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Welcome to the 100k mana club! As you may have heard, healer mana is being normalized across the board so that everyone has 100,000 mana. We heard about this change way back around November. After getting into the second wave of beta invites for Mists of Pandaria, one of the first things I did after setting my keybinds and messing around with my spec was to head straight for dungeon queues.
Waiting 18 minutes as a healer? C'mon, guys! Throw me a bone here!
I'm going to write about two vastly different experiences. Like many other healing priests, I decided to run two different healing specs, discipline and holy. Leveling as a healer isn't going to be that bad when your Holy Fires and Smites are hitting for 40,000 crits.
My eyes were slowly getting crossed between looking at my mana bar on the top left to the center of my screen where I place my party frames. That's before I realized I could poke around in the settings and get mana bars to show up within the frames.
Way to go, default UI!
Anyway, the 100k mana pool does take a little getting used to. At this stage of the beta, I suspect the coefficients are going to be slightly off and not finalized yet anyway.
The first class I started healing with on the beta was my priest. I spent a good half an hour reassigning keys and modifying UI elements to get it to a point that I felt comfortable playing him. Configuring glyphs took some time. There are many choices at our disposal. It's like being a kid in an ice cream parlor. Do I go for the rocky road? The cookies 'n' cream? Mint chocolate? Durian-flavored? So many potential decisions!
Decided to use those for leveling:
Beta healing as discipline
Spirit shell is the name of the mana-neutral workhorse spell that discipline priests have. Think of it as a counterpart to the holy priest version of Heal or a paladin's Holy Light. I'm not really satisfied with the way it functions right now. I think that might be due to the fact that I don't really see any healing done. If the shield effect wears off, the target gets healed for 80% of the amount. But if your healing target is sustaining constant and consistent damage, that heal never really gets done. Mind tricks are at work here.
Combat healing (5-man healing) felt anxious and stressful. Despite raid gear, I still struggled a little in some areas as discipline. I'm not sure if that was due to the party not properly executing mechanics or if it was just me. (Those of you who took on that second boss in the Temple of the Jade Serpent with that Anger boss will understand.) It was either that or because some spell I was using only healed for 1. Haven't been able to identify which one it was yet.
Atonement healing feels really powerful. We're talking 40,000 Smite crits. With damage like that, your party won't be dying that much when heals from Atonement reach your party. Be really diligent when it comes to mana management, since Smite spamming will drain your mana quickly. I found I had to be extremely aggressive with Shadowfiend and other mana regen cooldowns when healing my way through the Temple of the Jade Serpent.
Beta healing as holy
Holy feels amazing. I'm actually worried that it might almost be too good, before I realized that I was wearing a mix of Dragon Soul normal and heroic quality gear. No big change in the way healing plays out for holy. Make sure you put Heal back on your bars. Mana management's going to be a big deal at the start of the expansion. On the other hand, that might actually be the product of my trying to push and overextend my healing abilities.
Either way, it looks like holy is in a good spot from a mechanical perspective. Holy priests will need to adjust to having separate binds for Chakra now. For example, you don't have to cast Prayer of Mending after activating Chakra to activate Chakra: Sanctuary.
Since I know many of you are going to ask, spells like Halo and Cascade aren't available yet. We need to be level 90 to learn them, and right now, we're capped at level 86. We'll know more as we progress further into the beta.
The other big change for me to get used to is the fact that I should be using wands in my main hand slot now. I didn't think it wold be that significant of a change, but to see myself holding a wand instead of a dagger or something is going to take some getting used to. Hoping we'll get some really awesome-looking wands now. Bonus: We actually get to see wand models being used more often.
Throughout the rest of the beta period, I'll continue to play with the rest of the other healing classes and their spells. I'm in the middle of leveling a monk right now (Erryday' I'm pandaren). I'm just rolling around all over the place and after hitting level 10, I'll be going into Mistweaver. Haven't had a chance to really check out their healing capabilities yet.
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.