5 February 2009

My state-of-the-priest address: discipline

As much as I am excited by the glimpse of priestly changes on their way, I can't help feeling a little miffed that Blizzard had to splash in the middle of my blogging opus. But I shall type through the tears of my frustration and hope everything I write this time isn't swallowed in a mere nanosecond by a fanfare of dev announcements. Give me at least another day to finish this please.

So you may have seen part 1, the holy rundown. We had a glimpse in the latest patch notes, I think, of where Blizzard wants holy priests. Stronger aoe healing and a more interactive play style, so I wasn't far off. And they promise more to come.

For now, let's turn to part 2, discipline, and hope it's more in the tradition of Godfather sequals than Karate Kid.

Strength and discipline

Of all a priest's talent trees, discipline evolved most visibly during Wrath development, building on its traditional pvp and utility role and maturing into an equally viable raid heal tree. I'm really pleased I was forced into healing for a while, because I got to experience it first hand. And it is a fun, interactive way to heal, particularly on single targets. If I found aoe damage hard to manage, I put that down as much to my inexperience and mediocre abilities as to the tree's shortcomings; circle of healing was (and still is) a great spell, but it does not make the difference between life and death with a good player at the helm.

Discipline is enjoying something of a renaissance in pve healing. There definitely seem to be more of them around. I daresay some were veteran holy priests who fancied a change, but some undoubtedly are secret face melters sucked into healing by a guild shortage. As long as it works, right?

So where does discipline struggle? Well, from what I can see, there are concerns that discipline simply won't scale well at higher levels of progression. It's true that discipline talents do not benefit as much from spell power as holy, which could leave direct heals as well as divine aegis shields decidedly underwhelming. And discipline priests currently don't stack very well — to the point where you'd probably only want to take one into a raid. While you can probably heal anything with any combination of healers, it's not always optimal. We need as few reasons to pressure priests into unwanted respecs as possible, so even a partial solution to this issue would be welcome. We know the devs are aware of both of these concerns so we can only hope they come up with some ideas for 3.1.

There are problems too with measuring the effectiveness of discipline priests. Not so long ago blogs were burning up with discourse on the relative merits of healing metres. Whatever your view of them, they simply can't measure damage absorption. Something to do with WoW's combat log? Pass. But I'd like to see it fixed, if only to put discipline priests on an even footing whenever they find themselves on the cold end of a Recount report. Is this an "exciting" change? Probably not. We're probably not likely to see it anytime soon either. But I do think it's important enough to mention.

The recent notes didn't covered these concerns, but it was certainly a very happy day for discipline. A group shield, self-penance (a personal bugbear of mind while healing) and buffs to baseline aoe heals all bode very well for a long and prosperous raiding future for discipline. If power word: barrier proves as useful as it looks, I might even try it out myself on that awful Violet Hold fight. Revenge is a dish best served cold, apparently. Damn blue blob won't get the best of me.

Next up: the state of shadow, or why spamming mind sear really isn't the answer (no matter what Recount says).


Hannibal said...

I red the post over violet hold HC :D That was fucking great :DD I will never EVER HEAL!! :D

Btw... did you red that they will nerf mana regen ?:S Damn.. i'm lvl 17 now with the priest and i'm reeaaaallllyyy tired of sitting down to drink after each mob :S And doing to mobs at one time? no fucking chance not even with fear :((

Merlot said...

I'm still getting my head around mana regen but what I *think* it means for us is actually a buff. They are improving talents that provide 'while-casting' regen - including meditation, spirit tap and improved spirit tap. Where priests loose out is on FSR regen. We won't gain mana out-of-combat so easily any more. In this case, the bat is aimed squarely at holy. I feel for them, it probably means adapting to a whole new play style.

hannibal said...

Sorry for the type-os on the other comment i was typing them from phone so i did not read back :)

Damn it yeah :( While i agree that spamming things is not that good, but... Damn don't they think for low levels? Belove 40ish or 50ish it is a pain in the ass :(((

hannibal said...

Btw i have a question for you. Why didn't you take Silence? Silencing an enemy caster is pretty much teh best thing to do... Or not? *-)

Merlot said...

Re: silence. I've been meaning to post about that. Basically, it used to be a fairly balanced investment in talent points, given the alternatives. But now, I find it impossible to justify the two 'wasted' points in improved psychic scream just to get to it. What would you give up? Possibly improved shadow form, possibly improved vampiric embrace? I personally don't think that's a good trade-off. Silence is essentially a pvp talent now - in pve, leave the interrupts to melee.

Hannibal said...

I see!!!! That explains it! Thanks very much, i did not know why you did not have it. I guess in raids it is not used because interrupt is better. Thx :)

Esdras said...

I like some of the upcoming changes, im planning on PVP with my shadow priest so extra survivability and the sprirt buff for more spell damage is awsome TBH.