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Oddly
10-28-2009, 08:46 AM
October 31, 2010
At some point I'll rewrite this entire guide for level 85, but that will likely be a while from now.
In the meantime, I'll continue to update sources that will keep you current and entertained.



At the Top of Your Game

(Level 80 Character Management Through the Eyes of a Healing Priest)



Skill will always determine how good a player you are. But your character and gear management will determine how effectively you can use your skill. Poor management will literally diminish your potential; good management, on the other hand, can actually allow you to play better.

I'm going to point out and talk about issues and concepts that better players think about, and link you to some of the best and smartest information sources and discussions out there so that you can learn from them how best to apply those concepts to your character.

The concepts and much of the information in this guide apply to all players and all classes. The specific context in which I’ll discuss those concepts is that of level 80 healing Priest play with a raid emphasis. My own character, Oddly <Brave Companions> on Draka, is a Holy Priest.

First I'll briefly link a few general sites that are useful to all players as well as some class-specific sites, then talk about character and gear management and playing style, and finally take a look at a healer’s UI. I'm sure there are a lot of good informational sources and sites that I don't know or use; these are the ones I do.



All-Class Sites and Info


For up-to-the-minute game news and information, as well as a variety of quality articles ranging from class and play to stuff you could only think up if it was actually your job to spend time doing so -- all by people who know both what they're talking about and how to write about it -- I look to The WoW Insider:
The WoW Insider (http://www.wow.joystiq.com/)The most basic database reference sites – the very first sites that I learned and still go to for specific information about (and other players’ experiences with) an item, a profession, a quest, an achievement, a festival, etc. – are Wowhead, Thottbot, and WoWWikki:
Wowhead: The one thing on which Ninjas and Pirates agree. (http://www.wowhead.com)
Thottbot: World of Warcraft (http://www.thottbot.com/)
World of Warcraft universe guide - WoWWiki (http://www.wowwiki.com/Main_Page)(Incidentally, an interesting site to know and visit is ZAM.com, a network of gaming site franchises that includes Wowhead, Thottbot, and most recently TankSpot, among others.)

ZAM.com (http://www.zam.com/)TankSpot (Project Marmot) is a superb place to watch encounter vids and learn fights. TankSpot is probably the site that most clearly recognizes and understands the relationship between tanks and healers, and the information generally on the TankSpot site (including guides and forum discussions) is some of the highest quality to be found anywhere:
TankSpot (http://www.tankspot.com/)
TankSpot Project Marmot Raid Movie Guides (http://www.tankspot.com/forumdisplay.php?206-Project-Marmot-TankSpot-Raid-Movie-Guides)Another very good site for viewing multiple raid strategies for any instance, boss encounter, class or spec is StratFu:

StratFu: Pull! A Guide to Faster Raids (http://www.stratfu.com/)A classic go-to site for many players of all classes to learn more about their class and spec, with good theorycrafting, guides, forums, and discussions covering a broad range of topics is Elitist Jerks:
Elitist Jerks (http://elitistjerks.com/)Of course the WoW Armory is the definitive site on which to look up other players’ gear and stats, etc., and Wow-Heroes is another great site on which to do the same, as well as to look at guild gear rankings, etc. Armory Data Mining is a site with beaucoup class population data, as well as some interesting compilations, analyses, and discussions of various armory data:
The World of Warcraft Armory (http://cn.wowarmory.com/)
WoW Heroes - World of Warcraft PvE character info & ratings (http://www.wow-heroes.com/)
Armory Data Mining (http://armorydatamine.wordpress.com/)A terrific site for keeping up with potential game changes, and explanations from Blizzard itself of why things are as they are or will be, is WoWBlues. My favorite WoWBlues page is Posts by Ghostcrawler, aka Greg Street, lead game systems designer for WoW:
WoWBlues: Posts by Ghostcrawler (http://www.wowblues.com/author/Ghostcrawler)And two useful sites for character gear development and management are Be Imba and LootRank. Be Imba will pull your character and gear from the WoW Armory and tell you if you're missing any enchants or gems, or whether those you have are optimum or should (or could) be upgraded.
Be Imba! - the online Character Auditor for World of Warcraft (http://be.imba.hu/)LootRank is a phenomenal gear management tool. It will generate a ranked gear list by slot based on a set of parameters that you enter into its matrix, such as your class and spec, whether you intend to gem with rare or epic gems, and numerical values for the stats that are important to your character.

Figuring out numerical stat values and relative weights for any particular class and talent spec is the hard part. This is important stuff for all players – regardless of class – to understand, and I’ll talk more about it in Gear Management & Acquisition, below.

I think that LootRank uses its own default stat weight templates for each class and spec, but you can tweak them as you wish if you have different preferences:
Guild Ox -- Guild Progress, Character and Loot Rankings (http://www.guildox.com/wr.asp)
Class-Specific Sites


Here are some best-of-class sites with which the various classes can begin to look for information that will help you apply the general concepts discussed in the Character and Gear Management section below. As you begin to cull through class-specific sites, look for other sites that they link -- each site will lead to other class-specific sites, and those to others. Learning more about your class and character is a process of chasing down rabbit trails until you find the handful of key sites, authors, articles, threads, and discussions that ring your bell and provide you with the information that helps you to manage your character better and play smarter.
Twisted Nether Wiki List of WoW Blogs
This is a nice list; not exhaustive, but a terrific resource.
List of World of Warcraft blogs - Twisted Nether Wiki (http://wiki.twistednether.net/index.php?title=WoW_Blog_List)

Multiple-Class
Ensidia Guides (http://www.ensidia.com/forum_view.php?forum_id=36)
Elitist Jerks (http://elitistjerks.com)

Death Knight
Death Goddess (http://dkdeathgoddess.blogspot.com/)
pwnwear (http://pwnwear.com/)
Dwism (http://dwism.blogspot.com/)
Consider This... (http://considerit1.wordpress.com/)

Druid
Big Bear Butt (http://thebigbearbutt.com/)
HoTs & DoTs (http://www.hotsdots.com/) (Resto Druid/Shad Priest)
Falling Leaves and Wings (http://fallingleavesandwings.wordpress.com/)
Restoration Druid (http://restorationdruid.com/)
The View Through the Branches (http://view-through-branches.com/)

Hunter
Hunters Rhok (http://huntersrhok.blogspot.com/)
The Hunter's Mark (http://www.thehuntersmark.net/)
Warcraft Hunters Union (http://www.warcrafthuntersunion.com/)

Mage
Critical QQ (http://criticalqq.wordpress.com/) (Sadly ended in May 2010, but too good to delete; the body of work, and the link, stand.)
The Pink Pigtail Inn (http://www.pinkpigtailinn.com/)

Paladin
Blessing of Kings (http://blessingofkings.blogspot.com/)
The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon (http://bossypally.wordpress.com/)
I am a Paladin... (http://iamapaladin.blogspot.com/)
Blessing of Fish (http://blessingoffish.wordpress.com/)

Priest
Yeah, I know, more Priest sites than any other class... go figure.
Tales of a Priest (http://talesofapriest.com/)
BobTurkey's WoW Blog (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/)
Miss Medicina (http://missmedicina.blogspot.com/)
An Absolutely Ordinary Priest (http://xeppe5678.wordpress.com/)
Guild Mum (http://guildmum.com/)
Penance Priest (http://penancepriest.blogspot.com/)
And for the erudite gaming Priest, this superb history of the class by Esdras of Vodka:
Troll Priest -- The Priest Class in Warcraft: A History (http://www.trollpriest.com/may/wed/priest-class-warcraft-history)

Rogue
Shadow Panther (http://shadowpanther.net/)
The Noisy Rogue (http://thenoisyrogue.wordpress.com/)

Shaman
Life in Group 5 (http://lifeingroup5.com/)
Flame Shock - Shaman and Achievements in the World of Warcraft (http://flameshock.blogspot.com/)
Planet of the Hats (http://wowhats.wordpress.com/)

Warlock
Mystic Chicanery (http://chicanery.fibergeek.com/)
Destructive Reach (http://www.destructivereach.com/)
The Warlocks Den (http://wowmb.net/)

Warrior/Tank
TankSpot - World of Warcraft News, Guides, and Community (http://www.tankspot.com)
Tankadin (http://www.tankadin.com/)
TankingTips.com - A guide to tanking as a Warrior in World of Warcraft (http://www.tankingtips.com/)
Can Tank, Will Travel (http://cantankwilltravel.blogspot.com/)

Healer
Excellent sites written/moderated by world-class players/writers.
World of Matticus (http://www.worldofmatticus.com/)
PlusHeal (http://www.plusheal.com)
Moar HPS (http://moarhps.wordpress.com/)

Leveling
Psynister's Notebook (http://psynister.wordpress.com/)

Terribly Clever & Enormously Entertaining
Many of the blogs I've linked are well-written, witty and fun, but Tamarind and Chastity have literally and literarily defined the category. After you've read the horse story (second link) or The Princes' Bollocks (third) you'll understand perfectly, and be forever hooked.
Righteous Orbs (http://www.righteousorbs.com/)
RO: A very srs quandary or How I Made Myself Unhappy with Every Mount in the Game (http://www.righteousorbs.com/?p=1674)
RO: The princes' bollocks (http://www.righteousorbs.com/?p=2074)
Character and Gear Management


Skill will always be the most important element of good play -- but knowing how to manage and play your character more effectively will put you at the top of your game. Here are the elements of character management that, if handled effectively, will allow you to use your skill to its full potential:
Talent Build
Glyphs to enhance talents

Gear Acquisition & Management
Appropriate stat values/relative weights to properly rank gear
Gems & Enchants to achieve goals and balance
Flask, Elixir and Food buffs to enhance power and balance

Priority Goals & Overall Balance

Playing StyleEffective character management is not all that hard, but there's a lot to think about. I'll explain the concepts and principles involved, illustrating them with the information and thought processes I use to apply them to Oddly, in a discussion format that loosely follows the various topics in the order stated above, with common and connecting themes running throughout.

From this point forward, I'll try to distinguish the Priest-specific conversation by using black type. The discussion in purple will be intended for all.

Through reading and thinking about what very good, smart players have to say about the elements of character management, I am constantly refining a better understanding of how to manage and play Oddly. And it is a process of continuous refinement because the specifics -- but not the principles -- of character management change as the game evolves. The introduction of new gear and game mechanics, and modifications to class talents, sometimes affect the talents and gear we should select (i.e., the stats we favor most), the gems and enchants and elixirs we should use, and our style of play.

The phenomenon is a recurring one and applies to all classes and talent specs. Although throughout WotLK it has been more often tied to gear item level (more fully explained in the Gear Acquisition & Management discussion, below) and stat thresholds than anything else, it occurs in connection with each major patch released by Blizzard. In the WotLK expansion, patches 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 each brought with it not only new content to explore and master, but also higher gear tiers and levels, as well as (sometimes) new game mechanics and talent modifications. All of these elements combine to change the dynamics of character management and game play – to a greater or lesser extent with respect to any particular class or talent spec.

Think about it this way: once you hit level 80, you sort of begin to level again -- through end-game progression. And at some point(s) along the way, your gear priorities and stat/ability goals and balance, and even your playing style, may change. Both your skill level and your game experience will be enhanced if, through a little reading and research, you figure out what those changes are for your class and spec, and at what point(s) they occur.

And because the advancement of a level 80 character has more to do with gear than anything else (except to the extent that higher level gear is obtained through higher level content, of course), it makes sense to talk about level 80 character progression in terms of gear item levels -- so I'll talk about a "post-226 character" or "level 245 game play." It might be helpful to keep these loose associations in mind:
Gear Level 175-200..........New level 80 (in mostly blues and low level purples)
Gear Level 200-213..........Tier 7..........Naxxramus
Gear Level 213-226..........Tier 8..........Ulduar
Gear Level 226-245..........Tier 9..........Trial of the Crusader
Gear Level 245-264..........Tier 10........Icecrown CitadelFinally, although the ease with which a character can acquire Emblems of Triumph (and purchase level 232/245 gear) after Patch 3.3 means that most level 80 toons spend much less time than before in gear below item level 226, it's still important in terms of character progression to know and understand "lower" level 80 management -- it's during that time that most of us begin thinking in earnest about further character advancement now that leveling is over, and every toon is still going to spend some period of time below 226, and then from 226 to 245, etc. It's important to spec, gear, gem, enchant, etc. your character for his/her current level of play. You're not managing your pre-226 character well if you're speccing and gemming for post-245 play.

As for healing Priests specifically -- both Holy and Discipline -- there is significant agreement that character management dynamics change remarkably once your average gear item level reaches about 226. And just as such changes occur at level 226, so do they also occur at gear level 245 (with the advent of patch 3.3) – but to a lesser degree. So let's begin talking about pre-226 level 80s, and move forward from there.


Talent Build... and Healing Priest Guides
Miss Medicina, who writes an excellent Priest blog with flair and imagination, has penned a Holy Priest Starter Healing Guide with good and thoughtful, well-rounded discussion for those new to level 80 healing as a Holy Priest. Additionally, she has throughout her guide included a number of links to more detailed analyses of specific topics, both from her blog and from outside sources:
Miss Medicina's Holy Priest Starter Healing Guide (http://missmedicina.blogspot.com/2009/09/holy-priest-pve-starter-healing-guide.html)And for the newly level 80 healing Priest who wants to take the fast track and begin preparing to raid asap, Avalonna, who together with Derevka writes the very smart blog Tales of a Priest, has this advice:
Tales of a Preist: Ding! I'm 80, Now What? (http://talesofapriest.com/?p=137)Two of the best comprehensive Holy Priest guides I've seen are those written by Poptisse and Aliena (see below). Beginning specifically for a character with pre-226 average gear item level (in other words, from the time you first hit level 80 through Ulduar), Poptisse of Ensidia (one of the handful of consistently best guilds in the world) has written a terrific guide:
Poptisse's Ensidia Holy Priest Guide Part 1 (http://www.ensidia.com/forum_topic.php?forum_id=36&topic_id=28845)Poptisse (who, based on her accomplishments, is hard to argue with) covers a great number of topics, and links two classic and definitive pre-226 Holy Spec Talent Builds – it’s important to note, however, that an original thread post (which no longer appears) pointed out and Poptisse confirmed that the first build linked should have Surge of Light rather than Healing Prayers. (For other Holy and Discipline Priest talent builds, see the the Aliena, BobTurkey and Elitist Jerks links below.)

I cannot overemphasize the importance of a correct talent build. While I understand that some talent choices may be a matter of personal preference, I also believe that many are so important as to be considered “correct” and should be selected. There’s no downside to looking around to see how other good players have built your spec, and why. It’ll either confirm what you already knew, or make you think about one or two small changes that might make a difference.

In fact, for a pre-226 Holy Priest, I think any deviation from one of Poptisse’s two classic builds should be well thought out (and Aliena's thoughts, below, taken into account as well). Of course, we all play differently and have different preferences, and that’s fine. But a sound course of action vis-ŕ-vis your talent build would be to begin by finding one or two “classic models” like Poptisse’s, and then thinking carefully about any changes you might want to make.

After reading Poptisse's article I changed Oddly’s pre-226 talent build from the classic 14/57/0 build to the first one linked (and used) by her, an 18/53/0 build that takes advantage of the mana reduction benefits of Mental Agility in the Discipline tree. But I differed from Poptisse's build in one major respect: she doesn't have Healing Prayers in her 18/53/0 build, and I put both points in it. In addition to PoM, I used PoH a lot, it's mana-expensive, and a 20% mana cost reduction was just too good for me to pass up. To get those two points I took one point out of Spiritual Guidance (and left it at 4/5) and gave up Spirit of Redemption.

Understanding more now than I did then and playing with different game mechanics in ICC-level gear, it's easy (for me) to criticize my early talent choices, and in hindsight I might have done it differently. But bear in mind -- as described in the stat weight discussion below -- that from the time a healing Priest reaches level 80 until his/her average gear item level hits about 226, manaregen/longevity stats (intellect, spirit, mp5, crit) are more important than throughput stats (spell power, haste). That single paramount consideration (correctly) influenced my pre-226 talent, gear, gem, enchant, and food choices more than any other.

Regardless of whether my decisions were the best ones, however, as I said before I think it's important for a pre-226 healing Priest (or any character) to spec, gear, gem, enchant, etc. for that level of play, even if you know that soon priorities will change. Because about the time that a healing Priest's average gear item level reaches 226, things change significantly. At that point, Poptisse published Part 2 of her guide which, among other things, linked her new talent build:
Poptisse's Ensidia Holy Priest Guide Part 2 (http://www.ensidia.com/forum_topic.php?forum_id=36&topic_id=28846)Post-226, Poptisse radically altered her talents, and much of her thinking. At the point at which a Holy Priest is fully Ulduar-geared, she believes that mana becomes less of an issue and a lower priority than before, and so she places talent points previously spent for mana reduction elsewhere. Part 2 of Poptisse's guide reflects the most pivotal and significant shift in healing Priest character management throughout the course of WotLK, and it boils down to this: at about gear item level 226 spell power throughput begins to take priority over manaregen/longevity on a going forward basis -- with respect not only to talent build but also, as I'll discuss later, gear management and playing style. It's also at about this point that Greater Heal was all but dropped from the Holy Priest raid-healer's playbook, and so talent points previously spent enhancing it were freed up as well.

Poptisse’s changes were thought-provoking, far from what was previously considered “classic”, and were controversial for a short time (until others caught up, lol). At first I was a little nervous about them, but I came to understand them and like them, and shortly after my average gear item level reached 226 I adopted a talent build almost identical to Poptisse's in Part 2. The process of figuring out how those changes affected my play was fun.

Aliena of TankSpot fame, another very accomplished Priest, has also written an excellent comprehensive Holy Priest guide (covering everything from spells to talent builds to gearing, gemming and enchanting), replete with videos. While Aliena's guide contains great information for all level 80 Holy Priests, she has (per post dated March 31, 2010) updated it to encompass play style changes for item level 245+ characters. Aliena's thoughts and ideas became in a short time an integral source for me, to be weighed and balanced with and against other valuable sources, point by point, as I continue in my search for the ever-changing balance of what "feels" right.
Aliena's TankSpot WotLK Holy Priest Guide (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?56757-WotLK-Holy-Priest-Guide)The thread following Aleina's guide is also very good (start at the end and work back), and Aliena is not only responsive in that thread but takes an active role in TankSpot's Healing Discussion forum. Her advice, as well as that of several other active participants (notably Amamaeth, Spiritus, and Mael) always makes for worthwhile reading.

Another good source for character play and management information is Elitist Jerks (see link above). For many excellent players of all classes, EJ represents the standard of advice on all aspects of talent build, gear selection, gems, glyphs and enchants, action bar rotations, elixirs and foods, etc. EJ has posted a number of Healing Compendia and discussions for both Holy and Discipline Priests that contain classic pre- and post-226 Discipline Spec Talent Builds, as well as a great deal of other useful information.
Priests - Elitist Jerks (http://elitistjerks.com/f77/)Also with respect to Discipline Priests:
Miss Medicina has written a fine Starter Guide for Discipline Priest Healing similar to her Holy Priest Guide:
Miss Medicina's Starter Guide for Discipline Priests (http://missmedicina.blogspot.com/2009/08/starter-guide-for-pve-discipline-priest.html)Aliena has produced a written/video Discipline Priest guide that mirrors her excellent Holy Priest guide:
Aliena's TankSpot WotLK Disc Priest Guide (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?57156-WotLK-Disc-Priest-Guide)And the following post from BobTurkey's WoW Blog (more about BobTurkey below) discusses raiding and lists his talent build for the post-226 Discipline Priest.
BobTurkey’s WoW Blog: Raid Healing as Disc (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/how-to-raid-heal-as-discipline)Gear Acquisition & Management
Once a character has a correct talent build, it's crucial -- and an ongoing process -- to gear (and glyph, gem and enchant) properly. As for glyphs, gems and enchants, as well as elixir and food buffs, I generally follow the advice of Poptisse and/or Aliena (so I will not repeat that advice here).

In order to understand effective gear management, it’s helpful to have some understanding of how gear works. Each piece of gear in the game has an item level and, by slot, the items on each level are equal to one another. For instance, all level-213 chest pieces are equal in power or effectiveness – that is, the sum of all the stats, after each one has been multiplied by its relative value or weight factor as determined by Blizzard, is the same on each piece. There is a stat/ability "budget" for each item in the game, and all level-213 chest pieces have the same budget. The stat budget for items increases with the item level.

Here's a brief and terrific example of how the budget and relative stat values work with respect to, say, some of the Patch 3.2 epic gems:
BobTurkey's WoW Blog: 3.2 Epic Gem Item Budgets (http:///bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/epic-gems-and-the-missing-spell-power/)But although level-213 chest pieces are equal to one another, they're not all equal for Oddly (or any character). Cloth gear doesn’t even have strength or agility, for example, because those stats have a zero value to all caster classes. Among the stats that cloth gear does have, hit is important to a dps-spec’d character but worthless to a healer, and mp5 is worth more to a Holy Priest than to a Shadow Priest, etc. – characters have different stat/ability needs, both by class and by talent spec within a class.

Hence each stat has a different value, and weight relative to other stats, for each class talent spec. Blizzard establishes the fundamental stat values and weights for item budget purposes, but it’s up to us to figure out how to modify those values to determine an item’s worth for any particular class talent spec.

And determining the relative stat weights for any particular class talent spec is the subject of never-ending debate and strong disagreement between even the best and smartest players. This is the heart of theorycrafting, and it's all about math based on assumptions flavored by opinions and play style.

It’s worth noting that in the grand scheme of the interplay between gear item level, specific class talent spec stat weights, and overall balance, it turns out that -- depending on what I decide my priorities are – a particular level-213 chest piece may actually be better for Oddly than a particular level-219 chest piece, and so on. In deciding whether to acquire a piece of gear, I focus primarily on specific stats (relatively weighted) and overall balance. The gear item level, though certainly in the mix, is of less concern.

In other words, a gear "score" -- which is based on gear item levels -- is not as important as understanding which gear will enhance your play the most, and why. As I write this paragraph, my average gear level is about 260, and even though it "lowers" my gear score I'll wear my level 245 Solace of the Defeated trinket till the cows come home (or I acquire the level 258 heroic version). There is no level 264 or 277 level trinket for that slot that I believe will enhance my play as much or more, and I will not equip a higher level trinket in that slot to raise my gear score at the expense of my effectiveness.

In order to help me know what gear is good, better, and best for Oddly, I use as a guideline the gear list I have developed on LootRank, where I have tweaked the standard LootRank template stat values based on what I believe is the best healing Priest information available. And it's important to recognize that, just like a talent build, stat weights may change, and stat/ability priorities may shift, at different gear levels: a specific stat may have greater or less impact or importance, and hence a different relative value, as your gear level increases.

For me, the best healing Priest theorycraft information out there comes from BobTurkey (”Gobble, Gobble”)(who, despite having slowed down in 2010, remains for me the definitive theorycraft guru for healing priests throughout the course of WotLK):
BobTurkey’s WoW Blog (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/)Bob’s healing Priest Stat Weights analysis is the best and most comprehensive I've seen, and his stats are what I use on LootRank. For pre-226 healing Priests, he concluded that the Holy and Discipline Priest stat weights should be:

Pre-226 Gear Stat Weights
SOURCE..........DISC..........HOLY
Mp5.................1.0000.......1.0000
Spi..................0.3223.......0.5222
Int..................0.8915........0.6890
SP..................0.6000........0.6000
Crit.................0.3564........0.3763
Sta.................0.2000........0.2000
Haste..............0.2925........0.3059
BobTurkey's WoW Blog: 3.1 Priest Theorycrafting – Summary (Part 6) (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/priest-theorycrafting-summary-part-6/)BobTurkey explains in Part I of his discussion that he bases his calculations on certain assumptions, like 90% of time healing spent in the five second rule, and six-minute fights, etc. And there's the rub: some very good players disagree with Bob's underlying assumptions (and with each other) to one extent or another. The disagreements mostly center around differences in opinion that would lead to different underlying assumptions, which in turn would change one or more of the mathematical variables and hence the results. A lot of the differences are valid, but usually not as much a matter of right and wrong as of divergent playing styles or personal experience, and at the end of the day you gotta land somewhere. For me, BobTurkey is an excellent place.

Bob's pre-226 stat weights are generally configured (due to his underlying assumptions) to favor manaregen/longevity over pure spell power throughput -- and, as noted above, that's the single most important consideration in pre-226 healing Priest character management. His calculations take into account all appropriate talent interactions and procs, etc., and he both defended them against and adjusted them for a number of feedback responses. Again, once you buy into the underlying assumptions, it's hard to argue with the correct math.

At the point at which average gear item level reaches 226, however, Bob posted the following revised healing Priest gear stat weights:

Post-226 Gear Stat Weights
SOURCE..........DISC..........HOLY
Mp5................1.0000.........1.0000
Spi.................0.4138.........1.0278
Int..................1.1483.........0.8403
SP..................2.0000.........2.0000
Crit.................1.1851.........0.8959
Sta.................0.2000.........0.2000
Haste..............1.0713.........1.1337
BobTurkey's WoW Blog: 3.2 Priest Theorycrafting (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/priest-theorycrafting-for-3-2/)Look what happened to the value of spell power: Bob figures that after the stat threshold reached by Tier 8 (25) gear – item level 226 – spell power is the stat that scales best by far, and so weights it at twice the value of mp5. In other words BobTurkey concurs -- with but independently of Poptisse -- that because of the sheer volume of stats and abilities on gear and taking into account talents and game mechanics, when your average gear item level reaches about 226, balance shifts: from talent build and gear and gems and enchants that favor manaregen/longevity to those that favor spell power throughput. This shift, expressed by Poptisse and then theorycrafted by BobTurkey, eventually gained widespread recognition and acceptance and changed the priorities for healing Priest character management going forward from that point.

To be sure, and this is an important point to understand, neither this shift nor any other similar change in character management happens unequivocally and completely at a given point -- healing Priests should not, at level 226, abandon manaregen or try somehow to switch all their longevity stats to throughput stats. Rather, at about level 226, on a going foward basis, and more and more as average gear item level increases, healing Priests should place greater emphasis on acquiring throughput than they do on acquiring manaregen. In her updated Holy Priest Guide, Aliena succintly confirms that after you've acquired enough manaregen so that running OOM is no longer an issue, then "[a]s your gear level goes up, you'll be able to switch out more and more mana regen for throughput." Exactly that.

When patch 3.3 arrived, BobTurkey again tweaked his assumptions and theorycrafting to account for new content and encounter mechanics and gear that will raise a character’s average gear item level above 245. The result is a new set of stat weights (and a separate trinket list) to be used for post-245 average gear item level play. Although the changes represented at gear item level 245 are much less significant than those which occurred at gear level 226, ultimately WoW is a game of increments (as Brave Companions GL Xurf recently noted, rightly) and incremental adjustments are important, both literally in-game and in mindset.

Post-245 Gear Stat Weights
SOURCE..........DISC..........HOLY
Mp5................1.0000.........1.0000
Spi.................0.4273.........1.0516
Int..................1.1551.........0.8163
SP..................2.0000.........2.0000
Crit.................1.1315.........0.7387
Sta.................0.2000.........0.2000
Haste..............0.6309.........0.6096
BobTurkey's WoW Blog: 3.3 Priest Theorycrafting – Summary (Part 6) (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/priest-theorycrafting-for-3-3-summary-part-6/)
BobTurkey's WoW Blog: Healing Priest Trinkets for 3.3 (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/healing-priest-trinkets-for-3-3/)Good Theorycrafting can be found in many places. Although I prefer BobTurkey's theorycrafting with respect specifically to healing Priests, Elitist Jerks is probably the best known WoW theorycrafting site on the internet and is relied on by many players of all classes and specs. Vixsyn, who writes the astute and savvy Shaman blog Life in Group 5, observes that from a theorycrafting standpoint:


I don’t think there’s a doubt in anyone’s mind that the elitists and number-crunchers that make up the EJ core have contributed a massive amount of information to the WoW community. They have become a resource that almost eclipses all others, and a reliable source for quality community-policed information. In addition, a number of mods and theorycrafting tools, including ZAP!, DXE, Shaman HEP, Rawr, MageGraf, EnhSim and a host of other simulators and analytics, have been developed by EJ members. And while some of the tools have only been used by those pursuing the mathematical optimum values, others like RAWR are used frequently by a broad range of the player base. Life in Group 5: The Argument for Elitism Part II (http://lifeingroup5.com/?p=1026)
Elitist Jerks (http://elitistjerks.com/)Bits and pieces of theorycrafting pop up from time to time in good forum discussion threads as well and, like BobTurkey, a number of quality bloggers do their own theorycrafting and write excellent single-issue theorycrafting posts. A couple of notable healing bloggers and examples of their theorycrafting work include:

Zusterke of PlusHeal:
Zusterke's Corner (http://zusterke.orderoftheathanor.eu/) (an entire site designed by Zusterke "to help you with analyzing stats, items and eventually... raid efficiency")
World of Snarkcraft: Zusterke's Guest Posts (http://snarkcraft.wordpress.com/tag/zusterke/)
PlusHeal: Disc Priests - Crit, Haste, Scenarios and Theory (http://www.plusheal.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4937)And Codi of Moar HPS:

Moar HPS: Healer Metagems -- Let's Be Frank (http://moarhps.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/healer-metagems-lets-be-frank/)
Moar HPS: Intellect -- Why It's That Good For Healadins (http://moarhps.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/intellect-why-its-that-good-for-healadins/)
Moar HPS: Healadin Do-It Yourself -- Converting INT (and crit) to MP5 (http://moarhps.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/healadin-do-it-yourself-converting-int-and-crit-to-mp5/)What's more, Wow.com has begun to post some very good basic theorycrafting discussions:
WoW.com -- Theorycraft 101: Spellpower (http://www.wow.com/2010/04/13/theorycraft-101-spellpower/#continued)
WoW.com -- Theorycraft 101: The Melee Hit Table (http://www.wow.com/2010/05/10/theorycraft-101-the-melee-hit-table/#continued)
WoW.com -- Theorycraft 101: Caster Haste (http://www.wow.com/2010/05/18/theorycraft-101-caster-haste/)
WoW.com -- Theorycraft 101: Melee Haste (http://www.wow.com/2010/05/25/theorycraft-101-melee-haste/)
Having discussed theorycrafting to this extent, I should point out that many great players (at least believe that they) don’t place as much reliance on it as they do on their general understanding and intuition; Poptisse admits to as much in Part 2 of her guide. Even BobTurkey has lamented that:


Healing priests can choose to just aim to gear at the highest item level possible and provided they choose appropriate gear (stuff with spell power, intellect, spirit, haste, etc on it) they would be competitive with a similarly skilled and experienced priest who selected gear based on these stat weights. This is a bit of a slap in the face for someone who has spent hours fiddling with spreadsheets, but at the end of the day stat weights are about fine-tuning gear selection and not the be-all-and-end-all of gearing. BobTurkey's WoW Blog: 3.3 Priest Theorycrafting – Introduction (Part 1) (http://bobturkey.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/priest-theorycrafting-for-3-3-introduction-part-1/)So why bother with theorycrafting at all?

Because it represents the science behind the game, the “why” things work as they do and this piece of gear is better than that. It is the vocabulary without which you cannot have the thoughts, and those who have been exposed to it are thinking in terms that those who have not simply cannot.

In an ironic nutshell, theorycrafting provides the knowledge that leads a player to develop a deeper general intuitive understanding about the workings of the game and character management -- the more I have learned about and paid attention to theorycrafting, the better my understanding and intuition have become, and the less I have to constantly rely on the theorycrafting!

And as my understanding has progressed, I have most often preferred to know what theorycrafting would say about specific gear selections, and then to try and use that knowledge intuitively in order to achieve balance… Because all of the better players, regardless of how deeply they get into theorycrafting math for gear selection, agree that the key to proper gear management is to remember that with respect to the big picture It’s All About Balance.


Priority Goals & Overall Balance
That is so important it bears repeating: balance is the big picture, and if your balance is too far out of kilter it will negatively impact your play. Once you have accurate relative stat weights for your class and spec and have used them to build an appropriate ranked gear list, it's your job to figure out which stats need to be balanced against one another and precisely what those balances should be. And to remember that those desired balances may differ at various gear levels.

For priority goals and overall balance, A Dwarf Priest (“I Melt Kneecaps”) (who pre-dated BobTurkey, and back in her day took teaching and learning about playing a Holy Priest to a new level – it was because she stopped writing after Christmas 2008 that Bob began his work in Spring 2009) was the first place that I found clear and convincing Holy Priest gear goals and priorities to achieve a certain balance:
WotLK Priest Survival Guide « A Dwarf Priest (http://dwarfpriest.com/2008/11/11/wotlk-priest-survival-guide/)A Dwarf Priest said to gear to achieve these goals in this order:
1. A 5:1 ratio of spell power to mp5 (inside the five second rule)
2. Crit to 20% unbuffed
3. Haste to 10%, then increaseThese are WotLK 3.0 thoughts, but the concept remains ever-relevant: the two big-picture balancing acts for a Holy Priest are the ratio of spell power to mp5 (ifsr) and crit versus haste. Until fairly recently, I have not again come across really good discussions of priorities and goals such as these, and so I have simply built upon them and modified them as gear stat weights have changed and I have learned more about them.

For instance, because of the increasing importance placed on throughput (over longevity) after average gear item level 226, I began to notice, and came to realize, that the 5:1 sp to mp5 (ifsr) ratio (completely unbuffed, I have always assumed) could probably be adjusted to around 7:1 for level 245 Holy Priests, and as much as 8:1 or even 9:1 for 264 Holy Priests. (I'm willing to stretch it that far because many Holy Priests at those levels are wearing powerful manaregen trinkets like Solace of the Defeated/Fallen and/or Purified Lunar Dust, etc. that don't figure into the ratio.)

In fact, what really happened at about gear level 226 and beyond is that mana pool and mana regen levels (supplemented by trinkets, Shadow Fiend, Hymn of Hope and mana pots) began to reach a critical mass sufficient to sustain a Holy Priest through almost any encounter. So it may be just as accurate to suppose that after certain unbuffed manaregen thresholds are reached and sustained -- say, a mana pool of 2300-2500 and mp5 (ifsr) of 350-400 -- a Holy Priest can focus primarily on acquiring spell power throughput. You could say that as your gear level climbs after 226, the spellpower-to-manaregen-ratio goal morphs into a mana pool/manaregen-threshold goal, and that the increasing ratios at higher gear levels are a direct consequence of that.

Aliena discusses priorities and goals in her guides as well. For a Holy Priest she believes that the post-226 stat priority order is intellect, spell power, spirit, crit/haste, mp5, and stamina -- and on a post-245 basis she places haste before spirit. When she originally wrote her Holy Priest guide -- again, post-Ulduar but pre-ICC -- she (very common-sensibly) advised stacking crit until “you’re comfortable with your average number of Holy Concentration and Surge of Light procs", and then stacking haste. And she mentioned aiming for the “generally accepted” thresholds of 30% (holy) crit and 20% haste raid-buffed.

During the same general timeframe -- at the very beginning of ICC -- a similar thread discussion caught my attention. In it, Spiritus casually threw out the "general rule" of getting to about 30% holy crit (raid-buffed) and then stacking haste, and Aliena agreed. Just as A Dwarf Priest did before them, both Aliena and Spiritus continue to talk in terms of prioritizing crit before haste.
TankSpot Forum Thread: Holy Disc Priest Gear (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?60714-Holy-Disc-Priests-Gear)But at some point, the balance of crit and haste appears to change for many players. Poptisse began to advocate stacking haste over crit in Part 2 of her Holy Priest guide, which goes all the way back to level 226, and Aliena has elevated haste as well in her post-245 updates. Now Aliena's guide offers this (again, sensible) advice:


What I suggest for every new and old priest out there alike is to pick up enough mana regen until you're never at a risk of running out of mana - ideally you do this with spirit and some select crit gear pieces - and then itemize for haste and spellpower or just haste if you prefer. Aliena's TankSpot WotLK Holy Priest Guide (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?56757-WotLK-Holy-Priest-Guide)

Sure enough, although the "generally accepted" threshold for holy crit for a pre-245 Holy Priest was (and still is) about 30% (raid-buffed), many top players began to sacrifice appreciable crit to stack more haste as they have progressed through the upper wings of ICC. Similarly, while there seemed to be (and still is) a hard and fast rule about gemming for pre-245 Holy Priests -- spell power for throughput and intellect for longevity (and spirit if the bonus is worth it), but never haste or crit -- I have seen scores of Holy Priests switch (many of) their intellect gems for haste gems as they have approached level 264 gear.

The crit v.haste issue is a tough one, the debate is alive and well, and the concept of a "correct" balance appears to be a moving target: the consensus suggests that as your average gear item level rises, haste becomes more desirable than crit. I suspect that a reasonable Holy Priest guideline is first to work your way toward 25% holy crit (unbuffed) during your pre-245 level 80 rise, and then to stack haste out the wazoo, possibly sacrificing as much as 3%-6% crit to do so as you move forward from 245 to 264 and beyond. That said, the real trick is, as always, to find the balance that works best for you and your playing style.

As for how much haste, there is a hard Global Cool Down haste cap at 50% haste -- the amount of haste necessary to lower the GCD from 1.5 seconds to one second -- which is attainable by Discipline Priests but not realistically by Holy Priests, and other than that there is no haste cap for healing Priests. Here are, respectively, a correct assessment of the Discipline/Holy Priest haste cap question, an interesting theorycraft post on the value of haste for healing Priests, and an excellent thread discussing the amounts of haste necessary to maximize Holy Priest spells between GCDs:

Healing Council: [Priest Question] What Do You Think of Haste? (http://healingcouncil.com/2010/03/19/priest-question-what-do-you-think-of-haste/)
Elitist Jerks: On the Value of Haste (http://elitistjerks.com/f77/t91007-value_haste/)
Plusheal: Holy Priest Haste Cap (http://www.plusheal.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5949)The practical application of priorities and goals and balance, of course, affects how I make gear selection decisions: I still generally refer to my LootRank list for gear acquisition, but as a guideline rather than as absolute slot rankings carved in stone, trying to fit each individual gear piece decision into my vision of overall balance.

And because I generally acquire one piece of gear at a time, I have often been slightly to one side or the other of my notion of balance, with respect to either spell power/mp5 or crit/haste. To minimize this -- it's impossible to eliminate entirely -- I use my LootRank gear list to look ahead and determine the specific combination of pieces of gear I want to go for in order to achieve the stat thresholds and balances I'd like to reach. Knowing full well that like any other best laid plan, it ain't gonna fall neatly into place.

So for me, it boils down to a constant juggling act; what I want is to achieve the goals and to strike and maintain the overall balances that A Dwarf Priest set out prior to 3.1, as modified by the reality of what I believe I can achieve and the things I've learned from Aliena, Poptisse, BobTurkey, Derevka, Avalonna, and others since then. Toward this end, I have also learned a lot from periodically checking out the Armory pages of healing Priests I admire to see how they're gearing, gemming, and enchanting, and the stat thresholds and balances they're attaining -- a fine practice, as long as I remember to put what I see at any given point in the context of their then-average gear item level and gameplay content.

The bottom line is that in order to effectively acquire and manage gear it’s equally important to use appropriate stat values/relative weights to figure out correct gear rankings for your character and then to temper those rankings with priority goals and an overall balance that seem right. The blend of theorycrafting and intuition you use to achieve this is up to you, but taking the time to expose yourself to a little theorycrafting relating to your class and spec will enhance your intuitive understanding.


Playing Style
In the fall of 2009, Miss Medicina did an extraordinary thing: she created the Circle of Healers, a healers' webring, generating a healing questionnaire that was circulated among and responded to by some of the best healers/writers of all classes all over the world. The questions covered a wide range of healing topics, such as favorite and least favorite heals and healing classes, class strengths and weaknesses, evaluating performances, haste or crit and why, macros, playing styles, etc. The Circle of Healers occupies a tab at the top of her blog site, and is a unique and rich source of healing and playing style commentary for all healing classes. It took the WoW world healing community by storm and, while I don't know if you can pull that off more than once, it would be amazing to see it evolve as the game grows and changes.
Miss Medicina's Circle of Healers (http://missmedicina.blogspot.com/2009/10/circle-of-healers.html)Many of the sites I've linked discuss actual play, and they're well worth looking at and thinking about. Reading and thinking about playing styles, rotations, tips and advice from other good, smart players, and picking up on things that resonate, helps me to be more aware of my own style and sometimes leads me to try something new that enhances my own play. Here are some examples:

Matticus, ubiquitous and prolific, who maintains the top-notch blogs World of Matticus and NoStockUI as well as presently writing the Raid: Rx column for WoW.com (The New WoW Insider), has for some time written excellent and diverse discussions and commentaries on all aspects of the healer's game, including playing style. One seemingly minor World of Matticus entry some time ago actually changed my play on every boss fight. Matt mentioned a terrific dual-action heal that hadn’t then occurred to me: Inner Focus + Divine Hymn. This is a great way, once a fight on an 8-minute cooldown, to get a powerful crit-likely smart-AoE heal for free, which would otherwise be less crit-likely and very mana-expensive. I never ever used DH precisely because it is so expensive, and I usually forget to use IF (mea culpa); now I’ve created a key-bound combo for the two actions, and I've formed the habit of using it on every single boss fight at an appropriate moment.

World of Matticus -- Tip: Inner Focus and Divine Hymn (http://www.worldofmatticus.com/2009/07/09/tip-inner-focus-and-divine-hymn/)
WoW.com: Raid Rx (http://www.wow.com/category/raid-rx/)Derevka and Avalonna's shrewd and irreverent Tales of a Priest is a superb source for smart scrutiny and practical suggestions concerning playing style, spell usage, and healing strategies, such as:

Tales of a Priest: Holy Raid Healing Batman! (http://talesofapriest.com/?p=395#more-395)
Tales of a Priest: Getting the Most out of Prayer of Mending (http://talesofapriest.com/?p=164)
Tales of a Priest: How to Disco with the Lich King (http://talesofapriest.com/?p=428)
Tales of a Priest: Lich King Shielding & Infest -- More Than Just Bubble Spam (http://talesofapriest.com/?p=807)Anaram, a Resto Druid with the guild Paragon (also one of the consistently best guilds in the world) has written A Different Healing Guide, a short collection of wonderful off-the-wall raid-healing thoughts:

Anaram of Paragon: A Different Healing Guide (http://paragon-wow.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=540) Sometimes a thread post in a discussion forum (notably PlusHeal and TankSpot) will lead to terrific thoughts and insightful responses about play style. Recently, I came across an excellent conversation about healing; I particularly (once again) liked the comments by Spiritus:
TankSpot Forum Thread: How Do You Heal? (http://www.tankspot.com/showthread.php?58728-How-do-you-heal)As a pre-226 character I generally used Shadow Fiend in every mana-intensive fight at about 50-60% mana, then popped a mana pot if my mana got back down to 30%, and if the fight lasted through my Shadow Fiend cooldown I immediately used it again. If I then ran out of mana, or saw that others had, I channeled Hymn of Hope to finish the fight.

Spiritus recommends instead casting Shadow Fiend + Hymn of Hope at about 10-20% mana, claiming the combination returns 80% or more of your mana. This works beautifully; it appears that if all goes well I can ultimately (with a mana pot later) get and use more than twice my original mana in this manner, and that sounds crazy good. But it's a little scary to get down to 10% mana, and hope all goes well. For some time, whether or not I used Spiritus' method of replenishment basically depended on how good -- or nervous -- I felt about a fight when I hit 50% mana. The great thing for me was to have the choice to consider. As time passed, I have used the SF + HoH method more and more, and eventually almost exclusively unless the fight dictates different timing.

WoW.com also has an excellent weekly column called Spiritual Guidance, as well as other articles from time to time, that discusses various aspects of Priest play:

WoW.com: Priests (http://www.wow.com/category/priest/)On a rare day near the end of February 2010, in a World of Warcraft forum thread, Ghostcrawler himself chimed in on page 7 and spent a couple of hours (on a number of subsequent pages -- the second link below consolidates his posts) discussing his own Priest play:

World of Warcraft Healing Forum Thread: Page 7 (http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=23329534731&sid=1&pageNo=7)
Posts by Ghostcrawler: Feb 20, 2010 WoW Priest Thread Posts Consolidated (http://www.wowblues.com/us/people-saying-priests-are-fine-23329534731.html)And in early March of 2010 some of the best Priest players/writers in the business -- including Matticus, Derevka, Avalonna, and Aliena, all highlighted here -- came together at Raid Warning for a podcast discussion about playing a Priest. The program is in three parts, one for each spec.

RaidWarning -- Power Word: Fail -- The Priest Roundtable Event (http://www.raidwarning.net/2010/03/power-word-fail-the-priest-roundtable-event/)As for a healing "rotation," most agree that there isn't really a classic action-bar/spell rotation for healing Priests like there is for many of the other caster classes, and perhaps melee classes as well. Nonetheless, in certain circumstances a loosely-scripted rotation or set of priorities may be appropriate.

For instance, in Part 1 of her guide for the pre-226 Holy Priest, Poptisse cited this as a pretty good Holy Priest quick raid-healing rotation:
CoH --> PoM --> Flash Heal preferably on Surge of Light proc (at least 1 stack of Serendipity is nice) --> PoHAnd for the post-226 (post-245) Holy Priest, most of what I have read suggests this as the predominant underlying raid-healing theme:


Cast on every GCD
PoM on every cooldown (or at least always up)
CoH on every cooldown
Fill with some combination of FH/BH or Renew (lots of divergent opinions on this point!)
PoH when necessary, GH rarely if at all

Because a healer has to make quick decisions and a situation can change in the blink of an eye, playing style relies heavily on instinct and skill, and is probably the single most important factor involved in a his/her performance. But determining the quality of a healer’s performance isn’t always as simple as looking at the hps or the amount of healing done during a fight, and I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about The Healing Meter.

Although it sounds nice, and even knowing what I know I still often wish I were, being at the top of the healing chart is not my job as a healer. (Either that, or I've come up with a mighty fine rationalization for generally not being at the top of the healing chart.) My job is to carry out a specific assignment if I have one, and otherwise to keep as many toons as I can alive.

While it’s widely accepted that meters are one of the best tools dps players can use to analyze their performance, the usefulness of the meter for healing has always been a subject of debate. I like Recount/Skada, and believe that healing meters can be useful. But it simply isn't always true -- as we sometimes have a tendency to believe -- that at the end of an encounter the healers who didn't top the chart performed less well than the healers who did.

Rather, it takes time and understanding to decipher what you're seeing on the chart from a healing standpoint. It is pointless to, say, compare two healers to each other if they are on widely different assignments. Moreover, tank healers in general don't meter as well as raid healers, absorption healing sometimes doesn't register accurately on the meter, certain healers might be asked to perform non-healing tasks (crowd control, dispelling, interruptions, etc.), and so on.

Here's the best and most insightful discussion I've read about the real usefulness of the healing meter:
World of Matticus: What Can Healing Meters Tell You? (http://www.worldofmatticus.com/2009/06/19/what-can-healing-meters-tell-you/)And here is an excellent post about reading and analyzing the healing information in a World of Logs post-raid upload:

Life in Group 5 -- The Next Step with WoL: Healing Analysis (http://lifeingroup5.com/?p=727)


A Healer's UI


Many of the sites and articles that I’ve listed talk about healing addons; some have entire threads devoted to UIs. Here are just a few examples:
User Interface, Addons, and Macros (http://www.tankspot.com/forumdisplay.php?120-User-Interface-Addons-and-Macros)
User Interface and AddOns - Elitist Jerks (http://elitistjerks.com/f32/)
Addon Spotlight -- WoW.com (http://www.wow.com/category/addon-spotlight/)
UI | World of Matticus (http://www.worldofmatticus.com/tag/ui/)
No Stock UI (http://www.nostockui.com/)
Jaded Alt: Raid Frames -- Which One is Right for You? (http://jadedalt.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/raid-frames-which-one-is-right-for-you/)Some UIs I’ve seen make the whole screen too busy for me while others (although sometimes minimalistically gorgeous) don’t have enough information, many concentrate information near the character so that your attention stays focused there and your eyes don’t stray far – and the list of thoughts and preferences and differences goes on and on. But it was only after looking at a lot of other UIs that I was able to cobble together what I now enjoy.

And that's key for me -- I enjoy my UI, I like the feel of it, I'm accustomed to it and it's easy for me to read at a glance. But I use a lot of addons, and it has been suggested to me and I have to consider the possibility that if I used fewer (and different) mods then they might work faster and my performance might improve. So before I describe my UI, I want to recount some advice given by my guildmate Bhavatarini, a Holy Paladin and an extraordinary healer/player who I believe could hold his own in any guild in the world:



Honestly it's all about speed! This is decided by your UI, style of healing, and Macros. If you are looking at a raid frame, seeing someone take damage, clicking their frame, and then clicking a heal you are doing it wrong for sure.

Simplicity is a must in anyone's UI, especially as a healer. If you have too much stuff to look at you'll end up being confused. Also alot of addons increase your spell lag and CRT (caster reset time). This is one reason I don't use Clique. It flat isnt necessary since there are plenty of macros built into the game that allow you to achieve the same effect. Three addons that I consider to be an ABSOLUTE must are Grid, CLCBPT, and Quartz.

Mouse-over macros are what I use for EVERY spell I cast. This is my basic mouse-over macro that can be adapted for ANY spell:

#showtooltip Flash of Light(Rank 9)
/cast [target=mouseover, help] [target=player] Flash of Light(Rank 9)

The ONLY one that differs is holy shock for the occasional damage:

#showtooltip Holy Shock
/cast [target=mouseover] Holy Shock(Rank 7)

I use these for BOP BOF BOS Cleanse Heals Beacon and SS.

Lastly everyone and I mean EVERYONE should read and implement as many of these tricks as they can on their PC:

WoW Forums: User Tips and Tricks (http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=21038225360&sid=1)These will reduce your LAT, LAG, and just make everything run more smoothly to increase your overall efficiency.

It's possible that I'm driving a Bentley UI and Bhav is at the wheel of a Formula 1. If that is so, then while I love the comfort I have to wonder if I'm somehow doing my raidmates a disservice by not choosing a faster model. During play, it doesn't feel like my UI is slowing me down -- I generally don't have any discernible lag and I cast every GCD, and 1.2 seconds (with haste) is 1.2 seconds is 1.2 seconds, but I have nothing to compare it to and so honestly don't know.

Another world-class healer, Codi of Moar HPS, has abandoned addons altogether and reverted to using the default WoW UI because the use of healing addons, as she puts it, "removes the finesse of doing things like making macros or learning each of the unique debuffs so that you can spot them... [w]e forget how to do longhand division because we depend on programs to pick up the slack for us."
Moar HPS: It Isn't a Project if It's Permanent
(http://moarhps.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/it-isnt-a-project-if-its-permanent/)Codi's post incited a bit of a stir, and engendered some passionate discussion about the use of addons:
Righteous Orbs: On Addons -- Alternative Interpretations (http://www.righteousorbs.com/?p=2209)
Non-Squishy Heals: Why My Addons Help *Your* Runs (http://nonsquishyheals.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-my-addons-help-your-runs.html)
Cannot be Tamed: My Way is Better Than Your Way (http://cannotbetamed.blogspot.com/2010/07/my-way-is-better-than-your-way.html)
Moar HPS: re: On Addons -- Alternative Interpretations (http://moarhps.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/re-on-addons-alternative-interpretation/)
Miss Medicina: Fence Sitting is Rather Uncomfortable (http://missmedicina.blogspot.com/2010/07/fence-sitting-is-rather-uncomfortable.html)
The Pink Pig Tail Inn: Blogger Disagreements -- When Does It Begin to Hurt? (http://www.pinkpigtailinn.com/)
From an educational standpoint, the posts linked above contain some valuable perspectives and conversations about the pros and cons of using addons. Blogging can be a thorny business, though, and strong feelings and opinions can be overwhelming, even with pure and good intentions, as the exchanges so clearly illustrate; Codi, Tamarind and Chastity are some of my very favorite WoW people, and it was hard to see them cross swords. I've carried the sequence of posts out to include some of the aftermath, in which there is healing.

On the subject of addons, at the end of the day I favor Jessabelle's (Miss Medicina's) observation that "this is a game, and therefore people should do what it takes to make the game as fun as possible for themselves, as long as it does not make the game less enjoyable for other players."

My UI does indeed make the game more fun for me; but although it's unlikely that I'll ever give up addons entirely, at some point I may re-examine my UI and make an honest effort to heed Bhav's advice to cut down on them and see if in fact my performance does improve. In the meantime, here's what my luxury model UI looks like:

X-Perl
Dominos
QuartzAtlas and Atlas Loot Enhanced
Titan Panel
Skada
Deadly Boss Mods
Power Auras Classic
ForteXorcist
Simple Minimap
Satrina Buff Frame
TipTac
Sunn Art
XLoot (Monitor, Rolls)
FuBar (GuildFu, DualSpecFu)
Carbonite
Prat
Talented
Bagnon
Examiner
Obituary

All of the addons -- except Carbonite -- can be downloaded from Curse Gaming, and perhaps all of them from Wow Interface:
World of Warcraft Addons - WoW Addons - Curse.com (http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/default.aspx)
WoWInterface - Find World of Warcraft AddOns! (http://www.wowinterface.com/find.php)The health bars/raid frames form the foundation of a healer’s UI. A lot of great players begin with Grid or now often Vuhdo, both of which are compact and full of information. But as a pure healing visual neither appears as easy for me as the X-Perl Inverse Bar set-up that I use. X-Perl serves as both unit frames and raid frames for my UI.

I believe that X-Perl actually provides all the information that Grid or Vuhdo would, except that it doesn’t show incoming heals from other healers without an additional addon that I don’t use.

I've put all my raid health bars together centered under my character near the bottom of the screen; what really floats my boat, though, is the X-Perl Inverse Health Bar feature, which shows damage on my health bars as bright green (to yellow to orange to red) going left to right, rather than vice versa -- the visual is 1000% better for me and took no getting used to at all. In other words, the bright color on my health bars is the amount necessary to be healed, rather than the amount of health remaining -- it's more intuitive, showing damage to be healed as an increasing positive rather than health as a decreasing negative.

Here’s how my UI looks for a 25-man raid; 10-man is identical but with only the first two groups showing. My health bar groups are vertical. Notating by group then player (so that the third player down in group one is Player 1-3), below the screenshot is what I can tell at a glance from my raid frames:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4013/4462173455_4fa6c95d12_o.jpg


Everyone is within healing range except Player 1-4 (health bar is faded out)
Player 3-2 needs the most healing, followed by Players 1-5, 2-1, 5-1 and 1-1; no one else does
Player 1-1 is my target (yellow border)
Player 2-5 is pulling aggro (red border)
PoM is currently up on Player 1-3 (large sparkly PoM icon in center)
Renews are up on Players 1-1, 1-3, 1-5, 2-2, and 3-1 (thin sparkly yellow line receding from right to left)
PW:Shields are up on Players 4-4 and 5-3 (thin sparkly pink line)
Players 1-3, 4-2, and 4-5 have a debuff (small icon in lower right corner)(not sure what it is, lol)
Player 5-2 is offline, and Player 5-4 is dead (and Obituary is showing in chat how she died)

Although in this screenshot, Player 1-3 carries a circle mark put there by the raid leader for raid purposes, X-Perl raid frames will also mark with an icon Players selected for a special boss mechanic, such as Ignis’s Slagpot or Kologarn’s Right Arm or Marrowgar's Bone Spikes or Festergut’s Gas Spores.

I’ve come to agree that the more information I can center around my toon and near the health bars so that my eyes don’t have to stray far – without cluttering up the screen so that I simply can’t process it all – is the way to go. The photo shows pretty clearly the information that I have centered below and to the sides of Oddly, sort of like a wide "V". The black band across the bottom (courtesy of Sunn Art) kind of divides the screen in two, making it “quiet” at the bottom and (excepting health bars) keeping the information there sort of separate and apart from the more immediate encounter-oriented information on the screen above.

After scaling and centering my raid frame health bars low under Oddly, I put my unit frame and my target’s unit frame on either side, just above the black. Directly above the raid frames, and still under my character, I have three important bars of information:


My spell cooldown visual, for which I use ForteXorcist set with two-second intervals from 0 to 10 seconds. When any spell is on cd its icon slides along the bar from right to left (during the last ten seconds of its cooldown), and when it hits 0 a big icon prompt pops up and then fades immediately. It's a simple, elegant cd visual.
Directly above that, is my Quartz cast bar.
And directly above that is where my DBM raid warning bars (set to build upward) settle after dropping down from above and to the right of my target’s target frame when time draws near for the warned of event. In the screenshot, you can see the Dominate Mind CD bar on its way down from the other DBM raid warning bars.

I have used Power Auras for no reason other than to put a bright yellow oval around Oddly. It’s triggered by my Inner Fire buff but set to show up only in raid and during combat. When I look up at the screen during an encounter, especially in 25-man, I don’t want to have to think even for the smallest fraction of a second about exactly where Oddly is in the crowd. I know it’s an odd (under-)use of the addon, but it works for me.

Satrina Buff Frames displays a series of small countdown bars that show when my talent and gear procs, like Serendipity, Surge of Light, etc. are active, and I’ve put mine just above the debuff icons on top of my unit frame and set to build upward. I began with the same one filter that Poptisse recommends – d<60&my – and then set the bars small and limited the spells I wanted to see. I don't look at it all the time, but it’s great information to have. Above and to the left of the talent proc bars is my DBM boss health bar.

On the right side of my screen, just above the target frame, I put my target’s Quartz spell cast bar (which is much smaller than mine), and above that slightly offset to the right my target’s target unit frame. Just above that, again slightly offset to the right is the place where my DBM raid warning bars start out before dropping into the middle above my cast bar.

All of my heals are key-bound, so I'm not a "click healer" in the classic sense of clicking on heals in my action bars – I agree that you simply cannot be an effective healer that way. But I do target-click on players' health bars to heal. I've tried mouseover macros and mouse-button heals and they don't work for me; I make too many mistakes and mis-heals using them. For the same reason I don’t use the addon Clique, which I understand works as mouseover/mouse button healing, and which a lot of great healers swear by.

I use a trackball mouse, though, which is (at least, lol) twice as fast as a traditional mouse, and all my health bars are close together and easy to see. I’m simply more comfortable (and so I play better) with a target-click and key-bound heals.

When sometoon has died because my heal didn't get there fast enough, I'm pretty sure it was because I need more skill (ouch, but probably most often the case), or haste, or I had to move or my attention was distracted, and not because I wasn’t using Clique or a mouseover/mouse buttons. (Cliquers and mouseovers will no doubt disagree, and I’m prepared to live with that.) A while back BobTurkey made a compellingly logical case that mouseover/mouse button heals greatly improve mobility, and that’s an argument I’d really like to ignore (because I’m comfortable, Bob!) but I have to consider.

At some point I realized that I had become comfortable raid healing with all my health bars at the bottom, and I didn't like healing 5-mans any longer with the group health bars way over on the left side of the screen. So I scaled down my X-Perl party frame (the other four players) and moved it down and to the right of my unit frame where my 10-man frames are. Now 5-man healing more closely resembles raid healing, and it's what my eyes are used to again.

All together, it’s functional and not too cluttered, it’s the information I generally want to see during a fight (as much as I can process), and I don’t have to look into far corners to see anything. Other data, that I’d like to see but not during combat, such as my buffs, X-Loot, chat, mini-map and its buttons, etc., is at the top or in corners -- not centered around Oddly or near the action -- and I pay less attention if at all to it during an encounter. While I usually don’t show Skada during a fight, it’s set for heals and absorbs in the upper-left corner, and I click its minimap button after each encounter to see who did what.

Carbonite is a map mod that I think is the bomb, but I realize that some players might feel that it makes questing too easy. It makes maps look and behave like Google maps, with landscape topography and the abilities to zoom in and out, drag-move around and pinpoint areas to zoom in on, and find and follow a straight flight line to anywhere. It also tracks quests, and shows on your map and mimimap the places in which to perform your quests, etc. (Back when I was doing a lot of dailies I’m not sure I could ever have done the Troll Patrol in 20 minutes without Carbonite literally pointing to the bookshelf and telling me that Crystalized Hogsnot was on shelf 3, item 4, lol.)

A Carbonite option allowed me to separate my minimap buttons from the minimap itself and group them into a selected number of vertical columns each with a selected number of buttons. I chose one column, and moved it to the upper right side of the screen, building down; my minimap is clean, and the buttons are out of the way and easily accessible.
Carbonite - Homepage (http://www.carboniteaddon.com/)My UI enhances my personal gaming experience and fits my style and level of play now; I don't represent it to be good or bad, or better or worse than any other. But it took me a lot of thought and tinkering to get it to this point, and I wanted to share it in the case that (at least some of) it might appeal or make sense to other healers.



Blue Skies and Green Lights


By this point, you're probably thinking the same thing that occurs to me a lot: damn, Oddly, after reading and thinking about all this stuff you ought to be a MUCH better player than you are! Well, ... and the horse you rode in on, Buckaroo (wide grin). In all candor, it does help me to be a better player, but at the end of the day I can only be as good as my skill -- which is worthless on some days and competent on most, sometimes reasonably good but rarely if ever uber/imba -- will allow.

So that's it for now. I hope I got most of it right, and that it helps.

Oddly <Brave Companions> Draka

Ciderhelm
10-28-2009, 08:57 AM
I've read through this a couple times and I think you've done a great job w/ the thought and commentary involved. There's a lot for players to learn in this.

orcstar
10-28-2009, 09:05 AM
What a big read but an excellent post.

Though one of the things I often miss in healing discussions is dps. Yes, dps. To play your character to the max I think that healers should whenever possible also dps the boss. As long as it doesn't jeopardize their healing. If a raid wipes with a boss below 1% and your healers still have half full mana bars, some dots or blasts early in the fight could have made the difference.
(On my alt priest a fun trick I picked up was to use shadow word: death on mobs to get that darn prayer of mending jumping to someone else.)

While dpsing in a healing role m ight be overwhelming for starting healers you should give it a try. With training you become good at it and know when and when not to.

Mačl
10-28-2009, 09:07 AM
Wow, there's a lot of research going on and I will have to reread it a couple.
I myself am still undecided on the mana saving talents...
EDIT:
Orc, RE Priest DPS you are preaching to the choir here. When we wipe at 1% I can still at least say, I kept my dots on the boss when possible, I placed a holy fire when I felt comfortable and I squeezed a few shots with the wand in.
Only a Shaman healer and a Priest healer can reasonably do that, so we should. Iffn it don't jeopardize ours healin', that is.

mero12513
10-30-2009, 10:04 AM
This is a truly fantastic post. Great insights for everyone who plays this game.

Fishz
10-30-2009, 03:38 PM
Very good post.

Knowledge is power!

(RE: Healer DPS - Holy Paladins can throw down as well (exorcism / judge)).

Knighterrant81
10-30-2009, 03:58 PM
My main is currently my Holy Priest. This is a pretty good guide. Some thoughts:

Dropping Spirit of Redemption and going 4/5 Spiritual Guidance: I would just like to sound a note of caution for this type of spec. The only reason to pick up Spirit of Redemption has always been for the 5% spirit, not the improved death. Yes Spirit is not as good as it has once been, but we aren't discipline priests either (and they still get hefty amounts of in combat regen from spirit through meditation).

If priests out there feel that dropping Spirit of redemption and 1 point of spiritual guidance is worth it, then go ahead, but at about 1000 spirit unbuffed you're losing roughly 50 spirit and 50 spellpower, equivalent to a piece of gear. For me, those two talents fall into the category of "required".

The other thing about the all-intellect argument is that it is very true for 25 man raids where you can count on all your buffs and replenishment. However, in a 10 man situation, you may not get all the buffs, and the extra mana regen from spirit starts to look a little better. Also, with the nerf to replenishment, in 3.2 it isn't as beneficial to min/max for intellect at the cost of spirit as it once was. Find a balance that works for you.

As far as the burst-->lull-->burst rotation not including POM, that guide on EJ is a great guide but he just adds on new info after each patch, and doesn't remove some old info unless the new patch renders it completely obsolete. Remember Prayer of Healing got nerfed - that spell used to be a one stop shop for priests in Ulduar. I've also noticed that a lot of fights in Ulduar, such as XT and Hodir, seem to be tailor-made for using POH, whereas most of the fights in the Coliseum, such as Jaraxxus, Twins, and the Jormungar seem much better suited to Prayer of Mending.

Yilar
10-30-2009, 05:36 PM
If u decide to go with 18/53 spec I think you should completely ignore casting PoH except for fights where dmg is really intense aoe (toc twins) or predictable (cast time aoe). Ideally u want to fire off pom/coh on every cd (6sec and 7sec) and then renew/flash rest of the time. Fact is that most dmg is fairly random these days, and with PoH being grp targetted and not a smart heal you will have a hard time not dumping full overheals onto at least 2 of the 5 targets, thus most of the healing will go directly into the overheal category.

Kushakd
10-30-2009, 07:48 PM
Wowmb.net - The Warlock's Den is a fantastic source of publicly submitted guides and advice for warlocks. In case you want to add it to the list. Fantastic job with the guide, by the way.

Skyborn
11-03-2009, 07:55 AM
Oddly, I think your guide comes closest to both distilling the *feeling* of confidence and competence that comes with passionately playing a class for a few years, and the tools and attitude you need to reach that point. To clarify, when I first started playing WoW I was enraptured by how much there was to learn about the game. When I wasn't playing the game I was thinking about how to improve my performance. That meant both learning specific bits of information (What's my most important stat? What are these fight mechanics?) and also learning how to critically think about my class (Why would this piece of gear be better for me? Which spells am I not utilizing to their full potential, etc.). I think a lot of average players have memorized the necessary information about the game, but truly great players have learned how to think and analyze that information.

I think that's a reason why when a new patch hits really good players are always adjusting and revising their thoughts on gearing and specs (just like you and others noted when you talked about the importance of the post-Ulduar world) to stay on the cutting edge.

Everyone's heard the saying: "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." I think your guide teaches people how to fish, and that's a really great thing :)

Imwy
12-17-2009, 11:25 AM
Good post, it makes me want to play my priest again.

Eleazar05
12-17-2009, 04:59 PM
Great info...I just checked out WoW Heroes and found it very useful to figure out what instances I need to be doing. For a good Resto Shaman Guide, I use Ancestral Guidance, A Restoration Shaman Guide (Intro) (http://www.teamkink.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38:ancestral-guidance-a-restoration-shaman-guide-intro&catid=5:blog-for-members-catalog-&Itemid=21). It has info. on what stats resto shaman's need to focus on, what gear/enchants/gems/glyphs to use, and a basic spec overview. Thanks for putting this together Oddly, I'm sure it will help many players play better and understand what they need to be focusing on in there class.

desolation0
02-12-2010, 09:35 AM
Good guide to how good players think of the game, I'll have to point some (okay lots of) folks to it.

Two cents.

Make sure your raid lead sets up groups favorably for a Healing Priest. In most cases it would mean just setting the Tanks/Melee into their raid groups and the Ranged/Healers into theirs, sometimes more specific if you want all your healers or tanks to get Tremor Totem or Mana Tide Totem.

This lets you hit groups that get hit by "you're in the lucky 10 yards" AoE damage with Prayer of Healing more often. Best example from ToC would probably be the Beasts fight. For Gormok's silencing stomp going in as Discicpline healer, I can regularly time a PoH on the tanks + melee group for right after the stomp, with a shield or cooldown up on the current tank to get the brunt of the damage off him. Then you get to the Worms, and when all the melee get poison or burn at the same time, a shield-hasted PoH is brilliant while PoM is busy bouncing around on cooldown.

Another example would be tailoring the raid groups for fights where say, only the folks at range are getting targeted with some damage ability or other. Festergut's bile for example, in this case it's less about getting PoH off on the (better be) one target that is getting hit by it at the moment, more about knowing it's going to be one of the 10 people in group X and Y for quicker reaction when it comes. And if none of the folks in group X and Y get spored, one of the folks standing in the melee gets to run out and vice-versa.

Miyami
07-08-2010, 02:31 PM
Long post is long. :p

I will definitely read this tonight. Thanks for this! :)

Insahnity
07-08-2010, 02:40 PM
I will have to plow through this, but I noticed a lot of sites I reference aren't listed

http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/
http://wowthinktank.blogspot.com/
http://www.shadowpriest.com/
http://huntsmanslodge.com/
http://www.wow-petopia.com/

Although I don't pvp, I understand this is also an influential site
http://www.arenajunkies.com/

Mind you, these aren't just random sites I googled. These are actual sites with information I refer to over and over again (with exception to the pvp one). I am limited only by time, or else I would come up with more.

Oddly
08-25-2010, 03:30 PM
A short note to mention that I am constantly updating and refining this guide as I come across new and worthwhile sources and information. Managing your character well is a process that evolves as the game grows and changes -- so too is writing a guide about it. Check back and skim through from time to time for updated info and new sources; I always welcome hearing about them from you. Thanks.

The Doc
10-26-2010, 03:51 PM
Oddly,
I have to say that the shear amount of information contained here is overwelming. I have read it more that once and would only offer one question at this time.
I enjoy having the versatility of beign able to plug any toon into my guilds raids in the event that we have a no show, and healing being my perfered playing position. I am also sure that this question may (or is) covered in a different topic somewhere on tank spot. Are you aware of a "universal" UI that a player could employ and not have to constantly turn on and off modules and or adds that s/he dont need for an alternate class.

I currently use a custom UI that I made but even that always needs tweaks as I switch from toon to toon.

thank you for taking the time out of your life on the original post. I use it constantly as a reference. I hope you didnt wear out your keyboard. keep up the good work

Oddly
10-30-2010, 11:23 PM
Lol, Doc, thanks for your kind words. Although I don't know of any "universal" UI that would fit any character class I do know this: just as Blizzard allows you to make your key bindings character-specific, for instance, by checking the little box in the upper right corner of the Options --> Key Binding pane marked Character Specific Key Binding, so also do many add-ons allow you to do this. Everything from the number and positions of your action bars to your unit and raid frames to the timers of your spell and buff cooldowns can be set to be character-specific. It will likely take some work, but you can customize your UI by character, so that the general layout is always similar but the details are different for each character as you log in. The process will actually make you more adept at both using each addon and playing each character.

It sounds like you're already doing this, so I would just add that you might minimize or even eliminate the tweaking you have to do between characters by using fewer or maybe different addons.

Hinenuitepo
11-19-2010, 10:50 AM
Oddly, fantastic thread you're maintaining, here!
I'll have to bookmark it particularly for the day I level a priest ;)

In any case, as the author of Death Goddess (http://dkdeathgoddess.blogspot.com), I thank you for the link love, since I noticed a few referrals trickling in here and there.

My blog is but a humble one that is DK-centric, but to be honest, the two by-far more informative and polished DK sites out there I'd put are http://considerit1.wordpress.com/, from Consider who maintains the dps DK threads at Elitist Jerks, and http://www.pwnwear.com, from Gravity who maintains the tank thread. These two are top-notch DKs that put a lot of time and energy into theorycrafting and sharing specific info on DKs on their respective sites, so if you feel like adding their links, your readers will benefit!

Thanks, and excellent work!
-Hine

Edit: sorry, my brain missed that you already had pwnwear.
Consider's blog is a fairly recent addition, but still an excellent resource for DKs!

The Doc
11-22-2010, 10:57 AM
Although I don't know of any "universal" UI that would fit any character class I do know this: just as Blizzard allows you to make your key bindings character-specific.....It sounds like you're already doing this, so I would just add that you might minimize or even eliminate the tweaking you have to do between characters by using fewer or maybe different addons.

Thanks again Oddly...
Im gonna keep working on this and once I have figured it out, will share. the constant tweaking sucks, but its a labor of love.

johnsims
06-21-2011, 12:22 PM
When sometoon has died because my heal didn't get there fast enough, I'm pretty sure it was because I need more skill (ouch, but probably most often the case), or haste, or I had to move or my attention was distracted, and not because I wasn’t using Clique or a mouseover/mouse buttons. (Cliquers and mouseovers will no doubt disagree, and I’m prepared to live with that.) A while back BobTurkey made a compellingly logical case that mouseover/mouse button heals greatly improve mobility (http://www.3gcgroup.com/), and that’s an argument I’d really like to ignore (because I’m comfortable, Bob!) but I have to consider.

Yeah i have to consider that too. good point