Priest Efficiency vs Overall Success

There appear to be two schools of thought when it comes to Priests and raiding.

Old School: Mana efficiency, conservation, rhythms.
New School: Doing whatever it takes to keep the damn tank alive even if it means going OOM (Out of mana).

Back during the Pre-BC raids where there 40 people (25 skilled players and 15 afk players), Priests could get away with following the five second rule. With the decrease in raid sizes, I’m going to make the ultimate no duh statement and say that each player has a far greater and more noticeable impact then before.

A lot of Priests seem to discourage the use of Power Word Shield until they absolutely need to citing that it takes up far too much mana for a not-so-great return. I am one of the few priests who did not spec reduced threat (Silent Resolve) or Martyrdom. I placed my 2nd tier points into Improved Fortitude and Improve Shields. Shields are improved by 15% along with an additional 20% of your +healing attached to it. I will explain my thoughts on Silent Resolve in one of my Priest sections later on.

The damage prevention to mana cost ratio sucks: True.
This leads to an impracticality of spamming Power Word Shield: True.

But listen to my next point. Even though the damage prevention scaling is not the greatest, it is important to remember that as your gear is getting better, your mana regeneration increases. You’re gaining more mana back and you can afford to cast it more often. You don’t need to spam it every time the Weakened Soul debuff is active on the tank. But you can spam it on other members of the raid who need it. Good priests don’t have tunnel vision. Even if you cannot afford to expend the time or the mana to heal another raid member, you can blow a global cooldown and shield him and let another healer do it for you while you return to your healing assignment on the main tank.

I can understand in parties why you would be hesitant to do something like that unless it was a dire emergency. But raiding is not quite the same as partying and some players have difficulty grasping that. You have access to a lot more utilities with 25 players then you would with only 5.

Ways to regenerate your mana:

By yourself
Super Mana Potions
Food: Blackened Sporefish
Flasks: Mighty Restoration, Shattrath Flask of Restoration, or Unstable Flasks of the Physician (Gruul’s Lair only)
Oils: Superior Mana Oil, Brilliant Mana Oil (If you have the time to grab Large Brilliant Shards)
Elixirs: Major Mageblood and another elixir combination of your choice

By others
Shadow Priest: Vampiric Touch
Druids: Innervate
Shamans: Mana Spring Totem, Mana Tide Totem
Paladins: Blessing of Wisdom, Judgment of Wisdom
Other: Spellsurge Enchants

With all of those effects, there is a lot of mana being returned and Priests can last for a long time.

The stinginess amazes me. I’ve witnessed tanks or other important impact players go down because a priest wanted to let their heal cast finish. If your tank absorbs a huge hit which drops them from 100% to 15%, you better take a step forward and backward to cancel your heal and light up your Power Word Shield, Renew, and Prayer of Mending. Otherwise, that extra half a second that you wait to let your heal finish could mean the end of your raid. Don’t even think about it. Just react! It’s okay. I don’t think I’ve ever met a raid leader who would get pissed off at a Priest for allowing the tank to live. So what if he’s inefficient? So what if he doesn’t end up with full mana? What kind of Priest ends up with full mana at the end of a raid? A lazy one, that’s who. I would take an alive tank paired with an “oom” Priest over a dead tank and a topped off Priest any day.

This has been one of the few things that have constantly frustrated me. When I raid with another holy priest in Karazhan and we have separate healing assignments and his assignment dies, I ask him: Did you shield him?

His response: No, I don’t like PW:S. It’s inefficient.

Who cares if it’s inefficient? The end result justifies the means.

I remember during Blackwing Lair on the insane 30 minute Chromagus fights, Priests would take turn taking breaks from healing to spirit their way back to full mana. I consistently blew Major Mana Potions, Dark Runes, and Tubers to prevent players from collapsing. I don’t think many new players know what they were, but they’re just consumables which returned mana on different cooldown timers.

If you need to Shield spam your tank, then Shield spam your tank.
If you need to max rank Flash Heal spam your tank, then you do it.
If you need to pull aggro on other ads to keep your tank alive, then macro an unequip on your weapons and bite the bullet.
If you need to heal without mana, keep a stack of bandages handy (No joke, I’ve healed ranged DPS with bandages but it paid off with the guild first boss kill).

At the end of the day, if one person in your raid is left standing and that big bad beast of a boss is not moving, then you can relax knowing that you have succeeded. No matter what happens, your duty as a Holy Priest is to the health of your raid and your tanks. Everything else is secondary only to that primary goal.

Hydross of SSC has an approximately 9-10 minute enraged timer in which he goes berserk and starts going all Tie Domi on the raid. Innervate has a 6 minute cooldown. I know that I am able to last for a long time without an innervate until the 8-9 minute marks. I made a deal with my druid where I would blow as much mana as I could within the first minute or so of the fight. My 600 damage smites or 800 damage mind blasts aren’t going to pull aggro off our tanks. If they are, something is definitely wrong with the tanks and I should just gquit. After I finish spamming Shields, Smites, Renews, or whatever will get me down to about 60% mana, I whisper him to light up his innervate on me. Voila, I’m back to full mana, Hydross is down to 80% instead of 83% and I’m back to heal mode.

Be creative, guys. Think of ways you can help the raid even when there’s nobody to heal. Improvise and think on your feet. I will stress this one more time, do what you need to do to win (short of cheating or exploiting… those are big no no’s).

15 thoughts on “Priest Efficiency vs Overall Success”

  1. Spot on! Depends on the tank that I’m healing, I will try not to shield them unless it is necessary. However, I like to shield others when they are flashing red. Shield first and then GH/FH, renewal if possible.

    I hate it when I still have mana and my tank dies. However, I can live with meself if other dies. Just not my tank.

  2. I love this post. I never raided as a healer “old school”. I always felt guilty as I was leveling up when i HAD to use our “mana inefficient” heals.

    I think Blizzard has done an outstanding job giving us a tool for every situation, and I try to use them all as often as they are useful.

    I was a bit confused about some of the Power Word: Shield advice.

    I do not hesitate to use PW:S whenever it is needed. On Illhoof (back when we used to do Illhoof a lot) it is teh awesome. I am finding many uses for it on Al’ar.

    HOWEVER, my biggest concern with using PW:S is that it procs the GCD. Not only am I dropping a huge ton of mana on what is, essentially, frontloaded healing , I’m preventing myself from casting anything else for the next 1.5 seconds. Honestly, PW:S’s heal per second is quite weak compared this way to flash heal – which has the same 1.5 seconds of grief, but grants a much larger chunk of heals.

    So honestly…. WHY would you PW:S over Flash Heal?

    A.) The target has less than 1.5 seconds to live
    B.) You have to get the hell out of the fire/voidzone/pileofmurlocs you are standing in, and they need a heal NOW.
    C.) The target is taking lots of splash damage and their casts are too important to get interrupted (TK trash, Illhoof)
    D.) The target is ABOUT to take a bunch of damage (as in, half their health bar or more), you have to go over here and flash heal Mage Number 5, and you will get back to them one that saw blade starts ticking (you just saved yourself some time there).

    That’s about it. Granted, bad things happen, you cannot predict every little chaotic factor in a raid. But if you get to the point in which you have to spend every 1.5 seconds putting a shield on your tank for fear they will die, I would ask: How did you get there?!

    If you have to throw a shield on someone to keep them alive DO IT, I agree. But advising people to “spam” it just made me /boggle.

  3. I hate to argue but I agree with Bruthah that the 1.5 sec cooldown makes PW:S a fairly poor choice. I would rather use my GCD on a prayer of mending or max rank flash heal either of which would provide more benefit to the tank.

  4. Prayer of Mending is usually on cooldown for me. So my next option is PW:S. Granted, it may not be for everyone, but I do what’s needed.

    If you HAVE to spam it in order to play catch up during an intense part of a fight (such as Leo’s whirlwinds), then do it. If you don’t have to spam, it then don’t spam it. I don’t think I said that you have to spam it the whole time. But I frequently shield DPS who took a big hit and I let another healer take care of them while I revert back to the tank.

  5. The problem with putting Prayer of Mending on a tank is that for it to heal him, he has to take another hit. If he’s got 3k health and he takes a 4k hit, he’ll die before the heal goes off. Now if you use a PWS on him, he’ll absorb 1.2k or whatever of it and still live. It seems small, but shield allows you to then use a heal instead of POM. I like to PWS, Flash Heal/POM in that order, so that he gets a shield, and then a boost of health, with more coming when he gets hit next.

  6. Well, I’m not a Priest, I’m a Restoration Druid. I have to say I’ve always been a little envious of he priests’ “oh ^&*%!” buttons. I have a couple myself, sure, and they’re alright, but the ability of the priest to preempt a bad situation for other players (and themselves) is something I can’t match. Even if I anticipate an overeager DPSer snatching aggro from the tank, my responses are very limited: HoTs or more HoTs. If I see a mob making a beeline for me after I drop an early heal, my only hope is that the tank has also seen the mob and is going to use 1 of THEIR “oh ^&*%!” buttons to keep me alive. I don’t know how many times I might have been able to save a party or raid member if I had PW:S, or some equivalent, to throw. Instead, they died, because NS was on cooldown, and Swiftmend is effectively 2 gcd on anyone but the tank, OR they took more damage than they had hp. PW:S takes up 1 gcd. As a healer that lives and dies by their ability to manipulate the GCD against a fixed timetable, I know the cost of that time all too well, and a properly timed PW:S is well worth the cost. In terms of mana efficiency, there is probably nothing more inefficient than popping NS, leaving Tree of Life, hitting a max rank Healing Touch, and returning to Tree of Life. All in all, that is probably around 1500 mana expended (not to mention I’ve probably lost my Lifebloom stack on the tank)for an instant 5kish heal, and I do it without a second thought if I believe its needed. So, yeah, do what you have to for the group to succeed. I’d rather have a group wipe because I ran oom than because I didn’t do enough to keep the party alive.

  7. what i’m unsure about in the sequence is renew. sure, it is instant cast, but it will be 3 seconds after the cast until the target heals from the first tick. wouldn’t those three seconds bewteen the initial cast and the heal be better used on a greater heal?

    of course, i’m a noob priest who has healed RFC only once, but still…

  8. With a lvl 67 priest, I’ve only begun to experience the joys of healing. I started the healing alt because the guilds I raid with are in need of everything but DPS, my main being a 70 Hunter. But coming from the DPS side I knew PW:S was a handing spell for your teammates.

    I do not intentionally use PW:S on a warrior tank. Too much HP and other stats to stay alive.

    I do use PW:S on Pally tanks. Less HP than they’re warrior brothers and aggro pull like a beast.

    What I do use my PW:S for the most is: The aggro mage(or clothie) that pulled a mob to themselves and with an uninterrupted spell cast with kill that mob. The PW:S give the mage the chance to kill its target and not have me on the menu next. I also use the PW:S for myself as when the tank isn’t prepared for a pull while I am with that heal that pulls the other mobs. With PW:S on I am able to run that mob back up to the tank and get away for another.

    Again, I’m pre-raiding at this point but I have great things in mind for when I get to Kara and beyond.

    Thanks you everyone commenting and writing so that us young healers can be prepared.

  9. Um, so I like love you. You’re insight, knowledge, and experience into raiding as a holy priest is astonishing. You awe me. Especially, because I’m used to the days when our former priest CL was stuck in the past and pre-BC raid healing (he’s been gkicked for other reasons).

    I want to level up a healer to raid on (currently I’m raiding as a warlock) and I was thinking about being a holy pally, but everytime I read your articles I end up leveling my holy priest. Alas, plate does not seem to be in my future. Thanks for all the great articles.


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