Posted by: Kro | February 3, 2011

Heroics and.. Heroics

I’ve been battling Heroic content on two fronts recently. My Warrior has supplanted Nefarian from Black Wing Descent and with 12/12 normal modes under our belts we took our first steps into Heroic Raid content this week. Additionally, my Priest has found her groove and sports a comfortable wardrobe of gear to cruise through heroic 5 man dungeons.

Our first raid night this week was spent on Heroic Halfus. Generally a DPS, I was able to showcase my fantastic off set of sub par tanking gear. Sure it is more epic than superior, but those epics are the ones prefaced by this sentence “oh.. ew hit? Yeah we’ll pass, kro can have that one” or “it’s better to AH this BoE tank piece than give it to off specs”. I can get behind the arguments to raise guild funds and gear up the proper tanks first, but it still demands creative answers to fulfill a role the guild requires without the usual channels. Exhibit A, Plate DPS pauldrons from normal mode Halfus are easily converted to make shift epic shoulders (thank you mastery). Reforging also helps tremendously to get rid of that 70 hit and make it 70 Parry. Still not the most ideal solutions but they are certainly much closer in quality to the real tank pieces than we’ve seen from different spec pieces of gear in previous expos. Try dpsing in mp5 or tanking without defense rating. This wasn’t even an option then, but now we see lots of pieces that go both ways.

The interesting thing about Heroic raid content is the extreme coordination requirements. My role morphed from dodge fire circles (possibly) and dps until 0% on normal into a long list of checks. Release Storm Rider, Threat Storm Rider, check Halfus tank debuffs, Taunt Halfus, continue threating Storm Rider, Check my own debuffs and call for a Taunt off me, Pick up Slate Dragon after Storm Dies, continue watching my own and the Tank before’s debuff stack. Then comes cooldown rotations sub 50% which are mostly easy unless you aren’t sure whether a stun starting at 50% counts as the first cooldown in the rotation or if the Furious Roar needs to start casting and be interrupted by a stun to count that as the first cooldown. (Yes we wiped this way) Oh right and watch both for Furious Roar cast (if it is the right time in the cycle to Shield Wall) as well as the tank before you sitting at 4 debuffs on a righteous string of avoidance, refusing to just take the 5th stack so you can taunt and not miss your Roar cooldown usage…

I’m not sure that entire paragraph makes sense in its composition but honestly I’m so exhausted from reliving it just now that I don’t really care to edit it.

The moral of the story is we took down Heroic Halfus (3 Separate targeting macros and lots of Focus target of target settings tinkering later) and it was quite a trip, though a bit ominous knowing it is the easiest heroic raid boss in this tier.  I’m excited to give Heroic Chimareon a poke tonight and hopefully we can clear out Al’Akir, Atramedes, Nef, and Chimaeron before our raid week ends at midnight tonight.

The other heroic I’ve been working on lately is the Heroic Dungeon grind on my first alt of the expansion. My priest has worked her way up the ranks and is in some pretty decent starter gear. I’m at about half 346 Heroic loot and the other half is 339 pvp boe gear. I also have an epic alch trink, Arena Staff (Thanks Tweezy), and the 340 spirit pvp trinket from Baradin Hold (I’ve got spirit! Woo).

I’ve been a bit undecided about spec lately but I think I’ve settled firmly on Disc healing with AA/A (Arch Angel/ Atonement). I gave up on shadow not because I dislike it, it is a fun spec to play around with but I feel like I’d enjoy it a lot more in a raid setting. After nuking shadow and making a disc spec to survive arenas for free weapons I started swapping between disc and holy from heroic to heroic. I really loved the flexibility it offered. Having played a different healer during each expansion I have a lot of experience with different healing play styles and I also have experience enough to know that healing can get boring quickly if you aren’t changing up how you do things. Perhaps that is just me being the guy that swaps main characters every expo (or even more frequently) and someone who once insisted on tanking Karazhan (at level 70) on his Shaman to break up the healing monotony. (Bulwark of Azzinoth and lots of Enhance PVP gear made that dream a reality later on in BC.)

The Arch Angel Atonement build feels like something I’ve been waiting for for a long time while healing ever since I went lunar grace/crit resto in vanilla on my druid (so I could keep up my mana wearing dire maul blues against the sturdier raiders with their full tier 2). The idea behind the spec is that you stack up Evangelism by smiting. For every stack of Evangelism you do more smite damage and reduce the mana cost of smite and penance (among other things.. I think). When you are at 5 stacks you have a few options. Continue smiting and penance (at reduced mana cost) as needed, or on a 30 second cooldown you can pop Arch Angel which increases your healing by 3% for each stack of evangelism as well as returning 1% total mana per stack. The bonus healing lasts 18 seconds so you can keep it up almost 2/3s of the time if you wish. The final talent in this beautiful triumvirate is Atonement. Atonement makes your smite also (smart) heal 1 person within 15 yards of your smite target for 100% of the damage you do. This heal is increased by most talents that increase healing including Arch Angels 15% , other healing increase talents the priest may have or the tanks may have for increased healing received. The Atonement heal does approximately the same amount that the generic spell Heal will heal for, while also doing damage (7-15k a pop) and reducing the mana cost of subsequent smite and penance casts.

The way a few pulls will go is something like this.. Prayer of Mending on the tank, smite 3-5x, penance tank. If group is taking light damage, reapply PoM, if group is taking heavy damage then Arch Angel, Prayer of Healing 1-2x, or if just the tank is taking damage, continue smite spam for 10k heals every <2 seconds, and penance whenever the tank dips -40k or just to keep grace up for future penances. Smite spam with a 5 stack of evangelism and popping Arch Angel for the 5% mana return is pretty mana neutral and has earned me some compliments from tanks on how quickly they get to pull the next pack. The other benefit is you are pumping out some mediocre but not unnoticeable dps. I’ve seen 5k dps for some trash packs and generally an average of 1-2k for an entire instance worth. This fails in comparison to 12k dps single target and upwards of 20k dps aoe on my warrior, but its pretty nice considering that 2k dps gets thrown on top of your other 3 dps classes and your tanks damage as well.

I still like to play holy. Lightwell, Body and Soul, and Chakra are extremely fun mechanics but I can’t get enough Arch Angel and Atonement. As healers our responsibility is pretty singular. Your job as a healer is to keep your group alive. Once you have this sorted out though, it’s on you to sustain your mana so your group can move at the speed of your tanks confidence rather than the speed of your mana bar. Great healers can balance both effectively but when a spec allows you to complete both of your prime directives and add in a little dps gravy on top of everything else, you are really helping to speed up your runs.

I’ve loved tanking as a shaman in raid zones, dps tanking as ret or on a dk in Wrath heroics once you over gear the places,  and healing as a dps in various states of gear / spec hybridization. These “true” hybrid specs have always been my favorite play styles but disc healing heroics in Cata has quickly risen to the top considering I’m able to implement it in real gear appropriate scenarios!

So that’s how my Heroic (Raid) and Heroic (Dungeon) progression have been going lately. I’m sure I’m about to hit the brick walls of near impossible heroic raid bosses and the monotony of no longer needing anything from heroics on my priest, but there’s always the next challenge around the corner. Until that time comes, I’ll be enjoying where I’m at now.



  1. Kro, I’ve been subscribed to your RSS for a while and enjoy reading your blog. I will pass this great disc experience onto my guild mates (linked of course).

    Warrior Question: How do you pull that DPS. what’s the rotation. I’m sitting average at 9k with Titan Grip and 2x Foe Reapers!! ilvl 349ish

    • Hi Glock,

      Thanks for reading, it means a lot.

      This post was a couple months ago and I believe could have been before 4.0.6 or whenever we stopped stacking hit and spamming heroic strike. These days its more about stacking Crit and then mastery, while using a more logical rotation (rather than exploiting a broken heroic strike)

      Regardless, dps has stayed pretty similar. Doing more damage will come with epic weapons. You can get 1 or 2 of the epic pvp weapons with a little time. You just need 5 Arena wins a week for 3 weeks (so a minimum of 9 days if you started on a Monday) to get 1.

      Getting the first epic weapon made a huge difference In dps. Since then moving to PVE epics I’ve seen even more but nothing as staggering as moving up from Foe Reaper to the PVP epic Mace.

      Rotation these days I’m going with BT>RB>BT and trying to hover at around 60 rage. Any time I jump up to pass 70 rage I’ll heroic strike, and anytime bloodsurge procs I’ll hit slam in the open GCD between BT>RB>BT>Slam>BT>RB>BT

      I’ll also wait to tick up to 70 or 80 rage as Colossus Smash is coming off cooldown so I can get BT*HS>RB>BT*HS while the debuff is up.

      The other part especially for heroics is savings Recklessness/Deathwish for bosses where the mob will be alive for the duration of your buff. (or at the start of a raid encounter so you can use it twice or three time during a boss fight)

      Reck/Deathwish generally get me to 25-30k single target while they are up and if you have a good group the boss usually melts and preserves your high dps.

      AoE is WW on cooldown, and Inner Rage / Cleave spam. I generally don’t use anything else while cleaving so I have enough rage to Cleave on GCD while IR is up.

      Hopefully some of that is useful.

      The dps also comes from gear. I have several heroic pieces at this point and Ashkandi w/ Landslide. I wouldn’t be to worried if you aren’t pulling those numbers just yet. Just give it some time with gear and you’ll be good to go.

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