Saturday, January 8, 2011

Field Report - On Inner Sanctum and other Disc talents

I've been playing more and more disc, both in raids and especially in heroics. It's not because I am getting bored with holy, far from. But I really want to like and learn everything there is about disc healing, so I force myself to play it even when I feel like holy would be the better/easier solution. The exception is the raid where I don't want 24 people to suffer all too much because of my experiments. I still try to make at least one or two tries on a boss as disc, just to get the feel of it. Today I thought I'd discuss some disc talents I've been thinking about.

Inner Sanctum
Most priests don't use this talent, and I haven't either. The only time I have was when I was trying out shadow for a while (it was as boring as it has been since vanilla btw) and found I had a couple of points left over of which I didn't really knew where to put. In hindsight I might've put them into silence instead, but I didn't. But when healing as disc I really find myself missing Body & Soul. This could either be because B&S is a great talent, or because it is spoiling me with it's comfiness. Whenever I have to move anywhere I use B&S. IS it making me dull? Am I relying on it too much? Or is it just a really great talent for a healer? A little bit of both probably. Thing is, disc healing is more punished by movement than holy healing is. As disc we've got the shield and PoM on the run (and holy nova occasionally). As holy I have PoM, Renew, CoH, Serenity when in the right stance (and holy nova of course). My best heals - GH and Penance - require me to stand still, so as disc I would benefit even more being able to position myself quickly. I am tempted to try this talent out, question is if it worth all those talent points. So far I have been leaning towards no, actually the answer has been simple. It just aint. And I still don't think it is. But I am tempted nonetheless.

Reflective Shield
Yet another talent most priests (including me) don't care much about at endgame. As always it's not because it's a bad talent, but because the alternatives are better. But just out of curiousity I wanted to figure out just how effective this talent is. This wouldn't be the only disc talent that is about dealing damage while healing. In a typical instance, while using the shield mainly on the tank (and keeping it up pretty much all the time when in combat for the crit bonus) my shield absorbs about 1,5-2 million damage. Reflective Shield would deal some 500k-1 million damage in an instance with those numbers. Would that make much of a difference? No, probably not. In most instances this would be one 30th or 40th of the total damage and if your group needs that to pull through... you've got a whole other problem on your hands. But it's fun to know anyway! But now they're basically doubling the effectiviness of our shields, which also would double the effectiviness of this talent. 15th to 20th place on damage done probably still doesn't warrant taking this talent, but it's closing in. Ignore me on this one. I had totally missed that it only affects shields cast on yourself. So definitely not a talent worth taking in endgame pve. Thanks to Tracey for pointing it out!

Strength of Soul
Word about Blizzard changing SoL to work with Flash Heal and Greater Heal immediately made me think about this talent. One thing I've noticed when healing as disc is that I never use Heal. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but at the moment I am healing mainly with Penance and Greater Heals for Train of Thought. It's working really well, so I can't be all wrong. I don't get anything from using Heal, except it's fairly mana efficient (but so is GH with ToT). Talents like SoL and Strength of Soul seemed aimed towards the wrong spell. You could argue that SoS gives us a reason to use Heal, but I'd rather have talents that buffed a couple of spells, instead of having talents that buff all my spells slightly. The more synergies the happier I am, and so far Disc has had a couple of these that work really well. I really like the way I can combine shield+GH+smite+Penance for nice throughpout when used in the correct manner. Where am I supposed to throw in Heal in all of this? Heal is too weak for disc to use. As holy we have 10% crit chance on it, can maintain renew and get Serenity from using it. Disc has none of this. Instead with SoS we get less crit (since it counteracts Borrowed Time) when using Heal. I can tell you that in a raid environment Heal is way too small to be effective when disc healing. Greater Heal works splendid though so I am glad they're changing this. I'm still not sure I want to use the talent though.

Some people say you should use it, some say you shouldn't. I thought I had read somewhere that keeping it on the tank could at least be an idea since it would keep up Grace on the target. Don't know if I just dreamt it, because it doesn't work for me anyway. Renew does not stack Grace. In any case, some say that we should use Renew since, like I mentioned above, when we're on the run there isn't much else for us to use. I suppose casting it could be better than letting people die while you have plenty of mana, but it seriously doesn't heal much, not even with Improved Renew. It's not even that great for holy, and I mostly only keep it on the tank anyway (when holy). Renew has definitely fallen a long way from the awesome spell it used to be. It feels like if we're ready to use non-mana efficient skills just because we have to, shouldn't we be reaching for Power Word: Shield first? It does actually cost less, and in disc spec my shield will "heal" for more than my renew when glyphed. Talenting Improved Renew does yet again feel like scattering points over too many skills. We should try to focus our points towards the skills we use the most as much as possible, and I think using Shield over Renew still is the way to go as disc.

This is a great talent, and as disc we crit fairly often. Getting inspiration up on anyone but the tank is rarely necessary, so question is how much of a difference this will do on the tank? It is true that disc healing is best at tank healing right now, so buffing that does sound like a good idea. But where would we get those points from? I do feel like mana is more of an issue when I am healing as disc than holy, so I don't want to pick points from MA, especially not if I intend to use shields even more. On the other hand shields is basically the only thing that benefits from MA (I don't really count the few PoM I use). Removing points from Darkness or TD would gimp my overall healing, so one could wonder if I'd gain much from Inspiration then. Maybe, if we plan to throw more shields, we'd need less haste because we'd have the Borrowed Time buff up even more. But will our mana pools hold for that? Removing Darkness does reduce our healing throughput by quite alot, especially since disc is so much about cast time now.There are definitely some very tricky choices to make for those last talent points. I suppose testing is the best way to find out what will work.


  1. While MMO champ's datamined patch notes included Strength of Soul being triggered by Gheal and Fheal in 4.0.6, that wasn't in the "official" notes. Here's hoping this makes it into a future build, as it makes that talent more viable.

  2. @Zelmaru
    Yeah I noticed you had mentioned it too in a recent post. I was kind of confused by all the patch updates over at mmo-champ, what is real and what isn't?! Agh! If they do implement this I see disc becoming even more synergy based. GH will allow us to shield more often and use IF more often. Is this good or bad? Time will tell!

  3. About reflective shield, if it really gives one 15th or 20th of a whole boss fight damage, then that means something between 5% and 6.6% of the whole damage! Sounds more than nice to have if you're not overtaxed by the fight mechanics!

  4. @Zelmaru
    The new changes hadn't gone live yet when I was writing that, so it's just a rough estimation based on the current numbers. Some extra damage might be nice of course, but as always... what talents should we remove in favor for this one? Currently I am already having trouble picking between all the other talents!

  5. Wait - I thought Reflective Shield only applied to shields applied to yourself? So a shield on the tank wouldn't be affected by the talent. Did this change? Was I wrong?

  6. @tracey
    When I read your question I was like "woot!". I am positive that the last time I used it, it reflected damage from all my shields. But you know that was a while ago and I am getting old... So I went to find out for sure. According to the internets (wowhead and wowpedia) it is true that it only reflects damage from shields casts on yourself. But I wouldn't settle for that. So I went and specced one of my alt priests with Reflective Shield and got into a bg-queue. After 20 minutes I was bored with waiting and went to Tirisfal Glades starting area where I found a friendly warlock who helped me with some testing. All I could find out what that the combat log doesn't say anything about it, so I suppose we can assume that it in fact only reflects damage from shields cast on yourself. I am totally shocked. It probably says alot about how much I've used this talent outside of questing *ahem*. I thought this talent could perhaps be slightly good for pve, but now it's definitely only good for questing and maybe for pvp. Bah. Thanks for setting me straight before I went and did something foolish like respec for it :)