Wow, it’s been a whole two weeks since my last article. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind recently and I’ve been slacking on my blog – it’s one of those things that takes a backseat when other stuff gets crazy! My guild disbanded and reformed under new leadership after the officers got sick of the GM and I’m getting ready to go back to uni in a week’s time, so I need to start remembering all that stuff I did last year…
Anywho, there’s been a bit of a ruckus on the Ensidia forums over the last few days. Two threads about Priest gemming, one for Discipline and one for Holy, started off with the usual advice and suddenly descended into a debate (to say the least) about the value of Spirit compared to Intellect for Priests of different specs. These threads made me realise that much of the information in the gemming section of my Discipline guide is a little out of date! While it was more than valid for Ulduar, 3.2 has changed the game when it comes to gemming and I’ll be writing about what I’m doing differently, as well as what Blizzard is doing differently.
Perhaps at this point it would be prudent to go and look through my old advice for DPriests. I wrote a paragraph or two on how to gem your Priest for best possible results and I basically summed it up by saying “screw socket bonuses, gem for spellpower”. This still holds true… to an extent. It’s just not chapter and verse anymore.
Allow me to explain.
Back in the mists of time at the release of Wrath, classes and specs were still working out what stats were best for them. Socket bonuses on gear varied vastly between useful (spellpower) and relatively pointless (spirit, crit). The question you had to ask yourself was “would I rather have X spellpower, or Y crit/spirit and Z intellect/mp5/whatever?” where Y and Z were much inferior to X. The answer was almost always X spellpower, because rule number one for Discipline Priests is that spellpower reigns supreme.
Then 3.2 came along. Blizzard realised that pretty much every caster class was gemming for straight spellpower, because that’s what was most useful for them. If the socket bonus wasn’t spellpower, we just stacked more spellpower. Gear in top-end guilds was getting to the point where it wasn’t customisable, (as the socketing design is supposed to make it,) because everyone did the same thing and gemmed for straight spellpower. DPriests were no exception. Something had to be done.
Suddenly Blizzard’s policy on socket bonuses changed. Notice the overwhelming majority of 3.2 set pieces and item drops have spellpower bonuses? We’re being forced to make much more difficult decisions, because there’s finally some carrot attached to that socket-bonus-string.
Say we have a piece with a red socket and a yellow socket which has a +7 spellpower bonus. Here we have a choice. Do we socket it with two +23 SP gems and get +46 SP, or do we go one 23 SP and one 12 SP/10 INT – which gives us the socket bonus? It’s a tough choice. Whichever option we go for, we’ll get at least 42 spellpower. Beyond that, we have to choose between 4 extra spellpower and 10 intellect. And that’s difficult… is there even a cut-and-dry “better” decision? What about 12 SP/10 Crit? Gear becomes less about what’s best for your class and more about what’s best for your current situation.
So, we need a new set of rules. Obviously knowing what stat is good for what will help, so let’s do another quick runthrough of that;
- Spellpower: Your bread-and-butter throughput stat. You get more of it from better gear, and it pretty much trumps everything – but we don’t want to sacrifice 10 Intellect or 10 Crit for 1 Spellpower. Priest stats are about achieving a balance, remember?
- Intellect: Your bread-and-butter regen stat. Intellect gives more than double the mp5 per point than Spirit as well as giving extra Crit. We’re never out of the 5 second rule because we’re pretty much spam casting. If we’re not healing the tank, we’re shielding the raid!
- Crit: Nice for throughput, helps to stack Divine Aegis on the tank. Thanks to the change to Divine Aegis (stacks up to 10k on any Level 80 target) there is no longer a realistic soft-cap for crit. Divine Aegis is now capped by spellpower. Once your triple-crit Penance heals for ~30k (with the t9 4-set bonus) you will start to see small reductions in Divine Aegis throughput. The upshot of all this mumbo-jumbo? Crit is good.
- Mana Per 5 (mp5): Better for straight-up regen than Intellect, which gives about 0.8 mp5 per point. The tradeoff is that there’s less mp5 on gear/gems and it doesn’t give us any crit. Decent for regen.
- Spirit: 11 Spirit is roughly equal to 4 mp5 for regen. What does this mean? Well, you’ll find Spirit on gear but DPriests would rather have Intellect and mp5. Don’t pass up gear just because it has Spirit, but don’t gem for it!
- Haste: Useful up until the soft-cap of just under 5%. You’ll get this just about exclusively from gear.
So, what are our rules going to be? Well, here’s what I’ve started doing.
Rule One: Spellpower Socket Bonuses Are Awesome
In most situations, you’ll want to fulfil your Spellpower socket bonuses. I could see an argument for going straight Spellpower if it was a double socket item with no reds (where gemming for the socket bonus if it was, say, +7 Spellpower would still lose you 15 Spellpower) but a combination of gut instinct and wanting to get the most usefulness possible out of my gear tells me that if an item has an insane socket bonus, I’m going to get it. After all, I can choose what non-SP gems I put into my gear but I can’t choose my socket bonuses.
Rule Two: Don’t Be Afraid of Intellect – Just Don’t Stack It
Intellect is where we get the majority of our regen from. The fact that there’s double the Intellect on gems than there is mp5 makes gemming for Intellect better for regen purposes. The trick is achieving a balance. I can fully understand if you want to gem Intellect to get some more regen, just don’t get too much of it. It seriously pains me to see the kind of thing in the above picture, where someone sacrifices a Spellpower socket bonus for more Intellect. If you’re finishing ToC/Ulduar hardmodes on 10k mana then something is badly wrong – or you outgear that encounter, but you probably already know that if it’s the case. You’re either not casting enough spells or you’re sacrificing throughput, and it’s probably the latter.
Examples. I’m at 27k-28k mana raid buffed depending on what elixirs/flasks I use. I finished Vezax hardmode last night on zero mana. Zero. Zilch. Nothing. But more importantly, I reached that point between 2 and 5 seconds before the boss died. That’s about perfect. If trials in our guild would stop failing on Icehowl charges, I’d be finishing Beasts hardmode on ~3-4k mana. Also perfect, not too much left but still enough to be comfortably healing at the end. I don’t need more Intellect on gear, so I’ll stop gemming for it!
I met a DPriest from a pretty good Kazzak guild today who had a nice chat with me about our respective gearsets. I told him he had a little too much Intellect and he told me he cycled gear for different fights. That’s cool, and especially easy to do with trinkets. My point? Get as much Intellect as you need for the given fight you’re doing, then STOP.
Rule Three: Make Sure to Keep Your Metagem Active
Should go without saying really, but if you run out of blue or yellow sockets on gear then just gem the prismatic in your belt for whatever you need. There’s no excuse to not have your metagem working! Oh, and DON’T get the 2% Intellect metagem. It’s pretty worthless, the mana restore metagem (Insightful Earthsiege Diamond) is much better and gives such an insane amount of regen that you can gem for much more Spellpower. And that is good.
Rule Four: Gem Straight Spellpower in Prismatic Sockets and non-Spellpower Bonus Items
Unless in the situation mentioned above, prismatic sockets are just free Spellpower! As for non-Spellpower bonus items, they’re small enough to be pretty much negligible. Say we have a yellow item with a +4 Intellect bonus like the one in the first picture. Option one, we gem for SP/Int for the socket bonus – option two, we gem for straight Spellpower. The choice is between 14 Intellect from option one and 11 Spellpower from option two. That’s almost 1:1, and I’d rather take the Spellpower in that situation.
THE GOLDEN RULE
Prioritise Spellpower, then get whatever else you NEED.
There’s a simple way to sum all this up into a general rule of thumb. The 3.2 changes to socket bonuses on set pieces and other items allow us to gem for what we need on the majority of our gear rather than just gemming for Spellpower and relying on other sources for our regen. You need regen? No problem sir, find a Spellpower socket bonus and stick an mp5 or Intellect gem in there. Got enough regen but lacking much in the way of Crit? Never fear, just find another Spellpower socket bonus and put some Crit in a socket!
Thanks to Blizzard, there is no longer a “best way” of gemming your gear in many situations. You can realistically gem for whatever you need while still sticking to the framework I outlined above.
Next time – addons! I’m finalising my UI and I’ll be talking about how to create space on your screen as well as what addons are essential for DPriests! I’ve made some sweet changes since Friday’s raid, but click here for a preview! (And low resolution screen users be warned, it’s a bigun.)