5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

Good gravy, so many new changes coming with the alpha notes! Instead of going through all of them, I’m just going to summarize my favourites. You can turn to BlizzPro later in the week for a more in-depth analysis.

Atonement nerfs

Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming. For almost the entire expansion, Discipline Priests were considered top tier and a virtual must have in progression focused guilds. It wasn’t so much the temporarily healing buff from Evangelism, but the Archangel ratios which made us a force to be reckoned.

Let’s deal damage with any of our main DPS nukes. On top of that, a portion of the damage done is going to also heal. Oh and it’s a smart heal!

In a way, I’m disappointed that it’s lowered but I can’t help but think it’ll help equalize the state of healing classes a little more. At the very least, maybe it’ll lower Discipline representation some and allow us Holy Priest guys back into the fray as a better alternative. There was nothing really wrong with Holy (well, there was but we’ll cover that in a moment), but Holy just wasn’t quite as well sought after.

That’ll be different in the future largely because of…

Chakra changes

Remember when Chakra came into play? It was almost two expansions ago during the start of Cataclysm. It essentially functioned as a stance for Holy Priests. Certain spells would become stronger depending on which Chakra you had active and you’d gain access to a Holy Word spell that corresponded with that stance. It was intended to provide flexibility and allow Priests to select the role they were going to perform in a raid: Single target healing or multi-target healing.

If you were in a Chakra stance and wanted to do something outside of the benefit, your spells wouldn’t make quite as an impact. The alpha notes said it quite clearly: The buff from being in a certain Chakra ”felt like a penalty for being in the wrong Chakra, rather than a bonus for being in the right Chakra”.

Chakra: Sanctuary provided a strong buff to Prayer of Healing which was great when I was covering groups but it was lousy if I needed to spot heal the tank for a few moments. Lowering the bonuses attained in Serenity and Sanctuary are a start. Saying “I’m only losing 10% of a healing boost instead of a 25% bonus” is much more reassuring. Instead, Holy Word: Serenity and Sanctuary are receiving more of a healing bonus. I suspect our normal baseline spells will be adjusted and balanced accordingly.

Removal of Mana Hymn

Gone.

Just like that.

How else am I supposed to get my mana back? One of our healing utilities is out the window as a victim of Blizzard’s crackdown on ability bloat. Now they’ve promised that mana regeneration rates and spirit will be monitored to offset the loss of Hymn of Hope. Now I’m really at the mercy of my own healing spells. I can’t heal full throttle and rely on Mana Hymn to provide me with a cushion anymore. I’m going to miss it.

New glyphs

To be more specific, I’m giddy with Glyph of Restored Faith. It can be used as an escape or a closer or if I just want to get next to someone. Maybe it isn’t that killer, but I really do like the fun I can get with this. I can pull myself out of harms way if I’m caught standing in a fire! It’s like a pseudo defensive cooldown!

Level 100 talents

You can find the new talents at the recently updated WoW Head calculator. I liked that old talent with Void Shift where you could use it as many times as you wanted but I guess that one was tossed.

Now there’s healing talents when you reach level 100 like Words of Mending. Every healing or absorb spell generates a stack of Word of Mending. Hit 5 stacks, cast a free Prayer of Mending! Worried about Prayer of Mending overriding itself? A minor change was introduced where Prayer of Mending from multiple Priests are able to be applied on the same target. Not only that, one Priest can have multiple applications of Prayer of Mending on more than one target!

I mean, yo dawg! I heard you like Prayer of Mending! So I put a Words of Mending on your Prayer of Mending so you can Prayer of Mending while you Prayer of Mending!

Holy Priests gain access to another talent called Clarity of Purpose. It replaces Prayer of Healing with a new spell called Clarity of Purpose. We know that smart healing spells are getting dumber. But if healing spells were given an IQ, I’m certain Clarity of Purpose would take home the smartest heal ever award. It’ll heal players within 10 yards of your target. Not only that, it splits the heal so that weaker players receive more of the healing pie.

Now that’s legit!

This is going to be a fun beta testing period. Warlords needs to come soon! I’ll do my best to keep track of any pertinent Priest changes and updates as we progress through the development stages of the expansion.

Introducing the Mayron UI Compilation

Introducing the Mayron UI Compilation

Mayron UI is a fully fledged interface compilation for DPS, tanks, and healers. You can grab the whole package on WoW Interface. It centers around  Grid and ShadowedUnitFrames.

I chose the MayronUI because of the way it looks. Everything is centralized. It allows me to easily switch modes between Shadow and healing at anytime. It even has it’s own custom installer. Mayron UI is  really easy to install. The instructions involve you extracting the addons into your addons folder. There’s another set of files that you have to load within your WTF folder as well. Once you fire it up in game, you’ll get an installation screen. Veterans that are already familiar with custom UIs will have an easier time with it. Newer players just getting started with custom UI elements need not worry as the instructions are detailed enough.

As for memory usage, it comes in at around 40MB+ for me (but will spike upwards to about 60ish due to Recount).

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It’s built for widescreen resolutions (1920 x 1080, 1680 x 1050, 1600 x 900, 1440 x 900, and 1366 x 768). You need to play at full screen out of the box. I typically play in windowed mode and sometimes there’s a slight disruption on the bottom right with Recount (see third image below) but that can be solved by simply unlocking and moving it over slightly.

5 man view

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Not much really changes between healing and DPS mode. The above screenshot shows what it looks like when I’m healing. Frames are nice and centralized and they go horizontal. Those three circles in the middle are a different addon (NugComboBar for Archangel stacks or Shadow Orbs). Buff and debuff tracking on you appear in the top right next to your map. Action bars can be shown or hidden based on your needs. There’s some nifty tabs in the top left that allow you to access various panes (Spellbook, character stuff, etc). There’s a convenient area in the top left where the chatbox can go. I added another chat pane to mine and placed it on the bottom right to help filter and sort through the various channels.

Healer mode

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This is what the healer side of things looks like. The Grid raid frames are slightly off center. It might take some getting used to for players though as the bottom row is considered group 1 while the top row is group 5. I know many players prefer columns instead of rows for their groups. It continues to stretch upwards in order to accommodate 40 man raid groups. Your target’s buffs and debuffs appear just to the side of the action bars below. Raid debuffs continue to appear on Grid itself and you can customize and add certain ones as needed. Your peripheral vision will come in handy in case any offensive dispels need to be cast.

There’s a slight catch with the healing frames. The focus frame is the larger frame on the right. The target frame is the smaller one in the middle. You can keep the tank focused while healing other players in the raid. Let’s be real here, I don’t think many of us actually look at the target frame when we’re raid healing anyway. We can eyeball health bars and percentages off our raid frames fairly easily. Having that focus frame in such a prominent area is handy because it becomes plainly obvious if our tank is afflicted by something or has suffered a large amount of damage coming in.

DPS mode

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Switching between modes is simple. There’s a little button on the left side of the chat box that lets you toggle your views.

This is what DPS mode looks like. Raid frames are in the bottom left. Unlike healer mode, your target of target appears in the middle between your unit frame and your target unit frame. I don’t have anyone focused but they would appear just above them. Like healer mode, notable buffs and debuffs for your target appear just to the right side of your bottom action bars. One of my concerns as a Shadow Priest is ensuring that all my DoTs stay up. Tidy Plates helps with that here as there’s no other addon that lets me track multiple DoTs on multiple targets (ClassTimer is included and helps with timers from target to target but doesn’t do well with multiple targets like Council f ights). Activate nameplates and track them manually.

All in all, Mayron’s is certainly a clean UI to work with as a base. I customized mine slightly by adding other raid related addons like TellMeWhen to alert me when certain abilities were available.

Configuration

There’s no “master” window to configure addons from. It would’ve been nice to have a central panel but it’s easy enough to access the options you need to get to anyway.

/install – Opens up the Mayron Setup Window
/bonus – Opens up the Bonus Features Window
/rl - Reloads the UI
/ltp – This opens up Leatrix Plus which contains very useful general settings. Worth looking through.
/suf – Settings for the Unit Frames (Shadowed Unit Frames)
/bar – Bartender Settings (Action Bars)
/kgpanels config – Settings for all the graphical art panels being used – Can become very technical.
/classtimer – Settings for the timers on the top of the palyer and target frame – You can remove and add additional timers through this.
/align – Places a Grid over the screen so that you can align UI elements easily.

Full list of addons
  • ACP
  • BankStack
  • Bartender4
  • Broker + Plugins
  • ButtonFacade + Masque
  • Chatter
  • ClassTimer
  • ColorPickerPlus
  • Bazooka
  • Doom_CooldownPulse
  • DragEmAll
  • eAlign
  • ErrorMonster
  • Grid
  • ImprovedOptionsFrames
  • kgPanels
  • Leatrix_Plus
  • nibChatTabs
  • OmniCC
  • Parrot
  • Postal
  • Quartz
  • Recount
  • Reflux
  • ShadowedUnitFrames
  • SLDataText
  • Simple Power Bar
  • TipTac
  • Tidy Plates
  • Who Framed Watcher Wabbit
  • XLoot
  • XLootGroup

Notes:

You need to get your own boss mods. It won’t come with DBM or BigWigs. Pick the one you like. In addition, certain classes may want to pick up additional class specific addons. All in all, I think it’ll help provide many solutions for players looking for a clean UI that’s universal across multiple characters and roles.

It’s the first post I’ve done in a while that looks specifically at compilations. Leave any questions below, and I’ll answer them as best I can (and incorporate them in future UI compilation review posts and notes).

Patch 5.4 Preliminary Priest Thoughts

Patch 5.4 Preliminary Priest Thoughts

General

  • Leap of Faith no longer has a facing requirement.

Say hello to the no-look life grip! I promise, I will only use this power against trolls. In all due seriousness, it’s a minor quality of life change. I can move and face the direction I want to go and not have to whip my camera around mid movement to pull a fellow player away from danger.

Talents

  • Angelic Feather now increases allies’ movement speed by 80%, up from 60% and the feathers have a duration of 10 minutes, up from 5 minutes.
  • Divine Insight for Discipline Priests now has a 100% chance to activate its effect after using Penance, up from 40%.
  • Twist of Fate’s damage and healing threshold to activate has been increased to 35%, up from 20%.

Angelic Feather change? Neat, I guess. Still not quite attractive enough in a raid setting. Too much effort, I think. Harder to work with on 25.

Power Infusion is the primary staple in the fifth talent tier (in most cases, anyway). Divine Insight triggered quite often for Holy Priests but not very often for Discipline. It should make it a little more lucrative. It’s essentially an extra Prayer of Mending Power Word: Shield on targets.

Twist of Fate change is agreeable. An extra 15% buffer means more frequent activations. Should come in handy in large, multi target ad fights for Shadow (like Primordius). It’s good news for raid-assigned healing priests (whack the mole with the lowest health first).

Shadow

  • Shadowform no longer reduces all damage taken by 15%.

Now I’m going to get two shot by Rogues instead of three. Sad smile

Class Armor

  • Restoration PvP 4-piece set bonus is no longer an area-of-effect and only affects the character that dispels Vampiric Touch.

Aaaaah, this might’ve been too strong in PvP. It was fun while it lasted, at least.

Tier 16 bonuses

  • Priest T16 2P Bonus (New) Serendipity also increases the healing of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing by 50% per stack. While Archangel is active, your critical chance is increased by 10%.
  • Priest T16 4P Bonus (New) Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending casts increase the effect of your next Holy Word spell by 50%, stacking up to 10 times. While Spirit Shell is active, you gain 10% haste and 3,500 mastery.
  • Priest T16 Shadow 2P Bonus (New) Shadowy Recall effects have their critical damage bonus increased by 100%.
  • Priest T16 Shadow 4P Bonus (New) Each Shadow Orb consumed for Devouring Plague increases the damage of your next Mind Blast, Shadow Word: Death, or Mind Spike cast within 12 sec by 20%.

Not sure if the two piece bonus is going to stay. But the Holy side of it is incredible. Increased potency of Prayer of Healing alone with just two Flash Heals (and the Serendipity effect)? However, the 10% crit is nothing to completely sneeze at. I think maybe it should go up slightly. 15% seems like a good number. If you’re not automatically triggering Archangel, this better be a good enough incentive for you! As for the four piece, I can see Circle of Healing and Prayer racking up some big time Holy Word charges. Nice for Blizzard to sneak in a pseudo-buff to Sanctuary and Serenity. The Spirit Shell bonus is no joke either. Try to time Archangel and Spirit Shell together for extra Divine Aegis proccing fun.

The Shadow bonuses are certainly cool on their own. I think Shadow Recall refers to our little Shadow copies that periodically run into the boss. The four piece is good in the sense it doesn’t really need us to change anything in our rotation significantly. We should still be using them at a full charge of Shadow Orbs, I think.

Don’t think this is going to be final just yet.

Zone Healing

Zone Healing

Ever play Ultimate (or Ultimate Frisbee)?

The rules are quite simple. You have two teams starting at opposite end zones who attempt to advance the disc to the other team’s end zone. Once the pull (like a kickoff in football) is initiated the teams can start jockeying for possession. A team that advances the disc to an end zone secures the point.

Kicker: The person with the disc can’t move. They can pivot on one foot but they can’t move. The opposing team gains possession whenever any pass is incomplete, intercepted, or received out of bounds .

Teams will employ different strategies to prevent the other team from scoring. One of the common defensive strategies is zone defense. Players are pre-assigned to sections of the field as they attempt to intercept and stop opposing players from advancing towards their end zone. It’s used to stop the offensive team from making really long passes. There’s usually one or two players that will close in on the disc handler. There’s different variations of it, but the key concept is that the defenders have their own sections to work with (not to mention that covering a small area instead of advancing up and down the field all the time is great at minimizing fatigue — I would know).

Gosh, I can’t wait for summer to get here.

Zone healing

Now the concept of zone healing works the same way and is used in situations where not every player is within range of the healer or where players are constantly shifting in and out of range. Sometimes there are raid mechanism place preventing you from moving or that keep you constantly away from each other. Zone healing is an approach that directs the healers to only heal the people that are within range of them. They must trust the other healers to cover the players near themselves in other areas. If you’re assigned to the blue beam of Durumu’s platform, then you can heal anyone that comes in range as the other beams are being moved around. Most raid frames have a function where the individual frames turn transparent if a player isn’t in range. As the healer, this makes your job easier. Any frames that are opaque (or solid) are the players that depend on you to live.

I understand, I have trust issues too. For the officers, zone healing is a great way to isolate which healers are true rock stars and which ones are struggling.

It’s a simple and effective healing strategy to use if the encounter demands everyone to be spread out. Let me give you some examples:

Ji-Kun

Ji-Kun has an ability called Caw. It’s a common raid mechanic where she’ll send sound waves at a player and damages anyone nearby within 8 yards. This calls for people to be spaced out around her main platform. Depending on which Ji-Kun strategy you use, you’ll have groups clearing out nests and may not have the same, consistent number of players on the main platform at all times. Be flexible.

Dark Animus

Healers will have to generate threat on the little anima golems at the start of the fight to hold them in place. If the golems are brought together, their attack speed greatly increases and will quickly snowball into a wipe. This requires everyone to stand in place. As the little golems are gradually killed near the Massive Anima, players will be freed up and can move around the room consistently. In addition, Matter Swap will switch players with their most distant ally forcing healers to react accordingly and dispel or heal any teleported players.

As a healer, you’re not going to be able to hit everybody. DPS and tanks will come and go through your area of the map. It won’t always be a set group of players all the time. Keep the players in your zone healthy!

Challenge Gold: Scarlet Monastary

Challenge Gold: Scarlet Monastary

We’re down to one.

After several heartbreaking nights, my group managed to get Scarlet Monastary down on gold and went back to help finish out Scarlet Halls for me. The Monastary is arguably the hardest challenge mode in the game!

We’ll see though as we still have Stormstout Brewery to blast through before we collect our full suite of Challenge Mode rewards.

The main issues with Scarlet Monastary isn’t the bosses. It’s actually the insane trash pulls. Cooldown and ability usage must be pinpoint. We actually screwed up slightly on Whitemane and pulled extra trash when we didn’t have to but finished 7 seconds away from the Silver mark.

There’s a few pressure points in Scarlet Monastary, so I’ll walk you through the toughest ones. Make sure you come into Scarlet Monastary prepared with the 18 second Invisibility Potion. You’ll need it. The most frustrating part is that if you wipe shortly in the cathedral area, you’ll have to wait several punishing minutes until your potion cooldowns are available for usage.

Right as the Challenge Mode timer finishes counting down, you can activate your Spirit Shell to grant your party additional shi elds as they get through that first pull. Spirit Shell should be off cooldown around the time you pull the Frenzied Spirits before the boss.

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You’ll want to have a Death Knight handy. You can charm one of the Frenzied Spirits as it it gradually builds up a buff (also called Frenzied Spirit). Our Death Knight rounded them all up and applied a slow and gradually kited them around while our Shaman and Monk chained AoE stuns back to back. Now the buff increases the Spirit’s damage and attack speed by 15% and it stacks. Our fastest kill on Thalnos the Soulrender was around 31 seconds. I think the Spirit had around 40+ stacks coupled with Heroism.

In the first pull in the hallway shortly after taking down that first boss, I suggest yanking the two yellow mobs and taking them out. Odds are you’ll pull them and the big pack around the corner. As a healer, try to be the first one in so you can start drinking before the rest of your group initiates. Light off and chain your AoE stuns one after the other. You can use a Barrier here if you’re struggling, but it’s not quite necessary.

cm-sm-hall

Burn the Invisibility Potion and break out into a run across the courtyard. Go up the right stair case and hop onto the fountain walls. Make sure you don’t come out of stealth near the 3 monks sitting on the right part of that fountain. Our tank pulled Brother Korloff when he was in the middle of patrolling between the 6 monks that flank that entrance to the monastary.

Brother Korloff will charge the furthest player and unload Firestorm Kick. Be really wary of where you stand. You want to position yourself just in the area in front of the fountain so that you don’t pull the aforementioned trio of monks. As the healer, don’t be the furthest one away. Shouldn’t have too many problems with this one at all. It’s just a little long.

Once you defeat the Monk, your next task is to try to penetrate the Monastary without pulling the monks on either side. The margin of error here is extremely small. Even a quarter step in either direction is enough to pull the pack and destroy your group. Now if you pay close attention to the positioning of the monks, you’ll notice they’re not exactly lined up perpendicular to the entrance. They’re actually angled inwards. What we ended up doing was using a hard CC (like Hex) on the back right Monk. This helped increase our margin just large enough that we could get through safely.

We tried CCing both the back Monks but the back left Monk managed to aggro on to us while we were inside the Cathedral so we ended up CCing the back right one only.

Anyway, take a hard left when you’re inside the Cathedral and start working on the pulls. There’s three major multi-mob pulls that can annihilate your group. Space out your stun cooldowns and healing cooldowns. For example, our Monk and Shaman used their stuns on the first pack. I used a Barrier and our Death Knight used Army of the Dead on the second. Use the pillars to line of sight pull them. Your interrupters should just pick a Purifier and lock them down while AoEing.

If you can get within striking range of Whitemane and Durand with 4:30 left, you should be in good shape. Stay close to each other so that Durand doesn’t get too far off. Assign specific interrupts for Mass Resurrection and Dominate Mind for Whitemane. You can let Smite go off unchecked as it’s easily healable. We screwed up here and accidentally pulled a Scarlet Zealot in addition to Durand. Use your AoE cleaves and single target abilities to get rid of that Zealot fast. Make sure he doesn’t cast Heal on the boss.

Good luck! I know I made it sound easier than it actually was. Scarlet Monastary will end up being one of the longer ones your group is working on just due to the difficulty of the trash and the potion cooldowns.

5.2: Returning to Wrath level Shield spam?

5.2: Returning to Wrath level Shield spam?

Okay, that’s not actually going to happen. As much as I miss the days of 1 button Circle of Healing during Burning Crusade and non-stop shielding in Wrath, it was largely so I could keep watching my NHL games without having to compromise my performance too much.

In a recent thread about PTR class and set bonus issues, Ghostcrawler mentioned the following:

We are going to nerf Divine Aegis for Prayer of Healing, but also lower the cost of Power Word: Shield (for Disc only) and increase the healing and damage of Penance. In 25 raids, Disc is using Prayer of Healing almost exclusively and we don’t think the Spirit Shell change will be sufficient to change that. We actually want Disc to get back to using PW:Shield a little more, along with Penance. Disc’s throughput is overall too strong in PvE, not even counting the fact that absorbs are often more beneficial than heals.

The Divine Aegis aspect on Prayer of Healing gets tuned down but we get cheaper Power Word: Shields instead.

I don’t know what it’s like at the 10 man level, but at the 25 man level, Disc Priests are predominantly using Prayer of Healing. It’s just that effective! More tactical usage of Penance and PW: Shield needs to be done clearly. Right now, we have the ability to run two Priests in our composition. You’d think that 2 Disc priests would limit the amount of shields being thrown up because of the whole Weakened Soul debuff and the fact that shields cause a dent in mana.

But realistically at the 25 man level, two Disc priests sharing the burden isn’t going to shoot the raid in the foot. There’s lots of targets to go around. There’s damage coming from all over the place (in most cases). Those shields provide an extra buffer and can buy players an extra second or two. Bonus points for cheaper shields.

Remember when Discipline sucked back in the day?

I just hope it doesn’t go too far in the other direction and we find out massive quantities of shield spam are back in season. I don’t think it is because we learned how that was in Wrath and while it was strong, it wasn’t fun.

What other clarifications?

The Golden Apparition from the Healing 4pc heals the lowest % health friendly target within 40yd. Note that it has no visual yet, but will not work like Shadowy Apparitions. It is a simple missile, not a summoned unit.

Good to hear. I’m getting annoyed at my Shadow Apparitions sometime just sitting there. Glad to know my healing priests won’t have to suffer from that. Cant’ wait to see this bonus in action though. I hope the missile isn’t as slow as the Shadow Apparition. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if, you know, by the time your holy guardian activated and healed your ally they were already at full health because your healers were already doing their job?

Angelic Bulwark and Spirit Shell can no longer be dispelled.

On the one hand, this sucks because I can’t offensively get rid of these buffs on people in PvP. On the other hand, this is awesome because now I won’t lose them during PvP.

We are going to redesign Shadow Word: Insanity.

Can’t wait to see this. There’s something about this ability that strikes me as off whenever I try using it. I’ve mainly stuck with From Darkness, Comes Light. Honestly, 4 seconds isn’t that small of a window to get Insanity off on a boss.

So then why do I feel so awkward using it?

Our current though on Solace is that it will provide damage and healing for both Disc and Holy. So Holy could use it for some Atonement-like healing, as could Disc, but Disc won’t double dip and shouldn’t feel like it’s mandatory. That could change (all of this could change) as we try it out and iterate more.

Took a look at this on the PTR. Holy Fire gets changed to Power Word: Solace so it’s one less button that takes up your spell book.

Neat! I think we’re approaching that point where we’re starting to have too much crap in our spellbook so I do like the fact that we’re condensing something. Unlike Holy Fire, Solace is instant, offers you 1% mana back, but has a 10 second cooldown.

The current version of Solace is a 1.5 second cast time which restores 0.7% maximum mana but has no cooldown.

Doesn’t the new version of Solace seem a little too low in the mana return area?

Khendra, we have no objection to using Prayer of Healing when you need to heal a bunch of people. That’s what it’s for. But when you’re using Prayer of Healing in preparation for future damage because DA and SS make your AE heal better at shielding than actual Power Word: Shield, then that even further reduces your options. (In 10s, Disc tends to use Atonement more, so they’re doing something more than just PoH spam. In 25s, we see some Atonement use, but it’s fit in when possible and healers in 25s are just always going to be able to specialize more.)

We might in the future add another AE heal for Disc (I think you can make a compelling argument that in this day and age, healers need a variety of interesting AE heals and maybe only a couple of ST heals, while healer design for years went in the opposite direction) but that’s not the sort of thing we want to drop on you in the middle of an expansion. In the meantime, if Disc uses Penance and PW:Shield some more (and Flash Heal in PvP) and doesn’t trounce all the other healers, we will be satisfied and hopefully so will priests.

Won’t be seeing that until 6.0 is my guess. We’ve got a ton of single target healing. Having Divine Star, Cascade, and Halo access were all great because we could customize our AoE healing based on the task at hand.

Another baseline AoE would be interesting though. You’d be hard pressed to find a method for AoE absorbs that isn’t already covered by what Spirit Shell can do.

Okay, I’m guessing it’s an AoE absorb. They think it’s a little excessive to chain cast Prayer of Healing in advance of a Bonestorm even though that’s the best method in countering incoming damage (even if every player’s at full health).

Can’t wait to see what they’re thinking about doing though though!

As for me, I’m still rolling around in Shadow. We’ll be challenging Blade Lord tonight. We’re getting picked apart by Wind Step and Unseen Strike combinations. Not quite sure how to counter that. It’s not like we’re losing half the raid. But each time an Unseen Strike hits, we always lose a player. I’m sure we can battle through it and add another heroic notch to our belt but if anyone has any pointers or suggestions, I’d be grateful.

Are these changes going to cause you Disc Priests to consider reverting back to Holy? Or no change at all? What do you think about the proposed Solace change?

What Priests Bring to Challenge Modes

What Priests Bring to Challenge Modes

Edit: I managed to secure all gold challenge modes as a Discipline Priest. I’ve updated this post to reflect on my experiences. I assume you already know most of the basics about playing a discipline priest like what the spells do and rotations and such.

The first time I signed on for a challenge mode, it took us almost 3 hours to get through Shado-Pan Monastary. We were bored on a Friday night and decided to give the challenge mode daily a shot thinking we’d be able to plow through it.

Yeah, we got a rude awakening.

Seriously, if you plan to go for a podium ranking, treat it with a raid mentality.

What does your class bring to challenge modes?

Imagine this.

Your GM has issued a challenge to your guild. He wants to assemble a Challenge mode roster. He doesn’t want to just challenge for the gold. He wants to be the best time on server. The game has 11 classes and 33 specs combined. Your job is to convince your GM why your class and spec is the right one for that roster slot.

The smart money is to include a Discipline Priest on that roster. You can make cases for the other healers, but a Disc Priest offers a ton of flexibility and power. They can chip in DPS while preventing incoming damage. Power Word: Barrier helps your party gets through the worst situations. Hymn of Hope spares you from having to drink (at the cost of seconds).

Talents

cmode-disc-talent

Previously, I explored talents based on their raid viability and what’s best for encounters. Evaluating them for challenge modes is a little different because now I have to think about aspects I’d normally dismiss in raids like crowd control.

Void Tendrils: Void Tendrils is a great massive crowd control ability. It’ll hold enemies in place while the rest of your party unleashes DPS. If your tank pulls a large amount of mobs and has a sizeable amount of threat, you can wade in and drop roots before withdrawing. The mobs will still want to crush the tank but won’t be able to until the tendrils expire. I’ve used Void Tendrils in key areas of Gate of the Setting Sun and Mogushan Palace to freeze mobs in place while we zipped by them. Diving onto an elevator with mobs frozen in place while the elevator is moving causes them to reset.

Body and Soul: You’ll be using shields often enough. Layering your party with speed boosts during areas with little to no resistance will help you with your time trial.

Mindbender: 5.2 introduced a new talent called Solace and Insanity. I feel that it’s a greater benefit for Shadow instead of Discipline. Mindbender’s the talent of choice in raids for the mana regen and the same is true for challenge mode.

Desperate Prayer: A self-heal on demand! This is your own emergency heal as a last ditch effort.

Divine Insight: You can make strong arguments for Divine Insight or Power Infusion. By default, I recommend Divine Insight because of that Prayer of Mending proc free Shield which has saved me a few times. You can make the case for Power Infusion and Twist of Fate depending on which challenge mode dungeon you’re pursuing. Longer ones like Scarlet Monastary might benefit from Power Infusion and I gave Twist of Fate a try for the extra healing boost (remember it triggers off of damage or healing).

Divine Star: The fact that you’re contemplating challenge modes means that you’re not an idiot and that you know how to aim Divine Star in such a way that you won’t pull. It’ll do some light damage to your enemies and heal your party (provided they’re fairly grouped up). Cascade is your secondary option in the event Divine Star does not work out in your challenge mode instance.

Glyphs

Penance: You’ll absolutely need this while healing on the move.

Power Word: Shield: Signature spells for priests and that extra healing’s going to help when your party members have taken damage.

Prayer of Mending: Most Prayer of Mending bounces will not bounce 5 times. The first one is usually the one that matters.

The above three glyphs are the main ones I used.


Psychic Scream: In the event extra CC is needed, you can fire this off and have your team focus one down fast before the fear effect expires.

Smite: Increases the damage on Smite on Holy Fire’d targets (and conversely the healing from Atonement).  You can substitute this for the Shield glyph once your group has practiced it enough.

Playstyle

Those of you with a progression oriented raiding mentality will excel here. If you put in that level of focus you do in raids towards 5-mans, then golds will easily be within reach. But if you approach challenge modes casually without bothering to look up strategy or practicing certain aspects, then you’ll be lucky if you even complete the instance.

Reforging your stats

I reforged out of Spirit until I had around 8000. I placed the points into haste, but your mileage is going to vary based on your group composition. If you have a Druid in your party, they can feed you Innervate. You should always be using Mindbender and Hymn of Hope whenever you get a chance (and if you’re low). Expect to cast interrupt your own spellcasts often as you react fluidly (or when Penance becomes available). I kept my raid gear as is. I never had to change out gems as reforging gets you most of the way there.

Don’t worry about hit or anything. You’ll automatically have 15% in Discipline.

Consumables

You use consumables for raids. But challenge modes might call for some extra stuff that you normally wouldn’t consider packing.

  • Drums of Forgotten Kings: If no one in the group can cast the buff, at least you’ll have a way to obtain it.
  • Potion of Focus: Comes in handy in case you die in combat and get a combat resurrect. Useful if your group is chain pulling and you need mana but can’t spare the seconds to sit down and drink.
  • Potion of the Jade Serpent: For the early boss encounters where you get a chance to use a pre-pot, use this.
  • Flask of Falling Leaves: You can reforge out of Spirit into other beneficial stats and use this flask to compensate …
  • Flask of the Warm Sun: … Or just get a straight Intellect boost instead. I recommend this.
  • Golden Carp Consomme: Keep multiple stacks in your bag. You’ll be chugging this for mana every moment you get in between pulls.
  • Mogu Fish Stew: As long as you get an Intellect boost, you’ll be okay. I doubt 50 Intellect is going to be the breaking factor between a silver and a gold earning anyway.
  • Invisibility Potion: Certain challenge mode gold runs require this.

Mana regen

If you see an opportunity to chow down on Golden Carps, do it. If more time is needed, tell your party to hold a moment until you drop combat, then start drinking while they pull. Get used to healing with anywhere from 25 to 50% mana. It’s not uncommon to go through 20+ Golden Carps in a run. Boss fights don’t last that long (they can’t, or else you won’t make gold). Your job is to keep your group alive just long enough that they can bring down enemies and you don’t need full mana to do this.

Actual healing

During periods of light damage, you can safely rely on Atonement to maintain the tank’s health. Your group should be adept at avoiding projectiles and assorted spells. In most cases, they shouldn’t take much avoidable damage. Your Smite and Holy Fire spam will be enough on the easier trash to help counteract some of the damage coming in and you’ll be adding your own DPS to help get past them quicker onto the harder stuff. Plus you’re setting yourself up for Archangel’s bost to healing as you dive into the more challenging pulls.

As you’re moving from trash pack to trash pack, remember the spells you can use while moving:

Ideally, you don’t want to use the last two spells. If they’re not being saved for anything, it’ll give you a little breather as you heal through those monster trash pulls that your tank manages to get. Keep your shields up on the tanks at all times. If you’re against AoE packs or anything hitting the DPS, make sure they’re shielded too. Prayer of Mending is always on cooldown. Penance should also be always on cooldown (and it can be used either defensively or offensively).

What they teach you in Discipline school is that Renew is inefficient.

That it is terrible.

That Power Word: Shield is better.

But it is one of the few healing spells you have that is both instant and not on a cooldown timer. You need every ounce of healing even if it means having to be inefficient. Your Golden Carps will help with your mana. Given the choice between being inefficient or restarting a gold run, I’d pick the former.

Group healing is fairly straight forward. Prayer of  Healing is your go to. Use Penance and shields to target specific players who are lower than the rest. Use that Spirit Shell when your group is between half to full. If they’re any lower, they run a risk of being instantly killed (depending on the trash packs or boss, but don’t take chances).

When you square off against bosses, use a pre-pot if you’re allowed to (in some cases, you can’t because of the Invisibility potion cooldown). Load up on Holy Fire and Smite to build up the Archangel stacks before burning it for the incoming tons of damage that bosses eventually ramp up to.

Cooldown use is going to vary. Your Barrier can be used for certain pulls. A skill you and your team needs to learn how to do is chaining cooldowns which can neutralize the incoming damage from an enemy. For example, my group had our Monk open with a Leg Sweep (5 seconds). Our shaman followed up with a Capacitor Totem (5 seconds). Our Death Knight tank used Remorseless Winter (6 seconds). I applied Power Word: Barrier at the end (10 seconds). That’s over 20 seconds of reduced (or zero) incoming damage giving your group free reign to AoE or kill selected mobs. DPS them if you notice stunned mobs!

Final word: Regardless of what group composition you use, practice the run first. There are many videos on Youtube with walkthroughs for each instance. Pick one that your group wants to work on and make sure everyone watches the video. Watch how it flows. Observe which trash packs are skipped or when Invisibility potions are used. Look at things like positioning of where the tank and the rest of the players are. After that, do dry runs of the instance without using feasts or flasks. Keep doing them until you get an idea of which trash to kill and the overall pacing of the instance. Once you’re ready for the gold run, use the consumables to give you that extra edge.

Be like Allen Iverson and practice!

For more, check out my challenge mode walkthroughs!

Which MoP Heroics Should you Run?

Which MoP Heroics Should you Run?

The heroics at level 90 won’t be as punishing as the initial heroics for Cataclysm or Burning Crusade. In fact, they’re designed to be the rough equivilent of normal mode instances right now in Cataclysm.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for the fastest way to ready your character for raiding. The first option is to power up your professions or buy crafted gear. Second would be to grind out as much reputations with the various factions and purchase rewards that way. The last tried and true method would be to run heroics.

For us priests, Gate of the Setting Sun has potentially 7 drops that you can use. Some of the items may not have spirit, but you can reforge into it as necessary. Siege of Niu Zao Temple has 6 items that will provide any upgrades over quest greens and blues.

Shaman healers will want to try their luck in Scholomance and Temple of the Jade Serpent. The temple has 7 items (although 1 of them has a really low drop rate as it’s an epic weapon) whereas Scholomance has 6.

Pickings for druid and monk healers are slim. Temple of the Jade Serpent has the most leather drops followed by Siege of Niuzao and Shado-Pan Monastary.

Paladin healing plate just seems to be all over the place. Avoid Scarlet Halls and Temple of the Jade Serpent if you’re looking for purely plate armor drops. Stormstout Brewery’s your best bet if you’re looking to get the most chances on gear.

Each dungeon has a notable quest or two attached to it. While they’re not the greatest rewards, it’s a good way to replace that marginal green item you’ve been using since level 87.

Below I’ve compiled and organized a list with relevant healing gear drops from heroics. It’s divided up by armor and item type. Enjoy!

T = Trinket
W = Weapon
R = Ring
O = Off-hand
C = Cloak
N = Neck

Gate of the Setting Sun

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Saboteur Kip’tilak Fallout-Filtering Hood
Striker Ga’dok Bomber’s Precision Gloves Airstream Treads
Commander Ri’mok Leggings of the Frenzy R: Viscous Ring
Raigonn 1: Frenzyswarm Bracers
2: Shoulders of Engulfing Winds
Swarmbringer Chestguard W: Carapace Breaker
O: Shield of the Protectorate

 

Quest: That’s a Big Bug!
Reward: Cloak of Collective Thought

 

Mogu’shan Palace

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Trial of the King Hurricane Belt
Gekkan Hexxer’s Lethargic Gloves Glinktrok Sollerets C: Cloak of Cleansing Flame
Xin the Weaponmaster 1: Regal Silk Shoulderpads
2: Soulbinder Treads
Mind’s Eye Breastplate W: Firescribe Dagger
N: Mindcapture Pendant

 

Quest: A New Lesson for the Master
Reward (All 430): Watchful Dreamer’s Trousers, Dreamer’s Vigil Leggings, Leggings of Clever Entrapment, Legplates of the Scattered Tribes,

Quest: Relic of the Four Kings
Reward (All 430): Cuffs of the Endless Shadow, Bindings of Impeccable Strategy, Armbands of the Reawakened, Lost Heritage Bracers, Bracers of Inner Knowledge

 

Scarlet Halls

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Houndmaster Braun R: Beastbinder Ring
Armsmaster Harlan
Flameweaver Koegler Vellum-Ripper Gloves Bradbury’s Entropic Legguards W: Melted Hypnotic Blade
R: Vithrak, Gaze of the Deadman
N: Temperature-Sensing Necklace

Scarlet Monastary

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Thalnos the Soulrender Forgotten Bloodmage Mantle
Brother Korloff
High Inquisitor Whitemane 1: Leggings of Hallowed Fire
2: Whitemane’s Embroidered Chapeau
Incarnadine Scarlet Spaulders Crown of Holy Flame W: Greatstaff of Righteousness
R: Triune Signet

Scholomance

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Instructor Chillheart Shadow Puppet Bracers
Jandice Barov O: Metanoia Shield
Rattlegore Rattling Gloves W: Necromantic Wand
Lilian Voss Leggings of Unleashed Anguish Shivbreaker Vest
Darkmaster Gandling Gloves of Explosive Pain Shoulderguards of Painful Lessons T: Price of Progress

 

Quest: An End to the Suffering
Rewards (All 440): Patchwork Flesh Armor, Coldforge Carapace, Ghoulskin Vestments, Darkmaster’s Spare Robe

Shadow-Pan Monastary

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Gu Cloudstrike Star Summoned Bracers Leggings of the Charging Soul
Master Snowdrift Quivering Heart Girdle
Sha of Violence Gloves of Enraged Slaughter N: Necklace of Disorientation
Taran Zhu Robes of Fevered Dreams Darkbinder Leggings Blastwalker Footguards Mindbender Plate Gloves R: Ring of Malice

Siege of Niuzao Temple

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Vizier Jin’bak Hood of Viridian Residue Girdle of Soothing Detonation
Commander Vo’jak Bombardment Bracers Chestwrap of Arcing Flame
General Pa’valak Breezebinder Handwraps Siegeworn Bracers T: Vial of Ichorous Blood
Wing Leader Ner’onok 1: Breezeswept Hood
2: Whisperwind Spaulders
1: Belt of Totemic Binding
2: Airbender Sandals
W: Gustwalker Staff

 

Quest: Take Down the Wing Leader
Reward: Hardened Resin Pendant (Neck) or Mantid Eye Amulet (Neck)

 

Stormstout Brewery

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Ook-Ook Bracers of Displaced Air Barreldodger Boots T: Empty Fruit Barrel
Hoptallus C: Cloak of Hidden Flasks
O: Bottle of Potent Potables
Yan-Zhu the Uncasked Fermenting Belt Uncasked Chestguard Sudsy Legplates R: Alemental Seal

Temple of the Jade Serpent

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Wise Mari Treads of Corrupted Water Waterburst Helm
Lorewalker Stonestep Leggings of Whispered Dreams Sunheart Waistband
Liu Flameheart Flameheart Sandals C: Cape of Entanglement
Sha of Doubt Paralyzing Gloves Chestguard of Despair Neverdare Shoulders W: Je’lyu, Spirit of the Serpent
N: Mindbreaker Pendant
W: Staff of Trembling Will
5.0.x and Mists of Pandaria: Holy and Discipline Priest Info

5.0.x and Mists of Pandaria: Holy and Discipline Priest Info

Welcome to patch 5.0.x! You’ll have a few weeks to get yourself acclimated for the great levelling push in under a month. Whether you plan to dungeon grind or quest your way to 85, it doesn’t hurt to refresh your skills.

Priest changes and additions

  • Fixed mana pools! We’re now down to 100k mana at level 85. For reference, Circle of Healing costs 3200 mana, Flash Heal costs 5900 mana, and Renew costs 2600 mana. Some reforging may be needed for regen purposes. We’ll have 300000 at level 90.
  • Our ranged slot is gone! But, we can now use Wands in our main hand. So if you happen to have a heroic Wand but haven’t been able to get a heroic main hand or staff, congratulations! Wand stats have been buffed to account for this.
  • Divine  Hymn is no longer available to Shadow Priests or Discipline Priests.
  • Dispel has an 8 second cooldown. Mass Dispel has a 15 second cooldown. Fights like Spine of Deathwing have been compensated accordingly.
  • Chakra spells can be used directly. You don’t have to follow it up with a trigger. Remember to bind both Chakra: Sanctuary and Chakra: Serenity.
  • New Discipline spell: Spirit Shell
  • Inner Fire increases spell power by 10% instead of a static value.
  • Power Word: Fortitude increases Stamina by 10% instead of a static value.
  • Evangelism built in to both Discipline and Holy. However, only Discipline can activate Archangel.

Playing styles

Holy

Holy users, you’ll just need to get accustomed to Chakra and stance switching. Nothing else has really changed dramatically. If you’ve been a Holy player before, congratulations! There isn’t much to learn. Lightwell now has the option to be made more “user friendly” via Glyph of Lightspring.

I do have one request though.

Blizzard, is it possible to add a visual distinction between Lightwells that can be clicked versus Lightwells that can’t? Maybe make Lightspring blueish instead.

lightwell-spring

Discipline

With Archangel and Evangelism available all the time (as in, not needing a talent), those of you who are familiar with keeping Archangel stacks active during heated moments will be in good shape. Sadly, Glyph of Power Word: Barrier is gone. Spirit Shell is a new ability which turns Heal, Greater Heal, and Prayer of Healing into absorption shield generators.

About Spirit Shell

  • Will scale with your crit chance
  • Scales with Mastery: Shield Discipline
  • Scales with Grace
  • Unaffected by Archangel
  • Unaffected by Inner Focus
  • Maximum ceiling of ~60% of target health (Tried with different gear combinations, but needs additional verification)

General changes

  • AoE looting. By far the best change of the patch.
  • Battletags. No more having to hand out email addresses anymore. Why couldn’t they have just started with this in the first place?

But wait, there’s more!

Recommended glyphs

For raiding

Prime glyphs have been taken out. But there’s lots of glyph selections now. Take your pick!

Talent notes

Tier 1: Level 15 (Crowd control)

Tier 2: Level 30 (Movement)

  • Body and Soul: If you’re one of the few Priests in raid, great! Suggest using this for pickup raids like the raid finder.
  • Angelic Feather: Anyone who runs over this will gain the speed benefit. If you need additional precision when it comes to targeting, opt for Body and Soul instead. In practice, I’ve seen cases where the wrong person makes up a feather or someone just strolls near it without realizing it.
  • Phantasm: Probably best for PvP. Though there are a few raid encounters which have slowing effects.

Tier 3: Level 45 (Mana)

Tier 4: Level 60 (Defensive)

  • Desperate Prayer: This spell has served me perfectly in previous expansions and it’ll continue to do the same. When you get access to Void Shift at level 87, what I like to do is Void Shift a tank who has low health and then immediately use Desperate Prayer to restore health from the inherited pool I took from the tank.
  • Spectral Guise: Best for PvP.
  • Angelic Bulwark: Neat for not having to worry about your own survivability as much. Think of it as a safety net.

Tier 5: Level 75 (Extra power)

  • Twist of Fate: Don’t underestimate this. An additional 15% healing for 10 seconds if you heal someone below 20%? In a raid environment, it’s possible to keep this buff up for long stretches at a time. Heck, Circle of Healing alone should help maintain it on most bosses.
  • Power Infusion: Available only to the casting Priest.
  • Divine Insight

Tier 6: Level 90 (AoE)

  • Cascade: Loving Cascade for raid play.
  • Divine Star: Best used if the majority of the raid group is stacked together.
  • Halo: Do not use this in dungeons. The potential to unintentionally pull mobs is high (personal experience).

Less than a month to go before panda-monium hits! You’ll be ready and supporting your guild in no time!

How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?