>Cataclysm is out and everyone is either grinding their way to 85 or are now grinding normal and/or heroic dungeons. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting it to be as challenging as it is currently.
I will start off by saying that I have not tried healing heroics as Discipline yet. I’m having a hard enough time healing as Holy, let alone the additional challenge that Disc presents. Yes, Disc is currently challenging to heal for heroic dungeons, but its not impossible. I have learned that with a decent group and some communication over vent, that heroics aren’t as hard as people say they are. Pug heroics seem to have low success rates right now, mainly because there is limited communication between players. This is where guild groups really shine. Communication is absolutely essential as is crowd control and positioning. We can’t just AoE pull anything anymore.
Which brings me to healing. Healing now is very different from Wrath. With our new spells, we no longer have the longevity of spamming heals with no consequences. ALL spells are extremely costly with mana (with the exception of Heal), so choosing the right spell at the right time is crucial to your mana pool’s survival.
For Holy priests, the first few heroic runs are going to be brutal until you get geared. Even with the recent buff to our spirit regen, it’s still essential that you learn which spell is used for certain types of damage:
Heal- Our new bread and butter spell. It has a low mana cost and at high regen levels, we can cast it infinitely. It has a long cast time and doesn’t heal for much, but its extremely efficient and refreshes our Renew on the target with our tank healing Chakra state. It is best used for light damage situations, or when the tank has 50% or more health.
Renew- Our HoT was the cornerstone of Wrath healing that made us much like druids. We use to sprinkle this across raids and its healing was more efficient than Flash Heal. This is no longer the case. With mana reduction talents, Renew costs a little over 3200 mana and currently ticks 4 times until you hit the appropriate 12.5% haste cap. This spell should always be kept up on the tank(s) and is easily refreshed with our Chakra state. I would avoid sprinkling this over DPS unless you know that the DPS is going to get constant damage and can be refreshed through our Chakra state. Otherwise, you will find yourself OOM quickly.
Holy Word: Serenity- Finally, we get our very own instant cast healing spell! One of the reasons why Holy priests were never excellent at tank healing was because we lacked an instant cast healing spell. We always sat at the sidelines as we watched other healing classes tank heal. This was because Paladins have Holy Shock, Shamans have Riptide, Druids have Swiftmend, and Disc Priests have Penance. This is our version of Holy Shock only it heals for quite a bit more and is on a 10-second CD. It also puts a buff on the target for 6-sec that increases the critical chance of your healing spells by 25%. This spell is also very mana efficient and should be used every CD. It can quickly bring a tank or dps back up and is part of our tank healing toolbox.
Flash Heal- This spell use to be our go-to spell in Wrath. Blizzard greatly increased the mana cost and healing of this ability, so it is now used in emergency situations. It is the highest HPS spell we have, but its also the most costly. When the tank dips below 25% I would say its safe to use this spell, especially since we have a glyph that increases its crit chance by 10% when used on a target below 25% health. I would avoid spamming this on DPS.
Greater Heal- I admit I should use Greater Heal more. I hardly use it at all. When it comes to heroics, I either use Heal or Flash Heal combined with smart use of Prayer of Mending and Holy Word: Serenity. Greater Heal is the biggest single target heal we have, but it has a long cast time. It’s also fairly costly although not nearly as costly as Flash Heal for heal-per-mana. It costs a little more than Flash Heal, but heals for quite a bit more. I’d mainly use it for tank healing to bring the target back up to full health. Around 25%-50% might be a smart area to use it.
Holy Word: Sanctuary- I’ve NEVER used this spell in current heroics. EVER. It costs over 9k mana with mana reductions and doesn’t heal for very much for what it costs. Plus it requires you to be in your raid healing Chakra state, which isn’t very good for healing 5-mans right now. Liberal use of Prayer of Mending and Prayer of Healing is better right now.
Prayer of Mending- A very good spell to use when the entire party is taking damage. I wouldn’t use it on every cooldown as it is still a little expensive to cast, but I would encourage people to get an addon to track what target your Prayer of Mending spell is on and to get the full benefit from it. It has a 30 second duration for each bounce. Healbot automatically tracks it, but I’m not sure about Grid. I believe Curse.com has a few different addons that can track it.
Prayer of Healing- This spell has been buffed and the mana cost reduced which makes it a powerful party heal for heroics right now. The glyph makes it even more powerful. I would use this when the entire party is taking damage, such as Valiona’s flame breath (although no one should be standing in front of it!) It has a long cast time, but it can be shortened through smart use of Flash Heal with the proper talents.
Power Word: Shield- This spell is mainly used for damage mitigation. Disc priests get a mana return from its use, but Holy priests don’t get anything beneficial other than a subpar shield. I think combined with the Body and Soul talent it can be great for getting out of fires quicker or helping a DPS/Tank kite adds. I certainly wouldn’t put it into a healing rotation, but it is still good for certain encounters with heavy tank damage. Make sure to coordinate with your Disc priests when you use this spell.
Leap of Faith- Oh how I absolutely love this spell. In guild runs, I usually piss off a DPS or Tank thats in front of me when we are running back from a wipe by pulling them away from their intended direction. In all seriousness, this spell is fantastic. When we do a CC pull, its great for pulling a clothie or hunter out of harms way. I will say this though, I DO NOT PULL PEOPLE OUT OF STUFF THEY SHOULDN’T BE STANDING IN.
Divine Hymn- This is my “oh $hit” button. I only use this when I forsee a wipe and its my last ditch effort to save the party.
Well thats it for now, I’ll be back later to go over gear, gems, stats, etc. Remember, be forceful! I know it might seem a little hopeless, but if you are doing your job and people are not obeying the mechanics of the encounter or are not CC’ing correctly its not your fault. If they kick you, chances are another healer won’t help their cause and they will have to wait 45 min for another dungeon while you get near instant ques. Thats the consequence for pissing on their healer! Have fun!