Bring the Player, not the Discipline Priest

Yesterday I was surfing the interwebs like a good little WoW addict and went on over mmo-champion to check the latest on the blue tracker.  After scrolling down to the priest info (as if there was any other kind), I came across this juicy little tidbit here:

Will raids want Disc priests? We are honestly not too worried about that. We’d estimate about half of the healing priests we’ve watched in Ulduar are Disc, at least for the guilds that are making boss kills. Consider, that when you have a tank with 45,000 health and a boss is hitting for 25,000 health (which is not the kind of thing we did in Naxx, but is in Ulduar), none of the healing you can do will let that tank survive two hits in a row. But Power Word: Shield will.

Bit I don't WANNA go Disc!

But I don't WANNA go Disc!

Blizzard… what the hell?  You’ve been touting this “bring the player, not the class” attitude for a few months now, slowly homogenizing the holy priest to the point where we’re pretty much interchangeable with druids, and shamans are even slightly better than us at AoE heals.  I love my class and my spec, but I don’t hold any illusions about the idea that we’re indispensable in raids or better than any other class in certain aspects.  I’m fine with all of that.

However, on the flip side of the coin, Blizzard has been going to great lengths to make disc priests a viable and attractive component for any raid and 3.1 will see that increase even further.  Disc priests will now be able to cast crazy huge shields left and right and at the same time will be able to give not just one person, but the entire raid a 3% damage mitigation boost.  Blizzard says they don’t want any one type of healer to be more attractive than another, and certainly a disc priest is not mandatory, but with these changes, guilds are going to be actively seeking at least one regular disc priest for raids.  Holy?  Not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a priest I like the idea that this statement is pretty much saying that Power Word: Shield is going to become an almost mandatory spell in raids, but it is a sort of hypocrisy on Blizzard’s part.  Here they’ve been stating that they don’t want you to have to look at what type of healers you have, but then one of the devs is pretty much saying that they’re designing content with a priest only spell specifically in mind.  But it goes even further when you look at the fact that PW:S really is more of a disc priest’s specialty.  Holy priests don’t have or want talents boosting this spell.  Hell’s bells, the only time I even cast this spell as a holy priest is when I’m on MT healing which happens maybe once a month.

So basically what this tells me is that priests will be mandatory as raiders in 3.1 for at least one fight.  Win.  However, it also says that disc priests will be the optimal version of priests as they are specifically planning encounters based wholly on damage mitigation or else your raid will wipe.  Lose.  They’ve also stated in the past that they will not be planning encounters with the idea that players can freely switch specs in between boss fights.  I guess that idea only applies to disc priests.  Fact is, almost no holy priest is going to want MT duties over raid duties.  It’s a job we can do, but not one we’re going to excel at over a disc priest thanks to our lack of mitigation talents.  If a priest wants to heal the MT, he’s most likely to go disc for that job.

So here’s my problem with this statement:  It’s assuming that healing priests don’t care what kind of healer they are.  I care, buddy, I care big time.  As I’ve stated before, disc spec is fun, it’s interesting and Penance is, hands down, one of the coolest spells I’ve ever cast before, but I don’t want to be a discipline priest for raiding.  I’ll take it as my second spec because I don’t really care much for dpsing, but I’m hoping to use it as little as possible, really.  I like CoH and seeing 6 little blobs of numbers pop up from a group of people.  I enjoy seeing little wings pop up from someone when I cast Guardian Spirit on them.  I enjoy being holy while raiding.

Now perhaps this was just a throw-away statement by a dev that he wasn’t really thinking about when he made, but it serves to highlight what I feel is an alarming trend concerning priest heals.  In BC, disc priests were considered the PvP healing version of the class, which was kind of lame, but whatever.  However, with WotLK, Blizzard has gone such great lengths to make disc priests a raiding class that they have made them more of a necessity in certain situation than holy priests.  If Blizzard wants the idea to be that people are bringing the player, then why would they make a situation where I’m pretty much forced to switch specs in order to effectively heal for my raid?  That statement tells me that in 3.1, disc priests will actually be better than holy priests in some situations, thus relegating holy as a lesser tree since it isn’t any more or less attractive than other healers.

Look, maybe I’m overreacting and reading too much into this one statement and I will say that it’s not like I’m going to have disc as my main spec from now on to make sure I get into raids.  But my point is that if disc and holy priests are separate classes (and believe me when I say that I truly think they are), then creating these types of encounters will force one of two things:  Guilds actively passing up a holy priest in favor of a disc priest or forcing a holy or even shadow priest to switch to disc for those particular encounters.  Blizzard has stated that they’re actively trying to avoid these situations when it comes to other classes, but that seems to be forgotten when it comes to the priest class as if we don’t care what spec we are.  Blizzrd, I’m a Holy Priest and I want my Circle of Healing, is that so wrong?



16 Responses to “Bring the Player, not the Discipline Priest”

  1. 04/06/2009 at 1:20 PM

    But but…the lazers, Duegy…the lazers!

    In all seriousness, though, my reaction was similar-minus the dismay, of course, but the WTF aspect was still there.

    Bring the player but not the class…except disc priests…gotta have those!


    If mitigation is going to be so important, then why take multi target SS away from holy paladins?! That whole statement just reeks of dumb. What about weakened soul? If one whack will take away a shield, I can promise you we won’t have another one up in time for the third whack. I..just…I…


  2. 04/06/2009 at 1:24 PM

    I wouldn’t take it too seriously, when I read that myself I saw it as more of a hypothetical thrown out to make disc feel better about receiving so much nerfbat and no real output buff.
    The only thing keeping me from declaring holy my new mainspec is that it seems like the lack of cd on the PTR for rapture returns is probably intended, so I won’t be totally boned on mana after getting used to having an endless pool.
    It will be a different feel, I’ll have to be careful which spells I use if I heal anyone not the mt so I don’t lose my grace stack and keep an eye out for opportunistic bubbles to keep the mana coming in. I could get used to that once I’ve stopped being a curmudgeon about change.

  3. 04/06/2009 at 1:46 PM

    I wouldn’t worry about Disc priests being required, at least not just because of that comment. Disc priests are very useful, and they are great at preventing damage spikes, but I don’t think they do anything worlds apart from what any other skilled healer can do.

    As for the blue comment, far from “none of the healing you can do will let that tank survive two hits in a row,” actually I think any heal of 5001 HP or more could let a 45k HP tank survive two 25k hits. 🙂 And as Ambrosyne said, PW:Shield can only help with one boss swing every 15 seconds anyway.

    Disc may be great on tanks, but I don’t think it’ll be required. Even on Sarth 3D now, the epitome of “your tank cannot survive,” PW:Shield isn’t the lifesaver, it’s any combo of Guardian Spirit, Pain Suppression, Pally bubble #47, Shield Wall, Bone Shield, etc.

  4. 04/06/2009 at 2:13 PM

    Yeah, I fall in the “this was a bone thrown to Disc Priests” camp, as I have some real concerns about how well the spec will scale and will fare in Ulduar and beyond.

    My concern isn’t that someone will be forced to spec Disc, but rather a Disc will be benched in lieu of a Paladin. Paladin throughput is still better than Disc mitigation+throughput.

    I hate paladins.

  5. 04/06/2009 at 2:22 PM

    Two thoughts.

    First: Blizzard has said, on more than one occasion, that although their philosophy is “bring the player, not the class”, they’re also assuming that the overwhelming majority of groups will have at least one of their players bring priests to 25-man content (which is where I can see the above statement applying). The statement was made in regards to Instructor Razzuvious, where Mind Control is an important part of the fight. But keep in mind that Razz-25 can be completed by a group without priests; it’s just much harder. Likewise, saying that a tank with 45k health can’t survive two 25k hits in a row without PW:S simply isn’t true; it’s just going to be much harder for a priest without PW:S to deal with it.

    (And Amber, I think the implication is that those hits are abnormally strong – but then, most tanks I know with 45k health are defense capped, so maybe not.)

    Second, and perhaps more important: despite the protests of nearly every Holy priest I’ve heard from, I promise you that Power Word: Shield is a baseline priest spell. You don’t have to spend talent points in Discipline to get it! If the comment were “yeah, you’re going to need Pain Suppression to survive this fight”, I could see the complaint – but as a Holy priest you still have PW:S, even though it’s not as powerful as a Disc priest’s, and you should still be using it (especially given that the primary argument against using it is “but it might interfere with a Disc priest’s shield!”).

  6. 04/06/2009 at 2:56 PM

    @CA: You make valid points, but I think you missed the spirit of what I’m trying to say. It’s not about the spells, what Blizzard is stating is that you must have damage mitigation. And when someone who’s not a priest (ie, a guild leader) is looking at who to bring to a raid, they’re going to see more attractiveness in a disc priest because of those talents.

    My point is not that disc priests can do more than holy priests, it’s that blizzard is designing content where mitigation becomes extremely attractive, if not necessary, and everybody knows that mitigation is the eminent domain of disc priests.

  7. 7 Porf
    04/06/2009 at 3:16 PM

    I see how you read it that way, but I didn’t really interpret it as such.

    I really think it boils down to your personal playstyle preference. If you like general raid and/or aoe healing, then holy absolutely owns. If you’re always assigned to a MT or OT, then disc may work better for you. I’ve done both roles in both specs, and I’m stting in holy right now due to sheer throughput. I’m really looking forward to a more robust disc tree so I have some options post 3.1.

    There are few things that could tweak to make full holy better, but I’ve been incredibly impressed at my outputs so far. Sure a Pally will out heal-bomb me, and resto shamans are putting up slightly higher group healing nums; but we’re really, really good at both. Overall, holy is still incredibly valuable.

    I just see Disc as being viable, with the added buff of mitigation. I’m in a casual guild, so the boomkin analogy works for me. We don’t always have one, and we don’t always need one. It’s just really nice when ours shows up to raid.

    If disc doesn’t meet my holy set of expectations, I’ll be going back.

  8. 04/06/2009 at 3:31 PM

    I can understand what you’re trying to say, Dueg, and to an extent I can see where you’re coming from: you’re reacting to what you think guild/raid leaders are going to think. Sadly, you’re probably right. I guess I’m just frustrated by the reductive nature of theorycrafting: Discipline priests being good at mitigation becomes DISCIPLINE PRIESTS ARE ONLY GOOD AT MITIGATION, Discipline priests being decent tank healers becomes DISCIPLINE PRIESTS CAN ONLY BE TANK HEALERS, Discipline priests having better mitigation than holy priests becomes HOLY PRIESTS CAN ONLY HEAL AND CAN’T MITIGATE DAMAGE AT ALL, etc.

    Saying honestly what I think of this mentality would make this not a family-friendly blog anymore, so I’ll hold my true feelings in check.

    Suffice it to say that Blizzard intends “bring the player, not the class” to be not only a design philosophy but a raid construction philosophy as well. Perhaps a Discipline priest might be more attractive on these fights than a Holy priest, all else being equal, but all else is not equal. A good raid leader will be evaluating the players’ performance, not the classes’/specs’ theorycrafting – and if they’re not a good raid leader, you don’t want to be running with them anyway.

  9. 04/06/2009 at 3:54 PM

    Silly argument is silly. Are we just talking instant-cast spells here to address this hypothetical 25K damage?

    Because no 2K shield from a Holy Priest or Shadow Priest will save the tank alone. (Won’t the new improved renew talent heal instantly for more than that?) But with 25K damage incoming, a Disc Priest’s 8K shield isn’t going to solo-save-the-day either.

    And damn, I didn’t realize this was a family friendly blog. Sorry for my sailor mouth 😦

  10. 04/06/2009 at 3:59 PM

    Keep in mind that there is little reason to bring more than one disc priest to a raid. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that we all have to go respec to disc now. If you really don’t want to go disc then perhaps another raiding priest in your guild will fill that role.

    Holy priests will have their place in the next patch as well.
    In the very same thread GC said:
    “There are no fights in Ulduar that require any particular class or spec.”

  11. 04/06/2009 at 5:18 PM

    Great comments on here, it’s always good to see a healthy discussion on anything priestly.

    Let me just say this as my final argument, I truly think that Blizzard is making the discipline priest a unique healer. You can’t find anything even slightly similar to the types of talents that discipline priests are known to have. What this does is make discipline the more attractive spec from a guild or utility view. Though they’re not necessary for raiding, their talents provide incentives that just aren’t there for holy priests.

    All this points to one thing: Holy priests being asked to respec disc if there’s not another one available in the raid group. Whether this is a failing of guild or raid leaders to be informed of priest’s abilities is besides the point. The point is that making the disc priest unique and then playing up to what makes them unique during raid encounters makes them more likely to get picked up for raids.

  12. 04/06/2009 at 5:44 PM

    Heh, heh, heh, finally our plans for world domination are nearing fruition.

    Long live the Cult of Disc!

    But yeah I was a bit surprised by the 3% raid mitigation. You’d be silly not to take a Disc priest now. Are they mandatory? I’m with the boomkin analogy. Nice to have but not must have.

    As a Disc priest i’m jealous of the new Holy Renew myself. Think i was a resto druid in a past life or something.

  13. 04/07/2009 at 9:24 AM

    I hear you on renew Bob. I played around on a resto druid alt a lot in tbc and with the current endless mana I spend alot of time renewing because I can when damage is low. It was funny explaining why renew was my top heal one malygos encounter, I decided to see if I could hot every one in the raid for vortex.

  14. 04/07/2009 at 6:41 PM

    @Jinxie – Yeah Renew and PoM seem to work well in vortexs.

  15. 15 sparklefreeze
    04/28/2009 at 6:03 PM

    Ah, I entirely agree that Disc is looking more and more attractive in the hurt that Ulduar is dishing out. What my GM is saying to me is that me being Disc saves the other raid healers serious mana and buys them crucial time.

    About the Empowered Renew thing.. I’m disappointed. The biggest instant heal I’ve seen from them is about 1.3k at Naxx10 gear level. That is miles away from what the Imp. Shield offers; that being time. If you’re used to throwing PoM to the tanks on CD, you’ll see how a 5k crit beats an Empowered Renew hands down.

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