So at this point, you've probably restored the world pillar, been solely entrusted to protecting Hyjal by a demi-goddess, and made off with several dozen pigs (or pumpkins) from the poor farmers of your faction's capital city. You've probably also ventured into countless enemy strongholds and slain everything from wind dragons to rock monsters -- or at least had a panic attack trying to heal the guys doing the slaying. You sure are amazing, and everyone knows it (except the Guardians of Hyjal reputation vendor), so it's not surprising that about now you've been called upon by other heroes to delve deep into the deepest, darkest lairs of Azeroth so you can fulfill your destiny of spamming Prayer of Healing on groups 1 and 2. Sound good? Excellent.
If you haven't guessed already, during the next few weeks, the healing side of Spiritual Guidance will be taking a tour of tier 11 raid content and discussing how to best approach it as a holy or discipline priest. If you're ready, let's get started.
Our first stop is Blackwing Descent, the largest of the new raid dungeons. Blackwing Descent contains six bosses that are spread out over two levels, the upper Broken Hall and the lower Vault of Shadowflame. Each level must be cleared before players can progress further into the dungeon, so this week, we'll be looking at just the upper level and the two bosses there, Magmaw and the Omnotron Defense System.
Of the two first bosses in Blackwing Descent, the giant lava worm Magmaw is the easier of the two to heal. Be sure to check out WoW Insider's Guide to Magmaw for a general understanding of the fight.
As a healer, there are some important things to know, the most important of which is "don't panic." That's my usual advice, I know, but the damage on this fight is particularly deceptive in how manageable it is. Both the tank and raid will take a lot of damage during phase 1, but nothing requires lightning reflexes to manage. Raid damage should only occur from Magmaw's Lava Spew and Magma Spit, with the former only occurring a few times during the phase. Lava Spew deals lots of damage over multiple ticks, but if your raid is topped off ahead of time, it shouldn't be too difficult to stay alive through as long as your healers remain active. To survive the spew, just keep your raid above 30% (so they don't get finished off by a random Magma Spit); then when the spew is complete, you can heal everyone up to full at your leisure. Prayer of Healing works well for this.
Raid damage can also potentially occur from Pillar of Flame, Lava Parasites, or when Magmaw crashes onto the platform. (The steam on one side of the room is the visual warning for this; it should not be confused with Ignition, an ability exclusive to heroic-mode add mobs.) The damage from all these mechanics is completely avoidable. Once your raid learns to dodge everything properly, you'll see that your job as a healer is really quite small on this fight. I should point out that an occasional player's getting hit by any of these mechanics is manageable, but if a lot of players are consistently getting hit, you probably won't be able to muscle through it with good healing alone. (Extra tip: If your raid is having trouble with Pillar of Flame, there is a strategy that only requires one ranged class to dodge it. Everyone will still need to dodge the crash, though.)
Two more thinsg to know about Pillar of Flame. The first is a reminder from Derevka over at Tales of a Priest, who says to make sure you place your Lightwell between the two pillar points. This way everyone should be able to reach it, and ranged DPS running by will be reminded to click on it as they go by. Second tip is that if a player does get hit by it, you can use Leap of Faith to grab him out of air and save him from taking fall damage. Make sure that you don't use Levitate to save players from the fall damage, though, because they'll almost certainly be caught by the parasites if their fall time is increased.
Tank damage can require a bit more urgency to heal, but it's not too bad, since whenever the raid doesn't need attention, all your healers will be able to lend a hand. The ability you need to watch out for is Mangle (you can add this to your raid frames, but it's not necessary -- whoever is actively tanking is going to be the tank that gets hit by this). The tank will want cooldowns for this, but his own cooldowns are usually enough. You may offer up your Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit for this, though, just in case. (Extra tip: When the tank is mangled and eaten, he sometimes goes out of range if you're stacked in a ranged group. Just move up closer to melee range to continue healing him.)
When phase 2 begins, Magmaw will be impaled and disabled. No one in the raid should take any damage, so if you're running low on mana, feel free to use any of your mana restoration cooldowns now. You'll have no trouble channeling Hymn of Hope or a Potion of Concentration.
Discipline or holy?
Either. Both specs are good on this fight for raid and tank healing. For the raid, holy's strengths at quick raid healing (read: Circle of Healing) will help out tremendously during Lava Spew -- but disc can keep up, since spamming Prayer of Healing with Divine Aegis will help on each successive spew and also assist at keeping players from getting finished off by the Magma Spit. Holy Word: Sanctuary will probably be overkill, since there isn't a strategic point in the fight for it, but you can use it liberally against Lava Spew, since you'll have all of phase 2 to recover the mana spent on it. Power Word: Barrier should be treated similarly. Penance is ideal for spot-healing players who get hit with the Magma Spit, while holy priests will probably want to stick with their AoE spells rather than trying to work in single-target heals.
For tank healing, either spec can keep up with the damage, since you'll likely always have multiple healers on the tank during the points at which the tank damage would be difficult to heal. Remember that the better your raid is at dodging, the less time you'll spend healing the raid and the more time all your healers can focus on the tanks during Mangle.
Holy priests with Body and Soul do have quite an advantage for the movement on this fight. You can use it to quickly dodge Magmaw's crash and the Pillar of Flame, which is particularly helpful if you get Lava Spew and Pillar at the same time. You can also use Body and Soul on your tank or any player who might end up kiting the adds if your strategy calls for that.
Omnotron Defense System
The other boss in the Broken Hall is the Omnotron Defense System, which consists of four golems with four sets of unique abilities. At all times during the fight, any two of those golems will be active, so it is essential that you know and understand the various abilities the golems use so any of the combinations won't catch you off guard. Be sure to check out WoW Insider's guide on this one.
Omnotron is considerably harder to heal than Magmaw, with several abilities requiring specific kinds of attention. Let's go over the ones you'll need to know and how to handle them.
- Acquiring Target This ability will deal damage to a single targeted player and everyone standing near him. To avoid unnecessary damage on the raid, the player should run out of the group to the side of the raid and not regroup until he is no longer targeted. You'll need to heal him for as long as he's targeted. The target is denoted by two things, a debuff with the same name (which you should add to your raid frame so you can quickly pick out and heal who has it -- here is a guide to do that for Grid from Kae at Dreambound) and a red laser beam connecting Magmatron and the player. If you're holy, help out that player with Body and Soul.
- Incineration Security Measure This is probably the most devastating ability in the whole fight. It deals large ticks of damage once per second over 4 seconds to everyone in the raid. It is unavoidable and requires a lot of AoE healing to counter. You'll want to use everything you've got to handle it, this includes all your AoE healing, Holy Word: Sanctuary, and Power Word: Barrier.
- Power Generator This ability creates a blue pool on the ground that you absolutely want to stand in. While in it, it will restore your mana, so as soon as you see one, carefully make your way over and soak up the swirly blue goodness until it disappears. If you're quick with these, you can usually get away without using your mana cooldowns during the encounter, and if you do end up needing them, it won't be nearly as dire.
- Arcane Annihilator This ability will target a random player and hit him for about half his health, but it can be interrupted, so ideally you won't see anyone taking damage from it. If one does go off, though, single-target spot healing can handle the damage, no problem.
- Poison Protocol The damage from this ability comes in the form of green bombs that follow a single target and explode on impact. They can be kited and destroyed beforehand, though, so ideally you won't need to heal through this.
- Chemical Bomb A large, green gas cloud forms and damages any players standing in it. As long as players move out of this quickly, you won't need to worry too much about healing from it, but you might get a chance to use Leap of Faith here if someone does. Snifit in the comments points out that this ability doesn't actually cause any damage, but it increases all other damage received, so you'll want to get out of it regardless.
- Poison Soaked Shell DPS likely won't be attacking Toxitron when his poison shell is active, but if they do, they'll get a buff to their damage and a DoT. If your raid leader chooses to have DPS use this shield to improve on your raid's DPS, you'll have to heal through the DoT. It's quite manageable with single-target heals or even a Renew, so don't fret it.
- Electrical Discharge This chain lightning ability can hit up to three players who are within 8 yards of each other, so it's important that players spread apart, since the last jump can sometimes be lethal. If you see any players standing too close to each other, pre-emptively shielding them is a wise choice.
- Lightning Conductor This ability places crackling lightning on a player, which won't damage the target but will hit everyone around him. Make sure to add this ability to your raid frames so you can quickly spot the player with the debuff, and if you can, help him run out with Body and Soul.
Discipline or holy?
Both specs are viable on Omnotron Defense System for this fight, but I think holy has a slight advantage due to its ability to switch between effective single-target and AoE healing. Much of the damage in the fight is limited to single-target spot healing if boss mechanics are handled properly, so disc and holy (in Serenity state) are on par most of the time. Magmatron's Incineration Security Measure is probably the most taxing part of the whole fight, and the additional AoE healing spells holy priests have are really strong in this fight. That said, a talented disc priest can still keep it together with strategically placed Power Word: Shields and Prayer of Healing combined with Power Infusion. Using Power Word: Barrier during the security measure is also a smart tactical decision.
Most discipline priests will want to avoid Smite healing through Atonement because when and what to attack is a precise and vital part of this fight. Damaging the wrong target can kill your raid, so you'll either have to be extra careful and pay attention to the calls your raid leader makes, or just not take any chances and avoid Smite altogether.
Neither Pain Suppression nor Guardian Spirit need to be saved to counter a specific ability, so use it on any target that you're afraid of losing in a bind.
Getting ready to move on
That concludes this week's guide. I ask that any players using Vuhdo or Healbot leave me a comment about how you guys add debuffs to your raid frames. Is it automatic, and if so, can you priority filter them? I was curious when I wrote this guide what users of alternative raid frames do for adding debuffs to their raid frames. If there is a process to it, I'm sure some of your fellow readers would like to know, either through a linked guide or an explanation. Kae's guide that I linked earlier is only good for Grid users, I'm afraid.
Next week, we'll be temporarily leaving Blackwing Descent so that we can stick with early raid bosses. We'll move on to more difficult encounters in the later weeks. If you have any questions or comments, or more tips about today's bosses, be sure to leave a comment.
Read Healing Chimaeron and Atramedes as a priest.
Want more tips for carrying out your priestly duties as a disc or holy priest? Check out Spiritual Guidance: Discipline and Spiritual Guidance: Holy. Newcomers to the priest class will want to look into Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101. For getting your healing priests geared, check out the pre-raid gear guide and the Valor point and raid gear guide.