Discipline Evolves. The new Raid Healer

October 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm (Being a Hero, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Rapture, Renew, Trial of the Champion, Ulduar, User Interface)

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.

Priest Evolution

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.

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Discipline FAQ

October 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm (5 mans, Binding Heal, Borrowed Time, Discipline FAQ, Discipline Spec 57/14/0, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Gearing, Greater Heal, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Mana, Naxxramas, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Infusion, Power Infusion, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Spells, Stats, Talents, Trial of the Champion, Ulduar)

Starting a Discipline Priest and confused about something? Lets try and help out with some useful information.

What’s my spec?

See the article on Discipline spec here.

The standard spec is something like: 57/14/0 getting all the good heal talents in the Discipline tree, then going up the Holy Tree to pick up Inspiration.

Attribution: GENZOMAN

Attribution: GENZOMAN

What do I shine at?

As a Disc Priest your specialism is Tank Healing and Damage prevention. Because you are a priest however you have a great deal of flexibility because of your huge range of spells. This means you can ably heal 5 mans, 10 mans as a Tank or a Raid healer, in 25 mans you are a great Tank Healer, and you make a good PvP healer.

Because of your shields you really shine in fights where there are periodic spikes of damage which you can prepare for by casting shields on people before they take damage.

PvE Stat values –

Not perfect, but a rough guide is something like:

  • Intellect – 0.6

  • Spirit – 0.22

  • MP5 – 0.67

  • Haste Rating – 0.59

  • Crit Rating – 0.48

  • Spell Power – 1.0

So you should favour Spell Power, Intellect, Haste, Crit, MP5 and Spirit in pretty much that order. However, obviously if you need more mana stack Intellect, if you need to do more healing stack Spell Power. If you have enough mana there is NO benefit to getting more Intellect, Spirit or MP5. Mana is only useful if you are spending it. If you finish fights with lots of mana, you should stop getting more.

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Shadow Priest FAQ

September 25, 2009 at 4:23 pm (5 mans, Devouring Plague, FAQ, Gearing, Glyphs, Grouping, Mind Flay, Naxxramas, Raiding, Shadow FAQ, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Shadowform, Stats, Talents, Trial of the Champion, Ulduar, Vampiric Touch)

A list of common questions people look for when they first start. This isn’t really high end discussion and some things are glossed over. Furthermore, I rarely raid as shadow anymore so much of this comes from (I hope) thorough research. Big thank you to the sites out there like Shadowpriest.com and the various shadow blogs (Shadowaffinity) for their great information.

All rights belong to *Genzoman

All rights belong to *Genzoman Deviant Art.

What’s the spec to use?

The standard PvE spec is this:


The two points in Veiled Shadows are optional and could be moved to Improved Vampiric Embrace. However the reduced cooldown on Shadow Fiend is a nice mana boost and adds a small DPS burst in certain situations.

For PvP your spec would look something like:


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Being a Hero: Serendipity

July 16, 2009 at 2:10 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Naxxramas, Raiding, Serendipity, Talents, Ulduar)

Serendipity: When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 12%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 20 sec.

I plan to post several articles soon focusing on Serendipity because I still see Priests not taking it. Equally I think it’s a very complicated ability and it’s something I find it very hard to use correctly in raids when there is so much to think about. Serendipity doesn’t buy you mana, only time. Therefore you only benefit from it is when you are hard pressed to heal. You need it most when you don’t have time to think about it. Hopefully if I get this down on paper it will help me get it straight in my head and allow me to make the right decision with less thought.

Just like Power Word: Shield, or Renew, or Prayer of Mending, what Serendipity gives is stress insurance. The contract goes something like:

I, the undersigned, being of sound mind and body bla bla bla…

…Promise to pay the sum of a little bit of time now, because I’ve got plenty to spare while Hodir pansies around gently patting the tank. I’ll cast a few single target heals like Flash or Binding Heal. In return, Serendipity promises to give me a whole bucket of haste when Hodir starts throwing around Frozen blows and things get dicey.

The key is knowing when to cash in the insurance.

You only get the benefit for your first Prayer of Healing or Greater Heal. After that you have to build your insurance back up again. So it’s only worth taking advantage of when you are hard pressed for time. Unfortunately you don’t get a choice. You can’t decide not to use up your Serendipity stacks unless you just don’t cast certain spells at all. If you want to cast Prayer of Healing, you will use or lose any Serendipity stacks you’ve currently got.

So the worst thing that could happen is that you cast a Prayer of Healing at a time when it’s quiet rather and so don’t have it when the “OH S**T!” moment hits a few seconds later. Where possible then, save your stacks for a time when you need them. I suppose that’s what having other healers in the raid are for, let them heal a little and save your Serendipity stacks for when they are needed. Don’t squander your resources if you can help it.

On the other hand if I sit sit back miserly protecting my Serendipity stacks the raid could die a long slow death because I don’t pull my weight.

Serendipity is a nice thing, and it can do a lot for you when it comes to something like Freya’s exploding daffodils. However if I sit back and don’t cast my best heals (Prayer of Healing) just because I’m waiting for the ideal time might cause more problems than it averts. Sometimes trying too hard to be the hero means you cause the exact harm you were trying to prevent. Every movie involving time travel proves this to be true.

So there is a balance to adopt in terms of knowing when you should wait and when you should not. A big part of that will be knowing the fight and the likely abilities. XT-002’s Tympanic Tantrum is the only real AoE in the fight. So can safely spend your Serendipity for quick help on the Tank, or topping up people wandering too close to the Bombs. Once it gets close to Tantrum time you need to be thinking ahead and saving up those serendipity stacks ready to go. If you know it’s soon, save your Serendipity.

On a fight with more single target damage it’s much easier to save your Serendipity for important moments. For the most part nobody casts Greater Heal in their standard rotation so you can easily make do with Flash heal and Renew and save Serendipity for a big Greater Heal when somebody gets caught in the fire, or takes a big hit you were only half expecting.

It’s a fine line to walk, but knowing the fight, and being able to rely on the other healers in your raid will help a lot in terms of helping you stack Serendipity and helping you spend those stacks at just the right time.

Tip: Use a mod like Powa Auras to show your Serendipity stacks in a more visually explicit way. For example, mine is set up to show a tower of 1-3 icons rather than a number because I find it much easier to read at a glance. Also it allows me to locate Serendipity away from my other buffs which I care much less about.

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Being a Hero: Power Infusion

July 7, 2009 at 10:49 am (5 mans, Being a Hero, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Power Infusion, Power Infusion, Raiding, Spells, Talents, Ulduar)

Power Infusion Icon

Power Infusion Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%.  Lasts 15 sec.

The fact that it reduces mana cost means it is particularly powerful when use with Divine Hymn, Prayer of Healing and other expensive spells. Even if you use it with cheaper heals you will almost always save more mana than Power Infusion costs, so it should be used as often as possible at least to increase your mana efficiency.

Because it also increases your haste rating it’s also fantastic with long cast time spells, or times when you need to really up your healing output. Fights like Hodir come to mind. When Hodir uses Frozen Blows there is a lot raid damage and you will want to start casting Heals like Prayer of Healing as fast as you can. Something like Power Infusion increases how fast you can cast Prayer of Healing, and decreases it’s cost. So effectively you’re increasing the healing you are doing during this period by 20% for no extra cost. It will make the difference between surviving through tricky raid damage or not. Plus it’s fun to see your Priest flail his/her arms around like a fairy as she casts her little socks off.

Power Infusion doesn’t active the global cooldown which means you can use it even during the global cooldown, and you can macro it into your other spells like Penance or Prayer of Healing so that both cast in just one button press.

I macro Power Infusion into my Prayer of Healing spell (replace anything in bold with the appropriate name for you):

#showtooltip Power Infusion
/use name of first trinket
/use name of second trinket
/cast Power Infusion [target=player]
/cast Prayer of Healing

Prayer of Healing is not something I cast particularly often so it’s a good choice for macro’ing to Power Infusion. If I macro’d Power Infusion into Penance it would probably get used as soon as the cooldown finished and never give me a chance to cast it on another player, or save it for an important moment. By macro’ing it into Prayer of Healing I can be sure that I will have the haste benefit when casting my slowest, most expensive spells. Also it gives me a chance to cast it on other players as well:

Whilst it’s not strictly the theme of these articles Power Infusion is also good for a DPS boost on other raiders. It’s more powerful in 10 mans than 25 mans because one Power Infusion on one player will have more impact in a smaller raid. Use it on high DPS burns like getting Razorscale grounded, Mimiron’s heart, General Vezaxx’s Shadow Residues, Thaddius’ stacks of Postitive or Negative charge etc.

I find in a hectic fight I often forget to use it, or don’t think I have time. So to make it as easy as possible for me to use I’ve got a macro which causes it to automatically cast on certain guild members who I know benefit from haste. So for example:

/cast [target=Player1,exists] Power Infusion
/cast [target=Player2,exists] Power Infusion
/cast [target=target] Power Infusion

Tapping this button once will cast Power Infusion on Player1 if they are present, otherwise on Player2 if present, otherwise it will cast it on my target. So if I’m in a guild raid and the first or second choice players are in the raid then it will cast it on them. On the other hand if I’m in a Pug it will cast it on whoever I’m currently targeting.

Don’t accidentally cast it on Paladin tanks, it makes faeries lose their wings and kittens cry. Leave them for foolish druids to innervate.

Tip: When it comes to tank damage somebody like a paladin will benefit far more from the haste than you will because of their more powerful direct heals. Consider using it on another healer if that will benefit your raid more.

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Being a Hero: Guardian Spirit

July 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Glyphs, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Raiding, Spells, Talents, Ulduar)

Guardian Spirit: Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself.  This  sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec.

Guardian Spirit looks similar to Pain Suppression but in some ways it is a very different animal. There are basically three parts to Guardian Spirit.

  1. 40% more healing on the target

  2. Prevents one killing blow

  3. A 50% heal if the target dies.

40% more healing means that Guardian Spirit is fantastic to cast on the tank. If you have more than one tank healer (in a 25 man for example) then casting Guardian Spirit on the tank can be used very similarly to Pain Suppression. All the same principles apply. By casting Guardian Spirit on the tank you free up one of the tank healers to help heal other targets. It can also be used just like Pain Suppression to get through difficult boss abilities like Flame Breaths or Fusion Punches. The danger to watch for is if you cast Guardian Spirit when the tank is already on low health. If a quick hit from the boss “kills” the tank the Guardian Spirit buff is removed and whilst the tank will be protected from that death he will no longer receive the 40% more healing so he may die again without the benefit of it.

Preventing a Killing Blow means Guardian Spirit can be used to make up for raider mistakes in certain cases. If a player is slow moving out of a Rocket Strike on Mimiron you can Guardian Spirit them to prevent them dying. On the other hand, it wouldn’t help a player caught in Spinning Up on the same fight because that hits multiple times so absorbing one killing blow would probably not be enough to keep the player alive.

The 50% heal if the target dies means that often Guardian Spirit will heal for 15-25k on a tank. It’s a dangerous game you play, but if your raid is in trouble casting Guardian Spirit on a low-health tank and letting them die can give you a chance to heal other targets. Keep in mind the time Guardian Spirit lasts for. I’ve seen tanks die because a healer overestimated the time left on Guardian Spirit and didn’t bother healing them.

Tip: If you value the 40% healing buff rather than just relying on the kill prevention then the glyph for Guardian Spirit makes a massive difference to how often you can cast it. Equally, having Guardian Spirit on the tank more often increases the chance of it being present if the tank takes a string of unexpected blows and dies.

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Being a Hero: Pain Suppression

July 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Raiding, Spells, Talents, Ulduar)

Pain Suppression:

Instantly reduces a friendly target’s threat by 5%, reduces all damage taken by 40% and increases resistance to Dispel mechanics by 65% for 8 sec.

Pain Suppression does a lot of heavy lifting for the raiding Discipline Priest. It’s on a short enough cooldown that you can use it several times in a fight and it can be a very versatile tool. In some fights you pretty much have to use Pain Suppression at a particular moment to save a tank. I’m thinking of things like Sartharion’s Fire Breath with two or more drakes. Or Mimiron’s Plasma Blast in Phase One. Here specific boss abilities have to be countered by the tank or the healers so there is not much choice.

In other fights you are free to use Pain Suppression whenever you like so you can use it whenever things are getting dangerous. My Super-Number-One-Awesomest-Pain Suppression-Tip is: If things start to go wrong, or look like they might, cast Pain Suppression on the tank.

If the tank is in trouble, cast Pain Suppression on the tank. If another player is in trouble, cast Pain Suppression on the tank. If you are in trouble, cast Pain Suppression on the tank. If the whole raid is in trouble, cast Pain Suppression on the tank!

That may sound stupid but hear me out. You have a limited attention and can at best only be healing a few players at once. If you cast Pain Suppression on the tank that frees you up to heal other things. The point of Pain Suppression here is not to buy the target time to live, it’s to buy you time to heal other people. You cast it on the tank because then for 8 seconds you can heal whoever needs it.

Imagine that ten people are taking raid damage. Pain Suppression would only protect one of them. If that one person is the tank then you are free to cast big AoE heals on the other nine.

Imagine that one person has aggro from a mob. Casting Pain Suppression on them might be wasted. If they are fast they might Feign Death, Bubble, Fade, Ice Block or have the mob taunted off them. If they aren’t they might just die. In any of these situations you’ve wasted your Pain Suppression. On the other hand, cast it on the tank and you will never have wasted it. You are guaranteed to have absorbed fifteen thousand damage or so and you’ve bought yourself eight seconds to heal the rest of the raid, regenerate mana, re-position yourself or giggle at your dead raider.

Finally imagine if you cast Pain Suppression on a shaman. It will absorb 40% of the damage they take. A typical shaman has maybe 20k health which means at best they can be hit for 28k before they die. On the other hand, cast Pain Suppression on the tank and you can spend the next 8 seconds healing that shaman and helping them survive much more damage. Casting PW:S on them would absorb 6k, and a Penance another 12k. That’s already much more healing than Pain Suppression would have given them.

So ultimately casting Pain Suppression on the tank gives more guarantee that it will:

Prevent more damage

Last the full eight seconds

Allow you to do more healing to a larger number of people.

Tip: Often cast-able on NPCs which can be very powerful in boss encounters like Razuvious where the NPCs take much higher than usual damage.

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