Healing as a Disc Priest in these early days of the Cataclysm expansion can be cataclysmically horrifying.
The average LFD group is explosively bad: DPS refuse to utilize crowd control. The tank pulls seven mobs as though he’s an overgeared ICC Kingslayer running Mana Tombs with every buff in the game. No one will stop for you to drink.
You’re running out of mana every two mobs and the group keeps pulling, oblivious to your panicked squeals for mana, mana, mana! Bars are dropping. You pop triage heals on the DPS, even though you can’t spare the mana, because you know you’ll wipe for sure without that strangely tough hunter because your tanks’ health is dropping faster than a brick on fast-forward and he’s vying for the title of World’s Biggest Dick anyway.
The ‘lock Life Taps six times in quick succession, the tank pulls the boss while you’re counting the seconds on your Shadowfiend cooldown and sobbing softly while whacking the last three mobs feebly with your stick, and then it happens:
And then the group boots you.
I wish I had more encouraging news for you, gentle discos, but the best I can say is that we’re not alone. Every healer I’ve talked to is going through this same agony. Tanks are squishier, DPS are slower, your mana is nonexistent, and somehow in LFD all those problems add up to THE HEALER SUCKS!
I feel your pain. Hell, I’m living your pain!
We’re all in this together, all embattled and embittered and embarrassed in these bludgeon-fests, but here are a few tips that may assist in that horrifying slog we’re facing these days. They’ve helped me regain my sanity- what little remains, that is- and I hope they do the same for you:
1. LFD? LFG!
The LFD tool is an odd monster. It at once impersonalized the leveling experience and yet exposed you to far more content. Blizzard certainly took the impersonalization to heart: just look at the new guild system for confirmation that they really, really want you get to know players on your realm at least a bit better.
The lone leveler got hit with the nerf bat in terms of guild achievements and rewards, but perhaps- perhaps!- the extreme difficulty of healing right now is intended to do the same thing.
I have to be honest with you guys, now: I have not finished a single random LFD instance since Cataclysm began. I’ve been kicked (“You suck!”), I’ve ragequit (“You guys suck!”), I’ve been in the fetal position and crying too snottily to seize hold of my mouse (“I suck!”).
And then there are guild runs.
I moved my main priest to another server (to act as temporary financial support to a low-level alt), and ended up in a new guild about two weeks ago. I don’t know all of my guildmates very well, but I *do* know them better than my LFD-sponsored Ipwnunoobz tank.
When I need to stop for mana, they stop. We pull cautiously and steadily. We make good time, because we don’t wipe. No one yells. No one curses (there is excessive /mooning of bosses, however). No one pitches a fit.
If you haven’t yet, or if you’re not in a guild that runs instances regularly. do seriously consider getting in with a guild to run with outside the LFD Disaster Relief System.
I can highly recommend Mortem Vitae Sequens on A-Farstriders, Waypoint on A-Medivh, Tsu Tain Guu Faitaa on H-Drenden, and Business Time on A-Moonrunner. If those guilds are aren’t hiring, I know each one would be happy to recommend a good one on-server.
2. Dress for Success
It’s tempting- oh, so tempting- to gear up as a Shadow Priest, run a few quests in Vash’jir and Mount Hyjal, and in the meantime queue up as a healer for a few (invariably disastrous) PUGs through the Looking For Group tool.
Do not do this. If you’re picking up gear with Hit and chucking the gear with Spirit, well- you’re gonna have a bad time.
Now is the time to commit to running in Spirit gear with no Hit as a dedicated Disc Priest instance healer (or partner-in-crime of a tankish questing friend).
If you can’t bring yourself to do that, admit to yourself that you’d really like to see those new areas while you level, dropping Spirit gear for Spellpower and Intellect (and Hit), and level as a Shadowpriest, may the gods forgive me for saying it.
3. (Key)Bound for Glory
Go into the game. Hit ‘Esc’. Select ‘Macros’.
Creating macros is easy, and it’s awfully nice to have a pre-programmed little ditty that you can slap out at the beginning of LFD. It might not make any difference, but you’ll feel like you at least made the effort.
Just select ‘Create New…’ on the Macros screen, select an attractive icon, and type in anything you’d normally type in the chat screen. Once done, pull the icon(s) to your quickbar and press at will.
My own goes something like this:
/p Hi, everyone! I’m Liala and I’ll be your healer for this evening’s run.
/p Healers are really low on mana right now, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, so I’m going to have to ask for a few more mana breaks then we’re all used to. I promise I’ll make it as quick as I can.
/p Deeps, I’m really sorry, but I’m probably not going to be able to heal you as much. Please don’t hesitate to use bandages if we’re getting creamed. That’s it! Thanks for reading!
Then I have a few macros that I’ve always had:
/p Mana break after this mob, please.
/p Focusing on tank heals, please bandage at will.
Employ your macros to give your tank a verbal heads-up whenever possible, and reap the rewards of a happy tank.
4. Get Right Back To Where We Started From
We all want to get ahead, to see the new instances, to see the new content!
The last thing on Azeroth any of us want to do right now is go back to the Lich King or any of those Heroic Wrath instances we’ve run ten thousand times, but there is, I swear, benefit to doing so.
Queue up for a random Lich King Heroic and run it paying complete and total attention to your rotation.
Running these suckers is a great way to familiarize yourself with all the new bells and whistles we Disc Priests have without stressing the hell out over everyone dying all over the place. No matter how much I read or study or crunch numbers, I find nothing ever, ever replaces the actual experience of playing with a new build.
Since healing should be cake, you’ll be able to take stock of your new talents without being terribly distracted.
Try out new rotations. Pay attention to the numbers that are popping up as you heal, and check out which spells give you the biggest results and how much your mana bar sinks with each. Get used to using Inner Focus and Hymn of Hope and Barrier, and whatever else you haven’t been using lately. Try out the new Smitespec and see if that fills you with joy (and wings).
Whatever else you do, remain calm and remember we’re all right there with you, bitching about our tanks and DPS in the ethereal super-reality that all Disc Priests share. Your QQ is our QQ. Godspeed.
For more information on gear and builds, check out:
Cataclysm Disc Priest Builds (Shieldspec and Smitespec)
Gearing a Disc Priest: 80-85
Gearing a Disc Priest: The Beginning Raider (85+)
Cataclysm Disc Priest Gems and Reforging
My current build on the Armory