One of the primary things about gearing as a holy priest is, of course, the “soft haste cap” of 12.5% (with talents and raid buffs) to get your Renew spell to tick a fifth time. Including the talent Darkness from the shadow tree, this is actually the simplest and easiest gearing benchmark to hit – it’s actually even easier than hitting a spirit benchmark for heroic 5-man dungeons. But a lot of people also say that mastery is pretty much your be-all, end-all after you hit that magic 12.5% (well, spirit aside).

Echo of Light

For this tier of content, and more specifically, 25-mans, I can definitely agree with this. But, I don’t necessarily agree for a 10-man holy priest. Don’t get me wrong, mastery is still a good stat, and far and away better than crit (possibly even post-4.2), but I’m definitely a bigger fan of haste. This isn’t even necessarily left over from Wrath healing, where intellect and haste were king, but a little further back to the end of Burning Crusade where haste was first introduced as a caster stat as well (prior, it was melee only).

If I were a 25-man healer, I’d most likely be a bigger proponent of mastery over haste, but the fact remains that since there’s much less margin for error in 10-mans, I use haste to cover that a little bit. Combine that with being a troll (with access to Berserking), and an herbalist (with Lifeblood), I can rack up some pretty fast cast times, especially if I can manage both in conjunction with Bloodlust or Time Warp. Moreover, Hymn of Hope and Divine Hymn scale incredibly well with haste.

All in all, I can think of really only two encounters in current content where I might prefer mastery over haste – Conclave of Wind, and Omnotron Defense System. Due to the burst damage in everything else (or gimmicks, such as Chimaeron), haste just seems much more preferable in almost every circumstance. Arguably, some encounters like the first three in Bastion of Twilight might lend more to mastery, but even Halfus, it really depends on which drake composition for any given week. If you’ve got whelps, for example, Echo of Light will have more opportunity to do its job. But just about any time you have Nether Scion and Slate Dragon up at the same time, haste is going to be preferable. Even for Ascendant Council, the first phase, mastery and haste are about equal, second phase is definitely better for mastery, and in phase three, haste wins out in the long run.

I’m not going to get into all the maths and try to say which is better at any given gear level, as I’m not a theorycrafter – at least, not in that regard. It’s definitely very easy to put down on paper which stat (haste, mastery or crit) will be the best throughput stat on any given encounter, or raid tier as a whole. The fact of the matter is, though, that each of these stats greatly relies on the other two in some way.

So why is it that I prefer haste over mastery? Well, for one, as I said, there’s less margin for error. But that’s really only part of it. The other part of it is that the amount of damage that goes out really requires you to have the ability to pump out the heals on a consistent basis. In more cases than not, I find myself wanting for the ability to cast faster. If you happen to be able to view my armory (which is currently broken off and on), you’ll notice that I did remove a point from Darkness, and that I do not spec for Rapid Renewal. In addition, I spec for a full 2/2 Veiled Shadows.

From a regen standpoint, having Shadowfiend available a minute sooner is more important than having my spells get off sooner. I can reach my haste breakpoint very easily and then some with a Wrath of Air Totem, Mind Quickening or Moonkin Aura (Wrath of Air is always available in my raid composition). Moreover, as I said before, Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope scale exceptionally well with haste.

On that note, I do notice that, very consistently, Echo of Light is a largely overheal. Free, passive healing, is still good. The downsides are that Echo of Light scales with neither haste nor crit in any manner – at least, not innately. However, when you get your casts off more often, you stack Echo of Light faster. When you get a critical strike, Echo of Light is larger overall. So mastery is still a very valuable stat, simply because it’s free healing.

I keep mentioning Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope, but I haven’t really explained how they scale with haste. Well, Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope both have caps listed in their tooltips of twelve heals, or mana restores, but unlike Tranquility, they don’t actually cap out at these since the scaling of haste now includes how often they tick. Assuming I have Bloodlust, I can get 21 ticks of either of them (if I don’t have to move, get crowd controlled, silenced, etc.). With Berserking and Lifeblood alongside Bloodlust, I believe I can get up to 24 ticks, but the breakpoint at that level is so high, this is rare (especially since I’m currently using Lifeblood and Berserking with Prayer of Healing, and it’s usually not available for a Divine Hymn or Hymn of Hope channel). Tranquility, on the other hand, only reduces the channel time, and does not include extra ticks for having more haste.

On the note of saving a raid, haste is definitely the winner. For raid stabilization, I’d venture that haste is still a clear winner, because of Renew and Prayer of Healing scaling with haste. For specific encounters, such as Chimaeron, I would rather have the haste than mastery, because Echo of Light will effectively be overhealing in all but Feud phases. Flash Heal is very, very important for this encounter, because if you’re out of mana at the end of phase one, it’s really no big deal – that’s what wands are for. I could go through every single encounter and explain why I prefer one stat over the other, but I think that I’ll avoid that kind of wall of text for the time being.

Lastly, holy priests, or any healers for that matter, in 10-mans are jack-of-all-trades healers. Everyone is a raid healer. Everyone is a tank healer. This actually lends even more (at least for holy priests) to using haste over mastery. Other classes and specs will, of course, have different stat weightings based on whether they are a 10-man raider or a 25-man raider. This can definitely change based on encounter, too. As it is, there are certain glyphs that I change out for different encounters, for just that reason. To this end, “12.5% haste, then stack mastery” is not the be-all, end-all.

So where, exactly, does this lead me? Well, all in all, this is really just to outline what I think the benefits of haste over mastery are from a 10-man perspective. Of course, this all comes down to personal preference and raid composition – and definitely I wouldn’t say shy away from mastery (or even crit, for that matter), but every player is going to be different. Personally, I run with a restoration shaman and either a discipline priest or a holy paladin (or on rare occasion, a restoration druid). If you read one of my earlier posts regarding healer stack rankings, it’s even more prominent why I might prefer haste over mastery, since we have the two lowest-ranked healers as part of our main composition (though arguably some of the most utility). However, if you prefer mastery over haste, I’d definitely like to hear what your thoughts are on this, and why you like mastery over haste in 10-mans.

Finally, I would like to give a little shoutout to a few people on Twitter that discussed this with me (albeit briefly) for a little perspective regarding this post idea. Zelmaru from Murloc Parliament, Oestrus/Obscene from The Stories of O and Lunarsoul from WTS Heals. Go read their blogs. DO IT.