Downranking? What’s that?

I like to think I’m a good healer. I’m geared well, I can heal you through virtually anything as long as you’re not an idiot and know how to play your class. And as long as you’re not attempting to tank a heroic with out being defense capped and have about 10k hp unbuffed. (Which has happened to me recently. Twice. Once on the mage. I felt bad for that healer.)

But I’ll let you in on a big secret.

When healing, I press two buttons. That’s it.

If you’re unfamilar with paladins, here’s what we have at our healing disposal:

Flash of Light: Quick cast, 1.5 seconds. Ridiculously mana efficient for what it does.

Holy Light: Slow cast, 2.5 seconds. Horribly mana inefficient, but awesome in a pinch. If it has to be cast more than once in a row, the fight either calls for it (If I don’t spam it on our Bear Form tank during the Nalorakk (bear boss) fight in ZA, they’re going to die), or something is going horribly wrong.

Holy Shock: Instant cast, 15 second cooldown. Deep holy talent only. Nice coming off a heal that almost tops off your target, but typically gets thrown at a mob to help with the dps between heals if everyone’s alright for the moment.

Holy Light and Flash of Light have many, many ranks that are learned on the trek to 70. But I never use them.

Downranking? Pffft.

Truth is, I never really needed to originally. Holy paladins used to have a great talent called Illumination. With five points in it, whenever a heal crit, you got the mana refunded to you. Sweet. Blizzard finally figured out how to properly itemize paladin healing gear with Burning Crusade and it was focused on +healing and crit. Hooray! My healing was ridiculously efficient. Also, paladins also have a talent called Divine Favor, which guarantees the next healing spell cast will crit, which means it’s free. The 41-point talent is Divine Illumination, which makes all spells cost half for 15 seconds. But if a heal crit while this was in effect, you still got the full casting cost returned to you.

Holy paladins because the most mana efficient healers in the game thanks to this talent, and the way spell crit was stacked on a lot of plate healing gear. I also valued spell crit higher than anything else. For a short time, my gear was a weird mish-mash of cloth, leather, mail and plate that focused on crit over other things. Like +healing.

Anyway, downranking simply wasn’t necessary. You could just spam heal your tank with Flash of Light repeatedly, and if they got into trouble, pop Divine Illumination, Divine Favor and hit them with a 420 mana Holy Light and get back 840 mana. I’d do entire instances (and even Karazhan boss fights) with one stack of potions, and I wouldn’t have to use them.

Then patch 2.1 changed Illumination’s mana refund to 60%. Super Happy Joy Pally Healing Fun Time was over. I found myself out of mana regularly. I started having to bring industrial sized vats of Super Mana Potions along with me. I had to bug our druids for their Innervates on boss fights.

I fixed the situation somewhat by swapping a couple of crit pieces for things that had more MP5 on it, and it got a little bit better. But long fights got very iffy still. I made some adjustments to the bar and brought some lower ranked heals out of the mothballs, to see what would happen, and I never used them. I was comfortable with those two buttons. I knew how much healing to expect from my max rank heals. The lower numbers threw me off big time. I stopped using them.

What I did realize from that short-lived experiment was that I didn’t have to spam Flash of Light like a maniac. I would literally just repeatedly cast Flash of Light over and over and over again, even when the situation really didn’t call for it. Now I’ll wait and see how the tank is going to do during the fight before launching into spam heals (if needed) or if I can get away with doing something periodically. My mana has been doing much better, especially on fights like Prince Malchezzar. Still gotta pop the pots occasionally, but not as many as I used to.

So yes, I just made every theorycrafter’s head explode, but you know what? This is my blog, so deal with it.

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4 Comments on “Downranking? What’s that?”

  1. bunnyfer Says:

    I feel for you on this…I too was a “spam healer”. Whats worse, I get it from my groups all the time…why are you not spamming FoL? Well I too brought out some old spell from the moth balls…and you know what…It HELPS. I have 3 heals on my bar…2 Holy Lights, and highest rank FoL. I added a lower ranking Holy Light spell and found that has helped. Lower mana cost, but it crits most of the time, and keeps the tanks standing…Give it a try!

  2. Jast Says:

    I spent a long time as a holy priest helping my guild in the run-up to Karazhan. (Never actually made it there myself – took a break from the game, and am now back as a pally.) My guild was lovely, really lovely, so no one *ever* gave me any “helpful hints” about how to heal and, back then, I didn’t really cast around for much theorycraft on the whole deal. I never, EVER even considered ‘downranking’ – and I’m not sure I ever would. Like you say, healing is sometimes a matter of just waiting to see how the damage is affecting the tank, then coming in at the right moment. It’s all in the timing, not in the rank. And, in that (also like you point out), mana management becomes easier – because you’re not burning it from the very first second of every fight, you’re eking out your spells and so not just throwing mana away like mad.

    Nice blog, by the way. 🙂

  3. HolyWarrior Says:

    Sorry to drag up an old post, but saw that you’re fundamental answer to Why Downranking? was not given.

    A Holy Light cast will give you Lights Grace (if talented probably) which is a buff which lasts for 15 seconds and reduces your next Holy Light cast from 2.5 seconds to 2 seconds.

    But why cast a rank 11 HL if its not needed? No don’t, waste of mana. Downrank it so that you get about the same mana/hps efficiency as your FoL.

    Coriel/Rohan covers it somewhere in her blog http://blessingofkings.blogspot.com/ , but my take is as follows:

    I start a fight with HL rank 4 to get Lights Grace up, then spam 6 or 7 Flash’s of Light then another HL Rank 4 (which has only taken 2 seconds to cast because of Lights Grace) and then continue with another 6 or 7 FoL.

    This way Lights Grace is always up and you only lose 0.5 seconds every 15 seconds on that downranked HL.

    But why bother?

    Imagine the situation: Tank just took 3rd hit in 5 seconds which crushed through his shield block talent. Bang down to 20% HP.

    In slow motion like a cheesy 70s movie you see the boss raise his “Mallet of Uber Tank Killing” above his shoulder readying a swing. The Mallet has crush written all over it. You look over your shoulder and see the only other healer pop into a sheep and wander off bleeting. Bah Bah.

    A quick mental calculation tells you that you have 2.1 seconds to pop 7000 HP onto the tank. 2.1 seconds??? WTF 1.5 seconds FoL = maybe 3000 HP with 0.6 seconds left to grab ankles and wait for wipe.

    Oooo wait. Lights Grace is up. Spam Divine Favour/Holy Light Rank 11 “Emergency – Oh Sh*t!” Macro. 7000HP HL Crit smacks tank in the face with the refeshing hint of Citrus.

    Tank back up to 90% HP, Priest pops out of sheep and you get some mana back into the deal.

    /pat self on back

  4. Minsom Says:

    I’m not a fan of down ranking my heal to be honest. I know I read alot about the benefits of downranking my heals, however the idea never stuck to me. Problem was that my wife is a MT for our guild so she when I started to downrank my heals I would cop a pen, coffee mug, stapler in the head because she is only seeing a low ranking heals on her. She is quiet well geared mind you, peices of T4 and such, but to her it was more a confidence thing.

    Now the way i tackled the “OOM” monster was to back off my+healing and focus on Mp5, like focus on it heavily. Where I originally had +healing gems/+healing+intl gems, I resocketed everything with +healing/+MP5. Very expensive excercise but well worth the trouble as it played a big part in offsetting the nerf we got in Illumination by having a constant replenishment of mana.

    Even with my respec to ret i’m able to OH, pulling stats like +1500 + healing and 210 Mp5 while casting. Anyway, yea thats my 2 cents about healing, might not be rite in theorycraft terms but hey sue me..lol =P


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