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Healing Halion

Posted by Malevica on July - 2 - 2010

Last night my guild and I had the pleasure of valiantly coming to the aid of the Ruby Dragonflight and slaying the invading Halion and his Lieutenants. Well, my guild did that, I was stuck listening on Vent while reinstalling every patch since November 2008 (3.0.1 onwards) because the Blizzard repair tool got a bit overzealous, but I did get finished in time for the last half-dozen attempts and the kill.

I should point out that I’ve got a strategy here on this very site, updated with info from last night. That’s where the bulk of the information on the fight is, while this will just be some extra thoughts, tips and healer-centric comments.


I didn’t actually get to see the trash, but it was quietly pleasing to hear the “hmm, maybe we need to do something about those” after a very quick wipe on an early trash pull. Most of the pulls have tricks to them: some mobs have a stacking buff depending on proximity to others, for example, which means they need to be tanked apart.
I can’t offer many more details, except to warn anyone new to the encounter to pull carefully, separate big, scary-looking mobs, face everything away from the raid and CC whatever you can as a precaution. This is my default approach to new raids, which was, to my utmost disappointment, generally unnecessary even in Icecrown.

The Lieutenants

The biggest dangers posed by Baltharus are from the knockback and the stacking damage buff. Make sure you’ve cleared the space around him so no one can pull anything extra, and keep a close eye on Baltharus for his stack of Siphoned Might. A Brand on melee quickly gave him quite a large number of stacks and we lost a tank, so keep fingers on cooldowns.
The whirlwind got a mixed response, with some people claiming they didn’t notice it and others confirming that it exists and hurts. I’d suggest getting melee DPS to run out to begin with, and see what the damage is like on those people who’re slow (you know there’ll be some) to decide if it’s safe to let people stay in.

Saviana doesn’t need any special care from a healing perspective, since the things she does can be countered by the raid as a whole playing smart. You will need to watch her for the Enrage, which can be unpleasant if your hunters or rogues are slow to dispel it, and keep an eye on people who get Flame Beacon and will be conflagrated, since this hits pretty hard.
I’d suggest making sure healers are spread out, to avoid too many running away at once, as the only major organisational thing required.

Zarithrian is also not a terribly difficult encounter. Healers will need to be careful of their aggro when adds are spawning and tanks are controlling them. Priests with Fear Ward and Shaman with Tremor Totem should be working together to keep fear off the main tank, and preferably themselves as well.
The tanks in our 25-man were swapping at 3-4 stacks (once their debuff had faded), and the damage at low stacks is very weak, just don’t get lulled into a false sense of security, and be aware that it will change.


Ah, the bit I do know about first-hand.


The first question is probably how many healers to take. We used 7 for 25-man normal, although it could easily have been done with fewer. For 10-man it could probably be covered by two decent healers, but a third will add some wriggle room, especially in Phase 3. On heroic the healing load is significantly higher, so 7 on 25-man and 3 on 10-man would be necessary, I think. You could argue for taking a 4th healer for 10-man heroic, but usually this means your raid is taking too much hurt, not that you don’t have enough healers, so my advice would be to address that first.

Before pulling, you need to have a plan for Phase 3, and for dispelling. You will need to split your healers in Phase 3, so those people need to know who they are. One strong MT healer should be in each group, and the Twilight Realm group would benefit from a Resto Druid because of the aura, but the exact split isn’t as important as making sure it’s relatively even. Every healing class can dispel the Mark of Combustion/Consumption debuffs (Priests and Paladins can do magic, Druids and Shaman can do curses) so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Whether or not you assign someone to dispel the Marks or just leave it as free-for-all is a decision for your raid group to come to for itself. The benefit of a dedicated dispeller is that you don’t have multiple healers running around trying to cleanse people at the same time, but leaving it free-for-all can mitigate the impact of someone running out too far from the named dispeller. If you do assign a dispeller, give them a raid icon (and a macro to reapply it, DBM gets a bit mark-happy) so people know not to run to the opposite side.
If you’re planning on heavy use of Body and Soul, that priest would probably also be well-placed to dispel, which might simplify things.

Phase 1 and the Pull

First things first, know where your tank is pulling from and where he’s going to face the boss. If he’s inconsistent, nag him until he picks a position and sticks to it. The reason for this is that Halion cleaves and stuns with his tail, so you need to know where he’s going to be so you can get in and start healing right away.

Phase 1 is really just a bit of a warm-up. Don’t get over-excited and twitch-dispel the unusual debuff that’s just popped up on your rogue (not that I put a flame patch under the melee by accident, of course not… /nonchalant) and keep an eye on where the Meteor is going to hit (melee can find it tricky to see the rune on the ground, especially under things like Consecration) and life should be fairly straightforward.

Phase 2

When he gets to 75%, move to the portal but don’t click it until you can see that the tank for Phase 2 has already gone. This applies to everyone, not just healers. We lost way too many people who went down immediately and found they had aggro, or that the tank hadn’t had time to turn Halion away.
Because of the aggro-drops when taking portals, and the delays caused by zoning between Realms, we left a tank and healer in the Physical Realm twiddling their thumbs so that the tank was ready to pick Halion up immediately when Phase 3 began. It’s not a fun job, but it is useful.

The Twilight Realm is more interesting. The AoE damage aura, Dusk Shroud feels roughly equivalent to normal Sindragosa: the average tick was a shade over 2k, which isn’t really enough to stress people out, although I suspect it will be much more of a factor on heroic.

The other big thing from a healing perspective is the requirement to heal on the run when Twilight Cutter is active. On normal mode it’s not too difficult to avoid this if you watch for the emote and then run to a position just behind where the beam will turn up (you have 5 seconds to move, and as of today DBM will show a cast timer for this to help out), and if you’re lucky you might not need to move again since the beam only sweeps out about 90 degrees.
Remember to account for latency when you move though: the beam may not be exactly where you think it is if you have high-ish latency, and the damage extends a yard or so either side of the actual animation, so give it a bit of respect, like you did for Yogg-Saron’s clouds.

The biggest problems we had in here from a healing perspective tended to be tank deaths due to healers moving or being dead. There’s not much we can do about Cutter deaths (although a bubble might make the difference if someone clips the edge of the beam, since it’s a number of very quick hits, not one big hit), people just need to learn to look up at the world and dodge.

You’ll probably blow Bloodlust/Heroism at the beginning of this phase.

Phase 3

I was mostly in the Twilight Realm for this week, so I can’t tell you too much about life upstairs. Really though you have all the information you need since nothing has really changed from Phase 1/2, although since there will be fewer healers in each Realm every healer should be watching out for the tank in case the “tank healer” has to move at the wrong moment.

The other adaptation your raid can make to make your life easier, especially as a Physical Realm healer, is to stop DPS at the transition and let the Physical Realm DPS and healers get through the portal and into position. Otherwise it’s quite possible to push Halion to high Corporeality very quickly and make the tank take double damage before healers are ready. Count to 5, or 10, whatever works for your raid, then start DPS again.

A good general tip is to have someone watch the Corporeality counter and call for DPS pauses as appropriate to keep damage under control.


Really the point to emphasise is that this is a survival fight with high mobility and awareness requirements. You will need to be aware of the area around you, and be ready to move if necessary. You should also be able to change your healing rotation to keep healing on the move, especially for the Twilight Realm and even more especially on heroic.

Other info

Keeva at Tree Bark Jacket posted a couple of PowerAuras exports for the debuffs you need to run away with. You can modify them to suit your needs, but they’re a good quick starting point.

PlusHeal also has an entire forum dedicated to this, albeit with only two posts at the moment.

Derevka at Tales of a Priest has a guide to heroic 10-man from a healer’s perspective, which is highly recommended reading.

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Categories: Advice and Strategy

Healing Heroic Professor Putricide

Posted by Malevica on June - 15 - 2010

For the last couple of weeks my guild has been working on Heroic Professor Putricide, and I thought I would share some of the lessons we’ve learned over the nights.

I’ll assume that you’ve seen the normal mode of this fight, so if you haven’t then the mechanics might be unfamiliar.

Phase 1

The big differences between normal and heroic here is that the Volatile Ooze (green) and Gas Cloud (orange/brown) hurt more and move faster, and the addition of the Unbound Plague.

The Ooze and Cloud are easy enough to deal with, you just pull out the strategy you used initially, and possibly stopped bothering with once the buffs began ratcheting up:

  • When the green Volatile Ooze is spawning, we have all the melee DPS gather next to its spawn point, aiming to be knocked back to the table (all in the same direction is important, and towards the table is a good habit for transitions), and the ranged and healers all stand well away so the Ooze has a long way to run. The biggest problem people are those who don’t get in quickly enough and are therefore not knocked back. If you don’t think you’re going to make it, back out again rather than standing at 10 yards, your raid will thank you.
  • When the Gas Cloud is spawning, everyone should stay at range until it has got a target. If it’s not killed in time and is going to pick a different target, everyone should run away from it. A melee getting hit by it immediately has a fair chance of killing raiders, and is not recommended.

If you get your positioning sorted out, and people are quick on their feet, these shouldn’t pose many problems.
As a bonus tip, having a Holy Priest specced for Body and Soul is not essential but extremely handy to save a Gas Cloud target who finds themselves trapped or unable to escape.

From a healing perspective, the melee will be taking the brunt of the damage in this phase, along with the tank who will be taking 30-40k blows from the Professor. An Ooze exploding on a typical melee complement will be landing for around half their health each, a bit more if people are slow. This is not hugely dangerous unless they get an unfortunate hit again shortly afterwards, in which case you need to have words about positioning.

It should also be noted that the person with Volatile Ooze Adhesive or Gas Bloat will be taking 10-14k ticks, so they do need some focused healing.

The fight as a whole is extremely mobile, so healers can help themselves by assigning people to sectors of the room. You will need to move throughout the fight, but having somewhere to gravitate back to helps to ensure that everyone is in range of someone.

The extra wrinkle in Heroic mode, which begins in Phase 1 and continues to the end of the fight, is the Unbound Plague. This is an undispellable debuff placed on a random player every 60 seconds (although he seems to delay casting in at the start of each phase). The plague has a 60 second duration, but the damage done increases with every 1s tick, as illustrated in the table below, until it gets passed on to another person by running into them. That person keeps the duration the plague had when it was passed, but the damage starts low again.
(Edit: I’ve corrected an anomaly in the table at stack 14, which was due to an absorb being credited fully and artificially raising the number to 17338).

Tick Damage Increase
1 932
2 1164 1.25
3 1455 1.25
4 1819 1.25
5 2273 1.25
6 2842 1.25
7 3552 1.25
8 4441 1.25
9 5551 1.25
10 6938 1.25
11 8673 1.25
12 10840 1.25
13 13551 1.25
14 16938 1.25
15 21173 1.25
16 26466 1.25
17 33083 1.25
18 41354 1.25

The upshot of all this is that the plague needs to be passed off at around the 10-11 second mark. It’s theoretically possible to hold it for longer, but with latency, the risk of an extra tick, people running out of range, and all manner of other unforeseen problems, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Vent/TS help a lot with this. When you get the plague, look around you for someone to pass it on to. Avoid people who’ve already had the plague, identified by a green haze around them (or the Plague Sickness debuff on Vuhdo/Grid), because Plague Sickness increases the damage the plague does to you by 250% per stack, and you gain a stack when the plague leaves you (60s duration). Once you’ve identified your target, tell them on Vent or whisper them (%t macros can be handy, think back to Lady Vashj), so they know not to run off at the wrong moment. We found it somewhat helpful to make /say macros with something like “I’m free” or “WTB plague” to let people nearby know you’re available to pass plague to.
Healers need to remember that the person with plague will need dedicated healing, preferably from more than one person, and that if a healer gets it they will not be able to heal themselves as effectively if they’re moving to pass it on, so be sure to cover for your fellow healers!

A refinement you can use is to look at the duration of the plague. If it has 10 or fewer seconds left you can keep it until it fades. This minimises the number of passes, and thus keeps more people without Plague Sickness. It helps if you announce your intention to keep it, so healers can keep a close eye on you and people know not to try and take the plague off you.

Finally on this phase, what to do if the plague gets into the melee? Well, the simplest thing to do is to just let it bounce around. It only does damage when it ticks, and it’s often passed on before it can tick. But this can’t carry on forever, because with high stacks a slow pass could mean a one-shot for your melee, so you do need to pass this off eventually.
The easiest way to pass it off is when the Volatile Ooze is exploding and the melee get knocked out to range. If you have the plague when you get knocked back, just pass it to a nearby ranged player. But please, make sure you actually have got rid of it before running back in.
If this isn’t convenient, have your spare tank(s) stand slightly further out from the melee group. When they get the plague they can quickly step away from the melee cluster and out of passing range, and then hand it off to a ranged player. Warriors with Intervene work well for this role.


Timing of the transitions is a huge deal in Heroic mode. Because Putricide will spawn 2 additional adds in this phase, one Volatile Ooze and one Gas Cloud, having another add up at the same time will probably lead to a wipe because they can’t all be slowed. Stop DPS fully at 82% (DoTs will tick him down to 81%), and be sure to burn him under once the previous add is dead, before he can spawn another one.

Where in Normal mode Putricide would stun the raid with Tear Gas, in Heroic he runs to the table and spawns a Volatile Ooze and a Gas Cloud simultaneously from their usual positions. What’s more, half of the raid will gain Ooze Variable, making them only able to attack (and according to the tooltip, only able to be targeted by) the Volatile Ooze, and the other half will gain Gas Variable, making them only able to attack (and be targeted by) the Gas Cloud.

Positioning is everything here.

Everyone with the Ooze Variable should gather up under the Volatile Ooze, standing on the table side of it so they will all be knocked in the same direction. Everyone with the Gas Variable should run away from the Gas Cloud’s spawn point, and stay away from the Ooze spawn point as well since sometimes they seem to target the “wrong” people.
The reason for this grouping is that you maximise your chances of having enough people gathered on the Ooze when it explodes, and you can DPS it while it is spawning and acquiring a target.

Bear in mind that the Variable debuffs seem to be random, so you can get more healers in one team compared to another. Healers can and should do some DPS here, as getting the adds down quickly is extremely important.

The Abomination should be able to apply three slows in this phase, one to the Ooze and two to the Gas Cloud is recommended. To do this the Abomination needs to leave a pool or two intact in order to suck them dry during the transition. They do not grow while the Professor is at his table, so this cannot be relied on for energy generation.

Phase 2

A bit of an anticlimax after the fun of Phase 1, there’s not much different here. The Unbound Plague continues (after a delay at the start before the first plague is introduced), the Ooze/Gas still spawn, and the Malleable Goo works the same as it does in Normal mode.

The only real difference is that there are three Malleable Goos on Heroic, rather than two on Normal. This makes it a bit trickier to avoid them, especially if several are launched in roughly the same direction, but if you’re attempting Heroic Putricide you should be able to cope.

Don’t worry though, things get more exciting at 35% when Phase 3 starts, initially with a transition like the one at 80%. Stop DPS at 37%, kill off the previous add and then burn him down to under 35% quickly.

Phase 3

Unlike the Phase 1 – Phase 2 transition, I’ve not given this a separate section. This is because it helps to think of Phase 3 as one long DPS burn phase, rather than a transition followed by a burn.

At 35% Putricide again runs to the table and again spawns one of each type of add, which should be handled as you did for the Phase 1/2 transition. Once he’s finished at the table he will become active and begin stacking Mutated Plague on his current tank every 10 seconds or so (later if he’s casting at the time).

Just like Normal mode the Malleable Goo and Choking Gas Bombs will continue, and the slime puddles will continue to grow, blocking your path. This burn phase will last longer on Heroic though, so you need to be more careful where you place the slime puddles. Being ahead of the boss is a big no-no. Also, because DPS is so crucial, it is vital for ranged and healers to stay at range so that you always have 8 or more, meaning Malleable Goo won’t target melee. If this happens the DPS loss is crippling.

The big damage source is the Mutated Plague mentioned earlier. This is applied to Putricide’s current tank every 10s, roughly, and deals raid-wide shadow damage dependent on the number of stacks, increasing faster than linearly with stacks so a 2-stack does more than twice the damage of a 1-stack.

To keep stacks as low as possible, tanks will be rotating every one or two stacks. We use a rotation which means our tanks get to 2 stacks initially, then take one more at a time after that, i.e. 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-3-3-3-3-4-4-4-4. The discussion that follows will assume this rotation, so if you use something different you may need to readjust the figures.

For healers, it’s vitally important to understand the damage profile here. Just watching the healthbars last night, once we got a couple of tanks on 3 stacks the bars just start to plummet and very quickly we were down half a raid.

I went through the logs and plotted out the damage profile, because it’s useful to see this. For reference, we’re wiping at around 90-100s, when 3 tanks have got 3 stacks on them. Times are from the first stack application on the first tank, which is pretty much immediately once he mutates. We use a 4-tank strategy. The 3-tank approach is frankly terrifying!

Heroic Putricide-25 Damage Profile

An illustration of the damage taken per player per second due to the Mutated Plague. This chart compares a 3-tank an 4-tank strategy.

At the point we’re wiping, each raider is taking an average of 6-7k damage per second (the ticks are every 3s, so there’s 4 ticks spread over a 3s window), so without heals we’re talking about 4-5 seconds time to live. At 70s (when the last of the 2-stacks is going on, before we hit the 3-stack regime) the TTL is over 10s. I’m assuming 30kHP, since that’s basically what I have in a raid, and I’m important!

Those numbers are pretty scary, especially when expressed in TTL terms, and when you look at how quickly the raid damage ramps up. The proportion of damage shifts dramatically towards the raid in the end of Phase 3, so healers need to be prepared, and assigned, to break off the tanks and start healing the raid. You’re only needing to buy maybe 10-15 seconds, but that’s crucial.
Healers need to be fully aware of the stacks on the tanks in order to know when to switch from tank-healing to raid-healing. Tanks can help out by saving their shiniest (damage-reducing) cooldowns for that point. Bonus healing isn’t as useful as a damage reduction when healing’s at a premium.

Things like Divine Sacrifice are amazing, but need to be saved for a very late in the fight. They’re needed when the 3-stacks start to go down (Paladins can use their judgement (see what I did there?) about the exact timing) to flatten the curve and buy a few more seconds. Your Paladins might be using them to save people from Goo, but people really need to be dodging that, not using cooldowns for it.

Also remember that Mutated Plague is shadow, so an Aura Mastery on Shadow Resistance Aura could be awesome too.

Saving this for last, because it’s often out of the healers’ control, but the best way of getting round the problem of wiping late in Phase 3 is simply to get it over quicker. Do it in 80 seconds and life’s easy; need 100 seconds and it’s a real struggle. The gradient of that curve turns into a pretty hard Enrage once there are 2-3 3-stacks active. Actually it’s easily arguable that dropping a healer might be a good way to go: it sounds counter-intuitive, but killing him in 90s compared to 100s lightens the healing demand by a full 20%, and might be enough.

One huge tip is to try blowing Bloodlust as soon as the adds are active in the transition, once debuffs are up. Here’s the logic:
Looking at Phase 3 as a single burn of adds plus boss, the logical thing is to use Bloodlust where you can do the most effective damage. In the transition, there are dangerous Oozes and Gas Clouds active which would be much better dead, and if they die early then you get uninterrupted, movement-free DPS time on the boss while he’s still at his table and in his initial tanking position before he throws out the Goo, or drops the bombs, or the slime puddles have grown too much, etc.

And healers can also help out with the DPS, especially early in the phase when healing’s light, by adding DPS. Pop Shadowfiends and Fire Elementals, lay DoTs or other damaging spells down when you have spare GCDs, it all helps.

Good luck!

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Categories: Advice and Strategy

Disciplining the Lich King

Posted by Malevica on May - 7 - 2010

… Or: How I learned to love Power Word: Shield.

This post is a little overdue since we got our Lich King kills on 10 and 25 a few weeks ago, but better late than never, eh?

First there’s a bit of personal stuff about the kill itself, then I’ll talk phase by phase about how I approached healing this fight as a Discipline Priest.

The kill

Malevica the Kingslayer sitting in front of the Lich King

Our 25-man kill came after around 100-120 tries. (I have WoL parses for 102, but I missed one night so some aren’t recorded.)

The feeling was incredible: we’d recently wiped at 11%, during which several people on Vent sounded like they were going to have heart attacks, so the tension as we saw ourselves getting closer and closer to 10% with most of the raid alive was palpable; the shouts over Vent when the RP started were deafening, and the whole experience was marred only by the tendency of my PC to crash WoW as soon as any video cutscene auto-loads (the same thing happened at the Wrathgate and after the build-up that got in /g I was miffed, to say the least). For those who care about the statistics, we were the 7th guild on the server to beat him on 25-normal.
We killed him on 10-man a couple of months ago, which helped us to understand some of the mechanics and feed that back to the 25-man, although I’ll say we had to be a lot tighter on the strategy and execution in 25-man.

Healing the fight as a Disc

Phase 1

Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, ProM, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble… Ah, you get the idea.

Pretty much the best thing a Disc Priest can do here is control Infest, by keeping bubbles on the raid as much as humanly possible. The rest of the damage going out is focused on the three tanks, and Disc tank healing is quite time-intensive so it’s much better left to the other healers to cover it.

Infest deals around 8k damage to the whole raid and keeps ticking for 6k (initially, it rises over time) until the player’s health is over 90%, at which point the debuff is removed. A full PW:S can absorb this damage entirely, preventing the player’s health from dropping at all, so Infest will not be a problem for this player at all.

The refinement to this technique for a Disc Priest is maximising the mana returns through Rapture. Now I was under the impression that the Rapture trick had been “fixed” a couple of patches ago so that you were no longer able to gain multiple mana returns from multiple shields being removed simultaneously, but it seems this has been “unfixed” again.
I can manage the fight adequately without much Rapture optimisation simply by using my mana cooldowns judiciously and taking it easy in the first transition phase, so if you don’t nail it don’t panic. But if you can get it then so much the better.

So, how to maximise Rapture returns? There are two things to remember:

  1. You can only trigger Rapture every 12 seconds. This means that if you bubble a tank and the shield is removed you get one Rapture return and then nothing for 12 seconds, probably missing out on the next Infest cycle. So avoid bubbling tanks, or anyone else who is frequently taking damage (like that Whirlwinding warrior who grabs every round of adds).
  2. Rapture also only returns mana when ” your Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled”. Even before the buff to PW:S absorbs, the vast majority of bubbles fully absorb the Infest and don’t return any mana.
    One option is to not reapply a partially-consumed shield, which would let it be removed the next time around, assuming it lasts long enough. The trouble is that this negate the point of bubbling in the first place, absorbing only a small portion of the Infest hit.
    The other option is to downrank. Usually downranking is counter-productive, since the lower ranks cost more than the top rank, but in this case getting Rapture gains more reliably outweighs the increased cost. I’ve not been in a LK raid since reading about this on PlusHeal so I’ve not got round to testing this out in detail, but the suggestion on PH is to drop to Rank 11 or 12.

Besides the mad bubble-spam, the other thing that’s very useful is to keep Prayer of Mending on cooldown. I tend to bounce it off one of the tanks and let it sit where it ends up.

Prayer of Mending is great for helping heal the tank(s), especially if you get it to bounce between the two add tanks, but it also helps a lot on Infest by helping to heal up a few people who missed out on bubbles or had low health for other reasons.

Phase 1.5

To be honest this phase isn’t ideal for a Disc priest, so I tend to use this as a bit of a mana break. I’ll throw heals at the tank if they need it, but I don’t get too involved with the raid healing because the Druids and Shaman are much better suited to it. Bubble-blanketing here is very mana-inefficient and you’ll need that mana going into Phase 2, so I’d stick to keeping a ProM bouncing and helping tank healers.

Also remember that Priests are among the higher DPS healers, so help out on the Frost Spheres if any are getting close. A well-timed Penance or Holy Fire could save the day here.

The other thing a Priest can do here is to Dispel the Soul Shriek off the tanks. A silenced tank is a less effective tank, and the raid needs all the threat lead they can get to kill off the Raging Spirits as quickly as possible.

There will be an Infest very early in Phase 2, but unfortunately Pain and Suffering renders pre-bubbling a bit useless. As soon as the Lich King starts casting Earthquake though you should be starting your bubble cycle, maybe avoiding people with high stacks of P&S.

Phase 2

Back to the bubbling, to keep Infest under control. You won’t be able to reach every player all of the time to keep them bubbled, so it will be a bit more hectic, but your default activity should be basically the same as Phase 1. There are other tricks you can employ though.

First, keep your eyes peeled for the person who will get Defile on them. Defile only grows when it damages someone, so if you can bubble them as they run out you might save one tick of expansion. It is worth talking to any Holy Priests in the raid though, in case they’re using Body and Soul instead to help the person run away more quickly.

Secondly, watch for the MT getting Soul Reaper on them. Since this hits for around 40k, boosting the tank’s effective health by 10k can easily be the difference between life and death if they have a health deficit at the time. Assuming you have a second tank taunting, wait until the taunt happens to prevent a mêlée swing from just removing the bubble again.

Thirdly, watch out for any of the MT healers being picked up by Val’kyr and be ready to switch to fill the gap immediately. Penance, a quick PW:S, a ProM or even a Pain Suppression can all be used to prop up a tank and support your fellow healers.

Phase 2.5

Another transition. As with Phase 1.5 I tend to slow down here and regenerate some mana.

Phase 3 – No more Infest!

The order of the day in Phase 3 is triage and reaction, with quite a strict priority.

The ultimate, top priority for this phase is Harvest Soul victims. One person will take 12-15k ticks every second, six in total (as shown in the log section below) and this person needs quick, focused healing, and failure on the part of the raid to keep this person alive could mean a wipe unless the tanks are very quick to notice and react to the resulting Enrage.
I usually default to PW:S first, then Penance as a follow-up, then take it from there.

WoL section, showing Harvest Soul damage on a player

The second priority for this phase is dealing with the risk of deaths from Vile Spirits exploding (Spirit Burst). The key here is to keep as many players as possible above 20k health at all times to keep them out of one-shot territory. At this stage of the expansion with Hellscream’s Warsong (or the Alliance equivalent) at 15%, most people will be approaching or above 30k HP, so you should be aiming to keep people above 70%.

Third priority is tanks again. Soul Reaper is still active in this phase, so watch out for tanks and use your PW:S to boost their EH as much as possible.

If you’re not engaged with any of the above, then I’d suggest falling back on keeping bubbles on the raid. People will get hit by exploding Vile Spirits and bubbles will help to prevent them getting into the insta-gib region in the first place.

A final note on what to do if you get Harvest Soul. The key is to heal Terenas Menethil as quickly as possible, since his DPS is in proportion to his current HP. First step is to get a PW:S on him to stabilise things, and then fall back on your high-throughput rotation. I might be out of date, but I tend to rely on PW:S > Penance > Greater Heal > FH until Penance is off cooldown again.
The other thing is to deal with the Soul Rip ability. This is the primary damaging ability the Spirit Warden will use on Terenas Menethis. Since Priests lack an interrupt, we should instead dispel the debuff off Terenas immediately to prevent this damage.

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Cataclysm Class Previews – Summary

Posted by Malevica on April - 15 - 2010

Now that we’ve seen all four of the healing class previews (Shaman, Priest, Druid and Paladin), what can be inferred from looking at the previews as a whole?


The first and most obvious theme running throughout all of the class previews is the standardisation of the basic toolkit for all of the healers. Once Cataclysm arrives, every healing class will have three direct healing spells: a fast and small but expensive heal like a Priest’s Flash Heal today; an efficient and moderate-sized heal to act as the default “go-to” heal; and a large, expensive heal for when throughput really counts. The classes have had their basic tools reworked or extra heals added to achieve this.

What’s more, the developers have made it clear repeatedly throughout the previews that they intend to move the classes out of the niches that they have been in over the last few expansions. The best example of this is the big boost to the Paladin’s raid and AoE healing potential.

The point of this is to further the goal of “bring the player, not the class”, allowing every healer to be better-suited to both tank healing and raid healing; of course habits, preferences and in some cases just naked prejudices won’t change overnight, but this is a positive direction to be going in.

I’ve not heard many complaints about homogenisation, although I’m sure that is a fear held by many. Homogenisation to the extent that all the classes are the same but with different artwork would be a bad thing for the game, but so is having your class be ineffective in particular instances or encounters. With these previews Blizzard do appear to be trying to retain individuality and allow healers to specialise, while not forcing a specialism on players.

Looking forward to seeing a new wave of raid healing Paladins in Cataclysm!


Another common theme in the previews was the apparently increased importance of awareness of your position, the position of the raid, and the position of the damage. From Leap of Faith and Power Word: Barrier to Healing Rain through to Healing Hands and Efflorescence, every class gained a new ability which will require them to target it carefully to get the desired benefit, either by casting on the ground, by positioning themselves near those in need of healing, or by casting on the person in the most advantageous position.

This has the effect of getting healers to look away from their health bars and take stock of who is standing where, and also suggests that raiding in general will be more position-focused than it has been in the past.
Positioning is a key part of many fights in Wrath, particularly hard modes, and it’s something that I see a lot of people struggling with; I hope this works as a way of adding challenge back into the encounters again, making strategy and coordination pay bigger dividends.


When Blizzard talked about the talent tree changes way back in 2009, they told us they wanted to strip out all the passive talents and allow us to pick and choose for utility. Where “cookie-cutter” builds today might say “start with 14/54/0 and spend the last three points however you like”, the aim is that in Cataclysm we will see more of those free points, especially since the trees aren’t becoming any deeper but we are gaining five additional points to spend by the time we reach level 85.

We haven’t seen enough detail to call this one way or the other, we can look at the extra new abilities each class will get to do their job and consider those a step in this direction. The standardisation of the core abilities allows the developers to be a lot more free with the rest of our toolkit, since we won’t need to spend tons of talent points simple to make our baseline abilities up to snuff. I’m very keen to see the new talents when they are revealed.


As a final point, I don’t like to end on a low note but I wanted to remark on the amazing amount of cynicism that’s been on display around the web. Not everywhere, but neither do you need to look hard to find it.

First, these are previews, and in some cases fairly obviously preliminary ones at that. If an ability sounds ok but underwhelming, there’s plenty of time for it to be souped up before release. I’d be extremely surprised if everything here made it live in its present form. So don’t panic just yet.

Second, instead of focusing on how much you didn’t get, why not look at what you did get? Instead of looking for the worst case scenario of just how useless and impractical a new ability will be, why not look for the potential, for all the creative and raid-saving used to which you could put these abilities?

Thirdly, “fun” is about as subjective a concept as they come, so what you consider fun is unlikely to be universal. It’s tricky to judge based on three spells and some preliminary thoughts about the future direction how much fun it will be to play a particular class. I often find Paladin tank healing fairly boring, but others get great satisfaction from feeling themselves slotted neatly into the role and being able to hone their throughput or free up GCDs. I love abilities which test my situational awareness, others feel that they are busy enough playing triage with the green bars.

And I love vehicle fights.

Well, someone has to!


Lastly, remember that Blizzard does play your class, they have plenty of people on the payroll who understand your class, probably better than you do, and they are not out to deliberately break your class.

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Cataclysm Class Previews – Paladin

Posted by Malevica on April - 14 - 2010

Following on from the Shaman, Priest and Druid class previews, here’s the Paladin preview from a healing point of view.


Spells and Abilities

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

As we’ve seen with Healing Rain, Efflorescence and Power Word: Barrier, this is another healing ability with strong raid awareness and positional requirements. This ability should help a paladin to plug their AoE/group healing weak spot to some extent; a paladin can be assigned to a cluster of people to provide some supporting healing.

The wrinkle with Healing Hands is the duration relative to the cast time, meaning a maximum of 40% uptime. In Wrath that would provide some sticky moments on something like Blood Queen Lana’thel or heroic Val’kyr Twins, but with the larger health pools and slower pace of damage taken this might allow time for the healing to average out.

The size of the heal will determine whether this is simply used on cooldown or saved for a tight spot, much like a Druid’s Swiftmend: too little healing and it might as well be used on cooldown, make it larger and it becomes sensible to save it for a time when it won’t be wasted. Perhaps even a rotation of paladins could be used to counter abilities like Kologarn’s Shockwave which affect the entire raid, or to cover both the melee and ranged.

I like the sound of this ability, especially for 5-mans, since it will allow me to have something other than Glyph of Holy Light splash or frantic Flash of Light spam to heal up my party after AoE or multi-target damage, which can only be a step forward.

Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears).

Just wow! I’m really excited about this ability, and especially the way it has been adapted to give something useful to all three specs: tanks get a defensive cooldown (although this will be a tricky balancing act), DPS get a boost to their damage output, and healers get a helper to smart-heal at their side for a while. Just the thing to get you through the tricky last 30% or when the raid needs a little extra help.

I honestly can’t see a downside to this, and it will also help with the Paladin’s raid healing along with Healing Hands. I’m impressed that the developers seem to have found good, practical ways to improve Paladin group healing without just giving them a Prayer of Healing or baking in the Glyph of Holy Light.

Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.

Not exactly a revolution for Holy Paladins, although it’s worth noting that as part of the new dispel system Retribution and Protection Paladins will lose the ability to Cleanse.

Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.

Not so much buff streamlining as a quality of life change for the poor junior Paladin who gets to buff 15 times to cover every spec in the raid and their pets. It should also reduce some of the contortions needed to persuade PallyPower to give the right people the right buffs.

It might also help alleviate the headache of trying to figure out what buff to give all the hybrids in your PuGs quickly enough that they don’t start moaning. Or maybe they’ll see “Blessing of Might” and moan anyway. Perhaps it can be renamed to something more spec-agnostic, like Blessing of Power?

Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

Fair enough. Depending on the level it becomes available this should make healing in instances a lot easier, as well as possibly giving Protection Paladins an easier self-heal.


We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer.

That’s a long duration. 60 seconds felt very short and I’m glad and not surprised that it’s going up, but I didn’t expect more than 5 minutes. I wonder then if the mana cost will go up correspondingly to discourage the Paladin from swapping targets as much as we do at the moment and to keep it on the “MT” (or their assignment, whoever that might be). This does seem superficially to be against the goal of moving the paladin away from tank healing, but might be intended to provide more smoothing or ‘passive’ healing to allow the paladin to do other things in between direct heals.

While I’m pleased to see Paladins gaining some extra group healing in general, I’m really not sure if the “tank healer” label will be so easy to shrug off. Healing Hands will have to be rather good to drag Paladins off the tanks, especially as many will have either rolled the class with tank healing in mind or become accustomed to that as their role over the years.

We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.

My first thought on reading this was that I wasn’t aware Flash of Light was the expensive, fast heal at the moment. I suspect this is a clash of tenses, where “remains” should be replaced by “becomes”.

In any case, this seems to position Flash of Light as the “Flash Heal”, moves Holy Light more towards Heal than Greater Heal (although it will need to have its single-target throughput reduced significantly, because currently it has a Heal-like cast time with at least Greater Heal-like output) and leaves the field open for an as-yet-unidentified big slow heal. This really just pulls the basic direct healing toolkit into line with the other three healers and isn’t unexpected, even if the wording could have been checked a bit more carefully.

Some quite big fundamental changes here though. As Rohan at Blessing of Kings points out, currently Paladin heals operate on a different paradigm to the Priest heals that seem to be the new norm: while Priests trade immediacy and casting speed for mana efficiency (fast and expensive vs slow and cheap), Paladins trade throughput for mana efficiency instead.

When I read the Sacred Shield change I rather expected to see an increase in the duration of Beacon of Light as well. However, from what has been said about Beacon of Light it seems almost as if it is being moved away from 100% uptime and more towards situational use, perhaps for times when there is widespread spot-healing to be done with Flash of Light and the Paladin needs to divert themselves away from their assignment temporarily.

That said the impact of this change is a little unclear at the moment, since we don’t have information on the relative size and cost of Flash of Light to be able to understand the role of FoL and Beacon together.

Edit: The section of the class preview quoted above has been clarified and the original post on the forums updated. The new version is quoted below for reference, but I’ve left the original in place in this post as well for reference. This doesn’t affect the conclusions, but it is worded slightly better.

We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light needs to be changed so that its benefit is letting the paladin heal two targets at once, not letting the paladin get two heals for the mana cost of one. It’s intended to save GCDs and targeting time, not mana.

And the final change for this section:

Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.

This change was announced previously, so it will probably not be news to many people. It will be slightly odd to be picking up Spirit gear again.


Critical Healing Effect

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.

Clearly Paladins will continue to be built around the idea of critical heals and single target heals, which is good if only to retain some consistency in healing style between expansions. Generally though the mastery speaks for itself.


The Paladin preview was released later than the other classes because the developers felt they needed more time to hammer out the details of the class changes before publishing them. Even then there are still gaps, the odd error and the notes feel a little more vague than other classes, but despite that this preview is a decent indication of the intentions of the developers for the Paladin in Cataclysm.

They have stated clearly that they want to allow the Holy Paladin to feel empowered to heal more than just the tanks, and have given them a number of useful tools to do this, from a body-centred AoE HoT in Healing Hands to a summonable Guardian of Ancient Kings to smartheal the raid on their behalf. I’m just not sure if the changes alone will be enough to really move the Paladin out of their niche, but not much would break them out of it in a short timeframe anyway. Little steps.

No doubt there will be some distress at the Beacon of Light change, but from the (probably biased) point of view of a Disc Priest who has been left in the dust on many occasions I’m almost glad that Paladins won’t automatically have the throughput of 2 tank healers in the future. Beacon of Light is an amazing ability and I’m glad it’s staying in the game in some form, but the contrast between raiding with and without a Holy Paladin is probably a little too big at the moment. My Holy Pally is sad though!

On balance I think this preview represents a good step forward: expanding utility and moving Paladins out of the niche without too much naked homogenisation.

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