Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ask Coriel: Priest or Paladin?

A reader asks:
I have a paladin and a priest both. I recently came back to the game for the expansion. I have taken my paladin up to 83 and recently spent some time on my priest leveling him up as well. The other day I hear someone mention that he has bailed on his 85 priest because they are the worst healers at 85 right now.

With your experience on the paladin and your obviously spending a lot of time evaluating the paladin class and raiding. Do you have any quick thoughts on paladin versus priest healing? I want my primary role to be a healer, its what I enjoy.

Well, I don't really have a lot of experience with priests, especially the new 4.0 priest. But in my guild, one of our best healers is a Holy priest. From what I've seen, priests are still a strong healing class.

I would probably say that priests, especially Holy, are a more complex than paladins, and have a larger healing toolbox. Paladins have a bit more survivability and have more non-healing tools like Hand of Salvation, Freedom, Hammer of Justice, and now Rebuke.

Priests also have a small advantage in that they have two healing styles to choose from, Holy or Disc. But paladins get to hit things with a giant two-handed mace, which is never to be sneered at.

They're both good healing classes. I would suggest that you pick whichever one you like playing best, or whether you think plate armor and shields looks better than cloth armor and staves.

Any thoughts from readers, especially those who've played both classes?


  1. Blizzard wants us to bring the player and not the class.

    If your class is currently 'OP', you will get nerfed; conversely if you are underpowered, expect buffs.

    My healer is a Disc priest - which did have a hard time, so got significanly buffed in 4.0.6. The one attempt I healed since 4.0.6 dropped was significantly easier; but do not know if it was party composition or being buffed or both.

    It is often better to have a mix of classes and specs. If your group has too many of one class/spec, choose another class/spec.

  2. I believe in this tier of content the strength of priests is in burst AoE healing via Prayer of Healing. Also, a Disc Priest has a bunch of utility to help the raid in PW: Barrier and Pain Suppression.

    Both have their own strengths - which aren't as noticeable as in Wrath but they are there - choose whichever you enjoy more or whichever your potential raid setup seems to lack :)

  3. both myself and a holy/disc priest are top healers, it's not about which class is better, they are both very viable. On some fights, the priest even outheals me. the playstyle of a priest is completely different than that of a paladin. try them both out and see which one suits you best. tho the two classes together make a strong combo in raids. the only difference at this point is that a paladin ends a bossfight with a full manabar, tho nerfs will fix that.

  4. Saying priest are the worst healers is just a case of "grass is greener on the other side" in my opinion. (I haven't raided on my priest but holy was good pre-4.0.6 and I am not aware of any huge nerf.)

    I would say that the reader should decide based on the play-style of the classes. Priest offers two options for healing (disc and holy) with disc offering unique "heal by DPSing" (although I'm doing a lot of direct heals as disc as well). Priests have more direct heals, paladins have a lot of CDs. My paladin feels a bit more mobile than disc priest too but it might be because I'm unused to the priest yet.

    Regarding offspecs, priests offer ranged DPS, paladins have melee DPS and tanking specs. Priests can share gear between their specs a bit but I got very close to being raid hitcapped as I prepared for heroics - and hit/spirit is actually worse for shadow than other secondary stats according to EJ.

    My recommendation would be to try out both of the classes. By 83, I think the game play is similar to the one at 85 as the mana costs seem to be lower at low levels. Consider off-specs if you're going to have one and racial options if you're into aesthetics. ;-)

  5. go for least played class/spec in your guild/server

    Easier to enjoy when less competition for raid spots.

  6. Many fights allow paladins to heal from the front lines, weaving in melee attacks for some serious mana regeneration.

    If that sounds like fun, try it on your paladin.

    Note that this probably won't work in heroic raids, if that's your ultimate goal.

  7. My GM is a Holy Priest (a damn fine one, not that I'm biased) and she seemed to think *prior* to 4.0.6 that Blizzard had really put the screws to her class when it came to healing groups. Based on what she'd experienced and what I've heard her say, it seemed mana regen was an issue, that some of the Holy heals were not as efficient as perhaps the other healing classes' spells were, and that it was quite a bit more challenging (not in a good way) to be a Holy Priest since Cata.

    Now, *after* 4.0.6 she seems to think they've poured a bit more love back on the Holy spec, and she feels her heals are more on par, possibly a bit better than other healing classes (not her words, per se, more my general feeling of that situation.) But shouldn't it be that way? HOLY PRIEST seems to scream to me "MAIN HEALING CLASS" and shouldn't they be even slightly better at their job (more capabilities as a class) than say, a Holy Paladin,who potentially has a few other jobs besides just healing?

    I've never been a healer, but this is what I see in my guild groups. Hope I'm not wasting time or space by sharing :)

  8. I main priest, but play holydin as a hobby. I must say they're really about equally strong, especially if you're not cutting edge hardcore omg Sinestra down kind of guild. And disc have just become awesome with the new patch. They have different healing styles however, which differ quite alot actually so he should choose whichever is the most fun. That will also probably give the best result.

  9. I would be "the reader".

    I am glad you brought this here, lots of good feedback.

    The reason why I am troubled is because I do enjoy the style and play of the priest versus the paladin. Even in PvP I like it more and I do really well in PvP with the priest.

    But when I saw those comments it made me think perhaps I should hold off on moving the priest to my number 1. The feedback here changes that though and I will get back at it and go with what I have more fun with.

    Raiding... yeah when I came back to the game I came back with 3 friends. One who levels way too slow. One who has altidis and his wife who doesnt like to play with other people... and we formed a guild! Dont see this lasting much longer though as I am going to want to experience raiding again soon.

  10. Great post, Coriel. Previously, I played a holy paladin MC->ICC. It was a blast. But in Cata, I'm playing a holy priest. Although I miss the "old" holy paladin style (flash of light spam, extreme efficiency), the new holy priest style (chakra buffs, renew management, hymns) is also fun. Mana regen feels weak, but it should improve when my overheal goes down with raid experience. Thanks for the great comments in this thread.

  11. Not to be rude, but I don't see any reason to pay attention to anyone making these kinds of claims against various classes/specs. Unless you're in top 100 raid progression or top 1% BG9 3's then your performance is going to suffer more from the skill level brought by you and your team.

    It harms Blizzard too much to break a whole section of their player base or otherwise leave them broken for very long.

    Play what you like to play.

  12. My main is a Holydin and my Alt a healing priest (I shift between specs frequently).

    I'd say the main differences between the two in how they feel and play is that a Paladin is numerically stronger - they take the fight by the horns and can push through with their large number of powerful cooldowns and splashy effects combined with a good sense of Triage.

    Priests are notably less potent at just forcing through situations, but tend to be more flexible and have a bit more reach through their different effects. Be it strong shields and powerful bursty spells, or chakra shifting, they're a little more technical.

    I find both classes very fun and it's really down to personal preference.

  13. Sean you realize that pre 4.06 Ret paladins where generally rated poor and came up to stil somewhat below average, where as shadow post 4.06 is very good indead. Priests have 3 specs like every else and both disc and shadow are strong.

    Holy Paladin main, with resto shaman and Holy priest at 85 as well as a DK tank that I use for 10 man raid content.

    My holy priest only dinged 85 post 4.06 but is definitely stronger in similar gear to my pre 4.06 shaman. The shaman in 333 - 336 ilv ljust did not have enough throughput at times for heroic bosses. The priest as long as i keep my chakra in the right state and up has healed everything, sure wipes. But never the feeling that I was doing everything I could on the shaman and it was not enough.

    The classes scale differently as well, despite the 8 or so ilvl difference I prefer shaman to Pally in 5 mam content, but in 25 man raid content the pally is well ahead of the shaman,

  14. Hi Coriel,

    I'm a little bit late to the party on this one, but I've only just discovered your blog... I wrote a post myself a while ago about the 4.0.6 changes and agree the priest 'toolbox' is bigger than most which makes the learning curve a little steeper but, in my view, great fun once you've mastered it. have a look at the full post

  15. Our guild pushed the content pretty fast, started raiding the 12th of December.

    Downed Cho'gall the first time with 335 item level as a Holy Priest. Currently, I'm 370 geared and we're on 12/13 heroic and I just started my Paladin alt healer since 4.1 release.

    What I can say is that the Paladin I have is way stronger than my Disc/Holy priest. I swap between Smite spec, SoS Disc spec, Holy single target & Holy Archangel spec when we raid. I'm having four specs and I change accordingly between raids.

    The paladin is more straight forward. One spec, only one way to to go. You have your WoG or LoD playstyle. Either you keep using WoG or LoD depending if you're focusing more on direct healing or raid healing.

    I'm just 352 with my Paladin and it keeps 11500 HPS without going anywhere close to oom by simply having the beacon on a tank, spamming Holy Light and using Shocks & WoG on cooldown. Laying of hands is far better than Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit. You got hand of sacrifice, hand of protection, divine shield and a shieldwall in your arsenal. Not only that, you can also remove poisons which is extremely valuable.

    With grace x3 and raidbuffed with 10.000 spellpower my priests greater heals lands for less than my paladin's. The paladin just seem more reactive and a lot faster with the massive amount of haste.

    Priest is having 2.2 - 2.3 second cast greater heals (But 33k absorb PW:S) while the paladin are down to 1.8 second casts and basiclly free shocks & WoG's.

    It comes down to personal preferances, but I'd say that the Sanctuary spell & Power Word: Barrier are getting more situational per day. Just take Maloriaks scorching breath for example. You can't time it. Even if DBM or Bigwigs say it's coming and you throw it 1 second can be up for 10 seconds and still no breath. And it only mitigates 25% (which just happens to be exactly the damage aura mastery mitigates).

    We're running with 2 Resto Shamans, 1 Druid, 1 Priest % 1 Paladin and then me. I'm using my priest in this patch, but as soon as 4.2 hits the fan, I'll switch my pain for a Paladin.