So last night started like any other raid night. We walked through Naxx, making Abom wing our bitch until we had enough to make an attempt at Sarth with 3 Drakes. So steadily we all start streaming over there, landing and zoning in, taking our places in front of the dragon and adds. That’s when a question was asked, one that filled my heart with dread and froze the blood in my veins: “So which one of our priests is going disc for this fight?”
You see, one of the problems with Sarth 3D is that, as long as Shadron is up, everyone in the raid takes double fire damage and, as long as Vesperon is up, everyone’s health is reduced by 25%. For both of these reasons, Pain Suppression becomes an extremely attractive spell, especially mixed with the damage mitigation talents of Discipline spec. So after a quick discussion it was decided that since I was the only priest who had leveled with a discipline build and was therefore at least halfway familiar with the tree, I would be the one to respec. And so it was that with a heavy heart, Holy Dueg once more became Discipline Dueg.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not panning Discipline spec. It’s a good healing spec and I believe actually turns the priest into almost a different class of healer, built on the same spells but with a wholly different style. However, I am a holy healer at heart and was feeling more than a little nervous about learning a completely new style while taking on the hardest encounter currently in the game.
Let me give you a quick idea of what I’m dealing with if you’re not familiar with Sarth 3D: Imagine an encounter where you have to deal with about 10 adds, 2 mini bosses and one major boss at any one time. You need six healers and two off tanks, all of whom need to be standing in either one of two spots about every 30 seconds which switches randomly and only gives you about 5 second warnings or they can move somewhere else where they take a lot of damage where they’re standing. Oh, and the main boss can randomly one shot the tank every 15 to 30 seconds. Oh, and also, some of the mobs enrage and need to be pacified or they’ll kill one of your off tanks very quickly. Oh, and another thing, at certain points half your raid has to peel off and go into another reality to slay a mini mini boss and you need healers to go with them. Oh, and finally, at one point the dps takes 1,000 damage every time they deal damage themselves. Now multiply whatever you’re imagining by about ten, and that’s Sarth 3D.
So yes, I was a little nervous and I ended up failing spectacularly on flame walls the first two attempts while trying to figure out my new positioning methods. I was so unfamiliar with Disc spec that when the LolAngel didn’t come up right away I just clicked release spirit in confusion. No, not my proudest moment in a raid. About the third time though I was getting it down and was able to survive to the end of the wipe consistently, which is pretty much all you can ask for with Sarth 3D attempts. We later moved back to Naxx and wiped up Plague wing with me remaining Disc the whole time.
So here are my thoughts on the spec: I don’t like it. Let me explain before the bubble peeps start passing out the pitchforks. As I’ve said before, I find the spec somewhat weak when it comes to raid environments. They specialize in damage mitigation, which is excellent for tank healing, and I could definitely see it last night. But they don’t offer too much in the way of healing throughput. In a place where the tank will be taking huge damage spikes, you can certainly rely on a disc priest to get the job done, but it takes more of a focus on heal rotation and the ability to foresee the spikes. Blizzard is trying to fix this with some of the changes in 3.1 so far with enticements to cast your heals, but either way, Disc is definitely being cemented as the single target healer of the future.
Now I’ll admit that I haven’t really had time to test the spec thoroughly and will probably have a better grasp of it after tonight (they’ve requested I stay disc for another shot), but my initial thoughts are that it’s incomplete. It’s too much about mana regeneration and mitigation, leaving behind a weakened comparable healing ability. Perhaps if I had geared a little more for disc instead of still having my holy gear, I would’ve seen a little bit of a difference, but I feel like I’m beginning to understand the concept of the spec and that is what I’m not feeling. Perhaps I’m just afraid of change or maybe I miss seeing six little green blobs of numbers pop up from a crowd, but either way, I’ll be speccing back after the raid tonight. However, I will say that Penance is probably the most fun spell I’ve ever cast. Pew pew, laserz, lol.