The Reality of Healing Heroics and Tips for Holy Priests


Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.
Newt Gingrich

I’ve scheduled a tentative 10 man Naxx on Saturday. We’re projected to have around 8 players that are capable of reaching that level by then. After that, I’ll have no choice but to pug the other 2 slots.

Since I’ve hit 80, I’ve started working my way through a few heroics to try and get some badges.

Let me tell you, it is not easy.

It has been such a long time since I had to work this hard to heal. I have to drink after every pull. Every cooldown needs to be noticed and taken into account. Every spell cast needs to be carefully thought out. I’m sitting at ~470 mana regeneration with a few quest and instance blues. The rest are filled out with T6. There are times when you have no choice between letting a player die to prevent an overall wipe. It’s absolutely tough.

Over the past few days, I had the opportunity to heal Halls of Lightning and the Occulus (on Heroic since they were the dailies). There’s a few things to remember:

  • We don’t outgear the instance: It’s a fresh start for everyone. The playing field has been leveled. I’ve resorted to using consumables to help finish off my old stock of TBC food. This goes the same for tanks.
  • We’re going in blind: We don’t know the instance. I don’t like going into a fight without knowing what I’m up against. I keep WoWhead open and WoWWiki to understand what abilities bosses uses and develop a counter for it. Two things to watch for is debuffs and any special animations on the ground or spells that the bosses use. Watch for the in game boss cues. It’s a hard lesson to learn every time.

One thing that most Priests (or all healers) will find when healing any sort of high end instance is that they’re running out of mana. Don’t forget that it takes more Spirit now then it did back at 70 to reach the same level of mana regen. The amount of Spirit required to reach ~1000 mana regen is much higher then it was at 70.

Here’s a few tricks to help out:

  • Hymn of Hope: It’s an 8 second channel spell and you’re going to be hard pressed to find time to use it. Observe the boss and find a pattern. See if he has a long cooldown for an ability. Put a shield on the tank, a Renew, and a Prayer of Mending. Top up the rest of the party as best as you can. Hit your Hymn and pray to the highest deity you know that you can maximize the use out of it. You can break it early. I set my personal limit to around 50%. If the tank reaches 50%, I’ll break my Hymn and start healing.
  • Shadowfiend: Since it’s a 5 minute cooldown, this is the first trick in the book I’ll use. In the event we wipe, I should have it up for the next attempt.
  • Runic Mana Potion: I’ll typically blow a potion in conjunction with Hymn of Hope after it’s cast. I don’t try to save it. I try to be liberal with their use.
  • Guardian Spirit: Don’t think of it as a healing bonus spell or a way to prevent the person from dying. Think of it as an instant 50% health return. Gauge how much damage the tank takes roughly per hit. If they take 5000 damage blows and your tank is at around 7500, slap the GS up there and stop healing. Watch as the tank’s health rockets back up to 50% while you spend precious seconds just regenerating mana.
  • Pain Suppression: A lot of beginner Priests like to use Pain Suppression when their tank is really low on health. I don’t advise this since they run the risk of tanks dying. I drop Pain Suppression when tanks have near full health. I can stand there and mana regen knowing that my tank is taking reduced damage buying me more time to get more mana.

I’ve spent an average of nearly 3 hours per heroic dungeon. I’m way in over my element. But hey, that’s how Matticus rolls! I’ve always been a front line player!

Still looking for Mages, Warlocks, Hunters, Shadow Priests, Shamans and other healers! If you know of any that want to progress, tell them to drop me a line!

20 thoughts on “The Reality of Healing Heroics and Tips for Holy Priests”

  1. let me ask you a question, do you find it more exciting?
    not knowing what to expect, the higher challenge, knowing that you are almost on the verge of a wipe every few pulls but manage to pull through?

    I must admit when we had Kara down to a 5 man and could breeze through, it was great for gearing out each others alts, but its a different feeling to face something unpredictable and challenging.

    Wills last blog post..WoW Economics: How to Make Gold in Wrath of the Lich King

  2. Good news for now 😛

    Seems like im going slower questing around 74, thinking about going disc spec. I could use the better bubble for quest, among many other things. I even heard disc can heal most >80 instances. But I know really know, I lvl’d 1-70 as holy, holy is all I know.

    Istaran-Cairnes last blog post..RAFFLE RESULTS

  3. did a naxx ten man last night with fresh 80s in primarily bt/sunwell gear.

    The trash is easy which was nice, but bosses were a different story.
    We tried patchwork,and the spider which i can’t recall the name both were manageable but we couldn’t kill them because of mana issues. SInce DPS was a bit low and tank a bit under geared fights went too long and healer mana was too much an issue we would just peter out and wipe.

    Going to get a bit more gear and give it another go in a week or 2.

  4. My Thoughts from a DPS perspective

    The Occulus was very un melee friendly for sure especially the mage boss. It was almost undoable with 3 melee

    Our tank was critable in BT/Sunwell gear. Clearly this was a big issue because even with 25K Health I noticed him getting walloped for 8-10K Crits. It really allows no time for your healing to breath. Getting to 540 Defence is a must for Tanks for Heroics+. I think that will make it much easier.

    From what I have read today the biggest problem is the Tanks are Critable and healers having to go into overdrive to heal them.

    Also when we used good CC it made some of the harder trash pulls easy

    Overall it was fun and I got awesome epic dps gloves but I kinda feel it would be better to run reg 80s and grind Rep right now. Most of the Rep rewards that are revered and better are very good

  5. Hey mat, I saw you put pain supression up there, I have been a competitive pvp healing priest for a while hitting 2200+ in all 3 brackets, and I want to start going more for PvE, but I find holy very boring.

    Could you try a heroic or 2 as discipline and see how it works? So far I have been lvling and isntancing as disc, and been doing great.

    I am 72 currently and we have cleared every instance up to and including the lvl 78 one, I forgot the name. (yes were over geared, but still lots of fun)

  6. Still going to say Disc is going to be the better PvE healer overall.

    The defining issue in heroics are staying alive and mana conservation and the Disc priest will own both. With PS and Grace we get a watered down version of SpiGuard with many more benefits.

    We also get Penance, which is game changing. I haven’t been so amazed with a spell since early PrOM (with no CD). For half the cost of Gheal I get an instant 1500 – 2500 on the target, with 2 more ticks of the same. I have low haste rating and still get more total healing in a shorter amount of time, with no cast time possibility of tank death.

    There are definitely some Heroics that have me fearful. The Old Kingdom for example, is an instance that I already think would be a hard for a shammie, and abusive to a pallie healer. In heroic, many of those elemental mobs will be nasty, only one boss will not be squashing the healer.

    Good post though. We defintely are using our ‘fiend more along with Hymn. For many new healers they will need to acquire the old skills of FSR dancing. As well keep in mind the strength of INT over SPI in regards to group mana regen, when making your decisions.

  7. @Valio – I’m healed TBC heroics as Disc and did fine. At the start you spend a lot of time praying for the Penance CD to finsh, but once you get the hang of it its fine. The issue I did have healing heroics as Disc was AoE damage. You have to work a lot harder when there is AoE damag compared to Holy throwing Circle of Healing.

    A good group with the the tank taking the damage is pretty easy and Disc probably even surpasses Holy when tank healing.

  8. Matticus this is the same as TBC. i.e. when I started on Heroics with normal (not over powered) gear recently, I was using about 50-80% of my mana pool each pull. I had the same reaction… better bring more drinks!

    Nice, neat little post, BTW.

    Gobble gobble.

    BobTurkeys last blog post..Instance drops

  9. Matticus, what spec and stats did you run these heroics from? Also, I’m finding the Blue quest items along the way to have less spell power, per item level, but significantly more Intel and Spirit. I wonder if that is a good trade off or not.

  10. I’ve found heroics much easier than I’d expected. There is much more group damage than in TBC, but I’ve specc’d holy, and cheap, powerful PoM procc’ing SoL really is a life saver. Can’t stress enough how amazing that synergy is.

  11. At the gear level we’re at I’m also suprised at how relatively easy the instances are… they really dont require tons of CC. Sure there are wipes from just being new to the places and getting a feel for the damage, but thats just part of the learning curve.

    I rushed to 80 so I never did the regular versions of the instances i’m doing on heroic… but I have to say, gauging on the difficulty of the heroics the others must be a breeze.

    Oh, im crit immune now so stop the qq!

  12. For Disc priests: has anyone fooled around with the Holy Nova Glyph? early reports have it at near PoH levels of healing/efficiency. Would that be your goto answer in aoe heal situations.?

    Food for thought.

  13. For stat requirements on disc there’s a discussion on plusheal, here:

    And, the EJ forums are updating the healing compendium:

    Not sure if I’ll now be shot because of linking other places though 😛

    (and duh, I was looking for a preview button for the comment, but apparently there isn’t one)

    We’ll be getting our guildruns set up soon, can’t wait ^_^

  14. Wow. Seems like every time I am lost in WoW Matticus shows me the way. I was talking to Guildies about exactly the issues I was having healing. You really nailed every issue I was having trouble with. Can’t wait to steal your current Build. Your Level 70 gearing guide was the reason I progressed so ssmoothly into BC now you are helping me in WoTLK. Thanks alwys nice to know I am not a complete newb. See ya soon and thanks again


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