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Survivability and Progression Raiding

As healers we all know the expression “Dead DPS does no DPS.”, right? Well, the same rule applies to us as healers. A dead healer can heal no one. Staying alive in a progression raiding guild is pretty much the first rule above all. Stay alive, stay alive, stay alive.

Every Dragon Soul fight has substantial raid damage — especially the  Heroics. This means we’ll need to be putting out a good deal of raid healing, but it also means we need to do what we can to stay alive as long as we possibly can to heal through that damage.

Both Holy and Discipline offer some great spec choices as far as survivability talents. Keeping that in mind, lets take a look at these options– some of which are often overlooked simply because we ‘forget about them’ as well as the fact that they do not provide any direct throughput. One could argue that these talents DO provide indirect-throughput as they either keep you alive longer, or mitigate damage on yourself — in turn, this enables you to continue to heal the other members of your raid.


Desperate Prayer – (Available to Discipline and Holy Priests) This spell comes in handy for those “Oh shit” moments. 30% of your total HP (capable of critically healing) with a 2 minute CD. This spell is handy for those situations where you know a surge of damage is about to hit, and you immediately need to get your health back up. (For example: Morchock’s Stomp ability, or perhaps your HP is low and you’re about to be targeted by Hagara’s Frost Tomb? )

Bessed Resilience –  (Available to Holy Priests only) With points into this talent you gain15%/30% bonus healing done on yourself for 10 seconds after being hit by non periodic damage for 10% (or more) of your total health. So many of these fights you’ll have the buff uptime for a good chunk of the fight. This is a fairly decent option for Holy Priests to help keep themselves alive during periods of high damage, as it makes all heals on you that much more potent.


Inner Sanctum – (Available to Discipline and Holy Priests). With points spec’d into this ability, we can gain 2/4/6% static spell damage mitigation when we have Inner Fire active. Since all the unavoidable damage we take is magic damage, Inner Sanctum can be a huge lifesaver, particularly since some of the damage we take is deemed “periodic” and doesn’t trigger Blessed Resilience or Focused Will.

Focused Will – (Available to Discipline Priests only) This talent provides you with 5%/10% mitigation of all damage after you suffer non-periodic damage equal (or greater to) 10% of your health, and it stacks 2 times for 8 seconds. This means you can have up to 20% damage mitigation when it is fully stacked… that is a huge amount of mitigation.


Of course you have to make choices to gain some of these talents. With the exception of Holy Priests who seek out Blessed Resilience, who arguably have no better options to pick out, these choices could be difficult. For me, as a Disc priest first on the chopping block was Mental Agility– keep in mind as Disc losing points in MA, directly affects the net cost of your PWS and thusly the “cost” for Rapture. Certain priests may also want to consider dropping Inspiration for survivability. Depending on raid make up (Another Priest? Shaman?), Healing Assignments (are you not casting Inspiration eligible heals often?), and role you simply might not be applying the buff often enough to merit those 2 talent points.

It is important to understand the differences in each of these survivability talents, and what each bring to the table as they are notably different from each other … and some do not work on certain Dragon Soul encounters. Blessed Resilience and Focused Will do not proc on periodic damage… this works extremely well for soaking Hagara’s Ice Lance, as well as proccing during her lightning storm. Unfortunately, Ultraxion’s damage is considered periodic (for whatever reason) and does not proc BR/FW.

It ultimately boils down to survivability and how necessary it becomes for your raid.  The need for survivability talents is inversely related to your raid’s skill level and its familiarity with the encounter. The more your raid improves on a given encounter, and the more your raid gears up, the less necessary these talents become.  In progression raiding, the longer you survive, the longer your raid and tanks survive. Each one of us has to decide where that tipping point is, and when we start valuing one over the other.

How many first kills did you stumble across the finish line with the boss picking off the raid one by one by one… leaving only a bubble’d paladin alive as he fell over? (or a Dispersed Shadow Priest!) These talents can help you extend that survivability and should be strongly considered on certain fights in Dragon Soul… particularly a number of the Heroic Encounters.

Written By: on December 27, 2011
  1. hear people rag on Spirit of Redemption, arguing (and rightfully so) that as a healer you should not be dying in the first place.

    While I agree with this, is it not wise to have a safety net for progression’s sake? Case in point, when we first downed Ragnaros I was the solo healer left alive for the final 3 or 4%, and Spirit of Redemption snagged us the kill as I got hit by a meteor with only two tanks and myself left up. I was able to heal the last crucial bit in Spirit form.

    Another case it has come in handy in a dramatic way: when all has gone wrong, and I have NO mana CD’s or potions left available for a long while, I let myself die (pending circumstances) to get enough mana to get us through the end of the fight. (Keywords: end of the fight; I do not do this during, as “Heal” is a phenomenal waiting for mana spell).

    This was not mentioned other than in the article’s title graphic; I’m sure most forget about it, or even scoff at it still. Would you say even in progression raiding it is something that should not be needed?

    1. I can’t say that I could recommend SoR. Sure there are situations where it can be the last few seconds of a kill… if Blizzard wants us to have this, and not provide the 5% Spirit (that HPriests desperately need for the record…)… they should make it baseline. Wasting a valuable TP on a talent that relies on your raid (or you) to fail isn’t something I can really wholeheartedly say is a valuable talent. *shrug*

  2. The only use I found for SoR, and this is going to be extremely controversial, is for when I was plum out of mana, had blown all of my cooldowns, and I would kill myself to be able to keep casting. This was typically done on hard modes, usually when we were at the last few percent and trying to squeeze in a kill. I know that’s so not how it was intended to be used, but it worked. I did it for H Maloriak and even H Magmaw.

    Desperate times, man!

  3. Wow offtopic we have here. I guess SoR is good one for Flash Heal post:P
    I do think those talent that were mentioned are pretty crucial for progression. I really havent smash myself against throughput barrier so far. Not only healers should pick up those, but all classes that can, no matter what their raid role is.

    Nice read. As always.

  4. I ran with Desperat Prayer for … a long time now. I think I skilled it first in WotlK at some point. Of course we had a lot more room for our skillpoints, or atleast I played very different ways then, and tryed out a lot.
    With Cataclysm I stuck to it, and droped SoR at the beginning.
    When Chakra became permanent and 2 skillpoints went “poof” I took SoR up again and 1 point in BR, and felt it was really usefull, especially when healing me and someone else, Beth’tilac HC for example, and stacking Serendipity while at it.
    I can also imagine it being very valuable for Deathings Spine, when you have the debuff, althou I have no clue about the HC version there.
    Right now I’m not sure whether to drop SoR and go BS, and loosing a point for Mental Agility or Veiled Shadows, or not. Since we are not really ready for HC’s right now with all the Christmas and New Year stuff going on and personally I am not sure if our DPS would be enough,
    I think I’ll have to test it when we start with HC’s, maybe I’ll run with 2 Holy speccs then for the sake of finding out. Droping Inspiration is a no-go for me, since I’m the only one applying it.

    And: Happy new year! :)

  5. Want to first thank you for this outstanding incredibly informative site that focuses on Healing. I have a question though. I have an 85 Holy Priest and was wondering how Renew directly effects sanctuary. It seems that when Renew is on someone, the healing from sanctuary goes way up. Can you confirm for me please. Keep up the great work


    1. @Joey: There’s no correlation between the two; renew being on a target does not affect how much Sanctuary Heals for. You might have had a temporary Int boost when you cast sanctuary and they synched up.

      1. Really? well then, I need to pay a little more attention it seems. I have heard and read somewhere that Renew can be refreshed with other spells, what are those spells?


        Oh and thanks for the quick response, greatly appreciated.

        1. Renew can be refreshed by direct healing spells, if you are in Chakra: Serenity. Chakra: Sanctuary, or not being in a Chakra at all will not refresh your Renew automatically, by using a certain spell. You would need to re-cast it, if you want to do that.

  6. I really don’t think I could ever get used to not having Desperate Prayer~I even reach for the keybind when I’m in Shadow, lol. And thank you so much for the line about Ultraxion’s dmg counting as periodical. I did not know that and had specced into Focused Will just for that fight and thought I was losing my mind when I couldn’t find it proccing.

  7. As a thought, with Binding heal, some of the mitigation abilities may have more use than Desperate Prayor. I have it on one priest but it is OS heals and just never respec ed it. It’s a Flash heal on 2 targets, you and someone else.

    Nice read!

  8. I have found that “Spirit of Redemption” does come in handy quite a few times, and in many different situations. I agree with Derevka that we shouldn’t rely on it or that Spirit of Redemption isn’t necessary. However everyone knows what their raid team is capable of, whether they are endgame elite raiders or a casual family oriented team that still wipes to Shannox. I would be the first to say Spirit of Redemption has been useful to me on several boss fights for reasons that Oestrus has pointed out. I personally would like to see it stay in the game, I like it, it is kind of neat. The end result is your game play is enjoyable to you.

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