Spiritual Guidance: Training your Withered as a healing Priest
Doing Withered Training as a healer appears impossible, but it’s not actually hard. The secret is crowd control and letting your army do the work. Holy surprisingly has great crowd control via Chastise + Censure, making training a breeze once you figure out the intricacies.
The basic gist
If you’re just starting out and have no clue what to do, you have two main goals: get chests and get the highest score possible. Every trash mob you kill increases your score and the higher the score, the better rewards you’ll get. You’ll always get a main chest at the end of the scenario, but you can collect other one-time chests that contain specific, permanent items that increase your Withereds’ survivability.
You need 400 Ancient Mana to start the scenario, though more mana can bring more Withered. When you’re starting out, you’ll be going in with 8 just because of the mana cap until you raise it through questing. But when you get higher, taking in the max amount of Withered possible really does make it easier. It’s very easy to farm mana if you’re low, there’s a lot in the Vineyard and around Suramar city. You can also grab the Manaseeker shoulder enchant at Honored from Thalyssra, which contains mana and potions.
The first couple times you go in, concentrate on grabbing a chest each time and then going as far into the tunnels as you can to increase your score. By collecting at least one chest, you get one of the power items and increase your army’s power for the next time you go in. Each subsequent trip in becomes easier and eventually you can run around with your hobo army annihilating everything in sight.
You can progress into the tunnels until you feel it’s too dangerous, then turning back and sacrificing Withered to bring a chest back to Thalyssra. Or you can exchange your Withered the first time you come upon a chest and progress as far as you can with fewer Withered. I always played it safe and turned in chests as soon as possible, since I never knew when Dro would sneak up on me and ruin my day.
Once you start getting upgrades from chests, you can focus on increasing your score. If you’re trying to build Nightfallen rep, try to get to 400 each time, since this will give you the max amount of rep tokens from the main chest (425 rep).
As your army gets stronger through upgrades, you’ll lose fewer Withered to mobs and bosses. There are plenty of additional Withered Exiles scattered throughout the tunnels, both in plain sight and hidden in webs. For this reason you’ll always want to kill the Webbed Victims in case there’s a friendly Withered waiting for you. If it’s hostile, then it just adds to your score when you kill it. At your strongest, you’ll probably have around 55 Withered following you like puppies.
Your Withered have two stances: Mayhem!, which increases their DPS but lowers their focus, and Follow Me!, which makes them focus your target. Mayhem is great for bosses but be careful if you haven’t cleared an area, since they’ll attack everything in sight. The most dangerous mobs are the Volatile Wraiths. These have explosive attacks and a final explosion that will damage a lot of your Withered. You’ll want to save your stun for these attacks.
There are small chests scattered all throughout the tunnels, and they can even appear in an area you’ve already cleared. They contain gold, mana, and sometimes Blood of Sargeras. Then there are the larger chests that contain upgrades at the end. To pick them up, you have to exchange 5 or 10 Withered to take it back to Thalyssra, where you can loot it when you die or finish the scenario. Ideally you’ll pick up a chest each time and then maximize your score, so that you can always get an upgrade as well as items from the main chest. If you want to see the locations of the chests and bosses, Wowhead has some great maps.
Glimmering Chests: cost 10 Withered and have items that turn your Withered into powerful units that do more damage, knock back, and taunt.
- Berserker: Berserking Helm of Ondry’el, Berserking Helm of Taenna
- Mana-Rager: Spellmask of Azsylla, Spellmask of Alla’onus
- Spellseer: Lenses of Spellseer Dellian
- Starcaller: Disc of the Starcaller
Some of these chests are supposed to be hidden until you get the Lenses, but Wowhead says that it is currently bugged and you can see them without it.
Treasure Chests: cost 5 Withered and have items that permanently buff your army, plus toys and fun things.
- Straight buffs: Petrified Silkweave (25% more health), Lens of Qin’dera (25% more damage)
- Special buffs: Box of Calming Whispers (more focus on attacks), Soothing Leystone Shard (lowers the chance to flee)
- Fun things: Ancient Mana Basin (toy), Leyline Broodling (pet), Traveler’s Banking Chest (bank in Shal’Aran)
- Artifact Power: Manafused Fal’dorei Egg Sac, Treemender’s Beacon
There are bosses scattered in the big rooms, usually guarding chests or Withered Exiles. Some doors are gated by the amount of Withered you have. The two main challenges are Dro and Furog, and your adventures will likely end at either of these two until you get stronger.
- Lapillia: She’s not very dangerous, but she can be hectic when you’re first going in with limited Withered. The main thing is to interrupt her and get away from your Withered when the shards go off.
- Leystalker Dro: Dro is usually the instance killer. If he jumps you when you’re not prepared, you’re likely to end right there. He stealth patrols a specific hallway, so you kind of know when to expect him, but Thalyssra will yell “Look out!” when he gets the drop on you. He needs crowd control to interrupt his dashes, or he’ll take out your entire army. As a healer, the chance of him actually killing you is low so your main concern is keeping him from killing your Withered. If you kill him, he drops a key that allows you to go into Furog’s room.
- Brood Guardian Phyx: Not difficult at all, but you need to have 10 Withered with you in order for his door to open. He’s hiding a chest and several more Withered you can pick up.
- Volatile Wrathlord: Like the trash mobs, his dangerous ability is the explosion. Stun these and you’re golden. Also like Phyx, you need 10 Withered with you to unlock his door.
- Furog the Elfbreaker: The second instance killer. Furog is also incredibly dangerous to your Withered, with a low chance of killing you. He periodically picks up a Withered and squeezes them, killing them. Because he has so much health, he’ll take out your entire army before you get him down. He also stomps a lot. The key here is the same as Dro, interrupt his squeezes. When your army gets stronger, you’ll be able to kill him quickly without worrying as much about his attacks.
- Psillych: The most annoying part is the spider gauntlet leading up to this boss. The gauntlet has tiny endless-spawning spiders running down the tunnel, and they don’t stop until you get to Psillych. He’s not difficult.
The secret as a healer
You’ve probably heard that tank specs have the easiest time of this, which is true, precisely because they are able to control so much of the scenario. However, the main thing is crowd control, which is the secret to success as a healer. I strongly suggest going Holy for Withered Training. I know it doesn’t seem like the strong choice, but trust me, it’s surprising with its utility.
Holy’s stun via Chastise and Censure is invaluable, especially combined with Apotheosis. You can nearly handle Dro (and Furog later) just with this combination alone. The trick is to let your Withered do the bulk of the DPS while you DPS with Smite, healing yourself with Surge of Light procs or Serenity when he starts to hit hard. Your Serendipity lowers the CD on Chastise, and Apotheosis lowers it even more, allowing you to Chastise after every couple of Smites. You’ll be able to Chastise every dash if you time it right, keeping him from killing your Withered. I recommend this talent setup for Holy.
You can also Mind Control Dro. With Discipline, the strat is the same as Shadow strats, DOT him up and then Mind Control him while the DOTs tick. Then repeat. You have more DPS as Holy but the crowd control options are not as effective and its the crowd control that makes this successful.
For everything else, take it slow and let your Withered do the DPS while you handle the aggro and interrupts. Your job as a healer is to manage the army.
Tips and Tricks
- If your Withered suddenly get stuck and stop moving in the large circular archway room with the web ramps, they’re probably targeting a Webbed Victim on one of the upper ramps. For some reason they like to get stuck here. I’m not sure why they bug out there, but it’s happened to me a few times and all you have to do is kill the cocoon for them to go back to normal.
- Holy Nova is amazing for AOEing the little spiders and even bigger things if you have more gear. Divine Star is helpful for this too.
- Unfortunately you can’t heal your Withered army, as any healing will just deprecate back to what their health was at.
- Making it to the end of the scenario isn’t anything special, mostly you just want to kill everything to maximize your score. But it is nice when you finally do get there.
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