Priest PvE Group Tactics

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PvE Group Tactics

"And then there's aggro to worry about." "What's 'aggro'?" "Well, it's complicated. But loosely translated, it means 'the priest dies.'"

You're a priest. You're almost always the healer. You have a strange, strange role in World of Warcraft; You are the glue that holds groups together. Adjust your conduct accordingly. Little else can ruin an otherwise good group as quickly or as sourly as a healer that isn't concentrating on the task at hand. By that, I mean you shouldn't just be what is affectionately referred to as 'heal-botting.' When you heal-bot, you function as little more than a script, pushing a button and following along. It's easy to get distracted.

There are three things you must do before starting any instance:

  • Get something to drink. Your mana will be going up and down like a roller-coaster.
  • Make sure your armor is repaired. You need max intellect/spirit for dungeon crawls.
  • Candles (for the end-game priest on the go). Not just for mood lighting anymore, if you want longer-duration group-castable buffs, you need candles.

Additionally, once you get to the instance, there are things any priest learns to do instinctively:

  • Know the party's roles. It will help you prioritize healing.
  • Know the party. No, not the touchy-feely kind of know the party. Know how long the average fight takes, and the intervals between them. Get inside the head of your puller and tank.
  • Know how effective your healing spells are.
Can't stress this enough. Even if you don't want to keep track of how much real HP is healed by your spells, you can gauge it all by the amount it fills that little green bar on the left side of the screen by their name. This is a qualitative, percentage-based business. You will find that the Druids' bear form takes flash heals like they aren't even there--they have a far higher maximum health, for example.
Downranking things like your greater heal works for mana conservation. Look into it.
  • Pre-heal. Your main tank might be fighting a boss that does big crits in quick succession. Starting a heal before the big hurt lands may be the difference. Additionally, a full health bar is a happy health bar. People are more confident when they know you're on top of things.

Remember that spells cast before the mobs are pulled do not count towards your threat tally. It is useful to cast a Renew on the main tank shortly before the pull to get a head start on healing. Be very careful about casting Power Word: Shield on a tank before the pull. Both Warriors and Druids depend on taking damage to generate Rage , and even Paladins regenerate mana from healing, not damage prevention or overhealing. Done at the pull, a tank can find himself alone, with mobs beating other players, and an empty Rage bar. Many good tanks will click off a shield before the pull for this reason. Talk to your warrior/druid before combat to see what they prefer. A mana-efficient alternative is to cast Renew on your main tank immediately before the fight. Power Word: Shield from a level 40 priest will protect a target from spell interruption and 381 damage at a cost of 250 mana with a 15 second cooldown. Renew from a level 40 priest will heal a target for 400 over 15 seconds, cost only 205 mana and has no cooldown. The 20% mana savings makes a significant difference in longer fights where the protected player doesn't need the benefit of the interruption protection of Power Word: Shield .

Do not feel it is necessary to assist in DPS.

The Assist button ('F' by default) is your friend. Click on your tank's character portrait and hit 'F' to target their target (or, better yet, if the group has a Main Assist, assist him instead). Lay a Shadow Word: Pain on it to help the tank kill the main mob as quickly as possible. And when you have the main mob targeted, use 'F' again to select its target, so you can pop a quick heal on the group member currently being attacked. You may have a useful racial you can use. For example, the Troll 'Hex of Weakness' is extremely useful for mobs that heal/get healed and ends up saving you mana in the long run by reducing the damage being dealt to the tank. However, unless you're Shadow-specced, your mana is more efficient at healing. Even the cooldown on wands can get in the way of an emergency heal, so your mileage may vary.

Prayer of Healing becomes a very nice spell to use when three or more people require a Flash Heal sized spell. Why three? The mana cost is equivalent to between two and three flash heals, so if you just need to heal two, then cast two Flash Heals. This can be useful when your group is being hit by AoE attacks. A good rule of thumb for when to use this spell is "do I have enough time to cast that many Flash Heals?" If you have enough time to do that, try it instead. A max-rank prayer costs in excess of a thousand mana.

Some priests use Fade as a kiting mechanism. In this scenario, heal the main tank from the maximum possible range. Eventually, a loose mob will break off and aggro on you. Wait until the mob is nearly at you, then pop Fade. Hopefully, the mob will travel back to the tank, buying you valuable seconds during which the mob wasn't hurting anyone. Downsides include the possibility that the Fade won't drop enough aggro to lose the mob, the chance that as you juggle it the mob aggros onto a third party, and the risk that if you are attacked then you're at risk of not just dying, but wiping the group. Most importantly, using Fade this way means that the power is on cooldown when you need it for normal survival. This tactic requires a group that is prepared for it and is short of less risky forms of crowd control.

Remember to keep your mana up. If the party pulls when you are OOM, then you will likely wipe. If you happen to be a Night Elf priest, this is an excellent time to shadowmeld , if you can. Be sure to say "drinking" or "oom" when you are out of mana, but also try to shape your healing style and gear to ensure that your downtime is minimized.

If you choose to remain shadow at level 70 and want to raid, select talents to reduce your threat. If you choose to play more PVP than raiding, do not spend points on reducing threat. Instead select talents to increase chance to crit.


The Right Way To Heal----

There are two most effective ways of healing that I have found: (1) Duration (2) Burst

  1. Duration: With this style, you are claiming that your most focused attribute is intellect, and that your mana is meant to be used for the whole fight. If you are set up like this, use your mana wisely and make every point count. In short, the method of this is to expend your mana to do all you need to through one fight
  2. Burst: With this style, you are claiming that your most focused attributes are spirit and mana regeneration. They may not be your highest attributes, but you still focus on them a lot. If you lean toward this style, you have to see how the fight is taking place and how your party's health depletes. When you feel that it is a good moment, use all the mana that is required to heal the party, as well as using spells to keep them healthy longer (Shield, Renew, Lightwell, etc.). The idea is that you use your mana in short bursts, then give yourself time to regenerate in between healing periods.

Duration is effective because you always know exactly how much mana is available and how long it will last. It is ineffective because when you DO run oom (out of mana), you may be unable to help for the rest of the fight.

Burst is effective because when you can slip in the full mana regen charge (or just the mana while casting), you recover more, making your mana last longer than your full mana amount. It is ineffective because you can't always have a break from healing, so you may not be able to take time to regenerate.

One thing to remember while healing is that Priests depend quite a bit on mana regenerated outside of the Five Second Rule . One of the best ways to regenerate mana as a priest is to have a trinket which temporariliy increases your spirit, such as Earring of Soulful Meditation or Bangle of Endless Blessings , and wait for the Clearcasting proc. When the proc occurs, use the trinket to boost your spirit, and feel free to cast a heal spell. Because the spell does not cost mana, you stay outside of the Five Second Rule. Using Inner Focus after this is a great way to continue your mana regeneration as the same rules apply. Using this tactic, a massive amount of mana can be regained in a short period of time. This is especially useful in 25-Man Raid Healing.

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