Saturday, December 3, 2011

First impressions on Dragon Soul and Priest Healing

My guild hurled itself headfirst into the new Dragon Soul instance the other day, and I was lucky enough to be among the ten people picked to do the first clearing (thank you guys!). So how was it? Awesome! So how about a short run through on my initial thoughts?

I know I said I would read up on tactics like never before. I lied. Well it wasn't a lie really, I definitely had the intention of doing so. I even started watching a couple of videos and reading some tactics, so I can't say I went in blindfolded - but not far from. Fortunately, it worked anyway. We did of course have the usual bunch of people who had read up on everything and who gave us the tactics (bless you guys), but in most other cases the healing part of the fights were pretty self explanatory. I usually only fail with this way of approaching new raid content when I miss out on knowing about some crucial healing tactic, like not to dispel the disease on Grobbulus *ahem*. For Dragon Soul it went just well, and I only did major mistakes a couple of times - mistakes I am sure I would've done either way. some things just take a try to get the hang of. We managed to clear the place in one night, although we stretched it for 30-40 minutes in the end when we felt we really had the hang of Madness of Deathwing and just needed to get it right. Last pull of the night was a server first kill! I won't attempt to write actual guides this time around, this is just an initial observation of how the fights felt, overall and healing wise.

This fight reminded me of Slabhide in Stonecore. Overall the Morchok fight was extremely easy, and I seriously mean extremely. We went in with three healers just to be prepared for anything and I don't think I'm exaggerating it if I say that a decent healer with some Firelands gear probably could've solo healed it. He has a raid wide aoe-stomp and an ability where you have to hide behind some pillars. As long as people hide properly there is basically nothing to heal but the stomp, and on normal that did very low damage. There isn't much to say about this fight other than that it went by really fast.

Warlord Zon'ozz
The funny thing about a progression guild like ours is that we usually have people that study up on the boss fights really carefully, but don't bother with reading up on how the trash works. Because of that we usually have a fairly easy time with the bosses (at least the first ones) but can wipe horribly on trash that we just can't figure out fast enough. That is what happened on the trash before Warlord Zon'ozz. Fortunately I lagged behind for the first pull and when I got there the raid had wiped allowing me to do a mass res. we had loads of people die on the next pull as well, but we slowly but surely figured out how to deal with those tentacles.

Warlord Zon'ozz himself was also very straight forward as a healer. As it would turn out to be on most fights in Dragon Soul (and this might be something that will annoy me later on) it is a whole lot about aoe healing. As a disc priest that unfortunately means spamming Prayer of Healing basically, which also was a huge contributing factor to why I want my holy spec back. There is this huge ball going back and forth between the melee group and the ranged group and there is some aoe damage. That was about what I gathered from the fight. Sometimes someone would shout out "move a little more to the left" and I would take a couple of steps to the left, all while keep on spamming Prayer of Healing.

Yor'sahj the Unsleeping
Yor'sahj is where things started getting a little more interesting. I really enjoyed the concept of getting to choose your own debuffs through the blobs, and it was also one of the few fights I had actually studied up on in advance. And it will be really interesting to see how it changes for the heroic mode. It still wasn't particularly challenging on normal with even more - you guessed it - Prayer of Healing spam.

Hagara the Stormbinder
What I liked about this fight is that eventhough you don't have a clue about the skills (like me) all of them were pretty self explanatory (although, in lfr people seem to manage to fail even with the simplest and most obvious things). Don't stand in shit basically. This is the one of the few fights where I've so far tested holy too, and yes, it is even more aoe healing - which holy is doing really well at the moment.

Healers are supposed to get a buff here, it's simple enough as it is called out and a huge crystal spawns which you have to run to and click. I didn't quite get what that buff actually did, I know it boosted my healing somehow (differently depending on crystal) but I didn't notice a major difference. Something that will matter a lot more in heroic mode no doubt. This fight was, yet again, basically only about spamming aoe healing. Fortunately it had one other aspect which I really enjoyed - having to save yourself from certain death by clicking the dream button. It's basically a skill you get that shifts you into the "dream", saving you from Ultraxions big killer. He also puts a debuff on two (in 10 man) random players which kills them unless they shift. I liked it because it wasn't just mindlessly spamming the button, you actually had to time it properly and this too is something I hope they have taken to the next level for the heroic mode. Perhaps even preciser timing or more skills where the shifting has to be used? It puts more responsibility in the hands of the player, where they themselves are the only ones responsible for whether they live or die due to those skills - something I was wishing for in my previous post (albeit in a slightly different way).

GUNSHIP! Basically. Some people loved that fight, some hated it. I was among the ones who really liked it the first couple of times, especially the general concept, although it did turn into "lootship" fairly quickly. Because of this I enjoyed the idea of Blackthorns ship as well, and something I particularly liked was having to take the bombs with your face - everyone gathering for the big bomb and anyone close enough for the small ones. It gave a sense of teamwork that I really enjoyed and also a sense of success when you managed to detect and properly move to a small bomb to make sure it didn't land on the ship. It was also (finally!) one of the few fights where it wasn't all about aoe healing, except just after the big bomb had landed. Properly moving from charge and Shockwave was fun too.

Spine of Deathwing
A messy fight. One of the few where I did a major mistake, twice (!) moving out of the tendrils too soon and being swept off for the Barrel Roll. It was insanely fun to heal though, us healers had to roll mana management cooldowns, raid cooldowns and overall micro manage our healing teamwork on the go. We had nothing set up in advance and it was a blast to have to communicate our way through it. That is what healing is supposed to be all about! We shouldn't have to set up the entire rotation in advance, and play it through like some kind of ballet, we should be able to just deal with it off the top of our hat and with proper skill be able to deal with the situation. We did wipe on this a couple of times, but I haven't had that much fun healing as a proper team in a very, very long time.

Madness of Deathwing
It was a fun fight, I'll say that at once. Real fun. But it wasn't an epic end-of-the-expansion-finally-killing-that-bastard-Deathwing kind of fight. In that sense it was actually a disappointment. Not Spine of Deathwing nor Madness of Deathwing actually made it feel like you were fighting Deathwing. It should be said though that I don't think this fight is the end of it. It is clear something is around the corner and SPOILER BE HERE that we'll probably (hopefully!) get to fight an Old God in whatever raid comes next. There will be another raid right? The Old God fights are always some among my favorites, and I totally love that aspect of the Wow lore (being somewhat of a Lovecraft nerd). But back to the fight in itself - yet more aoe healing, as a healer in fact not that interesting of a fight except when you had to save some cooldowns for the bigger damage. The final phase turned up the heat somewhat, especially since it took back the "save yourself by clicking this button"-mechanic that I enjoyed from the Ultraxion fight.

Healing on our Madness of DW kill.

So far I am quite pleased with the Dragon Soul raid, although I have only done it once. I will probably have completely different attitude towards the fights once I've done them a couple of times and once we get started on the heroic modes (next reset) which should prove to be hard nuts to crack. On the downside normals turned out to be a lot about aoe healing. Fortunately that doesn't have to be a huge problem since aoe healing as a holy priest is quite interesting and fun (more about priest healing soon). On the upside I am quite pleased with the general concept of the fights, the way they managed to (at least for normal modes) make teamwork really fun and rewarding for the healing group. I want more of that!

Priest healing
So what about priests in Dragon Soul? I am pleasantly surprised actually. I topped meters (and we all know that is what matters *cough*) against the other two healers (druid and paladin) throughout the raid, without being more oom than they were. This never happened during Firelands where I was a happy third (or second, since we usually duo-healed) for pretty much any fight. Enter Dragon Soul and boom, my healing just rocks ass. I don't have a good explanation for it. Either they really buffed Prayer of Healing, or they've nerfed paladin/druid throughput/mana regen. I know they have made some buffs to holy healing, like changing Divine Hymn to be similar to Tranquility (finally, thank you) and my initial feeling for holy is very positive. The big issue with holy versus discipline right now doesn't actually seem to be the healing throughput bit, but the mana management bit, since the loss of Rapture usually is noticeable. I have sacrificed quite a lot of spirit for other stats, since my mana wasn't an issue at all towards the end of Firelands. It always is for new content however, and on Spine of Deathwing and Madness of Deathwing I had to struggle with mana towards the end. A talent like Veil of Shadows is worth its weight in gold (hmm... that can't be right) for those situations, and knowing how to properly time your cooldowns will matter - like combining a Hymn of Hope with Borrowed Time and a Shadowfiend. Calling out before you use a Hymn of Hope to allow your fellow healers to prepare for it is another good idea.

I have been able to give holy a try, nothing too fancy really - some of the new dungeons and two LFR-fights - but my initial impression is definitely positive. Divine Hymn is actually a cooldown now! No longer is it a button we push and pretend it actually makes a difference (or in my case, a button to press whenever I want a couple of seconds without having to think too much). I used it twice (omg twice in one fight?!) on an lfr-Yor'Sahj, and it was second on my healing done. Sanctuary my friends, was first. And it wasn't too heavy on my mana, although the fight really dragged on way longer than it should. To me that is plenty of proof that Holy at least has picked itself up from lying down and is ready to give the other healers a fight. I requested a clear niche for holy healing, and we've got it - aoe healing. I did notice neglecting tank healing in a way I rarely do as disc, and I could get whiny about how holy healing now seems to be all about aoe healing while we're still weak on the point healing area - but I won't. I don't mind being really strong in one area alone, especially not since it seems that will turn out to be an important thing to get right in this content. Now this is only my initial impression, and holy could still turn out to be the weaker when compared to discipline. What worries me is the mentioned mana management and the point healing, but for now I am just so happy that there at least seems to be hope, not to mention how much fun holy still is! I am so looking forward to being able to give it a proper go for our raids next week.

We will start doing heroics next reset, and for the first fights I'll probably go discipline. It is the spec I am the most comfortable with at the moment, since I haven't really played holy at all since pre-4.2. But I will try to sneak some holy healing in there as well, both so that I and the rest of the healing team can get the hang of it.

Transmo-what? Tier 13!
No I haven't transmogrified anything yet. Quite honestly, I think the tier 13 for priests looks completely smashing, and although all I have so far is one piece through the LFR (meaning it's actually a downgrade from my heroic t12, since I break 4-set), I can't be arsed to go throught he hassle of getting my perfect gear for transmogrification when all I really want is to be able to run around in t13 already. I have been looking at the set bonuses some and they look decent enough. They're not entirely fair of course, since I can use Power Infusion every 2 minutes but Divine Hymn only every 3 minutes. That's quite a big difference, also considering Power Infusion already lowers the mana cost of spells, disc yet again seems to come out a lot stronger on the mana manegement area. The 4 set bonus doesn't seem fair either. There is a lot to be said about it, but lets start with the discipline bonus. Getting 100% extra absorbtion on your shields doesn't automatically have to be a good thing - it also means it will be trickier to get that Rapture proc. Fortunately, this will probably turn out to be a small issue considering the general damage that goes around in a raid instance is enough to blow even a double-shield. Looking at the holy one I have other questions however. Increasing the duration of Holy Words, in what way would that be good for Holy Word: Serenity? I assume that would simply increase the duration of the crit heal bonus buff you get on your target, but is that really worth much? Increasing the duration on Holy Word: Sanctuary will be awesome however, but it makes me wonder how often we'll end up wanting to use Serenity - forcing holy priests even more into the aoe corner. But like I said, I don't mind standing in that corner if I do it damn well, and so far I definitely think holy priests are getting there.

1 comment:

  1. I admit I like the look of T13 too but I was still due for a change. It was one of the first things I did when the patch came out.