The priest class has been changed a great deal over the years, and not until Wrath, we really only had one true viable raiding Tree: Holy. While, yes, some priests did attempt to heal as Disc in Burning Crusade… it just was neither practical nor as widely accepted.
Priests have 2 defined niches: Tank Healing and Raid Healing. Generally speaking, if you want to be a raid healer – you are better off speccing holy. (I do not want to get into the argument about PW: Shield spam or using Borrowed Time to cast a hasted Prayer of Healing- so I simply won’t). Some of this stems from what my raid make up is and what kind of healing my raid needs. If you feel that your raid needs you as a PW: Shield spammer, and it works for you – great! Keep at it. However, I am going to be discussing Holy for now. (and Yes, I have raid healed as Disc, and certain fights it is certainly very helpful– Lich King and Saurfang for example)
In Dark Nemesis raids, Holy plays the role of Burst Healing. We have a number of spells at our disposal that provide an incredible amount of instant or fast burst heals. Lets dive into those:
Circle of Healing:
We have had this spell since BC, and has been a great tool for us—even after the Cooldown nerf. With a single quick snap, you instantly can heal 6 targets (assuming you are glyphed) for upwards of 5400 each.
Prayer of Healing:
With this spell now targeted off of a group you now can cast this spell quickly (<2 seconds) with your 3 x Serendipity stacks.
With empowered renew able to provide an upfront heal (not to mention a possible Holy Concentration Proc) you can heal consistent damage over time. More importantly, it is instant—that means you can cast it on the run and heal your raid.
Often times forgotten – and can provide solid group only aoe heals in an instant. I remember using this spell regularly on some of our earlier Mimiron and Freya Hard Mode kills.
Getting the most out of these spells can be overwhelming. One of the most stressful things to do as a Raid Healing Holy Priest is answering the hard questions. Lets go over some of the questions I ask myself throughout every single raid.
What spell do I cast?
That is a very difficult question to answer, and it usually is: It depends.
Raid Healing effectively often requires you to be aware of how incoming damage happens. Take Festergut for example, most Raid Mods (DXE, DBM, etc.) let you know when he is going to exhale, or you can watch a castbar for Lady Deathwhisper to see her cast her Frostbolt Volley. With an appropriate reaction time you can land your Prayer of Healing moments after the damage lands, thus nearly eliminating all the damage on an entire group. A lot of this timing takes practice and familiarity of the encounter… the more practice you get on bosses, the more familiar you become with them, and the audio and visual cues for the damage will become second nature. Now when you use POH in these situations, you often can prep your Serendipity stacks. Keeping your Serendipity up at 3 (while spot healing with Flash Heal) can often allow you to provide a much needed POH punch! Alternatively if you know the raid is going to be taking consistent damage in between your CD’s you can be weaving in Renews on other raid members.
What order do I cast stuff in?
Often times people have a knee jerk reaction and quickly cast a COH once damage occurs. This does, of course, provide great burst healing on 6 targets, but if you don’t have a 4-Piece bonus proc, you’ll have to wait for the CD to complete before you can heal again. (see my earlier post for my thoughts on the 4pc) Let’s examine a situation:
One of Lady Deathwhisper’s Tormented Spirits Explodes into the melee group. You have a raid group of 25 with 8 melee and 2 tanks. Split up into 2 groups (lets just say groups 1 and 2). If you were to cast COH onto a melee target, you’ll heal 6 players. You, in all likelihood, will now have 2 groups with a mix of people at 100% HP and lower HP. On the other hand, if you were to cast a Serendipitous POH on one group (likely topping them all off) followed by an instant COH you’ll have probably handled these 2 groups in about 2 seconds. Any straggling Targets would likely have been handled by a Surge of Light proc you likely just acquired. Remember you have other spells at your disposal! Utilize COH’s smart healing aspect to your advantage.
When the Raid isn’t taking damage, what do I do?
Depending on the situation, you might be in a position to regen mana. While, not very many encounters in ICC allow for downtime, if your raid is stable, your tank healing is taken care of, you might be able to stop and regen mana. (Or assist other’s mana by popping Hymn of Hope). However, if your mana is stable, helping your tank healers with a POM, Renew, or Flash Heal on a tank, is often appreciated… even if it is just to restack your Serendipity.
Oh shit! All my spells are on cooldown! My raid needs heals! What do I do?
If your raid needs heals: heal. I have had several people ask me if I cast POH without Serendipity Stacks. The short answer- YES!! While it does feel like I am casting through Jell-O, POH heals 5 people. During the transition phase on the Lich King encounter, Pain and Suffering can wreck havoc on your raid. POHing can often be the best choice, even without a hasted cast time.
When do I use Divine Hymn?
With a 8 minute cooldown, you want to be sure you don’t waste it. When to use Hymn often falls into one of two categories: 1) Oh shit! 2) Big Raid Damage = Big Raid Healing. In the “Oh shit” situation this can often be when someone screwed up and chained damage to your raid, or another raid healer is down and you need to heal up the raid quickly. (ie. Felllow raid healer got picked up by a Val’kyr during the Lich King fight, and then the raid is hit by Infest). The other option is predictable big or difficult damage. I know I cast my hymn on Festergut when he casts Pungent Blight and the raid takes massive damage, or on Blood Queen Lanathel’s air phase. Large damage calls for large heals. This spell is a great one to use for major raid stabilization – know your encounter and determine the best time to cast it. So, warm up those vocal chords and chant that hymn!
A lot of raid healing as holy comes to instincts. And it takes practice and fast reflexes. Your keybinds and mod set ups can often assist with your raid healing, being sure you have raid frames that provide you with the information you need to know about your raid’s HP, Debuffs, and incoming damage is pivotal in being a successful Holy Raid Healer. For me, my mouse also plays a pivotal role in my healing, you can read my write up on that in my previous post here.
Enjoy the perils and joys of raid healing… the livlihood of your raid counts on your burst healing to survive. That is, unless they stand in fire… Blizzard has yet to come up with a spell that heals through stupid.
Don’t forget to tune in for Power Word: Fail podcast! Hosted by RaidWarning! Send in your questions to email@example.com