Friday, September 7, 2012

Impressions of Disc 5.0.4 - Hopes before an expansion

And all the priests rejoiced and lived happily ever after.

That is how I would like to end this post. And I might, read on and find out!

So I finally did a proper 25man heroic raid to test out the new disc, which in a way is kind of like stomping around in a new pair of hiking shoes at home, because it doesn't give you an idea to whether they'll be any good when actually hiking or not, but it does give you a general idea to whether they fit or not. Too weird a metaphor for you? Yeah maybe. My point is, whatever place priest healing happens to be in right now, it's not until we're actually healing an actual MoP instance/raid that we know whether this is a good or bad place, but at least we can get an idea to whether we like these changes or not.

So do I like it?
Hells yeah I do, in essence and if you want the tldr version of this post - I feel like Blizzard has finally dared to steer disc towards proper absorbtion healing the way I had always hoped we'd be. In the beginning of Cata I was head over heels with the idea of dpsing while healing aka Atonement. That did not turn out the way I hoped, which I've written numerous posts about already. Now, I am head over heels with the new Spirit Shell and how it allows discipline to wield complete control over when to heal and when to absorb, with any spell (!). I'm not going as far as to saying that this is completely op and awesome (but not far from), but I definitely love the idea and the way it makes me feel special about disc healing.

But there was something about mana issues...
I heard a lot of concerns regarding mana, or rather the lack thereof. I had a couple of comments on my previous posts venting some thoughts that definitely had me worried. I can see where these concerns are coming from, more often than not I was struggling with mana on fights I usually had little trouble with before. But I could easily ascribe those problems to me getting acquainted with my new best friend the MindBender (which totally makes me think of Bender in Futurama everytime I say it) and the fact that my gear is so not statted (that's an adjective right?) towards the Rapture change. I see one third of the mana return from Rapture to what I used to, of course that is going to be noticed!

Yes, I had mana issues. I even had to chug mana pots like back in the beginning of Cata! And that is exactly it, the mana issues I have now don't feel anything like the problems we were facing back then. I remember playing discipline and not being able to cast more than two-three shields in a fight without ooming. We're talking about not being to play the class the way it's supposed to be played because of mana issues, and discipline were so incredibly bad back then (because even when you did cast shields, they sucked ass). That is not the case now. I am struggling with mana, but only because I am throwing shields around me like crazy like I used to. Clearly Blizzard wants us to use Spirit Shell to cushion the raid before a big hit rather than spamming out shields, and I like this change, this is exactly the kind of healing I was looking for regarding discipline. Rather than putting all the absorption eggs in one basket by spamming shields, we know have some options.

You keep going on about this Spirit Shell.
Yes, I am, and because it is awesome. With risk of repeating myself - it is awesome because it allows discipline to be all about what discipline always should've been all about - absorptions. The problem with absorptions has always been that in many ways they're better than regular heals. They're preemptive which allows you to brace for impact rather than remedy the damage afterwards. Being able to reduce the damage taken has usually always been considered a better alternative than healing up damage afterwards and Blizzard has always struggled with balancing discipline around this. They nerfed our shields some ways into Cata for this very reason, and then some more. With Spirit Shell they have given us a powerful tool that is totally about absorptions but without being too op (at least I don't think so). Because it is "only" a 15 second shield it still requires pretty minute timing, and choosing what spells to use to shield people up. But with good timing and aligning it with other cooldowns it has so much potential. I am really looking forward to finding good places to use this in upcoming raid fights.

Examples of when it's useful in DS include;
  • Before a stomp/crystal on Morchok
  • In the black phase or on the tank before Psychic Drain in Zon'ozz
  • On someone standing out for Twilight on Ultraxion
  • On tank before Frenzied Assault or during Frost Phase (if you stand in the middle) on Hagara
  • Before Amalgamation explodes or before running into Grasping Tendrils on Spine
  • Before Elementium Bolt explodes or on tank before Impale on Madness

And this is just off the top of my head.

Sounds great, but what about everything else?
Everything else, yes. Fortunately now we really do have everything else. I've always chosen not to use Atonement/Evangelism (see above), but now I get it for free. With the neat buff it has gotten it should totally be used, giving yet another level of tactic to playing Discipline that I really enjoy. Make sure to have that 25% extra healing before something nasty hits your raid and you will do wonders. Spirit Shell isn't affected by archangel, which is a major bummer. I don't understand how, because the tooltip of SS implies it is based on the healing of the skill, basically turning the heal into a shield instead. Bigger heal should equal bigger shield right? Simples, but apparently not. Be that as it may, it still gives us two good cooldowns to make the most out of.

The rest is pretty much the way it has always been, meaning that the core of discipline healing looks the same, but we've got a lot of things to tinker with. Throw in some well timed Archangels, Spirit Shells and Inner Focuses and I doubt you will be bored or have trouble at the meters. For myself I had some issues at the beginning of the raid, and completely smashed the meters on Madness, a fight I normally do the worst at (and because I'm a 'tard I accidentally deleted the logs, you just have to take my word for it). This just shows that Discipline has still got it and it just needs us to adapt and get comfortable to, to get the most out of.

Final Verdict then?
What, hadn't you got that yet? Discipline looks extremely promising! And I am not the only one who thinks so. Blizzard have handed us a bunch of tools that I am eager to learn how to use as good and as much as possible. The problems I had I could easily write off as me not being completely knowledgeable, still trying out new things and styles of healing, and bad stats due to spell-changes. The only threat I see to discipline healing at the moment is the possibility that all the other healers are even more powerful. Shamans did seem to have a field day with Healing Rain, but paladins and holy priests seemed pretty much the same as far as the meters go. Now remember I've only really done one raid to base this on, but at least that raid gave me a lot to look forward to. I'm not worried at all regarding discipline healing, and just hope that Blizzard doesn't c*ck this up somehow before MoP is released. I want discipline to be pretty much exactly the way it is now, and would only like to see some tweaks to some underperforming talent choices (like PW: Solace). Blizzard gets two thumbs up from me for now, and it will be very interesting to see how things turn out in MoP.

Sooo... everyone lived happily ever after?

I don't know! That remains to be seen. But if we're talking for the reminder of Cata, then sure. Now I will have to take a look at holy, for which I think things are not looking as peachy. But those are matters for another post.


  1. It's great to see someone being so excited about Disc right now. I did my first raid after a 5mth break doing the 2nd half of LFR yesterday. It was interesting... a lot of premature starts on Madness but I'm loving the 1min CD of Mindbender and SS took a bit to get used to.

    I love being this kind of healer :)

    1. I totally agree and am really looking forward to MoP playing disc like this :)