Playing Holy at Level 85

It’s slightly different playing Holy at 85 compared to 80.

As a Holy Priest, do not get yourself locked into the idea of sticking to a set rotation.  For DPS players, a rotation is often necessary as it helps them maximize their DPS output (usually). Being a healer though, you need to be both proactive and reactive. You must balance healing incoming damage with your available mana. I’m going to use a new term in this post called “the hit”.

Now what is “the hit”? In general terms, “the hit” is an ability or spell by a boss which deals enough damage which might kill players if they’re not healed up in the next few seconds. For example, Dragon Breaths are “the hit”. Any really massive explosion can be considered “the hit”. Fusion Punch is an example of a tank about to be the victim of “the hit”. It must be a severe enough blow to almost cause you to crap your pants.

So treat this post as a set of guidelines that will help you with your priority: Keeping players alive.

On the tank

Your primary spells are going to be Heal, Flash Heal and Greater Heal. Heal is going to be your go-to spell in most cases. For Chakra, you’ll want to enter the Serenity state. Once you cast a Renew, continue to refresh it with Heal. Don’t dish out Power Word: Shield as often if there’s a Disc Priest in that raid group. Should your tank experience “the hit”, immediately start with a Power Word: Shield (you might be in a 5-man or something). Follow it up with a Prayer of Mending. Then a Renew. And chain cast either Flash Heal (if said tank is ridiculously low health) or Heal.

2-3 players

There are going to be situations where the tank takes a steady stream of damage followed by another player or two taking “the hit” to their health. In most cases, the 2 players hit won’t be hit again for some time. Give the tank as big a buffer as possible (Usually a Shield and a Renew). Renew will extend the life span of the tank before it falls low. Switching to the health of the non-tanks, let loose a Renew on them. If you feel uneasy, follow it up with a quick Flash Heal. My casts involve a Renew on both wounded non-tanks. Flash Heal gets them out of imminent danger. Renew keeps ticking on them (and should force their health to get there).

Warning: May not work for players who stand in melee cleave range. Stronger tactics, like shouting at them, may be necessary.

4-5 players

It’s essentially the same plan except you want to have the Serenity Chakra active (and preferably not used until the 4+ players have taken a hit). If you’re expecting “the hit”, then it doesn’t matter who you cast Prayer of Mending on as “the hit” is going to strike everyone (which means a 100% chance to shuffle to a different player). After “the hit”, place a Holy Word: Serenity on top of your (hopefully stacked) group. Personally, I prefer to follow up by dropping Circle of Healing on the group and then one or two Prayer of Healing casts should be enough to get them high enough on health.

However, if you think you have time, the alternative is to Prayer of Healing the group and then Renew them all. That takes about 5 seconds.

I know mana’s a big issue right now, but I want to stress the concept of time awareness to healers. Many player deaths I’ve seen in the past could’ve easily been prevented had healers not been stingy with mana. I include myself in that category.

5+ players

This is where true triage (which is pronounced tree-age) begins.

After “the hit”, cue up a Chakra followed by Prayer of Healing. Let’s get that Echo of Light working right away. At this point, you can either go for the AoE heal burn and continue to chain combinations of Prayer of Healing, Sanctuary and Holy Nova (thereby tanking your mana) or become an efficient and selective healing machine.

I would actually recommend option 1 if you believe the boss is going to die sometime soon (like 10% left or something, just go all in).

Option 2 is going to require additional on-the-fly thinking and prioritizing. As strange as it sounds, I don’t approach it from the standpoint of who needs healing. I take the opposite approach and think who doesn’t need healing. Just use process of elimination and heal backwards.

  • Are there Ice Blocked Mages or Bubbled Paladins? If yes, skip them.
  • Are there players who are under imminent threat like being chased by an orange goo or affected by some kind of debuff which ticks their health? If no, skip them and heal the threatened players first.
  • Are there players who are above 50% health? If yes, skip them.
  • Are ranged players at high risk of another AoE attack? If no, skip them.
  • Are melee players at high risk of another AoE attack? If no, skip them.
  • Are tanks at really low health and your assigned tank healers dad? Heal them to safe levels.

You may need to interchange the 3rd and 4th option depending on the encounter. As I’m healing, I like to remove players off the priority list based on their ability to survive (maybe I see a Pain Suppression up on them, or an incoming heal on that player). You eliminate the players who are safe in your mind and get to the players who could die soon. At that point, it’s just pick one. If you wait too long, they could all die.

Participating in 10-man raids is a great eye opener for everyone. I had to readjust and refine my priorities slightly.

Actually, use a Divine Hymn first. That should solve the first salvo. Then you’ll need to think on your feet for the next set.

I’m going to tack this post on the side and periodically update it with other common healing situations as they arise. Remember, treat it as a set of guidelines. Stay flexible in your choice and don’t overthink your healing. Just heal already.

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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. How often would you use Heal in a 10-man? I would assume it probably depends on whether or not you’re assigned to tank heal, so to be more specific, how often would you use Heal if you’re assignment is raid healing i.e. how often would you cast Heal on a non-tank?

    Also, a big “thank you” for these posts. I was not able to participate in the Beta, so this kind of information is invaluable.

    • Relatively speaking, it’ll consist of about 40-50% of your casts. I ended 10 man fights at about 10-25% mana with heroic dungeon quality gear.

      Lots of Whack a Moling will be needed.

  2. Matt I think you meant Sanctuary Chakra and HW Sanctuary under 4-5+ players, yes?

  3. Yeaaaah, I’m going to check that again. These crazy name changes…

  4. SOmetimes Shouting is the strongest cooldown in the priest’s arsenal.

  5. We typically don’t assign healing roles in our 10 man raids. We simply heal whoever needs it and it always seems to work out well. Do you think there is anything at level 85 that will make us want to change our approach? Also, do you think we’ll want to be starting the level 85 raid content with 3 healers?

    Thanks for the thought-provoking posts. I really enjoy them, and they are especially helpful since I haven’t had any personal exposure to the beta or PTR.

  6. As the expansion gets closer, I’ve been looking at the crafted gear available (a boost in the gearing up process). Of the two slots that you can craft with tailoring, only one has spirit available. Is the occasional piece of non-spirit gear mana suicide? Or could the intellect upgrade from a lower ilevel be worth the loss of spirit?

    Blizzard has spirit as a “secondary” stat now for the most part – ie. the loss of spirit in kings; however, in gearing a holy priest, it really seems like it is a primary stat. It really seems like gearing is spirit and choice of mastery, crit, and haste. (Probably in the orde listed… I’m still thinking it through). What is your perspective on the centrality of spirit in gear choices for a holy priest from 81 to 85.

    • Nzete: Don’t forget about Reforging. I know the piece yyu’re talking about. You can always switch out a different stat to add Spirit.

  7. This is exactly the kind of post I was looking for to jump start healing at 85. Thank you!

  8. Hi I was wondering about gear and Priority? I have read your site since bc 🙂 and have to say think your great and appreciate all the info you have given over the years. I did not see anything on what you thought priority on gear should be. I have been stacking intel. and reforging non helpful stats(est: crit) to spirit when need be. Anything else you can add to this??

    Thanks

    • Hey Shawnna, thanks for being an avid reader for so long! ^^

      All the secondary stats for a priest are almost all equally appealing. Mastery is great because it’s good for practically ANY spell (as it activates from our healing and it stacks as well). You should be grabbing as much Spirit as you can. I th ink around 1800-2000 should be enough. Then gradually start picking up Intellect. After raid buffs, when I have around 90000 mana, I started investing and reforging into Mastery and Haste. My haste needs work as I’m sitting around 7%. You should try to aim for more. I have an ungodly amount of Master. Something like 18% (Might need to check my armory on Ner’zhul).

      When reforging, I’ve been reforging out of crit and either into haste or mastery. Don’t reforge out of too much crit. You still need to have a healthy amount to help ensure your various procs can still occur like Inspiration.

      To be honest, it really is up to your own style of play. We’re one of the few classes in the game where you just can’t go wrong investing in any of the secondary stats. All of them are beneficial in some way. I would try bringing them up at an even pace for now. Maybe lean a bit more towards Mastery.

  9. Hello,

    I got a question, if your getting Echo of light means thats the Healing over time of your prayer of mending is going away? maybe a stupid question but it was nice to have the healing over time on prayer of mending you know, its still easy healing but echo of light is like uhm you need to mastery it to heal more whit it right, or what? please tell me some things that would help me whit healing.

    Greets Claires

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