I got you good last time, didn’t I?
Thought I would actually finish up my long-winded manifesto about disc healing, didn’t you?
Anyway, we were talking about Deathwing fucking up the world when last we met.
Along with the birth of goblins and worgen, we were witness to the death of the bubble.
Now don’t get me wrong, PW: Shield is still a VERY valid tool in a disc priest’s (or any priest, for that matter) arsenal of defensive tools. I die a little inside when I’m healing alongside another priest and the only bubbles in the raid are my own. It is always better to keep the damage from happening than to play catch-up while scrubbing the gore out of your target’s armor. Unless it’s a paladin tank and he’s low on mana, But that’s an exception so we’re ignoring him.
In Cataclysm, two things happened to the beautiful bubble that limited its effectiveness in blanketing an entire raid: an extended GCD and a change to Rapture.
OK, Technically they did not extend the GCD on PW: Shield, but they did give it a 1 second cooldown. Now that may not sound significant, but when you have the mouse wheel spin down to an art form, it is HIGHLY frustrating to be on the receiving end of a string of snarky “That ability isn’t ready yet” remarks while little green boxes are not neatly enveloped in little yellow borders.
The addition of the cooldown made chain-casting bubbles shaky, but was still technically doable. What destroyed the playstyle was the increase in mana cost and the 12 second cooldown on Rapture. To be fair, they did increase the mana return from 2.5% to 6% (the smarter-than-me people at EJ say that the tooltips are lying bastards), but you can basically only receive the benefits of one bubble at a time. Attempting to shield the entire raid will leave a priest OOM faster than an arcane mage in a burn rotation.
So a whole spec built (well, maybe not built but certainly played) around mitigation via bubbles had its primary tool nerfed to the stone age.
(insert Keanu Reeves “whoa” here)
Of course, this is when Blizzard decides they’re actually going to make absorb information available and the meters can validate the existence of a disc priest in a raid.
Anyway, at most, at current gear, a disc priest can support 3-5 bubbles – MAX. I’m usually only keeping 1-3 up, depending on the fight.
But hang on and hold your horses!
What is the disc mastery?
Shield Discipline: Increases the potency of all your damage absorption spells by 28%. Each point of Mastery increases the potency of absorbs by an additional 2.5%.
Um… so mastery makes my bubbles better.
But I’m not casting bubbles because it’s too expensive…
So my non-existent bubbles are better.
But wait, there’s more!
There is an additional method of getting bubbles, the Divine Aegis proc.
This is a talent that creates a shield on any player that receives a critical heal or is healed by Prayer of Healing.
Well that’s just spiffy.
At current gear levels, I don’t have enough crit, even raid buffed and after reforging all my mastery to crit, to crit a quarter of the time.
And Prayer of Healing?
Let’s just say that it’s not cheap. Or fast.
And as a disc priest in Cata, they seem to want us back in a single-target healing role, so why on earth would I be casting PoH often enough to make use of my mastery? If you want group heals, go holy. Play with Sanctuary and CoH and all that jazz. You want one person kept alive? I will keep them very alive.
So if I’m not bubbling, just what the heck am I supposed to be doing?
And here’s where we come in to 2 schools of disc healing.
The first is that of a true healer, they fill their rotation with healing spells.
And then there are those of us that are DPSers at heart. We fill the space with FIRE!
Well, we smite. It’s holy fire. But not the spell Holy Fire. Just go with me on this. FIRE!
The disc spec I use is called the AA or Archangel/Atonement spec.
Here’s the basic premise:
I have a glyph that allows me to hit all the time with Smite. (Because this really wouldn’t work if I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.)
I have 2/2 in Evangelism. This gives me 100% chance when I smite to give me a stack of Evangelism. Each stack, up to 5, increases the damage of my Smite (and Penance) and reduces the mana cost of those spells.
I have 2/2 in Atonement. When I deal damage with smite, I instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target equal to the smite damage, plus all healing spiffies (except Grace).
So every time I cast Smite, I heal something for more damage than I dealt, in a relatively mana efficient way.
Granted, I can’t choose where the heals go and I’ve helped many a DK bloodworm extend their short, little lives by a few seconds, but it’s still a heal. With FIRE!
So this was really a very long way of getting to it, but here’s what I meant by, “even as disc.”
The fight I was speaking of had lots of dispelling and AoE damage to be healed through.
Pre-Deathwing fucking, it would have been an insanely easy to bubble everyone, spam Mass Dispel, and pick up the purples.
Post-Deathwing fucking, I couldn’t bubble everyone, Mass Dispel was atrociously expensive (not to mention ridiculously long to cast), and it just is not feasible to keep every one topped off at all times.
It is now such a Herculean effort to keep people standing that any victory, no matter how slim, is a cause to celebrate.
And now it’s time for a post about how disc healing *feels*.
(Patch 4.0.6 went up on the PTR last week and contains some changes that should help a little. Time will tell.)
This is like ad libs…I’m lost amongst the lingo but glad you’re writing again and kicking ass still.
[…] (thankfully fixed now), whined some more about how disc healers were undervalued, exploring the wonky playstyle of disc, and closed the month with a discussion of what healing as disc *feels* […]