How to Assign Raid Cooldowns (Part 1)
Every healer’s raid cooldown has its strengths and weaknesses. Before learning how to decide which cooldown goes where, we need to learn those strengths and weaknesses. We will start with the weakest cooldowns. This is part one of a two part series on this subject.
Holy Priest’s do not have personal cooldowns but Divine Hymn about the same power level as one. It is very weak and requires the priest to stand still while casting it. It is so bad that it is often not even worth casting in a 5-man dungeon where it heals for double the raid amount. One thing to mention is that Divine Hymn does not scale with haste and also requires a certain level of setup.
Its one strength is its longevity, for two reasons: Echo of Light and the +10% healing buff it leaves on every raid member for 6 and 8 seconds after the channel is over. Every Holy Priest should have at least 40% mastery, meaning Divine Hymn will heal for 40% or more in addition to the amount shown in the healing logs. In practice, this means that Divine Hymn gets stronger over the duration of its channel due to the stacking Echoes of Light, a similar effect as the Resto Shaman’s Healing Tide Totem. Because of this, it is sometimes better to “pre-cast” it if it will overheal towards the end of the channel. It also means that most of the time you use it, people will already be at full HP by the time the channel ends. All of that Echo of Light healing is usually wasted.
But, that also means Divine Hymn really shines on encounters with a lot of ticking damage (encounters that Holy Priests already shine on). Antorus has several of these and this has allowed Holy Priests to remain somewhat competitive.
Its one strength is its longevity, for two reasons: Echo of Light and the +10% healing buff it leaves on every raid member for 6 and 8 seconds after the channel is over.
The biggest strength of Revival is that it heals for the majority of its total instantly, and (in Legion) an additional 30% over 6 seconds. However, it’s relatively weaker than other healing cooldowns. Being weaker doesn’t make it less valuable since it is on a lower cooldown than something like HTT (which heals for more and scales better). One downside of Revival is it only scales with a couple stats, making it less powerful the more geared your raid becomes.
Revival, while being relatively weaker than other healing cooldowns, has helped my raid when we have missed a Garothi soak, or blew up multiple balls on Kin’garoth. It is because of this that I will sometimes not assign Revival to deal with planned damage and just tell our Mistweaver Monk to “use it when it looks like you should”. Saving it for these “Oh-Shit” moments can make farm content much easier to deal with. That being said, it is still recommended to assign the cooldown to cover a planned damage event. In most cases there is no follow up damage (for at least a few seconds) to situations where the raid takes a large chunk of damage.
The biggest strength of Revival is that it heals for the majority of its total instantly, and (in Legion) an additional 30% over 6 seconds.
Healing Tide Totem
The second worst raid cooldown in the game, Healing Tide Totem ramps up over time. Unfortunately for Shaman, this is usually worse than a flat healing over time spell since you usually want the most healing as soon as possible. However, there is an advantage for the Shaman. It is an instant spell. That means that the Shaman can continue to cast other heals while Healing Tide Totem is rolling. This can be a big deal because it allows the Shaman to spot-heal during a high-damage part of the encounter. Shamans are already strong healers (even without considering their cooldowns), so even with HTT being relatively awkward to get full benefit from, Shamans remain a strong healer in the current healing meta.
The original raid cooldown. Tranquility by itself is mediocre but being able to take advantage of the Resto Druid’s mastery, Harmony (increase healing done for each HoT on the target), increases its healing by quite a bit. In the past, Tranquility’s major weakness was that it required the Druid to stand still but since Legion, it has allowed them to move while casting. Now, the only weakness of Tranquility is that the druid must channel it. Overall, it is a strong cooldown with no major strengths or weaknesses.
While Tranquility is traditionally one of the stronger cooldowns, Tranq doesn’t scale with haste and scales poorly with mastery. This means at higher gear levels, the cooldown becomes weaker compared healing normally during the same time. It’s still strong, but the gap closes.
“But Disc Priests are healers, not a cooldown”. Disc Priests have a bursty heal pattern by nature. They can have a throughput “raid cooldown” every 45-60 seconds by cycling various personal cooldowns. The reality is that these bursts of healing can have an even bigger impact than any of the previously mentioned raid cooldowns. The frequency and power of these cooldowns varies. Below is a list of the different items in the toolkit of a Disc Priest, as well as a little description of the ability:
- Evangelism – Disciplines bread and butter. Increases Atonement duration and has a 1 minute 15 second cooldown. This allows for the Disc Priest to cover a longer period of time which increases their healing potential substantially.
- Lights Wrath – The spec’s quintessential burst heal. The artifact ability does a large burst of damage after a short travel and cast time. The damage this does increases per the number of Atonements out.
- Shadowfiend or Mindbender – Depending which talents your Disc Priest takes, it may slightly change the healing their burst can do, and may increase the frequency they can do these prolonged bursts. Shadowfiend hits harder but has a 3 minute cooldown, making it ideal for fights where there are hig hdamage periods of an encounter spread apart, or that would align with this cooldown. Mindbender is on a 1 minute cooldown and hits slightly less hard than Shadowfiend. Either ability would be used, usually in conjunction with Evangelism, to heal over a period of time.
Power Word: Barrier
Power Word: Barrier reduces damage taken by 25%. Preventing damage before it happens is much more valuable than healing it afterwards because it does not give someone the option of dying before receiving the heal. The only downside to this one is that it has a small radius so it can only be used to its fullest in specific situations.
Aura Mastery (Aura of Sacrifice)
We are really starting to get into the powerful ones now. Aura Mastery is a very strong cooldown if the Paladin does it right. The only damage that a Holy Paladin cannot heal with Aura Mastery is if someone gets one-shot. This spell can regularly reach 100M over its duration, and does so on the big damage fights such as Mythic Aggramar and Mythic Argus. As such, it is the strongest HEALING raid cooldown. The next two are only ranked higher because damage reduction is inherently better than damage reversal. One small weakness of AM is that it does require the Paladin to stand still for small amounts of time to get the most out of it.
Aura Mastery can also be used when specing into Devotion Aura for encounters where you need additional damage reduction. Damage reductions obviously don’t show up on the meters, however, Devotion Aura is comparable to Aura of Sacrifice, again, depending on the encounter.
Spirit Link Totem
This is the most overpowered cooldown in the game, especially when paired with a Demon Hunter’s Darkness. In my opinion Darkness is very weak because healers cast AoE heals to deal with incoming damage and if 20% of players are not damaged because they avoided it all, a lot of that AoE healing goes to waste. When paired with Spirit Link Totem however, Darkness all of a sudden becomes a 20% damage reduction for everyone due to the health link.
One of the other powerful options you have with SLT is if people use immunities:
- Ice Block
- Aspect of the Turtle
- Cloak of Shadows
Each one used will reduce the overall damage that the raid takes by an additional 5% (if 1/20 members are immune, that full health bar will be redistributed to the other 19).
The final powerful aspect of Spirit Link Totem is that it allows healers to cast their highest HPS rotation without worry of overhealing. Since everyone’s HP will go up and down together, it allows healer to focus on their rotation and not worry about specific targets.
This is the most overpowered cooldown in the game, especially when paired with a Demon Hunter’s Darkness.
Next Week: Part 2
In part 2 I will discuss in more detail how to properly assign each cooldown using examples from a few different bosses in Antorus. This will hopefully give you a much better understanding of how to assign your own guilds cooldowns, or to better understand why your healing lead assigns them the way they do.
Written by Rahzra
Rahzra is a guest writer for Focused Will. He has been playing World of Warcraft since Vanilla, and has been healing since Wrath of the Lich King. He is currently the healing officer of Storm, the top 2-day guild on Stormrage. Article was edited and reviewed by others here at Focused Will.
© Rahzra 2018. The materials on this page may be freely copied and distributed so long as our copyright notice and Website address is included.