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.

Anubarak

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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Holy Spec

August 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm (5 mans, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Holy Spec 14/57/0, Holy Spec 18/53/0, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Talents)

Unlike a Discipline priests there really is a lot of decisions to make in choosing a Holy spec.

As you make your decisions it’s important to keep in mind what you plan on doing as a Holy Priest. You can Tank heal as a Holy Priest, but you don’t really have the single target heals that Discipline benefits from. So as a Holy Priest your job is primarily raid healing. Now if you do a lot of 5 or 10 mans then chances are you might find yourself Tank healing every now and again so, if you expect to, you should take that into account when making your talent picks. On the other hand, if you’re doing solely 25 mans then you will rarely be tank healing and should pick your talents accordingly.

Disc

So here’s a couple of possibilities:

The first focusing on Mana efficiency:  18/53/0

And the second focusing on being an AoE healing powerhouse: 14/57/0

Discipline Tree:

As a Holy priests, strangely enough, your first major decision is how far you are going into Discipline. The realistic options are either 13, 14, or 18 points.

13 Points

Thirteen points is obligatory to pick up meditation. Without Meditation you gain zero (absolutely zero!) mana back from Spirit while casting. Without meditation you will either run out of mana, or spend so much item budget on MP5 and intellect that your healing will be awful. If tanks run away screaming whenever you join a group, check you have 3/3 Meditation.

14 Points

If you want it, the fourteenth point goes into Inner Focus. Inner Focus is also a mana talent. With a three minute cooldown, you will use it 2 or 3 times a boss fight. Assuming you use it on your most expensive spells (once on Divine Hymn and two times on Prayer of Healing) you are saving something like 4,500 mana, and gaining a 25% crit chance on those casts. For the 4,500 mana alone, that’s as good talent point.

18 Points

The final option is to take Mental Agility. As a Holy priest 3 of your 5 main spells (Circle of Healing, Renew and Prayer of Mending) are instant cast. So 10% less cost on those spells is a lot of mana. Furthermore this is nothing to do with your gear. So if you are just starting out and you have mana issues, getting Mental Agility is a good way to keep up with better geared healers. You’ll have to waste a point to get to Mental Agility, usually it’s in Improved Power Word: Shield, but it really doesn’t matter too much where it goes. Wasting a point can feel messy, but really, Mental Agility is good, if you are starting up and are having mana problems, or you’re doing hard modes, you might have a good hard look at this spec.

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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:

Shadow

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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Serendipity & Prayer of Healing

July 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm (Binding Heal, Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Glyphs, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Serendipity, Spells, Surge of Light, Talents)

By far the biggest heal in a Priests arsenal is Prayer of Healing and even with the upcoming 3.2 nerf it out heals every other Priest spell by a long way. Greater heal crits for around fourteen thousand, Prayer of Healing currently crits for twice that! What Serendipity gives you is the ability to blast the raid with giant Prayers of Healing at a moment’s notice.

Using stacks of Serendipity you can be dropping a Prayer of Healing as fast as you could cast a flash heal. The key is being able to build up Serendipity stacks as fast as possible, and being able to use them at the right time.

Serendipity wills stack whenever you cast a Flash Heal or a Binding Heal. Flash Heal is not a fantastic raid heal spell. It’s fast but it’s only one target out of the whole raid. Binding Heal is usually the better choice so long as you aren’t overhealing too much. However Surge of Light procs give free, instant cast Flash Heals which is not something to scoff at. Flash Heal is not the best raid heal, but it fills a role.

The Circle of Life:

The result is a really neat synergy.

Circle of Healing will do AoE healing and probably proc Surge of Light.

You spend you free Flash Heal for healing and a Serendipity buff.

Throw out a renew on a player for a small instant heal (and possible Surge of Light proc).

You cast Binding Heal for more healing, more chance of crits, and more Serendipity buffs.

You cast Prayer of Healing with 2-3 haste buffs and in the process probably proc Surge of Light again.

Back to Circle of Healing and repeat.

So the idea here is to let Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Surge of Light and Binding/Flash heals top up the people really in trouble whilst Prayer of Healing takes massive advantage of the Serendipity buffs to land giant splash heals on whole groups at a time.

So that’s how we get Serendipity buffs, but how to best use them?

Making the best use of Prayer of Healing

Prayer of Healing will hit 5 people in a specific group. So it’s important we think very hard about which 5 players to heal. Because it’s not a smart heal we can’t rely on it to heal the 5 people most in need of it. Therefore it’s up to us to ensure that the people who need healing are all in the same group.

We do that by careful use of our “filler” spells, the things we used to generate our Serendipity buffs. So for example, we cast Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Renew, Flash Heal and Binding Heal to help generate our Serendipity stacks. If we were to throw these out randomly we would not expect to have a good target for Prayer of Healing. Chances are that no single party would have 5 players on low health, they’d each have a mix of players near death and players at full.

This is what I call spot healing, and it’s the bread and butter of a good healer. You aren’t just healing anybody who needs it, you’re being careful about the sorts of heals you use, and who you use them on to create a situation where you can benefit the most from your real powerhouse heals. If you just go crazy with Prayer of Healing straight off the bat individual players may not survive long enough to see that Prayer land. So topping up players before trying to cast a Prayer is an important stage, and with Serendipity you benefit even more from this Spot Healing stage. Once people are out of danger and you have created a nice juicy target group, that’s when you come in with the big slow heals like Prayer of Healing.

So the process of generating our Serendipity buffs is important to helping us make the best use of our Prayer of Healing. We want to spread these heals out to leave us a good target for Prayer of Healing: A party of 5 players on more or less the same health, and with plenty of health deficit so we aren’t wasting mana on overhealing.

Some of our heals will do this automatically. Prayer of Mending and Circle of Healing will heal targets on the lowest health so they automatically help to balance out everybody’s health. All we need to do is be thoughtful about Binding Heal, Flash Heal and Renew.

An example of what I mean: I’m in group 1 and we’re all on low health. I want to heal a Player in group 2. Usually I’d cast Binding Heal because it’s healing me and another player at the same time. But if I’m about to cast Prayer of Healing on my party anyway, then it would make more sense to cast Flash heal on that group 2 player. If I used Binding Heal I’d just overheal myself a moment later when I cast Prayer of Healing. Binding Heal is a fantastic spell, but in this situation it’s essentially just wasted healing because I’m going to heal my group with Prayer of Healing anyway. So in this situation I should cast Flash heal and save some mana and overhealing even though Binding Heal looked like a good choice.

The goal here is to try and heal the raid in such a way that you have a nice big target for Prayer of Healing every time you cast it. If you find the other Healers in your raid are treading on your toes here, then chat to them about having specific groups you are responsible for. Perhaps you pick a group and let everybody know that you will be targeting them with most of your Prayer of Healings. Make sure it’s a group who regularly stand close to each other, perhaps a group of melee characters, then you can be sure they will take similar damage, and be in range of each other. In 25 man raiding you may find that other healers will happily do the spot healing for you, leaving you free to top the groups off. It may seem less glamarous than throwing out fast heals to save lives of individual players, but ultimately it’s all the same thing. You’re landing the big heals which are keeping the raid healthy, confident and out of the danger zone, and in the process probably doing substantially more overall healing that those focusing on catching low health players.

Tip: Glyph of Prayer of Healing is rediculously good. Rediculously rediculous. If you’re raiding as a holy priest it’s a no brainer. If you raid 10 mans as discipline you will probably find that you still do a reasonable amount of raid healing and, as such. it’s probably still worth taking a long hard look at even over something like Glyph of Flash Heal. We’ll talk later about breaking down healing meters to see how best to glyph yourself out for your style of healing.

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Overhealing and why it’s not all bad

June 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm (5 mans, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Prayer of Healing, Raiding, Spells)

If you land a healing spell which takes somebody over their maximum health then the additional healing is wasted. This additional healing is known as “Overheal”.

Many people seem to think that overhealing is the sign of a bad healer, and they’re wrong. They think that because your overheal isn’t effective, isn’t actually replacing lost health, that it is a waste. Waste in the sense of wasted mana, and wasted time taken to cast the spell. The reason they are wrong is because, many times, exactly the opposite is true. Overhealing will save you time and save you mana.

Before I go any further, let me just dismiss a common myth some people have with overhealing. If you overheal a target, the additional healing causes no threat. You only get threat from effective healing – healing that actually increases somebody’s health. If you healing isn’t effective, it isn’t producing threat. So threat is not important to our thinking about Overheal.

Now there is obviously a difference between 100% overheal on a spell (i.e. you cast Greater Heal, it landed late and you did no healing) versus casting five spells with 20% overheal each. You are wasting the same amount of healing, but in the first case that Greater Heal was essentially pointless, whereas in the 20% case you’ve topped somebody up to full health which might be important. The reason it might be important is that sometimes the fastest, or the cheapest, way to heal somebody may involve some overhealing.

Sometimes time is short and overhealing somebody is faster than not. For example it may be faster to cast a Penance and overheal for 30%, than to cast two flash heals. Or you may find that casting Prayer of Mending as soon as it is off cooldown will mean the first couple of jumps will overheal by a lot, but that may be better than waiting for more raid damage to occur if you are hard pressed to heal the tank.

At other times you may be thinking more about your mana. Overhealing is wasted healing, but that doesn’t mean it is wasted mana. For example, casting Prayer of Healing when only four people are damaged will mean at least 20% overheal. However, whilst prayer of Healing is expensive, it is cheaper than casting four Flash Heals. So given the option of 20% overheal on Prayer of Healing versus 0% overheal on four Flash Heals, the Prayer of Healing is the more mana efficient option – and by quite a long way.

So don’t be afraid of overhealing. What is important is knowing when you have the time to avoid it, and when it is cheaper not too.

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