As has been established, I regularly read other people’s blogs here on the interwebs in order to keep abreast of changes to the priest class and generally see what my friends are up to in their own gaming lives. As I’ve been reading though, I’ve noticed a somewhat disconcerting trend of bad priestswho seem to enter the end game with little to no knowledge of how to raid with their class. This just makes Dueg mad.
However, it also got me to thinking about the fact that here I’ve been, blah blahing about priest this and priest that and leaving novel length comments on other sites, but I’ve never actually explained my healing methods. Now I’m not saying that I’m the best or that any strats I have will automatically make you the best priest there is out there. But I can say that I’m usually in the top 3 for healing meters (if you put stock in those sort of things) and that I feel like I have a very firm grasp on the concept of my class. And so, I will now enlighten you with the Tao of Dueg.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Now, if you’re reading this and play WoW regularly, I’m going to assume you’re literate, which is good. But if you need to read this because you fail, then you’re not using your powers to their maximum potential, which is bad. When you reach the end game, things change and old tactics fall to the way side when you enter a raid instance. Spamming heals won’t work, you have to look at the full array of your spells and judge when and where each one needs to be cast. By taking maybe a half hour before raid time and glancing through strats, you can see how others have accomplished these fights and get a better understanding of how things should work. If you stumble half blind into a raid casting spells all willy nilly with no idea of what you’re doing, you’re most likely hurting the raid and frustrating others. This can lead to drama, gkicks, burning buildings, the collapse of world governments and various other disasters. It’s true, I’ve seen it happen.
However, the transition from reading strats to actually implementing them in the game can be a little rough when you’re just starting out. Usually they won’t cover specific classes or just give you a generilizations as to what you can expect when you actually do the encounter. This can lead to uncertainty regarding which spells are best for what situations and may lead to tunnel vision and a sense of confusion. I know I felt like I was failing all over the place when I first stepped into end game content. Unsure of which spells to cast and when, I ignored some of the more useful spells in favor of what I was used to using in dungeons, making things rougher than they need to be.
So let’s look at some of the spells holy priests have at their disposal and my philosophy on each one of them, shall we?
Renew– Basic, simple, clean and straightforward, this spell is something you want to toss up on someone who’s taken a little bit of damage or on someone who took a whack or two but is no longer in trouble. It’s your most mana efficient spell but also your least powerful. Due for a very sexy upgrade in the holy tree for 3.1, you’ll probably want to start using this as an instant cast mini heal. This is also one spell people won’t mind you using to snipe heals with. I usually toss it up on the MT during boss fights if I’m not occupied elsewhere.
Flash Heal / Greater Heal– These are your standard straight heals and should be used with an eye to efficiency. Flash heal will be the one you want to use more often when on raid healing duty. I like to refer to this as my gunslinger spell because I usually target someone cast, move to the next, cast and so on and so on. Regardless of the talents that give you free and instant casts, this spell should still be glyphed. Flash heal is our least mana efficient spell, but a 10% discount makes it much more worthwhile. Disc is due to get a further mana cut in 3.1 possibly making it one of the more mana efficient spells. Greater Heal is more something you’ll want to cast when tank healing as it’s longer cast time and bigger oomph will make it a more wasteful spell when on raid duty.
Prayer of Mending– This is your bread spell right here, cast early, cast often and then forget about it till the cooldown is up. This is my other favorite heal sniping spell. I like to throw it up on the tank just to get it moving among the raid. The jumps have a chance to crit which can proc all your crit loving talents, making it twice as important to have up as often as possible.
Circle of Healing– This is your butter spell, the big enchilada, the definitive holy priest spell. I’m going to go on record right now as saying that the 6 second cooldown actually helped to make this spell better than it was. Aside from getting rid of priests who thought they could get away with just spamming this spell, it forces you to really think about where to apply it. Since it’s raidwide and smart now, you want to pop it on someone who’s in the middle of a group of people taking damage, such as melee during a whirlwind or ranged if there’s an AoE effect hitting the raid. It can even be an emergency instant cast spell, but your better off saving the cooldown for something important. Due for a 40% bonus to healing effects in 3.1, giving this spell even more rich creamery goodness.
Power Word: Shield– Not so useful for a holy priest. Toss it on the MT every once in a while if there’s no disc priest present or if you can spare the time. Other than that it’s only useful if you see a mob hauling ass for a squishie and want to give them that much of an extra buffer.
Binding Heal – Cast this only if you’ve taken damage and want to top yourself off. Other than that it’s a waste of mana and you’re better off using Flash Heal instead.
Prayer of Healing– Currently not so useful in a raid environment. This spell only works on the priest’s group, costs a pantload of mana and has a monster cast time, all of which make it wildy inefficient. Use this spell selectively and only when you’re sure you can get away with it. It will change in 3.1 to be castable on other groups as long as you have on of the members targeted which will change this into a much more powerful raid healing spell. Till then, ask your raid leader to stagger priests through the groups for maximum benefit.
Desperate Prayer – Self only instant heal, one of our “oh shit” buttons. Usually used after casting fade.
Holy Nova– Weak spell, AoE heals and damage. Heals only works in your own group but pretty mana inefficient. They are lowering the cost in 3.1 so this one may become a replacement for Prayer of Healing.
Abolish Disease / Dispel / Mass Dispel– Abolish disease tries to cure two diseases and leaves behind a buff that ticks three more times over 20 seconds, trying to cure two diseases every tick. The dispels remove magic effects with the normal one being single target instant cast and the mass version being a large AoE circle you target manually with a very short cast time. Now, this next sentence I can’t stress enough as I’ve seen some people saying their priests aren’t doing this, so let me use as many emphasis indicators as I can to get my point across: CAST THESE SPELLS WHEN THEY’RE NEEDED EVEN IF OTHERS IN THE RAID CAN DO THE SAME. It doesn’t matter if there’s a paladin or a druid or a shaman who can do it easier or faster or better, that doesn’t give you an excuse to slack off. If you have these spells your raid expects you to cast them when necessary and if two or more people are casting them then that’s even better because then the effects are removed even quicker. The mana cost is negligible for all these spells so the only excuse for not casting them is that you’re lazy. Lazy people equal wipes in raids.
Guardian Spirit– The mack daddy of the holy tree, this spell casts a protective buff that ups the target’s healing received by 40% for 10 seconds and will automatically heal them to 50% health if they take a killing blow, though this dispels the buff. Some people use this spell as an occasional healing buff for their target and others will save it for an emergency. I’m more of the emergency school of thought and usually won’t pop this spell unless we’re in a boss fight. However, if you want to use it as an occasional buff, that’s cool, just make sure you time it so you have it available for boss fights.
Finally, let me talk a little bit about raidittude. Raidittude is the way that you approach raids and the others you work with. The reason that guilds are so much more popular than just random PuGing is because you can see how others in your guild react in situations and adjust yourself accordingly. What’s great about the way the game is tooled is that we can very easily conform our raiding style to fit what’s necessary from a guild perspective. As an individual you need to be prepared for criticism and suggestions, whether from your officers or just from a friend or even some random guildie.
You also need to be ready to grow and change your own personal style because if your raidittude is causing cracks to form or regularly at odds with everyone else around you and your thought is always, “Well those guys just don’t know how to play my class,” then the fact might be that YOU don’t know how to play your class. I’m not advocating taking abuse or simply nodding and smiling and do whatever they tell you, but don’t take an automatic defensive stance just because people are trying to help you become a better raider. Be willing to try new styles for certain situations or else you may not find yourself guilded for very long.
Part of this is also being prepared for the raid itself. It’s not just the idea of reading strats and knowing your class’ spells and abilities, but also what you personally bring with you. Consumables are mandatory in my guild and I am a-ok with that because I would bring them even if they weren’t. If you have a flask or an elixir, you better bring it and be prepared to use it. Don’t rely on someone else to drop a feast either, bring your own food for buffs because there’s simply no reason not to. Gold is easy to farm or you could even power level cooking so you save out in the long run. You don’t have to provide for others, but make sure others don’t have to provide for you.
Oh, and a final note: Yes, I know that last night I announced I would be Discipline Dueg for a little while at least, but I had already half written this post by that point and besides, I do what I want around here.