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The Priests are the most versatile healer in the game.
What is a Holy Priest?
Being a holy priest is one of the two healing Talent trees available to a Priest. While discipline is unique, and focuses on mitigation, Absorbs and Raid Utility, Holy Priests use their talents to maximize raid healing. Holy Priests differ from other Area of Effect Healers in that they do not put out a steady stream of medium or small heals, but Waterfall Heal in large bursts.
Maximizing the Holy Priest's Utility
In order to be a good Holy Priest, you must first know that the best Priests are not completely Holy, but have a few points in discipline -- particularly Inner Focus, Meditation, Twin Disciplines, and Improved Power Word: Fortitude. In the Holy tree, talents at high levels such as Spiritual Guidance, Spiritual Healing, and Spirit of Redemption are not to be missed. The full list of Priest Talents can be found here.
It is important to wear appropriate gear. Because Priests can only wear cloth gear, they will automatically have Spell Power on most of their high-level gear, and many other stats such as Spirit, Haste, Critical strike and MP5. While the importance of these stats fluctuates for different playing styles and different patches, contents and gear levels, all of these benefit a Holy Priest. Hit should be avoided, as it is designed for DPS cloth casters.
Even up to level 50, Holy Priests can generally be great healers in a dungeon, as well as do decent DPS. There is a common perception that a Holy Priest is only a healer, but practice shows that in some cases casting some Holy damage spells (for example, spamming Smite) can achieve a very decent DPS output, especially if the Priest takes the Holy Talents to increase the damage done by those spells. One should keep in mind that Holy DPS is mostly designed for low levels.
PvP Holy Priests
It is highly recommended for Wrath of the Lich King content, to never PvP as holy. If you choose to do so:
There are basic ground rules you should always remember when PvPing/duelling:
- Mana is to be preserved: a Holy Priest excels at restoring health, not at dealing damage. In solo PvP, it is often preferable to out-heal the enemy, while slowly killing them with mana- and time-efficient spells such as Shadow Word: Pain, in combination with the wand. Tactics for solo PvP can be found here.
- Remember your aptitude: Just because you're not in a dungeon doesn't mean you can't heal your party members or yourself when needed.
- Most importantly, THINK! If you're going to attack the enemy base, make sure you got the group, mana and buffs to do so.
Holy Priests in Dungeons
Holy Priests have numerous healing spells at their command making them one of the most versatile healing classes in the game. Priests are capable of delivering large heals to a single target, or of keeping multiple people up at the same time.
Summary of Healing Spells
- Renew: An instant-cast, heal-over-time spell.
- Greater Heal: A large heal with a long cast time.
- Flash Heal: A fast-cast, medium-size heal.
- Binding Heal: A low-threat heal with a fast cast time that heals both the Priest and their target for a moderate amount.
- Prayer of Healing: A long-cast-time heal that heals all party members within 30 yards for a moderate amount.
- Prayer of Mending: An instant-cast pre-emptive heal, which heals the target for a moderate amount when they next take damage and gives the threat from the heal to the target, rather than to the Priest. When used, this buff then hops to a random raid member within 20 yards. Has 5 charges.
- Power Word: Shield: Temporarily absorb a certain amount of incoming damage on the target.
- Circle of Healing: An instant-cast, minor heal that heals up to 5 friendly party/raid members within its radius but has a six second cooldown. This spell is the 41-point Talent in the Holy tree.
- Guardian Spirit: Healing cooldown that can be applied to one target, usually the tank, that increases healing received by 40% for 10 seconds, and brings the target back to 50% health if they were to die in that period of time.
When you're healing a tank, whether it be in an instance where you also need to heal several DPS classes or in a raid where you need to focus on both the raid and the tank, follow these steps.
- Once you have the spell, always pre-cast Prayer of Mending on the tank prior to the pull since it will help the tank establish aggro and heals them without giving you any healing threat. Re-cast the spell on the tank whenever the cooldown is up.
- Note: Since it bounces to other nearby party members this spell can be especially powerful in groups where multiple people are getting hit since it will quickly bounce around between them, healing them all.
- Keep Renew on the tank at all times. This will help mitigate any spike damage from critical hits, crushing blows, etc, and allow you more time to get off a larger healing spell.
- In heroic instances, raids, and anywhere where the tank might receive unexpected spike damage, one common healing method is to use stopcasting. What this means is to start a Greater Heal on the tank. If the tank does not require the heal when you're halfway through the cast time, stop the cast and restart it. This keeps you ready to heal the tank without re-entering the Five Second Rule. **Five-Second-Rule has been removed. It is now "Mana Regen while out of combat" and "Mana Regen while in combat", instead of "Mana Regen while not casting" and "Mana Regen while casting".
- There are some macros you can use to make this easier.
- If the tank gets low on health, use Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Mending, and spam Flash Heal until his or her life gets back up and you have enough time to cast Greater Heal.
- If you ever need healing, use Binding Heal to heal both yourself and the tank at the same time.
- Unless it is needed for raid utility using the Body and Soul talent, never cast Power Word: Shield, especially if there is a Discipline Priest in the raid. This applies the Weakened soul debuff, and wastes a global cooldown.
Non-tanks are a lot more squishy and more likely to die than tanks; thus, you need to use slightly different tactics to keep them alive if they start taking damage. Namely, speed is of the essence.
This is not a comprehensive list of how to heal DPS classes but is meant to give some basic ideas about what to do.
- If someone accidentally pulls aggro:
- If a large tank damage spike is not expected in the next minute, do not hesitate in casted Guardian Spirit.
- Spam cast Flash Heal until the tank re-establishes aggro.
- If the tank manages to re-establish aggro fast enough, and there is no other incoming damage, then a Renew might be all the person needs to stay alive, which will let you go back to healing the tank.
- AoE fights...
- ...where the group deals AoE damage on a group of non-elite mobs.
- Cast Renew as soon as possible into the fight, since the healing from Renew will give you more time to cast other spells, such as Flash Heal or Greater Heal, depending upon how much damage the DPS classes are taking.
- If you have the Talent, no one requires heavy healing, and mana efficiency is not important, then spam Holy Nova for fun.
- ...where the group is receiving regular AoE damage.
- Keep Renew up on everyone who is receiving constant damage if possible.
- Cast Prayer of Healing or Circle of Healing on to heal everyone at once, especially if everyone just took heavy damage or is about to take heavy damage. If the tank is also taking a lot of damage, make sure that the tank has enough life to survive while you cast Prayer of Healing. This may include casting at least Renew and Prayer of Mending on the tank prior to casting Prayer of Healing. Tip: Begin casting Prayer of Healing immediately before incoming raid damage, so that it goes off instantly. This may take some timing.
- Cast Binding Heal to heal both yourself and one other person at the same time.
- Cast Prayer of Mending onto the tank on cooldown. Make sure that both Prayer of Mending and Circle of Healing are always on cooldown during heavy AoE damage to the raid.
- If raid damage becomes near unhealable, cast your longest cooldown, and strongest heal in the game. Divine Hymn can turn any wipe into free loot.
- ...where the group deals AoE damage on a group of non-elite mobs.
- Fade will reduce your aggro, but after 10 seconds your aggro will return to its original value plus whatever aggro you generated during the Fade. Save Fade for when it is needed, but because pulling healing aggro has not been an issue for a lot of content, it is only useful when a loose add spawns and is not immediately picked up.
- Conserve your mana and you shouldn't have mana issues even in really long fights. Some ways to do that:
- Flash Heal is very mana inefficient, and should only be used in situations that require a very fast heal.
- If you are a Blood Elf, you can use Arcane Torrent on cooldown for additional mana.
- If you know the fight is going to last for quite awhile, use the Shadowfiend whenever possible.
- Save Hymn of Hope as a last resort, because it restores others mana as well, and has a fairly long cooldown. This can help out your fellow healers tremendously.
Add-ons and Macros
It can be quite difficult to heal a group or a raid using only the standard Blizzard game interface and spells. Thus, you may want to modify your casts using macros that make thing such as stopcasting easier, or modify the UI so that it's easier to figure out how much people are hurt, or to see the health and status effects of an entire raid at one time.
To get you started with macros, here are some useful macros for Priests. This includes macros to automatically use a trinket or racial ability when you cast a spell, automatically stopcasting whenever you start a new cast, etc.
There are many add-ons that Holy Priests can find useful. Among these are:
- Omen: Omen is a threat meter that can tell you how much threat people have on a mob, who has the highest threat, and can tell you when you are about to get the aggro. Healers generally need to keep healing despite how much aggro they have, but if you have the add-on then you will get a warning before someone attacks you, which can give you enough time to Fade. Additionally, if you have the add-on then anyone else in the group with the add-on, such as the tank, can tell whether you are about to get the aggro and do something about it.
- X-Perl: An add-on that allows you to modify the unit frames. It can be configured to show you whether other healers have your target selected, how much life a player is down, etc. X-Perl is available from wow.curse.com.
- VuhDo: Relatively new add-on, similar to Healbot. Works well "out-of-the-box" combining the endless customization of Grid with the ease of use of Healbot. Available from www.wowinterface.com
- Grid: An add-on that can give you an overview of the health and status ailments (such as disease or magic effects) for an entire raid or party. This is a highly-configurable add-on, and thus can take a while to set up the way you want, but once it's set up the benefits are extraordinary. Grid can also give you an indication when someone gets the aggro, which can frequently let you start healing them before they get hit. Grid is available from www.wowace.com or wow.curse.com.
- Healbot: Similar to, and an alternative for, Grid. It's an add-on that can give you the overview of the health and status ailments for an entire raid or party.