Healing Challenge Modes as a Discipline Priest
April 15, 2014 3 Comments
I finally got around to getting gold challenge modes done on my priest and it made for an interesting contrast with my Paladin. It seemed easier but that was most likely due to me having done them before on my Paladin and being familiar with tactics, damage patterns and pulls that hurt (MSP single pull to the 1st boss, Siege of Niuzao temple amber explosions… ow ow ow!).
This is what the priest transmog looks like and I don’t think its half as cool as the Paladin transmog.
Now I’m no heroic raider, in fact, my PvE content is mostly Flex if that. I like to do Challenge Modes and I like to PvP, both casually. The fact that I was able to PUG all 9 of my Golds on my priest ought to encourage you to try and get them too; they are definitely doable with some practice, preparation and effort.
Check out my Holy Paladin guide - the stuff about the UI, Amber, gearing, useful items, links to useful guides are all the same.
For reforges, I’d go with haste. With the rapid damage profile in Challenge Modes, it is often the heal that didn’t cast in time that leads to a death, not a puny extra bit of absorb on a shield. The #2 secondary stat is a wash between crit and mastery, I personally prefer crit because I spent a fair bit of my time doing atonement and the extra crit helps with DPS. Again, this is what worked for me and is probably greatly dependent on play style. In the end though, at ilvl 463 there just isn’t that much left over in the way of secondary stats after reforging to haste to make this matter much either way.
Also gear is not THAT important for getting a gold time (it is for realm best times etc). I successfully healed a CM for a gold time before realizing I was in full PvP gear, including a freedom trinket!
One difference for me on my priest was that she is an Engineer/Alchemist, the two best professions for Challenge Modes.
This is because:
1. Engineering - You get access to Nitro Boosts (more useful for a tank in my opinion) and the Invisibility Belt Tinker. Being an engineering tinker, it has the chance to fail. It seems like a low chance though, it only failed on me once. What is awesome about it is, its on a 3 min cooldown and it does not put your potions on cooldown. So you can go on chugging Jade Serpent potions alongside the mages and at ilvl 463, the 4000 int from those potions will add a very noticeable boost to your healing. It also saves your from the hassle and expense of the Invisibility Potions.
Note: If you have max engineering but haven’t yet discovered this tinker, craft some Electrified Ether and you should discover it right away.
2. Alchemy – Alchemy is awesome because of the Zen Alchemist Stone. This is by far the strongest trinket you can get for challenge modes, stronger even than the Darkmoon trinkets. Be sure to upgrade it so you get it to ilvl 466 which means it will scale down to 463 in a CM and won’t be 458 like the base crafted version. Why is this trinket strong? While it has about 800 mastery on it, its real strength comes form its proc (and it procs a lot!) – 4600 of your primary stat! The tooltip on wowhead is wrong, this is 4600 in game.
I’m not sure if the 40% extra mana from potions works in Challenge Modes because I’ve never used a mana potion in a CM. But I expect it does work and for those who want to use mana pots, this would be a great buff.
This brings up the question – why have I never used a mana pot in a challenge mode?
Well, speaking only of priests, it is because of Spectral Guise. You can pop that while in combat with trash and click your amber macro right away. The talent drops you out of combat (doesn’t work during boss fights so the tool-tip is inaccurate for trash) and amber doesn’t break from entering combat. So between some spirit shell use, shields and tank cooldowns, you can easily fill your mana up without taking combat breaks. This alone is enough to make discipline obscenely powerful for chain pulling trash.
Tier 1 -
Dominate Mind – You’ll be busy healing so this isn’t very useful.
Void Tendrils – Maybe useful where you want to root mobs away from the tank. Binding shot, Ring of Frost, Ursol’s Vortex etc are far more useful alternatives though. The target cap of 5 on this makes it even less useful.
Psyfiend – Drop it in the middle of a trash dogpile to make it one less source of damage you have to heal. Truth be told, I did not use this much.
Tier 2 -
Body and Soul – Speed boost on shield. Very useful for giving your tank a speed boost for kiting. Especially if you’re using Divine Insight, this will let you double the speed boost duration by doing Shield, Penance, Shield.
Angelic Feather – I used this most of the time, the speed boost is higher and longer duration. It recharges fairly quickly too. If you’re good at placing the feathers, in my opinion, this is the one to take.
Phantasm – Fairly useless for most CMs. I never used this.
Tier 3 -
From Darkness, Comes Light – In theory it sounds great, in practice when the going gets rough you bomb out heals non stop and a 15% proc chance didn’t sound like much. I didn’t even try it.
Mindbender – Essentially a 1 min CD stronger shadowfiend, this could be great for fights like the last boss in Stormstout Brewery. I tried this briefly but didn’t really want another button to use on CD for max efficiency.
Solace and Insanity – I used this most of the time and didn’t feel a need to change out of it. It hits fairly hard, does a good bit of atonement healing and doesn’t cause button bloat, give a proc to watch for nor change spell usage.
Tier 4 -
Desperate Prayer – A potent “oh crap!” self heal. What I used before I discovered what Spectral Guise can do!
Spectral Guise – Use this during combat to drop into stealth, use your restorative amber while your party is still fighting and get mana back super fast. While this doesn’t work on boss fights, its so darn useful during trash fights that no other talent really compares.
Angelic Bulwark – Another useful “oh crap!” self shield which is nice but nowhere near as useful as Spectral Guise.
Tier 5 -
Twist of Fate – This could be extremely potent since with atonement, you are hammering on mobs and hitting a low health mob is easy. Especially if you target the tank and do a couple ticks of Mind Sear. A strong choice for challenge modes.
Power Infusion – Nice boost but yet another button to manage. Plus a longish 2 min CD. I didn’t use this.
Divine Insight – Being able to shield again without waiting for weakened soul to fall off saved my tank more times than I care to admit. I used this mostly but it was a touch choice between this and Twist of Faith.
Tier 6 -
Cascade – It is strong but accidentally casting it on an enemy when you really needed it for healing is a scenario that was likely enough for me that I did not use this.
Divine Star – Solid healing and damage (40 monkeys in Stormstout Brewery, pulling trash all the way to 1st boss in MSP, pulling trash to Wise Mari in one go – ALL THE NUMBERS!) with a short 15 sec CD and a neat boomerang effect made it my favorite. I used this on cooldown during large pulls.
Halo – Not recommended because of the range issues with it, you’ll pull something you didn’t mean to or you’ll be too close to your target for maximum effect.
Penance – This is very useful, get out of bad without interrupting penance, heal on the run… all around useful glyph.
Holy Fire – Increase range of Holy Fire (and Power Word: Solace) to 40 yards. Useful because you’ll be doing a lot of atonement healing.
Power Word: Shield – This one is useful in heavy damage phases but I don’t think its mandatory. I used it. If your group dps is low and your tank damage not too rough, you might want to switch it out for the Glyph of Smite. Stormstout Brewery is one such place where Smite would be much more useful.
Damage Dealing Priority List
You’d use this when damage is low and you want to contribute DPS. Again, this isn’t theory crafted, it is what worked for me. I am sure it can be improved on and I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.
1. Shadow Word: Pain – optional, drop if you’re nervous about keeping up with healing at all
2. Holy Fire / Solace
3. Penance (on enemy)
5. Drop a shield on the tank if this isn’t enough to keep him at over 80% health
6. Shadow Word: Death on low health mobs
Moderate Healing Priority List
1. Power Word: Shield on the tank
2. Divine Star
3. Holy Fire / Solace
4. Penance (on tank)
Ideally your group will be coordinating stuns to keep damage low. In Challenge Modes, trash is far more deadly than bosses and keeping a stun rotation going on trash is critical to your success
Heavy Damage / Dangerous Pulls
A cooldown rotation will be critical here. Your tank and you will work out cooldown usage. For example if he pops shield wall, you don’t want to pop pain suppression at the same time. So you’ll have to work out who uses what when. Ideally have the tank use his CDs first and then you can use yours second.
Keep in mind that damage reduction CDs are far more useful at full health than they are at low health so don’t delay using them. Pre-emptive CD usage is far superior to reactive CD usage. If Pain Suppression (40% damage reduction) is cast when your tank has 400K health, it gives him an effective health pool of 560K with which to absorb damage – a gain of 160K. If you cast it on him when he’s at 150K health, that means his effective health pool is now 210K – a gain of 60K health. Ditto for Barrier usage.
Stun rotation to lock mobs down too is important too. Often when you feel that the damage coming in is impossible to heal through it means that it IS impossible to heal through. DPS need to be on top of their game to get their interrupts off and their stuns coordinated. For example, the trash in the corridor in Scarlet Halls outside Armsmaster Harlan is BRUTAL and will decimate your tank no matter what cooldowns you use if interrupts and stuns are not done right. Most tanks have 500K health or less in CMs and those Scarlet Evangelists cast Holy Fire that hits for…. <drum roll> 500K followed by a dot. And there are 2 of them. And they’ll cast it AGAIN and AGAIN until they die. I tell you this not to freak you out but to illustrate that keeping the group alive is not solely the healer’s responsibility – in a challenge mode, everyone has to be on their toes.
Another situation is the first pull in Stormstout Brewery – there are two hozen right inside the instance portal and then 3 more in the room behind them. Most tanks will pull all 5 and DPS will light them up. These hozen hit HARD. The key to getting them down fast is to pop the spirits in the air in the room that are empowering them. Popping those spirits (Battle Horn can do it too) reduces the mobs’ health by 50% and removes the enrage on them. So essentially as soon as you go in that room, if you’re not ready, your tank will be pancaked before those spirits die. What can you do about this? Well, the tank wants to use some of their CDs (not all, they’ll be needed again soon) and they want to kite them. DPS should be stunning them too. Other than pain suppression, what can you do? You can pre-pot before the instance starts and build a full strength spirit shell on the tank timing it to reach full strength a second after the instance begins. That with pain suppression (right away, while the spirit shell is strong) will take the edge off the trash damage and greatly easy the pressure on you. If you try to catch up with healing on that pull, your group will wipe, again and again and you’ll be miserable.
Don’t worry too much about mana, with spectral guise and amber, you’ll be able to regen very fast between pulls. Using amber during a trash pull is something best left for when you’re VERY comfortable with Challenge Modes.
If things are falling apart on trash, you can always use your fear bomb. It doesn’t work on all trash, but when it does, it can give you a chance to recover.
Leap of Faith
Make sure your tank knows you’re about to do this. Can be great for helping the tank kite. Between placing feathers and Leap of Faith, you can help your tank a LOT.
A well timed INT potion can help boost your healing on a rough fight. Be mindful (ignore if you’re using the Engineering Invisibility Field) of your potion CD as it may get in the way of using your invisibility potion when you need to.
I never remembered to use this when I needed it most. Void Shift can certainly be very useful when your tank is low, follow it up with Binding Heal to bring yourself and your tank up.
As for the spells I use on the harder pulls, its mostly a mix of Power Word: Shield, Penance, Divine Star and Flash Heal.
Go and have fun!
If you are having trouble with specific pulls, let me know in the comments and I’ll explain how I healed those.
Discipline Priests are very strong healers for challenge modes and if you try to PUG some runs you’ll find it fairly easy to get into groups. Be prepared with Amber, potions (INT and Invisibility), food and flasks and give them a try.