How to Heal as a Priest in Cata

The first week of Cata I was an absolute mess in dungeons. I still didn’t grasp what Blizz wanted me to do and random people can be a touch on the unforgiving side. More often that not, I was starring at my screen in disbelief as tears streamed down my face. But, then I had an epiphany, not everyone needs to be topped off all the time and fast, expensive heals are better to use than slow, mana efficient spells if the tank is in true danger of going down. I started to really think about what had happened over night between Cata and WotLK.

I looked at my gear first. Spirit used to be not very attractive to Disc Priests since we got a lot more out of Intellect and Rapture procs. I still had it on my gear since most cloth had it or MP5 but I didn’t stack it. The only time I really had to think about regen was on Lich King and then I started to stack it. I think I ended WotLK with 1800 odd out of combat regen now I have 2962 MP5. I have the Heartsong enchant and a trinket with a Spirit proc and when those proc I can get up to 4800 odd out of combat MP5. That’s a pretty big difference. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to drink as much and I can spend the extra regen on the more expensive, faster spells. I’m not saying I don’t go OOM because I do it just now that I have a little more breathing room and I don’t have to blow my mana CDs as early.

Haste is another thing I had to look at. Before it didn’t matter because HoTs didn’t benefit from haste like they do now. Now the more Haste I have, the more healing I get out of a cast of Renew. Haste also benefits my GCD so I can cast spells not only more quickly but more often. Haste is a really good stat to have right now. Reforging for Haste is definitely a good thing as long as the regen stay intact. EJ is saying we need at least 910 Haste with 3/3 in Darkness to get our GCD to 1 second.

I then looked at my healing spells themselves. I had always been a big fan of Prayer of Mending. In WotLK heroics it was seldom ever used to its full potential. In Cata dungeons, it is almost always completely used up. I can think of only a handful of times that it has not used all of its ticks. That’s usually when it hits me after the tank so I SW:D the tank’s target to get it to jump back to the tank and then it jumps right back to me. It’s a “smart” heal that can act a little stupid sometimes.

I’ve talked about Renew before and I stand by what I said. Renew is a great thing to keep rolling on the tank and to triage DPS. I had a hunter in a random PUG complaining I didn’t heal him. Yes, I did. He got a Renew and wasn’t happy about not being at full health. That’s what bandages are for. I’m not going to sacrifice my tank for DPS, however bitchy they are. L2Health Pot.

Prayer of Healing is also nice. Disc has a guaranteed DA proc with it now on all the targets that it heals. This can lessen the blow of boss AOE. PoH combined with Renew and PoM can be a very potent bit of healing to the group while not forgetting about the tank.

So, here are the secrets to Priest Cata Healing:

1) Maximize your regen over everything else. Once you are comfortable, then look at haste. Spell power is nice but regen comes first. If you have the choice of regen or spell power – take regen.

2) Healing the tank is more important then the DPS. If the tank goes down, the group is done. If you have to pick which DPS to save, make sure it’s one that can CC. This means DKs and Warriors will be eating a lot more pavement than they did before.

3) Cope with everyone not a full health all the time. I used to be really anal about this but I don’t have that luxury anymore. If people bitch about it, tell them to deal with it. Life Grip that DPS standing in AOE – let them bitch that they didn’t die for once.

4) It is OK to use all of the spells in your spell book. Flash Heal is crazy expensive but if the tank is about to die, use it! Use all of the tools in your toolbox! Dust off Binding Heal and learn to love it! You will be using all of the tricks you haven’t used since the last PvP season to keep the group alive and that’s OK. That’s the way it is meant to be.

5) Stage your CDs effectively. Don’t blow Power Word: Barrier at the same time as Pain Suppression. Similarly, do use Pain Suppression to cushion the tank while you channel Hymn of Hope for mana if it’s up.

6) Use your group heals. They are good mana to HPS ratio and might even save a wipe. Heal and PoH are about the same cast time – you can get a heal out of 5 targets in the same amount of time as Heal on 1 target.

7) Know every spell at your disposal – even your damage spells and CC spells. I switched out a glyph so that my Psychic Scream now makes the target stand in place instead of fleeing. I can CC if the situation calls for it; maybe someone broke sheep or it wandered into the tank’s AOE. I can help buy the group a few more seconds to increase survivability. Mind Control can be a glorious thing – especially on the Shaman Naga trash in Throne of Tides. I can heal the group with the enemy’s mana pool instead of my own.

8 ) Look at buffs on the mobs. Is that buff magic? Mass Dispel it. Some mobs have to be dispelled before they can be damaged or the buff on them will damage the group if not taken off.

9) Know mechanics of boss fights. I confess to not listening to boss strats every time because I just heal stuff and stay out of the bad. Now I can’t brute force stuff. A perfect example are the adds on the final boss of Stonecore. I get aggro on them more often than not. I used to pray that the tank would get them or Fade would be off CD. Now I know that I have to put a void zone between myself and the adds so that they don’t bother me or the group.

10) Don’t let the jerks get you down. The Ignore List really should have more space than it does right now.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Matthew
    Dec 25, 2010 @ 12:22:38

    I think you might have had some old info regarding what haste you need for your 1 second gcd. You ALWAYS need a combined 50% haste to get to a 1 second gcd, and I know that the ratings increased to the point that 1200ish (or whatever you said last night) wasn’t going to cut it.

    I went looking for a bit and found the updated priest compendium on EJ ( ) and at 85 with no raid buffs (5% haste from shaman or shadow priest) and 3/3 in the shadow talent that gives haste you need a rating of 3553.1. Now again, that’s assuming Borrowed time is up, which as you’re not casting as many shields as you used to be (given the changes you mentioned in a previous posting and its effects on mana) isn’t a reasonable assumption somtimes, so more then 3553 might be beneficial though probably not practical. Though having a gcd of 1 second only aids you to the point that you’re casting every single time you can. If that’s not as much the case being GCD locked might not be the way to gear up. Haste will still benefit your other cast time spells though in a positive way and if you still like renew, having 37.5% haste after buffs might be worthwhile as you’ll get an extra tick (6 total, 5 ticks with 12.5% haste).


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