3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Time to take this beta Disc Priest out for a spin and see what he can do in a dungeon environment. I needed a tank, but where could I find one? I happened to be idling in Shrine keeping an eye on trade chat and noticed one of my bear tanks was online!

Time to con her into being my pocket tank.

She agreed and we appeared on the beta servers ready to queue up. I should’ve done a quick pass over my binds and abilities to ensure everything was in place. It took until the end of Bloodmaul Slag Mines before I finally configured everything to my specifications. There were periods where I had to open my spellbook and manually click on select abilities.

Anyway, I’m here to gripe about Disc Priest healing. Here it is:

Lack of Healing mobility: Prayer of Mending has a cast time. We’ve lost access to Renew. Divine Star has a cast time. Penance can be glyphed to allow casting while moving. Holy Nova has a really short radius (and we’ll touch on this in a second).

As a healer, I move around a ton. I don’t mean just simply dodging projectiles or dangerous boss abilities. Sometimes I have to kite or run away from any mobs or ads that are activated. Other times, my tank has screamed ahead and I’m trying to play catchup while stabilizing the rest of the group. The Hunters, Mages, and Rogues are busy trucking on trying to help the tank. Meanwhile, there I am huffing and puffing attempting to keep everyones health up while being unable to move. In Mists, we have all these tools that allowed us to help players recover some health as we were moving from point A to point B. It wasn’t that strong or efficient, but it was something. And yes, shields are great at absorbing inbound damage but they’re not the greatest at restoring health. An absorb simply buys you a little more time to dump heals on your target whereas actually healing your target has the effect of both negating the damage they’re about to take and healing them back.

This must be what a Resto Shaman or Holy Paladin feels like sometimes.

Proposal: Glyph of Mobile Mending – Allow Prayer of Mending to be cast while moving. Exclusive glyph.

Weak Multi-target Healing: Holy Nova is the new efficient Discipline AoE heal. Prayer of Healing has a 30 yard radius. Holy Nova has a 12 yard radius. It’s hard to insist that every player remain stacked. There’s attacks that will prevent the party from doing just that. Holy Nova appears to be enough to keep a players health bar from trending down long enough but it won’t be enough to shoot them back to full right away. That’s a tradeoff at this stage of the game since we’re testing dungeon content at reduced item levels. At the same time, functionally speaking, Holy Nova might not be able to reach the rest of the party if everyone has to split up. You’re reduced to a slightly weaker Prayer of Healing option. Alternatively, you can play the executioner and focus on healing yourself, the tank, and 1 or 2 other players while opting to sacrifice the fifth for the good of the party.

Proposal: De-couple Holy Nova from the Priest. Make it targetable like Prayer of Healing. Allow Holy Nova to heal any player in range of the target up to a maximum of 5 of the weakest players. If you’re still spread out, at least Holy Nova might be able to catch 2-3 other players in your party at a time.

Lack of time: As healers, we have to think of time as a resource. Is there enough time to bring the tank out of range of lethal if I use this spell? How many seconds can I buy my group if I spam this AoE spell until the deadly AoE ability stops being used? Is that player a lost cause or should I try saving them? As mentioned before with the cast time spells, choice becomes important. For example, you and your tank are within lethal range after suffering an unavoidable hit. You have about 2 seconds before the next blow comes and you’re looking at a wipe. A 2.5 second Heal might hit slightly harder and save you more mana. But a 1.5 second Flash Heal would’ve allowed the tank to survive the hit. A Binding Heal would’ve saved both you and the tank*. Most of our direct healing spells are a cast time now. A Holy priest can Renew blanket but a Disc Priest is playing catch up one target at a time.

*The correct play is to either shield one, and Penance/Prayer of Mending/Flash Heal/Desperate Prayer the other and pray the shield holds. The god play is to have never arrived in this situation in the first place.

Regardless, Binding Heal is one of those spells that allowed you to inefficiently heal yourself and your target really fast to get out of lethal range. This is a tool removed from the Priest toolbox. If Flash Heal is the wrench, then Binding Heal is the duct tape because it’s a quick fix and not necessarily the permanent solution. Sometimes you just have to be inefficient or else players die.

Proposal: Bring back Binding Heal. It’s already tough as is for AoE healing as a Disc Priest in a party.

The next step is to give Holy a shot and see how well that performs in dungeon environments. Bloodmaul Slag Mines was a piece of cake but I certainly struggled a fair bit in Upper Blackrock Spire and the Shadowmoon Burial Ground instances.

Patch 3.3 Makes PUGing Easier

Patch 3.3 Makes PUGing Easier

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Back at Blizzcon we received an announcement from the devs that they were implementing new ways to reduce the wrath of the “additional instance” boss, which was already in place on many realms at the time of the convention. As many of you may have noticed this seems to have gone off pretty well and I think at least for now the instance door boss has been put down. Lets hope his respawn timer doesn’t come back up anytime soon, but so far so good. People have been able to farm Headless Horseman to their hearts content and daily heroics don’t see us spending 45 minutes waiting to just zone in.

At the con they also announced that they were going to refine the LFG system as well as add in cross server LFG capabilities to the game. Well in patch 3.3 PTR we are seeing the beginnings of the system. I for one am incredibly excited and can’t wait to see how this feature shapes up. As it stands you can use the system to go into a completely random group, or you can party up with a couple people and random the rest. You can choose your spec or role that you can fill just like in the current LFG system, but now you have the option of assembling a completely random group from different servers, and you get an option to sign up to lead the rag-tag band of misfits you aquire. As a reward you’ll receive a number of Frost Emblems and a helping of gold for your time and trouble. That alone is a good incentive to use the system as money and badges are always a good thing.

For me the biggest draw of this is the cross server interaction. They put that together for us back in an attempt to balance out Battle Grounds (which more or less worked but that’s a topic of debate for another day). Now the idea of being able to go directly to the instance with people pulled from the other servers of my battle group excites me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a group ready to go but missing a tank, and there were none to be found. I just imagine a tank on another server unable to find a group kicking his can around wondering why no one wants to play with him. With this new system, the problem is lessened in theory. With the amount of badges we’ll likely need when Icecrown drops this will help ensure you’re able to find a group.

In a nutshell this will help eliminate those times where you’re sitting around for hours waiting for a group to do something. Just hit a button and shortly thereafter you’re off on a new adventure.

This is also important because there are also plans to use this for raids as well, at least the random group part, but not the cross realm part. Right now the interface for it is buried in the PTR (you can dig and find if you like). This is good for people like me with an army of alts. There are a ton of raids I would love to run on my hunter, like I would love to run her through naxx, but I can never find a group. This would also help struggling guilds that are having trouble filling in the last couple slots of their roster for a raid, just pop open the tool and find a few more folks to join in the fun.

I’m really excited about this feature and I think it will open up a lot more of the game for many people. It will allow greater accessibility to the content of the game for people that otherwise might not have been able to see it.

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? What do you expect from it? Will you use it?

That’s all for today, until next time Happy Healing!

Sig

Image borrowed from wow.com

The Price of Popularity (or Healer, Heal Thyself)

The Price of Popularity (or Healer, Heal Thyself)

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This is a guest post by Sylly Syll who writes about the cons of being a sought after healer.

Certainly, negatives might not immediately leap to mind for a healer who has a lot of friends, is generally considered to be talented and capable, and is offered seemingly endless opportunities to do runs for which other classes have to sell their soul to get a spot. (WTB Healer PST). However, for me there have been some definite downsides to this situation since WOLK hit. Specifically, being constantly whispered by friends, guildies, and strangers to heal. “Please, please, PLEASE heal this run for me so Ican get the much coveted Epic Boots of Awesomeness”, I hear, leading to me running more instances than I’d ever dream of initiating on my own, which leaves me struggling often with the following three issues:

1. Poverty: Repair bills, raid and instance pots, buff foods, enchants, gems vs. no time to raise gold to offset costs leaves me perpetually scrounging for cash.  And, of course, even when I find the time to quest or farm, healers are faced with the daunting task of boring mobs to death.  No lightning-fast, face-ripping pew pew for us. Alas and alack, none at all.  Over the holidays I blew through well over 1000 gold sending toys and purely frivolous fun things to dozens of people who make me smile on my server.  It was without contest the best time I’ve ever had spending gold in WOW.  It lit me up like a Christmas tree.   And as great as that was, a couple of weeks ago when I was scraping by to get pots for a Naxx raid, I almost regretted spending that gold.  Best gold I ever spent, and I almost lamented having spent it.  That’s pretty gristly food for thought.

2. Healing burnout: On occasion I just want to sit on a mountaintop and take in the amazing art of the game, or putz around Dalaran checking out all the vendor goodies, or doing some other innocuous, ultimately unproductive activity.  Sometimes I just want to quest all by my lonesome, where the only death I could possibly be responsible for is my own.  From time to time I just feel like parking my carcass in a quiet corner of the world and carrying on a long conversation (typed or otherwise) with one of the friends I treasure in the game.  Because of the healer shortage, finding time for these things can be hard, which can leave me a little grouchy, a little snarky, a little closer to trading bark for feathers and doing the Chris Farley bop.

3. Guilt: When I log on and my guild message of the day is replaced instantaneously by a sea of purple text with friends saying "omg now we can run!" "SYLL! come heal x for us!!!" "Have you done the daily?" etc. etc. ad infinitum, I feel instantly guilty, whether I tell one or none of them yes, because ultimately I have to turn someone that I like down.

Of course, all three of these issues could be solved very easily and with finality in a number of ways.  I could give up the wait for dual specs, jump into a feathery owl suit, and leave it to others to heal me. Or maybe I could come up with a list of runs that I either needed or really enjoyed, and categorically refuse to run anything else.   I could turn off WOW and go clean my house.  No, not really.  That third one was just silly. But I’ve come up with a couple of solutions that are not so drastic as these to keep this tree blooming and happy, willing to spread the leafy goodness around.  They are not perfect or complete solutions, but for me they seem to be doing the trick.  Even though I’m resto, this druid needed some balance in her life. 

Here’s some places I found it.

1. Loosening up the bank vault:  I’m a terrific hoarder of mats. Leatherworking mats, enchanting mats, gear for 3 specs (even though the moon will fall out of the sky before I use my druid to tank), all KINDS of goodies find their way into my bank, or my bank toon’s bank, never again to see the light of day.  I’ve recently started to let these things make their way to the auction house or the vendor.  Sure, some guildie might need me to make something for them and I won’t have the mats immediately on hand.  This is a possibility.  But then he can farm the mats.  Or I can.  Or we can together.  Surely the world will not end if I auction some of the goods I’ve leveled a profession to make, right?

2. Providing the hook up:  To assuage some of my guilt over saying no to healing a run, I’ve been trying to hook up friends or guildies who might not have otherwise run together. So when someone asks me to heal heroic Old Kingdom, I might say to them, “You know that run is almost impossible with a resto druid in the group, right?  Let me see if my holy pally friend is busy.  Maybe he can go with you.”  Even if the hookup doesn’t happen, I still feel better for having actively tried to help, rather than just saying “no, kthxbye”.

3. One hand washes the other: I’ve recently, when asked to heal a run, let some of my friends know that I need to get some work of my own done, and asked them if they would mind helping to speed me through some dailies if I help to heal their instance.  This is definitely a win-win arrangement for all involved.

4. Where’s Syll?: I confess; I hide on alts.  DPS alts.  This doesn’t cut out on all of my invitations to heal, as many of my friends know who my alts are, but it does reduce the number of invites when I just don’t feel like being a productive member of society.

5. Offpeak hours: I have a pretty strange sleeping schedule, and often am wide awake at 4:00 a.m. 4:00 a.m. is a wonderful time in WOW. Nothing is camped. Quest mobs abound. Quiet scenery is there for me to soak up at will. I get a lot done at 4:00 a.m.

Although these strategies are not perfect, they’ve made me a much happier healer.  I have a comfortable amount of gold in my bank, I’m quite a bit happier to run the instances I do run, and I have a clear conscience about how I’m spending my time in WOW.  No one wants their game to become their work.  I know I don’t.  It is my disposition to be most happy in the support role that healers inhabit.  As a rule, I adore healing raids and instances.  But WOW is a huge game that offers opportunities for me to indulge many other aspects of my personality, as well.  I can be social or introspect, helpful or greedy, ambitious or a big lazy sloth.  It’s a relief to work out these balances.  It makes my healing stronger.

Image courtesy of barunpatro

*** SPOILER*** Missed Dungeons and Raids? Screenshots if You Want to See Them

*** SPOILER*** Missed Dungeons and Raids? Screenshots if You Want to See Them

Mark this post as read if you want to remain in the dark.

For every one else, I had the screenshots in my library for quite a while.

It’s no fun listening to audio streams and listening to “Oohs”, “Ahhs”, and applause without getting to see it.

Check out the last shot, too. I don’t know if anyone’s ever mentioned that yet before. I found it interesting.

So here’s a few shots of Eye of Eternity, Obsidian Sanctum, Halls of Lightning, and Storm Peaks

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Left: Here’s a shot of Malygos in his humble abode. The raid instance is literally a giant disc with Malygos flying around until you activate him. It’s a 3 phase encounter. I haven’t successfully completed him yet so I can’t offer much at this time.

Right: Me in my awesome attempt to try and do something. Alas, Malygos is overpowered and promptly kills us a matter of minutes.

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Left: This is a shot of Obsidian Sanctum. Here is a shot of the party engaging the mini-bosses.

Right: You’ll notice the phasing mechanic put in play. Even though it “looks” the same, I get thrown into a different dimension. Here, I have to kill that shifted drake along with the Rogue or else something bad happens. I don’t actually know what.

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Left: We’re taking on Sartharion. The guy hits like a pansy. For the raiders, take a good look at positioning in terms of tank, boss, and group. There’s a good reason for it.

Right: … Because every so often, a big wall of fire is going to rake the island that we’re on. Notice there’s a hole. Right when the wall warning occurs, the entire raid needs to ensure they’re in one of the two “safe zones” (on the left and on the right, by his tail, if you look carefully). If you eat the fire, you get knocked back and take a non-pansyish amount of damage.

uld-1uld-4

Left: One of the old guys, I think. Wouldn’t dare hit a Dwarven brotha’ from anotha’ motha’. But I don’t dare test out my hypothesis.

Right: Another shot of the exterior. Place looks b-e-a-utiful.

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Left: Interior shot of Halls of Lightning. See those Dwarves on the left? It’s the Terra Dwarva army, baby!

Right: The roving boss that was mentioned in the D & R panel is this guy. We decided to set him up in the corner. There’s me with the lightning debuff (Pro tip: When you get it, don’t move. Trust me.)

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Left: Lastly, check out this interesting shot. It’s right after a wipe and after I released spirit. When you died in Tempest Keep, you’d automatically res to full health and life outside. But if you die out in the Halls, you seem to res in spirit form while mounted on Ghostly Gryphon.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Heroic Naxxramas

My Love/Hate Relationship with Heroic Naxxramas

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Last night, I had the pleasure of working with some of the most skilled players in beta and we were able to clear out Heroic Naxxramas (otherwise known as 25 man Naxx). Let me tell you about my initial impressions, what I love, and what I hate.

I love…

the fact that the number of tanks needed for Naxx don’t seem to have changed. Our main tank was a Warrior. No fusses about class here. The reason he was the MT was because he was the most geared (he ran Naxx, Obsidian Sanctum, etc. every day). Prot Paladin was the second tank for any massive AoE related pulls. Feral Druid was third although he would switch up with the Prot Pally depending on what the job was. Didn’t have the pleasure of working with a Death Knight. I’m happy to say that I had no problems healing any of them on the various bosses or mobs. Druid tank had the most with 34k while the Paladin and Warrior clocked in at about ~31k. I made sure to address this first, due to a question I got from Twitter:

@honorshammer Are you seeing much disparity in healing tanks of various classes?

Hope the above question helps! Love your blog by the way ;).

I hate…

my mana regen. I took a look at one of the other Resto Druids and he was sporting a jaw dropping 1500 mana regen while not casting. In my PvP gear plus other assorted PvE epic items, I hit around 600+.

I love…

how Priests will be virtual requirements for Heroic Naxx. You can get away without having other classes at all, but you need Priests for 2 of the encounters because we have to Mind Control certain mobs in order to successfully do them.

I hate…

Sapphiron. He’s the 2nd to last boss in Naxx and he’s going to be a huge headache.

I love…

how the bosses drop between 4 – 6 pieces of loot (some of them are tier bosses).

I hate…

how people complain about not getting the loot they want because its freakin’ beta and you don’t get to keep it anyway!

I love…

that while most players were still wearing blue PvP gear to raid, we were still able to 1 shot almost every boss in the instance. We didn’t over gear it. All of us were on par with or were what could be considered slightly undergeared. This proves to me that if you have a large number of skilled players going in, you won’t have a lot of difficulty. There are a few exceptions:

Instructor Raz: 2 shot
4 Horsemen : 4 shot
Sapphiron: 5 Shot
Kel’Thuzad: 1 shot

I hate

the fact that it took us a little over 7 hours to clear. But there are a few important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Pickup raid
  2. Boss explanations are complicated
  3. Some people had to leave and we had to pull in replacements

If it’s a Guild run, I can see the time knocked down to about 6 hours or maybe even 5. Obviously if you over gear the place, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see it drop down to even 4 and a half. But suffice it to say, I suspect most guilds will take at least 2 days to clear the instance and learn it.

I love

Death Knights. Look at this screenshot below:

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The top 5 players are all Death Knights. Number 6 is a Rogue. The numbers ARE slightly inflated since Thaddius has a little mechanic about him that increases DPS. Here’s a slightly better representation:

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DPS order by class on Noth:

  1. Death Knight
  2. Hunter
  3. Death Knight
  4. Death Knight
  5. Ret Paladin
  6. Ret Paladin
  7. Mage
  8. Death Knight
  9. Death Knight
  10. Rogue
  11. Boomkin
  12. Feral Druid
  13. Boomkin
  14. Mage

Your mileage may vary. We only had 1 Rogue and 1 Warlock. Our raid was stacked with an abundance of Death Knights as you can see above and all of them made up the top 10.

I love

the DPS averages. Again, scroll back up and look at the DPS on the side, not the damage done. You should be pushing over 2000 DPS when you enter Naxx. Of course, I might take that statement back later. Who knows? But I’m just going by what I’ve seen thus far.

I love

these crits:

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Repeat after me: MASS OH PEE. That’s a Resto Shaman above me there and my own Prayer of Mending.

I hate

this whole loot homegenization thing but I understand it. I started a discussion on Plusheal about how to tell whether or not you should roll on certain cloth gear or to pass on them. Wyn will be exploring this topic at some point later on, as well. It feels weird for casters to roll on gear. But I accept it and I understand it will be better in the long run.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be doing detailed healing guides for the normal and heroic versions of Naxx and Obsidian Sanctum. You’ve seen a sample of them earlier when I published a few of the 10 man ones. They’re not designed to replace WoWWiki or Bosskillers guides. What they’re meant for is to provide you (the healer) with the knowledge that is relevant to you in order to keep your raid alive. I’m most likely going to miss out on a few abilities but I’ll be sure to nail all of the ones that are important including all major boss mechanics.

Yesterday night, I took a boat load of screenshots, recorded vent when the raid leader was delivering explanations, and I have a plethora of notes all across my desk with diagrams, and post-its scattered all over the place.

By all means, if you’d like to savor the learning experience yourself, go for it. I’ll be here if you need a quick pointer or two to help you out.

Which is what this blog is for.

Questions? Comments? What else would you like to see? Will the Canucks make the playoffs this season? Will Brady get usurped? Do you require more Vespene gas? Are you, in fact, a hollahback girl? Will I ever stop beating myself up over the 7 questions I know I for sure got wrong out of 50?

Big shout out to Totodile for having to put up with the various morons in the raid, as well as organizing and quarterbacking the whole show!

BETA: Instance Discipline Talents: Did Matt Choose Right?

BETA: Instance Discipline Talents: Did Matt Choose Right?

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Note: If you wish to avoid reading about beta related information, feel free to navigate away or mark this post as read.

Click the picture on the left to navigate to the Wrath WoW Head Priest talent page with my choices on it

You might be thinking to yourself upon closer inspection that this isn’t a leveling spec.

You’re right! It’s not!

My colleagues at WoW Insider asked me if I wanted to help them heal a run tonight in Utgarde Keep and I responded with an immediate yes!

As a result, I’ve picked my talents out as best I could with a strong emphasis towards the Discipline tree to find out how it plays. I’m contemplating liveblogging the run later on tonight when I go in there (it’ll be around 10 PM PST).

The Group

Warrior
Cat Druid
Hunter
Paladin
Priest

Notice that I intentionally skimped out on Power Infusion because out of the 5 classes, I’m the only caster that would be able to utilize it. I don’t think I’ll really need it at all and none of the other players will use it anyway.

Remember, this is not a leveling build. I just picked this set of talents out to try out Disc healing out of the box as a 70.

Thoughts?