I noticed there was a new Circle of Healing meme bouncing around. So I thought I would take part.
Name, class and spec: Akandra, Night Elf Holy Priest
What is your primary group healing environment? 10 man raiding
What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?
Power Word: Shield with Body and Soul. I know we have Life Grip to get people out of stuff, but Life Grip is not always easy to use. My Shield protects people, heals them a bit (its glyphed) and enables them to run out of bad. Its a brilliant spell and one case where spell, glyph and talent work well together.
What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Heal. Its just too weak. The only use I have for Heal is to spam when I have nothing else to cast, since I can basically spam it and not run out of mana. I know a lot of people have stopped using it now, but I never really used it. Instead I stacked Spirit to the rafters to enable the regen I would need to not bother with it. It works for me.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
Priests have a tool for every occasion. Especially with Chakra. Chakra is another particularly good addition to the priest class and would be my second favourite spell. Most healers can tank heal or AoE heal these days to a greater or lesser extent, but I feel that Chakra gives priests the edge because it allows us to adapt our spells for our assignment.
What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
We used to be a bit ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ in previous expansions. But these days I no longer get that vibe. I didn’t really like our dependence on our most expensive heal (Flash Heal) for the first tier of raiding. Blizzards comments would lead you to believe that Heal should be your staple heal, but Serendipity only procs off of Flash/Binding Heal. So if you want Serendipity procs for Greater Heal/Prayer of Healing, you have to burn mana to get them. But this is a problem only early on. You can gear yourself out of it.
I am aware there is a criticism of our throughput. I’ve seen World of Logs and Holy priests weren’t in the top 100 (I think there was one) parses for a lot of tier 11. This is, in part, because of the fact that we scale better with Spirit than with Intellect (which makes the choice to have less Spirit gear so irritating). I’ve not done any heroic raiding so far so I can’t tell you if that lack of throughput compared to other classes is a problem. I’m also not sure that it would be apparent at the middle to lower levels of raiding where a player’s ability to make the most of their class is more important.
In a 10 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Personally I like to heal the raid. But priests can (and do) tank heal as well. As a player, I react very quickly to things on my bars so I normally do the dispelling.
Which healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
Shaman totems. Mana Tide, Healing Stream, resistances. Apart from that its all about the team.
What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
Paladins. This is likely my experience, but I think paladins have had the hardest time transitioning from Wrath. The on-beacon, off-beacon healing thing seems to be confusing, their AoE heals are odd and situational (so are priest AoE heals, but if Prayer of Healing isn’t working we can change Chakra and do something else instead).
What is your worst habit as a healer?
I’m a very reactionary healer, as opposed to a pro-active healer. Its the reason I don’t play disc well. I need to know the fight well before I can be pro-active.
What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
Two things, in different groups. I don’t PuG because PuGs like to blame the healer. Apparently it was my fault a PuG wiped on Ahune the other day because the tank didn’t … tank. He ran to the boss and started hitting him while the adds killed us. So the tank and his warlock buddy ripped into me. Now, I know I’m not that bad a healer, so I was not impressed.
In raids, I dislike people who take the healing meters at face value. A good healer is a healer who can keep their assigned targets alive throughout the fight and help a bit elsewhere. Thats it. Throughput? Irrelevent. If you are healing the tank your throughput will be lower, if the raid is split, throughput will differ. If you had three of the same class healing on the same fight, their meters would be different in 10 man because their assignments would be different.
I’m not saying they can’t be useful, but I think you can’t use them to ‘prove’ you’re a good healer.
Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Yes. I think all the healing classes are well balanced right now.
What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
Recount. I do use World of Logs some as well, but I prefer to look and see what is going on as we raid. WoL is more useful in a 25 man environment where you can’t use Recount on the go because of scale. Mostly, I look at the Death logs to see why people died. Was it lack of healing or was it spike damage? Was the spike of damage avoidable or not? Its a group activity and we make adjustments try on try based on it. I might also look at who healed what to see how to adjust assignments. But that is more to find the things that weren’t obvious.
But mostly I just think about what happened. Did my targets live? If not, why not? Can I fix it? How was my mana? Can I be more efficient? Will I manage the next part of the fight? Nefarian is a good example. It took me a few experiments to find the best way to heal phase 2 was to use single target heals and a LoLwell. Prayer of Healing didn’t work. It was less efficient mana wise because AoE heals didn’t affect the spikes of damage so I still had to use single target heals to tackle those, only they were more expensive. I knew I would burn a lot of my mana in this phase, but as long as I could end it on about 25% I had the regen to manage the crackles. I didn’t need Recount or any other tool to tell me this – I just needed my own healing experience.
Now I had a huge arguement with a ret pala about the way I healed phase 2. I prefer to keep people topped the whole fight rather than top them just before the crackle. I think its necessary because someone on low health may well die. The other platforms did things differently – probably because they had different healers. A druid might roll hots to mitigate the barrage and top for crackle, for example. But I know I am right because it works for me.
Tools I don’t use to evaluate my performance – ret palas who think they know best.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
I’m not sure. I would suspect that people’s ideas about a healing class are coloured by their experience of them. I am certain my perceptions of paladins are, for example.
What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
Mana management. I would say that priests run out of mana quicker. But we also regen it quicker if we’re geared right. I, personally, prefer it that way. But its a horrific shock when on the first trash pull in Heroic Stonecore, you run OOM. I think the reason for the general shortage of healers is that without support most new healers give up at that point. The others try to use Heal a lot on the next pull and everyone dies.
It takes time to learn to manage mana. Even experienced healers had to learn it again at the beginning of this expansion. The only way to learn to heal better is to fail at it in the 5 man environment. Even if you read everything available, you are still going to have to work out how to manage your mana, push the boundaries of what you can get away with in terms of casts, figure out how your spells interact to make you more efficient. And sometimes, you will make the wrong choice and people will die. Its especially hard if you are healing in PuGs because they won’t be tolerant of that learning curve.
Its also hard on new healers to assess when its their failure to heal efficiently and when its the group wasting their mana by failure. Thats where Recount death logs are useful. Did your target stand in bad? Then its their failure, not yours!
I would encourage new players to stick with it. It will get better and healing is sooo much fun.
If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see?
I do 90%+ of the dispelling in a raid. I’ve tried to make topping the dispelling meter a competition in the hope that others will do more. Its not working.
Haste or Crit and why?
Haste. See below.
What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Druids. I’ve attempted to heal, at least briefly, on shamans and paladins. I’ve never ever had a Resto druid. I should fix that at some point.
What addons or macros do you use to aid you in healing?
Vuhdo does everything I need. I keep meaning to have a stopcasting macro so I can Dispel even faster! But I forget. I also like to have a UI addon that rearranges my screen and an addon that counts cooldowns, etc. I am trying nUI for this right now. I was using SpartanUI in combination with a couple of other little addons, but Spartan is no longer being updated.
Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats or do you stack some much higher than others and why?
My approach has been is: Spirit on every item (and item enhancement for the most part), followed by Haste to 12.5% raid buffed for the extra tick of Renew, followed by Mastery. I don’t see that changing much, although I am tempted to stack a bit more Haste because in 10 man you feel it when Haste you are getting from another source is missing. I will be using more non-Spirit gear, but that simply means I will reforge into Spirit more and stick with my Spirit cloak and weapon enchants.
I can understand why there is less Spirit cloth in drops (Spirit cloth = Priest cloth, though I would argue that Spirit Leather, Mail and Plate is one class only too!). I don’t like Blizzard saying they don’t want us to stack Spirit on one hand whilst boosting our contribution from Spirit and not Intellect on the other. Holy Priests are never going to stack Haste, Mastery or Crit at the expense of Spirit (since these are considered equivalent stats). If I have too much Haste and not enough Spirit I will just run out of mana faster! If I have too much Mastery and not enough Spirit my passive healing will be great but I will run out of mana for my active healing. If I have too much Crit and not enough Spirit my throughput will be higher, but only for a short time until I run out of mana. Get where I’m going with this? Its not essential to have Spirit in every slot, but personally I find that being close to it lets me have some freedom in what I cast.