Once again, welcome to an updated article in my Holy How-To series! Today, we’ll be focusing on the spells and abilities holy paladins have at level 85 and we’ll talk a bit about how best to use each of these spells and abilities in a PVE setting. Please bear in mind that this was written during the time that 4.2.2 was on live realms and, as such, may become outdated with future patches.
Last weekend, I was a guest on a podcast called My Epic Heals, which is a WoW healing-centric podcast run by a holy paladin named Eade, of My Pally Heals, and a resto druid named Wolfshayde. The other guest on the podcast was Vidyala from Manalicious. I’d previously gotten the chance to talk to Vidyala over on Blessing of Frost‘s Episode 13, focusing on the differences between 10s and 25s, so it was nice to chat with her again. :) The My Epic Heals episode came out yesterday. Strangely enough, it’s ALSO Episode 13. Cue Twilight Zone music? ;)
Speaking of podcasts… I don’t really listen to a lot of them. At all. Which is a little weird, considering I DO a podcast, but anyway. I stumbled across this snazzy podcast called Convert to Raid and have listened to all 8 episodes of it in the last couple of days. Really quality production on it and some interesting content. :)
And, speaking of raiding, I Frapsed our Rag kill. Here’s the raw video. Yes, my UI is cluttered, yes, it’s got weird noises (every time I gain Holy Power or spend it and every time Holy Shock is ready) and, sadly, you can’t hear me because of the way Fraps interacts with Windows. You can, however, hear Majik say “there goes another one” when I get flung off the side, as Tikari pointed out on our guild forums. ;)
It’s been almost a full year since I last wrote in my Holy How-To series. A lot has happened to the paladin class and, specifically, the holy spec since then. I decided that I’d go back to basics and re-write a bunch of my old Holy How-To guides from the Wrath era and update them with relevant Cataclysm information. Not all the guides will be re-written and those that will be are going to be written from the ground up. So here’s the first of my re-written guides: Specs & Glyphs. Bear in mind that the guide consists primarily of my own beliefs and opinions and is limited to PVE content at level 85 only.
On Monday, I logged on to the baby paladin and got invited to the raid group and we went in and got Baleroc down. I had prepared myself for a long night of work on Alysrazor, but we managed to get her down (a Choice guild first!) on the first attempt. Granted, it took all three rotations to get her down. The fight was almost 14 minutes in length. And I stood in tornadoes, twice, to help heal my tank through it since his hatchling was still up.
But we did it.
And so, on to Majordomo Staghelm.
Trash was hilarious and brutal, as it was for Apotheosis the other week.
Break time came shortly after the trash was down and two of our healers dropped offline. Including the healing lead.
They pulled in a rogue and an ele shaman who has a resto offspec and that was going to have to do.
It was right about then when the disc priest in the raid said in healer chat “so, since none of us have a clue what to do…”
And I facepalmed. I ACTUALLY put my head in my hand and took a moment to say “oh, no.”
Why did I say “oh, no”?
Because I knew that I was about to step up and take care of healers.
“I’ll take care of healing,” I found myself typing.
Given that I’ve successfully done the fight once and have 50+ wipes under my belt, I figured I was in the best position to do this.
Now, see, normally, this doesn’t happen. Normally, if the healing lead is unavailable, the GM (a kick-ass resto shaman) steps in. But the GM was not around for tonight’s raid, as she has family visiting.
So NORMALLY, I would never be put in the situation where the healing lead (who has amazing attendance) AND the GM (who also has amazing attendance) would BOTH not be available. I raided with these people for like, five months at the end of Wrath and one of the two of them was always there.
But of course, I stepped up to the plate because I really was the best person qualified to do healing assignments.
I looked at the raid. Six healers (Apotheosis likes seven, but there wasn’t a seventh available for us): 2 holy paladins, 1 disc priest, 2 resto shaman and 1 resto druid.
The plan was to stack for 11 Flame Scythes and 5 Cat leaps. And so, I started handing out cooldowns.
I gave myself my regular assignment — pop Aura Mastery just before the 6th Scythe comes out. I like to pop it right about 78 energy.
I gave the other holy paladin the assignment to pop Aura Mastery just before the 7th Scythe.
Just before the 8th? Power Word: Barrier.
Just before the 9th? Spirit Link Totem.
And then I got the prot pally to Divine Guardian just before the 10th, too.
We pulled and it went okay. We had 6 tries and got to second scorpion a couple of times, but always died to Searing Seeds because someone would die to a Flame Scythe and their seed would explode while they were still in the raid.
I was satisfied with the work the healers did. I had a lot of resistance from them, though. I hadn’t healed with any of them back in Wrath. These are all people who have no idea that this Madrana chick knows what she’s talking about.
I did get a few whispers; one healer complimented me on my style of healing leadership and I thanked them and explained that I’ve been doing it forever, it seems like, and that my time in Choice in Wrath was the only time in the last several years where I wasn’t asked to do healing assignments at some point in time. So I gave them the story about how I raid with Choice part time and I’m the GM of Apotheosis and all that jazz.
At the end of the raid, I thanked everyone for their efforts and thanked the ele shaman in particular for healing. Then I uploaded the WoL (since the healing lead normally does that but obviously, his logs would be missing all the Majordomo attempts) and then I wrote to the healing lead to let him know what cooldowns I’d assigned and when, even down to Mana Tide totems.
This whole “raiding with two guilds” thing is weird. On the one hand, I get mocked and ridiculed by Apotheosis folks and on the other, I’m sort of a part-timer with Choice. The bonus is that I get to share knowledge between the guilds — I used some of the info from learning Baleroc with Choice when Apotheosis first tackled him and I’ve used some Apotheosis experience and knowledge to help with Alysrazor and now Staghelm.
It’s come in handy a lot and I’m glad I had knowledge of Staghelm to share with Choice, but I think what disturbs me about tonight was that there wasn’t even a question in my own mind about me standing up and volunteering to take care of the healers.
I just did it.
More, I KNEW I was going to do it.
My desire to help the guild get a semblance of meaningful attempts on Staghelm short-circuited the “nooooo, this is my night off!!!” thought.
And so, without even thinking about it, I just stepped up and took charge.
Here’s something you may not know about me: I am what I like to term a reluctant leader.
If there is a qualified, good, awesome leader, I will follow them like any other sheep. This goes for WoW and real-life, too.
If, however, there is NOT a qualified, good, awesome leader… I will almost certainly step up to the plate.
So that was my night. A Baleroc kill, an Alysrazor one-shot (that was excessively long) and Majordomo, paired with healing lead stuff.
It still stuns me how quickly I slipped into the role. But I guess if I spend 9 hours a week doing that as it is, it shouldn’t be a surprise, right?
Looking forward to Wednesday’s raid when I hopefully WON’T have to do anything except heal. I need my nights off. :)
For about 9 months, starting in September of 2009 until June of 2010, I raided with a guild where we didn’t use Vent, TeamSpeak or Mumble. We didn’t use any voice communications at all until maybe the last few weeks I spent in the guild.
When people hear this, their reactions range from “no way, you’re lying” to “… but.. wha.. HOW?!”, particularly when they learn that we went 11/12 ICC 25m HM. All without Vent. (We eventually started using it, as I mentioned, but that was mostly toward the end of my time there, so maybe late April/early May 2009? And even then, it wasn’t every raid.)
So to answer the “how”… It meant a lot of reading of instructions from the raid leader and my role leader (or a lot of typing for me, since I took over as healing lead for a few months in there). It meant strictly watching my timers in my boss mods and making adjustments to the boss mods (particularly DXE) so that I’d remember that THAT noise at THAT time meant “GTFO”. ;) It was key on encounters like Heroic Lady Deathwhisper because I configured the warning sound for Vengeful Shades to be really distinctive and I KNEW upon hearing that noise to watch for the shades spawning around me.
Raiding during that time meant no call-outs on Vent, because there was no Vent to call out on. And in the abusive, toxic environment it was, if you screwed up, even once, you could get kicked from the guild. No joke. I saw it happen more than once while I was there.
That’s all in the past, but that time in my WoW life definitely left its marks on me. Both bad (obviously) and good (not always so apparent).
I’m going to talk a bit about the good marks left on me from that time.
Cut to today: On Mondays (and Wednesdays), I get on the baby pally and raid with Choice of Skywall. Choice is currently working on the Alysrazor encounter as their progression encounter. Apotheosis, where I spend most of my time and energy, has already defeated Alysrazor three times, each kill being cleaner than the last. So I’m very comfortable with the fight at this point.
It was during Monday night’s attempts that I realized two things:
1) I am pretty damn good at that encounter. Like, really good. I don’t think I’ve been this good at an encounter since Dreamwalker. On Choice’s best attempt last night, I came in second on healing (without leaving Gushing Wound ticking on my tank, thank you very much), popped my Aura Mastery whenever I was supposed to and only took two ticks of tornado damage because I bubbled and healed the crap out of my tank whose hatchling was still up but NEARLY dead on that phase. I ate the tornadoes because I knew I had to help the tank live to get the hatchling down. Once Divine Shield wore off, I could still live through a couple of ticks of tornadoes and as long as I didn’t die (I didn’t), I could pull that off to help ensure the killing of the hatchling.
2) I’m not even paying attention to my boss mod timers because I know how to react to everything and I don’t need 5 seconds’ notice to tell me something’s going to happen. At least, not on that fight.
I got to thinking about my timers and then it dawned on me; I almost never look at my timers anymore. Not on that encounter and not on most. I don’t watch the timers on Shannox; I just pay attention to the bleed on the tanks. I don’t watch the timers on Beth’tilac; I know when to jump up or jump down and when to group up. I don’t watch timers on Lord Rhyolith; I just follow my tank around and AOE heal the best I can while watching boss health. I don’t watch timers on Baleroc; I just know that when the shards spawn, that’s generally my cue to swap to a new target. I don’t watch timers on Majordomo Staghelm; I watch his stacks of Adrenaline.
My boss mod timers were an integral part of my playstyle all through TOGC and ICC. There was no way in hell I wouldn’t have died like a noob a million times over if I hadn’t had my timers.
So why am I not watching my timers now? Probably the last time I seriously watched my timers was Heroic Maloriak so I could try to anticipate the Scorching Blasts.
Part of it is that DXE took forever to be updated and Deadly Boss Mod’s timers have always been okay, but not really ON, as far as I can tell. DXE was just… so amazing in ICC and especially toward the end of the expansion, it was just so perfect! I was never led astray by DXE!
But part of it is that I’ve just gotten lazy. I’m listening for calls from my officers in most cases. They’ve been calling things out all expansion so far and, although I was initially resistant to them doing so, since I feel it engenders laziness, I now find that I listen for them to call stuff out. And I’m sure people listen to me when I call stuff out — which I do rarely, but have been doing on Majordomo.
I’m also pre-occupied with leaderish thoughts: I’m thinking “how many battle rezzes does that make?”. I’m watching cooldowns through oRA to make sure people are using them appropriately. I’m wondering if we can pull through or if we should call a wipe. And that’s in addition to healing and not standing in bad.
So with all that floating around in my head, no wonder I’m not watching the timers.
I can’t help but think that if I watched them, if I didn’t have people calling stuff out on Mumble, I would be a lot better off as a player.
I honestly feel as though my player skills have atrophied in the last year that I’ve been back on Vent and Mumble. Granted, all my instincts and skills and knowledge were still intact last June when I first joined Choice to finish out Wrath with them and that content was still what we were raiding at the very start of Apotheosis after 4.0 hit, so I don’t think being on Vent or Mumble with Choice or Apotheosis affected me much until Cataclysm launched.
Since I first set foot in Blackwing Descent on December 28th, in our first 10-man “exploratory” raid, call-outs have happened and we’ve been on Mumble and we’ve talked a great deal throughout encounters.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. I LOVE my guildies. I adore being on Mumble with them and mocking Majik or others. I… okay, I don’t enjoy being mocked in return, but that’s only fair. ;) I love kidding around, joking, laughing. I REALLY like that I can give instructions verbally instead of taking the time to type them. I type close to 90 words per minute and sometimes it’s just LONG to type stuff out.
I don’t like what it’s done to me as a player. I feel as though I’ve lost my edge in terms of using all the information available to me to make a good, fast decision. I think I still have that edge when it comes to reacting to stuff on my screen; I can stop healing my Gushing Wound target on Alysrazor, I can manage not to stand in the Immolation aura on the Spark of Rhyolith and, by golly, I can NAIL those tornadoes or throw a BOP on someone who’s about to die.
I still feel as though my play is lacking and although I have all this other stuff to take into consideration (raid leader stuff, etc), I’m not convinced that it’s not just pure laziness stemming from voice communication being available to me.
Take last night’s Choice raid as an example. As mentioned, it was Alysrazor and also as mentioned, I am awesome on that fight. So I don’t need to wait to hear “tornadoes coming” or “Gushing Wound, stop healing that tank!” or any of the other audio cues. By already knowing what to do and when, I can really just focus on my job, which is keeping my tank alive, even if he sometimes runs through fire. ;)
I think callouts on progression fights are what blunt me as a player. Once I know the fight, I can (and likely do) tune people out, regardless of what guild I’m playing with. Is that strange that I don’t want the callouts on the progression portion of the fight? And is it also weird that, even if I don’t want callouts, I can see the necessity in certain situations? I mean, we run out of first scorpion phase on Majordomo at 11 stacks of Adrenaline, so right after the 11th Scythe. I call out 9 and 10 and then “go!” and call out for cat “that’s 4, that’s 5, okay, go!” or whatever. (Of course, all bets are off for Searing Seeds scorpion phases. I AM SO BAD at calling to spread if I’m busy watching my Power Aura for Searing Seeds.)
Ultimately, the point of this post is not to preach that not using voice communications means you’re a great player. It’s not to say that using voice communications means you’re a bad player.
The point of this post is to say that I think voice communications blunt me as a player in new content. I think it makes things a lot easier in some ways and so I look for shortcuts like listening for calls instead of watching timers. I also have a great time on Mumble with Apotheosis and I enjoy Choice’s Vent, too, which is always a good thing. Raiding with 24 other people you hardly know and mostly can’t stand is fine if you’re not forced to talk to them or hear their mouth-breathing, but when we started using Vent in that other guild I was in? It was awful.
With Choice and, of course, with Apotheosis, I really do feel like I’m raiding with friends and players I mostly like and respect. So I’ll take the slight blunting of my play for the chance to listen to Geng (of Choice) yell at kids to get off his car. I’ll take that hit on my own performance to listen to other people mock Majik (of Apotheosis) and try to get him killed.
So, having rambled about this for 1800+ words, I’m also going to set up my timers properly on Madrana to make sure they’re working and that I can see them and that they notify me appropriately for various things. Just because I CAN listen for callouts doesn’t mean I SHOULD and so I’m going to make an effort to watch my timers more frequently — which means putting them in an easier spot to see.
This isn’t exactly meant as a guide. It’s more along the lines of my personal experience, so there will be lots of “this is what I do”s and “this is what I think works best here”s. I’m also going to assume you know most of the mechanics of the fight, at least from the ground perspective. That said, I think there’s some decent information I can share with you guys. :)
Alysrazor is one of the more difficult encounters in Firelands. In order to move past Baleroc to Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros, Alysrazor must be defeated. (You can, however, do the Alysrazor fight before or after Baleroc, that doesn’t matter.)
The first thing to know is that her name is not “Alice-razor”. It’s “Alysra-zor”. If you do the Molten Front dailies and quests, you’ll see that she was originally named Alysra and, upon being reborn as a firehawk, added the “zor” to her name. (Sorry. That’s totally my pet peeve.)
The second thing to know is that with the help of at least one Molten Feather, you can cast while moving! One feather increases your movement speed by 30% and gives you the casting-while-moving ability. Two feathers increases your movement speed by 60%. Three feathers (avoid this!) will allow you to fly.
If you aren’t asked to grab a feather as a holy paladin during the first molting of Alysrazor (which happens right after the pull), talk to your raid leader about how this will really, really, REALLY help minimize tank deaths. By the end of the second molting phase, everyone should have at least one feather, including tanks, which is hugely helpful for them to move their hatchlings around. However, no one should grab a feather until everyone on the pre-assigned air team gets ALL THREE of theirs to go flying around.
All right, that’s the really important stuff. Now, as to your assignment: as a holy paladin, you will almost certainly be asked to heal a tank. If this is the case, I strongly recommend beaconing your own tank for two reasons:
1) Positioning on the fight is extremely dynamic and the fighting area is quite wide. There are some combinations of placements that will result in the two tanks being more than 60 yards apart from each other.
2) Tower of Radiance Holy Power gains are pretty much wonderful on this encounter and I’ll get to why in a little bit.
Okay, so you should now be armed with the following knowledge:
– pick up a feather as soon as you can without screwing over the air team
– beacon your own tank due to positioning and range issues and holy power gains from Tower of Radiance
– it’s “Alysra-zor”, not “Alice-razor”. Seriously.
Healing the Fight
Right off the bat (assuming it’s not the first pull of the evening), you’ll be blasted backwards. This is a great time to have three Holy Power already charged. I like to hit Divine Favor and Holy Radiance, followed by a Light of Dawn here. There’s a significant amount of raid damage that you can actually help to heal up since your tank won’t be taking any interesting damage for the next little bit.
Move to one side or the other as Alysrazor flies down the middle of the area, because she has a nasty cleave. Run out and around her to pick up your feather.
During this time, your DPS should be collecting feathers to fly up or should be killing (and interrupting) Flame Talon Initiates. Cleanse Fieroblast‘s dot off anyone it hits while you wait for your tank’s Voracious Hatchling to, well, hatch.
Once the hatchlings hatch and are properly Imprinted on their tanks, this is where you start actually getting to do stuff.
For the most part, hatchling damage isn’t too bad on an adequately geared tank. The problems only show up during three situations:
a) When your tank runs out of your range (this happens a lot unless you’re actively watching them — ask for a mark to be placed on the heads of your tanks and keep an eye on them!)
b) When their hatchling throws a Tantrum.
c) When their hatchling applies Gushing Wound to the tank.
Situation A is easily remedied: watch your tank. Know that your tank has to feed their hatchling with Plump Lava Worms that are spawning in various spots in the fighting area. Anticipate where your tank might be going or have him or her communicate that to you. At the same time, you should be able to cast while running, so you should be able to adequately dodge the Brushfires from the Flame Talon Initiates and the Lava Spew from the Plump Lava Worms.
Situation B is also easily remedied: cooldowns! It’s probably best if your tank blows their cooldowns first and then you can pop Hand of Sacrifice when they run out of cooldowns. They can handle four tantrums per ground phase, since feeding a worm to the hatchlings will remove a tantrum, so work out CDs with your tank and/or healing team. Do not be afraid to blow Lay on Hands!
Situation C is probably the trickiest to deal with. Gushing Wound is applied to people standing in front of the hatchling (this should ideally just be the tank) and then bleeds continuously until the tank hits 50% health. The trouble is that they’re still taking melee attacks and can still stand in any of the various fire hazards in the fighting area at the same time.
This is NOT the time for damage-reduction cooldowns. You want to get the tank to drop Gushing Wound as quickly as possible and then need a quick burst of healing to pop him or her back up to a reasonable level of health.
Ideally, this is how it should go, although bear in mind that conditions are rarely ideal:
– Stop healing the tank immediately when Gushing Wound is applied
– Make sure you have 3 Holy Power saved up (by Holy Shocking others if you need to)
– As soon as Gushing Wound falls off, ideally, a disc priest will shield the tank to prevent much more damage for a couple of seconds
– You can then blast the tank with a 3HP Word of Glory. If Eternal Glory (if you have it) procs, hit the tank with WoG again, otherwise, cast a Divine Light (which may or may not have an Infusion of Light haste proc behind it from your slightly-earlier Holy Shocking to make sure you’re up to 3HP.)
The main thing to remember about Gushing Wound is that if you time a casted spell on the tank badly, you can’t interrupt it by moving! You’ll have to hit Escape to stop the cast.
If you get Gushing Wound coupled with a tantrum, don’t hesitate to blow Lay on Hands as soon as Gushing Wound drops off!
And if your tank just decides to stroll happily through fire while they have Gushing Wound or a tantrum on their hatchling, well, there’s pretty much nothing you can do apart from mock them for standing in fire.
And that is the first phase.
The next portion of the fight is all about you and living through fiery tornadoes. The hatchlings should be down by this point, so there should not be any healing for you to worry about.
Here’s a handy-dandy video I made with footage from a learning attempt on Alysrazor with my guild, Apotheosis and it’ll show you exactly how to deal with tornadoes.
Once that’s done, Alysrazor will crash to the ground and start rebuilding her Molten Power.
From 0-50 Molten Power, just make sure everyone’s topped off (especially your tanks who have a job at this point) and make sure to attack Alysrazor directly, since every attack done to her at this point gives you back 10% of your maximum mana!
From 50-100 Molten Power, she’ll pop up off the ground and should be tanked facing AWAY from the raid. This is where you probably have a job. She’ll be blasting the raid with fire damage from Blazing Buffet and so healer/raid cooldowns should be used at this time. I typically go with Aura Mastery, Aura Mastery, Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem and finish up with a Tranquility. So you’ll likely want to pop Aura Mastery at some point in here as well, depending on what your healing lead/raid leader has asked.
During this time, your tanks are taking damage from Alysrazor herself, so what I do here is I pop my Aura Mastery first, then I use Divine Favor again and Holy Radiance again, all of which is really done to help heal up the raid or help out with mitigation on the raid before focusing on whichever tank has aggro on Alysrazor first. In my raid group, the tanks swap after a few seconds (~10 or so) and so I watch for that and heal the other tank.
When she’s at 100 Molten Power, she throws everyone back, causing 50,000 fire damage and then takes to the air again, leaving behind a pile of feathers, so the air team can get back up there quickly.
After that, it’s essentially the same thing all over again, where you wait for hatchlings to spawn and then heal your tank smartly to make sure Gushing Wound falls off.
– Glyphed Divine Protection is great if you’re chasing your tank. It’ll reduce any fire damage you take if you run through some while chasing the tank by 40% AND give you a 4s sprint, courtesy of 3/3 Speed of Light.
– You can bubble through any part of the tornado phase you’re not comfortable with, although I don’t think it’ll be up for the second if you use it on the first. (You should not need to bubble, in all reality.)
– Speaking of tornadoes… don’t worry about healing people through it. Chances are, if the hatchlings aren’t dead by now, it’ll be a wipe. An exception to this is if your tank’s hatchling is nearly dead. You might want to bubble here, cast Hand of Sacrifice and heal your tank through tornado damage so that the hatchling dies.
– You can pop Aura Mastery right as the pull happens to lessen raid damage then, too. It’ll be up for the clump phase once she’s grounded and gaining Molten Power.
– You might want to look into the Glyph of Lay on Hands since this is a long encounter. Chances are, if you use LoH within the first couple of minutes of the fight, you could probably use it again before the fight ends.
– As long as you can hold out until Alysrazor falls to the ground, you can abuse your mana pool, since you’ll be able to get back to full mana pretty easily once she’s burnt out. That might mean using some Flashes of Light here or there and that’ll generally be okay. I’m fine on mana both in a haste/spirit gear set and a mastery-heavy gear set.
What I like about this fight is that it’s not a brute-healing fight. Tank healers on Alysrazor have to use some finesse! Gushing Wound makes what would ordinarily be a fairly boring encounter (in terms of tank healing) into a much more interesting one. I absolutely love that I get to be that “clutch heal” that gets the tank back up to 80%+ health as soon as Gushing Wound falls off. If I have an Infusion of Light proc while the tank has Gushing Wound, I’ll almost certainly hold on to it and endeavour to get that .8s or whatever Divine Light on to the tank the instant the bleed falls off. It makes me happy. :)
What also makes me happy is that I don’t suck at tornadoes. For once, there is a fire mechanic in this blasted game that I don’t actively suck at! In fact, I am really AWESOME at tornadoes! This also makes me happy.
What makes me less happy is air team members falling out of the sky to their deaths or tanks standing in fire damage, but it’s worth some of the frustration when these things happen because I know that by good play on my part, I am noticeably making the fight easier on other healers and keeping tanks alive.
Well, that’s about it from me on this fight. Hope this was helpful and I wish you all the best of luck in downing Alysrazor!
Baleroc, the 5th boss in Firelands, is a healing fight. Healers heal DPS who are standing by shards. Healers get a buff from this when they heal the tank with THEIR debuff.
Lots of rotations, lots of swapping targets, lots of “omg omg omg” moments.
I’m pretty sure that, in the 18 wipes that led to our kill on Try 19, every member of the raid group, those in the raid and those out of the raid, had probably thought “omg, I’m going to find where Kurn lives and wring her neck with my bare hands.”
Healers too? Healers ESPECIALLY, I’m fairly sure.
It was a long raid night. Every spare moment I had, I was refining the strat with the healers, I was explaining stuff, I was double-checking reasons for deaths…
And people were antsy as fuck. I love my guild, I really do, and I don’t blame any of them for being all “GO GO GO”, if they aren’t healers. There was a LOT of downtime. Usually, we’re in the mid-40% for “active” in the three hours of our raids, but Thursday night was brutal with just 32.4% activity. We spent under 60 minutes actually fighting stuff. Granted, we have a 7m break, we ended 10m early, that sort of thing, but MAN, it must have sucked for those who weren’t doing a whole lot aside from waiting for the damn healers to finish refining the strat.
It also must have sucked for my healers.
We tried three main strats:
1) Heal every group for 30 seconds. (Tanks/melee/ranged) Problem: First Decimating Strike would almost always kill the Decimating Strike tank if there were no healers with Vital Spark/Vital Flame on him — which there generally wouldn’t be for DS if it was at the start.
2) Heal every group for 30 seconds, but offset the first swap by 15s or so. So after the shards come out, heal people for that first duration (assuming a 2 person/shard strat, which we had going) and then swap to your next group. The problem here? We got HOPELESSLY lost and confused once the DPS had the whole rotation thing figure out and we had no idea who to heal for the second round and it was like “crap, this is just too confusing”. I honestly think this is the best method, but I absolutely need to write everything down longhand before the fight if that’s the case. I got confused with times and durations and it also got weird with shard spawns.
3) Ultimately, we pulled in a 7th healer (we’ve 6-healed everything thus far in Firelands) and he was our buffer. He started out on the tanks with me and another healer and we went back to the 30s duration for everyone without any offsets. Second pull with 7 healers = dead boss.
I still think everyone was thinking… oh, how did Jasyla put it? That’s right, “uncharitable thoughts” about the healers, about each other and particularly about me because they could almost certainly figure out that my talking to the healers is what was taking forever. And the healers were probably not fond of me for changing the strat drastically a couple of times.
But, the boss died. The guild is 5/7. We got the Share the Pain achievement without trying. And we learned a LOT about how best to work the fight. I feel good about the kill, considering we had an OS tank tanking (but he was a Blood DK so it was almost better than our regular tank lead tanking it!) and considering it’s the middle of July. Summer slump? HAH. Two new bosses in less than a week! (Now I’ve jinxed us. Sorry, Apotheosis. :P)
So, while it was a challenging night, a long night for all, it ended with a kill and hopefully people will forget that they briefly daydreamed about tracking me down and killing me in my sleep. Or worse yet, intercepting and poisoning the rotisserie chicken I order on a regular basis. (Even more dastardly, the healers probably would have poisoned PUDDING if we didn’t get him down!)
So there’s been all this talk about mastery gemming, enchanting and stacking.
Given that I was in an awkward position for gear, having received gloves from Rhyolith and legs from Shannox, I felt limited in my choices for what I should pick up from the Valor Point vendor.
I could have gotten my tier 12 chest, which has nowhere the amount of haste as my heroic Breastplate of Avenging Flame, or I could have gotten my tier 12 gloves, which have no spirit and aren’t in my planned 4pc, or I could have gotten my T12 pants, except that I just got those pants from Shannox.
I was already pretty well below the 1859 breakpoint for Holy Radiance’s extra tick and my heals felt sluggish.
We were struggling with Alysrazor and part of the problem was tank deaths. I almost always assign myself to a tank anyway, and we have some amazing raid healers, so I was like… Fine. FOR SCIENCE, I would try out this mastery stuff.
Basically, I ripped out all my haste and a bit of crit (as opposed to some spirit) and got to 26% on my shields.
1737 mastery rating. No kidding. 722 haste rating. My very soul ached!
But, FOR SCIENCE, and based on a bit of my own experience with a bit more mastery than I normally run with, I decided to stick with it.
So what experience was that?
Well, I raid with Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and then on Mondays and Wednesdays, I play the baby paladin with Choice of Skywall. Both guilds are 4/7 in Firelands 25-man mode and though the baby pally didn’t have any heroic gear (and still only has a 353 helm, actually), a lot of the stats she had were just like the original Madrana’s, only a bit lesser. A little less haste, a little less crit, a little less spirit and a little less spellpower. But due to the nature of the drops and items I was able to acquire (and when you’re gearing up a new 85, you can’t always be picky!), I ended up with a lot more mastery than I wanted, even when it was reforged. 473 mastery rating was what the baby pally had, which was a far cry from the 100-some that Madrana had.
And yet, while healing Shannox with Choice, I realized that even that very little amount (473) I had was pretty freaking effective.
I literally stared at that for several minutes and went “what the hell is going on?”. I then compared it to a similar Shannox kill Apotheosis had done:
Yes, I had healed with Divine Light less on Madrana than the baby pally and that will absolutely make a difference in the Illuminated Healing. The fight was also shorter. But could it really explain away over 300,000 in absorption? Nope. That mastery was really working for me. Both my assignments were the same — heal the Shannox tank. And I played very similarly throughout those fights.
So when I got to the point with my gear that I didn’t have enough haste to be comfortable in my regular playstyle, despite having actually upgraded gear, I decided that I’d try out this mastery stuff, at least until I can get my haste back up.
It helped out on Alysrazor, or at least it felt like it. And we got Alysrazor down, by the skin of our teeth. So I stuck with it for last night’s Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith kills. Here’s the result from Shannox, to keep things consistent:
Are you kidding me? Almost a million damage absorbed by Illuminated Healing? 34% of my “healing” was done by my MASTERY?
So, it’s effective. Quite effective.
However, I lost a lot of stats. I lost a TON of Intellect by virtue of gemming 20 mastery/20 int instead of 40 int, and the 67 mastery gems instead of intellect, too. I lost a LOT of haste. It’s just … gone. My casts take FOREVER and they don’t hit for as hard! But… they shield for a chunk.
[21:57:59.760] Madrana Word of Glory [Tank] +*0* (O: 48629)
[21:58:00.353] [Tank] gains Illuminated Healing from Madrana (Remaining: 12936)
Like, whoah. That’s significant.
However, I have effectively gimped myself for anything other than tank healing. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, because that’s almost all I tend to do anyway, but I felt weak and I felt gimped. I didn’t have the mana pool I was used to, so Divine Plea helped, but still felt less than I’m used to. Replenishment wasn’t hitting for as much. I keenly felt the smaller mana pool and I knew that I was relying more on the raid healers to spot heal people that I would normally toss a Holy Shock on or whatever.
In short, it hurt me, but it’s effective enough and I’m in a 25-man guild that can sustain a “specialized” tank healer. As soon as I can, I’m probably going to go back to stacking haste — but might come back to mastery for certain heroic fights.
I tell you, though, I felt absolutely useless in P2 of Beth’tilac and throughout the entire Rhyolith fight.
So, basically, I concur with Enlynn: it’s not fun and it gimps you, but it can be super effective if done correctly.
I much prefer having the possibility of being flexible and versatile to the reality of not being able to really deviate at all from my standard assignments. But my gear is essentially making me do this for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how that goes, shall we?
Next up, Baleroc. Should be fun. I’ll keep you guys posted.
So apparently Saunder is back and wants to take the community’s pulse on healing, the way Miss Medicina did back in the day. I was delightfully surprised to see that Beruthiel tagged me, so I now have a reason to do it immediately rather than “when I have time”. (Which, let’s face it, is pretty rare.)
1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Madrana, Holy Paladin
2. What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) 25-man raids
3. What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why? My favourite healing spell… uh. Hm. I said Holy Shock, previously. I’m not sure if that’s true anymore. I don’t like how it is THE SPELL you now get and all the emphasis on it. It’s like, I really enjoyed it and now they’ve made it our CENTRAL SPELL. So now I don’t like it as much? I still LOVE Lay on Hands, though, even though it can’t crit anymore.
4. What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Probably a tie between Flash of Light and Light of Dawn. FoL is stupidly expensive and I never liked the idea of redirecting LoD’s heals to the beacon as a tank heal. If you want to heal the damn tank, heal the damn tank with your Holy Power. And they’ve made that not just possible but better with the buff to Word of Glory. That’s not to say I NEVER use LoD, but I don’t use it as a tank heal for the most part.
5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? I think our biggest strength is our cooldowns. While we no longer have Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian, we still have Hand of Sacrifice, Lay on Hands, Aura Mastery, Hand of Protection, Hand of Salvation, Hand of Freedom… We have a huge toolkit.
6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? I feel that they’ve diluted us rather than improved us, to be honest. In trying to allow everyone to “tank heal” and “raid heal”, we don’t really own the tank healing niche any longer, but there’s no way we can “compete” with resto druids or resto shaman or holy priests, if you look at it from a numbers perspective. I loved excelling at tank healing and now I feel clunky especially compared to a disc priest who leaves huge Divine Aegis’ on a tank after every crit.
7. In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Tank healing, or single-target healing. I think a good holy paladin can focus on the raid really well and be substantial support healing on a tank, too, but I don’t think most paladins can really do that regularly. I know I can’t.
8. What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Hm. If on a single target, I like a disc priest or a resto shaman. I like the disc’s mitigation, but I love the resto shaman’s mastery translating into bigger heals. If in a raid setting, probably druids or holy priests.
9. What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? I guess another holy paladin? Just because I’m aware of our limitations.
10. What is your worst habit as a healer? I know when I’m not playing to my fullest extent and it happens a lot. I think part of it is that I’m also trying to help lead the raids and watch things, call out for a BR, etc, but MAN, it sucks when I finish a fight (wipe or kill) and go “crap, I totally forgot to use (ability)!!”.
11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? People expecting me to heal them through their mistakes. Like, FFS, people. Get out of the bad crap on the ground. Also, people not using personal defensive CDs.
12. Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Nope. I think they really missed the boat on this one this time around. It wasn’t balanced at the class level in Wrath, but if you took a step back, all five healing specs worked really nicely with each other, at least towards the end. Now, though, a single holy paladin can’t really do the same healing as a resto druid, resto shaman or holy priest (which we couldn’t do before), but neither can we really compete with a disc priest on single-target heals OR raid heals. Well, there’s assignments and such to take into consideration and player skill as well, but I don’t raid heal because there are others better suited for it. And I don’t feel we’re particularly strong at tank healing any longer, particularly with the change to Beacon of Light between Wrath and Cataclysm. I think we should all answer this question in Tier 13/Tier 14 and see how things are then.
13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? Did my target live? Good. Then I berate myself while browsing through World of Logs looking at all the crap I didn’t do that I should have.
14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? I’m not sure. If it’s still prevalent out there, the idea that we’re a one-button healer? We haven’t been, not since Vanilla. And it’s pretty hard to change people’s minds on that, I’ve found.
15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? Cooldown usage. It’s one thing to know when to use Aura Mastery (fairly simple), but another thing to know how/when to BOP/HoFreedom your tank to remove stacks of a debuff, another thing to pair Hand of Sacrifice with Divine Protection, yet another thing to think to cast Salv on that arcane mage as soon as mirror images drop and yet another thing to toss Hand of Freedom on someone standing in ice.
16. 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)? Overhealing, leading to low healing output and a decent use of cooldowns — just never quite enough use of them. (Must judge more!)
17. Haste or Crit and why? Haste is my best friend. There’s so much of it needed, though, that after… 1859, I think it is, I don’t really worry too much. 1859 means an extra tick of Holy Radiance. That said, I’ll still seek out more haste gear (but not worry if I can’t get it) so that I can continue to lower my GCD. With so many instant-cast spells (Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn, Beacon of Light, all our cooldowns, etc), it’s important to bring that as close to 1s as possible, IMHO.
18. What healing class do you feel you understand least? Probably druids at this point? I’ve tinkered with my shaman alt (who can do heroics at 85), messed around a bit with my level 80 priest but haven’t touched my level 80 druid. At all.
19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? Grid/Clique. I think if I lost my Grid debuff settings, I would actually cry. Clique bindings are less panic-inducing if I think about losing them, but definitely Grid & Clique are the top addons I use to help me in healing. I use several macros as well, but most of them are just to get me to use various things more frequently.
20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? My stat priority is: Intellect, then spirit/haste (I like to be around 2300 spirit and about 1859 haste), followed by crit and then mastery.
Now, who to tag? Well, first of all, feel free to do it if you want to do it. I’d love to see some more healers out there answering this!
That said, Saunder’s instructions said to pick three healers not of your class, so…
I walked into Firelands on Tuesday, June 28th and proceeded to heal exactly as I usually do in a 25-man raid. In so doing, I discovered three things.
I was constantly out of mana.
Barring mana issues, I didn’t have much trouble solo-healing a tank on Shannox.
No, SERIOUSLY, I was really out of mana.
The thing was, I didn’t feel as though I was lacking mana, I just felt as though I wasn’t as efficient as I could have been. I felt as though I wasn’t using all the tools at my disposal.
Guess what? I wasn’t. Given the increase in the cost of our casted heals, given my overconfidence in not only my own abilities, but the level of content (hey, these are NORMALS!), I was playing poorly.
If you feel that you’re constantly out of mana too, are you sure that you were doing everything you could to maintain/regenerate mana?
Here’s what I am trying to do, and be aware of, to combat being out of mana, in a rough order of importance:
a) Judge more. Smart paladins will judge on cooldown. I got into the bad habit of not judging on cooldown. I was definitely judging more frequently than once a minute, since my Judgements of the Pure uptime was usually very good, but I freely admit that as soon as things get hairy, I stop judging as often as I should. So I walked back in there on Thursday and, while downing Shannox, proceeded to judge approximately four times as much as I did on our best attempt on Tuesday. And that was probably still half of what I COULD have judged. Granted, sometimes you just can’t use that GCD on a judgement, but every time you don’t judge, that’s 3513.1 mana you are losing out on. (Hilariously, when healing on my baby paladin, I judge ALL THE TIME because I know I’m not that well-geared and my mana regen is, how you say, “le crap“!)
b) Use Divine Plea more. On an 8 minute fight, I can reasonably expect to use Divine Plea three times (assuming I use it at the 1m mark or so, then again at 3m, 5m and 7m). I used it, uh, once on Tuesday. I used it twice on Thursday, so that’s an improvement, but not ideal.
c) Use the Jar of Ancient Remedies more. On our second-to-last heroic Maloriak kill, I picked up the Jar of Ancient Memories. So I’ve been playing around with it. While I don’t like not having the 321 intellect that the Darkmoon Card: Tsunami offers, I definitely get more spirit from the Jar versus the Card. My other trinket is too valuable for me to swap out at the moment, being the Vibrant Alchemist Stone. (The haste, the excellent amount of intellect and the 40% more mana from potions are all amazing.) So I ran with Jar + Stone on both Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday’s best attempt, I used it once. ONCE. Bad Kurn! No cookie! It has a 2m cooldown, so I really had zero excuses. On Thursday, I did better and used it four times in that 8m17s fight. Since it only gives back 7160 mana per use, it’s really easy to be missing that much (and more!) early in the fight to make sure you’re not losing out on mana back. Cast a Holy Radiance and a Divine Light or two and you’re down a chunk already.
d) Use Mythical Mana Potions or Potions of Concentration more. Well, by “more”, I mean once a fight. With my Vibrant Alchemist Stone equipped, I’m getting ~14k mana back from a Mythical Mana Potion and ~31k mana back from a Potion of Concentration. I took neither on Tuesday and then TRIED to take a Potion of Concentration on Thursday, but then Shannox dropped an Immolation Trap on my face and I had to move, thereby breaking the effect.
e) Use Word of Glory more. I’m a weird holy paladin. I strongly dislike using LoD on the raid to funnel heals to my beacon target. I MUCH prefer using Word of Glory. And it got buffed! And yet, I didn’t use it often enough either on Tuesday or Thursday. That means I’m not taking advantage of having full holy power and I really need to be aware of when I hit 3 HP and then USE it. (Because hey, I wasn’t using LoD either. Because I am apparently bad. /facepalm)
Basically, it’s all about using the tools available to us. That means regenerating mana (judging/Divine Plea/Jar/Potions) and making use of mana-efficient (or mana-free) spells are all important parts of our job, almost as important as healing. If we don’t do those things well enough, we run into trouble while healing and can’t continue healing for as long as we otherwise could.
(I didn’t even MENTION Angry!Man (er, Guardian of Ancient Kings), but don’t forget that he’s free healing, too, just on a longer cooldown.)