My Endless Journey: Proving Grounds

I know I am supposed to be writing my MoP in Review series right now – and for the past three weeks – but I kind of got caught up in a different healing project, and, well, it sounds like MoP’s going to be around for a while, so there’s no real rush, right?

dayani the proven proven proven proven proven proven healer

“Yeah; her title’s so big, she has trouble walking through doors”

Over the past two-and-a-bit weeks, I’ve been working very hard on Proving Grounds, with my goal being to achieve the “Proven Healer” title criteria on each healing spec. It was a goal I’d had since Proving Grounds were announced, but I never quite had the courage to try. Then, Watcher announced plans for a PG Silver requirement to queue for Heroic dungeons in Warlords of Draenor, and my immediate reaction was one of fear and dejection. But my rational, experimental mind overruled my emotions, and I decided that in order to determine just how onerous the Silver medal requirement would be, I’d better try Proving Grounds, and if I’m going to try Proving Grounds, why not try to attain my ultimate goal? And I really did it, finishing the last spec about 48 hours ago.

Table of Contents
Personal Prologue
Improving Grounds
NPC Behaviour
Gear and Consumables
Class Discussions
Shaman
Druid
Monk
Paladin
Holy Priest
Discipline Priest
PGs in Warlords

This post is going to be a bit of a meander through my experiences, more emotional than informational: PGs were not just an in-game diversion for me, but a deeply personal challenge; a battle against not just NPC AI and RNG, but also my own struggles with depression, low self-confidence, and biased self-perception. I can’t divorce these things from the overall experience, so I might as well talk about them. Being open about it has helped me before, and if any of my readers are unfortunate enough to suffer the same issues, I’d like to think that I can help.

I won’t be all fluff. I’ll cover some basic tips and tricks and talk about what I did for each spec – some in more detail than others. I’ll talk about class differences, and even speculate a little about Warlords Proving Grounds and what I’d like to see done differently.

Since – in typical Dayani fashion – this is going to be a long post, if all you care about is how I did things on your spec, you can jump straight to it with the links in the Table of Contents. And if you care about everything else I am going to ramble about, read on! :)

This Might Get a Little Real

I am a terrible judge of ability.

Well, my own ability, at least.

I have chronic, severe depression. It is a persistent dampening field on my mental state; it interferes with my ability to reason, it alters my perception of events, it clouds my memories, and it destroys me on a daily basis. One of the many ways in which this demon manifests itself is through a constant undercurrent of self-loathing and doubt. I’m not good enough to do this. I’m not smart enough to understand that. 

This pervades every aspect of my life, but since this is a WoW blog, I’ll focus on how it affects me in WoW. I doubt everything I do in this game. “Dayani, you’re in a pretty good guild, so you must be pretty good,” right? Nope. “Healing is so subjective,” I’d tell you, “that I am able to mask my failings and incompetence with encounter knowledge and strong analytical skills.”

But Proving Grounds – well, they’re not subjective. There’s an objective scoring system, and an objective set of goals, and skill could be readily measured by one’s progress. And this was terrifying, but also alluring. I would only prove to myself how awful I am. This kept me from doing Proving Grounds for a really, really long time. Some small part of me really wanted to do it, to overcome the challenges, to prove to myself what I could be capable of, but I was so frightened of how I’d feel when faced with soul-crushing failure that I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I’m not really sure what changed to make it possible for me to try, where I got the courage from. I have some ideas, but they’re not important (to you). What’s important (to you) is that I decided I would try.

And to my utter surprise, I did it.

And I’m so glad that I did. I’m sure it’s objectively pathetic, but I’ve never been as proud of myself as I was when I got that Disc wave 30. You see, all my life, things have either been easy – like book learning, calculus, chemistry, the cello – or I gave up upon meeting the slightest resistance. Even with the things that have been easy, I held myself back from doing more advanced versions, because I was terrified of the challenge and of failure. I gave up before I even began. But something compelled me to keep going with Proving Grounds. And something about me started to change.

I felt skilled.

Confident, even.

There haven’t been many times in the past few years where I’ve felt good about myself, but defeating wave 30 on my Monk, or as either spec of Priest, definitely left me with a feeling so good I could only describe it as elation. Shaky, adrenaline-fueled elation. It was amazing.

I’m not saying Proving Grounds is responsible for changing my life or banishing my depression. That’s a long way off. But rising to this challenge, learning and improving and relying on my own skill and instinct and experience to overcome it – it definitely changed my self-perception. Hey, I started to think, maybe I am kind of good…

And that is a huge step for me. :)

On a slightly less personal note, Proving Grounds have also reinvigorated my interest in healing. Holy crap, you guys, when I have to think about my healing and follow a plan and execute things well or else I failhealing is fun!

Improving Grounds

Proving Grounds are hard. They are really, really hard. I’m happy to admit it, because in my view, there’s absolutely no shame in saying that something was hard for me, and I persevered until I overcame it. I won’t downplay it to you the way many others have downplayed it to me. I’m damned proud that I did what I did, and I wouldn’t feel this way if it had been simple.

But since the difficulty is inversely proportional to your skill with a class, your familiarity with your keybinds (especially for lesser-used, utility abilities), and your understanding of its mechanics, it’s pretty much a given that if you try Proving Grounds at all, and don’t give up on your first failure, you will improve at your class.

It’s important to go into Proving Grounds with this in mind: you are not there to win. You are there to learn. Through learning, you will eventually win, but that’s almost secondary. Open your mind to a learning experience, and you’ll have fun. Prepare yourself only for a black and white, pass/fail experience, and you’ll probably get frustrated and throw your computer out a window.

With this in mind, I just want to talk a little about what Proving Grounds aren’t.

Proving Grounds are not a raid healing simulator. It’s not at all like healing a raid. And this is perhaps its greatest strength.

The radical change in styles forces you to think, to adapt, to go outside your comfort zone. You can’t just skate by on smart healing and cooldowns. You’ll have to use more than just your AoE healing abilities. Your job here is not solely to fill up green boxes and make green numbers. It is to help the party succeed in any way possible – from providing interrupts or stuns, to helping DPS, to manipulating positioning.

But this isn’t to say that it isn’t about healing. It is most definitely about healing. After all, I can do it on a Priest, who doesn’t have an interrupt or a stun. None of these utility functions are required, but they will help immensely, and learning how you can use your class’s skills to prevent damage is a very valuable lesson.

Preventing damage is, and should be, the purview of all players. It is not outside the realm of healer duty. I mean, let’s think about this a moment – nearly everyone admits that Discipline Priests are the kings of healers, right? And their strength lies in absorption healing, or the prevention of damage. So if you can prevent 500,000 damage by spending 7,000 mana on an interrupt, it’s pretty hard for me to argue that that is somehow qualitatively different to preventing 500,000 damage by spending 26,000 mana on Spirit Shell/Prayer of Healing. The point I’m trying to make here is that there’s nothing inherently “unhealy” about providing interrupts, stuns, and other damage-prevention utility.

Proving Grounds aren’t just about utility. Interrupting helps against two types of enemies, and stunning helps out with tank damage, sure, but the waves are also designed to test your ability to heal. There are dispellable debuffs you have to handle quickly to avoid taking additional damage (and losing valuable DPS uptime); there is a debuff that requires you to heal through moderate to heavy damage to restore the player to nearly full health in order to remove it; there are enemies who will hit the tank ridiculously hard and necessitate the use of tank cooldowns; and there are enemies who will cast on random players and test your reaction to spiky, unpredictable damage.

The real difference to raid healing is that all of these mechanics punish you for falling behind. In a raid, if one of your healers falls behind, there’s always at least one other healer to pop a cooldown, or often a DPS who can activate some hybrid healing ability or damage-reduction cooldown. Many raid mechanics just aren’t as punishing as the mechanics in Proving Grounds. And of course, in a raid situation you probably have the Legendary Meta Gem, and ridiculous gear, so you can afford to pour your mana into inefficient AoE healing in order to recover from a mistake.

But in Proving Grounds, that’s not an option. Instead of falling behind and catching back up, you have to focus on keeping ahead of the damage. Knowing what is going to happen, and preempting it. Pooling your resources for dangerous mechanics. Really thinking about whether the situation is dire enough to call for mana-draining measures, or if you can handle it by efficient heals. Planning your cooldowns, and I don’t just mean your three-minute “timers”, but your rotational workhorses like Holy Shock, Riptide, Swiftmend, Holy Word: Serenity, or Penance.

Proving Grounds encourage you to develop a thorough, rigorous understanding of each wave’s mechanics and timing, and most importantly, they encourage you to build up a plan to handle these things. And this basic concept – exhaustive knowledge of a fight, and meticulous planning on when to use your powerful abilities – will improve your healing in every setting, not just Proving Grounds. It’s a very, very powerful tool for developing a wider breadth of skill and experience with your class, and it’s also an amazing platform for learning the intricacies of a new spec.

No matter how far you do, or don’t, get in Proving Grounds, I’d strongly recommend everyone do them. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of failure. Failure is good. It forces you to learn. Learning is good. It forces you to improve. Improving is good. It, well, makes you better. And who doesn’t want to be better? :)

There’s Definitely, Definitely, Definitely A Logic to NPC Behaviour

While I don’t want to get into a whole, full-blown discussion, I do want to talk a little bit about the NPCs and how they behave. Once I started really learning the composition and damage pattern of each wave, the next – and by far the most confounding – issue was NPC behaviour. I felt pretty frustrated in my early Monk attempts by the NPCs’ inconsistent interrupting patterns, and how sometimes they wouldn’t kill things in the same order from attempt to attempt, and it seemed to be an opaque, RNG-dependent obstacle in my path. But with most things in WoW, once I looked closer I started to understand the behaviour and even be able to predict it.

First up, the DPS priority. The NPCs prefer to kill enemies in the following order:

Tunneler > Hive-Singer > Flamecaller > Aqualyte > Conqueror > Ripper
Small > Large

This priority list determines the identity of the first enemy they will attack in each wave. But for subsequent enemies, they may rearrange this list based on relative health levels. To illustrate this, I’ll use the wave 9 example – Hive-Singer, Tunneler, Aqualyte. If you do not use any sort of crowd control on wave 9, and all three enemies engage the party at the same time, then the NPCs will follow the expected pattern, killing the Tunneler, then the Hive-Singer, then the Aqualyte.

But if you run over to the wave 9 spawn point and stun the Hive-Singer as soon as he spawns, while the Aqualyte and Tunneler run over to the NPCs, then the NPCs will begin damaging both the Tunneler and the Aqualyte (because they do use some cleave abilities). And when the Hive-Singer joins in a few seconds later, he starts getting damaged, too, but the other two enemies are on lower relative health. So after the NPCs finish killing the Tunneler, they will evaluate and see that the Aqualyte is on lower health, and kill him next, leaving the Hive-Singer active – and casting! – until the end of the wave. You will take more damage this way, and this is why I eventually abandoned my plan of Fist of Justice on the Hive-Singer (or Psychic Scream/Psyfiend). Meanwhile, an AoE effect like Blinding Light or Leg Sweep can control all three of these enemies at the same time, interrupting the Hive-Singer while still preserving the preferred kill order.

Take this as a cautionary tale: If you don’t want to muck with the natural order of things, DPS the enemies in accordance with the NPCs’ priority list.

The other annoying and apparently capricious NPC behaviour is the interrupting that the NPCs will do to the enemy casters. Kavan will Counterspell; Ki will Kick, and may start each wave with some sort of cheaty Rogue bullshit stun that interrupts the initial cast; Oto uses Shockwave’s stun, which may interrupt a cast, when there are multiple targets. But the order in which they apply these things is inconsistent – not just from wave to wave, but from attempt to attempt. Your first attempt, they may interrupt all four of the Hive-Singer’s casts and the enemy may die before he gets off a fifth; your second attempt, they miss the first two casts and you are starting off on the back foot.

While I still cannot completely predict the NPC’s interrupting behaviour, as their decisions are ruled by cooldown as well as situational concerns, I did start to see some patterns emerging.

  • If the enemies from the previous wave are still alive, or have only just died as the new wave was spawning, Ki doesn’t get out of combat and cannot Shadowstep/stun. This also means he won’t be in range to Kick. Oto will not be in range to Shockwave, and Kavan may not have Counterspell. Interrupt the first cast. The next two will be interrupted by NPCs.
  • If the first cast goes off in the above scenario, the NPCs will often fail to interrupt the second cast. I don’t know why.
  • If Ki starts off with a stun to interrupt the first cast, he will follow with a Kick. Kavan will then Counterspell. You will need to get the fourth interrupt.
  • If Kavan starts off with a Counterspell, Ki will Kick the next, and you will need to get the third interrupt.

Note that the NPCs will only interrupt the target they are currently DPSing. This means if there is both a Tunneler and a Hive-Singer, as in wave 9, the NPCs will not interrupt the Hive-Singer until the Tunneler is dead. The only exception here is that Ki will still stun the caster on the pull if he is out of combat and in range, before switching to the Tunneler.

Once I understood these patterns, I was able to anticipate the interrupt order from the first event, and this meant I started wasting fewer of my interrupt cooldowns on redundant interrupting. It was never perfect – sometimes Kavan casts Counterspell in the last few milliseconds of the cast bar, for example, and the cast you thought he’d get goes off nonetheless – but it certainly helped a lot, especially on Druid where the interrupt I had available to me was both on the GCD and on a long cooldown.

And a final note about the NPC behaviour: the NPCs get out of combat if all of the enemies in a wave die before the next wave’s enemies spawn. This allows them to drop debuffs like Chomp or Aqua Bomb when this occurs. You can save some precious mana by knowing when this will happen. Do note, however, that you do not get out of combat, except for between waves 10 and 11, so if there is a Chomp or an Aqua Bomb on you at the end of a wave, you’ll still have to deal with it through your usual means.

Best-ish-in-Slot

Given that I managed to complete all six Endless challenges without once thinking about min-maxing gear, I won’t recommend to you any sort of best-in-slot lists. Your skill and facility with your spec are going to do a hell of a lot more for you than the 100-ish Intellect you’d get by upgrading your weapon from a Siege of Orgrimmar raid weapon to a Throne of Thunder LFR weapon with the Eye of the Black Prince equipped.

I can’t deny that best-in-slot would make it easier – I ran into some problems on my Monk due to being a little low on Intellect just because I didn’t change all my secondary stat gems to primary stat gems. I’m just saying, don’t let gear concerns stop you from trying.

Here is the easily-achievable gear/consumable-related advice I do have for you:

  • Gem for primary stats. At low gear levels, they will do more for you than secondary stats will.
  • Don’t use the vendor food. Not only is it secondary stats, they’re not even double the strength of primary stat food – they only give 200! If you can’t, or don’t want to, afford Mogu Fish Stew, go for some Braised Turtle.
  • Intellect flasks. A lot of people recommend Spirit, but I completed all of these with no more than 6,000 Spirit on any character (and most around 4-5k). Skilful management of your class’s mana return mechanics will far outweigh Spirit on gear. And buffing your throughput means you can lean on your efficient spells more frequently, eliminating some mana-draining ‘emergency’ healing.
  • For the love of cats, get Restorative Amber. You won’t always have a full 15 seconds between waves 10 and 11, so drinking “regular” water will not necessarily fill your mana bar. There’s almost always enough time for Amber, though, and even if wave 11 starts while you’re still drinking, entering combat doesn’t break the Amber effect.

Finally, a word on trinkets – while I had no problems using even the lamest passive Intellect/activated or proc mana trinkets, it’s hard to pass up the OPness of the Relic of Chi-Ji. It’s about the only thing I’d really suggest you try to get before doing PGs, because it should be relatively cheap now, and it does provide a significant benefit:

Relic of Chi-Ji, scaled to Challenge Mode/Proving Grounds item levels, provides an additional 178 Intellect over all other available trinkets.

Relic of Chi-Ji, scaled to Challenge Mode/Proving Grounds item levels, provides an additional 178 Intellect over all other available trinkets, and has a strong proc.

There Is Another Way

Okay, that’s enough general advice and personal feels for now – I’ll move on to what I’m sure you’re all waiting for, the discussion of how I achieved PG prowess in each spec. But I do want to stress that these aren’t guides. I don’t think you should do exactly what I did. I don’t think the way I did it was the only way, or even necessarily a right way, just a way that worked for me.

Much of the value of Proving Grounds, for me, was in really getting to know and understand what every class’s abilities and Talents do. And this necessitated a lot of trial and error, and quite a bit of creativity. If I’d just read a guide and followed it to the letter, I may have gotten my titles in fewer hours, but I wouldn’t have learned as much as I did. And the learning – the improving – well, that’s really what made Proving Grounds so fun and so rewarding.

So please – read what I’ve written below, and learn from it – but don’t let my words, or anyone else’s, deter you from experimentation. Or from playing the way you want to. I won’t say that “anything” will work, but there’s a lot more viable options than you might expect, and in all cases, the more familiar you are with your spec, and the better you understand it, the better you will do.

That said, if you are looking for a general guide to healer PG, you can’t go wrong with Hamlet’s WoWhead PG guide. It’s a great start to understanding the composition of each wave, and in PG, as in all things, knowledge is power :)

Update: Hamlet’s also posted his guide for attaining Endless Wave 30 on each healing class, complete with videos of waves 21-30. Our strategies were pretty similar, since we talked about these a lot throughout PTR and as we both worked on our PG goals, but you’ll find some differences here and there (Talents, Glyphs, etc.) that really firm up my argument that, as long as you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, you can pretty much complete PGs in any spec :)


Shaman Overview
My Talents and Glyphs
Stats: Crit > Mastery > Haste > Spirit
Wave Notes
1
2 Healing Tide Totem
3 Ascendance
4 Spirit Link Totem
5 Healing Tide Totem
6 Ascendance
7 Spirit Link Totem
8 Healing Tide Totem
9 Ascendance
10 Spirit Link Totem

restoration-shaman-iconShaman
2 Attempts; 50 minutes

If I’m being perfectly honest with you – and I should be, because this is the point of my post – I found Shaman Endless to be very straightforward. This was the first set of Proving Grounds I did, and I went in completely blind – having done the very first implementation of Proving Grounds on the PTR, well over six months ago, and nothing else since. I read no guides, and I did not prepare one bit, except that I had my Challenge Mode trinkets in my bags.

I didn’t know what the waves were or what the enemies really did. I only remembered on wave 22 that I ought to be using all my cooldowns, and cycled them as they came off CD. I don’t know if I used them all optimally, and it didn’t really matter. Not knowing what was coming, though, meant I couldn’t plan, and I was purely reacting to events as they unfolded.

The main reason that I found Shaman Proving Grounds to be so unchallenging is probably that I have been playing the class for 7 years now, and in some relatively high-end content. I have well-developed reactive instincts from tier after tier of raiding, lots of thinking about Shaman spells, and even some PvP! But I don’t think I can discount the fact that where I first really learned to love my Shaman was in Burning Crusade’s Heroic dungeons – and in those dungeons, it was extremely helpful for players of any role to contribute to crowd control and interrupting duties. Doing these utility roles quickly became – and remain – my favourite aspect of the game, and I was thrilled to find a way to use them in Proving Grounds.

I watched the casters and interrupted them. I dropped Grounding Totems for Flamecallers, and I used Capacitor Totem on every wave. I used it twice on the wave with 4 Flamecallers and a Ripper, because after the totem stun went off, I could drop Grounding Totem, and eat the concurrent casts of all four Fireballs. Press Call of the Elements, and do it again. It was pretty much the best thing ever.

Most of my healing was from Healing Stream Totem, followed by Chain Heal and Riptide. Healing Tide Totem was of course great, but Ascendance was even better. One Chain Heal or one Healing Surge and pretty much every problem was fixed. I used Healing Surges or Ancestral Swiftness’s instant Greater Healing Waves for Chomp, and Chain Heals for Hivesingers. Everything else was Healing Wave. (I did not cast Healing Rain once. Not once. And it was glorious.)

I do think I made some bad choices in my Talents, Glyphs, and gameplay. I don’t recall when I used Fire Elemental, for example – though I know I used him for damage, not for the 10% healing bonus, which definitely would have been a problem if I were going for longevity over just getting the title – and I never used Earth Elemental. I should have kept the Glyph of Healing Stream Totem, instead of the Glyph of Healing Wave or even the Glyph of Chaining. Nature’s Guardian probably would have been a better Talent choice than the Astral Shift button I never pressed.

I didn’t use the Glyph of Totemic Recall for mana return. I’d like to say that this was because I knew I’d be using my totems frequently for utility purposes and simply didn’t want to interfere with that, but really, I just hate the playstyle and the interference with utility – which is a real concern, of course – is just the respectable veneer on my irrational hatred. I was fine for mana without it, because I mimicked the stat set-up I used in tier 14 raids – heavy Crit for Resurgence and heavy Mastery for fewer, but more powerful, casts. It definitely would have been a problem for content beyond wave 30, where I’d need to make more frequent use of inefficient healing like Healing Surge, but for my purposes it worked well enough.

If you’d like a more thorough guide on Resto Shaman Proving Grounds, you could try Vixsin’s guide at Life in Group 5, or Reihyou’s guide at Mana Tide Totem. Note that they don’t agree with each other, and neither agrees with me! And that’s just fine :)


Druid Overview
My Talents and Glyphs
Stats: Mastery > Spirit > Haste > Crit
Wave Notes
1
2 Tranquility
3 Nature’s Vigil
4
5 Tranquility; Ironbark
6 Nature’s Vigil
7 Ironbark
8 Nature’s Vigil
9 Tranquility
10 Ironbark

Restoration-Druid-IconDruid
7 Attempts; 3 hours

Since Druid is the character on which I have the second-most experience, having levelled it towards the end of BC and playing it weekly in raids since the start of Wrath, I decided to try it next. And again, it was much less painful than I expected, although I’ll admit that the first few attempts I had, where I stalled out around wave 13 or so, I felt pretty concerned about the difficulty.

It all started to come together after I did enough attempts to build a memory of what each wave was going to do, and how to handle it. Remember, I still didn’t have a good idea of the wave structure going in to Druid, since my Shaman didn’t take enough attempts to learn the patterns. I learned to do things like save Swiftmend during wave 3, to be sure that I would have it available for Chomps, and to handle a deadly double-Chomp by blooming a Wild Mushroom.

I don’t think it was until the sixth attempt or so that I realised that Nature’s Vigil exists. I had totally forgotten. I am pretty bad about this in raids, too – I macro it to Tranquility, and it’s very rare that I manage to remember to activate it between Tranq casts when it comes back off CD. (I even have a WeakAura for it, so it isn’t my UI’s fault – it’s just that I’m so used to Druid healing without it, that I don’t ever think about it.) But in PGs, most of Tranquility’s healing is wasted – so adding Nature’s Vigil’s 12% increase to it just isn’t necessary. So I un-macroed the abilities and started using NV at defined times, particularly whenever Chomps were occurring. I still could have used it more frequently, but what I did worked well enough.

Most of my healing was from Efflorescence, then Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, and Swiftmend. I rarely used Wild Growth (just once per Large Hive-Singer cast), and I didn’t bother much with Nourish. In early attempts I tried the Glyph of Rejuvenation for faster Nourish cast times, but having to keep three Rejuvenations up (when most of the time, the damage patterns of the waves didn’t call for it) was too punitive on my mana, and I quickly abandoned it.

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Restoration Druid edition Much Efflorescence, many Rejuvs.

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Restoration Druid edition
Much Efflorescence, many Rejuvs.

The only real non-standard Talent choice I took was Force of Nature, which is probably the standard choice for Proving Grounds. Mana-free healing on a short CD is just really handy given the mana scarcity you’ll be suffering. You could certainly do it with Incarnation if you wanted more cooldowns – and Incarnation has a mana-savings function – but I rather enjoyed getting to know my Treants.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Druid Proving Grounds was having my only real interrupt ability – Mighty Bash – be on the GCD. Although I do have /stopcasting macroed in to my Mighty Bash keybind, I definitely had to hold my GCD for an important interrupt on each of the Large Hive-Singer waves. This was particularly annoying when I misjudged the NPC’s interrupting pattern, as I had just wasted at least one GCD on waiting for that interrupt, the GCD on the Bash itself, and a 50-second CD, and then created a situation where at least one of the Hive-Singer’s casts was guaranteed to go off.

In a pinch, I used Typhoon or Symbiosis: Intimidating Roar to delay a cast briefly in order to give Ki or Kavan a second or two for their interrupt to come off cooldown. But neither ability was particularly useful, except for Typhoon to interrupt all four Flamecallers’ Invoke Lava cast at the start of wave 8. I’ll note that some Druids – who probably have more keybind space than I do – use the Glyph of Fae Silence to add another interrupt to their arsenal. This does take 2 GCDs to use – one to shift to Bear Form and one to use Faerie Fire – so I decided it wasn’t worth trying, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!


Monk Overview
My Talents and Glyphs
Stats: Crit > Spirit > Mastery > Haste
Wave Notes
1
2 Xuen
3
4 Revival, Zen Meditation
5 Xuen, Life Cocoon
6
7 Life Cocoon
8 Revival, Zen Meditation
9 Xuen
10 Life Cocoon

mistweaver monk iconMonk
22 Attempts; 7 hours

Here was the first hint at serious trouble. Getting through Gold on my Monk was pretty hairy, and while I did get it on the first attempt, I think it was lucky. My first attempt at Endless seemed hopeless – I wiped on wave 2. And then wave 3. And then wave 2. And then wave 4. And then wave 2.

I still didn’t want to look up strategies or get too much advice from people who had done it before, but since I was pretty much live-Tweeting my attempts, my struggles drew the attention of my friends and followers. Suddenly advice was rolling in – stack Spirit, Fistweave more, Fistweave less, Healing Spheres more, just ReM/Uplift, never ReM/Uplift, et cetera, et cetera.

So I tried a few of these strategies, and stacking Spirit and Fistweaving seemed to be going all right – at least, I was getting to wave 7! But by the middle of wave 7, I was seriously out of mana, didn’t have many Mana Tea stacks, and I didn’t see much hope of improvement. I think I spent 10 attempts here, repeatedly stalling at 7.

And then I got another bit of advice – Enveloping Mist! – and with my first attempt after that advice, I got all the way to wave 29.

“Wow”, I thought, “I’ve got this.”

It took me nearly four more hours to actually get this. That first wave 29 was a serious fluke. But each time I tried, I developed another habitual response to one of the mechanics in the encounter. I wrote down everything I could – this was the start of my thorough note-taking process, and also when I started to really learn each of the waves. I slowly built up a routine, a set of instinctual responses that I could rely on to get through each wave more easily than the previous attempt. I could feel myself improving. (Have you ever felt yourself improving? It feels kind of weird.)

A huge part of learning the waves was also learning to understand the NPC’s interrupting behaviour. While at no point did I ever really nail this down, I started to recognise the patterns that I described earlier. And once I figured that out, things went much smoother. I’d have entire waves where Large Hive-Singers didn’t cast at all.

I spent a fair bit of time stalling around the 28/29 overlap. I wasn’t contributing much DPS myself, outside of Xuen, because I found the spam Soothing Mist – generate Chi – spend it on Enveloping Mist – spot heal with Healing Sphere cycle to be very effective, but sensitive to mana concerns (which I had in spades if I tried to Jab – even with Muscle Memory – or if I used Crackling Jade Lightning). Because of this, the mobs from wave 28 were still alive for the start of wave 29, and I just couldn’t cope with the overlapping damage output, even though I was getting the first two Hive-Singer interrupts myself!

I was struggling with this, not changing my strategy but just trying to execute it flawlessly, when it dawned on me – Xuen comes off cooldown at the start of wave 28, but I am holding him until wave 29 for no good reason. So I decided I’d do an attempt where I popped Xuen in the last 15 seconds of wave 28, so that he was active and healing the crap out of my party through the dangerous 28/29 overlap. And it worked perfectly – I got it that attempt.

Other fun Monk tricks – this was the first class I played on that could handle the dual Aqualyte wave (wave 4) with aplomb. In wave 4, there are sometimes two, but often three, instances where both Aqualytes put out an Aqua Bomb. I came up with a simple schematic for handling these:

  • If there is an Aqua Bomb on me, use Diffuse Magic to get rid of it, and use Detox on the other Aqua Bomb target;
  • If Diffuse Magic is on cooldown, and there is an Aqua Bomb on me, use Detox on the other Aqua Bomb target. Run out of the party and pop Zen Meditation when there is 1 second left on the Aqua Bomb duration to take very low damage from its detonation;
  • If neither Aqua Bomb is on me, use Revival to dispel both.

Obviously this did not work to clear both Aqua Bombs every single time – I couldn’t guarantee that I’d get Aqua Bombed twice, after all – but more often than not, all three of these Monk tricks were successful. Getting through that wave was so easy once I had this routine sorted out :)

My healing breakdown was pretty simple – Enveloping Mist was top, with Healing Sphere, Soothing Mist, and Eminence (nearly entirely from Xuen) to follow. I cast Expel Harm on CD as usual, but I only cast Renewing Mist in advance of predictable AoE damage (i.e. any wave with Hive-Singers and wave 8′s Flamecaller convention). I used Uplift on these waves as well, and before they started I’d use Thunder Focus Tea/Uplift to refresh the duration on all of the HoTs so I could focus more on interrupting and crowd-controlling at the beginning of each of these waves.

One trick to proper usage of Healing Sphere – it’s hard to place properly, and if you miss, it’s a waste of mana since you can’t be certain they’ll move enough to pick it up – is to mark every NPC with a symbol. (And make sure that your raid frames display raid marks.) That way, whenever you see someone in need of emergency healing, you can just spawn a Healing Sphere on the symbol and it’ll be perfectly placed every time. I vastly preferred this to having friendly nameplates visible – that just made it too hard for me to properly target the right enemy caster, and nameplates shuffle around a lot more than raid marks do!

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Mistweaver edition Note the marks on my party members' heads, for Healing Sphere's convenience

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Mistweaver Monk edition
Note the marks on my party members’ heads, for Healing Sphere’s convenience

I think most Monks used Ring of Peace for Proving Grounds, especially since wave 28 is really hard and Ring of Peace gives you a very long period of time where the Flamecallers won’t cast. But I vastly preferred Charging Ox Wave. I didn’t find the positional requirement to be too onerous, and the fact that it worked on everything – since all the mobs can be stunned, but not all can be silenced or disarmed – was a huge boon. And unlike Leg Sweep, I could use it twice per wave and from range, meaning all was not lost if I didn’t get all the way over to the wave 9 spawn point in time. And, well, I just love Charging Ox Wave.

I used the Glyph of Renewing Mist because Sooli just will not stand within 20 yards of the other NPCs very often, and was often getting missed by ReM (or, I’d cast ReM on him, and it wouldn’t jump anywhere). In hindsight, though, Glyph of Enduring Healing Spheres would have been a better choice – I actually simply don’t own that Glyph on my Monk, so I couldn’t use it.

Getting Endless Wave 30 on my Monk was, at that time, the most amazing and rewarding solo experience I’d had in the game. But as you’ll see, that was eventually surpassed.


Paladin Overview
My Talents and Glyphs
Stats: Mastery > Crit > Haste > Spirit
Wave Notes
1
2 Holy Avenger, Divine Favor
3 Avenging Wrath
4 Holy Avenger, Devotion Aura
5 Guardian of Ancient Kings, Hand of Sacrifice, Divine Favor
6 Holy Avenger, Avenging Wrath
7 Hand of Sacrifice
8 Holy Avenger, Devotion Aura, Divine Favor
9 Guardian of Ancient Kings, Hand of Sacrifice, Avenging Wrath
10 Hand of Sacrifice

holy-paladin-iconPaladin
12 Attempts; 4 hours

In light of my Monk experience, I was very worried about Paladin. I mean, I raid on my Monk every week. I heal Heroic modes. I have really great gear with lots of sockets, and amazing trinkets. And it still took 7 hours. In contrast, I hadn’t played my Paladin since the end of tier 14, had only healed one Heroic mode (H Stone Guard, actually the first boss I killed on the Paladin, the very first week Heroic raids were available, so you know, it was basically a millenium ago), had terrible gear, awful trinkets …

… And yet I had no trouble getting through Gold. It was pretty encouraging.

Endless was harder than my Gold experience had prepared me for. But not by very much – you’ll note I got this almost as fast as I got it on Druid. All that work I put in to understanding the waves and being able to predict the damage patterns and the NPC’s interruption behaviour really paid off – the learning curve here was a lot shorter than it was for my Monk attempts.

Managing the ridiculous plethora of cooldowns at my disposal was probably the most difficult aspect of Paladin PGs. I used Holy Avenger pretty much on CD – because it is the most ridiculously bananas I-Win button ever – but remembering to use Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath and Guardian of Ancient Kings was really hard. I didn’t want to just macro them all together, because in Proving Grounds I think it is better to have weaker, but more frequent, throughput increases. So it took a few attempts for me to just practice remembering to press the buttons when I needed a little boost.

These cooldowns were amazing, and made handling the higher-damage waves very simple. But what really made Paladin amazing for Proving Grounds was its high capacity for controlling the incoming damage. Between Rebuke and Fist of Justice I could lock down a caster very readily, or stun a Tunneler as it was about to Tunnel and prevent a Chomp. With the Glyph of Blinding Light, I could even work in a Blinding Light and ensure that the wave 2 and wave 5 Hive-Singers never got a cast (I didn’t use this on wave 9, because I used it on wave 8 to control and group up the Flamecallers so they would die more quickly).

Not only could I prevent incoming damage through crowd control, but I also had a ridiculous amount of utility in my Hands. Hand of Protection was excellent for handling nasty Chomps in waves 5 and 6, no matter who it was on – if it was on the tank, hunter, or rogue, I simply followed it with a Hand of Freedom to clear it so the NPC could go back to DPSing. Hand of Sacrifice is the most powerful tank cooldown (especially with the Glyph, which probably wasn’t strictly necessary since it’s unlikely that the enemies in Proving Grounds deal enough damage to ‘break’ a Sac early, but eliminating the damage transference was important to me), and it does an amazing job here. I used it more frequently than I listed above – I think I used it on wave 4 as well, since tank damage is a bit insane with two Aqualytes.

And finally, Paladin could also deal with wave 4′s dispels a bit more easily than Shaman or Druid. I used Devotion Aura to mitigate one Aqua Bomb detonation, usually when one was going to detonate in melee range. For the first Aqua Bomb on myself, I would use Divine Shield to clear it. And if I got a second one, I’d run away from the party and use Divine Protection to lower the amount of damage I’d take from the detonation (and of course Dispel the second Bomb).

This was also my first real exposure to secondary resource management. On Monk, I just spent Chi as I accumulated it – it’s a vital part of the mana>Chi>Mana Tea>mana cycle – but on Paladin, I needed to pool my resources to deal with specific mechanics. For example, wave 3 starts with two Tunnelers, meaning two Chomps to deal with, and while I could handle these with Flash of Light, I wasn’t really keen to spend the extra mana. So instead I made sure to save up 5 Holy Power before the first set of Chomps went out, and I could then use Eternal Flame to clear one Chomp, and Holy Shock/Eternal Flame to clear the other very quickly. (The Holy Shock was an integral part of the strategy – since a GCD went by since the Chomp was applied, the second Chomp target took more damage, and often needed more than “just” one 3-Holy Power Eternal Flame to clear it.)

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Holy Paladin edition My Paladin is now skilled in the art of denial

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Holy Paladin edition
My Paladin is now skilled in the art of denial

Glyph of Illumination is probably the most controversial of my choices for PGs, but the math holds up. I had 19% Crit, which means Holy Shock had a 44% chance to crit, so if I cast 10 a minute, I’d get 4 Crits, or 12,000 mana per minute, which is equivalent to 1,000 mp5. Reducing the effects of Holy Insight by 10%, however, would mean that you would have to have had over 10,000 combat mp5 in order for the loss of Holy Insight mana to outweigh the gain of Illumination. We all have 6,000 base combat mp5, so that means 4,000 mp5 from Spirit, or over 7,000 Spirit.

While this is achievable in PG gear, you’ve got to do it by filling up gem slots with pure Spirit gems – and I just felt that the gain in throughput I could get by gemming Intellect would be a better use. (And, well, my Paladin’s gear was terrible, and I had a total of 10 sockets  - including the 2 sockets I get from the Blacksmithing profession perk – so I couldn’t have reached that 7,000 Spirit point.) Since I was sitting at around 5,000 Spirit, I only needed 3 Holy Shock Crits per minute for Illumination to outweigh the Holy Insight mana loss, and I felt that was readily achievable. I did check the math afterwards too – the amount of mana I gained from Illumination was about 20% larger than the amount I would have gained from having that passive combat regen back, and since in either case I would have been under the Divine Plea “floor”, I think I made the right decision.


Holy Priest Overview
My Talents and Glyphs
Stats: Mastery > Spirit > Haste > Crit
Wave Notes
1 Lightwell
2 Divine Hymn
3
4 Lightwell, Shadowfiend, Power Infusion
5 Divine Hymn, Guardian Spirit
6 Power Infusion
7 Lightwell, Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope
8 Chakra: Sanctuary, Power Infusion
9 Divine Hymn
10 Guardian Spirit

class_holy_priest_iconHoly Priest
44 attempts; 17 hours

Of all the classes, I was most concerned about Priest. I only started my Priest pretty recently – Cataclysm – and, like my Paladin, I abandoned my Priest in tier 14, but I didn’t even clear all the normal mode encounters. Not to mention, I’d had some advice that Holy Priests were easier than Disc Priests, but I have not played the Holy spec before. Well, that’s not entirely true – I did the second half of Throne of Thunder LFR in Holy spec once. But you have to admit that’s not a lot of experience in the spec ;)

So yeah, I was nervous. And when I barely struggled my way through Silver, I thought it was hopeless. When I failed Gold for the fourth time, I was pretty sure I should give up. But I didn’t. I had something to prove. I buckled down and got through Gold, and started working on Endless, where things … well, they got pretty hairy.

Not that I want to get into a huge class balance debate in the middle of this post, but I have to say, it is completely balls that this class doesn’t have anything that can affect both the Hive-Singers and the Flamecallers equally. Only the Hive-Singers (and Rippers, but man, who cares) are susceptible to Psychic Scream, and thus they are the only ones affected by Psyfiend as well.

The Flamecallers can be partially countered by Void Tendrils – they will sometimes shoot Fireballs or Pyroblasts at the Tendrils instead of your party members – but no other enemy is really susceptible to that. (And in fact, it can cause more problems than it fixes, since Kavan likes to be in melee range to cast Arcane Explosion, and if he stands next to rooted Rippers or Aqualytes, they will own him right in his stupid Arcane face.)

This isn’t to say neither of these Talents, nor Psychic Scream, are useful. I did use Psyfiend and Psychic Scream to fear the Rippers away and keep tank damage manageable, or to interrupt the Hive-Singers briefly for enough of a reprieve to get up a tank CD or dispel an Aqua Bomb before starting a Divine Hymn. I even tried using the Psyfiend to keep the Large Hive-Singer in wave 9 occupied for 20-30 seconds while the NPCs killed the other two enemies, though I ultimately abandoned that strategy since, if it broke early for some reason, things went very, very badly. But you certainly cannot control the encounter as well on a Priest as you can on the other classes, and I think that this made Priest a lot harder for me than the other classes.

So how did I eventually get through it?

I stayed in Chakra: Serenity most of the time, primarily for the Holy Word: Serenity ability. Having an instant heal that wasn’t a HoT effect was really great – it’s something I was pretty used to from all my other classes. It was one more thing I could save up for Chomps in waves 3, 5, 6, and 9, and a great help in wave 7 where I had no tank CD for the double Enrage.

I didn’t really use the Renew-refreshing mechanic of the Serenity Chakra very much. I didn’t have the mana, or the time, frankly, to keep Renew rolling on the entire party. I kept it rolling on the tank as much as possible through Holy Word: Serenity usage and FDCL Flash Heals, but on the other members of the party I used Renew as a reactive heal, and that’s why I kept it Glyphed. The additional throughput of the first tick or two was what I was really after.

Speaking of FDCL, these procs were excellent. They last for 20 seconds (!), and can stack up twice, which means you can pretty safely save them to deal with specific scary mechanics, such as Chomp or Enrage. Although I love Mindbender, and really wanted to use my little buddy in Proving Grounds, there’s no way I’d give up FDCL for it. Just no way.

I tried all three of the Level 75 Talents over the course of my 44 attempts, and the one I settled on was Power Infusion. I know that Divine Insight procs are amazing, and I understand why some people would use this Talent, but I found it maddening. It felt like a pass/fail mechanic to me – either it procs during wave 8, in which case I succeed, or it doesn’t, in which case I fail. And when it did proc, often I ended up using it solely as a single-target heal – because AoE healing wasn’t necessary at the time – and that was still strong, but … aggravating. (By contrast, the Flash Heal proc of FDCL was useful in AoE situations as well as single-target situations, since you could always use it to heal up the most injured member of the party during Hive-Singer casts or Flamecaller Fireball bombardments to rescue them from near death.)

Twist of Fate I thought had some potential since in the later waves, particularly in the 20s, I was often seeing my party members drop below the 35% threshold. But it was too weak in the early waves and I tended to fail more before wave 10 with this Talent than with any other.

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Holy Priest edition "I'm not leaving Serenity"

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Holy Priest edition
“I’m not leaving Serenity”

Meanwhile, there were three waves that really did a number on my mana bar – 4, 6, and 8. I found that using Power Infusion during these waves, and then continuing to heal the way I normally would, allowed me to finish them with the party at higher health, and with me at higher mana, than with any other Talent in that tree. And since it’s activated, not a proc, I could be certain to use it only when it was most valuable to me. So for me, PI worked wonders – and the first time I ever got past wave 24 was the first time I chose this Talent.

Timing my Divine Hymns was another skilful aspect. I used it in waves 2 (Aqualyte, Hive-Singer), 5 (Tunneler, Conqueror, Hive-Singer), and 9 (Tunneler, Aqualyte, Hive-Singer). Every time I used it I wanted to negate the Large Hive-Singer’s Sonic Blast, but there were competing mechanics – in waves 2 and 9, I needed to be sure that I wouldn’t be channeling Divine Hymn when I needed to dispel an Aqua Bomb, and in wave 5, I needed to make sure I could get Guardian Spirit up on the tank before starting the Hymn, and that the first Chomp would occur early in the Hymn so that the Hymn’s healing would remove it. This meant I had to apply that interrupt order I talked about earlier, and use Psychic Scream to delay the Hive-Singer’s cast by a second or two sometimes.

Most of my healing was done via Renew, Prayer of Mending, Flash Heal (via FDCL’s Surge of Light procs), Divine Star, and Glyphed Binding Heal. However, I did use Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing fairly frequently, thanks to Serendipity stacks I generated with FDCL and BH. I was also in Inner Will for the most part. The only exception was wave 8/18/28, where I would switch to Inner Fire and Chakra: Sanctuary, and most of my healing then was achieved with a Binding Heal/Binding Heal/Prayer of Healing rotation. This strategy change happened very late in my attempt cycle, and I got the wave 30 achievement on my second Sanctuary attempt.


Disc Priest Overview
My Talents and Glyphs
Stats: Crit > Mastery > Spirit > Haste
Wave Notes
1
2
3
4 Power Word: Barrier, Shadowfiend
5 Pain Suppression
6
7 Power Word: Barrier, Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope
8
9
10 Pain Suppression

discipline-priest-iconDiscipline Priest
60+ attempts; 24 hours

I have a confession to make:

I cheated.

I didn’t do Disc Gold, since I’d already unlocked it in Holy spec.

I never struggled enough on Gold to learn the waves, and I didn’t want to fill my head with Gold minutiae and run the risk of erasing some important Endless trivia that would just prolong my eventual success, so I … just … skipped it.

The reason I did this is that Proving Grounds on Discipline Priest is all about knowing exactly what happens next, and countering it before it begins. If your knowledge is incomplete, forget it, you’re just not going to get anywhere. And that’s because Disc’s reactive healing is rather weak, because the Discipline strength is in preventative healing.

It took me a huge number of attempts to really understand what this meant and learn how to apply it. I scoffed at it a lot early in this expansion when Discipline Priests on the official forums were complaining about needing buffs because their reactive healing was weak. “Who needs reactive healing, when you can just prevent the damage from even happening in the first place?” Well, as it turns out, preventing that damage is powerful, yes, but it’s also pretty darned hard!

When done properly, though, it’s also pretty darned rewarding. Getting through wave 30 on my Discipline Priest left me with the most amazing feeling. I had achieved Healer Nirvana. Perfection. It was great! And since the theme of this post is that PGs force you to learn and plan, I’ll transcribe my wave notes for you here so you can see just how much planning and perfect execution went in to this:

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Discipline Priest edition Dammit Oto, if you run out of my Barrier one more time, I am going to just let you die out of spite!

Endless Healer (Wave 30), Discipline Priest edition
Dammit Oto, if you run out of my Barrier one more time, I am going to just let you die out of spite!

Wave 1:

  • Pre-pull: Inner Focus –> Greater Heal on Oto
  • Holy Fire the Flamecaller
  • Power Word: Shield on Oto, then activate Spirit Shell and cast Prayer of Healing twice on the party, then cancel Spirit Shell
  • DPS

Wave 2:

  • Pre-pull: Activate IF and use Archangel (I would lose my Evangelism stacks if I did not do this about 4 seconds before Wave 2 started), then cast PoH on the party.
  • PW:S Oto, then activate Spirit Shell and cast Prayer of Healing x 3 on the party.
  • Dispel the Aqua Bomb
  • DPS, but Penance Oto on CD, rather than using it offensively.
  • Activate AA again on CD, and focus on healing up the entire party before the start of Wave 3.
  • In the last few seconds of wave 2, activate IF and PoH the party.

Wave 3:

  • That IF-PoH should eat the first set of Chomps, but save an FDCL proc or a Penance CD just in case one target gets both Chomp debuffs.
  • PW:S on Oto, then activate Spirit Shell and PoH x 2 on the party. This should eat the second set of Chomps, but save an FDCL proc or a Penance CD in case one target gets both Chomp debuffs.
  • If Oto gets double chomped, use AA + your FDCL/Penance to heal it off quickly.
  • DPS
  • Pre-shield the target of the 3rd Chomp (should only be one, since there should only be one Tunneler alive at this point)

Wave 4:

  • Pre-pull: PW:S Oto, then IF and GH him
  • Cast Holy Fire, Smite, and Penance on the Large Aqualyte
  • Drop a Power Word: Barrier on Oto, and set Shadowfiend on the Large Aqualyte
  • After the first set of dispels, pop AA for tank healing
  • For dispels -
    • If the first pair of Aqua Bombs are on melee, Mass Dispel
    • Otherwise, dispel the melee target and shield the ranged target
    • If the second pair of Aqua Bombs are on melee, Mass Dispel if it’s off CD. Otherwise, shield Oto, and dispel the other melee target - this prevents Oto from being knocked back and taking damage from the Aqua Bomb explosion
    • No matter who the third pair of Aqua Bombs are on, try to Mass Dispel it if MD is off CD.

Wave 5:

  • Pre-pull: PW:S Oto, then SS/PoH x 4 the party. This should negate any Sonic Blast casts that go off before the Enrage.
  • Pain Suppression on Oto for the Enrage. Cast FDCL procs, PoM, Divine Star, and Penance on Oto as necessary, but try to save a Penance for emergency Chomp situations.
  • That SS should eat the Tunneler’s first Chomp. If not, Penance.
  • After the next Sonic Blast, IF-PoH to prevent the second Chomp.
  • Use AA as necessary

Wave 6:

  • Pre-pull: Activate SS and cast PoH up to 4 times or until the first Aqua Bomb goes out.
  • Dispel Aqua Bomb
  • After the first Chomp, IF-PoH the party.
  • If a Chomp goes on Oto in this phase, use Void Shift to remove it (use Desperate Prayer to heal yourself first if necessary).

Wave 7:

  • Pre-pull: SS and PoHx2
  • AA on enrage, and cast PW:B on Oto
  • IF after one of the Sonic Blasts, and PoH again. Don’t do this if it’s later than 15 seconds into the wave.
  • Once the Hive-Singer dies, reapply PW:S on Oto and heal him with Penance, then Shadowfiend and channel Hymn of Hope. Then be certain to heal Oto back up before Wave 8.

Wave 8:

  • Pre-pull: PW:S on Oto, then SS and PoH x 4
  • After the fire, grip Sooli over to the enemies!
  • Use AA and IF-PoH for party healing when things get hairy
  • Use Void Tendrils on the Flamecallers to eat some Fireballs halfway through the wave
  • Be careful with DPS! Keep the Ripper just barely alive at the start of Wave 9 so that the party stays out of range of the Large Hive-Singer’s first cast, because they’re still killing him.
  • Stand in the middle of the room, with a PW:S on yourself, so that you are the only target in range of the Wave 9 Tunneler when he spawns, and you will get Chomp!

Wave 9:

  • Eat the first Chomp, and use Desperate Prayer (and, if necessary, Healthstone) to remove it.
  • Activate SS ASAP and PoH x 4
  • Stand on Sooli for Divine Star
  • Use AA and IF as they come off CD to help heal through Sonic Blast. NPCs will be targeting and killing the Tunneler first, so the Hive-Singer will get casts off.
  • At the end of this wave, you don’t need the whole party on full HP – just above half. Oto should be close to full though. You need around 25% mana at the end of Wave 9.

Wave 10:

  • Pain Suppression on Oto when the Conqueror Enrages
  • Activate AA to help heal through the Enrage
  • If you are especially OOM, use PW:B here as well. But wait for the Aqualyte to spawn and for Oto to run over and pick it up, or else you will be sad because he will move out of your Barrier when the Aqualyte approaches.
  • Shadowfiend when he comes off CD, and once the Enrage is over, use all available mana on DPSing and dispelling Aqua Bomb.

I will note that I do think I made a mistake in choosing to keep the Glyph of Binding Heal as Discipline. I used BH 4 times in my successful wave 30 attempt, and the third heal was not always fully effective. I think it would have been much better to have used the Glyph of Purify.


Future-Proof: PGs in Warlords and Beyond

I’m a huge fan of the way Proving Grounds worked out in Mists of Pandaria. But there is one thing I’d change about it in the next expansion, and that’d be toning down the benefit of using your class’s utility.

I do believe it should remain beneficial to interrupt, to stun, to prevent damage. However, as it stands right now, for something that is “optional” (since one spec isn’t really able to do it), it is far, far too powerful. This is just an illustration of its power:

Holy Paladin total healing, waves 1-30: 63M (including absorption effects)
Holy Priest total healing, waves 1-30: 90M

I had to do almost 50% more raw healing as a Priest in order to compensate for my lack of utility! Now mind you, these are the two most skewed examples I could possibly provide - on my Paladin, I focused really, really hard on controlling the incoming damage as much as possible, and had a lot of tools at my disposal to do so, and Holy Priest is a pure throughput healer, so there weren’t many opportunities to do any damage prevention. A Holy Paladin could surely have done just as well as I did without preventing quite as much damage as I did, so not all of my Paladin tomfoolery was necessary or required, but it did make it easier. And I’m just not sure that it makes sense for a 50% healing differential to be possible in this kind of content.

The Priest utility – stuff like Body and Soul or Angelic Feathers, Leap of Faith, Psychic Scream, Fade, Fear Ward – just didn’t work out to be very useful in Proving Grounds, while other class utilities were more widely applicable. It’s not that Priests are bad, or are even “bad at Proving Grounds” – remember, I had the least experience on my Priest, and my personal strengths lie in the utility/interrupting department! – it’s just that the way the cookie happened to crumble, Priest utility wasn’t as beneficial in Proving Grounds as was the utility brought by other classes.

I think, though, with Proving Grounds being used as a skill gate for Heroic dungeons in Warlords, that the developers should spend a little time tweaking this for the next generation of PGs.

One thing that would be, I think, a great way to equalise the utility options is to simply make them less beneficial. If interruptible casts did less damage than non-interruptible casts, then it wouldn’t be such a big deal if you missed one (because of poorly telegraphed NPC behaviour) or didn’t have access to an interrupting ability. So if the next PG’s version of a Large Hive-Singer had two casts – the interruptible Sonic Blast, that dealt about one third or one quarter as much damage as the current PG version does – and a second, uninterruptible cast that was less frequent but much more damaging, then being able to interrupt the Sonic Blast wouldn’t be such a huge swing in your chances at success.

Another option would be to allow Psychic Scream to affect more mob types, but perhaps give it special rules in PG that lower the duration of the fear effect, so that Psychic Scream and Psyfiend are not overpowered, and will not interfere with the NPCs’ target selection process as much as it can now.

Or alternatively, the enemies’ interruptible spells could have a 6-15 second cooldown that was invoked when they started casting the spell, such that any method of interruption, be it a stun, a silence, or a fear or disorient, would invoke a spell lock-out the same way that traditional interrupts do.

And I’m hoping that in Warlords, we are losing – or nerfing – a lot of our AoE crowd control options, so perhaps things like Capacitor Totem or Charging Ox Wave or even Typhoon will not be so strong in the next PG implementation.

I don’t want to see utility entirely removed from PGs – I love healer utility, I think all healers should look for ways to use it more in every level of content – but I do think that as it stands right now, the utility that my Paladin or Shaman brought was a bit too much of a factor in my success.


Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of my Epic Proving Grounds post. In recognition of this heroic effort, I award you with the following achievement:

Wear your title with pride!

If I have in some way inspired you to attempt Proving Grounds, if you have any questions for me about your spec’s strategies, or if you’d just like to share amusing moments from your Proving Grounds experiences, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you :)

About Dedralie

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54 Responses to My Endless Journey: Proving Grounds

  1. Vaynn says:

    This is the best article that I have read in Wow since I started playing since WotLK. My favourite part of the article was how you showcased your thinking process in tackling and handling the challenges, and also how you encourage others to learn and improve from mistakes. 5/5. Would recommend this article to all my friends.

  2. Talarian says:

    Congratulations :) I one-shot Gold Healing on my Paladin, but 2 attempts into Endless have only yielded Wave 17. I ought to go back and finish that.

    But even today, I don’t think Silver is a particularly onerous bar for folks to hit if they want to queue for harder content. I realize those bars will be adjusted for WoD, but frankly. It doesn’t take a tonne of skill to hit Silver: just a basic understanding of healing. You don’t even really need the utility (though it helps).

    Super interesting read, thank you!

    • Dedralie says:

      Yeah I realise I didn’t actually address the “is Silver an adequate bar” question that I laid out at the start. And since the post is already really long, I don’t think I should go edit it back in!

      Silver -right now- is pretty much equivalent in difficulty to healing the MoP Heroic dungeons in early MoP gear, I think. Now, of course, MoP dungeons were not hard, so if Silver stays at this difficulty level, it’ll be a fairly achievable bar that won’t really get in most players’ ways, although since healers do not tend to level in healing spec it may be a little more difficult for us to qualify than it is for others.

      If the WoD version of PGs stays benchmarked to “Silver = Heroic Dungeon”, though, we may see its difficulty increase. I think Silver needs to stay easier than a WoD Heroic Dungeon, at least by a little bit, because there are inherent limitations in PGs that you don’t have in a Dungeon group – i.e., you can’t tell the mage to stop standing in fire ;) – but rest assured I’ll be doing these again on Beta (if I get a Beta invite)/as soon as they come out and will keep people updated :)

  3. Reihyou says:

    First off, I would like to thank you for linking me in your post! :)

    I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. You should really give yourself some more credit; I am ashamed to say that I had difficulties with Shaman (probably around 15 attempts), which is the healing class I am most familiar and accustomed too, which you annihilated in 2 attempts. Not to mention, you were able to get this achievement with every healing class! That is quite impressive in my opinion.

    After reading through each experience, it does make me want to try out the healers I have at my disposal (everything except Holy Pally), all though the thought of Mistweaver and Holy Priest do intimidate me a little. I did not expect Discipline to turn up being the most difficult prior to reading this, but it does make sense in the end about the preemptive healing, like you stated. I can see where that would be difficult in the PG setting.

    Your input on stats was also interesting; I feel I may have been a little too mana conservative with my build. I know at some point I will end up giving it another shot with more Int stacking to see the effects with throughput.

    They should really have an achievement / title for completing it with all Class/Spec combinations for each role (tank, dps, heals) and give you a title like “Master Proven Healer”, or “Master Healer”. Maybe even “Master of Healing”. That would be epic!

    Again, great work and amazing post. :)

    • Dedralie says:

      Well of course I’d link you — fellow Whisperwindians have to stick together and all that :)

      Do keep in mind that I am pretty inexperienced on Priest. I don’t really know if Disc is objectively the hardest – I can only say it was hardest for me. Do let me know how you go, and hey, you can always hit me up in-game if there’s anything I can do to help :)

      • Reihyou says:

        Thank you, I really, really appreciate it! :) I will try not to bug you too much, but if I run into issues.. I might have to. xD

        Whisperwindians unite! Lol :p

  4. Pingback: Resto Shamans & Endless Proving Grounds |

  5. Sara says:

    See I’d noticed a change in you but wasn’t sure to attribute it to this, so I’m happy to read this so I don’t have to pester you about that :P Congrats again, and I’m excited to copy every single thing you did for holy on my priest ! :P

  6. Kal says:

    Thanks so much for this! I tried Gold Healer a few times one afternoon on my Pally, Holy being my off-off-spec, and though Silver was easy enough for me (I was investigating the heroic requirement issue myself) Gold eludes me. I’ve put it off for a lazy afternoon that might be tomorrow, but I do know is that It’s within reach.

  7. Samantha says:

    Congrats! I loved this entire post so much. I’ve only gotten bronze on my disc priest so far, but I haven’t tried much yet. It should be my next project I think. I’m kind of the same way – I can see evidence that I have healing skill but don’t really believe it. I think PG would only be appropriate for me in disc, it’s the only one I know well ( maybe holy pally, did that for all of patch 5.1). Either way, loved reading this, and congrats again! :D

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Samantha, thank you :) And I’m glad you’re looking at giving PGs another try. Disc is pretty tough since its major cooldown isn’t very well suited to the PG model, but it’s also really satisfying each time you reach a new milestone. Let me know how you go, and if there’s anything I can do to help :)

      • Samantha says:

        It’s funny that discipline priests are fairly ‘overpowered’ this expansion but they don’t have the kind of cooldowns that classes like shamans or druids have. I boosted a shaman to 90 and have been amazed at the cooldown potential. I’d like to try PG on both, but disc is definitely my goal. I’ll let you know how it goes! :)

  8. myriade says:

    This post is amazing! Thank you for all the tips and the honesty, it was a hugely inspiring read. For the record I think you’re awesome and I’m glad doing PGs has proved (ha! :D) that to you too! Congrats! <3

  9. hamsda says:

    Amazing post!
    When PGs came out on live realms, I went in there with my Priest, which has been my main for 9 years now. I didn’t have problems with bronze or silver and had one stupid wipe on gold. I thought that it was a bit too easy on those waves, mostly atonement healing. But I got pretty annoyed by the damage patterns after 2 or 3 tries on Endless that stopped at wave 7 I think. Having seen a few PTR previews from a druid and paladins perspective I was frustrated that I couldn’t really contribute to CC/interrupt and my only contribution was a bit of dps that I couldn’t really keep up because the healing was pretty intense.
    I guess I was not in the right mindset for healing PGs at the time, because raiding 10man mostly meant to SS important abilities and otherwise Atonement DPS as much as possible, which is a terrible strategy for PGs. After your post I think I might go back and try it again tonight, seeing how I learn the waves and which cooldowns to use when :)

    • Dedralie says:

      I did do a bunch of Atonement DPS, which doesn’t really show up in my wave-by-wave notes since I rarely bothered to specify it. But it definitely isn’t the same as 10m raid healing – way more emphasis on predicting even the seemingly most insignificant enemy attacks and preemptively using your entire toolkit to make it stahp! ;)

      Do let me know how you go/went. I don’t know … maybe anyone? … who has done PG Endless as Disc, so I’d love to hear other peoples’ experiences.

  10. Pingback: “The Proven Healer” — Advanced Guide for All Classes | It's Dangerous to Go Alone

  11. Calidyn says:

    Congrats! This is definitely super impressive. I’ve been working on getting all my healers to 90 and doing Gold with all of them, but so far I’ve been hesitant to try Endless on anyone other than my main (who got the title a while ago). I think your post has given me the little push I needed, so thank you for that. :)

    • Dedralie says:

      Good luck with that Calidyn, and do let me know how you go! The world needs more multi-class Proven Healers, so that Hamlet and I aren’t the only ones being all smug about it ;)

  12. Hamlet says:

    Dayani, just wanted you to know I did finally come read this post and I’m very happy with a lot of the things in it. I don’t want to get too much into the stuff that you decided was “not important (for this post),” but since we talked so much I specifically wanted to mention I was here and read it all. Tell me anytime you want to talk more about any part of it.
    You told me to mention when I finished my own post on PGs: http://iam.yellingontheinternet.com/2014/03/24/the-proven-healer-advanced-guide-for-all-classes/
    Unsurprisingly, a lot of it is very consistent with all our strategy discussion.

  13. repgrind says:

    I haven’t even tried PG because, well … yeah, I AM afraid of failing. I have some of the same depression/self-esteem issues that you have. It is *so* much easier to just not even try. I’ve avoided Brawler’s Guild for the same reasons … plus, omg, people can WATCH me. I did do one fight in there, and did bronze PG in my dps spec. I suppose I really should get in there and at least try it.

    • PVPScrub says:

      I’ve actually been doing the brawlers guild really early in the morning…1) to avoid the queue and 2) to avoid being watched.

      Fear and self doubt sure gets in the way!

    • Dedralie says:

      Hey Repgrind, thanks for stopping by.

      I completely understand how you feel about the prospect of failure (and I still have not done Brawler’s Guild either – the being-watched aspect is absolutely terrifying to me, especially since I am amongst the world’s worst DPSers!).

      The way I got myself through it, when I was wiping repeatedly on Monk, was to remind myself that if I’ve learned something in the attempt, no matter how trivial, then I did not fail. I simply haven’t learnt everything I need to learn yet. The only way I could truly fail, under this way of thinking, was by not learning something – and I had a few attempts where that was true, but PG is very well-designed to make you learn something every time you try.

      It can still feel pretty awful when you wipe, and I got pretty bummed out about it sometimes. My Twitter feed was terribly emo for a few hours during Monk attempts, and again during Priest. But I kept forcing myself to think about it in the learning-experience way, and I got through it, and as you can see it did some good things for me :)

      Maybe it will do some good things for you, too. I do hope you try it, and let me know how you go! *\o/*

  14. pluuv says:

    You deserve to be proud! Both of having beaten proving grounds, and of your wonderful writing here. I also struggle with depression, and understand what you mean about the altered perception – it’s terrible, and so debilitating. But you beat it, six times! Congratugratugratugratugratugratulations!

    • Dedralie says:

      Thanks pluuv <3

      I'm sorry to hear you struggle with this stuff, too. It's so frustrating, isn't it?, to see yourself in a completely different way than everyone else does, and not be able to relate when they say nice things about you. I often feel like people are lying to me when they compliment me, and then I get all mad 'cause that's pretty patronising of them. And then I feel bad because I don't want to be the kind of person who assumes negative motivations for others' actions.

      Yeah, I'm crazy :P

      But I do feel proud of this, and I haven't felt proud about much in a long time. It's a nice feeling :)

  15. Dedralie says:

    I may come back through and reply more personally to each of you, when I get a moment, but for right now I wanted to be sure to say how much all your support, congratulations, and kind words really mean to me. I <3 you all.

  16. Rainbo says:

    Dayani I admire you so much. <3

    I wish you had mentioned this journey on the Healing OT! Or maybe I should be following you on Twitter or something. I happened to be doing a similar journey at a similar time, although I went into the healing Proving Grounds mostly to entertain myself after being bored with tanking raids. We could have talked shop!

    I agree with you that it's nothing like raid healing. Especially since raid encounters put you in WEIRD situations XD Flex wing 3 has some of the confusingest fights and I was going "huh bluh press buttan" there even after reaching wave 46 as mistweaver.

    I … it's hard to know what to say about depression, but I feel the need to tell you that I struggle with that too. You are far from alone. And though you and I haven't talked personally I've read all of your blog posts. I admire your rhetoric; I admire your thoughtful and thorough approach to things. Whatever you feel about yourself, we respect and value you. <3

    • Dedralie says:

      Hey, ‘bo :) This made me a little misty-eyed, haha. Thanks so much for all the kind words.

      You should definitely follow me on Twitter! Things are fun there. And I don’t really visit the Healing forum anymore, but I should probably make more of an effort to. I might get back to that when there’s something new and healy to discuss, like delicious WoD Beta.

      Congratulations on doing so well with your Mistweaver! I did feel like my style was pretty sustainable and I probably should have kept going to see how far I could get, but once I got that wave 30 achievement I got so excited I couldn’t really focus ;)

  17. PVPScrub says:

    I have to say, I was always terrified of proving grounds, (and challenge modes to be honest) but this post has encouraged me to try on my monk….I’m aiming for gold (realist!) but “the Proven” would be so much sweeter!

    • Dedralie says:

      It’s really great that you feel encouraged to try! I am also working on getting 9/9 Challenge Mode Gold medals on each healing class, but that is going much more slowly since I need to find people willing to do them without aiming for the realm-best titles.

      Let me know how you go, and remember, any time you spend in PG is valuable so long as you learn something about your class. Even the best players have something to learn, I think. Good luck and have fun! :)

  18. Phil says:

    I just stumbled across this post and your blog while trying to beat my old endless disc record and I wasn’t expecting this! I can definitely relate with the feelings of insecurity and doubt; coming from a pvp background even though I’ve managed 2.2k and over 2k multiple times with different people, every time I feel like I’m the weak link, as if they’re carrying me.

    I first tried PGs when 5.4 dropped and from then I was hooked, I proceeded to get the proven healer first as disc (after many attempts) before trying my resto druid. Boy was that easy by comparison, with all the practice I’d had doing it as disc first, I went on to one-shot it as a druid. The difference between the classes is quite staggering in these.

    I don’t usually post comments on blogs but this post seemed so well done I just had to thank you for writing it!

    • Dedralie says:

      Aww, hi Phil, and thanks for leaving such a nice comment!

      Yes, Resto Druid toolkit is very well suited to PG-style healing. Or perhaps more importantly, the Resto Druid healing style itself doesn’t change much as you gain more gear and stats and more allies to heal. It’s still pretty much the same sort of thing, and with Tranquility and Ironbark they have very straightforward ways to handle the hardest parts of the PG encounters. I think Resto Druid punishes you least for falling behind than any other class, too, because there’s always Genesis for catching up. I think a lot of people have noticed this – and it’s probably good advice for anyone wanting to get into PGs but with multiple toons available, that Resto Druid is a nice way to ease into it. :)

    • Nzete says:

      I decided that I wanted the title. However, Endless healer discipline (my main) makes me want to throw things. I decided to cheat and use my druid alt. Night and day. I rarely play my druid. I did that in under three hours (probably would have been less if I had started with Nature’s Vigil and treants).

      With Tranquility, mushroom bloom, and genesis for resets on health, it does seem like cheating. Also, heroism is a lot of fun in kitty form (mmm energy). It got a lot easier when I started dpsing the end of the waves to clear the mobs out (the dps stink) and realized that I can use the treants to heal in kitty form.

      • Dedralie says:

        Huh, I never knew you could Treant from cat form! Yeah, Disc PG was a pain for the reasons I already ranted about so much; I don’t blame you for swapping at all. Druid healing style is so similar across all forms of content; it makes the class really well-suited to this kind of challenge, since you don’t really have to spend time learning a new way to heal!

        Congratulations on your title! :-)

  19. lukus24 says:

    Certainly the best post I’ve read in some years regarding WoW. I’m having some trouble with proving grounds and thought i’d do a little research. I’m very happy to have stumbled on your blog. Also pretty chuffed that i got an achieve for reading it!! I’ll wear that title with pride :p
    It’s certainly an amazing achievement to get The Proven Healer on all classes, really, well done!
    Having just started healing in MoP i feel like i have a lot to learn. Wave 25 for my shammy and 8 for my druid. Still a way to go! Haven’t even tried on the pally or priest… oh my…
    With your thoughts in mind, I’ll head back in and try again!

    • lukus24 says:

      I’m happy to report back that i was successful in getting the title on Shammy! yay!
      Huge kudos again, thanks for taking the time to make such an insightful post about life and healing.

  20. Hello Dedralie;
    I absolutely love your blog. We both suffer from low self image though I dare say yours seems worse. I’m sorry to hear that as I really find your thoughts and analysis amazing.
    I just began my own trial in the PG for Holy Priest Gold. Today was day one and I ended up getting to wave 10 but loosing out there.
    While I have many thoughts about what you’ve said in your piece the one thing…well two actually… that struck me was how we both focused in on the emotional aspect of PG. We came at it from different angles but results were very similar. I think we often forget just how much emotion plays a part in every aspect of what we do in game. As you approach that point on the 20th pull in progression where its down to either killing the boss with perfect execution in those last 5% or making one mistake and wiping again stress absolutely turns cold mechanical actions into stress filled actions controlled either by muscle memory or raw emotion.
    I haven’t finished your article yet, ADD for the wi…ohhh SHINY!!!!!…but I hope that you talk a bit about controlling NPC placement during the trial. Before starting your article I was watching Hamlet do hpriest gold and the thing that stuck out to me was his incredible control of the room and NPC placement in order to make healing work the way he wanted it to.
    Currently I struggle with this from attempt to attempt as one wave 4 say will be done in single target stance and the next wave 4 requires AOE stance.
    Thanks for all of your thoughts especially the personal recount of the emotional journey, that was very connecting for me. =D

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Airistal, thanks for stopping by! I do talk a fair bit about NPC Behaviour (you can jump straight to that section using the Table of Contents) and how to make it more consistent between attempts, but I am positive that Hamlet does it better than I do ;-)

      I don’t discuss Gold strategies since I was so focused on Endless I didn’t really bother to commit the Gold wave details to memory, or do the exhaustive analysis that I did for each Endless wave. So I may not be that helpful to you at this point, but I hope the overall message of “experiment and learn” is still applicable.

      Thanks so much for all your kind words. I am always happy to hear that I have connected with people – I was really unsure whether I should write all that emotional stuff, as I tend to think my readers are here for information and not really to hear about me. But PGs were such a big deal for me I thought it was relevant and might help other people who suffer milder versions of my complete insanity. :-)

      Good luck! <3

      • Since I’m not looking for a step by step on how to do Gold and am more concerned about actually learning to become a better healer all around I was actually more interested in your methodology for evaluating problems than the specific solutions you happened to come up with. Seeing how you or Hamlet think is very, very helpful especially considering the years of experience you both have verse the months I have as a healer. I am just now starting to feel like I have the tiniest graps on the role. =D

  21. Nikki Watt says:

    I’m a Resto druid, have been for many years, and i still cant do it…i thought myself to be a competent healer, i have never had any issues whilst raiding . Now i’m feeling like i’m useless, i don’t know if its because the more i try the more pissed off with it i’m getting and loosing my focus…either way its really REALLY annoying me. I gave up some months back after reaching 29 and wiping, not once but 3 times.. i kind of rage quit muttering “who needs this silly title anyway” and vowed never to come back…. I have decided to come back to it with a determination that is fading fast as i thought i would like to do this before the new expansion comes out..just to have it under my belt, so, I started again from gold..did it easily, having forgotten all the tricks i headed into endless, knowing that it would take me a good few attempts to remember what i needed to interrupt etc, now here i am, cant even get past wave 10 on endless…Granted i have only (only) been at it 5 hrs…. anyhoo, just wanted to tell you how awesome you are having done it on all healers, i myself have all healing classes, and when i grow up, i wanna be like you :D

    • Dedralie says:

      Hey Nikki, thanks for stopping by! I think especially after a long break from it, it can be hard to get back into the right mindset. And believe me I can appreciate the frustration. 10 hours into Holy Priest I was about ready to cry. When I finally got to wave 29 and then kept failing on it over and over with no end in sight, I was about ready to throw my computer out the window.

      If you have specific problems I can try to help (though I’d point you to the linked post by Hamlet, he’s a druid main and probably has much better advice for you there), but most of all, just know that I’m cheering for you, and that as long as you’re learning, you’re winning the real battle :)

  22. nikki38 says:

    Hey Dedralie :)
    hanks for the reply and you were so right :) I DID IT !!!! :)
    finished today at wave 43 :D:D:D could have went on, but i got a bit overexcited and messed it up :) its amazing how un stressed i was after 30, the waves 28-29 and 30 i thought my heart was gonna pop right out of my chest :)
    I’m so happy, glad i never gave up, i think i will wait a while before i try it on my other healers lol

    thanks for the help

    nikki :)

    • Dedralie says:

      Oh yes, the heart-exploding-from-body feeling, I know it well. I definitely had that on my Disc Priest and Mistweaver!

      Congratulations! :D

      I don’t blame you for wanting to wait before you try others. You probably need time for your sanity bar to fill back up IRL ;)

  23. Shareoff says:

    Hey Dayani, your post was very interesting! Loved hearing your input. I understand you in a lot of things, although my situation is very different.
    I’m a new player, started to play the game roughly 4 months ago or so and leveling up my resto druid.. I was very passionate about healing while leveling up, and when I randomly came across mention of PGs – I became instantly interested and felt like I had to do it!
    Going in as a fresh 90 with 430 greens.. well, I couldn’t get past gold :P chomps killed me. I went in a couple of times after getting some early epics, and managed to get gold, but simply stalled out on waves 2~7 of endless. So I waited a month or so, and came back with gear and sockets…
    And on my first attempt, I got to wave 22. I was so excited! I had no clue I’d have to do the same thing for another 10 hours to get my title, though… my healing addon would sometimes not tell me about aqua bombs, making me force explode them, or sometimes even worse look around and try to look for their animation in the mess that are waves 6 and 9, NPC interrupt RNG was sometimes being a total bitch, and after few hours in there, I started failing before wave 10 again!! it was enraging. I truly felt like I was a failure, especially considering how many people say druid PGs are really easy.. I continued in all my rage, though, and after more and more attempts, I eventually got there.

    Now I got my priest to 90, and geared, and now it’s the same story all over again on holy :( Long grind that seems to last forever. I barely feel like it’s more difficult except for my lack of reliable ways to deal with chomps, though. Still spending loads of time in there! Just wiped at 28 after a couple of daunting, pre 10 wipes.

    Just wanted to share my experience with you, and I appreciate your positive attitude heaps! I really do struggle after every time I wipe, feeling like a failure. The worst thing is that I feel so inconsistent, just wiping across random waves all over the place! On the other hand, going in there with my freshly boosted 90 Shaman was loads of fun, because I felt like I was actually learning from attempt to attempt, using my spells properly more often, learning how my spells work..

    I hope I didn’t go on too long of a tangent, haha. Thanks for your post, and I truly admire you.

    • Dedralie says:

      Chomps were definitely the bane of my existence on my Priest. I ended up holding resources for the Chomps, which in wave 6 at least made for some really uncomfortable moments – holding on to Surge of Light procs and making sure PoM and Holy Word: Serenity were off CD so I could respond rapidly to any Chomp damage. PoM was really great if the Chomp wasn’t on the tank, because it could bounce between the Chomp target and the tank and just kind of take care of the Chomp itself (I use the PoM glyph so that the first PoM heal is very strong, which helps a fair bit there I think). If the tank got Chomped in wave 6 I’d just Void Shift because ugh that is the worst.

      For Wave 9, I actually started to do the positioning shenanigans I described in my Disc Priest section while I was still working on Holy Endless. That is, I would grip Sooli over to the far wall about halfway through Wave 8, and then stand in the middle of the room as Wave 9 was spawning. I was the only person in range of the Chomp dude when he spawned so he’d Chomp me and I’d have a Power Word: Shield up beforehand and a quick Desperate Prayer/Healthstone to heal off the damage before the Hive-Singer’s first cast went off. The NPCs usually kill the Chomper first so he often died before doing a second Chomp (and if not, well, I was using Divine Hymn in that phase so that would usually heal off the second Chomp anyway).

      I’m really glad you’ve stuck with it. I know your feels about getting far and then feeling like you’re starting all over again too. I had that on Monk and Holy Priest and it was very frustrating. But in the end, it was all worth it! <3

      And hey. You've seen my writing. No tangent is too long for me :D

      • Shareoff says:

        Hey!! :D it only took three or four more attempts after writing that post and then I got it.
        That attempt was pretty fucking intense, too; Oto got a nasty chomp on wave 25, which I ended up void shifting. and then he got ANOTHER nasty chomp in wave 26, and I had to burn through all my mana healing him up, and so I spent about 40 seconds out of wave 29 with 1% mana. I didn’t know, until my shadowfiend came off cd on wave 30, whether or not I’d make it. But I did! So happy!!

        P.S. I had a huge advantage, because my priest is a blood elf, and getting to silence at the beginning of wave 8 was amazing, because I was so used to the free 5 secs at the beginning of the wave from my druid and typhooning them. I didn’t use it much to interrupt the hivesingers, however, other than on wave 5.

  24. Pingback: Proofing Grounds: The L100 Mekka PG Challenge [feat. Hamlet] | healiocentric

  25. Eiranai says:

    I just wanted to leave a note and tell you that you are wonderful.
    I’ve played dps for this whole xpac but I knew I had to get back into healing for the end of it. I started playing my holy paladin two months ago, really knowing nothing about it and being extremely rusty at healing. I’m not the best and there have been a lot of points at which I thought I should just give up. I really wanted to do challenge modes to get the achievement points but I was really terrified of not being able to keep people up and pugging and people yelling at me. So I went into proving grounds. It is definitely a humbling experience when you think you know your class somewhat well and then you crash and burn in here. But it has been a wonderful experience and I have really learned a lot about my new class and it has been a good opportunity to learn keybinds and get quicker reactions on emergency buttons.
    I really appreciate you putting yourself out there in a vulnerable way. I have had so many of the same emotions about playing as you’ve mentioned. Some days I feel like I’m a horrible player and I should just give up. But then other days I remember that I play because there is real fun like the challenges we make for ourselves in this game – such as you doing all 5 healers in Proving grounds. Or the guy who leveled to 90 just picking herbs. Remembering the fun gets us through it all.
    Thank you for your extremely detailed guide. I will be working on the proving grounds probably for a while. I’m considering a 5 healer plan as well now…And I will be subscribing to your page!

  26. Kariko says:

    Hi!
    Played and mained priest for 7 years and yeah wow that was hard lol.
    Really enjoyed your guide. Gave me hope that it wasnt just me struggling with disc :).
    Took me the same amount of hours. I tried to calm attonement at one point and went to a more direct healing style. Didnt work. Attonement spam keeping 5 stacks is good to keep mana costs down keeping with the main points you have shown.
    Cheers dude!
    Ps going to try holy see if I can get further

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Kariko, thanks for dropping by to let me know I helped :3
      Yeah, I was probably not very clear in my writeup but Atonement was a large part of my success, primarily because, since I knew exactly when every damaging event was going to occur, I could use Archangel to maximum benefit. Plus, Twist of Fate is amazing and helps a lot too!

      I think you’ll find Holy to be a lot easier. Divine Hymn is just a much better cooldown for Proving Grounds than PW:Barrier, and it takes a lot less planning and practice than Disc did. Good luck, and let me know how you go! :)

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