Updated Tier 3 Priest Talents – Power Word: Solace

Updated Tier 3 Priest Talents – Power Word: Solace

A big beta update today with changes to classes. Priests received some extra love in the tier 3 section of talents. The tier 3 row consists of abilities that help restore mana.

Archangel has been removed from the talent system and has been folded into Discipline only, so no worries for Disc Priests there.

From Darkness, Comes Light received no changes.

Mindbender

Mindbender receives a slight change to the mana return and cooldown.

Old

Cooldown: 3 minutes
Mana: 4% whenever Mindbender attacks

New

Cooldown: 1 minute
Mana: 1% whenever Mindbender attacks

When I used it on beta, it returned ~40080 mana. Each swing from Mindbender returned 4008 (10 swings). I like the cooldown change the most. Even though we don’t get as mana whenever we use it, the shorter cooldown helps offset that. On an 8 minute encounter, you could use Mindbender 3 times:

0:00
3:00
6:00

But since you can use every minute, you’ll be able to take advantage of it more often. Shadowpriests are going to love it since they’ll get more opportunities to line up their cooldowns in conjunction with it.

Power Word: Solace

This is the new talent replacing Archangel.

Power Word: Solace
Level 90

40 yd range
1.5 sec cast

Strike an enemy with the power of the heavens, dealing 1978 to 2219 (+ 40% of SpellPower) Holy damage and restoring 2% maximum mana.

The damage from that spell is peanuts. You’re not going to be using this spell for DPS, that’s for sure. Reminds me of Telluric Currents. I’d switch to Power Word: Solace if I run into encounters with periods of there being little to no healing being needed. Gives me time to go all out with intense healing before switching to Solace to help restore my mana back.

Apparently, Shadow has a version:

Mind Siphon
Level 90

30 yd range
1.5 sec cast

Call upon the shadows to siphon energy from an enemy, dealing 1978 to 2219 (+ 40% of SpellPower) Shadow damage and restoring 2% maximum mana.

Which is weird because the in game talents say that if you switch to Shadow form, Power Word: Solace actually turns into this:

Shadow Word: Insanity
Level 90

15.0% of base mana
40 yd range

Instant

Blasts the target for 664 to 700 (+ 65% of SpellPower) Shadowfrost damage, and causes your shadow damage-over-time spells to erupt, dealing up to 100% additional damage per damage-over-time spell on the target but removing them in the process.

So I’m not sure what the final word on it is, but I don’t think Shadow needs a mana regeneration spell with the other tools they have available (Shadowfiend, Dispersion, Hymn of Hope). I’m more inclined to think Shadow Word: Insanity is Shadow’s answer to the loss of access to Evangelism and Archangel.

Level 90 Spell: Halo

Level 90 Spell: Halo

At level 90, you gain access to Beyonce-inspired spell, Halo.

It’s an AoE healing (or DPS) type spell depending on your spec. The healing scales depending on the distance between you and the rest of your targets. The biggest impact occurs to players that are 25 yards away. That’s going to be a little tricky for you to eyeball. Would be nice if AVR was still around so that you had a HuD telling you how far exactly 25 yards away was.

Halo isn’t a spell that’s targetable. It uses you as the main point before emanating outward.

You can see it in action below.

Priest talent: Mindbender

Priest talent: Mindbender

Really quick, my earlier post about Atonement is no longer accurate. Atonement is now a baseline, Discipline ability. It’s no longer a glyph and Holy has no access to it anymore. Edit: Discipline has access to Atonement at level 60.

Mindbender
40 yd range
4 min cooldown

Creates a Mindbender to attack the target.  Caster receives 6% mana when the Mindbender attacks. Damage taken by area of effect attacks is reduced. Lasts 15 sec.

It’s literally a flying squid. And it sucks the mana out of opponents. Not sure if this is a placeholder model or not, but I rather like it.  Now that the level 45 talents are seemingly finished, which one of the three talents would you choose?

I’m not actually sure which one of these I would take. My default choice will most likely be From Darkness, Comes Light. I really like having those free, instant Flash Heals. Not exactly the most reliable and there’s an heavier emphasis on procs. Can’t ignore the benefits of Mindbender though. A 4 minute cooldown means it can be used twice on most raid encounters.

New Priest Talent: Feathers from Heaven

New Priest Talent: Feathers from Heaven

Feathers from Heaven replaces the previous Levitate talent that we had at level 30.

Feathers From Heaven
40 yd range

Place Heavenly Feathers at the target location. Each Heavenly Feather causes a single nearby friendly target to gain 60% movement speed for 4 sec.  Only 3 Feathers can be placed at one time.  Accumulates an additional charge once every 10 sec.

I place a feather on the ground. If a player runs near it, they get a temporary speed boost. Unlike Alysrazor, they don’t need to click it. They just need to be within range of it. You can not cast it around objects (line of sight issues). You can cast it while moving. So if you need to get somewhere really fast, just drop them in rapid succession to get you or a friendly player from point A to point B fast.

Since you’re limited to only 3 charges, you can’t use a whole stack of them one after the other. It takes time for it to recharge.

Here’s a direct link to check out the video.

Wha’cha think? Is this talent going to appeal to you? If it were live now, which bosses would you use it on?

Shaman Healing Talents for MoP – Choose Wisely!

Shaman Healing Talents for MoP – Choose Wisely!

Welcome to part 3! Looks like Shamans are heading into the expansion in the best form since their Ulduar buffs! Let’s take a look at their offerings.

Shaman talents

Matt’s selections

mop-talent-shaman_thumb1

Level 15: Affects movement of enemies. Nothing healing her but would most likely take Earthgrab Totem.

Level 30: Stone Bulwark totem seems about right. But nothing that screams healing for me here.

Level 45: Tranquil Mind totem seems quite awesome for PvP. Windwalk is another option but the usage of both would be heavily dependant on boss encounters and so forth. I’ll pick Tranquil Mind for the ability to ignore spellcast interrupts.

Level 60: Yet another raid healing cooldown for Shaman since SLT might not be enough going into Mists. Healing Tide totem looks to be the Tranquility look-alike. Don’t discount Fortifying Waters either as 10% reduced magic damage will come in handy (I just don’t know when).

Level 75: Ugh, torn between Nature’s Swiftness and Echo of the Elements. Probably the echo. Would be nice having duplicate shaman spells shooting around.

Level 90: Totemic Projection. Being able to tactically place your defensive totems would be a big asset. Elemental Harmony would be a situational talent in case you need to overload an area with water totems.

It does seem that Shaman are going to go into this expansion with a massive boost to their capabilities. With the additional healing buffs and utility talents, they have become that much more competitive. There are 5 talents here that help with healing (or at least, can be considered defensive minded).

Skills

Some of the former Resto tree talents are now merged into the skills that players can receive as they work their way up in levels. Resurgence, Ancestral Awakening and Tidal Waves are the ones I can see. New 85+ skills have not been released yet. I’m not sure if any information on what it could be has been released yet. Hoping to see an Air Elemental totem though. Not sure what it would do. It could just stand there and look pretty while calling down bolts of healing from the sky healing nearby players and shocking nearby enemies. Probably too overpowered. I’m thinking the Shaman tree is just about as complete as you can get for any healing class.

What say the rest of you?

Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Smite Healing with the Atonement Spec

Atonement’s one of those really curious talents in the discipline tree. We’ve never really experienced anything like it before and I can understand the reluctance behind taking it.

But it’s got some potential. And I found it fun the few times I pulled it off.

How it works

The basic premise is that you’re unloading Smites on a hostile target. As you’re hitting them with Smite, Atonement activates and heals any player within 8 yards of the target for 100% of the damage that Smite does.

For priests at level 80
For priests at level 85

Here are the key talents:

Atonement: You absolutely need this. Its kind of the central focus. In an earlier build, Smite would heal 60/120% according to the damage dealt. In the current beta build, it dropped down to 40/80%. As of the current PTR for the 4.0.1 patch, it was raised to 50/100%.

Archangel & Evangelism: Both of these talents help with buffing the damage you’re dishing out or allowing you to get some precious mana back.

Divine Aegis: Yup, DA bubbles will appear off of heals from Atonement.

Feel free to pick and choose the rest of them according to your own play style.

Glyphs

You’ll want to get some of these glyphs to help vault your utility.

atone-glyphs

Glyph of Divine Accuracy: I know I have close to zero hit gear. For this spec to work, you need to be able to hit the boss. If you can’t hit the boss, you can’t heal.

Glyph of Smite: The Holy Fire DoT doesn’t last that long, but the does help.

Those are the two main ones and everything else is up to you. However, I would recommend:

You’re in the discipline tree anyway. May as well get some glyphs that augment that tree further.

Spell usage

Open up with a Holy Fire right away, then begin blasting away with a Smite. If you’re lucky, you’ll get in about 4 powered up Smites before th e DoT wears off. You’ll need to eyeball your mana here. Get a full stack of Evangelism going. Between Evangelism and the Glyph of Smite, it should elevate you to some reasonably comfortable numbers.

Once I notice a mana deficit of about 15 – 20%, I’ll pop Archangel and instantly get my mana back and resume Smiting.

You still have access to your healing priest spells. Don’t be tunnel visioned into believing that Smiting is the only way to heal because it isn’t. It is the main focus, but don’t forget about your other heals. Use them in a pinch if you need to. Instead of sitting back and waiting for people to take damage, you’re actively doing something which has a positive side effect.

If you’re in a smaller group environment like a 10-man or a 5-man, you’ll need to keep a closer watch on yourself and any other ranged players that aren’t standing with the melee.

In a raid environment, you can use this to your advantage. If you’re like me and contemplating the usage of a full time Smite priest, that’s one dedicated healer on the melee. That means you can focus the efforts of the other healers on the ranged players and maybe an additional one managing the tanks.

Limitations

I expect there to be some sort of diminishing return. I just don’t have the faintest clue what it would be (as in how many players before the effectiveness reduces). Unless you really want to stack your entire raid on top of the boss, the usability of this spec is going to be limited to melee friendly bosses. You don’t want to tango with Deathwhisper or Saurfang for instance. Either the ghosts or bloodbeasts will tear you and your raid up alive. You’d probably want to revert back to the traditional style of being a disc priest and resort to actual healing if those types of bosses are waiting for you.

No word yet on whether this will  be final in either the PTR or the beta. We’ll know within the next week or so.

What I need to now do is find a volunteer priest willing to go Smite heal in our raids. Anyone else planning on giving this a try when the patch kicks in?

Less is More?

Less is More?

As some of you may or may not know, I am actually trained in the skills of an architect. It’s a fun fact about me on the off chance you care about that sort of thing. The reason I bring this up is because all throughout my college career, my teachers attempted to drive home the point that “Less is More”. This is not a new design concept by any means, in fact it is a rather old idea, a 19th century proverbial phrase. It is first found in print in Andrea del Sarto, 1855, a poem by Robert Browning:

Who strive – you don’t know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) – so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

Architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe is often associated with this phrase as a founder  of modern architecture and proponent of simplicity of style.

So I’m sure you’re asking why I’m dragging architecture into your dragon game right now yes? Well, quite simply the idea of less is more is a design concept that many game companies have embraced. To do more with less decreases production time, allows for a better shake down of bugs and glitches, and can free up a developer to create some very innovative game play.  One need not look much further than Braid or The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom to see what I mean here.

Blizzard it would seem has just begun to adapt to this way of thinking, at least it appears that way. You can see this in the latest build of the Cataclysm Beta. The new 31-point talent system has streamlined the talent trees by removing  bloat and overused space. What we are left with is a cleaner, albeit smaller, talent tree. A lot of the talents cut away were instead folded into the players choice in specialization, for example Earth Shield was removed as a talent and given as a core spell when a player chooses to specialize in Restoration. This design model is an attempt to do more with less. Less wasted talent space will lead to more interesting talents in the tree, as well more interesting game play for players… in theory anyways. I wrote up a more detailed breakdown of these changes on WoW.com so feel free to check it out. This is my more personal thoughts on these changes, and well… I just felt the need to keep talking about them some.

While it is still in an early beta phase, I can’t help but feel… disrupted a little bit. While I agree that some of the talents should have been moved, I’m not entirely feeling good about what was pulled out and what was put in. I agree that for restoration, Earth Shield should have been removed as a talent and made into a base spell. You will never hear me complain about that. Every resto shaman I know takes that talent, and in truth it is a very core, very iconic spell that is part of the identity of a resto shaman. If you are a restoration shaman without Earth Shield… well I just don’t even know. I am curious though as to why Mana Tide Totem was left in place though. Like ES it is a very core shaman talent and again something most if not all resto shaman take. Why not remove it as a talent and give it as a bonus for choosing the restoration specialization? That could further open up the tree and allow more space for more fun talents. From a design perspective it would make more sense to make it a base ability or a specialization bonus and open the slot for something else… maybe something like Spirit Link!

Another thing that confused me was some of the additions, Spark of Life to be exact. One of the things that Blizzard stated was that they wanted to move away from/remove talents that added passive % bonuses. Don’t get me wrong, I like the talent. Buffing the healing done to yourself has been near godly in the beta (*ahem* restoiz4tanking!) and it makes the passive heal from Healing Stream Totem nice for longevity, but I am still surprised to see it included. It does go well with Ancestral Resolve as far as that whole staying alive thing goes as well. I fully plan on using these for tanking as a healer!

Telluric Currents would be nice for leveling… if it was lower in the tree. I can’t see taking it as a dedicated healer in end game, as it is rare that I have to DPS at all and even then it is usually a flame shock followed by more healing and then a lava burst. It could be useful for soloing… maybe.

We lost a lot however. A lot of our supercharged healing is gone, and we are dreadfully low on passive crit. Some additions to the tree give us back some of the bonus healing, but no where near where it was. I understand that they want to make healing harder and more thoughtful and I am pro difficulty on that, but a shaman’s best procs all come from crit. Passively we can push 40% in a raid without trying, this helps with heals from Ancestral Awakening and helps trigger Blessing of the Eternals sure. It also is necessary for shaman mana regeneration. Improved Water Shield procs off of critical heals. The more crits you have the more likely you are to regen mana and be able to keep casting. I don’t know if you remember but there was a time not so long ago that shaman were having longevity issues. IWS was implemented to compensate for that, but by removing the passive crit, it hurts our regeneration rates. Meditation is supposed to allow for further regeneration, but the question remains if it will wind up being enough.

Along those same lines, Tidal Force is out. I really really miss this spell. It has become second nature in to pop this spell and its absence is keenly felt. When I’m healing on live I usually have a rhythm going. Like say for Valithria;

Riptide > Healing Wave > Healing Wave > Chain Heal > Tidal Force > Healing Wave > Healing Wave etc. Refreshing Riptide when off cooldown.

Now it has become

Riptide > Healing Wave > Healing Wave > Chain Heal > Look for Tidal Force *DAMNIT* Unleashed Weapon > Healing Wave > Healing Wave etc.

Throws me off quite a bit. Still getting used to it. I can see what they are doing by trimming the trees and I approve. While I may not be a staunch minimalist, I know when things have gotten bloated. The restoration tree on live definitely is bloated, and the one on the current beta could use some more pruning .

So Blizzard, keep in mind that less is more. Players have been doing creative things with very little for a while now. Just make what we have better defined and maybe move a few more things around. We don’t necessarily need a rolls-royce (although it would not be turned down!) we just need things that function well. We’ve been trotting along pretty much unchanged for a good bit, just make sure you don’t break us ok?

So what do you guys think of the changes so far? Anything you noticed you love? Hate? Anything you think they should add in?


Understanding New Talents and Thoughts on Priests

Last week, it was announced that talent trees would get sliced. Reason being that there was too much unnecessary crap and not enough fun talents. Most of us sort of got the idea of what they wanted to do. Include more talents that do something tangible, that we can feel or use.

Potentially free Lightning Bolt after casting a Lightning Bolt? Cool.

Gradually increasing healing by some random percentage of which you can’t really see? Not quite as exciting.

Preview the new trees and see what they’ll look like

How specialization works

Okay, so the way I understand it, the moment you ding level 10, you get to start specializing your character. The moment you invest your first talent, you get access to a myriad of spells and abilities which define that particular tree.

Let’s use a Priest for example.

As Holy

I get access to:

  • Desperate Prayer
  • Holy Priest (Pushback reduction on discipline and holy spells)
  • Meditation

As Discipline

I get access to:

  • Penance
  • Pushback resistance
  • Meditation

From what I can see, no special training is required. You are well on your way to becoming that specialized priest of your choice. There won’t be any 20/21 type builds either. You need to fully invest your points down one tree before you can fork over to a different one. The rate at which you receive talents points have been roughly halved as well. Figure you get a new point every 2 or maybe 3 levels.

What do I think?

My opinion though, I’m not sure what can be done to entice players to select holy at the lower levels. I notice a few sad face Priests when they notice that Desperate Prayer is the innate spell we get. Desperate Prayer makes the most sense for balance and logistical reasons (like what’s the point of getting Circle of Healing at level 10?) At that stage of the game, you’re hardly doing much in a party anyway. At least with the prayer, you can fire off a desperate heal if you pulled one too many murlocs.

I can’t count the number of times where I could’ve easily leveled the murlocs and their huts if I had access to Desperate Prayer.

Anyway, I can certainly see the foundation of Holy taking place. I’m trying to remember what the original 41 point talent was back in vanilla (Spirit of Redemption? Lightwell?). Now if they can just somehow throw in something new in place of Renew or Empowered Healing at the first level under Holy. What would be a decent ability at that level?

Holy seems quite top heavy in the sense that any of the deeper talents could easily fulfill the role as the 31 point talent. Guardian Spirit is the current one. Circle of Healing used to be the end talent back during Burning Crusade, if memory serves. I wouldn’t mind seeing Chakra and Guardian Spirit switched. From a symbolic perspective, I think a talent like that which gives your spells nifty bonuses whenever you string them together should be an ultimate skill.

But that’s inspired from assorted limit breaks from Final Fantasy.

From a logistical and practical standpoint? It might be better off if priests get a feel for Chakra earlier in their leveling life.

The Discipline side of things looks great! Power Word: Barrier as the 31 pointer? Awesome. It appears that Discipline is destined to be the leveling spec (due to Evangelism and Archangel).

One thing I noticed is the placement of Inner Focus. At 11 points in, it will not be accessible to Holy priests. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not. Inner Focus has been one of those taken-for-granted type talents that all healing priests usually get. For it to be cut off like for those that choose the path of Holy is going to be quite the impact. Here’s hoping it gets switched with Archangel.

Anyway, I like the direction the talent condensation is going. Obviously they’re not all complete or finalized yet. Some classes still have a few placeholders or leftover talents from live that aren’t supposed to be there.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a heck of a time figuring out which healing priest type I want to switch to. I’ll probably end up dual speccing both anyway. I might just go back to my roots and be straight up holy again in the expansion.

How are you liking the talents so far? (And it doesn’t have to be restricted to just priests either)!

3.3 PTR update

3.3 PTR update

Just a quick post today on the recent changes to the PTR.

Patch 3.3 Build 10596 is up and here are some of the changes you can look forward to right now

Reputation

* The following reputations have been sped up by roughly 30%:

  • Argent Crusade
  • Alliance Vanguard
  • Horde Expedition
  • Kirin Tor
  • Knights of the Ebon Blade
  • Sons of Hodir
  • Wyrmrest Accord

* Sons of Hodir quests now give more reputation overall.

* Top-level helm and shoulder faction-related enchants are now available as Bind-on-Account items that do not require any faction to use once purchased (they still require the appropriate faction level to purchase).

* Reputation commendations can now be purchased for 1 Emblem of Triumph each.

This is a fairly sizable upgrade for us. Not only is rep grinding reduced greatly but once you get someone exalted with sons for example they can buy the shoulder enchant and send it to another character of yours. As an alt-aholic I love this idea.

Spells and Talents

Druid

  • Rejuvenation: The base duration on all ranks of this spell is now 15 seconds.

Shaman

  • Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 30 minutes.Restoration
  • Improved Reincarnation: This talent now reduces the cooldown of Reincarnation by 7/15 minutes, down from 10/20 minutes. Reincarnation cannot be used in Arenas.

The change to rejuvenation is great for players who are leveling. It adds 3 seconds pretty much across the board. The Shaman changes to reincarnation and the improved reincarnation talent make me very, very happy. I might actually find 2 points to put in it. Being able to self resurrect every 15 minutes is a great boon for progression night raids as well as just leveling. Toss in a Glyph of Renewed Life and you’re pretty much gtg.

Glyphs
Druid

  • Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation: This glyph allows for the druid’s haste to reduce the time between the periodic healing effects of Rejuvenation.

This is interesting to me because they announced they were looking at allowing haste to affect HoTs and DoTs. Link here for forums. So I’m curious if this is some form of experimentation on a smaller scale to see the effect of adding haste to HoT’s

General / UI

Interface

  • Any party member may mark targets (this does not apply to raid groups).

I can’t thank them enough for this. I was terrified that this would apply to raid groups. I run 25 mans mainly with my guild and last thing I needed was someone freely moving markers around on a trash pull *shudder*

That’s some of the major changes this build. Hope you get a chance to play with the PTR a little bit.

What are your thought’s on the PTR so far? How do you think patch 3.3 is shaping up?

Until next time.

Sig

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter for up to the minute updates as they filter through.

Bubbles and Crits: Paladins from 3.0 to 3.2

This is a guest post by jeffo, a Paladin blogger from Looking For More.

Before there is Cataclysm there was a cataclysm – a massive overhaul to WoW that patch 3.0.2 brought to the game. From this Holy Paladin’s perspective, these changes were more than welcome and, once I got used to 40-yard judgments, a spell that would let me heal two(!) targets at once and a greatly streamlined judgment system, I was in good shape. The road to level 80 also brought us a shield and a new mechanism for regenerating a lot of mana over a short period of time. The revisions to all three Paladin trees made many Holy Paladins rethink where their non-Holy points should be invested.

Prior to 3.0.2 most Holydins would go into Protection tree, primarily with the aim of picking up Blessing of Kings. With Wrath out most Holy Paladins decided to dig instead into the Retribution tree, picking up talents that increased spell crit by 8%. Although Kings remained in the same location in the Protection tree, the shuffling of talents around it made this build pale in comparison to a Holy/Ret spec. The crit talents took advantage of one of our key talents, Illumination, and enabled Holydins to stack Intellect, load up on crit gear, and Holy Light-spam our way through Naxxramas into Ulduar. Even as we watched a shameful moment in paladin history (Arthas disbanding the Silver Hand and sending Uther home in disgrace in Old Stratholme), healing Paladins seemed to be entering into a Golden Age, topping meters and putting out prodigious amounts of healing while our fellow healers were running dry.

Storm clouds appeared on the horizon in May when Ghostcrawler dropped the first hint that Blizzard was looking at nerfing Illumination. This touched off a vigorous debate on Plusheal.com (as opposed to the O-Boards, where it spawned much QQ from Paladins, and much ‘lol, nerf pallies, QQ moar’ from everyone else) about what this would mean if the change went through, though many seemed to believe that it wouldn’t.

It did.

On June 18, the news was announced, and it was even worse than we had imagined: Not only did the mana return from Illumination get cut in half, one of our key talents, Divine Intellect, was also getting cut by 5% at max level. Combined with an across-the-board nerf to Replenishment, it appeared that Holy Paladins were getting nerfed ‘to the ground, baby’ (sorry, can’t resist borrowing that quote from our favorite crab). Anguish and anger ruled the day on the O-Boards. We were going to be crippled, we were going to be benched. Never mind the huge buff to Beacon of Light (and it is huge), never mind the Flash of Light over Time effect on Sacred Shielded targets: Rerolls were incoming, subscriptions were being canceled. The Golden Age of the Paladin was over.

Or was it?

April’s Patch 3.1 introduced some new wrinkles that may well have been designed to lure healers out of the Ret tree: Divinity and Divine Sacrifice. With the nerfs incoming in patch 3.2, a number of Paladins began eyeballing and experimenting with Holy/Protection as an alternative. Siha at Banana Shoulders predicted on July 21st that a Holy/Prot spec would become the favored spec while other Paladin deeper in Ulduar than I were looking at this spec as a way to mitigate some of the high raid-wide damage seen in fights like Mimiron. Sadly, despite the theorycrafting that was going on, few people who were actually IN the PTR were posting their experiences with any real numbers. Instead, we got a mix of ‘it’s not too bad’ and ‘it sucks, I’m re-rolling’, so we were left to wait, wonder and speculate. Much of the speculation focused on whether or not the sky would fall when the patch went live.

Patch Goes Live, Sky Does Not Fall!

Just before the patch hit I dropped my 1000 gold on dual-spec training and created…a second healing spec. I went with a 51/20/0 ‘Bubble spec’, figuring there was no getting around the nerfs and that I was going to have to get used to it. A funny thing happened to me: I’ve been using the bubble spec almost exclusively ever since. A one-minute Sacred Shield is nice, and Divine Sacrifice is a very strong talent (provided I don’t inadvertently kill myself with it). I do miss not seeing quite as many BIG, GREEN NUMBERS as I used to, but with raid buffs I’m still typically critting well over thirty percent of the time, and have hit 40+% on some fights.

But what about the mana? Prior to 3.2 in my Crit spec, I was getting around 40% of my total mana regeneration from Illumination; Replenishment was a distant second at ~30%. Both were getting cut drastically in the patch, and switching to a Bubble spec would make my crit drop by another 8% or so – would I be able to heal, or would I find myself starved for mana?

In short, my mana is fine! Despite the fact that in bubble spec Illumination now only makes up 15-17% mana return, and Replenishment returns now seem to fall in the 25% range, I have had virtually no issues with mana to date. Even on fights where I find myself having to bomb Holy Lights, I’m not the healer that calls ‘Out of mana’ over vent – that doesn’t happen for me unless something’s gone very, very wrong in our raid. How can this be? I believe it’s due to a combination of the following:

  1. High crit rate: Despite the loss of 8% crit through my respec and the 50% Illumination nerf, I’m still regaining plenty of mana through crits. Unbuffed I stand at 27% Holy crit; with full raid buffs, I’m still typically critting on 40% of my heals.
  2. Guardian, Sacrifice and Shield: With 2 points in Divine Guardian, Sacred Shield lasts one minute (as opposed to 30 seconds untalented), and absorbs 20% more damage per hit. Divine Sacrifice can eat up a pretty high amount of damage every two minutes. Fewer shield refreshes, more damage absorbed = mana savings.
  3. Play Style: Three big things in this category: First, I’ve become better about finding safe spots in fights to use Divine Plea; second, I’m getting back into the habit of using Divine Illumination whenever I can (I used to use it pretty much every cooldown, but got out of the habit since the expansion, simply because I didn’t need it); third, where I’ve traditionally done my healing from 40 yards away, I will now be found a little more often around the bosses’ feet. A single swing with Seal of Wisdom active can get you enough mana for your next Holy Light, depending on the size of your mana pool.

Based on my experience, Bubbledins seem to be faring pretty well so far: we can still put out very large numbers and our mana seems to hold up well over long, healing intensive fights. I think that it actually makes us a more well-rounded healer than we were heading into the patch. But what about the holdouts? The nerfs seemed to be aimed pretty squarely at Int-stacking, Crit-bombing, Holy retadins, and there’s still a lot of them out there. For my next act (Matt willing) I will take a look at some numbers and reports from my critting cousins. A bit more research is in order, and it may mean taking the Crit spec back out of the garage and into Ulduar again – should be fun!