Tuesday, March 27, 2012

MoP Beta Class Changes

It's my favorite time of the year - beta time! That's basically like Christmas in the WoW-world, with each news of changes is like opening presents - some you love, some are like those knitted socks you get from grandma each year. I haven't signed up to check out the beta myself, I never do, but I love reading about all the changes that are made. I love pondering about why Blizzard do the changes they do, so eventhough things are far from definite and probably will change a lot more before we actually take our first steps into Panda-land, there are few things I enjoy more than checking out what Blizzard has in store for us priests.

But no, I am not going to comment on the Tier 14 preview, because I am hoping it will change a lot before that goes live. It's not as bad as tier 11, but horns? Not sure if want. Ok, so I did some commenting on the Tier 14 preview.


What's up with the spell cost nerfs?

First thing I notice is that a butt-load of our spells have gotten their mana cost severely nerfed - we're not talking just a few percentages here but some serious drops, just look at this;

Power Word: Shield: Now costs 6% of base mana, down from 34%.

or this one;

Holy Word: Sanctuary: Now costs 7% base mana, down from 44%.

At a first glance I thought this was true for most casters, it seemed like both dps and healer alike had gotten an overall reduction to their spell costs, but then I saw that they had done the opposite to holydins by increasing the cost for a lot of their spells. For priests however, we are looking at a nerf leaving the mana cost for most of our spells at roughly one fifth of what they are now. It of course makes me wonder - why?

My first thought was that Blizzard might do something to mana regen. I might even be wild and crazy enough to think they're going to remove mana regen all together, leaving us with an -actual- mana pool, similar to what we had back in Vanilla (when mana regen only existed out of casting, and was quite limited even then). It would simplify things, and maybe Blizzard want to give us more "mana returning" skills like Rapture and Revitalize to work with instead. It would be a huge change to healing of course, but in all honesty I really enjoy the idea of such a mana using system. As a discipline priest I am already basically in that system, relying far more on mana returns like Shadowfiend and Rapture than combat regen. Combat regen isn't an interesting feature if you ask me, more like a necessary evil (similar to getting hit/expertise as melee). It is passive and revolves around balancing gear rather than making interesting choices mid combat (should I use Hymn of Hope now or save it? Should I stack my mana return with that of the shamans or not?). Reducing the cooldown on Shadowfiend points in this direction as well. Although I don't see how they could do something similar with hit/expertise, I would welcome a change to the current mana regen system.

But I am just speculating wildly of course, in reality these mana changes probably has nothing to do with that. It's a shame really.

So what else is there?
Let's look at some of the other changes...

"Vow of Unity New. You create a Vow of Unity with a friendly target for 15 sec. Whenever one of you receives healing, the other is healed for the same amount. Whenever one of you takes damage, % of the damage is redirected to the other over 6 sec. Vow of Unity cannot be cast on Tank specialized players. Instant, 2 min cooldown."

This is now specified to not be castable on tanks, which basically turns it into a pvp talent. Unless raids will be completely different in MoP, making dpsers more of tanks than they are today, I don't see any reason to use this in raids when compared to the options in this talent tier.

"From Darkness, Comes Light: New. Surge of Light - You have a 15% chance when you Smite, Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal or Greater Heal to cause your next Flash Heal to be instant cast and have no mana cost. Surge of Darkness - You have a 20% chance when you deal damage with Vampiric Touch to cause your next Mind Spike to be instant and not extinguish your Shadow damage-over-time effects from the target."

More than doubling the proc chance of Surge of Light might get it back in from the cold. It will still be far from as overpowered as it was in Wrath, but that is acceptable because no one likes overpowered skills except the wielder (which was me, nyahahaha!). The shadow priest portion of this talent looks interesting too, making Mind Spike more part of the rotation than it has now.

"Archangel: Archangel (Evangelism) Consumes your Evangelism, increasing your healing done by 5% for each Evangelism consumed for 18 sec. 30 sec cooldown. Dark Archangel (Dark Evangelism)Increases the damage done by your Mind Flay, Mind Spike, Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death by 25% for 18 sec. 90 sec cooldown."

Archangel gets a nice buff (25% extra healing instead of 15%) and I am glad to see that Blizzard don't intend on scrapping the idea of dps-healing in MoP. It's definitely a concept I like, eventhough you probably all know by now I was somewhat disappointed by the end result. I just wish it was a little more practical and made more of a difference than it does, but on the other hand I am glad that I'm not forced to spec into it - bitches will always be complaining about something.

"Angelic Bulwark: New. Anytime a damaging attack brings you below 30% health, you gain an absorption shield equal to 20% of your total health lasting for until cancelled. This effect cannot occur more than once every 90 sec."

When I first saw this talent, it increased the effectiviness on shields cast on yourself by 30%. I liked that idea, I am not too sure about this one. I am looking at it and thinking "lasts until cancelled = good. Procs after the damage has been done = bad". Most of the time when you want some way to prevent damage, you want exactly that - something that prevents damage. I am not sure how useful a skill that protects me after I have been taking shitloads of damage will be, unless we are looking at continuous heavy aoe which isn't uncommon but still rarer than that huge blast (that might of course change in MoP raids). The way it works now, it looks more like a pvp talent than a raid talent to me. Yeah it would protect me from dying after that big blast, but I would rather have something that protected me from that big blast to begin with.

"Spectral Guise: New. Your shadow blurs into the darkness, leaving your true form behind. As a shadow you are invisible, but remain in combat. Lasts 6 sec or until your true form is hit by 3 direct attacks. 30 sec cooldown, Instant cast."

This could've had so much potential! As I understand it, it basically works by giving you a buff that will "remove" the damage of the next three incoming direct attacks. Direct being the keyword. If only it would've worked with any attacks, which on the other hand probably would've made it OP. Right now this too looks more like a pvp talent, since I don't think priests will be taking much more direct damage in pve in MoP than they have been for the last 7 years.

There is also a possibility that this rather works like a version of stealth, in which any damage done to your "true self" still is directed to you only you'd be able to move about without anyone actually knowing where you are meanwhile. But yet again, I can't see how that would be of much use in PvE.

"Vampiric Dominance: When you deal damage or healing, 15% of the amount is healed to up to 3 low-health nearby allies. 40 yd range. "

This talent still looks the same as it did when I first saw it back in November. As a discipline priest I definitely welcome the possibility of some passive off-healing, since that is one of our weakness at the moment, and I can only hope that this makes it all the way to live and without being too much nerfed.

"Inner Focus: No longer works with Binding Heal."

Aww. I wonder why. No, I really do, was it too good?

"Dispel Magic: Now removes all Magic and Disease effects."

Finally priests don't have to be the last healer around having to use different spells to remove different debuffs. Opens up one more slot on my keybinds, yay!

"Spirit Shell: New. Creates an absorption shield on the target for [5231 + 50.3% of SP] damage lasting 8 sec. When the shield expires, the target is healed for 80% of the remaining amount. 40 yd range, 2% of base mana, 2.5 sec cast."

Holy doesn't seem to be getting anything new, or any changes at all basically, at the moment. No change there, Blizzard seem either very content with the way holy works or they just happen to be last on the list of a work through. Discipline is looking at this baby however, Spirit Shell, which basically is something as awesome as a shield and a heal in one. I am definitely looking forward to using this one, and I wonder how I didn't think about this combo before myself? The closest we've been is the healing glyph on PWS, but I definitely like the idea of this one. I recall that the fact that shields don't actually heal being one of the major issues I had when healing as a lowbie discipline in early Cataclysm. Absorbtion effects are really good, and in a raid I enjoy the fact of being the "preventer" while my fellow healers are the "repairers", but this way we will be able to do a little bit of both even better than we already have.

"Vampiric Embrace: Now has a 3 min cooldown. Fills you with the embrace of Shadow energy, causing you and your allies to be healed for 50% of any single-target Shadow spell damage you deal, split evenly between them. Lasts 15 sec."

I don't normally say much about shadow skills, simply because I play shadow priest so rarely (and poorly), but this looks like a really interesting change to VE, changing one of the longest lasting spriest skills into what could be a really handy raid heal cooldown. I am glad to see spriest being given something to help the raid with because I wasn't very happy with how VE was working. Making it stronger would make it too good, making it weaker (or the way it was) didn't make it very useful at all. Timed well, this could be a good cooldown indeed.

But as always, we can expect things to change a lot and often when there's a beta. And that is half the fun.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top 5 Things They Must Fix About LFR

The Looking For Raid tool is a pretty new feature in WoW, but do you remember what it was like getting groups before the Looking for Dungeon tool? I do, it was horrible. I can still not understand how people can look back at those days and think that it was in any way better than what we have now. Arguments like "you knew the people you grouped with" and "people had a reputation to consider" fade around counter-arguments like "It took hours to gather a group and get everyone to the instance" and "if anyone left mid-instance, you were basically back on square one". The chances of actually getting a dungeon done during the day increased by hundredfold once the LFD-tool was introduced. To me, the LFD-tool is one of the best things Blizzard has ever decided to put into the game. That doesn't mean it works perfectly however, there are in many ways lots of things about the LFD-tool that really got me gritting my teeth and wondering why Blizzard didn't just make some slight changes to avoid everyone abusing it so. But even after being in a group that seemed to be the spawn of my darkest nightmares and that had me really question the future of humanity, I could be happy thinking I had only wasted 30 minutes on it instead of 120. Blizzard have made many changes to the LFD tool since then, and nowadays I do think it is working quite well with only a few adjustments left to be made.

The LFR-tool isn't much different.
I will admit I was the sceptic at first, wondering how on earth Blizzard could make an entire raid of fools work together well enough to finish raids when they were struggling to get five people to cooperate long enough for dungeons. I was also worried that over-simplifying the raid fights would just turn them into loot-piñatas similar to the ones we have in Baradin Hold and something most people would bore of quickly. The end result was positively surprising. Yes the fights are very simple, yes most of the weight of success is put on the shoulders of the healers and tanks while dps just troll around not giving a shit but overall I think Blizzard have managed to balance it pretty well between group-effort and individual effort.

But like I said, there are still a few things I really would like to see them fix before my Nag-O-Meter goes down to green levels. Here is my top 5 list on things I think they currently need to fix in the LFR (and LFD)

5. Measuring Activity
I put this as number five, not because I think it's the least important thing to fix on my list, but because I realize it's the least plausible one to ever actually be able to fix in a good way. Basically, I would love it if there was some way to measure the activity of a player, and reward them accordingly. When doing LFR especially, it is quite obvious that some players can't do much more than auto-attack, while some people actually bust their asses off to down the boss. Yet once the boss goes down, they both have an equally good chance on whatever loot that drops. In fact it actually seems like more the rule than exception that people who put in low effort win all the dang loot. Not punishing laziness and not rewarding effort are basically the same thing and boils down to people not giving a shit, which makes the fight take a lot longer than necessary or even worse - cause completely unecessary wipes. What if switching to dpsing Globules, trying to be top healer on the meters, using mitigation cooldowns as a tank and not standing in fire would reward you with a bonus to your roll? That would of course be awesome, but unfortunately completely impossible to implement. There is no way a string of code could properly measure a players effort, taking into consideration the difference in gear for difference in output, the aspect of varying tactics for how, when and why people attack or don't attack adds for instance. Maybe you don't want the rogues to attack the globules on Yor'sahj, should they then get punished or should you give them an exception to the rule?

I want to recall having this kind of "reward based on effort" system in Warhammer, although I have no idea how it worked or what exactly it based your amount of effort on. How do you measure a tanks effort? How do you measure a healers effort when you clearly don't want healers to just spam their brains and mana pools out to top meters? I would like to see this work somehow, but I know it's probably impossible.

4. Punishing the quitters
Something that really annoys me, is how loot is completely wasted on people who win things and have already left the group. Eventhough I can see how there might be programming issues with distributing loot to people who are no longer in the instance-server, I can't see how it can be difficult to just cut those people out from the roll. So you rolled and left the group, tough luck, that means everyone who is still in the group are the only ones who actually get to roll on the loot. Considering leaving the group prematurely already means not receiving the loot, all this changes is that the loot will actually come to a player instead of being forever lost lying around on the corpse of some boss. I can't see how that can be a bad thing.

And there is really no point in having to force everyone to wait around for the full length of the roll timer just because some people couldn't be arsed to roll before they left the group. If you haven't rolled before you left the group, there is no way you can, so why can't that person just be cut out from the roll all together? Similar to the issue above, it doesn't seem like too difficult a thing to do and would save a lot of time and grief.

3. One for you, one for me
I realize not many are going to agree with me on this one, because it seems like a behavior everyone is doing. I am talking about the way people need on every gear piece they can need on, regardless of whether they need it or not. It can either be to have some bargaining material for whenever someone else wins something you want, or to up the chances of one of your friends in the group to get an item. To me, it seems to be something people do because everyone does it. Whenever douche-baggeriness is that widespread, if you don't do it yourself you will lose out. It reminds me of how people need on everything that drops in heroics as well, just because everyone else does it. It's difficult to prevent in heroics, although the way Blizzard has done it by making all needs BoP has worked fairly well. And it would be difficult to prevent in LFR too, especially considering that epics are tradeable, which is exactly the reason to why people do this. I don't know how many times I have seen a gear piece go to someone who already had it, or had better. So my question is, why can you even roll on loot you already have?

The amount of times you would need
a second piece of whatever gear is extremely rare. Not counting people who use two one-hand weapons (for which you can make an exception) the only reason would be if you wanted to gem and enchant that piece differently for another spec, and honestly, how many people do that? Most people just regem/enchant the gear they have instead, even now when you actually can carry around different gear sets of the same pieces. There might be some few exceptions, but in most cases where specs are similar enough, Blizzard have really tried to make sure that they can basically use the same set of stats. And tier is overall the only gear piece you'd want for different specs (and to clarify, I do agree on letting people needing several tier tokens), in most other cases there a piece either works for two specs or it doesn't, in which case you either use one item for both or you don't.

Preventing people from needing on loot they already have already exists in the game (it is heavily used on most event bosses for instance), so why can't it be implemented into the LFR loot system? Maybe Blizzard are afraid of making the loot system too rigid with a rule like that, but personally I think it would be worth it.

This is something that annoys me more in heroics than it does in LFR, but it exists in LFR as well. There are some rules set up as to how you can vote to kick people, rules that I overall think work fairly well. Rules that I think should go flying out the window as soon as we're dealing with people who are afk flagged. AFK means the person is not at the keyboard, and when would you ever want such a person in your dungeon? Why would you have to wait to get out of combat or to get the roll done before you can vote to kick such a person? People who are AFK flagged while actually playing have themselves to blame, because if you want to tell people not to disturb you there is a perfectly usable DND flag instead. People who go AFK with the permission of the rest of the group wouldn't get kicked anyway, so no problem there! As it works now, the rest of the group has to wait around, making sure not to get into combat, or loot something, or wait those 15 minutes, before they can kick someone from the group who have flagged themselves as not even playing. To me, that doesn't make any sense. You also shouldn't get any kick-penalty for kicking afk-players imo.

You might argue that it wouldn't prevent people from going afk, they could just simply put themselves on follow or otherwise make sure they don't get flagged. That might be so, but that usually still requires some sort of effort on their part. Right now people can just tab out at the beginning of the instance being pretty sure they won't be kicked for at least 20 minutes, which is to the benefit of exactly no one else in the group. Putting AFK-flagged people in the danger zone is at least a start.

1. Share the fun (responsibility)
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I would love it if Blizzard somehow managed to equal the burden of the fight over the different roles of healing, tanking and dpsing. As it is now, tanks and healers basically have to mop up all and any mess caused by dps, whilst also having to care a lot more for tactics and fight mechanics than most dpsers do. Taking for instance a fight like Ultraxion, dpsers don't really have to think about anything while tanks and healers have to bust their asses in comparison. I am definitely not saying that any of the fights are particularly difficult for any of the roles, only that the difficulty level is severely skewered. It is interesting to note for instance that many of the fight mechanics that dpsers have to care about, like killing adds or using a proper cooldown, have been simplified so much that you in many cases don't even really have to care about them (again, the AOE on Ultraxion as an example), whereas fight mechanics important for the tank to remember can wipe the raid if they fail (not taunting on Ultraxion, not picking up Tentacle or adds on Madness, not moving the Amalgamation the right way on Spine etc). Dps really only have to dps, sometimes they have to switch target and that's about it.

I don't want to turn this into a debate on the essence of healing, tanking and dpsing. Maybe this is the way it works, and maybe the responsibility is equally distributed considering the role distribution. Only having two tanks means each tank has 50% of "their" responsibility while a dpser only has some 6% of "their" responsibility. Or maybe that is simply how the holy trinity works and I have to accept it (considering this has been something of an issue since the dawn of grouping). Maybe people who play tanks and healers actually somewhere deep inside enjoy that extra responsibility - admittedly I turn into a dps troll myself whenever I go on my mage, tunneling on topping the meters and barely caring about fight mechanics (bad bad me). Maybe putting more responsibility into the hands of dpsers wouldn't really make anything better, but just greatly up the risk of failure. Maybe I just wish people would be a little more greatful for the effort tanks and healers put in. Probably.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Priest Healing - A Cataclysm Review

Hey look guys! It's a new year! And don't tell me it's been two months into it already, I don't count January as a real month anyway. It's really only the time we spend trying to sort out the mess we got ourselves into during the drunken New Years Eve hazes, and squiggle out of all the stupid resolutions we made (mine was to be nicer to everyone, that took about 3,141 seconds to break). And February? It's not even a full month!

The good thing about a new year is that we can take a look at the year that has passed and ponder some of the really important questions in life - how did priests develop over the months? What changes were made? How did disc fare contra holy? What bosses were the most fun? Can we be the flavor of the month healer, ever? Things we all need answers to. Fear not, I have been doing the tedious work of reading my own posts from the last year, and I have them.

At the beginning there was darkness...
It didn't start out too good for us priests. At one point we were so bad that people actually specifically asked to not get priests whenever they needed a healer for a group. We had weaker mana regen and weaker heals than every other healer, and enough for it to be a major issue. I started out playing Cataclysm as holy, and I noticed some major changes in the effectiviness of some of our spells. They nerfed Surge of Light into near uselessness (yes, I still think so). But what really bothered me were the changes to Renew. I realize we're not meant to be some sort of wannabe druids, but suddenly Renew felt like a fart in a tornado, and definitely not worth the gcd. That meant every talent related to Renew, like Divine Touch and Rapid Renewal, became pretty useless as well. Problem was, Holy did not scale well with gear, and considering the healing style is somewhat of "lots of small heals" instead of "few big heals", we had a problem. Our small heals were just too damn small, and we didn't have powerful Shields, Penance or other big spells to compensate. This is an issue I still think holy is struggling with, but nowhere near the way they did in early Cata. I still think Renew could use a little more oomph, holy is all about good aoe healing, and to me Renew is a big part of that.

I also went from undead...

Those problems were nothing compared to what discipline was going through however. Holy had weak spells, but at least they had plenty of them. As discipline our spells were too slow and insignificant to feel like we could actually keep people alive, things got even worse when more than one person was taking damage. Holies aoe healing wasn't strong, but at least they had some. As a discipline you were stuck with spamming a far too weak Prayer of Healing or far too expensive Shields. If Renew was weak as holy, it was completely out of the question as Discipline. Back then I wrote;

"I refuse to use renew, it's a waste of mana with its pathetic ticking (about 1,5k). So after shielding them I have to start using Heals or Greater Heals. And when you've got 5 people below 50% hp, dying quickly, those heals seem very lacking. My best aoe heal is Prayer of Healing which not only will oom me, but requires for everyone to stand fairly close together."

Blizzard had told us that they wanted mana to matter, unlike the spam-happy healing we had in ICC, and no one felt that change more than discipline priests. Shields, Greater Heal and Flash Heal were too expensive to be used regularly, which left us with weak Heals, Prayer of Mendings and Prayer of Healings.

"When I did an instance yesterday the tank was kind enough to tell me that it seemed like priests were the only healers right now that oomed after every fight."

Atonement, Y U NO work?
It didn't exactly help things out that the new cool feature about discipline - atonement healing - wasn't much good either.

"Archangel reduces the cost on a Smite by about 500 mana, through mana return, which still puts it above Heal. Considering the speed and slightly bigger healing it might be worth it. But in tight situations I can't count on it to actually heal the people I want to heal enough to want to use it. Its biggest flaw is the range. I can for the love of god not understand why Blizzard have limited its healing range to 15 yards. It's not awfully bad, but it has to be at least 30, preferrably 40 yards before I feel like it even begins to be usable in an instance. Right now there are plenty of situations where the tank, or any melee, is too far away from the center of the mob to get the heal."

Funnily enough, this is still one of my major concerns with Atonement healing and ever since it's implemention and up until now I consider Atonement to be mainly used for any group that needs the extra dps, rather than because it's a good healing tool.

When I eventually decided to write a post on how to heal heroics I didn't exactly have good news.

"Should I mention how hard the mobs hit? All the cc that is needed? What gear you should have to even dream of keeping people alive? How fast you'll oom?"

I do sound a lot more negative now than I did then though. Healing wasn't easy, but I didn't ever think it was as bad as some doomsayers made it out to be. Both discipline and holy could keep people alive in heroics, but it definitely wasn't a dance on roses and I can only imagine the horror any new priest healer must've felt when even a veteran like me panicked on occasion. Fortunately, changes were coming.

to goblin...

The prodigal Shield returns
With patch 4.0.6, Blizzard basically doubled the effectiviness of Shields and only slightly increased their mana cost, making shield hps suddenly sky rocket. Another major buff to discipline was making Grace able to affect more targets than one. These changes suddenly bumped disc from the least good healer to the bestest healer in one stroke, and I remember the glee I can only imagine holydins (and occasionally druids) feel every day of completely owning the healing meters without having to actually work for it. Holy saw a major drop in the mana cost of Renew and a doubled effect of the mana regen from Holy Concentration. Clearly Blizzard were acknowledging the problems priests had with too weak and expensive skills, but they also seemed to think our aoe was too strong (which it totally wasn't). A nerf to Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing was soon implemented, a change that had many holy priests cry themselves to sleep although it really turned out to be a major nerf to discipline priests rather than holy priests. My own maths showed that the nerf was about 1% less healing the way I was healing as holy back then, but nearly a 10% nerf for my discipline priest. Prayer of Healing simply made out way more of my total healing done as Discipline (including the DA) compared to how much I ended up using PoH and CoH overall as holy. Now, discpline priests saw their aoe healing further gimped, and it wasn't very good to begin with.

Then came 4.1
The 4.0.6 buff to Shields made them good enough to even have holy priests glancing over at the discipline part of the spell-book, and I read blog posts suggesting speccing Improved Shields as holy and turning holy priests into shield spammers. Blizzard knew they had to make changes before things got out of hand and everyone knew a nerf was coming, many suggestions were made but the ultimate change was a decent one.

"There seems to be a heated debate going around the priest community (debates, yay), the question being - are discipline priests too good? Or rather, have our shields become too good? "

People were concerned about Shields (and DA) making out more than 50% of discipline priests healing done. Apparently so were Blizzard (which is interesting considering what they've done to Holy Radiance). Personally, I didn't think our shields were a major problem, but I could see why people were concerned. The Shield is a very good heal. It is instant, it is big and it actually counter-acts damage, rather than just "repairing" it afterwards like conventional healing. Making the shields too good would eventually remove the need for healing, or so many other healers seemed to fear.

With 4.1, Blizzard decided to make some interesting changes to discipline healing by upping the duration of Divine Aegis by 3 seconds (12 to 15) and halving the duration of Shields from 30 to 15 seconds duration. The latter change was major enough to have a huge impact on how to heal as a Discipline priest, making pre-shielding way less of an option than it used to be, a change that is still affecting our play-style.

"We know Blizzard aren't happy with how Shields turned out to be used. They want them to be good, but not too good. They don't want us to start spamming it again. Renew doesn't have this issue because the hps of one Renew is pretty low in comparison to the Shield. The "problem" with Shields are that they have so many pros, and few cons. The only thing holding shields back at the moment is the Weakened Soul debuff, which we can lower on target with Heal/GH/BH. Blizzard tried to slow us down further by increasing the mana cost on the spell, but like I mentioned before this is only delaying the inevitable spamming that will come when we get better gear (and mana becomes less and less of an issue)."

The changes turned out to be less of a nerf than people feared, but it was definitely noticeable on any fight where I was used to being able to pre-shield the raid. Looking back at it, I don't mind the change much. It does bother me on fights like Spine where even the tanks occasionally take too little damage for Rapture to proc within the 15 second duration, severely nerfing my mana regen since it kind of completely relies on Rapture. But overall, I can definitely see where the nerf was coming from.

Barrier got some hits with the nerf bat as well, upping the cooldown from 2 minutes to 3 minutes and the damage reduction from 30% to 25% in an effort from Blizzard to put it more on par with other healers raid cooldowns.

Atonement saw changes coming to it pretty much every other month, and some really made a big difference. Including Holy Fire into Atonement, Glyph of Divine Accuracy and Evangelism should've been obvious from the start, and I can only hope Blizzard doesn't consider Atonement to be finished the way it is now, it still needs some improvements, although it definitely has come a very long way since its original implementation.

to dwarf!

Good girl holy
And all the while Blizzard were tugging Discipline back and forth with the nerf bat, not much was being said about holy. This pretty much remained the case, even when changes were needed, all the way up until Dragon Soul and 4.3. Blizzard were concerned about some healing classes lacking good raiding tools, and gave resto shamans the spirit link Totem, completely forgetting about holy priests suffering from the same problem all through Firelands. Holy Priests did see a slight buff to their aoe healing in 4.1 when Blizzard upped the effectiviness of Sanctuary, made some much needed tweaks to Chakra, but overall Holy remained a neglected spec throughout the year.

The big silence
4.1 implented new changes to the game at lightning speed. Shields worked one way at the beginning of the week and another way at the end of the week. One day I wanted to use Renew, the next I preferred straight up healing. At the end of 4.1 and the release of Firelands at the beginning of summer 2011 Blizzard seemed to be pretty happy with where priests were at healing wise. Discipline had seen buffs and nerfs to shields, holy had seen buffs and nerfs to aoe healing. Both specs had seen buffs to mana regen. But at that point, when Blizzard seemed to wipe the sweat of their brows and congratulating themselves at a good job done with balancing all the healers, they actually missed to see the trouble holy had in Firelands with being the only healer without a raid cooldown. Holy was still doing fine for most normals, and even many of the heroic modes, but at the end of the day, most guilds decided to pick another healer for the aoe healing and yet another for the raid cooldowns. Blizzard refused to see that there was a problem, and the fast changes that had taken place during 4.1 were completely gone. When Blizzard released an Ask the Devs healing edition, this was one of the questions raised;

Maladi asks;

"Are there any plans to give Holy Priests access to a viable 3-minute raid cooldown? There are concerns that without a cooldown along the lines of Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem, or Tranquility, we may need to play disc a lot in firelands. Maybe simply an improved Divine Hymn? "

"(...) we feel the Holy priest toolkit overall is strong, that they provide meaningful contributions to raid healing, and are well represented in actual raid groups."

Eventhough I was on Blizzards line initially, I did change my mind as soon as I got into more advanced progression raiding. Holy priests had to struggle for months, and wait for a new patch to be released before changes were made, a change that put holy priests right back on track again. Such a simple thing to do that could've been done long ago.

And now?
Priests have gone through a lot of changes, at least at the beginning of the expansion and up until Firelands. Maybe not as many as some of the other healing classes, and holy less than discipline, but it has still been somewhat of a roller coaster going from being shit, to overpowered and eventually actually levelling out on what resembles the position priest healers have been holding since forever - the allround healer. As I wrote in my last Field Report I feel like priest healing is really good at the moment. Holy is diverse, interesting and challenging, discipline has its niche healing working well. Both specs have good cooldowns and a fun healing style, and I am enjoying priest healing as much as I ever have. I played holy at the beginning of Cata, switched to discipline around Firelands and have mostly played discipline ever since, but I'll probably go back to maining holy before long, the way I've always switched between the specs. MoP will change everything again, I am sure, but we'll eventually settle into position as always and I am sure I will never tire of my little priest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Warmaster Blackhorn 10hc Disc Priest Guide

Here is my guide on how to heal Warmaster Blackhorn as a discipline priest. This is definitely one of my favorite fights in Dragon Soul, I just love the combination of having to think of your positioning and the mix of healing needed. Interesting enough, I didn't feel like the healing was that much of an issue - we mostly struggled with handling the small swirls and not getting fire all over the place. The kill was a beautiful one though, especially compared to all the tries we had before.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Field Report - We're not in Kansas anymore

I've planted my ass pretty firmly into my new guild by now, and things seem to be running along smoothly. I even managed to salvage an old guildie to join me! (Yeah I know I am jinxing it...). The guild managed to give me what probably is the best welcome I've ever had, in their own special way, and that is saying a lot considering the last guild I was in consisted of mostly irl friends. I felt right at home straight away, and considering they're all raving psychotics, that probably says a lot about me. It's not without problems of course, most 10 man guilds struggle with being able to bring the proper setup for the more difficult fights in current content, and lack of signs have forced us to cancel a couple of raids (partially my fault because of my retarded work schedule). But even so, I am having loads of fun and can honestly say I am not bothered by a single one of my guildies - something that is unprecedented in my WoW-history. Eventhough I have already been tea bagged, loot ninjad and called phat more often than I can count (and that's just from one person!). I am definitely having a lot of fun.

Just a regular evening in guild chat.

The raiding is fun, even when we're having wipe nights (I've never been much bothered with wiping on progression) and most people seem to have the patience needed for it. Loot and setup distribution has so far been very sensible and fair, with progress in mind. You might think I am trying to suck ass for a promotion here, but after all the bad news and whining I have been feeding you over the past... well, for way too long anyway - I thought it was time for something positive. I've even started up a fresh collection of alts! Currently I am leveling a resto shaman, feral druid and prot paladin, a dk will probably soon see the light of day.

Healing in Dragon Soul is lots of fun actually. I never really did get bored of Firelands, mostly because I never really got into it, but I can still say that I definitely enjoy the DS fights a lot more. I know people stare at me in horror and wonder who replaced my brain with a cackling maniac when I say I really love healing Zon'ozz and Blackhorn. It might be because I feel like that is where priests (discipline in particular) really shine. So since I smoothly got us into talking about priest healing... *cough*

I really enjoy priest healing at the moment, both discipline and holy. I do have a guilty conscience over not spending more time with my holy spec, it's like it's staring at me with huge guilt-filling puppy eyes whenever I open my talent tab. "YES YES, I WILL PLAY WITH YOU SOON!". And it's not like I don't try... At the moment I take it out for a stroll every now and then in a random heroic. But being geared fully towards one spec will undeniable gimp you, ever so little, in the other spec and I feel like I lose my full potential. And when I feel like I can't do it properly I usually go "ah what the heck" and go lazy mode, aka disc. It's sad really. The difference in stat priority between discipline and holy has never been this thin either, so it's really a bad excuse. It doesn't help that I am eyeing my shadow spec every now and then too, although it does make me feel like I am cheating on holy. Damn, I really do have too intimate a relationship with my priest, don't I?

Interestingly enough, and I really never thought I'd say this, I feel like my shiny moment are in fights that require a lot of running around. I can only attribute it to the fact that shields are really strong compared to other healers instant casts, and I am no longer afraid of spamming my shields when they're needed. We are good aoe healers as well, but obviously don't stand a chance at a Radiance spamming holydin. They've really turned into the arcane mage of healers, poor things. I really don't envy them. Since I got rid of my fear of over-indulging in Flash Heal, I feel like I'm not too shabby at point healing either. Priests have returned into their comfy role of the allround healer - don't excell at anything but do everything pretty good. And all those juicy cooldowns... Priests are definitely in a good position at the moment and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

We're good at Morchok, Zon'ozz, Warhorn, Spine, Madness, decent on Hagara, slightly weaker on the stationary spam heal fights like Ultraxion and Yor'sahj (and I am talking about disc now). I feel like I get good use of most healing skills in my spell book, there is still a lot of Prayer of Healing and not many Heals, and a whole lot of shielding, but the distribution is a lot more interesting than it seems to be for some other healers at the moment (did I mention Radiance spam?).

I am really hoping they'll release an Old God end boss kind of raid dungeon before MoP, because I was somewhat disappointed from the Deathwing encounter. Funnily enough, Spine and Madness are probably the two fights I dislike the most in DS, because they're really not much interesting (especially not Spine). Now we need something epic, truly epic, to see us off this expansion. ICC was a good end for Wrath and Cataclysm needs something similar. A fight similar to Yogg'Saron is what I am asking for!