In the first few months of WotLK raiding, when I went holy for the first time, you would have had to pry crit from my cold dead hands. I went the way of the holy/ret build back then, because holy/prot hadn’t yet seen the changes of 3.1 that made it the viable (and my preferred) spec that it is now. I think I went insane over the fact that Soul of the Dead NEVER dropped for us from Sapphiron, week after week, and I’m pretty sure that when it finally did and I snatched it up, I let out my biggest happy squeal of all time. Torch of Holy Fire? Screw that, I’m snatching The Turning Tide away from our warlocks.
These days, I’m tooting a very different horn. I love haste and I can’t get enough of it, so much that I’m sitting well above the recommended 675 soft cap for haste rating from gear. Because we don’t always run with a boomkin in 10s and very rarely have a ret paladin, I don’t get the buffs from those classes in regards to haste, so I try to keep as much as possible on my gear, and I eat haste buff food.
Why the change? Well for one thing, crit just isn’t as good as it used to be. Critical strikes don’t return as much mana as they used to, so that benefit has gone a little out of the window, not to mention that improved gear from Naxx to Ice Cream Social and epic gems mean that mana pools are higher than ever. I can’t remember the last time that I felt truly strained for mana or felt that I would run dry with no chance to recover, even when chain casting Holy Light on fights like Marrowgar or Festergut or … everything else in ICC. Crit is nice for having those BIG NUMBERS heals, but in many cases the crits are just overheals for a class that has high overhealing anyway (not that there’s a problem with this – as long as you have mana and things don’t die, who cares about overheal?). Just sticking with the critical strike rating that’s on spell plate and other pieces, and the amount that you’ll naturally get from nom nom noming intellect gems should be sufficient – I just don’t see the benefit in gemming for crit rating when you can easily get to 30% or more holy crit from gear.
Haste on the other hand, while it has diminishing returns, is something that you can’t really go wrong with having a little more of. The more haste, the more spells you can cast. If you’re starting harder content, it can be a real life saver in terms of how much throughput you can manage. While you have a chance of getting critical strike heals that will top someone off, with haste there is a guarantee that you’ll be able to quickly put out a second heal. For me it’s a more reliable tool for OHCRAP moments, and probably the only thing that facilitates surviving fears in 5 mans (but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). I feel more secure with having plenty of haste and knowing that my heals have a higher probability of landing in time – our limitation is really speed rather than throughput or longevity. Also, this is what casting looks like when you’re hopped up on haste:
Of course, the exception to all of this is the FoL build, in which case you don’t want haste OR crit, you want MOAR SPELLPOWER. That’s a completely foreign territory for me, but maybe someday I’ll give it a try for fun and ~SCIENCE~.