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?

More Surge of Light Cues

More Surge of Light Cues

After speaking with Joe about the supposed DPS spells we need to use to help sustain our mana, I couldn’t help but notice the Surge of Light UI additions. If your Smite casts happen to activate a Surge of Light, this is what appears on your screen:

sol

In the middle of my screen, you can see the two wings appear on either side of my Priest. This indicates Surge of Light is up. Not only that, if you look on the bottom left, my Flash Heal is now glowing. Its these little UI enhancements and improvements which should help make it a little easier on everyone especially for players who are just getting started as Priests. You get a visual cue that you have the option of a free heal and where it is on your bars. Traditionally, most Priests relied on addons such as Power Auras or some other addon which gave them visual cues when Surge of Light was up. Other stubborn Priests (like me) simply kept a close eye on buff bars to see when it was up.

Personally, I think this is a nice touch for the Priests.

The Body and Soul Spec

I’ll admit, I’ve always dismissed Body and Soul as an odd talent that had little to no use in raids. Players should be able to run out of anything dangerous on their own or with the aid of a boot speed enchant if they’re slow. As such, I’ve never really considered it at all.

But ever since that Power Word: Fail round table event held by the Raid Warning guys where Aliena, Derevka and myself chatted, I had to reconsider. Have I mentioned that they’re my personal favourite podcast crew to work with?

The spec

Here it is (14/57/0)

This is the one I’d use as it has many of the traditional elements of a Holy spec. You can shift your points around from Empowered Healing, Blessed Resilience, and Test of Faith accordingly based on your own preferences. Personally, I favor Blessed Resilience but that’s because I’m aware of what kind of an effect it has. You may prefer Test of Faith for the extra throughput (even though it is conditional). If you’re not a Flash Heal or Greater Heal type of player, you might opt for full points in Blessed Resilience and Test of Faith. Anyway, that discussion is for a separate post entirely (hopefully soon assuming Derevka has spare time at some point).

Why would you ever use Body and Soul?

For me, I’ve discovered that it has extra utility in progression fights. The talent a minor run speed increase for 4 seconds which is enough to give players a quick boost when running away. When learning fights for the first time, I often use this at specific times.

In an extremely high level raiding guild, I would argue that this talent is unnecessary. Players can easily handle movement fights and do not require the aid of extra sprint abilities to escape hostile spells. It’s just not necessary. Connections and computers are at peak efficiency resulting in near-zero lag. Situational awareness is so high that players will move without realizing that they had to move.

But not every guild is like that. Not every raid can perform like that. For me, I need to look at every possible edge I can utilize in an encounter. Nothing frustrates me more than a player who is unable to outrun a Sindragosa explosion, or a Necrotic Plague on Lich King or any number of other abilities because of technical problems. Doesn’t matter how good the player is as bad connectivity connections will almost always negate that. I can’t make everyone’s connection super awesome. I can’t magically snap my fingers and create 102 FPS conditions. The next best thing I can do is cast a spell that’ll make people run quicker and get them out of dangerous situations faster. I may not be able to account for lag, but I can at least function as a safety net and buy an extra second or two for that player and help them live when they otherwise would have been lost.

Just keep in mind that it might annoy your Discipline Priest. 

Anyway, it’s largely used on progression fights to help “smooth” things over until a fight “clicks”. You’re giving up potential throughput for increased (but selective) movement speed which comes in handy for heavy movement bosses. Plus it also makes the run back from wipes slightly quicker and I know I won’t be last back! Go ahead and give it a shot. Let me know what you think.

How to Master Priest Tier 10, Ruby Sanctum Thoughts

Granted, if you’re just aiming for the bonuses, the Priest healing set just doesn’t look as hot. That being said though, I picked up the four set a week and some change ago with the determination to try to master it. In terms of stats, the tier 10 is better than the tier 9 (Intellect, stamina, and all that fun stuff).

But how do you pursue the bonuses?

(2) Set: Your Flash Heal has a 33% chance to cause the target to heal for 33% of the healed amount over 9 sec.
(4) Set: 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.

For one thing, you can’t rely on the Renew spec that Holy Priests are using. If you’re a Renew Priest, then I think you’re better off switching out to non-set pieces. The bonuses aren’t even worth it since Flash Heal isn’t the dominant heal for you.

Another eye needs to be kept on the cooldown timer in regards to the 4 piece. 1 in 5 of your Penances or Circle of Healings will trigger the reset.

I feel like I’m playing a Rogue healer. It’s a lot to take in. Some fights, it doesn’t go off when its needed and in other fights it’s a godsend.

At the same time, it’s also dependent on who needs healing. If the bonus triggers, and the cooldown resets and no one needs healing, not much can be done.

My cast sequence doesn’t change very often in either spec.

As Discipline

Power Word: Shield, Penance, and a lot of Flash Heals. If I get the Penance reset, great! I’m also doing my best to maximize the 2 piece Flash Heal HoT. If it’s already on one tank, I’ll drop it on another tank to try to get it going.

As Holy

Circle of Healing followed by (you guessed it) lots of Flash Heals. I find I don’t Renew as often because I’d rather use the GCD on more Flash Heals. I’ll keep a Renew on myself and the tanks going at the very least.

In order to best utilize the tier 10 Priest set pieces, your style of play is going to revolve around Flash Heal as the main healing spell. If it isn’t, then that’s going to be an issue. If that isn’t your cup of tea, then you’re better off passing on tier loot entirely and gunning for non-tier sets like I mentioned earlier.

Why?

1) It lets the Priest who does play that style gear up quicker and more efficiently. The sooner their bonus gets activated, the better your raid will be. Again, it’s all about loot maximization.

2) I’m not entirely sure of this (and I know someone out there will correct or confirm either way), I think that pound for pound, non-tier items have a slight edge on stats.

Sanctified Crimson Acolyte RobeSanguine Silk Robes
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte GlovesSan’layn Ritualist Gloves
Sanctified Crimson Acolyte LeggingsLightweave Leggings

On second thought, maybe it’s just the extra gem socket.

In other news, the Ruby Sanctum is going to be in the next minor content patch. Sounds like it’s going to be a small-ish instance, possibly ToC or Malygos sized. It looks like it will contain about four raid bosses in a “Defense” type encounter, akin to Hyjal.

Bet there’s going to be a Ruby mount! Possibly a title involved? The last boss is named Halion the Twlight Destroyer (I guess he hates vampires too). “Matticus, Destroyer of Twilight”? Too much to hope for.

Order of Operations: Surge of Light, Clearcasting, Improved Holy Concentration

Order of Operations: Surge of Light, Clearcasting, Improved Holy Concentration

clearcast

A question was posed this morning on the two articles I wrote on Spiritual Guidance this morning. A number of talents have been modified for Priests in the Holy tree.

If Surge of Light, Clearcasting, and Improved Holy Concentration proc, will Flash Heal eat all 3?

(Not the exact question, but the exact question was much longer which sort of leads to the same direction)

A quick examination of the talents:

Here’s an action shot of my buffs. You’d think activating all 3 (well 2) would be rare. It actually occurs more often than you’d think. So here’s the million dollar question:

What happens?

In all of my experience at beta healing, I noticed that Surge of Light gets checked first. If you cast a Flash Heal, it eats Surge of Light. Clearcasting and the 2 charges of Improved Holy Concentration remain active. The next direct heal you cast (Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal) will trigger the Clearcasting and 1 Improved Holy Concentration charge. This will result in you having only 1 Imp Holy Conc charge remaining. The next direct heal you cast will consume this.

What if we open up with a non Flash Heal spell?

Dropping Greater Heal first will activate Clearcasting and 1 Improved Holy Concentration charge. Surge of Light will still be available. Casting Greater Heal again will eat the Improved Holy Conc charge left. Lastly, Flash Heal will then trigger Surge of Light.

So to summarize, if you have Surge of Light on you and you cast Flash Heal, it will always be free and non-crit.

Things to remember

Watch your freakin’ buffs! Have your sound effects on! You should be able to recognize the distinctive chime of Clearcasting! When you hear it, dart your eyes to your buff bar and see what happens. Use up the effect that has the least amount of buff time remaining. In the shot above, since I have only 4 seconds to use Surge of Light and 10 seconds on Clearcasting, I have 3 seconds to make a decision to cast a free Flash Heal or I lose out on my freebie.

Don’t forget that Surge of Light also activates on Smite. So if you don’t have any present targets to heal at all, target the boss and slam your Smite key. It’s free!

On the other hand, if you have less time remaining on Clearcasting as opposed to Surge of Light, cast a non Flash Heal. You probably want to use Greater Heal at this point first since the Flash will be instant.

What about Inner Focus?

surge-focusI’ve noticed Inner Focus and Clearcasting be consumed at the same time after one Greater Heal.

Surge of Light also gets eaten if Inner Focus is activated. Check out the shot on the right. I was able to proc just a Surge of Light. Casting Flash Heal knocks off both Surge and Inner Focus respectively. Even though there’s a slightly increased chance to crit, I highly doubt it can due to the restrictions imposed by Surge.

Sigh. Isn’t that just we need? More things to watch for. More complications. More conditions. More ifs, ands, or buts. Gone are the days where I could mindlessly spam stuff while watching games on TV.

However, I’ve adapted. It will take some time for you to do the same (even the most veteran of Priests). I promise to do what I can to ease the transition from old school healing to that of the new hotness. 

Observations taken from beta. Could change at any time. Disclaimers own you.

Will Flash Heal Become Mainstream? 4 Points

Will Flash Heal Become Mainstream? 4 Points

school-thought I woke up this morning to a crisp chill and a great question posted on Twitter by @Knurd (of Raid Hunter).

@patyomatt What makes you think we are headed back to flash heal spamming?

Granted he answered his own question after doing a bit more reading, but I’m still going to explore the topic in a little more detail (because Twitter is EXCELLENT post fodder).

In my previous post, I mentioned that I’ve started to Flash Heal more often than Greater Heal. Until I’m proven otherwise, I firmly believe that Priests will be trending towards Flash Heal and here’s why:

Down ranking gone: The current technique right now is that we use down ranked heals to minimize spell impact on our mana pool and to reduce over healing. We’ll use a rank 3 Greater Heal to restore the same amount of health as a near max rank Flash Heal. We save a couple of hundred mana at the cost of 1 extra second of cast time.

With down ranking removed, we can no longer utilize this technique. A Greater Heal costs 1000~ mana with the appropriate talents in place. A Flash Heal costs 600~ mana. It’s no longer a question of efficieny or bang for buck. It’s a question of what’s cheaper, which is Flash Heal.

High health tanks: Tank buffer has increased by a ridiculous amount. Their health has increased by 50% which turns them into pseudo-raid bosses. At the same time, they won’t be taking massive hits on some encounters. There’s no reason to bust out the massive 10000~ Greater Heal to restore 5000~ health unless they drop dangerously low. But by then, you’re going to be praying to the RNG gods that the mobs miss or they parry or something so that your bomb heal lasts. Might be better off getting the heals off quickly instead of going for the bomb heal. Leave the bomb healing to the Paladins.

Overhealing: It sort of ties into my last point, but 80% of the Greater Heals you cast will result in massive over healing because that crafty Resto Shaman next to you blew his Nature’s Swiftness Chain Heal, or the Paladin manages to Holy Shock crit, or the Druid happens to… do his Druid thing.

Mana Management more important than ever: If you have a hard time handling your mana resource now as a player, you’re going to be in for it in the expansion. During my forays into Naxxramus, I was hitting the floor with my mana pool. It was getting dangerously low while the bosses were in the single digit percents. I had to learn really fast when to burst heal and when to ease off the pedal to restore my mana.

Obviously, we do have access to our specialized heals. This is just a comparison between our direct heals based on my beta experience. I have no doubt another Priest will come along and come up with new ideas for Wrath.

Keep the mind open and let the healologists do their work. Now is not the time to shoot down ideas. It’s time to generate them.

Image credits: ckgd2