Friday, July 22, 2005

An open letter from the Priest in your party.

This document is to enlighten people who play with priests on a regular basis. I'd say this applies mostly to the 30 through 50 crowd. Any lower, and the spells are pretty simple, and any higher, I would hope you already know a little. On with the show...

Say, who's that skinny fellow wearing cloth who's always in the rear with the gear?

He's the priest keeping you alive! Here's a few notable facts and tips to keep you informed on how a priest operates... [I'm Horde, so I don't deal with Paladins]

A Holy Priest is only a better healer than a Shadow or Discipline priest. A priest is a priest, and we all heal pretty well.

Flash heal is a fast-cast spell that heals moderate damage. Greater heal takes a long time to cast, and heals a lot. If I'm in your group, you won't need to call out for healing. If your health is getting low, chances are I am about to hit you with a major heal spell.

Don't run. Let me rephrase that. DO NOT FSCKING RUN. Our spells have a range, and if you are outside it, you are not getting healed. If a mob is attacking you, and you think you are going to die, do not run. It will only make things worse. If your dead corpse is 100 yards away, surrounded by a dozen mobs, I'm going to have a harder time rezzing you.

Power Word: Fortitude is not free. It costs a LOT of mana. In fact, I cast a lot of spells, and use a lot of mana. Mana is my livelihood. If I don't have it, I don't live. If I don't live, chances are you don't live. That said, I am happy to take a break and buff everyone up (usually takes almost 2 bars to buff 5 people). Just let me recover the mana, before we head out again.

I repeat, if I don't live, you probably won't either. I am probably the softest target there is. That being said, I DO have means of defending myself. I consider myself a good priest, and I can manage aggro with fade, distance, spell choice, and Shield. This doesn't mean I can tank mobs myself. I happen to be a shadow priest, and I can rock non-elite mobs up to 2 or 3 levels above me. But consider this - the more time I spend defending myself, the less time and mana I'm spending healing you.

Slow down. Slow your roll, buddy. Unless I'm decked out on crazy +Spirit and/or +Mana regen gear, I'm going to need to sit and drink. A lot. Usually after every other fight, if not every fight. I try not to go into a fight with less than ~4,000 mana. And I'm 54th level. In the late 40s, it was no less than 3,000. That's usually at least 2/3rds of a mana bar for most priests.

Resurrection takes 10 seconds to cast, and requires a lot of mana. If I am out of mana, I cannot cast Resurrection. If you think I have forgotten your corpse (chances are I haven't), check my mana bar, if it's empty, you're going to have to wait. If it's not, just give me a friendly reminder like "Rez when you get a chance?" ... demands like "REZ ME ALREADY" do not earn you any brownie points.

Time to face the facts: I may have simply let you die. If you are not the main tank, you may have died because I simply couldn't get a spell off on you quick enough, because I've been healing the main tank. I'm looking at you, mages & warlocks. Yelling at me for healing is not going to get you anywhere. My entire job in a tough instance is watching health bars. Your health is not as important to me as the main tank's. If I can't save you, I will rez you after the fight. I'm sorry that the loot system sucks and sometimes you get screwed out of boss loot, it happens to me, too. I hope they fix it.

Warlocks: Always, always, ALWAYS Soulstone the priest. Stone the druid only if you think it will be absolutely necessary for a combat rez from them for me. I can rez more with a larger mana bar pool, and most times, with more health and mana on resurrection. Also, control your aggro. You can nuke pretty hard, but can't back it up with armor. Make sure the tanks have cemented aggro. Generally a warlock who can't manage his aggro properly is the first to die in the group. And that means a big waste in my mana pool from healing them.

Druids: I'm sorry, but in general, the priests are better healers than you. Please get over it. I appreciate all the help I can get, but if you wanted to be a better healer, you should have rolled a priest. If you want to argue about how much your spells heal, maybe you should ask yourself how much is in your mana pool, how much HP you can actually heal before tapping your pool and how quickly you regen. If it isn't agreed on beforehand that you will be healing, don't heal unless the situation becomes bad. If I waste mana because your heal landed a split second before mine, I am going to be totally ripsh!t. Because when your mana pool is empty, you can still fight. When mine is gone, I just wait for the wipe. Aside from that, A druid and a priest in a tough instance can be an incredible combination, and save a lot of runs from the graveyard for everyone. Also, Mark of the Wild is a great buff I like to have whenever possible - more Stam and Int means I can stay alive longer and cast more heals.

Mages: I love getting the AI buff. Don't pass me up, it adds a few hundred more mana that can make or break a tough fight if I run out of mana - and I can move faster with a larger mana pool in easier instances. And until they add mana drinks to Alchemy, I'd love to get a bunch of water, too. I can go through about 15 or 20 high end waters in a couple hours of instance running. Thanks in advance.

Hunters: Use your feign death if things get hairy and you've got bad aggro - but not if you think the mobs will aggro the casters when you do. Try to be sure that mobs you aggro will transfer to the main tank. I can generally take care of you with healing (or the off-healer can), so it shouldn't be necessary. I'm sorry, but you are not high on the list of priority heals.

Rogues: You generally do fine until you get too much aggro. Along with warlocks, I find rogues to be some of the worst to try and keep alive when they've attracted too much aggro. Always coordinate with us and the mages with Sap/Poly/MC/Shackle. That is some deadly Crowd Control combinations, and I've steamrolled some tough instances with a Mage, Rogue and Warrior. The key is working out the details and strategy in advance. Managing aggro is the most important.

Warriors: Yes, I'm healing you - stop asking. We are a good combo. A warrior and a priest are a powerful combination - but you aren't invincable, and neither am I. Try to hang back and pull with a gun, or let the hunter pull. Use Charge on single mobs, or right before the pulled mob gets to us. Manage that aggro! Hit different mobs and use Taunt to keep them stabbing you. Healing you with Greater Heal and Renew (most mana efficient) is way better for everyone than casting Flash Heal 5 times and Shield twice on a warlock who can't get aggro off him. Trust me, it's a recipe for disaster. Most importantly, keep the aggro off me. I can heal everyone else, but when there's a mob interrupting my spells or forcing me to cast spells on myself, it's bad times.

Mind Control, where applicable, is better to use than Polymorph. I'll tell you why. Mind Control lasts 1 minute, and I can actually use the controlled target to attack other targets and hold aggro. I can also use mobs that have healing spells (Witch Doctors, Priests, etc), and heal my own party members. It works out even better that way, because I can fight, still heal, and when the mob comes out of Mind Control, they have less mana, and their spells are still cooling down. It can be broken infrequently, and at random times, but some of the best groups I've been with, have used MC, sheep and sap to effectively control massive groups or tough mobs - and defeat them handily. Also, Shackle Undead seems to be excellent in places where there are Undead. This is about on par with a sheep, though. It lasts ~40 seconds, and acts the same way. Striking a shackled undead breaks the shackle.

If you are dangerously low on health, and/or taking serious damage, I will probably cast a shield on you. Shields last for 30 seconds, take moderate damage (500-750), but have a 30 second 'cooldown' effect. This can be reduced to 15 seconds with talents. This gives me a little time to cast some heals on you.

If I am in shadowform (all purple and shadowy and badass looking), that means I can't cast any healing spells. I'm a good enough priest where I won't be in shadowform if the group needs healing. In fact, I mostly use SF when solo, or in a really easy instance (ie: no one really needs any healing).

Being in the Rear with the Gear generally means I get very little loot. I have accepted this, and Group Loot rules or Round Robin is relatively fair. However, if there are quest objectives that are not multi-use (single quest drops on mobs, regular drops, or ground pickups, for example), please leave me a few. Check with the group as to who needs what, and try to make sure everyone has the same amount. I get screwed constantly trying to fulfill quest drops because the warrior or rogue in the front scoops up all the quest drops.

And finally - please do not anger the priest. Making demands, exhibiting poor regard for strategy, or generally playing like a moron will usually draw ire from the entire party - but especially me, because I'm the one who has to keep an asshat's health bar full. And that's aggravating. And sometimes we fail to keep an asshat's health bar full, and that doesn't help anyone.


[edit] I left Shaman out because I rarely have problems with Shaman (unless they are tanking!)

And on the other side of the coin, I want to throw in some things to look for in a good priest for your party.

Anyone can simply say "Hey, I died!" and think that their priest sucks. Maybe so, but maybe not. Think about the following, when heading into a tough instance:

First off, always try to have a secondary rez to the priest - A Druid or Warlock are the best examples.

The priest shouldn't spend all his time healing secondary tanks. Most of the aggro should be on the main tank, and the priest healing that tank. There are several good reasons. First, the tank usually has more HP and more armor, and can handle the hits better. Second, because of the larger health pool, the priest can let the tank's health drain and cast Greater Heal - which is much more mana efficient than Flash Heal.

The main tank, and just about anyone else who is taking damage, should have Renew on them throughout most of the fight. It's efficient, and uses very little mana. I think it takes me about 4 seconds of regen time to recover mana lost from Renew. You should almost always have it during a fight if you're taking damage.

A good rule of thumb in just about any instance is to not use any Fear abilities or spells. For Priests it is no different. Priests can fear up to 4 targets at my level, but should never, EVER be used unless as a complete last resort (like if 4 mobs are attacking the priest, and everyone is going to die, no one has mana, the tank is dead, and the sky is falling). Fearing targets in an instance can and most likely WILL get you kicked. That is wipe-city.

If your priest isn't using Shield (when they can) to stop the bleeding to give them time to cast a heal, they might not be managing their cast times right. Shield takes a bit of mana, but it's instant and is good for emergencies.

Handling emergencies is key to good priesthood. If everyone is down on HP, and it looks like a big wipe, and the priest comes through with a Prayer of healing or something that turns the tide of a fight, that's a good priest. If people start dropping like flies, the priest is out of mana, and/or they did not manage their spells and mana well.

Priests will die consistently in about three scenarios. One is if they simply mismanage their aggro. Casting too many greater heals, prayers of healing, and doing too much damage will draw too much aggro. Second is if they outlevel their party members by too much. The higher level you are (the more healing/damage you do), the more aggro you draw. If I'm healing a main tank that is 5+ levels below me, that mob is generally going to be more interested in killing me than him. Third is if the other party member are terrible at holding aggro. Not using Cower, Taunt, etc, will not put the tanks in priority over the Priest. Considering those things, being smart with aggro, and even having a priest that is a level or two lower than most of the party proves to be a good scenario.

If you're in an instance that is so easy the priest doesn't need to heal, they should know that they can switch to laying out more damage. Priests have incredible nukes and damage spells. When my party is breezing so well, it only makes it faster if I'm laying on my 175~200 dps with DoTs and nukes. On the flip side, a good priest knows when to lay off the agression and focus on healing.

Specialization isn't terribly important until you get into the 50s. As I said before, a priest can heal, whether they are Holy or Shadow. Even at that point, a good priest with a solid spec (either way) is effective as a healer and a tertiary damage dealer.

Good priests take their own advice. They don't run. When I have aggro on me, I cast shield and renew on myself, and go back to healing everyone else. Sometimes I throw an Inner fire on, too. But my attention is almost never on my own health, it's always on yours, and I will stay exactly where I am.

Those are a couple things to look for in a priest. It's important, because it may save you a lot of aggravation and wipes.
WoW General Discussion -

1 comment:

Guido said...

I agree with most stuff in that post, with one big exception: Properly specced druids can be as good healers as priests, with a completely different approach (more HoT vs. more insta-heals). And I'm saying this as a lvl 60 tank, who really likes being healed and is probably in one of the best positions to judge the two main healing classes :)