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Spiritual Guidance: Reacting to the Circle of Nerfing

Matt Low

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. Today Matticus will examine the Circle of Healing nerf.

In case you've missed the news, it's been announced that Circle of Healing would be getting a 6 second cooldown. I had a feeling the nerf would be happening and I can't say I'm surprised. It does make me cry a little bit on the inside. Is it justified? How can we adapt? Read on!

Is this going to be a class breaking change? No it won't be. The Holy Priest will adapt because the fundamentals of our healing are sound. A trick I like to use a lot is that I'll try to set up a Surge of Light proc by hitting CoH a few times for the instant single target heal. If I'm lucky, I'll get a quick proc with one CoH tap.

Let me share with you a few WWS snapshots of myself in action (and yes you may proceed to laugh and criticize how awful of a healer I am). Let's analyze an example of a Holy Priest during various boss fights.

Malygos 25

This is the overall report for heroic Malygos on the night we killed him for the first time (10 attempts). As you can see, my use of Circle of Healing is extremely liberal. My thoughts on progression nights are to use whatever spell I have at my disposal to kill a boss. I don't want to try to pigeon hole myself in a corner where I have to use a certain set of spells to optimize my mana efficiency. Those rules go out the window for me on progression because I have to do what I can in order to get the job done. Circle of Healing is used often for me during the vortex phase of Malygos because of the nature of that phase. I have to rely on instant casts to heal the raid.

Loatheb 25

Here is one of reports for Loatheb. Unfortunately this doesn't show the number of Power Word: Shields I was throwing up when Necrotic Aura was active. When the aura is up, it reduces healing done to 0% rendering your spells completely ineffective. Shields will still prevent damage. The Flash Heals were from Surge of Light crits that I decided to use when it looked like the raid was topped off and I had time to squeeze another heal off.

But as you can see, this another fight where Circle of Healing has helped tremendously.

Let's look at other fights now where Circle of Healing isn't as needed as much.

Then again, you don't really need to have 25 players for Loatheb.

Kel'Thuzad 25

Healing on Kel'Thuzad becomes a bit more balanced. I'm not stuck having to repeatedly slam my IWIN button because I have access to it. And yet, Circle of Healing still comes out on top. While Kel'Thuzad isn't exactly your typical boss fight, there is a lot of stress placed on healers due to the random events that happen. When my raiders start getting that chain frost nova (Frost Blast), healers have a few seconds to react as it does a little over 100% damage over a small period of time (104% over 4 seconds, I think it was). In that particular instance, I find myself hitting Circle of Healing just to get them out of the danger zone.

Sartharion 25

Sartharion is the boss in Obsidian Sanctum. Heh, here's one I'm not particularly proud of. I was assigned to raid healing and I had an exam the next day. I might've been listening to a lecture recording and healing at the same time (and a huge emphasis on might, I might add). A lot of raid healing is done (as you can tell) and a lot of Prayer of Mending being thrown out there.

By the way, Priests make sure you tell your loot master how important it is to at least get the 2 set bonus for tier 7. Beg them if you have to. You're going to really want it.

How will this affect me?

The 6 second cooldown is going to hurt a little, there is no doubt about that. My use of Circle of Healing will go down a lot and I'm going to have to get a lot more creative about how to tackle certain phases and certain bosses (scroll down for more). The usage on trash mobs in raid instances will also drop as well. I may have to start paying even more attention instead of simple face rolling across my keyboard.

Is the nerf justified?

Apparently it is and I'm as guilty as other Holy Priests out there for using it extensively. I should be using other spells in addition to it and I am (or at least, making an effort to). I'll certainly come back in a few weeks with another look at these bosses and my reports to see how much things have really changed.

Is my raid spot going to go to another healer?

Hah, fat chance of that happening. Bring the player not the class, remember? Move if there's a rain of fire on you. Don't stand in cleave range. Do the Heigan dance without dying. Successfully beat the ledge boss (when facing Thaddius).

Besides, every Alliance guild needs a token Dwarf.

Affected fights

Assuming the patch changes were to be made live soon, I'm going to have to change the way I approach certain encounters. Don't forget that Priests still have two AoE spells at their disposal in addition to Circle of Healing: Prayer of Healing and Holy Nova.

Malygos 25: Vortex phase

Prayer of Healing is largely useless in this phase. Keep an eye on the timers. Keep a Shield and a Renew on yourself going into it and light up a Prayer of Mending on weakened players. Tap Circle of Healing once or twice when it's available (remember it's a 6s cooldown, it's not being removed from the game). Save Surge of Light procs as long as possible for really vulnerable or near-death players. You can also Holy Nova in the air to try to catch a few members in your group if necessary.

Loatheb 25

If you're not using the cooldown on your Power Word: Shield during Necrotic Auras, start working them. As the Necrotic Aura starts counting down, set up pre-emptive Renews and even a Prayer of Mending. When you see the Necrotic Aura debuff timer at 2 seconds remaining, cast a Prayer of Healing to get your group. Target a weak player and hit Circle of Healing. If your group is still need of heals, rely on your Holy Nova to top them the rest of the way.

Kel'Thuzad 25

The big issue for me in this encounter are those pesky ice blocks (Frost Blast) and healing the guys that caught in them. Ideally, only one player will get caught. But there will be cases where it will chain having 2 or even 3 players stuck in them. Circle of Healing taps will get them out of it. Assuming I have 3 players caught, I'll wait for one tick of frost to go off and activate Circle of Healing. On the same target I still have selected, I'll cast Prayer of Mending. Switching to a different target, I'll cast Power Word: Shield (and the Glyph should also activate providing additional health). If I'm really lucky, I can squeeze off a Flash Heal on the last guy. Best case scenario is to have multiple healers aware of the Frost Blasts and cover for it as needed.

Sartharion 25

For me personally, my goal is to not be lazy and use a wider variety of spells instead of just Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending. However, I will be attempting a 1 (or even a 2) drake up fairly soon and I may end up having to stand on my head depending on how the encounter goes.

So Priests, yes it's going to suck for a while. It's not a class breaking or a game breaking nerf. I hope no one's going to quit the game over it. Work hard, don't suck and play your best. Get creative and do what you can.

Want to find more great tips for carrying out your Priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know! And don't forget to check out our other Leveling Guides as well as our Wrath Guides and Galleries!

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