A (Rough) Guide to Cleric Raid Healing
This is a compilation of information about raiding as a cleric healer. In it will be various soul combinations and what uses they hold, strengths, weaknesses, and general theorycraft behind why they are used. I will not cover every spec combination or all the spells within the ones I do cover, just what I feel is major or needed. Complex and challenging questions are encouraged to be asked, yet simple questions should be refrained and found elsewhere, as I am not here to answer beginner questions.
Spec 1 - 51 Warden/15 Sentinel
The warden is an amazing raid aoe healer when large amounts of predictable sustained damage is occurring, and a good tank healer, yet the class does lack tank specific cooldowns for bad moments. It is also one of the harder specs to heal in with a variety of spells that must be used in the correct situation and position, with hot timing on specific targets and the raid as a whole very important. Most of the aoe heals are based around the warden themselves, making positioning a major factor. The core of this spec is 51 points in warden, giving you amazing hots and aoe cooldowns. Minimal talent points are wasted in filling out the full 51 points, and the gain is very well due to the passive spellpower bonus applied to all your hots through the 36 point root talent Ocean's Blessing. The other 15 points are spent in sentinel for spellpower, healing, and mana efficiency gains. These should generally be left alone, yet it is viable to switch out the mana efficiency with 5% more aoe healing, if you absolutely never run out of mana even when spamming on a long fight, which most likely will not occur until almost full T1 raid gear.
Soothing Stream: Used generally only on the tank to heal when raid damage is low, or used three times when rippling to avoid over-stacking already cast hots. 4 stacks are easy to maintain on a tank or other damage heavy target in-between raid heals.
Healing Spray: Primary single target heal, cycling this through raid members with dot effects when overall raid damage is low makes it both healing effective and mana efficient. When rippling try to use it only once, so overriding pre-cast stacks does not happen.
Deluge: Generally only used on a tank or target with full hots in a tank healing situation. Generally never used for raid heals. Useless without full or near full hots on the target.
Healing Current: Good for topping off one or two raid members who took damage while the rest of the raid remained full, or for efficient tank spamming for extra heals when raid damage is low and not incoming.
Healing Flood: Primary spammable raid aoe healing spell, semi-efficient and good at blanketing the raid in hots. Does not work well to pre-hot raid when everyone is at full health for following reason. This spell targets the 5 lowest health targets in range. If spamming it and those targets that last received it are still the lowest, it will simply reapply to them and waste the majority of the hot. This makes it good to cast in between other spells to allow people to get healed and a new set to become the spells 5 lowest target list.
Orbs of the Tide: Efficient and high-healing aoe spell, triggers on damage to the target and explodes, healing the 5 lowest health targets in range. If multiple orbs are stacked on multiple targets, they generally try to not override their hit targets and spread heals through various raid members with damage. Does not procc of of certain damage spells such as Plutonus' Cipher.
Orbs of the Stream: Single target version of tide, good for pick up tank heals, healing an important target who is taking damage or needs to survive, or throwing on other out-of-the-way people who generally will not receive your aoe hots.
Healing Cataract: Mana inefficient and healing inefficient compared to healing flood, yet it does provide a decent burst aoe when one is really needed. Targets lowest health in range.
Downpour: A massive heal that uses a decent chunk of mana, this heal can save a raid from wiping due to the amount of damage it can push through very quickly. Is channeled and should only be used when no other casts or movement is required. Should be saved for moment when another raid healer dies, the raid takes excess or unexpected damage, or another healer needs a break for a second or two.
Healing Showers: Another great cooldown, heals the raid quite well for the mana, and has the perk of it making you a center of healing after cast, leaving your hands free to cast other spells while it does it's work. The weakness of this spell lies in the fact that it is a 2 minute cooldown and the range is 7 meters, making it only suitable for tightly packed situations such as when hiding in the bubble during Greenscale's air phase.
Ripple: An effective aoe healing cooldown, makes your single target hots hit 5 other nearby targets. You have enough time to cast 4 spells with it up, the best combination being Healing Spray and then three Soothing Streams. Cast on targets that are taking damage and are generally clumped up to get maximum effect.
Spec 2 - 33 Purifier/33 Sentinel
A Purifier/Sentinel hybrid works as a great tank healer because of the synergy between purifier crits, shields, and mana efficiency coupled with sentinel cooldowns, faster casts, big heals, and potential backup aoe. Certain talents can be moved around, such as the chance at free casts in purifier, mana efficiency in sentinel, or intense flames in purifier. This spec contains good healing power with intense cooldowns, bubbles, damage reductions and other capabilities.
Restorative Flame: A great tank healing spell, puts a shield equal to 60% of your spellpower on the target. Should not be used if this shield will still be up at the same time. Rotate with Healing Invocation.
Ward of the Ancestors: A good bubble that should be used before a pull and in times of low damage, as it has little use to mitigate larger hits and times of intense healing.
Searing Transfusion: A great tank saving spell on a low cooldown, this can be used to survive through some of the tougher damage spikes, or when things go wrong.
Flashover/TtL: Coupled with Touch the Light, you can throw out instant guaranteed crits followed by half cast time heals every 45 seconds, to pick up on any slack healing.
Sterilize: Easily cleanse all things bad on the tank!
Latent Blaze: Can heal the tank when he gets low automatically, also good for putting on yourself as a healer or other important targets in times of less healing, so it may save them later.
Fiery Blessing: A good cooldown to make your next heals have higher crit chances, thus also less cast times after crits due to serendipity. A good way to start healing much, much more when it is needed.
Surging Flames: Makes sure no overheals are left behind, throws the other raiders some of the leftovers when the tank is at full. Semi-useful on aoe heavy fights.
Healing Communion: Should not be used often as a tank healer, but you have the capability to throw 10 low raid members a decent heal and put protect the flock on them to boot. Uses large chunks of mana.
Healer's Covenant: A mighty tank-saving cooldown, 40% less damage can make a world difference. Should be used wisely.
Life's Return: Battle rez, use wisely.
Healing Invocation: Sentinel tree main heal, heals slightly more than Restorative flames and puts an extra 30% hot on the tank. Should be rotated with Restorative flame to try and keep the hot up and the shield up.
Empowering Light: Great for aoe cleansing the raid!
Healer's Haste: Coupled with Fiery Blessing and Serendipity proccs, you can throw out a handful of REALLY fast critting heals for situation when all else would fail....or is on cooldown...
Spec 3 & 4 - 35 Sentinel/31 Justicar & 38 Inquisitor/17 Sentinel/11 Justicar
Both of these specs are decent at raid healing and dps. The first, "Senticar", is more support and heal based. It uses basic sentinel and jusicar life based attacks to build conviction and cast the justicar efficient aoe heals. This spec will heal more than Inq/Sent, yet will do less damage. Both can do decent backup raid heals, yet both have very large flaws that will be explained below in the spells detail. It is because of these flaws I do not see the value in having more than 1 or 2 healer at the most specced as Senticar or Inq/Justi each. Both specs can be fiddled with in multiple ways, especially Inq/Justi, where you can drop points in the lesser souls to pick up spells like Righteous Mandate.
Doctrine of Loyalty: The main purpose and use for both specs is the spamming of this aoe raid heal. It is good on mana and heals for a decent amount, yet has two major flaws. One, you can only spam it four times in a row before you must pause and use more GCDs for acquiring more conviction, and two, this spell targets the closest 10 people to you and heals them regardless of their health. This means that if half the raid is at 1% hp and the other half is stacked on you at 100%, this spell will heal the closest 10 people (The full ones) and ignore those with low health. This causes massive gaps in healing if these specs are the only ones (or primary) being used to raid heal.
Purpose(Senticar): You can pop this amazing mana cooldown and melee the boss to almost never run out of mana in a senticar spec, as long as you can get in range and have enough time to melee without healing.
Righteous Mandate(Senticar): This can be put on the tank to push the overheals of your salvation onto them when you are attacking.
Doctrine of Righteousness(Senticar): A spell that will heal the target of your Righteous Mandate, should only be used while on the move and no raid damage is out.
Reprieve(Senticar): A decent tank healer, will not heal anywhere near a full heal but will hit a decent amount for the instant cast.
Absolution(Senticar): 5m Brez, use wisely.
Healing Communion: Can be used either when convictions run out and the raid still needs aoe heals, or when Doctrine of Loyalty leaves a hole or two in healing and those people need to be hit by a smart heal.
Healer's Covenant(Senticar): A mighty tank-saving cooldown, 40% less damage can make a world difference. Should be used wisely.
Life's Return(Senticar): Battle rez, use wisely.
Healing Invocation(Senticar): Sentinel tree main heal, heals decently as a senticar and can be used to spot raid heal or put some extra healing on a tank.
Empowering Light(Senticar): Great for aoe cleansing the raid!
Healer's Haste(Senticar): The capability to start throwing out faster Healing Invocations on a tank if needed to pick up heals!
Other specs include very situational ones like 51 Purifier, ones with less synergy like Sent/Warden, or anything else in general. 51 Purifier should NOT BE USED TO TANK HEAL UNLESS IT IS A VERY SPECIFIC JOB LIKE MITIGATING GREENSCALE'S BREATH. Besides something like that (Where a lot of absorbs are needed because traditional healing is useless) 51 purifier should never be used. The extra points are wasted on weak shields and a cooldowns that are beaten out by the ones in the sentinel tree. If you are healing with 51 purifier just as basic tank heals, you are doing it wrong, go half purifier and half sentinel. It heals more, has more and better cooldowns, and has more versatility. Sentinel/warden will still work and generally does well, yet has less cooldowns and emergency buttons than that of sentinel/purifier. Also it is much harder to keep up all the warden hots in between boss mechanics and slow sentinel casts.
Stats on gear are in two groups, primary stats and secondary stats. Each piece of gear has three primary stats and up to two secondary stats. Healing chain contains Wisdom, Intellect and Endurance as primary stats, with Spellpower and Crit chance as secondary stats. Focus is a secondary stat yet no warden should try to obtain gear with it, as it is a waste of stat points for a warden.
Wisdom > Intelligence > Endurance
Wisdom is 75% spellpower and mana regen, while Intelligence is only 25% spellpower and 1 crit per intelligence. Intelligence also increases max mana.
Spellpower > Crit
Spellpower (And thus Wisdom) FAR outweighs crit (And thus Intelligence) for wardens and even healers in general. This is for two reasons. One, when raid aoe healing, critting one or two targets means nothing as a whole, because you still need to heal the other targets that received only normal healing. Thus higher spellpower means you will heal more as a whole, guaranteed. Crit is random and should not be left to decide if raid member A or B lives, depending on who was crit and who was not. The second reason is that it takes 26 crit rating to equal 1% of crit. 1% of crit could be seen as 1% total increase to healing (If you double your heal 100% of the time, you heal for 100% more. If you double your heal 1% of the time, you heal for 1% more.) IF healers crit for 200%. Base healing crit is 150%, 170% with sentinel talents while in warden spec (highly recommended to not pick up). Thus 1% of crit equals HALF a percent of extra healing. Spellpower from wisdom and secondary spellpower bonuses greatly overpowers this. Rough math shows you, as a healer, would need over 2000 spellpower for Intelligence (and crit) to actually become as valuable as Wisdom (and spellpower).
*Crit is somewhat more valuable for a purifier/sentinel build because of serendipity, yet at the same time it is a double edged sword. The more crit you have the faster you can cast, and the faster you will eat your mana. Balance wisely at your own discretion.
**Inq/Justi specs will need Focus to be effective at dpsing at all, but these specs usually run in DPS gear regardless. Senticars do not need it in general as their dps sucks regardless, and they are more support/heal based.
There are many, many specs that people have come up with to heal as clerics. Yet most are beaten out by the ones shown above. Warden is excellent at raid heals and supplementary tank healing. Purifier/sent is an amazing tank healer with a variety of cooldowns and momentary buffs to healing. Senticar and Inq/Justi can be used as support and healing specs as to sustain some degree of dps, or when real aoe healers are not available. Other specs such as 51 purifier and Sent/warden are situational and generally sub-par compared to the others. Spellpower is your friend, and so is knowing how to play your class. Make macros, bind keys to letters on the keyboard or mouse buttons, move your ui around to accommodate what you like, and learn to heal in your own environment and way are the best tips you can have.
Below you may comment on errors or mistakes that I have made or you believe I have made, or constructive data. All other posts that are not constructive or criticizing in one way or another will be ignored completely. Please do not copy or repost this to any other site or place without my permission or marking it as my work (Izanami of Ashstone).
**I am not the magical god of all cleric healers. I will not argue with you about how your guild wouldn't use this spec in a million years or how clerics aren't made for anything but tank healing or how so-and-so said what. I can parse an easy 1400-1900 HPS (1800-2k range when we cut healers) on Greenscale as 51 warden raid healing with 1-2 other chloros and at least 1 senticar if not more. I am also mostly in T1 expert dungeon gear with only T1 raid shoulders and raid rift boots/gloves. I have about 970 sp unbuffed and maybe 13% crit, thus as my gear improves so (hopefully) will my HPS. If you want to reply, please do so in a fashion that is prim, proper, and either constructive or criticizing (Yet has a point and evidence. Opinions without backing will be cast aside as nothing more than hot air). If you have a legitimate/not completely stupid (What rotation do I use/where do I stand when I heal/Should I heal with my face or...) question post it below and I will try and answer or at the least reply. This is all from my experience as a cleric healing since early beta and now into 7/9 20m raid progression. Enjoy.