I feel like such an elitist jerk this week.
You see, the other day I made my weekly trip over to WoW Progress to scope out the growing list of guilds that have killed the Lich King on 25-man heroic mode. At the time, I was trying to distract myself from the fact that I had no clue what to write for this week's Spiritual Guidance. With that in my mind, as I looked over the list of guilds that just barely spanned two pages, a thought popped into my mind: I wonder how many guilds have killed Lich King on any difficulty? I hopped over to look at 10-man progression and found only about 30% of the guilds listed on the site had defeated Arthas. The percentages surprised me; that meant the majority of raiders haven't defeated the Lich King yet.
So suddenly I felt like a jerk. For weeks now, I had disregarded writing a priest guide to healing the Lich King because I thought no one would want one. Maybe I'm just oblivious? Whatever it is, I guess my perception was off; probably has something to do with the cancer I'm getting from bubble spam. (Everything causes cancer these days, after all.)
Anyway, now that I'm remembering that some people don't rush through the game like I do, I figured I'd better get to it. So ahem ... This week I will be talking about how to heal the Lich King as a priest!
Before you can benefit from this guide, you will need to familiarize yourself with the Lich King encounter and have a basic idea how the fight works. There are plenty of online resources, and WoW.com even has its own Lich King tutorial video. Make sure you're read up on the abilities and timers of each phase.
I will be approaching the fight from a 25-man angle, then at the end making some notes about 10-man. A lot of my advice is tailored around the hard mode version of the fight, but you can apply the same logic to the normal mode (although in a more relaxed way) and still find success.
Discipline Your job above all things is to shield as many players as you can from the Infest. To do this, you'll need to start casting Power Word: Shield on groups about 15 seconds before entering combat. When Infest is cast on the raid, you should see all the shields on your raid frame be completely absorbed, then you can start shielding those same groups over again. Don't get caught up casting heals or you risk falling behind on your shield targets, which can result in deaths from Infest.
Coordinate with your other healers on who is going to heal what groups of your raid. As a discipline priest, you can count on almost always being able to shield 15 people (sometimes you'll get more, but it's not guaranteed), so the other healers should plan to cover the last two groups and any additional players who need to be topped off. I find that shielding the ranged DPS and healer groups is the most sensible choice, since melee and tanks are typically covered by the paladins and shaman.
Be sure to communicate any problems that arise; your raid is depending on those shields to keep three groups alive. If you're behind on shields for whatever reason (had to run a Necrotic Plague to a Shambling Horror, or got picked up by a Val'kyr), let your raid know which group or players are going to need assistance. Sometimes the Infest wave where you get picked up (or otherwise inconvenienced by a fight mechanic) will be something your raid can recover from, but be wary of the next wave, since you may still be behind on your shields. If you find yourself short on a group for shields, sometimes using a Borrowed Time-hasted Prayer of Healing will do the trick.
Casting shields over and over is costly on mana, but thankfully, the design of Rapture will top your mana off after each Infest. You must apply your shields intelligently, though. Don't shield your tanks, since they will be taking damage continuously throughout the fight; this will break your shields at uncontrollable moments and risk activating your Rapture cooldown too soon before an Infest. You want to make sure that almost every shield you cast is broken at the same time by the Infest so that you get a huge chunk of restored mana. Make sure you understand how the Rapture trick works; check out this video if you don't already know. If your shields are not breaking during Infest, try out lower ranks of Power Word: Shield until you find one where the majority of your bubbles are broken each time.
Holy Your job will be to fill in the healing gaps in the fight. As Infest lands, you'll want to have a Prayer of Healing already being cast on a group without disc priest shield coverage. Follow up immediately with a Circle of Healing to bring up any stragglers in the group. Spot heal whoever still has Infest after that.
When you're not responding to Infest, help the tank healers by spamming Flash Heals, Prayer of Mending and Renew on the tanks. You want to keep Inspiration up on the tanks in order to help out your tank healers. If you have a shaman on board, make sure that you both figure out who is assisting heals on what tank. This way both tanks will have Inspiration.
Phase 1 Priests of either spec should keep to their jobs as mentioned above during phase 1. Extra precaution needs to be taken by the holy priest if they're assigned to watching heals on the off tank, since the damage he takes can be lethal. If a Shambling Horror enrages, that tank is at risk of taking increased damaged during the second or two before the enrage is dispelled (unless Frostheim is in the raid; he never allows "Shamblers" to enrage.) Spam heals hard when a Shambling Horror enrages, even if it feels like you're just overhealing; better to be safe than sorry. Even more precaution needs to be taken if two Shambling Horrors are attacking your OT at once. If this happens, be ready to throw out a tank cooldown if he doesn't have one. If the Shambling Horror is still alive when your Guardian Spirit fades from the OT, let your discipline priest know so she can throw out a Pain Suppression.
Transition Phases When you run to the outskirts of the frozen throne, bubble spammers will get a break from shielding and can temporarily help heal the OT until all the phase 1 adds are dead. When the adds are dead, help out healing the melee and main tank. Just make sure you stop casting Power Word: Shield on the raid 15 seconds before the end of the transition phase so you'll be able to start bubbling in preparation for phase 2.
The holy priest should have no problem healing the raid damage while simultaneously healing and dispelling the silence (Soul Shriek) on the MT that is applied by the Raging Spirits. (Disc priests should also help dispel Soul Shriek when they can.)
As soon as Pain and Suffering is no longer being cast, discipline priests need to immediately start bubbling their groups so that the first Infest that hits in phase 2 doesn't decimate the raid. This transition is one of the hardest to master in the fight, so stay focused in order to execute it properly.
When everyone is running back onto the main platform of the Frozen Throne, go ahead and use a priest tank cooldown in order to keep the MT (or whoever is picking up the boss first, if you're doing normal mode) up while everyone is rushing to get into position and there aren't a lot of heals going out. Pain Suppression works better, since there aren't as many heals to benefit from the buff and there is no risk of it's dropping off early due to being consumed.
Phase 2 Priests can resume their jobs in handling Infest and assisting the tank and spot healing if you're holy. Additional care should be taken to make sure players who were targeted by Defile are hit with a Renew and or Prayer of Mending before Infest, since their disc shield will likely be weakened by a tick or two from the Defile.
If your discipline priest is picked up by Val'kyr, Divine Hymn can be used to resolve a bad wave of Infest. Communicate with any shadow priests you have in raid so you have as many available to you as possible.
Phase 3 Since Infest is over in phase 3, you'll have a lot less things to worry about. In normal mode, the fight will become dramatically easier since there are less things you need to prepare for; so focus on continuing to heal the tanks and assist on anyone who takes damage from from Vile Spirits or Defile. Heal up players chosen to go into the Frostmourne room.
If you're playing heroic, phase 3 still presents many challenges in place of Infest. When your raid is on the Frozen Throne platform, holy priests should continue to assist on tanks while the discipline priest assists with healing the Vile Spirit soakers.
Right before being pulled into the Frostmourne room, disc priests should try to shield as many players as they possibly can to prepare for the oncoming damage inside. Once inside, disc priests will find a combination of Renew and Power Word: Shield effective at healing the damage. Prayer of Mending should also be used at every available cooldown. If you're quick and right on the heels of your MT, you might be able to cast a Borrowed Time-hasted Prayer of Healing when the group pauses. Feel free to toss out a Holy Nova if anyone in the healer group gets dangerously low (this last tip goes a lot further in 10-man.)
Holy priests will excel inside the Frostmourne room in keeping the raid alive. Use your Prayer of Mending just as discipline does, on cooldown. Then, use your Circle of Healing, Surge of Light Flash Heals and Empowered Renew to keep the raid up.
When coming out of the Frostmourne room, make sure to apply a Pain Suppression to the MT so he doesn't immediately get killed by the Lich King's abilities while everyone is getting into positions and heals might be sparse. Continue these phase 3 steps through to the kill, coordinating cooldowns with other healers in your raid.
Using Divine Hymn as soon as you are ported into the Frostmourne room is a good way to get heals out when everyone is scrambling to get into position. It will leave you straggling a little bit to catch up to the main group, so be aware of your position. You will really only have an opportunity to fully use Divine Hymn when you first get down into the chamber, so if you don't get it off at the start, don't try to fit it in later.
When to use priest tank cooldowns
- Phase 1 As I said earlier, use Guardian Spirit on your add tank if two Shambling Horrors are on him at once. If Guardian Spirit is consumed or fades, followed it up with a Pain Suppression.
- Transition Phases A Pain Suppression on the tank picking up the Lich King at the start of phase 2 and 3 will help to keep him alive until tank healers are in position.
- Phase 2 On normal mode, you can use your cooldowns reactively, or plan to use them during tank swaps. On heroic mode, coordinate a set cooldown rotation with your raid and do not deviate from it. Tanks will need those cooldowns to survive badly timed Soul Reapers.
- Phase 3 Continue to use cooldowns reactively if someone needs it on normal mode. In heroic, save your cooldowns for your MT when exiting Frostmourne.
When to use Power Infusion
- Phase 1 As a bubble-spammer, you won't have much use for your Power Infusion on yourself, so help out the raid DPS. Power Infuse your normal DPS target. I like to PI mages the most, since they have many ways to drop aggro. Use it as often as you can, whenever you can.
- Transition Phase If your PI is up during transition, you can continue to apply it under the same guidelines as you did in phase 1.
- Phase 2 Again, you will be busy with Infest, so help our your raid DPS. If you cast PI on your favorite caster right as Valkyr pick up players, you will help to down them faster and increase your overall raid DPS.
- Phase 3 On normal mode and heroic mode, you'll probably want to Power Infuse a shadow priest who is damaging the Vile Spirits. In heroic, make sure you save the Infusion for inside the Frostmourne room.
For the most part, if you can handle 25-man, 10-man is nothing. Infest is dramatically easier to handle, simply because you only have two groups to work with. Since you won't spend as much time preparing for or dealing with Infest, priests of either spec will be free to assist on healing the tanks. A priest, either disc or holy, should be able to handle the entire raid while another healer covers the tanks. If you have the DPS to afford three healers, the whole fight becomes even less stressful.
The coordination of cooldown usage is very relaxed in 10-man, both normal and heroic. You will be able to get away with not using your tank cooldowns on transitions provided you stay close to the tank and have instant-cast heals going out. Using your cooldowns will help at playing it safe, though.
Mana is a little more strenuous in 10-man since you are doing more. Try to use your Shadowfiend early so it is off cooldown again later. For disc priests especially, the downranking for your shields I discussed earlier is absolutely essential.
I highly recommend downloading boss timers for this fight to help keep track of Infest, Defile and so on. (I personally use Deus Vox Encounters, but I've heard a lot of good things about BigWigs recently.) There are very clear patterns to the abilities used in the fight, and a lot of overcoming the challenge is learning the pattern and developing a rhythm to the encounter. Boss mods will help speed up that learning process. If you have more questions (or extra advice), be sure to leave a comment.
Finally, one last thing you should know about bringing priests to fight the Lich King: Frozen Throne slip and slide.
Want to find more great tips for carrying out your priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know. Check out Holy 101 or Disc 101 for an introduction to healing as a priest, or assess yourself for advice on how to improve yourself as a healer and raider.