Priest Talent Previews for Cataclysm

June 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm (Cataclysm, Cataclysm Expansion, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Heal, Healing Mechanics, Hymn of Hope, Mana, Patches, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Shadowform, Spells, Talents)

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!

Vodpod videos no longer available.


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Shared Boss Mechanics

January 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm (Borrowed Time, Circle of Healing, Empowered Renew, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Icecrown Citadel, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Serendipity, Talents)

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.

Damage Profile

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.

Spell Profile

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.

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Holy FAQ

October 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm (5 mans, Binding Heal, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Empowered Renew, Fade, FAQ, Flash Heal, Gearing, Glyphs, Greater Heal, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Holy FAQ, Holy Spec 14/57/0, Holy Spec 18/53/0, Mana, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Spells, Stats, Surge of Light, Talents)

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.

Spirit of Redemption

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.

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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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Healing Trial of the Champions: Anub’arak

September 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm (Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Trial of the Champion)

Anub’arak is the last boss in Trial of the Champion. He’s quite straight forward.

When you engage the encounter there is some fun Malygos-esque floor explosion and some non-hostile trash to clear out of the way.


From Wowwiki

The fight comes in three phases:

Phase 1

Anub’arak will be picked up by the main tank and tanked just a little behind the centre of the room.

In 10 man he hits the tank with frost and physical damage for around 15k on a Tier 8 tank so that’s reasonably high, twice that in 25 man. It also freezes the tank briefly in place, but that’s no big deal because Anub’arak doesn’t need to move.

DPS begins on Anub’arak. Save Heroism/Bloodlust for Phase 3, but DPS as hard as you can.

Nerubian Burrowers

Anub’arak will periodically summon Nerubian Burrower adds. Only one at a time on 10 man, two on 25 man.

The Burrowers will be off tanked, (one tank per Burrower because they stack nature debuffs,) and DPSed. They will periodically burrow and heal to full if possible. To stop this happening you have to Tank them on top of patches of Permafrost.

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Trial of the Champion: Faction Champions

August 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm (Divine Hymn, Fade, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Power Word: Shield, Raiding, Trial of the Champion)

This is not an easy fight to describe, it’s very unconventional.

If you did the 5 man Magister’s Terrace back in TBC you might remember the second last fight was something like an arena match. Your 5man group faces off against a five separate bosses each with a different class and class abilities.
This fight is very similar but with 10v6 (or 25v10 for 25 man raids). So your raid will be facing off against a group of NPCs from the opposite faction. The exact composition will change from raid to raid, but not from wipe to wipe. So once you start the encounter you will be fighting the same setup for the rest of the lockout.

Class Champions
Alliance Horde
Death knight Tyrius Duskblade Gorgrim Shadowcleave
Druid (Moonkinr) Kavina Grovesong Birana Stormhoof
Druid (Resto) Melador Valestrider Erin Misthoof
Hunter Alyssia Moonstalker
& cat pet
& cat pet
Mage Noozle Whizzlestick Ginselle Blightslinger
Paladin (Heal) Velanaa Liandra Suncaller
Paladin (Retribution) Baelnor Lightbearer Malithas Brightblade
Priest (Holy/Disc hybrid) Anthar Forgemender Caiphus the Stern
Priest (Shadow) Brienna Nightfell Vivienne Blackwhisper
Rogue Irieth Shadowstep Maz’dinah
Shaman (Heal/Caster) Saamul Thrakgar
Shaman (Enhancement) Shaabad Broln Stouthorn
Warlock Serissa Grimdabbler
and her felhunter
and his felhunter
Warrior Shocuul Narrhok Steelbreaker

The NPCs have many class abilities. The hunter “boss” for example does Deterrence, Disengage, Steady Shot, Wyvern Sting, Aimed Shot, Explosive Shot, Frost Trap and Wing clip. So it’s safe to assume each boss has many of the abilities you would associate with them and you should act accordingly.

Because of the fact the fight will have a different composition each time, and because there are so many targets, there is not a simple strategy for this fight. However, I can certainly make some observations.

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What glyphs should I take?

July 28, 2009 at 6:07 pm (Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Glyphs, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Mind Flay, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Spells)

Picks first, then there is a run down of all the majo glyphs incase you want a little more information.

PicksGlyph screen

Discipline Picks

I raid with Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Flash Heal, and Glyph of Power Word: Shield. In ten mans I would consider dropping Flash Heal for Glyph of Prayer of Healing if you can spare the mana.

Holy Picks

My picks would be Guardian Spirit, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing. If you need more mana take Flash Heal over Guardian Spirit for 10 mans, and over Prayer of Healing for 25 mans.

Shadow Picks

My picks would be Shadow, Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Flay as they offer the best DPS boosts and the range advantage from Mind Flay glyph can be a massive boost in certain situations.

Rundown of all the options:


Dispersion : Reduces the cooldown on Dispersion by 45 sec.

You should not really have mana issues as Shadow so being able to use Dispersion more often would only really be useful for avoiding damage. It doesn’t work on many dangerous boss abilities. Essentially this is a PvP glyph and not worth it for PvE.

Mind Flay : Increases the range of your Mind Flay spell by 10 yards, but it only reduces the target’s movement speed by 10%.

A definite PvE glyph and not a bad one. For fights with positioning advantages like Hodir, Iron Council, Vezax etc where you don’t always have a choice where to stand, this glyph is a really nice one. Even where it doesn’t matter where you stand, any time you spend chasing the boss to get in range is a huge amount of wasted DPS.

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Boy in a Bubble – Part 2

June 26, 2009 at 1:14 pm (5 mans, Borrowed Time, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Power Word: Shield, Raiding, Spells, Talents)

## Absorbs Increase Health

## Heals replace lost health

If a player is going to get killed in a single hit then a shield may save them, a heal will not. This is because a shield is (sort of) increasing the health of the player pre-emptively, whilst a heal is purely reactive. If the thing you are reacting to is a one giant hit, or a very fast series of hits, then you would have no opportunity to cast a heal. A shield on the other hand is perfect for this sort of situation so long as you can predict the hit coming.

This is how the very best healers I’ve met are able to make a life or death difference within a raid, and a Discipline priest in particular. A priest who can keep track of the fight and know who is about to take damage can pre-empt that damage and save players from nasty boss abilities or (in the case of stepping on land mines, or in fire) save players from themselves.

However, the ability of a shield to save a target will depend on two things:

  1. The health of the target

  2. The size of the incoming damage.

The higher the health of a target the less likely it is that a shield will make a big difference. If you have an epic geared tank with 50k health he’s not going to get killed quickly. You can take a break and make a sandwich come back and still cast Greater Heal in plenty of time. A shield just isn’t necessary. In the few cases where there is enough damage flying around to get him killed fast, chances are a small Power Word: Shield wouldn’t make a difference. What I mean is, if a tank has 50k health a shield will only save them from a hit which is between 50 and 56k. On the other hand, Pain Suppression would have saved the tank from anything up to 87k, and for a single hit Guardian Spirit would have saved him from anything. So the higher the health of the target the less likely a shield can make a significant difference.

On the other hand, with lower health targets there are much more opportunities to save them with shields. For example I did Eye of Eternity today and it occurred to me that Malygos’ Vortex is a great example of where a player may take a substantial amount of damage, without you having the opportunity to heal them. It would be impossible to cast Pain Suppression on every raid member, and often a player is out of range for the entire vortex meaning you have no opportunity to heal them. Casting a Power Word: Shield before the vortex is a good solution.

So again, Absorb effects are very powerful as a way of blunting the impact of large attacks. But they are at their most useful compared to regular heals when you are using them on lower health targets, or target who would otherwise die straight away. Obviously it goes without saying that they are good instant cast “heals” so they should definitely be used on the tank at every opportunity. However if things start to go wrong Shields are much less effective at saving a tank than Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit, whilst they are still very good for casting on Raid Members.

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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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