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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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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The Great(er) Heal Debate!

August 27, 2009 at 5:15 pm (Borrowed Time, Flash Heal, Glyphs, Greater Heal, Healing Mechanics, Mana, Serendipity, Spells)

The Challenge

Is there still a place for Greater Heal in a Priest’s healing arsenal? I still use it, but I’m beginning to wonder whether it really is something I should have on my action-bar. There are certainly times that people have died because I’ve used Greater instead of Flash, but I’m prepared to work on those mistakes if I feel Greater Heal is giving me tangible benefits. So here’s the question: Does Greater heal have a significant benefit over Flash Heal in any situations?

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The differences between Flash and Greater Heal are essentially three things: a) Mana Cost, b) Size of Heal, c) Cast Time.

So lets look and see whether Greater Heal has any major advantages in one of those three things. Quick and dirty summary at the bottom of the post.

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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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