Picking up where we left off the other week, today's Spiritual Guidance will cover the fourth and fifth bosses in Dragon Soul. The first up is Hagara the Stormbinder. Before we jump right in please make sure you're familiar with the basic mechanics and strategy of the fight; I will be examining the fight specifically from a healing priest's point of view. For Hagara, I recommend getting acquainted with the fight through the video guide at LearnToRaid.com or the written guide at Icy Veins.
Healing priests of either spec should be mindful that Hagara's ice phase is probably going to be where players are at the greatest risk of death. Fortunately, Leap of Faith is the perfect way to intervene, provided you remember a few things. The obvious one first is that you should make sure you're well ahead of the Ice Wave before you use it. It's easy to get caught up in the wave yourself if you try to stop and cast, and the extra second required to orient yourself properly for a life grip could be a second too long if you're not careful. Next, take care to ensure you're not pulling your ally into an equally treacherous spot when you use Leap of Faith. Pulling someone away from the Ice Wave just so they can be hit by an Icicle is cleary counterproductive (although somewhat comical, depending on who you're saving).
Holy strategies Most holy priests should find that they're exceptionally well cut out for healing Hagara. Body and Soul in particular is very effective at keeping players alive during the ice phase, probably more so than actual healing. Mind you, staying ahead of the Ice Wave isn't all that difficult without a speed buff; it's just that once once you add in falling Icicles as an obstacle, players in your raid can really fall behind. Thus, holy priests will want to keep an eye on the slowpokes and assist them with Body and Soul. Be sure to communicate with any discipline priests in your raid that you want free reign over shielding so Weakened Soul doesn't get in your way.
Depending on the size of your raid and the capabilities of your DPSers, general strategy may call for your raid to stack, spread, or split at times. More than likely, you'll be able to stack, in which case our standard AoE toolbox will serve you well. Definitely utilize Holy Word: Sanctuary whenever you can; raid damage can get high during the lightning phase, so Sanctuary can cover some of the healing. With Heavenly Voice, you should be able to use Divine Hymn for every lightning phase when the Lightning Conduit is being chained.
It's probably a no-brainer, but use Guardian Spirit to assist your tanks with Focused Assault.
Discipline strategies Disc isn't bad on this fight either, though it doesn't quite keep up with holy. Typical discipline single-target healing is fine, especially for handling Focused Assault. Bubble raid healing is plenty effective as well, though if you've read the holy section, you'll know that you might want to go easy on Power Word: Shield during the ice phase.
There isn't a particular point in the fight that calls for Power Word: Barrier that I noticed, so use it whenever you think it could help. (Perhaps throw it in the path of the players chaining the lightning.) Even if you're not mitigating damage, you can still use it to increase healing on damage that's already been dished out.
Some priests will be happy to know that Atonement can be easily utilized on this fight. Disc priests can assist by damaging Ice Tombs, Bound Lightning Elementals, and Hagara herself. Binding Crystals during the ice phase are also potential targets, but you need to make sure you've got plenty of space between yourself and the Ice Wave. If you choose to utilize Atonement during ice phase, I would personally recommend just sticking with Holy Fire. The cooldown matches up with about how much time you actually have to spare, and the cast time is slightly shorter than Smite.
Be sure to use your Power Infusion on a DPSer right as the last Crystal Conductor is overloaded. The electrocution Hagara suffers as a result causes her to take 100% additional damage for 15 seconds. You can of course help out too, but Power Infusion will go the farthest on a real damage dealer.
Once again, find Ultraxion guides at LearnToRaid.com or Icy Veins for general strategy review.
Ultraxion in essence is a Patchwerk fight. DPSers get to push their buttons and see lots of little numbers, while healers just keep up. As a result, the fight really isn't about the healing for the first half of the fight. Whoever takes the first buffs will probably be able to handle most of the healing, with many healers just assisting with DPS for the first few minutes.
Do be sure to work out which healing buffs each healer will take before the start of the fight, though, in addition to the usual communication of available raid cooldowns.
Holy strategies During this encounter, holy priests will probably want to use the red buff, Gift of Life (though it doesn't really matter that much on normal mode.) The logic behind the red buff is that raid healing in general will always do less healing on an individual target than a single target heal would. Doubling the healing done by any spell will make it useful, but with single-target spells, you start to run the risk of overhealing a lot more than you would with the lower individual healing of an AoE spell.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the green buff, Essence of Dreams, doesn't affect Holy Word: Sanctuary ticks presently, so right off, your Sanctuary is going to be better off with red.
The blue buff, Source of Magic, is the strongest of the buffs and extremely potent when paired with Prayer of Healing spam. Coincidentally, Prayer of Healing spam is exactly what you'll want to be doing most of the time, so grab blue if you can. Most healers will want the blue buff too, though, so it can be a bit of a hassle. Usually I see the paladins get it, but the best-geared healer (assuming equal skill) will benefit the most.
Most of the action will start at 5 minutes, when all hell breaks loose. (Make sure all your cooldowns are available for this part of the fight!) As I said already, Prayer of Healing spam is what you'll be doing, but you should utilize all the raid healing you've got. You'll only be able to use Divine Hymn once before the enrage, so save it for a point when you see the heals slipping downward.
Guardian Spirit won't see much use unless one of the players soaking the Hour of Twilight doesn't have a cooldown.
Discipline strategies Right off, disc priests will probably recoil at the thought of using the red buff because it does not increase the absorption of Power Word: Shield, but honestly that's not really a big deal, because you won't be using your shields much. Prayer of Healing is your spell of choice for this fight, with your absorption coming into play through Divine Aegis. (You didn't forget Prayer of Healing procs Divine Aegis 100%, did you?)
The green buff is the last thing you want to take as disc. It suffers from the same absorption restrictions as red, but since our healing output without shields is so low, there is no point in multiplying our heals over the heals of any other healer who does more throughput.
The blue buff is your best choice, since the haste will complement Prayer of Healing. I would definitely pass on it in favor of a paladin, though, since disc output is as a rule lower than that of other healers.
Your job is primarily to bring the barrier on this fight. At the 5-minute mark, you'll be one of many raid cooldowns that needs to be utilized. The group should be stacked, so I hope it's obvious where you need to drop it. After that, use Divine Hymn to assist other healers (remember, disc's Hymn isn't as strong), and offer as much of your utility as you possibly can. Be sure to give Power Infusion to a DPSer at the start of the fight and on cooldown every time after that -- this is a DPS check, remember?
More Dragon Soul bosses
We're a bit off schedule due to me being terribly sick this past week (see, this is why I want Cure Disease as my one ability from WoW), so next week I'm going to try and catch us up with the rest of Dragon Soul. If you have anything to add to this week's guide or requests and comments for next week's, let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. Happy healing!
- Priest healing for Morchok, Warlord Zon'ozz, and Yor'sahj the Unsleeping: Healing priest strategies for Dragon Soul's first three bosses
- Priest healing for Warmaster Blackhorn and Spine of Deathwing: Healing priest strategies for Warmaster Blackhorn and Spine of Deathwing
- Priest healing for Madness of Deathwing and additional information for all Dragon Soul heroic modes: Priest healing the Madness of Deathwing and heroic Dragon Soul
Spiritual Guidance has the inside line on healing priests in patch 4.3. Check out the 4.3 raid gear guide to plan your next upgrade, or leveling a healing priest if you're just getting started.