Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Atonement’s one of those really curious talents in the discipline tree. We’ve never really experienced anything like it before and I can understand the reluctance behind taking it.

But it’s got some potential. And I found it fun the few times I pulled it off.

How it works

The basic premise is that you’re unloading Smites on a hostile target. As you’re hitting them with Smite, Atonement activates and heals any player within 8 yards of the target for 100% of the damage that Smite does.

For priests at level 80
For priests at level 85

Here are the key talents:

Atonement: You absolutely need this. Its kind of the central focus. In an earlier build, Smite would heal 60/120% according to the damage dealt. In the current beta build, it dropped down to 40/80%. As of the current PTR for the 4.0.1 patch, it was raised to 50/100%.

Archangel & Evangelism: Both of these talents help with buffing the damage you’re dishing out or allowing you to get some precious mana back.

Divine Aegis: Yup, DA bubbles will appear off of heals from Atonement.

Feel free to pick and choose the rest of them according to your own play style.

Glyphs

You’ll want to get some of these glyphs to help vault your utility.

atone-glyphs

Glyph of Divine Accuracy: I know I have close to zero hit gear. For this spec to work, you need to be able to hit the boss. If you can’t hit the boss, you can’t heal.

Glyph of Smite: The Holy Fire DoT doesn’t last that long, but the does help.

Those are the two main ones and everything else is up to you. However, I would recommend:

You’re in the discipline tree anyway. May as well get some glyphs that augment that tree further.

Spell usage

Open up with a Holy Fire right away, then begin blasting away with a Smite. If you’re lucky, you’ll get in about 4 powered up Smites before th e DoT wears off. You’ll need to eyeball your mana here. Get a full stack of Evangelism going. Between Evangelism and the Glyph of Smite, it should elevate you to some reasonably comfortable numbers.

Once I notice a mana deficit of about 15 – 20%, I’ll pop Archangel and instantly get my mana back and resume Smiting.

You still have access to your healing priest spells. Don’t be tunnel visioned into believing that Smiting is the only way to heal because it isn’t. It is the main focus, but don’t forget about your other heals. Use them in a pinch if you need to. Instead of sitting back and waiting for people to take damage, you’re actively doing something which has a positive side effect.

If you’re in a smaller group environment like a 10-man or a 5-man, you’ll need to keep a closer watch on yourself and any other ranged players that aren’t standing with the melee.

In a raid environment, you can use this to your advantage. If you’re like me and contemplating the usage of a full time Smite priest, that’s one dedicated healer on the melee. That means you can focus the efforts of the other healers on the ranged players and maybe an additional one managing the tanks.

Limitations

I expect there to be some sort of diminishing return. I just don’t have the faintest clue what it would be (as in how many players before the effectiveness reduces). Unless you really want to stack your entire raid on top of the boss, the usability of this spec is going to be limited to melee friendly bosses. You don’t want to tango with Deathwhisper or Saurfang for instance. Either the ghosts or bloodbeasts will tear you and your raid up alive. You’d probably want to revert back to the traditional style of being a disc priest and resort to actual healing if those types of bosses are waiting for you.

No word yet on whether this will  be final in either the PTR or the beta. We’ll know within the next week or so.

What I need to now do is find a volunteer priest willing to go Smite heal in our raids. Anyone else planning on giving this a try when the patch kicks in?

Priests: Inner Fire vs Inner Will

We’re gaining a new self buff in the expansion. In addition to Inner Fire, we’re gaining a new one called Inner Will.

So the question is, which self buff should be used?

More power?

You can’t ever go wrong with having increased spellpower from Inner Fire. That’s an extra 1080 spellpower that you otherwise wouldn’t have had. I consider if the de facto self buff to use in most cases. The extra armor buff isn’t going to hurt either. Probably the default buff to use once our regeneration hits a point where we’re not struggling for mana as much. If I’m leveling, then I’ll definitely be using this for extra fire power.

More speed?

Inner Will reduces the mana cost of your instant spells by 15% and it increases your run speed. I’ve noticed myself resorting to using Inner Will more often in some of the dungeons I do and leaning towards a heavier spell usage involving Renew, Power Word: Shield and Prayer of Mending. This sounds like its going to be the armor buff of choice for Renew Priests if the viability is still there. Anything involving lots of running? Yeah, I’m going to toggle this on as well.

Don’t forget about Inner Sanctum. I wouldn’t spec into it normally. But if you find yourself using Inner Will more than Inner Fire just to run around faster, then it might be a worthwhile investment. I don’t know if I find the 6% spelldamage reduction side of it useful. I guess it will come down to hard mode specific fights where it would be needed to help with survivability. 6% feels a bit low to me. I mean if they were going to combine it with Spell Warding, shouldn’t it be upped to 10% instead? Of course, I’m probably forgetting the fact that we have a massive health pool.

Yes, I’m positive there are going to be encounters where that 6% is going to make or break you. Anyway, when you’re leveling, go with Inner Fire. When you’re doing dungeons or raids, use the one that’s going to benefit you the most.

Understanding New Talents and Thoughts on Priests

Last week, it was announced that talent trees would get sliced. Reason being that there was too much unnecessary crap and not enough fun talents. Most of us sort of got the idea of what they wanted to do. Include more talents that do something tangible, that we can feel or use.

Potentially free Lightning Bolt after casting a Lightning Bolt? Cool.

Gradually increasing healing by some random percentage of which you can’t really see? Not quite as exciting.

Preview the new trees and see what they’ll look like

How specialization works

Okay, so the way I understand it, the moment you ding level 10, you get to start specializing your character. The moment you invest your first talent, you get access to a myriad of spells and abilities which define that particular tree.

Let’s use a Priest for example.

As Holy

I get access to:

  • Desperate Prayer
  • Holy Priest (Pushback reduction on discipline and holy spells)
  • Meditation

As Discipline

I get access to:

  • Penance
  • Pushback resistance
  • Meditation

From what I can see, no special training is required. You are well on your way to becoming that specialized priest of your choice. There won’t be any 20/21 type builds either. You need to fully invest your points down one tree before you can fork over to a different one. The rate at which you receive talents points have been roughly halved as well. Figure you get a new point every 2 or maybe 3 levels.

What do I think?

My opinion though, I’m not sure what can be done to entice players to select holy at the lower levels. I notice a few sad face Priests when they notice that Desperate Prayer is the innate spell we get. Desperate Prayer makes the most sense for balance and logistical reasons (like what’s the point of getting Circle of Healing at level 10?) At that stage of the game, you’re hardly doing much in a party anyway. At least with the prayer, you can fire off a desperate heal if you pulled one too many murlocs.

I can’t count the number of times where I could’ve easily leveled the murlocs and their huts if I had access to Desperate Prayer.

Anyway, I can certainly see the foundation of Holy taking place. I’m trying to remember what the original 41 point talent was back in vanilla (Spirit of Redemption? Lightwell?). Now if they can just somehow throw in something new in place of Renew or Empowered Healing at the first level under Holy. What would be a decent ability at that level?

Holy seems quite top heavy in the sense that any of the deeper talents could easily fulfill the role as the 31 point talent. Guardian Spirit is the current one. Circle of Healing used to be the end talent back during Burning Crusade, if memory serves. I wouldn’t mind seeing Chakra and Guardian Spirit switched. From a symbolic perspective, I think a talent like that which gives your spells nifty bonuses whenever you string them together should be an ultimate skill.

But that’s inspired from assorted limit breaks from Final Fantasy.

From a logistical and practical standpoint? It might be better off if priests get a feel for Chakra earlier in their leveling life.

The Discipline side of things looks great! Power Word: Barrier as the 31 pointer? Awesome. It appears that Discipline is destined to be the leveling spec (due to Evangelism and Archangel).

One thing I noticed is the placement of Inner Focus. At 11 points in, it will not be accessible to Holy priests. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Inner Focus has been one of those taken-for-granted type talents that all healing priests usually get. For it to be cut off like for those that choose the path of Holy is going to be quite the impact. Here’s hoping it gets switched with Archangel.

Anyway, I like the direction the talent condensation is going. Obviously they’re not all complete or finalized yet. Some classes still have a few placeholders or leftover talents from live that aren’t supposed to be there.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a heck of a time figuring out which healing priest type I want to switch to. I’ll probably end up dual speccing both anyway. I might just go back to my roots and be straight up holy again in the expansion.

How are you liking the talents so far? (And it doesn’t have to be restricted to just priests either)!

Discipline’s Tier 10 4-piece Joke

Discipline’s Tier 10 4-piece Joke

Haha!  Hey!  Hey!  I got a great one for ya! 

“What do you call a 5% buff to Power Word: Shield?”

“Insignificant.”

Wait!  I got another one!

“Name something fun, interesting, and awesome that gets replaced by something as mundane as a bowl of rocks?”

“The Priest Tier 10 4-piece Set Bonus.”

Let’s bring everyone up to speed.  Not all priests are at a place where they can experience, or even look forward to the set bonuses of the current tier.  The current Tier 10 4-piece is as follows:

Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

Avalonna at talesofapriest.com has a great write-up of how beneficial this was to Holy Priests.  Now, I have very little knowledge of Holy, since I’m primarily (and almost solely) Discipline.

From a Discipline standpoint, this was amazing as a tank healer, or even a Discipline raid healer.  Follow me on this one, as it’s my first attempt at something resembling theory-crafting.  I apologize in advance if my numbers are off a little bit.

The “Math”

Penance is 16% of your base mana.  You get 3 pulses of healing.  I can crit all 3 for ~14k.  Flash Heal is 18% of your base mana.  With Glyph of Flash Heal and Improved Flash Heal, it’s less.  I can crit and get about ~9k (with a 3-stack of Grace).  Penance is relatively cheap, and heals more than Flash Heal.

With full raid buffs and the Borrowed Time proc, my Flash Heal cast is ~1 second.  With Glyph of Penance, the cooldown is down to 8 seconds (thanks to the lovely Penance nerf we had a while back).  So, you’re telling me I have a chance to reset an 8 second cooldown with a 1 second cast?  Yes, please! 

Not to mention that Avalonna also points out in her post that this Flash Heal! proc doesn’t have an internal cooldown.  It’s possible that you can have a string of Flash Heal -> Penance -> Flash Heal -> Penance -> etc. etc.  Even without worrying about Grace, this becomes pretty powerful. 

The Fun

When I was first looking at the likelihood of getting my Tier 10 set, I was salivating at the mouth for a cool and interesting 4-piece bonus.  Look at what we’ve had in the past:

Tier 7 – Reduces Greater Heal cost by 5%. (Discipline doesn’t really utilize this in most circumstances.)

Tier 8 – Casting PW:Shield grants 250 spellpower for 5 seconds. (Obviously useful for Discipline.  Kinda “meh” for Holy.)

Tier 9 – Increases Divine Aegis and the initial hit of Empowered Renew by 10%. (Blizzard gets the idea to involve both specs.  Still, marginal increase.)

So finally, we get a Tier bonus that’s interesting, challenging to work with, and it gets tossed under the bus.  If it was deemed overpowered, a simple fix would be to either shorten the window needed to cast the Flash Heal, or reduce the chance for it to proc to less than 20%.  I feel that completely redesigning it was a bad move on Blizzard’s case.  People need to understand that this game is organic.  I personally enjoy having to tweak my playstyle a bit to get more “oomph” out of my healing.  The Tier 7 set had me speccing into Divine Fury and utilizing a Borrowed Time-hasted Greater Heal for a while.

The Replacement

Our incoming Tier 10 4-piece set:

This bonus now increases the effectiveness of the caster’s Power Word: Shield and Renew spells by 5%.

Sorry, I just gagged a little while reading it again.  Blizzard has gone the “easy route” and just given us a static stat increase.  As far as Discipline goes, it’s a sad one at that.  Thanks to math from Zusterke, I’m able to whip out some numbers for you.

Let’s say you have 3000 spellpower, raid-buffed or not.  Your glyphed Power Word: Shield will total 8,813 (as of right now).  At 3200 spellpower, it’s 9,177. 

With this new “buff”, those numbers change to 9,254 and 9,636, respectively.  You’re looking at a 441 and 459 jump.  Even at 4000 spellpower, you’re only increasing your shield by 532 points of absorption.  With how bosses and mobs hit, this is hardly worth even considering. 

Even if you’re able to keep up PW:S on the raid the WHOLE time, you’re preventing only ~11,500 extra damage every 15 seconds. 

Hence, this bonus is far from worth it to me.  Dawn Moore wrote up on WoW.com her initial thoughts on the changes.  She writes:

“Still, the buff is exceptionally good. The only problem with it is that so many priests who turned their back on the tier gear for other badge items (such as shadow’s tier gear) with better itemization are now going to be screaming bloody murder.”

I disagree with the phrases “buff is exceptionally good”, “only problem”, and….well, hell, I disagree with her.  I really don’t know any Priests that I game with or interact with in the blog/twitter communities that were against the original set bonus.  If anything, those that were on the fence about the bonus were quick fans once they actually acquired the bonus.  This news of “4-piece hatred” came out of nowhere, as far as I’m concerned. 

Then again, I’m just one person.  It looks like I’ll be going the route of dropped loot, crafted pieces, and off-set badge gear.  This particular Priest isn’t too thrilled about the change.

Other Thoughts:

Lilitharien from Divine Aegis

Bati from Holy Nova NOW!

Miss Medicina’s “To Bonus or Not to Bonus”

How do you feel about it? How does this affect your gearing strategy as you make your way through the content?

Email: elder.thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

 

Focus Casting: Macros And You

Focus Casting: Macros And You

I had a revelation last week. It’s one I’m not afraid to share because I suspect there are a lot of players in the same position as me.

That position is peering out from round a corner with a bemused grin and crimson cheeks, watching the macro users of our raid do ten things at once while showering the raid in light and laughing at the boss. We’re cautious because they’re clearly performing some kind of common folklore which all players should know, right? And we shouldn’t even consider asking about macros?

Wrong.

If you’re in that position of knowing nothing about healing macros then we have something in common, you and I. Maybe you’ve just started a new healing class and know nothing about it. Maybe you’re looking to improve your WoW playing generally. Maybe you’re a raid leader, like me, and have been getting into macros via raid leading and now want to see if this macro malarky can do anything for your healing. Whatever the case, read on.

If you do know something about macros then have a read anyway – some of these might be basic to you, but you might pick up something that saves your skin, bark or cow-printed hide.

Paladins

1. Buffs up quicksmart

/castsequence [target=focus] Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield

  • This macro will put both of your essential healing buffs up on your focus, which is likely to be the tank.
  • TIP: you can use the addon Need To Know in conjunction with this setup. It’ll give you permanent timer bars for those buffs regardless of whom you’re targetting.

 

2. Easy judging

/cast [target=focustarget] Judgement of Light

  • Casts your judgement of light which both does healing and gives you a powerful haste buff
  • It won’t cause you to overaggro when casting your judgement as you’re using it on the tank’s target
  • Means you don’t have to mess around with tab or mouse targetting a mob to cast it on. You may need to re-target your tank but that’s less trouble than having to target everything manually.
  • TIP: you could use the addon Clique, which will allow you to set up mouse and key bindings for anything you could wish. Want to heal the tank? Sure, click the <insert mouse button here> and you needn’t retarget them after using your JoL macro.

 

3. Catch-all Holy Shock

/cast [mod,target=player] [nogroup,target=player] [target=mouseover,help,nodead] [target=targettarget,help,nodead] [] Holy Shock

  • If you have an enemy targetted it will automatically holy shock you
  • If you have *anything* else as target and a friendly unit as mouseover (or target) then it will holy shock that friendly unit

 

Priests – holy and discpline

1. “oh noes” button

/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast [combat,@player] Power Infusion
/cast [combat] Inner Focus
/cast [spec:1,@mouseover] Penance; [spec:2,@mouseover] Greater Heal
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

  • It works for priesties of both healing flavours. Yep, you read right, It’ll work by casting one of the spells, based on whichever spec you’re in. This saves you having two separate macros for holy and discipline
  • You could also add commands to pop your trinkets (/use 13 and /use 14) but be careful of the macro character limit.

 

2. Holy single target “oh noes” button

/cast [target=focus] Guardian Spirit

  • For you holy priesties. This is an “oh noes” button if you’ve been focussing on the raid and see that your focus, probably a tank, is wilting a bit and needs help now.

 

3. Discy Pain Suppression management

/cast [target=mouseover] Pain Suppression
/sw 8
/script Stopwatch_Play();
/say Pain Suppression Up!
/in 8 /s ***Pain Suppression depleted***

  • This is most useful for keeping track of PS cooldown and alerting you when it’s ready again – useful in fights where you need to time cooldowns and don’t have time to keep an eye out for them ticking down
  • TIP: this one may not work off the bat for you. The ‘in’ command is said to be provided through an addon, possibly the Ace3 library, though various people with various addon setups have got the macro working.

 

4. Discy raid-healing insta-bomb

#showtooltip Divine Hymn
/cast [target=player] Power Infusion
/cast Inner Focus
/cast Divine Hymn

You’re a discy priest so you’re probably healing tanks most of the time, right? That might be so, but sometimes you’ll be on raid anyway, and sometimes you’ll be on tanks watching the raid take heavy damage – and we all know how comfortable that isn’t. This macro will help you help the raid recover and soak up damage.

  • Try to have Borrowed Time proc’ed too for the (extra) haste
  • You’ve just given yourself power infusion which both reduces your cast time and mana costs
  • Bubbles! Bubbles everywhere! Your increased critical effect chance from inner Focus should mean more chance of divine aegis’ popping up.

 

Druids

1. Rolling Lifebloom
/target TankName/cast [modifier:shift] Rejuvenation ; [modifier:alt] Regrowth ; Lifebloom
  • Make a macro for each tank in the raid and you’ll be able to keep them all rolling on 3 stacks of Lifebloom, lag and catastrophe notwithstanding
  • This particular macro also has modifiers which give you flexibility in HoTs. Got a bit of extra time? Throw Tank1 a Rejuv. by pressing shift. Everything refreshed and got a couple of seconds? Stick Regrowth up by holding down alt

 

2. Quick response to tank death

#showtooltip Rebirth

/castsequence reset=600 Nature’s Swiftness, Rebirth

/run c=”Don’t release! I got ya.”if UnitInRaid(“player”)then SendChatMessage(c, “RAID”)elseif GetNumPartyMembers()>0 then SendChatMessage(c, “PARTY”)end

  • This is your “oh noes tank’s dead!” macro
  • It’ll immediately get him back on his feet and announce what you’re doing.

2a. Intuitive-res macro

#show Rebirth

/cast [@mouseover, combat, dead] [@target, combat, dead] Rebirth; [@mouseover, dead] [@target, dead] Revive

  • This is a similar one for other “oh noes” times – specifically when key people have dropped like lightbulbed flies. If you’re in combat it’ll try to use combat res, if you’re not it’ll use revive
  • Just be sure you’re out of combat after a fight’s ended before you use this, for fear of wasting your combat res.

3. Easy poison cleanse

#showtooltip

/cast [target=mouseover, help] [] Abolish Poison

  • This is a time saver anywhere there is a lot of poison kicking around. Its utility is simple: it allows you to cleanse your mouseover target without having to target them then retarget your healing target
  • TIP: I reckon this one works for all healing classes for their various cleansing duties.

Shaman

1. Earth Shield ease

/cast [target=focus] Earth Shield

  • Very, very simple way of refreshing earth shield on the tank, providing that your tank is your focus.
  • TIP: you can also get the addon Shaman Friend to support this macro by playing a sound when ES runs down. Alternatively you could have it in place of the macro: it can be setup to provide a focus button for earth shield refreshing, and a box which visually tracks ES stacks so you don’t miss it falling off.

 

2a. “Oh noes” button version 1

#showtooltip Healing Wave

/cast Nature’s Swiftness

/cast Tidal Force

/cast Healing Wave

  • Any resto shaman worth his salt has some form of this macro. Some shamans prefer not to attach a healing spell to it so they can choose whether to fire off a single target spell or a chain heal after nature’s swiftness. You could make both of those options achievable by altering the macro slightly, to this:

2b. “Oh noes” button version 2

#showtooltip Nature’s Swiftness

/stopcasting

/use 13
/use 14

/cast Nature’s Swiftness

/Cast Tidal Force
/cast [mod, help] [mod:shift, target=mouseover, help] Chain Heal; [help] [target=mouseover] Healing Wave

  • This version will cast healing wave after blowing your cooldowns or, if you hold down shift, it will cast chain heal. It also uses your trinkets (/use 13 and /use 14) for extra “oh noes” aversion value.

In both of these you could also add a command to tell party chat or a specific target that you’re averting catastrophe this time by blowing all your cooldowns, and so won’t necessarily be able to save the day again. At least for a few minutes.

 

External links:

There look to be quite a few sites out there with musings and help on macros, ranging from forums to class-specific blogs to macro specific-all class sites. Some of them are better than others. Here are the ones I found to be either most useful for digging these macros up or, in the case of the third link, just a Very Good Idea:

  • Arena Junkies – Arena Junkies macro forum – for your PvP macro needs
  • Elitist Jerks’ various guides, forums and threads have some useful macros squirreled away.
  • Macro Explain – does what it says on the tin. You paste in a macro, it explains each line of the macro. The website also has links to other macro resources and addons.
  • PlusHeal – plusheal’s macro forum – you’ll find good discussions and very helpful folks here.
  • WoWWiki – WoWwiki’s section on macros has links to class specific macro pages.

 

Most of these macros have been tested but let me know if any of them make things go boom. Or worse still, make nothing happen at all. I hope these do work and help you have more fun healing. Perhaps it’ll even bring about that myth us healers have heard whispered about – less stress while healing.

What do you think? Are you a macro-newbie and had been afraid to admit it? Feel free to do so! Share your tales of macro learning experiences. Also let me know if any of these prove really useful or otherwise. Likewise, if you’ve been hit by inspiration and have just spent thirty minutes writing some new healing macros or perfecting existing ones, do share them!

This is a post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

(Macro image created by Emrank @Flickr, used under CC)

Thespius and Matticus featured on “Power Word: Fail”

Thespius and Matticus featured on “Power Word: Fail”

Image is courtesy of Brian Hough.

Kind of a fun title, no?  I’m ready to let the “fail” jokes ensue!  Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

In all seriousness, the folks over at Raid Warning (xSeven and Epiphanize) have assembled this special podcast (scheduled to be released March 1st) – a roundtable of some of the community’s most prominent priests.

Raid Warning’s last roundtable, Wild Shots, was a huge hit.  It was a roundtable of some very well-known hunters in the community.  You can follow links on their site to listen.

As for Power Word: Fail, I cannot be more excited for this event.  I’ve been recording with these guys for a while, and it’s always a blast.  If Wild Shots is any indication of the level of discussion we’ll have, then you’re sure to get some detailed insight into “The State of the Priest”.

Here’s who you’ll have the pleasure of hearing:

This podcast is going to center around questions you provide by emailing Raid Warning here.  We take your questions and discuss them throughout the podcast, as well as current news and speculation. 

I hope you’ll all submit questions, and check it out on March 1st!

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

The Issue with Discipline Raid Healing

The Issue with Discipline Raid Healing

As Priests, we exist in two healing realms: Holy and Discipline.  Discipline and Holy.  I say that because one is not superior or inferior to its counterpart.  Each specialization has its own tree.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

We were told way back before Wrath of the Lich King that these two trees were going to serve different fundamental purposes: Tank-Healing or Raid-Healing.  Seems simple enough, right?  Once Discipline Priests got past the backlash of “Disc is PvP lol” malarkey, people started learning that Discipline Priests can actually function as Tank healers.  If all of our tools are used in concert with each other, we can be a damn good single-target healer.

Is Discipline, though, viable as a Raid-Healing spec?  That’s debatable.

As with most aspects of this game, everything is going to be viable as something other than it was intended, depending on the situation.  For Discipline, Loatheb is an awesome example.  Although our talents are angled towards single-target healing, a combination of PW:S, Prayer of Healing, Penance, and quick Flash Heals (all powered by Fungal Creep) make us a formidable Raid Healer in a short amount of time. 

Another example is Deathbringer Saurfang, the last boss in the first wing of Icecrown Citadel.  It seems widely accepted now that a Discipline Priest shielding the raid helps reduce the amount of Blood Power that Saurfang gets via Blood Link.  The sooner Saurfang’s energy reaches 100, the sooner a Mark of the Fallen Champion gets put on a random raid member.  Absorbs from PW:S, as well as Divine Aegis, reduce the amount of Blood Power he receives.  Thus, fewer Marks on the raid, which means you can obtain I’ve Gone and Made a Mess with ease.  Not to mention, you get the boss down faster and easier.

Beyond the Situational Awesomeness

I’ve seen a trend of Discipline Priests insisting that they only raid heal.  They seem to hate the idea of being locked onto one or two tanks and will choose to “bubble spam” the raid.  An occasional spell other than PW:S might be used, but it tends to be a one-button spam from players like this.

I have no problem with people trying something different or off the beaten path, just so long as they’re smart about it and demonstrate a mastery of their choice.  I’m sorry to say, but playing Whack-a-Mole with Weakened Soul hardly shows mastery.  In cases like Saurfang, it’s a conscious and strategic choice.  In other cases, it’s a waste of mana.

Power Word: Shield / Rapture – Through Borrowed Time, we’ve received a nice scaling talent as a Discipline Priest.  It’s a valuable spell to the Discipline Priest, but it’s not the only spell we have available.  Since Rapture returns mana to you (ideally equal to or greater than the cost of PW:S), it increases your longevity as a healer, making PW:S one of the front-runners in our arsenal.  Notice, though, that Rapture only triggers when a shield is “completely absorbed or dispelled.”  Yes, partial absorbs are better than no absorbs at all.  However, in quite a few cases, the raid won’t take damage for a while.  Any shields that are put up on raid members that aren’t even touched is a total sacrifice of that mana.  Let’s say your PW:S costs 666 mana (yes, mine does).  If you cast it consistently, and 10 of them don’t even get touched, you just threw away 6,660 mana.  How much damage did you prevent?  Zero.  If you’re casting PW:S consistently, Renewed Hope will be up the whole time.  Since it doesn’t stack, those 10 shields mitigated no extra damage.

Grace – This fun talent, at the start of WotLK, used to be allowed on more than one target at a time.  Once Blizzard thought that was a little bit overpowered and was steering Discipline away from it’s original intent, they restricted Grace to one target at a time.  As a single-target healer, Grace is a great tool to have (though I wish it could be on up to three targets for fights like Marrowgar and Goremaw).  As a raid healer, it’s a wasted three talent points.  I find it particularly hard to assist with raid healing without using either Flash Heal or Penance (or the occasional hasted Greater Heal – all three of which activate Grace).  In most cases, you’ll be snipe-healing multiple targets.  If not, you’ll use a couple heals to top someone off, then off to the next target.  Grace isn’t given the chance to shine.

Where To Go From Here

Spec – I currently rock out a 57/14/0 spec.  I’ve tried various versions of it, but this spec just seems to work really well with the way I play.  I like to use Renew to help pad the tanks, or throw some on the raid to help out.

Given what I wrote above about Grace, I would choose to sacrifice those points and put them elsewhere.  I threw together a 52/19/0 spec if I were to try to re-work myself into a raid-healing Discipline mode.  I also took the points out of Focused Will (sacrifice some crit) and switched Spell Warding to Divine Fury.  I topped out Divine Fury (taking one point from Inspiration), and grabbed all three points of Improved Healing.  The goal is to hopefully rotate Greater Heal more into your rotation and make it (and Penance) cheaper to cast.  You still get powerful shields and good utility, but it’s not the end of the world trying to keep Grace up. 

Spells – As I pointed out above, I’m not a big fan of the “bubble spam”.  Sure it may look good on World of Logs or the estimated “absorption meter”, but I think it’s impractical.  I’m not in a raid to top a meter, I’m there to keep the whole raid alive.  With the alternate spec I suggested above, sniping Flash Heals and Penances is a great way to keep the raid up, as long as you’re also utilizing Prayer of Mending, Renew, and Prayer of Healing as well. 

If you choose to keep a variation of the first spec, then keep in mind the benefit of keeping Grace on your primary target.  You’re not going to be the most amazing raid healer, but you can certainly help out:

Prayer of Mending – I always keep this bouncing.  There are addons available to let you know when your charges have run out.  I tend to cast mine whenever it’s up.

Renew – If you put the points into Improved Renew, you can help out the other raid healers with this one.

Prayer of Healing – Although a bit of a mana drain, it’s amazing when it crits and each member gets his/her own Divine Aegis shield.

Binding Heal – ?!?!?! you say? I use this spell when I just need to single target someone.  Yes, it heals me at the same time.  Higher mana cost, the self-heal may be worth it, and I can keep the Grace stack on the tank.  I’ve tried both ways, and using Binding Heal has seemed worth it to me.

So there you have it!  I’ve always felt that Priests are incredibly versatile healers.  I don’t enjoy one-button spams or anything proved to be “easy-mode casting”.  We have an amazing arsenal of spells available, and using all of them can make us unstoppable.  There’s no reason you can’t take the intricacies of our class and harness them to do what you need them to.

My point is that if you’re going to go off the beaten path, think about what you’re doing before you take that step.

How do you feel about Discipline raid healing?  What other tricks have you figured out over time?

**Image credited to the Elitist Jerks forums**

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

The Gearing Process to ToC 10 for a Priest

This is a guest post by Aleph, who chronicled his early end game gearing process.

Upon levelling my priest to level 80 and looking at joining my guild’s raid team as a healer, I found that I hit a barrier where I simply had no means of gaining any new gear that would get me up to Naxx10 level and therefore enter the raiding circuit as it were.

Before I continue I should make a few things clear.

I play in seasons. I play from June/July to September, then break until December and play until early January, taking a break until Easter time where I play for most of April. This makes it take amazingly long for me to achieve almost anything in WoW.

So, brand new level 80! How to begin?

Develop a routine

Well, the first thing you’ll want to do is start developing a daily circuit. The length of your circuit (and therefore the amount of dailies involved) depends on your playtime per day. I had a very limited playtime and so I found it was easier to focus on one zone at a time. I started with Icecrown and the Knights of the Ebon Blade faction. I began at the Shadow Vault and gathered up the daily quests available there. I completed these and flew down to the quest hub at the Overlook which is on the cliff just east of the Scarlet Onslaught Harbor. I Completed all three of the dailies there, then flew to the Skybreaker and collected the daily quests there (I omitted the pvp quest because it took me too long to complete it). What people miss sometimes are the two quests on the ground. Upon completion of these quests you can either head over to the Argent Tournament or return to the Shadow Vault depending on the amount of play time you have left. You should repeat this until you have enough reputation to purchase some of the items from the Ebon Blade Quatermaster then move on to another faction.

Build up reputation

Make sure to go around and buy a tabard from the four factions you can get a rep tabard from, Kirin Tor, The Wyrmrest Accord, Knights of the Ebon Blade and The Argent Crusade. While doing your Daily rounds, go to the LFG interface and chose from the level 80 dungeons. These are: “Caverns of Time: Culling of Stratholme”; “Trial of the Champion” (this gives excellent loot); “The Nexus: Oculus”; “Ulduar: Halls of Lightning”; “Utgarde Keep: Utgarde Pinnacle”. Run at least one of these a day with your tabard for the faction you’re working on reputation for until you no longer need reputation with that faction. Then switch to another tabard and start the process again.

Do homework

While doing this, ask around for the generally accepted stats for your class/role for heroics are for your realm. On my realm it was around 1.5k spell power for a holy priest. It is possible that disc priests (or other classes) may have an easier time healing the easier heroics thanks to the damage mitigation. Luckily I had the dual spec and had shadow as my secondary spec. Some of my guild mates offered to take me to Violet Hold Heroic mode as a DPS. I accepted and got a lot of reputation and even a few healing items. If you get a chance to join onto a heroic as your off-spec, go for it; don’t worry about being a fifth wheel.

Buy gear

Once you’ve done a few days worth of daily quests and have built up a decent buffer of gold, visit the auction house and look for any BoE Epics or Rares that you can buy. If you are unsure about what items to buy, ask your friends or guild mates. I bought two items, one epic and one rare item, these allowed me to begin running heroics.

Farm for badges

By now you should be almost ready to start doing heroics. This is where our tactic changes. You’ll want to set your hearthstone to one of the inns in Dalaran as this will be your new base of operations. If you haven’t been doing so already, you should start picking up the normal daily dungeon quest. Each day, log in at Dalaran and go to the Violet Hold where you will find two daily quest givers. On your left as you enter is where the normal dungeon daily quest can be found and on your right are the heroic versions. We’ll be turning right and collecting the normal daily quest for now. Once you have the daily quest put yourself in the LFG for the level 80 dungeons, making sure you’re queuing for the one the quest is located in! Then go out of Dalaran and continue with your daily quest circuit until you get into a group for a dungeon. Go to the dungeon then at the end, hearthstone (or take a mage portal) back to Dalaran and hand in the quest. It is important that you hand in the daily dungeon quest before the daily quests reset. The idea here is to gain as many badges of heroism and triumph as possible in the shortest time. As you may know, Badges of Heroism drop from bosses in heroic dungeons and Badges of Triumph are gained (at this point) from handing in the daily dungeon heroic. With this in mind, it is advisable to (If possible) try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Otherwise continue with your other dailies.

Once you have collected enough gear from these activities and think you will perform well enough in heroic mode dungeons, join the LFG queue for Utgarde Keep (Heroic mode).The heroic dungeons are in a separate list to the normal dungeons. Go on the Utgarde Keep run and see how well you perform. If you think it is necessary, ask the other group members how they think you performed. If you did well, start joining some more difficult heroics. Look up which are the easiest and do those first. Then, as you get more gear, advance up the heroics. By the time you can do heroics like Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone and Oculus, you should be looking at entry level Naxxramas, depending on the gear you have accumulated. If you haven’t, don’t worry. By now, you should have collected quite a few Emblems of Conquest and perhaps some Emblems of triumph from the heroic daily quest. These can be spent in Dalaran in the Horde and Alliance sections of the city. Each badge type has its own vendor. Look at the vendors and look for items which would benefit you the most. Work out what you should buy first (always go for the item that will give the biggest increase) and buy it. After a couple of days, perhaps weeks, depending on how many heroics a day you run. If it is possible, try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Also, don’t forget to get the heroic and normal daily quests each day because you can complete the normal quests while in heroic mode as well.

A good measure for when you are Naxx ready is when you have over half of the superior achievement completed. That means getting at least eight i187 items or better before setting foot in Naxx. Some PUG Naxxramas groups might require you to have the entire superior (and even sometimes the epic version as well) but for guild runs, get a guildy to /inspect you to check out your gear. They will generally say whether you are undergeared or not in comparison with the rest of the guild. Just make sure you let the raid leader know that you are now available for raiding and they should factor you into the next run or two. At this stage, you will probably be under a trial period, in which make sure to put 110% effort into the raids so that the raid management see you as a player who benefits the entire raid and not someone who is a liability.

Get your feet wet

This part is one where it is almost required to be in a guild. If you want to get up to ToC 10 level, you will want to be making regular forays into Naxxramas 10. So, once you’re in your guild run, clearing the quarters, gathering up loot left and right, how do you improve and get to the next level of content (Ulduar10)? Well, the best way to get to the next level is for your guild to get to the next level of content. At this point it is inadvisable to join any PUG raids as you will want to be fully focused on guild progression. If you think your guild is not moving fast enough, offer to take more responsibility in raids, work on tactics that work specifically for your guild, offer to set up the healing assignments or, even offer to set up another night of raiding for the guild (make sure you have the green light from above before doing this). This post is not about progression however. Once your guild has cleared the four quarters and has made decent attempts on the last two bosses, you should be able to begin Ulduar 10 raids, depending on your raid team’s gear/ability. Also look for any Obsidian Sanctum 10 or Eye of Eternity 10 raids as the two instances offer some nice items which can help a lot in Ulduar10.

I would recommend that, once your guild is in Ulduar 10 and has cleared a few bosses that you join a Naxxramas 25 pickup group in order to gain a few items that will help you to advance in Ulduar. Guilds seem to advance fairly steadily through Ulduar, provided that their gear is adequate for the level of content and also that they have the drive to progress. Progression will be faster with a group of dedicated, intelligent people who generally know what they’re doing. If you are hoping to find guides to the bosses here, you can find Ulduar healing ones and Trial of the Crusader ones.

If your guild has really got stuck into Ulduar10 and have arrived at Yogg-Saron, I would recommend attempting to take him down before moving on to the next raid. You don’t have to, but it’s a great fight in the way that all of the players must be on top form and concentrating 100% for the entire fight. So! Once you have successfully cleared Ulduar, chances are you have already attempted the newly refurbished Onyxia’s lair. You will get some nice gear upgrades from here, mainly the helm, but once this has been done, you are pretty much out of content before ToC10. This is where you have two options.

  1. Go on to ToC10 and give it a try.
  2. Return to Ulduar and gear up some more.

I would recommend you give ToC a try unless you’re woefully unconfident with your gear level. This is where we utilize one of the great tools of the internet.

What’s the next step?

You don’t have to follow this next step if you disagree or disapprove of this practice. I am talking about LootRank. There are a few sites out there that offer this service but I use Guildox for it. Mainly because if you are not familiar with the parameters you want, you can pick one of their sample templates which fills out the information based on the class/spec combo you use. You can also link your characters gear to it which helps by highlighting any items you already have. Once you press view loot ranking, a list will appear which has a section for each slot (and enchantments) which are ranked from 1 -7 in the order they appear. A good idea is going over to WoW Head and using the item comparison page to double check if the items are for you. This way you can make sure you’ll get what you need. You can check where the gear drops so for example I see that the top staff for me would be the Icecore Staff. I can see that it drops from Hodir in Ulduar10 H. It is important that you see the H as the staff only drops if you defeat Hodir before he shatters his rare cache. It is advisable to use this tool as you look to enter ToC10.

After several raids at this content level, you should be more than ready to have a valid attempt at ToC10. However, perhaps your guild has not been gearing up as zealously as you have and do not want to go into ToC 10. While they will most likely leap at it, if they do not, you may want to look around your server to see if any other guilds are running it and see if they have a space for you on their next raid. If that fails, you could always attempt to PUG it, although this may not be very successful. The best plan, I think is to help your guildies to gear up quickly by giving any hints or tips you might have learned on your journey to ToC10. Patience is a key requirement for this stage. Please keep in mind that most guilds will charge into ToC10 before even defeating Yogg-Saron and so the last paragraphs or two are completely useless.

Now you should be ready for ToC 10 man! Good luck and happy raiding!

Shadow Priests Are Allowed to Divine Hymn

Yesterday’s post on hybrids spawned a great discussion on when it becomes useful for DPS players to switch out to different roles. Today, I wanted to expand it further and delve into the topic of Priests.

Now according to the Rules of Raiding #77:

DPS and tanking players should not have to heal.

It’s a good rule that states that if you’re in a DPS position or in a tanking position, there is no reason for you to have to change your role to heal. For one thing, you don’t have the spec or the bonuses or the gear to pull it off long term in an encounter.

If you’re a Shadow Priest, all you need to do is simply wail on the boss.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. Rule #10 for instance states:

Every possible course of action should be considered by every player no matter what they do in order to beat the encounter.

In a case where rules may clash, rules that are lower on the scale will supercede the ones above it.

Let’s apply it.

Shadow Priests will almost never be called upon to drop their Shadow form to heal. It’s inefficient and often times unnecessary. But a Shadow Priest is still a Priest and they have access to some valuable cooldowns.

There is one in particular called Divine Hymn.

Don’t shy away from using it if you have to. As one of the healing leads, I look and see what cooldowns are available. I won’t hesitate to ask for Shadow Priests to Divine Hymn. I won’t hesitate to ask a Ret Paladin to use their bubble-sacrificing abilitiy. Feral Druids know that my Priest is the Hummer of healers in the guild and that I am one heck of a mana guzzling machine when I hit the accelerator. Yet I’m playing a hybrid class, right? (That’s a joke).

Anub’arak is a stressing fight for healers. This oversized frost beetle ramps it up a notch when he hits the 30% mark and everyone in the raid starts taking damage. A quick glance at the cooldowns available is followed by me barking out names and abilities. They respond with either an affirmative or a negative. This isn’t the time to debate why their cooldown isn’t up. Maybe a Paladin had to bubble earlier in the fight to survive. Stuff like that gets discussed after the fact, not during.

I run a total of four Priests during raids. Two are Shadow and the other two heal. Shadow Priests know they’re not going to be asked to drop form and heal (usually). But four Priests means access to four Divine Hymns which is extremely powerful during a a phase with high incoming damage.

The final point I want to stress is that a Shadow Priest isn’t required to keep the raid alive for long periods of time. That’s not their job. But they can help keep the raid stable enough for everyone else to stay alive and pile on their damage.

If you’re in a top 100 worldwide raiding guild, your Shadow Priests might not have to do it. For the rest of us, every option needs to be considered.

Discover How Priests Gain 7000 Mana in 1 Shot

Psssst! Want to hear a secret?

Did you know Priests can maintain a near limitless amount of mana?

It’s very possible. But it does abuse a certain in game mechanic. This post is just for educational purposes only. I’m not here to encourage you to knowingly abuse game mechanics. Wynthea has this deluded idea that Blizzard reads my blog. Personally, I’m a skeptic. If I see a hotfix or a patch update within the next several weeks that address this, I’ll believe it. But until then, I’m going to assume I fly well under their radar.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. It wasn’t until I read this post on Plus Heal that the urge to get it out there resurfaced.

Anyway, this idea revolves around Rapture.

When your Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled you are instantly energized with 2.5% of your total mana, and you have a 100% chance to energize your shielded target with 2% total mana, 8 rage, 16 energy or 32 runic power. This effect can only occur once every 12 sec.

After you shield someone and their shield wears off because it absorbs the damage or get dispelled, you gain back 2.5% of your total mana. Your target gains some form of energy back as well. But we’re not concerned with that aspect of Rapture.

Normally, for the tank healing Discipline Priest, it’ll only work once every 12 seconds just like the tool tip says.

However, for the raid healing Discipline Priest, something else occurs.

Let’s take a fight like Kologarn. Kologarn has the Shockwave ability where his arm completely manhandles the raid and does a fair amount of damage. A shield cast on a player will be fully exhausted after one sweep.

So what happens if you shield 10 players before Shockwave connects?

My Priest has around 33000 mana fully raid buffed (Note: Newer Priests, do not do what I do and stack copious amounts of Intellect. I do it to have a bit of fun with my Priest). Rapture will give me back 837.5 mana if one shield gets absorbed or dispelled. Seeing as the Rapture debuff is not in effect because the shields have not been consumed, it’s easy to conclude that you would gain a ton of mana back if your shields were simultaneously absorbed at the same time.

In other words, I would get 837.5 x 5 = 4200 mana back. Give or take. Shield 10 players, and I would get upwards of 8000 mana as the Rapture internal cooldown kicks in.

Anyways, that’s today’s public service announcement. Don’t go around spreading this secret now. We might get nerfed again after all!