The Tier 10 bonuses, and how it’s been handled

October 10, 2009 at 10:21 am (Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Patch 3.3, Penance, Surge of Light)

Tier 5

So the Tier 10 set bonuses have been top of the news list recently because of a new style of approach. Rather than have them simply data mined out, Blizzard have posted them, asked for feedback, and changed the bonuses accordingly.

Whilst subject to change, the current plans are for the bonuses to look like this.

Priest

  • 2 Piece Bonus – Your Flash Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over 9 sec.
  • 4 piece bonus – Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

Let’s be honest, Tier set bonuses are a rather minor part of the game. However having a good tier bonus encourages people to get excited about their tier gear, the next patch, the next raid, and gives a bigger feeling of reward for killing new bosses. I’m always a little disappointed when I find that the next Tier of gear doesn’t look as good, or is strictly inferior because of a worse tier bonus. In the case of the last tier of gear Blizzard can afford to make things a little overpowered because they know everybody will ditch it for new gear as they level to 85. So the bonuses now can be really nice ones.  Personally I think asking for feedback on them was a masterful move for getting people excited about it, and I think the fact that the feedback has provided positive results is fantastic.

The old Tier 10 healer set bonuses for Priests were:

Priest

  • 2 Piece Bonus – After your Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit talents expire on your target, they grant your target 10% increased healing received for 10 sec.
  • 4 piece bonus – Your Flash Heal spell has a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance Spells.

A lot of the feedback I saw on the 2 piece bonus was looking at how much it would increase our overall Healing. 10%, useable every 1-2.4 minutes on a single target is pretty bad. I think that was the wrong way to look at it. Just as Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit are situational spells rather than pure throughput, so with the set piece. On the other hand, for a situational use, 10% is pretty small.
The four piece I thought was much more positive. I think it’s clunky, but the notion of having Flash Heal reset the cooldown on Penance is a fantastic idea for Discipline. Less so for Holy given that Flash Heal makes up a smaller portion of their healing, and because with only a six second cooldown on Circle of Healing, you have less time to proc the effect, and you gain less time if you do.

The other downside with the four piece bonus is that it’s proc based. As a DPS class having additional damage procs is fine because really you don’t care when your damage comes so long as it comes. Over a fight you want to do as much damage as possible, and if you get four procs in a row, then none for thirty seconds that’s fine. As a healer on the other hand you are a slave to the incoming damage. There would be occasions when your four piece doesn’t proc when you need it, and procs non stop when you’re just topping up the raid after a fight. Healers want things a little bit more reliable.

Certainly potential though.

Then Bornakk posted in the official forums with some changes they’d made based on feedback similar to what I’ve just said. The current plan is for the Tier Bonuses to look like this:

Priest

  • 2 Piece Bonus – Your Flash Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over 9 sec.
  • 4 piece bonus – Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

Which is a hell of a lot better. So how have things improved?

2 Piece Bonus – Your Flash Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over 9 sec.

We’ve lost a situational and minor benefit to Pain Suppression/Guardian Spirit in favour of more free healing on Flash Heal. Now, let me just say, I think there are still some issue here. For a start, Holy Priests cast a lot of Flash Heals using Surge of Light which cannot proc. So they are getting much less benefit from this tier piece than Discipline Priests are. On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of Discipline Priests complaining that they don’t get much opportunity to Flash Heal because they are doing nothing but spamming shields on the Raid.

A lot of this is playstyle. If you are the kind of Priest, and in the kind of raid, that likes to shield everybody then yes you won’t see much benefit. On the other hand, this may encourage players to cast Flash Heal more often. The best tier set bonuses have always been the ones which change your play style slightly rather than just give 5% more healing from a spell.

That’s not saying that you just need to change your style, I think there are still genuine concerns about how useful it is for Holy Priests, but I think for a lot of Disc Priests it’s a good bonus for tank healing. I’d like to see some changes to the 2 piece to help Holy Priests out, perhaps rather than a small HoT on crit, give Flash Heal a small chance to apply a Renew. Holy Priests have more powerful renews so they’d like that, Discipline Priests Renew is rather poor, but they use Flash Heal more often so it would about even out.

4 piece bonus – Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells.

The four piece bonus I think is fantastic. Fantastic! It’s still essentially the same as the originally suggested four piece, however with a  few changes that make all the difference. For example, the proc occurs when you cast the Penance or the Circle of Healing rather than when you cast the Flash Heal. That means you already know before you cast your Flash Heal whether it will reset the cooldown. So if you cast Circle of Healing or Penance and it procs, you can decide whether you want to Flash Heal (perhaps with Surge of Light) to reset that cooldown, or whether you want to cast another spell.

That solves a lot of problems. It’s still proc based, but rather than casting Flash Heals in the hope it procs, you can just heal as usual and then only cast Flash Heal if your Penance or Circle of Healing sets it off. It also means you can choose to cast that Flash Heal immediately and get the maximum time removed from your cooldown, rather than getting unlucky and having the bonus proc when the cooldown was almost up anyway.

There is a temptation to say that it favours Discipline Priests slightly over Holy priests. However, given the feedback I mentioned above I’m not sure that’s true. There are a lot of Discipline Priests out there who get their kicks casting shields non stop. For these people Penance and Flash Heal play a smaller role in their healing, unlike Discipline Priests healing tanks. So I think it’s great for tank healing, good for Holy raid healing, and rubbish for Discipline Priests who are shield spamming. I can live with that. You can’t please everybody.

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