There appear to be two schools of thought when it comes to Priests and raiding.
Old School: Mana efficiency, conservation, rhythms.
New School: Doing whatever it takes to keep the damn tank alive even if it means going OOM (Out of mana).
Back during the Pre-BC raids where there 40 people (25 skilled players and 15 afk players), Priests could get away with following the five second rule. With the decrease in raid sizes, I’m going to make the ultimate no duh statement and say that each player has a far greater and more noticeable impact then before.
A lot of Priests seem to discourage the use of Power Word Shield until they absolutely need to citing that it takes up far too much mana for a not-so-great return. I am one of the few priests who did not spec reduced threat (Silent Resolve) or Martyrdom. I placed my 2nd tier points into Improved Fortitude and Improve Shields. Shields are improved by 15% along with an additional 20% of your +healing attached to it. I will explain my thoughts on Silent Resolve in one of my Priest sections later on.
The damage prevention to mana cost ratio sucks: True.
This leads to an impracticality of spamming Power Word Shield: True.
But listen to my next point. Even though the damage prevention scaling is not the greatest, it is important to remember that as your gear is getting better, your mana regeneration increases. You’re gaining more mana back and you can afford to cast it more often. You don’t need to spam it every time the Weakened Soul debuff is active on the tank. But you can spam it on other members of the raid who need it. Good priests don’t have tunnel vision. Even if you cannot afford to expend the time or the mana to heal another raid member, you can blow a global cooldown and shield him and let another healer do it for you while you return to your healing assignment on the main tank.
I can understand in parties why you would be hesitant to do something like that unless it was a dire emergency. But raiding is not quite the same as partying and some players have difficulty grasping that. You have access to a lot more utilities with 25 players then you would with only 5.
Ways to regenerate your mana:
Super Mana Potions
Food: Blackened Sporefish
Flasks: Mighty Restoration, Shattrath Flask of Restoration, or Unstable Flasks of the Physician (Gruul’s Lair only)
Oils: Superior Mana Oil, Brilliant Mana Oil (If you have the time to grab Large Brilliant Shards)
Elixirs: Major Mageblood and another elixir combination of your choice
Shadow Priest: Vampiric Touch
Shamans: Mana Spring Totem, Mana Tide Totem
Paladins: Blessing of Wisdom, Judgment of Wisdom
Other: Spellsurge Enchants
With all of those effects, there is a lot of mana being returned and Priests can last for a long time.
The stinginess amazes me. I’ve witnessed tanks or other important impact players go down because a priest wanted to let their heal cast finish. If your tank absorbs a huge hit which drops them from 100% to 15%, you better take a step forward and backward to cancel your heal and light up your Power Word Shield, Renew, and Prayer of Mending. Otherwise, that extra half a second that you wait to let your heal finish could mean the end of your raid. Don’t even think about it. Just react! It’s okay. I don’t think I’ve ever met a raid leader who would get pissed off at a Priest for allowing the tank to live. So what if he’s inefficient? So what if he doesn’t end up with full mana? What kind of Priest ends up with full mana at the end of a raid? A lazy one, that’s who. I would take an alive tank paired with an “oom” Priest over a dead tank and a topped off Priest any day.
This has been one of the few things that have constantly frustrated me. When I raid with another holy priest in Karazhan and we have separate healing assignments and his assignment dies, I ask him: Did you shield him?
His response: No, I don’t like PW:S. It’s inefficient.
Who cares if it’s inefficient? The end result justifies the means.
I remember during Blackwing Lair on the insane 30 minute Chromagus fights, Priests would take turn taking breaks from healing to spirit their way back to full mana. I consistently blew Major Mana Potions, Dark Runes, and Tubers to prevent players from collapsing. I don’t think many new players know what they were, but they’re just consumables which returned mana on different cooldown timers.
If you need to Shield spam your tank, then Shield spam your tank.
If you need to max rank Flash Heal spam your tank, then you do it.
If you need to pull aggro on other ads to keep your tank alive, then macro an unequip on your weapons and bite the bullet.
If you need to heal without mana, keep a stack of bandages handy (No joke, I’ve healed ranged DPS with bandages but it paid off with the guild first boss kill).
At the end of the day, if one person in your raid is left standing and that big bad beast of a boss is not moving, then you can relax knowing that you have succeeded. No matter what happens, your duty as a Holy Priest is to the health of your raid and your tanks. Everything else is secondary only to that primary goal.
Hydross of SSC has an approximately 9-10 minute enraged timer in which he goes berserk and starts going all Tie Domi on the raid. Innervate has a 6 minute cooldown. I know that I am able to last for a long time without an innervate until the 8-9 minute marks. I made a deal with my druid where I would blow as much mana as I could within the first minute or so of the fight. My 600 damage smites or 800 damage mind blasts aren’t going to pull aggro off our tanks. If they are, something is definitely wrong with the tanks and I should just gquit. After I finish spamming Shields, Smites, Renews, or whatever will get me down to about 60% mana, I whisper him to light up his innervate on me. Voila, I’m back to full mana, Hydross is down to 80% instead of 83% and I’m back to heal mode.
Be creative, guys. Think of ways you can help the raid even when there’s nobody to heal. Improvise and think on your feet. I will stress this one more time, do what you need to do to win (short of cheating or exploiting… those are big no no’s).