Posts Tagged ‘Discipline


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?



Parity Problems, A Priest’s Lament

Pictured: A run of the mill healing priest

Pictured: A run of the mill healing priest

So lately there’s been some mumbling and grumbling going on concerning the new tier 8 healing priest set.  The problem is not the look of it (though some people aren’t too happy about the rogue look), but more to do with the new bonuses we get from having multiple pieces.  I’ll review them real quick:

  • 2P Bonus — Increases the critical heal chance of your Prayer of Healing by 10%.
  • 4P Bonus — Casting Power Word: Shield also grants you 250 spell power for 5 sec.
  • Both of these are somewhat “meh” to begin with, but when viewed through the eyes of holy spec, even more so.  The PoH bonus is weak because as a holy priest, you’re more likely to use CoH with PoH being a back up.  Even with the changes to Serendipity, this will only give an extra incentive to cast PoH if you have it glyphed and even then I’d choose my spots to cast it carefully.  This is more of a “shrug” sort of bonus for both specs, something that’s nice to have, but you wouldn’t exactly miss it if it was gone.

    However, it’s the 4 piece bonus that really highlights one of the issues a lot of priests are beginning to have concerning Blizzard’s recent major changes to the priest class.  The problem here is that this tier bonus is obviously aimed at Discipline spec priests.  Even though it’s kind of lame (I mean, c’mon, 5 seconds, Blizzard?  That’s like kissing your cousin), it’s something a disc priest wouldn’t mind having in their arsenal for the occasional boost.  However, as almost every holy spec priest I’ve read over the last few days has pointed out, if you’re running with a disc priest in your raid, you’re probably not casting power word: shield because you don’t want to cut part of what makes a disc priest so damn discy.

    But here’s the problem: The stats on the gear are very very nice for holy spec.  Not BiS (tier armor almost never is) but damn close in all cases and something that anyone wearing only Naxx gear will jump at the chance to pick up.  However, the stats are only mildly interesting for disc priests, who are not looking to stack the spirit heavy pieces that are part of the tier 8 armor set.  This essentially means that both specs have a reason to find these attractive and a reason to turn their nose up at them.

    Look, Blizz… can I call you Blizz?  Blizz, you’ve done a fantastic job turning the discipline priest into a true PvE healing class.  You did such a good job, in fact, that you’ve actually made it into a wholly different type of healer, pretty much a completely different class.  The style, mindset, major spells, important stats, hell, even the importance of secondary stats are completely different than that of a holy healer.  They cast different heals at different times, basing their job performance on what buffs are up when and how much damage they help the tank avoid.  They chortle condescendingly when we suggest spirit is fantastic and reach for that extra helping of int instead, and that’s actually pretty awesome.  It’s also your fault, Blizz.

    You created a system that rewards the disc priest by how much mana they have and how fast they can cast their spells, turning them into haste hungry int mutants terrorizing the countryside.  Though you’re set to change their major form of mana regen with the rapture nerf, it’s still based on a percentage of total mana, meaning any smart disc priest will forgo spirit in favor of extra int and straight mp5 where they can get it.

    Holy priests on the other hand love them some spirit.  When you’re pushing 1,000 spirit (and top geared priests will), you don’t really give a crap about mp5 because you don’t need to.  You have enough mana regen that your i5sr amount should be equivalent to someone stacking mp5 instead of spirit.  The only difference is that your spirit also adds a straight sp bonus, making it one hella sexy stats for us.  I’m talking stilettos here, people.

    So we come to the crux of my argument: Why are you trying to please both sides, Blizz?  Why do you have to make a single healing set for the priest class?  I understand that we’re the only class that has two specific healing specs, but you’ve changed them to the point where they might as well be a dps and healing spec because they’re so wildly different.  Classes with three distinct specs such as shamans and paladins get three distinct tier sets, but we’re forced to put up with tier bonuses optimal for disc and disc is forced to put up with stats optimal for holy.

    Back in BC this argument would not have been really necessary because it could be argued that the PvP set was the disc set.  But with a switch in priorities for the spec and the rise of Blizz’s “bring the player, not the class” philosophy, that idea’s gone right out the window.  There are also changes in the mix to make disc into an even more attractive raiding class which will ensure more than a few holy priests picking it up as a secondary spec instead of dps.  Because of this, you’re going to see a lot of priests passing up tier gear in favor of items that don’t have spirit slathered all over them.  Holy priests will still take them, but the idea of losing the tier bonus won’t really give them pause.  This idea of forcing the needs of two fundamentally different specs into a single set devalues the gear for both specs.

    Let me close with this.  Blizzard, you have turned the priest into three different classes, two of which are healing classes.  However, they’re not the same type of healing classes.  They’re like Resto Shamans and Druids when it comes to what they want in stats.  They do a lot of the same things and have the same end result, but what they value when they’re looking for gear is wildly different.  You wouldn’t expect them to seek out the same type of gear stats-wise, yet you seem to think that priests will quietly do just that because we’re united under a common class name.  You divided us, and we’re happy for it, but the time has come to finish the job.  Acknowledge that we’re just too different to be happy with the same gear for both specs.  Otherwise, you probably won’t get much healing in the next Naxx run.



    So it’s come to this…

    So tonight we made another run at Sarth 3D and once more a discipline priest was requested. I volunteered again and made the trek back to Silvermoon for a quick respeccing job. We got a few good attempts in and I’m definitely starting to really get a feel for the discipline style, even in such a hectic fight.

    However, about halfway through the attempts, a thought struck me.  So I says to myself, “Self, why should you respec back to holy if you’re probably going to be respeccing for the next Sarth fight anyways?”  As I’ve said before, a guild relationship should be a two way street with the player willing to give back what he gets out.  So I decided on my own that I would stay disc for the immediate future until either we recruit a disc priest or we down Sarth 3D, whichever comes first.  Trust me, I will not be staying disc because I do still prefer holy healing, but if it’s what’s needed, then it’s what I’ll do… for now.  After Sarth 3D though, I’m going back to holy till dual specs and you can bet cash money on that.

    Oh, and one final bit of news:





    Disciplined Ramblings of a Holy Man

    So if you checked in with me yesterday you know that I was asked to switch my spec to Discipline for a couple of raid nights.  The reason for this is we were doing Sarth 3D and the main tank wanted to have the boost to damage mitigation and have Pain Suppressionas a back up for one shot breaths.  I’ve always been of the philosophy that if your guild needs you to fill a role and you have the ability, you should do so because in the long run it benefits you just as much as it does the guild.  Be a team player says Dueg.

    So after spending the evening healing it up bubble style, I wrote a post yesterday somewhat panning the spec.  My exact feelings were summed up pretty much in four words: I don’t like it.  Now admittedly I had only had one difficult fight and a couple of breezy boss fights to become used to the style.  Last night we went back into Naxx and finished off Sapph and KT then went and smacked around Sarth with 2 drakes because of a lack of a full raid group.  Afterwards I scurried back to Silvermoon, spoke to my friendly priest trainer, and once more slipped on the garb of the holy priest.

    However, as my cursor floated over the text box confirming my desire to drop my talents, I felt a slight hesitation.  A small voice floating in my ears, sounding suspiciously like Lyrandre, whispered to me, “pew pew, laserz.”  But I would not be swayed, for I was Holy Dueg at heart and so I would become once more, and so I did.

    Like mother's sweet embrace.

    Like mother's sweet embrace.

    Why the hesitation, you might ask?  Shouldn’t I have been ready to switch back and immediately run to the shower, trying to scrub the dirt off even though I knew it was my very soul that had been filthied?  Well, gentle jerkwads, after two nights of raiding as discipline spec and seeing for myself what all the spells and talents and style were about, I have had a change of heart regarding my original opinion.  My love for Holy spec hasn’t softened, but I now understand why disc is such a viable one.

    You see, priests are a unique class in the game in that we’re the only one that gets two specific PvE healing trees.  Blizzard has done an excellent job with this by slowly evolving the disc tree to the point where it creates a different type of healer than your standard holy priest.  I would even go so far as to say that as of WotLK, Blizzard has actually introduced a new healing class to the game.  I’ve seen people actively asking for a disc priest for certain encounters which gives a clue to the mindset of people who aren’t priests regarding the changes.

    Of course, this has caused both specs to become somewhat pigeon holed as is often the case involved in poorly understood classes.  It would be very easy to say “Disc priests are single target healers and Holy priests are raid healers,” and to a certain extent you can get away with that generalization.  But though these specs are specialized for those roles, they can just as easily fill the part of the other.

    However, all that aside, I’m actually writing this post in order to update my opinions on the discipline priest as I feel I was somewhat incomplete in my boohooing yesterday.  Now as far as WoW goes for me, healing is my game.  I enjoy it immensely even when I don’t (no, I won’t explain that) and I have no want to level an alt to the point where I can raid with someone other than Dueg.  Maybe I’ll burn out eventually, but I leveled as a healer and raided as a healer and I’m feeling cool as a cucumber about it right now, so we’ll see.

    But the last couple of nights I was able to step into a different sort of role and therefore a different style of healer for raiding.  I requested and was assigned as a main tank healer for both Naxx fights so I could test out the disc spec in it’s natural habitat.  So after much observation and one shotting of big bad baddies, I feel like I have a firm grasp on the spec, the concept behind it.  I also feel I can confidently step forward and give you my revised opinion on the spec: I don’t not like it.

    I found the damage mitigation aspect of it quite fun.  By keeping stacks of Grace up on the target, I could actually see the difference in the amount of incoming damage.  This laid to rest my worries about the throughput of the class.  Yes, you will on average see about 1,000 less health on your heals, but you shouldn’t need as much muscle when actually healing.  With my target almost always taking 3% less damage mixed in with shields and Divine Aegis procs, I had a lot fewer oh shit moments where I had to spam a heal in order to get my target out of the woods.  However, this didn’t mean I had to stay tunnel vision on the tank.  During KT when we had two off tanks along with the regular one, I stood within range of all three and tried to keep everyone grace stacked and shielded as often as possible.  This was the most fun I had as disc.

    The mana regen aspect, though, is seriously ungodly.  Last night I don’t think I ever dropped below 80% mana the entire night even when firmly entrenched within the 5sr for minutes at a time.  I hate to say this, but it’s actually a good thing that they’re nerfing Raptureotherwise you’d see a lot of priests switching over just for the regen aspect of it.  Any class the doesn’t have to worry about mana will have an advantage over a class that does and Blizzard has seemed to realize this.  The way it stands now though makes it necessary for them to gain a boatload of mana because they have to be casting pretty regularly in order to keep their mitigation talents up at all times.  With an increase to the length of the mitigation talent and a nerf to rapture’s returns though, you should see a few more disc priests putting on their dancing shoes after 3.1.

    In closing I’ll say that Disc is a fun spec and wholly different from it’s counterpart.  The main difference other than spells and talents though, is that disc is more of a preparedness spec and holy is more reactionary.  Disc’s concept is to make sure you have as many buffs up as possible in order to avoid the highest amount of incoming damage.  Because of the lack of throughput you can’t really sit back and let the damage come as it will, you have to prevent it.  Holy is more whack a mole style though.  You cast when people need it and make sure that everybody’s health is full.  You have to be quick on your feet but if you’re fast enough you can almost always keep your target alive through sheer healing muscle.  One final thought though: Penance = Best.  Spell.  Ever.



    You mus haf Dishiprin!

    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.

    I was so young and foolish and all the cool priests were doing it!

    But all the cool priests are doing it!

    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.


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