Revisiting the Healing Circle

Revisiting the Healing Circle

Ever gone skydiving as a group before? That’s probably a no. I know I haven’t. Would crap my pants if I did.

There’s a whole element of trust that’s going on up there especially when pulling off different formations. People need to know what to do, when to do it and where they need to be. Healing in raids has that similar mindset.

Thanks to Rooster for asking me to fill out one of these for 4.2. It’s certainly been a while!

Name, class and spec: [A] Matticus, Holy Priest (Ner’zhul)

What is your primary group healing environment? 25 man progression raiding

What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?

Guardian Spirit. Such an elegant spell. A snap of a wrist and what could be dead is instead alive. Under the right circumstances, it separates a mediocre Holy Priest from a truly exceptional Holy Priest. Use it for extra power and brute force healing or use it as a form of finesse. Only the ballsiest of healers would even consider using Guardian Spirit and intentionally stop healing to trigger the proc and resume healing again.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

 Heal. I’ve started phasing it out of my spell usages. It just doesn’t do enough anymore. It’s level of efficiency is amazing but in this environment, that efficiency goes out the window when you’re relying on bomb heals or fast heals.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Our flexibility allows us to remain competitive and diverse. We can respond to any number of situations with different spells. We can squeeze into multiple demanding roles. If you’re out there recruiting a healer and you’re not sure which class to go for, you can almost never go wrong with recruiting a priest.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

The fact that we don’t have as much fashion selection as the other classes. The spirit cloth is lacking in drops. I know the rest of it comes from valor, vendors and crafting. On a more serious note, I can’t think of any significant weaknesses right now that I can’t play around.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

I thrive under high pressure situations. I love having the hard assignments. Anything that involves moving, dispelling, dodging  or other complicated mechanics are the ones I volunteer for first.

Which healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

No preference! If I had to pick a class, probably Shaman. Can’t go wrong with Shaman. Actually, I’d rather just have their Mana Tide totem. Don’t need the Shaman!

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Druids. They make me look bad. Other than that, from a leads perspective, they don’t offer much raid utility other than Tranquility and Rebirth. Other healing classes have great mitigation or resistance cooldowns that I can use on a larger scale. I can use them pre-emptively and not be wrong. With Tranquility, if I use it too early I end up having wasted healing. If I call for it too late, I’ll have deaths. It’s not that I don’t like pairing with them in raids. It just feels like there is an extremely fine line in maximizing the spell.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

I tend to frontload my spells a lot. By the time we get to the last part of an encounter, I’m usually scraping the bottom of the mana pool barrel. I try to compensate for this by getting a better read of how long the fight is expected to take and coordinating my trinkets and consumables accordingly.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

Getting blamed for healing problems when it’s not a healing problem. Apparently every problem can be solved with getting better healers. Sometimes it is a healing problem. But usually, the root cause can be traced to movement, coordination or assignments. I’ve written a healing blog for years. I’ve been hired specifically to contribute my expertise to WoW Insider as a healing columnist. Lack of healers has never been a problem because we have so much depth in place. I will never rest until I have a slam dunk healing corps. It’s difficult for non-healers to understand and read how healing meters operate. Because of this, we’re placed under a microscope and compared numerically across World of Logs.

Generally, it’s not a healing throughput problem. It’s a healing smarts problem except it gets magnified when it’s a tank or a healer who makes the mistake.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Y

Yes. Considering Priests didn’t get any significant buffs or nerfs, it appears we’re right where we’re supposed to be overall.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

  • World of Logs: The logs don’t lie and I can see a list of details of what happened and what didn’t.
  • Fraps: In addition to making kill videos, I use the footage just to watch myself play and see if there’s anything that can be improved on. In between attempts, I’ll watch the videos to see what events led up to a wipe. Sometimes it’s something as simple as using the wrong spell or being in the wrong place.
  • Phoenix Style: It’s a type of fail addon that lists significant debuffs that players get

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That Holy Priests are unable to tank healing and Disc Priests are unable to raid heal. We can do them. We may not be the best selection for it, but it doesn’t mean we’re completely crippled. Ask a healer to do the job and let them handle the method.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

Decision making. Some healing spells are more “righter” than others to use. In other cases it doesn’t matter. For example, when it comes to single target healing you can use several combinations:

Pick one and run with it. If your spell usage is incorrect, at least you’ll know next time. A pattern I notice in new Priests (and new healers) is that there tends to be some cases where they just sit there and nothing is being done. It’s as if they’re overthinking it too much and trying to decide between the next move to use. Unlike DPS classes, healing has many right answers.

Remember that indecision is a decision and is rarely correct.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see?

I need someone to audit me. I tend to be all over the place. Perhaps the most common theme is lack of efficiency. I’m so paranoid of letting players die that I’ll use a bomb heal when a smaller one would’ve done the job. I end up paying the price for it late in the encounter anyway.

Haste or Crit and why?

Haste, no contest. Although Crit isn’t as bad as it used to be.

What healing class do you feel you understand least? They’re all overwhelming in their own ways. Even Priests.

What addons or macros do you use to aid you in healing?

Grid and Vuhdo are the two big ones I’ve traditionally used. For the time being, it’s just Grid. Look into the Grid_QuickHealth.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats or do you stack some much higher than others and why?

This really depends on the spec I’m playing. If I’m raid healing as Holy, I’ll dump everything into Haste. If I’m tank healing and Discipline, I’ll invest points into Mastery and Crit.

I’m directing the questionnaire to Lodur and the rest of the Matticast crew. If I have to do it, it’s only fair for the minions rest of the team to do it as well!

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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.


  1. “Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Y

    Yes. Considering Priests didn’t get any significant buffs or nerfs, it appears we’re right where we’re supposed to be overall.”

    This is a disservice to your readers. Holy priests are not in a good place right now. They have some blindingly obvious scaling issues, under powered cd’s, and probably the most bloated talent tree in the whole game. But if we didn’t get nerfed or buffed we must be fine right? Questionable logic coming from someone who’s played the game for so long.


    • As of right now, I don’t feel underpowered. Pain Suppression, Power Word: Barrier, Divine Hymn and Guardian Spirit have done the job when it was necessary. I feel that it does just enough (not too much nor too little). Talentwise, I would probably cut State of Mind but every other talent has its own place. I’m not a fan of Spirit of Redemption but I understand why it’s there and the appeal to select Priests. Maybe we’ll get another set of buffs and nerfs in 4.3.

      You can balance the encounters around the class or balance the classes around the encounters. I’d rather shoot for the former. And sure as heck don’t think it’s wise to buff for the sake of buffing and nerf for nerfing. I don’t compete on the high end scale of progression but I’m not at the bottom either. I’m just above the curve. I can’t speak for every Priest in every rank, position or guild.

      4.2 came out last week. I haven’t done enough to say for certain if a buff or nerf is needed definitively. That doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind next week or next month.

  2. I have been having a hard time lately with healing. I do fine in 5 mans (I’ve kept some pretty horrible pugs from wiping, that’s for sure), but I have a hard time in raids. Mostly, because I don’t get as much practice. I heal only as an offspec – my main spec is Shadow. This means I may only get 1 or 2 attempts on a boss per month – in Wrath this wasn’t much of a problem since I could just compensate with reflexes, but in Cata raids I lose the positional sense or the rhythm of the group.

    That and we always run with a Disc Priest and Resto Druid, which seem perfectly suited to making Holy look absolutely terrible. Especially since our Disc is kind of like Matt and is pretty aggressive about heals. It is hard to heal something (and thus, show up on meters) if all the damage they take is already absorbed.

    • Don’t worry about the aggressive healers and just stick to your job – making sure the group remains stable. If the other guys are going to “snipe” heals that does not make you any less of a player. You could try to just heal players up to 85% and let the other healers top them off. (This makes you look better on the overhealing meter anyway.)

      Practice is important, but something you can do to supplement that is watching holy priest videos on youtube from the encounters. Get an idea where your peers are standing, what they are looking at, and then put your own flavor into it.

      You can never go wrong with bringing in a holy priest.

  3. Thanks for your response, Matt 🙂 I’ve added it to my list of all the responses I have found so far, but would love to hear from more bloggers who I have missed!

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