Subscribe to this blog by RSS Follow me on Twitter
Subscribe to this blog by RSS

4.3 and the Disc Priest

Posted by Malevica on September - 29 - 2011

Edit: Updated for the changes announced September 29th, about an hour before this went up. Typical…

The last couple of days saw not only the announcement of the much-anticipated (at least around here) Tier 13 Priest gear and set bonuses, but also the more widely anticipated 4.3 PTR patch notes.

So, what’s in store?

The New Outfit

Also available in tasteful blue or red, depending on your raiding tier of choice.

After my initial “WTF!” reaction, I sat and looked at the set for a while and it really grew on me. There’s definitely something Priestly about it, but not the gentle, friendly image of a Priest but instead has us putting our serious face on (literally), filling ourselves with smouldering, barely-restrained power of the Light and getting prepared for the grave business of taking on Deathwing.

How badass it’ll manage to look on a gnome though is anyone’s guess…

Set Bonuses

First, the bonuses themselves:

Healer, 2P — After using Power Infusion or Divine Hymn, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for [10|15 23] sec. (10 sec for Discipline, 15 23 for non-Discipline.)

Healer, 4P — Your Power Word: Shield has a 10% chance to absorb 100% additional damage and increase the mana granted by Rapture by 100%, and the cooldown duration of your Holy Word abilities is decreased increased by 20%.

Source | Changes from the first iteration of the bonuses are crossed out or in bold.

Before we delve in, a public health notice: these are very early ideas, are almost certain to be changed (as indeed it has already), and so on, you know the rest. I don’t usually like dissecting such early information, but it can be interesting to see where the developers’ thinking is on the subject.

So, let’s take a look.

The 2-piece bonus is still a head-scratcher at first glance. It’s been pointed out on EJ and elsewhere that this presents Disc Priests with something of a question: should we be casting Power Infusion on cooldown just for the mana reduction, or should we be saving it for when we actually need the throughput. PI has a split personality already, with the throughput and mana saving components. I find myself mostly using it as a throughput cooldown, popping it when I shift to the AoE-heavy part of a fight; I benefit from the mana reduction too of course, since PoH and PW:S aren’t exactly cheap, but the driver for its use is throughput, not mana.

If you really want to theorycraft the bonus you have to consider each fight, the circumstances in which you might want to use PI as a throughput cooldown and consider the opportunity cost (in mana) of keeping it off cooldown for special occasions rather than auto-casting it; that difference changes the on-paper value of the set bonus. I doubt you’ll decide to skip the bonus in favour of off-set gear because of it, but I do expect the numbers to go up a bit following real-world testing, to give a higher actual-fight MP5 equivalent.

Of course, those high-throughput moments are precisely when I’m likely to be hitting my expensive spells, so in that sense the bonus has some logic to it, it should help me get the best value from it. The Holy bonus doesn’t seem to have the same logic though; Lightwell isn’t really something you save for a sticky moment, I’d have thought you’d use it more or less on cooldown anyway. I can’t think of a better choice of spell off the top of my head though. Lightwell has now been changed to Divine Hymn, which is a better choice – a spell associated with a high-throughput moment where you will be casting big, expensive spells.

The 4-piece bonus for Discipline is, for me, uninspiring really. Every 10 times you cast PW:S (on average), it’ll absorb twice as much and give a double-sized Rapture proc. Now this in itself is a decent bonus: even raid-healing Disc Priests bubble someone at least every 12-15s for Rapture, so as long as you’re using PW:S regularly (probably on a tank to make sure it’s used) you should get the benefit. This may slightly penalise the use of PW:S as a pure raid-healing spell though, because a larger bubble is less likely to be totally consumed and possibly end up preventing what might otherwise have turned into a Rapture proc. Raid healers might think twice depending on their typical usage of PW:S, but for tank-healing it’s a solid bonus.

My problem is that in essence it’s a slightly unreliable but passive throughput and regen boost. I don’t object to fire-and-forget boosts, that’s what my Cauterising Flame is after all, but they don’t excite me much when I can’t see them except on the meters.

Aesthetics aside it’s a good bonus for a tank healer, and it’d be decent even for a raid healer because PW:S is fairly sparsely used anyway I’d just hoped for something a bit more fun.The 2-piece seems designed either to take advantage of or to encourage a more frequent use of Power Infusion and Divine Hymn, while the 4-piece is a simple output and regen boost as long as you use PW:S regularly.

(Incidentally, having got my 4-piece last week I had enormous fun freaking my tanks out on our next week’s Rag attempts by putting fiery circles near their feet. I’m not sure who thought of the bonus animation, but they have a wicked streak!)

The Patch

As usual, very little for Priests in the patch notes, although what there is is definitely worth a look:

Divine Hymn now affects 5 targets, up from 3.

Atonement will now account for the target enemy’s combat reach when calculating proper range, enabling it to be used on large creatures such as Ragnaros and Ala’kir.
Divine Aegis has a new spell effect.

Spirit of Redemption has been rebuilt to address a few functionality issues and make it more responsive. Spirit of Redemption otherwise remains unchanged.
State of Mind has been redesigned and is now called Heavenly Voice. Heavenly Voice increases the healing done by Divine Hymn by 50/100%, and reduces the cooldown of Divine Hymn by 2.5/5 minutes.

Glyph of Circle of Healing now also increases the mana cost of Circle of Healing by 20%.


For Disc, the big change of course is the new Divine Aegis bubble!

Ahem. Yes, unfortunately when I logged into the PTR client today it looked exactly the same as the PW:S graphic still. I’ll keep you posted if it changes though.

OK, more seriously, the Atonement change. Finally, two tiers later, Atonement works off the boss’s hitbox rather than the boss’s centre. I presume there must have been something big and scary and technical preventing this change from making it in earlier, or perhaps Ragnaros brought it to a head in a way that Al’Akir didn’t manage to. Anyway, good news.

Finally, a small buff to Divine Hymn for all Priests, with it healing 5 targets rather than 3. That should help its throughput for both specs, although Holy gets a much improved version as their new raid cooldown: double the healing and a 3-minute cooldown means Holy has its own Tranquility to play with. Now my initial reaction was (of course) to get all angsty and bitter, but actually there have been several fights where I’ve felt I could have been more comfortable as Holy but ended up muddling through as Disc because of the combination of PW:Barrier and an AoE phase. Now that Holy gets a powerful raid cooldown of its own the dual-spec option opens right back up again, and that can only be a good thing for the class. It’s no nerf to Disc, just a rebalancing of the specs in the sorts of bursty fights where Disc currently dominates because of a single spell. GC agrees.

Possibly Related Posts:

Categories: Opinion

2 Responses so far.

  1. Grav says:

    “(Incidentally, having got my 4-piece last week I had enormous fun freaking my tanks out on our next week’s Rag attempts by putting fiery circles near their feet. I’m not sure who thought of the bonus animation, but they have a wicked streak!)”

    It’s a lot scarier on the Rag trash….

  2. ambient says:

    I will admit:
    1. I haven’t raided discipline since T10.
    2. I theorycraft my healing via logs and instinct rather than extensive math. Given how many aspects of healing can’t really be modeled anyway, this has served me well. (So no, I haven’t sat down and attached a number to “25% reduction to damage” in any given AoE phase.)

    But I don’t get the world’s obsession with PW:Barrier! You say you would have been more comfortable as holy for the fight, but the mere existence of barrier was worth more than your improved performance? I just can’t wrap my head around that. If the raid is stationary and grouped for an AoE phase, then that bubble could just as easily be a Sanctuary surging under them and a Lightwell right in front of them, *while the priest is casting other heals*, all benefiting from the +15% innate healing of a holy priest and Test of Faith’s +12% healing on targets under 50% health. And Sanctuary can be up 18 of every 28 seconds, compared to a mere 10 seconds of dome every 3 minutes.

    Yes, when we’re three-healing, I can’t quite match the output of our resto druid and holy pally. But healing meters aren’t very important, and I feel secure that the timing, finesse, raid stability, and AoE burst I bring aren’t being reflected in those raw numbers. (And our raid leader loves the spec, so I’m not going to be forced disc any time soon.) I’m sincerely interested in hearing your thoughts behind disc being the only option for those fights.

Leave a Reply