Hi guys! I’m hijacking this blog! So we’ll start by BoP’ing the hunter Amber so she’ll not be able to shoot me before the 10 seconds are up.
Alright, ten seconds, go.
Today I’d like to talk about healer utility! I’ll break it down by class, and in the case of priest, spec.
Fantastic cooldowns here. Hand of Protection, colloquially known as BoP (for its old name, Blessing of Protection), is 10 seconds of hax on any raid member. They’re completely immune to physical attacks, so if the target is limited to physical attacks, they pick a new target. In some cases, they’ll pick a new target anyway. Current Cata encounters where this is extremely powerful are Chimaeron’s phase 2 and Atramedes’s air phase, where it will force a target change. Because of the hefty 5 minute cooldown, you can only use it once or twice per fight, but man will it break certain mechanics. The biggest drawback of BoP is that it prevents the target from using physical attacks as well, but if you have an overeager mage or warlock you can BoP them with impunity as it won’t hurt their dps. For our trolladins, BoP the rogue or fury warrior as soon as they use their cooldowns and you’re sure to make friends with them– You were just trying to keep them from pulling aggro!
Which brings us to Hand of Salvation, or HoSalv. For many of you right now tank threat isn’t an issue, but in those cases where it could, this 2 minute cooldown comes in handy. It’s approximately a 20% threat drop, but it’s slow-going over 10 seconds– You’ll want to use it preemptively. HoSalv is best used on classes that lack a natural threat drop, such as warriors, DKs, and boomkins, with the “second tier” being classes that lack a large threat wipe, like feral druids, shamans, priests, and perhaps even a retadin that got carried away with wings. It’s also probably best used at least a minute into the fight, since very early on it will clear maybe one attack’s worth of threat– Unless you know ahead of time that a dps likes to blow all his cooldowns off the bat, and you think you can save him from his own stupidity.
Another way to save a dps from their own stupidity is Hand of Sacrifice, or HoSac. Don’t let the nickname scare you. HoSac will redirect 30% of the damage that target takes to you, up to a maximum of your full health bar, for 12 seconds. This not only helps in briefly “tankifying” a dps when things go horribly, horribly wrong, but more importantly it’s a bizarre mitigation cooldown to use on a tank! With Paragon of Virtue, it’s down to a 90 second cooldown, and with Protector of the Innocent all of your heals will be healing you too. In many cases this is actually one of the best ways to keep PotI from going to waste. HoSac is an almost deceptively strong cooldown and will save your group member’s lives more times than I care to keep track of.
Also on the list of things I can’t keep track of, auras! Pony aura is not for raid. Unless you have someone else bringing the right elemental resistances, you’ll probably want to run with resistance aura, which will be about a 24.92% reduction in damage of that type (10.75% over the buff-caused resistance of MotW/BoK). Using Aura Mastery in anticipation of damage will further boost that to 39.90%– Wow! Devotion Aura is a good second choice, providing 4,076 armor (Roughly a 10% boost for a tank). Concentration aura is the archtypical holy aura, but in many fights it doesn’t get put to good use, and in those that it does, resistance plays a bigger role. It plays a bigger role in PvP, though. And ret aura… Well, you’re nice against rogues? It’s not you, it’s me. I have too high standards for my auras.
Oh, let’s not forget that utility is sometimes focused on yourself. Divine Protection has been revamped to reduce damage taken by 20%, and can be reduced down to a 40 second cooldown. It’s a fantastic ability on heavy AoE fights, and you can glyph it to be 40% magic. Really, seriously, oh my god this is something you want to use. It’s win. I can’t express enough how amazing it is for seeming so weak.
And finally, Rebuke. Thank you, Blizzard, for Rebuke. Ever been on a priest or druid and begged the dps to interrupt something? Maybe those nerubians back in heroic old kingdom, that could one-shot an undergeared tank with their shadow blast? Now you can stop yelling at them and go face-punching yourself! Paladins still lack an offensive dispel, so in many cases this is our best bet. And from a PvP perspective, my god, it’s like a game of chicken amongst healers. In the average BG, one rebuke and they’re terrified of you.
Shaman— Wait, what’s a shaman?
Totems, totems, totems! Unfortunately, outside of totems you don’t have much utility at all, and you’re limited to four totems at a time, and a 30 yard range for most of them. At 18 totems available to a resto shaman (and soon to be 19), I won’t talk about them all, just the ones I really think fit the “utility” definition.
Contrary to what I just said, the first example is a non-totem example: Purge. Offensive dispels are fantastic and can effectively neuter some enemies. Always be on the look out for dispellable magic effects, and once you get to know them you can decide if they’re worth dispelling or not. Probably the best trash example are the Twilight Shifters before Cho’gall, who will tear people a new one unless your purge their shift. Maloriak is probably the best boss example, thanks to his Remedy. You can also frequently prevent the need to purge at all by using Wind Shear, which is arguably the best PvE interrupt available.
Tremor Totem, an earth totem, though a long fall from what it once was, is a fantastic anti-fear. Most importantly, rumor has it that it can break Cho’gall’s worship, though if you’re worshipping you can’t drop it [Citation needed]. It’s six seconds on a one minute cooldown, so it’ll be frequently up when you need it.
Grounding Totem, an air totem, is a pretty amazing thing when it works.
I have heard that it will block Blackout in Valiona and Theralion, cutting down dramatically on raid damage. It also works against Arcanotron’s Arcane Annihilator (No word on if it will fail Achieve-o-tron), and presumably any other single target spell cast by raid bosses. Please note that Grounding Totem is specifically party-wide and requires the target to be “nearby” (Personal experiences say <15 yards, but shaman is not my kind of class– No offense to your spiritwalkers out there).
As discussed with paladin, resistance totem is a pretty sweet deal, but you should be glyphed into healing stream totem, which you should be using anyway. Please note that the difference between this is that it does not protect against shadow damage, but it DOES protect against nature (electrical– Hi Neffy). As usual for totems, the range is 30 yards and it does not move with you, so be mindful of positioning.
Earthbind totem is a rare jewel, and really shines on Magmaw and Maloriak. If there’s kiting to be done, you can always help with an earthbind totem. Remember that its range is a meager 10 yards!
I’m hesitant to include regen as utility, but Mana Tide is a special case. It’s a fantastic thing to offer other healers, as well as keep your own mana up. While it doesn’t affect short term spirit boosts like trinkets, there is a rumor that Tsunami’s spirit-boosting stacks are affected. I don’t know if this is a bug or even true, but if intentional it makes the trinket look even more appealing to shamans. Don’t forget to reuse your healing stream totem once mana tide’s done!
Spirit Link Totem, an air totem coming in 4.1, is a rather unique take on mitigation. For 6 seconds it reduces damage taken by everyone within 10 yards by 10%, which, so far, sounds like a gimp discobubble. But here’s where it gets interesting: Each second, everyone’s health is redistributed so that everyone is at the same percentage. Note that the redistribution won’t create or destroy health– It adds up all the current health pools compared to all the max health pools and figures the goal percentage. This is especially potent since very rarely will AoE outright kill someone– Frequently, it’s when one person is low and they get hit by something. I could see it being put to especially good use on Chimaeron’s feuding. It’ll be on a 3 minute cooldown, further mimicking Barrier.
Oh and, I guess you guys have something called Heroism or Bloodlust? I dunno, it’s like that mage ability Time Warp, but you can’t settle on a name for it. The timing for Hero/BL is usually best discussed amongst your group, but a well-timed one can save a wipe. If you think you’ve got a good eye for it, consider using it early– I’d rather use hero at the wrong time than to wipe and not use it at all!
Can come back when it has utility. I kid! Druid’s utility is a little trickier though. Soothe can be used to dispel enrage effects, and if any druids could use Soothe on the shamans for the way I treated their signature cooldown above? Much appreciate it. Enrage effects aren’t all that common, but when they show up, they can be pretty make or break. Double damage and 50% faster attack? Haha, no can do!
Roots are also in the same category of enemy denial. When it Soultree form, your roots become instant cast, so if you have a spare GCD on a fight that involves kiting, you can throw a root out.
If there’s two druids glyphed for innervate, they can innervate each other and get more back than if they did it to themselves.
Like paladin’s Divine Protection, druids have Barkskin, which has an added benefit of preventing cast bar pushback. Much like DP, use this. The only time you shouldn’t use this is when you literally will take 0 damage, or if you know there will be a time before it’s up again with heavy damage. Don’t go more than a minute without barkskinning.
Editing in battle res here. As it stands now the ability can be used once per encounter (three times in 25 man), regardless of how many druids, warlocks, or soon death knights you have. It’s funny to me that I forgot this ability, because no druid is ever allowed to forget it. If anyone dies for any reason a minimum of 20% of the group is obligated to call for a battle res, regardless of if it’s been used or if it’s on cooldown. Unfortunately there really isn’t much to say about it– If someone dies, you res them. If you reasonably expect them to quickly die again, as in a bad pug, you can reserve your right to pass over them and save their durability and your cooldown. Do be mindful, though, that if you bres in what’s soon to be bad, you might inadvertently kill them again.
Priests – All
Leap of Fuck Priests is a new ability at 85, and one many priests have had great fun with. But did you know that it can be used for purposes other than annoying raid members and killing them? If you have a head start on movement, it can be used to help a straggler, or someone that was a bit behind through no fault of their own. For example, on Cho’gall, LoF is up for virtually every add’s death, and a timely grip on the tank will get him back to Cho’gall in no time. It’s also useful when you can see horribly bad things on the horizon, but worry that they can’t or won’t get out in time, such as Atramedes’s air phase, phase 2 of Chimaeron (You can add seconds to their life!), and pillars of parasitic flame on Magmaw. Seriously, the number of good uses for this ability are so plentiful that it shouldn’t be off cooldown when you want to fuck around with it. Also, you can have a group of 38 priests and 2 death knights set up a line (The roads in Durotar and Elwynn Forest are fantastic for this), lining up 19 priests in each direction and chain-gripping the death knights together in an attempt at finding Higgs-Boson (Amber edit: Fuck you, James. Fuck. You.)
Divine Hymn is another one I’m hesitant to include, because it’s first and foremost a throughput ability. However, it also increases healing taken by 10% for 8 seconds, so you can theoretically use it to buff up someone else’s heals. Of course, that’s a bit of a stretch because most priests I’ve talked to tend to hit it the moment they feel panicky without regard of what else is going on. Similarly, Hymn of Hope boosts max mana by 15%, briefly buffing percentage returns such as innervate, shadowfiend, and divine plea.
In Cata, magic debuffs are the majority by far, and magic is the realm of priests (Bwah?). Dispel removes two afflictions (or buffs from enemies) per use, and mass dispel is a large area dispel. A rule of thumb is that if you’ll get three or more people, go ahead and do mass. It becomes technically more cost efficient at 4 people, but considering you’ll pay for delaying it, three will usually save you mana in the long run.
Mostly on trash, psychic scream provides the closest you’ll get to an interrupt. If you’re running a lot of 5 mans, consider glyphing it, because it makes fantastic panic CC.
Priests – Disc
Congratulations, your bubbles are worth a damn! And there’s one bubble in particular that everyone loves, and that’s barrier. This is a 30% damage reduction (soon to be 25%) for 10 seconds on a 2 (soon 3) minute cooldown. You can also glyph it to increase healing done by 10% for the duration.
Pain Suppression is a single target mitigation, and a fairly strong one at that. Try to use it at least twice per boss, you’ll find plenty of opportunities. Plenty. There is a lot of pain from bosses that can be suppressed. Be mindful that it also reduces their threat by 5%, which can cause
wacky hijinx I mean, occasional trouble with threat.
Now, a rare case for you is power infusion. This is a fantastic self-buff for throughput, what with the haste and mana cost reduction and all. However, if you find yourself running oom, it won’t do you much good to spam smite faster. In this case and probably this case alone, consider casting it on another healer or (In phase 2 Chimaeron) a caster dps.
Priest – Holy
Body and Soul, or as I like to call it, speed bubbles. This is basically a half-sprint every time you bubble or life grip, which mostly serves to make bubble into a movement spell. Its uses are countless and in my opinion, is what keeps Holy from being a total waste of a tree (I kid! <3). Be careful when paired with a disc priest, as they might get angry at you for causing the shared weakened soul debuff.
Guardian Angel has two major uses. The first is a healing boost, which is a roundabout imitation of mitigation. Like with most mitigation abilities, it’s a good thing to use on the tank early and often, or when expecting large damage. However, if the target of GA would die, GA ends and heals them up to 50% health. While I wouldn’t normally advise letting a teammate die, I can think of a number of cases where a person was low on health, so I popped GA and stopped trying to heal them for a second to focus elsewhere. Every healer knows the frustration of a target dying with a tenth of a second left on their heal, and GA is a bit of life insurance in that regard. If you know for certain you won’t be able to bring them up to survivable amounts in time, it’s a great way to buy a couple seconds.
Overall, I’m sure many of you have a few questions right now, like “Did he just list off a bunch of cooldowns?” “Why did he miss this?” “Wait, we’re talking about healers on what’s theoretically a healer blog?” “Where’s the flowchart?” “Who the fuck is this person?” “How does a wall of text crit for that much?”
To answer them in order, mostly, yes! However, a lot of people I’ve met will say they always forget about their cooldowns, and a quick look through WoL will seem them using something like HoSac or Barrier once a raid night. It’s nice to be reminded that these things exist, to bring them to the front of your mind when you can potentially use them. If I missed any, especially in druid, I apologize, feel free to comment and I’ll edit in a correction. And yes, yes we are. Check the link for your fucking flowchart. I’m James, or as many of you first saw me, Temnyi. In a horrible lapse of judgement Amber has given me access to this blog. And by my count the wall of text crit for 2,935 damage, mostly by having that many words. I apologize if you were one-shot, but I advise you to level up, as that damage stops being lethal in vanilla content.
Also, I’m pretty sure my ten seconds are up. Thankfully, I can still divine shield, and my tier bonus reduces the casting time of my hearthstone. See you next time!