With a multitude of add-on and instance errors since Tuesday’s patch, it is a little difficult to make a complete assessment of how the Discipline tree works now. But hey, I’ve raided twice (although arguably more time has been spent waiting to pull than actually fighting), and it’s never too soon to start evaluating things.
The Priest class experienced a pretty substantial overhaul to its talents, and for those that get in a rut and never change their game-play, this can be problematic (you know the type, the Resto Druids, for example, who still think they need to shift to caster form in movement fights, thinking Trees still have that “slow” effect).
Khaeli’s Spec & Glyphs
After weighing the pros and cons of different talent options, I decided to stick with the 57/14/0 build. Taking the revised Focused Will talent gives me more crit than I really need (I’m approaching 40% raid-buffed), but hopefully this will give me some flexibility with gear options.
The New Grace
The old Grace provided recipients of a Disc Priest’s Flash Heals, Greater Heals, and Penance with 1% damage reduction and 2% healing increase (stackable up to 3 times). The new Grace has no damage reduction component, but increases healing from the priest by 3% (again, stackable). Although Grace now lasts 15 seconds, it can only be maintained on one target. I hate this mechanic, and as it stands, it’s the one thing that I truly dislike about the changes to the Discipline tree. Any time I heal someone other than the tank with these spells then, Grace transfers to my new target. No healer, even one designated as a tank healer, will ever only heal one person, and to punish a healer for doing so is silly. If the Disc Priest needs to maintain Grace on the Main Tank but heal others, she must use something other than Penance, Flash Heal, or Greater Heal (in other words, she must use the heals that are unbuffed via glyphs and talents). Of course, the Priest can shield as long as that person isn’t already affected by the Weakened Soul debuff. Lame. Blizzard has stated they know this mechanic is clunky. Whether or not they’ll make it a workable talent remains to be seen.
The New Divine Aegis
In addition to zapping the tank with the pewpewpewlasers of Penance, one of the joys of Discipline Priesting has long been watching the bubbles of Divine Aegis appear on others. But the old Divine Aegis, despite the great graphic, wasn’t always that useful as it only absorbed based on effective healing and as it didn’t stack. In other words, if your Flash Heal crit for 7K but only healed for 1K, the bubble would only absorb 300 damage. This was particularly frustrating with Penance as the DA from crits would overwrite themselves, and while an initial bubble might be substantial (particularly if the recipient needed healing), subsequent hits might actually reduce its effectiveness.
Two changes to DA have made the spell vastly better: 1) it is calculated based on total healing, not just on effective healing. So that 7K Flash Heal gives a bubble that’ll absorb 2100 damage. And 2) the absorptions will stack, up to 125*target level (up to 10K for a level 80). Yay bubbles.
The New Power Word: Shield
When the changes for Patch 3.1 were first announced, Ghostcrawler promised us a pony Power Word: Barrier, a group-wide shield. While that talent never manifested, the 4 second cooldown was eliminated from Power Word: Shield via the new Soul Warding talent. Shields can be cast every cooldown (if need be), allowing a Disc Priest to maintain the Borrowed Time buff (+25% haste for next spellcast) for the ol’ PW:S > Penance > Greater Heal routine. Maintaining shields on multiple targets also keeps the revised Renewed Hope buff up, providing 3% damage reduction to the entire raid. As the Patch also changed rage generation vis-a-vis absorbed damage, tanks now can no longer whine about shielding. Sure, there’s no PW:Barrier, but nevertheless — shields for everyone! Srsly.
While You Were Shielding, the Other Healers Were Pwning You On the Healing Meters
If a Disc Priest can now opt to use every GCD for a shield in lieu of a heal, then she will find herself falling (further) behind on the healing meters. Yes, I know. Healing meters suck. And the new playstyle of the Disc tree makes that even more profound. I’ve used WoW Meter Online to parse the combat logs from the two Ulduar raids I’ve run, in part because they claim they’re working on accurately accounting for Discipline’s absorption effects. The reports do place PW:S as my #1 “heal,” something other combat logs don’t recognize. But I’m not entirely confident in their numbers (how, for example, can Divine Aegis have an effective heal of 100K and an overheal of 800K? How does an absorption overheal?). Nevertheless it’s another tool, along with WoW Web Stats, for assessing one’s performance.
The New Rapture
When I first heard Blizzard was gutting Rapture, I was sad, but hardly shocked. Rapture provided the Discipline Priest with an almost unending mana supply. To end every boss fight at almost full mana might be a wee bit overpowered. The old Rapture worked like this: “Causes you to gain up to 2.5% of your maximum mana each time you heal with Greater Heal, Flash Heal or Penance, or damage is absorbed by your Power Word: Shield or Divine Aegis. Increasing the amount healed or absorbed increases the mana gained.” So, if you were running low on mana (lol), you could just heal or shield your way to more.
The new Rapture now only returns mana when Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled.
According to my combat logs, I gained 90K mana from Rapture last night and 124K from Replendishment. Although it’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, in my last Naxx25 run (pre-Patch), I gained 290K from Rapture and 145K from Replendishment. Yes, that’s a huge nerf, but I’m not sure any Discipline Priest could keep a straight face and argue some adjustment wasn’t warranted. Even with the change, I have experienced no real mana issues. I did use my Shadowfiend (no wai!) once. But there was no groveling for innervates or test-driving the new Hymn of Hope.
Some New Heals
#showtooltip Divine Hymn
/cast Inner Focus
/cast Divine Hymn
Moving Divine Hymn in particular into my repertoire will take practice, as its lengthy cooldown makes its timing important; but with a high potential for crits and DA procs, it’ll definitely be worth it (I should’ve used it during Razorscale. I suck). With the changes to Rapture and Grace, I can now consider moving Binding Heal into more regular usage as well.
Shield spam. 6-second-cooldown Penance spam. Prayer of Mending spam. Crit spam. Yay bubbles. Profit.