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.

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

Healing a Raid: A Priestly Perspective

To end off the week, I will help all of you budding raiding priests who have never joined any groups larger then 10 (AV an exception). Yeah, you the one who has never once set foot inside MC or BWL or Naxx or Zul’Gurub or any of those old fun instances that we used to do before. By the end of this column, my hope is that you will be able to excel and surpass the expectations of your raid leader.

I wont touch on the spells specifically and what they can do. You leveled from 1 to 70 on your own. If you don’t know the capabilities of the tools at your disposal, then you have no business playing a Priest. But I will guide you on when you should use them.

Your raid makeup could consist of a variety of different healer classes. More often then not, you as a priest would make up several of those slots. Let’s now for the sake of argument pretend that you’ve been assigned the dreaded task of maintaining te health of your raid as opposed to healing a single person. It’s such a daunting task healing 4 other players in a party. Now you’re responsible for 24 others. What do I do?

Let’s check out the toolkit. There’s a reason why Blizzard gave us to much stuff to work with.

Renew: Cast this on targets that have taken hits but are not expected to take damage again. Examples would include mages, hunters, or other ranged DPS (maybe rogues). It’s a relatively cheap heal over time spell where you don’t need to tie up your 1.5s cast time or our 2.5s cast time. But don’t forget to stack these up with Renews from other priests. Our main tank sometimes has up to Renews on him at any given time.

Flash Heal: I tend to downrank my heals a little bit here for two reasons: 1) Reduces mana cost 2) Less overhealing done. I’ll use a flash heal between ranks 4 – 6 depending on the situation at hand. In some cases, I will use a max rank flash heal just because tanks are taking so much damage that my heals are only maintaining his health instead of restoring it up. Used mainly on players taking damage frequently such as the main tank or in an emergency.

Greater Heal: The big brother of Flash heal. This one I keep max ranked. You don’t have to. Its entirely up to you and your playing style. Drop these ones on your main tank or your assigned healing target.

PW: Shield: There appears to be much controversy over the usage of this spell. Philosophically, I disagree with many other priests on how and when it should be used. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your duty is to the raid. If spamming shields every 40 seconds is the only way to do it, then you spam it and you like it. Usually though, I will cast it if a tank jumps from 100% to 40% (or any number below 10000 health). These bosses hit like a freight train on afterburners. I’ve seen players get taken out with an 8k crit followed up by an 11k special attack. I am one paranoid priest.

Prayer of Healing: Don’t spam flash heal 5 times to heal your party. It’s a huge waste of time. Just drop a Prayer repeatedly until everyone’s back to full. 3 seconds on a prayer versus 7.5 seconds on flash heals. Usually, once the boss executes some sort of AoE damage which nails your group, you’ll want to cast this.

Prayer of Mending: Use in case of an emergency. The amount of damage it heals is a little more then the amount of damage received. But I am referring to a normal hit not a special attack at will knock off a good portion of the tanks health.

In case of emergency, break open glass

You’ll remember the other day I wrote about what Priests should do in the event they have pulled aggro. Here’s the other side of the equation: What to do if the tank has less than 10% health and in imminent danger where he could die and wipe the raid. Follow this process to ensure maximum possible survival.

1 – PW: Shild (Prevent further damage)
2 – Prayer of Mending (Mitigate further damage done)
3 – Renew (Constant heals)
4 – Flash Heal (Fastest way to heal. We’re concerned about time now)
5 – Repeat step 4 until he’s back up. Use shield’s again if your assignment’s health is questionable.

Other Healers

Usually, if there’s other healers on the tank, you’ll have no idea what kind of spell they’re casting. But here, time is of the essence. Drop flash after flash until he’s back in the game. Let other healers drop the big heals. Either way, get your assignment topped off. If you and your other heal happen to both drop big heals simultaneously, there’s a 3 second window where the tank could get critical’d and spontaneously die. You don’t want this to happen so be on the safe side and spam flash.

Exercises

So here, I took random screenshots through the past few raids with our raiders at various stages of decay. More often then not, you’ll encounter such similar situations. Take a look at them and think to yourself what you would do, who you would heal first, and why.

Here is shot number one. Light damage has only been applied to the raid. Matticus (Mallet) is in the uber healing group. Lang is down 25% (our main tank) and Bdon (an off tank) has also sustained hits as well as the rest of the melee DPS in his group. Although you can’t tell, I have Lang selected. But it looks like Cheever also has him selected too. So my play here is to deselect and drop a prayer of healing to top off the group. Then I’d probably take care of the rest of the DPS.

This shot was taken too late. But look at the assist window on the right. This shows us who is healing Lang: All five of us. If that happens, just move off of him and take care of someone else, like Bdon.

Ah, our first casualties of the night. Going to save my own skin and heal myself. There’s no real danger at this point so long as the tanks are still alive. We lost a healer (with 6 left) and an off tank (with 3 left). No big loss, no sense of panicking.

Again, cursor on Lang shows that I’m not the only one on him. Renew, Prayer, move on. Let the Priest and the Paladin on him take over with flashes and greater heals. Dropped renews on everybody on group 5 and group 3 that was wounded. Keep the shield cooldown on standby in case Lang gets spiked again.

Now we’ve got some real pressure applied to the raid here. A lot of damage has been done and the raid is in various health states. I included my target of target of target window along with my Nature Enemy Cast Bar (NECB). Seeing how my group is wounded, I light off a Prayer of Healing. Then I noticed Mirri was also in the process of casting and is closer to getting the heal off. I cancel my prayer, and default to healing the tanks starting with Lang and Bdon. Once they’re up, I ease off and begin my renew cycle on DPS.

Now we’ve got some serious problems. We’re down a healer and the tanks are taking serious damage (465 doesn’t seem like much). When you get to a case where you have multiple tanks with relatively low health, pick one and stick to it until they’re topped. I chose Blori and called out in vent “I’m staying on Blori”. This cues the other healers and frees them up knowing they don’t have to worry about him as much. For example, now Mirri can heal Bdon or Dager can heal Lang without needing to rotate flashing Blori. Communication is important. Let the rest of the healers know who you’re healing.

This one was a big giant leap of faith. One of our healers is offline and one of the tanks is under enormous stress. Notice that my target is Maeve. Also take a note that there is only one other healer besides me who has Maeve targeted. Bdon is a hit away from going under. But seeing as the assist window only shows two healers out of six who have Maeve targeted, it stands to reason that the other 4 must most likely be on Bdon. There is no other player in the raid who is prioritized higher then he is. Although there is no way to say for sure (unless I clicked him to determine the assists), I do believe it’s a logical conclusion to make.

In any case, you may or may not encounter such situations like that in the future. Hope this column helps you deal with any scenarios that show up. Remember, don’t panic. Keep your cool and prioritize.