How to start healing heroics

About a month ago I started healing level 80 heroic instances.  Before my brain fades I thought I might write down some of the lessons learned during the transition.

Suggested gear

Previously I have suggested a fairly easy list of gear you can accumulate while leveling, which will be enough to allow you to start healing heroics.

Suggested unbuffed stats (approximate)
Heroics – Spellpower: 1200, IFSR MP5: 200, Spirit: 500, Int: 800, Crit: 12%

You might get away with a bit less than these.  You might not.

Suggested Instances

Heroic Utgarde Keep is recommended although less so than heroic Nexus below.  The loot in H UK is poor for priests.  I also seem to encounter more poor players in H UK than the other instances.

Heroic Nexus is an excellent early heroic for priests as it has much better drops for us than heroic Utgarde Keep.

Heroic Azjol-Nerub is not recommended.  I have found it to be the hardest of the heroics excepting killing Loken in heroic Halls of Lightning.  A great, fast, emblem farm for a good group it is extremely brutal and unforgiving for those starting out on heroics.

Heroic Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom is also not recommended. It is a lot of fun but depends heavily on your group.  If your tank knows the heroic instance well you should be ok in here.

Heroic Drak’Tharon Keep is recommended as with careful pulling only King Dred will give you any trouble.  Make sure the tank is at 100% all the time when fighting King Dred.  Make sure you use Fear Ward on her also (the tank not King Dred).

Important things to watch

1) Your tank must be uncritable.  It’s possible with a critable tank, but i’d definently suggest you avoid it.

2) Be aggressive! While healing normal 80 instances you have become pretty lazy.  Tank takes damage, you heal, or maybe wait a second or two then heal.  Doing this in heroics, especially early heroics where tanks haven’t amassed their massive health pools yet, will result in wipes.

Pretty much as soon as the tank has gathered the pull around her you will probably need a decent heal to top them up.  Immediately follow with some preventative healing.  Cast healing over time spells (HoTs), Prayer of Mending and/or a shield if the tank has some rage built up.  This is quite a delicate part of the pull.  Big heals early on a tank with below average threat generation will mean mobs heading your direction and things can get ugly.  If this happens Fade and try and wait longer next time (if possible).  It can be a fine balancing act.

On pre-shielding with Power Word: Shield, personally I have mostly broken the habit of doing this.  Warriors and bears will have reduced rage production with it up.  Palys prefer healing to absorption currently as the latter doesn’t help their mana regen.  It’s not normally game breaking (wipe inducing), but many tanks are uncomfortable with it if for no other reason than it breaks their rhythm.  They get used to a normal rage/mana production rate.  Shielding only has a minor effect on this but is usually an unnecessary distraction.  Having said this if they are taking heavy damage shield away as you’ll need all the help you can get and they will be generating plenty of rage/mana.

Edit: I think this is wrong since 3.1.  I’d pre-shield always now.

3) 80% health isn’t good enough anymore!  Until you get used to a tank, and the instances, always keep their health as close to 100% as possible.  In heroics you will notice damage is a lot spikier and this is one of you best risk management techniques for combating spikes.

4) Panic healing! When things get dicey your healing priority is:

  1. keeping yourself with enough health to survive group wide damage if you not sure aim for 50%+.
  2. Keep the tank as close to 100% as possible.  Let DPS die if you have to, because as soon as the tank dies you will almost always have a wipe.
  3. Keep DPS alive.  You need them!  They are lowest priority but if all three die you’ll probably go out of mana healing the tank before the combat ends.

If it’s all going crazy, or you know damage is coming but you don’t know where, cast Prayer of Healing (or Circle of Healing). It will hit everyone (eventually) and, assuming no one dies, should make the decision of your next target/spell easier.

5) Fade! If you get agro, your party window goes red around the outside (in the default UI).  This is probably bad.  If you are doing new instances and/or are unsure of exactly what has started paying you attention hit Fade.  Better to waste its cool down than get monstered by a melee mob, which will kill you in two blows.

6) Watch LoS! What the hell is LoS?  Line-of-sight.  Stairs in particular often result in a few seconds of repositioning, which in heroics can result in death.  Try to avoid pulling at the top of stairs.  If it can’t be avoided then make sure you are near the top and throw a HoT or similar early to ensure you have LoS.  When the going gets heavy it is too late to realise you’ve lost LoS.

Also watch tanks who charge around behind corners without realising they can no longer be healed.

Thats it.  I’ve run out of words of wisdom.  At least a few of the points should help you get started in heroics.

Good luck!

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