Inspired by a post by my good friend Vixsin, I’ve decided to do a quick “Best Practices” post. In the interest of full-disclosure, she did toss me an email while I was at a work conference asking for a “best practices” quick hit-list… and I promised her I would do it…. several times. But, I simply let work get ahead of me and forgot to email her back… so, my dear Vix, I apologize! Hopefully this helps somewhat!
But before I dive into the meat and potatoes of the post, I will provide a brief update on myself: it has been a chaotic January for me. Work has been quite busy with a lot of travel, my SO and I are on the property hunt here in Boston (Rant: SO EXPENSIVE), and I am prepping to go away on vacation on a cruise at the end of the month with some friends. Progression has been pretty solid, as of today we are working on Heroic Sha of Fear 25-Man, everything else is on farm. I expect a kill in the next few nights… It seems like one of those fights that just clicks and you make leaps and bounds forward. (Dear Huddle in Fear, why you love me so much?)
For this “Best Practices” I am going to split it into two sections, one for Holy and one for Discipline. Now I know a vast majority of us priests are playing Disc over holy simply because Disc is that much stronger at the moment— but for better or for worse, that will change in 5.2. While I personally feel that Holy will still be underpowered, despite GC’s “holy only seems underpowered because Disc is so overpowered…” we’ll see a lot more opportunities to play and shine as Holy than we do now in 5.1.
Best Practice #1 – Smite, You Fools! (Diagram)
Atonement healing is nothing short of amazing. First, its exceptionally mana efficient… particularly if you have 5 stacks of Evangelism. Secondly, the healing it provides its smart. So on many fights, which have periods of low raid damage, you can contribute easily to raid DPS, while triaging (smartly) and tank healing direct with Atonement heals. Penance, until 5.2, is often best used OFFENSIVELY unless you are stacking Grace on a target. (Sidenote: Amazing with 4pc)
Additionally, on fights that have +damage taken on the boss. (eg. Heroic Lei Shi) It is not uncommon to see 100+k heals smartly healing your Scary Fog soakers. Delicious.
Perhaps most importantly, Smite/Atonement Healing is necessary to gain your Evangelism stacks to be able to use Archangel— and consequently other Best Practices.
Some fights, Atonement healing is NOT the best choice, and you should only be stacking Evangelism via Instant Holy Fire’s or while Weaving a smite/penance in between your POH’s since your raid is just taking Constant raid damage. (eg. Heroic: Garalon)
Best Practice #2 – Use Archangel With Spirit Shell
In a build earlier this year, we gained the ability to couple Archangel and Spirit Shell. (Previous TOAP Post). Archangel can increase your healing by up to 25%, and in turn adds a 1.25 multiplier to the Spirit Shell calculation… so a substantial increase. Spirit Shell is generally used to prepare you raid for incoming damage, which means you have specific times where you are going to be using it— why not prepare yourself by aligning this powerful cooldown to further augment Spirit Shell.
I have a Spirit Shell keybind with AA already built in. Since both SS and AA are off the GCD, macroing them together works perfectly to use them in tandem. Remember, AA lasts a few seconds longer than SS so even after SS expires, you still have a few seconds left with your heals empowered.
Best Practice #3 – Use Archangel Off Spirit Shell
Yes I know this is (intentionally) counter to my previous best practice, however the cooldown for Archangel is short enough that it allows you use it with Spirit Shell, and once without Spirit Shell before SS’s cooldown is complete. So many Disc Priests forget to use AA, even in periods of low damage and they are simply smiting away. There is no good reason to not have AA running, if it will be back off CD when you will need it (or if you will be casting Spirit Shell) before big damage hits.
A great way to do this is to monitor its cooldown, its duration, and your stacks of Evangelism. I suggest using a tracking mod, or simply import the Weak Auras I’ve created here.
Bonus Disc Tip: Use Inner Focus with Spirit Shell
This effectively gives your Spirit Shell target(s) a double shell, as Inner Focus will “crit” that cast of GHeal, Flash Heal, or POH. Nothing says raid mitigation, like a 200k+ shield on 5 targets!
Best Practice #1 – Pre-Cast Lightwell/Spring
You should have your Lightwell out before the tank pulls (or before damage goes out that you’ll need it)… I tend to prefer to have it out a good 30+ seconds early. Lightwell’s cooldown is your standard 3 minute cooldown. Some fights, like Tsulong, start the fight with large amounts of damage –sometimes consuming your entire Lightwell before the 3 minute cooldown is up. IF you have pre-cast Lightwell, your CD will be up sooner, providing a shorter total downtime of the Lightwell for your raid to access.
Best Practice #2 – Stance Dance; When Appropriate
Evaluate when you should be in Serenity or Sanctuary. Look at your logs, are you casting POH/COH more than you are casting Single Target heals while you are in Serenity? Perhaps it is better to be in Sanctuary. A very easy fight to know when to stance-dance is Tsulong. You almost always want to be in Sanctuary during Night Phase, and almost always Serenity for Day Phase. This is a great fight to get used to going in and out of difference Chakra states.
Sometimes you ARE single target healing, before you start AOE healing… you need to look at the fight and determine if the 30 second Chakra cooldown is short enough to swap stances, and be able to swap back to the appropriate stance when the time is right.
Best Practice #3 – Use Your Words…
Yes… I said USE them. Our Holy Words may be flawed, but they are still a part of our toolkit. I rarely use HW: Serenity in 25 man, since I primarily am Sanctuary, but when I am in Serenity I use HW: Serenity on cooldown. Why? Because its mana efficient, instant, and provides a buff. Amazing? No… but something we should be using on CD when in that Stance. HW: Sanctuary, on the other hand, is something I use sparingly. It is expensive, hits like a wet noodle, but is not useless.
Do I think HW: Sanctuary needs developer love? Yes. However, if you have the mana to spare, your raid is camped in a given area, and constant raid damage is going out… any extra healing is helpful, so why not cast it? Don’t dismiss the spell as “useless” and refuse to cast it… sometimes, even though it is a bad spell in its current form, does not mean it doesn’t provide healing that is helpful.
Bonus Tip: Use Renew Effectively
A lot of people gear specific haste levels and glyph for Renew— but never cast it. Why are you gearing for a Renew breakpoint but cast it so infrequently? You’ll likely get more bang for your buck with Mastery. Your mileage may vary… but take a look at your logs: How often are you casting renew? How much are you overhealing with it? Would increasing your Echo of Light be a better option and provide you with more raw output? (most cases, probably yes)
I would be remiss not to suggest that everyone visit www.HowToPriest.com and register there for more good priest ‘best practice’ discussion Healing and otherwise. Its where I spend most of my Priest forum time. Lately, I’ve found the official forums, EJ, MMOC I find woefully lacking in discussion beyond QQ. Besides all sorts of awesome people hang out there… myself included!