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The Priest in Instances
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As a Healer
- You will generally be expected to be the primary healer. See above in the Healers section for more information.
- In a five-man instance, when all is well, you should generally use Greater Heal for efficiency on the tank and Flash Heal on any other players who are being hurt. Use Renew on hurt players as well, it is nice as it creates healing aggro against you slowly thus allowing the tank to build up aggro at the same time.
- When all is not well and the group needs significant healing during a fight, switch to using Power Word: Shield, Flash Heal and Renew.
- Fade when you get aggro. If you have monsters on you and you can't Fade or it didn't work, inform your group immediately so they can help you. Usually you will want to use fade as the monster is about to reach you, so it will be out of the fight longer as it will take all the time running to you, just to run back again.
- Pre-battle, a Priest should make sure that everyone in the group has Fortitude, and if your talents give you that ability, Divine Spirit. Unfortunately, casting this tends to completely deplete your mana. Make sure other players allow you some downtime after you rebuff. Using Inner Focus followed by Prayer of Fortitude is a good way to conserve mana when buffing.
Some important things that you shouldn't do:-
- Unless people are doing something that is genuinely damaging to the progress of the group, don't threaten to cease healing them just because they're doing or saying something you don't like. People aren't there purely to conform to your expectations; they're there to also enjoy themselves.
- If an inexperienced player rolls Need on an item you want incorrectly, but it is bind on equip and they give the item to you, accept that graciously on the first and possibly even the second time they do it.
- Don't whine about potential players being too low level for the instance in question, if you don't concretely know that they are too low. (Even then, you most likely still shouldn't)
- Don't DPS at all, and don't complain about not being able to DPS either. As a Priest, you're there to heal, unless you are shadow specced and there is another class able to heal. If attacking is something you want to do, create a character in a DPS class and play that instead, or respec shadow and find someone else to heal.
- That said, some Priests who spec for healing will put 5 points into Spirit Tap. For this Talent to work, the Priest needs to deal the killng blow on a mob; if they try to DPS when the mob is almost dead, it is most likely to get the Spirit Tap buff so that they can regenerate their mana faster. If they start attacking when the mob is almost dead, let it go.
- Don't use Psychic Scream except in very specific circumstances. See the "additional notes" below.
- Don't hold illusions about your class being more important than it genuinely is. Yes, it is valuable...but so are the others. In addition, the Shaman, Paladin, and Druid are now all entirely viable options for healing. You are not irreplaceable.
A note on power word shield
Ideally, if you're going to shield someone, it should be pre-combat, which gains no aggro. The only other use for shield in a battle is as a "don't die" button. Shield is very mana-inefficient compared to Renew, Flash Heal and Greater Heal. The first mistake a new priest makes is shielding the puller just after he has pulled. Although shield is threat-efficient, it happens all at once upfront, and you will see the mob run at you every time you do that. On the other hand, shielding a character who is dying because they've unloaded a massive amount of damage will rarely make you a target.
This must be said: if you find yourself using Shield a lot during a battle, it's a sign that one of the following things are wrong:
- You're not paying enough attention to your Heals.
- Your Tank isn't holding Aggro.
- Someone in your group is pulling Adds when they shouldn't.
The people who will typically need Shielding are Mages and other low-armor Nukers who have temporarily gained Aggro. Watch the life bars of your Mages in particular, as one large Nuke can gain them a lot of unwanted attention from mobs.
Try to avoid shielding warriors/feral druids unless they are in the "don't die" position, as they cannot generate rage while shielded. Paladins also gain mana from heals and not from shields, so healing is better for them also.
Although shielding is much less mana efficient than any other heal there are situations where shielding is more mana efficient. Particularly in higher level instances many mobs and certain bosses cast a curse such as Veil of Shadow on party members. Without a mage or druid removing the curses any heals given to that party member will be reduced by 75%, This will turn a flash heal which normally heals around 1,000 hp down to 250 hp healed. You will run out of mana very quickly trying to keep everyone alive. A good counter is to shield anyone taking damage. Your shields will allow people to stay alive longer and on less mana, as your shield is a buff and is unaffected by curses.
Working with a Priest
- See the Healers section for more information. You need to keep aggro off the Priest and stay within range and line of sight.
- A priest cannot focus on healing the group if he is spending time healing himself.
- Hunters especially need to watch their threat. All too often they take a bunch of damage, a priest will heal, the hunter feigns death and sends the mob(s) running straight for the priest.
- Take care of your Priest. Primary healing is an important and sometimes thankless job, and they also tend to enjoy some extra attention. Specifically:-
- Assign one of the DPS classes to keep an eye on the Priest and alert the tank if the Priest gets aggro. If the class is a Hunter, this can work very well because they can use their pet's Growl to pull the mob away from the Priest.
- If you don't have a Mage in group, and you're a caster yourself, try to carry some extra drinks in case the Priest is out. They'll appreciate it, and you'll also get healed more effectively because they can regain mana faster.
- Make sure the Priest has ample opportunity to check items being rolled for to see if they need it, and allow them to roll Need for it if appropriate. Given that a Priest typically engages in no combat in an instance whatsoever, getting items thus becomes one of their strongest incentives for being there at all, and they can have a tendency to hearth out unexpectedly if other people roll Need on items they want, especially if the item in question is bind on pickup.
- Many Priests are now Shadow spec. These Priests are capable of DPS near or equal to other casters, and while doing so restore large amounts of health (above lvl 30) and mana (above lvl 50) to the group. If the groups have other classes that are specialised for healing and are capable of it, it can thus be highly beneficial to a group to allow the Priest to engage in DPS combat, rather than forcing them to heal. While they are still perfectly capable of healing, they are less efficient and therefore take longer to clear an instance with. They also usually are fairly grumpy about being forced to heal, and thus less likely to put up with any problems.
- If as a group leader, you find a Priest who is Shadow spec and you still have another group slot free, accept them. If you accompany them with a Holy Priest as the main healer, you will find the degree of synergy from the Holy tree's spot healing, when combined with a passive overlay of Vampiric Embrace, to enormously strengthen your group and improve its' chances of success. In addition, Vampiric Touch is wonderful as a passive mana boost to other casters, including Hunters.
- Also note that a shadow priest using Vampiric Embrace will generate a lot of aggro, from both the damage and healing.