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End-Game Priest Guide

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Mitrai's End-Game Priest Guide:


Introduction:

First off, since this guide is meant for end-game, I won't go into leveling a priest except to say that you should have specced Shadow. I
f you need a leveling guide, the best one is Dugi's 1-110 Legion leveling Guide. Second, this guide is going to be primarily focused around a Holy/Disc spec. I will briefly discuss the other build available for end-game healing, the Disc/Holy build.

To clarify one thing before I start - when I speak of end-game, I'm not talking about Scholomance, Stratholme, or Blackrock Spire, I'm talking about Onyxia, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and Ahn'Qiraj type instances (40-man). Most of my discussion is also going to be from the perspective of a MT/MA healer, not a group healer.



Addons:

The only mod that I use that will really help you in raiding the end-game (and that is a requirement in many guilds) is CT_RaidAssist. CT_RaidAssist (CTRA) is an addon that allows you to show much more information about your raid o要 your screen. For instance, you can choose to show all the raid's groups o要 screen at o要ce, and you can organize it by group number or by class. CTRA also has many other features that are specifically designed for healers.

The first of these healer-specific features is the Heal Cancel feature. This allows you to set a predefined amount of health that the target must be down before CTRA will allow the spell to land. You can also adjust the time when CTRA checks the health. More o要 this in the Mana Management section later.

The second feature is the Emergency Monitor. The Emergency Monitor automatically pulls up the 5 raid members with the lowest health below 50%. For the most part, every group will have at least 1 healer. That means that your group is the only thing you should be concentrating on until you see someone in the Emergency Monitor that needs healing. When you see someone pop up here, you can toss a quick heal to them until their healer can jump o要 them.

End Game Dungeons:

To start off talking about end-game instances, I'll say that they are going to be a much different experience from raiding smaller instances. In a 40-man instance, it's not uncommon to have 5+ priests, 5+ paladins/shaman, and 5+ druids. This amount of healing makes several things necessary for the betterment of the raid.

1) Mana Management


Most end-game boss fights are long (3+ minutes) and mana-intensive. What this means for you: You need to make sure that you are geared so that you will not be hurting for mana halfway through a fight. This means you should have good spirit, an above average size mana pool, and either some +healing or +mana/5sec gear. I'll get more into this in the gear section of the guide.
It's very common to have multiple healers assigned to heal the main tank and multiple healers assigned to heal each of the off-tanks. What this means for you: You need to make sure you and your fellow healers are making use of the Heal Cancel. Over-heal is not good - it wastes mana and time (and trust me, a half-second lost o要 a heal that should have been cancelled can mean the difference between a live MT and a dead MT).

2) Spell Selection

Using lower ranks of spells helps. What this means for you: Firstly, for priests, a rank 3 Greater Heal o要ly heals about 900 HP less than a rank 4 Greater Heal, but it costs almost 300 MP less to cast. In a fight where the damage is fairly steady and predictable, and you have backup healing o要 your tank, this is a great way to save mana.
Choose the right spell for the fight. What this means for you: In a fight where the damage is not heavy, is fairly steady and predictable, Greater Heal is the spell of choice. It's the most mana efficient healing spell per HP healed. Of course, there are fights that are unpredictable, mobs that have high burst damage, or mortal strikes, etc. that don't allow the time necessary to cast a Greater Heal. In these cases, it's best to use Flash Heal. Even though it's less efficient, efficiency doesn't matter if your tank is dead.

3) Healer Rotation/Progression

If you have multiple healers assigned to a tank, work out a healer progression. What this means for you: The 'primary' healer should be casting Greater Heals while the 'secondary' healer fills in the gaps between Greater Heals with Flash Heals. The strategy here is that the Flash Heals will give the 'primary' healer the time necessary to cast a Greater Heal without worrying that the tank will drop while he's in mid-cast.
Builds:

To start off, I'll say that I was shadow spec until I hit 60. It was great fun; it made for fast levelling; and it is a very good PvP build. But, at the end-game, there are concerns that make a Holy/Disc or Disc/Holy build more effective and more efficient at healing.

First, while a Shadow spec priest can heal almost as well as a Holy/Disc or Disc/Holy priest, he's not as efficient. And when you have fights that last 3+ minutes and are very mana-intensive, efficiency does count.

Efficiency comes from several things in the Holy Tree: Spiritual Healing, Improved Healing, and Master Healer. With points in these talents, you heal more HP for less mana, and do it faster. All of which = efficiency.

Efficiency can also be had from the Discipline Tree in the form of the Meditation and Inner Focus talents. Meditation allows a percentage of your mana regeneration to continue during casting. This is based o要 your spirit. Spirit improves the rate at which you regenerate HP and MP. The formula for spirit regeneration as it applies to mana is:

1 Spirit = 0.125 mana/sec

There are two schools of thought o要 regeneration which I'll get into in the Gear section later. But for now, just know that a priest with high spirit and points in meditation can come almost equal to (if not greater than) the regeneration rate of a priest in +mana/5sec gear. Of course, there are disadvantages to both gear types, and I'll get into those in the Gear section later.

The Inner Focus talent allows you to get a free spell cast that has it's critical strike chance increased by 25%. The efficiency benefit for this o要e is negligible as this spell has a cooldown that is longer than most fights, and it will save you, at most, about 1000 MP (for a Rank 4 Greater Heal).

So, what it comes down to is this: there are two basic builds for end-game healing.

Build 1: The Holy/Disc Build

The 'cookie-cutter' Holy/Disc build consists of a 20/31/0 talent spread. This is your typical healing build. It gets all of the good stuff from Holy (Improved Healing, Spiritual Healing, Master Healer, Spirit of Redemption, and Subtlety), and a lot of the good stuff from Discipline as well (Improved Power Word: Shield, Improved Power Word: Fortitude, Mental Agility and Mental Strength).

The advantage to this build (discounting gear) is it's efficiency, as I mentioned above. This build is the most common priest healing build, and is commonly coupled with either set gear or +mana/5sec gear (or a combination of both). This build is very versatile and very easy to work with.

Build 2: The Disc/Holy Build

This is the other good end-game healing build. This o要e is less popular because it's more dependent o要 gear to be as efficient as the Holy/Disc build.

Aside from the talents I've already discussed above (Meditation, Inner Focus, Improved Power Word: Shield, Improved Power Word: Fortitude, Mental Agility and Mental Strength), the o要ly other talent worth discussing here is the Divine Spirit talent. This talent is a buff like Power Word: Fortitude that increases the target's spirit by 23 for 30 minutes. Couple this with a high spirit gear set and points in Meditation, and you have a priest that has very good regeneration rates (approaching, if not bettering, that of a +mana/5sec gear set).

This build does have advantages over the Holy/Disc build from a gear perspective. Priest class gear (along with most other caster gear) has +spirit already o要 it. This makes it easy to get your spirit up to a level that makes this build viable.

The disadvantage to this build is that you'll miss out o要 a lot of other good caster gear because of this build's dependence o要 +spirit gear. There are a lot of nice armour pieces out there that have +mana/5sec, +healing, +damage and healing, and more intellect, stamina, etc. o要 them that you will not be able to use effectively because of the spirit dependence of this build (that is until you start getting tier 1 and 2 epic armour set pieces).

Gear:

There are basically two sets of gear that are going to be viable end-game. 'Class' gear (i.e. gear that is heavy o要 Intellect/Spirit), and regeneration gear (i.e. gear that has +mana/5sec).

Depending o要 your build, o要e of these is going to suit you better. For a Disc/Holy build, class gear and gear that is Spirit-heavy is the way to go. For any other build, a +mana/5sec build is a great way to go.

Ok, let's look at two sets of gear now. Since I play a dwarf priest, I'm going to use the stats from my priest as a baseline (which should be o要ly a couple points off from your priest). At level 60, my priest has base spirit of 124.

Spirit Gear

Now, let's assume I've managed to get a full Devout armour set. Along with an extra 710 HP and 2010 MP, I gain 115 spirit from the armour, and an extra 20 spirit from the 7 piece set bonus, giving me a grand total of 259 spirit (124 + 115 + 20 = 259). Using the formula for spirit:

1 spirit = 0.125 mana/sec

gives me a regeneration of just over 32 mana/sec (259 * .125 = 32.375). But, since this is spirit, we have to take into account the 5-second rule. The 5-second rule was created by Blizzard in the early days of the game to prevent players with large amounts of spirit from regenerating more quickly than the designers intended. Basically, the 5-second rule states that regeneration from spirit does not occur until 5 seconds have passed since the last successful spell cast.

Mana Regeneration Gear

The other basic armour set type is the Mana Regeneration set. This set is focused o要 gear that has +mana/5sec o要 it. This is the way I went with my priest, and if you decide to go this route, camp Dire Maul like there's no tomorrow. Pre-Molten Core/Blackwing Lair, this place has the best caster gear.

Now, we're going to assume that I've gotten the following items from Dire Maul: Mindsurge Robe (+10mana/5sec), Quel'Dorai Channelling Rod (+8mana/5sec), 2x Ring of Demonic Guile (+6mana/5sec each), 2x Mindtap Talisman (+11mana/5sec each), Mana Channelling Wand (+4mana/5sec), and the Padre's Trousers (+6mana/5sec). We'll also assume that I've gotten the Shadowy Laced Handwraps (+5mana/5sec) from Stratholme, and that I have the Crown of the Penitent (+6mana/5sec) quest reward from Eastern Plaguelands.

All total, this gives me regeneration of 73mana/5sec or 14.6mana/sec. This is in addition to the minimum spirit regeneration (discounting gear from slots that I don't have +mana/5sec gear) of 16.5mana/sec that I have (124 + 8 = 132 * .125 = 16.5).

Other Gear

There is also a lot of gear out there that has +healing or +healing and damage. To be perfectly honest, most of the +healing and damage gear is more designed for other casters (mages, warlocks) than it is for priests. The +healing gear, obviously, is meant for priests. The problem with most non-end-game +healing gear is that it sacrifices Intellect/Spirit/Stamina to give you that +healing. And without a lot of +healing gear, it will not make up for the loss of regeneration, mana pool, and HP that it will cause.

When you get into the end-game, you'll find that a lot of your class set pieces will have +mana/5sec and/or +healing o要 it. Of course, it's also heavy o要 Spirit/Intellect as it should be. I wouldn't concern yourself with trying to get +healing gear. It's not really worth the tradeoffs (with some notable exceptions that have Intellect/Spirit on them as well), and you'll get the +healing as you progress in the end-game.

Spirit vs. Mana Regeneration

Now, let's compare these 2 gear sets. At first glance, based on the regeneration numbers, the spirit gear set appears to be the better set. After all, it has more than double the regeneration of the mana regeneration set every second.

However, remember the 5-second rule and that you only regenerate from spirit when you are not casting. And when we're talking about the end-game, if you are a MT/MA healer, you won't get many breaks (if any) between casts to allow your regeneration to happen.

Let's have an example. Let's say you are fighting a boss and the fight lasts 3 minutes. You are the MT healer. Now, let's assume that you spend 1 minute of this fight outside of the 5-second rule and are able to regenerate mana from your spirit. For the sake of argument we're going to assume there is 1 2-minute block and 1 1-minute block in this fight. Because spirit works o要 ticks (which are 2 seconds) rather than every second, your actual regeneration in a real fight from spirit is probably going to be less because of the timing of spell casts.

Assuming a Disc/Holy build for the spirit gear set (with points in Meditation to allow 15% mana regeneration to continue during casting):

In the spirit gear set, you will regenerate 32.375 mana * 60 seconds = 1942.5 mana, plus (32.375 mana * 15%) * 120 seconds = 582.75 mana, for a grand total of 2525.25 mana.

Assuming a Holy/Disc build for the mana regeneration gear set:

In the mana regeneration set, you will regenerate 73 mana * 36 ticks (there are 36 5-second 'ticks' in 3 minutes) = 2628 mana from regeneration gear, PLUS 16.5 mana * 60 seconds = 990 mana from spirit regeneration for a grand total of 3618 mana.

As you can see from the math, the mana regeneration set regenerates almost 1100 MP more during the same fight. I think the choice is pretty clear here - you can't argue with the math.

Another thing you have to consider is how much healing you are doing during that 2-minute block. Think about this: during that 2-minute block that you are healing, you're probably tossing out heals every 2-4 seconds depending o要 the spell. That's a lot of mana. With the spirit gear set, you're only going to regenerate 582 mana during that 2-minute block. With the mana regeneration set, you'll regenerate 1734 mana during that same 2-minute block.

Of course, there are ways to regenerate even more mana: Blessing of Wisdom/Judgement of Wisdom if you are Alliance, and Mana Spring Totems if you are Horde.

Ultimately, it's your decision for gear, but I would highly recommend a +mana/5sec gear set. It takes more work and more time to get it, but I feel that it's worth the extra effort.

Aggro Management:

Aggro is a bad thing for cloth types, especially priests. And aggro management is o要e of the first things you should learn.

Each monster, or mob, that you fight in the game has a 'hate list'. The hate list is a list of all the players the mob is 'aware' of (i.e. that are in combat with it). 'Hate', or aggro, is generated by dealing damage and healing players that are dealing damage. It works the same way for damage and healing. Arbitrarily speaking, 1 point of damage = 1 point of hate, and 1 point of healing = 1 point of hate. Critical strikes work the same way - they generate extra hate whether they come from healing or from damage.

Contrary to popular belief, over-heal (i.e. healing more HP than the target has) does not generate extra hate. Healing only generates hate based on actual Per.

Healing for a lot of hit points at o要ce is going to get you a good amount of hate. This is why timing of Greater Heals, and having a tank that knows his/her job is very important. It's hard to say exactly when it's safe to start tossing out big heals, but over time you'll gain a feel for each mob, and how your tank operates.

A basic spell that I've seen many priests fail to learn, or use properly, is the Fade spell. Fade temporarily removes you from the hate list, similar to a Rogue's Vanish or a Hunter's Feign Death. The difference here is that ours is temporary. Vanish and Feign Death wipe you from the hate list permanently and put you out of combat. Because Fade is temporary, you shouldn't hit it and think your troubles are over. As soon as fade wears off, that mob will come straight back to you unless someone else has gotten themselves higher o要 the hate list.

Even the best tank will lose aggro occasionally. And it happens more often in end-game where several bosses have AoE attacks that wipe the hate list. If you gain aggro, you should always hit Fade, but you shouldn't stop there. Run to your tank, tell him that you have aggro, and let him get a few hits, a sunder or two, etc. o要 the mob so that he can regain aggro.

Another way to help you manage aggro is to make use of your Power Word: Shield and Renew spells. Power Word: Shield is horribly mana inefficient for the amount of damage it absorbs, but tossing o要e o要 your tank before he goes in combat allows him to gain more aggro before you need to heal him. Renew is another great spell. HoT (or Heal-over-Time) spells are very low aggro generators because they do not generate massive amounts of hate at o要ce, like a Greater Heal. I always keep o要e o要 my tank. It can make the difference in keeping your tank alive, because it gives you more time to cast larger heals, without generating a lot of hate.

Mitrai - 60 Dwarf Priest : Server : Blackhand US

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