I am a well-known altoholic, so I always plan on rolling one of everything. The game’s class mechanics are kind to me in this respect – as I only need to level 4 characters to experiment with all of my options. So after some experience with several good days of beta playtime and almost as much time poring over each and every skill tree in the game… I’ve decided upon five specs that I am hoping to get a chance to play with next month. Two for my cleric, and one more unique one for each of the other classes.
It’s time to talk about the second of my 5 chosen specs.
To be fair, the cleric specs are the ones I’ve spent the most time considering and the others are just being thrown in for completeness – and because they hopefully show some of the cool things that should be possible in this game. I’ve already shared my tanking cleric spec, and it is proving to be quite successful. I am level 27 now and have tanked invasion bosses with it – but will admit that I’ve not done any instances with this build since I’m uncomfortable tanking pugs in unfamiliar content.
One thing with which I am comfortable in unfamiliar content, however, is healing. At 18, I successfully healed an IT run with a Warden build that I kind of slapped together on my way to the instance. It was not pleasant. Warden healing is very effective solo or on trash pulls, but its lack of mitigation and burst heals make for very stressful boss fights. I found myself depending heavily on my Sentinel off-spec spells to keep the tank standing.
Last night, my guild ran DSM 4 times in succession – after a failed clear attempt the night before where we did not bring enough dps. For three of those four clears, I main healed the group – which shifted membership slightly between each run so it was a unique experience every time. The build I used was level 26 Purifier/Sentinel/Warden containing most of the purifier points planned for the larger level 50 build discussed here and a handful of the sentinel ones. Overall, it went very well and with the exception of the final boss fight, I didn’t have any problems – but even then, I was able to keep everyone standing and had zero problems with threat generation, mana efficiency, or self preservation.
The other thing that last night taught me is that I don’t think I’m going to play any alt very seriously any time soon. With three roles (Tank, Healer, DPS) that I can switch between with impunity on my cleric main, I am getting that variation without having to replay the same content twice. And I like it.
Healing Cleric (Sentinel/Purifier/Warden)
My current impression of the three healing souls is:
- Sentinel – Best general purpose soul. Probably suitable as a primary spec for soloing. Good for group and tank healing. Appropriate as a primary or secondary spec. Lousy as zero-point third spec, passable as 3rd if you can spare 4 points to get the endurance buff and some +healing or +spell power.
- Purifier – Best single-target healing soul. Completely unsuited as a primary for soloing. Good for tank healing, difficult for groups who take a lot of splash damage. Appropriate as a primary or zero-point spec. Unimpressive as second unless at least 20 or so points can be invested.
- Warden – Best at… I’m not sure what, keeping the whole group topped off through aoe and bad pulls? Great when added to anything else. Good for group healing, bad for tank healing, good for self healing. Appropriate as a secondary or tertiary spec. Crazy as primary unless at least 20 points are invested.
The healing build that I’d put together before head-start and am still planning on is 38/24/4 Sentinel/Purifier/Warden:
I’m not planning on solo leveling with this build, so I’m not going to break it down like I did with the Justicar. Let’s walk through it backward, from least to most invested.
With this build, I’m not really getting anything very interesting out of Warden. It might be possible to swap out Druid for the faerie’s passive heals to similar effect. But what 4 points in Warden does buy me is +8% mana to work with and a mana efficient instant cast HoT.
I find this much more useful than what 4 extra points can buy me in either Purifier or Sentinel. I would really want 6 more points in either one to want to invest in them further.
The reason for dropping points into Purifier is damage prevention. I want to harden my tank from damage and give myself more breathing room in case the rest of the group needs a bit of topping off.
At tier 1, I am taking +5% to heal crit and am then coming back to drop 3 more points in +wisdom because the 5 point tier 3 talent fails to impress me. I could probably swap the allocation of these 8 points any different way with similar results.
At tier 2, I am taking a full five points in Protection of the Ancestors – +50% to bubble strength because that’s the point of my subbing Purifier in the first place. The other two talents are more soloing oriented – both of them harden the caster from incoming damage. Since the zero point ability is already a better bubble than either of these, and I’m already improving it with the other 5 points at this tier, AND I trust my tank to pull things off of me after too long… I see no point in sinking 3 more here.
Tier 3 has one really cool talent, Caregiver’s Blessing. If I keep this buff up, every single-target heal I drop (including that cheap instant HoT) also procs a small bubble on the target as well. This makes it much less stressful to deal with mages who AoE before the tank has aggro, etc… The other tier 3 talent does not strike me as terribly cost effective – 5 points for a 10% chance of increasing my next single-target heal by 30%? Or in other words, +3% to sustained single target healing for 5 skill points.
Tier 4 is nice, I want it all. Well, except for the improvement to the reactive self-heal that I ignored at tier 2.
Healing Flare is a spammable instant-cast direct heal. It is inefficient and smallish when compared to the zero point Sentinel instant heal, but it has no cooldown. And there are a lot of times when mana efficiency matters less than the ability to float someone for a couple more seconds until the cooldown on something more permanent finishes, or the boss does.
Caregiver’s Grace just buffs the blessing by 2 more charges – meaning 5 single target heals proccing these bubbles. Combined with the spammable nature of the aforementioned Flare spell, this should make it much easier to create breathing room to drop that bigger spell/shield/whatever we’re waiting for. I could have dropped a 3rd point here, but it is a choice between leaving this talent one point short and leaving Ancestral Flame one point short… and the latter is more important.
Ancestral Flame is one of the main reasons I’m in the tree. 60% of spell power into a bubble whenever I drop my big single-target heal (90% after Protection of the Ancestors).
My final point in Purifier goes to the tier 5 talent Latent Blaze. This is basically just a weaker version of the Sentinel 44 point Vigilance but for only 21 points, it ought to be. Latent Blaze drops a single reactive heal charge on the target that lasts until they either drop below 30% health (bad) or the 5 minute buff expires (good). The downside is that it only has one charge and can only be used once per target per 2 minutes. The upside is that it is yet one more buffer between my group and death and I could easily maintain this on two or three party members at once if necessary.
As an aside, Latent Blaze -did- save my group the other night during the final boss of DSM. Three of the party got hit by a fire crystal and while I was busy taking care of them, the tank dropped to 50%. This isn’t terrible by itself, but the boss kept critting him or something and my heals were having a hard time keeping up. He probably hit 10% and popped his Latent Blaze charge before I was able to start catching back up again, so… yeah. I like the spell. It’s not awesome, but it does the trick.
The interesting root abilities I pick up from Purifier are of course the awesome zero point Shield of the Ancestors, which I use instead of healing myself immediately if caught in AoE or while waiting for the tank to pull aggro off of me.
At 4 points, I get a 1.5s cast direct heal. At 8 (and again at 20), I get a party endurance buff. At 10, I get a rez. At 12, I can remove curse, disease, and poison.
At 14 points in Purifier, I get Restorative Flame, the big 3 second heal that works with Ancestral Flame to bubble my target as well as heal them. 16 points gives me Ward of the Ancestors, a straight up shield for those situations where the passive shielding isn’t enough.
Searing Transfusion is available at 18, and is an interesting sort of instant direct heal. It increases the target’s max hp by 25% of my own for 10 seconds while also healing them for that same amount. This is potentially either very cool or exceptionally useless. I’ve yet to see it in action to determine which.
Flashover is the other 20 point root ability and it simply guarantees that my next heal will be a crit. This is just generally happy.
With 38 points dropped in a tree, it’s one of those times where the omissions are more interesting than the inclusions. I’ll discuss both here.
I am starting off with 10 points in tier 1. This gives +5% spell power and +5% to healing. What I am not taking are 2 points to add a snare to the zero point sentinel nuke…
Tier 2 is similar, with another 10 points. These increase the crit bonus of my heals by 20% and reduce the mana cost of my heals by 10%. I am not dropping a point in getting a damage over time spell – which might actually go very well with a Justicar healing build, but that’s a different animal 😉
For tier 3, I am not taking Luminous Gaze, a debuff that increases the crit chance against an affected enemy by 5%. Again, this one would probably play nicely with other builds, just not a back row healer spec. I am spending 3 points to increase the radius of my AoE heals by 3 meters and 2 more to increase their effectiveness by 2%.
I’m not in love with either of these, but I don’t have a lot of other choices that directly increase my healing output. The odds that +2% to an AoE heal will make a difference in a fight are only slightly more than the odds that a 3 meter radius increase will catch the party member who actually needed the heal in the first place… so shrug.
Tier 4 is nicer. Two points in Protect the Flock turns my AoE heals into small defensive buffs, reducing incoming damage to all affected by 5% for 6 seconds. That is nice because if I am ever dropping AoE healing… well, stuff has either gone poorly or we’re facing a boss that drops AoE damage. So hardening the whole group makes dealing with this easier.
Healing Invocation is one point to provide a 3 second direct heal for slightly more than Restorative Flame. By itself, it is nice (a tree ability that is slightly better than a lower level root one seems to be standard). But just like Restorative Flame’s main benefit is the upgrade to proccing a bubble, Healing Invocation’s main benefit is that with 5 points on tier 5’s Lasting Invocation, it also drops an additional 30% healing over 8 seconds. Alternating between these two spells means a steady influx of direct healing plus the shield and HoT to buffer any crits or whatever.
I like the other tier 5 spell as well. Empowering Light is just a PBAoE cleanse. It costs the same as the root cleanses. The only reason not to use it is a 10 second cooldown and the inability to target someone who might be out of range. So it is more than worth one point.
Tier 6 is kind of hard as well. 3 points into Serendipity to make my crit heals reduce the cast time of my next heal by 1.5s means that Flashover not only guarantees that one heal will be big but that the one following it will be either fast or instant. Good enough.
I am not taking the other ability from this tier, a 2 second heal that affects both the target and the caster, upgradeable to 1.5 second cast time. This isn’t my style, and while I used the equivalent WoW spell quite a bit, I’m intentionally avoiding abilities that primarily benefit the caster in the hopes that the Purifier’s bubble and failing that, the instant cast heals this build also provides are sufficient for cases where the healer is taking damage.
The tier 7, 31 point ability makes me happy. Healer’s Haste is a 30 second buff to increase healing speed by 30% for up to 5 spells.
The roots of Sentinel give me a number of goodies, even though several are wasted on offensive abilities. At zero points, we get the instant direct heal with the 8 second cooldown.
At 4 (and 20), we get endurance buffs identical to those provided by Purifier. At 10 points, we get another rez identical to the one provided by Purifier; at 16, we get a duplicate cleanse. But that’s it for dupes. The buffs, unfortunately, do not stack, so pick the ones whose icons you like best I guess.
At 6 points, we get Healing Grace, the 2 second cast direct heal and at 12 points, we get Healing Communion, the AoE version.
We get Touch the Light at 14, a cooldown to make the next spell instant. Always a good button to have around. This build winds up with several similar button.
At 18, we get a silence, which shouldn’t really be the healer’s responsibility, but you never know…
Divine Call costs 26 points and is an instant PBAoE heal with a 1 minute cooldown. So while not chainable like Healing Communion, it is good as a big panic button right before/after an AoE bomb or similar.
At 32 points, we get the only combat rez available to healing spec clerics. It’s not as good as that available to Justicars, but it’s better than what mages get.
At 36 points, we get a passive improvement to Healing Invocation of +5% of spell power bonus. Then, we get +3% per additional point, for a total of +11% of spell power applied to this spell. It’s not as good as it could be, but we’re taking other abilities instead.
Finally, at 38 points, we get Marked by the Light. This buff makes single-target heals cascade to other nearby party members… and makes AoE heals cascade even more 😉 It is only usable on the primary target but should do nicely for my concerns of keeping others topped off without having to really think about it too hard.
After a bit of consideration, and thinking about how cool Latent Blaze really is… I came up with a slight modification to the build that would allow you to carry both Latent Blaze and Vigilance.
This requires a change to 44/22/0 Sentinel/Purifier/Warden:
The points we lose from the original build are the two charges in Caregiver’s Grace from Sentinel and 8% max mana from Warden. The bubble charges aren’t that enormous of a loss, they basically equate to two free small heals every couple of minutes. The real loss here is 8% of max mana, which may or may not be an issue depending on your use of consumables and your group’s pace.
In exchange, we gain Vigilance as well as +3% to AoE healing and turn our zero point Sentinel instant heal into a small AoE instant heal. It’s not a lot of difference, and +3% to AoE heals doesn’t impress me much… but I’m not really sure where else to sink the points. The improvement to the instant heal is actually kind of nice. I’ve found myself using the Purifier’s instant heal a lot – even to the exclusion of this one, despite its being bigger and more efficient. The 8 second cooldown is a deterrent to inclusion in my standard rotation. BUT by specializing the ability as a small group heal? I know I would have used it more, even if the resulting heals are relatively small.