Light & Leafy

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When I was a newbie priest, a certain someone hooked me onto WoW by promising two things: 1. he would level with me so I could heal all the way to 70. 2. I would have a  veritable menagerie of cute companions that could follow me around at all times. The second point was accumulated along the way, though upon my first login I was presented with a white kitten and a snowshoe hare =)

E. followed through on his end of the bargain; we leveled all the way to 70 together – he pulling every mob in site and me gleefully smashing as many of my heal buttons as I could to keep him alive. It was all I really knew (for awhile anyway). After awhile my isolated bubble of WoW existence turned into a running joke which then morphed into an issue of pride. Even now I can honestly say that Edainne (on Terenas, not her clone) has never once been spec’d shadow. And as silly as it seems, it’s so much a part of her character (or what I envision her to be), that it’s not something I want to let go of lightly.

So, part of my preparation for Cataclysm was to create a Disc/Holy oriented spec  to level with. And now I’d like to share it with all the other masochists healing enthusiasts out there who want to keep their beloved priests smiting away. A couple of notes before we begin:

  • This is my core spec starting at level 80. The talent points you gain along the way can be used creatively.
  • I am NOT gearing this towards people who will be chain running instances. Personally, I like experiencing the lore and story lines that go into questing. I also get endlessly frustrated by random dungeons, and this is supposed to be a FUN experience, not a hair-pulling one.
  • This is NOT the quickest way to level. If your goal is to get to 85 as fast as draeneily possible (or dwarvenly or gnomely or whichever race you choose to play), this is probably not the way for you.
  • On that note, from what I’ve seen in the Beta, it is a little bit slower going leveling as a healer. I think they purposely didn’t try to tune the outside world for healers to level with because duel specs are very easy to come by nowadays, and it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that most people have some sort of DPS offspec.
  • My plan for leveling is to use one of the below specs for questing, and then having a “normal” PvE spec for healing instances with.

Part One: The Discipline Spec

Pros: Bubbles actually last the duration of a fight; reflective shield is AWESOME ; more mana efficient; smite heals you!

Cons: Slightly less damage done than a holy spec; getting low on health can easily turn into a death sentence

The Spec, tier by tier:

Tier 1:

Improved Power Word: Shield (2/2) – Because when you’re fighting mobs that can actually kill you, you want that extra bubble!

Twin Disciplines (3/3) – More damage = killing faster = faster leveling and/or less time getting acquainted with the ground

Tier 2:

Evangelism (2/2) and Archangel (1/1) – Basically each time you smite, you gain a buff that will reduce the mana cost and increase the damage of your smite, holy fire and penance. When you activate Archangel, you’ll consume the stacks of Evangelism refunding 3% of your total mana pool for each stack. It not only keeps you from going out of mana, but the wings are SO pretty. /love

Soul  Warding (2/2) : Reduces the cool down of your shields!

Inner Sanctum (1/2): I used this to jump down to the next tier. It increases the effectiveness of your Inner Fire or Inner Will. If you’re having mana issues, another choice could be Mental Agility (1/3) to reduce the mana cost of instant cast spells.

Tier 3:

Renewed Hope (2/2) – Increasing the effectiveness of most of your heals on a target with Weakened Soul (i.e. you) just seems like a good idea when mobs can bring you to half health in one shot

Power Infusion (1/1)- Because who doesn’t want a mini heroism?

Atonement (2/2)- Your smites heal you! No more wasting time healing when you can just kill  your way back to full health!

Inner Focus (1/1) – Because having a free heal is always a good thing

Tier 4:

Rapture (3/3) – Your shields will break often while questing. Might as well have your enemies restore mana while they’re at it!

Borrowed Time (2/2) – Again, since you’re likely to be recasting your shields every time you enter (or are about to enter) combat, it just makes sense to grant your Penace/Holy Fire/Smite a bit of haste.

Reflective Shield (2/2) – Because who doesn’t love going “neener neener neener” when a Twilight Cultist attacks you only to be smote by the power of your holy goodness!

Tier 5:

Divine Aegis (3/3) – Because you can never have too many bubbles. And it leads to the only spell that made me consider going Discipline full time.

Pain Suppression (1/1) – This is just one of those obvious choices once you start questing in Hyjal or Vash’jr and repeatedly get your face pounded in by geblins or cultists.

Tier 6:

Focused Will (2/2) – It’s not really that impressive if an enemy can take 10% of your health in one swing, seeing as you’re light filled, cloth wearing squishy. Which makes it awesome that as soon as they do, you take reduced damage for the next 8 seconds.

Grace (2/2) – When you’re soloing, chances are this buff will only stack on you (unless you have a penchant for healing any random passerby which, hi! totally understand that!), and increased healing is always a good thing!

Tier 7:

Power Word: Barrier (1/1) – This spell makes me SO happy. And, while in the beta, it got me through a lot of quests I was convinced I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise (not even Guardian Spirit was working on those pulls).

3 Remaining Points – What can I do!

My favorite choices for the last three points you have as a level 80 are either Darkness for the haste buff or Veiled Shadows for the increased uptime on Shadowfiend. Either should be fine choices. You can also put points into Divine Fury to reduce the cast time on your smite and heal spells.

Discipline felt like a great spec for leveling because I never felt the need to constantly heal myself or sit and drink between pulls. I did feel like I killed things a bit slower than I did as holy though.

Part Two : The Holy Spec

Pros: Feels like it hits harder than Discipline; bigger heals when needed; fun chakra states; Chastise!!!

Cons: Less mana efficient; smaller bubbles lead to more push back; no smite heals or power word: barrier /sad panda

Tier One:

Divine Fury (3/3) – Because who wants a slow smite?

Improved Renew (2/2) – Now with 10% more healing to keep you alive after the bubble fails!

Empowered Healing (3/3) – As a holy priest, you’ll be healing yourself more than your discipline counterparts (damn them and their bubble mastery!)

Tier 2:

Surge of Light (2/2) – Free  instant heals that proc when I cast smite?! Yes, please!

Inspiration (2/2)  – Damage reduction is always helpful while soloing.

*Editor’s Note* Yes, you can take Desperate Prayer (the instant self heal with a 2 minute cooldown), but I happen to prefer to put my points elsewhere since I already have 2 free heals from being a Draenei herbalist.

Tier 3:

Holy Concentration (2/2)  – As a holy priest, smiting isn’t exactly mana friendly, so the more in combat regeneration, the better!

Lightwell (1/1) – I found in the beta that if I put this in the middle of a group of mobs and then pulled them to me one at a time, I used a lot mess mana healing myself than alternating smite with heal.

Tome of Light (2/2) – The more often I can stun an enemy with Chastise and prevent them from hitting me, the happier I am!

Tier 4:

Spirit of Redemption (1/1) – The iconic holy priest flail angel! How could you NOT take it?

Serendipity (2/2) – When you’re really in a pickle, and flash heals just aren’t doing the trick, a quick greater heal is just the pick-me-up you need!

*Editor’s Note* Tier 4 for holy priest doesn’t offer much by way of offensive or defensive spells. If there are other talents in earlier tiers, go for them! I’m a sucker for nostalgia and nothing quite makes me think of a holy priest as much as Spirit of Redemption.

Tier 5:

Body and Soul (2/2) – When you absolutely, positively have to get there on time! (Or cleanse a poison….)

Chakra (1/1) – Chakra: Smite is an integral part of a holy priest’s arsenal while soloing, increasing damage done by holy and shadow spells by 15%

Revelations (1/1) – Switching your Holy Word: Chastise to correspond with your chakra state. I found it helpful to enter the prayer of healing chakra during certain encounters so that I was able to use Holy Word: Sanctuary as a boost to my survivability.

Blessed Resilience (2/2) – Like Focused Will, it’s dependent on taking 10% of your health in damage in one hit, which isn’t especially hard to do as a clothie. Another good talent for staying alive while questing.

Tier 6:

Test of Faith (2/3) – Increased healing when you’re below 50% health (it’s surprising how much harder it is to fill your health bar once it’s crossed the half-way point).

State of Mind (2/2) – Now you don’t have to worry about your smite chakra falling away so easily!

Circle of Healing (1/1) –  Because it’s fun, instant, and I love it!

Tier 7:

Guardian Spirit (1/1) – The ultimate “oh crap” button. Saving yourself from certain death when nothing else will!

Wait, what about all the extra points I have?!

I like going into any of the shadow talents above (especially veiled shadows because I find my shadowfiend to be a helpful companion in taking down the resilient cataclysm mobs). There’s also the option of branching into Discipline for Twin Disciplines and Improved Shields.

Leveling as a holy priest requires a lot more active healing than as a discipline priest. Bubbles seem to run out a lot faster than I had expected or gotten used to in Wrath. That being said, the smites do hit harder, and the chastise goes a long way in dealing with mobs. The best pattern I found for effective holy priest leveling in the beta was to cast two offensive spells, then a heal and repeat that pattern (putting up power word:shield and chastising whenever available) until the mob dies.

The glyphs for both specs are actually quite similar. I like using whichever Prime Glyphs are my favorites (for Discipline, it’s Barrier, Shield and Penance and for Holy it’s Guardian Spirit, Renew and Lightwell), and focusing on the major glyphs to take care of my smites – Divine Accuracy (so I don’t miss often), Smite (so I do more damage) and Psychic Scream (so I can have another way of keeping mobs from hitting me without accidentally aggroing more).

So this is my tentative plan for Cataclysm’s release on Tuesday. I’m pretty confident that I can level as a healer to 85 without chain running instances (I’ve done it before), and it’ll be one of those fun challenges I’ll look back on fondly once it’s over.

Or I’ll realize how absurd I’ve been acting. One or the other….

How are you all changing your specs around to accommodate your leveling styles?

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Miss Medicina, who happens to be my new daily fixture to read, created a wonderful meme questionnaire for healers to fill out. I don’t really have anyone to tag yet (I’m a noob when it comes to blogging), but I think it can always been fun for others to read, and maybe answer for themselves =)

Post this questionnaire, with your answers, on your blog. Pick the healing class you know most about (or is the focus of your blog) for the questionnaire, and then send it over to another healing blogger you know and love who heals with a DIFFERENT class. Include a link to the blogger who sent you the questionnaire, as well as a link to the blogger to whom you are sending it.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Edainne: She’s my priestess. Usually can be found floating above the rest of the raid as a pretty spirit, although she has been known to bubble EVERYONE. (i.e. holy with a pve discipline offspec)
Sairyn: Sairyn is my shaman. I like to pretend she’s elemental, but normally she’s running around tossing earthshields and  playing connect the dots … I mean, chain heal ftw?
Fluffikins:  Again, good intentions gone bad. I made her back in BC because I thought boomkins were adorable. My boyfriend taught me the joy of bouncing up and down while throwing my hots around like beaded necklaces at Mardi Gras.

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Edainne: Being my main, Eda mostly sees progression raid, both of the 25 and 10 man variety.
Sairyn: Mostly 5 mans, but she’s beeng getting into a few good Naxx 25’s and Ulduar 10’s.
Fluffikins: A lot of 5 mans as well, but she does see more raiding than Sairyn does. She’s geared enough to be getting into Onyxia and the rare Trial of the Crusader when the other healers are good enough to bring a sapling.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Edainne: Guardian Spirit. I have it glyphed, so more or less every minute someone has 40% increased healing. It makes other healers my friend. Also, I feel like a superhero when I can save a person from dying with a click of the button.
Sairyn: Is it pathetic to say chain heal? I’ve only really, REALLY started to enjoy shaman healing recently, and the glowy golden beams make me giggle.
Fluffikins:  Wildgrowth. Hotting an entire area of people? Yes please. #2 is Tranquility, but only because I like the name.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Edainne: Divine Hymn, mostly because of the long cooldown. I keep saving it for that moment when I “REALLY NEED IT”. I have yet to find that moment, and now because I have used it so infrequently, I forget that it’s there.
Sairyn: Tidal Force.  I took the talent, and I never EVER remember to use it, and I’m not exactly sure when it would be appropriate.
Fluffikins:  Tranquility. I get that it can be really useful in 5 mans, but since I’m usually in the group with healers during raids, it seems a bit wasted to use it very often. Also, I’m not usually in the predictiment where I would need to use it.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
Edainne: Versatility. Not only can she switch between two specs, but even just in her holy spec she can easily transition from raid to single target healing. Some people use “Jack-of-all-Trades” to describe priests, and I take that as a compliment.
Sairyn: Raid healing. Say what you will about cirlce of healing, or even prayer of healing now that it’s not restrictive to the priest’s party, I still feel as though chain heal is the ultimate (not-on-a-cooldown) AoE. Also, I discovered last week how much fun it is in 25 man raids and I might still be a little bit high off of the experience.
Fluffikins: Mitigation. Most classes have been balanced really well when it comes to making arguements for what types of healing is best suited for each class. Right now, though, Druids have the most tools to make the damage that’s being tossed around not seem so hairy for the other healers. They might not use their big bursts very often, but I love that I can roll HoT’s on a tank prior to a big smash of damage and make his healers a little stressed out.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
Edainne: Survivablity. She’s the squishest character I’ve ever played. Even with her shield, and sometimes even with guardian spirit, it doesn’t take much to turn her from pretty draenei to sparkly floaty angel thingy. It’s insanely annoying to be killed by a snobold, and even more annoying when you did nothing to provoke the wrath of aforementioned snobold.
Sairyn: Mana regeneraton. Granted, Sairyn’s gear is NOT nearly close to being set up the way it should be. She’s not rocking all the pretty Mp5 gems I should be cutting for her, nor is her gear much above Naxx25 level. Still, compared to my spirit crazy druid and healer, her regen is pretty weak, and in the heat of battle forgetting my watershield just makes matters worse.
Fluffikins: Emergency (“oh shit”) Buttons. Sometimes I’m a negligent healer. Especially in five mans where the tank is sitting next to me on our couch and is purposely trying to make me explode in giggles. While I shouldn’t be getting to this point in the first place, my heartrate always goes up a bit when I see the tank below 25% health and I have nothing that instantly saves them. Sure, they’re nature’s swiftness, but I notice healing touch doesn’t always seem to hit for as much as I want it to so I can have time to reapply all my hot’s.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Edainne: I usually love to party heal, mostly because we run with a lot of paladins. Plus renew/circle of healing/flash heal make party healing easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Sairyn: Raid healing, again. Chain heal is too fun not to use. Give me melee or smushed together ranged dps and I’m a happy spacegoat.
Fluffikins: I actually prefer tank healing on her. Or, rather, keeping hot’s rolling on the 2-3-4 tanks being used for an encounter. It’s nice to make other healers lessed stressed out =) And let’s face it, while it’s not as mana friendly as it used to be, lifebloom is still helluva lotta fun to play with. Actually, rolling hots, period, adds a fun dimension to healing.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
I love healing with my priest. I think because I’ve played her the longest, and because I’ve played her exclusively as a healer (thanks to the warrior/dk/bear in my life), it’s just second nature for me to heal on her. I know all her spells, and I don’t have to think anymore about which keybindings I’m using. Also, she has SO many healing spells (including Gift of the Naaru, Lightwell, and Guardian Spirit which I use all of regularly) that everything else feels a little more like whack-a-mole. Honestly, I love healing. It’s far and away my favorite role to play and I’m always excited to learn more about each type of healer.
*In case my first answer did not actually answer the intended question: I like having a druid along with me because I love the stability they bring with their numerous hot’s. It’s like they spray a magical sap over the entire raid that makes everyone just a little happier. Oh, and dancing with a tree is totally where it’s at.*

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Before I started leveling Nesme, I really thought I would hate healing with a paladin because there’s so little by way of actual healing spells. That’s how I felt about Sairyn as well until I caved in and spec’d her resto though. Once Nesme’s at 80, I think I’ll be able to explore all the other awesome things Paladins bring to the table and really appreciate them more than the “whack-a-mole” healers I assume them to be.
*In case I made the same mistake as the previous question: Paladins because I’m envious of beacon and it always has ticked me off that overhealing really doesn’t mean much to them.*

What is your worst habit as a healer?
I think I have 2 that are equally bad. The first is, and this is especially true in dungeons, I have a tendency to get chatty with other people. Sometimes this escalates to the point where I’m either not paying attention to what’s going on around me, or all my keybinds will end up in a string of unintelligible letters typed in either a whisper or raid chat. The second is, and this has gotten better with time, sometimes I forfeit myself for another player. I used to be the healer trying to weave through the slime patches in Grobb’s room to get to the player who decided it would be smart to run to the other side to dispose of their injections. I think my worse habit as a heal lead is probably giving myself the job I want to be doing most and to try to keep an eye on everything (meaning sometimes I forget my priority and not trust my teammates to do their job).

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

I really, REALLY don’t like being told, mid-fight, that a dps either needs heals or died because of lack of healing. No, you died because you were standing in the fire and we refused to heal you. Alternative answer: you are not as important as the tank who is getting his faced smashed in by the giant scary demon dog he just taunted off of you.  Also, anyone who is not a raid leader and speaks on vent only to say “tanks will need healing” should be smacked. Twice.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
From what I’ve played of the healing classes, I can honestly say I can see really clear balance. I haven’t played a paladin, and they’re the only ones who strike me as a little be supercharged, but I still haven’t gotten over the fact that overhealing doesn’t matter as much in Wrath and that beacon was the deciding factor in my 10 man’s team taking down the Northrend Beasts in Trial of the Grand Crusader. I’m sure when I actually play my paladin I’ll be better able to say whether or not I think the classes are balanced. I do know that I believe it completely lies within the player’s hands to make their healer stand toe-to-toe with any other great healer out there. Did I mention I’m not really a number cruncher?

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

I’m not a big fan of healing meters, as I feel they only take into consideration part of the story. If I am looking at them, I’m looking at them collectively and not using them to compare myself to other healers.  I have recount, and I’ll usually bring up my own statistics to see how much of each spell I use is actually effective healing, and if I’m discipline I have the guessed absorbs turned on to see that as well. At the end of the day, though, if the raid is alive and I’m not out of mana, it’s all good.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

For priests, I think binding heal and guardian spirit are equally difficult to learn. I think a lot of healers forget about themselves when they’re healing, and by the time they remember they’re looking for a quick fix, rather than looking to see if anyone else is damage. Guardian spirit is another toughy, especially for those who don’t have it glyphed, because it either requires quick reflexes or figuring out a good time to use 3 minute cooldown that could potentially be used to save a life.
For shamans, I think remembering to use shields can be a big thing. Maybe to some people it’s second nature, but until I set my grid/power auras up, I really forgot 90% of the time to refresh these things (or, in ES’s case, I was refreshing too often and wasting mana).
For druids, I think it’s definitely hard to learn the patience required when dealing with hot’s. You want to see the green bar get fulled up right away, but with a druid it takes time and that can be kind of unsettling to watch when you’re getting used to it. Another thing I found hard coming from a priest and shaman was I was automatically casting heals without paying attention to what was already on the target. So I’d cast rejuv and then another 3 seconds later. It was a huge mana hog until I actually recognized what I was doing and why that was not a really pro way to play.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
I play all three pretty differently. Eda is usually pretty low on the overhealing with moderate healing out put and moderate guessed absorbs.  My greater heals/prayer of healing make up for the most of my overhealing. As of lately with the change to hot’s actually overhealing, Fluff has gotten pretty high on the overhealing, but her healing output is equally hight. Sairyn is usually high as well on the healing output and usually is somewhere in the middle for overhealing, though I think this is thanks to my training playing Edainne where my out of casting Mp5 was so ridiculous that I really would stop casting if I saw a heal wasn’t needed because of the additional regen.

Haste or Crit and why?
Edainne: I like surge of light. Free heals always make me feel good. As far as overhealing goes, my raid team usually plays it light when it comes to healers, so giant heals aren’t always a bad thing. But mostly those free heals are the motivation.
Sairyn: Again, I like crit  for her. I feel between totems and heroism, I have the haste pretty well covered. It’s the Tidal Wave Proc I’m using to get.
Fluffikins: Right now, I’m leaning towards a balance. I like the crits I get when I’m casting a bigger heal, but it’s also pretty glorious to have the GCD lowered when I’m just bouncing around giving out hots like I give out hugs (I’m a huggy person).
For any of my characters, an upgrade is an upgrade. I won’t pass on something for Eda simply because it has haste and not crit. It’s actually been a really long time since I’ve thought about this and I might start thinking about retooling my gems to get more out of these two stats. Mebbe a soft cap on both is really the best way to handle it =D

Which healing class do you feel you understand least?
Paladins. I’ve refused to play one for the longest time, and it always ticked me off to no end to see that they never run out of mana and how ridiculously powerful bacon of light is (no, that’s not a typo. Bacon is yummy. So is beacon) . And I’ve badmouthed them on numerous occassions. I love you. I’m sorry. That’s why I’m leveling up Nesme. Because I’m 80% sure that once I start playing her at endgame, I’ll love them as much as everyone else.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

I have a mouse-over macro I use for dispelling, though I’m thinking about adjusting it so that all my healing spells are mouse-overs. I use Grid for frames because they’re clean and incredibly customizable. Prayer of Mending tracker is another I absolutely love (it keeps track of the charges, the time before it fades off, and the player it’s currently on). And this one doesn’t really *aid* me per say, but I use Redeemer (with edited quotes) to add cute sayings to my resurrections.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I like balance, and I strive to always meet my socket bonus. Edainne is a little spirit happy, but her regeneration and spell power love her for it (i.e. she normally will not take gear with no spirit on it unless it’s either a weapon (because there are no high ilevel weapons with spirit =*( ) or others really don’t want it). Fluff likes her spirit as well, but I’m a little less picky with her and Sairyn about stacking stats. I like my healers to be well rounded and be able to be mana efficient without sacrificing raw healing power.

Thank’s Ms. Medicina for a great opportunity to really take a in-depth look at my healers /hug

*EDIT: I think I misread 2 questions the first time around…*