Defilers, hands down, are the strongest healers in the game. It is not a question. Additionally, if played right, they can be one of the highest dps parsing healers as well. What does that mean. We are basically the Dev's teacher's pet of the healers. We can keep tanks alive like no one else. We can solo heal 99.999% of the content out there. We can do it all while putting up really strong dps numbers.
Many of the AAs have limited value. Here are what I believe to be the important ones in each of the trees:
A. Shaman Line:
i. Tribal Rage and its ward component Spiritual Leadership. Very nice passive wards. Yes it took a nerf in KA but it is still great and it still absorbs its fair share of damage.
ii. Witchdoctor's Herbal Recipe. Reducing your base reuse on your group cure is absolutely essential (especially in PoP where there are a lot of cure dependent fights).
iii. Ancestral Channeling. The perfect "oh crap" heal.
iv. What not to take
Aura of Purity. The cures are far too unreliable. Any time that a cure is important you are going to cast a group cure. Do not waste your time on this.
Ritual of Alacrity. Sadly this one time staple of shaman is no longer relevant.
B. Defiler Line:
i. Cannibalize. That power regen. In the past couple of expansions (KA and now PoP) power regen is very important. You will like this.
ii. Malicious Spirits. So I go back and forth on this. For the past couple of years frontals didn't matter so having it was kind of a waste. This expansion it looks like they brought back frontals so having a malicious seems to have benefits here and there again.
C. Shadows Line:
i. Litany of combat. Take it. Use the spell version for the spell double cast. Spell double cast is awesome.
ii. What not to take. Heal stance. Do not waste your time.
D. Heroic Line:
i. Enhance Ancestral Channeling. The extra tick is fantastic. Put 10 points here.
ii. Enhance Spirit Companion. This gives you stoneskins. This is great: (1) to preserve your own wards; and (2) you want to stay alive as a healer.
iii. Avenging ancestors. This is a great dps spell. I mean its not your ascensions but it is great.
iv. Spirit Aegis. I recently amended my spec to take this instead of Totemic Protection. Now that Bleedthrough is not as severe, this is a powerful filler ward.
E. Dragon Line:
i. Reprieve/Undaunted. Passive ward and death save. It's good to be alive.
ii. Majestic Casting. Reduces base cast time of your group ward, which is your most important ward. That is good.
iii. Uncontrollable Wrath. This hits hard and can be cast on the move. You can cycle this often so take it and use it.
iv. Quickening. So many of our damage spells are dots. Making them apply faster to front load the damage is good.
v. Don't take - Draconic Reinforcement - 10% health is nothing now. Saving Grace - our death save sucks, another trigger means it sucks twice and the tank still dies. Ancient alacrity. You shouldn't even have your single target direct heals on your hot bar (Dire Balm/Sacrifical Restoration).
F. Prestige Line:
i. Empowered barrier is great for tanks. Spam dps spells/gward and then drop your single or death cries to launch another giant ward on the tank.
ii. Spirit realm. Greater range on all abilities is amazing. This also affects cure curse. The additional range is fantastic for so many of the complicated raid strats.
iii. Countenance of Defiled Spirits. I like this really just for the incombat move speed. It is useful on some of the movement based scripts. The damage proc is "fine" and the passive boosts also are "fine."
iv. Dream Hunter. THIS IS AMAZING. Two of our good damage abilities do a great job of healing (and for maelstrom power regen). This is what let's you recast them early. This was super huge in KA with bleedhthrough. Now days, it gives you the benefit of having a druid and a super coercer along with your wards. This is probably one of the abilities that makes defilers so...."balanced."
v. Death Cries. Its basically instant cast on a single target ward. It's good.
vi. Defiled Alacrity. This is really good. I macro my Purulence to my ancestral channeling. Which means I get a free AC reset as soon as I cast it. This used to be a broken combo back when the old etherals/runes would reset these abilities. Now, it gives two near back to back ACs which is awesome.
vii. Both Conversions. Yes the stats are awesome. Yes even if you are capped in CB it still contributes to your health boost from Enhanced Vigor.
viii. Wraith wall. This is an amazingly good single target ward. I am pretty sure during KA it was not affected by Bleedthrough. Now, it is a great extra layer of wards.
ix. Phantasmal Barrier. I like this, you can cast while casting other abilities and its instant cast. When I see anyone in the raid spike, I hit it and it applies a ward.
x. Ward's bane. This is beautiful. Free damage to the whole group. It doesn't hit as hard this expac as the past couple, but passive damage is wonderful.
G. Prestige - Defiler
i. Enhanced Vigor. Everyone should take this, more hps is good.
ii. Soul Shackle. This. Is. The. Best. Period.
iii. Cloak of Divinity. This is amazing for two reasons: (1) on fights with movement, you can still cast while doing it; and (2) any other time, you cast before unloading your ascensions for that nice potency boost.
Healing is fairly dependent on your group, but here are a couple things that I believe are true in almost all cases:
*** Know the fights. If you know how the fight works you can be prepared to deal with whatever you will face and no what to save and what to use. Don't be a robot in the raid. Think about how the fight works and the elements of the fight.
*** Be proactive. Don't wait to heal, ward ahead of time. Think about what is coming next and be ready for it.
i. Always, and I mean always, keep Carrion up. I don't care if you think it takes "too long" to cast. This is your bread and butter ward and will do the bulk of the work for you. If you are not keeping Carrion Warding up at maximum strength, you are playing the class wrong. This should be up before the mobs are pulled and recast every time it refreshes.
ii. Soul Shackle is stupid good. With one exception, this is the single most stupidly overpowered healing ability in the game. You should be casting this as the mob runs in. With one exception, you should recast this everytime it drops. If this is not up every millisecond of time that you could have it up, you are playing a defiler wrong. The only exception is if there is a period of time when there is massive spike damage and you are having trouble covering it with your normal wards. If that is the case, save soul shackle for that. This is a fairly rare occurrence though and most of the time you should just reapply soul shackle when it refreshes.
iii. Bane of Warding - if you have the defiler class rune (and if you don't, I am sorry) this is the exception that is actually more powerful than soul shackle. You cast this on the mob. You now have RAID WIDE wards. This heals everyone in the raid. This by itself heal parses like a bonus shaman in the raid. This is one of those cloaks (along with furies and illies) that are absolutely game changing. One of these used correctly in a raid force makes life for everyone easier. This should be the second thing cast immediately following soul shackle as the mob is running in.
iv. If you are warding a tank, you should cycle your three single target wards on the tanks as they refresh. Just like carrion warding don't try to monitor wards, just recast when they refresh. There is plenty of time to keep all wards on refresh and crank out the dps. If I am not in a tank group, I will death cries/wraithwall through the mob onto whoever is tanking. I only cast ancient shroud when the tank is in my group (otherwise I figure their shaman will take care of that ability).
v. Maelstrom/Nightmare. I love Maelstorm. Not only is it a great heal over time. But this will keep your power up better than anyone other than a warden with their tree. If that wasn't good enough, it is also a sick dps spell (especially with the PoP boost to base damage on this ability). Use it, love it, pray for the resets on it. Nightmare is also fantastic. Always keep these rolling on the mob. It just makes sense. The only reasons you would not want to roll these constantly is if there is a period of crazy spike damage and you need to alternate these with soul shackle, or if there is a power drain component and you are trading off with a chanter or what not on when to flow power to the group.
vi. Spirit Aegis. This is a recent change I just made this week. Now that bleedthrough is lessened, this is really strong again. It works great in between soul shackles. If you are having trouble healing during that phase, Spirit Aegis will help you with that time.
viii. When things are hitting the fan - hit ancestral channeling. As I mentioned above, I have purulence macroed to it so they cast together and I get an immediate reset.
ix. Wild acreation. This is your standard group heal. I keep this on my hot bar, but its my least used heal ability. You typically only use this when damage is unwardable or there is a lot of bleedthrough. Because we are defilers and we have heals attached to our group ward, there is really no sense in casting this, unless the damage ticks are coming faster than the time to reapply your group ward.
x. Do not put these spells on the hot bar - Dire balm/sacrificial restoration. No reason to cast things. Ancient Shroud does the exact same thing with our heals on wards plus applies a giant ward with them.
xi. Empowered barrier. So I tend to proc this as much as I can. You proc this by keeping up your group wards and your singles and then spamming a bunch of dps spells in the interim before reapplying a single target ward/death cries. This is a fantastic additional layer of warding. Take advantage of it.
Defilers can be great dpsers. Yes, we heal first. But there is so much time when you are not warding that you can easily crank out dps. Don't buy into the "I'm a healer" or "my job is to heal not dps" You have time for both.
i. Spam those abilities. You should always be casting something. If you are not putting up a ward, you better cast a dps spell. My non-ascension priority of spells is kind of in the following categories:
a. Avenging ancestors;
b. Defile, Maelstorm, nightmares
d. Everything else.
ii. When possible try to front load your top few abilities under Retribution of the Fallen. It is a nice dps temp.
iii. Debuffs - with 1.1 exception, don't cast these. They no longer do anything. The only exception to this rule is Atrophy right after casting Retribution of the Fallen. The reason being is that this is a combat mit debuff under the temp. So use it. Otherwise the only other debuff to consider using is malicious spirits and only if the mob has a frontal. The remainder, useless. Don't waste your time or hotbar space.
iv. Timing. The secret to dps is timing. For example if you can time your ascensions with a celestrial gate proc you do crazy damage. That said, don't wait around all day looking for the proc. If it is a pull with a lot of stuff, hit your AE ascension. If Time Warp is coming hit your ascensions. Even if you can't get a CG proc, pop cloak of divinity and unload a few. If you are refreshing your carrion warding on reuse.
a. A bit more on this. Look at ACT and see what is doing a lot. For example, I am an elementalist. My largest damage spells tend to be Scorched Earth, Elemental Amalgamation, WildFire. So you want to prioritize those spells when you get your celestial gate proc/Timewarp. I use a swap item to make sure I get the second chicken when I cast elemental amalgamation. The key is to front load your biggest hits when you have the potency/fervor temps running.
b. Know what is coming on a fight. If a mob is about to stoneskin, don't waste an ascension. If you know adds are coming don't waste your big AEs or green encounter spells.
c. Upgrade your DPS spells. This will seem a little silly but I prioritize my dps spells over my heals when it comes to masters/grandmasters etc. Apart from carrion warding, the rest of your heals aren't important enough to bulk up. So if you have limited funds/spellshards etc. Focus on your dps spells.
i. My all time favorite purple rune is split second salvation. I am adamant in my raid force that all healers should wear this. It avoids those strange situations where you just die. Use it, love it.
ii. Pretend you are a warlock who heals. My first favorite toon was a warlock. Spec your toon like you are a mage. Focus on casting stats. Get your double cast as high as you can. Get Fervor, Potency, CB (till cap), amod. Don't worry about auto attack stats.
iii. /Cancel_spellcast - this is your best friend. I use this macro on my single target and group cure, cure curse, ancestral channeling, soul ward.
iv. If there are fights that have a cast bar with dets, pre-cure the det. Don't wait for the dot to land before you start curing.
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