Shadowlands Healer Rankings: A Sanctum of Domination Tier List (Patch 9.1)
World of Warcraft has never been perfectly balanced, and Shadowlands is no exception. Some classes are better than others at the high end for raiding, and inevitably, a meta will exist. This ranking is based on the viability and strength of the various healing specializations for the new raid in Patch 9.1, Sanctum of Domination.
About the Tier List
August 4 update: No changes needed, as the healing meta seems to be quite set. Mistweaver is doing a bit better than expected, but not enough so that we would push it into the A-tier. The healing meta is very clearly centered around Holy Paladins and Discipline Priests, which have made up the majority of Mythic comps in Sanctum of Domination.
This RAIDING tier list is CONSTANTLY EVOLVING — It CHANGES and IS UPDATED as often as necessary to account for tuning and balance changes.
Hello! I am Impakt, an officer in the North American guild "BDGG", or Big Dumb Golden Guardians. We finished Castle Nathria as the second best guild in North America, and at World 9th. We are prepping hard for the new raid tiers in Shadowlands, and this list reflects how we are currently feeling about the various classes and specializations for progressing the new raid tier in patch 9.1, Sanctum of Domination. In addition to our own experience, this list was created and will continue to be update in consultation with raiders of other top guilds.
This tier list is entirely based on healer viability for the new raid in Patch 9.1 of Shadowlands, Sanctum of Domination. To understand exactly why these rankings are the way they are, you first need to understand what will be valued inside the raid. For healers, we value healing throughput, cooldowns, DPS output, and other utility.
A Final Warning
It is incredibly important to emphasize that just because a healer is low in the tier list, it does not mean that you should ignore it completely. For the vast majority of cases, you should choose to bring the better player, not the better class. That does not mean you never need to think about your raid composition, just that most of the time player skill will be more important than the difference between classes, assuming you already have the required raid buffs. All being lower tier means is that, all else being equal, those specs will be less desirable for the raid based on current tuning.
Additionally, this is all very much subject to change. Especially since this is a new raid that has yet to be released, this is mostly speculative from our experiences on the PTR and in raid testing. As players clear the raid, they will inevitably discover new things to make their specs better - the meta can and will change.
Shadowlands Healer Tier List for Sanctum of Domination
Below is a quick summary of the full rankings that we have detailed on this page. While this gives a good outline of the standings of the healing specializations in comparison to one another, we recommend reading the full rankings to understand why certain specializations are ranked as they are.
Work in progress Last update on Aug 04, 2021
DPS and Tank Class Rankings
Full Healer Class Rankings
Holy Paladins are the most valuable healers going into Sanctum of Domination for three reasons. First, Venthyr Paladins with the Ashen Hallow ability are able to do tank-level damage with virtually no loss in healing capabilities, making them an incredibly valuable asset in Mythic progression. Second, the utility that Paladins bring, specifically with Blessing of Protection and Divine Shield, are going to be quite useful on the later Mythic encounters. Finally, Aura Mastery combined with Devotion Aura is still one of the best raid cooldowns in the game as a damage reduction cooldown, which will be quite valuable in Mythic.
Purely in terms of healing output, Holy Paladins are nothing special. What makes them so valuable primarily comes back to the damage that they can deal with almost no healing loss, and the powerful cooldowns that they bring to the raid. Holy Paladins will be the most used healers early on in Sanctum of Domination.
Discipline Priests are currently one of the most valuable healers going in to Sanctum of Domination for a variety of reasons. Discipline brings the second best DPS contribution out of any healer without sacrificing healing done, which can be a huge asset during early progression when damage will be tight. Discipline offers incredibly strong EHP (effective health pool) increases through tools like Power Word: Barrier and Rapture, while also retaining some powerful, low cooldown spells that enable them to setup for high damage periods better than any other healer. Specifically, Spirit Shell when used correctly can almost eliminate the danger that certain mechanics pose even on mythic encounters. With proper setup, Evangelism and Rapture allows them to plan ahead and set up to do some of the highest throughput possible out of any healer to deal with high stress periods during raid encounters. Discipline is not the highest throughput healer overall, but their ability to direct significant healing into the moments that matter results in Discipline being one of the strongest and most important healing specializations going into the new raid tier.
Discipline also has another important tool worth noting: Power Infusion. Priests are able to cast Power Infusion on other players when they do not need it themselves, which is a huge DPS increase for some classes. This alone is more DPS than most healing specs contribute to the raid, which makes them even better when coordinated correctly.
Restoration Shamans are looking to be extremely strong going into Sanctum of Domination and have perhaps the most complete healing toolkit. Healing Rain and Chain Heal are their core throughput strengths, but they have excellent spot healing thanks to Riptide as well. They bring one of the best raid cooldowns in the game, Spirit Link Totem, which combined with their other available cooldowns is invaluable on most raid encounters. Finally, Shamans have some excellent utility — Ancestral Protection Totem specifically has some wonderful uses this tier.
Historically Restoration Shaman's main weakness has been spread healing, where players in the raid are too spread out to benefit from Chain Heal and Healing Rain effectively. One of the key reasons why Shamans are still in the S-tier is that Sanctum of Domination has a surprising lack of consistent spread. Most of the more difficult fights allow players to be more stacked, which makes Shamans more effective comparatively. Going Necrolord as a Shaman offsets this as well, as Primordial Wave provides both an excellent source spread healing and spot healing.
In terms of raw healing output, most healers are actually reasonably close. The main reason that these healers are placed into the A-tier instead of the S-tier is that the S-tier healers all have incredibly strong defensive, damage-reduction based cooldowns that are invaluable for making it through the hardest mythic encounters in addition to dealing exceptional damage as healers. Holy Paladin and Disc Priest specifically contribute an incredible amount of DPS to your raid, which will be invaluable on most fights. Mistweaver, Restoration Druid, and Holy Priest all have throughput-based cooldowns which unfortunately are not as important compared to the S-tier healer cooldowns.
Mistweavers are actually quite close to being in S-tier, but the lack of a strong damage reduction cooldown is primarily what keeps them back in the A-tier. Even still, Mistweavers currently do top-tier healing output, decent passive damage output, have excellent mobility, and are one of the more durable healers apart from Paladins. Mistweaver have received multiple iterations of buffs going into Patch 9.1, including buffs to their damage, healing, and cooldowns. Revival specifically is much stronger now, and does substantial raid healing. Mistweavers are excellent at all damage patterns, which makes them one of the better healers to bring if all you care about is keeping your raid alive.
It is also important to mention that Monks do bring a 5% physical damage buff, which could be considered required for most raid groups. You do not have to use a Mistweaver Monk to get it, but if you have no other Monks then picking up a Mistweaver would be a great way to get the buff.
Restoration Druids offer an above average overall healing output with a solid throughput toolkit, making them an excellent option for any healing composition. Restoration Druids specifically offer strong burst healing through their cooldowns, as they have a set of cooldowns they can use together or apart from each other. On top of usual Tranquility and Flourish, Druids will have access to Convoke the Spirits, which is basically another raid cooldown, that has very strong synergy with Flourish. In Shadowlands, Druids can also use Heart of the Wild to do some solid burst DPS when necessary. While their overall damage will still remain low compared to specs like Discipline Priest or Holy Paladin, there will be an option to power through certain parts of the fight with extra DPS. The biggest downsides remain to be a lack of damage reduction cooldown and steady damage contribution.
Holy Priests offer a solid healing output with some of the stronger throughput cooldowns in the game. Holy has been overshadowed by Discipline for a long time not necessarily because it is weak, but more so because Discipline has been extremely strong. Holy on its own still brings a solid raid throughput kit, great AoE healing even while spread, and powerful throughput cooldowns with Divine Hymn and the option of talenting into Apotheosis or Holy Word: Salvation. It is also worth noting that Holy Priests do some of the best single target healing in the game, which is pretty nice for keeping tanks alive in Sanctum. While Holy Priests will not bring the top tier damage reduction or other types of cooldowns you would see from Discipline, Restoration, or Holy Paladin, they do bring decent throughput that could round out a healing composition.
- 04 Aug. 2021: Updated for first couple of Mythic weeks.
- 13 Jul. 2021: Updated after Heroic week.
- 24 Jun. 2021: Page added.
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