Priest Talent Previews for Cataclysm

June 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm (Cataclysm, Cataclysm Expansion, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Heal, Healing Mechanics, Hymn of Hope, Mana, Patches, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Shadowform, Spells, Talents)

So Blizzard have released some Previews for the Priest, Shaman, Druid and Rogue talent trees for Cataclysm. Of course they are rough – there are duplicate talents, place holder names and so forth. And obviously it’s Alpha. However it gives some really great insight into where the Priest talents are going. And with a little careful thought it gives us more information on things we have been left in the dark about up until now – Shadow Orbs, Casting while moving. Smite DPS specs! It’s all really good stuff. And more to the point Blizzard are actively looking for feedback on it, so it’s a great time to get out there and talk about it.

Rather than write a post this week I’ve made a presentation – mainly because I thought the software was pretty cool and I wanted to try it out. However, it’s a pain in the tush to get it working on WordPress, and the files take a long time to download. Moreover the fullscreen – which is really needed to see the text – doesn’t work on WordPress. Awesome… So my suggestion is to click here which links directly to it.

Anyway – if you can. Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Shared Boss Mechanics

January 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm (Borrowed Time, Circle of Healing, Empowered Renew, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Icecrown Citadel, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Serendipity, Talents)

This is not something I’ve written a blog post on before because, whilst it’s something I find interesting and it helps me think about my healing, I wonder whether it is unnecessary over-complication.
So I’m posting this with a little trepidation. If you don’t find it interesting, stop reading, I won’t mind.

Damage Profile

Whilst there are still new interesting fights designs coming out, and I’m certainly enjoying Icecrown Citadel, every fight tends to share certain things with fights that we’ve done before. Patchwerk, Gruul, Zul’Aman’s Panther boss and Marrowgar all share a Hateful strike/Cleave effect. They are all new fun fights, but they aren’t so different that you can learn substantial things from one to bring to the others. As such, when I’m thinking about how to improve my performance on a boss fight I try to think about what I call the “Damage Profile”. The style of damage the boss is doing.


The idea of a Damage Profile is probably best described with an example. There are various fights with high raid damage: Hodir, Kologarn, Loetheb, Festergut, Twin Val’kyr to name a few.
While in all these cases the raid damage is high, the style of raid damage is different. Kologarn does relatively little raid damage most of the time, but periodically does his smash for 10k damage to the entire raid group. Twin Val’kyr has constant ticking raid damage over the entire fight. Both these fights have high raid damage, but their damage profile is different. One is brief periods of high damage, the other is long periods of constant damage. Then obviously there are mixes of the two – XT, Festergut, Lord Marrowgar, Lord Jaraxxus.

Similarly Tank Damage can have a profile too. There can be high single Tank damage like Anub’arak, or a fight with high damage on both tanks like Lord Marrowgar, Patchwerk or Gormok the Impaler. There can be fights with Tank switches like Archavon or Thorim.

Spell Profile

Okay, so hopefully now we’re thinking about things not just in terms of “High Tank damage” Vs “High Raid damage” but in a little more detail. Is it ticking damage or burst damage? Is it random spikes to individual players, or hits on multiple targets at once? Is it predictable damage on a set timer, or it is random timing?

Once we have a good idea of the sort of Damage Profile going on we need to think about the spells we have and how they work.

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Discipline Evolves. The new Raid Healer

October 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm (Being a Hero, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Rapture, Renew, Trial of the Champion, Ulduar, User Interface)

I’m taking a break out of the FAQ series because a couple of things came together for me recently. What I want to talk about this week is two things. The first is the evolution of the Discipline Priest’s role in a raid since 3.0 launched. The second is to go a little theoretical and talk about what a modern Discipline Priest has that makes them the most powerful healers in the game.

Discipline as a viable raid spec really came with Patch 3.0 with the introduction of three talents. Penance, Borrowed Time, and Rapture. Before these talents Discipline had poor mana, poor healing, and no real niche. Rapture brought the Mana, Penance the Healing, and Borrowed Time has let us find our niche.

Priest Evolution

The emphasis from very early on was on Discipline as a Tank healing spec. PW:S, Grace, Renewed Hope and Inspiration provided the mitigation, whilst Borrowed Time and Penance gave quick healing necessary to heal tanks up. For a long time therefore Discipline Priests have been the Tank Healers.

Holy Priests on the other hand have been the traditional Raid Healers. Circle of Healing, bigger Prayer of Healing, larger Prayer of Mending, and better HoTs make the the obvious choice for healing larger numbers of people.

This simple Distinction is naïve, and it’s beginning to change. There is talk in the back rooms of Forums. Priests are talking late at night in the Orgrimmar Drag when the Paladin’s aren’t listening. Things said only in /whisper… Have you heard? Come closer. Discipline is becoming a Raid Healer.

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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.

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Discipline FAQ

October 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm (5 mans, Binding Heal, Borrowed Time, Discipline FAQ, Discipline Spec 57/14/0, Divine Hymn, Flash Heal, Gearing, Greater Heal, Grouping, Healing Mechanics, Mana, Naxxramas, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Infusion, Power Infusion, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Renew, Spells, Stats, Talents, Trial of the Champion, Ulduar)

Starting a Discipline Priest and confused about something? Lets try and help out with some useful information.

What’s my spec?

See the article on Discipline spec here.

The standard spec is something like: 57/14/0 getting all the good heal talents in the Discipline tree, then going up the Holy Tree to pick up Inspiration.

Attribution: GENZOMAN

Attribution: GENZOMAN

What do I shine at?

As a Disc Priest your specialism is Tank Healing and Damage prevention. Because you are a priest however you have a great deal of flexibility because of your huge range of spells. This means you can ably heal 5 mans, 10 mans as a Tank or a Raid healer, in 25 mans you are a great Tank Healer, and you make a good PvP healer.

Because of your shields you really shine in fights where there are periodic spikes of damage which you can prepare for by casting shields on people before they take damage.

PvE Stat values –

Not perfect, but a rough guide is something like:

  • Intellect – 0.6

  • Spirit – 0.22

  • MP5 – 0.67

  • Haste Rating – 0.59

  • Crit Rating – 0.48

  • Spell Power – 1.0

So you should favour Spell Power, Intellect, Haste, Crit, MP5 and Spirit in pretty much that order. However, obviously if you need more mana stack Intellect, if you need to do more healing stack Spell Power. If you have enough mana there is NO benefit to getting more Intellect, Spirit or MP5. Mana is only useful if you are spending it. If you finish fights with lots of mana, you should stop getting more.

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What glyphs should I take?

July 28, 2009 at 6:07 pm (Circle of Healing, Flash Heal, Glyphs, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Mind Flay, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Power Word: Shield, Prayer of Healing, Renew, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Word: Pain, Spells)

Picks first, then there is a run down of all the majo glyphs incase you want a little more information.

PicksGlyph screen

Discipline Picks

I raid with Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Flash Heal, and Glyph of Power Word: Shield. In ten mans I would consider dropping Flash Heal for Glyph of Prayer of Healing if you can spare the mana.

Holy Picks

My picks would be Guardian Spirit, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing. If you need more mana take Flash Heal over Guardian Spirit for 10 mans, and over Prayer of Healing for 25 mans.

Shadow Picks

My picks would be Shadow, Shadow Word: Pain and Mind Flay as they offer the best DPS boosts and the range advantage from Mind Flay glyph can be a massive boost in certain situations.

Rundown of all the options:

Shadow

Dispersion : Reduces the cooldown on Dispersion by 45 sec.

You should not really have mana issues as Shadow so being able to use Dispersion more often would only really be useful for avoiding damage. It doesn’t work on many dangerous boss abilities. Essentially this is a PvP glyph and not worth it for PvE.

Mind Flay : Increases the range of your Mind Flay spell by 10 yards, but it only reduces the target’s movement speed by 10%.

A definite PvE glyph and not a bad one. For fights with positioning advantages like Hodir, Iron Council, Vezax etc where you don’t always have a choice where to stand, this glyph is a really nice one. Even where it doesn’t matter where you stand, any time you spend chasing the boss to get in range is a huge amount of wasted DPS.

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Tracking your cooldowns

July 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm (5 mans, Circle of Healing, Divine Hymn, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Penance, Prayer of Mending, Raiding, Serendipity, User Interface)

It’s hardly news, or it certainly shouldn’t be, that Priests, just like every other class, spec and mob under the (fake) sun have cooldowns. As a DPS you use your cooldowns in a straight up rotation. Unless you are waiting for a DPS burn you spend cooldowns pretty much as soon as they are ready. As a healer you’re blowing cooldowns in response to the positioning of all the pretty multi-colored health bars and the abilities of the boss. In either case it’s important to keep a tight track of all your cooldowns. As a DPS player if you don’t recognise that Mind Blast is ready, you lose DPS. As a healer on the other hand the danger is not a loss of DPS but possibly the loss of a player.

There are two things you can do wrong. The first is to forget to use a cooldown. I’ve talked about this a little in the “Being a Hero” posts: If players are dying and you are consistently finding you have Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit, Divine Hymn, Face etc off cooldown then you could probably of handled things better. Don’t assume the mistake occurred when the player died. Often I realise that the mistake was not letting that player die, but occurred ten to fifteen seconds earlier when I ought to have used Divine Hymn or Pain Suppression to get control of the situation. The death is result of something which I failed to do much earlier.

The other mistake, and the one that I usually make, is to try to use a spell when it is on cooldown. Most commonly this occurs with very short cooldown spells like Penance where you want to use it very often. It also occurs commonly with very very long cooldown spells like Divine Hymn where I try to use it and forget that it is still on cooldown from the previous boss attempt. Trying to cast a spell while it is on cooldown is often the worse mistake. If I try to cast Penance on the tank and nothing happens I usually will hesitate. “What happened? Am I silenced? Oh Penance is on cooldown, is it almost ready? Should I wait one second for the cooldown to end?” Usually the tank dies about now.

Whilst these mistakes will always occur, they are definitely reducible if you find ways to better keep track of your cooldowns and display this information. My suggestion is Addons and, in my view, displaying the same information in multiple places on the screen makes a big difference. Providing redundant information means that wherever your eyes are looking, whether it’s health bars, action bars, or you’re trying to manoeuvre around the battle field, you’ll always have the important information right in front of your eyes. Obviously don’t make the information too intrusive, if you’re obscuring big parts of the screen that’s bad, but I think the mistake I used to make was thinking that I only needed to display each bit of information in one place.

My Addon suggestions are:

OmniCC – Displays the cooldown of your spells numerically on your action bars. This is much much easier to see than the standard blizzard effect which is neither quantitative nor very obvious at a glance. Works  fantastic without much tweaking at all.

PowaAuras – A very popular Addon amongst DPSers to track important debuffs but this mod is extremely powerful. You can make it display icons, or shapes on the screen in response to all sorts of things. It will show you when spells are available, the cooldown remaining, when you, your target, your focus etc have certain buffs or debuffs on them. All kinds of things. For example: When a spell becomes available the icon appears, when the spell is used the cooldown timer appears. When I get a Serendipity buff the icon appears, additional stacks of the buff are displayed by additional icons stacking up in a tower so they are easy to take in at a glance. Anyway, definitely 100% recommend it for pretty much anything you want to do.

Satrina Buff Frames – A very powerful Addon for displaying buffs and debuffs for your player and your target. I use it for displaying things like Renew, Weakened Soul on my target so I know when these spells are worth recasting. It’s also great for showing up important debuffs. For example, Bosses with uncommon but key abilities like Ignis’ Slag Pot can be displayed very very clearly on your screen when they occur without otherwise intruding on your play. Again, like Powa Auras this mod takes a while to tweak with.

So, if you are finding yourself failing to use, or trying to use cooldowns you can’t, then consider ways of better displaying that information in your UI

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Looking at the 3.2 changes for Priests

June 24, 2009 at 6:19 pm (Patch 3.2, Patches, Penance, Spells) (, , , , , , )

As promised, a first look at the upcoming 3.2 Priest Changes:

Prayer of Healing

Prayer of Healing: The percentage of spell power this spell gains in healing (per target) has been reduced from 80.7% to 52.6%.

I’ve not seen a massive amount of complaining about the change to Prayer of Healing. Whilst it’s a reduction from 80% ish to only 50% for the spell power coefficient that’s not horrific. It’s already got a very high base amount of healing. So for a Naxx geared priest it’s the difference between healing for 3750 Versus 3150 per player. Of course, those numbers are minimums. Talents, crits, buffs etc will increase that. But the % change will stay the same at around 16%. It’s substantial, but probably not game breaking.

It is a little surprising to see a nerf because the 2 piece Tier 8 set bonus increases the crit chance on Prayer of Healing by 10%. So maybe Blizzard didn’t realise how powerful Prayer of Healing was going to be when they made that set bonus. Prayer of Healing has benefited a great deal from now being targettable, as well as recent talent changes, particularly in the Holy tree. The biggest problem with Prayer of Healing used to be the mana cost, but since 3.0 mana has been much less of an issue. Since then the main difficulty was the casting speed, and with Borrowed Time in the discipline tree, and the new Serendipity in the Holy tree since 3.1, both specs have had ways to overcome the slow cast time. That’s probably why it’s become so powerful.

Penance

Penance: Cooldown increased to 12 seconds, up from 10 seconds.

I’ve seen far more complaining the increase on the cooldown for Penance from 10 seconds up to 12 seconds. The complaining has been because there is already a Glyph of Penance in the game which decreases the cooldown on Penance by 2 seconds. So it seems a little strange to increase the base cooldown instead of just removing the glyph. If they removed the glyph from the game it would have the same effect (increasing the cooldown) and would free up a major glyph slot for priests. Seems an odd choice.

Having said that, what’s the impact? Fully talented and Glyphed a Disc priest could get Penance down to a 6.4 second cooldown. From a base of ten seconds the glyph reduced it to eight and then 2/2 Aspiration reduced that by another 20% down to 6.4. With a twelve second base cooldown the glyph reduces to 10, and Aspiration takes it down to 8. So in actual practice it’s a loss of 1.6 seconds not 2.

Increasing the cooldown is not as bad as, for example, reducing the amount healed by Penance. An increased cooldown is not always something you feel the effects of because often you aren’t using the spell the moment it’s available. It’s painful to raw healing throughput because Penance is available less often, but you will only feel it those times where you are trying to max your throughput as much as possible. So for hard mode fights you’ll feel it more than easier fights.

There has been some complaint that it’s primarily a PvP nerf and PvE players are just caught in the crossfire. I’m sure there are PvP reasons for this nerf, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. Discipline is a very powerful healing spec and Penance is an extremely powerful clutch heal and very very mana efficient. To ensure fights are balanced at the right difficulty you have to restrict how often players can get access to Penance. If it had no cooldown we’d be casting it non-stop without bothering with Flash hHal or maybe even Power Word: Shield. Greater Heal would never get used. As a result, tweaking the cooldown of Penance is important to getting Discipline perfectly balanced in PvE and encouraging us to use a nice mix of spells. In this case using Greater Heal with the benefit of Borrowed Time perhaps.

The danger with cooldowns on healing spells is that often you are already having to make complicated decisions weighing up Mana, which player to target, what sort of heal to use, how much time you have, as well as where you are standing and what damage might be coming soon. If you are also constantly having to check your cooldowns to see if a spell is available that can become very frustrating. I can name a number of occasions when I hit Penance, it doesn’t cast, and during the time I hestitate, to work out that it’s still on cooldown, somebody dies. So cooldowns can be very frustrating when you are Healing. We’ll have to see how it feels to go back to an 8 second cooldown like we had before the Glyph.

Replenishment and MP5

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

also:

Mana Regeneration: All items that provide “X mana per five seconds” have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.

A quick mention on the Replenishment changes. It seems to me that with 20% less mana coming back from Replenishment that should balance things about right. I do feel I have a lot of mana at the moment, and with the 25% buff to MP5 on gear that should give us something to gear up more if we feel our mana is running too low. Given that Discipline got no benefit from Spirit anyway apart from mana having the option of gearing for Mp5 instead is just dandy. Holy priests will almost certainly still prefer the spell power benefits that Spirit brings. That being said, could we now see more MP5 and Int on gear please Blizzard? It seems it’s all Spirit, particularly now DPS classes want (read: Don’t hate it as much) spirit as well.

Inspiration

Inspiration: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.

A slightly odd one. Armor reduces your physical damage anyway, so this change seems to me to be mostly aimed at balancing the power of Inspiration regardless of how much armor the target has. It also means it should work better with things that directly reduce a targets armor such as boss effects from people like Gluth or Kologorn, or in PvP if an enemy player is using a lot of Armor Penetration. Decoupling Inspiration from Armor seems to me to be a good improvement. For the most part armor tends to get debuffed down much more often than it’s buffed up, so it’s good that we are relying on it less.

Silence

Silence, Strangulate, Silencing Shot, and Arcane Torrent: These abilities will also apply a 3 second interrupt effect against non-player controlled targets, making them more versatile against creatures immune to silencing effects.

Silence has been pretty much exclusively a PvP and 5 man ability. There are so few silencable mobs in Raids that it just wasn’t worth taking, particularly with those two points wasted in having to pickup the reduce cooldown on Psychic Scream. It’s still not great, but given that it can now be used as an interrupt on mobs and bosses even if they aren’t Silenceable means it can get involved if for example you are short of Interrupt on General Vezaxx or other boss mobs who need regular silences. And if you’re a blood elf your racial can do some work as well (although you probably still want to stay out of melee range of Vezaxx. It’s not a fantastic buff, but it’s a little more raid versatility for shadow priests who’ve got the talent for PvP anyway.

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