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).
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