Posts Tagged ‘healing’

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Guest Post: Priests in the Arena

November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Week!  Jov and Seri are traveling, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for a serious case of food coma.  Special thanks for the guest posts for taking wow posting off our plates, and leaving us with more room for sides…

I thought I would write a guest post for Snarkcraft (one of my favorite priest blogs!) about a topic not often covered:  Arena PVP.  I’ll start with some basic arena strategies.  I am assuming you’re just starting out, and that you’ll be a Priest, specced Discipline.  Holy really isn’t arena viable at the moment.

General Arena Helpful Tips

  1. Don’t Die
  2. Don’t Let your Partners Die
  3. Blow Defensive Cooldowns when the other Team blows Offensive Cooldowns
  4. Blow Defensive Cooldowns Earlier Rather than Later
  5. CC and DPS when the target is low
  6. Drink – a lot!
  7. Pick up a PVP trinket – don’t leave home without it.

How to gear

As a priest, you wear cloth and lots of it.  You’ll want to wear as much resilience as you can get your hand on.  Once you start feeling comfortable (for me this happens only once I’m in the 1000+ range), start stacking stamina and spellpower.  Get the spirit set, although you can double dip the shadow set, getting the 50 resilience bonus from both sets, but you’ll notice the lower regen.  You will be able to go offensive much better though, so it could depend on your playstyle.  Get at least 4% hit so your fears connect a reasonable amount of the time.  Yes, it’s that important.  Pick up the +hit offset pieces for cloak, ring, and neck slots, and you should do fine.

Glyphs – Pick up Pain Suppression and Inner Fire, especially while still gearing up.  Glyph of Penance is 100% necessary 100% of the time.

How to survive

You have no real escapes, especially against warriors/undeads.  Priests in PVP essentially tank in cloth.  I know it sounds crazy, but it’s crazy fun when you can pull it off!  Anyway, keep moving, cast PW:shield->Penance->Prayer of Mending->Renew->stop and flash as necessary.  Remember to dispel any dots or snares that you can – especially against DKs (Chains of Ice and Diseases) and mages’ frost novas.  You’d be surprised how much dispelling what amounts to these classes’ damage buffs reduces the amount of damage they can dish out.

Line of Sight (LOS) – Line of Sight is your friend in Arenas.  Anyone who says otherwise, or says that LOS is cheesey, plays too many battlegrounds on their hunters.   Good LOS play can significantly reduce the damage you take and the scariness of enemy target switches. You’ll notice some teams will try to lure you into their LOS.  Shield/Penance your DPS when you can, but be aware the other guys have some dirty tricks up their sleeve…

Fearing Defensively – Save your Psychic Scream for when you need to get a cast off, or you see an opportunity to gain distance or get out of LOS.  If you are in an emergency situation, however, blow it.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than dying while your cooldowns are still up.

How to heal

Penance and PW: Shield, Prayer of Mending – these are your most powerful heals in arena.  In my experience, greater heal comes close to the output of penance, but penance has the benefit of going off immediately, and going through line of sight.  Use PW:shield first, especially since it gives you a haste buff.

Flash heal – Flash heal is what you do when Penance, PW:Shield, are on cooldown.  Get a latency mod, like quartz for your castbar and spam that button!

Other odd heals you wouldn’t think to use – Greater heal, Divine Hymn, Binding Heal, and Prayer of Healing are heals you probably won’t use very often, mostly because they’re best when you aren’t being focused, which happens approximately 0% of the time.  However, if you can get them off, especially if someone has let their mortal strike debuff fall off for a second, you can really turn the tables.  I’ve seen 3v3 matches where I was super behind, and I popped Divine Hymn and Inner Focus and topped off my team.  And they say Priests have no reset buttons.  :P

Mortal Strike – Mortal Strike is your enemy #1.  Know what the debuff looks like, know how long the cooldown is, know how to get as many heals off as possible when the debuff is *not* up.  Hunters, Warriors, and Rogues can all apply versions of the 50% version.  Mages and Shadowpriests (do they really exist?) provide a 20% version.  Oh, and if someone has the debuff and needs a heal, heal them.  You just got outplayed, but you have a better chance of winning if your teammate is alive.

How to pressure

Dispel – Dispels at the right time can be sooo clutch.  Paladins and Priests should be dispel spammed if they are your DPS target.  Also, dispel any CC as often as possible.  Some classes have dispel protection – for instance, if you dispel unstable affliction from Haunt warlocks, you’ll get silenced, which is BAD…

Mana Burn – You’ll find that the one thing in your bag of tricks that will force a healer to go defensive is Mana Burn.  As a healer, learn this sound.  It will strike *sheer terror* into your heart… It’s fun to hold people on the other side of pillars with this.  Say your DPS is focusing the other team’s DPS.  Use Mana Burn to force the healer to LOS their DPS, then keep using it to hold them there.  They’ll only be able to get off instant casts, which means they’ll be way behind.  Just make sure you remember to heal your DPS in time…. Cast Shield, Psychic scream, and Power infusion, then spam Mana Burn at the other healer for fun and profit.

Mass Dispel – Mass Dispel has two uses in Arena.  One is when there’s a zergfest and everyone’s in range – you’ll dispel debuffs and buffs at the same time!  This is win. The other use is to dispel Iceblock and Divine Shield.  Especially against Paladins, it’s important to pre-load this so that you can get their bubble off and get the kill before their heal goes off.  Plan ahead!

Fearing Offensively – Psychic Scream is a powerful CC because it hits all targets within range.  Use that to your advantage, and try to catch the target and at least one other player.  Also, against healers, fear them when the target is around 30% health – they may think they are keeping up, and then BAM! They’re CC’d!  At the very least, you forced the trinket or blew their timing/global cooldown.  This is all huge, just from a 30 second cooldown!

How to DPS

If you are in a place where you need to out-and-out DPS to help force a kill or apply more pressure, you need to consider what situation you’re in.  IF the target is very low on health, cast Penance or Holy Fire->SW:Death.  This “Backloads” the damage from SW:Death (the damage will all come in nearly the same global cooldown, because the GCD from Penance is already done).  If you need to pressure, use your holy DPS spells.  These spells (Holy Fire and Smite) are at what amounts to 100% spell penetration because Holy has no resist stat.  Don’t forget your DOTs and Mind Blast, they do a surprising amount of damage!

Smite Spec – if you want to go really offensive, pick up the smite glyph and the low end holy smite talents – Holy spec, Divine Fury, and Searing Light.  Congratulations!  You are now a Mage with healing spells!

How to CC

Refer to Psychic Scream offensively, above.  One little thing to note here, do not ignore shackle undead!  Make a macro to target Ebon Gargoyle, and shackle DK ghouls whenever you can.  Also, DK’s who pop Lichborne are legal targets for Shackle as long as the buff is up…

When to trinket –
#1 – when your team needs a heal.  You just got outplayed, again.  Prepare to eat blind or sheep.
#2 – Against CC, try to sit it out if you can, and save the trinket for emergencies.  However, be aware that some comps can easily drop your DPS inside even really short CCs.  Refer to #1 and trinket.  Otherwise, refer to the LOS section.

How to Drink

Drinking is how to pressure, defensively, as a Priest and as a healer in general.  Most of the time, especially against Paladin and Druid healers, Priests just can’t keep up in the mana department.  It’s the drawback we get for being able to go offensive with Mana Burn.  If you can, have your DPS go defensive and get drinks off, early.  The longer you can postpone your shadowfiend, the more pressure you can put on the other healer in a mana war.  A few ticks of drinking can change the game!  Learn to notice when the other team is leaving you alone.  These are the best times to sneak off behind the nearest pillar and get a drink.  Do it at every opportunity! Remember, you need to buy special Arena Water for Arenas.

On a side note, make sure to dispel innervate and divine plea whenever you can.

Enjoy!
~Felade

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Guest Post: Priests in Battlegrounds

November 24, 2009

Happy Turkey Week!  Jov and Seri are traveling, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for a serious case of food coma.  Special thanks for the guest posts for taking wow posting off our plates, and leaving us with more room for sides…

So you want to run some battlegrounds as a . . . *gasp* PRIEST?  What are you nuts?  Seriously, people can have this reaction.  Our class doesn’t have a great reputation for survivability and that deters many of us from running battleground or ever trying them for that matter.  Fear not!  I am here to guide you through these death mazes and give you some tools to bring the pain to your foes.

The first thing you should expect in Battlegrounds is to die . . . a lot.  How much is a lot?  Picture the Horde and Alliance lined up in the field of strife in Alterac Valley and the enemy all pressed tab at the same time, they would all target you.  Yes it CAN be that bad but it rarely IS that bad.  Battlegrounds (BGs) are not raids or heroics or arenas or even quests.  They are their own unique slice of WoW and it involves dying. A lot. Everyone dies at least once in a BG, release, let go of it, and move on to the next victim.

You got Talent

Many people talk about pvp talent builds but be warned not all of these will benefit you in a BG, most of them are designed for arenas.  You have a great deal more flexibility in your spec for BGs but a dedicated BG spec will make your life a lot easier.  As Priests we have a lot of options for good pvp talents but we will stick mainly with one tree and this decision will rest mostly on your play style.

I WANT TO SURVIVE!: DISC
I WANT TO KILL’EM ALL!: SHADOW
I’M A LUNATIC!: HOLY

All types of priest are viable in a BG and have talents that designed for pvp activity.  You can make your own choices and don’t have to stick with what you raid in.  I am a Holy priest but I run BGs as shadow exclusively because I spend enough stressful time healing dungeons and pvp is a way to blow off steam and melt some Alli faces.  I will not go into great detail about every useful talent for each built but I will point out a few crucial ones.

The Mandatory Disc talents are important here but there are some key differences.  You will want to pick up Unbreakable Will if you find yourself getting snared or stunned a lot.  Imp Inner Fire and Imp PW:F are VERY helpful. Meditation and Inner Focus are less mandatory. The reason being that BGs require a lot of chain casting (healing or killing or both) and I find mana regen impacts my performance since I am usually dead before I run out and I rarely find Inner focus to be worth the point except specific BG scenarios.  Better spent points are Imp PW:S and Soul Warding to enhance protection.  Further in DISC are some pvp essentials like Reflective Shield, Power Infusion, Rapture, Aspiration, Pain Suppression, and all the way to Penance the all purpose heal/nuke.

Shadow has a lot of great pvp talents too.  Mandatory ones for pvp are Imp SW:P, Imp Mind Blast, Mind Flay, Imp Psychic Scream and down to Silence, Shadow Reach, Focused Mind,  and pick up every talent in the Vampiric/Shadow form segments. Take up the all important Imp Devouring Plague(DP) not only because it is increased damage but also it gives DP instant damage which our class lacks a lot of in pvp.  Optionally you can pick up Psychic Horror and I would grab it because there is a use for it and I will tell you shortly. Take Dispersion even if someone tells you it suck, it does but its all we got *sigh*. Its main use is mana regen and a very last ditch escape mechanism. (PRO TIP:You can Disperse even while mounted!)

Holy . . . well it kinda sucks.  You CAN heal a LOT of people VERY effectively in BGs with this spec, but you can’t heal yourself very well with it.  Survivability is key to pvp, the longer you live the less the enemy does.  However, we do get some nice spells here.  Healing Focus (stops pushback), Divine Fury (extra holy damage/healing), Desperate Prayer (instant full health heal or near it), and Body and Soul (an escape mechanism combined with shielding). You could argue there are more important talents in holy but for pvp these are the must haves.

The Tools of DESTRUCTION (mwahahahahaaa . . . ha)

You got the talents and the spells now what do you do when you want to kill someone. Typically you mostly spam SW:P and DP.  I know it’s really sad and you are probably saying “Wow Nic you make BGs sound sooooo exciting!” Firstly, hey shut up!  Sarcasm will not help you kill faster. Secondly, there are two reasons why you will spam your DoTs.  1) Almost no healer will ever remove your DoTs in the BG and 2) They are exceptionally potent and quick cast DoTs.  Seriously, nothing will make you happier to watch a Rogue get DoT’ed up and run around as they desperately try to escape their ever shrinking health bar until they die.  In fact I have yet to meet the rogue that can survive the SW:P and DP combo, even if no one else is attacking them (Sorry Seri). The key to topping the damage charts is getting in damage as quickly as possible before the target dies from other combatants and unfortunately our class dps is more of a steam roller. Takes forever to get moving but can crush anything, assuming it doesn’t quickly step to the side XD. Speaking of DoTs, Vampiric touch is very good too, except the slightly long cast.  If you can get it up do it, but don’t start with it and don’t follow up with MB, its just not worth it (time wise or mana wise).

Our other useful spells are our trusty nuke, Mind Blast. IF you get the chance cast it. Another staple is SW: DEATH!  I know it seems risky as you can actually kill yourself with this spell and probably will several times till you get the hang of it. However, it does crazy instant damage, crits very high, and glyphs can reduce the damage you take.  Mind Flay is great in that it does a decent stream of damage AND cripples your opponent’s movement to a crawl.  It’s bad in that it is basically a giant glowing sign pointing out to your enemy who is killing them slowly and can probably die easily. It’s good to use when others are around to finish off someone. Fear, Horrify, and Silence are all amazingly effective interrupters of casters and can help put distance between you and a charging horde of enemies. It also can be effective in chain silencing/interrupting Warlocks who are the current pvp champs and particularly difficult for priests. Horrify is particularly useful against the dreaded hunter.  While two seconds of doing nothing doesn’t seem like a lot the key is the 10 sec of dropping your main hand and ranged weapon. You can essentially turn a hunter into a gimpy one-handed sucky rogue and own them. (See?  I told you there was a reason for Horrify!)

If you go disc the power of bubbling and Penance cannot be overstated.  Have you ever tried to kill a disc priest? They are, in my opinion, among the hardest to kill in a BG right after Trees and Pallies.  If you are good no single player will be able to kill you, sometimes not even two or three. If you are disc the world of spells is open to you, if you are shadow you will neglect any holy spell as the cost to drop shadow form will be too costly to mana and inevitably health.

Tactics and Closing thoughts

Your job as a shadow priest in a BG changes depending on what you are running.  In IoC sometimes you are most effective running seaforium bombs to the keep walls, in AV you are useful in defending a tower, or sometimes it just comes down to bringing the pain.  In general we have some basic purposes depending on your end goal.  If you want honor run where the action is and cause as much damage as humanly possible from afar and heal/passively heal whenever you get a chance.  The more honorable kills you get and the more objectives you defend the better.  If you want to win BGs, cause as much chaos as you can by slowing down hippity hoppity rogues with mindflay, silencing mages/healers, or sacrificing yourself to plunge into a crowd of enemies and cast fear.  If your goal is to have fun I highly suggest you accomplish the first two goals with a friend or guildy in a party.  Communication is survival and a partner can drive you to the top of the honor chart, damage chart, and heal chart in any BG.  Finally, experience is the best advice I can give.   Learn the layout of each BG, see where the enemy on your Battlegroup likes to attack and counter it.  The goal is to have fun while dying, something you can’t accomplish in any raid or heroic. Happy hunting!

~Nicoran

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Jov sez: My guild has too many healers omg

August 11, 2009

Okay, so my guild only occasionally has too many healers…  Like when you’re trying to run that new 5-man.

I mean, it’s only been out a week, and I’ve only run it a couple-dozen times on normal, and a couple times on heroic.

And I only have TWO healing main-specced characters.

And it’s supposed to be really challenging to heal.

I wouldn’t know, though.  Shammy?  We needs you to lawl-dps.  Priest?  Go shadow, prz.

Well, at least I’m not the only one…

ToC-shadows(And no, before anyone asks…  I’m not annoyed, I’m not really complaining.  I’m more amused than anything, as it always seems to go this way.  Back when Wrath first released, before the advent of dual-specs, Jov was lawl-holy-dps’ing her way through most of the instances out there.  Seems when the content is new, it’s what always seems to happen.)

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Jov sez: That’s great, now work on your overheal

June 9, 2009

Back in Vanilla-WoW, the dividing line between the “good healers” and the “bad healers” wasn’t usually so much a matter of keeping people alive (since, apparently, even bad healers could be carried for that) but that little overheal number.

TBC, with it’s limitless regen and bottomless mana pool seemed to take the stance “overheal doesn’t matter as long as your assignment lives and your mana holds out.” The TBC attitude has definitely carried over into Wrath raiding, and with encounters like Naxx, it was easy to slip into a zoned-out buttonspam while you smacked around the various loot pinatas for purples.

In short, it made us sloppy, where we’ve a lot less room for sloppiness in Ulduar and, presumably, moving forward.

What is Overheal?

Overheal is any healing which occurs over the healing needed by the target (effective healing).  This can be caused by spell selection (which is pretty easy to control if you’re paying attention) or crit (which is somewhat more difficult).  So if Roguechick is down 4k health, your flash hits for 6k and your greater hits for 12k, your flash will have lower overheal (6k heal – 4k deficit = 2k overheal vs. 12k heal – 4k deficit = 8k overheal).

Why Overheal?

Overheal is symptomatic of several things, meaning there’s no one answer.  It could be there are too many healers for the encounter (leaving 8 healers fighting to get their heals off first because the fight only needs 7).  It could be your healers aren’t familiar with an encounter so are reactively healing (4 healers going “oh crap, that mage took a ton of damage *healheal*) rather than proactively (I know Mage is gonna take a big clump of damage here, so I’m going to pre-shield/ProM/get flash ready.)  It could just be the spammy nature of some of the fights (And in P2 Mimiron, I do nothing but spam PoH on g2 and 3).

Some classes and roles are more inclined toward overheal in general.  Tank healers, specifically (pallies and Disc priests) tend to face situations where tanks can be gibbed at a moment’s notice, so tend to adopt the spam-heal-and-let-it-land approach, and often see very high overheal numbers (over 60%)  It’s currently a fact of the game, but at the same time, that’s 2/3 of your mana wasted.

Why not overheal?

As I somewhat touched on above, mana is the primary issue.  Through potion sickness, and the regen coefficient nerfs of early 3.x content, to the more recent hit to OoC regen outlined in Zusterke’s posts of last week, we can’t count on the bottomless mana pool sticking around.  I’m not meaning to turn into a “Blizz is hitting healers with the nerf bat” poster, but I get the strong feeling that this is a trend which will be continuing for some time.  I feel this is backed up, in part, by a post from Ghostcrawler just 3 days ago.

We want healing to be less spammy and more deliberate, but that won’t work until overhealing matters. To get to that point, mana regen has to matter but the risk of the tank dying in two boss hits also has to be chilled out.

In other words, tank healing is likely to get less finicky, but the nerfs to regen aren’t finished.

But how do I stop?

First of all, I don’t want to come down unilaterally hard on overheal and say “all overheal is bad!!!11″  For the most part, as the game stands currently, any overheal that your gear can support isn’t by itself bad.  In some situations (the above-mentioned tank healing, for example) it’s a requirement.  What the overhealing metric is good for is giving you a direction you can improve on.  Yeah, it’s great that you’ve officially gotten Freya on farm; now work on better spell selection and less zoning out to whack-a-mole and getting your overheal below 40%.

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Jov sez: In Defense of Wacky Specs

May 26, 2009

Last week, one of my priesties (Hai Mira!*) sent me a PM asking for my feedback on some talent changes she was considering.  As anyone who’s read this blog knows, I’m pretty damned opinionated as to how to properly spec.  However, I do also try to keep a (somewhat) open mind to things which might make sense based on current needs, either of the player or of the content.  I’m also willing to give a good bit more thought to something that comes from someone I trust to not be a total mouthbreather, but that’s neither here nor there.

Essentially the gist comes to this:  My little priestie (Hai Mira!**) has been doing research, reading blogs, keeping up on her talents (exactly like I like them to do) and approached me with the thought of using a build first proposed by Derevka a couple weeks ago.  She gave me the build, made certain I had a link to the post, and (re-)explained the reasoning behind the various talents.  Essentially she (HAI MIRA!***) did everything right to break through my consistant knee-jerk reaction to some of the talents she proposes to take/skip and take on faith that she’s experimenting with a plan.

That’s not to say I immediately agreed with her.  Anyone asking my opinion directly is going to get it. The reply I sent back goes like this:

Personally, I’ve never liked Spell Warding, for the reasons you mention. I’ve seen people argue taking it when faced with constant raid-wide unavoidable damage (it was very big in SWP), it seemed very much “drop in the bucket”y vs Greater Heal. Of course, with the death of downranking, I can also understand not wanting to sacrifice points in something which improves a spell you rarely use.

I’ll totally trust your judgment re: GHeal usage vs hope of taking the edge off certain spell effects for better survivability. That’s a personal call.

Re: Healing Focus. I’m just snagging a random WWS to take a look at your spell useage here. (5/7 Ulduar is what I clicked on). Pushback doesn’t matter on your instants (CoH, renew, ProM, etc, which was ~70% of your healing done for the night) but will help with Flash, Greater, and PoH (~30% of your healing done). Again, I know that your spell selection is going to vary by fight.

Summing up my thoughts on the proposed spec change:
1) Spell Warding is very little bang for 5 talent points. It can help on some fights, but I’m personally biased against taking talents which are so very situational, generally speaking.
2) How much are you facing pushback in a given week?
3) If you are needing a greater heal, is the lack of reduced cast time going to hurt? What about the loss of the mana reduction?
4) I understand the logic behind the changes, I only wonder at the applicability.
5) I wouldn’t make the changes myself. However, I fully acknowledge that I am not you, my style is not yours, and my biases are my own. I’m very pro- trying stuff out to see what works. My main issue (which you’ve already resolved) is just following something weird you dug up somewhere and try as the hot new thing without actually giving it thought. I know that doesn’t apply, so consider this the green light. I very much look forward to how this works for you.

See? I can totally be open-minded.

When it comes down to it, some amount of healing is still based on personal style.  If I trust you through reading or personal experience enough to know you know what you’re doing, I’m very capable of acknowledging that some tweaks might not necessarily improve your throughput, but might help you out in other ways.

This is also not the only spec discussion going on in-guild at the moment, as I’m privy to a bit of a disagreement between two people I trust highly in knowing what they’re talking about.  I think it’s somewhat resolved, with a “try both of the specs for a week and give them a fair shot” plan in the works.  I just hope that one can forget the mathbook and the other can give cookie cutter an open mind long enough for the test to be fair.  But we’ll see.

In other news, AXIOM IS STILL RECRUITING! We’re particularly wanting a tree and a holy priest! Trees will get plenty of fertilizer from the streams of BS in guild chat and vent!  Priests!  You’ll get a kick-ass priest crew.  You’ll also down bosses.  Axiom needs YOU!

* Didn’t know I was gonna do this in a post, didja?

** Bet you wish you didn’t say something when I was racking my brain for this week’s post, huh?

*** You’re really gonna kill me, now, aren’t you?

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Jov sez: How2Priest (part 2)

April 14, 2009

Okay, you’ve decided on priest, moreover, you’ve decided on leveling with a non-standard (read: non-shadow) spec.  Good job!  Lemme just recap a bit :

Part 1 included links to suggested specs for soloing

Earlier, I posted a general guide to speccing, which is great if you’re going the LFG route.

So you’ve got your priest, you’ve got your spec plan, now what?

Spells

As can be expected, a lot of our spells involve healing.  Priests are the jack-of-all-trades healers, meaning we’ve a huge toolkit with approximately 1500 ways of healing.  But when out in the wilds of Northrend (or STV, for that matter) we’re not going to heal stuff to death, we’ve got damage capabilities as well (don’t laugh, we can totally do damage.)

1-29

You’ve got quite the overwhelming repertoire when starting out.  While the damage spells you learn early on (Smite, Mind Blast, Shadow Word: Pain, etc) stay with you until the end of time, heals sometimes have expiration dates.  In short, once you hit lv 20 and get Flash Heal, take Lesser Heal off your bar and retire it to the old heals home. It served you well, but Flash is in all ways better/stronger/cheaper.

You also have the longer-cast larger heal with Heal, but to be perfectly honest, during the levels covered in this bracket, you can probably do just fine using nothing but Flash.

As far as damaging during these levels, your best tools aren’t really your damage spells at all; they’re Shield and Wand. Wands are stupidly OP in the beginning, to the point where it’s probably as effective to bubble and wand stuff from full as it is to cast at it, at least through the teens.  Otherwise, some general good guidelines would be to remember that Holy Fire is an opener, both due to the cast time and the DoT component.  Don’t worry about SW:P or Devouring Plague unless you’re certain you’ll get most of the ticks in (or if you’re tab-dot AOEing).  That’s… pretty much it.  These levels are really only slowed by the speed of running.

30-59

Congratulations!  You have a mount!  You’ve also got a lot of new spells which will see you finishing up your toolkit and finally retiring the last lingering spells of your noob-ness.  First off is Prayer of Healing.  Ignoring the small-heal component of Holy Nova, this is your first real big piece of group healing.  At this point, however, I’m going to advise you not put it on your bars. Prayer of Healing really needs 3 targets needing half their health pool to make it efficient, and with the wonders of PUGging, if you’re in a party where that many are needing that much, the tank doesn’t have good control and you’ll just pull healing aggro and die.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s simply a choice between their repair bill and yours.    There are places where it’s useful, yes, but it mainly just means the group is struggling until you hit mid-40s at the earliest.

Speaking of 40s, lv 40 is also where you do a bit of retiring.  Once you get Greater Heal, standard Heal goes the way of Lesser Heal.  It does.  I promise.  All those people who tell you Heal is viable at end-game did End Game back when BWL was hot shit.  Retire it, mourn it, miss it, but get rid of it.

DPS… has changed a bit, though you’re not looking at anything new.  Wands are now a finisher when you’re running low on mana, or something you use when bored in instances now.  All those spells you’ve had since the last bracket are the spells you’ll (still) be using now.

60-70

Ahh, Outlands.  You get more new spells in these 10 levels than you have in a clump since you rolled.  I’m talking about Hymn of Hope, Binding Heal, Shadow Fiend, and Prayer of Mending.  They also range from “not totally useless” to “this spell is the best thing ever” which isn’t actually too bad considering.

Hymn is, without a doubt, the weakest spell of the bunch.  If you’ve got the time to channel, you get some mana back, though I personally consider it most effective for getting o5sr and getting some serious ticks of spirit regen.  But it’s something.  Related, Shadow Fiend is also situationally useful (and useless).  The mana you get back is nothing to sneeze at, though your shadow puppy has some truly idiotic AI.  It works best on single-boss fights with no AOE abilities, and no CC to worry about.  And make certain you hit “attack” a few times, so it doesn’t just decide to chill out beside you.

And going from the meh to the awesome, both Binding Heal and Prayer of Mending are the shiznit.  I personally know I’m not in the habit of using Binding as much as I ought, but that’s mainly due to my imperfections in the class.  Binding should be used WHENEVER you’ve taken damage as well; and ProM should be going off every cooldown, especially in a raid environment.  They are seriously that good.

71-80

After all the new toys in the previous bracket, this one is kinda a let-down.  Mind Sear and Divine Hymn.  Divine Hymn currently echoes the other Hymn in it’s utility.  There are places where it’s okay, but it’s never going to be the best tool for the job, and has a long cooldown to boot.  Patch 3.1 sees it changing to a much stronger heal, though still facing a 10 minute cooldown.  I don’t know about anyone else, but with a cooldown that long, and the very situational need of it’s use, I know I’m probably going to continue to essentially never use it.

Mind Sear, however, is an awesome spell, and one a long time coming.  As is probably obvious by it’s name, it’s a DPS spell, but more than that, it’s an actual AOE.  Shadow Priests now have something more useful on trash than tab-SW:P’ing.

Talents

Of course, many of the class-defining tools require certain expenditures in talents to accomplish.  Yes, I’m talking about spells like Penance and Circle of Healing.  These are covered in my general spec guide linked above.  Regardless, if you don’t have one of the spells I just mentioned, you need to have the other.  Otherwise, don’t even bother.

Summing Up

Our bread and butter healing spells are Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Prayer of Mending (every cooldown), Prayer of Healing, Penance (every cooldown, if specced) and Circle of Healing (situational, if specced). Renew is useful pre-80, though the jury is still out whether the effort to re-balance for 3.1 is going to work.  Also, don’t be afraid to Shield (if you’re Disc) and ignore what the warrior is telling you about rage.  What miniscule amount that might have been true before, it’s being fixed in 3.1 anyway, so tell them to shut up and l2read patch notes.  Guardian Spirit also is a situationally useful lifesaver.  Those are what you’ll be working with as a healing priest, and you can probably safely remove most of the rest of the stuff from your bars, or at least tuck them away and hide them.

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Jov sez: How2Priest (part 1, the noob years)

March 31, 2009

This isn’t going to be the most thorough guide out there, but in the past week, we’ve gotten many requests here at Snarkcraft HQ requesting a bit of basic priest-fu, ranging from leveling to raiding (seriously, multiple emails… you all sharing a brain or something?) so I’m gonna take the next few weeks to provide an overview.

This week: the noob years.  Rolling and leveling.

Okay, so after stumbling upon our blog and becoming faithful readers, you say to yourself “Self… Priesting is awesome-pants.  I totally want in on that.  What should I do now?”  Fear not, for Jov has answers and will steer you right.

First, you need to consider faction and playstyle.  I’m horde, but I’m a reroll and played Alliance from 05 to 08, and make no secret of my total infatuation with the draenei.  I don’t really have faction pride.  Play what makes you happy, where your friends want to play, or where you can send yourself bags and heirloom shoulders.  Related, determine how are you going to level.  Are you going to solo quest?  Whore yourself in LFG?  Do you have a buddy you don’t leave home without?  Take a moment to plan exactly what you want from the class, because that will affect how best to go from here.

If you choose to solo quest…

First, I’m gonna come out and say it.  Shadow is totally viable for healing most instances, and is also much faster when it comes to questing out in the world.  The advantage holy* (defined from here forward as “healy”) priests usually have is in mana regen and/or stronger heals.  That isn’t an issue, however, until Outlands at the very earliest, so feel free to go straight to shadowform before jumping over to Discipline and picking up Meditation and going back for more shadowy goodness.  Or badness, depending on perspective.  (Think about something 13/0/31-ish in the mid-50s.  Note: getting to Meditation happens however in the second tier…  you don’t get the spellpower boost from Inner Fire (and want the boost to improved) until 71.)  That will be more than enough to see you through until you’re closer to thinking about a “final spec.”

However, much as you can heal as shadow, you can definitely level as holy or discipline, bearing in mind it’s just going to be a bit slower to do so.  For those of you going the mainly solo-route, I’m still going to advise sticking your first 5 talent points in shadow to snag spirit tap (and improved spirit tap), then jumping into Discipline to get Meditation as quickly as possible.  The name of the game here is reducing downtime, since kill time will be a bit longer.  But that’s alright, with Meditation and Spirit Tap working together, you’ll be a regen machine and rarely need water.

Once you hit lv 18, with it’s regen hijinks, you can pick your path:  Discipline, or Holy.  You won’t see much difference between the two while questing, nor will you really be running into the differences between the healing styles until closer to Outlands when you can pick up Circle of Healing or really become a bubble-priest.  Discipline will want to pick talents which boost their spellpower and shields, and Holy will want to snag reduced cast time, more spellpower, and chance for free spells.  Remember to respec at 71 for Improved Inner Fire if you’re not using it already!

Example Disc Soloing Build (live)
Example Disc Soloing Build (3.1 PTR)
Example Holy Soloing Build (live)
Example Holy Soloing Build (3.1)

If you choose to LFG…

… by which I mean “don’t quest, just instance level,” most of what I said above applies.  Spirit Tap and some of the damage talents will decrease in utility, as you’ll mainly be using them when the party is going well or to duel outside Orgrimmar while waiting on a summon.  There’s actually little to no reason to avoid going straight for one of the specs I outlined a few weeks ago, just remember to start in Discipline for Meditation, either way.  You’ll be a healing machine, just maybe a bit slow if you try to kill anything yourself.

If you choose to Healbot your friends…

It’s kinda a combination of the two.  Depending on who you’re running around with, you might not find Spirit Tap all that useful *grumble lousy hunters grumble* but you’ll probably find yourself smiting pretty frequently.  It really depends on your group or what you’re doing.  If you’re wanting to have fun smiting around, spec more for damage.  If you’re just wanting to tag along and heal when needed, spec for healing.  (Hey, I don’t judge.  I first started playing Priest because it enabled me to auto-follow Tarsus’ first character, not get lost, not understand WASD controls, loot and heal occasionally.  Even to this day, several years and many characters later, I STILL prefer to follow Tarsus as I have serious issues deciphering some quest descriptions.)

Next week: Jov discusses what makes healy priests unique: spells, glyphs, and talents.

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Jov sez: Raiding as a Job

February 24, 2009

It’s often said that tanks and healers, as the two highest-pressure jobs in a group, are also the two roles who are most susceptible to burn-out.  It’s also somewhat of an open secret around Snarkcraft that Seri (who has alt-itis anyway) swapped to rogue after a couple years raiding and healing.  Having stepped into her role as both priest class lead and heal co-lead, I often find myself slipping into the thought processes that define WoW as job:

  • I attend every 25-man our guild runs.  While there, I’m not only handing out assignments and focusing on my own targets, but I’m also spreading my attention between the other healers and their targets.  We’ve got a pretty strong healing team, and I’m always trying to make certain that I’m riding the balance of giving them assignments they can do/prefer, while still keeping things challenging and interesting.  If things start to go wrong, however, the problem feels personal when I’m trying to sort it out.
  • I still feel unprepared for some of the tasks I have for other classes.  I need to know proper gearing, enchanting, gemming, speccing, and some idea of proper spell selection for all the healing classes, so I can 1) spot anything in advance that raises red flags to see if there’s a plan for it (I’m happy to let wacky stuff go if there’s a reason for it) and 2) figure out post mortem what went wrong in a certain encounter.  I don’t spend as much time on this as I should (as I’m not NEARLY so good at this side of things as my co-leader), but it’s still there and I feel I should be making the effort.
  • I blog and moderate PlusHeal.  Even in my non-raid, non-WoW time, I spend a lot of time hunched over the computer, coming up with topics and wielding my ban-hammer at goldsellers and spambots.
  • I generally have little patience for truly repetitive tasks.  One of the reasons I love raiding is I honestly find the whack-a-mole aspect of it to be entertaining, or at least more entertaining than farming and Hodir dailies.

WoW may not be a 40-hour a week activity, but it still takes up a lot of mental real estate.  Burnout may not yet be the elephant in the room, but the potential is there.  How am I dealing?

  • If it’s not fun, why do it?  I’m a bad raider and a bad example.  I’ve totally let my Hodir dailies slip, and I only do enough herbing for what I need, without my usual redundancy backlog of an overflowing herb bag.  Most of my income is from Naxx runs.  I don’t intend to stay like this forever, but for the moment it’s helping me stay sane.
  • I’m not playing my alts to level.  I play them when I want to goof off.  Leveling is something that just kinda happens (or doesn’t) in the course of things.  I’m not focused on getting to 80.
  • I’m letting myself get obsessively immersed in other downtime activities.  I’ve watched more movies in the past month than I had in the previous 6.  I’ve also re-read all my manga, and scoured the net for scans of new stuff.  I do what I want to do, when I feel like doing it and I’m alright with that.

So, yeah.  There’s me.  If I do hit the burn-out stage, it won’t be the first time.  Luckily, my burnouts tend to be fairly short-lived and to involve me doing things like showing up for raid in shadow form (back before shadow priests were awesome and were stuck on healing duty anyway) or taking 2-week long enforced no-WoW leaves of absence.

The most important thing is really to remember why I do this.  I raid because I love healing.  I love my guild.  I love the vent and raid chatter.  I’m a heal lead because, while I think I know my stuff, I love to help.  If raiding is a job, it’s a job I love.

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Jov sez: Priests: Regen and You

December 2, 2008

Stats: Joveta, lv 75 Holy Priest, currently specced 14/47/5 for questing, STILL getting shunted to DPSing instances (wtf healer shortage??  Where?!) and occasional heal-pwning.  Due to the Thanksgiving holiday with the in-laws, almost no time was spent this week on leveling.  The only major accomplishment was finally finishing up Tars’ Netherwing Rep, enabling him to have a shiny dragon, too.  Go Tars!

I’m not continuing my “everything” posts this week, as I’m fully aware that I’m now approaching the minority to have not at least crested the Cold-Weather Flying benchmark, and raiding is regularly happening.  I’m posting this now to try and get information together and out there.  None of this originated with me, and I am providing links to all of my sources.  It’s pretty safe to say that most of it comes from EJ, however.

Please note: when I say Discipline Spec, I’m assuming a talent spec containing at least 51 points in Discipline; likewise for Holy.

spiritIn Which Jov Eats Crow

Regen ain’t what it used to be, and straight mp5 isn’t necessarily the devil.  There comes a time in a priest’s life where they may find themselves taking mp5 over spirit.  This is not a bad thing.  Especially since deep-Discipline is raid-viable, mp5 can seriously outweigh the benefits of Spirit.  Quoting from the WotLK Healing Compendium on EJ,

For holy, 9 spirit = 4 Mp5, ignoring spellpower gains entirely. Given spellpower gains, a 2:1 ratio is acceptable.
For disc, 5 spirit = 2 Mp5, with no spellpower gains. Convert cleanly, and make your decision.

What does that mean to you, Mr. Non-Mathcrafting Healing Priest?  Essentially, Spirit is twice as important to a Holy-specced priest than it is to one who is specced Discipline, and most of that is due to the bonus Holy gets to spellpower. If you’re weighing the regen between an item with 20 spirit or 12 mp5, Discipline will do better with the straight mp5.  Use the weights above, and take the item that nets you more regen.

I feel so dirty typing that.

Also, spirit has been nerfed.  The old spirit based regen figures were

5 * 0.0093271 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

But now we’re looking at

5 * 0.005575 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

Which means that generally speaking, we’re getting less regen in general.  Ghostcrawler has earned the enmity of the spirit-based healers at large with the following response:

As a few players have referenced, we thought mana regen got to a point at the end of BC where players could just generally ignore it and assumed that mana was just a system you eventually graduate out of (kind of like experience).

We don’t want you to be out of mana constantly, but we do want the risk of that to exist. We balance some spells based on their mana cost for example and when you can always use your most expensive, least efficient spell without consequence, then your cheap and efficient spells don’t compete.

Mana is a resource to be managed, much like health or cooldowns.

Basically, we’re not supposed to be never-ending founts of infinite mana and never were.  The removal of downranking and the nerf to spirit-based regen was done to reflect that.  To Ghostcrawler (on this and other things) I say thbbbt.

replenIntellect is a Regen Stat

Um, it is now.  Thanks to Replenishment and our new reliance on crit, Priests want Int.  Yay Int!

Thus: (ignoring gains in mana pool size)
Discipline: 132 intellect = 1% crit, 31.3 Mp5
Holy: 150 intellect = 1% crit, 30.9 Mp5

Comparatively:
Discipline: 132 spirit = 40 Mp5
Holy: 150 spirit = 46 Mp5 + 43 spellpower

Replenishment is a nifty tool.  Living in the days of “Base Mana” everywhere, it’s really nice to face something that’s based on maximum mana.  Essentially, if you’ve got a Ret Pally, a Survival Hunter, or a Shadow Priest, you’re getting the Replenishment buff.  It’s a 15 second buff which gives you 0.25% of your maximum mana back per second.  How much is that?  Well, it depends entirely on how much mana you can get for yourself.  You get more regen the more mana you have, so buff up!  (And yes, Discipline Priests have an advantage here with Mental Strength.)

Crit is also interesting.  Current theory holds that 20-25% is the “magic number” to aim for when getting crit rating.  It’s not a direct regen stat, but it snags you time Oo5SR through Surge of Light and Holy Concentration procs.  Why 20-25%?  That’s 1 cast in 4-5. Put simply, with that much crit, you’re looking at potentially one Surge of Light proc per tap of CoH.  Needless to say, that’s pretty snacky.

intIntellect vs Spirit

So with the addition of Replenishment, and the fact that Spirit isn’t so OP, you may be thinking to start stacking Int for all your regen needs.  If you are, stop right there! Zusterke from PlusHeal (all my healing readers also read Plus Heal, right?  Right?!) made an awesome post outlining exactly why you should not be focusing on one stat and ignoring all the others.  For the healcraft-averse, the TL;DR can be summed up as:  Don’t stack!  You want a 1:1 ratio between Int and Spirit! That applies to any spirit-based healing class: Trees, Discipline, or Holy.

EDIT 12/3 : Zusterke has published a tool to let you calculate exactly how much regen an upgrade/consumeable/anything else will net you.  Available at Zusterke’s Corner: where undead test their brains…

So to sum up:

  • Spirit isn’t what it used to be.  Dependent on spec, you may find mp5 is better.
  • Smart Priests choose Int!
  • But not too much, you’re aiming at a 1:1 ratio between Intellect and Spirit for best regen.
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Guest Post: Tanks on Healers – A WoS Special

October 28, 2008

Jov is being lazy this week, and instead of providing a post herself, is pulling from the husband archives to provide you, dear readers, with a view from the other side of the healing story.

Since Jov is on vacation this week I, Tarsus, her loving and devoted husband have offered to fill in here with an exciting guest post.  To give you some background, Jov and I have been playing WoW together for over three years now (since March 2005 to be precise, when it became clear after a week of playing that just one account would not be sufficient for the two of us), and for most of that I have played as her Tank.  This is because I love warriors as much as she loves priests.  I love tanking, she loves healing, and together we’re the toughest part of a PuG to assemble.

This also means that I can offer some perspective from the other side to you, dear healers.  We tanks have more feelings than just the searing flames of rage, and though our bodies are made of Steel, Bear Blubber, and Flasks of Fortification, or feelings are not, and occasionally you stomp on them.  Or, you know, do a little jig on their burning embers.

Jov and I have a very good understanding on these things, being that after the raid is over and the video card is cooling we still live and love with each other.  For you healers who are not married to your tanks, however, I have some “learning” for you.

1) A good tank will never complain about healing. You got that?  NEVER.  Even if they go without healing and must pop shield wall in order to live long enough to pop a pot because you are doing something wrong they will never tell you how to tell you how much it hurts.  They do this because despite the repair bills and corpse runs they know where their bread is buttered.  Regardless of this the ancient adage remains true: with few minor and specific exceptions if the tank dies it is the healer’s fault. We’ll just never call you on it, remember that.

2) We hate it when you heal the DPS. We don’t hate them because they can generate more threat than us.  We don’t hate them because they’re too busy watching recount to realize they’re about to die.  We hate them because when they get healed, chances are a healer is about to die.  The only thing that kills healers faster than a tank dying is when you heal the doomed aggro-pulling DPS. The enhancement shaman may be wearing mail, but when it comes down to it they might as well be wearing paper.  We try so hard to make sure you live, but sometimes taunt just isn’t enough.

3) Threat does not grow on trees, but healing does. We tanks can stack as much hit and expertise as possible, but chances are we’re still going to miss some of those crucial first hits.  This applies double to fights which have aggro drops and transitions in them.  Try to keep your heals small and controllable.  Big Heals and HoTs right after the tank gets aggro are going to get you killed. We don’t want you to go splat, even if you do things sometimes that make us die a little inside.

4) Unless you are being hit by something, don’t stand near us. In case you missed the memo, being in melee range of a mob increases your threat significantly.  Just remember that this also works in reverse though, so for the love of God run towards the tank if you pull aggro. We like to joke about how often the mage blinks away when Mr. Mob comes looking for his blood but every tank knows that healers are every bit as guilty of just standing there and get eaten. We know this sounds like a hot cold thing, it’s not really, we just want you to live.

5) The good tank is a grumpy tank, so please stop complaining about it. It isn’t that we’re failing at having fun.  It isn’t that we don’t like epics, or getting hit repeatedly in the face (or shield).  We do like these things – that’s why we’re here after all.  But when you’re job is to be the meat-shield (and most tanks can’t do much besides that) it’s hard not to take it personally when people die.  This goes double for healers.  Really.  If a rogue dies and the tank still has aggro, does anyone care?  No.  But if the healer dies, it doesn’t matter what the aggro status is because everyone’s life just got a lot harder.  We tanks are sensitive.  We recognize this.   We see a special relationship between us and the healers.  And then you go and die on us, so we are sad.  So if we seem a little rough around the edges it’s not because we’re not having fun, it’s because we care.

And so therefore…

6) We are tired of the healer Mafia. We know that we’ve had a cozy relationship in the past and sometimes we’ve made somewhat crass statements that were a bit too “friendly”, but we here down at the Tanker’s Union work hard to bring home the purples and we could really use a break from the threats.  Our numbers are dwindling all the time, and what with the shiny foreign undead competition on the horizon, there is just not a lot of love left for the common working tank.  Sure, people don’t talks smack about the tank like they do the effete elite DPS classes who can make their millions and afford many fancy epic mounts, but we thought you were our friends.  You never hear tanks say they’ll stop saving the healers. A grue eats a kitten every time you think about killing your tank.  So if you can’t care enough about your tank, at least think of the kittens.

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