Mists of Pandaria Priest Glyph Changes

Mists of Pandaria Priest Glyph Changes

List is incomplete but there’s been a few glyphs that are out there already. Not too many Priest ones have been released, but here’s what’s available so far. My guess is that we’ll be seeing more glyph changes pretty soon. They’re probably in the process of either devising new ones or converting some of the existing talents into glyphs.

Glyph of Power Word Shield

20% of the absorb from your Power Word: Shield spell is converted into healing.

This change made me cringe slightly. If I read that right, it means a percentage of the absorb amount goes directly into healing. The current design of this glyph on live is that Power Word shield absorbs 100% of the amount and heals for 20% of the absorb. The upcoming design means the shield will absorb 80% of the initial value with the rest going into the heal.

Live

Absorb for 100000, heal for 20000

Proposed for Mists

Absorb for 80000, heal for 20000

Typo, you think?

Glyph of Prayer of Mending

The first charge of your Prayer of Mending heals for an additional 60% but your Prayer of Mending has 1 fewer charges.

Looks like a slight nerf to the current Prayer of Mending glyph. It retains the bonus healing to the initial charge but you lose out on the last charge so it doesn’t bounce around as much. Going to say this is a definite situational glyph. If you’re in an encounter with AoE damage or a heavy aura fight, you’ll probably want this unglyphed. If it’s a strategic encounter though where there isn’t as much damage going around or going to very limited players, then the glyph has added benefits due to the front loaded nature of it.

Glyph of Holy Fire

Your Holy Fire spell is now instant.

I’m speechless.

Glyph of Circle of Healing

Your Circle of Healing spell heals 1 additional target, but its mana cost is increased by 35%.

Not much of a change here, I don’t think. Meant for balance purposes with the increase in mana and the added target.

What Priest glyphs would you like to see designed or converted from existing talents?

Edit: Zeroes. Sigh.

Circle of Healing: Lodur version 4.2

Matt beat me too it, but I too felt it was about time to do one of these again.  A while ago, the circle of healing was started as a way of members of the community to share information about themselves will everyone else in the blog-o-sphere. It has been so long, in fact, that many updates and an expansion have come along since I last filled this out! So, I guess it’s time for an update, as many things have in fact changed for me. For example, I’m no longer on Zul’jin, instead now I’m on Ner’Zhul.

Name, class and spec: [A] Lodur, Restoration Shaman (Ner’zhul)

What is your primary group healing environment? 25 man progression raiding

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

If I had to pick one it would have to be Spirit Link Totem. If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you’ll know that I’ve had a love affair with this spell since it was first conceptualized in the beta for Wrath of the Lich King. I’ve fawned over it, lamented it’s removal from the game, and celebrated (actually through a party IRL) the re-integration of this amazing spell back into our arsenal in Cataclsym. I’ve been finding new ways to use it and ways to combine it with other spells like Rallying Cry and Power Word: Barrier in various encounters for new and awesome results. I think though, that it really is my favorite not because of it’s versatility, but because I have been crusading for the spell to be brought back since it was removed. Funnily enough, putting it from a spell we cast into a totem to add a limitation to it was one of the very first things I ever fired off towards Blizzard years ago. I love me some totems.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

If you asked me in the last tier of content I would have said Greater Healing Wave. Now though, I honestly don’t know. Every spell we have has a place in each encounter. It’s not like we have a huge toolkit (though it has been expanded over the years). If I had to just pick a spell that is classified under healing but I never use, it would probably be Totem of Tranquil Mind. It’s a water totem, water is the shaman element of healing, therefore I classify it as a healing spell. I just never use the damn thing. Compared to Mana Spring Totem or Healing Stream Totem, it’s just always outclassed. Honestly, give me back my damn Sentry Totem! At least I used that.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Versatility. Shaman are capable of going from single target healing to group healing without really having to worry about switching gear or stats. While some stats are preferable for each role, we are capable of swapping on the fly and that lends us a certain strength. Combine that with a new defensive cooldown that cuts through healing reducing effects and well, we’re just one awesome healing class.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

Unlike other classes our mastery is good/bad in a cycle. Beginning of a tier, or at the start of hardmodes, shaman mastery is a champ. After that however, it sort of becomes the redheaded stepchild in lieu of throughput stats like haste and crit. Other classes benefit from their masteries pretty much all the time, where ours only really gets the lime light if someone messes up and takes a ton of damage, or the raid as a whole is failing. It actually gets worse as players skill and gear improve. What’s up with that?

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Raid healing. I’m a roll healer by desire, I love placing Healing Rains, rolling Riptide and Chain Heal and keeping up as many people as I can through some ridiculous damage. I do well at it and I enjoy it. I also think I excel at special assignment healing, such as healing the kiting team for heroic Magmaw, that was just a blast.

Which healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

Toss up between Druid and Priest. There’s a lot of synergy there between the way druids and shaman heal together, as well as both flavors of priest. Hymns, barrier, Tranquility and crazy HoTs, they all seem to compliment shaman healing quite well.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Paladins, for the pure petty reason that they stole my Healing Stream mechanic! no honestly its just because of the difference in healing styles. I have a hard time working around paladins most of the time because they just feel like a brute force healing class where as the others feel more delicate or graceful.  No offense to any paladins out there, I know they are exciting to play, I just can’t get the image of a paladin busting his holy book over someone’s head while screaming “BE HEALED BY THE LIGHT” out of my mind.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

My worst habit? That’s a tough one. If I had to pick one it would be stopping healing on a wipe. I just can’t do it. I reflexively continue to heal until it finally clicks in my brain “oh, wait, wipe. Stop healing now!”. Partially this stems from a raid I was in years ago where the Raid Leader called a wipe and I told healers to keep going. We healed through a metric ton of damage and actually beat the boss. It was something that kind of defines me. Till the very last, I’m on the front lines healing your dudes. Whether it’s called for or not >.>

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

Matt said it, and I’m going to echo it. Getting blamed for healing problems when it’s not a healing problem. There seems to be this mindset, recently even more so than before, that any problem can be solved by obtaining better healers. Sure, sometimes the healers are messing up or need to tighten up, but rarely is it actually a bad healer.  Too often are healers judged purely on meters and raw numbers. Sure World of Logs analysis plays a part in evaluating a healers performance, but unlike DPS being the top of the charts in healing isn’t always a good thing. There are always different factors to consider such as the fight, healing assignment , class of the healer as well as the healing team in the raid. Everyone is quick to blame healers, when DPS standing in the wrong spot can cause a wipe just as much as low healing.

I’ve been healing a long time. I’ve been writing here, my own blog and at WoW Insider now for quite sometime. I got to these places as a healer trying to explain healing to other healers. That’s tough enough some days, but try explaining it to non healers sometime. That’s a brick wall that’s hard to crack most of the time.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Yes. Shaman were used as the “model for healing” this expansion, so we’ve always been a viable class / spec. Even when our numbers weren’t perfect we were still doing well. Now with recent adjustments we’re right about where we need to be and I think we are pretty well balanced.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer

To evaluate my own performance I’ll go through World of Logs and check to make sure my spell usage is consistent with the encounter and my assignment in the encounter. If it is not, then that’s usually my cue to change what I’m doing.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

Honestly, I’m kind of tired of hearing the phrase “shaman can’t heal this”. I have yet to fail in any healing assignment. Just because I don’t top the meter doesn’t mean I can’t heal something. All the classes are capable of all the healing roles. True some may be better than others, but nothing quite gets under my skin like the statement that I CAN’T heal something because I’m a shaman.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

Getting rid of healer tunnel vision. New healers are rarely aware of their own health totals, and you can usually tell how long a healer has been healing by how quickly they react to incoming damage. Whether it’s healing themselves or blowing a cooldown to survive it tends to be a tell-tale sign. That habit is hard to kick, and it’s because of that I love any addon that lets you put your own health in an easily visible place, or ones like GTFO which audibly alerts you to incoming damage or spell effects.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see?

That I tend to pace my healing for long fights. I’m a long sight healer. I try to make sure I’m using the most cost effective heal for the job. So my throughput might not be as high as some of the other healers in the group, but I make sure I have mana to continuously heal through a fight, unlike a certain dwarf priest. Also that I cast Lightning Bolt quite a bit!

Haste or Crit and why?

The new 4.2 crit giving 200% healing is nice, but I’ll still pick haste first every time. Haste is just so good when it comes to pumping out the healing, and getting to each haste plateau does nothing but improve my healing and help increase the effectiveness I bring to a raid. That’s right folks, I’m a haste junkie!

What addons or macros do you use to aid you in healing?

Aside from a focus macro for Earth Shield and ones to keep me from casting Heroism or Mana Tide when not in combat, the only really healer centric thing I use for myself is Grid. I have it completely configured to show me exactly what I need to know for every member of the raid.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats or do you stack some much higher than others and why?

I try to hit the haste caps (916 and now 2005) and then after that I maintain balance between my primary healing stats. Haste just gives me so much more throughput on pretty much everything that I can’t ignore it.  I then adjust the rest of my stats according to the tier of content or fight, but generally try to maintain a balance.

That’s it for me on this circle of healing patch 4.2 edition. Normally I would tag individuals, but instead I’m going to tag the entire restoration shaman community as well as anyone who follows me on twitter, or on google +. This also goes for any of the readers out there with blogs of their own! Consider yourselves tapped for this Circle of healing, and I completely expect posts from you guys!

More Quests Like This Will Help Healers

More Quests Like This Will Help Healers

*Warning: Some quest spoilers here for players working their way through Twilight Highlands*

There’s these two Alliance quests that I want to point out. I think every player should do them at least once. Well, maybe every player that’s new to the game or isn’t as knowledgeable about healing classes. For the longest time, healers have tried to educate and teach players about healing circles. Turns out there are a couple of quests in the game that help players familiarize themselves with select healing mechanics.

Look at the Wild, Wild, Wildhammer Wedding quest. In it, you’re busy fending off Twilight Hammer cultists as they try to crash this wedding. Russell Brower, that hip lute (I think) playing dwarf, sets up a wedding hymn! And there’s in game prompts telling you to stand in it so that you regenerate.

The graphic looks exactly like Holy Word: Sanctuary.

 WoWScrnShot_011211_011315

In an expansion where players have been conditioned to stand out of fires and void zones, they’re standing out of friendly stuff as well. I wish this quest would’ve been offered earlier on during the zone. More players would have been exposed to it. Hopefully, that exposure could then help recondition them to recognize the graphic and actually use it.

Actually, let’s take it a step further.

Why not have every healing circle as part of a quest? Standing in glowing circles should be reinforced at every level or zone. Maybe an Earthen Ring Shaman is dropping Healing Rain in Vashj’ir in some multi-NPC quest. Design another quest where a Druid representing the Guardians of Hyjal are using Efflorescence. Or set up another boss killing quest where that boss has an ability that nukes a blast radius. Have an NPC discipline priest who conjures up a barrier that a priest should stand under. I don’t know. I think it would help and reduce healer headaches in the dungeon finder.

Speaking of cool quests, there’s another one that’s priest related. Doing it Like a Dunwald involves players killing Darunga in a phased out part of the zone. You’re working with the Dunwald brothers and taking down an Ettin. One of the Dunwalds, I can’t remember which one, sets up a regenerative keg where players can click on it and they gain a HoT.

Now gee, what spell exists in the game where players can click on it to gain a HoT?

Yeah. That’s right. Lightwell. I wouldn’t mind seeing additional introductory quests in future content patches where players need to click something to gain a positive buff. Have that object look like a Lightwell.

My other idea to encourage players to click Lightwell is to create a glyph which turns a Lightwell into a Keg. Would players be more inclined to click Kegwell?

Side note: In case you were wondering, Russell Brower is a composer who composed music for World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2. More importantly, he did sounds for Animaniacs (Man I loved that show when I was kid. “United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru…”. No other song helped me destroy my friends when we tried to name as many countries as possible [We were young. Starcraft didn’t exist then and we were tired of playing with pogs]).

P.S. Curious about the new UI I’m testing out? It’s called Real UI. You can check out my evaluation of this addon compilation on No Stock UI.

Enter the Circle of Healing Podcast

I mentioned it briefly before, but it’s official now. There is a new World of Warcraft podcast in town. I’ve always had my sights set on expanding to podcasts and videos. Dawn Moore, the host and producer (Spiritual Guidance on WoW.com, discipline) will be regularly joined by Kinaesthesia (vodka’s ace priest, holy) and myself (some guy with multiple blogs, who plays both).

Now to be fair, we’re all priests. There will be times where we make efforts to discuss healing from perspectives of other classes. I suppose you can call us the Circle. Or something. Once get a little more established and comfortable, we’ll be bringing in some guest healers and specialists.

We’ll be recording new episodes twice a month.

What this podcast is

  • Healing discussion: We’re going to be talking about healing stuff. Expect to hear our thoughts and opinions about any and every aspect of healing.
  • Question and answer: Have a healing question? We might have a healing answer. These can either be fictional or real. But we figured someone out there will benefit from it.

What this podcast isn’t

  • It is not a WoW news show: Don’t expect us to be providing news or opinions on general WoW changes. There’s enough podcasts out there that do that already.
  • An update on our lives: We won’t be talking about what we did today or that week. We’re trying to keep a tight schedule so it’ll be straight to business. Although random interjections and tangents may occur, it won’t be a regular occurrence.

Why you should listen to it?

  • How many other WoW related healing podcasts can you name?
  • An educational experience (we hope)
  • Stuff that no other podcast has
  • Kinasthesia’s wit
  • Dawn’s on it
  • Me being… me (that’s not a selling point, is it?)

Oh but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what a former guildmate of mine had to say about it:

“Great insight from some of the game’s leading minds in Priestlyness. Hoping to hear more from them in the future!”

- Infiniz

Okay, enough of that. You want to listen to it and you want it now.

Episode 1: Introductions

Introductory podcast where we discuss our backgrounds, our thoughts at the current state of the healing priest (comforts and discomforts), and these blue posts about healing.

Mirror 1: Circle of Healing Podcast
Mirror 2: World of Matticus

Episode 2: Priests, Masters of Tangent

Big news for this episode? Cataclysm priest talent previews are available. I know that I didn’t put up a post yet detailing my thoughts on it, but you can hear my take on some of the talents here.

Mirror 1: Circle of Healing Podcast
Mirror 2: World of Matticus

The site for the podcast itself is still being developed, but the podcast episodes themselves were ready. Figured we may as well push them live.

Remember, we’re just starting out. Feel free to hit us with feedback, what you liked, didn’t like, want more of, and healing questions are always a plus.

Circle of Heartbreak: Proposed Fixes

Circle of Heartbreak: Proposed Fixes

959623_64813149

This a guest post by Jason who examines other ways that Circle of Healing can be “fixed” other than using a cooldown.

Within my guild I’m referred to as the “Pre-Nerf Priest,” lovingly, I’m sure.  However, I’ve recently started getting in-game whispers asking me to heal some heroic “before the nerf hits.”  It’s one thing for gentle ribbing from your guild, those you live, die, and progress with.  It’s a different matter entirely when strangers are bringing it up in the first line of dialogue they’ve ever had with you.  It’s the latter scenario that has really opened my eyes to just how big this coming change is.  Not only are the Priests concerned, but also it appears that every class is painfully aware of what’s to come.

Of course I’m referring to the proposed Circle of Healing nerf coming in patch 3.0.8.  For the uninitiated, Circle of Healing is the spell responsible for life on this planet, grants Chuck Norris-like invincibility allowing all DPS to AoE at will with no ill consequences whatsoever, and (rumor has it) Circle of Healing has beaten WoW.

Twice.

Alright, so maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. Circle of Healing (CoH) is actually one of four AoE healing spells available to Holy Priests, and the only one requiring a specific talent build as it’s the 41-point talent in the Holy tree. CoH heals five targets in the party or raid within 15 yards of the target. It is one of two spells that can effect targets in the entire raid, and it and Wild Growth (Druid specific ability) are the only instant-cast AoE heal in the game with no cool down timer. In that last part we find our problem.

Blizzard has expressed concern with the over-use of CoH by holy Priests. I’ve personally witnessed usage up to 50-60%. Blizz reports that there are individuals out there who are using it 70% of the time or more. Understandably, they feel that if we’re leaning on the spell this heavily, it’s overpowered.

The proposed nerf is a 6-second cool down to be applied to the spell.  To me this means the spell isn’t healing for too much, it’s an issue with the raw number of times it’s being cast in a raid/dungeon. Their developers and designers put a lot of hard work into those other spells, and dang-it, you need to use them more!

For me, CoH has always been that emergency spell I can pull out of my pocket when things are out of hand or when the boss mechanic calls for it.  Those accidental patrol pulls with vicious AoE, Loatheb’s 4-second window to heal, Malygos’s Vortex ability are all examples of situations where CoH is a godsend and can save a raid.  This is the true value of the spell: the utility of it.  Yes, the 6-second cool down would indeed lower the number of times a Priest can use CoH in an encounter, but it also removes all the previously mentioned utility and, to me, removes all purpose and uniqueness from the spell. 

Further, how creative is a 6-second cool down?  Come on Blizz, you can do better.  However, since you seem set on your solution, let me propose a few of my own.  The idea here is to create a limitation on the use of CoH by giving the players a choice with consequences, as well as retain the core purpose of the spell. 

Think of healing as a water balloon fight. Throwing a water balloon at a single target is relatively easy.  You have one balloon, one target, and two hands (in most cases).  You’re clearly well equipped for this task.  Now take 5 water balloons (6 if you have a special piece of paper stuffed into a book) and hit the 5 driest targets at the same time.  Not so easy is it?  Not only do you have to aim these 5 harbingers of the soak, but it also takes 5 times the effort to throw them.

Yes, you could alleviate the additional strain by waiting 6 seconds between tosses to make up for the additional strain.  However, the purpose of all these water balloons is to make a lot of people wet, fast, in the case of a heat wave.  What do you do?  You have two choices.  Toss progressively smaller and lighter water balloons until you are no longer able to do so, or continue to strain with the same size balloons, throwing slower and slower until your arms give out.  At that point you rest, recover your strength, and are able to resume barraging your victims… err… targets. 

So let’s apply this to CoH with some game-specific mechanics.  While there are several ways to do this, I’m going to mention the two that makes the most sense to me:

Holy Exertion
– Casting CoH causes the debuff “Holy Exertion” to appear on the caster.  The debuff lasts for 6 seconds and can stack up to X number of times, with each cast of CoH refreshing the debuff timer.  Each additional debuff lowers the effectiveness of CoH by a set amount in one of three ways (not all three, just pick one):

  • With each use of CoH within the 6 second window, one less target receives the heal until it reaches 0.
  • Each cast heals for Y% less healing until the amount healed reaches 0.  So if Y is 25%, then after four CoH casts within a 6-second window, you have 6             seconds before casting it will generate heals again.
  • Increased mana usage.  Each cast within the debuff window requires 50% more mana, for example. 

Holy Exhaustion – Similar to the above mechanic with a 6 second timer on a “Holy Exhaustion” debuff, however, there is a more severe penalty for over-using CoH.  In this case, all of your healing spells would be impacted by your decision to use, or not use CoH.  See the following two possibilities:

  • Every time you cast CoH while the debuff is active, you become exhausted.  Each cast causes some percentage decline in your haste rating.  For example, you cast CoH once, the debuff becomes active, no haste penalty.  You cast it again within that 6-second window, and you take a 5% haste penalty.  Again and it’s 10%, then 15%, and so on and so forth.  Sure, this won’t impact CoH as it’s an instant heal, but 6 seconds with a flash or greater heal that takes 50% longer to cast could be fatal to a tank or dps player.
  • The other option is that once the debuff reaches a specific number, you are exhausted and can no longer cast any spells for 6 seconds.

So why are these better solutions to the problem than just slapping on a 6-second cool down?  These allow the spell to remain true to its design and purpose while adding a degree of penalty if over-used.  Now instead of spamming CoH, or under the proposed solution, hitting it and counting to 6, we have to analyze the fight on the fly.  Is it worth taking a possible haste reduction or losing all my heals for 6 seconds to get off this one last CoH? 

Blizzard has said they want to make healing “more fun” and move away from the whack-a-mole model we currently have.  I think they have a great opportunity to start moving in that direction with the CoH change.  Let the players know the risks and weigh the consequences.  Give us something with substance to it, not just another bland spell we’ll tap every 6 seconds.

Image courtesy of woodsy

Discipline without Penance – Can It Work?

Discipline without Penance – Can It Work?

penance

This is a guest post from Wistoovern, a Discipline Priest who takes a closer look at Penance to see if it’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.

Making the Switch: Holy to Disc

This is a guest post from Seriah, a PlusHeal community member

Priests are the main healing class in WoW, the official site even says so.  But to some people on the outside looking in they might not know that there are different mechanics in the individual Priest trees.  Having leveled and raided as Shadow and Holy I recently made the change to Discipline – it always looked like a fun tree and the new changes in LK sealed the deal for me. I’ve had experience in all forms of Priesting, but by no means am I claiming to be an expert on the class – just well experienced.

The intent here is to share my experience as a new Discipline Priest with everyone, especially anyone considering the switch be it because they think it looks like a fun change of pace or if you just hate the CoH nerf that much. I’ll attempt to walk you through what would happen if you dropped the Holy hat and picked up the Disc one – starting with your talent points.

Like with any spec there are those talents that you simply have to have, nothing fills that category better than the 3 P’s for Disc talents:

  • Power Infusion
  • Pain Suppression
  • Penance

Penance is absolutely the best healing spell I’ve ever had experience with – yes, more than CoH.  PI and PS are great too, especially since there are so many bosses that frenzy now when they’re at 20%.  How to spend your talents is a different article in itself, this is a brief overview of what you can expect from a cast sequence and mechanics point of view.

Hopefully you have a decent about of crit, be it by talents or gear, because once you start to see Divine Aegis (DA) in action you’ll love it.  Before a pull you’ll still want to do the usual PoM on the tank, but now you’ll also want to pop Power Word: Shield (PW:S) on him so the weakened soul debuff will show up – yes this is a good thing because you should be talented into Renewed Hope. 

When the pull starts, PoM will bounce with a crit (if you’re lucky) wrapping a DA bubble around the tank and giving you time to hit renew with no sense of urgency at all.  As long as incoming damage is minimal, you can stick to Flashes, Renews, and PoMs and be fine. The fun starts when the damage spikes.

On those big pulls where no one likes to CC anymore or on bosses that can hit like a whole fleet of trucks is where you’ll see those damage mitigation abilities of Disc healing really shine.  Keeping a full stack of Grace on the tank helps, and since they’re probably getting beat on a good bit that shouldn’t be too terribly hard.  PoM every time it’s up and say a little prayer so that it crits for a DA proc. 

Watch the cooldown on Penance. It hits 3 times during your channel and if you’re really on a roll with the luck and it crits all 3 times you can easily see 12k healing in less than 1.5 sec. there’s no one that can touch your HPS on hastened Penance.

That’s all fine well and good, but what if you get pushed to raid healing? 

First of all, if that happens you probably want to have a chat with your raid leader about the setup, if they still want you on raid duty then you can’t go wrong with shields and flashes, penance if they really need it.  Pain Suppression also works nicely here, if you have an overzealous DPS that can’t seem to watch Omen to save their lives, literally. It’ll reduce their threat, usually enough to let a tank get above them again, and if that doesn’t work then at least they shouldn’t die from the Iron Fist that giant is about to drop on them so the tank can then taunt.

If you’re doing heroics, and at this point most of us are, then you’re going to have to deal with group damage. The best way to do so is with Divine Hymn if you’re not in a fight where damage is constantly coming in.  If it’s a constant high damage fight you can shield yourself for the haste and to avoid interruption and pop off a Prayer of Healing.  Yeah, it’s 1800 mana, but it beats casting flash heal 5 times.  Of course if you’re on the move there’s always Holy Nova as well – which I’ve learned to not hate now.

So there you have it, a basic analysis of what you can expect as a Discipline Priest.

In short remember the 5 P’s of Priesting:

  • Power Word: Shield
  • Power Infusion
  • Pain Suppression
  • Penance
  • Prayer of Mending
A Druid’s Reaction to the Wild Growth / Circle of Healing Nerf

A Druid’s Reaction to the Wild Growth / Circle of Healing Nerf

wild-growth

Those of you who keep up with upcoming patch notes and blue posts on the official WoW forums have probably known for quite some time–ever since before Wrath’s release in fact–that both Wild Growth and Circle of Healing were living in the shadow of the nerf bat. A 6-second cooldown has been threatened for both spells since beta testing proved their strength.

Now that the nerf has gone to PTRs, a new wave of complaints has swept over most healing websites. If the comments on Matticus’s recent WoWInsider article are any indication, the nerf to AoE insta-heals draws a passionate response from almost all players, whether they belong to one of the affected classes or not. In fact, what surprises me about the whole discussion is the sheer number of vehement, “L2P nub, don’t spam AoE heals” type retorts. A lot of discipline priests, in particular, seem to feel vindicated by the nerf. On the other side are those that passionately argue against nerfs to any class. I sympathize with this point–such an adjustment to two classes makes us all weaker. When there are less available tools in the toolkit, the game becomes both more difficult and less fun to play.

That said, I find myself having very little personal reaction at this point. Perhaps that’s because I’ve known that Wild Growth spam isn’t a long-term tactic for months now? This is not to say that I’m in support of putting in a 6 second cooldown on Wild Growth and Circle of Healing, just that by now I’ve become accustomed to the idea.

From a certain perspective, this nerf seems necessary. The following series of musings is my attempt to take what I’ve observed through Naxx 10 and 25, Sartharion 10 and 25, and Malygos 25 and try to explain why, from the developers’ perspective, it’s druids’ and priests’ turn to cry.

The State of Healing in Wrath

1. Right now, the risk of dps death during raids is minimal. Healing is relatively strong overall, and three out of the four healing classes have capable raid-healing tools.

2. Right now, the risk of tank death during raids is minimal. Healers can keep up with incoming damage, and tank healers often have time to cast spells on other targets.

3. Most encounters are designed with at least some AoE damage. This kind of damage will always be at least a little challenging for healers because they have to deal with the Interface Boss in order to get heals on multiple targets. However, there is no new Gurtogg Bloodboil yet–AoE damage has not been taken to the kind of extremes we saw in BC.

4. Wrath encounters typically require less healers than BC bosses did. For most guilds, I would take the number that they ran with in BC and subtract one to get their perfect number of healers for a 25-person raid.

5. Smart heals like Chain Heal, Circle of Healing, and Wild Growth are really, really effective. It turns out that (surprise, surprise) a computer is better than a human being at calculating who needs a heal.

6. Mana management is less challenging than most bloggers–including me–thought it would be. It turns out that the level 80 epic gear does a pretty good job of getting people the regen they need, even though some of the old familiar tools (mana oil and chain-potting) are history.

The Behavior of Healers in the Wrath environment

Intelligent players respond to the conditions given them, and the top WoW players will always use a play style that the numbers support. Now, there may be individual differences and preferences, but given free choice, almost all players of the same class and spec will, at the top end of the ability spectrum, make the same decisions. Here’s how raiders are reacting to our current capabilities and to the demands of the current content.

1. Healers are using Wild Growth and Circle of Healing to the utmost. And why not? These two heals do, in fact, make the content much easier. If AoE damage is the challenge (and Blizzard seems determined that it should be), these two spells are the antidote of the moment.

2. Healing has become a competition between healers instead of a mad race to keep people alive. No one is going to die anyway–the content is too easy for that. The best healers are trying to sneak in effective heals against their fellows. Spells like Wild Growth, Circle of Healing, and even the high-HPS glyphed Healing Touch shine in an atmosphere of heavy competition.

3. Healers are not focusing on mana efficiency. When the content is easy and the team can kill a boss quickly, mana efficiency is less relevant. There are no prizes awarded for ending an encounter with 40% mana. The only prize available is for healing output. As such, many players end up healing too much too early and needing someone else’s innervate. This has happened to me a few times, and I’ve been trying to watch it.

4. Druids and priests are, in fact, leaving paladins and shamans behind on the meters. This has only one good effect–that shamans aren’t as necessary any more. I’ve recruited for two different guilds, and the hardest position to hire is that of alliance resto shaman. There just aren’t many out there.

What the Developers Hope the Nerf Will Accomplish

Here is where I really get speculative. The following is my best guess about exactly what kind of “fix” the new 6-second cooldown will be.

1. The nerf will retroactively add difficulty to encounters that guilds have already cleared. Some guilds may even find themselves unable to beat a “farm status” boss. As a result, guilds may stay in the current tier of content longer than they otherwise would. This is good for developers, because it stresses them less to release the next tier in a timely manner.

2. The healing meters will shake out a little differently. The conspiracy-loving part of my brain thinks that it’s “best” for Blizzard if people go back to complaining about resto shamans. After all, they’re far less numerous than priests and druids, at least on alliance side. While most guilds could fill their entire healing roster with priests and druids, I doubt anyone could fill theirs entirely with shamans. It’s a safer class to have at the top of the chart.

3. The management of another cooldown will add back some of the difficulty of playing a druid or priest. The developers want playing a healer to be difficult. If healing is difficult, a guild takes longer to go through a tier of content. For example, let’s take the healing druid. In the good old days of managing 7 second Lifebloom stacks on multiple targets, timing used to be everything. With stacking de-incentivized, I often have only one 9 second triple stack to manage, giving me a lot of freedom. I have a feeling though that now I will be casting Wild Growth every time it’s up. There will be a bit of a return to a fixed spell rotation. I hear many healers threatening to give up their AoE spells entirely, maybe even going as far to spec out of them. I tend to agree with Matticus in thinking that, paradoxically, Circle of Healing and Wild Growth will become more important. We’ll need to actively manage those cooldowns, and the effect of that adjustment period will be to slow progress down.

4. There might be room for an extra healer in a healing team. Circle of Healing and Wild Growth have been such workhorses that the old numbers for a healthy healing squad didn’t make sense any more. This might give a few out of work raid healers something to do. It’s not good for Blizzard if lots of players lose their raid spots.

Am I in Favor of the Nerf?

Personally, no I’m not. And yet, I’m not up in arms about it either. I realize that it hits druids less hard than priests, but I’m not worried about either class’s raid spots. Wild Growth and Circle of Healing are still good spells. Comparatively, I’d say that the Lifebloom nerf of a few months ago was much more devastating than this one.

The addition of a 6 sec cooldown to my best-designed spell is not a happy prospect, and it’s not the kind of thing that makes healing “more fun.” In fact, managing an extra cooldown, especially for druids, who are already managing Lifebloom and Swiftmend, is pretty much anti-fun. I’ve never believed developers’ claims that they want to make healing “more fun.” I don’t think that’s really in their advantage–to really make healing more fun would probably “trivialize” the content as well, forcing them to come out with more content patches on an accelerated timeline. What they might actually do is change our interface to be more “interactive”–and also a ton more difficult to use. I dread this prospect a lot more than any nerf to Wild Growth! Think about the new vehicle interfaces and imagine if you had to heal and target with that! What if all healing were like Malygos Phase 3 or the final boss of the Oculus? As it is, I think the developers recognize that healing, more so than tanking or dps, requires players to modify their interface. I hope they just leave us alone with that and let Grid do what their standard frames can or will not.

Circle of Healing Redux

As you may or may not have heard, Blizzard is revisiting the idea of bringing in the CoH cooldown. I’m not sure where to start on this or how to begin.

Something that I feel has been overlooked is that there seems to be a feeling that raid instances right now at 70 (post nerf) are representative of what raid instances are like at level 80. A lot of players, right now, are a little overgeared for the content that they’re doing (again, due to the nerf).

Path of least resistance (or effort)

I was first exposed to this idea in my first year of psychology. The general premise here is that people, animals, or even machines will choose the path of least resistance or effort in order to get to their goal. Applying this to healing, we’ll see one person taking a shot for 2000 damage for whatever reason. I myself have been known to tap CoH once or twice to bring that one person’s health back up. Is that a loss of mana efficiency? You bet it is. But efficiency goes out the door if your mana regeneration is able to offset the mana loss within seconds.

Could I have used a Flash Heal? Yeah but it takes casting time.
How about a Renew? Yeah but it takes about 15 seconds for the full duration to kick in
Circle of Healing heals that minor damage extremely quickly and leaves me open for spell options without causing me to wait for the spell to go off or eat a channel or something.

This is partly the case because of current nerfed raid content and the way our spells work. It’s a smart heal, it’s the fastest heal, and it’s brain dead easy. I’m sure we can all agree on that.

With the complete gear reset at 80, I strongly doubt we’re going to be able to get away with non-stop CoH casting. I know I couldn’t. I was extremely limited with my mana regen and my overall mana pool. I confess I did start with PvP gear and I encountered some difficulty then. Yet, after daily Naxx and OS runs on 10s and 25s, I amassed a decent collection of PvE healing gear. I still found it difficult and strenuous. As this was largely a pickup group, maybe I was overcompensating in some areas.

The benefit of Circle of Healing is that it can heal a lot of players really fast.
The cost of Circle of Healing should be the fact that it taxes your mana pool.

I’m not quite sure if that’s possible. I can see why they want to include the 6s cooldown because there are a staggering number of players using it (at 70 and at 80 when I played). Maybe if they included a scaling cost with the spell it would be acceptable. The ability to heal a lot of raid damage really fast is an excellent tool to have. But it should come with a severe price or penalty. I don’t think time, a wonderful resource that it is, should be the case. Perhaps base cost + a percentage of healing done in that one cast? I don’t know. I’m not a game developer.

Regardless of what they do, Priests will easily remain the most diverse class. I’ll continue to play mine well into Wrath. Even if they do bring in the CoH cooldown, we still have Holy Nova and Prayer of Healing. Zusterke, on Plusheal, started some preliminary work on Holy Nova and it’s effectiveness.

By adding the glyph of holy nova, the spell has become quite a powerful healing spell. It is able to output more healing than circle of healing, up to a point where it rivals prayer of healing. The recent mana cost reduction boosted this spell even further where it has become a mana efficient spell, in comparison to the priest’s other AoE spells.

He might shoot me if he feels it’s a little outdated. But not much has changed yet so I think he’s definitely in the ballpark (or ice rink).

Plusheal has more great discussion about this.

Healing Naxxramus – Loatheb (10 man)

Healing Naxxramus – Loatheb (10 man)

loatheb

Loatheb looks slightly complicated but after a few tries becomes easy to understand. It requires people to look outwards and pay attention. You only need to have one tank on him for the entire encounter.

Gimmicks

Everyone gets a 16 second debuff that reduces healing by 100%. After that, you have a 4 second window to heal players up before the debuff gets reapplied.

Secondly, something else that makes this fight that much easier is a different debuff called Fungal Creep. There are going to be periodic mobs called Spores that will spawn. When you destroy them, they give 5 players the Fungal Creep debuff.  It increases your critical chance by 50% and your spells cause no threat. The Spores die relatively quick and should take no more than 4 spells before they spontaneously combust.

Positioning

Set up shop on the central platform.

Healing Makeup

Matt’s group:

  • Resto Shaman
  • Holy Paladin
  • CoH Priest (me!)

You’ll definitely want an AoE healer for this fight. Try to time your heal around the warnings that appear. We tasked the Paladin to do nothing but heal the main tank on this fight. The Resto Shaman would heal group 2 while I was parked in group 1. The mechanics to Chain Heal has changed slightly so that if you target the initial player with the spell, it will only jump to other party members instead of going raid wide. With the Glyph, it will bounce to 4 targets total.

3 seconds before the debuff wears off, light up a Prayer of Healing. You want to time your heal so that it lands just as it wears off and it sets you up for 2 or even 3 Circle of Healing taps on the 2nd group.

What about the debuff phase?

At this stage, all you need to worry about is wanding and doing DPS. Keep an eye on your mana. Be sure you don’t DPS more than you have to. Your Power Word: Shield will still work. Don’t hesitate to throw that up there whenever you get the chance on your tank.

Changelog

9/23/08 – Original post