Healing: Ideals, Philosophies, and Outlines as viewed by a Priest.
Updated: 7/1/2011 (Patch 4.0.3a - Updated in preparation for 4.0.6)
Notable biases: Author's knowledge as Discipline has holes in it. Like most things in life, this is a work in progress.
Current priorities: PVP 'lite' section. Cleanup & clarification.
What is this “guide” about? It's essentially an attempt at compiling ideas from many different people into a single source. The idea is that there are many, many valuable posts (mostly looking at the MMO-Champion forums) with a wealth of information. Ideally the information here will serve a very broad audience. While specifically aimed at Holy and Discipline Priests, the advice given and ideas proposed are fairly relevant for all healing classes. Since the audience spectrum isn't simply across classes, but across a variety of skill levels as well, the idea is that the guide should be easy to navigate and have information accessible for both the high end raiders as well as the curious who want to try out healing (or merely want to see what all the fuss is about).
Part of the idea is that it's a little unconventional as far as a guide goes. The original intent was to give ideas and some of the thinking behind healing, rather than the typical information that is easy to find elsewhere.
Table of Contents:
Simply “find” (ctrl+f) the heading you're interested in for quick navigation.
Useful links relevant to the information discussed in a section will be posted at the end of the section.
- Basics Regarding Healing
- Mana Regeneration
- Gearing Up
- Healing in the Team
- Talent Point Allocation
Basics Regarding Healing:
Topics include: When do I push which buttons, and where? EVERYBODY IS TAKING DAMAGE AT ONCE WTFFF?! How come my mana pool has a hole in it? Bad things for you. Good things for you.
Essentially, healing boils down to ensuring that “++You have left combat++” appears in any way other than everybody's death. The best case scenario is when everybody is alive at the end of the encounter. However, sometimes that is not possible and some people WILL die. The healer's job in this case is to prioritize who needs to be healed, and who, if anybody will die. This concept is called triage. Everybody can manage with the best case scenario where there is no true danger and no difficult decisions need to be made, but when gritty decisions need to be made, it falls to people made of something a little stronger.
An important thing to realize as well is that as long as anybody has more than 0 health, they are working at 100% power. Just because a mage is at 50% health doesn't mean he does any less damage. The reason I bring this up is that many people cause themselves unnecessary stress by trying to keep everybody at full health. Priests have several tools to keep people alive without having to heal them, which is an asset when trying to conserve mana. To provide an example with a current boss, picture this: You're running yourself ragged healing through the damage Magmaw put out on the raid. A warlock at low health who was kiting parasites on the opposite side of the room now finds himself about to get hit by Magmaw's body slam (the ability where half of the room quakes before he falls on it). Maybe just maybe you could pull out two Flash Heals and manage to provide him with enough health before he gets squashed. Unfortunately that cost you about 10,000 mana and valuable time. Leap of Faith (life grip) would've kept him alive for about 20% of the mana cost.
That goes back to prioritization and decision making. When in a pug, the decisions are more difficult to make because the people are randoms. Almost without fail, the most important targets to keep alive are yourself and the tank. Again, tools and utility for avoiding or preventing damage can be invaluable when saving time and mana. Using Fade, or a cancelaura macro with Chakra can provide a disorient when something ugly is coming for you. Dps are technically the last on the list of priority, but they are really just as important. Dead dps typically just mean a wipe along the road, when your mana runs out or when the boss enrages. As such, the best dps to keep healthy are those who know how to stay alive. In your guild, that usually is the highest dps (or it should be at any rate). The irony is that in pugs this seems to be less true. There are those dps who excel at tunnel vision and are greedy for their #1 spot on the damage meters. This type of person is very effective at draining your mana. Getting a feeling for people who make your life easier and keeping them alive is a good skill to have.
The concepts are good to know, but there are definitely occasions where you just have to drop everything and spam the hell out of people. A common approach in Cataclysm (as far as my experience has shown) is to either hit people with combos (e.g. the first boss in Lost City of the Tol'vir. When he tosses somebody, they can get hit by a mine or by his earth/rupture attack soon after. None of the attacks alone are fatal, but together can easily kill somebody. Another approach is to deal an amount, say 120% of the raid/party's health over an interval. One of the earlier examples of this heavy-constant barrage-like damage would be XT-002's tympanic tantrum. Priests of both specs use similar tools to deal with this. The most important ones are PoM and PoH. In WotLK, PoM and PoH were both more powerful relatively. A single hit from PoH would easily amount for 30-40% of a person's health pool. AoE damage in the new model requires many more casts to top people off. Dealing with this kind of damage will drain your mana quickly, which is why it is important to make every heal count in order to keep people alive. Once people are stable, people can be topped off slowly and efficiently. The lesson is to learn how much you need to heal inefficiently in order to keep somebody from dying.
As far as cold hard details go, as Holy your answer to very strong damage on a single target is: Holy Word: Serenity → Flash Heal + Greater Heal. Alternatively, Flash Heal x2 → Greater Heal. As Discipline, the answer to the same situation is: PW:S → Penance → Greater Heal. Countering powerful raid damage requires extensive use of PoH and PoM by both specializations. Discipline should weave PW:S in where possible to help people who take extra damage and to provide bonus haste for subsequent casts. Holy should make use of the right Chakra state to increase the effectiveness of the multi target heals. CoH should also be used when applicable. Divine Hymn is an amazing tool, but should only be used when you know you can stand still for the duration.
A note on life-saving cooldowns. Holy has http://db.mmo-champion.com/s/47788/guardian-spirit/ which is very powerful as a reactive cast. Especially when a tank is very low and you're caught unawares, Guardian Spirit should be the spell you go for to save a life. Discipline's counterpart, http://db.mmo-champion.com/s/33206/pain-suppression/ is not as useful when a tank is already at 5% health, but when used preemptively it is very useful. Discipline actually gets another cooldown similar to Pain Suppression which is http://db.mmo-champion.com/s/62618/power-word-barrier/. This will mitigate a substantial amount of damage on a few people. Unfortunately, the size feels a tad small. These spells exist to be used. Whether you're in a heroic and tackle a group without any crowd control and drop PW:Barrier at the beginning or in a raid and put Pain Suppression on the tank in a cooldown rotation, the spells should be accessible and used as needed.
Topics include: How can I optimize my gear for better mana regen? What kinds of numbers are good for me? How haste can help me be more efficient.
The topic of mana regeneration is typically meant to be a “big deal” for healers. The way it works out however, is kind of like a hit cap for dps. While hit is a stat that gets capped and therefore is useless when you're already hitting 100% of the time, mana regen is a little more subjective and obviously never caps out. The point being that after a certain level of regen, you have enough mana to comfortably finish encounters. Additional regen after this point is redundant.
Mana regeneration follows a formula which is not only based off of your spirit, but also your intellect. Blizzard actually goofed a little bit because intellect is currently too good. Traditionally, spirit is the prime mana regen stat which would do wonderful things to your mana bar. Currently, intellect does that more or less while also drastically increasing your throughput. The hotfix to Holy Concentration and Rapture changed the situation for the Holy spec, as now Spirit is point-for-point the better stat for mana regeneration. However for pretty much every other healing spec, intellect is still the regen stat and the runaway leader for throughput.
Given this knowledge, gearing with mana regeneration in mind has a few things to keep in mind. Intellect is always a strong choice. While lower on the gear spectrum it is probably desirable to have spirit in all your gear slots, but especially as gear improves overall this becomes less important. Spirit usually comes at the cost of other secondary stats, such as haste and mastery. The choice between spirit and intellect is more rare and comes up only in the case of trinkets and gems. In these situations, choosing intellect is a safe choice and will provide more optimized stat allocation (i.e. in other slots it is possible to get additional spirit, but intellect remains static, it only varies with item level for most item slots).
Another aspect that needs to be understood is that mana is always a limiting factor. The expectation that hitting 346 item level will result in literally infinite mana is silly. The mana regen you acquire is meant to sustain you when you heal intelligently and is no excuse to play poorly. Choosing the right spell for the right occasion is the most important factor for getting through a fight without going dry. If mana is still a serious issue when adequately geared then some play-style analysis is in order. Flash Heal should be cast very sparingly. If the need to Flash Heal regularly is actually justified (e.g. tank is not undergeared; but Heal/HW:Serenity are not not even close to enough), then consider methods to increase throughput of Heal. Increases in throughput that allow use of efficient heals more often can easily increase longevity.
For this reason, haste can be a great way to increase efficiency. A spreadsheet's calculation cannot take into consideration how easy-to-use a spell is. Spells with longer cast times are more difficult to fit in (but in the current model, these heals are the ones that are very efficient). A great analogy to illustrate this concept is that of the “high gear” and “low gear” (harky, 2010). Prioritizing haste as a secondary stat gives the flexibility to spam high HPS in short periods of time whenever needed. It gives the benefit of shorter GCDs and faster casts on everything. This “high gear” is the turbo mode for frantic occasions. However, the emergency spells like Flash Heal are not the only ones that benefit. Haste allows a “low gear” to exist (in fact, more haste means being able to use the “low gear” for a higher percent of the fight). The “low gear” is, for example, being able to sustain tank healing with only Heal and HW:Serenity. If the “natural” HPS of these two spells is normally 5k where the tank takes 7k dps, then it is clear that inclusion of Flash Heal will periodically be necessary. If the HPS can be increased to meet the incoming dps, then the need for Flash Heal diminishes.
*Addendum: Flash Heal needs to be seen as a very situational spell. After an encounter you should be able to remember every time you just had to cast Flash Heal. As such, most of the time you need more power, try Greater Heal. It boasts very high HPS and very good HPM. In fact, Disc priests specced into http://db.mmo-champion.com/s/92297/train-of-thought/ boast a Greater Heal with HPM similar to that of Heal. Holy doesn't get anything as useful, but throwing HW:Serenity before a Greater Heal or two may improve your mileage. Also, don't forget about Binding Heal. It costs the exact same as Flash Heal but heals for more and heals you to boot. Because of this, any time you've taken dangerous damage it becomes the spell to cast due to its speed and efficiency.
Another factor to remember about mana regen is the fact that cooldowns exist. As a priest, there are three: Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope, and a mana potion. All of these should always be used. The Shadowfiend is a cumbersome pet to use and needs to be reminded to attack the boss (either manually or via macro). When alone, on a short (5 minute) boss fight, the most mana can be gained from using Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope immediately after. If possible, try to ask for Bloodlust to be announced slightly ahead of time, as the Shadowfiend will receive the buff if it's already alive when Bloodlust is cast. For encounters that are longer, using the Shadowfiend as early as possible will result in two casts being possible. There are two primary types of mana potions. http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/57192/mythical-mana-potionis the bread and butter, but http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/57194/p...-concentration can be used effectively on some encounters where there is free time (e.g. Magmaw). Alchemists can also opt to use http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/57099/mysterious-potion.
Danner's WTFBBQ Regen Calculator: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/...ow-about-regen
-This calculator makes it very easy to determine whether additional intellect or spirit will help your regen more based on fight length. Typically fights more than 2-3 minutes long favor additional spirit for longevity.
Kalmah's "Regen trinkets" thread: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/...Regen-trinkets
-A list and some discussion regarding some of the more popular trinkets nowadays. Grab whatever you can get your hands on.
Topics include: What can I do while leveling? I just started heroics; what gives with the difficulty curve? Help me find friends in this cruel world, please!!
The age old drive in games like WoW is to become more powerful. At level 1 and upon hitting level 85, it's not fun to be a little sissy. However, waiting until level 85 to prepare is a waste of valuable time. The long road to 85 can be exploited to increase reputation and to level professions. Professions are most powerful very early on because they give bonuses and items which are very powerful upgrades when wearing quest greens. Reputation gains are also critical. Learn which factions provide the best upgrades beforehand and make sure to do as many quests as possible for that faction and pick up the tabard as soon as possible. Having Guardians of Hyjal (a great choice for priests) and another reputation, such as the Earthen Ring both at exalted before hitting 85 is definitely possible. That provides access to one of the two critical enchants as well as two pieces of epic gear. Hitting revered with Therazane is another “gimme” for a ring and a stand-in enchant. The new Armory pages load a “simple” view by default, but can be switched to an “advanced” look which includes a character audit. This can help with identifying gains from professions/enchants/etc.
Being money-smart is another important factor. If making money comes naturally, then buying powerful rares and even epics from the Auction House is a great investment. Consumables are also a must at all gear levels, and will make the transition into heroics or into raids that much easier. Less time spent making money means more time to do other things. If free time is in abundance, archeology is not a bad choice. Finding a lucky rare artifact can mean a bonus epic which is always great.
The most common situation currently is the transition into heroic dungeons. They are most challenging when they are first accessible, as is the case for all content. One of the main reasons they are challenging however, is because the playerbase is, in general, not great. Running with guildmates or otherwise sensible players can make heroics almost trivial even early on. Some things to consider are the fact that: bosses have tactics, hybrids have heals, and almost every class has a form of crowd control. Melee hybrids, such as Enhancement shaman and Retribution paladins have access to instant heals which, in a pinch, can save the day. A friendly Ret paladin is worth noting as a great friend. With Selfless Healer, Word of Glory is absurd, and Holy Radiance is another instant heal that can help cope with AoE especially early on in the gearing game. While having a good Ret paladin friend can certainly make life easier, it's certainly not a requirement as the people in the group are intelligent. Always remind people that Lightwell has gotten a substantial upgrade since its WotLK incarnation (Author's note: The overwhelming majority of groups I've run in have simply been ignorant of the changes. After letting them know about the changes, the typical response is: “Wow! That's awesome; let's click that sexy thang.”).
Just a quick aside on stat prioritization. As was mentioned above, haste is a powerful stat. Intellect is far, far ahead of the pack as a throughput stat, but haste is a great secondary stat to increase throughput. Mastery is a solid choice, especially for Holy, and should definitely not be ignored. Discipline has a little less love for mastery because of the interdependence of stats that Discipline currently has. With a low amount of crit in this early part of the expansion, mastery is somewhat devalued for Discipline. Crit is the last place stat for both specs. It provides no predictable benefit and only causes accidental increases in HPM and HPS. In addition, it's also a more expensive stat (the amount of rating needed to get a % is higher than for haste, for example). As such, the stat priorities when trying to make a gear set usable for both specs resembles this:
Intellect > Haste ≥ Mastery > Crit.
Spirit is subjective. Most of your items should have spirit on them. If you continue to have mana problems, gear for more spirit, placing it above haste on the priority list.
Malic's "Pre-raid BiS" setup: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/...-%28Healing%29
- Take a look for a solid list full of spirit items. There are some spirit-free alternatives not listed; but a solid list nonetheless.
Here is a quick rundown of ilvl 359 epics (normal mode and crafted/rep stuff): http://www.wowhead.com/items=4?filte...0:20;gb=1#back
- That gives a look through gear with a stat weight I quickly punched in.
Zenkai's haste vs mastery post: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/...Math-inside%29
-When trying to decide what you want to base your gear on and which stat is stronger. Be sure to read the discussion the post sparked in the replies.
Healing in the Team:
Topics include: Who does what? Where do I fit in the grand scheme of things? Why do you want me to befriend as many Resto shaman as humanly possible?
Until max level, healing is essentially a solo fling. As such, entering a raid where you are grouped with one/two, or four/five other healers is a fairly substantial change. You are not responsible for healing everything. Trying to do so inevitably results in running out of mana prematurely and subsequently being unable to help for the rest of the encounter. Coordination and teamwork are a big part of healing with other people. Before the fight starts, some preparation is good. That preparation usually boils down to deciding more or less who will do what. Rigid responsibilities seem to be largely a thing of the past. If pitching in a little to tank healing will avert a wipe when your job is to heal the raid, then by all means go for it.
As far as which healers are best suited to what, everybody can do anything for the most part nowadays. A Holy paladin is still a powerful tank healer, but there's no reason not to take advantage of Holy Radiance to counter raid damage (especially since it is instant). Probably the biggest change since WotLK is the fact that Holy priests are not terrible at tank healing anymore.
The last thing about having healer buddies is the fact that they have really cool spells that can help you. The most historic example is Innervate. Unfortunately, Innervate has gone through many changes and is no longer what it used to be. If a Balance druid or a Resto druid give you an Innervate, they do so at risk to themselves and as such you should thank them. The present incarnation of Mana Tide however, is like an Innervate for the party. Buffs which increase your spirit (i.e. On Use trinkets, such as the Valor Point one (http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/58184/core-of-ripeness) will greatly increase the effect of a Mana Tide. As such, knowing when Mana Tide has been dropped is very useful, and having the shaman use a macro is a good idea (e.g. /p Mana Tide active). Priests bring Hymn of Hope, which is not as powerful as it was during WotLK, but remains a powerful tool. Use of Hymn of Hope need not be “selfish” (as outlined in the "Mana Regen" section), but can be used in a pinch to help out other healers. If a Holy paladin is struggling for mana, let them know via voice comm that you're dropping a Hymn of Hope for them and they should take advantage of the opportunity to use Divine Plea.
Talent Point Allocation:
Information includes: Base for "cookie cutter" spec and reasoning behind why some tayents are taken and others are not.
There are a few things the new talent trees that came to us with Cataclysm were promised. While a fair amount of what Blizzard promised (e.g. no boring +% talents) didn't quite make it along, the trees are in a fairly decent state. There is a fairly pronounced core tree which leaves room for a few spare points into a variety of "choices." The choices are decidedly not game breaking and are mainly just a little bit of flavor. What Blizzard definitely accomplished are making several interesting glyph choices.
For Discipline, I believe http://www.wowhead.com/talent#bfhMRosbfRMochM:Vq will be the best spec. The remaining points can be used to fill out: Inner Sanctum, Soul Warding, Surge of Light, or Darkness.
One notable thing not covered in this "guide" are raid ui's.
-Browse through this thread for inspiration on how to make an effective UI. Honestly though, as long as it doesn't look like this:
you should be fine.