Man, I’m just chock full of new categories this week! Though I don’t have the idea to make this a regular thing, as in I’m not setting aside a specific day for this, I realized the other day that I’m actually light in the department of guides for priests. So I figured I’d try and make up for that with a new category devoted specifically to Holy Priesting. All other classes may want to look away for the this post, as we will most likely be making fun of you, and I don’t wish to hurt your feelings. So priests, why not gather up and let ol’ Professor Dueg drop a bit of knowledge on you as we L2HolyPriest some Raid Healing.
Now when you’re raid healing, you’re basically a wandering healer, searching for your spiritual purpose in life (hint: it’s healing). The idea here is that you need to be everywhere and constantly countering incoming damage with heals. As a holy priest, you’re going to be largely reactionary when it comes to heals, trying to make up for damage received. Raid healing as a holy priest involves a lot of split second decisions based on who has the lowest health, what role they’re playing in raid and what you have on cooldown at any given moment. You need to be prepared to use your entire arsenal of spells, but in a weaving pattern that optimizes your heals.
Now also keep in mind that the person with the lowest health is not always going to be the one in need of heals first. Being able to effectively raid heal requires a knowledge of the encounter and what type of damage is hitting the raid. For example, when I’m healing Kologarn and he hits the entire raid with an AoE damage, I’ll make sure the tank is topped off, especially an off tank currently pulling adds, or someone taking eye beam damage, before I bring the entire raid up to full. Reason for this is that Kolorgarn doesn’t have much AoE damage aside from that one smash, so I know I can afford to ignore the other raiders for a few seconds.
Now some of you may have noticed that even though I’m on raid heals, I mentioned keeping an eye on the tanks as well. This is not a case of me suggesting heal sniping to you. You see, though you may be assigned to raid healing, it never hurts to use occasional spells to help out the tanks healers. I usually start off a Prayer of Mending cycle by casting it on the tank since they’re guaranteed to be taking damage often. Another good tip is that if the melee dps need a couple of heals, toss a Circle of Healing onto the main tank as he should be in range of them and to guarantee he gets a dose of healing love also.
Speaking of where and when to use Circle of Healing, I’ve actually gotten a couple of e-mails asking me for tips and the best places to drop the Circle. Thanks to the cooldown implemented a few months after Wrath hit, you have to be selective about when and where you use this spell in order to yield maximum results from each cast. Again, this is going to require being aware of the raid encounter and understanding where damage is being distributed. If the damage targets someone and hits everyone around them with AoE damage, you’ll want to hit the targeted person since they’re the epicenter of damage.
You can also use yourself as the center of the spell if you’ve taken some damage and need a small heal as well. If you see some of the ranged have taken an AoE smack, simply dash over to them and alt-cast that spell in order to top yourself off as well as those crazy pewpewers. Since the spell is smart and seeks out those with the lowest health to heal, this is an effective way of being sure the heals land in an area where you want them to. However, this method will also result in a lot of running around, and too much moving lowers your effectiveness as a healer. If you adopt this style, be sure and have instant spells cued up so you’re still pumping heals while moving.
As Holy Priests, we actually have an impressive array of instant cast heals, including Renew, which can be talented to give a small heal at the initial cast, Prayer of Mending, Circle of Healing and even Guardian Spirit for those “oh shit” moments. We can even talent Flash Heal to occasionally become instant cast. This makes us good to have around for mobile fights, especially Circle of Healing and the occasional hasted Flash Heal. It becomes imperative to know which cooldowns are currently up and if you have certain buffs working to be able to efficiently make use of your talents and spells.
Prayer of Mending is a spell that I will usually keep in reserve for mobile fights, wanting to have it moving through the raid during times when I can’t stop and cast normal heals. Often times when moving, people might still be taking damage and this spell, if cast at the right time, can keep people topped off and even procs crits, resulting in mana efficiency and Surge of Light procs for you. You have to be mindful of this spell though because people have a tendency to treat it as a direct heal, which it is not. If someone takes damage, they take the damage first, then the heal is applied. This means that if the damage is enough to kill them, Prayer of Mending won’t save them as they will die before they get the heal.
Finally, I’ll talk about spell weaving and what it means since 3.1 hit and introduced the improved Serendipity. Quite frankly, I love this new talent as it encourages us to cast Greater Healing every once in a while and even that big ol’ mamma jamma, Prayer of Healing. As a Holy Priest, using Flash Heals as your main raid heal is almost mandatory. It allows you to move quickly from one raider to another, but it doesn’t have a huge healing effect. I’ll often couple it with a renew while flitting from one raider to the other in order to maximize their healing bonus while minimizing the amount of time I’m targeting them.
Serendipity, however, let’s you haste a Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing up to 3 times by casting Flash Heal. This essentially gives your Greater Heal the cast time of a Flash Heal and your Prayer of Healing a cast time of Greater Heal, letting you work these longer casts more effectively into your rotation. This talent, especially if you glyph it to match, will make your Prayer of Healing an extremely effective spell for countering raid wide damage in boss fights. However, you must be careful as this talent does not reduce the mana cost of these big spells, making it extremely easy to blow through your mana pool if you’re not careful.
Now of course I can give you tips based on my own experience with raiding, but it really takes experience and time seeing these fights and how they work for you. Understanding when and where to place heals is a dance that involves split decisions and a knowledge of the encounter, your cooldowns and your healing team. Holy Priests have muscle, able to keep raids alive through force of will almost, but without knowledge of how to use that muscle, you might as well be banging your head against the wall. If anyone has further tips or comments they would like to add, please do so as I’m always looking for ways to improve as well.