This is a guest post from Wistoovern, a Discipline Priest who takes a closer look at Penance to see if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really all that
There are some instances in World of Warcraft where individuals who take a role proceed to redefine it into "non-traditional" role. For example, there is the player that decided to level without killing anything, or the hunter that decided not to level ranged weapons at all, but instead maxed out melee. These people are proof that your characters are flexible, unique, and can fill roles that others would not immediately think of.
Along these same lines are character builds that involve or ignore talents and spells that others find key. I’m speaking specifically of the new Penance spell that all of the Discipline priests that I have met so far are just ga-ga over. However, while it might be an efficient spell depending on how you use it, I beg to differ when it is said that a Discipline priest must have it in order to be a viable party/raid healer.
My initial thought to the spell was, "Why? Priest spells have a certain ‘flow’ to them; a spell like this is only going to throw everything out of whack." Well, imagine my surprise when so many Discipline priests started extolling its virtues. Personally, I am still unmoved. I do not believe that this spell is key to Disc healing – after all, we did without it for so long. But shall I go into specifics as to why it is not so as important as others might think?
- Stop Assuming you need it - Yeah, it’s a 51-point spell. But do ALL Beast Mastery Hunters use Beast Mastery? It’s not too long ago that Lightwell was at the top of the Holy Priest’s tree, but did anyone actually use it? Taking a talent without making sure that you will use it efficiently is useless.
- Dual Tasking? – Let’s be honest – priests are not hybrid classes. We’re not meant to do both healing and damage at the same time. We really get to pick one or the other. We do a good job at either one (nice shadow priests, GOOD shadow priests…), but both at the same time is impractical or inefficient. So a spell that can either do heals or DPS depending on who is targeted? This can be a big problem.
- I Mean Really, Dual Tasking? – There are only two other spells that we have that works like this: Holy Nova and Dispel Magic. However, the priest that considers Holy Nova a crucial part of his healing spells needs a reality check, and Dispel Magic (and Mass Dispel, fine) is not going to be an issue if it’s cast on the wrong target (unless you REALLY had to dispel a DoT or effect off of a player and you miss).
- Did I Do That? YES! - Let us not forget Mr. Urkel and his occasional mistakes with such horrible results. Imagine that you go to heal someone in your party, without realizing that you have a mob targeted that has not yet been pulled. Oops…not only are you making new friends FAST, but your tank probably won’t have time to pull it off of you. Any other heal, and this would not be a problem – in fact, the inability to use healing spells on enemies can help you.
- The Hell Does That Mean? - Well, here’s a trick that I used to use in Hyjal and Kara. Target a mob that you have to Shackle, and after they’re Shackled, leave them targeted. When you click your keyboard buttons for heals, the system will TRY to heal your target. Oops, you have an enemy targeted, so it will instead give you the "grayed-out finger" pointer. Then, just click on your healing target. Sounds bulky? It’s not! It’s a click tap-click to healing someone. Advantages: no need to use a focus, and you can still pick up the shack quickly if it breaks. Disadvantages: slightly slower than normal, takes a little getting used to, will not work with Dispel Magic…or Penance.
- What He Giveth With One Hand... – When the GMs build spells, they do it with careful consideration to effect intensity, cooldown, casting time, mana cost, and reagent cost. If they did not, you’d see Instant 50,000 damage spells that cost 100 mana with a .5 second cooldown. No, every spell that they give is balanced through the various aspects. High effect? It will have a high casting time or casting cost. Instant effect? High mana cost or cooldown. Low mana cost? Reagent cost. And when it comes to pure healing spells, cooldowns can be death (literally). Waiting for a heal to be available – or, rather, a heal that so many people think is just "so awesome" is a crapshoot. If a six-second cooldown can kill Circle of Healing, how is Penance so great with a TEN-second cooldown?
I can’t deny that a lot of the numbers for Penance look really good. But assuming that this spell is going to be a Discipline priest’s best friend is like assuming that all druids have feral sets (they don’t) or that all Warriors have Titan’s Grip. I’m not saying don’t use it – just don’t be so surprised if your Discipline priest starts laying down the heals without Penance. It can be done. Really.