How to Smite Heal Your Way through Heroics and Raids

I’ve written about the Archangelism spec and style before, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make it work at all on live. I thought it might’ve been a personal “learn to play” issue on my end and it turned out that’s what it was. Conversing with Priests who prefer the style of Archangel and Evangelism, I ultimately learned that I was doing it wrong.

A Fresh Slate

First thing’s first. Wipe out everything you know about Discipline healing. Approach it with the eye of a new healer because I would refer to this as the 6th healing spec in the game.

Setting up

The spec

33/8/0 is a spec I’m currently experimenting with with heroics and raids.

Essential glyphs

Select whichever Prime glyphs you like as it’s more personal style than anything else. I personally shoot for:

The Major glyph you must have:

The style of play

Atonement is the key talent here. Damage dealt with Smite heals the closest, weakest target which is usually the tank. Think of Smite as the spell used in place of Heal. Use it to help soften the blows your tank will take. When they get to a certain health level, switch back to Penance or healing spells and get the tank back up to the green.

So when do I trigger Archangel?

Do not look at Archangel as a mana return talent. Look at it as a healing buff talent. When you use Archangel, your healing spells get buffed. The tradeoff is that Smite does not get that extra damage boost therefore you must rely on actual healing spells during the period the period that Archangel is used. You must keep an eye on the buff timer though.

For me, everything clicked when I looked at it as a form of stance dancing: Smite healing during slow and steady periods and then activating Archangel to begin casting standard healing spells (Prayer of Healing, Shields and Penance) during intense moments.

When Evangelism is able to be stacked up again, resume the Smite fest.

Numbers wise, Smite will heal anywhere from 9.5k to me to top end critical heals of 15k+ with a mix of dungeon blues and heroic dungeon blues.

Problems

In a raid environment, you don’t have precise control over who gets the heal. I’ve had the Heal off of Smite hit a Bloodworm or a hunter pet instead of the tank (or worse, Ret Paladins). Quick reactions were needed to level off the tank with a Power Word: Shield or something. It’s because of this variability that I wouldn’t use this for raid healing unless there was a gimmick about the encounter.

An example of this is the Halfus encounter. The more drakes and whelps you take down, the more damage your Smite does which leads to stronger heals.

Another issue I ran into is that I’d let my Evangelism stacks fall off. Either I was moving around or the group started to take damage. At the first sign of not being able to refresh Evangelism, activate Archangel so you don’t incur the mana loss.

It’s certainly a fun spec to play and offers a fresh change to the normal healing grind that Priests have had. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Just don’t forget that you have other healing spells in the event things start going sour, so please use them.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. Do you recommend any specific macros for targeting?
    I didn’t try Smite healing yet, but I think it might be useful to set the tank as focus and let Smite attack the focustarget via macro.
    Did you do it like this, target freely or use some other way of targeting?

    • Miraine: Yeah, focus targeting’s a start. I personally used target of target or even just manually targeting if I knew in advance which tank was picking up what target in a raid. If I knew my tank was picking up square, I’d just target him and start Smiting away.

      Also, you don’t want to just mindlessly spam Smite. If the tank’s at full health, lay off for a bit or hit him with a shield until his health starts dipping again.

  2. I’d probably use focus target like you mentioned, or a ToT if i always have the tank selected as primary target.

    Still have to be a bit adaptable in any case that you need focus for a fight mechanic.

  3. Blizzard has played around with DPS builds for healing specs (Smite priest, Shockadin) but this is the first time of a spec that heals others while you DPS. Do you think Blizzard is using this as a thought for a possible hero class for the next expansion? Do you think the concept can be made viable enough to bring to a raid, possibly not exactly how Atonement is built right now but with the same general thought of DPS makes healing or healing makes DPS? (ie deal damage to your target’s target equal to X% of healing done) Or do you think this is strictly a novelty like the smite priest or shockadin that will never make it to the next level?

    Lykkos

    • Lykkos: I can see them experimenting with the concept and using priests as a guinea pig. I specced into Archangelism last week on Halfus. I had no difficulty on trash when healing one of the tanks. When the DPS switched over to the Atoned trash though, my heals became less consistent on the tank. At that point though, I trip Archangel and just blast the powered up healing spells.

      I personally think it’s going to continue to be a novelty thing. From a game mechanics perspective, think about what it would mean for the game if a class could both DPS and heal competitively at the exact same time. The balance for it seems to be okay for the time being. I’m waring of having an expansion featuring a monk class though. It’s going to just be a wait and see.

  4. Nice write up. I’m just getting into my Worgen Priest alt and decided to go Disc with him. Couldn’t quite figure out if Atonement was worth it or not but, heck, looks like a lot of fun 🙂

  5. Interesting to read that someone is giving this a serious shot. while I endorse the idea of ‘healing through dps’ in MMOs and have seen it implemented very well in a few (AoC comes to mind first), I think Blizzard’s concept for this was given very little time to mature. it might be a nice ‘gimmick’ or option for more laidback encounters and 5mans, but you pointed out yourself, it suffers from some substantial issues such as control and opportunity. I would also like to see a lot more synergies for it, rather than just the 1 talent.

  6. Smite healing took a while for me to get used to, too, but I’m starting to really enjoy it. Keeping the stacks up can be kind of a pain, but I think a lot of the fun is in juggling that extra ball while trying to do all of the ordinary healer things.

    One thing I have found to be helpful is to use Power Infusion once the tank’s PW:S has fallen off. This helps me to get the stacks to 5 (if they aren’t already) and to produce more healing (by casting Smite rapidly). In terms of damage output, using Smite and PI seems to help a lot with downing the first burn target in trash packs.

  7. There’s a post by Malevica over on Type H for Heals that states they did a hotfix to correct Atonement/Smite getting included the healing modifiers (Source-http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/1232869 Dec 21)

    Were you aware of the hotfix for your post? I want to make sure I am maxing out my efficiency while I’m having a blast with Smite healing. I use it 75% of the time in heroics. Haven’t ventured into raids yet, so we’ll see how it goes.

    • Mystris: Indeed I was aware of it which was what prompted the post. I noticed the changes to the modifiers were made and had to give it a shot. In theory, it looked like it could work. But in practice, it wasn’t largely because I didn’t quite know how to play it. A few pointers from other priests and everything made sense.

  8. When they fixed the range on Atonement and made healing modifiers buff it I swapped over, and I’ve been very happy with it. The main reason is that you don’t really give up much to get it. Those five talent points that support smiting don’t do a lot in other locations. I don’t so much think of myself as a Smite priest as just as a discipline priest. I don’t pay undue attention to Smite, stacks or Archangel, I just know it is one of my heals.

    This may change in 4.0.6 when a few other talents become better and present a real contest.

    I have one question about your spec, though. I find it a little strange that you would take Soul Warding and not take Glyph of Power Word: Shield. If you find yourself casting PW:S more often than just-enough-to-get-Rapture-ticks, then wouldn’t that glyph be stronger than PW:B?

    • Sthenno: Good question about the talents and the glyphs. The way I reasoned, I wanted to try to maximize my ability to heal as many players as possible. I found Penance to be an automatic requirement. Power Word: Barrier glyph is tremendous in certain key situations. Weighing the pros and cons, I went for that because I knew there would be times where we stacked accordingly. The last call was between PW:Shield and Prayer of healing. Again, I leaned heavily towards the raid healing side just in case and stuck with the Prayer of Healing glyph.

      As for the talent of Soul Warding, that’s something that is still up in the air. I’ve always liked the ability to cast shields on multiple targets one after the other. I didn’t do it for the Rapture. I’m still deciding alternative spots to invest the points.

  9. What I would like to know is what kind of dps can I expect from a smite heal specc?
    If your gear ilvl is around 333.

    Greets, Keesi

  10. Beamish says:

    Very nice article. TY. I have been gone for sometime. You have always helped me look less noobish TY

  11. Chauncey says:

    As a leveling disc. priest at level 48 now, I can at least highly recommend Archangel/Atonement for leveling. I do have heirloom gear, which helps a bit, so I can spam smites and even toss in a penance for low mana cost with maintaining 5 stacks of evangelism. I have no problems healing this way and usually pull third on the dps meter. I know this will not last however. I’m anxious to see how I fare in the cataclysm content.

  12. Pleiades says:

    I just wanted to chip in to say I 100% support Atonement healing. I’m into normal raiding at the moment, ilvl 351, halfway through BoT and BWD. Atonement works wonderfully for building up power for the big blast of heals. Plus, the wings are purdyful …

    Anyway, Smite healing is the bomb.

  13. I’ve played around with AA/Atonement and straight disc. I will admit that my stacks often do fall off so I have my found my focus to be power shield/power infusion to get 5 quick smite stacks and use that with the next burst of big damage. That way I’m not wasting that time spent quite so much. I found that this spec helps just enough to not drop it although it’s a completely different playstyle that I have to adjust to. At this point in time, though, we’re not able to just sit back and smite Maloriak the whole fight like many other priests claim they can do. Maybe one day 🙂

Trackbacks

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