Bubble Smart: The Five Man
One of the most difficult things for me in regards to switching from Holy to Disc, is learning how to bubble properly. Since I rarely use Power Word: Shield when I run Holy, and since I'm a habit-based healer, I knew that training myself to bubble properly would be tricky.

I originally suspected that I would not bubble enough, so when I started as Disc, I forced myself to bubble all the time. As I mentioned before, this actually turned out to be a bad thing - I bubbled too often when people wouldn't take damage, and therefore spent far too much mana on bubbles without benefiting from Rapture. In effect, it's no different than overhealing. I was bubbling often enough to try and keep weakened soul up on every member of my five man at first, before I began to realize that was over-doing it.

I ran several heroics this past weekend, and my primary intent was to learn to bubble properly. Here are some of the tips I picked up for bubbling in a 5 man:

  • It's usually a good idea to keep a bubble up on yourself, whether or not you know you will be taking damage, but I don't think you need to worry about bubbling often enough to maintain Weakened Soul.
  • If there is not a lot of group wide damage, and all the damage can effectively be picked up by the tank, then do not waste your mana bubbling the rest of the DPS.
  • Squishy, high threat DPS (i.e. mages) who may have occasional trouble with aggro, particularly when there are multiple mobs and they are providing AoE damage, are good candidates for full time Bubblage. However, again, I do not find it necessary to bubble enough to maintain constant Weakened Soul.
  • When there is group wide damage, it is then a good idea to bubble all members of your party. If everyone is likely to take a fairly large amount of unavoidable damage, this may warrant maintaining weakened soul on everyone, as best as you can.
  • Regardless of the circumstances, be sure to bubble people often enough to keep up Renewed Hope buff for the whole party.
Bubbling properly is one of the trickiest arts to master as a new Disc Priest, so I will likely be posting more information about various Bubbling tips and suggestions as I gain more experience.

I know there are several Disc Priests who read this blog, so please provide more suggestions about proper bubbling procedures for the five man scenario in the comments - I'd love to hear them! I'll post about bubbling in raids at a later date.

Eventually I intend to put all of this information together into one long guide specifically on the art of bubbles for new Disc Priests. It's become something of an obsession with me, because as a healer, mana usage and mana regen is always on my mind - and for Disc Priests, bubble management is fundamental for mana management. I hear all the time about how Disc Priests should not have problems with mana, so I am trying to get to a point where I feel I can say that about myself as well.
20 Responses
  1. Hudson Says:

    Pretty self explanatory. I always do just that method of bubbling


  2. Grimmtooth Says:

    I use Grid and either have it set up to show me when someone has aggro. If they get a red dot, they get a bubble immediately.

    I also have Grid show me when PW:S is active using a yellow dot in the lower left. If they have a red dot and no yellow dot ... POP

    You got don't over-bubble covered, so good.

    Take the glyph. On my Uld / Badge equipped Disc priest, I get around 2500 instant heal on the target by popping a bubble.

    Not strictly a 5 man thing ... Each boss fight will be different, so expect a learning curve for each. Disc is a lot more fussy about varied healing strats.

    ... aaaaaaaand that's about it. I'm no expert, but it seems to work, possibly in spite of itself :)


  3. Tamarind Says:

    Hah! I was in ToC-25 the other night and the MH was a discipline priest who wouldn't use bubble. Miss Medicina, come clean, was it you?

    You're giving me disc-envy, I have to admit. I've always wanted to try it but holy = my comfort zone. I could, of course, ditch shadow which is a pathetic excuse for a DPS spec (or it is the way I play it) but then I'd be a healer/healer priest, and grinding would be a total pain...


  4. Chawa Says:

    Now this is something that I've got to bookmark. I'm in the process of leveling a priest and would love to learn the healing ropes before I hit 80! Looking forward to your bubbling guide in the future!


  5. Heather Says:

    The only thing I would add to your post is about bubbling dps. While it is a waste of mana and time if youn try to bubble everyone, if you have the chance to it is useful to bubble someone low on health if your tank doesn't need healing. Primarily, disc priests are tank healers, but on some fights when there is a lot of raid damage or raid debuffs flying about it's a good idea to toss a few bubbles around.

    I use x-perl for raid frames so I always see who has a bubble on them which helps a lot, likewise it's easy to see when it falls off. As someone else said; get the glyph for bubble is my recommendation too. That way you'll be healing your targets and bubbling them.


  6. Fricassee Says:

    Just remember, if you have a paladin tank that overgears the content, you might want to bubble them a little bit less. They need to take damage so that they can get mana back from heals.


  7. Pomona Says:

    Oh noes, the blog ate my comment. CRY. Ok try again (short, terse version)...

    1. Grimmtooth is right.

    a. Bubble squishies if they have agro or are taking damage.

    b. Initial heal from glyph usually sufficient to cover damage already taken

    c. Pre-bubble tank only.

    d. Depending on encounter bubble melee dps or others if there is known aoe.

    e. Bubble to save people from their own stupidity at your discretion :)

    2. Suggested grid plugin: Gridstatuspwshield. It tells you how much time is left on PW:S and WS. Can be used with a text countdown (gridstatuscornertext etc) or you can set your boxes to change color when about to expire.


  8. Nymarie Says:

    I mostly agree with your assessment of bubbling correctly. Vuhdo is amazing at showing which toons have bubble and weakened soul and helps me with my bubbling.

    @whoever said Disc was a tank healing spec
    No. Because of the Penance nerf a few patches back, we don't excel at either tank healing or raid healing. Because of this we are useful as both and I have taken up a position in my guild as "support healer", doing a little bit of both. Bubbling is what makes us as good at raid healing as tank healing.


  9. Fuubaar Says:

    @ Heather

    That is an extremely smart thing to do regarding keeping a bubble on the lowest health DPS guy. I've ran a few instances where you have the little newbie that has less health than the hunters pet.

    @ Fricassee

    Paladin tanks have a TON of ways to get their mana back (Divine Plea, Blessing of Sanctuary, Seal of Wisdom, & Judgement of Wisdom just to name a few) If I'm tanking and I'm over gearing the situation, I'll make it work usually by pulling more adds. I doubt a Priest Bubble will really make that big of a difference regarding paladin mana problems. It is nice of you to think of us though :)

    @ Jessebelle & the real question at hand.
    My strat is more of a "Wait & see" sort of thing. I will always keep a bubble on the tank & myself then see who else ends up taking damage. I'll start to see a trend on what mobs do damage to whom and which DPS (i.e. the mage) is an aggro junky. I really play each group & each instance this way. I know these fights from a tanking prespective so I know when the tank will get beat on, it's the rest of the folks I'm learning about.

    Keep up those bubbles Jess!


  10. Grimmtooth Says:

    Oh! One important thing to mention about PW:S!

    If it is glyphed, then it generates healer aggro. So don't cast it in that brief period of time that the tank hasn't grabbed REAL aggro on the pull. Either cast it before the pull, or after aggro is established.

    ESPECIALLY don't do this on the Emalon pull. Just sayin'.


  11. cowandbones Says:

    Usually bubble the tank after the first melee attack on him with a rolling Renew him so my bubble is constantly being used in each pull. Since I'm glyphed it buys me sometime as it heals the tank and protects him.

    I've found it help with my tunnel vision when I'm not constantly worrying about the tank, and I can watch what the dasterdly DPS are doing around me. :-P


  12. holybacon Says:

    Nice! Our GM just switched his priest alt form Holy to Disc and I feel he is doing something wrong but don't know enough about priests to help him. He seems to ALWAYS top the Heal chart AND overheal charts. As a mainspec healadin I know doing both is bad. I feel he is disc specced, but still healing like a holy priest. I'll have force him to come read some of your posts :)


  13. @Grimmtooth

    I don't use Grid. You know why? BECAUSE I DONT LIKE SQUARES. Oh and customization is hard. >.> Good tips - when you say you have Grid configured to show you who has PW:S, do you mean the buff, or do you have it set up to show who has the weakened soul debuff? I am anal retentive about knowing both.

    @Tam

    No but... I KNOW THAT GUY. Well, not specifically, but I know "that guy"... the guy who is specced for Disc to get Penance, but still heals exactly like a holy priest!

    I feel you about the spec thing... that's why I waited so long to do it. I KNOW Holy, I'm comfortable Holy... I may be specced Disc right now but don't give up on me... my heart still belongs to Holy. I just had to give Disc a shot, right? I want to spec Holy/Disc as well, but grinding would be a pain, now that I'm spoiled on having my shadow spec to do my dailies. Sad face.

    I do have to say though, if you find yourself getting bored again when you run heroics or things like that, you really should give Disc a shot for a week, just to spice things up. That's part of why I did it!

    @Chawa

    Oooo then I guess I better be sure to keep adding stuff to it! Hehehe... if you look at the guides on the right side of my page, there are some other guides that might help a leveling priest, and a priest new to healing. If you ever have any questions or want some advice, just ask! I love answering new priest questions!

    @Heather

    I agree complteely - I was healing the tank last night in a 10 man raid, and I would throw out bubbles here and there (when I could afford to stop healing the tank for a bit) on melee dps, or other peeps who were taking damage - I actually NEEDED to in order to sustain my mana usage.

    And I love the bubble-heal glyph!

    @Fricassee @Fuubaar

    Well, Fuu responded to your comment with some interesting feedback, but to be honest, I get nervous about this sometimes too. I never have this problem when I'm healing Fuu (she knows her stuff!) but when I'm healing pally tanks who are a bit new to the process, I do try to let them take a few more hits to give me a reason to heal them, while they are still learning the tank/mana synergy.

    @Pomona

    These are good tips - my favorites that you said are about pre-bubbling the tank only, and bubbling melee dps. I Disc healed my first raid last night, and those were two things I took away from the raid.

    @Nymarie

    I think this depends on the content. If you are really pushing it on something really challenging, that is probably more the case - but I had no problems healing the two tanks in my 10 man ToC last night. Perhaps I outgear the content, which is possible. Also, I think this varies depending on whether you are doing 10 or 25 man content. My experience with Disc priests, both personal and with healing alongside other Disc priests, is that they do very well with Main Tank healing in 10 mans.

    That having been said, I find that when I'm tank healing, I HAVE to bubble other folks in the raid in order to keep from running out of mana. This is possibly a reflection of my Holy gear which is a bit heavy on the spirit and light on the intellect for a Disc priest.

    My point is that in regards to throughput, I have no problems with tank healing as a Disc priest - mana wise, in a ten man, I need to raid bubble on occasion.

    @Fuubaar

    THERE WAS THIS STUPID HUMAN SITTING ON MY DAMN FACE

    @Grimmtooth

    I believe that your shield can generate aggro even if it is NOT glyphed, though I have no evidence WHATSOEVER to back up that statement. That's just how I roll.

    @cowandbones

    Since I came from the Holy realm, I actually have a very hard time focusing on one target... I have the opposite of tunnel vision, and it's just as much of a problem!

    @holybacon

    I've run into other disc priests who do this, and you're the second person to mention that in the comments on this post alone... which leads me to believe perhaps I should write a post about it... sort of as a public service announcement, eh?


  14. Don't forget about Borrowed Time!

    PW:S the tank, GHeal the tank, PW:S someone, GHeal.

    This lets you get a nice GHeal spec in if you find your FHeals are lacking. Or at least weave in GHeals occasionally.


  15. Mister K Says:

    Having Grimm as my healer most of the time I'm confidant that his setup is a very good one. I know that I as a pally tank don't worry too much about being bubbled because I keep divine plea up as much as possible so I wouldn't worry about that too much. My Disc priest is comfortable as raid heals or tank healing. I learned how to be an effective raid healer as disc early on because I would either be with too many pallies to be the tank healer or raid leaders just assumed priest = holy = raid heals and didn't bother looking just put me on the raid. I was usually not the best geared so I didn't argue too much. I feel as long as you can keep the tank bubble up as much as possible any damage dps takes I usually just throw a bubble and renew at them and that almost always takes care of them excepting heavy group damage fights like Black Knight phase three where since I know the fight I try to pre-bubble to help offset incoming damage to everybody and work the bubbles around as fast as possible with everything else.


  16. Nymarie Says:

    Oh I wasn't saying it was bad to Discipline tank heal. Sorry if it came off that way. All I was saying is that Disc is not a "tank healer". It's an extremely versatile healer. I tank heal just as well as I raid heal, hence why I am considered the "support" healer, helping with both roles.


  17. Xeonio Says:

    Speaking in terms of raiding, if you aren't OOM at the end of a fight then you haven't wasted any many on bubbling peeps that may or may not have used it.

    Awhile back Matticus (worldofmatticus.com) pointed out that if a bunch of your bubbles go off at the same time you get multiple hits of rapture. Take ToC for instance you could spam a bunch of bubbles on the melee and when the stomp goes off... BOOM, big chunk of mana.

    I'm exclusively on raid healing and I've always seen PW:S as temporary health points. It might get wasted, but I'd rather have a wasted bubble than a dead person. I'm not advocating keeping WS up on everyone, just as soon as I see someone take damage it's likely I'm tossing them a shield. I know that I can always follow up with a hasted flash if I need to or most likely another healer top'd them off.

    As mentioned above I use GRID to show me if a person has WS (not if they have a bubble). If someone has WS on them my GRID puts a yellow frame around them. That way I know that I can't save them with a bubble and I use flash heal instead.


  18. Grimmtooth Says:

    @Nymarie - Oooo, I *did* read it that way, but didn't object as everyone has a take on it. But I see what you're saying: "not limited to...". Though raid healing is a bear.

    @Miss Medicina - I have Grid configured so that it shows who has PW:S active. If the dot isn't up, they MAY be eligible for bubble. During heavy AOE fights I'll toss them around to help the main raid healer out, if the tanks are in good shape.

    @K - Why thankee - no higher praise than from one's own tank ever there was. :)


  19. Ophelie Says:

    @Fuubaar
    The priest bubble does make a noticeable difference in mana for a tank in Ulduar gear or above in a 5 man. I experimented with a guildie some time back and it's a lot easier without bubbles. I hate having to use seal of wisdom. That said, I wouldn't insult a pug priest by asking them not to bubble me, but I prefer when they don't.


  20. Chirri Says:

    Some great observations and tips here - my biggest issue lately has been the matter of figuring out exactly who does and doesn't have a bubble (when I want them to have one) but doesn't need the Weakened Soul debuff. I had something that showed me the cooldown of WS as well, on Grid, as a moving "pie chart" sort of thing, but since re-doing my computer, that's gone now. So, the Yellow dot Grimmtooth mentions will be my next stop to figure out in WoW, after I shoot some rogues with turkey guns, and the mod-mod Pomona mentions is next on my list once I'm finished scribbling on your blog :)

    I'll admit that I use Bubbles very little in 5 mans. My tank is usually a Paladin (my SO is a Paladin, and my friend's former main, which she's playing more often again, is also a Paladin), and at this point one frankly does overgear just about everything. While they have a lot of options in terms of keeping their mana up, if they're overgeared, they're not taking much damage to begin with. It doesn't seem polite to bubble him simply out of habit if they are clearly mana starved - it's detrimental to the group if a Priest is being belligerent over the matter. As always, though, it's a matter of attuning yourself to the group at hand, rather than trying to fit the group into a narrower mold to suit yourself. Sometimes my guy's giving it all he has, and sometimes he just wants to be lazy (in a ToC 5 for instance, with no real trash).

    Since switching from Holy to Disc, I'm very definitely missing the Holy a bit. Been considering dropping Shadow for Holy again, since I find it sooooooo boring right now but with the 3.3 changes coming to Shadow I feel like I ought to hold of for a bit before making that decision.


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