
    • You don’t have too many options for trinkets at this level, and this is one that actually improves your healing.
  • Minor Recombobulator
    • Again, trinket options are slim at this level. This one restores 250 mana when you use it, and you don’t have to use it on a polymorphed target.

Race Choice

Priests in Vanilla WoW get extra spells based on their race, which makes your choice of race very important.

Wow Alliance Crest Dwarf

Fear Ward once made dwarves the best race for an Alliance Priest in Vanilla WoW, but with paladins getting the Inspiration Exemplar rune, its value is not as strong. It’s still a useful ability, though, and you’ll also get Desperate Prayer, which is a free, instant self-heal. Stoneform is situationally useful, especially in PvP. Find Treasure might also see some extra usefulness at this level due to the value of items found in chests. Frost Resistance is nice to have, but Gun Specialization is totally useless for a Priest.

Wow Alliance Crest Human

Humans get The Human Spirit, which boosts your Spirit, making them a pretty good option for a Holy Priest. The other human racials that don’t really help you as a Priest healer: DiplomacyMace SpecializationSword Specialization, and Perception. As far as Priest racials, they get Desperate Prayer, which is very useful as a free, instant self-heal. Feedback is less useful outside of PvP.

Wow Alliance Crest Night Elf

There’s not much here to help your healing, but there’s also nothing that is totally useless. You get Wisp Spirit, Shadowmeld, Quickness, and Nature Resistance. As a Priest, you also get Starshards and Elune’s Grace. Some of these racials can be nice for PvP and solo play, but overall night elf is the weakest choice for an Alliance Holy Priest.

Troll

Berserking is a fantastic cooldown for any spell caster, which makes troll the best choice for Horde PvE. You also get Regeneration, which can be nice to have. Their other racials are not useful to you: Beast SlayingBow Specialization, and Throwing Specialization. As for their Priest racials, Hex of Weakness and Shadowguard both have their uses, especially in PvP, but aren’t helpful for your healing.

Undead

You won’t get anything as an undead that will help you as a Priest healer, but undead have Will of the Forsaken, which is great for PvP. Their other racials are only marginally useful: CannibalizeUnderwater Breathing, and Shadow Resistance. As far as their Priest racials, Touch of Weakness is nice in PvP, but Devouring Plague is mostly good only for Shadow Priests.

 

About the Author

Luxrah

I've been playing World of Warcraft on and off since vanilla, usually as a healer or caster and often as a guild leader. I play both retail and classic. I also love RPGs, sandboxes, and sims.
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