The ABCs – Not just for Discipline Priests05/04/2010
For those who haven’t read Paolo’s brilliant post, ABC means “Always Be Casting.” He discusses it from the point of view of a Disc priest, which boils down to “damage will happen, so use every single GCD you have to prevent it.” Preemptive absorption is the Disc priest’s best friend and there isn’t a single fight in ICC where using every one of your GCDs to pre-shield is a detriment. (I originally didn’t include Gunship in it, but that is mostly because there is so little healing to be done on that fight at all. Having a Disc priest pre-shielding the raid -does- free up most of your other healers to DPS, I guess! Win/win situation.)
I’ve recently been working with a couple other healers who aren’t living up to their potential and the concept of ABC has become one that really needs to be emphasized. There is never a time when a healer should not be utilizing every single GCD. Embracing this fully can really spike a “good healer” to the realms of “fantastic healer.” I know many people bring up the idea that constantly casting like that will just cause huge amounts of overheal, but as always, the number one factor in overheal is bringing too many healers. Nearly all content, including most hardmodes, can be effectively healed by 5 healers. So if you’re worried about running into overheal issues when going with the ABC idea, you should be asking one of your healers to DPS instead. It will make your raiding group more effective and your kills that much faster.
Trees and Holy priests have this great little trick of pre-HoTTing the raid. While this does tend to spell some overheal initially, knowing when the damage is coming and to who allows you to have the HoTs in place and already ticking when the damage comes in. This includes the tanks during those heavy tank phases, like during Festergut. There is no reason you can’t use every GCD to stack up your HoTs on the tanks if the fight as no damage incoming to the rest of the raid. Keep PoM rolling, keep Renew ticking and keep up those stacks of Serendipity. Even if the damage is currently very light, you should be rolling HoTs as a preventive measure so that you aren’t scrambling later to catch up. Like Disc priests are with shields, being proactive with HoTs are the key to keeping the rest of the healing team at an even keel.
I hope I don’t have to tell healadins that they should always be casting, but just in case… Healadins! The ABCs apply to you, too! During light healing phases when Holy Light spam is unnecessary, you should be switching to a constant flow of smaller Flash of Light heals. The mana you spend on spamming it constantly is absolutely next to nothing, so the overheal from it doesn’t count at all. You should also always utilize your GCDs to Judge (on CD if at all possible, since the mana return is insane on it) and refresh your Sacred Shield/Beacon of Light. Spamming heals is what healadins -do,- so being committed to the ABCs should be second nature to you.
Shaman have this interesting combination of abilities that makes constantly casting a real treat, namely Ancestral Awakening and Ancestral Healing. When you crit, you get free smart heals on -other- people around and also your target takes less damage. I’m not saying that you should be rolling around nothing but CHs to blanket as much damage reduction around as you can, just that you should be using every moment you can to heal every bit of spike damage that you can. Heck, follow the ABC ideal and make sure to recast Water Shield and Earth Shield when you get the chance! Shaman are similar to paladins in how they heal now, so using every spare moment you can to sneak in some direct healing is the way to go.
The ABCs are one of those basics for WotLK raiding that I hope everyone can embrace. Sure, things will change with the expansion I’m sure (not for healadins, I’d wager!), but we need to think about maximizing for -now,- so that more raiding groups can down all that lovely hard content out there. As always, this concept is for progression content, not the stuff you can beat with your eyes closed. Actually, you can still use the overall idea on those easy fights, just let the ABCs apply to DPSing, too…