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Discipline 4.0.1 Guide

Posted by Malevica on October - 6 - 2010

28th October, 2010: Updated quite a bit, having spent a couple of weeks to play around and raid. The first iteration misjudged a few aspects, particularly just how much mana we’d have and the value of Heal and talents that work with it. I think I’ve fixed that now, so it should line up better with the reality of 4.0.1.

Patch 4.0.1 is here, bringing with it some pretty big changes.

In this guide I’ll cover talents and sample specs, spell changes, stat changes, gems, enchants, glyphs and some technique pointers.

There’s still a lot of room for you to make your own choices to suit your playstyle and raid role, so engage your critical thinking skills before reading this or any guide. Also remember that this is still changing. Finally, this is aimed at level 80, not 85.
Feel free to correct me in the comments and I’ll try and keep the post updated.

 

Talent Specs

Something to remember throughout the 4.0.1 experience is that the systems we’re using are intended for level 85 rather than level 80, so if it feels a bit odd, that’s probably why.

Nowhere is this more true than in the case of talents, where you’re effectively 5 points short of where you’d like to be.

Standard 4.0.1 spec

http://www.wowhead.com/talent#bfMkrRsbcRMo0hZb:qmVdomMz

I’ve skipped Mental Agility in Tier 1, because mana is currently not a problem at all.

I’ve also put a single point in Inner Sanctum purely as filler, because I don’t see a huge need for this talent in the Wrath environment. It might prove invaluable in Cataclysm, but it’s just not valuable in WotLK.

I also skipped Strength of Soul. It’s a nice idea for a talent, but it’s essentially useless in 4.0.1 since you’ll rarely, if ever, use Heal. It’s simply ill-suited to the damage profile of the encounters.

The more straightforward omissions are Focused Will and Reflective Shield, because they’re PvP or solo talents, not raiding talents. Reflective shield only reflects damage absorbed by shields on you, and Focused Will is only useful if you’re getting physically hit, and you really shouldn’t be.

Evangelism, Archangel and Atonement, work to form the core of the Smite healing setup.
Matticus wrote about this in more depth recently, but the idea is that you can put out a good amount of healing at low cost by Smiting the boss and letting Atonement heal the tank. Pop Archangel to restore 15% of max mana whenever it’s off cooldown and Evangelism is stacked to 5.

Train of Thought – When you Smite, you reduce the cooldown of Penance by 0.5s. Assuming Smite is a 2s cast, and Penance has a 10s cooldown when glyphed, if you do nothing but Smite you can bring that Penance CD down to 8s instead. It’s not a bad talent at all.

Power Word: Barrier
The iconic spell, although currently it’s a little underpowered, since it’s used up and disappears in a very short amount of time. Use it selectively on small ground of people or location-specific effects, rather than on large raid-wide damage spikes.

Non-Smite alternative build

I had included a non-Smite build in here, but since you won’t be using Heal (so Strength of Soul is no use) and you don’t need the mana (no need for Mental Agility), realistically there isn’t anywhere to put the points freed up by dropping Atonement, Evangelism and Archangel.

I’d suggest keeping the same spec, and just using Flash Heal instead of Smiting, if you really don’t want to use Smite.

Sub-spec choices

Once you’ve got your 31 points in Discipline, you have a few choices for your sub-spec. You’ll only have 5 points to play with, so you’ll really have to choose the talents that suit your playstyle and role in raids.

In roughly descending order of interest:

Divine Fury – Reduces the cast time of Smite, Holy Fire, Heal and Greater Heal by 0.15s/0.35s/0.5s. If you’re going with the Smite/Heal healing model, this is probably your top priority. If you’re on bubble-bot duty, skip it.

Darkness – 1%/2%/3% haste. Divine Fury is more powerful for the points if you’re Smiting, so if you take that then you’ll only have 2 points left. Darkness is a good place for them though.

Empowered Healing – 5%/10%/15% healing to Flash Heal, Binding Heal, Heal and Greater Heal. I’d favour Darkness at level 80 because we use these spells so little, especially with a Smite healing model.

This is probably a good staple at 85, though.

Improved Renew – 5%/10% to your Renew. Not a Discipline talent, really.

Veiled Shadows – Reduces the cooldown of your Shadowfiend by 30s/60s. Not a good choice at 80, yet again because we just don’t need the mana.

To Smite, or not to Smite?

At the moment Smite healing is fun, different and very mana-efficient, and since you’ll be taking the points to support it in your spec anyway, I’d say give it a go.

If you really can’t stand it, then you can swap Flash Heal for Smite in your rotation for now.

 

Spell Changes

I might not touch on all of the little changes, but I’ll try and hit on the big ones.

Heal has been revamped with the goal of making it a viable filler spell at max level. It’s got the same cast time as Greater Heal, but heals for slightly less than a Flash Heal, and costs 9% of base mana compared to 28% for Flash Heal and 27% for Greater Heal.

So the new theoretical single-target heal set looks like:

Heal      Slow      Small      Cheap (9%)
Greater Heal      Slow      Large      Expensive (27%)
Flash Heal      Fast      Small      Expensive (28%)

 

However, in 4.0.1 mana is so plentiful and damage so high that a small, slow Heal simply isn’t needed. If you’re Disc with an Atonement build, you’ll use Smite instead of Flash Heal, wherever possible, or just substitute Flash Heal if you need direct healing instead.

Inner Fire hasn’t been changed much, but has had its charges removed so it’s simply a 30-minute self-buff now.

Prayer of Fortitude and Prayer of Shadow Protection have been removed because Power Word: Fortitude and Shadow Protection have been made raid/party-wide by default. What’s more, the reagent costs have been removed.
Although mana is not a problem at level 80, you might consider taking the Glyph of Fortitude as one of your minors now to avoid having to spend quite a large chunk of your precious mana to rebuff that rogue who stood in the whirlwind. There really aren’t any compelling alternatives anyway.

Power Word: Fortitude is also now equivalent to the Blood Pact buff provided by Warlocks’ Imps, and won’t stack with it or overwrite it.

Inner Focus has been given something of a revamp. It’s more restricted so now it’ll only give you a free Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing (so your old Inner Focus + Divine Hymn macros are deprecated), but the cooldown has been slashed from 3 minutes to 45s.

I’m leaning towards treating this as a passive mana saving “proc” by macroing it to Flash Heal, Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing to save a big chunk of mana when it fires.

If you want to do this, here’s an example macro you could try:

#showtooltip Greater Heal
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Inner Focus
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/cast Greater Heal

Borrowed Time is down to 7%/14% from 5%/10%/15%/20%/25%. This changes the haste cap for bubble-spam. Quoting Medmal on PlusHeal:

The exact number is 830.02, so you’ll need 831 haste to be at the soft GCD cap with BT and Wrath of Air. Without Wrath of Air, the number is 1036. Remember that if you can spare the points, you can always spec Darkness to reduce these. With 3/3 Darkness and Wrath of Air, for example, the cap is only 711 (or 910, without Wrath of Air).

Power Word: Shield has had its base cooldown reduced to 3s (from 4s). Soul Warding allows you to subtract 1s/2s from this cooldown. However, you’re still limited by the global cooldown of 1.5s before haste, so it’s essentially no different to the current situation if you take 2/2 points here.

HoTs no longer clip if you refresh them just before the final tick, which is a great change. What happens instead when you overwrite an existing HoT the game allows the next scheduled tick to happen, then adds the “new” HoT time onto the end. You only get to finish the one next tick though, so unfortunately you can’t cast it a few times in succession and stack it up.

Refreshing a HoT also doesn’t reset the tick timer, so if your last tick was going to happen in 0.2s, it will occur 0.2s after you refresh the HoT as you’d expect, and the next tick will follow one tick interval after that.

Binding Heal has been changed slightly to take it back to its original positioning. In 3.3.5, Binding Heal cost almost twice as much as Flash Heal, but healed each target for slightly more than a Flash Heal. In 4.0.1 though, both cost roughly the same (BH: 1120 mana, FH: 1081 mana) and Binding Heal heals for 2 x 5k (8.9 HPM) while FH heals a single target for 8k (7.4 HPM). So if you’ll get the use out of both heals then Binding Heal is the way to go since it has better HPS and HPM, but you’ll get better performance out of Flash Heal if you’re not injured.

 

Stats

Spellpower

Spellpower is all but gone from gear, except for caster weapons (because they have a very high spellpower budget compared to any other slot), and has been converted to Intellect. You now get your spellpower directly from your Intellect, also at a 1:1 ratio.

The regen value of intellect has changed because Replenishment has been halved in effectiveness, from 1% of max mana over 5s in the 3.3.5 version to 1% of max mana over 10s in the 4.0.1 version. You may notice your regen taking a bit of a hit if you’re very Int-heavy, but as I’ve said elsewhere, mana is so plentiful that you probably won’t.

Because Intellect is now a throughput stat, taking the place of spellpower, it has become a red gem instead of yellow.

MP5 and Spirit

MP5 is gone as a stat, and every healer is getting Meditation just for picking the Holy, Discipline or Restoration tree to spend 31 points in. As a result Spirit is our only pure regen stat.

However, I’d not recommend stacking it in 4.0.1 because you just don’t need the regen at the moment. Focus on the throughput stats instead.

Haste

Because of the change to Borrowed Time I talked about earlier, if you’re continuing in the bubble-bot role Disc Priests play in current content, you’ll want to get your hands on a bit more haste. Repeating from earlier, you’ll now need 831 haste with BT and Wrath of Air, or 1036 without WoA.
If you’re having trouble, you can take points in Darkness in the Shadow tree, which will take the haste rating requirement down to 790/750/711 with WoA or 993/951/910 without it. Although given the low value of spirit at the moment, reforging that into haste should get you there.

The big change to haste itself is the way it now affects HoTs, DoTs and channelled spells. I’ve gone into a lot more detail in another post (it’s focused on level 85, but the principles are the same), but the short version is that haste reduces the time between ticks so the spell can finish early, and if you reach the point where you would be able to fit an additional half a tick in, you get an extra full tick and the duration is extended accordingly
.
For Priests that means that you get an extra Penance tick at 25% total haste (from gear, buffs and Borrowed Time combined) [on 4.0.1 Live this appears not to be the case. I got to 54.6% total haste and still only got 3 ticks. This is not what was happening on the beta, so it might be a bug], and an extra Renew tick at 12.5% and 37.5%. The table below shows the haste rating you need from your gear to reach these breakpoints:

Spell Rating with no buffs Rating with BT Rating with WoA Rating with BT and WoA
Penance 820 317 625 146
Renew (1 extra) 410 0 235 0
Renew (2 extra) 1230 676 1015 488

 

Crit

Crit chance is now also applied to HoT ticks by default, so expect to see Renew crits popping up quite a bit along with Divine Aegis bubbles.

Divine Aegis remains unchanged.

Mastery

You won’t find Mastery on gear before Cataclysm lands, but the stat is available in 4.0.1 and is quite handy to have at the moment.
The Disc Priest Mastery is Shield Discipline, which increases the potency of all your damage absorption spells by 20%. Once you start getting Mastery Rating on gear it will convert to Mastery points, and each of these will add a further 2.5% absorption.

Priority

Our stat priority in 4.0.1 is roughly the same as in 3.3.5, namely:

Int > Haste (to cap) > Spirit (until you don’t have mana problems) > Crit (if you tank heal) or Mastery (if you bubble more).

If you’re raiding ICC in the right sort of gear you won’t have mana problems, so Spirit is not valuable right now.

Reforging

Reforging is new in 4.0.1. This allows you, by talking to an NPC found in Enchanting shops, to convert up to 40% of a secondary stat (Spirit, Haste, Hit, Crit, Mastery) on an item into another secondary stat not currently found on the item. The process is fully reversible.

At the moment the main target for Reforging is turning as much Spirit as you can spare into Haste to get to the soft cap and then Mastery to bring your bubbles back up to where they used to be.

If you want or need more, especially if you’re a raid-healing Disc Priest, you might also reforge some Crit into Haste or Mastery as well.

 

Gemming

Gems have been converted automagically into their new variants. The Disc staples are affected as follows:

As for meta gems, the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond hasn’t changed, but the Ember Skyflare Diamond has had its 25 SP converted into 21 Intellect, and the 2% intellect has become 2% maximum mana.

Because of these conversions, you might find that you’ve lost your yellow gems, so putting a Reckless Ametrine in will help you meet the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond requirement.

 

Enchanting

None of the standard enchants have changed, and since SP or Int are still our top stats I see no reason to change.

 

Glyphing

Glyphing has changed dramatically with 4.0.1. You now learn glyphs by using them, and from then on they’re added to your glyphs pane for use in the future. Swapping them around requires a Vanishing Powder at level 80, and a Dust of Disappearance from 81 onwards which you’ll need to carry around, but it’s a lot easier than carrying around several stacks of different glyphs.

There are also now three types of glyphs instead of two: Prime Glyphs are the spec-defining, high-impact ones; Major Glyphs are more utility-focused but still significant; and Minor Glyphs are as unexciting as ever.
At level 80, you’ll have access to all 9 slots, 3 for each type of glyph.

Here’s the 4.0.1 glyphs for a Disc Priest, in descending order of interest.

Prime

Glyph of Penance – Mandatory. Penance has huge HPS and HPM, and anything that lets you use it more often is a must-have.

Glyph of Power Word: Shield – Not changed since 3.3.5. Still a nice glyph, and definitely a strong contender still.

Glyph of Power Word: Barrier – Since PW:B will become your emergency cooldown, your version of Divine Sacrifice, the 10% healing boost you get from this glyph is nice, especially in a raid.

Glyph of Prayer of Healing – Leaving a lingering HoT is really useful if you use PoH from time to time.

Glyph of Flash Heal – Since Flash Heal’s niche is being shifted to emergency healing this glyph might prove useful at 85, but not in 4.0.1 where heals are still large relative to health pools and people aren’t under 50% health for long.

Glyph of Renew – Changed from 3.3.5 to be a flat 10% boost to your Renew. If you use Renew this is very powerful, if you don’t then it’s not.

My top pick would be Penance. Other than that, I’d recommend Power Word: Shield and then Prayer of Healing. I’d love to recommend Power Word: Barrier, but on Live PW:B isn’t lasting very long (a couple of seconds in most cases) so using the bonus healing is tricky.

Major

As I’ve already said, Major glyphs are generally situational. Keep as many available as you can, and swap them in and out as appropriate. I’ve put some usage notes in this section.

Glyph of Dispel Magic – If you’re dispelling a lot, the healing is a nice bonus.

Glyph of Divine Accuracy – Increases your Hit chance with Smite by 18%. Pretty much mandatory if you’re using the Smite healing style, not useful (obviously) if you’re not.

Glyph of Holy Nova – Holy Nova heals the raid now (it’s range-limited only) making it much more useful than before. This glyph is a very powerful boost to the spell. I’d recommend it.

Glyph of Mass Dispel – Replaces the old Focused Power talent, making a quick MD cast available to all Priest specs rather than just Disc. I like this for convenience, but it’s not really a performance boost and definitely optional.

Glyph of Fear Ward – On bosses that fear this could prove invaluable, especially in smaller group sizes when a rotation won’t be practical. Highly situational, but if you run 10s without a Tremor Totem available this could save your bacon.

Glyph of Inner Fire – Not one to bother with in PvE, but the armour bonus will probably be very useful for PvP.

Glyph of Pain Suppression – Another PvP glyph, since stuns in PvE aren’t usually fatal.

Glyph of Psychic Scream – This one’s very interesting, making feared targets stand still rather than running away. Nice in heroics as safer emergency CC, but definitely not a raid glyph.

Glyph of Smite – Because of the lowered duration of Holy Fire from 12s to 7s, this glyph is not an especially good choice, because the HPS gain from the glyph is approximately cancelled out by the HPS loss from casting HF. It’s a positive but small HPS boost if you Smite for the entire duration, and definitely a DPS gain, but not much of one.
I wrote a bit more about this elsewhere.

Minor

Glyph of Fortitude – As I mentioned earlier, since Power Word: Fortitude is now raid-wide and its cost is quite high, this one might be a good choice to save a ton of mana rebuffing someone who dies during a fight.

Glyph of Levitate – As with WotLK, it’s one of the more practical minor glyphs.

Glyph of Fading – You might find yourself fading more than in WotLK, and some reports say this is the case, although I’ve not found this personally. You shouldn’t need it in a raid, really.

Glyph of Shackle Undead – If you need the extra 5 yards to avoid body-pulling, then grab this glyph.

Glyph of Shadow Protection – Since Shadow Protection now lasts for an hour, I see zero value in this glyph. I imagine it’ll be changed at some stage, maybe to line up with the Fortitude glyph.

Glyph of Shadowfiend – Another less-than-useful glyph, since they changed the Shadowfiend to not take AoE damage. Probably not worth the cost.

From this selection I’d pick up Fortitude and Levitate as mandatory glyphs, and then I’m picking between Shackle Undead if I’m using Shackle, or Shadowfiend if I’m not.

 

Healing Tips

The first thing to say is that generally speaking, people’s experiences with the PTR suggest that you won’t need to change too much of your healing until Cataclysm itself.
Discipline Priests did not get changed anything like as significantly as other specs, and with mana not being constrained at al in 4.0.1 there’s no particular need to change.

There’s some mileage in thinking about how you’ll include Heal in you bindings and maybe trying to establish some muscle memory, but if you try and heal Cataclysm-style in 4.0.1 you’ll struggle a lot.

Tank Healing

If you’re going the Smiting route, your baseline healing on the tank comes from Smiting the boss and letting Atonement heal the lowest-health player with 8 yards of the boss, which ought to be the tank, and using Penance, PW:S and PoM on the tank whenever they’re available. Pop Archangel when it’s at 5 stacks to get 15% of your maximum mana returned and that 15% boost to healing.
If you decide not to use the Smite mechanics, just substitute Flash Heal into the above.

If you’ve taken Train of Thought and Inner Focus, remember to watch the IF cooldown or macro it to your two expensive heals to get the most benefit from it.

The thing to be careful of is checking that Atonement is actually working. Tanks have to stand very close to be within 8 yards of the boss, so they might be out of range, or melee might be taking damage and be soaking up the Atonement heals. In these cases if you’re needed on the tanks then you’ll have to switch to healing them directly.

Raid Healing

Bubbling is still fairly viable, although you’ll want to reforge a lot of Haste and Mastery onto your gear to match the performance you used to get in 3.3.5. I’d use Flash Heal or Penance for spot heals, since mana is not a problem.

The simultaneous Rapture proc trick still works, and the internal cooldown’s reduced to 6s now, so you’ll see a lot more Rapture returns.

Power Word: Barrier ought to be a really nice cooldown like Divine Sacrifice was, but unfortunately it’s just not lasting in raids at the moment so it’s only especially useful on the melee or tanks.



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Categories: Advice and Strategy

Disciplining the Lich King

Posted by Malevica on May - 7 - 2010

… Or: How I learned to love Power Word: Shield.

This post is a little overdue since we got our Lich King kills on 10 and 25 a few weeks ago, but better late than never, eh?

First there’s a bit of personal stuff about the kill itself, then I’ll talk phase by phase about how I approached healing this fight as a Discipline Priest.

The kill

Malevica the Kingslayer sitting in front of the Lich King

Our 25-man kill came after around 100-120 tries. (I have WoL parses for 102, but I missed one night so some aren’t recorded.)

The feeling was incredible: we’d recently wiped at 11%, during which several people on Vent sounded like they were going to have heart attacks, so the tension as we saw ourselves getting closer and closer to 10% with most of the raid alive was palpable; the shouts over Vent when the RP started were deafening, and the whole experience was marred only by the tendency of my PC to crash WoW as soon as any video cutscene auto-loads (the same thing happened at the Wrathgate and after the build-up that got in /g I was miffed, to say the least). For those who care about the statistics, we were the 7th guild on the server to beat him on 25-normal.
We killed him on 10-man a couple of months ago, which helped us to understand some of the mechanics and feed that back to the 25-man, although I’ll say we had to be a lot tighter on the strategy and execution in 25-man.

Healing the fight as a Disc

Phase 1

Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, ProM, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble… Ah, you get the idea.

Pretty much the best thing a Disc Priest can do here is control Infest, by keeping bubbles on the raid as much as humanly possible. The rest of the damage going out is focused on the three tanks, and Disc tank healing is quite time-intensive so it’s much better left to the other healers to cover it.

Infest deals around 8k damage to the whole raid and keeps ticking for 6k (initially, it rises over time) until the player’s health is over 90%, at which point the debuff is removed. A full PW:S can absorb this damage entirely, preventing the player’s health from dropping at all, so Infest will not be a problem for this player at all.

The refinement to this technique for a Disc Priest is maximising the mana returns through Rapture. Now I was under the impression that the Rapture trick had been “fixed” a couple of patches ago so that you were no longer able to gain multiple mana returns from multiple shields being removed simultaneously, but it seems this has been “unfixed” again.
I can manage the fight adequately without much Rapture optimisation simply by using my mana cooldowns judiciously and taking it easy in the first transition phase, so if you don’t nail it don’t panic. But if you can get it then so much the better.

So, how to maximise Rapture returns? There are two things to remember:

  1. You can only trigger Rapture every 12 seconds. This means that if you bubble a tank and the shield is removed you get one Rapture return and then nothing for 12 seconds, probably missing out on the next Infest cycle. So avoid bubbling tanks, or anyone else who is frequently taking damage (like that Whirlwinding warrior who grabs every round of adds).
  2. Rapture also only returns mana when ” your Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled”. Even before the buff to PW:S absorbs, the vast majority of bubbles fully absorb the Infest and don’t return any mana.
    One option is to not reapply a partially-consumed shield, which would let it be removed the next time around, assuming it lasts long enough. The trouble is that this negate the point of bubbling in the first place, absorbing only a small portion of the Infest hit.
    The other option is to downrank. Usually downranking is counter-productive, since the lower ranks cost more than the top rank, but in this case getting Rapture gains more reliably outweighs the increased cost. I’ve not been in a LK raid since reading about this on PlusHeal so I’ve not got round to testing this out in detail, but the suggestion on PH is to drop to Rank 11 or 12.

Besides the mad bubble-spam, the other thing that’s very useful is to keep Prayer of Mending on cooldown. I tend to bounce it off one of the tanks and let it sit where it ends up.

Prayer of Mending is great for helping heal the tank(s), especially if you get it to bounce between the two add tanks, but it also helps a lot on Infest by helping to heal up a few people who missed out on bubbles or had low health for other reasons.

Phase 1.5

To be honest this phase isn’t ideal for a Disc priest, so I tend to use this as a bit of a mana break. I’ll throw heals at the tank if they need it, but I don’t get too involved with the raid healing because the Druids and Shaman are much better suited to it. Bubble-blanketing here is very mana-inefficient and you’ll need that mana going into Phase 2, so I’d stick to keeping a ProM bouncing and helping tank healers.

Also remember that Priests are among the higher DPS healers, so help out on the Frost Spheres if any are getting close. A well-timed Penance or Holy Fire could save the day here.

The other thing a Priest can do here is to Dispel the Soul Shriek off the tanks. A silenced tank is a less effective tank, and the raid needs all the threat lead they can get to kill off the Raging Spirits as quickly as possible.

There will be an Infest very early in Phase 2, but unfortunately Pain and Suffering renders pre-bubbling a bit useless. As soon as the Lich King starts casting Earthquake though you should be starting your bubble cycle, maybe avoiding people with high stacks of P&S.

Phase 2

Back to the bubbling, to keep Infest under control. You won’t be able to reach every player all of the time to keep them bubbled, so it will be a bit more hectic, but your default activity should be basically the same as Phase 1. There are other tricks you can employ though.

First, keep your eyes peeled for the person who will get Defile on them. Defile only grows when it damages someone, so if you can bubble them as they run out you might save one tick of expansion. It is worth talking to any Holy Priests in the raid though, in case they’re using Body and Soul instead to help the person run away more quickly.

Secondly, watch for the MT getting Soul Reaper on them. Since this hits for around 40k, boosting the tank’s effective health by 10k can easily be the difference between life and death if they have a health deficit at the time. Assuming you have a second tank taunting, wait until the taunt happens to prevent a mêlée swing from just removing the bubble again.

Thirdly, watch out for any of the MT healers being picked up by Val’kyr and be ready to switch to fill the gap immediately. Penance, a quick PW:S, a ProM or even a Pain Suppression can all be used to prop up a tank and support your fellow healers.

Phase 2.5

Another transition. As with Phase 1.5 I tend to slow down here and regenerate some mana.

Phase 3 – No more Infest!

The order of the day in Phase 3 is triage and reaction, with quite a strict priority.

The ultimate, top priority for this phase is Harvest Soul victims. One person will take 12-15k ticks every second, six in total (as shown in the log section below) and this person needs quick, focused healing, and failure on the part of the raid to keep this person alive could mean a wipe unless the tanks are very quick to notice and react to the resulting Enrage.
I usually default to PW:S first, then Penance as a follow-up, then take it from there.

WoL section, showing Harvest Soul damage on a player

The second priority for this phase is dealing with the risk of deaths from Vile Spirits exploding (Spirit Burst). The key here is to keep as many players as possible above 20k health at all times to keep them out of one-shot territory. At this stage of the expansion with Hellscream’s Warsong (or the Alliance equivalent) at 15%, most people will be approaching or above 30k HP, so you should be aiming to keep people above 70%.

Third priority is tanks again. Soul Reaper is still active in this phase, so watch out for tanks and use your PW:S to boost their EH as much as possible.

If you’re not engaged with any of the above, then I’d suggest falling back on keeping bubbles on the raid. People will get hit by exploding Vile Spirits and bubbles will help to prevent them getting into the insta-gib region in the first place.

A final note on what to do if you get Harvest Soul. The key is to heal Terenas Menethil as quickly as possible, since his DPS is in proportion to his current HP. First step is to get a PW:S on him to stabilise things, and then fall back on your high-throughput rotation. I might be out of date, but I tend to rely on PW:S > Penance > Greater Heal > FH until Penance is off cooldown again.
The other thing is to deal with the Soul Rip ability. This is the primary damaging ability the Spirit Warden will use on Terenas Menethis. Since Priests lack an interrupt, we should instead dispel the debuff off Terenas immediately to prevent this damage.



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Cataclysm Class Previews – Priest

Posted by Malevica on April - 8 - 2010

Following on from the Shaman class preview, here’s the priest version. I decided not to split Holy and Discipline out, it only overcomplicated things.

Priest

Spells and Abilities

Heal (available at level 16): Introduced at a low level, the “new” Heal spell will functionally work much like a down-ranked Greater Heal did in the past, adding more granularity to your direct-healing arsenal. If you need to heal someone a moderate amount and efficiency is an issue (making Flash Heal the incorrect spell for the job), then Heal is what you want to use. Heal is intended to be the priest’s go-to direct-healing spell unless they need something bigger (Greater Heal) or faster (Flash Heal).

Swap “Heal” for “Healing Wave” and this could be a copy of the Shaman change. Again, it’s a way of providing a standardised basic toolkit with a range of spells to select from, and allowing the extra class-specific abilities to be more fun and diverse.
While it looks like homogenisation, and it sort of is, it allows the class-specific abilities to be less homogenised since the basic bread-and-butter healing can be covered by any class.

Inner Will (level 83): Increases movement speed by 12% and reduces the mana cost of instant-cast spells by 10%. This buff will be exclusive with Inner Fire, meaning you can’t have both up at once. Inner Fire provides a spell power and Armor buff; Inner Will should be useful on a more situational basis.

I played a Warlock for a while, and this looks just like the Demon Armor/Fel Armor mechanic, especially since the “charges” mechanic is being removed as well. I imagine Inner Fire will be standard as now, and when Bonestorm or some other effect requires you to run around for a while you switch to Inner Will.

Given that Inner Fire had turned mostly into a passive spellpower buff in WotLK, this is a nice step in the direction of giving abilities a bit more flavour. Note that

Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or “Life Grip”) is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can’t seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.

This is the biggie, and there’s been lots of reaction to it.
The gut reaction of a healer to being given something like this, especially given the way it was described in the class preview, is “so now DPS standing in fire is my problem too?”. It was mine too. Tanks and healers already often bear (or feel they’re bearing) the majority of the responsibility in dungeons and raids, and this does sound like ratcheting up the responsibility one more notch.
I’ve talked about this before: while DPS do need to perform well to meet soft or hard enrage timers, and there are unhealable situations where DPS can kill themselves, generally the responsibility for a wipe to Berserk falls collectively on the DPS group, and only after the fact, while the responsibility for a tank death or mob not being picked up is often attributable to one player, immediately.

I can agree to some extent, although it shouldn’t be forgotten that Hand of Protection and Hand of Salvation already exist and are often used to help less aware players. Perhaps these are also lamented, but I don’t hear much about them.

I’d prefer to look at the positive sides.

Firstly, this is another good example of getting healing eyes off Grid/Vuhdo and onto the game world: to use this tool effectively, you’ll need to know who’s in trouble, or who’s going to be in trouble soon.

Secondly, there’s a 45-second cooldown on the ability. You won’t be able to rescue every DPS from every flame patch, so I don’t think there’ll be a massive dependency developing. But if someone does happen to make a mistake, you have the ability to save them, once. I’d love the ability to save a Sindragosa wipe by yoinking out the one person who hasn’t spotted the out-of-position Frost Beacon near to them in the confusion, or to stand off and extract the Defile target from the pack on Lich King Phase 2.

Finally, although it’s not totally clear it’s possible this will be able to break roots/snares, effectively spreading part of the Hand of Freedom buff out into the raid. Not every DPS in fire is oblivious, and not every snare is a benign annoyance.

I don’t PvP much, so I won’t comment on the probably legitimate concerns about losing control of your character to a random party member. For PvE though, I can see that it would introduce a moment of confusion, and probably disrupt your rotation so it will need to be used carefully, but if I’m using a 45-second cooldown on you then a small break is probably the lesser of two evils.

 

All HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).

This is a huge change, and one which I am very pleased to see. Allowing HoTs to scale with gear as well as direct heals do is a massive boost to them, and the extra ticks mechanic as opposed to just shortening the duration is a beautiful counter to the problem with effects like the Glyph of Renew or Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation.

This may introduce another soft-cap for haste though, where you want to reach a certain level of haste to get an extra tick. For example, if Renew currently ticks after 3, 6,9,12 and 15 seconds, then in order to get an extra tick you need the tick time to be 2.5s, which means 20% haste. This gives Renew ticks at 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5 and 15 seconds.
However, extra tick or no, the throughput of the spell will scale smoothly, the extra tick just provides extra mana-efficiency. And 20% haste isn’t an unreasonable goal anyway.

While we want to keep the priest’s role as a well-rounded healer, we also want to make sure the class is a viable tank healer, which is something priests moved away from a little in Wrath of the Lich King. Greater Heal will probably be the tank-healing spell of choice, though we’ve also discussed giving Discipline a second shield so that they have a small shield to cast on lots of different targets, and a big, more expensive shield to cast on a tank or anyone else taking a ton of damage.

I’ll agree with the sentiment in the first half of this statement. Discipline is generally seen as the “tank healer” spec, but try swapping your Holy Paladin for a Disc Priest in heroic ICC (or heroic Northrend Beasts when it was new) and then tell me about “bring the player, not the class”. I’d be happy to see a bit more love given to Priests’ tank healing arsenal.

As for the differentiated shields, I actually like that idea as well. 10k shields are nice and all, but they’re also expensive. Bubble-blanketing WotLK-style simply wouldn’t be viable in a significantly more mana-restricted environment. But being able to pre-shield with lighter bubbles during quiet moment, while keeping the big guns for the tanks or people with specific debuffs, that appeals a lot.
This is all under the assumption that DPS will be taking hits more on the 40% than the 80% level in Cataclysm. Otherwise we’ll need the big guns anyway.

Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don’t want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either.

Not a surprise at all. Matticus predicted this a while ago, and the logic given here is pretty sound. Even now the difference in regeneration between a 10-man and 25-man raid can be quite surprising, I’m all for making the experience more consistent.

Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren’t trying to make healing more painful; we’re trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn’t an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time.
We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don’t want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We’re also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don’t feel as penalized when those buffs aren’t available.

(My bold for emphasis)

The first part of this is not news. We have known for a while that we will be more mana-restricted in Cataclysm, and I don’t think many people would argue against this change. The other two points are more interesting.
Skipping to the end, cutting back on the benefits of Replenishment is long, long overdue. Replenishment is so powerful now that Intellect is the only sensible regeneration stat and has been pretty much since T8. The trouble with stacking Intellect for regeneration is that it leaves you in such a poor state if for whatever reason your raid doesn’t have any, or enough, Replenishment to go around. As with the removal of Spirit buffs, this should go a long way towards a more consistent experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of buffs and synergy, especially in an MMORPG, but no one buff should be quite so dominant.

The removal of the five-second rule is something that has been rumbling along for a while. I’m a little nostalgic for the days of using clearcasting procs and Inner Focus to buy Oo5SR time, because reacting to those things was one way to differentiate yourself as a healer and demonstrate your skill. I take issue with characterising that sort of play as “standing around doing nothing” when in fact you were constantly evaluating to decide when to jump back in and when to stay out and regen. But with the boost to Meditation in 3.1 and the high relative value of Replenishment compared to Spirit-based regeneration the five-second-rule has felt increasingly redundant.
Perhaps the harm in leaving it in is the potential for some players to obtain big gains from gaming the 5SR. If the design philosophy is to return to OOM rather than Berserk timers as the factor which ends attempts, you might want that time to be fairly controllable.

Talents

We want to improve Discipline’s single-target healing capacity. One key is to make sure shielding isn’t always a more attractive option than healing.

I’m not totally sure what this one is driving at. Is this talking about pushing Disc back onto tanks and away from bubble-blanketing? If so, bring it on, it can’t come soon enough. The Lich King on 25-man is a bit of a snooze-fest.
If we’re talking about spot-healing then that statement is true as long as 1) a second hit will kill the player without an intervention, and 2) a bubble is instant while a heal takes time. In WotLK this is generally the case, so we shield then heal.

How will this be implemented? You can eliminate condition 2 by giving us an effective instant heal, but I don’t think that’s likely, or you can eliminate condition 1 by giving players more survivability in general, which is probably the way things will go.

Discipline will finally be getting Power Word: Barrier as a talented ability. Think of it like a group Power Word: Shield.

The closest analogue to PW:B is the DK Anti-Magic Zone, but it has some important differences, such as a way to counter it in PvP (since it absorbs all damage, not just magical damage).

What can I say? This has been on the table for a long time, and I’m extremely excited by it. It will take pride of place on my bars, and Mass Dispel will have to shuffle down a place!

More seriously though, this is a very nice ability to have available, and more importantly it will help to keep our heads of Vuhdo from time to time. This is a recurring theme in the healer changes so far, and one which I’m very much in favour of.

We want to make Holy a little bit more interesting to play. One new talent will push the Holy priest into an improved healing state when he or she casts Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The empowered state varies depending on the heals cast.

The idea behind the Holy “cast three in a row” talent (it’s called “Chakra”) is that we’ve always positioned Holy as a versatile healer. This talent lets you shift into different modes. If you need to be a tank healer, cast three single target heals and your single-target healing is now better. Cast three area heals, and you can be a temporarily specialized group healer. We’re going to try to play this mechanic up with a cool UI to try to get that “I’m almost in the zone” feel. We’ll let it apply to as many types of spells as we can, perhaps even Smite for those times when nobody’s taking damage.

There’s been some rather mixed reaction to this one, but it certainly sounds interesting and I’m keen to see where they take it during Beta. I do wish they’d change the name though, I’m a Priest, not a Guru.

The mechanism sounds interesting though. I imagine you might have an aura one way or the other, and a buff which stacks like Serendipity does as you cast the other type of spell until it changes your aura.

I’m not sure why Holy needed such a new and different dynamic though, but maybe that’s the Disc in me looking jealous.

Masteries

Discipline
Healing
Meditation
Absorption

Holy
Healing
Meditation
Radiance

Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.

Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.

The Discipline mastery is hardly a bolt from the blue, although very valuable, but the Holy one is really nice-looking. This should be a nice boost to throughput, or help with topping off the raid when a large heal would be wasted.

Conclusions

On the whole there’s some exciting stuff in store for Priests in Cataclysm. I’m really looking forward to playing with Power Word: Barrier and Life Grip, and I’m intrigued by how Chakra (grating already…) is going to turn out.

I do wonder if I’ll find myself feeling the pull of Holy again in Cataclysm. Holy already has more “toys” than Discipline, and it looks like getting more come Cataclysm. Let’s just say I’m glad I have dual-spec and can try out both.



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Healing Changes in 3.3.3

Posted by Malevica on March - 25 - 2010

A short post, mostly for historical reference, looking at how the 3.3.3 patch has affected healing for the four classes.

This patch mostly focuses on PvP and bugfixes, but there are a few small changes which will affect PvE healing.

Priest

Changes

The big change for priests is that the Tier 10 4-Piece Set Bonus has been changed. This has been discussed elsewhere already , so I’ll refer elsewhere for the detailed discussion. The short version is that the proc to reset the Penance or CoH cooldowns is gone, replaced by a flat increase to Power Word: Shield of 5% and to Circle of Healing of 10%.
Personally, having played as a Disc Priest with the old 4-piece bonus briefly, I think this is a slight loss to flexibility and 10-man Disc healing, but probably a boost to 25-man healing which is more bubble-heavy. Shame they gave us this at the same time they changed Incanter’s Absorption though.

Also applicable to Disc Priest is the fix which adds PW:S to the list of abilities affected by Hellscream’s Warsong / Strength of Wrynn, along with Sacred Shield for Paladins.

The change to Renewed Hope, giving it a 60-second duration, up from 20 seconds, but a 15-second cooldown, is part of a general change aimed at reducing the constant refreshing of on-proc buffs, and reducing the chance of these buffs falling off. Basically a neutral change, although it may have minor performance benefits. MSBT is breathing a sigh of relief anyway.

Bugfixes

  • Lightwell: Tooltip change to reflect that any friendly player can use the Lightwell
  • Divine Spirit: Fixed a bug preventing this spell from overwriting Prayer of Spirit correctly
  • Renewed Hope: Applying this spell no longer causes combat pet abilities to trigger a global cooldown.
  • Glyph of Power Word: Shield: The heal produced from this glyph is now more correctly treated as heal for purposes of procing effects that are caused by heals, such as Divine Aegis and the weapon Trauma.
  • Glyph of Prayer of Healing: This glyph will now always heal all affected targets by the correct amount.

I’ve not noticed these causing trouble personally, but if you have, rejoice!

Known Issues

There is a new bug which has arisen, which can cause Spirit of Redemption form to be lost upon casting “certain spells” (Source). Expect a hotfix soon.

Edit: As of March 27th, the 3.3.3a patch, this is fixed.

Bati from HolyNovaNow has spotted Divine Aegis being credited with unusually high amounts of healing (>30% of total, for a start) in WoL reports. This might be a problem with WoL and a slightly changed combat log output, since WoL can only estimate absorbs.
On the other hand, she also runs with multiple Discipline Priests per raid, so it’s possible WoL is simply failing to separate out the DA absorbs and crediting each Priest with some or all of the DA caused by other players.
We’ll have to see how this plays out.

Paladin

Changes

Generally all’s quiet on the Paladin front. The only change is the addition of Sacred Shield to the spells affected by Hellscream’s Warsong / Strength of Wrynn.

Bugfixes

  • Divine Guardian: This talent will no longer incorrectly modify the tooltip of Sacred Shield
  • Lay On Hands: Tooltip clarified to better explain this ability’s interactions with Divine Shield, Divine Protection and Hand of Protection

I presume the latter is clarifying the 30s shared cooldown hotfixed in over the last few patches.

Shaman

Changes

As with Paladins, very little has been changed for Restoration either.

It might be worth noting that Flame Shock has been buffed to allow the DoT component to crit and to be affected by haste, so it might be more valuable to DoT up bosses between heals.

Bugfixes

  • Earthliving Weapon: Fixed a bug where the glyph was not boosting Earthliving proc chance.
  • Tier-10 Restoration 2-Piece Set Bonus: Rapid Currents will no longer be consumed if Nature’s Swiftness is already active.
  • Tier-10 Restoration 4-Piece Set Bonus: The heal-over-time effect from this set bonus now works correctly with the weapon Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings. In addition, to prevent confusion, the heal-over-time effect has been renamed Chained Heal.

The top one seems pretty major to me. I’d not come across it as a problem, so perhaps it was limited to certain circumstances.

Druid

Changes

No noted changes to Restoration.

Solo players might be interested to note that Nature’s Grasp now has three charges, although as far as I know it can still only affect one target at a time. I might actually bother keeping the buff on myself now.

Bugfixes

  • Hurricane: If a Druid begins casting this spell while in Bear Form, Dire Bear Form or Cat Form, the spell will now cast as normal instead of immediately cancelling the channel.

No mention of Tree of Life Form. I’ll have to check if the fix has been applied across the board or not. It would be great if this is fixed though, for those boring heroics with 6k GS tanks AOE-tanking rooms at a time without the common courtesy to take damage!

Edit: tested and confirmed that this works in Tree Form as well. Bye bye /cancelform macro!

  • Lifebloom: The final bloom heal from this spell can no longer trigger talents, trinkets and set bonuses for the player being healed.
  • Tranquility: The combat log tooltip for this ability will no longer spuriously claim a range of 100 yards
  • Tree of Life Form: Corrected a misspelling in the tooltip.
  • Tier-10 Restoration 4-piece Set Bonus: The Rejuvenation effect caused by this set bonus can now be overwritten by the Druid’s own Rejuvenation spell casts. In addition, the combat log tooltip for this Rejuvenation effect no longer spuriously claims it requires Tree of Life Form.

Little need to comment on these. I’ve not had the opportunity to play with Druid T10, so I can’t comment on the last bugfix.
The first change is interesting. Heals like Lifebloom and Prayer of Mending still seem to retain a few obscure holdovers from the old implementation where they were “cast” by the player they healed, and they get unearthed and fixed every now and then.

Encounters

Not much in the way of encounter fixes either, although the biggie is that the Pact of the Darkfallen on the Blood Queen Lana’thel encounter has been changed to tick twice as often but half as hard, to “make the removal of the spell a bit more responsive”. Sounds like a good change to me, and reducing the impact of that big smash if the three players were close but not close enough can only be a good thing.

General

Basically things which aren’t strictly healing changes, but things I pulled out as interesting.

The most healing-relevant change is that a number of on-proc raid buffs have been made passive and longer-range. Shaman totems and Paladin auras are excluded though, by design. Reducing combat log or combat text spam can only be a positive thing, as is making the coverage of these buffs more consistent.

Beyond this there are a few quality-of-life changes I particularly like:

  • The Argent Crusader’s Tabard apparently no longer has a 30s on-equip cooldown. And only six months too late! Still, better late than never.
  • Minimizing the game client while auto-following another player will no longer cancel the follow command.
  • Raid marks can be used without being in a party.


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