Holy Word: Sanctuary vs Efflorescence

Holy Word: Sanctuary vs Efflorescence

I love using Holy Word: Sanctuary on players in melee only to find that the Efflorescence from druids already beat me to it. Both effects can easily be stacked on top of each other for extra AoE healing. Great times for this would be on Blood Queen or on Festergut, for example.

On the other hand, I’ve found that it can be a redundant AoE overheal especially when the affected players aren’t taking that much damage. As a priest, I can place a Sanctuary down wherever I like. A druid can just about do the same, but the flowerbed only appears beneath the target of their heal.

Already in raids, I’ve been in situations like this:

eff-vs-sanc

Blue dots represent players. The large, transparent circles represent the area of the AoE healing effects. A well placed Sanctuary can cover players standing far from each other but Efflorescence is limited to the target’s location. Has anyone else seen cases similar to this? I just find it funny in a sense. Come on guys! Recognize that these circles are good things to stand in! As a guideline, I think druids have melee players covered. Holy priests can park Sanctuary on range if the melee isn’t in need of it. Thinking ahead to Sindragosa for tonight, I have a feeling we’ll be stacking these for players at melee range.

Side note, I participated in beta tests for Blackwing Descent and Bastion of twilight on sunday. They’ll be appearing on WoW Insider sometime soon. Great encounters, Omnitron especially. Blizzard has not shown any signs of lacking any raiding creativity yet. Lots of promise for us raiders.

An Instance of Fail

An Instance of Fail

**Image courtesy of Universal Studios**

Matt’s note: After an actual good night’s sleep and further deliberation, I’ve exercised editorial control and removed the quote that was at the end of post as I determined it was unnecessary. The team remains committed to delivering honest and thoughtful opinion on the subject and content around the community, and it is never our intention to go after individuals.

I, like a good number of people that I play with, listen to The Instance, a WoW-based podcast featuring Scott Johnson and Randy Deluxe.  They’re an incredibly entertaining duo, and their show is produced remarkably well. Since their fame, they’ve been able to amass the largest guild in WoW, A.I.E., a Horde fan-guild on Earthen Ring.

Needless to say, they’ve developed quite a following. They score interviews with members of the Blizzard staff, host their own Nerdtacular Expo, and have even coined the famous “Obey Henry!” (a reference to Scott’s Hunter pet) phrase on bumper stickers and websites. They’ve got sponsors galore, and it shows.

A lot of people have been given the oppotunity to contribute to the success of “The Instance”, via the podcast or their blog.  Because of the “bragging rights” that come along with such an honor, it’s expected that people probably flock to get a chance.

Well, just because you get the chance, doesn’t mean you should take it.  Living in downtown Chicago, I have the chance to jump off bridges into the water below. Doesn’t mean that it’s a smart idea.

The Culprit

I try to keep a good grasp on what blogs are out in the WoW world.  A lot of us on Twitter are really good about tweeting and re-tweeting blogs that we think are relevant. I find some great articles that way, and some real duds.  That’s what brings me to “The Instance”.

I came across an article posted by someone named Dills. I checked out some of his posting history. He seems like a fairly new blogger. His posts are succinct (good), and touch on relevant topics (also good). The article I read, however, hurt my soul.

In the “calm before the storm”, we’re learning what spells are going by the wayside.  Some spells like Sentry Totem are easily justified. Their mechanics make no sense. Other spells however, will make a lot of us shed a tear upon their departure. Dills, lacking the eloquence he usually displays, delves into his opinions of what should be on the chopping block.

First Offense

Although in the healing community we beg for the repair of our beloved Lightwell, Dills calls for its demise. It’s not really the call for the demise that bothers me as much as the poor thinking that it’s derived from:

The idea is not horrible but in today’s raiding environment does anyone have time to stop their rotation for a moment to click on something for a heal?  I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.

Wrong, sir. When you gear your tank to 540 Defense (or spec into Survival of the Fittest), you’re thinking about healing. When you gather your 251+ gear for your tanking set, you’re thinking about healing. If you’re NOT thinking about healing when you’re going through your “rotation”, then you’re just a bad DPS.  It is every raid member’s responsibility to contribute to the raid as a group effort. This is why one of the quintessential rules of WoW is:

  • Don’t stand in the bad; Do stand in the good.

When you stand in the good, you’re not just “upping your numbers”, you’re assuring that the fight will progress quickly so the healers won’t run out of mana.  With Blizzard’s desire to make mana an issue for healers, this will become paramount.  When you avoid standing in the bad, you’re doing the exact same thing by saving the heals for those that really need it.

But wait!! There’s more!

That’s what the healer is for.  I’ve got a great idea.  How about we put a little Shadowwell on the ground and the healers can click on it to dps things?  Dumb right?  Right.

Wrong again, sir.  Wrong.  How many times have you been working on a progression boss and you hit that last 5% with an imminent enrage timer, then wipe?  I’m willing to bet money that part of the reason you got to that 5% in the first place is because of your healer(s) Smite-ing/HolyShock-ing/LightningBolt-ing/Wrath-ing the boss when they had the global cooldowns to spare.  I can’t tell you how many times when I raided with Lodur’s guild that the whole raid (healers included) threw everything they had at a boss in the final 10%.  I’ll use Blood Queen Lana’thel as an example. One attempt ended in our guild first, with only 2 people alive, the other 23 dead. Healers DPS’d the boss, too. “That’s what the DPS is for,” right? So does that mean the DPS wasn’t doing their job? Nope. We succeeded, which means the raid did it’s job.

Secondly, it’s obvious that Dills hasn’t been following the new game mechanics, namely that Healers will be nudged to DPS in order to regen mana. In the current build, Priests have the following talents:

  • Evangelism – When you cast Smite, you gain Evangelism increasing damage done by your Smite, Holy Nova, Holy Fire, and Penance spells by 4% and reduces the mana cost of those spells by 6% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Archangel – Consumes your Evangelism effect, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana, and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack.
  • Atonement – When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target within 8 yards equal to 15% of the damage dealt.

So, sir. If we can DPS the boss, you can help with healing.

Second Offense

Although Amplify/Dampen Magic is getting tossed onto the cutting room floor, Dills seems to think it’s welcome. His primary reasoning:

I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.

How about Valithria Dreamwalker? Ever think about throwing Amplify Magic on her? And Dampen Magic, what about throwing that on your ranged tank in Blood Prince Council? I can think of a myriad of ways that this can be used on a case-by-case basis. Just because it’s not mandatory for each fight doesn’t mean that it deserves to go away.

More you ask? Sure…

I also don’t know a single Mage who is excited when I remind them to please “give amp magic to the raid please”.  They all have the same reaction, “Ugh”.

Wrong, sir. Any mage worth running with (in my opinion), is more than willing to buff the raid, if it’s necessary  or will aid in getting that solid kill.  To any player that gripes and groans because they have to buff the raid, I tell them essentially what they’re saying is “Oh noes! I have to give the raid a (possibly) better chance at downing this boss! /cry”.  It is these people that I don’t like playing with.  Our mage (also our DPS captain) always looks to see what little things the DPS can do to help out the rest of the team.

Three Strikes; You’re Out!

Last, but not least, Dills brings up Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. These are spells that I’ve become quickly familiar with through my raiding days.  Remember when CC used to be essential to getting through a raid?  Remember packs of mobs that needed to be Slept, Sheeped, Sapped, Hexed, Repented, etc? Does anyone recall Blizzard saying they’d like to see CC brought back in? I do. I welcome it. It actually makes it more interesting than “nuke da mobz wit aoe”. Let’s start at the top:

Priests can Mind Soothe which I guess could be useful while questing but if you can’t kill a mob reliably you got bigger problems than Mind Soothe can fix.

Dills, did you read the spell? Mind Soothe has no impact on the level of damage a Humanoid mob takes. It reduces the aggro range that the mob can detect you. For leveling, this means you can Mind Soothe a mob to grab that quest item you need. For dungeons, it’ll help you sneak by that one mob patrolling right near you or near a party member that was lagging behind.

I’ve heard of Priests using Mind Soothe on the Instructor Razuvious fight but I admit I have never confirmed that it really works.

Here’s some confirmation for you. In the Razuvious 25man fight, you need two priests to Mind Control.  Without Mind Soothe, they have to mash the Mind Control button as fast as they can to grab hold of the Understudies.  Why? Because when the Priest gets into range to cast the spell, he’s already in the Understudy’s aggro range. The mob starts running at the Priest, alerting the other students (and Razuvious) that he’s there. If the tank’s not fast enough, or the other Priest can’t get off Mind Control on time, the Priest is dead.

Now, with Mind Soothe, the Priest settles into this spot, casts Mind Control with ease, and there’s no mad dash to get it done. The tank can run in and get aggro on the other Understudies without fear of them charging after the Priests.

This works for any time you have to set up CC assignments before a pull. With the need for CC coming back stronger in Cataclysm, you’re gonna need Mind Soothe until you really outgear the content.  And guess what? Soothe Animal is the exact same thing, except for Beasts and Dragonkin!

I do like the idea of these spells upping the targets vulnerability to other spells though.

Where, oh where, did you even get that from the tooltips of those spells?  How does “reduces the range” mean “makes more vulnerable”?  Both of those spells are designed to help prevent face-pulling mobs by anyone other than the tank.

Head to the Dugout

In the end of Dills’s post, he says:

Leave a comment with any spells you hate or think should change or tell me how wrong my analysis is.

Gladly, sir. Let me say first that anyone is more than welcome to have their opinion. I encourage it. However, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth if you’re looking to spur a debate. The examples provided above show a poor thought process on your part.

Your thoughts on how healing is “not your job” is an insult to the people you depend on to keep you alive. It is your duty to make sure the raid succeeds, however you can contribute to it.

The ability to think outside the box on certain spells is something I highly recommend checking out. Simply because one raid leader said to use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang encounter doesn’t make it useless everywhere else. You’ve got raiders that groan at increasing chances of success? Get new raiders.

I can certainly say that I don’t like apples because they’re fuzzy and blue and taste like feet.  You’d say I have no idea what an apple is. That’s my opinion of you regarding Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. Try Soothe Animal in Ruby Sanctum. You may be surprised.

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

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.