Should I gem for…?

July 24, 2009 at 11:30 am (Gearing, Gems, Glyphs, Stats)

I was chatting to a fellow guild healer today and I realised we held different opinions on something I thought was really straight forward. I had always been told, and looking at complicated maths, it seems correct to say, Discipline Priests and Holy Paladins share pretty much the same gear preferences. Spirit is not fantastic, Intellect is great, Spell power, Haste, Crit are all good stuff. So I was surprised to find how much the two of us disagreed about how to gear our characters.

Holy Priests, if you’re about to stop reading because it’s a Discipline article, I promise you it isn’t.

He’s a Holy Paladin and the guild Jewel Crafter, and when I got a new hat from Flame Leviathan 10man, I was looking to gem it. The hat wants a blue gem, but given how bad the socket bonus is (+8 spirit), I decided to ignore it. I was weighing up 16 intellect, versus 19 spell power. It ought to be the most cut and dry decision. Spell power is the best way of increasing my healing. Intellect is the best way of increasing my mana. So it ought to be simple, do I need more mana or more healing?

My thinking is, I’ve got enough mana, you can’t have enough healing. His opinion was very much, I already heal for a lot, you can never have too much mana.

Healers, more than anybody, have to be responsible for their own gearing decisions. Whether you heal the raid or you heal the tank. Whether you usually heal along with a Shaman or a Paladin. Whether you heal aggressively or conservatively. Whether you glyph Guardian Spirit or Flash Heal. All these things influence how much Intellect you need versus Spell Power. Glyph of Flash Heal means you can get away with less intellect, but because you don’t have Glyph of Guardian Spirit, you might want more more Haste to make up for that. Just an example.

I think, I’ve got enough mana for now. If I don’t usually run out of mana, then I am in a sense “over the mana cap”. That’s to say, just like a player who has more hit rating than they need, that extra hit is wasted. If I’m ending every fight with 50% mana, then I don’t need as much mana as I have. Mana sitting unused in my mana pool is wasted stats. If I never need to use Shadow Fiend, then I should ditch some intellect because clearly I’ve got too much. Thus I’d rather gem for Spell Power so I can heal bigger if the boss is doing lots of damage. Or gem for Haste if I find that sometimes my heal lands just that half a second too late.

My Paladin friend on the other hand feels differently, and justifyably so. His feeling is, Paladin heals already land for fourteen thousand, he commonly has overhealing because of it and so, for him, more spell power is wasted. On the other hand, more intellect means for those fights where the other healer dies, he’s almost always got enough mana to see him through to the end. If it’s possible to solo heal the fight, he’ll almost always have enough mana to do it. So who’s right?

In a way we both have the same mentality, and I think it’s the right one. We’re both thinking – I’m okay for the regular everyday situations. I’ve got the crucial bases covered. I don’t run out of mana very often and I heal for a good amount. So, for those times when things do go wrong, what do I want to have more of? I’ve chosen to focus on those times I need to heal for more. He’s chosen to focus on those times when he needs to heal for longer. It’s the same mentality, we’ve just each emphasized different things.

Another example. We were also discussing Haste versus Crit. Crit gives you more healing, and it gives you more mana. Crit is free healing, and with things like Divine Aegis, Holy Concentration, Surge of Light, or in his case Illumination, it’s a good amount of free healing and extra mana. Haste on the other hand gives you faster healing, but you pay the normal price for it, you save nothing except a little time. The debate over the two stats is pretty common and it occurs in every WoW forum I’ve ever read.

The pro-Crit side, and my Paladin friend think: “Free healing is good. And extra mana is good. Therefore I’ll stack Crit, and it annoys me that so much gear in Ulduar has Haste on it.”

The pro-Haste side thinks: “Free healing is good, but I can’t count on Crit. Sometimes you Crit and you save the tanks life, but other times you Crit and most of it is overheal. On the other hand, Haste is consistent. I can rely on Haste.”

I personally side with the pro-Haste side. When I look at a whole bunch of health bars and make that snap decision over who to heal, and what spell to cast, I factor Haste into my decision, I don’t factor in Crit because if I expect to Crit and it doesn’t happen, then I’m in trouble.

I know how fast my spells heal, and so I know if I can get away with a Prayer of Healing or whether I need to case a couple of Flash Heals first. I’m used to my Haste. If I stripped off my Haste gear, (as I do on weekends for select clients in Deep Run tram…) I mean, uh, if I swapped out Haste for Crit I’d be an awful healer for a few weeks. Not because Haste is much better, but because I’m used to how fast I heal for. With Crit instead of Haste I’d probably do roughly the same amount of healing, but it would be much harder for me to judge which spells to use. I’d start casting Greater Heal and the tank would be dead a full second before Greater Heal landed.

My point here is not to convince everybody to prefer spell power over intellect and Haste over Crit. I was just interested in how much my Paladin friend and I disagreed when I had been led to believe Discipline and Holy Paladins geared so similarly. What I’m trying to get across is how much room there is to personalise your character so long as you recognise the different things your stats give you.

If you don’t usually run out of mana, and you heal for a reasonable amount, you Crit quite often, and you have good Haste it’s pretty much up to you where to go from there. If there is no socket bonus, what do you gem for?

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