Learning the right way

90 Blood Elf Priest
Hello everyone, I'm very sorry if this has been asked a whole bunch or if it seems like a stupid question, but I think I really need some help.

I usually play a blood death knight tank, and I've done it for a very long time. It is pretty easy, I just tab and spam death strike and blood boil basically, doing other things here or there. For the most part I barely even have to look at my bars, only my runes really and that's only once in a while.

Anyway, I wanted to try healing on my priest but I'm having a really hard time. I went and got a UI overhaul and adjusted it for hours, and that made things a lot easier, and got some mouseover macros for pretty much every ability I need (I'm disc), and basically I just mouseover and heal people during fights.

Sorry I'm making this so drawn out, but my problem is that I feel like I have to sit there and stare at health bars, and if I don't I risk someone getting burst damaged and dying. But when I sit there and stare at health bars I miss important boss signals, or don't dispell things that I should dispell.

I really want to heal in PvP once I hit 90, but I feel like I don't understand how I'm supposed to play not just as a disc priest, but how exactly healers play in general. I always feel...like I'm confused about what I'm supposed to be doing/what I'm supposed to be looking for.

I'm very sorry for making this post so long, but I thought maybe a seasoned healer could give me some advice? Sorry if this is a dumb question, I just really can't think of what else to do.
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90 Draenei Shaman
***PvE perspective***

Yep, you have to babysit health bars. Keep an eye on your PW:S targets' health bars to notice when the shield has been consumed/has expired, leaving the player vulnerable damage. Watch the Weakened Soul icon on your PW:S targets' health bars to know when you can re-apply PW:S, as warranted. You have to keep track of where your PoM is sitting (and any other priest's PoM because if you cast yours on someone who has another priest's PoM, the other priest's PoM vanishes), to know how many charges it has left, so you're re-applying it appropriately.

But yep, you also have to keep an eye on the DBM timers & warnings, especially as a Disc priest, since your focus is on not allowing the health bars to drain in the first place, by judicious application of PW:S and SS.

Once you hit end-game healing, I recommend opening the DBM config to adjust the warnings & timers to show only what you want them to show. I mean, you could do that now too, except that you're still ripping through content with new 5mans appearing on a lvl-by-lvl basis, and I'd presume it'd seem like an awful lot of work. It's definitely worth it for raiding Disc priests, though.

You mention that you've done a bunch of UI work, so perhaps you've already covered the following points. I'll list them anyway, in case there's something you hadn't thought of which seems like it could help.

1) Raid Frames

Get used to setting your raid frames on the small size (while still being able to make out the buff/debuff icons which appear on them, of course). It's not of as much importance while you're only doing 5mans, but you really *do* want to be able to see as much of the screen as you possibly can for raid awareness. Also, raid frames can get in the way of trying to place PW:B (or any other spell placed with a reticule).

Consider placing your raid frames directly under your toon's feet, if you don't already have them there. While they're more in the way of reticule-placement there, that's far less of a problem then having them "nicely tucked away" at the far edge of your screen, where you sometimes have to scramble to get your mouse over to them in the middle of ongoing mid-fight chaos. Additionally, placing raid frames under your feet allows you to more easily monitor health bars, your ability cooldowns, *and* whether you're standing in fire... all at the same time.

If you haven't already, consider going into your raid frame config to select the "only show dispellable debuffs" option. It doesn't make a huge difference on many fights, but it can really help on some fights.

2) DBM

Once you have your raid frame position decided upon, go into the DBM config again and play around with where you want those impending timers to show up. The default positioning might not be what you want.

3) Atonement macros

#showtooltip Holy Fire
/use [@targettarget, harm] [] Holy Fire

... make another one for Smite (substituting "Smite" wherever you have "Holy Fire" in the first macro, of course).

I only have a very basic understanding of macro creation, so I can't advise how to set that up as a mouseover macro, though I'm certain it's possible. If no one else responds about that here, set up another thread to ask that question specifically... or head over to the battlenet macro & UI forum.

... if you haven't worked with macros much yet, the explanation of what this macro does is:

- if you have a hostile target, it will cast Holy Fire.

- if you have a friendly target, it will cast Holy Fire on that player's hostile target.

... you run into a few situations now and then where your friendly target doesn't have a hostile target targeted (ie... you have a healer targeted, so their target isn't hostile... or you have someone targeted who doesn't currently have anything targeted) so it's good to have the macro have the functionality of using Holy Fire "normally" on a hostile target.

4) Cooldowns.

Always find excuses to blow your cooldowns, even if the run is going smoothly. If you don't always make a habit of looking for situations to use them (even if only for fun!) you won't remember to use them when you need them (you'll just try to heal harder, and it won't be enough). Practice never letting your stacks of Evangelism drop (hint: Holy Fire on cooldown is excellent Disc practice). Practice popping Archangel now and then. Definitely drop PW:B. Delight in Spirit Shell keeping health bars at 100% through AoE damage (this also keeps you in the practice of choosing good PoH targets... a good PoH target is someone who is within 40 yards of everyone else in their party... don't choose the mage standing way off to the right as the target to center your PoH on). And *definitely* pop Pain Suppression.

But yeah, it's just practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice. Especially if you've been playing one role for quite a while, healing will seem very alien.
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90 Human Priest
You also might want to consider starting up a new baby priest rather than making the switch at level 86 plus, at least until you get comfortable with the basic mechanics of the class and healing toolkit. Start doing BGs at level 10 to get the hang of it. At level 90 you really need to be on your game since many players will be rocking full pvp sets - you should at least buy the crafted gear once you hit 90.
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90 Pandaren Monk
Move your important UI elements to the bottom and center of your screen. The idea is to minimize the amount of movement your eyes need to do to collect info, and maximize your use of peripheral vision. Make sure your UI is only giving the information that you *really need*. A lot of addons simply overwhelm you with information - you need to turn some of that off (but not all of it, obviously).

Start off by healing random BGs. That really helps with your reaction time and awareness. Try to survive as long as possible while tanking a DPS instead of just running.

Other than that, its just practice.
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90 Blood Elf Paladin
Like a few people suggested before me, roll a baby priest. Use it to get a handle for the basics, since the early dungeons are *really* easy and the BGs aren't too threatening (in fact really easy for a low Disc priest). Play it up until maybe around 70-80, or until you have learned all your core healing spells. Then make the jump to your 86 and pick up where you left off.

Also, take a look at some Priest-centered Addons. Aside from DBM, there are plenty of others you can use that help notify you of something important such as if a boss is about to cast a debuff that you need to make sure you can dispel or if your stacks of Evangelism is about to wear off.

As far as general healing goes, your main priority is to make sure no one is going to die. PW: Shield is great since you can "set it and forget it (at least until it drops)." You'll also want to keep an idea of "how low is too low" and "what spell to use in what occasion." Even though the idea of "triage healing" is a bit outdated, I like to keep the core ideas:

- Health > 85%? Just a heal.
- Health > 70%? Use a greater heal.
- 2 People taking moderate damage? PW: Shield one to prevent more damage and focus on the other until at a comfortable level.
- Lots of AoE damage? Prayer of Mending, followed by an AoE heal.
... then alter the different combinations as it fits your play style.

Most importantly, don't forget your nifty cooldowns. Pre-90, you have access to the Power Infusion talent which is a wonderful throughput CD, especially with your Spirit Shell (which is on a one minute CD!). If you know people are going to be stacked and a lot of damage is going to happen, drop a PW: Barrier. Void Shift is very helpful as a last save kind of tool, too.

Finally, you have to be comfortable with your own healing. Don't get too scared when you see half the group at less than 60% health -- you have things that can fix that, I promise. I don't freak out until I see someone at 30%, honestly. And sometimes I even wait until they're at 10% to pop a Lay on Hands or something so I can get some free mana (my raid group hates it sometimes, but I love it when they yell "GOD DAMNIT UNICORN WHY WHY WHYYY" over TeamSpeak). You're a stronger healer than you might think you are. Of course, having teammates who know not to stand in bad stuff also helps.
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90 Blood Elf Priest
Thank you all so very much for going into so much depth. I really, really REALLY don't want to level a new character just to practice on my older one, but I'll give it a shot for the next few days if it will help.

It's all so overwhelming, I think I'll stop playing my other characters so that I don't forget lessons I've learned on my priest for the time being.
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90 Night Elf Druid
If you're not looking to roll a new healer (which it's not like you'd have to level them that far) to practice, practice in bgs. Places like AV where there are a lot of people to heal will be good practice, plus you don't have to worry too much about people QQing in instance chat about healing (generally). Or try running with friends or guildmates to take some of the pressure off in dungeons or even in the smaller bgs.

You just sorta get used to it over time :) I was overwhelmed at first when I began healing for the first time in Wrath and I started at 80 (since dual speccing came out), and spent a lot of the time like this O_O while healing. You just have to get used to moving your eyes across the screen and responding to boss mechanics. You're also disc so you can atonement heal during dungeons (although I don't recommend renew noticed it as one of your gyphs, not sure how affective it is at your level but it's rarely used at 90). You don't have to stare at the frames the whole time.

Could also post a screenshot of your ui since you adjusted it, maybe people can offer tips on it :D
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90 Draenei Priest
and in case it hasn't been mentioned

change the setting in DBM so your timers don't move and cover up the raid frames you just moved below your feet
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85 Goblin Priest
Like a few pointed our above I would recommend leveling a baby priest. You dont have to level too high but a few dozen levels running dungeons and bgs would certainly help you understand your core abilities. Every time i start playing a new role+class combination i start at the very bottom.
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Don't be too hard on yourself when you're learning a new role in the game. You will get better with practice for sure; you'll start recognizing real emergencies vs. regular incoming damage; you'll see damage patterns emerge in a fight and be prepared to handle them; you'll start appreciating very good players who minimize the damage they receive.

Maintaining awareness while healing is a learned art. Set your UI to be rock solid in terms of raid frame placement so you KNOW where your frames are and don't really have to look at them to find them with your pointer. This really helps you learn muscle memory healing; mouse over your target, and after you cast the heal you need, you can return your view to the encounter.

You don't need to be staring at the health bars the entire time, but don't beat yourself up if you get tunnel vision every now and again, it happens to every healer, especially when things start going bad in a fight and you're working your butt off to keep your group alive. If you're having trouble with not standing in fire yourself, you may try an addon like GTFO to help out; personally I don't use those because I really like to stay in the habit of keeping my awareness on the encounter itself.
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90 Tauren Druid
Some long posts in here, which I didn't read, so hopefully I'm not being too redundant.

Practice, practice, practice. It has taken me years of healing, researching, tweaking my UI and watching other healers' videos to figure out what my priorities are - and I still change things up every few weeks. Healing is a matter of processing and handling the constant feed of information, improving twitch reaction times, making snap decisions, weighing spell costs and health values. You need to know who has aggro, who has a debuff, which debuff takes dispel priority, who is taking the most damage, the next incoming mechanic, your raid positioning, etc. I like to keep DBM timers right on top of my Raid Frames, and both directly underneath my toon's feet. Limit the unnecessary information if hinders rather than helps.

Practice and tweak. De-clutter when possible. Look around for UI ideas that will cause you to make changes that work best for you.

Keep practicing, try not to allow yourself to get frustrated, enjoy the zen of personal skill development, and look for a challenge. The more you challenge yourself, the faster you improve. Think critically about your successes and failures (think SC2 professionals who have analyzed countless hours of replays).

Good luck, Disc is fun!
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90 Blood Elf Priest
Well I'm so dumb, a part of my problem is that when I was doing my new UI I forgot to re-install DBM!

I'm actually using shestak UI, because I'm not really all that smart, so I can't really make my own UI. But this one seemed pretty useful, but I had to spend something like 3 hours adjusting it to make things bigger. The party frames and raid frames appear in the center of the screen near the bottom, which is great because I don't have to look for them. The only thing I don't like is that there's so symbols on the frames for tanks/healers so I have to actually look to see who they are, so I might just abandon that part and get something that does show that.

You all are so helpful, thank you so so very much!
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100 Tauren Druid
Making the switch from tanking to healing has been a fun adjustment for me. Raid tanked on a warrior in TBC, Wrath and Cata.

At least in PVE, once you get some practice in, you'll feel less and less like you have to babysit the health bars. You'll get a feeling for the rythym of incoming damage, and learn to proactively heal, rather than watching a bar dip, healing, watching it dip again, healing, and so on.
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99 Troll Shaman
If you don't spend a lot of time looking at health bars, something is wrong. I actually find it much easier to have situational awareness while healing than DPS, as I am about as bad at tunnel visioning my rotation as anybody. Same goes with Tanking.

I find that while healing, the heals with cast times give you enough of a chance to glance on the screen to see what's going on.

I don't know that I can really explain in words how I personally pull off situational awareness and proper healing output, it's really just something you get used to I guess.

I really want to heal in PvP once I hit 90, but I feel like I don't understand how I'm supposed to play not just as a disc priest, but how exactly healers play in general. I always feel...like I'm confused about what I'm supposed to be doing/what I'm supposed to be looking for.

I don't PvP, but my understanding is there is a lot more to do in regards to various CC abilities you would never or rarely use in PvE, and you obviously would want to make yourself a more difficult target for enemies. For raiding, it's just kind of: stand in the right spot and heal. Make sure you don't stack your cooldowns with every other healer in the raid, communication is key. Be efficient with Mana, but if you ever in doubt, use Flash of Light or whatever it is you Priests use as the emergency heal, as this is a preferable mana loss to a death.

Basically just play. And criticize yourself. After a Raid or BG, see where you could have done better. Read articles online, there are amazing guides. My favorites are Icyveins and ElisistJerks.
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100 Blood Elf Priest
Lots of good suggestions here. I will only add that it is normal to feel a bit overwhelmed when you first start healing because yes, you do have to babysit health frames, and yes, you do still have to be aware of mechanics around you. It will be a new experience for you and it will take some getting used to.

That being said! It will get easier. Over time as you become more familiar with damage patterns and your healing rythm, focusing on these things will become second nature. Just keep practicing!
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