Topic A Guide to Healing at 85
Edited by Kaine on 12/3/10 1:30 AM (PST)
In less than a week we will all begin our journey to 85 and considering that healing is somewhat different in cataclysm instances from wrath, I would like to share my beta experiences with those who have not yet experienced healing at 85. I must preface this guide with the fact that I can only share my personal beta experience. Things may be different by the time you find yourself in your first 85 heroic, so take my advice with a grain of salt. Also, nothing blizzard does will prevent you from eventually outgearing dungeon content, however, we won't all have full epics the moment we hit 85, so be patient. Finally, if you have additional information from your own beta experience I welcome it.
I'm a doctor damn it, not a deity!
All healers have experience with wayward dps. They pull aggro, they ignore encounter mechanics, and when they die they blame you. Anyone in cataclysm who doesn't pay attention to their own survival will die, and unlike wrath, you (the healer) will be powerless to prevent their death. More shockingly (for many) this includes tanks. Particularly before you outgear an instance you will find that the damage a pack of trash can output will overwhelm your healing per second. It is the responsibility of the dps and the tank to mitigate the damage through crowd control, kiting, and cooldowns. If they are unable to perform their task, the group will wipe, and it will not be your fault.
A drop in the bucket.
Healthpools in cata have been increased dramatically. By the time you hit 5 man heroics your tank will be approaching 120k health and your non-tank's health will be creeping up on 90k. At the same time your largest 2.5 second heal will be striking (non-crit) for just above 20k. By the time you reach heroic raiding your tank will have a whopping 150 to 180k health with your largest heal only rising to 25k. In cata, healing someone to full takes time and effort, even if they are a dps. This is where the idea of triage that GC has talked about so much makes its appearance. Choose who you heal and how you do it wisely. If a dps is injured it is not necessarily a good idea to heal him. A majority of dps specs have self healing capability, often with a negligible dps trade off. Only save those you believe are in immediate danger of death. In fact [SPOILER ALERT] there is a 5 man boss and a raid boss in cata where your entire party will spend most of the fight at less than 25% health.
Putting the oom in boom.
In general (at least before raiding) you will run out of mana if you or your party make too many mistakes and you cast too many inefficient heals. Your mana pool is finite (likely near 80k when you first start heroics) and your fast heal will cost you somewhere around 6000 mana to cast. The choices you make while healing (including choosing what NOT to heal) will catch up to you if you aren't paying attention to efficiency. That slow efficient heal that was useless in wrath is going to play a much larger roll (at least until raiding) in cata. Luckily, unless someone makes a mistake, incoming damage is also much slower compared to health pool for both tanks and DPS.
The basics of the new trinity.
All healers have the three basic heals:
Efficient Heal: 2.5 second cast, lowest HPS, highest HPM**.
Big Heal: 2.5 second cast, medium HPS, medium HPM.
** - At higher gear levels the HPM of the efficient heal and the big heal for some classes get very close. This combined with the poor raid functionality of the efficient heal (for some healers) may make the efficient heal useless later on.
Simplified Usage Instructions (EDIT):
Efficient Heal: Use as often as you can get away with it. As content progresses you will use this heal less and less often (particularly once you hit raids).
Big Heal: Use this when your target is taking more damage than the efficient heal can manage but isn't in immediate danger. This should become your most cast heal of the trinity as content progresses.
Edited by Kaine on 12/1/10 10:49 PM (PST)
Mechanics, HOT off the press.
A serious consideration for all healers with HOTs (heal over time spells) is the new way haste interacts with HOTs in cata. Both hots and dots have been restructured from the ground up and have the following properties:
2) Haste reduces the time between ticks. The more haste you have the shorter the time between ticks becomes. Here's where it gets a bit tricky so I'm going to use an example. If you accumulate enough haste to reduce the full duration of rejuvenation so that an additional tick of the hot would not extend the total duration of the buff beyond 12 seconds, rejuvenation will start ticking five times instead of four times per cast (for the same mana). Therefore, the more haste you accumulate the more ticks you gain per cast. This means that haste increases the mana efficiency of hots as well as their output (unlike its effect on cast heals where it increases output but also increases mana consumption per second).
In general this new mechanic means that not only do hot oriented healers now benefit from haste, the stat has become superior for those healers than it is for non-hot oriented healers. In simpler language, holy priests, druids, and to some extent shaman freaking LOVE haste now.
What to wear
Lets get one thing straight, int is king in cata. No other single stat improves so much. Int increases a healer's throughput, longevity, crit, and mana regeneration. Now, how this will change as cata progresses I can't make any claims to know for certain but I would recommend in all cases the following:
No matter what kind of healer you are, if you have a choice, take int over all other stats, always.
This isn't to say that spirit isn't useful (it is, it's required you have some) but int is a *primary stat* in cata and spirit is a secondary stat. I'm not advocating taking dps gear, I'm simply saying that given a choice int almost always comes out on top. Int is a primary stat, spirit, haste, crit, and mastery are secondary stats. So now that you know we can get to the details:
WARNING: Too much haste with not enough spirit will result in a quick trip to OOMville (a suburb of wipetown). At early gear levels efficiency is more important than immediacy, by the time you enter raids this is less of an issue.
Edited by Kaine on 12/1/10 10:15 PM (PST)
Secondary Stats: Crit>mastery>haste
Notes: Divine Aegis stacks with itself but has a maximum cap of around two times the absorb of your PWS. Renew cast on targets affected by Divine Aegis can crit and refresh the buff.
First thing, stop PW:Sing everyone preemptively. PW:S has been redesigned to be less efficient and less effective overall particularly when used indiscriminately. Particularly at low gear levels never shield someone unless you know the shield will be broken, without Rapture shields waste mana. Second, your mastery relies heavily on Divine Aegis which relies heavily on critical heals. Unlike other healers your combination of penance and PW:S make haste less of a necessity. Instead, balance your crit and mastery until you get divine aegis to a place you like, haste is less important for you (but still very effective). Finally, after the grace buff to 24% discipline single target throughput is extremely high particularly when combined with archangel. Feel free to smite as much as you can get away with and be sure to penance any target you intend to single heal (even dps) to fully benefit from grace. Despite its poor state through most of beta, discipline ended as one of the stronger overall healers.
Secondary Stats: Haste>Mastery (ignore crit)
Notes: Highest HPS single target is Flash->Flash->Greater->flash->flash-Greater due to serendipity. Echo of light has a cap based on your spellpower and mastery. EDIT: Be aware that holy priests may still OOM a bit faster than other healers and too much haste will exacerbate this issue. (See Elbob's post below)
The Holy Priest mastery is deceptively powerful, think of it as ignite for healers (but doesn't require crits). Combined with Chakra a Heal spam atop a renew on a tank can build up a considerable throughput for very little mana even before you enter combat. As always holy shines as an aoe healer particularly with the addition of HW:Sanctuary combined with its base tool set. As holy, think ahead and choose your Chakra state carefully (particularly in raids) as it will define the roll you will fit best for the next 30 seconds. Also, don't hesitate to switch Chakras even if you have a significant remaining duration on your previous. Holy priests have the most complete toolkit of any healer possessing everything from a holy shock knockoff, to hots, to four types of aoe heals. Know your tools and plan ahead. Spirit works better for holy priests due to holy concentration, be aware that this makes holy priests more spirit reliant in early gear. Finally, crit has very little function for the holy priest, as long as your spellpower remains sufficient to keep you from topping out your echo of light, stack haste and mastery to the sky.
Edited by Kaine on 12/1/10 10:58 PM (PST)
Secondary Stats: Debatable, haste>crit, for mastery see bottom of Resto Shaman
Notes: For Tulleric Currents efficiency take convection over concussion with currently available gear at 85, as spell power increases the reverse will become true. Stacking Nature's Blessing, Unleashed Elements (Earthliving) with Elemental Weapons, and Focused insight can create some crazy big heals. Unleashed Elements (Earthliving) does not interact with chainheal nor the riptide hot. Healing rain procs earthliving.
To maximize the Shaman healer you will need to be aggressive, you cannot cleanse poison nor disease but you are the only healer that can interrupt, not taking advantage of that will weaken you. Stacking the effects of unleashed elements (earthliving) and focused insight can result in some impressively large heals (particularly on an earthshielded target) and if at any time you find yourself at loose ends use Telluric Currents to regenerate mana. Focused insight should not be part of a standard rotation as it is inefficient but it reduces the penalty of shocking as a healer (its buff is also rather short, pray someday it is attached to windshear). Finally, although it takes some finesse to pull off, the Shaman aoe HPS potential (particularly in raids) is pretty spectacular between healing stream totem, healing rain, earthliving, and chainheal. On the less impressive side I still feel that shamans lack a truly impressive healing cooldown.
EDIT Shaman Mastery (Deep Healing):
Mastery was buffed. It's now our best secondary stat behind haste. Long as target is below 80% it's better than crit, and below 43% it's better than haste for aoe heals. -Jynus
Shaman mastery is purpose dependent. There are fights where you will be casting on low health targets all the time and other fights where you will not. Outgearing content also devalues shaman mastery. In cata targets have larger health pools and will spend more time at less than 100% health. 80% health could be considered a pretty close to average health level, whereas 43% in most fights could be considered critical. As far as pure output the above numbers may be correct, but this mastery is extremely context dependent. Be aware of that.
Secondary Stats: Haste>Crit and Mastery (To a point)
Notes: Don't be an idiot, get Protector of the Innocent, Judgments of the Pure, at least 1 in Enlightened Judgments, Crusade, and Improved Judgment. Pop seal of insight and judge whenever its up for mana. Illuminated healing (your mastery bubble) does NOT stack. Infusion of light keeps holy light relevant.
Paladins have the hardest hitting and most expensive of the new trinity heals with the current heavyweight of mana cost (divine light) slipping in at 7011 mana. This is balanced by holy shock and word of glory which (even post holy shock nerf) are extremely efficient. What is most surprising is that holy paladins are truly incredible aoe healers in cata. Holy radiance in particular is extremely powerful (I would recommend using it as prot or ret as often as possible as well) combined with light of dawn and beacon of light a paladin can have a spike HPS almost double that attainable by any other healer (and many times more efficient). Beyond everything else Holy paladins have the best spike healing of all healers. In trade they lack any passive healing aside from holy radiance. If you're not casting you're not healing, just don't get caught by surprise. To close, although crit is still an important stat for paladins (conviction and infusion of light) you only need enough, don't overdo it. In the long run haste will provide more holy power (tower of radiance) and more throughput.
EDIT Sidenote: Illuminated healing does not stack (and may still overwrite stronger shields with weaker) and lasts only eight seconds. If you spam a single target with heals faster than your shield can be absorbed by damage you end up wasting your mastery. In addition, infusion of light combined with enough crit could potentially result in no need for haste rating but with rating degradation at 85 that level of crit will not be possible until very high gear. At some point paladins may stop focusing on haste and then turn solely on crit and mastery. But as a healer with no hots, paladins without enough haste (early on) to react to a situation may lose patients.
Edited by Kaine on 12/3/10 1:28 AM (PST)
Secondary Stats: Haste>Mastery>Crit
Notes: Druid mastery is extremely powerful but only when you can use it. Maximize its potential and it will serve you. Regrowth is a terrible heal, avoid it or OOM. Start every fight with lifebloom->rejuv->lifebloom->lifebloom on the tank. Take swift rejuvenation even if you think it sucks.
Second, rejuvenation at 85 is but a shadow of its former self. You are NOT going to be able to top people off by splatting a rejuv on them and calling it a day. Costing at around 4800 mana and healing significantly less (in early gear) than healing touch, rejuvenation can no longer do everything for you. Interestingly (due to druid mastery) you should almost always nail someone with this spell before you cast anything else on them.
Third, lifebloom is now the all powerful center of the druid healing toolkit. If lifebloom isn't up you are losing mana, keep at least one stack up at all times regardless of whether it is needed or not. Lifebloom is also your tank's lifeline, if you let it drop off for too long he's gonna die but also remember that intentionally letting lifebloom fall off can be an extremely efficient burst heal.
Fourth, although druid aoe healing is by far the most mana efficient (at least before rejuv spam) it is primarily automated and restricted by cooldowns. Once you've popped your efflorescence/wildgrowth you only have rejuv and cast heals left until wildgrowth comes back around.
Fifth, the secret to stating druids in cata is in the new way that hots perform. At around 13 to 14% total spell haste rejuvenation gains a tick increasing its efficiency by 25% in a single jump. Lifebloom as well gains new ticks at specific haste percents becoming significantly more powerful. Whenever possible, stack haste to these breakpoints (including raid buffs) to maximize efficiency.
Sixth, swiftmend pulls double duty in cata. You will find that you use it more often as an aoe heal than an emergency heal particularly in raids. Finally, druid throughput is definitely on par with other healers in cata, but their transfer to the new trinity has been a bit awkward. Be aware that you lack the burst healing potential that other healers take for granted. Regrowth in particular is a flat-out terrible heal, only use it if you have no other option or have OOC (it will often be your goto heal when OOC procs in fact). PS: Tree of life as a cooldown is incredibly powerful, don't underestimate it.
1) Holy Priest Notes "OOM and haste" (credit Elbob).
2) Added holy priest spirit reliance to holy priest.
3) Split up wall of text in Resto Druid (credit Allustrial).
4) Added WARNING to haste stat in "What to wear".
5) Added more on Paladins haste versus crit and mastery (credit Carbonic).
6) Added more detail on Resto Shaman mastery (credit Jynus).
7) Clarified Focus Insight as not efficient (credit Jynus).
8) Added Simplified Usage Instructions to the basics of the new trinity.
9) Added further Regrowth clarification because subtlety is overrated.
Archarus: Throughput is important in cataclysm and quite a bit of the time you will be chain casting. If you focus only on haste your heals will be smaller but they will also be faster. When spamming you will use more mana because you cast more often to have the same output.
Edited by Elbob on 12/1/10 11:16 AM (PST)
I approve of this post
I do feel you are doing some generalizations, priests for instance should not be prioritizing haste over mastery till well into raid content, haste adds to their mana consumption issue while having lots of mastery will help lighten the load by limiting the number of heals they have to cast while still increasing throughput.
Very nice and extensive comprehensive guide for Cata healing. No biased info. I really get the feeling you've tested all five specs through and through in Beta. Or at least talked a lot with people who did. I especially like the stat prioritization. Albeit generalizing a bit, the explanations that follow give a good insight as to what each stat brings.
Thank you for that. Well written and seems to be full of solid and helpful info.
I am handicapped from not being in the BETA, and if I did not still have hope this account would have been cancelled with my others. After a lot of reflection I am going to risk the money for one copy of the xpac this weekend, because perhaps there is hope that even in competitive raiding, at 85 holy priests will again be able to compete.
I did want to post to note a very well done guide that was particularly timely.
Question about the haste=OOM faster point for priests.
Let's say I'm casting a Flash Heal that heals for 5000 at a cost of 400 mana.
I cast it with no haste, 1.5 second cast, heals tank for 5000 and costs 400 mana.
I cast it with enough haste to make it a 1.1 second cast, heals tank for 5000 and costs 400 mana.
How does this make me OOM faster if I'm casting only the heals I need to? I understand if you're spam healing, you'll OOM faster, but you also did more effective healing faster.
I have only experienced healing at level 80 on my Paladin. Your guide for Holy paladins was right on the mark. Since I have learned to rely primarily on holy shock and holy light mixing in light of dawn and word of glory when I have three holy power. I'm glad they changed things before launch to give us time to recognize that manna is a limited resource that must be used wisely...Let's face it...It hasn't been a factor for a while.