Aggro - I'z Squishy! Nooo! /splat

So yea, Fio went ahead and made a nifty post about Aggro.

It's great fodder to think about, and he gives good math for DPS Pew Pew'rs, but where does this help you my squishy bantam?

Ok, basics. Aggro is the term used to describe a mob's attention. You want your meatshield to have it, because they are the best equipped to handle it. That's why they are your meatshield. DPS can follow Fio's advice and hold off while your tank is getting all that lovely aggro... but you're the healer! To get aggro, your tanky is taking damage, and as soon as you pop that Renew/Flash Heal/Greater Heal... BOOM! You haz aggro!

But the mob doesn't come running right away (if your tank is worth their salt in plate, they better not) because you ticked it off by association (though honestly, I'm surprised healers don't generate more aggro... I know they piss me off in BGs... /grumble). No, if you're doing the smart thing and staying back as far as possible, that's one aggro mitigation. I'm not a number cruncher, but from what I do understand, there is some mechanic that deals with range aggro: the closer to the mob you are, it generates a little bit of aggro. All your healing spells are going to generate aggro in some way, shape or form on all mobs in the brawl. Some spells generate more than others. But if you're using a Threat Meter (like Omen or KLH Threat Meter) you can see just how much aggro every one in your party is generating.

Oh and another term for aggro is threat. Just what kind of threat should you be generating? Let's face it, no matter what the situation, your going to be generating threat from the beginning of the fight. Tanks can tell DPS to wait for however many sunders/lacerates before they can start whaling away creating their own threat, but you don't have that option.

So what do you do?

There a few things in combat we can do to mitigate what threat we generate and then there's some out of combat things we can do.

In combat, The Frisbee is your Friend. "But Squeekie! What about before Level 68?!" I don't know how I got along with out the Frisbee, but here's a bone to the pre-68 healers. Renew is usually the first thing you want up, because for a little mana it goes a long way. And it's a slow aggro gain. Which is fine, cause while you may generate 100 pts of aggro, your tank should have doubled or tripled his/her aggro with the mob, which makes your "little" heal not look so enraging. Squishy butt saved. But if you have a Frisbee, ho ho! Things change. That first hit and your tank will probably heal it all back with the Frisbee spell. And all that healing aggro? It's the tanks. It counts as healing s/he did, and so they get the threat. It's a beautiful thing. This is why you want to start a few seconds before the fight with a Frisbee, and then when your CD is up, toss another one. It pretty much solidifies your tanks aggro way ahead of yours. Now you can get down to business.

Frisbee's done, refresh your Renew every 15 secs, but if you see your tank getting hit harder and faster, don't hesitate to GHeal when s/he's at 50%. As long as the mob isn't doing 25%+ damage every second, your 2.5 sec cast should be enough to get out of OH SH!T territory. But now, you've just done a major heal, and that gets lots of threat. If you see yourself passing the tank in threat, Fade. Its only a temporary threat fix, but I usually save Fade after big heals like 2 consecutive GHeals or a Prayer of Healing. That usually gives the tank enough to get aggro back. If you happen to be in the OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and your tank needs that heal 2 seconds ago, Flash Heal. Yes, it's horribly mana inefficient to use FHeal, but a FHeal followed by a GHeal usually saves the day. Oh and then Fade ^.^

Don't just use Fade because the CD is up. Doing that isn't efficent aggro reduction. Really, you should just be using it when either you've passed (or are about to pass) the tank in threat, or when you've just finished a Big Heal. Because remember, Fade is a spell, and casting it means you're just another second away from the 5SR we all love and adore. /snuggle

Out of combat, priests have a second tier Discipline talent called Silent Resolve. Max'd out at 5 pts, that's 20% threat reduction on holy and discipline spells, as well as a 20% chance that your spells won't be dispelled. That last part is awesome for PvP, but the reduction in threat to your healing spells is a must have for the holy healer. Trust me, you can afford the 10 pts into it. Also, as of this patch, a Subtlety to Cloak enchant is available from the Honor Hold/Thrallmar Quartermaster if you're Exalted with said faction. (Btw, I hates Shattered Halls... so I don't have it yet T.T)

Now that you have a little bit of an idea of why mobs are coming to hit you even though you aren't DPSing, here's a way to have fun/strategically help out the group in case the damage coming in is greater than the healing you can produce.

I'm standing at max range, and the tank has 3 guys on him. My group is pretty good in watching out for me, teh squishi, because they love healz. Tank is getting hit extra hard and all Crowd Control that can be deployed has been, so what do I do? GHeal, GHeal, and no Fade. I've peeled off two mobs and they're making a bee line for me. One of two things can happen. I let them come running to within 5 - 10 yrds of me and either 1) Fade, which will send them running back at the tank. Congrats, thats enough time to get off another GHeal and lessen the load of damage tank has taken, or, if there's room you can 2) Psychic Scream and then Fade. The Scream generates some aggro too, but the Fade after gives you and your group time to get things under control. Also, if you happen to have a mage in your group, then the peeled mobs can be Frost Nova'd into place, and since no one's beating on them to break it immediately, well, it's yet another breather for you and your meatshield.

Now, don't do the above if you think it'll tick off your tank. Some tanks don't like people intentionally pulling off them unless it's the hunter for their trap. So make sure your group is cool with your unconventional Crowd Control ^.^

Any one else had some fun tricks with their Priestly Aggro? Lemme know ^.^ I always like hearing new tricks.


Trite said...

In terms of range affecting threat-generation, that's a myth. It doesn't matter if I'm standing 5 yds from the mob or 50 yds from the mob, my 5k Gheal is still going to generate 2.5k threat. However (and this is a big however), your proximity to the mob DOES effect the threat value at which you pull aggro. If you are within melee range, you pull aggro at 110% of the current target's threat level. if you are outside of melee range, you pull aggro at 130% of the current target's threat level.

The type of spell used also doesn't effect the threat generated (in terms of physical vs. magic). If you're 5 yds from the mob and are casting frostbolt, you'll still pull aggro at 110% of the current target's threat level.

Brehm said...

Letting mobs run at you can be dangerous for another reason as well. If, say, you're standing next to the folks doing "sustained DPS" (mages & hunters & warlocks & stuff) and you fade, it lowers your aggro to the mob. But if the DPSers are cutting the line close, by pulling them towards you, you've put them into melee range of the mob(s) at least potentially. Then they only have to have 110% of the thread (instead of 130% at range). When you pop your fade, you may be sending the mobs to them instead of right back to the tank.

Like hunter's feigning death, anytime you're doing an aggro dump you should have a very good idea of where the aggro is going to go

Kel said...


Four days between updates is too much! Not that I follow my own advice, or anything, but you know.

Csilla (Feathermoon US) said...


I stumbled across your blog from BRK; playing both a 70 BM hunter and a 70 hybrid healing monster, I get to benefit from both! That said, it's a pleasure to see another hybrid priest and read on your musings.

There are a couple of tricks that I've picked up to help mitigate pulling aggro or the serious consequences that can results. For one, knowing what heal to use and when can help immensely. Overhealing doesn't produce further hate, but getting a delightful crit with a full rank Greater Heal for around 8,000 can make your tank happy if he's low on life but can lead to ouchies on your part. A Renew helps reduce the amount you heal, but using a rank 1 Greater Heal to top off your tank when he's down 3,000-4,000 health can also be helpful. Not only is the rank 1 Greater Heal our most mana efficient spell, but a smaller heal will naturally generate less hate than a whopping 8,000 heal done at a single second! Of course, at that point you're healing more frequently and cutting into the much-loved 5s downtime, but I've found overall that my mana tends to last longer using that over the mana inefficient Flash Heal and the smaller heals cast over time help the tank mitigate what hate you're building up with hugely happy heals that spike through every once in a while. And, as you mentioned, Prayer of Mending puts the hate on the recipient of the heal, which means that you're sitting pretty while people still get heals.

Concerning when you do pull hate, I typically have one of two responses: Fade immediately or run towards the tank if Fade is not able to be used (cooldown, silenced, something!). Psychic Scream is almost never an option, since in raiding it probably won't work and in five-mans you can pull other unhappy mobs that would like the opportunity to gnaw on your liver if you invite them over. Not fun, unless you like that sort of thing. Having played a tank as well, I know that it's a hassle chasing down a mob that's broken because your TPS (threat per second) on the mob everyone else is killing is going to go down as you have to follow after the mob harming your healer, which might result in that one breaking off to harm a DPSer and the whole vicious cycle continues. Make it easier on your tank and jump into the fray (assuming no AoEs, Cleaves, or other hurties are going on) to let your tank pick it up. Distance is time and time is ouchies; the greater the amount of time it takes for the tank to reestablish aggro, the more pain you'll be receiving as you frantically mash Fade and the mob frantically mashes you.

Also, having played as a hunter, having a mob run towards the healer - and typically you as well - means that there is some chance that something you've been attacking might end up in your dead zone. That's no good either. DPSers typically don't like their DPS to drop unless there's a really good reason. And those of them that have never played a healer will probably think that a priest running from a mob is not a good reason.

Other than avoiding pulling off mobs (we don't have too much control over that, sadly), relying on your group to take control of the situation is a good alternative if you've got experienced people and they like you (or your heals, as is the case for me!). As a hunter, I almost always have a trap down; if something breaks off towards a healer, a quick Distracting Shot typically pulls it towards me for trapping. The bird (my hunter's pet) can - unwillingly - sacrifice his life to give the tank a couple of moments to reestablish aggro. Mages can Frost Nova mobs in place, which is good as long as you remember to move away from the frozen beasties. Warlocks can fear and are better able to tether mobs in place to avoid accidental pulls. Priests can shackle, warlocks banish, and hunters can fear beasts. Even a timely paladin stun can give the tank time to pick up the mob or for your Fade cooldown to pass.

Overall, communication is probably the way to go. Vent, TS, in-game VOIP - as long as you let people know your face is going to get eaten and there's little you can do about it, they should respond. Cries of, "Oh, GOD, THE PAIN!" or "Gititoffame!" on Vent usually prompt my guildies/fellow raiders to do something that should help me stay alive longer.

One thing to keep in mind is that healing is global threat, which means that the hate generated from heals is split equally among all of the mobs capable of receiving that aggro (typically, everything actively in combat). As such, it's always a good thing to remember that the likelihood of repeated healings pulling off a mob from the tank increases as mobs are killed off and threat is split up among fewer remaining mobs. The other side to that, however, is that with less mobs the tank should have less difficulty keeping them all on him.

Ramblings over! Thanks for the opportunity to read through your musings, chuckle a bit, and have fun.