That's what the current Holy Word: Sanctuary looks like on beta, if you were curious.
I haven't really thought of a cool name for this new type of spells yet. Maybe someone else can coin a better term for them. Of course, what I'm referring to are the new AoE spells that all the healing classes have gained:
So what is the best way to utilize these new abilities?
Let's start with a quick breakdown and analysis of these spells.
- Efflorescence The latest beta build nerfed this ability. It went from having a larger radius (which was 15 yards, I believe) down to 4 yards. But if you think it about it, that nerf may have been warranted. Just imagine crit-healing multiple targets. If anything good were to come out of this, though, I think it'd be a pretty good way to teach players how to really stack on top of one other (like our melee class friends).
- Light of Dawn Paladins get to be fairly unique here. They don't really get a location-type spell. The position of the paladin and the direction he is facing is the key factor here. In the past, I've often had healers face the opposite direction to watch for incoming projectiles or other threats. Paladins will need to be quick on the ball here to whip around and unleash a Light of Dawn in the direction of players who need it.
- Healing Rain Finally! Shaman get an additional area of effect spell, meaning I won't have to ask mine to just Chain Heal and pray it hits the right players. For this to be effective, players need to stand in the shower. It can be cast instantly, it has a 10-second cooldown and it lasts for 10 seconds.
- Power Word: Barrier In true discipline priest style, this large bubble will help shield the damage players take as long as they stand within the area. I've tried it out in a few instances, on rare occasions that my party manages to group for some reason or other. It seemed to burst in a matter of seconds. Either way, it is pretty awesome to time it so that a large bubble appears, followed by a massive strike by the boss and then seeing it vanish without the health bars of the party moving.
- Holy Word: Sanctuary This is like an inverse Consecration for priests. Anyone who stands on the blessed ground gets healed accordingly. You have to activate the Prayer of Healing Chakra first; only then will Holy Word: Chastise morph into Holy Word: Sanctuary.
There are a few things to mull over, and I haven't gotten the chance to figure it out yet. Is there a limit to the number of players that can be affected by these heals? I know that Holy Word: Sanctuary affected everyone in my party, but I didn't get a chance to check it out in a raid environment.
Of the spells, only Power Word: Barrier has a cap on the amount of total "healing" (or damage prevention, in this case) that can be done. Other spells have a cap per player. Assuming the sky's the limit, any number of players can get healed up by being in the right position, whereas the barrier will shatter after a certain amount of damage is absorbed, whether there is only one person or five people.
But it's beta, right? Anything can change.
Finding the sweet spot
I've already started thinking ahead to how and where to drop Power Word: Barrier or Holy Word: Sanctuary. Should there be designated zones? Should there be times where healers have to yell out, "Stack up!"? Raiders are going to need to get accustomed to moving around to benefit from these spells. It won't be too far of a stretch to say that spreading out will continue to be a requirement in different encounters. At least you can drop the spells and place the onus on the raiders to stand on it. Personally, I had a hard time training raiders to use Lightwell. Maybe I'll have an easier time getting players to run and stand on the big, glowing disc on the ground or stand inside the large bubble instead. It is large and you can't miss.
Actually, the more I think about it, assigning heals might just all depend on the encounters. We've got these additional tools at our disposal now. They are an answer to any number of problems. Ultimately, the strategy will all depend on the fight in question.
I tried to think of different ways to apply these spells to the various Wrath raid encounters. There seem to be a limitless amount of possibilities. How about using heroic Sindragosa? My guild is working on her right now, and we're getting our butts kicked. Wouldn't mind putting some of these spells to use there.
It'll be a fairly big shift, no matter what. The expansion can't come soon enough. Right now, it's time to head back into beta so I can keep using and abusing these abilities.
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, and don't miss our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.