Healing a Raid: A Priestly Perspective

To end off the week, I will help all of you budding raiding priests who have never joined any groups larger then 10 (AV an exception). Yeah, you the one who has never once set foot inside MC or BWL or Naxx or Zul’Gurub or any of those old fun instances that we used to do before. By the end of this column, my hope is that you will be able to excel and surpass the expectations of your raid leader.

I wont touch on the spells specifically and what they can do. You leveled from 1 to 70 on your own. If you don’t know the capabilities of the tools at your disposal, then you have no business playing a Priest. But I will guide you on when you should use them.

Your raid makeup could consist of a variety of different healer classes. More often then not, you as a priest would make up several of those slots. Let’s now for the sake of argument pretend that you’ve been assigned the dreaded task of maintaining te health of your raid as opposed to healing a single person. It’s such a daunting task healing 4 other players in a party. Now you’re responsible for 24 others. What do I do?

Let’s check out the toolkit. There’s a reason why Blizzard gave us to much stuff to work with.

Renew: Cast this on targets that have taken hits but are not expected to take damage again. Examples would include mages, hunters, or other ranged DPS (maybe rogues). It’s a relatively cheap heal over time spell where you don’t need to tie up your 1.5s cast time or our 2.5s cast time. But don’t forget to stack these up with Renews from other priests. Our main tank sometimes has up to Renews on him at any given time.

Flash Heal: I tend to downrank my heals a little bit here for two reasons: 1) Reduces mana cost 2) Less overhealing done. I’ll use a flash heal between ranks 4 – 6 depending on the situation at hand. In some cases, I will use a max rank flash heal just because tanks are taking so much damage that my heals are only maintaining his health instead of restoring it up. Used mainly on players taking damage frequently such as the main tank or in an emergency.

Greater Heal: The big brother of Flash heal. This one I keep max ranked. You don’t have to. Its entirely up to you and your playing style. Drop these ones on your main tank or your assigned healing target.

PW: Shield: There appears to be much controversy over the usage of this spell. Philosophically, I disagree with many other priests on how and when it should be used. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your duty is to the raid. If spamming shields every 40 seconds is the only way to do it, then you spam it and you like it. Usually though, I will cast it if a tank jumps from 100% to 40% (or any number below 10000 health). These bosses hit like a freight train on afterburners. I’ve seen players get taken out with an 8k crit followed up by an 11k special attack. I am one paranoid priest.

Prayer of Healing: Don’t spam flash heal 5 times to heal your party. It’s a huge waste of time. Just drop a Prayer repeatedly until everyone’s back to full. 3 seconds on a prayer versus 7.5 seconds on flash heals. Usually, once the boss executes some sort of AoE damage which nails your group, you’ll want to cast this.

Prayer of Mending: Use in case of an emergency. The amount of damage it heals is a little more then the amount of damage received. But I am referring to a normal hit not a special attack at will knock off a good portion of the tanks health.

In case of emergency, break open glass

You’ll remember the other day I wrote about what Priests should do in the event they have pulled aggro. Here’s the other side of the equation: What to do if the tank has less than 10% health and in imminent danger where he could die and wipe the raid. Follow this process to ensure maximum possible survival.

1 – PW: Shild (Prevent further damage)
2 – Prayer of Mending (Mitigate further damage done)
3 – Renew (Constant heals)
4 – Flash Heal (Fastest way to heal. We’re concerned about time now)
5 – Repeat step 4 until he’s back up. Use shield’s again if your assignment’s health is questionable.

Other Healers

Usually, if there’s other healers on the tank, you’ll have no idea what kind of spell they’re casting. But here, time is of the essence. Drop flash after flash until he’s back in the game. Let other healers drop the big heals. Either way, get your assignment topped off. If you and your other heal happen to both drop big heals simultaneously, there’s a 3 second window where the tank could get critical’d and spontaneously die. You don’t want this to happen so be on the safe side and spam flash.


So here, I took random screenshots through the past few raids with our raiders at various stages of decay. More often then not, you’ll encounter such similar situations. Take a look at them and think to yourself what you would do, who you would heal first, and why.

Here is shot number one. Light damage has only been applied to the raid. Matticus (Mallet) is in the uber healing group. Lang is down 25% (our main tank) and Bdon (an off tank) has also sustained hits as well as the rest of the melee DPS in his group. Although you can’t tell, I have Lang selected. But it looks like Cheever also has him selected too. So my play here is to deselect and drop a prayer of healing to top off the group. Then I’d probably take care of the rest of the DPS.

This shot was taken too late. But look at the assist window on the right. This shows us who is healing Lang: All five of us. If that happens, just move off of him and take care of someone else, like Bdon.

Ah, our first casualties of the night. Going to save my own skin and heal myself. There’s no real danger at this point so long as the tanks are still alive. We lost a healer (with 6 left) and an off tank (with 3 left). No big loss, no sense of panicking.

Again, cursor on Lang shows that I’m not the only one on him. Renew, Prayer, move on. Let the Priest and the Paladin on him take over with flashes and greater heals. Dropped renews on everybody on group 5 and group 3 that was wounded. Keep the shield cooldown on standby in case Lang gets spiked again.

Now we’ve got some real pressure applied to the raid here. A lot of damage has been done and the raid is in various health states. I included my target of target of target window along with my Nature Enemy Cast Bar (NECB). Seeing how my group is wounded, I light off a Prayer of Healing. Then I noticed Mirri was also in the process of casting and is closer to getting the heal off. I cancel my prayer, and default to healing the tanks starting with Lang and Bdon. Once they’re up, I ease off and begin my renew cycle on DPS.

Now we’ve got some serious problems. We’re down a healer and the tanks are taking serious damage (465 doesn’t seem like much). When you get to a case where you have multiple tanks with relatively low health, pick one and stick to it until they’re topped. I chose Blori and called out in vent “I’m staying on Blori”. This cues the other healers and frees them up knowing they don’t have to worry about him as much. For example, now Mirri can heal Bdon or Dager can heal Lang without needing to rotate flashing Blori. Communication is important. Let the rest of the healers know who you’re healing.

This one was a big giant leap of faith. One of our healers is offline and one of the tanks is under enormous stress. Notice that my target is Maeve. Also take a note that there is only one other healer besides me who has Maeve targeted. Bdon is a hit away from going under. But seeing as the assist window only shows two healers out of six who have Maeve targeted, it stands to reason that the other 4 must most likely be on Bdon. There is no other player in the raid who is prioritized higher then he is. Although there is no way to say for sure (unless I clicked him to determine the assists), I do believe it’s a logical conclusion to make.

In any case, you may or may not encounter such situations like that in the future. Hope this column helps you deal with any scenarios that show up. Remember, don’t panic. Keep your cool and prioritize.

15 thoughts on “Healing a Raid: A Priestly Perspective”

  1. Good analysis on most of it, but I have to disagree with your take on Prayer of Mending. While it is excellent as an emergency instant cast to keep someone up when they’re taking damage, it also has the potential to be one of the most efficient heals in the game.

    Especially in situations where there are multiple tanks grouped up or raid-wide AoE damage, it can heal for up to 7-8k damage for a mere 300 mana if it completes all its jumps. While this won’t always happen of course, it still is a very useful fire-and-forget heal.

    The fact that it adds the healing aggro to the target healed and not the priest who cast it is just gravy as well.

  2. Very nice – one question though. Do you write your entries in Word or something, then paste them into the website?

    You’ve got a ton of “?” in there for apostrophes and the like, seems like something a microsoft tool would offer. =]

    Agreed with the previous commenter, but then again I’m biased as I love my frisbee. I think I’ll be using it even more when I start raid healing, especially since there’ll be more AOE damage there and it’ll have a good chance of making all 5 jumps.

  3. Just a suggestion… why do you show percentages of health on your UI? How do you know when to downrank spells or cast different spells unless you know exactly how much that toon is hurting?

    I’ll be honest, I’m no healer, but I’ve read posts and learned from some of the best of them. Just wondering how you know unless you know, you know? 😉

  4. It’s a practical reason more than anything else. If you take a look at my targeting frames, you will notice that I display both health and percentages on players I look out for.

    But to do that on an entire raid windows would mean I need to increase the size of each raid group individually. Otherwise, the individual players health would begin to overlap each other and begin cluttering my screen.

    So I just use percents! 😀

  5. I am just starting to raid heal on my priest. I was wondering how you have time to individually select specific players, determine whether to heal or to move on, and then cast heals if that be the case. It seems like after all those decisions your target could be already dead. DO you use an addon that allows you to switch selections easily without removing a click option on your mouse for raid healing?

  6. Talt: No, but others use a series of macros or something where all you need to do is mouseover on someone and then press a button and it heals the prson you mouse over’d.

    As for time, you have to be quick and decisive. I could write a whole book on raid healing. But the only way for sure to improve yourself is to get hands on experience. Set up your healing targets with your other healers. Use renew often.

  7. This was very helpful. I’m about to start my first raid healing and I was concerned about alot of these issues.

    What do you consider must-have add-ons for raiding priests? And about how many mana pots etc… do you typically blow thru on a raid?

  8. I’m very late on this one but I enjoyed reading it and learned a bunch. Along with having a Prot Warrior I have a SP and have to heal every now and then.

    Two comments:

    1–if your tank is getting critted you need a new tank. It’s totally unacceptable for a tank NOT to be crit immune.

    2–Prayer of Mending should be thrown on SOMEONE every 30 seconds. It’s just too good of a heal/mana spell. Last night in Karazhan MH was throwing it on MT and I was throwing it on OT for all the trash. Not only does it heal that first hit but it also counts as threat for the tanks. Priceless!

  9. Late as well on the response, but hey 🙂

    As a little tip for PoM, if it ends up on you and you want to send it on, SW:Death is less costly than casting a new PoM in a lot of cases.

    To Talt: Clique is a mod that allows you to clickcast on a frame. So if you’re using grid/xperl/ag_unit or something like it you can simply use a button+mouseclick combi to cast the heal on that target.

    To Matt: Thanks for this blog, many great posts I’ve seen so far 🙂


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