Learning to love Desperate Prayer

As the Wrath of the Lich King heads towards a close, more and more people are looking towards PvP to provide them with entertainment. There is no hard and fast way to play a healing Priest in the various battlegrounds, however here are my hints and tips for keeping yourself out of the Graveyard.

Before queuing up:

  • Equip your best PvP gear. Stamina and resilience are king here, there is no point worrying about throughput and regen when you have 18k health. Make sure every thing is enchanted and gemmed.
  • Pay a visit to the reagent vendor. You want at least 40 candles for a couple of hours PvP. More is obviously better. Every time you resurrect, it’s likely other people will be ressing along side you and using the group buffs makes better use of the zero mana cost period directly after resurrection.
  • Pick up drinks. You can’t guarantee the presence of a mage and even if one is present, quite often they won’t make tables/hand out drinks  anyway.
  • If you use Grid to heal, add Unstable Affliction as a debuff in it’s own right and set it’s priority to 99. You want it to sit above all other magic debuffs. You might want to consider adding Weakened Soul as well as debuff too, that way when there are lots of other Priests running around you don’t waste time trying to shield a weakened target.

In the preparation period.

  • If you are queuing up solo, check out your team mates. Find a suitable looking  Dpser to heal. Obviously it’s impossible to figure out the “best” player but things to consider are class, gear, spec.
  • Buff the team with fortitude, divine spirit and shadow protection. This is best done towards the end of the preparation period to make sure you get all of your team. Point this out to any and all people demanding to buffed when you only have half a team.
  • Pick up any healthstones and food/drink on offer. Make sure they are shortcutted on your interface.
  • In the last few seconds of the preparation period, buff yourself with Fearward and Innerfire.
  • Shift M brings up a small version of the battleground map which can sit happily on your main interface, allowing you to see stuff like your team distribution at nodes and where the enemy flag is in WSG without having to flip between map and your normal view.

Once the game begins – General tips

  • Try not to arrive at a confrontation point first. You want a couple of people ahead of you to draw the enemy fire.
  • Keep up Innerfire at all times and make sure you use Fearward whenever it’s off cooldown.
  • Be careful with your shadowfiend. If you need to use him in a conflict involving enemy healers, it’s best to set him on the healers because healing aggro will draw him there anyway. That way you don’t lose any regen time whilst he hits the guy you set him on once and then decides to bounce over to the healer in the corner. If you’re setting him on another Priest, try to either make sure their fear is on cooldown first or use your fearward on your shadowfiend.
  • In a 1 v 1, use your shadowfiend as a dps boost even if you don’t need the mana. They pack quite a punch.
  • Shackle can be used as CC on gargoyles and ghouls. As well as annoying Death Knights, this can help buy yourself or your teammates some breathing room.
  • If you haven’t died much and you need to get back into the action fast, you don’t have to wait for the Angel to res you. Pop back to your corpse, hoping no enemies loot it in the process and take a manual res. Sometimes this can be the difference between winning and losing a node.
  • Use Divine Hymn. Pick your moment, aiming for one when no one is focusing you but when multiple people are taking damage this is amazing.
  • Learn to love Desperate Prayer, spec for it and use it. Ideally keybind it. Binding heal is amazing too, whenever you need to heal yourself in group combat and you’re heading towards the Flash Heal key, go for binding heal.
  • Use enemy V bars to see the health of all your enemies engaged in a particular battle. Sometimes throwing a shadow word death or a dot out makes all the difference. Just because we are healers doesn’t mean we can’t be aggressive.
  • Manaburn, especially when combined with power infusion can be deadly. Consider it against caster dps as well as other healers.
  • Keep moving. When fighting casters in particular run through them and around them to try and stop them hitting you. Stop only when you need to.

Once the game begins – specific battlegrounds

Alterac Valley

  • These days AV is the only battleground containing less PvP than the average capital city so there isn’t much you can do here. Stick with the group and heal whoever is tanking Drek’thar or Vandar.
  • If you’re defending a tower/bunker, cast fortitude on the archers. Every little helps. You can also shield them now they took the group requirements away from power word shield.
  • Mind control can also be used to buy you crucial seconds when attempting to flag a tower/bunker. Throw them out and in the time it takes for them to run back, you should have it safely tagged up. The same strategy also works whilst defending, throw the attackers out to give yourself time to take it back.

Arathi Basin

  • Sometimes even as a healer you’ll end up defending a node solo. Make sure you have a decent vantage point over the node and keep your eyes on the flag. If you see anyone coming, ask for help and be vocal. Personally I like the Lumber Mill because it gives a good view of the Farm, Stables and Blacksmith.
  • You can mindcontrol people off the cliff at the Lumbermill but watch out for Elemental Shamans, Fire Mages and Boomkins looking to return the favour, as well as enemy priests. If you’re fighting any of these classes you might want to pull the fight away from the cliff edge.
  • From the LM if you need to get the Blacksmith in a hurry, jump off the cliff on your mount and cast levitate asap. Make sure levitate is short cutted and easy reach otherwise you get to the Blacksmith graveyard rather than the flag.
  • All the different nodes come with some terrain advantages, use them. The buildings can provide LoS for fighting casters, figure out the best places to run to, making sure you keep your eyes on the flag at all times.

Eye of the Storm

  • Mind control can be a winner here as well. You can throw people off the centre but again like Arathi and the Lumber mill, you need to look out for classes with throws. Never put your back towards an edge.

Isle of Conquest

  • The main PvP takes place at the start of this battleground. Stick with your team and go where the majority do.
  • If you control the Hangar, consider levitating away to the Workshop and seeing if you can steal it whilst the enemy aren’t looking.
  • Dot enemy vehicles, especially dangerous ones like glaives which have minimal health.

Strand of the Ancients

  • When attacking, grab a ride on a vehicle. You can heal your teammates on the ground perfectly safely from up here.
  • To protect the vehicle use mindcontrol (You can’t move controlled players but it’s great for letting the vehicle run away from melee held stationary by your mindcontrol). In between mindcontrol fun, use fear. From the back of the vehicle your fear will hit melee on the vehicle.
  • Magic dots are dispellable and whilst you can’t heal the vehicles you can reduce the damage they take. When riding on a vehicle and being in no immediate danger, dispell unstable affliction. Keeping all the dots off the vehicle is more important than taking a bit of damage yourself.
  • When defending, utilise the transporter pads to escape. Healing from the platforms can be great when both sides are fighting underneath a gate.
  • Vehicles are key, make sure you keep dots on them as a bare minimum. Shadowfiends should also be deployed on them.

Warsong Gulch

  • Keep the flag carrier alive. Whilst Disc priests can flag carry easily it makes more sense to play as support. Even though you don’t have the flag you’ll probably ending up tanking much if not all of the enemy team.
  • Mind vision can be used to track enemy flag carriers if you aren’t sure exactly where they are. The map shows you their position but you can’t see which level of their base for example they are on, neither does the map show how much support they have. Mind vision can show you all that.

I said “healing priests” at the start for a reason. Now I know Discipline is considered the PvP spec for a reason but I do think Holy can play it’s part well in the bigger battlegrounds. In WSG, Arathi, EoTS and Strand of the Ancients, it’s group healing potential is unnecessary and Disc always wins out, but in Alterac Valley and Isle of Conquest being able to heal large numbers of people at once can win games. However that said, I prefer to PvP as Discipline. The extra survivability, especially when undergeared can make a huge difference.

Knowing the enemy is key. Learn as many of the other classes abilities as possible and recognise them being cast. For example take a feral Druid’s berserk. This ability not only makes you immune to fear and allows you break fear when cast but it decreases the energy cost of kitty abilities. When it’s up A.you don’t want a druid behind you spamming shred so try and keep moving and B. it’s a great time to use pain suppression. In order to correctly counter moves, you first have to understand them.

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