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Last night, I took part in a curious raid.

It was the first experience of raiding with my shiny new guild Absolute on Kazzak, and I’ll start by saying that it was a blast. Very relaxed atmosphere and largely sensible raiding added up to a fun evening’s 10-mannage of Ulduar. We jogged through a few hardmodes, but had nowhere near an optimal setup for… well, for anything! We didn’t even have Replenishment. This made it both fun and kind of frustrating at the same time – it added a completely unnecessary challenge, (which is great fun if you know it’s coming,) but on the other hand I was going out of mana three quarters of the way through many fights. You don’t realise how important something is until it’s gone, right?

Anyway, I digress. Not having Replenishment on three-healer fights (one Priest respecced Shadow for Hodir) was a big issue, but what hindered us more early on was that we had two Discipline Priests. Our setup for XT and IC was two DPriests and one drunk, Scottish-sounding Holy Paladin. It reminded me of how I had said I was going to do a post on this, so I promptly got my ideas together and started writing!

So, Big Question – why don’t Discipline Priests “stack” well in a raid? Let’s take a quick look at all our buffs, and what impact a second DPriest has on them.

Renewed Hope: 3% damage reduction on the entire raid when we shield (so that’s basically all the time). A second stack of this would be lovely, right? Unfortunately they don’t overlap – a second DPriest shielding won’t give you an extra 3% reduction, it’ll just restart the buff’s duration. Because we’re throwing shields out for raid support, there’s almost no downtime on this – I even preshield most tanks now, so there’s not even any downtime on the pull. Benefit of bringing another DPriest? None whatsoever.

Shields: The defining spell of the Discipline tree, every one of us will be rolling these on raid members, left right and centre. Bringing another DPriest means more shield coverage on the raid, right? The answer is “yes, up to a point”. The key here is the Weakened Soul debuff, which pays no regard whatsoever to which Priest shielded the player it’s applied to! If you shield a guy, he gets the debuff and nobody else can shield him until it wears off.

The obvious problem this presents is on tanks. We shield them every 15 seconds anyway, because that’s what we do – so there’s going to be some overlap on the tank shielding. For 25-mans, raid shielding is a little more flexible because different DPriests can take different sections of the raid, leading to really incredible absorption capability. That only works for predictable AoE damage, though – single target stuff like Light Bombs, Gravity Bombs and Razorscale Fireballs don’t benefit at all from having a second DPriest around, because only one of you gets to shield that guy!

As for 10-mans, the advantage is even less. In many AoE damage situations, I’m shielding a large portion of the raid so long as I can stay off the tanks for a while, and there won’t be much left for the other guy to chew on.

So, benefit of taking a second DPriest? Negligible.

Rapture: See above. With the lack of a second shield, Rapture also has similarly diminished effects on both tanks and raid members. There’s no additional rage or RP generation on the tanks, but it’s worth mentioning that you can “aim” the Rapture proc on two low mana raid members instead of one.

Grace: As far as I know, Grace stacks independently for each Priest, which means that two stacks of Grace can be active on one target. You won’t benefit from the other Priest’s stack, but it will allow both Priests to put Grace on the tank. But wait – isn’t this exactly what would happen normally? There’s no extra benefit from bringing the second DPriest, Grace is just an innate talent that increases our throughput. So while Grace isn’t harmed by bringing the second DPriest, it doesn’t benefit.

Divine Aegis: Not affected by the second DPriest. If the DA procs were to add to each other’s “stack”, then you might in some exceptional situations hit the 10k single-target stack cap, but each Priest’s aegis stacks separately so I don’t believe it makes any difference. As this is effectively just a straight throughput increase, having another DPriest doesn’t really get any benefit from this.

Just look down that list – many Discipline buffs and quirks have their effects reduced or negated by a second DPriest in the raid! This is why Discipline is often seen as a “niche” role, and you’ll find that the majority of upper-level raid leaders are very reluctant to take two of us to the same raid. Frankly, I don’t blame them.

But on the off chance that your guild has more than one of our kind, in what kind of situations would taking more than one be good? Where can you wangle your way into a raid with a fellow DPriest? Basically, any 25-man fight where there’s a lot of predictable AoE damage going around – when the healing isn’t required on the tanks, the overlapping shields aren’t as much of an issue and you can coordinate which groups to shield with your fellow Discipline club member. 🙂

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WARNING: There are many numbers in this post!

You may have noticed that I didn’t make a 3.2 “preview” thread, for the simple reason that I knew whatever I said would probably be wrong. It’s easy to look at changes on a piece of paper and say “that’s a nerf” but it’s often tough to know how it plays out until you get some playtime with the finished product. Having never transferred a character to the PTR before, I decided not to change that this time around and just waited until the patch went live before giving my initial impressions. I’ll be covering three topics today – the direct changes to Priests that affect Discipline players, the mana regen changes and the new 5-man dungeon. I’m not going to be covering the new raid yet, as I haven’t had a chance to try it! So, without further ado;

Priest Changes

The changes that affected Discipline in 3.2 were few and far between. While other classes like Death Knights got a veritable myriad of tweaks, Priests only really got two big changes. Our Shield Glyph causing Divine Aegis is nice, but ultimately that’s just a fairly small throughput increase. Nice, but not game-changing. The two really big changes were the addition of 2 seconds to our Penance cooldown and the reduction of our Prayer of Healing “spell coefficient”. I’d put both of these into the Small Nerf category – but how much do they affect gameplay?

Penance Cooldown: Cooldown increased from 10 to 12 seconds. Thanks to talents and glyphs, this a 1.6 second increase (percentages and stuff always screw things over) which effectively gives us an extra general-cooldown in between Penances. In reality? It’s not that big a change. I ran Ulduar 10 last night and got through a few hardmodes – keeping the tank up was never a problem. If he needed some more healing, I’d throw in an extra Flash Heal. If he didn’t, I’d throw out an extra Shield. It might take a little while to get used to, but it’s not a horrendous nerf!

Prayer of Healing Coefficient: “Coefficient” often conjures up nightmarish images of algebra lessons back at school. So I’ll break it down for you.

The “spellpower coefficient” of a healing or damage spell is the percentage of your spellpower that spell gains in damage/healing done. For example, say there’s a spell that does 500 base healing and has a 50% spellpower coefficient. With 2000 spellpower, that spell heals for 1500 (500 base + 50% of 2000) – with 3000, it heals for 2000. Now the change to Prayer of Healing reduced the spellpower coefficient from roughly 80% to roughly 50% (exact numbers 80.7 to 52.6) per target.

In 3.1, every time you used PoH, it would do the base healing + 80.7% of your spellpower in healing on each target, which made it quite overpowered – especially when hasted by Borrowed Time or Serendipity. In 3.2, it does base healing + 52.6%. So for a 2k spellpower geared Priest specced the same as me, you’ll see a reduction on each target of about 560 healing per target. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s pretty damn big. Considering that it also affects our PoH glyph, it’s even worse. The one saving grace is that as Discipline Priests, this isn’t quite as big a change as it is for our Holy counterparts, who I imagine are sobbing into their Sunny Ds.

So how does this affect our playstyle? Not a whole lot, I’ll be honest. It just places more importance on shielding properly. All in all, while the changes are clearly an overall nerf, it’s nothing we can’t deal with.

Mana Regen

A curious thing happened to mp5 in this patch. You may have noticed that all your pieces of gear on them with mp5 have had that stat buffed by roughly a quarter. Not Spirit. Oh no, that would be imbalanced because Holy priests would get an extra X spellpower which would completely negate the PoH nerf. This completely solidifies Spirit’s place as the worst regen stat. It’s now absolutely “incredibad”, as the Lonely Island would say. But with the nerf to replenishment, has mp5 become the better regen stat?

Let’s take a look at a 20k mana Blood Elf DPriest, which is what I’m running (and is by far the best PvE healing Priest race, by the way!).

One Intellect: Gives 16.5 mana (Blessing of Kings included) – 0.04125 mp5 from Arcane Torrent, 0.165 mp5 from Replenishment, 0.0345 mp5 from Hymn of Hope (including the mana increase and extra Replenishment gains during it,)  and 0.1375 mp5 from Shadowfiend, 0.066 mp5 if you’re in a group with a Resto Shaman and a marginal increase from spirit-based regen. This totals roughly 0.44 mp5 = 1 point of intellect. In reality? We can add slightly more to this, as this assumes you pop every cooldown as soon as it comes off cooldown, whereas we actually get an “extra” usage due to the fact that they’re off cooldown at the start of the fight. We’re probably looking at one point of mp5 is equal to something like 1.5 points of intellect.

EDIT: Thanks to Niefe for pointing out there’s a +15% intellect from talents, boosting it to roughly 0.5 mp5 for one point of Intellect. I also forgot Rapture and several other small pieces of the puzzle. If you’d like a much more accurate analysis, Zusterke does some excellent number-crunching in the comments section.

So it’s a toss up, but more importantly the +intellect bonus on gems is, I believe, still superior to +mp5 for DPriests. It’s pretty close, but I’d wager intellect is still better.

As for how mana regen actually works out during fights? I’ve hardly noticed a difference. For all Blizzard’s attempts to nerf regen on healers, I’m now sitting at 500 mp5 base before we even consider intellect/cooldown regen. I can breeze through hardmodes with 24-25k mana raid-buffed (so much so that I’ve forgone +int potions for now to go pure SP flask). If you’re going out of mana, you’re really just undergeared for the instance you’re in!

The New 5-Man: Impressions

It's a bit dull...

It's a bit dull...

Don’t get me wrong from that picture – if you haven’t gone and done the new 5-man, try it! It’s a boatload of fun, especially the joust bit at the start. The thing is, it’s just not Ulduar. The scenery’s pretty dull, which is a stark contrast to the luxurious decor of the big 3.1 addition. All in all, it kind of feels like this is a filler patch for 3.3, that Blizzard are concentrating most of their efforts on a big Black-Temple-style finale (although the speed at which these patches are coming out suggests to me that there’ll be a 3.4 as well).

The difficulty of the 5-man is pretty comparable to most other heroics. It’s certainly not a Magister’s Terrace equivalent, and stuff like kiting the Ghouls around in the last fight is really optional provided you’ve got a decent geared healer who stays on his toes. I just advance shielded everyone, threw out PoM/PoH and didn’t experience any problems at all with wipes and the like on bosses (although we did wipe once in the heroic version when we experienced some problems with the trash MCing our tank). Fun, worth it and some good iLvl gear if you have a couple of pieces that need replacing – but not one of Blizzard’s best instances.

Next on the drawing board are articles on UI and why two DPriests in one guild causes problems – let me know if you’ve got any preferences!

— Roble

Positioning can influence everything... including the pull.

Positioning can influence everything... including the pull.

They say that the three most important things about buying a house are location, location and location. Positioning is pretty similar, in that a healer’s movements and position can influence everything from extra work for raid healers to the amount of DPS being thrown out. It really is the most important thing to master in a raid, so I’ve decided to bridge the gap between my last article and the updates on the guide (I promise, that Naxxramas Bosses section looks sweet) by talking a little about how you can avoid screwing everything over for your raid!

Step One: Know The Fights

Each and every fight requires different positioning – sometimes it’s general, like “spread out 8 yards” and sometimes it’s very specific, like standing underneath the boss on Vezax or stacking on the tank for Auriaya. However, you can’t execute this positioning correctly if you don’t know what it is. Generally speaking, unless you’re in a very casual guild, “not having read up on the fight” isn’t an excuse. Hell, I knew the tactics for Mimiron two months before I actually did it, just because I was interested.

If you haven’t read up on the fight, raids go slower. The encounter has to be explained before every boss, and then you need to spend two or three wipes getting to grips with it having only been given a sketchy description (and I quote: “there’s some lightning and stuff” on Thorim). Sometimes, even people who have read up on the fight miss things – while not exactly positioning-related, Hardened Bark on Freya for my current guild springs to mind. If you’ve read the fight, you’ve got advance warning of all this stuff, and you’ll have a much better chance of not screwing up.

Step Two: Consistency

Whatever the positioning required is, you need to execute it for the whole fight. People move around, people get feared or mind-controlled or rooted and so on – stuff changes during a fight. So unfortunately, we can’t just stand in one spot for the whole fight. Instead, you need to check (ideally every few seconds) to see if you’re still fulfilling the requirements. Range-checkers and the like from DBM definitely help here, and are pretty much essential for fights like Kel’thuzad 25, where there’s a lot of people in quite a small space, and the 10-yard spacing between players is non-negotiable.

Getting stuff right at the start is important. Getting stuff right the whole way through is key. More on this later.

Step Three: Stay in the Middle

More a general rule of thumb than chapter and verse for healers, step three says that you should always be in as range of as many people as possible, and so the reflex reaction is to stand in the middle.  Staying in the middle of the raid means that you’ve got 40 yards of space on either side in which you can heal – whereas if you’re standing at the edge, you’ll only have access to roughly half the raid. Top tip for working out where to stand is to enable Frame Alpha on your grid settings for anyone who’s more than 40 yards away from you. This will “fade out” their raid frame when they’re far enough away, so you can see at a glance how much of the raid you’ve got covered.

As a Discipline Priest, this is especially important. A Holy Paladin might only want to heal the tank, but we want to throw out shields on the raid – and because I do my shields by group, (complementing Prayer of Healing,) I need to be in range of everyone at all times.

Step Four: Don’t Be a Rabbit

I used to be a Rabbit. I was the kind of guy who would move around while he was healing, because standing still just felt boring. I’d jump or move slightly to the side while I was shielding. In reality, this is completely and utterly pointless! I didn’t need to move, and I was just doing it because it felt like standing still made me more open to Bad Things happening.

If you’re standing still in a good position, nothing can go wrong. You don’t need to move. But the second something changes, and suddenly you know that position will be bad in a few seconds’ time, then you start moving. Move to where you need to be, and stop. Don’t jump around and make your other guildies adjust their spacing/position unless you need to avoid damage. Don’t be a Rabbit!

Step Five: Think Ahead and Pay Attention

Step five ties in with Consistency, from earlier. The trick to avoiding unnecessary damage is to know what’s coming, when it’s coming, and what you have to do to react. Think of it like an old Zelda boss from the N64 – he charged up some attack, it was really obvious, and you moved to avoid it. So why would WoW be any different? We get big, flashing neon signs from DBM when stuff like Lightning Nova on Emalon happens, or Sarth throws us a Flame Wall. There’s a massive targeting circle on the floor when Mimiron fires a rocket. We get customised timers to tell us when bosses’ abilities are off cooldown.

So in theory, we should never take unavoidable damage! The main reason that healers take damage like this is because we’re all too busy looking at other people’s healthbars. I’ll be honest, I suffer from Grid Syndrome on occasions too –  we all get it from time to time. Just try to tear your eyes away from it for a split second every few moments, look at the screen, be aware of what’s happening and what you need to do, and I guarantee that your time spent alive will increase dramatically. 🙂

I’m roughly halfway through Naxx bosses (doing each boss’ portrait in Paint seemed like a good idea, but it takes forever!) and I’ll do my best to speed up. Hope this all helped – as always, feel free to leave comments.

— Roble

So, the long awaited first Ulduar 25 raid is here! And probably my last, for a while. I’ll keep it short, but the guild and I had some disagreements and we decided (mutually) that I wouldn’t continue with them. We were both at fault in different ways, so I won’t drag them through the mud. But what I will say is that this raid was responsible for me taking a week’s break from raiding – on the gaming front, I levelled an alt, tried out some arena and bought a new game (Prototype, first impressions of which are “it’s quite good”) and hence the delay.

Instead, I’m going to concentrate on what matters to you, and that’s what I learnt from the experience! I certainly had a lot of fun on the encounters themselves, and got to see some sweet new content – we downed everything except Yogg-Saron, so by my standards it was a pretty successful raid for me, and I was more than happy with how I performed.

First off, for the stat junkies, here’s my stats from that raid;

Healing Done for Ulduar 25

Healing Done for Ulduar 25

The first thing I noticed is that no, I don’t use Binding Heal. I need to get that sorted out, it’s right there on the R keybind and I should really use it a lot more. But hey, I’m not perfect! Also, where’s Greater Heal? That’s right, just like I said, Flash Heal figures a lot more prominently here, and probably far too much of that was on raid members (it’s a reflex reaction, honest!).

Point One: Pre-emptive Healing

I always used to think pre-emptive healing was for pansies. I figured that as Penance is on a cooldown, it should be used reactively, so that you get the maximum healing done from each cooldown. Turns out that pre-emptive tank healing is pretty much essential for many 25-man Ulduar encounters, the best example being Phase 3 of Yogg-Saron, on which the tanks take so much damage so quickly that they can drop to 20% in a flash… and then you’re just going to panic, and the tank will die. I very quickly learnt that casting Penance on every cooldown isn’t actually as bad a thing as I thought. Certainly in 10-mans it’s acceptable to leave it until it’s required, but in 25-mans it’s much better to use it a lot, regardless of the situation. Quite often I found myself trying to sync the first tick of Penance with the boss hitting the tank to get the speediest healing possible.

Point Two: Intellect Gems are NOT necessary!

I’ve got 20k mana unbuffed and used a +45 intellect potion as one of my pair for the majority of the fights. Including raid buffs, this brought me to roughly 24k mana. I didn’t go out of mana once, not one single time, and I used a total of one mana potion. And no, I hadn’t cut down my shield usage! I was still getting through a minimum of 1 group/maximum of 2 before raid damage on most fights, whilst keeping the tank up and throwing out PoHs. This made me realise that between good cooldown usage and some sensible gear, intellect gems and the like really aren’t necessary. While they can help if your gear is severely lacking for the instance you’re going into, they’re by no means essential to any gear setup. Concentrate on how you use your cooldowns, and you might find you’ll be able to spend those gem slots on something a whole lot more useful!

Point Three: Staying Alive

This is a very important lesson, which wasn’t quite as essential through Naxxramas (although it did hold some serious weight in OS +3d). A dead Priest is a useless Priest. Ulduar, especially the Mimiron and Yogg-Saron encounters, made me realise that it’s very important to concentrate on staying alive, and monitoring encounter-specific stuff like Sanity. When somebody dies, it has a bigger impact than you might think – and if somebody gets mind-controlled on the YS encounter, it will normally spell a wipe. While your job is obviously to stop people dying, remember also that the less avoidable damage being dished out on the raid, the better. And that includes you, sunshine!

Point Four: If in doubt, Shield

An example of this is Yogg-Saron. I ran through the fight in my head while we were rebuffing outside the door, and there wasn’t much obvious raid damage that immediately came to mind.

Wrong!

This is Ulduar, and in Ulduar, people will invariably take damage. It surprised me on Yogg-Saron how quickly other raid members than the tanks could take a large chunk of damage, and on the second try I was immediately pumping out shields onto raid members when phase 2 hit us. The reason it initially seemed so counterproductive is that the raid damage was very unpredictable – I like stuff like Flame Jets and Shockwave, because I can look at my DBM timers and think “I should probably start advance-shielding now”, and unpredictable damage means that shields could be wasted. But then I thought again. “Wait,” I thought, “I’m not having any mana problems. Also, each shield lasts 30 seconds, and chances are that Bobby Shaman or Dave Hunter will take at least some damage during that time.”

In short, shielding in a fight where there’s raid damage – even if it’s unpredictable – is never a bad thing, provided you’ve got the mana for it. If in doubt, throw some shields out!

Hope this helps you guys tune your 25-man game a bit, and I’ll be working on a write-up of Naxx/Ulduar bosses next, so keep an eye out for that.

— Roble

Wise words: a healer without mana might as well be dead. In the last week or so, I’ve really noticed a striking difference in how comfortable I am with my mana bar in both 10 and 25-man raids. Whereas before, I was almost getting afraid to roll shields at all in a 10-minute fight, now I almost don’t have to worry – simply by making a change or two to my playstyle and changing a few pieces of gear around. As a result, I can stick a few more crit/SP gems in my gear and I even went and got the Icewalker enchant on my boots (I felt that the Spirit was near to useless, such was my mana regen). So today, I’m going to start from the ground up on how you can tweak your gear, gems and playstyle to get the most out of Discipline while still keeping that nice blue bar suitably refreshed!

Step One: Cooldown Usage and Potions

The first step to maximising your mana over the course of a fight is to use your cooldowns and potions correctly! This is the cornerstone to keeping your mana refreshed since 3.0 stopped us chain-using mana potions. A Discipline Priest’s main tools are Shadowfiend (roughly 50% mana back) and Hymn of Hope (roughly 14% mana back to all party members). If, like me, you’ve rolled a Blood Elf then you’ll also have Arcane Torrent (6% back). Now over the course of a 10-minute fight, that’s a lot of mana you can get back when you consider that you can use all these things more than once.

The trick is to use these spells early and often. As a rough guide, the first time you should use each is the first point at which using it will restore you to full (or near to full) mana. You get maximum benefit from it, and it starts the cooldown sooner rather than later. There’s no downside!

Also, make sure that you’re using Runic Mana Potions. These help a bundle and if you’re not using them, then you can’t really say you’ve got mana problems – they’re your own fault!

Step Two: Gems and Enchants

Aim to get yourself a helm with a metagem slot as soon as possible. This can be filled with an Insightful Earthsiege Diamond which gives a 2% chance to restore 600 mana on any spellcast (even stuff like Levitate!). It’s got a 15 second internal cooldown, but this doesn’t stop it from giving back a hefty chunk of mp5. It’s more than you’d imagine, and will go a long way to solving those mana problems.

If this still doesn’t solve all your problems, you can consider getting some +16 intellect gems in the yellow sockets which will give you a nice regen boost, and also consider getting the intellect/mp5 enchants on bracers/chest respectively, as well as the spirit enchant on your boots (although that’s the more common choice anyway). Consider also the Revered mp5 arcanum from the Wyrmrest Accord and the mp5 shoulder enchant from Sons of Hodir.

Step Three: Regen Trinkets

Trinkets are really cool things – they often give really nice boosts to your throughput or regen as a healer, and DPriests are no exception to this rule. There are quite a few dud trinkets for Discipline Priests out there – stuff that looks really good on paper, but in practice isn’t right for us. An example of this is the Egg of Mortal Essence that’s purchaseable for 40 Emblems of Heroism in Dalaran. Don’t get it! It’s a trick! Sure, it’s purple and shiny and it’s got a large number next to haste. But on examination, it doesn’t do a whole lot. Firstly, remember our haste cap for shield usage? It’s quite low. Much lower than that trinket gives in extra haste – so that proc is pretty useless, only serving to speed up the spells with a casting time.

Secondly, and more importantly, it’s a random chance to proc.

Let me tell you something about “chance to proc” (let’s call them CTP) trinkets. For healers, with a few exceptions, they’re rubbish. Even if I needed the haste boost, I’d much rather have control over when I used it. Tank dying, or lots of raid damage incoming? Going to need a few extra heals pronto? You can pop your trinket and heal up quickly. But on RNG trinkets, there’s no control over when you get it. What if it procs during Mimiron’s Laser Barrage, or a Razorscale air phase? You don’t need it then!

Now regen CTP trinkets are a bit of a different story. Sure, they only proc randomly, but we’ll pretty much never be at full mana so that’s okay.

Mek, Ensidia’s “premiere Resto Shaman” explains it a little more concisely;

The problem with many trinkets is that a “chance on cast” to gain either Haste or Spell Power is often completely useless because you cannot control how it’s used. You could cast one Riptide on your tank and proc +1000 Spell Power but you have absolutely no need for it at this time so it’s a waste. You will however never be on full mana so I much prefer these kind of regen proc trinkets.  //  Mek

Some suggestions for trinkets you can aim for;

  • Je’Tze’s Bell: A nice little mp5 trinket that won’t go amiss in your collection. Definitely one of the better pre-Ulduar trinkets around, and can be picked up off the auction house for the sort of money that I could probably get in a couple of days… if I could be bothered. Do as I say, not as I do, kids! Upgrades for this are available from Thorim 10 hardmode and (eventually) Yogg-Saron with 0 or 1 watchers up.
  • Spark of Hope: I know what you’re thinking. “But Roble,” I hear some of you cry, “this doesn’t look all that impressive!”. And yes, it looks quite mediocre at first glance. But just consider that trinket for a second… 42 mana off every spell we cast. Well hang on, most of our gcds are down to 1.0 seconds – and we’re spamming spells. That’s… 42 mana per second? Okay, so it doesn’t quite work out like that, but this baby solved any remaining mana problems I had in one majestic swipe.
  • Majestic Dragon Figurine: The regen version of the infamous Illustration of the Dragon Soul (”LFM OS25, Illustration reserved”) which drops from Sartharion 10-man. Once you’re in full swing, it works out at 180 spirit, which I think works out at ~58 mp5 – thank you very much, spirit nerfs. Still a respectable trinket until you can find something better. I used this for a while!
  • Soul of the Dead: Drops from Sapphiron 25 and is quite interesting in that the mp5 returned during a fight scales with your crit. Can go from anything between 60 mp5 to 100 mp5, and someone in the Wowhead comments section has said that this restores a similar amount of mana to the Insightful Earthsiege metagem. Also, a nice 2% extra crit. I won’t argue with that! And finally…
  • Meteorite Crystal: No, you’ll never get this. I’ll never get this. But let’s drool over it.

There’s a trinket or two I haven’t mentioned, like the Spirit-World Glass that drops from Gothik 10 and Pandora’s Plea, which just gives a straight over-100 intellect boost (that’s 1.5k mana). But I’m sure you get the idea! Your trinkets give you enormous control over how your mana bar/spellpower looks during fights, so chopping-and-changing those trinkets when you’ve got enough mp5 or too little mp5 is key.

Step Four: Shield Usage and Playstyle

Still not lasting the length of that fight you’re working on? Well, something’s badly wrong. It’s time to look at your playstyle, because chances are you’re overextending yourself. What I do is to scale the number of shields I put out on the raid against the length of the fight. If it’s a really long fight, like Iron Council or Kel’thuzad, I’ll throw out much fewer shields than on a short, throughput-based fight like Kologarn or Emalon. Sure, your job is to reduce incoming raid damage and give the other healers an easier time – but if the other healers are coping fine, chances are you can cut back a little. Stagger your shields over the course of a fight, because if you blow them all at the start then you’ll be out of juice at the end and you’ll wipe!

Another spell to watch is Prayer of Healing, which will take a 2k chunk off your mana bar – make sure you’re not spamming that! Use it selectively, ideally only when it’s essential in order for people to not die. Even two PoHs and a shield every 20 seconds on Loatheb is enough to drain my mana bar to its minimum by the end.

So, I hope that helps, and if you’re still having mana problems… well, get a Druid to innervate you. And don’t take no for an answer!

So maybe you’re taking your first steps into raiding, maybe you’re an established 10-man raider and wondering what all the fuss is about over heroics. Today, I’m going to give you a bit of advice on the general differences between normal and heroic raids from my experiences, as well as how our playstyle differs as a result!

There’s probably a few of you out there who are a little clueless about heroic raids. Why are 10-mans seen as inferior to 25-mans? Why aren’t they “recognised” as much by guilds like Ensidia and Method? And why won’t people accept your 10-man achievement for a 25-man raid?

Well, the latter kind of people don’t exactly endear themselves to me, or my guildmates. But as for the others – well, to put it simply, 25-mans are simply more difficult. In a post-3.1 world, Blizzard have achieved what they didn’t quite manage with 3.0, which was to have a clear seperation in difficulty for the two levels of raiding;

  • Easier: 10-man raids.
  • Moderate: The majority of 10-man hardmodes, 25-man raids.
  • Difficult: 25-man hardmodes.

In 3.0, OS10 with 3 drakes was actually harder than OS25 with 3 drakes, simply because of restrictions on raid composition (ie. which classes/how many tanks, healers, DPS to take). Now 25-man hardmodes are as intended – more difficult than 10-man hardmodes, just as 25-man raiding is harder than its 10-man equivalent. So the reason that all these “world-firsts” are for 25-mans is simply because cutting edge guilds thrive on the difficulty of those encounters, and the 10-man equivalent of any given achievement just doesn’t carry quite as much kudos as the 25-man version. Not only do 25-mans require better gear (and give out better gear) but they also require more co-ordination, organisation and require more people to perform well.

So, that’s the basics explained. How do we play differently?

Here’s an example of my healing done from a recent 10-man Emalon fight;

A pie-chart and some percentages for Emalon in VoA10.

A pie-chart and some percentages for Emalon in VoA10. // Addon: Recount

Notice anything? Well, there’s some stuff which is just perfectly ordinary. Penance occupies the top slot, as normal – every time the tank took damage, Penance was my first port of call. Renew also took care of a lot of healing while I was running in and out of the lightning AoE. But then things start getting interesting.

  • Greater Heal > Flash Heal: I’m actually healing up more with Greater Heal than Flash Heal! Over the course of a three-and-a-half minute fight, I used only three Flash Heals. Between PoM/Renew/Shields and Penance on a 6.5 second cooldown, I barely need to use either of these spells and when I do, Greater Heal is more useful for a 10-man encounter – I might just Flash Heal to top off the the tank before an AoE.
  • Shield Glyph: The 13% from the shield glyph is simply thanks to me throwing out so many shields. Emalon is a very short, intense fight – the boss will only take a few minutes to die, but a lot of AoE damage gets put out with Chain Lightning and Lightning Nova. Because of the short fight time, I wasn’t afraid to throw out a lot of shields. I ended up having 7 or 8 raid members shielded every time the Nova went off, which made the job a lot easier for the Resto Druid in the raid (we ran with two healers).
  • Low PoH Percentage: For a fight with a lot of AoE, you might expect me to be using Prayer of Healing quite a bit… but check out my shielding! It took care of most of that AoE. Because it’s a 10-man, I was able to shield almost everybody in the raid in advance of AoE, meaning that a lot less healing was required afterwards. We’ll talk about this in a bit more detail later.

Now sadly, while I did run VoA25 as well this week, I completely forgot to screenshot the stats from that fight. That doesn’t, however, stop me from talking about it. What was different in my playstyle?

  • Flash Heal > Greater Heal: As a 10-man raider, Greater Heal is a really useful tool for when Penance is on cooldown. As a 25-man raider, that health deficit will probably have disappeared pretty quickly, because you’ve got another healer on the tank. So GH simply becomes less useful – the only time I’d use it is when the tank is going to take extreme damage, like Plasma Blast on Mimiron.
  • Higher PoH Usage: The first thing you need to appreciate when rolling out shields in a 25-man raid is that you can’t shield everybody. It physically cannot be done. Because of this, there’ll be more raid “damage” flying around, and so more healing will be needed! This is where PoH comes in, and you’ll usually be able to help out in that department.

So, there we have it! Next time you change raid size, give some thought to how you need to switch up your play and I guarantee you’ll be a lot more useful to your guild. 🙂

— Roble

PS. Apologies for the lateness of the latest update. I’ve been moving back into my family house after the end of my first year of uni, so things have been a little hectic! Naxx 10 bosses will be up soon in the guide, and I’m hoping to start with a new guild next reset after my old one disbanded, so there’ll be lots of lovely Ulduar screenshots for you. I’m considering doing my next post on addons/UI.

PenancePriest isn’t necessarily the most famous blog in the world, but it’s certainly a favourite of mine. Paolo, its author, wrote an interesting article on his new talent build yesterday afternoon. Having just finished the Talents section of the guide on this blog, I felt like I was missing a trick and so decided to talk about the idea in general, and why it works.

The build stems from the idea that in Ulduar and with the changes to Grace/Soul Warding, Flash Heal isn’t all that useful anymore.

Paolo: “Flash Heal now makes up about 6% of my overall healing.”

And Paolo is completely right – I’m much more reliant on Penance, Shields and PoM/PoH (and GH as a 10-man raider). So the suggestion is to remove 2 points from Improved Flash Heal and put them into the Holy tree, resulting in a 55/16/0 build.

And yep, there’s still one point in IFH. Paolo has said that this is “until he finds a better use for it”. It’s quite possible to leave it like that, and the 4% crit isn’t to be sniffed at, but if you’re playing a Priest with longevity problems then you could just take that point and put it into Improved Healing. If you’re still having longevity problems, take a point out of Spell Warding to get 2/3 Improved Healing. The mana reduction on Penance is very useful and I’m a big fan of GH, so that helps there too.

My first though was “yeah, that could work” and I may even try that out when I get home, with 5 points in Divine Fury. But the best thing about the build is the flexibility it affords you. Previously, with a 57/14/0 build as on my Talents page, you were forced to pick. Do you go Divine Fury for hasted Greater Heals? Spell Warding for reduced damage taken, or Healing Focus for the faster “eventual” cast times? You’ve only got 5 points to put into those three talents, so you’re forced to pick. Taking points out of IFH allows you to pick and choose a little more from the Holy tree, as well as opening up the 15-point tier. Holy Reach has also been suggested as a possible spot for the last IFH talent point.

Also mentioned is the Flash Heal glyph, which as of 3.1 became pretty irrelevant. I’ll be including discussion on glyphs in part 4 of the Discipline guide, with spells. But in case you wondered, the upshot is that with the insane buff to PoH (especially with the Priest t8 2-piece bonus) and the arrival of Glyph of Penance, the FH glyph – while not entirely “useless”, per se – is an inferior choice now and you should swap it out if you still have it!

When I get back home, I’ll probably be checking out a modified version of Paolo’s build, and I look forward to trying it out. Thoughts, anyone?