So Blizzard have released some Previews for the Priest, Shaman, Druid and Rogue talent trees for Cataclysm. Of course they are rough – there are duplicate talents, place holder names and so forth. And obviously it’s Alpha. However it gives some really great insight into where the Priest talents are going. And with a little careful thought it gives us more information on things we have been left in the dark about up until now – Shadow Orbs, Casting while moving. Smite DPS specs! It’s all really good stuff. And more to the point Blizzard are actively looking for feedback on it, so it’s a great time to get out there and talk about it.
Rather than write a post this week I’ve made a presentation – mainly because I thought the software was pretty cool and I wanted to try it out. However, it’s a pain in the tush to get it working on WordPress, and the files take a long time to download. Moreover the fullscreen – which is really needed to see the text – doesn’t work on WordPress. Awesome… So my suggestion is to click here which links directly to it.
Anyway – if you can. Enjoy!
When it comes to User Interface there are really two aspects to it. The first is getting the right addons, the second is configuring them the right way. Players care very much about the first, but less so about the second. I know most players use DBM, but I haven’t the faintest idea how 99% of players set their DBM up. So I want to talk generally about making sure you have the right sorts of addons, and that they are in the right places to get you important information when and where you need it.
What do I need to know?
There are three things you absolutely need to know when you are healing a fight.
- What spells to use
- Who to Heal
- Where you should be
A good healer is constantly keeping these three things in mind. What spells do I have? Who do I need to heal? Am I safe? Typically I think about them in that order. This way I know what spells I have available right as I go to heal somebody. It’s not a big deal if you order yours differently, but it is important to have an order and to go through them each in turn.
These three points cover the basics, but there is a lot more detail to each of them. I’ve colour coded it so that it’s pretty. Also because it’s important.
Icecrown Citadel is completely out now, and everybody is making their own way through it. My guild downed Blood Princes for the first time last week. That fight in particular has really got me thinking about the process of learning a new boss. This isn’t something we think about very often, and it’s not discussed a lot. I see other Priests play, and learn from them. I don’t often see other Raid Leaders raid lead, and so I pretty much make it up as I go. When it comes to learning a new fight you can’t really go inspect another guild to see how they do it. “Progression” is this mysterious thing which some guilds are better at, and we don’t really know why. We just watch a Tank Spot video and copy it as best we can.
So, in the spirit of sharing I want to talk about four simple things which I think every raid leader and raid group can keep in mind to learn new fights faster. If you have any strategies you employ I would genuinely appreciate hearing about them.
So, 4 ways to learn fights faster:
This is not something I’ve written a blog post on before because, whilst it’s something I find interesting and it helps me think about my healing, I wonder whether it is unnecessary over-complication.
So I’m posting this with a little trepidation. If you don’t find it interesting, stop reading, I won’t mind.
Whilst there are still new interesting fights designs coming out, and I’m certainly enjoying Icecrown Citadel, every fight tends to share certain things with fights that we’ve done before. Patchwerk, Gruul, Zul’Aman’s Panther boss and Marrowgar all share a Hateful strike/Cleave effect. They are all new fun fights, but they aren’t so different that you can learn substantial things from one to bring to the others. As such, when I’m thinking about how to improve my performance on a boss fight I try to think about what I call the “Damage Profile”. The style of damage the boss is doing.
The idea of a Damage Profile is probably best described with an example. There are various fights with high raid damage: Hodir, Kologarn, Loetheb, Festergut, Twin Val’kyr to name a few.
While in all these cases the raid damage is high, the style of raid damage is different. Kologarn does relatively little raid damage most of the time, but periodically does his smash for 10k damage to the entire raid group. Twin Val’kyr has constant ticking raid damage over the entire fight. Both these fights have high raid damage, but their damage profile is different. One is brief periods of high damage, the other is long periods of constant damage. Then obviously there are mixes of the two – XT, Festergut, Lord Marrowgar, Lord Jaraxxus.
Similarly Tank Damage can have a profile too. There can be high single Tank damage like Anub’arak, or a fight with high damage on both tanks like Lord Marrowgar, Patchwerk or Gormok the Impaler. There can be fights with Tank switches like Archavon or Thorim.
Okay, so hopefully now we’re thinking about things not just in terms of “High Tank damage” Vs “High Raid damage” but in a little more detail. Is it ticking damage or burst damage? Is it random spikes to individual players, or hits on multiple targets at once? Is it predictable damage on a set timer, or it is random timing?
Once we have a good idea of the sort of Damage Profile going on we need to think about the spells we have and how they work.
Standing in fire is the calling card of the worst PuG you know, loot ninjas, criminals, Nazis and Satanists. Only the most blind, incompetent, casual, 10 man raiders stand in fire. It’s an unforgivable sin and one which means you will never progress beyond Nexus normal mode (because it has no fire).
Or so you would be led to believe by 90% of the online community and it’s something I don’t understand.
Nobody uses Prayer of Mending as much as they should do. I love it, I use it a lot, but never enough. It is, by far, the best heal in the entire game. I want to drive that home a little.
There are pretty much three ways a Healer can wipe a raid: a) Die themselves, b) Let the Tank die, c) Lose control of raid damage. Whilst Prayer of Mending won’t really help you with (a) and (b) it will help you keep a tight lid on raid damage by offering you every other advantage you could want:
- Lots of Healing
- Multiple Targets
- Quick to Cast
- Heals over time
- Smart Healing
You’re probably saying: “Great, bullet points! That’s exactly what I need when I’m trying to keep a raid alive…”
Okay, I do get that. Numbers aren’t exciting, but what I want to get across though is just how amazing Prayer of Mending is because if you aren’t casting it every single time it’s off cooldown you better have a good reason not to. So there will be numbers. The point is, Prayer of Mending comes out top on a lot of scales.
Efficiency compared to other spells
Prayer of Mending is the most efficient healing spell you have. In fact, it’s pretty much the most efficient healing spell anybody has. It is more than twice as efficient as Penance (Disc’s next best HPM spell), and more than twice as efficient as a Glyphed Circle of Healing (Holy’s next best HPM spell). It’s better than Nourish, it’s better than Riptide and Chain Heal. It’s much better than Beaconed Holy Light.
For example, for Discipline:
I wanted to make a rather special post about what I’ve been doing recently, and specifically why my posting has been rather low recently. Much of my time over the past month or so has been spent on another WoW project I’ve been working on, and that is: I’ve been finishing up my first real WoW add-on.
It is now up on Curse as of a few minutes ago and I have relatively high hopes for it. I only started learning Lua (the language WoW add-ons are written in) a few months ago, so it’s been a bit of a learning process, but a tremendous amount of fun. If you have any interest in computer programming I would thoroughly recommend Lua as a great place to start. It’s a lovely little scripting language, very clean and easy to read, and very forgiving of mistakes
As for the add-on itself:
I started writing it because a) I wanted to learn Lua, and b) I wanted a better way of seeing what the other Healers and Tanks in my raid were up to. All too often I was finding myself using Pain Suppression just when the tank used Shield Wall, or Divine Hymn when the Druid cast Tranquillity. Sometimes you manage to pull off those raid saving ability uses, but all too often my plans were being foiled by other would be heroes all having the same idea. It was a wasted effort, Spiderman and Superman were both fighting to save the girl while the villain one shot the tank. The idea here then is to try and streamline things by helping you keep track of what’s going on in your raid.
What do I shine at?
Like Discipline Priests, Holy Priests make great healers in small 5 man groups because of their tremendous utility, their range of AoE and single target spells and their ability to dump aggro and self heal through Binding Heal and Desperate Prayer.
In raids Holy is primarily seen as a Raid Healing build. That is to say, you are in your element healing multiple targets simultaneously using spells like Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending and Circle of Healing.
You are less capable as a Tank Healer as you miss some of the mana efficiency of Discipline, or the mitigation talents like Grace. However, you still have some Tank healing ability if you spec for it, in particular through larger Flash Heals and utility spells like Guardian Spirit and talents like Inspiration. As a result Holy priests are tremendously valuable both in 25 man raids for their mass healing, and in 10 mans for their ability to fill a variety of roles as required.
What’s my spec?
There are essentially two specs for a Holy Priest. The first focuses on mana efficiency and is best for Priests starting out when mana is an issue. This spec picks up Mental Agility from the Discipline tree whilst still collecting as many of the powerful Holy talents as possible. That would look something like this: 18/53/0
Once you gear up you move even more towards improving your healing picking up things like Test of Faith. So more like this: 14/57/0. Your crit is higher so only one point in Surge of Light. And because you’re focusing more on raid healing Empowered Healing looks less attractive than some other raid heals. You might drop Lightwell if your raid gets no use out of it. You’re taking Spell Warding over Divine Fury because you’re not casting Greater Heal and the additional spell reduction means you take less damage in heavy AoE fights – which are exactly the fights you’re needed for the most.
Some personal choices:
Body and Soul can be a fun utility talent in certain situations. It helps people avoid fire and other dangerous boss abilities. However, Power Word: Shield is a very inefficient heal for a Holy Priest so you should not ordinarily be casting it. Furthermore, Body and Soul is only useful for a Priest who is very good at keeping track of the fight. If you don’t have a good sense of what it happening to all the players in your raid and who could really benefit from a speed boost you won’t make the most of this talent.
Another personal choice is Lightwell, more on this later. It will depend a lot on the willingness of the rest of your raid to make use of it.
Finally Inspiration is a fantastic talent if you are planning to do a lot of five mans or you want to be versatile enough to help with Tank healing in certain fights. However it is a very mediocre talent for a Priest who intends to only be the best Raid Healer that they can. This will depend a lot on your raid group and the other healers you play with.
I still owe a Holy FAQ and it will come towards the end of this week when I get a chance to do the math on Holy spells. In the mean time I want to talk about communication.
My guild is hardly the most progressed guild in the world. We’re not bleeding edge in the world or even on our server. Nevertheless we have our good days and our bad days and it doesn’t take a genius to spot that the difference is often to do with how well we communicate.
When I’m raid leading I’m happy with everybody having the ability to talk in Ventrillo. I’m not at all interested in restricting talk privilages to only certain people. The main reason is because we’re very much a casual guild and raiding is fun, not work. Moreover, I simply don’t find it a problem to let everybody talk because most people don’t. In practice I find the raid tends to trust a few key players to say what needs to be said. Those key people are the ones you’d expect: The Raid Leader, the Tank, the Healers.
I’m taking a break out of the FAQ series because a couple of things came together for me recently. What I want to talk about this week is two things. The first is the evolution of the Discipline Priest’s role in a raid since 3.0 launched. The second is to go a little theoretical and talk about what a modern Discipline Priest has that makes them the most powerful healers in the game.
Discipline as a viable raid spec really came with Patch 3.0 with the introduction of three talents. Penance, Borrowed Time, and Rapture. Before these talents Discipline had poor mana, poor healing, and no real niche. Rapture brought the Mana, Penance the Healing, and Borrowed Time has let us find our niche.
The emphasis from very early on was on Discipline as a Tank healing spec. PW:S, Grace, Renewed Hope and Inspiration provided the mitigation, whilst Borrowed Time and Penance gave quick healing necessary to heal tanks up. For a long time therefore Discipline Priests have been the Tank Healers.
Holy Priests on the other hand have been the traditional Raid Healers. Circle of Healing, bigger Prayer of Healing, larger Prayer of Mending, and better HoTs make the the obvious choice for healing larger numbers of people.
This simple Distinction is naïve, and it’s beginning to change. There is talk in the back rooms of Forums. Priests are talking late at night in the Orgrimmar Drag when the Paladin’s aren’t listening. Things said only in /whisper… Have you heard? Come closer. Discipline is becoming a Raid Healer.