Healers who spent their time in Mists of Pandaria searching for that ever-elusive “triage” need not look any further than the newly-introduced Proving Grounds to get their frenzied healing fix. Set in the Temple of the White Tiger, in Kun Lai Summit, the Proving Grounds solo scenario teams up healers with a group of NPCs to battle with waves of enemies equipped a variety of healer-targeted abilities. To cap off the Bronze, Silver and Gold achievements, which you’ll need to complete in advance of putting this guide to good use, is the “Endless” trial, which is exactly what it sounds like—endless waves of mobs that get better at killing you with every wave. If you and your NPC team manage to polish off 30 rounds of baddies, a new title, <the Proven Healer> will be yours, along with … this NEW CAR!!! Okay no, not really, this isn’t “The Price Is Right”. Sorry.
ANYWHO, to help lay the groundwork for Triage, The In-Game Experience, I put together some tips for you adventurous Resto Shaman out there, about builds, glyphs, best practices, and the waves themselves. Hopefully you find it useful as you set about to prove that your raid team is easily replaced by a series of AI-driven processes, who are actually coded to stand in fire. (hehe) So enjoy! And if you have any specific questions that I haven’t addressed in the various sections of the post, hit me up in the comments, and I’ll do my best to help out.
For PG Endless, your focus is going to be entirely on getting the most amount of single-target healing on your group for the least amount of cost. Playing conservatively is going to be necessary because there will be some waves where you will not be able to avoid spending ½ - ¾ of your mana pool on that pull alone. So, your build is going to be the most mana conservative one out there:
- Tier 15: Stone Bulwark Totem. 1 GCD for a crapton of absorb healing. Also useful for getting a Bleed to fall off immediately.
- Tier 30: Completely open. I didn’t find any of these talents to be all that particularly useful. (Earthgrab will, unfortunately, not stop mobs from burrowing).
- Tier 45: Call of the Elements. Remember: mana conservation is the name of the game. More HST’s and SBT’s = better.
- Tier 60: Ancestral Swiftness, for the 1-minute instant-cast OR Echo of the Elements, because, free healing. (I went with AS on my first one, because I knew there would be a couple times where the tank would get beat down, and with no tank CD, Restos are a little bit at a loss).
- Tier 75: Rushing Streams. There’s no contest here.
- Tier 90: Unleashed Fury. Although I did use Primal Elementalist for one of my PG Endless run-throughs, using UF was actually much easier on my mana because it meant that I could power out an HS when a tank was getting trucked (read: Conqueror waves) or use UE+HW for a powerful but mana-conservative heal.
In terms of stats, I went with a high Spirit/Crit build, with a little more Mastery than I usually favor. I dropped as much Haste as I could, knowing that the speed of my heals wouldn’t be an issue.
Keeping with the triage healing theme, your glyphs are likely going to be focused on getting more healing for less mana:
- Glyph of Healing Wave. Yes, seriously. HW is a great mana-conservative heal and with this glyph, you don’t have to worry about healing yourself.
- (Unglyph) Glyph of Riptide. There’s no need to blanket the group in RT’s and you won’t have the mana for it anyways.
- Glyph of Chaining. Yes, still serious. Because you’re not going to be able to interrupt every AOE ability, having a group heal is going to be hugely beneficial. Your mage may creep towards melee as your rounds continue (mine actually stood in melee on a couple pulls), but the hunter remained steadfastedly at ranged the entire time, so standing in between the 2 groups will assure you get all injured targets taken care of, quickly and easily.
- Glyph of Totemic Recall. If you want to ease the mana burden on yourself, get comfortable with using this Glyph to recall your Healing Stream Totem before its 15-sec timer expires. You get a substantial amount of mana back for your efforts and get HST’s insanely powerful throughput (esp. given Rushing Streams) for free. In fact, one macro will do it all for you:
- /castsequence reset=16 Healing Stream Totem, Totemic Recall
Your first use of the macro will drop HST, and your second use (within a 16-second window) will recall the totem. After 16-seconds, the macro will reset back to HST, which will display on your bars in grey (like any CD that is actually on CD) until it is able to be used again. I’ve been using this for pretty much the entire expansion and can’t emphasize how beneficial the mana is when you’re really strapped for it.
Tools at the Ready + Good Practices
Before you get into the waves of mobs, there are a couple beneficial tools to make sure you have ready to use through the course of the encounter:
- Wind Shear – you can and should interrupt on CD. You can spend 5,640 mana to interrupt a cast or 2-5 times that amount healing the damage that it did.
- Capacitor Totem – drop one every wave. Same concept as Wind Shear, only at an even cheaper cost. Stunned mobs do no damage! If you’re in a pinch, use CotE to snap reset your totems and get another Capacitor +HST down immediately.
- Restorative Amber – you will get a brief amount time to drink after Wave 10, Wave 20, Wave 30 (and every 10th wave thereafter, if you want to keep going). Restorative Amber is the fastest way to fill your mana bar, so it’s worth the added cost to pick some up from the Klaxxi.
- Spirit Flasks. You will be strapped for mana during Endless PG, so aim for Spirit.
- 275/300 food. I went with Spirit, since I have a veritable crapton of it stockpiled for this tier’s progression, but you can certainly use Intellect food. Because your food and flask aren’t scaled down like your gear is, these are very valuable stat boosts.
- You can’t use mana pots during PG’s, so don’t bother.
- Swap out your helm to something without the legendary meta (since it is disabled in PG’s, just like legendary cloak procs and tier bonuses). Revitalizing Diamond was my choice (same as CM’s).
- Use your Fire Elemental to help out on damage on AOE waves. Especially use Earth Elemental on to help your tank out in a pinch (since Earth Ele will taunt non-boss mobs).
Likewise, there are a couple of overarching rules/practices that should govern your choices with every wave:
- Interrupted casts = mana saved. Seriously, interrupt A LOT. (Did I mention this yet? lol) Key things that you absolutely need to interrupt: Sonic Blast (from Hive-Singers) and Invoke Lava (Flamecaller).
- Think of Ascendance as a mana conservation tool. You don’t need to do max throughput with it in PG’s–use it with HW to save mana and heal the group.
- Get bleeds off of targets ASAP. The longer a target remains sub-90% with Chomp (applied by the Tunnelers), the more mana and time you’ll have to invest in removing it. Remember to add “Chomp” to your raid frames!
- In triage, players don’t need to be topped through direct heals. If an NPC has an RT hot and there’s no AOE going out, don’t spend the mana to top him—let the hot do it.
- Mana Tide early and often.
- Hang out near the tank, in melee, for two good reasons:
- To drop Capacitor Totem
- To drop Spirit Link Totem when Conquerors (which is your only Tank CD aside from Earth Elemental)
- When dispelling, think about positioning. There will be a couple waves with double Jinyu Aqualytes, who will apply a debuff called Aqua Bomb. Not only does the debuff do damage while it’s on a target, but if it expires without being dispelled it will do additional AOE damage to nearby players (8-10 yards) and knock them back. So, your dispel priority should be:
- Rogue or Melee Mage (my NPC mage loved to stack on the tank)
- Hunter (who will always be away from the group at range) or Ranged Mage
- Yourself (because you can simply move out of the group and drop SBT to mitigate the damage)
With the improvements made to the NPC AI in a post-patch hotfix, your waves of mobs should have a smooth progression with little to no overlap from one wave to the next. But, keep in mind that with every wave that spawns, the hostile NPCs will gain a stack of a buff called Endless Wave, so each wave will hit progressively harder. So here’s the shorthand version of what you should note about every wave:
|Wave 1||Flamecaller + Ripper x2||Be ready to interrupt the Flamecaller, who will Invoke Lava immediately upon spawning. Be efficient with your mana—you should spend the absolute minimum on this wave.|
|Wave 2||Hivesinger + Aqualyte+Ripper||Focus on interrupting the Hivesinger and use Capacitor. Again, mana conservation is key. Use Ascendance to stabilize if multiple Sonic Blasts go out.|
|Wave 3||Tunneler x2 + Ripper||No interrupts this wave, but focus on getting Chomp bleeds off immediately. Hope that a tunneler chooses you so that you can SBT+RT and drop the bleed immediately. This should be a wave you can recover mana on.|
|Wave 4||Aqualyte x2 + Flamecaller||Interrupt Flamecaller immediately on spawn, and get into melee range to drop a Capacitor. Remember the dispel priority above. Use HTT to save mana.|
|Wave 5||Conqueror + Hivesinger + Tunneler||Focus on interrupting the Hivesinger. The tank will be taking additional damage when the Conqueror enrages. Use SLT if necessary and Earth Elemental.|
|Wave 6||Aqualyte + Flamecaller + Tunneler + Ripper||Interrupt the Flamecaller and use a group stun ASAP. This should be a mana recovery wave (slightly).|
|Wave 7||Conquerors x2 + Hivesinger||Interrupt the Hivesinger as often as possible. Use Capacitor for the stun even though the Conquerors are immune. Use HTT if necessary. If you do your job locking down the Hivesinger, this should be tank damage only.|
|Wave 8||Flamecallers x4 + Ripper||You’ll only be able to grab one interrupt on Invoke Lava at the start, but Capacitor totem is a great way to keep these mobs locked down. Use CotE to get out another AOE stun on this wave, along with an extra HST. The goal is to make it through this wave using as little mana as possible, because you’re going to need it in the next two. Use Fire Elemental to speed things up.|
|Wave 9||Hivesinger + Tunneler + Aqualyte||Lock down the Hivesinger as much as possible. Because he’s a large NPC (and thus has more HP) he’s going to be up for a much longer time. Use Ascendance to help counter the raid damage.|
|Wave 10||Conqueror + Flamecaller + Aqualyte||Focus interrupts on the Flamecaller, and have both SLT and HTT at the ready should things start to go badly. Earth Elemental should also be back up, if your tank’s HP starts to get low.|
After Wave 10, you”ll get a quick moment to drink and then it’ll be back to Wave 1. Remember, these waves will get tougher with each cycle, but the same interrupt and mana usage goals apply every time. Knowing which waves to spend mana on and which waves to save it on is going to assure that you make it through to the end. (Well, actually it doesn’t end at Wave 30. But as soon as Wave 31 popped for me, I dropped the mic with gusto and declared, “BOOYA” before letting all my NPCs die glorious complete-lack-of-throughput deaths!)
In Closing …
As a last bit of advice, I’ll add … Proving Grounds is meant to be a challenge for all players because it employs the same “even playing field” approach we’ve seen in Challenge Modes. So, if it takes you some time to find your footing and get back into triage healing or to understand the damage patterns of each of the waves, don’t worry about it. I didn’t step in PG’s on Day 1 and cap out Endless immediately. I let a tank die, I let a mage die (of which I’m particularly proud), I blew my mana too quickly, and in some PG excursions, was way too stingy with the mana I had. So, stick with it, refine your technique, and I’d willing to bet that <the Proven Healer> will be your calling card in no time.
Best of luck to you!