The other day a friend asked me if I was still doing priest healing guides, in this particular case he specifically asked for a discipline one since he was playing one but considered himself "noob" at it. He wanted some easy hints and tips on what to think about as a discipline healer and I was honored that he chose me as the target for his questions. But at first I was taken aback. How to priest heal? I can't even remember the last time I did a proper guide on that. The Priest Guide section on my blog hasn't been updated since mid-Cataclysm (shame on me). The only thing I could offer him at the time was some quick tips off the top of my head, but it planted an idea in my brain. Maybe it's time for me to make another priest healing guide?
When I first sat down to write this post there were some things I needed to clear out for myself before I could get anywhere. First of all, this had to be a discipline healing guide, because I haven't properly played holy since somewhere in early Cata I think (it is true that I have done some holy healing since then, but it hasn't been my main spec for ages). And most importantly - how much could I actually claim to know about disc priest healing anymore? On the one hand I have mained a priest healer since early BC, without any longer breaks to speak of. I don't think I'd blow my own horn too much if I claim to at least have very long experience in priest healing, the changes it's gone through and that I might even by now have a certain feel for the class, sort of making me a Dr House of Priest Healing (ahem). I might use some unconventional methods at times, but they always lead to succesful results in the end.
On the other hand, eventhough the healing class might be the least affected by it, it is also true that WoW is a game unforgiving when it comes to stat weights and "best ways" to gear. In all honesty it doesn't leave very much room for personal preferences - in the end, whether you like it or not, the game promotes a certain way of playing based on simple (well, maybe not so simple) numbers. Numbers that I can not claim to have full knowledge of at the moment, that I am raiding once every two weeks and especially now that 5.2 is out and things have changed yet again. Where does that leave me?
Because of my interest in priest healing, I do keep track of things every now and then. Nothing like in my golden days, of course, where I would scour blogs and forums and do my own test runs with different stats, talents and skills to see what seemed to work best. I have a rough idea as to what seems to be the way to go nowadays, and it has worked pretty well for my raiding needs. Other than that I can only look at my performance. Although I'm not in a server first progression guild anymore, my guild is far from bad when it comes to raiding (25th of March they had done 5 bosses in ToT). And when I compare myself with the other healers in the guild, I consider myself among the best, especially taking into account my lack of experience of the encounters, my gear mostly being several levels lower and my overall lack of practice with priest healing at the moment. Fortunately my year long experience of priest healing has made most moves hard wired into my brain and I can focus on trying to being as efficient as possible with my skills for certain situations in the encounter rather than struggling with the elementary stuff. This is also where the biggest difference is noticed, it is when I am not ready to use a cooldown properly because I don't know the encounter inside out that I drop behind on the meters, never anything else.
In essence, if I wrote a guide now it might not be old Elitist Jerks material or agreed upon by every priest out there. It should probably be seen as thoughts from a priest veteran, someone who has been around long enough to say "screw stat weights" and give a general idea on how priest healing works, now and probably forever. I'll be like the old, looney lady in the corner with wisdoms of ypnder year, things that modern players might shrug of as crazy talk but that hold truth to them if understood correctly. It won't be mumbo jumbo, it'd be words from someone who knows that eventhough there might be a "best" and "worst", when it comes to healing so much comes down to feeling that it is ok to go your own path, at least somewhat. I've played a priest pretty much since the start, although like I mentioned I started raiding with it early BC, and I can tell you - they haven't changed overly much. I can still recognize myself in the priest, in how the heals work and the way I use them. We get new toys - the Barrier, Spirit Shell, Chakra - we argue which stat is the best (mastery, haste, intellect, spirit, spell power and so on) but the essence is still the same. In this I think Blizzard have really succeeded in keeping priests all about being priests (if that makes any sense) and I can only think that is why I have stuck with them too long. What I loved about priest healing five years ago, I still love about priest healing. And I do love writing guides, so let's get down to business, once again.