Boy in a Bubble – Part 1

June 21, 2009 at 5:34 pm (5 mans, Borrowed Time, Grouping, Power Word: Shield, Raiding, Spells)

This is the first of what I hope will be a three part series looking at Absorption mechanics. Primarily, Power Word: Shield because it’s the most substantial and useful. But the same applies to some extent to Mana Shield, Sacred Shield, Warlock absorb abilities as well as various trinkets and proc effects. Each part of the series is going to focus on one major way absorbs differ from standard healing effects like Flash of Light or Healing Wave.

The first principle is:

## Absorbs are cast during the time before the Attack.

## Heals are cast during the time between the Attack and the next Attack.

Raid Healing —

In many cases this principle means that there is more time is available. Raid damage in particular is often not very consistent. For example, XT-002’s Tympanic Tantrum is not cast very often and so there is a long lead-up time. However, once it starts, the damage comes quite quickly. Similarly with Hodir’s Frozen Blows, there is a long time before the attack, but once they start time is quite short. The advantage of shield in these situations is you can make use of the lead-up period, to save yourself time when things get busy.

Other boss abilities are far less discrete in terms of when they deal damage. For example Sapphiron’s aura causes constant ticks of frost damage. It may therefore seem like you never really have an opportunity to buy yourself time with shields, but actually you do.

The key to healing raid damage is staying on top of it. If you drop behind there are not a lot of ways (Divine Hymn and not much else) to dig your way out of the hole you find yourself in. So if things start to get away from you you have to catch up quickly or it’s a wipe.

Inevitably there will be times when the healers are doing well and the raid is relatively topped off, and there will be times when there are lots of people who need healing and things are looking desperate. If you get to a point where the raid is topped off then nobody will really benefit from you casting (for example) Penance on them, you’d mostly be overhealing. However, if you spend your free moments throwing out shields on players they will stay topped off for a while allowing you to focus more on a smaller number of players.

An example, once the raid is topped off you could throw out some shields with your spare time. If you mostly shielded Group 2 then Group 1 would soon need some healing. This would allow you to neatly heal all the players in Group 1 with a Prayer of Healing (hasted by Borrowed Time perhaps). All very neat, tidy and stress free!

On the other hand, if you hadn’t shielded players, or you’d been less thoughtful about which players you shielded, you would find that by the time you’d cast your first Prayer of Healing you’d already be behind casting your next one. You’re running out of time already.

So Power Word: Shield allows you to really take advantage of those lulls in the fight to save yourself time and stress. You can supplement PW:S with Renew, Prayer of Mending and other spells which continue to heal long after you have cast them.

Tank Healing

Hits on tanks on the other hand are usually very consistent. A tank is usually hit every few seconds. However, whilst hits on the tank are usually relatively common, special attacks are not. For example, a dragon will melee the tank regularly, but his flame breath happens less often and does much more damage. So there is scope for the same principle to apply. You could shield the tank before the flame breath so that once the flame breath hits you have more time and space to heal.

The difficulty for you is that, because the tank is still being consistently hit, your time before the attack is actually not long. For example, the breaths may only occur once every 20 seconds, but if the dragon is meleeing every 3 seconds you will have at best 3 seconds between a melee attack and the breath attack. Put the absorb effect up too early and it is wasted by the melee hit. Too late and, well, you’re too late.

Equally because the tank is getting hit every three seconds your shield will never buy you much time either. You cast it in the short window before Nasty Attack, the shield absorbs Nasty Attack, and then straight away it’s back to regular hits without time to take a breath.

And if you ever do get a lull it’s not often very useful. For example, if you top the tank up to full health and then apply a shield you will be sitting twiddling your thumbs until the shield breaks. You could help raid heal I guess, but there is no tank healing to do until the shield is gone. You’ve bought yourself some time, but haven’t got much to do with it.

If instead of casting the shield on a fully healed tank you cast it once the tank was already damaged then you are buying yourself time which you can actually use! In this case you are using the shield as a speed bump to stop the decline in the tanks health just long enough to get him back up to full with a nice big Penance. Good stuff, but your shield isn’t really being used as a shield. It’s basically just a chunky instant cast heal. You aren’t doing anything ahead of time, you’re just using it to suck up a hit. A holy priest could have cast an instant Flash Heal instead had the same effect. So whilst you are using Power Word: Shield, you aren’t really benefiting much from it being an absorb effect.

So for tanks shielding is a) trickier to do effectively, b) of less real benefit.

That’s not to say Absorb effects are not fantastic for Tank healing. It’s just that the main benefits to shields for tanks come from other things. We’ll look at one of those in Part II.

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