So, recently, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about solo play as a holy priest. Generally, this comes from my doing all of my dailies and such as holy. For whatever reason, I just feel I have better mana management and survivability as opposed to shadow. I made a post on the healing forums not too long ago. While it doesn’t seem to have gained much attention by other forumgoers (likely because of the time I posted it more than anything), it does seem that there has been a buff to Holy Fire in the upcoming 4.1 patch, either way. Still, this leaves a lot to be desired regarding holy spells in solo play.

In short, I’m not really satisfied that as a priest that is going around and doing things in a healing spec, that I’m not casting a bread and butter spell like Smite at all, because its value is just too low in damage and it’s relatively high mana cost in comparison to Mind Spike. In short, it seems strange that I should be casting shadow spells to all exclusion of holy spells when out by myself. I didn’t roll holy to be casting shadow spells.

To that end, however, due to the buff to Holy Fire, I may end up casting it when 4.1 does finally hit. Even so, however, I’ll still be primarily using Mind Spike, and will definitely be using Mind Blast due to the guaranteed crit from the Mind Spike debuff on your target. As long as I’m carrying around enough hit to deal with my quest mobs (none are over 85, so one would only need 4% hit – I use Desert Walker Sandals and Anhuur’s Hymnal), then this isn’t at all an issue. One could potentially argue using Glyphs of Smite and Divine Accuracy, but having done the math, Glyph of Smite doesn’t give enough to make it more mana efficient or boost damage enough to outweigh the Mind Spike/Mind Blast combination. Since I have hit gear for my shadow spec anyway, no sense in wasting Dust of Disappearance to replace any glyphs I use more regularly.

Another possible argument is using a spec with Evangelism – something I also don’t intend to do, because I have no use for it in a raid environment, and I still want my shadow spec for those times I want to do heroics as DPS, or need to go DPS for raids. And because I am not a fan of playing Discipline. It doesn’t reduce the mana cost of Smite by very much – taking it from 15% of base mana to 10.5% base mana at 5 stacks of Evangelism. It’s still a lower spell cost than Mind Spike if and only if you have those 5 stacks, but at the same time, there’s no guaranteed crit mechanic as with Mind Spike and Mind Blast, and further, should one need to use Archangel, then you start from square one again.

Ramp up time aside, here’s the basic breakdown of how the Mind Spike vs. Evangelism Smite would look over the course of a 6-cast time frame, in order to have the final cast have a fifth stack of Evangelism applied to it. Using the values I posted on my post in the healer forums previously, 6 casts of Smite will take a total of 10.68 seconds. In that same time frame (plus 0.03 seconds), I can cast Mind Spike 7 times (or 6 times plus one Mind Blast). Now, let’s see how much damage that is. With Mind Spike x6 and Mind Blast x1, that’s a total of 57074.25 average damage, assuming I’ve cast Mind Blast after three casts of Mind Spike. In the same time frame, 6 casts of Smite (assuming Evangelism, but no Holy Fire), I total 46639.74 damage. That’s just still 10k damage below what you get when casting Mind Spike/Mind Blast.

Mana costs are a whole different animal, though. Casting Mind Blast and Mind Spike, I’ve used 18320 mana. Casting Smite, however, I’ve used 15751 mana. To get approximately the same damage, I’d have to spend an additional 2162 mana (after having 5 stacks of Evangelism, bringing the smite total to 17913 mana, a mere 407 less mana) to get a total of 55058.34 damage (still 2024 damage less than using my shadow spells). In short, unless I’m using Evangelism and Glyph of Smite, and do not use Archangel, I am unable to equate the damage I can put out using Mind Spike and Mind Blast by casting Smite instead.

This situation is made worse by a few different things. First, Holy Fire’s DoT doesn’t last long enough for all of my Smite casts to be able to take advantage of the glyph. Secondly, if I use Archangel at any point, I drop all of my Evangelism stacks, and Mind Spike/Mind Blast damage wins out again, making upkeep difficult at best. Third, Holy Fire doesn’t activate Chakra: Chastise, so I can’t even use it as an opener. Instead, in the case of the latter, I’d use Mind Spike x3, Mind Blast, Holy Fire, Mind Spike until mob is dead (I rarely am able to get out a second Mind Blast on mobs before they are dead, save mobs like Foreman Wellson, Captain P. Harris, etc., where they have increased health pools).

Finally, while it’s nice that Discipline is getting a cool buff to Holy Fire via Atonement changes, I feel that Holy is left behind when it comes to damage spells. Even in Chakra: Chastise, the above rotation is the best affordable one after the Holy Fire buff comes through, even for encounters like Chimaeron, where there is a burn phase and healing is pointless. Unfortunate as it is, Holy priests have no reason to cast Smite after gaining Mind Spike as a spell, unless their shadow school is locked out. This makes Tomaj a sad panda.